Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Election

Moderators: DrVolin, Elvis, Jeff

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

Postby RocketMan » Thu Feb 21, 2019 2:06 pm

Existential crisis awaits after Mueller report is soon out...
Attachments
TraceyAccountability.png
TraceyAccountability.png (33.58 KiB) Viewed 775 times
-I don't like hoodlums.
-That's just a word, Marlowe. We have that kind of world. Two wars gave it to us and we are going to keep it.
User avatar
RocketMan
 
Posts: 2726
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:02 am
Location: By the rivers dark
Blog: View Blog (0)

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 21, 2019 2:10 pm

does Glenn realize there are going to be multiple hearing and the Congress initiates impeachment?

Mueller's report is far from the last word


does Glenn know about the SDNY?



Michael Cohen is testifying next Tuesday in a open hearing :)
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 32090
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 21, 2019 2:13 pm

Trump’s Inaugural Team Scrambled to Defend Staff and Record Haul
By Caleb Melby
February 21, 2019, 3:00 AM CST

Tricky question a year after party: What did Rick Gates do?

Staffers came from Barrack’s Colony Capital, Manafort’s circle


The leaders of President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee saw trouble coming and tried to get ahead of it.

It was January 2018, a year after the black-tie balls and candlelight dinners in Washington. Journalists were asking questions about how the Presidential Inaugural Committee had raised -- and spent -- a record amount of money. The committee, known as PIC, was set to release additional details about its finances in public tax filings. Complicating matters, a key committee staffer, Rick Gates, had months earlier been indicted for lobbying work he’d done with Paul Manafort in Ukraine.

To get everyone on the same page, a team reporting to inaugural chairman Thomas Barrack came up with more than 60 questions and answers to circulate among themselves. One question was particularly tricky.

“What did Rick Gates have to do with PIC?’’ staffers wrote in a late January draft. “[Need answer.]”

Former Trump Official Rick Gates To Plead Guilty In Charges Related To Mueller's Russia Investigation
Rick Gates exits Federal Court in Washington, in February 2018.Photographer: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
The draft document, which was reviewed by Bloomberg News, shows how the group prepared to defend its work as questions intensified about its reported $107 million haul. According to nine inaugural staffers and others familiar with the committee’s efforts, the process of planning for Trump’s big week was chaotic and opaque, dominated by staff culled from Colony Capital, the real estate firm founded by Barrack, and by ex-Trump campaign chairman Manafort’s circle of associates.

Many financial decisions were centralized in Barrack’s office, and Gates, dubbed “deputy to the chairman,” was Barrack’s right-hand man, with responsibilities spanning everything from finances to entertainment, according to several people with knowledge of his involvement.

Inaugural Inquiries

Now, federal prosecutors in New York are asking their own questions about the inaugural committee, looking for potential money laundering, false statements, mail and wire fraud, according to a subpoena sent earlier this month, according to news reports. The New Jersey attorney general sent a separate civil subpoena to the committee, ABC News reported.

In response to questions from Bloomberg News, Kristin Celauro, a spokeswoman for the inaugural committee, said in an email, “The PIC cannot address specific media reports due to the ongoing inquiry. However the PIC remains confident it has fully complied with all applicable legal requirements.”

Celauro said the committee received the subpoena from New Jersey and that “the PIC is in contact with staff regarding the inquiry.”

Tom Green, an attorney for Gates, didn’t respond to requests for comment. Gates is assisting prosecutors after pleading guilty to committing crimes with Manafort related to their work in Ukraine.

The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The inaugural inquiries are likely an uncomfortable turn of events for Barrack, an investing legend who has long been impervious to the various scandals and crises surrounding Trump, his decades-long friend. Some employees of Barrack’s firm have already been questioned by federal agents about Manafort as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russia election meddling, according to three people familiar with the inquiry.

Paul Manafort Associate Sam Patten Charged For Failure To Register As A Foreign Agent In Mueller Russia Probe
Sam PattenPhotographer: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Questions persist about whether foreign money improperly flowed into the inaugural fund. In August, Sam Patten, a Manafort associate, pleaded guilty to laundering a $50,000 contribution from a Ukrainian oligarch into the committee in exchange for tickets, saying he did so through an unnamed “straw donor.” At the time, representatives for the committee said they had limited tools to vet donors.

Inaugural committees are non-profit organizations that are subject to little oversight. All of the them tend to be chaotic as they raise and deploy huge sums in a short period of time. Trump’s inaugural effort was particularly tumultuous, where a formal organizational chart was frequently ignored and where tensions with the Republican Party’s old-guard festered.

Read More: Trump Moneyman Barrack Still Waiting for His Windfall

Several Republican operatives, who’d tried to broker truces with the candidate’s staff, found themselves pushed to the sidelines or boxed out entirely, according to four people familiar with the staffing plans. Others who got on the inaugural committee found that chains of command were often subverted by staff from Barrack’s office, three of the people said. But one person familiar with the committee defended its hiring practices, saying the lack of traditional fundraising infrastructure around Trump made it necessary for Barrack to rely on close allies.

One staffer described the stressful months as a “purgatory,” before they would be rewarded with jobs in the administration.

Barrack relished the title of inaugural chairman, but he found many of the tasks tedious, likening the position to that of a wedding planner, according to two people who heard the remarks. That left Gates playing a crucial role in almost everything the committee did, according to several people familiar with his involvement.

Gates’s role perturbed many, because he was known to have a rocky relationship with the president-elect, the result of a billing dispute from the campaign. Still, he was deeply trusted by Barrack, according to five people familiar with their relationship.

The two men centralized decision-making by hosting many meetings at Colony’s New York offices, according to five people with knowledge of the arrangements. As the events drew closer, Barrack would host regular dinners at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Only favorites got invites, according to two of the people.

Barrack and Gates were thrilled each time they passed another $10 million fundraising threshold. But as the New Year dawned in 2017 and the fundraising haul reached nine figures, they began to worry how to spend it, according to two people with knowledge of the finances. Gates asked vendors on at least two occasions if they’d consider accepting payments directly from donors, the people said. There’s no indication vendors took him up on the offer.

The sheer volume of donations to the inaugural fed the chaos. Rich donors and companies that had assumed Trump had no chance of winning saw the inaugural as a last-chance opportunity to be generous, according to a person familiar with the fundraising effort.

Colony employees and Barrack’s friends were frequent fixtures at the finance meetings. Doug Ammerman, an old friend of Barrack’s, served as treasurer. Ron Sanders, Colony’s general counsel, acted as secretary.

Problem Solver

One Colony executive had no formal role at all. Kyle Forsyth, a real estate executive who’d long worked with Barrack, was assigned to solve tough problems: interacting with the U.S. Secret Service, handling the choicest VIPs, and aiding in the preparation of complex outdoor events. He left Colony in February 2018 after more than 15 years with the company.

Barrack paid for the Colony employees’ time working on inaugural events, according to a person familiar with the arrangements. Ammerman and Forsyth didn’t respond to requests for comment. Through a Colony spokeswoman, Sanders declined to comment.

Ticketing procedures for the inaugural were handled by Laurance Gay, who’d previously worked with Manafort and Gates in political consulting. Frank Mermoud, who had Ukrainian business ties and knew Gates, oversaw participation by diplomats.

Gay didn’t have any known experience managing invitations, according to three people familiar with his role, but he’d overseen the Rebuilding America Now super-PAC that Barrack unveiled on CNN during the campaign. After the election, the political action committee continued to pay Gay, who is godfather to one of Manafort’s daughters, $35,000 a month even though the organization was inactive, Bloomberg reported last year.

Mermoud was charged with overseeing the event’s diplomatic corps. It was a reprise of a role he played at the Republican convention, which Manafort led for Trump. Overseeing diplomats was an especially important service at the inauguration, where they were guests of honor at a dinner hosted by Barrack, who’d built business relationships with sovereign wealth funds and others across the globe.

Days after the inauguration, Mermoud asked Barrack to help him obtain a leadership role in the State Department, according to people familiar with the matter. He’d hoped his experience, plus his attainment of the Eagle rank in the Boy Scouts, might be a plus with then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who’d helped lead the Scouts. Mermoud didn’t get a job.

Gay and Mermoud didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Q and A

Barrack, a calm, TV-ready presence, served as as an unofficial spokesman for Trump during the campaign, making the case for his outsider candidacy to reticent members of the financial and entertainment communities.

As the inauguration neared, he saw reason for celebration. But the vibes in New York and Hollywood, where he has many friends, were decidedly more grim. Barrack told inaugural staffers he would head up an effort to make a sea change of the negative coverage of Trump -- personally overseeing interview requests and doling out surrogates to fill them. They’d be selling Trump, he said, and recommended focusing on the possibility of a more friendly business climate and lower taxes, according to people who described the pitch.

Shortly after the inauguration, Colony weighed a plan -- that was never executed -- to open a Washington office to parlay its White House and international ties into infrastructure contracts, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg News and ProPublica.

A year later, as Barrack’s team prepared to publish the committee’s tax documents, that optimism was gone. It was time for damage control.


Barrack and his team provided advance notice of the tax filing to reporters who were described among staff as “allied,” according to people with knowledge of the exchanges, and the first stories about the document made scarce mention of the legally imperiled Gates. Instead, they focused on Stephanie Winston-Wolkoff, a New York event planner and friend of Melania Trump, who was let go as a volunteer staffer to the first lady after those stories were published, according to a report earlier this month in Vanity Fair.

Unpleasant inquiries from reporters were to be dealt with in curt fashion, the late January 2018 draft shows. For instance, if a reporter were to ask, “Who selected the staff?” The proposed answer was, “All staff were hired and vetted appropriately.”

When the inevitable questions came about why the Trump inaugural cost so much more than previous ones, the committee had a ready answer for that too: “We will not make comparisons to prior inaugurations.”

— With assistance by David Voreacos, and Alyza Sebenius
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... ecord-haul
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 32090
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 21, 2019 2:17 pm

oh I see Michael does not like Marci :D

I understand now

his reading comprehension skills are poor ....she never said it was a source.


doesn't like Adam Schiff...... :)

the guy who will be asking the questions NOW and not Coverup Devin

Hates Lawfare......of course he does



Michael Tracey

Verified account

@mtracey
Feb 20
More
Coup plotters never call it a coup


:jumping: :jumping: :jumping:


who is Michael and why should I care?

Looks like everything's going well over at Daily Kos-land
.....ok I get it

he believe's trump is the victim of the DEEP STATE!!!!!!!
Last edited by seemslikeadream on Thu Feb 21, 2019 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 32090
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

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

Postby RocketMan » Thu Feb 21, 2019 2:39 pm

Meanwhile, our own Godot, Jeff, posted this on Facebook. Yeah, I know, it's The American Interest.

https://www.the-american-interest.com/2 ... yRcu-IjfyA

But “Mueller Time,” the Mueller merch, the #Resistance—what Katherine Miller writing for BuzzFeed News has called “the Robert Mueller Fanclub”—really gets me down. Because what I think it shows is that, when it comes to thinking about the most important story of our time, analysis has failed.

This is something systemic, not personal. And yet the #Resistance, and too many Democrats in Congress, keep talking about Trump-Russia naively like a story about heroes and villains, where a few bad apples need to be tossed out; where all we need is “Mueller Time” for everything to be alright. Believe me, it won’t be. This is systemic. And it’s about money.

Call it America’s laundromat.

The Trump-Russia story is a corruption story. It’s a story about dark money—money that both operates within the system and determines its contours.
-I don't like hoodlums.
-That's just a word, Marlowe. We have that kind of world. Two wars gave it to us and we are going to keep it.
User avatar
RocketMan
 
Posts: 2726
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:02 am
Location: By the rivers dark
Blog: View Blog (0)

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 21, 2019 2:42 pm

yes it is all about ALL the RUSSIAN MONEY LAUNDROMAT trump got from


Deutsche Bank: A Global Bank for Oligarchs
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=40823



Image

Trump’s Russian Laundromat

How to use Trump Tower and other luxury high-rises to clean dirty money, run an international crime syndicate, and propel a failed real estate developer into the White House.

In 1984, a Russian émigré named David Bogatin went shopping for apartments in New York City. The 38-year-old had arrived in America seven years before, with just $3 in his pocket. But for a former pilot in the Soviet Army—his specialty had been shooting down Americans over North Vietnam—he had clearly done quite well for himself. Bogatin wasn’t hunting for a place in Brighton Beach, the Brooklyn enclave known as “Little Odessa” for its large population of immigrants from the Soviet Union. Instead, he was fixated on the glitziest apartment building on Fifth Avenue, a gaudy, 58-story edifice with gold-plated fixtures and a pink-marble atrium: Trump Tower.

A monument to celebrity and conspicuous consumption, the tower was home to the likes of Johnny Carson, Steven Spielberg, and Sophia Loren. Its brash, 38-year-old developer was something of a tabloid celebrity himself. Donald Trump was just coming into his own as a serious player in Manhattan real estate, and Trump Tower was the crown jewel of his growing empire. From the day it opened, the building was a hit—all but a few dozen of its 263 units had sold in the first few months. But Bogatin wasn’t deterred by the limited availability or the sky-high prices. The Russian plunked down $6 million to buy not one or two, but five luxury condos. The big check apparently caught the attention of the owner. According to Wayne Barrett, who investigated the deal for the Village Voice, Trump personally attended the closing, along with Bogatin.

If the transaction seemed suspicious—multiple apartments for a single buyer who appeared to have no legitimate way to put his hands on that much money—there may have been a reason. At the time, Russian mobsters were beginning to invest in high-end real estate, which offered an ideal vehicle to launder money from their criminal enterprises. “During the ’80s and ’90s, we in the U.S. government repeatedly saw a pattern by which criminals would use condos and high-rises to launder money,” says Jonathan Winer, a deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement in the Clinton administration. “It didn’t matter that you paid too much, because the real estate values would rise, and it was a way of turning dirty money into clean money. It was done very systematically, and it explained why there are so many high-rises where the units were sold but no one is living in them.” When Trump Tower was built, as David Cay Johnston reports in The Making of Donald Trump, it was only the second high-rise in New York that accepted anonymous buyers.

In 1987, just three years after he attended the closing with Trump, Bogatin pleaded guilty to taking part in a massive gasoline-bootlegging scheme with Russian mobsters. After he fled the country, the government seized his five condos at Trump Tower, saying that he had purchased them to “launder money, to shelter and hide assets.” A Senate investigation into organized crime later revealed that Bogatin was a leading figure in the Russian mob in New York. His family ties, in fact, led straight to the top: His brother ran a $150 million stock scam with none other than Semion Mogilevich, whom the FBI considers the “boss of bosses” of the Russian mafia. At the time, Mogilevich—feared even by his fellow gangsters as “the most powerful mobster in the world”—was expanding his multibillion-dollar international criminal syndicate into America.


In 1987, on his first trip to Russia, Trump visited the Winter Palace with Ivana. The Soviets flew him to Moscow—all expenses paid—to discuss building a luxury hotel across from the Kremlin.Maxim Blokhin/TASS
Since Trump’s election as president, his ties to Russia have become the focus of intense scrutiny, most of which has centered on whether his inner circle colluded with Russia to subvert the U.S. election. A growing chorus in Congress is also asking pointed questions about how the president built his business empire. Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has called for a deeper inquiry into “Russian investment in Trump’s businesses and properties.”

The very nature of Trump’s businesses—all of which are privately held, with few reporting requirements—makes it difficult to root out the truth about his financial deals. And the world of Russian oligarchs and organized crime, by design, is shadowy and labyrinthine. For the past three decades, state and federal investigators, as well as some of America’s best investigative journalists, have sifted through mountains of real estate records, tax filings, civil lawsuits, criminal cases, and FBI and Interpol reports, unearthing ties between Trump and Russian mobsters like Mogilevich. To date, no one has documented that Trump was even aware of any suspicious entanglements in his far-flung businesses, let alone that he was directly compromised by the Russian mafia or the corrupt oligarchs who are closely allied with the Kremlin. So far, when it comes to Trump’s ties to Russia, there is no smoking gun.

Get the latest from TNR. Sign up for the newsletter.
But even without an investigation by Congress or a special prosecutor, there is much we already know about the president’s debt to Russia. A review of the public record reveals a clear and disturbing pattern: Trump owes much of his business success, and by extension his presidency, to a flow of highly suspicious money from Russia. Over the past three decades, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal activities out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Many used his apartments and casinos to launder untold millions in dirty money. Some ran a worldwide high-stakes gambling ring out of Trump Tower—in a unit directly below one owned by Trump. Others provided Trump with lucrative branding deals that required no investment on his part. Taken together, the flow of money from Russia provided Trump with a crucial infusion of financing that helped rescue his empire from ruin, burnish his image, and launch his career in television and politics. “They saved his bacon,” says Kenneth McCallion, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Reagan administration who investigated ties between organized crime and Trump’s developments in the 1980s.

It’s entirely possible that Trump was never more than a convenient patsy for Russian oligarchs and mobsters, with his casinos and condos providing easy pass-throughs for their illicit riches. At the very least, with his constant need for new infusions of cash and his well-documented troubles with creditors, Trump made an easy “mark” for anyone looking to launder money. But whatever his knowledge about the source of his wealth, the public record makes clear that Trump built his business empire in no small part with a lot of dirty money from a lot of dirty Russians—including the dirtiest and most feared of them all.

Trump made his first trip to Russia in 1987, only a few years before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Invited by Soviet Ambassador Yuri Dubinin, Trump was flown to Moscow and Leningrad—all expenses paid—to talk business with high-ups in the Soviet command. In The Art of the Deal, Trump recounted the lunch meeting with Dubinin that led to the trip. “One thing led to another,” he wrote, “and now I’m talking about building a large luxury hotel, across the street from the Kremlin, in partnership with the Soviet government.”

Over the years, Trump and his sons would try and fail five times to build a new Trump Tower in Moscow. But for Trump, what mattered most were the lucrative connections he had begun to make with the Kremlin—and with the wealthy Russians who would buy so many of his properties in the years to come. “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets,” Donald Trump Jr. boasted at a real estate conference in 2008. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

The money, illicit and otherwise, began to rain in earnest after the Soviet Union fell in 1991. President Boris Yeltsin’s shift to a market economy was so abrupt that cash-rich gangsters and corrupt government officials were able to privatize and loot state-held assets in oil, coal, minerals, and banking. Yeltsin himself, in fact, would later describe Russia as “the biggest mafia state in the world.” After Vladimir Putin succeeded Yeltsin as president, Russian intelligence effectively joined forces with the country’s mobsters and oligarchs, allowing them to operate freely as long as they strengthen Putin’s power and serve his personal financial interests. According to James Henry, a former chief economist at McKinsey & Company who consulted on the Panama Papers, some $1.3 trillion in illicit capital has poured out of Russia since the 1990s.


Semion Mogilevich.
At the top of the sprawling criminal enterprise was Semion Mogilevich. Beginning in the early 1980s, according to the FBI, the short, squat Ukrainian was the key money-laundering contact for the Solntsevskaya Bratva, or Brotherhood, one of the richest criminal syndicates in the world. Before long, he was running a multibillion-dollar worldwide racket of his own. Mogilevich wasn’t feared because he was the most violent gangster, but because he was reputedly the smartest. The FBI has credited the “brainy don,” who holds a degree in economics from Lviv University, with a staggering range of crimes. He ran drug trafficking and prostitution rings on an international scale; in one characteristic deal, he bought a bankrupt airline to ship heroin from Southeast Asia into Europe. He used a jewelry business in Moscow and Budapest as a front for art that Russian gangsters stole from museums, churches, and synagogues all over Europe. He has also been accused of selling some $20 million in stolen weapons, including ground-to-air missiles and armored troop carriers, to Iran. “He uses this wealth and power to not only further his criminal enterprises,” the FBI says, “but to influence governments and their economies.”

In Russia, Mogilevich’s influence reportedly reaches all the way to the top. In 2005, Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian intelligence agent who defected to London, recorded an interview with investigators detailing his inside knowledge of the Kremlin’s ties to organized crime. “Mogilevich,” he said in broken English, “have good relationship with Putin since 1994 or 1993.” A year later Litvinenko was dead, apparently poisoned by agents of the Kremlin.


Vyachelsav Ivankov.Sergey Ponomarev/AP
Mogilevich’s greatest talent, the one that places him at the top of the Russian mob, is finding creative ways to cleanse dirty cash. According to the FBI, he has laundered money through more than 100 front companies around the world, and held bank accounts in at least 27 countries. And in 1991, he made a move that led directly to Trump Tower. That year, the FBI says, Mogilevich paid a Russian judge to spring a fellow mob boss, Vyachelsav Kirillovich Ivankov, from a Siberian gulag. If Mogilevich was the brains, Ivankov was the enforcer—a vor v zakone, or “made man,” infamous for torturing his victims and boasting about the murders he had arranged. Sprung by Mogilevich, Ivankov made the most of his freedom. In 1992, a year after he was released from prison, he headed to New York on an illegal business visa and proceeded to set up shop in Brighton Beach.

In Red Mafiya, his book about the rise of the Russian mob in America, investigative reporter Robert I. Friedman documented how Ivankov organized a lurid and violent underworld of tattooed gangsters. When Ivankov touched down at JFK, Friedman reported, he was met by a fellow vor, who handed him a suitcase with $1.5 million in cash. Over the next three years, Ivankov oversaw the mob’s growth from a local extortion racket to a multibillion-dollar criminal enterprise. According to the FBI, he recruited two “combat brigades” of Special Forces veterans from the Soviet war in Afghanistan to run the mafia’s protection racket and kill his enemies.

Like Mogilevich, Ivankov had a lot of dirty money he needed to clean up. He bought a Rolls-Royce dealership that was used, according to The New York Times, “as a front to launder criminal proceeds.” The FBI concluded that one of Ivankov’s partners in the operation was Felix Komarov, an upscale art dealer who lived in Trump Plaza on Third Avenue. Komarov, who was not charged in the case, called the allegations baseless. He acknowledged that he had frequent phone conversations with Ivankov, but insisted the exchanges were innocent. “I had no reason not to call him,” Komarov told a reporter.

Trump Taj Mahal paid the largest fine ever levied against a casino for having “willfully violated” anti-money-laundering rules.
The feds wanted to arrest Ivankov, but he kept vanishing. “He was like a ghost to the FBI,” one agent recalls. Agents spotted him meeting with other Russian crime figures in Miami, Los Angeles, Boston, and Toronto. They also found he made frequent visits to Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, which mobsters routinely used to launder huge sums of money. In 2015, the Taj Mahal was fined $10 million—the highest penalty ever levied by the feds against a casino—and admitted to having “willfully violated” anti-money-laundering regulations for years.

The FBI also struggled to figure out where Ivankov lived. “We were looking around, looking around, looking around,” James Moody, chief of the bureau’s organized crime section, told Friedman. “We had to go out and really beat the bushes. And then we found out that he was living in a luxury condo in Trump Tower.”

There is no evidence that Trump knew Ivankov personally, even if they were neighbors. But the fact that a top Russian mafia boss lived and worked in Trump’s own building indicates just how much high-level Russian mobsters came to view the future president’s properties as a home away from home. In 2009, after being extradited to Russia to face murder charges, Ivankov was gunned down in a sniper attack on the streets of Moscow. According to The Moscow Times, his funeral was a media spectacle in Russia, attracting “1,000 people wearing black leather jackets, sunglasses, and gold chains,” along with dozens of giant wreaths from the various brotherhoods.

Throughout the 1990s, untold millions from the former Soviet Union flowed into Trump’s luxury developments and Atlantic City casinos. But all the money wasn’t enough to save Trump from his own failings as a businessman. He owed $4 billion to more than 70 banks, with a mind-boggling $800 million of it personally guaranteed. He spent much of the decade mired in litigation, filing for multiple bankruptcies and scrambling to survive. For most developers, the situation would have spelled financial ruin. But fortunately for Trump, his own economic crisis coincided with one in Russia.

In 1998, Russia defaulted on $40 billion in debt, causing the ruble to plummet and Russian banks to close. The ensuing financial panic sent the country’s oligarchs and mobsters scrambling to find a safe place to put their money. That October, just two months after the Russian economy went into a tailspin, Trump broke ground on his biggest project yet. Rising to 72 stories in midtown Manhattan, Trump World Tower would be the tallest residential building on the planet. Construction got underway in 1999—just as Trump was preparing his first run for the presidency on the Reform Party ticket— and concluded in 2001. As Bloomberg Businessweek reported earlier this year, it wasn’t long before one-third of the units on the tower’s priciest floors had been snatched up—either by individual buyers from the former Soviet Union, or by limited liability companies connected to Russia. “We had big buyers from Russia and Ukraine and Kazakhstan,” sales agent Debra Stotts told Bloomberg.


Sunny Isles, Florida, became known as “Little Moscow,” thanks to Trump’s high-rises.Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty
Among the new tenants was Eduard Nektalov, a diamond dealer from Uzbekistan. Nektalov, who was being investigated by a Treasury Department task force for mob-connected money laundering, bought a condo on the seventy-ninth floor, directly below Trump’s future campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. A month later he sold his unit for a $500,000 profit. The following year, after rumors circulated that Nektalov was cooperating with federal investigators, he was shot down on Sixth Avenue.

Trump had found his market. After Trump World Tower opened, Sotheby’s International Realty teamed up with a Russian real estate company to make a big sales push for the property in Russia. The “tower full of oligarchs,” as Bloomberg called it, became a model for Trump’s projects going forward. All he needed to do, it seemed, was slap the Trump name on a big building, and high-dollar customers from Russia and the former Soviet republics were guaranteed to come rushing in. Dolly Lenz, a New York real estate broker, told USA Today that she sold some 65 units in Trump World Tower to Russians. “I had contacts in Moscow looking to invest in the United States,” Lenz said. “They all wanted to meet Donald.”

To capitalize on his new business model, Trump struck a deal with a Florida developer to attach his name to six high-rises in Sunny Isles, just outside Miami. Without having to put up a dime of his own money, Trump would receive a cut of the profits. “Russians love the Trump brand,” Gil Dezer, the Sunny Isles developer, told Bloomberg. A local broker told The Washington Post that one-third of the 500 apartments he’d sold went to “Russian-speakers.” So many bought the Trump-branded apartments, in fact, that the area became known as “Little Moscow.”


“Russians love the Trump brand,” said developer Gil Dezer, (left, with Trump). One Florida tenant, Anatoly Golubchik (right) was busted in a major money-laundering ring run out of Trump Tower. Billy Farrell/Patrick McMullan/Getty; John Marshall Mantel/ New York Times/Redux
Many of the units were sold by a native of Uzbekistan who had immigrated from the Soviet Union in the 1980s; her business was so brisk that she soon began bringing Russian tour groups to Sunny Isles to view the properties. According to a Reuters investigation in March, at least 63 buyers with Russian addresses or passports spent $98 million on Trump’s properties in south Florida. What’s more, another one-third of the units—more than 700 in all—were bought by shadowy shell companies that concealed the true owners.

Trump promoted and celebrated the properties. His organization continues to advertise the units; in 2011, when they first turned a profit, he attended a ceremonial mortgage-burning in Sunny Isles to toast their success. Last October, an investigation by the Miami Herald found that at least 13 buyers in the Florida complex have been the target of government investigations, either personally or through their companies, including “members of a Russian-American organized crime group.” Two buyers in Sunny Isles, Anatoly Golubchik and Michael Sall, were convicted for taking part in a massive international gambling and money-laundering syndicate that was run out of Trump Tower in New York. The ring, according to the FBI, was operating under the protection of the Russian mafia.

The influx of Russian money did more than save Trump’s business from ruin—it set the stage for the next phase of his career. By 2004, to the outside world, it appeared that Trump was back on top after his failures in Atlantic City. That January, flush with the appearance of success, Trump launched his newly burnished brand into another medium.

“My name’s Donald Trump,” he declared in his opening narration for The Apprentice, “the largest real estate developer in New York. I own buildings all over the place. Model agencies. The Miss Universe pageant. Jetliners, golf courses, casinos, and private resorts like Mar-a-Lago, one of the most spectacular estates anywhere in the world.”

But it wouldn’t be Trump without a better story than that. “It wasn’t always so easy,” he confessed, over images of him cruising around New York in a stretch limo. “About 13 years ago, I was seriously in trouble. I was billions of dollars in debt. But I fought back, and I won. Big league. I used my brain. I used my negotiating skills. And I worked it all out. Now my company’s bigger than it ever was and stronger than it ever was.… I’ve mastered the art of the deal.”

The show, which reportedly paid Trump up to $3 million per episode, instantly revived his career. “The Apprentice turned Trump from a blowhard Richie Rich who had just gone through his most difficult decade into an unlikely symbol of straight talk, an evangelist for the American gospel of success, a decider who insisted on standards in a country that had somehow slipped into handing out trophies for just showing up,” journalists Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher observe in their book Trump Revealed. “Above all, Apprentice sold an image of the host-boss as supremely competent and confident, dispensing his authority and getting immediate results. The analogy to politics was palpable.”

Russians spent at least $98 million on Trump’s properties in Florida—and another third of the units were bought by shadowy shell companies.
But the story of Donald Trump, self-made business genius, left out any mention of the shady Russian investors who had done so much to make his comeback narrative possible. And Trump’s business, despite the hype, was hardly “stronger than it ever was”—his credit was still lousy, and two more of his prized properties in Atlantic City would soon fall into bankruptcy, even as his ratings soared.

To further enhance his brand, Trump used his prime-time perch to unveil another big project. On the 2006 season finale of The Apprentice, as 11 million viewers waited to learn which of the two finalists was going to be fired, Trump prolonged the suspense by cutting to a promotional video for his latest venture. “Located in the center of Manhattan’s chic artist enclave, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in SoHo is the site of my latest development,” he narrated over swooping helicopter footage of lower Manhattan. The new building, he added, would be nothing less than a “$370 million work of art … an awe-inspiring masterpiece.”

Trump SoHo was the brainchild of two development companies—Bayrock Group LLC and the Sapir Organization—run by a pair of wealthy émigrés from the former Soviet Union who had done business with some of Russia’s richest and most notorious oligarchs. Together, their firms made Trump an offer he couldn’t refuse: The developers would finance and build Trump SoHo themselves. In return for lending his name to the project, Trump would get 18 percent of the profits—without putting up any of his own money.

One of the developers, Tamir Sapir, had followed an unlikely path to riches. After emigrating from the Soviet Union in the 1970s, he had started out driving a cab in New York City and ended up a billionaire living in Trump Tower. His big break came when he co-founded a company that sold high-tech electronics. According to the FBI, Sapir’s partner in the firm was a “member or associate” of Ivankov’s mob in Brighton Beach. No charges were ever filed, and Sapir denied having any mob ties. “It didn’t happen,” he told The New York Times. “Everything was done in the most legitimate way.”

Trump, who described Sapir as a “great friend,” bought 200 televisions from his electronics company. In 2007, he hosted the wedding of Sapir’s daughter at Mar-a-Lago, and later attended her infant son’s bris.


In 2007, Trump celebrated the launch of Trump SoHo with partners Tevfik Arif (center) and Felix Sater (right). Arif was later acquitted on charges of running a prostitution ring.Mark Von Holden/WireImage/Getty
Sapir also introduced Trump to Tevfik Arif, his partner in the Trump SoHo deal. On paper, at least, Arif was another heartwarming immigrant success story. He had graduated from the Moscow Institute of Trade and Economics and worked as a Soviet trade and commerce official for 17 years before moving to New York and founding Bayrock. Practically overnight, Arif became a wildly successful developer in Brooklyn. In 2002, after meeting Trump, he moved Bayrock’s offices to Trump Tower, where he and his staff of Russian émigrés set up shop on the twenty-fourth floor.

Trump worked closely with Bayrock on real estate ventures in Russia, Ukraine, and Poland. “Bayrock knew the investors,” he later testified. Arif “brought the people up from Moscow to meet with me.” He boasted about the deal he was getting: Arif was offering him a 20 to 25 percent cut on his overseas projects, he said, not to mention management fees. “It was almost like mass production of a car,” Trump testified.

But Bayrock and its deals quickly became mired in controversy. Forbes and other publications reported that the company was financed by a notoriously corrupt group of oligarchs known as The Trio. In 2010, Arif was arrested by Turkish prosecutors and charged with setting up a prostitution ring after he was found aboard a boat—chartered by one of The Trio—with nine young women, two of whom were 16 years old. The women reportedly refused to talk, and Arif was acquitted. According to a lawsuit filed that same year by two former Bayrock executives, Arif started the firm “backed by oligarchs and money they stole from the Russian people.” In addition, the suit alleges, Bayrock “was substantially and covertly mob-owned and operated.” The company’s real purpose, the executives claim, was to develop hugely expensive properties bearing the Trump brand—and then use the projects to launder money and evade taxes.

The lawsuit, which is ongoing, does not claim that Trump was complicit in the alleged scam. Bayrock dismissed the allegations as “legal conclusions to which no response is required.” But last year, after examining title deeds, bank records, and court documents, the Financial Times concluded that Trump SoHo had “multiple ties to an alleged international money-laundering network.” In one case, the paper reported, a former Kazakh energy minister is being sued in federal court for conspiring to “systematically loot hundreds of millions of dollars of public assets” and then purchasing three condos in Trump SoHo to launder his “ill-gotten funds.”


Felix Sater had a Trump business card long after his criminal past came to light.
During his collaboration with Bayrock, Trump also became close to the man who ran the firm’s daily operations—a twice-convicted felon with family ties to Semion Mogilevich. In 1974, when he was eight years old, Felix Sater and his family emigrated from Moscow to Brighton Beach. According to the FBI, his father—who was convicted for extorting local restaurants, grocery stores, and a medical clinic—was a Mogilevich boss. Sater tried making it as a stockbroker, but his career came to an abrupt end in 1991, after he stabbed a Wall Street foe in the face with a broken margarita glass during a bar fight, opening wounds that required 110 stitches. (Years later, in a deposition, Trump downplayed the incident, insisting that Sater “got into a barroom fight, which a lot of people do.”) Sater lost his trading license over the attack, and served a year in prison.

In 1998, Sater pleaded guilty to racketeering—operating a “pump and dump” stock fraud in partnership with alleged Russian mobsters that bilked investors of at least $40 million. To avoid prison time, Sater turned informer. But according to the lawsuit against Bayrock, he also resumed “his old tricks.” By 2003, the suit alleges, Sater controlled the majority of Bayrock’s shares—and proceeded to use the firm to launder hundreds of millions of dollars, while skimming and extorting millions more. The suit also claims that Sater committed fraud by concealing his racketeering conviction from banks that invested hundreds of millions in Bayrock, and that he threatened “to kill anyone at the firm he thought knew of the crimes committed there and might report it.” In court, Bayrock has denied the allegations, which Sater’s attorney characterizes as “false, fabricated, and pure garbage.”

By Sater’s account, in sworn testimony, he was very tight with Trump. He flew to Colorado with him, accompanied Donald Jr. and Ivanka on a trip to Moscow at Trump’s invitation, and met with Trump’s inner circle “constantly.” In Trump Tower, he often dropped by Trump’s office to pitch business ideas—“just me and him.”

Trump seems unable to recall any of this. “Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it,” he told the Associated Press in 2015. Two years earlier, testifying in a video deposition, Trump took the same line. If Sater “were sitting in the room right now,” he swore under oath, “I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.” He added: “I don’t know him very well, but I don’t think he was connected to the mafia.”

Trump and his lawyers say that he was unaware of Sater’s criminal past when he signed on to do business with Bayrock. That’s plausible, since Sater’s plea deal in the stock fraud was kept secret because of his role as an informant. But even after The New York Times revealed Sater’s criminal record in 2007, he continued to use office space provided by the Trump Organization. In 2010, he was even given an official Trump Organization business card that read: FELIX H. SATER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO DONALD TRUMP.

In 2013, police burst into Unit 63A of Trump Tower and rounded up 29 suspects in a $100 million money-laundering scheme.
Sater apparently remains close to Trump’s inner circle. Earlier this year, one week before National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was fired for failing to report meetings with Russian officials, Trump’s personal attorney reportedly hand-delivered to Flynn’s office a “back-channel plan” for lifting sanctions on Russia. The co-author of the plan, according to the Times: Felix Sater.

In the end, Trump’s deals with Bayrock, like so much of his business empire, proved to be more glitter than gold. The international projects in Russia and Poland never materialized. A Trump tower being built in Fort Lauderdale ran out of money before it was completed, leaving behind a massive concrete shell. Trump SoHo ultimately had to be foreclosed and resold. But his Russian investors had left Trump with a high-profile property he could leverage. The new owners contracted with Trump to run the tower; as of April, the president and his daughter Ivanka were still listed as managers of the property. In 2015, according to the federal financial disclosure reports, Trump made $3 million from Trump SoHo.

In April 2013, a little more than two years before Trump rode the escalator to the ground floor of Trump Tower to kick off his presidential campaign, police burst into Unit 63A of the high-rise and rounded up 29 suspects in two gambling rings. The operation, which prosecutors called “the world’s largest sports book,” was run out of condos in Trump Tower—including the entire fifty-first floor of the building. In addition, unit 63A—a condo directly below one owned by Trump—served as the headquarters for a “sophisticated money-laundering scheme” that moved an estimated $100 million out of the former Soviet Union, through shell companies in Cyprus, and into investments in the United States. The entire operation, prosecutors say, was working under the protection of Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, whom the FBI identified as a top Russian vor closely allied with Semion Mogilevich. In a single two-month stretch, according to the federal indictment, the money launderers paid Tokhtakhounov $10 million.

Tokhtakhounov, who had been indicted a decade earlier for conspiring to fix the ice-skating competition at the 2002 Winter Olympics, was the only suspect to elude arrest. For the next seven months, the Russian crime boss fell off the radar of Interpol, which had issued a red alert. Then, in November 2013, he suddenly appeared live on international television—sitting in the audience at the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Tokhtakhounov was in the VIP section, just a few seats away from the pageant owner, Donald Trump.


Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov. Dmitry Korotayev/Epsilon/Getty
After the pageant, Trump bragged about all the powerful Russians who had turned out that night, just to see him. “Almost all of the oligarchs were in the room,” he told Real Estate Weekly. Contacted by Mother Jones, Tokhtakhounov insisted that he had bought his own ticket and was not a VIP. He also denied being a mobster, telling The New York Times that he had been indicted in the gambling ring because FBI agents “misinterpreted his Russian slang” on their Trump Tower wiretaps, when he was merely placing $20,000 bets on soccer games.

Both the White House and the Trump Organization declined to respond to questions for this story. On the few occasions he has been questioned about his business entanglements with Russians, however, Trump has offered broad denials. “I tweeted out that I have no dealings with Russia,” he said at a press conference in January, when asked if Russia has any “leverage” over him, financial or otherwise. “I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we’ve stayed away. And I have no loans with Russia. I have no loans with Russia at all.” In May, when he was interviewed by NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump seemed hard-pressed to think of a single connection he had with Russia. “I have had dealings over the years where I sold a house to a very wealthy Russian many years ago,” he said. “I had the Miss Universe pageant—which I owned for quite a while—I had it in Moscow a long time ago. But other than that, I have nothing to do with Russia.”

But even if Trump has no memory of the many deals that he and his business made with Russian investors, he certainly did not “stay away” from Russia. For decades, he and his organization have aggressively promoted his business there, seeking to entice investors and buyers for some of his most high-profile developments. Whether Trump knew it or not, Russian mobsters and corrupt oligarchs used his properties not only to launder vast sums of money from extortion, drugs, gambling, and racketeering, but even as a base of operations for their criminal activities. In the process, they propped up Trump’s business and enabled him to reinvent his image. Without the Russian mafia, it is fair to say, Donald Trump would not be president of the United States.

Semion Mogilevich, the Russian mob’s “boss of bosses,” also declined to respond to questions from the New Republic. “My ideas are not important to anybody,” Mogilevich said in a statement provided by his attorney. “Whatever I know, I am a private person.” Mogilevich, the attorney added, “has nothing to do with President Trump. He doesn’t believe that anybody associated with him lives in Trump Tower. He has no ties to America or American citizens.”

Back in 1999, the year before Trump staged his first run for president, Mogilevich gave a rare interview to the BBC. Living up to his reputation for cleverness, the mafia boss mostly joked and double-spoke his way around his criminal activities. (Q: “Why did you set up companies in the Channel Islands?” A: “The problem was that I didn’t know any other islands. When they taught us geography at school, I was sick that day.”) But when the exasperated interviewer asked, “Do you believe there is any Russian organized crime?” the “brainy don” turned half-serious.

“How can you say that there is a Russian mafia in America?” he demanded. “The word mafia, as far as I understand the word, means a criminal group that is connected with the political organs, the police and the administration. I don’t know of a single Russian in the U.S. Senate, a single Russian in the U.S. Congress, a single Russian in the U.S. government. Where are the connections with the Russians? How can there be a Russian mafia in America? Where are their connections?”

Two decades later, we finally have an answer to Mogilevich’s question.
https://newrepublic.com/article/143586/ ... -syndicate


Germany Seizes 50 Mil Euros of Russian Laundromat Loot

German authorities announced on Wednesday they seized 50 million euros (US$56.7 million) believed to be derived from the “Russian Laundromat” - an international money laundering scheme exposed in 2014 by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

Laundromat
The "Russian Laundromat" may well be the biggest money laundering operation in Eastern Europe. (Photo: OCCRP)
Following a three-year long investigation into three defendants, Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the public prosecutor’s office Munich I on Monday confiscated four properties in Schwalbach am Taunus, Nuremberg, Regensburg and Mühldorf am Inn with a total value of around $45.39 million.

An account from a Latvian bank with a balance of $1.36 million deriving from the sale of a property in Chemnitz was also seized. Authorities as well provisionally secured accounts at various banks containing funds of approximately $7.59 million.

Munich I’s previous investigations suggest that the assets in the bank accounts, invested in luxury real estate, are proceeds of the “Russian Laundromat” - possibly the biggest money laundering operation in Eastern Europe.

The virtual laundromat operating through banks and powerful companies saw $22 billion in dirty funds moved out of Russia between 2010 and early 2014 in a complex system involving dozens of offshore companies, banks, fake loans and proxy agents.

Much of the money was sent to Moldova, where corrupt judges were signing off on feigned loan transactions to make them legitimate. The businesses, however, were phantom companies shielding the real owners.

Moldova’s Chief Prosecutor launched investigations against 16 judges, sending the majority to court.

Banking records obtained by OCCRP exposed Latvian bank Trasta Komercbanka as the final destination for the billions of dollars leaving Russia.

Ivan Fursin, former owner of Trasta Komercbanka, however remains head of Ukraine's parliamentary sub-committee for anti-money laundering and financial monitoring, and owns a Ukrainian bank.

In May 2018, a UK government report criticized authorities for “turning a blind eye to London’s role in hiding the proceeds of Kremlin-connected corruption.” All of the UK’s high street banks, including HSBC, played a role in the scheme.

Germany’s Deutsche Bank is currently under investigation as part of the ongoing U.S. Federal Reserve probe of the Estonian branch of Danske Bank’s alleged role in the Laundromat. The Fed is investigating whether Deutsche Bank adequately monitored billions of dollars in suspicious transactions from Danske Bank.

According to a leaked report, Danske’s Estonian branch closed the accounts of several companies in 2013 after realizing they had been used by a member of Vladimir Putin’s family and Russia’s intelligence service, the FSB, to launder huge amounts of money.

Despite the allegations, Estonia rejected new legislation late last month intended to strengthen anti-money laundering controls in the wake of the scandal, claiming it wasn’t “specific enough” to avoid a potential invasion of citizens’ privacy.
https://www.occrp.org/en/27-ccwatch/cc- ... romat-loot


Image




HEY MICHAEL

I LOVED IT!

Image


Image
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 32090
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:02 pm

sentencing schedule for Manafort



Mueller EDVA memo: 2/15
Mueller DC memo: 2/22
Manafort DC memo: 2/25
Manafort EDVA memo: 3/1
Manafort EDVA hearing: 3/8
Manafort DC hearing: 3/13

Image
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 32090
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:41 pm





Something was wrong.

At first, it was just instinct. During the Republican primaries, things weren’t adding up for us with Donald Trump.

It wasn’t Donald’s “-isms.” It wasn’t his nature, or his voters, or our own politics. It was what we knew about him from journalists like Wayne Barrett. It was what we knew about Donald’s history, that NO ONE in the current media was properly covering. Why?

Something was wrong. WHAT was it?

And then came Paul Manafort. He entered the scene as a campaign manager. We knew what that meant. We knew who Manafort was, and where he came from. That was the moment we began to dig.

What we found is a simple truth. And now, we’re bringing that truth to you.

We’re bringing it in such a way that you can scrutinize it. Bang on it all you want. Bring us your refutations to the evidence that we’re presenting herein. We’ve been doing that to ourselves over all these months.

DIG ALL YOU WANT. If you are intellectually honest, we are confident that you will come to the same conclusion. Because, no matter what rabbit hole we ventured down (and there are endless rabbit holes), this singular truth always surfaced. Glaringly.

It is there for all to see. Here it is…

There is a man who controls our President.

And his name is not Vladimir Putin.



THE MASTER HUNTERS


Before we reveal the name, we need to tell you of the hunters who came before.

This story – the big truth behind #TrumpRussia - is one that goes back decades. While everyone in the media chased the “scoop of the moment,” we dug into the past. There, we found two men, who gave their lives to hunt the criminal force behind our President.

These hunters were patriots. They were professional law enforcement and intelligence officers at the top of their game. They committed themselves to revealing the name that we’re about to disclose, and they gave their lives as a result.


The American
We begin with the American: former DEA and FBI agent, Bob Levinson. While at the FBI, Levinson pursued the world’s most wanted criminals to keep America safe. He hunted the mob.

It is the most dangerous work in all of law enforcement.

The people Levinson chased are murderers, sex traffickers, drug lords and arms dealers - including those who trade in nuclear material. At their most tepid, these criminals lure the vulnerable into their scams to rob them blind. At their most craven, they flood our communities with drugs and ravage families for profit. At their most evil, they fund the networks that inspire terrorist attacks on innocent civilians. If you hunt them, they will kill you. They will kill your family.

Bob Levinson knew the stakes, and yet he went after the most dangerous criminal of them all. Because Levinson is a patriot. He is the definition of that word. He is a hero.

He is also a master hunter.

In 1999, Tom Mangold interviewed Bob Levinson for the BBC. They discussed Levinson’s biggest target: a man leading a conglomerate of international criminals who were coming to America’s shores.




From his home in Broward County, Florida, Levinson gave this warning, “Criminals are coming in who are wealthier and more vicious than any of the criminals that you, or anybody on the continent, have ever seen. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the most dangerous people on earth.”

STOP. Read his quote again. Take it in. This is a career FBI agent who was at the top of his field in hunting the world’s most dangerous men. TAKE IN HIS WORDS.

The Mangold interview happened after Levinson had left the FBI’s organized crime unit to work in the private sector. But, as Levinson told Mangold, there was a case he could not quit. He had a job that was unfinished. The master hunter had a target.

The Russian
On November 17, 1998, something extraordinary happened in Moscow. A high-ranking member of the organized crime unit at the FSB (Russia’s FBI) held a press conference. His name was Alexander Litvinenko, and he told the world that Russia’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies had been taken over by organized crime. He called Russia, “A Mafia State.”

One year later, Vladimir Putin became President of Russia. But during Litvinenko’s final months at the FSB organized crime unit, Putin was his boss.

On July 5, 1998, Putin was appointed by President Yeltsin as Director of the FSB. He had found his way to the position of top law enforcement officer in all of Russia on weak qualifications – and after serving a stint as Deputy Mayor of St. Petersburg. We detail this history and its importance later in this document, but state here for you to know now: 1) St. Petersburg’s Mayor was a politician owned and controlled by the Russian mob; 2) Putin was hand-picked by this same mob to ascend to power, because he is their puppet.

Or, at least, that is how he began.

The FSB is the very agency that Litvinenko warned the world about at that press conference four months after Putin’s appointment as its director. This is the agency that Litvinenko said was being run by the mob. Watch:



Our research indicates that this is the very same mob that Bob Levinson warned us was sending criminals to our shores. And like all mobs, there is always a Don. A boss. A head of "The Family.”

On December 31, 1999, when Vladimir Putin was first elected, this Don controlled the President of Russia. Litvinenko committed his life thereafter to bringing him down.

Both Bob Levinson and Alexander Litvinenko hunted the most brilliant, dangerous, powerful, criminal mastermind the world has ever seen.

This is not hyperbole.

This is SEMION MOGILEVICH.






Semion Mogilevich aka Brainy Don, aka Don Semyon,

THE “BILLION DOLLAR DON”

The 1999 Mangold interview with Bob Levinson is a remarkable thing. Not only because it captured Levinson’s life pursuit, in his own words. But because Mangold somehow got an interview with the devil himself.

The Man and His Brand
Semion Mogilevich goes by many names, and we will use some of them interchangeably throughout our reporting. Mogilevich, the "Boss of Bosses," is also known in Russia and to international intelligence agencies as Don Semyon, “The Brainy Don.”

To introduce Mogilevich, Tom Mangold gave this summary. Pay attention to the date. Pay attention to the underlined phrase.

“In May 1995, the FBI together with Russian, German, and Italian offices, produced [a] devastating report on organized crime, naming Mogilevich as leader of an organization with some 250 members. Mogilevich’s main activities are listed as arms dealing, trading nuclear material, prostitution, drug dealing, oil deals, and money laundering.”



1995. That’s the date.

In 1995, Bob Levinson was still with the FBI. Alexander Litvinenko was at the FSB in Moscow. Both men hunted one organized crime syndicate above all others. We believe that this report must have passed through both of their hands. We know, through many reports on their individual histories, that both of our hunters were on Mogilevich’s trail. They were the experts on Don Semyon.

But what was happening in Russia in 1995? How could this one criminal have risen in such stature, as to have control over substances such as oil and nuclear material?

There are countless resources on the subject. Mountains of books, articles, and documentary reporting. But we’ll give you the short answer.

The Soviet Union collapsed. In the vacuum of leadership – of policy – of governmental order, a few hungry souls made a mad grab for state resources. They were the original seven oligarchs, called “The Magnificient Seven.” And they were all bankers.

One of these first seven bankers, Mikhail Fridman – the founder of ALFABANK, is Semion Mogilevich’s partner. With the “Brainy Don” inside an economic engine, the operational infrastructure for a global crime syndicate had its funding. “Alfa” (sometimes spelled “Alpha”) became the brand under which an empire was born.

With a bank behind him, all that was left to do for Semion was take out the “hunters.” He began locally – in Russia. Semion launched his attack on Russian intelligence and law enforcement, using his leverage over politicians to compromise any and all checks and balances against his own mob.

Here is a link to a supporting article, which provides an analysis on how Putin was used to help execute Semion’s strategy for turning Russia into a Mafiya State. It provides a brief historical narrative on the early moves of Semion’s mob after the fall of the Soviet Empire, and provides further resource links for you to read and explore: CLICK HERE

So that you understand, here, what we are revealing to you about Putin and Semion, we have obtained video of Semion Mogilevich at Vladmir Putin’s campaign headquarters in 2000 – watching his man ascend to the Presidency. This is five years after a global intelligence report on Semion’s mafia empire.

You will see Don Semyon looking back to the camera at 1:15.



The Empire
Once the Russian intelligence community had been taken over – once the Russian hunters were jailed, exiled, or assassinated - the guardrails were gone for Don Semyon.

Mogilevich already had a criminal enterprise – an infrastructure that reached beyond borders - with ports, ships, goods... All “The Brainy Don” needed to do was GROW.

The Intelligence Report on Semion’s operations that Tom Mangold references in his interview was from 1995. 22 years ago.

“The report says your organization operates in central Europe - including Prague, Vienna, Russia, the United States, Ukraine, Israel, and the United Kingdom.”

That quote tells us just how established, globally, Don Semyon was in 1995. How many men – how big of a global enterprise – has Mogilevich been able to build in the 22 years since?

Let’s begin with the core organization. Semion has two main brands. The first is “Alfa” (sometimes “Alpha”). You will find that name in the Steele Dossier. Under Semion’s umbrella, are a plethora of businesses. In addition to the criminal industry sectors listed by the 1999 intelligence report, subsequent reporting has attributed more profit centers to Semion, including human trafficking.

Here is a chart that gives the basics on Semion’s Alfa business sectors, his partners, and his “employees.” He owns it all.




[You can find our research on Semion for this chart by clicking here, or go to both the bibliography sections on our site]

Let us state, again, that Semion is the brain inside what became an EXTRA-NATIONAL CRIME SYNDICATE. He connected resources, goods, and people of the former Soviet Empire to service a criminal underworld and produce billions in profits. This global mob has evolved since the fall of the Soviet Union. Semion’s lieutenants have risen in power and stature within his mob – as have the Heads of State of former Soviet block nations. We cannot assert for certain that Semion’s power is as absolute as it once was. But make no mistake, this MOB is his creation. He connected all the dots. He is the founder, and he is still the man to hunt.

We’ve put the key individuals to Semion’s organization on the chart. These are the names that will be exploding in the press, as Mueller’s investigation continues to unfold. In addition, we’d like to draw your attention to some names that will be explored in depth by us in the future. HERE is a summary document, with source links.

For the purpose of this story – the story of the hunters who came before, we’d like to highlight one detail of Semion’s decades-long empire: SEMION TRADES IN NUCLEAR MATERIAL AND ARMS WITH IRAN (you can easily research this yourself, or find it in several sources of our bibliography under Semion himself).

Semion has long known the Iranians. He knew past regimes and present. He’s dealt with them all. He’s a key individual in the black-market trade of nuclear material. This aspect of Semion’s criminal enterprise is one thing (of many) the Iran Deal sought to eliminate. Keep that in mind.

If you’re mind reeling from the scope of this – questioning how one boss could build something so grand, ask yourself: How is this different from any organized crime “family?”

The business is the same. The model is the same. It’s just a bigger territory. Mogilevich got it, because he is the right kind of gangster – who was at the right place, in the right time in history. He is the same, old mob boss we’ve always known.

And Bob Levinson had his number.



ALL THE DEVIL’S MEN

“Follow the trail of dead Russians.”
Clint Watts, Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing testimony, March 30, 2017

Levinson knew exactly how the devil grew his empire, because he knows how mob empires work. Mogilevich needed others – men who were already in place in new territories – men who could work for him. Levinson knew Mogilevich needed professionals – businessmen – fronts to help him grow.

Levinson knew that those men would be the trail.

It’s important to note that Bob Levinson was hunting Mogilevich from the very beginning of the Russian Mafiya’s infiltration of America. He witnessed the Russian take-over of America’s mafia crime families, the “Five Families,” (La Cosa Nostra) by members of Semion’s mob.

Bob had come to know the operations, individuals, and bosses of the Five Families during his time working for the FBI’s organized crime unit in New York City. He knew the businessmen and politicians the mob worked with and compromised. And he knew, as we do now, that the Russians were not only the most dangerous criminals he had ever encountered, they were also the smartest.

How do you take over a new territory in a new land? You infiltrate an existing mob. You take over their operations with your brutality and your wealth. Why re-invent the wheel, or build one from scratch, when you can steal what’s already there? That’s how smart criminals work. This is Russian Mafia 101.

For Bob, the hunt for Semion began in the early ‘90s, when the mobster Vyacheslov Ivankov set him off on Semion’s trail. Ivankov was Semion’s lieutenant, sent to America to set up operations. If you recognize his name, it’s because Ivankov is the mobster who landed in a condo in Trump Tower, hid out regularly at Trump Taj Mahal, and was eventually caught by the FBI’s organized crime unit.

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

Rather than give you the details in writing, we’ll let you read all about it in Bob Levinson’s own words. Bob was the key law enforcement witness at Ivankov’s trial. Here is his testimony:

By the time he testified, Bob had moved from the NYC field office to Florida. It’s an interesting move, considering it follows the Diaspora of Semion’s mob on our shores.

Bob eventually left the FBI and set up a private consulting firm. We are uncertain whether or not this departure was a law enforcement tactic to take the heat off Bob personally, while he maintained his work with the FBI – and later with the CIA. But, we do know for certain that he never stopped hunting Mogilevich. It was the case Bob Levinson could not quit: “I’d like to finish the job.”

Hunting Mogilevich’s crime syndicate is also THE case that puts the history of Donald Trump’s business “partnerships” into context. It explains why the #TrumpRussia investigation – from the FBI to the congressional committees - has shifted from counter-intelligence to CRIMINAL. It is the “WHAT” and the “WHY” that set us off on this journey.

It also answers what lurks beneath Trump’s flailing tweets, firing of Comey, and strategic undermining of the integrity of our independent press. It is the answer that sits at the core of the Special Prosecutor’s evidence, especially if Mueller indeed has his hands on Trump’s bank records and tax returns.

While with the FBI in New York, Bob Levinson knew all about the Five Family’s and Trump Enterprises lawyer and fixer, Roy Cohn. Bob knew all about Donald Trump. He knew all about Fred Trump.


(Pictured: Fred Trump with Consigliere and associate of Semion Mogilevich, Brad Zackson - pictured left of Fred.)



That was Bob’s job. To know the businessmen and lawyers who profited, represented, and sheltered the American mobsters that he hunted.



[You can find our research on Trump Enterprises American mafia connections for this chart by clicking here, or going to both the bibliography sections on our site]



From Russia… With Love

Levinson also knew every link between the American mob and the Russians who rolled over them and took their empire. Because, you see, Levinson knew this…

If you want to catch the devil, uncover the men who help him grow his criminal enterprise.

For Levinson - as an FBI agent, this set him after not only the former Soviets that Semion brought to our shores, but after the Americans whom Semion entangled and controlled as well. Because, Levinson knew Semion’s TACTICS:

As a kingpin, you can hire thugs – the muscle who manage your operation at the street level. But thugs can’t wash your money. They can’t get you into new territories. They don’t have access to the pillars of industry and government that keep your money flowing. For this, you need professionals. You need people in power. You need people with resources. They are both your conduits and your fronts. They let you reap the rewards of your criminal network, while you stay safely hidden in the shadows.

Some of these professionals – businessmen and politicians - can be bought. But that’s not good enough for a boss like Mogilevich. Because these people are already successful, and he’s going to put them in harm’s way. He’s going to turn each of them into a serious criminal, who will, in turn, be hunted by men like Bob Levinson. Thugs can be bought. But professionals must be leveraged.

Remember what Bob Levinson said on Mogilevich tactics: “He’s a sophisticated racketeer, who uses a cover of ‘international businessman’ to basically convince people, ‘You’ve got nothing to hide by dealing with me…Just take a look at my bank account…’ ”

Bob was VERY AWARE of who Mogilevich was in business with – inside and out, because that is how you hunt a mob boss. He knew Mogilevich’s tactics. He knew how “The Brainy Don” identified his marks. Bob told us exactly how Mogilevich does it all.

The equation for finding the perfect mark is simple: 1) identify a businessman who has what you need – like a vehicle to wash your blood money, + 2) find their weak spot, and + 3) squeeze.

Don Semyon looked for those who can be easily leveraged. Looked for the vulnerable. Looked for the businessman in a desperate situation. And even if Don Semyon inherits a mark as an asset from an old boss he rolled over, he will still evaluate that mark thoroughly. He'll leverage the mark further to make him his own. Because, he’s the “Brainy Don.”

Perhaps, the mark is not quite desperate enough for the blood money that Semyon needs him to wash. This is money that funds terrorists - profits from the proliferation of nuclear material - the global rape trade. Don Semyon’s businesses are as dark as it gets.

For that reason, Mogilevich requires a lifetime of servitude and loyalty. For the unthinkable acts he requires of his marks – his “fronts” to undertake, Don Semyon needs real leverage. He must OWN you.

Therefore, if the mark is not desperate enough when Mogilevich has him in his sights, then he lures that mark into a bad deal– and makes it worse. Arranges for some Kompromat to seal the leverage forever. SQUEEZE.

To find that perfect mark in his new U.S. territory, all Semion Mogilevich had to do was follow the debt.

In the United States, there was one businessman at the top of Don Semyon’s list. One who was the easiest mark and could reap the greatest return. One who was sheltering Mogilevich's Men. One who was already in business with the American mafia, when "the" RUSSIAN MOB rolled over them all.

Mob tactics are mob tactics. It doesn’t matter if you’re the Italians, the Irish, or the Russians. You need businessmen because they are your “fronts.”

And thanks to Fred Trump, Roy Cohn, and the “Five Families” of American mafia, the United States already had a perfect front for Mogilevich to take. A man – a brand, that could wash the devil’s blood money clean.


Donald J. Trump.

Our President’s mafia ties have been long documented. His Russian ties have been long documented. What we are saying to you is that they are one and the same. When Semion Mogilevich took over American mafia’s territory, he took Donald Trump with it.
With Donald Trump, our President, whether you are looking at the shady and corrupt business deals of his past, or the Russians all around his present, what you are really looking at is THE MOB.

Here is the chart that shows how Semion Mogilevich took over his second brand: TRUMP ENTERPRISES.



[You can find our research on this chart by clicking here, or going to both the bibliography sections on our site]



The below video is a timeline representation of our research into Donald Trump’s life as a money-laundering front for organized crime: from American mafia to Russian. Every item – every Donald Trump project or event that we’re presenting here as mob-connected is SOURCED.

You can pause it to read more closely. You can also go to the bibliography section on this site to see an interactive version of the timeline and explore our sources. They include legal documents, law enforcement reports, intelligence reports, financial statements, and great investigative journalism.

We've included some key trips to Russia (both Donald and his family), with the inference that these were not un-productive jaunts. Donald's ties to Semion are old and long-held.

Take it all in. This is our President. Watch...



WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR HUNTERS?

From FSB to MI6

After his 1998 press conference – telling the world that Russia’s FSB had been taken over by the Mob, Alexander Litvinenko was jailed. His story from there is remarkable.

Litvinenko turned to the man whom he was once ordered to assassinate. Prior to his press conference, Litvinenko was ordered by his mobbed-up superiors to murder one of the original seven oligarchs – a banker named Boris Berezovsky, who was a competitor to Alfa Bank. Instead, Litvinenko warned Berezovsky to run. That assassination order was what prompted the press conference.

In between Litvinenko’s trials and prison movement, Berezovsky managed to get Litvinenko and his family (wife and son) out of Russia and into the United Kingdom.

Finding safe exile in London, Alexander Litvinenko continued working to hunt Mogilevich’s mob. In our opinion, the very best journalism on Litvinenko’s journey from the FSB to MI6 is done by Luke Harding. We highly recommend his book, “A Very Expensive Poison.”

In Harding’s book, we learn of Litvinenko’s work with MI6. He was instrumental in the arrests of key members of the Tambov Gang (SEMION'S PARTNERS), who were hiding out in Spain.

In late 2006, at the peak of his hunting, and perhaps due to a dossier he co-wrote that landed in the wrong hands, Litvinenko was assassinated. It was a gruesome murder that was meant to send a signal: he was poisoned with radioactive material, that was under the control of Vladimir Putin’s regime. Polonium.





Litvinenko’s death was slow enough for him to identify who he believed had murdered him and how. In these last interviews he gave from his hospital bed (as detailed in Harding’s book), Litvinenko was visited by his MI6 handler – a man with the code name “Martin.”

Harding surmises that “Martin” would have been fluent in Russian. Due to the dates when Litvinenko and “Martin” were known to be working together at MI6 (2003-2006), we cannot help but wonder if “Martin” is Christopher Steele – who handled the Russian Desk at MI6 from 2004-2009 and participated in the investigation into Litvinenko’s assassination.

In our bibliography under Alexander Litvinenko is the official finding by the British Court on his murder (“The Litvinenko Inquiry”). Vladimir Putin is directly named.

But we go back to that press conference because that is what haunts us personally. We believe that what Litvinenko warned the world about is happening again – here at home.

After the firing of James Comey, Donald Trump named Christopher Wray the new Director of the FBI. Prior to this recent appointment, Wray spent over a decade working for King & Spalding - a small law firm (on the scale of how large firms can be) whose primary clients are GAZPROM and ROSNEFT. Although Wray was at the FBI before his years at King & Spalding, those years at the FBI were also at a time when Semion’s mob was infiltrating intelligence communities world-wide, to compromise the LE agencies who hunted him. All of this has us more than concerned.

Even more concerning is Donald’s nomination for running the ORGANIZED CRIME UNIT at the DOJ (as in, the men and women who specifically hunt the mob) - Brian Benczkowski. As of the time we are writing this, Benczkowski has yet to be confirmed by the full Senate. Why does he concern us so? Benczkowski is Alfa Bank’s private attorney.

We will leave it there.



The Final Tip
2006 was an ominous year. Litvinenko was murdered in November. Five months earlier, in June, U.S. intelligence reached out to Bob Levinson for help.

The CIA International Financial Crimes Group had a case that required someone with a specific skill set. They needed a master hunter with a certain history. They needed Bob Levinson.

Levinson had officially left the FBI by this point and had established his own firm, working as a consultant for the private sector. He specialized in cases that drew on his contacts/ sources and expertise from his years hunting Semion. These included corporate espionage work for Philip Morris - tracking cigarette counterfeiters (one of Semion’s profit specialties, as identified in that 1995 intelligence report), foreign nationals seeking better relations with the United States, and even work for the Bank of Cyprus – helping them with some money-laundering issues they were having.

There is mixed reporting on whether or not Bob was ONLY an independent contractor at the time the CIA reached out to him. Some suspect that Bob had never left the FBI. Either way, the CIA needed help – and Bob Levinson was the hunter they hired.

We do not have a clear answer from the CIA, to this day, on exactly who they sent Bob off to hunt. So, we are left to discover this in the way that Bob Levinson would have: by following the trail of men.

First, you should know that this was the last hunt that Bob was ever on. The “official” story from US intelligence has shifted over the years, so we started with that big question: Who was the target? Who?

Who could have pulled Bob Levinson back into a hunt? Do you think it would be just any old criminal?

Levinson has a family who loves him. A happy life. Who could it have been? Who was so important to capture, that a CIA operation was launched? Who warranted Bob’s special knowledge, over using active intelligence agents?

What case – what criminal - warranted our master hunter?

To find the name of the man he was hunting on that operation, we went digging. What we’ve discovered is that Bob did two critical things before he left for his hunt:

1) He told others he was off to hunt cigarette smugglers. Remember that. Remember cigarettes.

2) He went to see one of his long-held contacts, Boris Birshtein. Birshtein is a known associate of both Donald Trump and Semion Mogilevich.





Birshtein is the father-in-law of the oligarch Alex Shnaider, Donald’s business partner on Trump Toronto hotel. Birshtein is also a named consigliere of the Russian Mafia. He organized a meeting between Semion and several Bratva members in Israel in 1995 – right around the time of that first, big international intelligence report on Semion.

From what we can surmise, by the time Bob contacted Birshtein in 2006, Birshtein had been unable to obtain a visa into the U.S. because of his association with Semion’s organization. This provided Bob with the perfect carrot to offer Birshtein for helping the CIA.

“While tracking possible Rafsanjani money in Canadian 2006, Levinson also met Lithuanian-born Boris Birshtein, believed by U.S. authorities to be connected with Russian and Israeli organized crime.”
[“Where is Bob Levinson” by Philip Giraldi, American Conservative -Dec 31, 2013]

Here is where we tell you what happened to Bob Levinson. You may have recognized his name, but the old footage of him – in his healthy, happy life as a husband, father, and professional - may not be the image you know.







Bob Levinson was kidnapped during his final hunt on the island of Kish, Iran. He is now the longest held American hostage in history.

There is much you can read on Bob’s capture, but we want to bring you this final stunning detail. Among the attempts to recover Bob, the CIA reached out to another notable name, OLEG DERIPASKA.

Now, it is unclear to us, actually, whether the CIA reached out to Oleg, or Oleg reached out to them. What IS clear is that, like Birshtein, Deripaska needed a visa. Like Birshtein, Deripaska’s links to Semion’s mob were preventing his entry into the U.S. And, like Birshtein, he was someone that seemed to know Bob Levinson.

Agents involved in Bob’s recovery believed that Deripaska knew of his whereabouts. WHY? Why would the CIA believe that Deripaska, of all people, would know who was holding Bob?

Because of all of these details – because of all of this circumstantial evidence that we cannot ignore, it is our belief that Semion Mogilevich arranged for Bob Levinson’s capture with the Iranians – whom he had been in business with for years.

Bob Levinson walked into a trap.


RESIST



We have two calls of action.

FIRST, please help yourself to our research. Dig.

There is a page on this site that lists all the Trump properties and ventures which we suspect are connected to Semion and the mob, but we have yet to find a solid source. Nothing went on our timeline without a source connecting Trump to the American mafia and/or to Mogilevich’s mob. Although what we have is damning enough, we invite you to help us find more.

SECOND, we want Bob Levinson returned to his family and this nation. He is a patriot and a hero. We do not accept that he is to be left unfound and unrecovered.

On the campaign trail, Trump and his surrogates used Levinson’s capture as a criticism of Obama’s “Iran Deal” – saying Obama should have obtained Levinson’s release before cutting any deal with Iran. But Bob Levinson is not home. He is not free.

The Trump administration has now declared they will free him. They will bring Bob Levinson home. Trump has vowed to succeed where both Obama and Bush had failed. For Levinson, his family, and our country, Trump must succeed. A President should fight for all American hostages to be safely returned, especially those who served our nation.

We hope for that outcome. But we cannot help but question the integrity of our President to do this. Not just because Trump is a font of lies, but because he’s leveraged by the very man Levinson hunted.

Tom Mangold called Bob Levinson Mogilevich’s “nemesis.” Based on what we’ve uncovered about Trump’s ties to this mob boss, we cannot leave Levinson’s safe return solely to Trump’s conscience. We cannot help but believe that Donald Trump would never do anything to go against Mogilevich’s wishes. Unless and until Vladimir Putin takes care of Mogilevich for Donald Trump, Trump would never expose his boss. He would never poke that Russian bear.

So, we will do it for him. For all of us. We need you to raise your voice. America owes a debt to Bob Levinson. Even more so, because two past Presidents FAILED him. FAILED to bring him home.

Imagine if they had. Imagine what Bob Levinson would have told us about Donald J. Trump.

Our democracy would not be in danger of being taken over by the mob. Litvinenko shouted from the rooftops about Mogilevich’s take over of Russia two decades ago, and it was too late. If Bob Levinson were safe at home – with his family, do you believe he would have stayed silent and let Mogilevich’s aims consume our country as well?

We need to accept the bad news about our last Presidents, in order to save America from the present one.

BRING BOB LEVINSON HOME.

Shout it at every media outlet. Shout it on social media. Make t-shirts. Organize fund-raising. Donate to his rescue. HELP.

BRING BOB LEVINSON HOME.

And if you’re not convinced yet to take action – to help Levinson, let us leave you with something from that Mangold interview. Let us leave you with the devil’s own words:




MANGOLD: “People will be astonished that four nations, including your own, have got together to produce this damning [intelligence] report… Why is it that all these disparate, these different people, pick on you? I look at you, and I don’t see a victim. So, why do people pick on you?”

MOGILEVICH: “It’s because I smoke so much. Davidoff cigarettes.”

http://www.citjourno.org
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 32090
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:45 pm

RocketMan » Thu Feb 21, 2019 1:06 pm wrote:Existential crisis awaits after Mueller report is soon out...
GG.tiff
GG.tiff (199.73 KiB) Viewed 740 times




emptywheel
‏Mueller charged, indicted, prosecuted the campaign manager that conspired w/RU before, during, & after campaign, & got judge to agree that included stuff material to the campaign.

(Never mind that GG gets the mandate hilariously wrong).


Glenn Greenwald

A major part of Mueller's responsibility and reason for existing, at least as I (and many others) understood it, was to charge, indict and prosecute any Americans who criminally conspired with Russia over the election. That was, in my view, central to his mandate, not ancillary.

emptywheel Retweeted
Glenn Greenwald

emptywheel Retweeted Glenn Greenwald
In which Glenn Greenwald, Esquire, is so unfamiliar with the public record he mistakes official court transcripts and a judge's ruling for a legal brief.emptywheel added,

Glenn Greenwald
Verified account

@ggreenwald
Replying to @design__hole @emptywheel @yodermon
I'm not interested in litigating specific legal briefs Marcy enjoys talking about because I don't regard them as significant & don't regard Twitter as a constructive venue for them. I am interested in noting Mueller has indicted no Americans for election conspiring with Russia.


https://twitter.com/emptywheel
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 32090
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Feb 22, 2019 7:30 am

MIDNIGHT TONIGHT

Manafort sentencing memo release ......going to be


DEVESTATING FOR trump





First sentence on page 2 reads "A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia issued a subpoena to petitioner, a commercial enterprise...owned by a foreign government."



emptywheel

Sorry, to explain. This is govt response to Mystery Appellant. MA was banking a lot on claiming *it* was a foreign country, which was pretty obviously bullshit but basically what it had.

So this is USG saying bullshit.

Image





Glenn Kirschner

1. Why have I been saying more indictments are coming? Mueller was appointed to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump and . . .


2. any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation . . .” Mueller has done exactly that. And now he apparently is ready to issue a report. However, his mandate does not (expressly) include prosecuting all criminal cases he determined should be brought . . .


3. To be clear, Mueller’s team decided to indict multiple individuals during the course of the investigation. Why? Because he has been attempting to develop cooperating witnesses. Why? So he can continue to acquire evidence to hold the CORE CRIMINALS accountable . . .



4. All indictments thus far have been a means to an end. The end? Charge the CORE CRIMINALS with all crimes that are supported by the evidence uncovered and developed by Mueller during the course of his investigation. Those future prosecutions will be handled by . . .



5. career prosecutors in the many involved US Attorney’s Offices: Southern District of New York, Eastern District of Virginia, District of Columbia (my former professional home) and perhaps others. Indeed, we have already seen Russia-related case brought . . .


6. by all of those US Attorney’s Offices. And just as sure as Trump will lie tomorrow, more prosecutions are coming. The CORE CRIMINALS will be held accountable, IMO. Mueller will settle for nothing less than complete justice and accountablity.
https://twitter.com/glennkirschner2/sta ... 2745132033


..........................................................


Both Katyal and @benjaminwittes seem to be exhorting @RepJerryNadler to request that Mueller turn over GJ and other key evidence to Judiciary Committee now, Jaworski-like, while the window is still open. (He may have done so already.)


The Mueller Report Is Coming. Here’s What to Expect.
A concise report will probably act as a “road map” to investigation for the Democratic House — and to further criminal investigation by other prosecutors.

By Neal K. Katyal
Mr. Katyal was an acting solicitor general under President Barack Obama.
Feb. 21, 2019

A report from Robert Mueller will most likely mark the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end.


A report from Robert Mueller will most likely mark the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end.CreditCreditSaul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The special counsel Robert Mueller will apparently soon turn in a report to the new attorney general, William Barr. Sure, there is still a lot of activity, including subpoenas, flying around, but that shouldn’t stop Mr. Mueller.

The report is unlikely to be a dictionary-thick tome, which will disappoint some observers. But such brevity is not necessarily good news for the president. In fact, quite the opposite.

For months, the president’s lawyers have tried to discredit Mr. Mueller and this report, but their efforts may have backfired. A concise Mueller report might act as a “road map” to investigation for the Democratic House of Representatives — and it might also lead to further criminal investigation by other prosecutors. A short Mueller report would mark the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end.

The report is unlikely to be lengthy by design: The special counsel regulations, which I had the privilege of drafting in 1999, envision a report that is concise, “a summary” of what he found. And Mr. Mueller’s mandate is limited: to look into criminal activity and counterintelligence matters surrounding Russia and the 2016 election, as well as any obstruction of justice relating to those investigations.

The regulations require the attorney general to give Congress a report, too. The regulations speak of the need for public confidence in the administration of justice and even have a provision for public release of the attorney general’s report. In a world where Mr. Mueller was the only investigator, the pressure for a comprehensive report to the public would be overwhelming.

This is where the “witch hunt” attacks on Mr. Mueller may have backfired. For 19 months, Mr. Trump and his team have had one target to shoot at, and that target has had limited jurisdiction. But now the investigation resembles the architecture of the internet, with many different nodes, and some of those nodes possess potentially unlimited jurisdiction. Their powers and scope go well beyond Mr. Mueller’s circumscribed mandate; they go to Mr. Trump’s judgment and whether he lied to the American people. They also include law enforcement investigations having nothing to do with Russia, such as whether the president directed the commission of serious campaign finance crimes, as federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have already stated in filings. These are all critical matters, each with serious factual predicates already uncovered by prosecutors.

Had Mr. Trump and his coterie done nothing wrong, they would have had little to fear from the special counsel, and a report from Mr. Mueller that cleared him would be the gold seal of approval. But Mr. Trump’s behavior, including his dangling of pardons to witnesses in the investigation, makes total exoneration unlikely, even though it is enormously difficult to prosecute crimes with international dimensions and assertions of privilege. The investigation has been further clouded by the fact that people in Mr. Trump’s inner circle lied repeatedly when it came to Russia (that long list includes Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone).

Sure, it is at least possible to envision the special counsel resolving each strand of the investigation and making such information public in detail. But it is also quite possible — and more likely — to think that the president’s bashing of Mr. Mueller may induce him to issue a more limited, by-the-book report, which will spawn further investigation. And the bashing may have encouraged Mr. Mueller to turn matters over to other investigators who have not been subject to the same sorts of public attack.

The House of Representatives has already begun its investigation. To understand the dangers Mr. Trump may face in the aftermath of a limited Mueller report, consider the request Congress made in 1974 to the special prosecutor Leon Jaworski as it opened an impeachment inquiry. Mr. Jaworski is analogous to Mr. Mueller — indeed, his appointment was a model for the special counsel regulations. In March 1974, Peter Rodino, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote to Mr. Jaworski, requesting all information he had uncovered in his investigation. Mr. Rodino understood that Mr. Jaworski’s mandate was far more limited than the House’s, and his letter stated that “it would be unthinkable if this material were kept from the House of Representatives in the course of the discharge of its most awesome constitutional responsibility.”
Editors’ Picks

Of course, there is no open impeachment inquiry now. But that could quickly change if Mr. Mueller writes a report that is anything less than a full clearing of the president: Congress would be under a constitutional obligation to investigate the facts for itself. Congress cannot be satisfied that impeachable offenses were not committed when Mr. Mueller’s investigative mandate did not cover many impeachable offenses, and when his report does not provide detailed information and answers to the few offenses that are within his mandate. This is where Mr. Mueller’s “by the book” behavior may be initially unsatisfying to Mr. Trump’s critics but ultimately more threatening to the president in the long run.

The overlapping investigations by different entities, housed in different branches of government, spanning geography and even different governments (such as the New York attorney general’s investigation into the Trump Foundation), make it difficult for anyone, even Attorney General Barr, to end the inquiries.

This news may be disappointing, for various reasons, to the president’s critics and supporters alike. But the ultimate result is a good one. It means the truth is likely to come out — maybe not on the timetable anyone wants, but it will. So whenever Mr. Mueller turns in his report, do not assume that things are over. Like “The king is dead, long live the King,” the investigations here serve a purpose that transcends any one individual or law enforcement entity. This is the architecture of our Constitution, which is designed to ferret out high-level wrongdoing through a variety of channels for the American public to see.
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/21/opin ... -barr.html


What an Old Watergate Document Can Teach the House Judiciary Committee

The chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary faced a vexing problem: Pressure for impeachment was building, but while lots of evidence against the president was public, key pieces of it were not. They were, rather, in the hands of a special prosecutor, who didn’t work for Congress. The prosecutor’s job was to prosecute crimes, not to evaluate the president’s fitness for office. That latter job lay with the chairman and his committee, who didn’t have access to the prosecutor’s evidence. So the House judiciary committee chairman wrote a letter requesting that the evidence be turned over.

“The House and the Judiciary Committee are under a controlling constitutional obligation and commitment to act expeditiously in carrying out their solemn constitutional duty,” wrote Chairman Peter Rodino in a letter dated Mar. 8, 1974 to John Sirica, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. It was, Rodino said, the “Committee’s view that in constitutional terms it would be unthinkable if this material were kept from the House of Representatives in the course of the discharge of its most awesome constitutional responsibility.”

I have a suggestion for Jerry Nadler, the current occupant of Rodino’s old office: He should consider taking a page from his predecessor’s book and formally request a referral of possible impeachment material.

Support Lawfare

Nadler’s circumstances are admittedly a bit different from Rodino’s. But the similarities are striking too. And Rodino’s course suggests a way forward for Nadler that is worth serious consideration. It boils down to this: If Nadler and his committee want the evidence in the hands of Special Counsel Robert Mueller that is relevant to their performance of their own constitutional function, they should start by formally asking Mueller to refer it to them.

I ran across Rodino’s letter in a passing reference in my recent research on the Watergate “Road Map”—the grand jury report that Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski referred to the House judiciary committee in 1974.

Specifically, Sirica mentioned the letter in his opinion approving the transmission of Jaworski’s impeachment referral: “The House Judiciary Committee through its Chairman has made a formal request for delivery of the Report materials,” the opinion says. A footnote in support of this point (footnote number four) cites the Rodino letter specifically, along with a hearing transcript. The National Archive has made both of these documents public.

Here’s Rodino’s Letter:

And here’s the hearing transcript:

Let’s acknowledge up front the differences between Rodino’s circumstances and Nadler’s. Rodino’s committee already had an open impeachment inquiry, authorized by a nearly unanimous 410-to-4 vote in the House of Representatives. Nadler’s committee, by contrast, has no open impeachment inquiry; indeed, Democratic leaders insist that they have no plans to impeach President Trump and are waiting on the evidence from Mueller before making any decisions about how to proceed. As Nadler himself recently put it, "We have to see what the Mueller report says." He added, “We have to get the facts. We will see where the facts lead. Maybe that will lead to impeachment. Maybe it won't. It is much too early."

Perhaps more importantly, Jaworski—unlike Mueller—was ready to provide material to the House. The Watergate grand jury had specifically prepared the report for purposes of transmitting it to the House Judiciary Committee in support of the impeachment inquiry. By contrast, Mueller is keeping things very quiet. He presumably doesn’t want congressional activity to interfere with his investigation. And he’s evidently not looking to jumpstart congressional investigations that will want to talk to his witnesses. Indeed, it’s not even clear if Mueller believes he has information that he would want the House Judiciary Committee to examine pursuant to its obligations under the impeachment clauses.

Suffice it, in short, to say that at the present time, neither the supply side nor the demand side of this equation is as mature as it was in 1974.

And yet, as I say, the similarities between the situations strike me as ultimately more substantial than the differences. For one thing, the structural arrangement is very similar. Once again, the judiciary committee has the impeachment authority but not the evidence, while the prosecutor has the evidence but not the authority to think beyond the narrowly criminal. In critical respects, the current iteration of this problem is actually worse than it was in Watergate. Back then, after all, the Senate Watergate committee had done its own extensive investigation, key witnesses had testified publicly, and the broad parameters of the story were thus known. The House was already proceeding with an impeachment without hearing from Jaworski. By contrast, in the current environment, Congress has almost entirely subcontracted its investigative authority to a prosecutor who has not told the legislature what he is doing. It has done so both because under Republican leadership, oversight has been—to put it mildly—lackluster, and because where it has taken place, it has generally happened behind closed doors.

As investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, who has been crusading of late for Congress to hold open hearings, put it to me in a text message Wednesday evening, Congress has “completely punted—outsourcing fact gathering to an executive branch official.” He writes, “Getting the facts and airing them to the public are core to [Congress’s] duty”; failing to hold public hearings makes “it impossible [for the House] to act—while everybody waits for an executive branch report that they may or may not see anytime soon.” Whether one agrees or disagrees with Isikoff’s critique—and I very much agree—it indisputably means that the House is far more dependant today on Mueller than Congress was in 1974 on Jaworski for the factual basis of whatever action it might contemplate.

One solution to this problem is, as Isikoff suggests, to hold public investigative hearings. But another, concurrent approach is to formally request a referral of information the judiciary committee might need to do its job. That’s what Rodino did in 1974.

The committee’s request came in response to Jaworski’s filing of the Road Map with the court and the grand jury’s request to transmit to the committee. In response, Judge Sirica held a hearing on March 6, 1974, at which the committee’s chief counsel, John Doar, appeared before the judge, along with a lawyer named Albert Jennings. Doar informed Sirica that the committee had authorized him “to request the Court to deliver the material which the Grand Jury delivered to the Court last Friday to the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives.” In the hearing, Sirica asked whether it might be possible to defer the impeachment inquiry until after the trial was completed.

Rodino sent the letter two days later. In it, he informed the court that the committee had “agreed unanimously to authorize and direct me to respectfully request that you provide the Committee the materials delivered to you last Friday by the Grand Jury.” He argued that, “Were the House to act in this impeachment inquiry without having had the opportunity to take this grand jury material into account, I fear that each House member, and, in fact, the entire country, would experience an enormous lack of confidence in our constitutional system of government.” In response to the judge’s question, Rodino wrote that “it is in no respect possible for the Committee and the House of Representatives now to suspend for any period of time their present pursuit of their constitutional responsibility. The House and the Judiciary Committee are under a controlling constitutional obligation and commitment to act expeditiously in carrying out their solemn constitutional duty.”

Ten days later, Sirica approved the transmission of the Road Map.

But the story, and the lesson for Nadler, does not quite end there. Because Congress a few years later wrote the Road Map procedure into law. The now-defunct independent counsel law required that “An independent counsel shall advise the House of Representatives of any substantial and credible information which such independent counsel receives . . . that may constitute grounds for an impeachment.” It was under this law that Kenneth Starr issued the so-called “Starr Report,” which was actually a referral of information that, in Starr’s judgment, the Judiciary Committee might consider grounds for impeaching Bill Clinton. The result is that we have something of a precedential tradition in which special prosecutors investigating presidents have referred material to the House judiciary committee that they regard as possible grounds for impeachment.

The trouble is that the particular statute under which Starr operated has lapsed, and the regulations that replaced it have no provision for an impeachment referral. To the contrary, they require that Mueller file a confidential report to the attorney general, who then decides what to do with it. They conspicuously do not require that information that might be essential to Congress’s performance of its duty actually reach Congress. So if Mueller actually has access to evidence that Congress would want to examine under the impeachment clauses, tapping into the incipient tradition of referring such material would require a decision on his part. And it would actually require as well as decision on the part of incoming Attorney General William Barr.

A letter from Nadler would be designed publicly and formally to remind both Mueller and Barr of the tradition and of Congress’s expectation that they act in accord with it.

Nadler has declared that he will get the Mueller report. "If necessary, our committee will subpoena the report. If necessary, we'll get Mueller to testify," he said recently. But this actually skips an important step. It assumes that Mueller’s report will be a fully developed narrative that answers all of Congress’s questions on impeachment matters. But what if the Mueller report is not factually rich? What if it is not designed to deliver to Congress information to help Congress do its job? What if it is designed, in accord with the text of the reporting requirement, merely to explain “the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel”?

If Nadler wants a referral from Mueller of information that, in the language of the old statute, may be grounds for impeachment, he should ask for it. He should write both Mueller and Barr a letter explaining—as Rodino explained—that it would be unthinkable if material relevant to the House of Representatives in the discharge of its most awesome constitutional responsibility were not made available to the Judiciary Committee. He should express the unacceptability of the House either acting in impeachment or failing to act in impeachment without having had the opportunity to take material in the hands of the special counsel into account. And he should request, notwithstanding the lapse in the independent counsel law, that Mueller—at the appropriate time and if such material exists—refers to the House judiciary committee “any substantial and credible information which [he] receive[d] . . . that may constitute grounds for an impeachment.”

There is, to be sure, nothing to compel Mueller’s compliance with such a request. Indeed, in the short term, he almost surely will not comply with it. And given the regulations, which do not explicitly authorize the transmission of such a report, the decision to send one would be a delicate dance. That said, Jaworski—who also served under regulatory, not statutory, authority—was actually in the same position, which is why the matter ended up in front of Sirica in the first place. So if Mueller and Barr decided that a referral were appropriate, the story of the Road Map shows that there are mechanisms available for them to send one. Clarifying congressional expectations would be a useful means of encouraging them to remember in making their decisions the equities of a coequal branch of government with an explicit constitutional obligation of its own.

Indeed, for a committee chairman committed to making sure that Mueller’s findings see the light of day, waiting until the special counsel writes a report of unspecified character and assuming he will craft it in a fashion that delivers the information required by a different institutional actor seems overly passive and overly risky. The right course is to put down on the public record to both Mueller and to Barr precisely what the committee expects of the prosecutor: specifically, that it expects of Mueller what the committee has received from special prosecutors in the past, both regulatory special prosecutors and independent counsels under the statute. That is, it should expect referral of impeachment material if such material exists. That would allow Mueller to craft his report in such fashion as to ensure that it could serve that purpose when Barr permits its release to Congress, and it would make clear to Barr that under no circumstances can he block the transmission to Congress of a report that contains evidence relevant to a reasonable impeachment inquiry. It would also create a framework in which Mueller and Barr, if they chose to act as Jaworski acted and affirmatively refer material, were responding to a request from Congress, not simply dumping material on their own initiative.

According to the acting attorney general, Mueller’s investigation is nearly done. As things stand now, there is no requirement that impeachment material find its way to Nadler. There isn’t even a request for such material.


Nadler can’t change the former problem, but he can change the latter one. All he has to do is write a letter.



Polly Sigh


Former Putin chief of staff Alexander Voloshin [who was known as the “power behind the throne”] has a secret investment in US energy company American Ethane, which, with Trump's help, signed a $26B export deal with China in Nov.
https://bit.ly/2N5OZdF

Image
Image



"Trump applauded vigorously as American Ethane’s CEO signed a 'historic' memorandum of understanding with his Chinese partner." One of the chief beneficiaries of the Trump-endoresed deal is Voloshin, who headed Putin's first presidential administration.

Image


Putin was just a mid-level KGB agent & mayor’s aide until "Svengali-like political genius" Voloshin masterminded the handover of power to him in 2000, with backing from Yeltsin’s inner circle, which included Abramovich & Deripaska's father in-law.
Polly Sigh added,


3. According to US Senate's 2005 investigation, “the Putin-Voloshin link is the
strongest link in the political game”
Image


A key investor in Trump-endorsed American Ethane at one point included Voloshin's longtime friend & ally, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich [family friend of Ivanka & Jared Kushner], who provided $50M in start-up capital. FYI: The wife of American Ethane's CEO is Russian.

Image
Image



The CEO of Trump-endorsed, Russian-backed American Ethane is John Houghtaling, whose wife, 'pop star' Yulia Timonina, was in a Russian girl-group [2008-2011], whose producer, Igor Matvienko, is a "registered confidant" of Putin.


Image


Former Putin chief of staff Alexander Voloshin [who was known as the “power behind the throne”] has a secret investment in US energy company American Ethane, which, with Trump's help, signed a $26B export deal with China in Nov.
https://bit.ly/2N5OZdF
Show this thread



^^ sources re Yulia Timonina-Houghtaling [married to CEO of the Trump-endorsed, Russian-backed Houston energy firm, American Ethane] and her former music producer, Putin confidant, Igor Matvienko.
-https://imdb.to/2zodcda
-https://bit.ly/2m4XnhY
-https://youtu.be/VhyzuBuumx8

Image
Image
Image



In 2014, former Putin chief of staff Voloshin invested $1.25M in Houghtaling's American Ethane in return for a 2.5% stake in the new company & a seat on its board as an “independent director.” Voloshin routed the $1.25M into NY via Deutsche Bank.
Polly Sigh added,


A key investor in Trump-endorsed American Ethane at one point included Voloshin's longtime friend & ally, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich [family friend of Ivanka & Jared Kushner], who provided $50M in start-up capital. FYI: The wife of American Ethane's CEO is Russian.

Show this thread


American Ethane investor Voloshin sits on the Board for Yandex with Charles Ryan, former Deutsche Bank Russia CEO [2006-2008] & Deutsche Bank consultant [2008-2010] AND Trump pal Herman Gref, CEO & Chairman of the Board of Russia's Sberbank.


12. Meet 2 more members of Yandex Board:
-Trump's friend Herman Gref
-Former head of Trump's fave lender Charles Ryan

Image


American Ethane investor Voloshin is also a longtime ally of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. After leaving the Kremlin in 2004, Voloshin became Chairman of Deripaska's company Norilsk Nickel – with help from VEB Bank and the support of Putin.
https://nyti.ms/2Jbh94k

Image
Image


Yeltsin oligarchs [the Family], who put Putin in power in return for guarantees of safety & prosperity, signal fealty once more: Yeltsin’s daughter & her husband Yumashev; his daughter Polina & her husband Oleg Deripaska; Voloshin; Abramovich; Alfa Group’s Fridman & Aven.

Image
Image


In addition to Oleg Deripaska, Aleksandr Voloshin, Roman Abramovich, and Alfa Group’s Mikhail Fridman & Petr Aven, "The Family" also includes: Viktor Vekselberg & Leonard Blavatnik. All of whom have ties to Trump.
https://wp.me/p4ja0Z-LbX Polly Sigh added,



Yeltsin oligarchs [the Family], who put Putin in power in return for guarantees of safety & prosperity, signal fealty once more: Yeltsin’s daughter & her husband Yumashev; his daughter Polina & her husband Oleg Deripaska; Voloshin; Abramovich; Alfa Group’s Fridman & Aven.

Show this thread



THREAD: "The Family" who put Putin in power are now all linked to Trump.



In addition to Deripaska, Voloshin, Abramovich, Alfa's Fridman & Aven, Vekselberg, Blavatnik [all linked to Trump], "The Family" also includes: Alisher Usmanov, owner of Mail RU & RU social media company VK, who emailed w/ Trump's campaign in 2016.



Russian internet company, Mail Ru, had access to Facebook user data through apps. Mail Ru is controlled by USM Holdings [founded by US sanctioned ALISHER USMANOV]. Jared Kushner investor Yuri Milner was Mail Ru chairman until 2012.
HT @Lazertrade #Maddow https://money.cnn.com/2018/07/10/techno ... index.html
Show this thread


Along with former Putin chief of staff Voloshin, another major investor & board member of US firm American Ethane [who signed a Trump-endorsed $26B export deal with China], is Russian billionaire Konstantin Nikolaev, who bankrolled Maria Butina.

Image
Image

Putin-linked Russian billionaire Konstantin Nikolaev funded Maria Butina. Nikolaev, who has ties to a Houston company praised by Trump, was at Trump's DC hotel during inauguration. His son volunteered for Trump's…
Show this thread



Russian backed energy company American Ethane [who signed a Trump-endorsed $26B export deal with China] hired Corey Lewandowski's lobbying firm to try and win regulatory approval for its deal with a Chinese aluminum company.
https://cnb.cx/2STOACm
Image
Image
https://twitter.com/dcpoll/status/1098703942794530816
https://twitter.com/dcpoll/status/1098703942794530816
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 32090
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Feb 22, 2019 1:01 pm

YESTERDAY NOEL FRANCISCO RAISED THE STAKES ON THE MYSTERY APPELLANT

February 22, 2019/0 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, Mueller Probe /by empty wheel

Back when President Trump fired Jeff Sessions, there was a CNN report describing how two competing groups of people discussed what to do in response. It described that Solicitor General Noel Francisco was in the Sessions huddle, a huddle focused, in part, on how to protect the Mueller investigation.

Eventually, there were two huddles in separate offices. Among those in Sessions’ office was Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, his deputy Ed O’Callaghan, Solicitor General Noel Francisco and Steven Engel, who heads the Office of Legal Counsel.

[snip]

The fact that Whitaker would become acting attorney general, passing over Rosenstein suddenly raised concerns about the impact on the most high-profile investigation in the Justice Department, the Russia probe led by Mueller.

The Mueller probe has been at the center of Trump’s ire directed at Sessions and the Justice Department. Whitaker has made comments criticizing Mueller’s investigation and Rosenstein’s oversight of it, and has questioned the allegations of Russian interference.

Rosenstein and O’Callaghan, the highest-ranked officials handling day-to-day oversight of Mueller’s investigation, urged Sessions to delay the effective date of his resignation.


Francisco’s presence in the Sessions/Rosenstein huddle was significant for a number of reasons: If Rosenstein had been fired while Big Dick Toilet Salesman was Acting Attorney General, he would be the next superior officer, confirmed by the Senate, in the chain of command reviewing Mueller’s activities. As Michael Dreeben testified in the days after the firing, Francisco would have (and has had) to approve any appeals taken by Mueller’s team. In addition, it was significant that someone who is pretty fucking conservative was huddling with those who were trying to protect the investigation.

That’s why I’m interested in several details from the Mueller response to the Mystery Appellant challenge to a Muller subpoena submitted to SCOTUS yesterday.

First, as I expected, the government strongly rebuts Mystery Appellant’s claim that they are a foreign government (which was the spin in their own brief). Rather they are a commercial enterprise that a foreign government owns.

As the petition acknowledges (Pet. 1 n.1), petitioner is not itself a foreign government, but is a separate commercial enterprise that a foreign government owns.


That makes a ton of difference to the analysis, because the government has a much greater leeway in regulating businesses in this country than it does foreign governments.

Indeed, in one of the key parts of the brief, the government lays out the import of that: because if foreign owned companies were immune from subpoena, then on top of whatever problems it would create for regulating the foreign-owned corporation, it would also mean American citizens could deliberately use those foreign-owned corporations to shield their own criminal behavior.

Petitioner’s interpretation would, as the court of appeals recognized, lead to a result that Congress could not have intended—i.e., that “purely commercial enterprise[s] operating within the United States,” if majority- owned by a foreign government, could “flagrantly violate criminal laws” and ignore criminal process, no matter how domestic the conduct or egregious the violation. Supp. App. 10a. Banks, airlines, software companies, and similar commercial businesses could wittingly or unwittingly provide a haven for criminal activity and would be shielded against providing evidence even of domestic criminal conduct by U.S. citizens. See id. at 10a-11a. Although petitioner declares that result to be “precisely what Congress intended,” Pet. 25, it cannot plausibly be maintained that Congress and the Executive Branch—which drafted the FSIA—would have adopted such a rule “without so much as a whisper” to that effect in the Act’s extensive legislative history, Samantar, 560 U.S. at 319.8


In an unbelievably pregnant footnote to that passage, the government then notes that suggesting the President could retaliate if foreign-owned corporations engaged in crime via something like sanctions ignores what tools are available if foreign-owned corporations don’t themselves engage in crime, but instead serve as a shield for the criminal activity of US citizens.

8 Petitioner suggests (Pet. 26) that Congress would not have been troubled by barring federal criminal jurisdiction over foreign state-owned enterprises because the President could use tools such as economic sanctions to address foreign instrumentalities “that commit crimes in the United States.” That overlooks not only the legal and practical limits on sanctions, but also the threshold need to acquire evidence through grand jury subpoenas in order to determine whether a crime has been committed—including by U.S. citizens.


Consider: There is significant evidence to believe that a foreign country — Russia — bribed Trump to give them sanction relief by floating a $300 million business deal. There is also evidence that, after a series of back channel meetings we know Zainab Ahmed was investigating, such funds may have come through a Middle Eastern proxy, like Qatar. There is not just evidence that Qatar did provide funds no one in their right mind would have provided to the President’s family, in the form of a bailout to Jared Kushner’s albatross investment in 666 Fifth Avenue. But they’re already laying the groundwork to claim they accidentally bailed him out, without realizing what they were doing.

So if Russia paid off a bribe to Trump via Qatar, and Qatar is trying to hide that fact by claiming Qatar Investment Authority is a foreign government that can only be regulated in this country by sanctions imposed by the guy who is trading sanctions to get rich … you can see why that’s a non-starter.

Finally — going back to why I’m so interested that Francisco was in the Sessions/Rosenstein huddle — just Francisco’s name is on the brief, even though Dreeben and Scott Meisler surely had a role in drafting it.

Image

This was noted to me by Chimene Keitner, who is an actual expert in all this (and did her own very interesting thread on the response).

I’m sure I understand only a fraction of the significance that just Francisco signed the brief. But two things I do understand: One, Francisco is giving this argument a great deal of weight with SCOTUS, signaling the import of winning this argument.

Additionally, however, it means he stands as a shield for Mueller’s work on this appeal. If Trump wants to retaliate against DOJ for exposing the payoff to a quid pro quo, the President is going to have to fire another Senate-confirmed officer to do it, and fire one against whom he hasn’t laid a claim of partisanship. As I’ve already noted, by dint of this company being a foreign company, Mueller likely already knows what he’s getting via SIGINT. This subpoena is likely significantly an attempt to parallel construct evidence for use at trial. And the brief seems to make it clear that Mueller suspects from US citizen used this foreign-owned corporation to shield his own criminal behavior.

Which might explain why Francisco sees the need and import of shielding Mueller in this step.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2019/02/22/y ... appellant/
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 32090
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:00 am

What Robert Mueller Knows—and Isn't Telling Us

It’s only Wednesday, but the increasingly sprawling investigations surrounding President Donald Trump this week have already sprawled even further. News came Monday that federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York served a wide-ranging subpoena digging into the finances of the Trump inaugural committee. Then, Wednesday morning, the House Intelligence Committee—in its first meeting of the new congress—voted to hand over witness transcripts from its own Russia investigation to special counsel Robert Mueller, a move widely understood to be motivated by the belief of Democratic members that various witnesses, including perhaps Donald Trump Jr., have lied to them.

Meanwhile, Roger Stone—himself indicted, in part, because of his alleged lies to Congress and witness tampering that encouraged his associates “to do a ‘Frank Pentangeli,’” a reference to a Godfather Part II character who lied to Congress—continues his bizarre post-indictment media road show.

A close reading of the Stone indictment shows the odd hole at the center of the Mueller investigation so far. It followed a now familiar pattern: Mueller’s court filing included voluminous detail, including insight into the internal decisionmaking process of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign—and yet the indictment stopped short of alleging that Stone was part of a larger conspiracy.

Given how much Trump says, in all settings, all the time, his silences are just as conspicuous as Mueller’s.
All told, according to a recent tally by The New York Times, “more than 100 in-person meetings, phone calls, text messages, emails and private messages on Twitter” took place between Trump associates and Russians during the campaign and transition. But while we’ve seen a lot of channels, we’ve thus far from Mueller’s court filings seen near silence about what was said during those contacts—and why. In court filings that are remarkable for their level of detail and knowledge, Mueller’s conspicuous silence about those conversations stands out.

Of course, one possible explanation is that the content of the conversations was completely innocent—totally normal directions and innocent chitchat about “adoptions,” sanctions, potential business deals, and geopolitical diplomacy. That could explain why Mueller thus far has only charged individuals, including Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, and Roger Stone, with lying about those contacts, not the underlying behavior.

Yet the evidence against such innocence seems clear too, in the form of consistent lies, omissions, and obfuscations about the numerous meetings, conversations, and contacts with Russians throughout the Trump campaign, transition, and presidency.

To take just two examples: Donald Trump lied extensively, for more than two years, about his dealings with Russia concerning the Trump Tower Moscow project, which suggests that he knew something about it was shady. If he’d really believed the project was on the up-and-up, it’s easy to imagine Trump as a candidate making a public to-do about the deal—arguing that he felt America’s relationship with Russia was off-track, and that as the world’s smartest businessman, he alone could set it right. Trump could have made the case on the campaign trail that he alone could make deals with Putin because he alone was making deals with Putin. Yet he didn’t make that argument, and remained entirely silent about the deal for years, even lying about his interest in Russia. Given how much Trump says, in all settings, all the time, his silences are just as conspicuous as Mueller’s.

And then there’s the continued controversy over Trump’s private conversations with Vladimir Putin at geopolitical gatherings, from Hamburg to Helsinki to Buenos Aires. Under normal circumstances and operations, US leaders meet with Russian leaders to advance geopolitical conversations, and then they “read out” those meetings to staff in order to execute the work and vision hashed out one-on-one. The entire point of those head-of-state conversations is to generate follow-up work for staff later—to come to agreements, to advance national interests, and to find common ground for action on areas of shared concern. And yet in city after city, President Trump has had suspicious conversations with Putin, where he goes out of his way to ensure that no American knows what to follow up on. In Hamburg he confiscated his translators’ notes. In Buenos Aires, he cut out American translators entirely.

If he’s truly advocating for the United States in these meetings, there’s no sign those conversations have translated into any action by White House or administration staff afterwards. Instead, quite the opposite. Trump has emerged from those conversations to spout Kremlin talking points, even, apparently, calling The New York Times from Air Force One on the way back from Hamburg to argue Putin’s point that he didn’t interfere with the 2016 election.

Mueller presumably has far more knowledge about the “why” and the “what” of the interactions between Trump’s orbit and Russia than he’s shared so far. The Stone indictment is the latest court filing to show two-way conversation, flowing from Trump to WikiLeaks or Trump to Moscow and back again, without ever making clear what, precisely, was flowing back or forth.

In fact, the one thing that remains clear is just how much Mueller knows: He’s uncovered “track changes” in individual Microsoft Word documents, he’s referenced what specific words Russian military intelligence officers Googled three years ago, and even what the hired trolls inside the Internet Research Agency wrote to family members. Long before the House Intelligence Committee today kicked over a few dozen transcripts, Mueller amassed some 290,000 documents from Michael Cohen, tons more from the Trump transition team, and what the White House says is 1.4 million documents it turned over voluntarily, among countless other files, documents, reports, and classified raw intelligence.

Given that foundation of knowledge, it’s worth examining some of the “known unknowns,” places where Mueller has been silent but where he presumably knows far more than he’s chosen to say. To single out just five examples:

Who directed the campaign’s contact with Roger Stone—and what flowed back and forth?

Much has been made in the days since the Stone indictment about paragraph 12 of the court filing, which says “a senior Trump Campaign official was directed to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information [Wikileaks] had regarding the Clinton Campaign.” That simple “was directed” appears to indicate Mueller knows about the internal decisionmaking of the Trump campaign—and that he knows who directed the campaign’s contact to Stone, a pool of officials that has to be quite small. Mueller could have easily written the sentence in a thousand less indicative ways, saying simply that Stone was contacted by a senior Trump campaign official or that someone “suggested” or “told” that official to contact Stone. Instead, by saying “was directed,” Mueller implies a level of authority and even hints at a possible internal conspiracy to make contact with Stone, if it was for nefarious purposes—but Mueller stops short of saying who or why.

What more is there in the Flynn case that’s worth knowing?

Similarly, Mueller stops short of confirming whether Stone and his associates, Jerome Corsi or Randy Credico, actually ever did have contact with WikiLeaks or Julian Assange, a hole in the indictment so gaping that its absence is inexplicable unless it’s being saved for some future court filing. Similarly, Mueller only outlines Stone’s requests for stolen emails, not whether anything flowed back to Stone from WikiLeaks. Again, we’re left with the puzzle: Why would Roger Stone have allegedly continued to lie so long about being in contact with WikiLeaks if either he (a) never was or (b) the contacts were entirely routine and aboveboard? Mueller, though, says Stone “falsely denied possessing records that contained evidence of these interactions,” a phrase that seems to indicate much more.

How did Donald Trump and the Trump Organization react to the progress of the Trump Tower Moscow project?

Michael Cohen’s plea agreement only lays out that the president’s former lawyer and fixer repeatedly briefed Trump and members of the Trump Organization’s leadership on his progress on the Trump Tower Moscow project. But he stops short of saying anything about how the Trump team reacted—or what instructions, if any, they gave Cohen. Mueller also points out in Cohen’s plea that Cohen appears to have scuttled a trip to Russia to work on the deal on the very day that the DNC announced it had been hacked, odd timing at least.

Who directed Michael Flynn’s conversations with Sergey Kislyak?

There remains much to understand about former national security advisor Michael Flynn’s plea agreement, which states that he lied to FBI agents about conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition. Two things, in particular, stand out in the facts of the case: First, that his contacts with Kislyak were directed by a “very senior member” of the Trump transition, an official identified in media reports as Jared Kushner, and second, if Flynn truly believed that he’d been properly directed by the president-elect or his designee to have the communications with Kislyak, why would he lie about them? Mueller has provided no answers yet here, either. But it’s worth noting, again, the oddity of Flynn’s aborted sentencing at the end of last year—where the judge, privy to more information than the public has, exploded at Flynn and finally prompted him to postpone the sentencing and continue cooperating. What more is there in the Flynn case that’s worth knowing?

Why did Manafort turn over polling data to Konstantin Kilimink? And what are Konstantin Kilimnik’s ties to Russian intelligence?

Mueller’s court filings have laid out that the special counsel believes that Kilimnik, Paul Manafort’s business partner and codefendant, had ties to Russian intelligence in 2016. Yet we haven’t seen evidence of why Mueller believes that—and, more important, what relevance that has to the Trump campaign. And we have only learned about the polling data from Manafort’s ongoing tech foibles, so why hasn’t Mueller brought that charge into the open yet?

Why the “first time”?

In last summer’s GRU indictment, Mueller seemed to say more than he needed to—just like he did with “was directed” in the Stone indictment—in pointing out that “on or about July 27, 2016, the Conspirators attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office.” Mueller doesn’t note in the document that this was the same day Trump invited Russia to hack Clinton’s email, but in writing about the day Mueller adds two seemingly unnecessary details: First, that the GRU did it “after hours,” which, accounting for the time difference, would mean after Trump’s campaign trail comments. And second, that the attack on Clinton’s email directly was “for the first time,” a fact that Mueller would have to prove in a trial, meaning he has evidence that makes him confident the action was new in Russia’s strategy. Mueller is only making his own potential case and evidentiary burden higher by singling out “after hours” and “for the first time,” so that obviously must mean something to his prosecuting team.

Mueller is clearly picking and choosing his charges carefully, so far. But there’s a lot more he’s not telling us, and if you add up all those missing puzzle pieces, it certainly seems possible—perhaps even probable—that Mueller is building towards a conspiracy indictment that he’s already told us about, one that brings together many of these open threads and players into one coherent narrative.

In thinking through what that might look like, it’s worth remembering the second paragraph of his indictment last July, the case that targeted the GRU officials, which lays out three distinct stages of alleged conspiracy: hacking the Democratic computers, stealing documents, and then “stag[ing] releases” to “interfere” with the election. The latter could easily encompass some of the actions already described in the Stone indictment.

The “who” and “why” of that broader conspiracy remain open questions, but it’s notable the extent to which so many threads of the Russia story increasingly appear to overlap. For instance, Russian lawyer Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, a key player in the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower, was charged earlier this year with obstruction relating to a separate, older money laundering case relating to her role in helping Prevezon Holdings, an entity owned by Russian oligarch Denis Katsyv. Buzzfeed reported this week that one of the other attendees at that Trump Tower meeting, a former Russian soldier and current lobbyist named Rinat Akhmetshin, “received a large payment that bank investigators deemed suspicious from Denis Katsyv.” So here we have Veselnitskaya, the lawyer from Prevezon Holdings, helping to organize a meeting at Trump Tower, while one of the other attendees received money contemporaneously from the same entity.

Each revelation from Mueller and the other investigations around Trump appears actually to point in a consistent direction: a relatively small and regularly overlapping circle of people, both American and Russian, constantly lying and covering up their contacts together. Now, we’re just waiting for Mueller to tell us precisely why—and who.
https://www.wired.com/story/what-robert ... stigation/
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 32090
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:30 am

But it gets two details wrong.

emptywheel

A lot of people are pointing me the AP story catching up to what I've been doing. Welcome to the party, @AP! But it gets two details wrong.


First, it claims that "Participants in the room would later say the meeting was a bust, consumed by a lengthy discussion of Russian adoption and U.S. sanctions."

It's true that participants in the room said the dirt offered was a dud (tho GRU was already releasing emails).


But for the Russians in the room, the point wasn't dealing dirt. It was getting a commitment from Jr to deal with Magnitsky sanctions if Pop got elected. And four people in the room say they succeeded on that front.

Not a bust for Russia!!


Also (I know I harp on this incessantly), it is not in dispute THAT Manafort & Gates gave Kilimnik polling data on August 2.

Manafort's lawyers have offered about 4 different spins abt WHAT the poll data was (and vehemently deny Manafort ordered Gates to bring it), but they've conceded it was shared.

Plus, it's worth noting that a neutral third party has judged that Manafort's stories on this front are a lie.
https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1 ... 1786147841




Craig Unger


Craig Unger Retweeted Firing Line with Margaret Hoover
1/I, like McCabe, don't believe in coincidences either & one of the great untold stories is how McCabe's vast experience investigating the Russian Mafia repeatedly led him back to Trump Tower. @batchelorshow @FiringLineShowCraig Unger added,


@FiringLineShow
The rigged figure skating competition rocked the 2002 Olympics. Andrew McCabe says the Russian gangster behind it also ran a money laundering scheme out of Trump Tower and was at Miss Universe in Moscow.…
12:29 PM - 23 Feb 2019 from Belmont, MA

2/As I write in #HouseofTrump, in Feb. 2013, two Trump reps allegedly attended a party given by Semion #Mogilevich at Ukraine Hotel in Moscow to celebrate bday of top mobster Sergei Mikhailov. Also, in attendance was Emin Agalarov.

Image
Image
Image
3/Aras Agalarov has denied ties to Mafia, but his son Emin was, in effect, playing the same role Johnny Fontane had in The Godfather, entertaining the Mafia. Also, after Emin married the daughter of corrupt Azerbaijani president, they won massive lucrative contracts.

Image
Image

4/ Emin's father, Aras Agalarov, of course, was politically connected himself and by this time had a relationship w Vladimir Putin as well as alleged ties to Russian Mafia.

Image

5/ Then in April 2013, just 2 months after Mikhailov's birthday bash, police busted an apt on 63rd floor of Trump Tower and rounded up suspects in gambling rings including Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov aka Taiwanchik(pictured below), longtime associate of Mikhailov, Mogilevich, etc.

Image
Image

6/ Several months later, in November, Trump staged the Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow with the Agalarovs' sponsorship amid ongoing talks re Trump Tower Moscow. This was the visit during which sex video kompromat allegedly took place.

Image
Image

7/ A surprising presence on the red carpet at the event was none other than Taiwanchik. Still on the lam from gambling bust earlier that year, he was being treated as a VIP, but, at the same time, was being investigated by FBI who had hired none other than Christopher Steele.

Image
Image

8/ As I show in #HouseofTrump, this is just the tip of the iceberg. At least 13 people w Russian Mafia ties have owned, lived in, or run criminal activities out of Trump buildings. The Russian Mafia has used Trump properties to launder vast amts of money.


9/ And if I have all this in my book (and more), you can be sure Peter McCabe and Robert Mueller know much, much more.https://twitter.com/craigunger/status/1 ... 7237779457



Former US Attorney Says Mueller Report May Be Delayed By Probe Of Donald Trump Jr.

Court document redactions indicate Michael Cohen may be providing information on others who lied about Trump Tower Moscow negotiations.

Mary Papenfuss
An expected report by special counsel Robert Mueller may be delayed by a continuing investigation to determine if Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner lied in congressional testimony, a former U.S. attorney said on MSNBC Saturday.

Sources told CNN earlier this week that Attorney General William Barr was preparing to announce that Mueller had finished his nearly two-year investigation into possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. But Justice Department officials said Friday that the report would not be released in the coming week.

One reason for a longer timeframe could concern congressional testimony by Trump Jr. and Kushner, including their comments on talks with Russian officials on building a Trump Tower Moscow during the presidential election, noted former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade. She said she was basing her observation on redacted court filings that continue to be released in the Mueller probe. Redactions indicate that investigations linked to the hidden information are ongoing.

“One area that seems likely to be ... under scrutiny by Robert Mueller is whether other people have lied to Congress,” as Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen has admitted to doing, McQuade told MSNBC host Alex Witt.

She pointed out that redactions concerning Cohen indicate he may be providing information to the Mueller team about others who also lied about Trump Tower Moscow negotiations.

“I would think that if others lied about that matter [or] other matters, then we might see charges against them. That would include Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner,” she said.

The Moscow Tower negotiations timeline is critical. If it turns out the elder Trump was trying to win approval for the project throughout his campaign, that could explain his surprisingly positive declarations about Russian President Vladimir Putin. It could also raise questions about what else might have been on the negotiating table for the project, particularly if he won the presidency.

Donald Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in testimony in 2017 that he knew “very little” about discussions concerning Trump Tower in Moscow. One such discussion “died of deal fatigue” before 2016, he testified, according to Senate transcripts.

But one of the president’s attorneys, Rudy Giuliani, told The New York Times and NBC that the elder Trump told him negotiations were ongoing throughout the presidential campaign. (Giuliani later said the president had no recollection of the timeline.)

Check out McQuade’s interview above. She refers to possible targets still under scrutiny beginning at 2:15.
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-jr ... f6bb267b58



Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, met last month with Manhattan federal prosecutors and gave them new information about irregularities within Trump's family business and about a donor to the inaugural committee.
Image
Image




Rosenstein quotes Aristotle: "It is more proper that the law should govern than any one of the citizens."
2-29-2019
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 32090
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:50 pm


Michael Cohen will show ‘detailed, sordid and chilling’ evidence against Trump: ‘He’s got documents’

written by Travis Gettys / Raw Story February 25, 2019
2.2K
Michael Cohen intends to address his credibility issues during his highly anticipated testimony before lawmakers. The former Trump Organization attorney has pleaded guilty to lying during previous congressional testimony,
Michael Cohen intends to address his credibility issues during his highly anticipated testimony before lawmakers.

The former Trump Organization attorney has pleaded guilty to lying during previous congressional testimony, before cutting a cooperation agreement with investigators, and NBC News national security correspondent Ken Dilanian told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Cohen has a plan to address those issues.

“He’s expected to address, first of all, his lies to those (congressional) committees on the timing of the Trump Tower and Moscow deal, the fact that it was going on much longer than he admitted in public and much longer than Donald Trump acknowledged,” Dilanian said.

Cohen’s plea agreement details the president’s lies about his dealings with Russia during the 2016 campaign, but he’s not allowed to address those issues before Congress because special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is still pending.

“We could have an absolutely dramatic and riveting performance by Michael Cohen,” Dilanian said. “While he’s not allowed to talk about the Russia investigation when he appears before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, he’s going to talk about those hush money payments to women.”

The committee was also expected to question Cohen about Trump’s compliance with campaign finance and tax laws, potential conflicts of interest with his family business, Trump Organization business practices.


“I’m told Cohen has been prepping with this for a long time, and he knows he’s got credibility issues, so he’s coming with documents,” Dilanian said, “and he’s got very detailed, sordid and, what (attorney) Lanny Davis has described as chilling stories of what how the president conducts himself behind closed doors.”

“We shouldn’t underestimate how powerful seeing a Trump insider who has been with Donald Trump for more than 10 years telling these stories before the glare of the television lights,” he added.

“I’m told Cohen has been prepping with this for a long time, and he knows he’s got credibility issues, so he’s coming with documents,” Dilanian said, “and he’s got very detailed, sordid and, what (attorney) Lanny Davis has described as chilling stories of what how the president conducts himself behind closed doors.”

“We shouldn’t underestimate how powerful seeing a Trump insider who has been with Donald Trump for more than 10 years telling these stories before the glare of the television lights,” he added.

https://www.alternet.org/2019/02/michae ... documents/


Rod Rosenstein drops mysterious hints about the possible release of a Mueller report

Cody FenwickFebruary 25, 2019
Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Monday, the typically enigmatic Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made waves with provocative comments that seemed to offer hints about the Justice Department’s approach to the release of any report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

One of the outstanding questions about any public release of the investigation’s findings concerns the president and how any discovery of his potential wrongdoing could be revealed, given that he is unlikely to face indictment while in office. As Washington Post report Matt Zapotsky recounted, one portion of Rosenstein’s comments seemed particularly relevant to this question:

We’re eager to look to things that have gone wrong and figure out how we can best address them. one of the challenging issues we face in the department, and this is an issue that we’ll be discussing nationally, is the question of whether transparency is a good thing, and there’s a knee jerk reaction to suggest that we should be transparent about what we do in government, but there are a lot of reasons not to be transparent about what we do in government. … Just because the government collects information doesn’t mean that information is accurate, and it can be really misleading if you’re overly transparent about information that the government collects, so I think we do need to be really cautious about that. And that’s against not to comment on any particular case. There may be legitimate reasons for making exceptions, but as a general principle, my view is the Department of Just is best served when people are confident that we’re going to operate — when we’re investigating American citizens in particular — we’re going to do it with appropriate sensitivity to the rights of uncharged people … The guidance I always gave my prosecutors and the agents that I worked with during my tenure on the front line of law enforcement were if we aren’t prepared to prove out case beyond a reasonable doubt in court, then we have no business making allegations against American citizens.

He also, critically, made it clear that he has great respect for newly appointed Attorney General William Barr, who he said the country can count on to do the right thing. This is of paramount importance because Trump has repeatedly made it clear that he would like, if possible, to intervene in the Mueller investigation, which made his selection of Barr an immediately suspect choice. But Rosenstein, who first appointed Mueller, has an almost unique position of independence from Trump, and his confidence about the sitting attorney general speaks volumes.

Rosenstein also expressed confidence in the special counsel regulations themselves, noting that if Mueller (or any special counsel) were overruled on a key decision by the attorney general, a report would have to be sent to Congress to explain why.

Rosenstein here stresses that, if Mueller “believed something should be done and we prohibited him from doing it, there would be a report about that to Congress at the end.” pic.twitter.com/PVnvJuUkaH

— Andrew Prokop (@awprokop) February 25, 2019

Unsurprisingly, Rosenstein’s comments created a stir. Though he said, for the most part, that he wasn’t addressing any particular case, the principles he laid out shows how he thinks about some of the central issues regarding how to make the Mueller investigation’s findings public.

They also, notably, seemed to reflect his ongoing opposition to former FBI Director James Comey’s decision to publicize negative information about Hillary Clinton when the bureau wrapped up its investigation into her emails.

But his comments about the fact that transparency is not always a good thing when it comes to law enforcement, and that prosecutors shouldn’t make allegations unless they’re prepared to prove them beyond a reasonable doubt in court, seemed to touch directly on outstanding issues in the Mueller investigation.

“If you are expecting Mueller/DOJ to willingly release a report that blasts Trump or other, un-indicted people in his orbit, please read these remarks today from Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and supervised most of his investigation,” said Zapotopsky.

“This is both 100% correct,” said former DOJ spokesperson Matthew Miller said of Rosenstein’s remarks, “and in no way contradicts the need for DOJ to turn over to Congress evidence of wrongdoing by a sitting president, the one person against whom DOJ says it cannot make a case in court.”

There seemed to be at least two different ways of interpreting Rosenstein’s remarks. He could have been indicating that people shouldn’t expect a damning report about the president from the DOJ. Or he could be saying that, if Mueller brings forward such a case, it will be air-tight and of the sort that lays out clear and demonstrable criminal activity. This ambiguity is almost certainly intentional on Rosenstein’s part.

While he did note that there may be exceptions to the general principles he described – and if any position demands exceptions, the presidency does — we can be pretty confident Rosenstein was sending this message: At least for most people involved in the special counsel’s investigation, they will either be charged, or Mueller won’t say much about them. He’s not going to release a slew of troubling, but non-criminal, allegations against Trump’s allies or others in his circle. And while that may be disappointing to some, there are good reasons for valuing this adherence to principle.
https://www.alternet.org/2019/02/rod-ro ... er-report/


CLTV 2/23/19 9:17pm Play time: 02:30 / Views: 3934
Sarah Kendzior

On The 'Normalcy Bias' That Kept Manafort Out Of Jail For Decades
By Scarce


"People have normalcy bias. They thought: 'If Manafort is really such a criminal, clearly someone would do something.' Well guess what? No one did anything and now we have a Russian asset as POTUS backed up by a transnational crime syndicate!"
https://crooksandliars.com/cltv/2019/02 ... tent=10980


The New York D.A. began investigating Manafort in 2017 but deferred the inquiry so as not to interfere with Mueller’s case. They resumed their investigation recently and a state grand jury is expected to wrap up and vote on charges in coming weeks.

NY state prosecutors have prepared charges against Paul Manafort they can file quickly if Trump pardons him. DA Cy Vance’s office has identified areas where Manafort can be charged with state offenses without triggering double jeopardy protections.
Image
Image

Paul Manafort Could Face New York Charges If Trump Pardons Him - Bloomberg

New York state prosecutors have put together a criminal case against Paul Manafort that they could file quickly if the former chairman of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign receives a presidential pardon.

New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is ready to file an array of tax and other charges against Manafort, according to two people familiar with the matter, something seen as an insurance policy should the president exercise his power to free the former aide. Skirting laws that protect defendants from being charged twice for the same offense has been one of Vance’s challenges.

Manafort was convicted of eight felonies, pleaded guilty to two more and is scheduled to be sentenced next month for those federal crimes. Prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller have recommended as long as 24 years, a virtual life sentence, for the 69-year-old political consultant.

The president, who has bemoaned Manafort’s treatment at the hands of Mueller, said in November that he has not ruled out a pardon. He has frequently talked of his broad pardon power, possibly extending even to himself, and acted to liberate two political allies previously.

A spokesman for Vance’s office declined to comment, as did Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort. The White House didn’t respond to a request to comment.

Prosecutors in Vance’s office began investigating Manafort in 2017, months before Mueller charged him with conspiracy, failure to file reports of foreign bank accounts and failure to register as an agent of a foreign country, activities stemming from his earlier work for Ukraine. Mueller’s team followed up with more charges of bank fraud, filing false tax returns and failure to file reports of foreign bank accounts in early 2018.

From November 2017: Manafort Bankers, Associates Summoned to Talk to Manhattan D.A.

At the state level, Vance is preparing an array of criminal charges. While their full extent isn’t clear, they would include evasion of New York taxes and violations of state laws requiring companies to keep accurate books and records, according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the investigation is confidential.

Much of the evidence against Manafort has emerged through Mueller’s prosecutions. But Vance’s office can’t cut and paste Mueller’s charges into a state indictment. It must avoid New York’s double jeopardy law, which provides protections for defendants even stronger than those guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.

Former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman anticipated this concern last year when he urged Albany lawmakers to tweak the state’s robust double jeopardy protections to allow local prosecutors to charge individuals convicted of federal crimes but pardoned by the president. The state legislature didn’t follow through on his request.

Nevertheless, Vance’s office has identified several areas where it believes Manafort can be charged with state offenses without triggering double jeopardy protections.

For example, New York law allows defendants who have already been convicted of evading federal taxes to be charged with the same conduct as it applies to state taxes. As a part-time resident of New York, Manafort has some exposure.

Mueller’s court filings also contain evidence of Manafort’s manipulation of his business records as part of efforts to secure bank loans. While Mueller charged bank fraud based on this conduct, Vance could hit Manafort with state charges of falsifying books and records, according to one of the people.

Manafort’s legal team would almost certainly challenge the state’s efforts, invoking constitutional protections. New York’s double jeopardy provisions have frustrated state authorities in the past, said John Moscow, who prosecuted global bank fraud and money laundering cases under Vance’s predecessor Robert Morgenthau.

“My suggestion is to change the double jeopardy statute in New York to permit prosecutions with this kind of conduct in mind,” said Moscow, who is now at Lewis Baach LLC and isn’t involved in the matter. “As interpreted, the statute is too broad and needs to be rethought.”

If convicted of state crimes, Manafort would face confinement in notoriously tough prisons. L. Dennis Kozlowski, the former Tyco International Ltd. chief executive officer convicted in 2005 of securities fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business records, served part of his 8 1/3-to-25 year sentence at a medium-security prison.

Along with commuting some sentences, Trump has issued seven pardons, several of them to staunch political allies including Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona and conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza. At times he has seemed to relish his clemency power, musing about a possible pardon for Martha Stewart and commuting the sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Matthew Whitaker, who was acting attorney general until last week, told lawmakers on February 8 that he hadn’t had discussions about potential pardons. But asked by U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, a Texas Democrat, what he knew of any pardon documents that had been prepared, Whitaker responded: “I am aware of documents relating to pardons of individuals, yes.”

Escobar’s time then expired, and no follow-up question was asked.

— With assistance by Alyza Sebenius
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... ardons-him



Trump Organization asks House committee to cease investigations, citing an alleged conflict of interest

Tom Hamburger

February 25 at 1:51 PM
A lawyer for the Trump Organization has asked the House Judiciary Committee to cease any investigations related to it, claiming that the panel’s work has been tainted by its hiring of an outside lawyer whose firm has represented Trump’s company.

In a letter Monday to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Trump Organization lawyer Alan S. Futerfas objected to the committee’s hiring of Berry H. Berke on the grounds that his law firm, Kramer Levin, has represented the Trump Organization on an array of issues.

“This state of affairs violates recognized ethical obligations and irreparably taints the Committee’s work,” Futerfas wrote, adding that it “requires that the Committee cease and desist from any and all activities that are adverse to the Company.”

Futerfas raised similar concerns in a letter last week to House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), saying that his panel works closely with Nadler’s committee.

In a statement, Kramer Levin called the Trump Organization’s letter to Nadler “baseless” and said Berke’s consulting work for the Judiciary Committee “complies fully with all applicable ethical rules, does not pose any conflicts of interest and respects any obligations the firm may have.”

A spokesman for Nadler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some of the Trump administration investigations Democrats plan to pursue


House Democrats plan to pursue a series of investigations into the Trump administration in the 116th Congress. (JM Rieger/The Washington Post)

Nadler announced Berke’s hiring two weeks ago, calling him “a nationally prominent expert on federal criminal law, including public corruption.”

The House Judiciary Committee has launched a broad inquiry examining legal and ethical issues facing Trump, including whether he tried to obstruct efforts by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to probe Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“We have to follow the facts and conduct the sort of oversight that has been completely absent over the last two years,” Nadler said in a statement issued earlier this month announcing that Berke and another outside expert, Norm Eisen, would be added to the Democrats’ team.

[Cohen to be publicly questioned on hush payments and Trump’s truthfulness]

Former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen is scheduled to appear publicly before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. The scope of the hearing will include Trump’s business interests, according to a memo distributed to committee members on Sunday.

In its statement, Kramer Levin said Berke was working for the Judiciary Committee in his personal capacity and that the firm would not receive any compensation or provide legal support.

The firm also said that none of the work it has done for Trump’s companies is related to the work Berke will be doing for the committee and that no lawyer at the firm is working on any “Trump-affiliated matter.”

“Indeed, for the past several years the firm’s work has involved only minor tasks for single purpose companies, such as pro forma amendments to condominium offering plans that date back more than a decade or the clearing up of minor building violations for management companies,” the statement said.

It praised Berke for performing “public service” and said he is “following in the finest traditions of the legal profession.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics ... d47431fd8d
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 32090
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Feb 26, 2019 7:30 am

A6006A10-AEFF-4F1A-8106-0A71BC2F4E58.jpeg
A6006A10-AEFF-4F1A-8106-0A71BC2F4E58.jpeg (246.79 KiB) Viewed 581 times
A6006A10-AEFF-4F1A-8106-0A71BC2F4E58.jpeg
A6006A10-AEFF-4F1A-8106-0A71BC2F4E58.jpeg (246.79 KiB) Viewed 581 times


“Earth-Shattering”: In Testimony Against Trump, Michael Cohen Preparing to Shock Lawmakers with Disclosures

For more than a decade, the president’s former lawyer and fixer bore witness to Trump’s ruthless business tactics and personal skulduggery. Now, Cohen is prepared to bare his soul before Congress.

Emily Jane FoxFebruary 26, 2019 5:00 am
The Cohen Files

Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen leaves the Monocle restaurant on Capitol Hill on Thursday, February 21, 2019.
By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call.
Over the weekend, Michael Cohen left New York City and drove down to Washington, D.C., to commence what is expected to be an excruciating week for the Trump administration, if a cathartic one for himself. For more than a decade, Cohen served as Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, business consigliere, and all-around doer of dirty deeds, as he’s put it. In early 2018, however, Cohen and his former boss found themselves at odds over an alleged hush-money scheme. Cohen quickly became the subject of a federal investigation, an infamous early-morning visit from a dozen F.B.I. agents armed with search warrants, and a constant victim of Trumpian Twitter invective. In the process, Cohen also became an unlikely, and formidable, player for the other side in the Mueller team—a man with crucial knowledge about both the Stormy Daniels affair and the Trump Tower Moscow saga, who, after some time and major changes in his position within Trumpworld, was willing to spill. This impression was amplified when Cohen implicated the president under oath while pleading guilty in August to campaign-finance violations, among other financial crimes, and in November to lying to Congress. The following month, he was sentenced to three years in prison.

Now, Cohen plans to air the president’s dirty laundry during three days of congressional hearings—a final act of allocution before he reports to prison in May. According to people familiar with his testimony, Cohen’s testimony will include allegations of racism, lies, infidelity, and criminal misconduct while in office. Cohen has been preparing for this very public moment every day for the last several weeks, according to people familiar with the situation, as he tries to square his wrongdoings in the face of great skepticism. In intense, daily meetings, his new attorneys, Michael Monico and Barry Spevack, have been probing his memory of his time with Trump, according to these people, including his professional tasks, and the inner workings of his life as a loyal employee to a man for whom he once told me he would “take a bullet.” “Some things that are earth-shattering are right in front of your nose, and the reason you don’t know that they’re earth-shattering is because they’re right in front of you,” one person told me. The second of the three hearings will be public, rather than behind closed doors, and broadcast by all the major networks on Wednesday, hours before Trump is set to meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in Hanoi. (The White House did not comment for this story.)

According to these people, Cohen is prepared to provide a first-person narrative of the crimes to which he has pleaded guilty, particularly surrounding his role in hush-money payments. Cohen’s lawyers have prepared him by asking detailed and process-oriented questions, so that he is able to tell the full story behind the $130,000 payment to Daniels, in particular. The sorts of things he could answer run from beginning to end: What did you tell Trump about the payment and how did he react? Did you tell Trump Organization C.F.O. Allen Weisselberg about it? How did you decide that the payment would come from your personal account instead of through the Trump Organization? Once that was decided, did you discuss how you were going to get paid back? If they were going to make it a retainer fee, did you discuss how it was going to be put on the books or if it would violate campaign-finance laws? Did the reimbursements begin after Trump was sworn in, and if checks were written, who signed them? Cohen’s answers to these questions, according to the people familiar, are chilling.

Meanwhile, there won’t be revelations about election meddling, at least in public. The House of Representatives set the scope for the hearings after consulting with both the Department of Justice and the Senate Intelligence Committee, which are both still investigating any ties between Russian election interference and the Trump campaign. Cohen will, however, be asked about the president’s debts and payments relating to efforts to influence the election, along with what he knows about Trump’s business activities and charitable organization, potential conflicts of interest and campaign-finance violations, and his compliance with other requirements and laws.

Congressional investigators will certainly be interested in the Trump Tower episode, too. “Who would have been aware of the false testimony that he was giving?” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff asked Sunday on ABC’s This Week, previewing the questions Democrats are likely to pose when they interview Cohen. “What more could he tell us about the Trump Tower New York meeting or any other issues relevant to our investigation?”

Cohen’s final stand in D.C.—the specter of a convicted felon making potentially sordid allegations against a sitting president on live television—is likely to be spectacular political theater, perfectly construed for our reality-TV, post-reality times. What makes it all the more spectacular is how precipitously the relationship between Cohen and Trump has devolved. Around a year ago, as news of the Daniels hush-money payment began to reverberate, Cohen kept in close touch with the president, visiting him twice at Mar-a-Lago and speaking with him near daily on the phone. It wasn’t until after Cohen’s home, office, and hotel room were searched by the F.B.I. in early April—an event Trump initially called “an attack on our country”—that the cracks in the relationship began to show. Trump soon distanced himself from Cohen and his legal troubles, saying in interviews with Fox News that Cohen did very little legal work for him, and that Cohen was being investigated for crimes unrelated to him. Squabbles over who would foot Cohen’s legal bills intensified the rift, as did what Cohen perceived to be a coordinated strategy by people in Trump’s orbit to discredit him.

But perhaps the most spectacular aspect of all will be the split-screen tension. As Cohen rips into his former boss on the world’s stage, and lawmakers, in turn, rip into him, Trump will be at a crucial summit with Kim in Vietnam. For a president who cares primarily about ratings and the public spectacle of power, rather than the actual work and weight of it all, this could be one of the most heightened, hyped, and, ultimately, pivotal weeks of his presidency.

Last August, under oath, Cohen publicly implicated his former boss in committing a felony by directing him to make payments to Daniels. But Trump, potentially protected by Justice Department guidelines that suggest a sitting president cannot be indicted, has so far not been touched by the arms of justice. Nor have his approval ratings among supporters budged much. That could change on Wednesday, when Cohen is given a platform to elucidate the president’s alleged crimes. Cohen’s lawyer and public spokesperson, __Lanny Davis,__has said that Cohen could be a modern-day John Dean, the former White House counsel whose testimony before Congress helped take down Richard Nixon in the Watergate scandal. Dean himself was sentenced in August 1974 to one-to-four years in a minimum-security prison, part of which he served at a safe house near Baltimore. Decades later, he is better remembered for the lies he exposed than his own crimes. Cohen, as he prepares to speak his truth before the world, might be hoping for the same.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/02 ... isclosures


Mueller Appears After Something Really Big: Reading Between the Lines in Advance of the Special Counsel’s Report

The trick to understanding Mueller’s intentions may lie not in his hundreds of pages of previous indictments and filings, but in the material that he has omitted from them. Is the great unwritten story of Russian collusion hiding in plain sight?

ABIGAIL TRACY FEBRUARY 25, 2019 6:01 PM

By Doug M​ills/The New York Times/Redux.
Robert Mueller is nothing if not deliberate. When he was investigating the N.F.L.’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic-violence scandal in 2014, Mueller accounted for each of the 1,583 telephone calls made to and from the league’s headquarters during the time period relevant to his probe. As Wired’s Garrett M. Graff recently noted, however, Mueller’s conclusions were frustratingly narrow. Despite trawling a sea of data—5 pages of his 96-page report were dedicated to the N.F.L. mail room’s procedures—Mueller refused to issue a conclusion about the the culture of the N.F.L., its pursuit of justice, or its long suspected inclination to manage its largest crises with a lack of transparency. Instead, he focused narrowly on the precise case in front of him. Now, with Mueller expected to turn over his confidential findings in the Russia investigation to Attorney General William Barr in the impending weeks, some wonder whether the special counsel will remain similarly disciplined, or if he will widen his aperture. (A judge dismissed domestic-violence charges against Rice.)


Clues abound. Mueller may indeed be writing his report in plain sight before our very eyes. As The Washington Post’s Philip Bump noted last week, his team has already composed and released nearly 300 pages of plea deals, indictments, and shadowy details regarding the behavior of Trump grifters like Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos. The details have often been scintillating, in part, because Mueller has generally employed in his filings a litany of “speaking indictments”—a colloquial term that is applied when a prosecutor offers greater detail than necessary to prove their charges. In his indictment of the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm behind the 2016 election disinformation effort, Mueller included the details of a hoax that Russian operatives played on an unwitting U.S. citizen. In his subsequent indictment of 12 G.R.U. intelligence officers, he detailed with remarkable specificity their Internet searches during one 37-minute window. Perhaps the most curious detail comes elsewhere in the G.R.U. indictment, when Mueller notes how one particular spear-phishing attempt aimed at the Hillary Clinton campaign was both a “first time” effort, and conducted “after hours.” These may seem like bread crumbs to a popular audience, but they’re more significant Morse-code tappings to jurisprudential scholars, suggesting that the hackers’ strategy could have shifted at a crucial moment.

Mueller may be deliberate, but he’s not necessarily straightforward. As his investigation appears to draw to a close, the key to understanding his intentions relies not only on examining the information he has included in previous filings, but also upon considering the information that he appears to have omitted, or redacted, from them. Mueller’s 24-page indictment of Roger Stone, issued in January, revealed that the self-described dirty trickster encouraged radio host Randy Credico “to do a ‘Frank Pentangeli’”—a reference to a character in The Godfather: Part II, who lied to Congress only after his mobster brother showed up in the courtroom. But Mueller, the former Marine, also included numerous vagaries in the document. He outlined a series of cases where Stone was in contact with Trump campaign officials about WikiLeaks’ plans to release stolen e-mails, but did not identify said officials, in accordance with D.O.J. policy. Resultantly, we are left guessing the identity of the person who “directed” an unnamed “senior Trump campaign official “to contact Stone about any additional releases and what other damaging information [WikiLeaks] had regarding the Clinton Campaign.” In the end, the filing prompted nearly as many questions as it answered.


Mueller also dedicated much of the January indictment to unraveling the various lies that Stone told about his contacts with Credico, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi. But the special counsel did not explicitly say whether Stone, Credico, or Corsi were ever actually in contact with WikiLeaks or Assange about the stolen e-mails. In a court filing three weeks later, Mueller at least partially addressed this issue. After previously describing Stone’s attempts to contact Assange through hapless go-betweens, the special counsel’s team said for the first time that it “obtained and executed dozens of search warrants on various accounts used to facilitate the transfer of stolen documents for release, as well as to discuss the timing and promotion of their release.” Consequently, prosecutors wrote, “Several of those search warrants were executed on accounts that contained Stone’s communications with Guccifer 2.0”—the Russian entity that hacked the Democratic National Committee—“and with Organization 1,” a.k.a. WikiLeaks. In other words, Mueller has the receipts when it comes to Stone’s contacts with Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks. What is unclear is the substance of these contacts, and whether they are limited to what is publicly known.

What knowledge did Stone have about the Russian hacking operation and WikiLeaks’ e-mail dumps? Did he share it with the Trump campaign? Mueller is vague about the timing of the Russians’ September 2016 hack, when they successfully gained access to D.N.C. computers, and whether it is related to a Twitter exchange between Stone and Guccifer 2.0 that same month. Nor does Mueller explain what prompted that first spear-phishing attempt on or about July 27, 2016, the same day that Trump called on Russia to hack Clinton’s e-mails. (“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.”) Between the plain text of his filings, however, lie indications that Mueller may have these answers. If you re-read charging documents from the special counsel’s office—both what has been included and what hasn’t—the series of outcomes narrows considerably. These are the known unknowns of the Mueller probe. And while there may not be any one smoking gun in the Russia investigation, it could become a mushroom cloud left for Congress to litigate.

The White House has taken comfort in the fact that among the 37 people and three companies that have been publicly indicted or pleaded guilty in the Mueller probe, not a single Trump associate has been indicted for anything involving a conspiracy to rig the 2016 election or conspire with a foreign government. Indeed, most of the crimes have been so-called process crimes, like lying to the F.B.I. But for those familiar with Mueller’s career—as assistant attorney general for the D.O.J.’s criminal division, as a U.S. attorney in Boston and San Francisco, and later as director of the F.B.I.—these charges are a hallmark of Mueller’s approach to flipping criminals, such as when he cut a deal with Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano to bring down the Gambino criminal family in the early 1990s.

That strategy isn’t lost on some Trump allies. “This investigation is a classic Gambino-style roll-up,” a source close to the White House observed in November 2017, as the probe was heating up. This approach has also created immense political uncertainty surrounding the outcome of his final report. In the G.R.U. indictment, for instance, prosecutors for the special counsel’s office wrote that Russian intelligence officers “knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other, and with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury” in order to interfere with the 2016 election. Does the fact that Mueller hasn’t charged those “known and unknown” people mean that he can’t make his case, or that he’s just been working his way up the food chain?

Untruth is endemic to Trumpworld, but the frequency and brazenness of the lies told about Russia strongly suggest that Mueller’s past indictments form the building blocks of a broader conspiracy. Take, for example, the case of Trump’s former national-security adviser Mike Flynn. In December 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to a single count of lying to the F.B.I. about his contact with the Russian ambassador during the transition. Flynn’s sentencing memo was one of Mueller’s more frustrating court filings. The document notes that the national-security adviser provided “substantial assistance” to the Justice Department during 19 interviews. It also notes specifically that “the defendant provided firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials.” The precise details, however, were redacted entirely. Even more mysterious, in December a federal judge postponed sentencing Flynn—Mueller had recommended zero to six months in prison—so that Flynn might continue cooperating with prosecutors.


Then you have Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime personal attorney and fixer, whose case Mueller handed off to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. In August, Cohen pleaded guilty to crimes including campaign-finance violations stemming from hush-money payments made to two women. In November, Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project, which Trump—the infamous “Individual 1” in the S.D.N.Y.’s case—pursued well into 2016 election. Cohen told the court that he lied about the end of Trump Tower negotiations “to be consistent with Individual 1’s political messaging and out of loyalty to Individual 1.” As a reward for his cooperation, Mueller recommended that Cohen receive no additional jail time beyond the recommendation of the S.D.N.Y., although he was ultimately sentenced by a federal judge to three years in prison.

Manafort’s own aborted cooperation agreement with the special counsel provides yet another window into Mueller’s strategy—and, potentially, into whatever conspiracy he may be hoping to uncover. Thanks to a botched redaction, we learned that the special counsel accused Manafort of breaching his cooperation agreement by, among other things, lying about contacts with the Trump administration after the election, as well as discussing a Ukrainian “peace plan” and sharing private polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, a suspected Russian intelligence agent. In a hearing to discuss the breached agreement, defense attorney Richard Westling argued that Manafort’s lies were only related to a “small set” of topics. “Many of the more sensitive topics that we’re aware of from a—all of us paying attention to what’s gone in the news cycle over the last many months, you know, are things where these issues didn’t come up, where there wasn’t a complaint about the information Mr. Manafort provided,” he said, suggesting his client may have supplied useful information to Mueller that has yet to be made public.

In her ruling on the matter, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that Manafort’s behavior, especially pertaining to his interactions with Kilimnik, was “at the undisputed core of the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation” into whether any Trump campaign officials coordinated with the Russians to derail Clinton’s candidacy. “Mr. Kilimnik doesn’t have to be in the government, or even be an active spy to be a link,” she said. Nor was Jackson convinced that Manafort’s inaccurate statements were unintentional. Over and over, she said, Manafort’s lies revolved around “Kilimnik, Kilimnik, and Kilimnik.” (Mueller previously estimated that Manafort could receive between 19 and 24 years in prison, based on sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors have argued that Manafort lied, at least in part, to “augment his chances for a pardon.”)

And then there’s the perplexing, and still unexplained, role the president played in crafting the misleading statement to The New York Times about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Manafort, and a group of Kremlin-linked Russians. The initial statement, dictated by Trump, said the primary purpose of the meeting with to discuss “a program about the adoption of Russian children”—the same subject that Trump said he and Vladimir Putin discussed when they huddled on the sidelines of the G20 summit in July 2017. Of course, later it was revealed that Don Jr. was lured by the promise of Russian government “dirt” on Clinton.

Critics of the Mueller probe argue that such misstatements were accidental or trivial, and that the special counsel’s office is abusing its power by prosecuting lies. But in nearly every case, the topic is the same: Russia. If Flynn’s conversations with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak were standard fare during a presidential transition, why did he lie to the F.B.I. and multiple administration officials, including Mike Pence, about them? If Trump’s dealings with Russia to build Trump Tower Moscow were appropriate, why did he and Cohen lie about them for more than two years? Why did the president issue a misleading statement on the Trump Tower meeting if it was all aboveboard? If Stone had nothing to hide about his interactions with Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks, then why did he lie about them to Congress and go so far as to threaten to steal Credico’s therapy dog? Why did Papadopoulos lie about the mysterious Maltese professor who told him about the Clinton “dirt”? And why would Manafort breach his cooperation deal with Mueller, risking the rest of his life behind bars, to conceal his interactions with Kilimnik?

Throughout the Russia investigation, Mueller has been unsparing in drilling down to the details in his indictments. And yet, all of these omissions go to the heart of the collusion question. It’s safe to assume that Mueller has the answers, and then some—he has merely chosen not to share them yet. In order to catch all these Trump associates in their lies, Mueller must know the truth. There is the possibility that the special counsel will unveil these answers in a broad conspiracy indictment. Or he could package all the evidence and testimony gathered in the jury process—sans analysis or judgment—and drop the whole thing at the feet of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, just as Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski did when he sent lawmakers a 55-page grand-jury report known as the “Road Map.” Anyone who looks could see the dots. All that’s left would be to connect them.

As the White House has pointed out following each of Mueller’s indictments, neither the president nor his deputies have been charged with taking part in a foreign conspiracy to illegally influence the 2016 election. At least not yet. Trump himself is almost certainly immune to prosecution while he is president, according to long-standing Justice Department guidelines. But that doesn’t mean Mueller isn’t building a case that he can effectively turn over to Congress, which has the power to impeach Trump. As Asha Rangappa, a former F.B.I. counter-intelligence agent who worked under Mueller, explained to me last year, “Collusion does not necessarily have to be criminal.” The definition of collusion, she continued, could be as simple as “secretly conspiring or working with a foreign power to help them in their covert operation.”

Trump’s lawyers have recognized this. For months, the official position of the Trump White House was that there was “no collusion.” More recently, however, the president’s lawyers have shifted the goalposts. “If Roger Stone gave anybody a heads-up about WikiLeaks’ leaks, that’s not a crime,” Rudy Giuliani told ABC News in December, several weeks before Mueller’s indictment against Stone revealed that the longtime Trump confidant had communicated with campaign officials about WikiLeaks’ plans. “The crime is conspiracy to hack. Collusion is not a crime; it doesn’t exist.”

In the realm of impeachment, collusion is indeed a political question. But whether Trump, his campaign, or his associates conspired with the Russians to sabotage Clinton and subvert the American electoral process is a legal one. When analyzing the public body of Mueller’s work, the litany of speaking indictments and other court documents suggest that Mueller is building toward something big. As Glenn Kirschner, a former federal prosecutor who worked closely with Mueller, posited to me last year, “It wouldn’t be a surprise if he returned a large conspiracy indictment for basically a conspiracy to defraud the United States by interfering in our elections.”

With the two-year anniversary of Mueller’s appointment this spring, some of the juiciest—and arguably most consequential—questions about Russian election interference and the Trump campaign remain unanswered. But every bizarre detail or curious omission from Mueller to date could be a bread crumb leading to what the special counsel is preparing next. The investigation’s known unknowns are an investigative road map.
https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/02 ... ssion=true




It’s Mueller’s Investigation. But Right Behind Him Is Andrew Goldstein.

Feb. 25, 2019

Andrew D. Goldstein is one of Robert Mueller’s lead prosecutors in the obstruction of justice investigation of the president.Tom Brenner for The New York Times


Andrew D. Goldstein is one of Robert Mueller’s lead prosecutors in the obstruction of justice investigation of the president.Tom Brenner for The New York Times
WASHINGTON — The routine was always the same. President Trump’s lawyers would drive to heavily secured offices near the National Mall, surrender their cellphones, head into a windowless conference room and resume tense negotiations over whether the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, would interview Mr. Trump.

But Mr. Mueller was not always there. Instead, the lawyers tangled with a team of prosecutors, including a little known but formidable adversary: Andrew D. Goldstein, 44, a former Time magazine reporter who is now a lead prosecutor for Mr. Mueller in the investigation into whether the president obstructed justice.

Mr. Mueller is often portrayed as the omnipotent fact-gatherer, but it is Mr. Goldstein who has a much more involved, day-to-day role in one of the central lines of investigation.

Mr. Goldstein, the lone prosecutor in Mr. Mueller’s office who came directly from a corruption unit at the Justice Department, has conducted every major interview of the president’s advisers. He questioned Donald F. McGahn II, Mr. Trump’s former White House counsel, and Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer and lawyer, for dozens of hours. He signed Mr. Cohen’s plea agreement. He conducted grand jury questioning of associates of Roger J. Stone Jr., the former adviser to Mr. Trump who was indicted last month.

And he was one of two prosecutors who relayed to the president’s lawyers dozens of questions about Mr. Trump’s behavior in office that Mr. Mueller wanted the president to answer under oath. The questions showed the Mueller team’s hand for the first time: extensive, detailed lines of inquiry that could imperil the presidency.

“He knew the facts like I knew the facts,” John Dowd, Mr. Trump’s former lawyer, said of Mr. Goldstein.

Over the past two years, Mr. Trump has waged a regular assault on prosecutors and other law enforcement officials investigating him, particularly on Mr. Mueller’s team. But mounting a high-level criminal case on obstruction is rare and complex, and even more difficult when the subject is a sitting president.

Now that Mr. Mueller is expected to deliver his report in the coming weeks, Mr. Goldstein’s past as a prosecutor offers a glimpse into how he might be helping the special counsel make a final determination.

Over the past two years, President Trump has waged a regular assault on prosecutors and other law enforcement officials investigating him, particularly those on Mr. Mueller’s team.Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times


Over the past two years, President Trump has waged a regular assault on prosecutors and other law enforcement officials investigating him, particularly those on Mr. Mueller’s team.Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times
Interviews with Mr. Goldstein’s colleagues and friends and an examination of his past work reveal someone profoundly at odds with the cowboylike image Mr. Trump has painted of Mr. Mueller’s team. He is one of the few in the group with a career outside the law — in addition to working for Time, Mr. Goldstein was a high school teacher — and is known for his nonconfrontational personality and cautious approach to prosecutions.

Before Mr. Mueller hired him, Mr. Goldstein, the son of a former Republican United States attorney, led the corruption unit in the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan as the office made a highly unusual call to announce that it had declined to charge Mayor Bill de Blasio with a variety of crimes. The decision revealed how restrained high-level prosecutors often are in major political investigations.

“Investigating and prosecuting public corruption offenses can only go so far,” Mr. Goldstein said in a rare speech around the time he joined the special counsel’s team in 2017. “We can only police the outer bounds of misconduct: the really bad stuff, or at least the stuff that we can prove.”

Investigating the President

From the beginning, the byzantine structure of the Mueller investigation split its dozen-plus prosecutors into silos and specialties: money laundering, hacking, national security and public corruption.

Starting in the summer of 2017, when Mr. Trump’s closest White House advisers were summoned to Mr. Mueller’s offices, they typically met the same calm stare and gravelly voice of the man his former high school students still call Mr. Goldstein.

With James L. Quarles III, a former prosecutor in the Watergate investigation, Mr. Goldstein has led the office’s investigation into whether the president’s dismissal of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey — and Mr. Trump’s repeated assaults on the Justice Department — should be considered obstruction of justice.

He has tried to determine the president’s motives in Mr. Comey’s firing during dozens of hours questioning Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist, and nearly seven hours with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, in April.

As evidence built over two years, Mr. Goldstein functioned as a repository of conversations that Mr. Trump had with lawyers, advisers and top law enforcement officials from early 2017 on. Among Mr. Goldstein’s jewels, according to Mr. Trump’s lawyers: exhaustive notes taken by Annie Donaldson, Mr. McGahn’s former chief of staff, which detailed in real time Mr. Trump’s behavior in the West Wing.

James L. Quarles III, a former Watergate prosecutor, along with Mr. Goldstein, leads the obstruction of justice portion of the special counsel’s investigation.Tom Brenner for The New York Times
Defense lawyers who worked with Mr. Mueller also say that Mr. Goldstein — a donor to President Barack Obama’s campaigns — is the temperamental opposite of prosecutors on the team like Andrew Weissmann, known for a more hostile disposition. When tensions flared during witness interviews, lawyers would take Mr. Goldstein aside to soothe disputes.

That did not mean Mr. Goldstein’s work was seamless: While the president’s legal team was initially cooperative with Mr. Goldstein and his fellow investigators, delivering key witnesses and millions of documents, the mood changed when Mr. Trump brought on the longtime Washington lawyer Emmet T. Flood.

Mr. Flood promptly imposed restrictions on the West Wing’s participation, including limits to questions for the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly.

Mr. Goldstein acknowledged to associates that Mr. Flood made his life more difficult.

‘He Was Very Much Measure 10 Times, Cut Once’

Just before Mr. Mueller and some of his earliest hires brought Mr. Goldstein to Washington for job interviews, Mr. Goldstein and the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan faced a political investigation with familiar parallels to Mr. Mueller’s inquiry.

Mr. Goldstein was leading a team of prosecutors under Preet Bharara, then the United States attorney in Manhattan, who were investigating whether Mr. de Blasio had committed a series of corruption crimes: bribery, pay-to-play and campaign fraud.

Part of the investigation focused on the owner of a scented, rat-repelling trash bag company in Queens who had donated $100,000 to a political advocacy group run by allies of Mr. de Blasio. The owner met with Mr. de Blasio himself, then an aide who set up a meeting between the owner of the company and officials with the city’s parks department. Within a month, he had a $15,000 contract.

Mr. Goldstein, then the chief of the corruption unit at the United States attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York, and Preet Bharara, his boss at the time, in 2016.Dave Sanders for The New York Times

Mr. Goldstein, then the chief of the corruption unit at the United States attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York, and Preet Bharara, his boss at the time, in 2016.Dave Sanders for The New York Times
Mr. Goldstein’s team churned out pages of analysis on evidence they had gathered on at least four different threads. He would take their work to Mr. Bharara in regular meetings, trying to determine if there was sufficient evidence.

The office made a highly unusual decision to release a public statement explaining why Mr. de Blasio would not be charged, citing “the high burden of proof” and the “difficulty in proving criminal intent in corruption schemes where there is no evidence of personal profit.”

“He was very much measure 10 times, cut once,” said Kan M. Nawaday, a prosecutor who worked with Mr. Goldstein in the corruption unit. “Nine times out of 10, you do a lot of investigation, and you realize the conduct is pretty terrible and foul. But since you’re here to do justice, it isn’t a crime, and you walk away.”

Mr. Goldstein has also gone out of his way to attack defendants who repeatedly fail to tell the truth. “And why do people lie?” Mr. Goldstein said in a closing argument against Sheldon Silver, the former Democratic speaker of the New York State Assembly, who had covered up illegal payments from a friend seeking favors and was found guilty on all counts. “Why do people hide things? Why do people keep secrets? Because they have something to hide.”

A Life of Anti-Corruption

Mr. Goldstein was born during a campaign fraud trial that his father, Jonathan L. Goldstein, was overseeing as the United States attorney in New Jersey. The birth caused an unexpected recess in the trial as the elder Mr. Goldstein took his wife to the hospital. The event made national news.

As a toddler, Mr. Goldstein accompanied his father, a Republican appointee, to work, until President Jimmy Carter and the attorney general at the time, Griffin B. Bell, pushed the elder Mr. Goldstein to resign, replacing him with a Democrat. Incensed, he talked with his young children at the dinner table about his dismissal, warning of the perils of a politicized Justice Department.

The younger Mr. Goldstein went on to graduate from Princeton and teach government at his high school alma mater, the private Pingry School in Basking Ridge, N.J. He then turned to covering national education policy and medicine at Time magazine, where in 2000 he investigated the deaths of three toddlers in government-funded day care facilities in Tennessee.

Mr. Goldstein filed the article, unsettled that he could not do more. He wanted a career that empowered him to prosecute. By 2005, he had graduated from Yale Law School, and by 2010, he was working for Mr. Bharara, who put him on some of the Southern District of New York’s biggest cases.

Walking Away

Like Mr. Mueller, Mr. Goldstein wears starched white dress shirts to work and prizes secrecy. Mr. Goldstein told a friend, Tim Lear, that Mr. Mueller even complained to his prosecutors about being photographed near Donald Trump Jr. at an airport.

The investigation has been tiring, too. Mr. Goldstein, who used to attend early-morning SoulCycle classes in Manhattan before big trials, got into an accident biking to Mr. Mueller’s offices last year, when he was searching for ways to exercise while working so late.

Now that Mr. Mueller’s work could soon be public, Mr. Goldstein’s record, Mr. Bharara said, is a reminder of what the investigation’s limits might be.

“You want to have people who have had experience not only bringing high-profile cases, but in walking away from them because it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “The fact that you have a person who’s comfortable saying there’s nothing here, even though there’s a lot of clamor for it, is exactly the kind of person you want.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/25/us/p ... AyCPyrHfHn


Seth Abramson

HOURS OF QUESTIONING BY MUELLER'S TEAM

Kushner: "less than 7"
Bannon: "dozens"

Anyone who follows the Trump-Russia case closely knows there's something very odd about this. For example, there's no *way* Bannon was only being questioned about Obstruction.


1/ What makes this NYT revelation startling is Bannon and Kushner were at *almost all the same suspicious meetings*—and where they weren't both at a suspicious meeting it was usually because *Kushner* was there alone (or with Flynn). So this makes Kushner seem like a key suspect.

2/ Imagine I mapped out for you the following investigative strategy

Interview Hours with Kushner: 6.5
Interview Hours with Bannon: 24 to 96

then told you the public evidence has Kushner engaged in *far* more malfeasance than Bannon. Wouldn't you think Kushner is a key suspect?
https://mobile.twitter.com/SethAbramson ... 8829319169
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 32090
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

PreviousNext

Return to General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], Majestic-12 [Bot] and 13 guests