Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Election

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Dec 04, 2018 2:06 pm

OK. The guy who was deported from Israel the same week that Dmitry Rybolovlev was arrested in Monaco and Lev Leviev's son (Leviev is a business partner of Jared Kushner) was arrested in Israel how does it all fit together...?

Matthew Kupfer

Interesting. @JoshKovensky reports that Trump met at least twice w/ Ukrainian-Russian oligarch Pavel Fuchs (a Giuliani client) over Trump Moscow franchising deal in late 2000s. (Also explains why Giuliani was cavorting around Kharkiv, #Ukraine last year).

Russian Oligarch Turned Giuliani Client Met Trump About Moscow Deal In Late-2000s

Josh Kovensky

November 30, 2018 12:46 pm

Donald Trump met at least twice with a Russian-Ukrainian oligarch and current Rudy Giuliani client over a Trump Moscow franchising deal in the late 2000s, the oligarch told TPM.

Pavel Fuchs (pictured to the left of Giuliani), a Moscow real estate developer who recently hired Rudy Giuliani for an “investment project” related to the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, said that he met with Trump in New York City in 2006 and in Palm Beach in 2008.

Fuch’s claims fill in more of the picture of Trump’s long-running interest in developing a Moscow project and illustrate how some of the same characters continue to reappear in dealings with those in Trump’s orbit.

The deal – potentially very legal and very cool – would have seen Fuchs buy a Trump franchise for a Moscow skyscraper, similar to other deals that the Trump Organization has concluded in Azerbaijan, Dubai, Turkey, India, and elsewhere.

“During the construction of one of his properties, Pavel Fuchs reviewed the possibility of purchasing a Donald Trump franchise,” Fuchs told TPM through a spokesperson. “This became the reason for acquaintance and the beginning of negotiations.”

The Fuchs spokesperson said “in total there were a few meetings” without specifying the exact number beyond the New York City and Palm Beach meetings.

A White House spokeswoman referred TPM to Trump outside counsel. Neither Jay Sekulow nor Rudy Giuliani replied to requests for comment. The Trump Organization did not reply to a request for comment.

Trump’s Muscovite real estate ambitions came into sharper focus yesterday as former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying about communications over a 2016 iteration of the project, which reportedly would have included giving Vladimir Putin a $50 million penthouse apartment to drive up interest among the Russian oligarchy. Former Trump associate Felix Sater told Buzzfeed that the project ended on July 26, after Trump publicly disavowed any business ties to Russia.

Trump had been trying to cut a Moscow deal since at least 2005, often using Sater as a conduit.

Fuchs said that the relationship with Trump ended in 2008, after franchising negotiations fell through due to the “franchise conditions.” Fuchs said in a separate interview to a Ukrainian news website that one of Trump’s sons – he didn’t say which one and his spokesperson wouldn’t clarify it to TPM– had flown to Moscow to discuss the deal.

At the time, Donald Jr. was openly discussing Russian partnerships with the Trump organization. At a September 2008 real estate conference, he said that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York.”

“We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. There’s indeed a lot of money coming for new-builds and resale reflecting a trend in the Russian economy,” he added.

The Trump Organization’s franchising arrangements have come under scrutiny over allegations of potentially lax due diligence. Under the deals, the Trump Organization typically agrees to sell the Trump brand as a “license” in exchange for cash, along with “technical services” agreements that have allowed the company to oversee details of the franchise design.

More recently, Fuchs has engaged Giuliani, who serves as President Trump’s personal attorney in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. They met in 2017 in New York over a project to “search for investors to develop Kharkiv’s economy” and to sign a deal whereby Giuliani’s security consulting company provided NYPD expertise to Kharkiv law enforcement. ... late-2000s

Rudy Giuliani turns up in Ukraine with pro-Russia official linked to Paul Manafort’s clients ... s-clients/

Giuliani fawns over Putin's 'leadership' ... 0865603839

This is why Rudy Giuliani is in Armenia right now. ... f15d6c4149

Oligarch, friend of Trump: Who is Pavel Fuchs?

Al Jazeera probes a businessman who conspired to buy frozen assets linked to former Ukrainian President Yanukovich.

7 Jan 2018
"When I was young, I beat people up," Pavel Fuchs tells the presenter of Russian television show Business Persona. "I don't like it when someone lies to me."

He recounts a story about his Turkish builders. "While refurbishing, I told them not to smoke, but when I arrived they were smoking. I asked them again not to smoke."

Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovich is estimated to have syphoned off at least $1.5bn from the country through his cronies before his removal in 2014
Al Jazeera has traced at least $160m of the suspected misappropriated assets, frozen in Cyprus upon the request of the Ukrainian authorities
The investigation by Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit has revealed that three Ukrainian oligarchs illegally traded the frozen assets linked to Yanukovich
"And they continued smoking?" asks the presenter.

"Yes, and they had to eat their cigarette butts," Fuchs replies.

"How beautiful," remarks the presenter.

Al Jazeera has discovered Fuchs bought a company and $160m of frozen assets held within it, part of $1.5bn traced to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.

Investigators believe Yanukovich and businessmen close to him stole the money.

When the deal was made, officials were working on seizing the money and returning it to the Ukrainian budget.


Born in October 1971, in Ukraine's second city of Kharkiv, Fuchs earned the nickname "Naemnik", Mercenary, according to restricted Russian interior ministry records.

He graduated from Kharkiv State University's department of economic and social planning in 1994 and headed to Moscow.

Currently, he sits at the helm of a huge business empire with holdings in oil, gas, luxury real estate and banking.

His investments span Russia, Ukraine, the UK, the United States and many of the world's tax havens.

He is so influential that Russian President Vladimir Putin has honoured him for his services to the Russian economy.


During the noughties, Fuchs cultivated links to now US President Donald Trump, negotiating with his organisation in 2004 and again between 2008 and 2010. He reportedly baulked at a $200m asking price for the rights to a Trump Hotel Moscow.

Fuchs told a Ukrainian news agency they dealt with Trump in the later stages.

In 2016, Newsweek quoted a former Trump executive as saying the organisation retains close links with Fuchs. He has also been photographed with Trump's cybersecurity adviser, Rudy Giuliani.

Fuchs is trying, with another investor, to buy Prominvestbank, the Ukrainian subsidiary of Russian-state owned VEB Bank. VEB has been placed at "the centre of an international firestorm that threatens the Trump presidency". Ukrainian regulators have blocked Fuchs' purchase.

Kharkiv links

A number of sources have suggested Fuchs is well connected in Kharkiv.

The current Mayor, Gennady Kernes, regularly appears in Fuchs family photos on social media.

Kernes caused controversy in August 2014 by naming Fuchs and Russian parliamentarian Alexander Shishkin "Honorary Citizens of Kharkiv".

The following day, a prosecutor announced that the titles had been rescinded, following resistance from local government.

Four months earlier, Kernes survived an assassination attempt that left him wheelchair-bound. Two of his associates, Yuri Diment and Sergei Batozsky - were both assassinated in 2016. Fuchs had been photographed with Diment before his death.

Strong political links

Fuchs has told Russian media he made a name for himself working for two of Russia's richest men, Vladimir Potanin and Mikhail Prokhorov.

They made their money in the 1990s buying up huge stakes in the precious metals sector, before investing in numerous other industries. Prokhorov ran for president in Russia in 2012.

Fuchs is now extremely well-connected in his own right.

Russian company records put his name beside some of the most powerful and well-connected Russian politicians.

They include deputies in the State Duma, Alexander Ter-Avanesov and Amir Gallyamov.

Also named are Dagestan's representative in the Federation Council, Suleiman Kerimov, who is worth an estimated $7.5bn, and politician and businessman Vladimir Gruzdev.

Fuchs has also been involved in a joint venture with a man closely linked to Moscow's all-powerful mayor, Yuri Luzhkov.

In 2000, Fuchs invested in oil via Nefthold LLC, which leads to numerous high-ranking Russian politicians and government officials.

One of Fuchs' fellow shareholders is named Nikolai Borodin. He is low profile, but is also named as founder of a charity co-founded with Sergei Stepashin, formerly prime minister and head of Russia's spy agency.

The jewel in the Fuchs real-estate crown is Moscow City, a cluster of skyscrapers that loom over the Russian capital.

Construction began in 2004. Fuchs developed two of the towers - Eurasia and Imperia - through his Moscow City Group company.

The two towers were reportedly a joint venture with Valentin Yumashev, the powerful son-in-law of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who is thought to have been instrumental in Vladimir Putin's rise to power.

Friends and business partners

Fuchs has done business with a number of people who have been caught up in alleged fraud scandals.

One big investor in Eurasia Tower was a man now at the centre of the largest alleged fraud case ever to have been heard in Britain's High Court.

Mukhtar Ablyazov began his Eurasia investment company in 2005, with a view to developing the tower.
However, by 2011, he had fled Russia for London, accused of syphoning billions out of Kazakhstan's BTA Bank.

That left Fuchs without an investment partner or finance.

Having then fled UK jurisdiction, Ablyazov spent three years in a French prison over the alleged fraud, facing extradition. He was released in December last year and is still wanted in both Russia and his home country of Kazakhstan.

Fuchs also appears close to a man known as the "King of Bling", jeweller to stars including rappers 50 Cent and Kanye West.

Jacob the Jeweller, aka Jacob Arabo, aka Yacub Arabov, is an American of Turkmen origin who spent 18 months in prison 10 years ago, after making a plea deal with prosecutors who had accused him of money laundering for Detroit's Black Mafia gang.

He appears several times in Fuchs family photos posted on social media and has recently denied links to a gold mine in Swaziland owned by the country's absolute monarch.

In 2012, Fuchs bought shares in disgraced Pushkino Bank.

The head of the bank, Alexei Alyakin, is on Russia's federal wanted list, accused of withdrawing and laundering millions of dollars.

Authorities revoked the bank's licence in 2013 for multiple violations, including money laundering and fraudulent accounting.

Another colourful billionaire, Vijay Mallya, appears to have indirect company links to Fuchs. He is the former owner of India's Kingfisher Airlines, now facing extradition to India on fraud charges which he denies.

Fuchs's offshore vehicle, Dorchester International Incorporated, based in the Caribbean tax haven of St Kitts and Nevis, is a shareholder in three layers of companies that lead to a trust declared by Mallya in SEC filings from 2000. Mallya denies having any relationship with Fuchs.

International network

The Panama Papers, a huge leak of offshore company documents, help illuminate a huge international network of more than 250 companies with links to Fuchs.

His vehicle, Dorchester International Incorporated of St Kitts and Nevis, lays a trail to another Indian billionaire, a Nigerian senator, Malaysian billionaires, a Cuban pharmaceutical company and mining in Tanzania.

Dorchester has stakes in Stallion Group Holdings in the British Virgin Islands, which belongs to the richest Indian in the Gulf, Sunil Vaswani. He is worth a reported $7.5bn, according to Forbes magazine.

Five layers of offshore companies lead to the Cement Company of Northern Nigeria (CCNN).

Sokoto East Senator Dr Ibrahim Gobir was the chairman of CCNN before becoming a politician. The Panama Papers show he remained a shareholder.

Following a similar path of offshore companies leads you to LabioFam Asia, part of a Cuban state company that specialises in medicine, pesticides and perfumes. Labiofam was run by Cuban leader Fidel Castro's cousin, Jose Antonio Fraga Castro, until his death in 2012.

Dorchester jointly holds shares in Westmead Holdings Ltd of Cyprus with two Malaysian billionaires, Lee Shin Cheng and Lee Yeow Chor, who lead multibillion-dollar palm oil business IOI Group. Fuchs was also invested in Kibo Mining of South Africa, which owned concessions in Tanzania.

Dorchester International also has numerous sister companies sharing the same name but registered in other offshore jurisdictions.

Company formation agent

Group Chesterfield, not to be confused with the insurance company, Chesterfield Group, has offices in London, Ireland, Isle of Man, Cyprus, and The Bahamas.

Property records show Fuchs' company owns the London premises, and Dorchester International is the named director of a number of Chesterfield's registered entities.

"If you've got a company formation agent registered and that company formation agent is forming companies for you then that's immediately suspicious," says Benton. "I can't see how you'd even be allowed to do that. There's no checks and balances there, are there?"

Nearly all of Fuchs' companies appear to have been incorporated by Chesterfield, which is almost always the registered secretary of his offshore companies. Chesterfield denies it is owned by Fuchs and says it does not primarily form companies for him.


Besides buying frozen assets linked to the former president of Ukraine, and his own company formation agency, Fuchs has invested in oil and gas in the country.

The Russia-based oligarch visits Ukraine regularly. On one occasion, his armed security guards confronted a journalist from Radio Free Liberty who had filmed Fuchs' private jet arriving at Kiev airport. The following day, his PR representatives sent the journalist an apology.

Since 2014, Fuchs has stepped up investments in oil and gas in Ukraine, investing in at least four major local oil, gas and coal mining assets reported to have formerly been controlled by Yanukovich and his associates.

According to Ukrainian Pravda newspaper, Fuchs has purchased several oil and gas mining assets that formerly belonged to former government ministers Edward Stavitsky and Yuri Boyko.

Fuchs family

Fuchs has a brother, Roman, who is also in business. He is connected to at least 35 Russian companies, including a chain of over 280 restaurants. Roman is co-director of two of Fuchs' major offshore companies, including Belize-registered Quadrill Investment.

With his wife, Fuchs co-owns a prestigious six-bedroom home in London's most exclusive neighbourhood, Belgravia. It features two vaults in the basement and was purchased in 2012 for about $40m.

Records show he also owns property at 15 Central Park West in New York City, dubbed the world's most powerful address, as well as having owned a luxury condo in Miami.

His daughter, Anastasia, married the grandson of one of Libyan dictator Muammar Gadaffi's henchmen in a plush ceremony in the French Riviera last year.

Pavel Fuchs declined to comment for this story. ... 38382.html
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
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Don’t forget that.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby Belligerent Savant » Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:40 am

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Dec 05, 2018 2:16 am

Watergate drama took longer to unfold — more than two years — than many people may remember.

The complete Watergate timeline (it took longer than you realize) ... er-realize

Flynn sat with Mueller 19 times


SENTENCING MEMO CLOSE READING -- 19 meetings, heavy redactions, and a comma-delimited list that may indicate Flynn helped on two investigations distinct from Mueller's main Russia investigation...

This is the part that will keep members of Trump's transition team up tonight:

Mueller says Michael Flynn provided 'substantial assistance' to the Russia probe and a mysterious separate criminal investigation

Robert Mueller and Michael Flynn (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: AP)
WASHINGTON — A memo filed in federal court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday confirmed that President Trump’s former top national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has been cooperating extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The document also revealed that Mueller is working on a separate criminal investigation, but it did not divulge any details about the focus of that probe.

The memo was a sentencing recommendation for Flynn that summarized his misconduct and subsequent work with prosecutors. It said Flynn had provided “substantial assistance” to Mueller’s team since pleading guilty to one count of making false statements to the FBI in November 2017. In the document, Mueller recommended that Flynn — due to his cooperation — receive the “low end” of the zero- to six-month sentence that could have come with his crime.

“Given the defendant’s substantial assistance and other considerations set forth below, a sentence at the low end of the guideline range — including a sentence that does not impose a term of incarceration — is appropriate and warranted,” Mueller wrote.

The seven-page sentencing memo was accompanied by a heavily redacted six-page addendum detailing the “significance and usefulness” of Flynn’s assistance. Mueller had requested that the addendum to be partially sealed because it contained what he described as “sensitive information about ongoing investigations.”

Most of the blacked out portions of the addendum dealt with a criminal investigation that the document distinguished from the special counsel’s principal probe into coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. While Mueller’s documents provided almost no detail about this mysterious investigation, they confirmed it was separate from the Russia probe and that it is continuing.

It is not clear from the documents whether the second investigation involves Trump. The addendum also included indications the other probe might involve prosecutors outside of Mueller’s office. Mueller wrote that, as part of his cooperation, Flynn “participated in 19 interviews” with the special counsel or “attorneys from other Department of Justice offices.”

In addition to confirming the separate criminal investigation, one section of the addendum that noted Flynn has “assisted with several ongoing investigations” tantalizingly indicated there may be a third probe. The special counsel’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about how many investigations Flynn has assisted with.

Michael Flynn after his plea hearing on Dec. 1, 2017, in Washington. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Details of Flynn’s cooperation had been hotly anticipated by close observers of the Mueller investigation. Since Flynn’s guilty plea one year ago, he has not appeared as a witness in any public proceeding related to the special counsel’s office and no information clearly derived from his cooperation surfaced in any court documents filed by the special counsel apart from status updates postponing his sentencing. Consequently, Tuesday night’s filings represented the first substantial update to Flynn’s part of the investigation in a full year.

In addition, the amount of disclosure provided by Flynn’s sentencing memo was a key signal of the status of Mueller’s investigation overall. A highly detailed picture of Flynn’s cooperation could have indicated that Mueller had few matters left that he wished to keep secret and the investigation was winding down, as many expected.

However, the heavy redactions in the documents appear to indicate Mueller is continuing to work on significant matters not currently known to the public.

The documents filed on Tuesday also provide some hints of where Mueller’s Russia probe is focusing. It said Flynn had “provided firsthand information about the content and context of interactions” between Trump’s presidential transition team “and Russian government officials.”

As an example, Mueller cited information Flynn provided prosecutors about his own contacts with Russia. Much of this portion of the document was heavily redacted, however.

Michael Flynn and Russian President Vladimir Putin, at center on back side of table, attend a 2015 event marking the 10th anniversary of RT, a Russian TV news channel, in Moscow. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool/AP))
A U.S. intelligence community assessment concluded Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Trump. However, Trump has repeatedly dismissed Mueller’s probe as a partisan “witch hunt” and insisted there was “no collusion” between his campaign and the Kremlin. The president has also attacked other former allies who have cooperated with Mueller and accused them of trying to avoid punishment for their own independent misdeeds.

The White House and Trump’s legal team did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the Flynn memo.

The false statements Flynn pleaded guilty to making to the FBI occurred in an interview he had with agents in January 2017, the month Trump took office. At the time, Flynn was serving as the president’s national security adviser. In that interview, Flynn falsely denied asking Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak not to respond to President Barack Obama’s sanctions against the Kremlin for the election interference. Flynn was fired from the Trump administration in February 2017 after it was discovered he also lied about his contacts with Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence.

Mueller’s memo also revealed that Flynn admitted to misrepresenting his lobbying work on behalf of the Turkish government. He was not charged for that crime.

Prior to his short stint in the White House, Flynn was a particularly high profile — and high volume — supporter of Trump. At the Republican National Convention in 2016, Flynn gave a speech where he led a memorable “lock her up” chant calling for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to be imprisoned for using a private email server to conduct official business during her time as secretary of state under Obama.

Flynn had a decorated military career for more than three decades that culminated in reaching the rank of lieutenant general and serving as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency under Obama. He was forced out in 2014, and reports at the time reference critics citing both a “chaotic” management style and policy plans for the agency that caused friction with both his supervisors and his subordinates.

Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the sentencing memo. Flynn is due to be sentenced on Dec. 18.

Additional reporting contributed by Michael Isikoff ... 32795.html


Mueller Is Laying Siege to the Trump Presidency

It won’t be a single news event that takes down the president.

Mikhaila Fogel Associate editor of Lawfare Benjamin Wittes Editor in chief of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution
Dec 4, 2018
Donald Trump
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
“Today is the first day I actually thought Donald Trump might not finish his term in office,” said the legal commentator Jeffrey Toobin on CNN last Thursday.

“This is the beginning of the end for Trump,” declared Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general, on MSNBC.

“The deal may be among the biggest news in the nearly 18-month investigation,” wrote Barry Berke, Noah Bookbinder, and Norman Eisen in The New York Times.

It happens this way every time: A big news event in the Trump-Russia investigation takes place, and commentators talk about it as though a house of cards were collapsing or a row of dominoes were falling. Each time, it’s the beginning of the end. Each indictment or plea is the “big one.” And then those expectations are disappointed. The sun rises the next day—in the east, as expected—and it sets in the west, as it did the day before. The Trump presidency endures.

Ken White: Three remarkable things about Michael Cohen’s plea

This time it was the new plea deal from Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer. On Thursday, Cohen pleaded guilty to one count of lying to Congress, related to how long into the 2016 campaign he pursued building Trump Tower Moscow—and who exactly was aware of his efforts. In the surprise criminal information that formed the basis of his plea, Cohen admitted that, although he had told Congress the project had ended in January 2016, in advance of the Iowa caucus, planning for the project continued well into June 2016. What’s more, a person named in the criminal information as “Individual 1” but identifiable as Trump, along with his family members and his campaign officials, were briefed on Cohen’s efforts along the way. Additionally, Cohen was in contact with senior Russian officials about the matter.

The admission that the Trump Organization was working secretly—colluding, one might say—with the Russian government on a business deal late into the campaign and that Trump knew about this activity led many observers, including those quoted above, to treat this latest plea as the turning point for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

But the underlying metaphors are wrong. There is no sudden bend in the path of the investigation. There is no house of cards. The dominoes will not fall if gently tipped. The administration is not going to come crashing down in response to any single day’s events. The architecture of Trump’s power is more robust than that.

Joshua Zoffer and Niall Ferguson: Mueller and a blue House could bring down Trump

We need to stop thinking of it as a fragile structure waiting for the right poke to fall in on itself. Think instead of the myriad investigations and legal proceedings surrounding the president as a multi-front siege on a walled city that is, in fact, relatively well fortified.

Siege warfare is not a matter of striking precisely the correct blow at the correct moment at a particular stone in the wall. It is a campaign of degradation over a substantial period of time. While those inside the fortified city may rely only on the strength of their walls and their stored resources, the attackers can take their time. Volleys of projectiles—arrows or trebuchets—pepper the city walls and those atop them, while the strength of the defending army diminishes as soldiers slip away and food dwindles. Moreover, active conflict is an episodic, not a constant, feature of siege warfare; the enemy army can encamp outside the walled city and blockade it without firing a shot. Over time, the walls and defending forces become degraded to such a degree that the invaders are able to scale the walls and sack the city.

No, Mueller and his forces are not a Mongol horde, but the Trump White House is very much under siege.

Mueller’s army isn’t the only force encircling Trump’s fortress, but it is the largest and most active force, and it actually has several distinct encampments. One contingent of Mueller’s forces is charged with investigating efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the 2016 election. In this capacity, the special counsel’s office has indicted individuals associated with the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm that has spread disinformation and propaganda on social media. His office also indicted 13 members of the Russian military intelligence organization, the GRU, in connection with deliberately hacking into the Democratic National Committee server and passing the fruits of that hack to WikiLeaks “to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

Read: Is WikiLeaks a Russian front?

The immediate threat this particular force poses to the castle right now involves its evident interest in Roger Stone and the group of people around him. The GRU indictment does not name Stone, but he has publicly admitted that he is the person referred to in the indictment “who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump” and who corresponded with a fake hacktivist persona used by the Russians.

This front of the siege has become hot in recent months and will likely remain an area of intense activity over the coming weeks. Recently, Jerome Corsi publicly shared a draft statement of offense in connection with a plea agreement offered him by the special counsel’s office. The document details contact between Corsi and an individual reported to be Stone regarding WikiLeaks’ planned release of the hacked material. Moreover, in the coming weeks, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is expected to rule on whether Andrew Miller, another Stone associate, is obligated to testify before Mueller’s grand jury. Miller had appealed a contempt citation, contending that Mueller’s appointment was unconstitutional. Stone and Corsi both seem to expect indictments.

This front is likely to remain active and to generate big news events. But note as well if and when either man or both face charges, that will not be the sky falling for Trump any more than last week’s Cohen plea was. It will be just another set of stones blasted out of the city walls.

Last week’s events revealed another force surrounding the castle, also under Mueller’s command: the investigation of Trump’s efforts to do financial business in Russia. The president, while insisting there was “NO Collusion with Russia,” admitted that he “lightly looked” into building a tower in Moscow months into the 2016 campaign. Trebuchets from the Cohen front sounded into Friday evening, when Cohen’s lawyers filed a sentencing memorandum as a follow-up to the guilty plea. In the memo, Cohen’s legal team said that Cohen “remained in close and regular contact with White House–based staff and legal counsel to Client-1,” another euphemism for Trump. It’s unclear to what extent this investigation is one and the same with the main Mueller collusion force, but it is evidently an active matter, too.

Benjamin Wittes: It’s probably too late to stop Mueller.

Mueller’s forces also include a major encampment focused on obstruction of justice. This force has so far not done anything the public can see, but it may be getting ready to launch some kind of report against the castle. And this report, whenever it materializes, may prove devastating. But note that the day such a report is completed will also not be the “big one”—the cataclysmic event that causes the house of cards to collapse. After all, any report would likely have to undergo a lengthy approval process, either from within the Justice Department or by the courts, or both. It might have to be approved by Matthew Whitaker, the acting attorney general, before being released. It may have significant classified components. Even if the findings in this report are of bombshell proportions, given that it is unlikely Mueller will reject Office of Legal Counsel guidelines against the indictment of a sitting president, the damage that bombshell will inflict will ultimately be determined by Congress, and its detonation would likely be substantially delayed.

The forces in the castle have actually fought off one part of the besieging fighters. Paul Manafort has floated in and out of headlines throughout the siege. He was the first person, along with his longtime business associate Rick Gates, to be charged by the special counsel in October 2017 for various financial crimes. After his first conviction and subsequent guilty plea and cooperation agreement, his “flipping” appeared to pose a major threat to Trump. But that threat seems to have passed. The special counsel has declared that Manafort is still lying and has breached his plea agreement, and will file a memo this week detailing the extent of Manafort’s breach. This sucks for Manafort, but it’s great news for the folks in the castle. He’s almost certainly useless at this stage as a witness for Mueller. The part of the siege represented by Manafort has, at least for now, lifted.

Possibly more threatening, if less high profile, is Michael Flynn, the former national-security adviser, who is expected to appear for sentencing on December 17. Flynn’s sentencing hearing has been delayed for months, signaling active cooperation of some sort. Back in December 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in relation to conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. He’s been silent since. Nobody knows what his cooperation with Mueller has consisted of—and thus how worried the forces in the castle should be about the Flynn encampment.

Cohen’s sentencing memo highlighted the presence of some allied forces around the castle separate from Mueller. It described, for example, Cohen’s cooperation with prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York, the prosecutors who reached Michael Cohen’s first plea agreement back in August. You remember this force: Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felonies of tax evasion, one count of bank fraud, and two counts of campaign-finance violations involving hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. This front is also active. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that David Pecker, CEO of American Media Inc., has been granted immunity in the criminal investigation related to the investigation into Cohen. Allen Weisselberg, the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, was also granted limited immunity in this case. This front could explode at any time, but again, if and when it does so, the sun will rise and set the next day then too.

Read: What Michael Cohen’s guilty plea means for Trump

Cohen’s Saturday sentencing memo also put the spotlight on a non-federal front in this siege: New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s civil suit against the Trump Foundation for “a pattern of persistent illegal conduct, occurring over more than a decade,” for which she seeks $2.8 million in restitution. As the Cohen sentencing memo notes, Cohen has cooperated extensively with this suit as well as with investigations run by New York tax authorities.

There is also an encampment made up of private litigants. Trump is facing civil litigation regarding possible violation of the Emoluments Clause pending in the District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs are Democrat lawmakers. He also faces additional lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of his appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general following the forced resignation of Jeff Sessions.

Finally, there’s the big new army marching on the Trump fortress, with an expected arrival of January 3, 2019: The leadership of the new Congress has already promised to intensify oversight of this administration. Representative Adam Schiff, incoming head of the House Intelligence Committee, has hinted at a restart of that committee’s moribund investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Other committees will be aggressive as well.

Meanwhile, the castle’s defenders are slipping away at night: John Dowd, the president’s personal lawyer, has left matters in the dubious hands of Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow. The White House counsel’s office is a ghost town. Ty Cobb and White House Counsel Don McGahn are both gone. The office now appears to be manned by acting White House Counsel Emmet Flood and a skeleton staff of 25 lawyers (of the estimated 40 it would require to handle its workload).

So what will the big one look like, if not some Mueller-lobbed bombshell? When the walls are finally breached, how will we know that it really is the beginning of the end? Here’s a hint: The big one will not be a legal development, an indictment, or a plea. It will be a political development—that moment when the American political system decides not to tolerate the facts available to it any longer. What does that look like? It looks like impeachment. It looks like enough Republicans breaking with the president to seriously jeopardize his chances of renomination or reelection. The legal developments will degrade the walls. But only this sort of political battering ram can breach them.

Not all sieges succeed. Mont-Saint-Michel, a tiny fortified island off the coast of France, withstood English siege for the entirety of the Hundred Years’ War. If the political system does not come to care about what we are learning, it doesn’t matter how many boulders Mueller hurls against the walls of Castle Trump; the forces laying siege to it will, like the defeated Ottoman Empire after the siege of Vienna, eventually slink away into the snow. ... mp/577264/


December 4, 2018/3 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, emptywheel, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
I want to reverse engineer the serial cover-ups that Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone have attempted, at least as disclosed by Corsi’s leaked statement of the offense.

I will assume, for this post’s purposes, that Corsi and Stone not only learned that John Podesta’s emails were going to be released, but also at least some information about what they would contain, as laid out in these two posts. Given the elaborate cover-up I’m about to lay out, it seems likely that where and how they learned that is quite sensitive.


The first cover-up, at least according to Corsi, came within a month of the time whatever they’re trying to cover-up happened. Nine days after Stone tweeted that it would soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel, he called Corsi and asked him to invent an alternate explanation for it.

He said in an interview Tuesday that Mr. Stone called him on Aug. 30, 2016—nine days after the tweet—and asked Mr. Corsi for help in creating an “alternative explanation” for it.

Shortly after that conversation, Mr. Corsi said he began writing a memo for Mr. Stone about Mr. Podesta’s business dealings. In the following months, both Mr. Stone and Mr. Corsi said the memo was the inspiration for his tweet, even though it was in fact written afterward, Mr. Corsi said.

“What I construct, and what I testified to the grand jury, was I believed I was creating a cover story for Roger, because Roger wanted to explain this tweet,” Mr. Corsi said. “By the way, the special counsel knew this. They can virtually tell my keystrokes on that computer.”

In the version of the story Corsi told Chuck Ross, he seems to have forgotten the parts of the phone call where he and Stone explained why it was so important he have a cover story.

Corsi writes that his alleged cover up plan with Stone began on Aug. 30, 2016, when Stone emailed him asking to speak on the phone.

“I have no precise recollection of that phone call,” writes Corsi, adding, “But from what happened next, I have reconstructed that in the phone call Stone told me he was getting heat for his tweet and needed some cover.”

Corsi claimed he had begun researching John Podesta’s business links to Russia and believed the research “would make an excellent cover-story for Stone’s unfortunate Tweet.”

Corsi writes that in his phone call later that evening, “I suggested Stone could use me as an excuse, claiming my research on Podesta and Russia was the basis for Stone’s prediction that Podesta would soon be in the pickle barrel.”

“I knew this was a cover-story, in effect not true, since I recalled telling Stone earlier in August that Assange had Podesta emails that he planned to drop as the ‘October Surprise,’ calculated by Assange to deliver a knock-out blow to Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations.”

Corsi emailed the nine-page memo to Stone the following day.

“So you knew this was a lie when you wrote the Podesta email,” Zelinsky asked Corsi during one question-and-answer session, he writes.

“Yes, I did,” Corsi responded. “In politics, it’s not unusual to create alternative explanations to deflect the attacks of your political opponents.”

Corsi’s report — as I detailed here — made no sense and makes even less now that we know that Paul Manafort ordered Tony Podesta to hide his Ukrainian consulting, but it distracted from a focus on Joule Holdings that Stone and Corsi had been focused on earlier that month and would return to after the Podesta emails were released in October.

According to Corsi’s draft statement of the offense, he deleted all of his email from before October 11 sometime after January 13, 2017.

Between approximately January 13, 2017 and March 1, 2017, CORSI deleted from his computer all email correspondence that predated October 11, 2016, including Person 1’s email instructing CORSI to “get to [the founder of Organization 1]” and CORSI’s subsequent forwarding of that email to the overseas individual.

There are several things that might explain that date. It was the day after Guccifer 2.0 returned to WordPress to insist he wasn’t a GRU persona. It was days after Obama’s top spooks talked about the Intelligence Community Assessment of the Russian attack, which found that Guccifer 2.0 was a GRU operation. It was the day that the Senate Intelligence Committee announced its investigation.

And January 19 was the day the NYT reported that Stone was under investigation.

Mr. Manafort is among at least three Trump campaign advisers whose possible links to Russia are under scrutiny. Two others are Carter Page, a businessman and former foreign policy adviser to the campaign, and Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative.

The F.B.I. is leading the investigations, aided by the National Security Agency, the C.I.A. and the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit. The investigators have accelerated their efforts in recent weeks but have found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, the officials said.


Mr. Stone, a longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s, said in a speech in Florida last summer that he had communicated with Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group that published the hacked Democratic emails. During the speech, Mr. Stone predicted further leaks of documents, a prediction that came true within weeks.

In a brief interview on Thursday, Mr. Stone said he had never visited Russia and had no Russian clients. He said that he had worked in Ukraine for a pro-Western party, but that any assertion that he had ties to Russian intelligence was “nonsense” and “totally false.”

Stone falsely claims that the story said he himself was wiretapped (it said Manafort was); he dates it to January 20, when it appeared in the dead tree NYT.

According to the New York Times, I was under surveillance by the Obama administration in 2016. They wrote that on January 20, 2017.

In any case, as I’ve noted, October 11 is the date when the Peter Smith crowd discussed their pleasure with the Podesta emails in coded language.

“[A]n email in the ‘Robert Tyler’ [foldering] account [showing] Mr. Smith obtained $100,000 from at least four financiers as well as a $50,000 contribution from Mr. Smith himself.” The email was dated October 11, 2016 and has the subject line, “Wire Instructions—Clinton Email Reconnaissance Initiative.” It came from someone calling himself “ROB,” describing the funding as supporting “the Washington Scholarship Fund for the Russian students.” The email also notes, “The students are very pleased with the email releases they have seen, and are thrilled with their educational advancement opportunities.” The WSJ states that Ortel is not among the funders named in the email, which means they know who the other four funders are (if one or more were a source for the story, it might explain why WSJ is not revealing that really critical piece of news).

And it’s the date when WikiLeaks released the Podesta emails that had Joule Holdings documents attached.

Thus, it seems likely that Corsi, at least, was trying hide that he had foreknowledge of what WikiLeaks ended up dropping on that day.


Then, on March 23, 2017, Corsi packaged up the cover story he had laid the groundwork for the previous year. In doing so, however, he acknowledges the common thread of Joule starting on August 1.

Having reviewed my records, I am now confident that I am the source behind Stone’s tweet.

Here is the timeline showing how I got Roger Stone on the track of following the real story – that Podesta played a key role in the Clintons’ plan to get paid by Putin.

On July 31, 2016, the New York Post reported that Peter Schweizer’s Washington-based Government Accountability Institute had published a report entitled, “From Russia with Money: Hillary Clinton, the Russian Reset, and Cronyism.”

That report detailed cash payments from Russia to the Clintons via the Clinton Foundation which included a Putin-connected Russian government fund that transferred $35 million to a small company that included Podesta and several senior Russian officials on its executive board.

“Russian government officials and American corporations participated in the technology transfer project overseen by Hillary Clinton’s State Department that funneled tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation,” the report noted in the executive summary.

“John Podesta failed to reveal, as required by law on his federal financial disclosures, his membership on the board of this offshore company,” the executive summary continued. “Podesta also headed up a think tank which wrote favorably about the Russian reset while apparently receiving millions from Kremlin-linked Russian oligarchs via an offshore LLC.”

Reading Schweizer’s report, I began conducting extensive research into Secretary Clinton’s “reset” policy with Russia, Podesta’s membership on the board of Joule Global Holdings, N.V. – a shell company in the Netherlands that Russians close to Putin used to launder money – as well as Podesta’s ties to a foundation run by one of the investors in Joule Energy, Hans-Jorg Wyss, a major contributor to the Clinton Foundation.

Note how carefully he postdates the report — which he has testified before the grand jury he wrote very quickly on August 30 — to August 14.

On Aug. 14, 2016, the New York Times reported that a secret ledger in Ukraine listed cash payments for Paul Manafort, a consultant to the Ukraine’s former President Viktor F. Yanukovych.

When this article was published, I suggested to Roger Stone that the attack over Manafort’s ties to Russia needed to be countered.

My plan was to publicize the Government Accountability Institute’s report, “From Russia With Money,” that documented how Putin paid substantial sums of money to both Hillary Clinton and John Podesta.

Putin must have wanted Hillary to win in 2016, if only because Russian under-the-table cash payments to the Clintons and to Podesta would have made blackmailing her as president easy.

On Aug. 14, 2016, I began researching for Roger Stone a memo that I entitled “Podesta.”

On September 26, 2017, Stone testified to HPSCI. He gave no name for his go-between with WikiLeaks. But later that fall, he privately gave them Randy Credico’s name and then released it publicly, claiming that Credico had accurately predicted what would come when.

Randy Credico is a good man. He’s extraordinarily talented. He’s come back from personal adversity .He often using Street theater and satire to illustrate the hypocrisy of our current drug laws and in his fight for Prison reform. He is a fighter for Justice.The Committee is wasting their time. He merely confirmed what Assange had said publicly. He was correct. Wikileaks did have the goods on Hillary and they did release them.

Credico’s three interviews of Julian Assange on WBAI are an example of excellent radio journalism.

Credico merelyconfirmed for Mr. Stone the accuracy of Julian Assange’s interview of June 12, 2016 with the British ITV network, where Assange said he had “e-mails related to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication,”

. [sic] Credico never said he knew or had any information as to source or content of the material. Mr. Credico never said he confirmed this information with Mr. Assange himself. Mr. Stone knew Credico had his own sources within Wikileaks and is credible. Credico turned out to be 100 % accurate.

I initially declined to identify Randy for the Committee fearing that exposure would be used to hurt his professional career and because our conversation was off-the-record and he is journalist. Indeed when his name surfaced in this he was fired at WBAI Radio where he had the highest rated show.

I want to reiterate there is nothing illegal or improper communicating with Julian Assange or Wikileaks. There is no proof Assange or Wikleaks are Russian assets.The CIA’s “assesment” is bullshit.Credico has done nothing wrong.

Then HPSCI subpoenaed Credico, meaning they would check Stone’s cover story (as Mueller has been doing for nine months). Stone apparently told Credico to invoke the Fifth rather than admit that he really wasn’t that go-between.

At that point, Stone asked Corsi to start backing that cover story.

After the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (“HPSCI”), the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (“SSCI”), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) began inquiring in 2017 about Person 1’s connections with Organization 1, CORSI communicated with Person 1 about developments in those investigations. For example, on or about November 28, 2017, after Person 1 had identified to HPSCI a certain individual (“Person 2”) as his “source” or “intermediary” to Organization 1, Person 2 received a subpoena compelling his testimony before HPSCI, and Person 1 learned of the subpoena. On or about November 30, 2017, Person 1 asked CORSI to write publicly about Person 2. CORSI responded: “Are you sure you want to make something out of this now? Why not wait to see what [Person 2] does? You may be defending yourself too much – raising new questions that will fuel new inquiries. This may be a time to say less, not more.” Person 1 responded by telling CORSI that the other individual “will take the 5th—but let’s hold a day.”


Finally, sometimes this spring — as Mueller started systematically working through Stone’s associates — Stone pressured Credico not to contest his public claim that he was Stone’s go-between, going so far as threatening him.

“I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die cock sucker,” Stone messaged Credico on April 9. Stone was responding to a message from Credico that indicated Credico would release information contradicting Stone’s claims about the 2016 election and that “all will come out.”


As bad luck would have it for Corsi, Mueller’s team interviewed him, not Stone. That meant he was the first person to have to sustain this cover story with the FBI (though of course Stone already did with HPSCI).

When asked on September 6 and (apparently) on September 10, Corsi claimed not to have remembered that he was Stone’s journalist cut-out all this time.

CORSI said he declined the request from Person 1 and made clear to Person 1 that trying to contact Organization 1 could be subject to investigation. CORSI also stated that Person 1 never asked CORSI to have another person try to get in contact with Organization 1, and that CORSI told Person 1 that they should just wait until Organization 1 released any materials.

CORSI further stated that after that initial request from Person 1, CORSI did not know what Person 1 did with respect to Organization 1, and he never provided Person 1 with any information regarding Organization 1, including what materials Organization 1 possessed or what Organization 1 might do with those materials.

He arranged that — the outer layer of the Matryoshka cover story — with his lawyer even before he got asked any questions. Which is going to make his currently operative cover story — that he didn’t remember crafting a multi-level cover story with Stone over the course of over a year — because he had deleted some of the emails reflecting that (but not, apparently, the ones from fall 2017).

It’s fairly clear, this Matryoshka cover-up has become part of Mueller’s investigation. It all suggests that whatever lies inside that last little doll is something so damning that the guy with the Nixon tattoo allowed the cover-up to become a second crime.

As I disclosed in July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. ... -cover-up/
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:49 am

If charged under Section 951, as DOJ is considering, Erickson could be the first American embroiled in the Russia situation to face an espionage charge

Feds Target Butina’s GOP Boyfriend as Foreign Agent

Paul Erickson served as accused Kremlin spy Maria Butina’s guide as she penetrated the American conservative movement. Now he’s under investigation as a Russian agent, too.

12.05.18 8:00 AM ET
Paul Erickson, a longtime Republican politico whose Russian girlfriend is in jail on charges she acted as a covert foreign agent, has been informed that he may face similar accusations. The Daily Beast reviewed a so-called “target letter” that federal investigators sent Erickson’s lawyer, which said they are considering bringing charges against him under Section 951 of the U.S. code—the law barring people from secretly acting as agents of foreign governments.

The letter also said the government may bring a conspiracy charge against Erickson, who is the boyfriend of accused foreign agent Maria Butina. The letter, which was sent in September by investigators working out of the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, does not accuse Erickson of any crimes or guarantee that he will face charges.

If prosecutors bring the charges named in the letter, Erickson would be the first American charged under a statute Justice Department lawyers describe as “espionage-lite.”

“Charging an American under 951 in the context of the Russia investigation is especially serious because that statute is generally reserved for espionage-like cases, such as intelligence-gathering on behalf of a foreign government,” said Ryan Goodman, a former Defense Department attorney who now teaches at the New York University School of Law.

“Essentially what it would say is that an American was acting to advance the interests of a foreign power, contrary to the interests of the United States of America,” said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor.

A person familiar with the investigation told The Daily Beast that federal law enforcement officers have interviewed people in Erickson’s orbit, some of whom provided statements to the FBI. Law enforcement officials asked those sources about the former political insider’s business dealings and his reputation in conservative political circles, according to that person. As The Daily Beast previously reported, several of Erickson’s former business partners have claimed he defrauded them. The U.S. attorney’s office in South Dakota is currently leading an investigation into those claims.

Justice Department investigators aren’t the only ones interested in Erickson. Staff on the Senate intelligence committee, who are probing Russian meddling in the 2016 American elections, have also asked to speak with him. But a lawyer for Erickson told them he would plead the Fifth Amendment if subpoenaed to testify, a source familiar with those communications confirmed to The Daily Beast. Investigators will not force Erickson to appear just to take the Fifth. William Hurd, who is representing Erickson on the Senate intelligence committee matter, declined to comment.

According to The New York Times, Erickson wrote an email to the Trump campaign in May 2016 offering to set up a back-channel meeting between the candidate and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Putin is deadly serious about building a good relationship with Mr. Trump,” Erickson wrote, according to the Times. “He wants to extend an invitation to Mr. Trump to visit him in the Kremlin before the election.”

By then, Erickson had known Butina for years. Butina, a gun rights activist from Russia, attended grad school at American University while building relationships in the American conservative movement, with Erickson often serving as her guide.

The pair made no secret of their affinity for Russia. As The Daily Beast previously reported, at her birthday party, she dressed as a Russian empress and he dressed as Rasputin. Guests drank vodka from a bottle emblazoned with a hammer and sickle.

And as Butina built relationships with conservative leaders, Erickson didn’t exactly keep his role under wraps. According to court documents filed by the prosecutors charging Butina, someone called “Person 1” and widely believed to be Erickson boasted to that he was involved in “securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin” and the Republican Party.

The two also worked together on various other projects, including a deal to secure Russian jet fuel for an American middleman. Erickson and Butina worked on the failed business venture with Donna Keene, the wife of former NRA president David Keene, in 2017.

William Hurd of Troutman Sanders, a lawyer for Erickson, declined to comment. A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C. declined to comment as well.

The U.S. Attorney’s Manual recommends that prosecutors send target letters to alert people they are in the feds’ sights.

“At the least, it’s a preliminary determination that they’re going to proceed to indictment,” said Sol Wisenberg, the co-chair of the white collar practice at Nelson Mullins.

Wisenberg said that while people can generally expect to be indicted within a few months of receiving a target letter, there’s no firm rule on how quickly any indictment should follow, if at all.

If investigators charge Erickson under Section 951, he could be the first American publicly accused of acting (or trying to act) as an agent of a foreign government in connection with Russia’s 2016 interference. Other Americans roped up in Russia investigations—including former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort and lobbyist Sam Patten—have faced charges for illegal lobbying, in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. But 951 is different. It’s a rare charge, and the Justice Department’s inspector general wrote in 2016 that prosecutors in its elite National Security Division describe it as “espionage-lite.”

“[A] Section 951 case generally involves espionage-like or clandestine behavior or an otherwise provable connection to an intelligence service, or information gathering or procurement-type activity on behalf of a foreign government,” the inspector general wrote.

Prosecutors in the D.C. U.S. attorney’s office charged Butina with violating Section 951.

Butina said on several occasions that she helped facilitate communications between the Trump campaign and Russia, multiple sources told The Daily Beast for a February 2017 story. In July, the D.C. U.S. attorney’s office charged her with acting as a covert foreign agent and conspiring to commit a crime. Both those charges are also identified in the Erickson target letter.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is not handling Butina’s prosecution. A spokesperson for his office declined to comment on why that is.

Butina is currently in an Alexandria, Virginia, jail. Erickson visits her there regularly, two individuals with knowledge of the meetings told The Daily Beast. ... eign-agent
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:56 am

Flynn sentencing......all the crimes committed DURING the transition are blocked out :)

14 Trump and Russia Questions Robert Mueller Knows the Answers To

Michael Flynn's sentencing memo, filed yesterday with the most intriguing and interesting parts redacted by special counsel Robert Mueller, provided yet another frustrating glimpse into an investigation that seems at times almost maddeningly opaque. It made clear that Flynn was cooperating in three criminal investigations—and that he had cooperated extensively—but shed little light on the "what" or the "how."

Amid the flurry of revelations from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 campaign, it’s worth revisiting the loose ends of his probe. Specifically, focusing on questions that remain mysteries to us but that clearly Mueller himself knows by this point—the Rumsfeldian “known unknowns”—provides particular clarity as to where the investigation will head next.

Decoding Mueller’s 17-month investigation has been a publicly frustrating exercise, as individual puzzle pieces, like Flynn's sentencing memo, often don’t hint at the final assembled picture—nor even tell us if we’re looking at a single interlocking puzzle, in which all the pieces are related, or multiple, separate, unrelated ones.

The sheer breadth of alleged, unrelated criminality by so many different Trumpworld players—from Paul Manafort’s money laundering and European bribes to Michael Flynn’s Turkish conspiracies to Michael Cohen’s tax fraud to even the indictments of the first two members of Congress to endorse Trump, representatives Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter—make it particularly difficult to disentangle what might have transpired at Trump Tower and the White House.

Mueller’s investigation, though, has been remarkably focused and consistent straight through—zeroing in on five distinct investigative avenues: money laundering and Russian-linked business deals; the Russian government’s cyberattack on the DNC, other entities, and state-level voting systems; its related online information influence operations, by the Internet Research Agency; the sketchy contacts by Trump campaign and transition officials with Russia; and the separate question of whether Trump himself, or others, actively tried to obstruct justice by impeding the investigation of the above.

A sixth investigative avenue was opened this spring by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, where Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws by paying hush money to Stormy Daniels and others—which he says occurred at Trump’s instruction.

Mueller’s careful, methodical strategy often only reveals itself in hindsight, as the significance of previous steps becomes clear with subsequent ones. Examining today the totality of what Mueller and prosecutors have shown thus far illuminates numerous areas of clear interest.

Despite the massive revelations—and more than 300 pages of a “Mueller report” that has already been written through court filings—there remain very basic details we still don’t know, starting with three overarching concerns:

1. Is Matt Whitaker overseeing the Russia probe—and is his appointment as attorney general even legal? It’s remarkable how little we know about the status of the acting attorney general, Matt Whitaker, whose appointment is being challenged in multiple legal forums currently as unconstitutional, and whether he’s actively overseeing the Russia investigation. Under immense pressure, Whitaker—who has publicly criticized the Mueller probe and whose appointment seemed designed to hinder Mueller—announced soon after his appointment that he would seek the guidance of Justice Department ethics lawyers, but the department has refused to say whether he’s done so. As Tom Goldstein, one of DC’s most respected Supreme Court attorneys and observers, wrote to the Court, “It is a constitutional crisis even if we are distracted from and dulled to it.”

2. Is Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross involved in any of this? Scandals come and go so quickly in the Trump administration that it’s hard to keep them straight, but it’s worth revisiting that investigative journalists, primarily at Forbes, have spent the year documenting myriad sketchy financial dealings by Cabinet member and billionaire Wilbur Ross, including his apparent ties to a Cyprus bank controlled by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, who has been mixed up with Michael Cohen and whose companies funneled Cohen more than $4.4 million for “consulting services” after Trump’s election. (The same Cyprus bank was a key conduit of Paul Manafort’s alleged money laundering, and cooperated with Mueller’s investigation.) As Cabinet secretary, Ross also maintained part ownership in a shipping company owned by another Russian oligarch who was under sanctions by the US government. While Ross’s scandals have thus far appeared separate from Trump’s, he adds to the unusually large number of Trump associates with complex financial ties to Russia. And Ross’s continued well into his time in the Cabinet, providing another potential point of leverage for Russian influence.

3. How closely related is the investigation of the 2016 election to the Trump Organization’s financial scandals? The Michael Cohen plea agreement highlighted another uncomfortable fact: just how little we know about the business holdings, income, business partners, or investors in Donald Trump’s business empire. Again, earth-shaking scandals sweep past in the Trump era too quickly to remember, so it’s easy to forget that just two months ago, The New York Times reported that Donald Trump as a businessman had engaged in an apparent $400 million tax fraud. Trump money watchers noted quickly that the Times investigation complemented an earlier Washington Post report that pointed to how Trump abruptly switched in the 2000s—when, we now know, his father’s funds dried up—to paying for projects with massive, largely unexplained piles of cash. Around that same time period, Donald Trump, Jr. said that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.” The first rule of any scandal is always the Watergate maxim: Follow the money. Who were, or are, Trump’s business partners, and did any of them play a part in the 2016 election attack? We know from excellent reporting by people like Adam Davidson, in the the New Yorker, that Trump was happy to do business with Russian oligarchs. The June 2016 Trump Tower meeting involved at least some of Trump’s business partners, like Aras Agalarov, who may have moved money around suspiciously soon thereafter. Given how intertwined Russia’s business elite is with Vladimir Putin, it hardly seems like these connections are entirely unrelated to Russia’s multi-pronged attack on the 2016 election.

Beyond those three broader potential scandals—any one of which in ordinary times would have been the subject of wall-to-wall news coverage—a close examination of the state of Mueller’s investigation offers a host of intriguing questions yet to be answered, and puzzle pieces left unplaced:

4. How did Trump himself, and the Trump family, react to Cohen’s updates on various schemes? Michael Cohen’s two plea agreements both discuss his interactions with “Individual 1,” aka Donald Trump. Notably, though, the court filings stop short of providing any clear detail about just how Trump or, in the case of the Trump Tower Moscow project, Trump’s family members reacted to Cohen’s updates. However, Cohen has gone out of his way in court to point out verbally that he acted at the direction of Donald Trump. Prosecutors can’t ethically allow him to say things in court that they don’t have reason to believe are true, so if Cohen is saying that, they almost certainly have documentary evidence to back it up. Remember, prosecutors seized about 291,000 documents in their April raid of Cohen’s office, as well as around 30 iPads, cell phones, computers, and other devices. Cohen himself has made clear that he secretly recorded conversations around Trump, so it’s possible that prosecutors even have some of the exchanges in question verbatim. Given how thorough and detail-rich Mueller’s court filings have been, it seems likely there’s a reason to have left these details out so far.

5. What has Felix Sater told Mueller? The man known as “Individual 2” in the Cohen agreement, real estate developer and peripheral Trump figure Felix Sater, possesses perhaps the most intriguing background of anyone wrapped up in the scandal. He’s a longtime intelligence asset and businessman who was a key participant in the Trump Tower Moscow project. From another case involving the Russian mob, he also has a pre-existing relationship with Andrew Weissmann, Mueller’s bulldog prosecutor. Sater has been apparently cooperating with the special counsel, and that assistance, paired with Michael Cohen—a walking, 70-hour-talking Rosetta Stone of Trumpland—would potentially provide comprehensive insights.

6. What has George Nader told Mueller? Beyond the questions around WikiLeaks, the biggest part of the Trump puzzle that hasn’t seen any public action centers around another enigmatic figure, would-be Middle Eastern power broker George Nader, who, like Sater, apparently has been cooperating for some time with Mueller. A whole series of questions remain about a meeting in the Seychelles involving Blackwater founder Erik Prince. It’s possible that they haven’t come to light because Mueller found nothing there. But given his sustained months of interviews and questions, it seems equally likely Mueller’s building something we haven’t seen.

Mueller’s careful, methodical strategy often only reveals itself in hindsight.
7. What happens to Cozy Bear? The Russian government perpetrated two distinct cyberattacks on the DNC, one by the military intelligence unit GRU, and its hacking team known as “Fancy Bear,” and a separate, apparently uncoordinated attack by the state security service FSB, known as “Cozy Bear.” Mueller brought a narrative-rich indictment against the GRU’s Fancy Bear team, but we know from European reporting that the US knowledge of Cozy Bear’s activities is at least as rich. Dutch intelligence hacked Cozy Bear’s offices and has security camera footage of the individual hackers involved, all of which was turned over to the US. If the Cozy Bear hackers haven’t been charged, there’s presumably a reason—and, given the public knowledge of the Dutch intelligence coup, it’s likely not just about protecting sources and methods. Is there a Cozy Bear shoe still to drop or did the FSB play some larger role in the plot that will become clear in time?

8. Who is the Atlanta traveler? In some ways, the deeply detailed nature of Mueller’s filings make the details he doesn’t include just as interesting. In the Internet Research Agency indictment, he laid out how three IRA employees traveled to the US in 2014. Mueller indicted two of them in February, but left unindicted someone from the Internet Research Agency who evidently traveled to Atlanta as part of the operation for four days in 2014. It’s not for a lack of knowledge. Mueller makes clear in the indictment that he knows the precise IRA official who this unnamed, evidently male traveler filed “his” Atlanta expenses to after the trip—so if this traveler is remaining anonymous, you can bet there's a good reason. Does Mueller have a cooperator from inside the Internet Research Agency?

9. Why was Trump’s team so concerned about the transition documents? It’s easy to lose track of threads of the Trump case, as it sprawls across numerous characters, plots, and subplots, so it’s easy to forget at this point just how much material Mueller has accumulated in his investigation. Fully a year ago, a controversy erupted over how Mueller had (legally) obtained emails from Trump’s presidential transition team. Mueller was using the emails, including those from Jared Kushner, to question witnesses, causing concerns among the president’s lawyers. What was in the documents, and what were the questions, that raised such objections? What did Mueller’s team know that the president’s lawyers had hoped to keep out of their hands?

10. How much more of the Steele Dossier is true? The explosive and infamous “dossier” compiled on Trump’s business activities by one-time MI6 operative Christopher Steele has been the source of controversy since even before BuzzFeed published it for the world to see. Yet as much as Fox News, conservative pundits, and Trump allies have attacked it, much of the dossier—which its creator has always said was meant to reflect merely “raw” intelligence, and not necessarily an endorsement of the information’s veracity—has proven true as we learn more about Trump’s ties to Russia. As former director of national intelligence James Clapper said in May, “As time has gone on, more and more of it has been corroborated.” We’re obviously a long way from knowing whether the most salacious details are true, but thanks to Cohen’s plea agreement, we do know that Russia possessed compromising information about the Trump Organization during the course of the campaign, mainly that it was engaging in business deals in secret in the midst of the election. It’s no longer impossible to imagine that that’s not the only “kompromat” that Russia had.

11. Is it a coincidence that the IRA scheduled a “Down with Hillary” rally in New York, weeks in advance, for the day after WikiLeaks dumped the DNC emails? Bob Mueller’s court filings are filled with interesting dates and nuggets, all pointing to the conclusion that he knows far more—and possesses far more intelligence—than we imagine. He notes without comment, for instance, that Michael Cohen decided to scrap pursuing the Trump Tower Moscow project on June 16, 2016, which happens to be the same date the DNC hack first became public. A similar “date coincidence” appears in the IRA indictment: If the Internet Research Agency knew the date that the Clinton emails would drop on WikiLeaks weeks in advance, how closely did Russia coordinate with WikiLeaks? And how closely did WikiLeaks coordinate with people affiliated with the Trump campaign, given the flurry of attention over the last two weeks around Assange, Corsi, and Stone, all of whom appear to be in prosecutors’ sights?

12. Why isn’t Mueller prosecuting Maria Butina and Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova? The cases of the gun-loving Russian operative, arrested this summer in Washington, and the purported accountant for the Internet Research Agency, charged this fall with interfering with US elections, both have been handled by the Justice Department’s National Security Division, which traditionally handles counterintelligence cases, even though both cases appear to fall squarely in Robert Mueller’s mandate—and he did charge many of Khusyaynova’s IRA colleagues earlier this year. Reporting at the time indicated that the investigation of Butina predated Mueller’s appointment, which could be one reason Mueller didn’t handle her case. Yet given her ties to the NRA and Mueller’s apparent interest in the sources of the NRA’s funding and Russian banker (and alleged Butina handler) Alexander Torshin, it seems like she’d be of great interest to him. Similarly, why was Khusyaynova only charged this fall, when she clearly could have been part of the February indictment? The odd manner in which her case was filed and then unsealed a month later offers intriguing possibilities: Did US officials think they had a chance to catch her overseas somewhere? Both of these cases—and the incongruent manner in which they were handled—point to puzzle pieces we haven’t been shown yet.

13. Why is Mueller charging Michael Cohen? Just as we’re missing puzzle pieces in the Butina and Khusyaynova prosecutions, it’s not fully clear why Mueller handled Michael Cohen’s plea agreement last week. As legal scholar par excellence Paul Rosenzweig noted last week, Cohen’s earlier August case was actually referred out of Mueller’s office to federal prosecutors in New York. The more recent charge of lying to Congress would be typically handled by the US Attorney for the District of Columbia. So the fact that Mueller himself brought Cohen’s latest plea agreement back into his office appears to have significance beyond what we currently understand. Regardless, charging people who lied to Congress as part of its Russia investigation opens new avenues for Mueller. Congressional investigators are already discussing how others might face similar prosecution, including perhaps Donald Trump, Jr. himself. However, it might also mean that Cohen’s discussions about the Trump Tower Moscow project more directly tie into the larger questions about Russia’s influence on the election. Understanding this puzzle piece would also presumably help answer another core question: How intimately ensnared are Don Jr. and Jared Kushner?

14. Was the Guardian correct in reporting that Paul Manafort met with Julian Assange? It’s been a full week since the Guardian’s bombshell report that Trump’s campaign chairman met in person with the founder of WikiLeaks, an incredible story to emerge so late in the investigation. It was seemingly well-sourced, down to misspellings in intelligence documents and the precise outfit Manafort was said to be wearing, yet in the subsequent week, no other news outlet has matched the reporting, despite frantic attempts to. While that’s not necessarily dispositive on its own, there's an old journalism maxim: “Every reporter wants an exclusive, just not for too long.” Meanwhile, the Guardian itself softened some of the language post-publication. Regardless, the Guardian report should be easy for intelligence sources to confirm one way or the other; London is the most surveilled city in the western world, and its blanket of CCTV cameras surely would have proof of Manafort approaching the embassy. The lack of corroboration has led some to wonder: Did someone go out of their way to plant true “fake news?” ... questions/

News: Attorneys General in MD and DC are sending out 37 subpoenas today in Trump’s emoluments case. 13 of them are to Trump-linked entities. They also are sending subpoenas to the DoD, DoJ, Dept of Commerce, Dept of Agriculture and the IRS. Bottom line—They aren’t messing around.

A Congressman sent this letter 11/18/16 to Mike Pence alerting him that Mike Flynn was a paid Russian agent. Pence knew & lied.



December 5, 2018/0 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by emptywheel
I’ve been meaning for some days to update my running commentary on what Mueller’s prosecutors are doing.

But yesterday’s Mike Flynn filing made a point that I’ve been meaning to make: counterterrorism and international extradition expert Zainab Ahmad remains on Mueller’s team, but we’ve barely heard from her.

I’ve recently updated my own running docket (which is far too unwieldy to fit on a page anymore). It also includes a number of related cases:

Michael Cohen’s SDNY prosecution

Sam Patten’s DC prosecution

Maria Butina’s DC prosecution

Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova’s EDVA charges

I’ve also noted the departures of the prosecutors who have left (suggesting either that their part of the investigation is completed, or they’re bringing some part of it back to their home departments at DOJ to pursue).

One thing I’ve been noting in recent Mueller activities is Jeannie Rhee’s seeming central role in what we’re seeing. If there’s a conspiracy-in-chief prosecution, she seems to be in charge of that.

Also of interest, Rush Atkinson appears to have ties to a seemingly disparate series of cases involving Russia: the IRA prosecution and related Pinedo case, the GRU prosecution. He’s also involved in both Michael Cohen’s Mueller prosecution and Jerome Corsi’s aborted cooperation. Notably, he’s not involved in the Andrew Miller subpoena, which may mean that he’s not involved in everything pertaining to Roger Stone. So his presence on a case may suggest a direct tie to Russians.

But perhaps the most interesting thing this docket shows is that, among the prosecutors (as distinct from the appellate specialists, though it’s unclear whether Elizabeth Prelogar is on the team for her Russian expertise as well as her appellate speciality), Zainab Ahmad is the only person whose work we’ve barely seen. While she has had a role in the Flynn cooperation, Brandon Van Grack (who’s in the process of transitioning back to his National Security Division home) took the lead on that.

As an experienced counterterrorism prosecutor normally situated in EDNY (the district where JFK Airport is located), Ahmad is an expert in prosecutions involving extraditions (because of the JFK connection, many of those go through EDNY, and that’s where a lot of the important precedents are). Also of note, given the questions around whether there are two or three parts of a Mueller investigation on which Flynn cooperated, she’s an Arabic speaker.

We’ve not seen a substantive plea or charge related to what I’ll call the Middle Eastern graft (centered around, but not limited to, the Seychelles meeting Flynn attended), though we know that Mueller has spent a lot of time investigating it, and that’s an area where Flynn’s cooperation would be key. Given Ahmad’s skill set, it would make sense that she would be involved in those areas of the investigation. ... orking-on/
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:48 pm


Assistant Attorney General with Ties to Russian Bank Recused from Mueller Investigation

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s position at the Department of Justice continues to draw scrutiny from both Congress and watchdog groups, as does that of Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski, who previously represented the Russian entity Alfa Bank and has been screened off from the special counsel investigation into Russian election interference.

On Wednesday, American Oversight filed a new Freedom of Information Act request for DOJ documents regarding Whitaker’s appointment. The day before, Senate Democrats sent a letter to the DOJ asking for information about the treatment of Whitaker’s financial and political conflicts of interest. In the letter, the senators also noted that the DOJ had provided insufficient information about Benczkowski.

At the time of his confirmation in July, senators voiced concern about Benczkowski’s ties to Alfa Bank, which is owned by oligarchs connected to the Russian government. American Oversight began looking into Benczkowski’s ethics determinations in the following months, and last week received documents in response to a September FOIA request for records about any of his recusals and ethics waivers.

The documents contain communications between the DOJ and senators including Dick Durbin and Sheldon Whitehouse. Durbin and Whitehouse relate their concern over the possibility that Benczkowski could exercise, or appear to exercise, an undue influence over actions taken by the special counsel. The most recent letter contained in the documents comes from Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd on October 18, who told the senators that Benczkowski “requested to be—and is currently—screened off from any matters regarding Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, including any prosecutions arising from the investigation.”

American Oversight also received a copy of Benczkowski’s ethics compliance form, dated October 9, which indicates he received authorization to participate in certain matters related to a “former client.” This week’s letter from Senate Democrats requested more information about this authorization, saying that what they had received from DOJ was too heavily redacted and that the White House usually made such authorizations public.

The senators also focused on Whitaker’s delayed financial disclosures as well as his past work as the executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a conservative group with undisclosed funding. After Whitaker’s appointment, American Oversight began digging into his political and financial conflicts of interest, seeking his recusals and ethics determinations as well as any communications between him and the White House regarding the Mueller investigation.

As news broke last week that President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, it was revealed by the Washington Post that Whitaker had been informed in advance of Cohen’s plea deal. It would be unusual for Whitaker to receive this sort of advance notice without having been cleared by the Ethics Office to participate in matters relating to the Mueller investigation. Prior to his appointment as chief of staff to then–Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Whitaker publicly criticized the investigation, calling it “ridiculous.” ... estigation

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Dec 07, 2018 5:09 pm

trump found out about the interview and......

Kelly was fired today :)

Mueller questioned Kelly in obstruction of justice probe: report

Morgan Gstalter12/07/18 12:15 PM EST
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team interviewed White House chief of staff John Kelly regarding potential obstruction of justice, CNN reported Friday.

Kelly responded to a narrow list of questions from Mueller over the summer, sources told the network. White House lawyers reportedly rejected Mueller’s request for a full interview.

Kelly, who is reportedly expected to announce his departure from the White House in the coming days, would be the highest-ranking White House official known to have provided information during Mueller’s probe.

The questions Kelly reportedly answered centered largely around an alleged incident in which Trump tried to fire Mueller.

The New York Times reported in January that then-White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit if the president ousted the special counsel, something McGahn did not publicly deny.

Mueller reportedly questioned Kelly about his recollection of the events to see if they corroborated McGahn’s version.

The Mueller request to interview Kelly came shortly after the home and office of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, were raided by the FBI.

Sources told CNN that Trump’s acting White House counsel Emmett Flood wanted to establish “ground rules” regarding Kelly’s questioning.

"In order to question a government official about things that happened during the course of government business, you've got to show that it's highly important and you can't get it anywhere else," the source said.

The White House resistance to Kelly being questioned is notable because the Trump legal team had allowed dozens of former campaign staffers and White House aides to be interviewed as part of the investigation, CNN noted.

Kelly became Trump’s chief of staff in July 2017 after previously serving as Homeland Security secretary.

The president and Kelly have had a tumultuous relationship in recent weeks and are no longer on speaking terms, CNN reported earlier Friday. ... obe-report


December 7, 2018/32 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by empty wheel

This is off-topic, but I wanted to share that I was on KPFA in the last few days and the host talked about how great this site is (!!), paying particular attention to the quality of the commenters. He’s right: you guys rock.

Yesterday, the Atlantic captured Rudy Giuliani’s despair, in fairly inexcusable language for a purported defense attorney, of being able to rebut an eventual Mueller report. Rudy himself ascribed his inability to prepare for a Mueller report to the difficulties he faced even getting the President to answer a few questions.

Giuliani said it’s been difficult in the past few months to even consider drafting response plans, or devote time to the “counter-report” he claimed they were working on this summer as he and Trump confronted Mueller’s written questions about the 2016 campaign.

“Answering those questions was a nightmare,” he told me. “It took him about three weeks to do what would normally take two days.”

He blames that difficulty not on the fact that his client is a compulsive liar, but on what looks like a staged interruption from John Kelly, who oh by the way is not in his office this morning, amid reporting that Mueller has already interviewed him.

There was the sheer problem of finding time—Giuliani recalled one instance when they were working on the list and Chief of Staff John Kelly broke in to tell Trump about the migrant caravan, which grabbed the president’s attention immediately. And there was the specificity of the questions themselves: “He’s got a great memory,” Giuliani said. “However, basically we were answering questions about 2016, the busiest year of his life. It’s a real job to remember.”

He also comes perilously close to admitting how uncontrollable this client is.

Giuliani initially pushed back on the prediction that Trump would take center stage after the report drops. “I don’t think following his lead is the right thing. He’s the client,” he told me. “The more controlled a person is, the more intelligent they are, the more they can make the decision. But he’s just like every other client. He’s not more … you know, controlled than any other client. In fact, he’s a little less.”

For Giuliani, letting Trump guide the response post-report may not be ideal, but “I don’t think there’s anyone in the world that can stop Donald Trump from tweeting,” he acknowledged. “I’ve tried.”

That may be necessary to excuse some of the more obvious explanations for Trump’s complaints about his epically corrupt campaign manager being held in protective custody.

The president has also devoted much of his energy to following Paul Manafort’s case rather than prepping for the full report. “The thing that upsets potus the most is the treatment of Manafort,” Giuliani said. When Trump learned that the former campaign chairman was in solitary confinement, Giuliani said, “he said to me, ‘Don’t they realize we’re America?’”

I mean, maybe Trump wants his former campaign manager to meet an untimely death in jail?

Rudy repeated some of the same comments to the WaPo.

Giuliani pronounced himself “disgusted” by the Mueller team’s tactics, complained about the length of time it took to complete written answers to questions from the special counsel’s team and said Mueller’s probe was essentially out of control.

“I think he crossed the line a while ago. I think it’s a situation badly in need of supervision,” Giuliani said. He’s “the special prosecutor of false statements.”

As Jonathan Chait (yes, I am linking Chait, it’s Pearl Harbor Day if you want to mark the date) noted, this despair from Rudy comes as his boasts about progress on a the report have dwindled from an almost-finished report to 58 pages to 45 to not started yet.

So we’ve gone from the first half alone being 58 pages, to the entire report being 45 pages, to “it’s difficult to even consider drafting” the report at all. This is like an episode of Matlock that lasts all season long and where the client is actually guilty and Matlock is going through early-stage dementia.

Meanwhile, others in the Atlantic article describe the problem posed by responding to a “report” that might include real allegations of impeachable offenses.

There have also been few frank conversations within the White House about the potential costs of Mueller’s findings, which could include impeachment of the president or the incrimination of his inner circle. Those close to Trump have either doubled down on the “witch hunt” narrative, they said—refusing to entertain the possibility of wrongdoing—or decided to focus on other issues entirely.


Attempting to plan “would mean you would have to have an honest conversation about what might be coming,” a former senior White House official, who requested anonymity to speak freely, told me.

So the White House is just going to follow the lead of the Tweeter-in-Chief.

“We would always put together plans with the knowledge that he wouldn’t use them or they’d go off the rails,” one recently departed official told me. “And at this point, with Mueller, they’ve decided they’re not even going to do that.”

“It’s like, ‘Jesus, take the wheel,’” the source added, “but scarier.”

Speaking of the Tweeter-in-Chief, very early this morning, Trump started wailing about the Mueller report, in what even for him is a long string of unthreaded (grr) tweets.


That rant was followed a few hours later by a specific denial of Rudy’s comments, followed by a boast (take that, Chait!) that he’s got 87 pages written.


A remarkably chastened Rudy followed up on Trump’s denial to complain that the media was misrepresenting his comments about how difficult answering a few questions was.


This morning at WaPo, I reprised an argument you’re all familiar with: that as Rudy and Trump focus their entire strategy on responding to a final Mueller report, he continues to produce his report in snippets in one after another “speaking indictment.”

Mueller has already been submitting his report, piece by piece, in “speaking indictments” and other charging documents. He has left parts of it hiding in plain sight in court dockets of individuals and organizations he has prosecuted.

Click through for my latest summary of what we’ve seen.

We may (or may not, given the Flynn precedent) see far more before the day is out, with Cohen reports and one Manafort report.

In any case, if you’re counting just the fragments we’re already seeing, Mueller has released the following details beyond what was legally required:

How Paul Manafort runs campaigns for his Russian paymasters: 38 pages (Manafort plea exhibits)

How Russians dangled a Trump Tower to entice Trump: 9 pages (legally superfluous Cohen plea)

How Russian assets dangled stolen emails to entice Trump: 14 pages (Papadopoulos plea)

How Russians hacked — and continued to hack, literally in response to Trump’s request — Hillary: 29 pages (GRU indictment)

How Russians magnified attacks on Hillary and fed disinformation: 37 pages (IRA indictment)

So Mueller has released 127 pages of reporting, much of it legally superfluous, even before charging anyone in the case in chief.

All that’s before Jerome Corsi leaked his 6-page draft statement of the offense, revealing how Roger Stone tried to cover up their advance knowledge of the timing and content of the stolen John Podesta emails. And before whatever we get in the Michael Cohen (which is unlikely to be very detailed) and Paul Manafort (which is) filings today.

Since I first started pointing out how much reporting Mueller was doing in these filings, a whole slew of people in the media have adopted the observation. And now I’ve stolen it myself for the WaPo (note, I didn’t write the headline; I in no way think Mueller has released “most” of his report).

But even with all that reporting, it seems half the Trump strategy still lies in plotting feebly in fearful anticipation of what Mueller might one day report, without noticing what he has already reported.

As I disclosed in July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. ... 127-pages/

Robert Mueller got another cooperator

Sam Patten, an associate of Paul Manafort and Cambridge Analytica, struck a plea deal.

Andrew ProkopAug 31, 2018, 2:07pm EDT
The Mueller investigation has resulted in yet another plea deal. Sam Patten, a Republican lobbyist, pleaded guilty Friday to violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act in his unregistered work for a Ukrainian politician and a Ukrainian oligarch — and agreed to cooperate with the government.

Patten was charged by the US attorney’s office for the District of Columbia. But Mueller’s team referred the investigation there and Patten’s plea agreement specifically says he must cooperate with the special counsel’s office. Andrew Weissmann, an attorney on Mueller’s team, attended Patten’s hearing Friday.

There are several similarities between Patten’s work and the unregistered Ukrainian lobbying allegations against Paul Manafort. Like Manafort, Patten worked for Ukraine’s pro-Russian political faction. Like Manafort, his payments went through offshore accounts in Cyprus.

Also like Manafort, Patten worked closely with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national who Mueller claims is tied to Russian intelligence services. (Mueller indicted Kilimnik alongside Manafort this year for attempted witness tampering, but he is overseas and has not been arrested.)

Weissmann, who attended the Patten hearing, is Mueller’s lead attorney handling the prosecution of Manafort. Manafort was convicted of eight counts of financial crimes in Virginia last week, but he is scheduled to face another trial on conspiracy, unregistered lobbying, and witness tampering charges in Washington, DC, next month.

What Sam Patten pleaded guilty to doing

According to the criminal information document filed by the DC US attorney’s office, Patten and Kilimnik (who is not named but referred to as “Foreigner A”) founded a lobbying and consulting company together. They did campaign work in Ukraine and lobbying work in the US, and were paid over $1 million between 2015 and 2017.

Specifically, the document claims that Patten contacted members of Congress and their staffers, State Department officials, and members of the press on behalf of his Ukrainian clients — all without registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, as required by law.

Patten also admits to helping his Ukrainian oligarch client get around the prohibition on foreign donations to Donald Trump’s inauguration committee. The oligarch sent $50,000 to Patten’s company, and then he gave that money to a US citizen, who bought the four tickets. The tickets were given to the oligarch, Kilimnik, another Ukrainian, and Patten himself.

Finally, Patten also admits to misleading the Senate Intelligence Committee and withholding documents from them during testimony this January.

Who is Sam Patten?

Patten worked for George W. Bush’s State Department, and according to his website, he’s done work in Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Iraq, and Russia. He also worked as the Eurasian program director at Freedom House, a group that promotes democracy and human rights, between 2009 and 2011.

Patten’s ties to Kilimnik were known publicly and described in profiles by the Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay and the Atlantic’s Natasha Bertrand earlier this year. Indeed, Patten even publicly defended Kilimnik in the press when he came under Mueller’s scrutiny this year.

Intriguingly, Patten is also tied to the controversial political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. Patten told the Daily Beast earlier this year that he worked with the company in its 2014 US elections work and on “several overseas campaigns.”

Cambridge later did work for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and came under investigative scrutiny for, among other things, its use of Facebook data. Mueller’s team reportedly looked into Cambridge Analytica in their Russia probe, but has not charged any matter related to the firm.

This is the third known referral by Robert Mueller to other Justice Department offices — but now, Patten is cooperating with Mueller

Either because of lack of resources or a desire to avoid expanding his probe too much beyond the central players in the Russia investigation, Mueller is now known to have referred several potentially criminal matters he has discovered to other offices in the Justice Department to investigate.

The special counsel reportedly referred another inquiry of prominent Washington figures’ Ukrainian lobbying to the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), this one concerning Tony Podesta, Vin Weber, and Greg Craig. (This trio worked with Manafort and his associate Rick Gates on some of their Ukraine projects.)

Mueller also referred the investigation of Michael Cohen for tax and campaign finance violations to SDNY (though he appears to have continued investigating Cohen on matters related to Russia). Cohen pleaded guilty on eight counts in the SDNY case last week.

The charge here — not registering as a foreign agent under FARA — is believed to be widespread in Washington, but it is rarely prosecuted. Mueller’s probe, however, seems to have turned up a plethora of evidence of such violations, even for figures he hasn’t closely focused on.

The Patten investigation is the third known probe Mueller has referred. Yet this does not seem to have been a complete handoff, since his plea agreement specifically mentions he must cooperate with the special counsel’s office. So Patten has become Mueller’s newest cooperator. ... a-manafort
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Dec 07, 2018 6:07 pm


Russian money......




Here's what Cohen has provided Mueller:




Cohen continued to lie abt the Trump Tower project in his first Mueller meeting (which was well after Sater had come clean publicly).



Here's the Mueller one, which notes that Cohen released his false story publicly so other witnesses could coordinate, something I wrote 1000000 words on today.


Leah McElrath

"...These offenses reveal A MAN WHO KNOWINGLY SOUGHT TO UNDERMINE CORE INSTITUTIONS OF OUR DEMOCRACY. His motivation to do so was not borne from naiveté, carelessness, misplaced loyalty, or political ideology. Rather, these were knowing and calculated acts..." [emphasis added]

"Cohen publicly and privately took credit for Individual-1’s political success, claiming – in a conversation that he secretly recorded – that he “started the whole thing . . . started the whole campaign” in 2012 when Individual-1 expressed
an interest in running for President."

"Cohen’s commission of two campaign finance crimes on the eve of the 2016 election for President of the United States struck a blow to one of the core goals of the federal campaign finance laws: transparency...Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows."
Image ... r%5Eauthor

Moscow project sought hundreds of millions from Russian sources

So now Trump is under criminal investigation in two offices.

In Manafort sentencing news

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Dec 08, 2018 10:57 am

Jim Breyer, Mitch McConnell's brother-in-law, Facilitates Russia’s Takeover of Facebook through Yuri Milner

In 2005 Jim Breyer, a partner at Accel Partners, invested $1 million of his own money into Facebook and gained a seat on the board (1).

In Feb 2009 Jim Breyer visited Russia with a number of other Silicone Valley investors. While there, Yuri Milner, a Russian tech entrepreneur who founded DST with close ties to the Kremlin, hosted a dinner to cap the entire event (2). As one Moscow source put it:

DST has the backing of the big boys at the top in the Kremlin, which is why it will go from strength to strength (5)

Milner found out Breyer liked Impressionist art and took him to Russian’s Hermitage Museum to view Matisse paintings otherwise closed off to the public. Three months later Yuri Milner’s DST invested into Facebook at a bloated value. (2)

Mr Milner dismissed suggestions that at a valuation of $10bn he overpaid for his stake in Facebook, especially given that the social networking site has yet to prove it has turned to profit. (3)

it’s seen as a desperate and rather vulgar deal on the one hand—Milner buying a small stake in Facebook, valuing the entire company at $10 billion—and, on the other, Facebook debasing itself by taking Russian money. Russian money! In fact, it seems rather like a desperate deal for both parties (in the midst of the banking crisis, Facebook has only two other bidders for this round—and none from the top VC tier) (4)

By the end of 2009, DST would own 10% of Facebook. Later revealed by the Paradise Papers, DST’s investments into Facebook were financed by the Russian government through state-owned Gazprom. That’s right, in 2009 Russia owned 10% of Facebook. (6)

Soon after, the two continued to work together on other investments. Breyer introduced Milner to Groupon, and Milner helped Breyer’s Accel invest into Spotify (7). In 2010 an Accel representative joined a gaggle of Silicon Valley investors to Russia and signed a letter promising to invest into the country (8). ... s-funding/ ... in-russia/ ... sians.html ... dman-sachs ... r-investor ... own-roots/

Jim Breyer and Rupert Murdoch

Then in Nov 2010 Jim Breyer invested into, run by Rupert Murdoch’s then-wife, Wendi Deng, and Russia oligarch Roman Abramovich’s then-wife, Dasha Zhukova. Jared Kushner’s brother, Josh, also invested in the fledgling company (1).

At the time Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation had a joint venture with the Russian mob-linked oligarch Boris Berezovsky, called LogoVaz News Corporation, that invested in Russian media (4). It was Berezovsky’s protege close to Putin, Roman Abramovich, who tied Berezovsky to the mob.

According to the Mirror Online, Abramovich paid Berezovsky tens, and even hundreds, of millions every year for "krysha", or mafia protection. (5)

In June 2011, Rupert Murdoch ended his foray into social media by selling Myspace to Justin Timberlake (2) and elected Jim Breyer to the board of News Corp (3). ... als-2016-6 ... ... -news-corp

Jim Breyer invests in Wickr with Erik Prince

In 2012 Breyer invested in a encrypted messenger app, Wickr. Other investors include Gilman Louie and Erik Prince. To understand the connection, we need to go back to 1987. Breyer, newly hired to Accel Partners, made his first investment with Louie’s video game company that owned the rights to the Soviet Union’s first video game export, Tetris (1).

Louie went off to become the founding CEO of the CIA-backed In-Q-Tel which invested in Palantir. Palantir’s founder, Peter Thiel, sat on the board of Facebook with Breyer (2)(3). On the board of In-Q-Tel is Buzzy Krongard (7), the man who helped Erik Prince’s Blackwater receive their first CIA contract, who also joined the board of Blackwater in 2007 (6).

Around that same time, 2012-2013, Prince met Vincent Tchenguiz, founder of Cambridge Analytica's parent company, SCL (8), and was introduced to Cyrus Behbehani of Glencore, one of the purchasers of Rosneft stock detailed in the Steele Dossier (9). Cyrus Behbehani sat on the board of RusAl with Christophe Charlier, who is also Chairman of the board at Renaissance Capital (10), an early investor of DST (11). ... im-breyer/ ... 904775.php ... sts-226969 ... tancy-llc/ ... biography/ ... -1.5627887 ... 03f06c6568 ... 03f06c6568 ... hnologies/

Jim Breyer and Yuri Milner invest in Prismatic

That same year, 2012, Jim Breyer invested in Prismatic, a news aggregate app, with Yuri Milner.

Prismatic’s technology works by crawling Facebook, Twitter and the web (“anything with a URL”) to find news stories. It then uses machine learning to categorize them by Topic and Publication. Prismatic users follow these Topics and Publications, as well as Individuals and the algorithm then uses these preferences and user-activity signals to present a relevant Newsfeed. (1)

Sounds like the beginning of what could be a propaganda dissemination tool. That goes in-line with Yuri Milner’s vision of Social Media. Milner’s theory:

“Zuckerberg’s Law”: Every 12 to 18 months the amount of information being shared between people on the web doubles... Over time people will bypass more general websites such as Google in favor of sites built atop social networks where they can rely on friends’ opinions to figure out where to get the best fall handbag, how to change a smoke detector, or whether to vacation in Istanbul or Rome. “You will pick your network, and the network will filter everything for you,” Milner explained. (2)

So how does Milner intend to utilize the data gathered through social media? Let’s see what Milner did to Russia’s top social media site, VK:

In January 2014, Durov sold his 12 percent stake to Ivan Tavrin, the CEO of major Russian mobile operator Megafon, whose second-largest shareholder is Alisher Usmanov, one of Russia’s most powerful oligarchs, a man who has long been lobbying to take over VK.

Then, in April 2014, Durov stated he had sold his stake in the company and became a citizen of St Kitts and Nevis back in February after "coming under increasing pressure" from the Russian Federal Security Service to hand over personal details of users who were members of a VK group dedicated to the Euromaidan protest movement in Ukraine. (3)

The Euromaidan protest ousted the Russian-backed president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, whom Paul Manafort had worked to install. (4) ... in-russia/ ... ng-bitcoin

Facebook talks US Elections with Russia

In Oct 2012 Zuckerberg traveled to Moscow and met Dmitry Medvedev where they had a very interesting conversation:

Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Medvedev talked about Facebook’s role in politics, though only jokingly in reference to its importance in the American presidential campaign, according to Mr. Medvedev’s press office. (1)

While there he also visited Victor Vekselberg's Skolkovo, who’s currently under investigation by Mueller for donations to Trump (2).

As Obama’s effort to reboot diplomatic relations [with Russia] sputtered, federal officials began raising alarms about the Skolkovo Foundation’s ties to Putin.

“The foundation may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research, development facilities and dual-use technologies” (3)

And took time to teach Russian's how to hack Facebook friend data, the same hack used by Cambridge Analytica, Donald Trump’s campaign data firm.

In a 2012 video, Facebook's Simon Cross shows the Moscow crowd how they can "get a ton of other information" on Facebook users and their friends. "We now have an access token, so now let's make the same request again and see what happens," Cross explains (YouTube). "We've got a little bit more data, but now we can start doing really interesting stuff. We can get my friends. We can get some more information about one of my friends. Here's Connor, who you'll meet later. Say 'hello,' Connor. He's waving. And we can also get a ton of other information as well." (4)

Facebook later hired the individual who hacked Facebook and sold the data to Cambridge Analytica (5).

A month after that visit, Putin propaganda mouth-piece Konstantin Rykov, claims he began helping with Trump’s presidential aspirations (6). Days later, Trump registered “Make America Great Again” (7). The following year, Russia's Troll Factory, the Internet Research Agency, was created as was Cambridge Analytica. ... arket.html ... -skolkovo/ ... st-US-ties ... e&t=11m54s ... cellor-gsr ... ain-sight/ ... 83371.html

Andrei Shleifer and Len Blavatnik

Len Blavatnik, a US-Russian oligarch currently under investigation by Mueller, graduated from Harvard in 1989 and quickly formed Renova-Invest with Viktor Vekselberg, another oligarch under Mueller’s investigation (7)(8). Since then Blavatnik has maintained close ties to the university.

In 1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Andrei Shleifer led a consortium of Harvard professors to assist Russia’s vice-president, Antaoly Chubais, with the privatization of Russia’s state-run assets. Scandal broke when it was revealed Shleifer, through Blavatnik’s company and with Blavatnik’s guidance, invested in the very companies he worked to privatize. (6)

Years later, Shleifer continued to fund loans to Blavatnik for Russian ventures through his hedge fund, managed by his wife, Nancy Zimmerman (9), and created the Russian Recovery Fund which bought $230 million of Russian debt from Julian Robertson’s Tiger Management (10), who’s seed fun, Tiger Global, later invested in Milner’s DST.

Len Blavatnik and Viktor Vekselberg are major investors in Rusal (11).

Schleifer is still a professor at Harvard. ... rvard.html ... nikeyeff-7 ... d=50100024 ... s-playlist ... 03-14.html ... -quicktake

Breyer and Harvard

On April 2013, two months after Breyer was elected to the board of Harvard (1), Len Blavatnik, donated $50 million to the school (2) and joined the Board of Dean’s Advisors (3)(4) and Harvard’s Global Advisory Council (6) alongside Breyer. The next month Breyer announced plans to step down from the board of Facebook with an intention of focusing on his latest Harvard appointment (5).

In 2016 Len Blavatnik donated over $7 million to GOP candidates, including $2.5 million to Mitch McConnell himself (7). ... r_elected/ ... _donation/ ... ommittees/ ... reyer.html ... ping-down/ ... uncil.html ... -campaigns

Breyer invests in Russian Companies

In 2014 Breyer’s Accel Partners invested in Russian hotel booking site, Ostrovok, along with Yuri Milner, Esther Dyson (1), Mark Pincus, and Peter Thiel (2).

Accel Partners also invested in in 2012 (3) and in 2011 (4). ... de-russia/ ... ng-vostok/ ... m-funding/

Jim Breyer, Blackstone Group, and Saudi Arabia

In 2011 Schwarzman was named to the board of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (2), headed by Kirill Dimitriev.

In June 2016, during Trump’s presidential campaign, Jim Breyer met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman, or MBS (8). The next month Breyer joined the board of Blackstone Group (1) alongside Stephen Schwarzman and Jacob Rothschild (3). In the past Blackstone Group had loaned Kushner Companies a combined $400 million over multiple projects (7).

Jacob’s brother, Nat, is business partners with both Oleg Deripaska (4), Rupert Murdoch, and Dick Cheney (5). Nat is also a major investor in Glencore, one of the purchasers of Rosneft stock detailed in the Steele Dossier (6), and RusAl.

In January 2017, Breyer’s business partner at Wickr, Erik Prince, was introduced to Dimitriev by MBS’s emissary, George Nader, and the Crown Prince of the UAE (10).

On October 22, 2018, three weeks after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, when most American investors were spooked away from Saudi Arabia, Jim Breyer showed up at an MBS-hosted Saudi business summit alongside Kirill Dimitriev of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (9). That same day, MBS pledged $20 billion for Blackstone Group's new infrastructure fund (11) to fund Elaine Chao's $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan (12). Elaine Chao, Mitch McConnells wife and Jim Breyer's sister-in-law, is Trump's Secretary of Transportation. ... -directors ... Rothschild ... borne.html ... ional-law/ ... Rothschild ... cent-deals ... 160628142/ ... story.html ... es-mueller ... astructure ... astructure ... ne_of_the/

Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Dec 08, 2018 12:14 pm

Seth Abramson Interview: Author Formulates Substantive Case for Trump-Russia Collusion

Melissa Parker
Seth Abramson
Seth Abramson is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, legal advocacy and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is the author of eight books and editor of five anthologies. In November 2018, Abramson released Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America, the first, full, explosive record of how a United States president compromised American foreign policy in exchange for financial gain and covert election assistance.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the PhD program in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two one-year-old rescue Hounds, Quinn and Scout.

“As far as Republicans go, people often say that they will never support impeachment in the Senate. But now, they won’t have the numbers to block it in the House.”

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Seth, the book is very interesting, and I really like the layout in each chapter with the subheadings of Summary, Facts and Annotated History. How did you decide on those subheadings?

Seth Abramson: One of the things that I realized very quickly was that the Trump-Russia collusion narrative is really 75 different narratives involving different people, different places on different continents, different types of transactions, different areas of subject matter expertise. So the struggle for me, my agent and editor, was trying to figure out how to simultaneously tell these 75 narratives and the ways in which they intertwined without losing people.

I came up with the idea, with advice from others, that what was needed in each chapter was sort of the 10,000-foot view of that period of the story and then the narrative proper, but then also a space in each chapter where I could really drill down on individual parts of the narrative. That was because every aspect of the story has such a depth to it that if you were to explore at that level each stage of the 75 narratives, you’d have a 3,000-page book. So that’s how we came up with this idea of essentially a book within a book within a book. You can read the book at one level of specificity or another or a level of generality that you get just from the summaries.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What kind of researching went into writing the book?

Seth Abramson: I’ve been researching the Trump-Russia narrative for about two years since December of 2016. So a lot of the archiving of investigative reports from reliable media outlets around the world has happened during that period of time. Some of it is stored on my social media feed where I’ve been compiling all these stories, some of it on my computer and some of it, frankly, in my head. I’ve had to create a sort of a mental picture or map or really most importantly, a timeline of events that I can keep in my head and have recall for at a moment’s notice. So it’s a lot of digital research and then a lot of mental construction of a complicated timeline that sort of weaves together those 75 narratives.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Over the last couple of years, you’ve been called everything from a conspiracy theorist to an attention seeker for your tweets and theories of the Trump-Russia collusion scandal. How would you answer those critics, and what kept you going?

Seth Abramson: The Trump-Russia collusion scandal is the most significant domestic political news story of any of our lifetimes, and by its end, it may be considered internationally significant to the same degree. I’ve been a politically committed journalist for over 15 years, so when I saw that the country I love was entering a period of national crisis and emergency, I asked myself, as I think millions of Americans have asked themselves, “Is there anything I can do?” I considered my skillsets as a writer, a journalist, a post-internet cultural theorist, an attorney, an obsessive researcher and a former criminal investigator, and I created a public research venue through my Twitter feed, in which Americans could learn more information about the most complex, far-ranging criminal investigation any of us have ever seen.

I felt (and feel) that my Twitter feed is one of the more valuable contributions I personally can make at this moment; others are making other contributions that are likewise in line with their idiosyncratic roster of talents and interests. So it’s against that backdrop that I can honestly say I have little to no reaction to those who are strangers to me who believe they understand my motives or who so little understand the Trump-Russia criminal conspiracy (especially in light of the historically frightening degree of inculpatory evidence that conspiracy has produced in the last two years) as to regard it as mere theory.

As for what keeps me going: a sense that the nation’s rule of law, election security and commitment to democracy is genuinely under existential threat. I think that would keep anyone going. But I admit to being, like everyone else, exhausted by the daily accounting of the ways, large and small, in which a single venal politician (who lost the popular vote for his office by millions of votes) is putting all we hold dear under threat.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is there any new information in the book that the public is not yet aware of?

Seth Abramson: I think there are several types of new information in the book. One is information from overseas media outlets that exists and was available to be seen by American news readers but never was just because we’re all not as fluent with international media, of course, as we are with domestic media. So I think many people would be surprised to find out, for instance, about the interviews that George Papadopoulos gave with Greek media or some of the things that Hungarian media were reporting regarding the national security aides to the president and that many of them made unexplained trips to Hungary in the middle of 2016 during the presidential campaigns. There’s that type of new information.

There are a few instances in which there is new information that I myself uncovered. I’m not an investigative reporter. I’m what’s called a curatorial journalist. In a few instances, just within the process of being a curatorial journalist, if you come across two pieces of information and realize a connection between them, that naturally happens with curatorial journalism that has not yet been reported.

That’s the reason why, as I was writing the book from December 2016 on, there were many times when I would have conversations with conventional investigative reporters, and they would be getting information from me that they hadn’t heard before because I just happened to see two stories that had been reported across time and space by reliable investigative journalists that had a gap between them which I knew could be filled in by a third story that I had read. So the result of that triangulation of information was the production of new knowledge. I think that’s something that could happen in digital reporting that is new in a sense. Creating a matrix of existing stories allows the production of new information.

A third type of new information that I think readers will come across is just the fact that this is the most complex, far-ranging criminal investigation of our lifetimes, and as a result, even people who are avid Trump-Russia watchers and readers will find that they’ve only come across maybe 20% of what’s in the book simply because there’s so much information to take in that it’s almost impossible to do so with any sort of fidelity unless you’re really dedicating many, many hours each week to not just reading what’s coming out in real time, but going back in the archive to stories that fell through the cracks, and that’s something that the book does.

So I think people who are reading it right now are reporting all sorts of new information that’s coming in to them. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it was never reported anywhere. But it does mean that it will be new to the overwhelming majority of readers.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I believe that your conclusion is that even though the Mueller report has not been made public in its entirety, the evidence of Donald Trump’s collusion with Russia is already there. So is there a particular smoking gun that led you to this conclusion?

Seth Abramson: I think there’s three things I would say there. One is that even though this book is a pretty comprehensive account of the public information that we have on Trump-Russia collusion, which the book goes all the way back to 1987 with media reports going back to 2016, it’s probably an estimating 20% of what Robert Mueller has. So when we say, “Even without Robert Mueller’s report, we have the evidence in this book,” that’s true. Then I would add to that and say that we’re possibly going to have four or five times as much information once we get a report from Robert Mueller. That’s the first thing I’ll say.

The second thing is to clarify how collusion is defined by the book, which is addressed in the introduction. Collusion is only a legal term in antitrust law. It is otherwise a lay term. I use it even though it’s a lay term because it’s an umbrella term under which you find several dozen federal criminal statutes that are implicated by the Trump-Russia collusion narrative.

People sometimes say to me, “Why don’t you just say conspiracy?” The answer is that conspiracy is, in fact, a federal criminal statute, but it’s only one of the several dozen that are implicated by this particular fact pattern, and as a result, if I say “conspiracy,” I’m actually narrowing the story impermissibly, in my view, as a journalist. For that reason, I say “collusion,” and then explain just very early on in the book that I don’t discuss collusion as a legal term, but it will help us understand what’s actually happening.

When I say several dozen criminal statutes that are contained within the term collusion, I’m referring to, just to give you a brief for instance, bribery, money laundering, aiding and abetting computer crimes after the fact, illegal solicitation of foreign donations, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, perjury, making false statements, lying to Congress, Foreign Agents Registration Act, and it goes on and on and on. But we need a term to encapsulate that panoply of crimes.

Now, let me give you the direct answer to your question of a smoking gun. One of the things that I often say to people is that I approached this book as someone who practiced criminal law as an attorney for many years, who’s been a criminal investigator, who has also been a journalism professor and a practicing journalist. I ask myself, within those roles, whether the totality of the evidence on each of these individual potential federal criminal violations, if it were put before a jury, what the reaction of the jury would be. What I tend to say to people is that it would blow their hair back. It is that powerful.

Having said that, people sometimes ask, “Do we have a movie style, Hollywood style smoking fun like the scene in a movie where someone opens a door, and Donald Trump is sitting at a computer hacking into the DOD and Vladimir Putin is standing over his shoulder?” No. And you almost never get that in complicated federal or even state level investigations nor is that what is required to prove a case in a court in the United States. But when people ask, “Could you present this case to a jury?” The answer is, “Absolutely, and you would be shocking that jury at every single stage.” That’s the primary answer.

The secondary answer I give is that, from my standpoint as an attorney, investigator and journalist, there are individual facts here where, in the view of an attorney, would be considered a smoking gun in the context of presenting something to a jury. I’ll give you an example of that. A national security advisor of Donald Trump, J. D. Gordon, says that he was explicitly ordered by Donald Trump himself on March 31, 2016, to change the RNC platform in a way that tremendously benefitted the Kremlin. He then executed that change of the Republican National Convention at Donald Trump’s order at a time when he was on the phone regularly that day with Donald Trump getting his orders.

The platform was changed. Gordon lied about it to the media. Paul Manafort lied about it to the media. Donald Trump lied and said that he had no knowledge of the change. Meanwhile, a top Kremlin agent, Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate of Paul Manafort, was telling all his friends in Russia, “I negotiated that change of the Republican national platform by working with people on the Trump team.” That is a smoking gun of collusion as a for instance.

Likewise, George Papadopoulos says that he went to a national security meeting at the Trump International Hotel in DC on March 31, 2016, sat down with Donald Trump and 11 other national security advisors and informed the room that he had been secretly in contact with the Kremlin, was acting as a secret intermediary for the Kremlin, wanting to set up a secret clandestine meeting between Trump and Putin and had been authorized by Kremlin agents to negotiate on their behalf to make that happen. He said this directly to Donald Trump. He wasn’t fired. He wasn’t reported to the FBI.

In fact, Papadopoulos was immediately promoted to be one of Trump’s top Russia advisors even though he had no specialty in Russian politics or geopolitics. He was a Middle Eastern oil guy. But he was immediately put on Trump speechwriting team for his first foreign policy speech. That would be considered a smoking gun of a desire to and in fact a successful execution of a clandestine mutual agreement between Kremlin agents and Trump himself to secretly collude without informing the American people. Those are smoking guns, but the Hollywood moment that people want would probably be in Mueller’s report even though the smoking guns already exist. I tend to say there are about 50 smoking guns from a legal standpoint in proof of collusion.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What is the starting point for the quid pro quo agreement between Donald Trump and Russia in your money-for-sanctions theory?

Seth Abramson: The broad shape of the quid pro quo is that Donald Trump wanted current and future business opportunities in Russia. He wanted the maintenance of his relationship with hundreds of Russian oligarchs who were his present clients at the Trump Organization paying him hundreds of millions of dollars if not in the low billions in rents and whose continued payments were essentially a spigot controlled by Vladimir Putin, so he wanted that money to continue to roll in.

What Vladimir Putin wanted was a politician who was electable in the United States as president who would support the unilateral dropping of sanctions on Russia. There’s a couple of points to make there. Number one, the dropping of sanctions was not worth millions or billions of dollars to the Russians. It was worth trillions of dollars, much of that in new oil exploration and in partnership with some US entities. But essentially, Russia was not able to execute the Arctic Ocean exploration that it wanted to because of the sanctions. Just that alone was in the trillions of dollars.

On the other side of the unilateral dropping of sanctions against Russia, there was absolutely no financial or diplomatic or geopolitical benefit to the United States to unilaterally drop sanctions, so that’s why it’s a unilateral dropping to the extent that the United States is getting nothing in return. That’s what Putin wanted, and that’s what his primary ambition was in striking a quid pro quo.

But within that broad quid pro quo structure, we should clarify there are specific moments where that quid pro quo crystallizes in an actual event. Felix Sater, a longtime real estate agent of Donald Trump, was working on a very specific deal with a Kremlin-owned bank and a Russian oligarch by the name of Andrey Rozov in 2015 and 2016 while Trump was running for president.

Felix Sater’s missives to Donald Trump during this time makes it very clear that it is a quid pro quo, that this building can happen, which was worth many millions of dollars to Trump. Trump has a pro-Russian foreign policy, and his foreign policy is a euphemism often used by Russian agents of promoting peace between our two countries, But, of course, peace can only be had in Putin’s view if the United States unilaterally drops sanctions.

So we even have emails and letters from Felix Sater to Michael Cohen and Donald Trump which are establishing that these two things are juxtaposed. So you have Trump’s pro-Russian foreign policy and Vladimir Putin’s willingness to let the deal go through. The quid pro quo was both philosophical and conceptual, decades long and broad based, but it also led to specific events.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You also speak about the “second letter of intent that Trump signed” to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. What is the significance of that?

Seth Abramson: American voters need to understand that, while he was running for president, Trump and his top aides were negotiating not one but two multi-billion dollar Moscow real estate deals with the Kremlin. Those negotiations were deliberately kept secret from the media, from voters, and even from the top brass at the Trump Organization. And the reason those conversations and those fairly well-advanced deal negotiations remained clandestine is that they would have explained, almost instantly, Donald Trump’s historically pro-Russia foreign policy, which was the immediate dropping of all sanctions on Russia for its 2014 annexation of Crimea. That foreign policy was worth trillions to Russia over the next decade and yet had absolutely no value to America.

In fact, Trump’s foreign policy toward Russia was and is a danger to our national interests and national security. So those two letters of intent (as well as the ways in which the deals they undergirded had advanced further than a letter of intent, to the point of securing building sites and financing for the project) are a shibboleth of sorts that unlock the “money-for-sanctions relief” quid pro quo at the heart of the Trump-Russia scandal.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): This theory is now being widely recognized. Do you believe you should be acknowledged by the media and given credit for your work?

Seth Abramson: I think anyone who’s actively using their professional skillset in the public sphere wants to be treated as a professional, and part of being treated as a professional is experiencing the courtesy of having one’s work honored when it’s used by others. To want to be appreciated for one’s efforts is a very human quality, I think.

That said, in the larger picture, it doesn’t matter much where the credit for this or that element of the coverage of the Trump-Russia story lies or where it goes. A just resolution of the Trump-Russia investigation is finally what’s important. So, while on occasion, I’ll note on my Twitter feed the ways in which independent, freelance digital journalists are both invisibly relied up and deliberately sidelined in American media culture, tweets addressing that topic make up less than 1% of what I post on my feed. The rest of the tweets (besides those few about some of my other, non-political interests) are focused on the chief issue at hand: will America survive (at least as we know it) the current threat to its rule of law and system of government?

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): John Brennan called Trump’s failure to acknowledge Russian’s election meddling at the press conference in Helsinki as “nothing short of treasonous.” Can collusion, if proven in this case, rise to the crime of treason?

Seth Abramson: Not in this case, but generally speaking, it could. Obviously, if you have a case where someone commits capital “T” treason where they violate a federal statute called treason, that would be in the context of collusion. In this case, what I think the former CIA director was referring to was the small “t” treason, the lay person’s definition of that term which is simply treacherous conduct that is a betrayal of the United States and is a violation of federal criminal statutes, but not the treason statute particularly.

The reason that federal statute capital “T” doesn’t apply here is that there has to be a declared war between two countries. I think we can credibly say that there was a hot cyberwar occurring between Russia and the United States where Russia was the unilateral aggressor in 2016, but the United States was not in a declared state of war with Russia, and therefore, the treason statute does not apply.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): If Donald, Jr., Eric, Ivanka and/or Jared Kushner are indicted, what’s the likelihood that they will cooperate with Robert Mueller?

Seth Abramson: With Don, Jr., I can foresee legal trouble for lying to Congress. The media reports so far say that he is probably going to be indicted. He believes that. His family believes that, and that’s the whispers among Washington attorneys who have gone before the grand jury for Mueller. I do think that Robert Mueller would like to turn Donald, Jr. if he could. I don’t know whether he’ll be able to or not because obviously, Donald Trump, Sr. is his father but also is the basis for his entire family inheritance. There would have to be a substantial amount of prison time put on the table against Donald Trump, Jr. for him to flip.

Eric Trump, on several occasions, has let it slip that the Trumps, in fact, have a substantial financial connection to Russia despite what the patriarch of the family is saying. So there’s no question that Robert Mueller would love to interrogate Eric as to those connections. But at this point, it doesn’t seem that he has any criminal statutes that he could bring to bear against Eric. For that reason, Mueller would only get that information during a voluntary interview, and the moment he tries to bring in Eric Trump for a voluntary interview, there’s a real chance he’d get fired either directly or indirectly by the president, so I don’t think he wants to go there.

Jared Kushner is one of the really bad actors here, someone who was attempting to make hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars off US foreign policy in a clandestine way involving individuals from a number of different nations, not just Russia. And yet there have been persistent rumors that he’s cooperating with Robert Mueller out of his own self interest and to save his own skin. His level of cooperation would have to be extraordinary because otherwise, he’d be one of the major targets of this investigation.

The same thing was true of Michael Flynn really. So the sweetheart deal that he got from Robert Mueller suggests that he has given an extraordinary level of cooperation and insight to Robert Mueller about the Trump-Russia collusion. If that’s true, I don’t know that Jared has given to Mueller that level required for him to escape any criminal liabilities here. So I tend to think Jared will not escape legal difficulty in the long run and that he’s probably not cooperating.

Certainly, we think Ivanka is a confidante of Donald Trump and would have a lot to offer Robert Mueller. But there are no criminal statutes that we can clearly see she has violated. Therefore, it’s not clear how Mueller could get to her without putting a rift in the entire investigation by angering the president by interviewing or interrogating Ivanka.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What do you believe Robert Mueller’s report will contain, and will the Republicans in Congress support his findings?

Seth Abramson: I don’t think Donald Trump will be indicted, certainly not tried because he can’t be. But I don’t think he’ll even be indicted while he is sitting in office because there’s a DOJ regulation that advises against that, and I think Robert Mueller would follow that guideline. That said, the proscription against indicting a sitting president doesn’t apply to anybody else. It doesn’t even apply to the vice-president if evidence of criminality is found on the vice-president.

About all Mueller can do is indict a large number of people and have those people involved in cooperation deals where they give significant enough information regarding criminality by Donald Trump, which the DOJ then gives to Congress as a referral for impeachment proceedings. Impeachment proceedings to not preclude him being criminally tried once he is removed from the Oval Office should that happen or once his presidential term ends. So it’s not that Donald Trump can never be indicted or tried, just not while he’s in office.

As far as Republicans go, people often say that they will never support impeachment in the Senate. But now, they won’t have the numbers to block it in the House. Important analysis is notwhat they would do now. Right now, there have been no leaks from the Mueller investigation, so I wouldn’t expect them to turn against Donald Trump. The question is, what will they do when there’s a 1,000+ page report on their desk alleging things that are not currently in the public sphere?

What I believe is that the Mueller report will show a year’s long course of bribery, money laundering possibly to the extent of RICO violations on the part of the Trump Organization, which were the approximate cause of Donald Trump’s historically pro-Russian foreign policy and historically anti-America to the extent that the foreign policy he offered toward Russia had no benefit whatsoever to the United States. So I think it will show that.

I think it will also show that there was an illegal source of donations during the campaign. I think it will show that after August 17, 2016, when Donald Trump and Michael Flynn had their first classified security briefing as Trump being the candidate of the Republican Party, they were told the Russians were committing cybercrimes against the United States and trying to influence the election. I think that Robert Mueller will find that after that meeting, Donald Trump engaged in sufficient actions to be charged with aiding and abetting computer crimes after the fact by trying to cover up, with the assistance of the Russians who had committed the hacking and who committed the disinformation propaganda campaign, any role the Russians had in coordinating WikiLeaks to get this information to the American voters.

All of that is separate from the other half of Mueller’s investigation which we broadly call obstruction. But I think what will be found is that Donald Trump, absolutely on multiple occasions, committed multiple counts of obstruction of justice, quite possibly witness tampering as well, including witness tampering on his own son’s statement regarding the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. I think there will be a lot of charges committed by Trump aides all the way up to Jeff Sessions for perjury, making false statements, lying to Congress and failing to properly register as a foreign agent. There are many different lines this will follow.

If you ask me how long I would expect the entirety of the Mueller report to be, this is a report that could easily be 2,000 or 3,000 pages because just the money laundering component of this would be very long. Donald Trump’s financial universe, as the head of the Trump Organization, is incredibly complicated. Just laying out the money laundering aspect and the bribery aspect would take a volume of documentary evidence and narrative that it would run in the hundreds and hundreds of pages before you’d even think about aiding and abetting, illegal solicitation, RICO, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.

So that’s the question. What would the GOP do when it has 1,000 to 3,000 pages from Robert Mueller alleging crimes committed by the president and his top aides, allies and associates? I still have a belief that the Democrats would be able to join with at least 20 Republican senators, once that information is out there, to do the right thing for the country.

© 2018 Smashing Interviews Magazine. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the express written consent of the publisher. ... -collusion

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:54 pm


December 8, 2018/4 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by empty wheel

Way back in May, I did a six part series on what the questions (as imagined by Jay Sekulow) that Mueller wanted to ask to Trump said about his investigation.

Part One: The Mueller Questions Map Out Cultivation, a Quid Pro Quo, and a Cover-Up

Part Two: The Quid Pro Quo: a Putin Meeting and Election Assistance, in Exchange for Sanctions Relief

Part Three: The Quo: Policy and Real Estate Payoffs to Russia

Part Four: The Quest: Trump Learns of the Investigation

Part Five: Attempting a Cover-Up by Firing Comey

Part Six: Trump Exacerbates His Woes

I gotta say, I’m quite proud of the way the series has held up: while there’s a bunch I’d add to the series if I rewrote it today, there’s little that I’d retract.

And from the very start, I argued that the election conspiracy involves a quid pro quo. The second post described how, “over the course of the election, the Russians and Trump appear to have danced towards a quid pro quo, involving a Putin meeting and election assistance in exchange for sanctions relief if Trump won (as noted, the Russians dangled real estate deals to entice Trump based on the assumption he wouldn’t win).”

I still stand by the series, but recent developments in the case make it clear the quid pro quo is even tighter than I thought because of the way the Trump Tower Moscow dangle, which we now know was the payoff that required a meeting with Putin, hung over it all.

Consider this passage in the Mueller Cohen sentencing memo.

The defendant’s false statements obscured the fact that the Moscow Project was a lucrative business opportunity that sought, and likely required, the assistance of the Russian government. If the project was completed, the Company could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues. The fact that Cohen continued to work on the project and discuss it with Individual 1 well into the campaign was material to the ongoing congressional and SCO investigations, particularly because it occurred at a time of sustained efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the U.S. presidential election. Similarly, it was material that Cohen, during the campaign, had a substantive telephone call about the project with an assistant to the press secretary for the President of Russia.

Cohen’s lies, aside from attempting to short circuit the parallel Russian investigations, hid the following facts:

Trump Organization stood to earn “hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources” if the Trump Tower deal went through.
Cohen’s work on the deal continued “well into the campaign” even as the Russian government made “sustained efforts … to interfere in the U.S. presidential election.”
The project “likely required[] the assistance of the Russian government.”
“Cohen [during May 2016] had a substantive telephone call about the project with an assistant to the press secretary for the President of Russia [Dmitri Peskov].”
Now consider the line Rob Goldstone used to entice Don Jr into taking a meeting — a meeting that, Rudy Giuliani says Paul Manafort says prosecutors know Trump knew about — to hear about dirt on Hillary Clinton.


Less than three years after Trump’s ability to get a meeting with Putin during the Miss Universe contest had been portrayed, by Goldstone himself, as entirely reliant on the efforts of Aras Agalarov, Goldstone packaged this meeting as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

And while Goldstone testified that he didn’t mean anything specific about that phrase, he also testified that among the bare facts that Emin wanted conveyed in that message is that this meeting would benefit the Trumps — not the campaign, but the Trumps.

Q. — you talked about with my colleague, I know we have asked you a lot of questions. I just want to have you explain. When you say there — you wrote the statement “based on the bare facts I was given,” exactly what were the bare facts that you were given?

A. So, to the best of my recollection, when I spoke to Emin, he said to me: I would like you to set up a meeting. A Russian attorney met with my — a well-connected Russian attorney met with my dad in his office, and she appears to have or seems to have damaging information on the Democrats and its candidate, Hillary Clinton. And I think it could be useful to the Trumps.

He talked about the Trumps rather than the campaign. And he would like us to get a meeting. To me, that was it. That’s when I started pushing for more information. But those would be the bare facts: attorney, damaging information, Democrats, Hillary Clinton. [my emphasis]

Goldstone was just a go-between in efforts, going back to 2013 and involving Dmitri Peskov, to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin. And Emin was clearly not sharing everything with Goldstone. But Emin was more centrally involved, even in 2013, and (his comments to Goldstone make clear) remained so in 2016 and 2017. So Emin’s emphasis on the benefit for Trump is striking.

And whether or not that language about “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” was as innocent as Goldstone makes out, in context, it would have clear meaning for Don Jr, whom we know Cohen kept apprised of the efforts to renew the Trump Tower Moscow deal. The Trumps were monetizing this running-for-President thing, and they were happy to make campaign promises to Russians bearing dirt, because the point wasn’t to actually win the election. It was about the hundreds of millions they stood to gain.

And the very day of that June 9 meeting, Michael Cohen started making his travel plans to go meet top Russian officials in St. Petersburg, possibly even Putin himself, plans that were only scuttled when the Russian hack of the DNC got exposed.

Consider one more detail about this quid pro quo. We’ve already seen how broke Trump’s working for “free” campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was at the time (though yesterday’s Manafort filing makes it clear that Tom Barrack had a much bigger role in this than previously known, and may have been — may even still be! — the one paying Manafort’s bills). The SDNY Cohen filing describes why he had to use a HELOC to pay off Trump’s former sex partners.

In December 2015, Cohen contacted a bank (“Bank-3”) to apply for a home equity line of credit (“HELOC”). In his application for the HELOC, Cohen made false statements about his net worth and monthly expenses. Specifically, Cohen failed to disclose more than $20 million in debt he owed to another bank (“Bank-2”), and also materially understated his monthly expenses to Bank-3 by omitting at least $70,000 in monthly interest payments due to Bank-2 on that debt. (PSR ¶ 34). These statements were the latest in a series of false statements Cohen made to financial institutions in connection with credit applications.

While elsewhere, SDNY makes clear that Cohen has been hiding some liquid assets … somewhere, the amount of fraud he was conducting to keep his finances in order (to say nothing of his refusal to fully cooperate with SDNY’s investigation) suggest they may be the wrong kind of liquid.

An updated financial statement Cohen provided at closing reflected a positive $17 million net worth in addition to previously undisclosed liquid assets, a nearly $20 million increase from the false financial information Cohen had provided to Bank-2 just weeks earlier in the negotiations.

So Manafort was underwater and Cohen was underwater. How badly underwater do you expect we’ll learn Trump Organization is and was?

The Russians exploited Trump’s most venal instincts and those of all the people around him. And all the election help and policy payoffs were just side shows to Trump. So long as he showed a willingness to damage Hillary Clinton in any way available, the Russians were happy to have him believe this was just about a silly tower in Moscow. ... -imagined/
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Dec 08, 2018 4:18 pm


Manafort, Cohen, and Individual 1 Are in Grave Danger

Robert Mueller is closing in on the president and all his men.

Ken White5:00 AM ET
Attorney and former federal prosecutor

Federal prosecutors filed three briefs late on Friday portending grave danger for three men: the former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, the former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, and President Donald Trump. In an age when Americans usually get mere squibs of breaking news from Twitter, Facebook, and red-faced cable shouters, many started their weekend poring over complex legal filings and peering suspiciously at blacked-out paragraphs. The documents were stunning, even for 2018.

In brief No. 1, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office argues that Paul Manafort breached his cooperation agreement with the government by lying to the FBI and the Special Counsel’s Office in the course of 12 meetings. The brief oozes a level of confidence notable even among professionally hubristic prosecutors: Mueller says he’s ready to present witnesses and documents, and that he gave Manafort’s lawyers an opportunity to refute the evidence but they could not. Mueller is sure he has the receipts.

According to the brief, Manafort lied about his communications with the reputed Russian intelligence agent Konstantin Kilimnik, whom Mueller has scrutinized as a possible conduit between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Although Mueller’s brief is heavily redacted, it’s clear that Manafort minimized the frequency, duration, and subject of his meetings with Kilimnik. Mueller has emails contradicting Manafort’s description of those meetings, which—we can infer from the unredacted snippets—related to the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russian interests. Mueller also asserts that Manafort lied about some of the payments he received and about an investigation in another district—possibly, based on the context, the Southern District of New York investigation of Michael Cohen and the president. Finally, and of great concern to the White House, Mueller claims that Manafort lied about his contacts with the Trump administration before his guilty plea, and that text messages, documents, and witnesses prove that he was in contact with administration officials.

In brief No. 2, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York asks a federal judge to sentence the former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to a “substantial term of imprisonment”—meaning between three and four years. Last week, Cohen’s lawyers filed a brief lauding their client’s cooperation with the Special Counsel’s Office, the Southern District of New York, and the New York attorney general, downplaying the significance of his crimes and asking the court to sentence Cohen to probation. Such gambits are tricky: Defense lawyers must thread the needle between praising their client’s cooperation and seeking leniency enough to sway the judge, but not doing this so effusively that they trigger a prosecutorial rebuttal. Here, Cohen’s lawyers’ pirouette turned into a disastrous face-plant.

The prosecutors’ rebuttal of Cohen’s sentencing brief is one of the more livid denunciations I’ve seen in more than two decades of federal criminal practice. The Southern District concedes that Cohen provided some information to it, to the special counsel, and to the New York attorney general. But Cohen refused to cooperate fully; he declined to engage in a full debriefing about everything he knew or to commit to ongoing meetings, and he only spilled about the things he’d already admitted in his plea. That’s not how cooperation works. In this game, you either cooperate fully or you shut up; there is no middle ground. It’s not surprising that Cohen’s stance angered the notoriously proud Southern District prosecutors.

The New York prosecutors blast Cohen’s “rose-colored view of the seriousness of his crimes,” accusing him of a “pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.” Prosecutors portray Cohen as stubbornly obstructing his own accountant to cheat at taxes, even refusing to pay for accounting work that raised inconvenient issues he wanted suppressed. When it comes to Cohen’s campaign-finance violations, the prosecutors’ fury leaps off the page. Cohen, they say, schemed to pay for two women’s stories (Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, we now know) in violation of campaign-finance laws in order to influence the 2016 election, and did so “in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1”—that is, the president of the United States. As the brief puts it:

While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows. He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with Individual-1. In the process, Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election.

If the Southern District’s fury at Cohen is notable, its explicit accusation that President Trump directed and coordinated campaign-finance violations is simply stunning. The prosecutors’ openness suggests that they are sure of their evidence and have mostly finished collecting it. It’s a sign of a fully developed, late-game investigation of the president’s role, one that may soon make its way to Congress.

Read: Mueller’s memos and the alleged lies of the Trump administration

And that brings us to brief No. 3: Special Counsel Mueller’s separate sentencing brief in Cohen’s lying-to-Congress case. He does not recommend a sentence but informs the court about the nature of Cohen’s assistance to his office. Mueller discloses that Cohen has “taken significant steps to mitigate his criminal conduct” by pleading guilty to lying to Congress and meeting with the special counsel seven times to discuss his own conduct and other “core topics under investigation.” That includes information about multiple cases of contact between other Trump-campaign officials and the Russian government, and about Cohen’s contact with the White House in 2017 and 2018, suggesting an ongoing inquiry into obstruction of justice. Most significant, the special counsel indicates that Cohen “described the circumstances of preparing and circulating his response to the congressional inquiries, while continuing to accept responsibility for the false statements within it.” That statement suggests that the special counsel believes that someone in the Trump administration knew of, and approved in advance, Cohen’s lies to Congress. That’s explosive, and potentially impeachable if Trump himself is implicated.

The president said on Twitter that Friday’s news “totally clears the President. Thank you!” It does not. Manafort and Cohen are in trouble, and so is Trump. The special counsel’s confidence in his ability to prove Manafort a liar appears justified, which leaves Manafort facing what amounts to a life sentence without any cooperation credit. The Southern District’s brief suggests that Cohen’s dreams of probation are not likely to come true. All three briefs show the special counsel and the Southern District closing in on President Trump and his administration. They’re looking into campaign contact with Russia, campaign-finance fraud in connection with paying off an adult actress, and participation in lying to Congress. A Democratic House of Representatives, just days away, strains at the leash to help. The game’s afoot. ... en/577681/

How Stormy Daniels and her brash lawyer cornered President Trump and Michael Cohen

Fredreka Schouten
Updated 10:50 a.m. ET April 11, 2018

Federal investigators associated with the FBI and the Mueller investigation have raided the offices of President Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen and seized communications between Cohen and his clients. USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Michael Avenatti, the combative California lawyer representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in her legal battle with President Trump, operates far outside the staid worlds of federal banking regulations and campaign-finance law.

But his bold move to sue Trump to free Daniels from a deal to keep quiet about her alleged 2006 sexual encounter with the future president appears to have helped set in motion one of the most aggressive moves by federal prosecutors to date: an FBI raid on the office and home of Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney and longtime confidant.

Avenatti, who has sought the media spotlight ever since filing Daniels’ lawsuit on March 6, isn’t shy about taking credit for himself and his client.

“There is no question that the courage of Ms. Clifford and our legal efforts brought considerable attention and pressure to bear,” he told USA TODAY on Tuesday via email. Daniels’ legal name is Stephanie Clifford.

Avenatti declined comment when asked whether Daniels has been contacted by the FBI or the Justice Department in connection with the Cohen raid. But he indicated in a late afternoon tweet Tuesday that he and his client would “fully cooperate with any search for the truth.”

Monday’s high-profile raid on Cohen’s offices, home and hotel room mark the latest twist in a legal drama that experts say could pose serious risks for Cohen and Trump alike. They include allegations that the $130,000 Cohen has acknowledged paying Daniels days before the presidential election amounted to an illegal, excessive campaign contribution.

But Cohen also could face fresh questions about the statements he made to banks as he sought a home-equity line of credit to fund Daniels’ payoff. He also created a limited liability company in Delaware to transfer the money to the client-trust account of Daniels’ former lawyer.

“The banking question may be a bigger issue than the campaign-finance issues,” said Fred Wertheimer, who runs the watchdog group Democracy 21. “The issues there are whether he misled the bank about what the money would be used for. That seems pretty straightforward.”

A spokeswoman for Cohen's attorney, Stephen Ryan, did not respond to an interview request.

Watchdog groups, including Common Cause, had lodged complaints with Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission about the Daniels' payment months before Avenatti's lawsuit. They also have asked regulators to investigate a $150,000 payment by the National Enquirer's parent company to a former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also says she had an affair with Trump.

Twitter and cable wars

But Wertheimer and other legal experts say Avenatti’s lawsuit made public for the first time the details of the nondisclosure agreement Daniels signed with Cohen. The agreement, included as an exhibit to the lawsuit, was reached 11 days before the 2016 presidential election as Trump’s campaign grappled with multiple allegations of his sexual misconduct.

In the weeks since, the media-savvy Avenatti has helped keep the spotlight on the case, shepherding his client through a high-stakes 60 Minutes interview, sparring with one of Cohen’s lawyers on cable news, taunting Cohen and Trump on Twitter and hinting at startling new developments.

Earlier this week, for instance, he promised to soon unveil a forensic sketch of the unidentified “thug” he said threatened Daniels in 2011 to keep quiet about the alleged Trump affair.

In a tweet Tuesday about the Cohen raid, he expressed vindication. The case, he said, "has ALWAYS been about the threats, cover-up and the lies that have been told to the American people."

The legal battle has spurred Cohen and Trump to make public statements that are “quite incriminating,”said David Super, a Georgetown University law professor.

Among them: Trump's comments to reporters last week, denying knowledge of the Daniels payment or the source of the hush money. "You'll have to ask Michael Cohen" why the payment was made, the president told reporters on Air Force One.

If Cohen acted on his own to pay Daniels, Super said, "then there's no attorney-client privilege, which may have made (the FBI) more comfortable doing this raid."

Trump's statements "have exacerbated his problems severely," Super added. "If he had taken the usual lawyers' advice to clients and referred all questions to the lawyers and declined comment, I don't think we would have seen this raid and I don't think this lawsuit would be any big deal."

Trump has met "his match"

Avenatti's representation of Daniels is not the trial lawyer's first time in the media glare.

The Newport Beach, Calif., attorney has appeared twice before on 60 Minutes when he filed a lawsuit alleging a California cemetery was desecrating remains and, again, when he sued a surgical gown manufacturer, alleging its gowns did not fully protect doctors and nurses from viruses, such as HIV. Last year, he won a $454 million judgment against the manufacturer, one of the largest in California history.

As a plaintiff's lawyer, Avennati is "incredibly tenacious" and isn't afraid of "rubbing people the wrong way," said Brian Kabateck, a Los Angeles trial lawyer and the incoming president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association.

"He doesn't have to behave in a way that conforms with the establishment," Kabateck said. "I think maybe Trump has met his match in this guy."

Paul Ryan, Common Cause's top lawyer, said his group played a key role in making a legal case with federal election regulators and Justice Department's lawyers to examine the payoffs.

But, he said, "Michael Avenatti has very skillfully used the press to build hype around himself and his client. One effect of Avenatti's skillful use of the press is that the Department of Justice knows and the Trump administration knows that the public is watching." ... 503989002/

This notice went out 2 hours before Mueller released a memo that will eventually be unsealed to show that his campaign manager continues to cover up that Deripaska had an active role in this campaign, thru Konstantin Kilimnik.

The Treasury Department has delayed imposing sanctions on Russia's largest aluminum producer, Rusal, for the fifth time. Rusal is still controlled at the moment by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.

U.S. Delays Rusal Sanctions as Talks With Deripaska Continue

Saleha MohsinDecember 7, 2018, 3:04 PM CST

The Krasnoyarsk aluminum smelter, operated by United Co. Rusal, in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg
The U.S. Treasury Department delayed imposing sanctions on Russia’s largest aluminum producer, United Co. Rusal, for the fifth time, as it seeks to strike a deal that would allow the company to escape the penalties.

Treasury said in a notice Friday that licenses allowing Rusal to continue doing business would be extended to Jan. 21 from the prior Jan. 7 expiration. The extension gives Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska more time to give up control of Rusal, the world’s largest aluminum producer.

Treasury officials have been negotiating with Deripaska to lift sanctions on En+ Group Plc, the company that holds Deripaska’s stake in Rusal.

The department in April announced it would block Deripaska, and any company in which he holds a majority ownership, from the U.S. financial system. He was targeted in a sanctions package that hit nearly 40 Russian tycoons, businesses and government officials close to President Vladimir Putin in retaliation for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

But since April, Treasury has repeatedly extended the deadline for companies to comply with the sanctions on Rusal. The delays have softened the impact on the aluminum industry, which was sent into chaos after Treasury announced the sanctions.

Rusal has been largely shut out of signing new aluminum contracts, an indication that sanctions on Deripaska are hitting the company even as negotiations with Treasury continue. Even though Treasury is allowing some new contracts, the uncertainty of the situation has scared buyers away, Bloomberg News reported last month. ... a-continue

Individual 1 just can't help himself


David Rothkopf December 7, 2018

So, in the wake of today’s revelations via new court filings by federal prosecutors, we know this: Russian government representatives reached out to the Trump campaign in 2015 and undertook multiple initiatives and had multiple points and series of contacts with Team Trump for the next couple years.

It’s not just the Trump Tower meeting. It’s not just the interactions with Wikileaks. It’s not just the Russian ties to Cambridge Analytica. It’s not just Konstantin Kiliminik, a Russian agent working hand in hand with campaign chair Paul Manafort.

It’s not just the ties between Flynn and the Russians. it’s not just the links between the Russians and Eric Prince through the meeting in the Seychelles and beyond that. It’s not just the ties of Wilbur Ross. It’s not just the Trump Organization dealings with Russia.

It’s not just Jared Kushner’s dealings with Russia. It’s not just Kushner and Flynn’s dealing with Kislyak during the campaign. It’s not just the candidate Trump asking for Russian help. It’s not just the GRU hacking for which indictments have already taken place. It’s not just Russian spies creating a channel through the NRA to provide illegal funding support for Trump’s campaign.

We can go on. But let’s not stop before we discuss the many benefits the Russians delivered to Trump via hacking, the dumping of files, the manipulation of social media and other avenues all to support Trump over Clinton. Nor should we fail to discuss the benefits Trump offered the Russians since he gained power. There was his covering up their hacking and his efforts to slow investigations of it. There was his denying the conclusions of the intelligence community about the Russians. There were the talks between Flynn and the Russians about waiving sanctions. There were the meetings with Trump when he was president when he handed over classified information to the Russians. There were whatever promises or concessions were made in Helsinki. There was a pattern of placating the Russians or failing to enforce sanctions for months and months. In other words, there was plenty of quid and plenty of quo ($50 million penthouse apartments and the promise of big deals or financing benefits aside).

From the outreach to Cohen to just the first months of the administration we can count more than a dozen separate avenues of connection at the highest level. In any normal campaign or administration, just one would set off alarm bells and have the president calling the FBI into action.

But instead, in addition to those dozen avenues, the offers that were explicitly or tacitly accepted, benefits to both sides & the overt betrayal of the U.S. to advance the political or economic interests of Trump and those close to him, we have the president obstructing justice.

Actively obstructing. Threatening to fire all those getting closer to the truth. Lying and lying and lying some more and urging staff to lie and witness tampering and so on.

This is not a case of possible collusion. This is sweeping, multi-layered, high level conspiracy led by Vladimir Putin and the Russian intelligence community and involving the active cooperation and complicity of a man who was a candidate for president and then president as well as his entire team. This is the biggest scandal in the history of the American presidency and there is not another that is close to it. But that is not all we know.

The Department of Justice believes the president of the United States directed the commission of campaign finance felonies as a candidate. The New York Times produced extensive and compelling evidence of serial tax fraud by the Trump family. The state of New York is investigating fraud in their charities.

The House will soon begin investigation of Trump money laundering. A case involving his violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause is under way. In other words, as massive as the Russia scandal is, it might not be the biggest Trump scandal.

It might not even be the scandal that brings Trump down. But what we know is that all of these or any of these scandals must bring him down. This criminal has no business being the White House. He has no business walking freely among us.

2019 is going to be the worst year of Donald Trump’s life except for all those that will follow it. These cases will be investigated further and then proven. Some may be prosecuted while he is in office. Some may wait until he leaves office.

But someday this is already certain, no senior American public official–not Richard Nixon, not Andrew Johnson–will go down in more disgrace or be more reviled by history than Donald Trump. And that is as it should be. ... n-history/
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:18 pm


December 8, 2018/2 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by empty wheel

Of all the posts I’ve written about Roger Stone, I’m only aware of two that he responded to directly. One was this post from September 5, laying out how stupid Stone was for using Jerome Corsi’s August 31 report as a cover story for his August 21 “time in the barrel” tweet. We now know that the very next day, Jerome Corsi would tell material lies to Mueller’s team in an attempt to sustain a cover story that started with that August 31 report. Indeed, we also know that 16 days after I wrote that post, Corsi would testify to the grand jury that the August 31 report was written entirely to offer cover for that August 21 tweet (and, I suspect, Stone’s August 15 one).

Perhaps before this is over I’ll get the opportunity to play poker with Roger Stone.

The other post Stone reacted against — and he reacted even more aggressively — was this post focusing on Don McGahn’s history of helping Trump’s people get out of campaign finance pickles.


To be fair to rat-fucker Roger, the post actually laid out how Don McGahn has been covering for Trump’s campaign finance problems for seven years, not just Roger’s.

Of significant import, that history started in the follow-up to events from 2011, when Trump’s then-fixer, a guy named Michael Cohen, set up a presidential exploratory committee using Trump Organization funds. Democrats on the FEC believed that violated campaign finance law, but a guy named Don McGahn weighed in to say that FEC couldn’t use public reporting to assess complaints.

During McGahn’s FEC tenure, one of those he helped save from enforcement action was Trump himself. In 2011, when the future president-elect was engaged in a high-profile process of considering whether to enter the 2012 race for the Republican presidential nomination, Trump was formally accused in an FEC complaint of violating agency regulations. The case was dismissed on a deadlocked vote of the FEC commissioners.

A four-page complaint filed by Shawn Thompson of Tampa, Fla., accused Trump of illegally funneling corporate money from his Trump Organization into an organization called McGahn and fellow FEC Republicans Caroline Hunter and Matthew Petersen voted to block FEC staff recommendations that Trump be investigated in the matter—designated Matter Under Review (MUR) 6462.

Ultimately, Trump opted not to run for president in 2012. Nonetheless, FEC staff attorneys concluded his activities before that decision may have violated campaign finance rules regarding money raised to “test the waters” for a candidacy. A staff report from the FEC Office of General Counsel, based largely on news articles and other documents about Trump’s flirtation with running for president—including Trump’s own quoted statements— recommended that the commissioners authorize a full FEC investigation backed by subpoena power.

FEC Democrats voted to pursue the recommended probe, but the votes of McGahn and the other FEC Republicans precluded the required four-vote majority needed for the commission to act.

McGahn and Hunter issued a “ statement of reasons” explaining their votes in the Trump matter in 2013. The 11-page statement blasted FEC staff attorneys in the Office of General Counsel for reviewing volumes of published information regarding Trump’s potential 2012 candidacy in order to determine whether to recommend that the FEC commissioners vote to authorize a full investigation. McGahn and Hunter argued that the FEC counsel’s office was prohibited from examining information other than what was contained in the formal complaint submitted in the case.

The Office of General Counsel shouldn’t be allowed to pursue an “unwritten, standardless process whereby OGC can review whatever articles and other documents not contained in the complaint that they wish, and send whatever they wish to the respondent for comment,” the Republican commissioners wrote.

In the context of rat-fucking Roger, in 2016, McGahn succeeded in getting a bunch of Democrats’ lawsuits against Stone’s voter suppression efforts in swing states thrown out.

But the history these sleazeballs all share is relevant for a reason explicitly raised in the SDNY Cohen filing last night. In the middle of the most shrill passage in the entire shrill filing (one that also uses language that might be more appropriate in — and is likely to eventually show up in — a ConFraudUs charge), SDNY notes that Cohen can’t play dumb about campaign finance law because of his 2011 run-in with the law.

Cohen’s commission of two campaign finance crimes on the eve of the 2016 election for President of the United States struck a blow to one of the core goals of the federal campaign finance laws: transparency. While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows. He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with Individual-1. In the process, Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election.

It is this type of harm that Congress sought to prevent when it imposed limits on individual contributions to candidates. To promote transparency and prevent wealthy individuals like Cohen from circumventing these limits, Congress prohibited individuals from making expenditures on behalf of and coordinated with candidates. Cohen clouded a process that Congress has painstakingly sought to keep transparent. The sentence imposed should reflect the seriousness of Cohen’s brazen violations of the election laws and attempt to counter the public cynicism that may arise when individuals like Cohen act as if the political process belongs to the rich and powerful.

Cohen’s submission suggests that this was but a brief error in judgment. Not so. Cohen knew exactly where the line was, and he chose deliberately and repeatedly to cross it. Indeed, he was a licensed attorney with significant political experience and a history of campaign donations, and who was well-aware of the election laws. 11 In fact, Cohen publicly and privately took credit for Individual-1’s political success, claiming – in a conversation that he secretly recorded – that he “started the whole thing . . . started the whole campaign” in 2012 when Individual-1 expressed an interest in running for President. Moreover, not only was Cohen well aware of what he was doing, but he used sophisticated tactics to conceal his misconduct.

11 Cohen was previously the subject of an FEC complaint for making unlawful contributions to Donald Trump’s nascent campaign for the 2012 presidency. The complaint was dismissed for jurisdictional reasons, but it certainly put Cohen on notice of the applicable campaign finance regulations. See In the Matter of Donald J. Trump, Michael Cohen, et al., MUR 6462 (Sept. 18, 2013). [my emphasis]

To the extent that Cohen and his sole client, Individual-1, committed campaign finance crimes in 2016 — especially the corporate funding of campaign activities — they can’t claim to be ignorant, because they only narrowly avoided proceedings on precisely this point in 2013.

That’s all the more true given that that very same FEC commissioner was their campaign lawyer.

Now, any discussion about Cohen’s knowledge of campaign finance law in this instance is one thing if you’re talking whether SDNY will charge Trump and his company with conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws because Cohen bought off several women. But then there’s the matter of SuperPACs that illegally coordinated with Trump Org, and other dark money groups — including Stone’s — that coordinated with the campaign. Given that the donation Manafort lied about to Mueller is reportedly from Tom Barrack’s SuperPAC (along with his lies about whether he and Barrack met with Konstantin Kilimnik right after he got fired), that may be a campaign finance problem as well. Kilimnik partner Sam Patten has already pled guilty for using a straw donor to hide the foreign oligarchs ponying up to attend Trump’s inauguration, so that’s a second campaign finance guilty plea from people close to Trump and his aides, in addition to Cohen’s.

And all that’s before you get to the big one, Russia’s direct assistance to the campaign as part of a quid pro quo, and the stakes of whether any of the players can be said to know campaign finance law go up.

In short, Trump’s campaign was a serial campaign finance disaster in 2016, even in spite of having former FEC commissioner Don McGahn at their legal helm. And even if they weren’t running these legal questions by McGahn, Individual-1 and his fixer, at least, were also (as the government has already now alleged) “on notice of the applicable campaign finance regulations.”

Remember: After meeting with prosecutors for 20 hours late last year, McGahn had something around another 10 quality hours with Mueller’s prosecutors. The assumption has always been that those interviews were exclusively about the cover-up (though this May AP story on Tom Barrack’s own questioning describes that, “Investigators have for months been inquiring about the Trump campaign’s finances and compliance with federal election law,” and it doesn’t even include a single one of the crimes laid out here).

But it’s highly likely McGahn has given significant testimony about the (campaign finance) crime. ... gn-lawyer/
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Dec 10, 2018 10:34 am

Surviving a Criminal Presidency

Dec. 9, 2018
No one is above the law in America.

President Donald Trump arrives at Kansas City, Mo., on Friday to deliver remarks at the 2018 Project Safe Neighborhoods National Conference.Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times

President Donald Trump arrives at Kansas City, Mo., on Friday to deliver remarks at the 2018 Project Safe Neighborhoods National Conference.Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times
It is very possible that the president of the United States is a criminal. And it is very possible that his criminality aided and abetted his assumption of the position. Let that sink in. It is a profound revelation.

Last week, prosecutors made clear in a sentencing memo for Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, that Trump himself had directed Cohen to break campaign finance laws.

Stop there.

Yes, there is still information dribbling out about Trump’s efforts to build a tower in Moscow during the election and about his campaign’s ties with Russians during the campaign. Yes, there is the question of obstruction of justice, which I believe has already been proven by Trump’s own actions in public. Yes, there are all the people in Trump’s circle who have been charged with or have admitted to lying about any number of things, including their contacts with Russians.

But beyond all that, we now have an actual, and one assumes provable, crime. A federal crime. And the president is its architect.

Trump likes to say on the issue of immigration that if we don’t have a border, we don’t have a country. I say that if we don’t have justice, we also don’t have a country.

America is a country of laws, and if we are to believe that, and not allow that to become a perversion, no man or woman can be above the law.

As Thomas Paine wrote in his 1776 pamphlet “Common Sense”:

“In America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.”


And yet, Trump, his team and to some degree his supporters in Congress seem to view Trump as very much above the law — or at least some laws. The defense is bizarre: Since he is the president, there are laws he isn’t obliged to obey. In other words, it is permissible for him to break some laws, but not others.

Last year, one of the president’s lawyers went even further, claiming that the “president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.”

This all holds the potential to further make a mockery of a system of justice that already privileges power.

America’s jails are already filled to the brim with people who have been charged with a crime but not yet convicted of one. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, “70 percent of people in local jails are not convicted of any crime.” Their primary infraction is that they are poor and powerless. The justice system doesn’t coddle them; it crushes them.

And yet, people keep making excuses for Trump: “We haven’t yet seen evidence of collusion.” “Yes, he lies, but that’s mostly rhetoric.” “So what; he paid off a porn star to spare his family shame.”

No, no, no.

According to prosecutors, Trump directed Cohen to commit a felony. Then he lied about it and either allowed or instructed others to lie about it on his behalf. He misled the American people through a conspiracy of lies, and he did so to help attain, and then maintain, his presidency.

As The New York Times pointed out on Saturday, prosecutors have “effectively accused the president of defrauding voters, questioning the legitimacy of his victory.”

There simply must be consequences for such a brazen act of lawlessness.

Now, I am under no illusion that Trump will be indicted as a sitting president or that any efforts to impeach him will prove successful.

But at some point his term will end, and at that point the statute of limitations may not have expired. As The Times put it, “The prosecutors in New York have examined the statute of limitations on the campaign finance violations and believe charges could be brought against Mr. Trump if he is not re-elected, according to a person briefed on the matter.”

As New York magazine put it in a headline, “Trump 2020 Shaping Up to Be a Campaign to Stay Out of Prison.”

The statute of limitations for campaign finance violations is five years. Re-election may well be Trump’s only hope of evading justice.

But that also gives voters enormous power in 2020. They won’t just be selecting the next president and determining the direction of the country. They may also be deciding whether or not a president will be tried, convicted and imprisoned for the first time in the country’s history.

This is a weighty responsibility, but it is a necessary one. We have to prove that our institutions are more important than our ideologies, that the dream, the whisper, the precious possibility of America cannot be trampled by the corrupt and the fraudulent, the venal and the lecherous.

American has to prove that it can indeed survive a criminal presidency. ... ussia.html


Analysis Meet the Bottomless Pinocchio, a new rating for a false claim repeated over and over again

Glenn Kessler
Meet the Bottomless Pinocchio

President Trump's false and misleading claims that have been repeated more than 20 times led us to create a new Pinocchio rating. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

December 10 at 7:24 AM

It was President Trump’s signature campaign promise: He would build a wall along the nation’s southern border, and Mexico would pay for it.

Shortly after becoming president, Trump dropped the Mexico part, turning to Congress for the funds instead. When that, too, failed — Congress earlier this year appropriated money for border security that could not be spent on an actual wall — Trump nevertheless declared victory: “We’ve started building our wall,” . “I’m so proud of it.”

Despite the facts, which have been cited numerous times by fact-checkers, Trump repeated on an imaginary wall 86 times in the seven months before the midterm elections, .

Trump’s willingness to constantly repeat false claims has posed a unique challenge to fact-checkers. Most politicians quickly drop a Four-Pinocchio claim, either out of a duty to be accurate or concern that spreading false information could be politically damaging.

Not Trump. The president keeps going long after the facts are clear, in what appears to be a deliberate effort to replace the truth with his own, far more favorable, version of it. He is not merely making gaffes or misstating things, he is purposely injecting false information into the national conversation.

To accurately reflect this phenomenon, The Washington Post Fact Checker is introducing a new category — the Bottomless Pinocchio. That dubious distinction will be awarded to politicians who repeat a false claim so many times that they are, in effect, engaging in campaigns of disinformation.

The bar for the Bottomless Pinocchio is high: The claims must have received three or four Pinocchios from The Fact Checker, and they must have been repeated at least 20 times. Twenty is a sufficiently robust number that there can be no question the politician is aware that his or her facts are wrong. The list of Bottomless Pinocchios will be maintained on its own landing page.

The Fact Checker has not identified statements from any other current elected official who meets the standard other than Trump. In fact, 14 statements made by the president immediately qualify for the list.

The president’s most-repeated falsehoods fall into a handful of broad categories — claiming credit for promises he has not fulfilled; false assertions that provide a rationale for his agenda; and political weaponry against perceived enemies such as Democrats or special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Some of Trump’s regular deceptions date from the start of his administration, such as his claim that the United States has spent $7 trillion in the Middle East (36 times) or that the United States pays for most of the cost of NATO (87 times). These were both statements that he made repeatedly when he campaigned for president and continues to make, despite having access to official budget data.

Another campaign claim that has carried into his presidency is the assertion that Democrats colluded with Russia during the election (48 times). This is obviously false, as the Democrats were the target of hacking by Russian entities, according to U.S. intelligence agencies. (The assertion, also spread widely by Trump allies in the conservative media, largely rests on the fact that the firm hired by Democrats to examine Trump’s Russia ties was also working to defend a Russian company in U.S. court.)

On 30 separate occasions, Trump has also falsely accused special counsel Mueller of having conflicts of interest and the staff led by the longtime Republican of being “angry Democrats.”

A good example of how objective reality does not appear to matter to the president is how he has framed his tax cut. When the administration’s tax plan was still in the planning stages, Trump spoke to the Independent Community Bankers Association on May 1, 2017, and made this claim, to applause: “We’re proposing one of the largest tax cuts in history, even larger than that of President Ronald Reagan. Our tax cut is bigger.”

He reinforced that statement later that day, with similar wording, in an interview with Bloomberg News.

From the start, it was a falsehood, as Reagan’s 1981 tax cut amounted to 2.9 percent of the overall U.S. economy — and nothing under consideration by Trump came close to that level. Trump’s tax cut was eventually crafted to be just under 1 percent of the economy, making it the eighth-largest tax cut in the past century.

Yet Trump has been undeterred by pesky fact checks showing he is wrong. He kept making the claim — 123 times before the midterm elections — and still says it. “We got the biggest tax cuts in history,” he told Chris Wallace of Fox News in his Nov. 18 interview.

Similarly, in June, the president hit upon a new label for the U.S. economy: It was the greatest, the best or the strongest in U.S. history. He liked the phrasing so much that he repeated a version of it every 1.5 days until the midterm elections, for a total of 99 times. The president can certainly brag about the state of the economy, but he runs into trouble when he repeatedly makes a play for the history books. By just about any important measure, the economy today is not doing as well as it did under Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson and Bill Clinton — not to mention Ulysses S. Grant.

Trump has 40 times asserted that a wall was needed to stem the flow of drugs across the border — a claim that is contradicted the by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which says most illicit drugs come through legal points of entry. Traffickers conceal the drugs in hidden compartments within passenger cars or hide them alongside other legal cargo in tractor trailers and drive the illicit substances right into the United States. Meanwhile, Fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid, can be easily ordered online, even directly from China.

Some of Trump’s most repeated claims verge on the edge of fantasy. Thirty-seven times, he has asserted that U.S. Steel has announced that it is building new plants in response to his decision to impose steel tariffs. Depending on his mood, the number has ranged from six to nine plants, suggesting a bounty of jobs. But U.S. Steel made no such announcement. It merely stated that it would restart two blast furnaces at the company’s Granite City Works integrated plant in Illinois, creating 800 jobs. The company in August also said it would upgrade a plant in Gary, Ind., but without creating any new jobs.

Similarly, Trump has repeatedly inflated the gains from his 2017 trip to Saudi Arabia, upping the amount from $350 billion to $450 billion when he came under fire for defending the crown prince believed to have ordered the killing of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

Separately, he also inflates the jobs said to be created, at one point offering a fanciful figure of 1 million. The Fact Checker obtained detailed spreadsheets of both the military and commercial agreements that showed a total of $267 billion in agreements; we determined that many were simply aspirational. Many of the purported investments are in Saudi Arabia, indicating few jobs would be created for Americans.

Other claims on the list include:

— that the administration has removed thousands and thousands of MS-13 members from the streets, either through deportation or prison. (The group is estimated to have only about 10,000 members).

— that he came just one vote short of repealing Obamacare. (Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) blocked a trimmed-down version, but the full plan was soundly defeated, and there was little consensus on a compromise version.)

— that the United States has “lost” billions of dollars on trade deficits. No economist would agree with that statement, but Trump has said some version of it 131 times.

— that the United States has the worst immigration laws in terms of keeping immigrants out. That’s simply not true. In fact, the United States has among the world’s most restrictive immigration laws.

One other Four-Pinocchio claim by Trump may soon make the list. Fifteen times, the president has claimed to audiences that the Uzbekistan-born man who in 2017 allegedly killed eight people with a pickup truck in New York brought in two dozen relatives to the United States through so-called “chain migration.” But Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov is not even a U.S. citizen, so the actual number is zero. ... a996bbed40


Comey makes a point virtually everyone gets wrong: there was an investigation into RU, and an investigation into Trump's folks. ... dacted.pdf


21 months after explaining this really slowly so GOPers can understand the first time, Comey explains it again.


Comey refrains from explaining to Gowdy the obvious reason he wasn't in the loop on Rosenstein's memo appointing Mueller.


Just seconds after Comey explained this, Gowdy asks again.


3:53 PM - 8 Dec 2018 ... 6489447424

Trump first wanted his attorney general pick Bill Barr for another job: Defense lawyer

Donald Trump, William P. Barr (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP, Dominion Energy)
In late spring 2017, President Trump was having a hard time finding a topflight lawyer to spearhead his defense in the sprawling Russian investigation conducted by the new special counsel Robert Mueller. Some of the most prominent litigators in Washington had turned aside overtures to represent the president in the case, expressing concerns that he would not listen to their advice anyway.

Around that time, sources tell Yahoo News, White House officials reached out to a man they thought would be an ideal candidate: William P. Barr, the attorney general under President George H.W. Bush. An outspoken conservative, Barr had gotten on Trump’s radar screen that spring after he had written a newspaper op-ed vigorously defending the president’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. At one point, Barr was ushered into a brief White House meeting with Trump, who asked him if he was interested in the job, according to a source who was present for the meeting. Barr demurred. He had other obligations, he said. He would have to think about it.

The talk among Trump and his top advisers about hiring Barr as chief defense lawyer did not stop there. It arose again this year after the departure of John Dowd, Trump’s lead lawyer for the special counsel investigation, and continued until the summer, when the president found another candidate far more eager for the job: Rudy Giuliani. But now in a twist few could have anticipated, Trump has tapped Barr for an even more important position: attorney general, a post that, if confirmed, would put him in charge of the Mueller investigation.

The decision to nominate Barr has won applause by many of his former colleagues, who praise him as a savvy Washington veteran with expansive, hard-edged views about executive power, but who at the same time is steeped in the culture of the Justice Department and its tradition of fiercely resisting improper influences on pending prosecutions.

But Barr’s nomination has also raised potentially thorny political questions about how independent he would be in overseeing the Russia probe and whether his previously expressed views defending the president — and criticizing some aspects of the Mueller investigation — could potentially compromise his leadership.

Timothy Flanigan, who served under Barr as assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel, told the Yahoo News “Skullduggery” podcast Saturday that those concerns are misplaced. Barr, he said, was “blunt” and “direct,” and would have no problem standing up to Trump — or brushing back against the kind of tweetstorm attacks that Trump leveled against his last attorney general, Jeff Sessions. “Bill is tough and he’s not likely to be pushed around,” Flanigan said. “If it came to it, and Bill is being attacked — I don’t know that Bill has a Twitter account — but he just might get one.”

Still, Flanigan and others who worked with Barr at the Justice Department expressed surprise that he would even agree to take the job. White House officials “have been talking to him on and off for a long time. It started with the Russia defense job and then it was for the AG’s job as well,” said one source familiar with the conversations. “They talked to him multiple times. They were trying to convince him.”

Notably, the source said, Barr had watched with dismay Trump’s attacks on Sessions and had no interest in putting up with the same sort of abuse. What finally changed his mind? “Patriotism,” said Flanigan. He and others say Barr genuinely felt the call of duty, especially after the turmoil the Justice Department has experienced in recent weeks with the selection as acting attorney general of Matthew Whitaker, an obscure and inexperienced former U.S. attorney from Iowa whose main apparent credential was that he had previously defended Trump on cable TV.

Special counsel Robert Mueller leaving after a meeting last year on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Barr has deep, ongoing and personal ties to the Justice Department. His daughter, Mary Daly, a former federal prosecutor in New York, was named director of opioid enforcement earlier this year in a newly created position under Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. After Barr’s name was floated as a likely attorney general pick this week, several department veterans reached out to him, pleading with him to take the job, saying they were “lighting candles” hoping the reports of his nomination were true, said one knowledgeable source.

But before he returns to the Justice Department, Barr will have to undergo a confirmation process where he will be questioned by Senate Democrats about his past discussions with Trump and others at the White House — as well as his public comments that touch on key aspects of the Mueller probe.

One starting point is likely to be Barr’s May 12, 2017, Washington Post op-ed that ran three days after the firing of Comey that run under the headline: “Trump Made the Right Call on Comey.” At the time, Trump was facing a storm of controversy over the Comey firing, especially after he acknowledged that “this Russia thing” was a factor in his decision — a motivation that has since blossomed into a central issue in the portion of Mueller’s investigation focused on potential obstruction of justice.

But Barr argued in his op-ed that Trump was well within his rights to fire Comey and had legitimate grounds for doing so, given that the FBI director bypassed the Justice Department when he publicly announced his recommendation during the 2016 election not to prosecute Hillary Clinton over her private email server. Arguing that the FBI director was never “in charge” of the Russia investigation anyway — that was a responsibility that Justice officials had — Barr contended: “Comey’s removal simply has no relevance to the integrity of the Russian investigation as it moves ahead.”

Download or subscribe on iTunes: “Skullduggery” from Yahoo News

Barr has made other comments that are potentially more problematic. He raised questions about political contributions made by a number of Mueller’s prosecutors to Democrats. “I would have liked to see him have more balance on this group,” he said. And Barr suggested that there were legitimate grounds to investigate Hiilary Clinton’s ties to a uranium mining firm that benefited from a decision approved while she was secretary of state — a criminal probe repeatedly urged by Trump.

“There is nothing inherently wrong about a president calling for an investigation,” Barr told the New York Times last year, adding that “to the extent [the Justice Department] is not pursuing these matters, the department is abdicating its responsibility.”

In 1992: President George H.W. Bush gestures while talking to Attorney General William Barr in the Oval Office. (Photo: Marcy Nighswander/AP)
Another wildcard in the mix is Barr’s past relationship with Mueller. When Barr was attorney general, Mueller was a key member of his team, serving as an assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division. The two men worked closely together on major issues, including the indictment of Libyan intelligence agents in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 and the prosecution of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega on drug trafficking charges. (Barr would years later recall Mueller excitedly coming to his office to tell him about Noriega’s conviction, pumping his arm and shouting the Marine Corps battle cry, “Oorah!”)

Although former colleagues describe Barr and Mueller’s relationship as professional and mutually respectful, they say the two men were not especially close. And Flanigan recalls incidents during Justice Department senior staff meetings when Barr would occasionally challenge Mueller on some issues, usually with humorous asides.

Perhaps one of of the more telling moments from Barr’s tenure at the Justice Department came toward the very end when, during his final days in office, President George H.W. Bush announced the controversial decision to pardon six former Reagan administration officials who had been caught up in the Iran-Contra affair — one of whom, ex-Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, was due to go to trial days later. The move drew angry protests from then-independent counsel Lawrence Walsh. Barr was a key adviser to the Bush White House on the move and gave his green light. It is advice he may have to give once again should Trump choose to pardon anybody charged by Barr’s former deputy, Mueller, in the Russia probe. ... 09009.html


Gonna keep reupping this piece. When people talk abt whether Trump can be indicted and/or what make him resign, you gotta remember that Trump Org was involved in virtually all the crimes we know Trump himself is being investigated for. ... anization/

"The Company" (AKA Trump Org) is named 9 times in Michael Cohen's SDNY sentencing memo.

It's a co-conspirator every bit as much as Trump is. ... 6.27.0.pdf


Cohen's SCO sentencing memo mentions The Company (AKA Trump Org) 8 times, both in context of how lucrative a deal with Putin would be and the contacts "it" had with Russians about that deal.


So between Cohen's 2 sentencing memo, The Company The Company The Company The Company The Company The Company The Company The Company The Company The Company The Company The Company The Company The Company The Company The Company The Company sure looks like it's in legal trouble. ... 3220584448
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Dec 10, 2018 2:45 pm

Butina just brought the house down on trump, the GOP, the NRA, and Russia

.@realDonaldTrump getting asked a question by arrested Russian nationalist and @NRA lifetime member Maria Butina. She posed as a reporter at the July 2015 FreedomFest to ask then-candidate Trump if he would continue the U.S. policy of sanctions against Russia if elected.

Former @NRA president Jim Porter gives "rare privilege" of ringing Liberty Bell replica to arrested Russian nationalist and @NRA lifetime member Maria Butina.

Maria Butina, arrested Russian national and lifetime @NRA member, joined members of Russia’s elite in the crowd at Donald Trump's inauguration and also attended the inaugural Freedom Ball.

Maria Butina, arrested Russian national, with @NRA president Pete Brownell and Donald Trump Jr. at a 2016 dinner hosted by the NRA in Louisville, Kentucky.

Arrested Russian nationalist and @NRA lifetime member Maria Butina attending the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast.


REPORTER: Did you or anyone in your campaign... have any contact with Russia leading up to or during the campaign?
TRUMP: No, not at all.


Court Filing Suggests Plea Deal Has Been Reached In Butina Case

By Tierney Sneed
December 10, 2018 10:57 am
Prosecutors and Maria Butina — a Russian national who’s been accused of being an unregistered foreign agent — requested Monday that a judge schedule a hearing this week so that Butina can change her plea. The filing was a suggestion that Butina and prosecutors may have reached a plea deal in the case.

Butina had pleaded not guilty to the charge, brought by prosecutors in July.

There have been previous signs that Butina and prosecutors were working on a resolution — namely in a November request seeking delays in court filing deadlines as the parties worked on a “pretrial resolution.”

“The parties have resolved this matter,” the court filing Monday said.

Read the filing below: ... utina-case
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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