Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Election

Moderators: Elvis, DrVolin, Jeff

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:51 am

you dishonestly inserted a different thing that I was laughing at


This Is What Obstruction Looks Like
by CHARLES SYKES APRIL 18, 2019 4:45 PM
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(Illustration by Hannah Yoest / photos: GettyImages / Shutterstock)

Now we know why the pre-spin was so important for Trump World.

While the Mueller report does not find evidence of a criminal conspiracy between the Russians and the Trump campaign, the picture it paints is, frankly, devastating: its narrative exposes a cascade of lies, coverups, and corruption, while providing a clear road map to the president’s attempts to obstruct the investigation. At times it reads like an open invitation to Congress to launch impeachment proceedings.

It’s that bad.

Many of us had come to doubt whether Attorney General William Barr was a reliable narrator here, but his attempts to pre-empt the report turn out to be both bizarre and inept. His press conference this morning undoubtedly won him plaudits from his audience of one in the White House, but effectively destroyed his reputation as an honest broker.

An hour and half before the release of the report, Barr tried to rationalize Trump’s behavior by saying that his efforts—which included bullying witnesses, attempting to fire the special counsel, and repeatedly lying to the American people—were all the result of his sincerity. Trump, he argued, was sincerely angry when he sought to limit, control, and shut down the criminal probe.

Sounding for all the world like Trump’s personal lawyer, Barr argued that it was “important to bear in mind the context. President Trump faced an unprecedented situation.”

As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as President, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the President’s personal culpability.

Barr insisted that there was “substantial evidence to show that the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks.”

This is an odd argument on several levels: undoubtedly many people who commit crimes are sincere in their belief that they are justified, just as many authoritarian rulers or mob bosses can be quite sincere in their belief that they are justified in lying or obstructing justice. At the same time, Barr also seems to be suggesting that the president of the United States was too emotional to control his behavior. He couldn’t help himself.

Nonetheless, the attorney general argued Thursday morning that the “White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation.” Moreover, he said, Trump had taken no action that had

in fact deprived the Special Counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation. Apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the President had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.

This is, frankly, amazing.

Barr’s spin doesn’t survive even the most cursory reading of the actual report, which declared that Trump “engaged in efforts to curtail the Special Counsel’s investigation and prevent the disclosure of evidence to it, including through public and private contacts with potential witnesses.” (page 8)

There’s so much more:

Many of the president’s acts directed at witnesses, including discouragement of cooperation with the government and suggestions of possible future pardons, occurred in public view. . . .And no principle of law excludes public acts from the scope of obstruction statutes. If the likely effect of the acts is to intimidate witnesses or alter their testimony, the justice system’s integrity is equally threatened . . .

Our investigation found multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over . . . investigations . . . the incidents were often carried out through one-on-one meetings in which the President sought to use his official power outside of usual channels. (page 157)

And Mueller explicitly does not rule out the possibility that some of those efforts succeeded. The report says “the investigation established that several individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign lied to the Office, and to Congress, about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals and related matters. Those lies materially impaired the investigation.” (page 17)

The damage might have been worse had Trump’s attempts not been thwarted by some of his own staff:

The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests. (Page 370)
And Mueller actively does not exonerate Trump: “[I]f we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President did not obstruct justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgement.” (page 182.)

Podcast episode cover image
The Mueller Report First Read

Kim Wehle and host Charlie Sykes give their first read of the Mueller Report.
Mueller’s report suggests that any judgment about Trump’s motives should be “informed by the totality of the evidence.” The totality of evidence is damning.

The report’s narrative on Trump’s efforts to obstruct the investigation is broken down into several sections:

The Trump campaign’s response to reports of Russian support (which largely consisted in denying and lying about them).

Trump’s conduct involving former FBI director James Comey and Michael Flynn.

Trump’s reaction to the continuing Russia investigation.

Trump’s termination of Comey over the Russia probe.

The appointment of Special Counsel and Trump’s repeated efforts to fire him.

Efforts to curtail the Special Counsel’s investigation.

Efforts to prevent public disclosure of evidence (including his attempts to cover up the June 2016 Trump tower meeting and to lie about to the public).

Trump’s further efforts to have Attorney general Jeff Sessions take control of the investigation and limit it.

Trump’s efforts to have White House counsel Don McGahn lie by denying that Trump had ordered him to have Mueller fired.

Trump’s conduct toward Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and another person whose name is redacted (including dangling pardons).

Trump’s conduct toward Michael Cohen.

Mueller’s report argues that Trump’s efforts to impede the investigation can be divided into two broad time periods: basically before and after his firing of the FBI director.

Early in the report on obstruction, Mueller says that the evidence “indicates that the President wanted to protect himself from an investigation into his campaign. In addition the president had a motive to put the FBI’s investigation behind him.” Nevertheless, it concludes, the “evidence does not establish that the termination of Comey was designed to cover up a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.” (page 76)

But, the report says, things changed shortly after the president fired the FBI director, when Trump became aware that investigators were conducting an obstruction-of-justice inquiry into his own conduct. This awareness marked a significant shift as “the President engaged in a second phase of conduct, involving public attacks on the investigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation.” (page 219)

This included his attempts to fire the special counsel and have Attorney General Sessions un-recuse himself and limit the probe. Trump also “sought to prevent public disclosure of information about the June 9, 2016 meeting between Russians and campaign officials; and he used public forums to attack potential witnesses who might offer adverse information and to praise witnesses who declined to cooperate with the government.” (page 158)

In his four-page letter and press conference, Barr had insisted that Trump did not obstruct justice because he was not guilty of any underlying crime. Mueller explicitly rejects this argument. Trump, Mueller writes, had more than enough motive to try to impede the investigation:

As described in Volume I, the evidence uncovered in the investigation did not establish that the President or those close to him were involved in the charged Russian computer-hacking or active-measure conspiracies, or that the President otherwise had an unlawful relationship with any Russian official. But the evidence does indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal and political concerns. [Emphasis added.] (page 76)

According to Mueller, Trump’s efforts included public attempts to intimidate witnesses. For example, Trump’s repeated suggestion that members of his former attorney Michael Cohen’s family committed crimes, “could be viewed as an effort to retaliate against Cohen and chill further testimony adverse to the President by Cohen or others,” Mueller’s team writes. “The timing of the statements supports an inference that they were intended at least in part to discourage Cohen from further cooperation.” (page 156)

The report also suggests that Trump had dangled pardons to potential witnesses. The report says that “Cohen also discussed pardons with the President’s personal counsel and believed that if he stayed on message he would be taken care of. But after Cohen began cooperating with the government in the summer of 2018, the President publicly criticized him, called him a “rat.” (page 6)

Likewise in January, 2018, Paul Manafort told a colleague that he had “talked to the President’s personal counsel & they were ‘going to take care of us.’”

Mueller’s report also documents Trump’s efforts to fire Mueller:

“Substantial evidence . . . supports the conclusion that the President . . . directed McGahn to call Rosenstein to have the Special Counsel removed. First, McGahn’s clear recollection was that the President directed him to tell Rosenstein . . . ‘Mueller has to go.'”

According to the report, after Trump ordered McGahn to call Rod Rosenstein and have Mueller fired, McGahn “called his lawyer, drove to the White House, packed up his office, prepared to submit a resignation letter . . . told Priebus that the President had asked him to ‘do crazy shit.'” (Page 300)

Does all of this constitute obstruction? The implications seem clear; if Donald Trump was not the sitting president, the case against him would be overwhelming. Indeed, Mueller goes out of his way to note that Trump could face criminal charges after he leaves office. Even though the Office of Legal Counsel has decided that a sitting president cannot be prosecuted, Mueller says pointedly, “it recognizes that a criminal investigation during the President’s term is permissible. The OLC opinion also recognizes that a President does not have immunity after he leaves office.” (Page 335)

And in a passage that seemed directly addressed to Congress, Mueller writes:

[W]e concluded that Congress has the authority to prohibit a president’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice . . . The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.” (Page 8)

None of this good news for Trump. ... ooks-like/

What Mueller Found on Russia and on Obstruction: A First Analysis

“Really the best day since he got elected,” said Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor, about a day on which 400 pages dropped into the public’s lap describing relentless presidential misconduct and serial engagements between his campaign and a foreign actor. The weeks-long lag between Attorney General William Barr’s announcement of Robert Mueller’s top-line findings and the release of the Mueller report itself created space for an alternate reality in which the document released today might give rise to such a statement. But the cries of vindication do not survive even the most cursory examination of the document itself.

No, Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, and no, he did not conclude that President Trump had obstructed justice. But Mueller emphatically did not find that there had been “no collusion” either. Indeed, he described in page after damning page a dramatic pattern of Russian outreach to figures close to the president, including to Trump’s campaign and his business; Mueller described receptivity to this outreach on the part of those figures; he described a positive eagerness on the part of the Trump campaign to benefit from illegal Russian activity and that of its cutouts; he described serial lies about it all. And he describes as well a pattern of behavior on the part of the president in his interactions with law enforcement that is simply incompatible with the president’s duty to “take care” that the laws are “faithfully executed”—a pattern Mueller explicitly declined to conclude did not obstruct justice.

The Mueller report is a document this country will be absorbing for months to come. Below is a first crack at analyzing the features that are most salient to us.

The report answers a great many questions, resolving a raft of concerning issues that had cried out for public resolution. Some of these questions it resolves in Trump’s favor, thereby reducing the long list of concerns that reasonable people will harbor about the president. But by creating a rigorous factual record concerning both Russian intervention in 2016 and presidential obstruction of the effort to investigate that intervention, the report poses other questions acutely. Most importantly, it poses the question of whether this conduct is acceptable—not whether it’s lawful or prosecutable or whether the evidence is admissible, but whether as a nation we choose to accept it, and if not, what means we exercise to reject it. Mueller is not a political figure, but the record he has created puts these fundamentally political questions squarely before us.

Before turning to what’s in the Mueller report, let’s pause a moment to note something that’s not in it: classified information. The document contains no so-called “portion marking,” which denotes classified material. While it describes sensitive intelligence matters, it does so in an unclassified manner. What’s more, it is almost entirely devoid of discussion of the counterintelligence equities at issue in the Russia matter. This is a prosecutor’s report, focused entirely on application of fact to criminal laws and to assessment of whether legal standards were met. Whether this absence is because the counterintelligence elements of the investigation were handled in some other format or because they were entirely sublimated to the criminal investigation is unclear. But this is a document summarizing a criminal probe and the thinking of the prosecutors who ran it—not a document describing the management of threats to the country.

Like the report itself, we begin with Mueller’s resolution of matters related to Russia.

Results of the Russia Investigation

Consistent with the special counsel’s mandate, the first volume of the Mueller report focuses on “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.” Toward this end, its first two substantive sections go into depth on Russia’s “active measures” social media campaign, as well as the “hacking and dumping” operations through which it accessed and disseminated private e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and others. Both provide a fascinating account of Russian influence operations, but neither adds much to the indictments that the Mueller team has previously filed against involved persons. Instead, the important element of Volume 1 is the discussion of “Russian government links to and contacts with the Trump campaign”—or the possibility of what some might describe as “collusion”.

As the report is careful to explain, “collusion” is neither a criminal offense nor a legal term of art with a clear definition, despite its frequent use in discussions of the special counsel’s mandate. Mueller and his team instead examined the relationships between members of the Trump campaign and the Russian government through the far narrower lens of criminal conspiracy. To establish a criminal conspiracy, a prosecutor must show, among other elements, that two or more persons agreed to either violate a federal criminal law or defraud the United States. This “meeting of the minds” is ultimately the piece the Mueller team felt it could not prove, leading it not to pursue any conspiracy charges against members of the Trump campaign, even as it pursued them against Russian agents.

This conclusion is far from the full vindication that chants of “no collusion” imply, a fact driven home by the detailed factual record the Mueller report puts forward. In some cases, there was indeed a meeting of the minds between Trump campaign officials and Russia, just not in pursuit of a criminal objective. In others, members of the Trump campaign acted criminally—as evidenced by the guilty pleas and indictments that the Mueller team secured—but did so on their own. At times, these efforts even worked toward the same objective as the Russian government, but on seemingly parallel tracks as opposed to in coordination. None of this amounted to a criminal conspiracy that the Mueller team believed it could prove beyond a reasonable doubt. But the dense network of interactions, missed opportunities, and shared objectives between the Trump campaign and the Russian government remains profoundly disturbing.

This report shows that the Trump campaign was reasonably aware of the Russian efforts, at least on the hacking side. They were aware the Russians sought to help them win. They welcomed that assistance. Instead of warning the American public, they instead devised a public relations and campaign strategy that sought to capitalize on Russia’s illicit assistance. In other words, the Russians and the Trump campaign shared a common goal, and each side worked to achieve that goal with basic knowledge of the other side’s intention. They just didn’t agree to work together toward that goal together.

Importantly, the report includes several areas in which the Mueller report really does meaningfully exonerate the Trump campaign.

First, while the report notes that some Trump campaign members shared tweets from Internet Research Agency (IRA)-controlled accounts and even agreed to assist in promoting IRA-devised rallies, the special counsel investigation did not conclude that any official of the Trump campaign was aware the solicitations were coming from foreign persons. Being duped is not the same as committing a crime, and Mueller conclusively puts to rest the question of whether the Trump campaign was somehow aiding the Russian social media operation.

Second, the Mueller report answers lingering questions about a number of previously reported events about which people harbored reasonable suspicions. The Mueller team examined the reported contacts between campaign members, including Jared Kushner and Jeff Sessions, with Sergey Kislyak at the Mayflower Hotel in April 2016 and found that the conversations were brief and nonsubstantive, and took place in public. Similarly, Mueller examined contacts between then-Senator Sessions and Kislyak at Sessions’s Senate office in September 2016 and determined that the two did not discuss anything related to the election. That is consistent with Sessions’s account of the matter and effectively clears him on the question; nothing untoward seems to have occured.

Additionally, the special counsel’s office describes a set of interactions between campaign members—in particular, Kushner—and the head of a D.C.-based think tank, the Center for the National Interest (CNI). The investigation found no evidence that CNI facilitated back channels between the campaign and the Russian government.

Finally, the special counsel’s report puts to rest suggestions that the Republican National Convention platform on Ukraine was altered at the direction of Trump or Russia. While Trump advisor J.D. Gordon did champion an effort on behalf of the campaign to soften a proposed amendment to the Republican Party platform on supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression, the report makes clear that Gordon was not directed to seek the change by Trump. He did so after deciding that the change would better align the platform with Trump’s stated policy.

So that’s all good news for Trump. Reporting on these matters had accurately described these events as having occurred, but the Mueller report should end speculation that they were evidence of collusion or anything untoward.

The rest of the report is far less rosey for Trump World.

While the report does not find criminal conspiracy between Trump associates and Russia, it describes a set of contacts that may not involve chargeable criminality but might reasonably be described as “collusion.” In some of these cases, there was a clear “meeting of the minds”—or an effort to establish one—between members of the Trump campaign and agents of the Russian government, but the object of that agreement was not a federal crime. If these episodes fall short of a criminal conspiracy, they nonetheless reveal an alarming reality.

The report details numerous contacts during the presidential campaign, some of which are well known—for example, the cases of George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, two low-level recruits to the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team who became the focus of efforts by Russian agents to cultivate a relationship. A higher profile case is that of Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. The report describes Manafort’s extensive ties to Russia in detail, ties he cultivated through his prior work for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and the former Russian-backed government in Ukraine. Throughout his time with the Trump campaign—Manafort resigned in August 2016 but continued to advise the Trump campaign through at least November—Manafort maintained consistent contact with his “longtime” associate Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian who, according to the report, “the FBI assesses to have ties to Russian intelligence.” Kilimnik attempted to have Manafort pass along a peace plan for Ukraine that Manafort acknowledged to be friendly to Russian interests, though the Mueller team was unable to identify evidence that Manafort did so. Manafort in turn instructed his deputy Rick Gates to provide Kilimnik with polling data and other information regarding the Trump campaign’s electoral strategy, which he understood would be passed on to Deripaska and others.

A particularly troubling example is the protracted negotiation over the Trump Tower Moscow project, in which President Trump was personally involved. In September 2015, the Trump Organization, acting through attorney Michael Cohen, restarted negotiations over a possible Trump Tower project in Moscow that had fallen through several years prior. Trump himself signed a letter of intent for the project in October 2015, on the same day as the third Republican primary debate. One of Cohen’s interlocutors on the deal, businessman Felix Sater, repeatedly raised the prospect of using the deal to enhance Trump’s electoral prospects. In January 2016, Cohen reached out to Russian officials in an attempt to contact Putin and secure support for the project, which ultimately resulted in an invitation for Cohen to visit Moscow to discuss. Cohen also raised the prospect of Trump himself visiting Russia to discuss the deal, once in late 2015 and again in spring 2016—a possibility that Cohen indicated Trump was open to if it would facilitate the deal. Neither trip ultimately came together. Cohen ultimately pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about how long into 2016 the Trump Tower Moscow project was negotiated and Trump’s personal knowledge of it.

There are other examples too. The Mueller report lays out in detail a sustained effort to obtain a set of emails which figures associated with the campaign believed hackers might have obtained from Hillary Clinton’s private server before she deleted them. The trouble is that it appears the emails didn’t exist. It has previously been reported that now-deceased Trump supporter Peter Smith went to extreme lengths to try and track down Clinton’s 30,000 deleted emails. According to today’s report, after candidate Trump stated in July 2016 that he hoped Russia would “find the 30,000 emails,” future National Security Advisor Michael Flynn reached out to multiple people to try and obtain those emails. One of the individuals he reached out to was Peter Smith. Smith later circulated a document that claimed his “Clinton Email Reconnaissance Initiative” was “‘in coordination’ with the Trump Campaign” specifically naming Flynn, Sam Clovis, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway. While the investigation found that Smith communicated with both Flynn and Clovis, it found no evidence that any of the four individuals listed “initiated or directed Smith’s efforts.” So essentially, a bunch of people in Trump’s orbit tried very hard to obtain stolen emails but came up empty. Mueller decided that chasing this particular ghost did not constitute criminal conduct.

There are also a series of events for which the special counsel’s office appeared to have seriously considered the possibility of bringing charges but ultimately determined that not all of the elements were met or that the evidence was otherwise insufficient.

Most seriously, the special counsel’s office examined possible criminal charges related to the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting in significant depth. The report’s account of the meeting between senior representatives of the Trump campaign and Russian attorney Natalya Veselnitskaya and other Russian government-linked individuals largely tracks with widely reported accounts. The meeting was proposed to Donald Trump Jr. in an email from Robert Goldstone, who said that the “Crown prosecutor of Russia ... offered to provide the Trump Campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia” as “part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump.” Trump Jr. responded that “if it’s what you say I love it” and arranged the meeting through a series of emails and telephone calls. Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner attended. The meeting lasted approximately 20 minutes and left the campaign officials frustrated because the Russians were not able to offer any concrete information and instead talked about adoptions and the Russian Magnitsky Act. The report indicates that Mueller could not establish that Donald Trump knew in advance about the meeting, and Trump’s submitted written answers say he has no recollection of learning of the meeting at the time.

Mueller ultimately concluded there was not sufficient evidence to pursue campaign finance charges against campaign officials regarding the Trump Tower meeting. He cites the government’s “substantial burden of proof on issues of intent,” raising questions about whether the participants knew the activity was illegal at the time as is required by the statute, and then explores whether Veselnitskaya’s offer of “dirt” on Hillary Clinton qualifies as a “contribution or donation of money or other thing of value” under campaign finance laws. While the report recognizes that opposition research could be considered a “thing of value,” no judicial decision has considered this issue. Rather than tackle that issue himself, Mueller declined to pursue criminal campaign finance charges.

At least one other section of the report clearly alludes to potential criminal conduct, but it is so redacted (presumably because of the ongoing Roger Stone indictment) that it is hard to say why the activities did not rise to the level of criminality. The report spends more than 20 pages detailing how the Russian intelligence services hacked the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and then coordinated with WikiLeaks to release the hacked information in ways that would hurt Clinton and help Trump. The GRU had initially set up its own websites, including DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, but later transferred many of the documents they stole from the DNC and campaign Chairman John Podesta to WikiLeaks “[i]n order to expand its interference” in the 2016 election. Julian Assange and WikiLeaks implied publicly that Seth Rich, a former DNC staff member who was killed in July 2016, was the source of the material in order to throw suspicion away from the GRU as the source of the material. But the involvement of the Trump campaign in the dissemination of the stolen material is largely redacted. It’s clear that Manafort, Gates, Jerome Corsi, Ted Malloch, and at least one other person—presumably Roger Stone, whose name does not appear in the redacted version of the report—were involved in some way. The document also seems to make an ominous reference to a phone call while Trump and Gates were driving to LaGuardia, after which Trump told Gates that “more releases of damaging information would be coming”—but the details of the call are redacted. The ongoing case against Stone for lying to Congress about his involvement with WikiLeaks is likely the source for much of the “Harm to Ongoing Matter” redactions in this section.

Despite the overwhelming number of contacts and ties, Mueller concludes this section by noting that the investigation did not “yield evidence sufficient to sustain any charge that any individual affiliated with the Trump Campaign acted as an agent of [the government of Russia] within the meaning of FARA.”

In light of the hundred pages the redacted Mueller report spends recounting the contacts between Russian government-linked individuals and entities, it is worth taking a moment to recall the frequency and certitude with which President Trump and members of his campaign told the American people that there had been no contact with Russians during the campaign:

Paul Manafort on ABC’s This Week, in response to a question of whether there were any ties between Trump, Manafort, or the campaign and Putin and his regime: “No, there are not. That’s absurd. And you know, there’s no basis to it.”
Donald Trump Jr. told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the Clinton campaign’s suggestion that Russia was helping Trump was “disgusting” and “phony,” noting, “Well, it just goes to show you their exact moral compass. I mean, they will say anything to be able to win this. I mean, this is time and time again, lie after lie.”
Kellyanne Conway, asked whether anyone involved in the Trump campaign had any contact with Russians trying to meddle with the election, responded, “Absolutely not. And I discussed that with the president-elect just last night. Those conversations never happened. I hear people saying it like it’s a fact on television. That is just not only inaccurate and false, but it’s dangerous.”
Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Fox News Sunday, in response to a question of whether there was there any contact in any way between Trump or his associates and the Kremlin or cutouts: “Of course not. Why would there be any contacts between the campaign?”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign, stating, “This is a nonstory because to the best of our knowledge, no contacts took place, so it’s hard to make a comment on something that never happened.”
Asked at a press conference whether he could say definitively that nobody on his campaign had any contacts with the Russians during the campaign, Trump himself said, “No. Nobody that I know of. Nobody … I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does.”
All of these statements were false, and they are only a few of the many examples of campaign officials making such comments.

Those contacts did not end with Trump’s election to the presidency. The Mueller report devotes a substantial number of pages to chronicling Russia’s post-election efforts to make contact with the Trump administration, through both official and unofficial channels.

Some of the contacts are not necessarily untoward. Russia’s official outreach efforts began at 3:00 am following the election, when a Russian Embassy official reached out to Trump campaign press secretary Hope Hicks with a message of congratulations from Putin. This ultimately led to the first Trump-Putin call just days later, on Nov. 14, 2016. A message of congratulations and phone call with a foreign head of state isn’t especially surprising or even necessarily inappropriate.

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However, shortly thereafter, Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak reached out to Jared Kushner to arrange an additional meeting, which took place on Nov. 30 at Trump Tower in New York. At that meeting, which Michael Flynn also attended, Kushner reportedly requested a good point of contact through which they could directly reach Putin. He also raised the possibility of receiving a briefing from Russian generals through a secure communications line at the Russian Embassy, though Kislyak rejected the idea. Kushner subsequently handed off further meetings with Kislyak to a subordinate—but did take a meeting with Sergey Gorkov, the head of the sanctioned Russian government-owned bank Vnesheconombank (VEB). The report notes conflicting accounts over the purpose of the meeting, with Kushner claiming it was diplomatic while VEB claimed it was related to possible business with the private company of which Kushner was CEO, Kushner Companies.

Flynn, meanwhile, continued to engage with Kislyak. In December 2016, he contacted Kislyak as part of an unsuccessful attempt to persuade Russia to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on Israel to cease settlement activities that the Obama administration refused to oppose. A few days later, Flynn—apparently acting on his own initiative, though the report notes that President-elect Trump and others may have been made aware that the call was happening—also spoke to Kislyak to discourage an escalatory response to the Obama administration’s imposition of economic sanctions over Russian election interference, the tack that Putin ultimately pursued. Flynn ultimately pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI regarding both interactions, as well as to false statements on a FARA filing regarding his prior work on behalf of Turkey.

At the same time, several self-described Russian oligarchs actively reached out to establish their own contacts with the Trump administration, in part in response to discussions with Putin. Two such oligarchs—Petr Aven and Kirill Dmitriev—worked through business associates in unsuccessful attempts to arrange a meeting with Kushner, though Dmitriev was able to successfully pass a paper on U.S.-Russian relations to him. Through another associate, George Nader, Dmitriev also made contact with Erik Prince, a financial supporter and close associate of the Trump campaign, though he had no official position. The three met in Seychelles in January 2017, but redactions in the Mueller report leave substantial ambiguity regarding the subject matter of their discussions. Prince claims that he reported on his meeting with Dmitriev to Trump campaign official Steve Bannon, but Bannon disputes this—a discrepancy, the report notes, that investigators were unable to resolve.

In the end, there was clearly criminality here: criminality on the Russian side and criminality on the U.S. side in lying about interactions with Russian actors. And there was also activity that was plainly innocent. Between those two extremes, there was also a large quantity of engagement that was apparently not chargeably criminal but that did involve covert attempts to engage with a hostile foreign government for the benefit of Trump’s campaign and business.

Whether one calls it collusion or calls it something else, it isn’t pretty.

Findings on Obstruction of Justice

The second volume of the report, focusing on obstruction of justice, begins with an explanation of one of the most confusing aspects of the report: Mueller’s decision not to make a determination one way or the other as to whether to prosecute or decline to prosecute the president of the United States for obstruction of justice. As Barr indicated, this is a fundamental deviation from the traditional role of the prosecutor. But the opening pages give important context for this choice by the special counsel’s office.

The introductory section is structured around on the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) guidance against indicting a sitting president—despite Barr’s suggestion to the contrary at a press conference just prior to the report’s release. Mueller’s analysis focuses on three main points. First, he accepts that the OLC opinion is binding on the special counsel’s office. He also writes that “a federal criminal accusation against a sitting President would place burdens on the President’s capacity to govern and potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct.” On this latter point, he cites the OLC opinion’s reasoning that a criminal prosecution of a sitting president would encroach on Congress’s constitutional duty to serve as the check on an unfit executive through impeachment proceedings. In other words, though subtly, Mueller is pretty clearly deferring—at least in part—to Congress: His office chose not to evaluate whether to bring charges against the president, he suggests, both because indictment of the president while he remains in office is off limits to him and because the decision regarding how to handle such conduct by a sitting president is, in any event, more properly left to the legislature.

At the same time, Mueller notes the OLC opinion’s conclusion that a criminal investigation of a president during his term is permissible and that the president may be prosecuted after leaving office. The special counsel’s office thus “conducted a thorough factual investigation in order to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary materials were available,” the report states, implying that this material will now be in the hands of any future Justice Department should it choose to bring charges against Trump when he leaves office.

Mueller also points to the Justice Manual, which holds that prosecutors should only assess whether a person’s conduct “constitutes a federal offense”: Given that the president cannot be indicted while in office and would not immediately have the opportunity to clear his name through a “speedy and public trial,” the manual counsels against making that initial assessment.

All this leads to Mueller’s key conclusion, quoted only in part in Barr’s initial letter: “if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. … Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” This reasoning makes clear the disconnect between Mueller’s approach to the obstruction investigation and that of Barr, who independently chose to evaluate the evidence against Trump and determine that it was not sufficient to establish an obstruction offense.

This is not, in short, a circumstance in which Mueller summed up all the evidence for obstruction and all the evidence against it and just couldn’t make up his mind—or decided to defer to the attorney general for judgment. Mueller’s decision not to reach a traditional prosecutorial judgment in no sense indicates that the evidence of possible obstruction by the president was weak—“No Collusion, No Obstruction,” as the president tweeted. To the contrary, the more time one spends with the obstruction section of the report, the more it suggests that the Mueller team believed the evidence of obstruction to be very strong.

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The special counsel describes some overarching factual issues and general conclusions that affect his entire obstruction discussion. The report notes that this case is “atypical compared to the heartland obstruction-of-justice prosecutions brought by the Department of Justice” for several reasons. First, “the conduct involved actions by the President” and any factual analysis of Trump’s conduct “would have to take into account both that the President’s acts were facially lawful and that his position as head of the Executive Branch provides him with unique and powerful means of influencing official proceedings, subordinate officers, and potential witnesses.” Second, as discussed in the first half of the report, “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,” but “does point to a range of other possible personal motives animating the President's conduct,” including “concerns that continued investigation would call into question the legitimacy of his election and potential uncertainty about whether certain events ... could be seen as criminal activity by the President, his campaign, or his family.” And third, “many of the President’s acts directed at witnesses, including discouragement of cooperation with the government and suggestions of possible future pardons, occurred in public view.” Though it’s unusual for obstructive acts to be public-facing, “if the likely effect of [Trump’s] acts is to intimidate witnesses or alter their testimony, the justice system’s integrity is equally threatened.”

Additionally, the special counsel writes that “it is important to view the President’s pattern of conduct as a whole” because it “sheds light on the nature of the President’s acts and the inferences that can be drawn about his intent.” The investigation “found multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations,” but which were “mostly unsuccessful … because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.” The team viewed the obstruction investigation as looking at two distinct phases: before Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, when Trump “deemed it critically important to make public that he was not under investigation”; and after he “became aware that investigators were conducting an obstruction-of-justice inquiry into his own conduct.” During this latter period, Trump “launched public attacks on the investigation and individuals involved in it who could possess evidence adverse to the President” and, “in private, … engaged in a series of targeted efforts to control the investigation.” In the special counsel’s view, “judgments about the nature of the President’s motives during each phase would be informed by the totality of the evidence.”

The report identifies and analyzes ten episodes of concern in the obstruction investigation.

conduct involving then-FBI Director Comey and Michael Flynn;
the president’s reaction to the continuing Russia investigation;
the president’s termination of Comey;
the appointment of a special counsel and efforts to remove him;
efforts to curtail the special counsel’s investigation;
efforts to prevent public disclosure of evidence;
further efforts to have the attorney general take control of the investigation;
efforts to have White House Counsel Don McGahn deny that the president had ordered him to have the special counsel removed;
conduct toward Flynn, Manafort, and a redacted individual (likely Roger Stone); and
conduct involving Michael Cohen.
Each episode includes a detailed set of factual findings and then analyzes how the evidence maps onto the criminal charge of obstruction, which requires (1) an obstructive act; (2) a nexus with an official proceeding; and (3) a corrupt intent. We have summarized all of the episodes and Mueller’s analysis of them under the obstruction statutes here.

For present purposes, the critical point is that in six of these episodes, the special counsel’s office suggests that all of the elements of obstruction are satisfied: Trump’s conduct regarding the investigation into Michael Flynn, his firing of Comey, his efforts to remove Mueller and then to curtail Mueller’s investigation, his campaign to have Sessions take back control over the investigation and an order he gave to White House Counsel Don McGahn to both lie to the press about Trump’s past attempt to fire Mueller and create a false record “for our files.” In the cases of Comey’s firing, Trump’s effort to fire Mueller and then push McGahn to lie about it, and Trump’s effort to curtail the scope of the investigation, Mueller describes “substantial” evidence that Trump intended to obstruct justice. Only in one instance—concerning Trump’s effort to prevent the release of emails regarding the Trump Tower meeting—does the special counsel seem to feel that none of the three elements of the obstruction offense were met. It is not entirely clear how Mueller would apply his overarching factual considerations, discussed above, to the specific cases, but he does seem to be saying that the evidence of obstruction in a number of these incidents is strong.

In addition to spelling out damaging accounts of Trump’s conduct in great detail, the report also contains a lengthy section addressing the legal arguments made in his defense. The report describes letters sent by Trump’s personal counsel to Mueller’s team detailing both statutory and constitutional defenses regarding 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2), the general obstruction of justice statute. On the statutory matter, Mueller’s team responds to the suggestion that the statute should be interpreted narrowly, to cover only “acts that would impair the integrity and availability of evidence”; Mueller, rather, adheres to the Justice Department’s view that § 1512(c)(2) “states a broad, independent, and unqualified prohibition on obstruction of justice.”

More interesting is the report’s constitutional analysis: Pursuant to a separation of powers analysis and contra the president’s lawyers and Barr’s own memo on the subject, Mueller takes the view that presidential actions taken under Article II authority can constitute obstructions of justice.

The argument is complex, but it is notable that Mueller emphasizes the role of the president’s obligations under the Take Care Clause as effectively harmonizing the corrupt intent requirement under the obstruction statutes with Article II: “the concept of ‘faithful execution’ connotes the use of power in the interest of the public, not in the office holder’s personal interest.” This suggests that “corrupt” activities are incompatible with good-faith adherence to the duties of the presidency such that prohibiting them cannot violate Article II. One interesting, if subtle, implication here is that a violation of the obstruction statute by the president thus necessarily violates the Take Care Clause—which links criminality under the statute to impeachability.

Barr’s Bad Day

The devastating nature of the report makes the performance of the attorney general in characterizing it at his press conference prior to its release a particularly inappropriate spectacle.

Not content to release a document that he had—contrary to many people’s expectations—not redacted beyond readability, he characterized it in a fashion that sounded remarkably like the president’s own spin. “The bottom line,” Barr concluded, in a statement that seemed designed to vindicate the Trump campaign’s claims of innocence, “After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, and hundreds of warrants and witness interviews, the Special Counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presidential election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those schemes.”

Barr had to elide a lot of Mueller’s actual findings in order to describe them this way. In addressing the Trump campaign’s possible involvement in the dissemination of hacked DNC materials through WikiLeaks, the attorney general concluded that the report found that no one associated with the Trump campaign had “illegally participated” in the dissemination, while noting that doing so would be criminal only if those involved in publishing them also participated in the underlying hacking conspiracy. Similarly, in discussing contacts between the Trump campaign and those connected with the Russian government, Barr observed only that Mueller “did not find any conspiracy to violate U.S. law,” without characterizing the actual interactions that the investigation uncovered. Instead, Barr focused on the narrow question of whether the Mueller investigation found that there was a criminal conspiracy.

Barr then moved on to whether President Trump had obstructed justice in his removal of former FBI Director James Comey and other interactions with law enforcement. Without elaborating, he noted areas of disagreement with the legal framework that Mueller presented in his report, but claimed that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein nonetheless applied it in concluding that “the evidence developed by the Special Counsel is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

Later, in response to a question, Barr emphasized that Mueller had avoided reaching a conclusion as to whether or not Trump had committed an obstruction crime on the basis of OLC’s view that a sitting president was not subject to indictment. Yet it’s hard to square this account with Mueller’s own description of his reasoning, which we described above. Barr went on an extended riff on his assessment of Trump’s state of mind in evaluating the potential obstructions described in the report, noting that “the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks.” Suffice it to say these factors loom larger in Barr’s assessment of the evidence than they do in Mueller’s account.

On their face, Barr’s remarks were not a neutral recitation of the report’s principal conclusions. Instead, by drawing broad conclusions from narrow legal analysis, the attorney general provided the president’s supporters with an abundance of sound bites and talking points for the weeks to come. Trump could not have asked for a friendlier summary of a deeply unfriendly document.

Barr, however, did himself no service, despite having done a reasonable job shepherding the report itself to public release. A great many people will be more skeptical of his future actions as a result of his words.

The Political Reaction

“I’m having a good day,” said Trump in his first remarks following the report. “No collusion, no obstruction.” Trump’s victory lap actually began hours earlier in a series of triumphant tweets. The president’s most ardent congressional defenders have repeated the line.

Senate Republicans have been more muted. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he looked forward to reading the documents. Senate intelligence committee Chairman Richard Burr praised Barr’s commitment to publicly releasing the report and said he was carefully reviewing the material.

Meanwhile, Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Mueller’s report painted “a disturbing picture of a president who has been weaving a web of deceit, lies and improper behavior and acting as if the law doesn’t apply to him.” The majority of their statement, however, was devoted to criticizing Barr, who they allege has “misled the public.” “It is imperative,” they said, “that the rest of the report and the underlying documents be made available to Congress and that Special Counsel Mueller testify before both chambers as soon as possible.”

For his part, House judiciary committee chairman Jerry Nadler agreed that Congress needs access to the unredacted report and underlying evidence. Nadler’s reaction to the unredacted report’s content, however, were unequivocal: “Even in its incomplete form, the Mueller report outlines disturbing evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice and other misconduct.” In noting Mueller’s decision not to exonerate the president, he added, “the responsibility now falls to Congress to hold the President accountable for his actions.” He said impeachment was “one possibility” but that it was “too early” to make that decision.

But impeachment is still a hot potato on Capitol Hill. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, “Based on what we have seen to date,” impeachment is “not worthwhile at this point.” He added, “there is an election in eighteen months and the American people will make a judgment.” (Hoyer later walked back his statement, saying “all options ought to remain on the table.”)

Political judgment is precisely what the circumstances require. Whether that judgment takes the form of an impeachment inquiry, an election campaign, or both is a question with which the political system will wrestle over the coming months. But no longer can the country escape the question of the acceptability of the president’s conduct by saying that it is under investigation, that we will wait until the facts come out, or that we won’t proceed on the basis of anonymous sources in news stories.

Mueller has put on the record a remarkable litany of opprobrious behaviors by the president and the people around him. He has also determined, for a variety of different reasons—legal, factual and prudential—not to proceed criminally against any more subjects. That leaves the judgment of those behaviors in other hands. ... t-analysis
Last edited by seemslikeadream on Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby RocketMan » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:53 am

And considering the Clinton campaign's role in promoting Trump as their preferred opposing candidate, to now be morally outraged about Wikileaks is pretty weak sauce.
-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.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:54 am

there is a Clinton thread just like there is a Yemen thread why do you ignore them?

never mind I understand

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

Postby RocketMan » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:57 am

You are drawing inferences and assuming I meant something I did not. But you are free to believe whatever you will.

I have always been nonplussed about this red rage and vindictiveness about Assange. People should just come out and honestly say they're happy about him being tortured and held as political prisoner. Instead of these coy insinuations that because he worked for Trump to win he's free for the the British and US states to do as they please.
Last edited by RocketMan on Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
-I don't like hoodlums.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:58 am

Putin, Trump, and a conspiracy decades in the making. #ActiveMeasures is on @iTunes. Watch it now ... 1419836915

President Donald Trump (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) arrive for a meeting in Helsinki, on July 16. The special counsel’s report details ways Kremlin intermediaries tried to woo those around Trump. | Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

New from me: After working to help Trump win, Putin wanted to cash in. So he encouraged his oligarchs to make contact with Trump’s transition team about sanctions, and it worked—One document drafted by Dmitriev made its way to Rex Tillerson via Kushner. ... 9069417472
Last edited by seemslikeadream on Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby RocketMan » Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:00 am

And one can always find a frame to support one's position...

-I don't like hoodlums.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:02 am


sure can
oh good now we're on to Obama again ..isn't there a Obama thread also?
Obama Clinton

Security contractor Erik Prince, brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, helped finance an effort to obtain Hillary Clinton's deleted emails in 2016, according to the publicly released version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report.


Yemen ....what's next the animal thread posts?
you are a laugh a minute....waiting for a post about Norte Dame..want to stick a post about that in here? Deflect any time fine by me odd that you would want to do that but you are within your rights so be my guest ..maybe I should post a ton of pics and you will avoid this thread :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

I didn't know Mueller report was about Obama and Clinton...are the republicans ever gonna give it up?

Mueller report confirms something wasn’t right in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania

“I’m fucked.” Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States

Full circle: Mueller Report notes Trump personally called Rosenstein after Comey firing and asked Rosenstein to *hold a press conference defending Trump*

He refused, and launched special counsel probe

Now that very probe ends with an AG who will hold pressers defending Trump.

“The President then called Rosenstein directly and said he was watching Fox News, that the coverage had been great, and that he wanted Rosenstein to do a press conference. Rosenstein responded this was not a good idea because.. if asked.. he would tell the truth...”
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:36 am

RocketMan » Fri Apr 19, 2019 7:00 am wrote:The IRA sounds much like the CIA-funded "pro-democracy NGOs" operating in Russia against its government.

Dutch took pictures of Russian hackers of US Democrats

Russia Biggest Cybersecurity Firm Head Arrested For Treason


But maybe we in the West should stop trying to figure out which Russian security service has been doing what to us. After all, the buck stops in the Kremlin. Putin is a hands-on leader—a KGB veteran himself—who calls the shots on just about everything from assassinations of alleged traitors to revenge against Western politicians he resents, like Hillary Clinton. As the widow of Alexander Litvinenko told me once, “with Putin everything is personal.”

This Russian Spy Agency Is in the Middle of Everything

Only a few years ago, the GRU looked like it might be dissolved. But Putin found new uses for it: covert war in Ukraine and ‘active measures’ that helped Trump get elected.

08.08.18 4:52 AM ET
Russia’s military intelligence agency, known as the GRU, is getting blamed for all sorts of things these days. Robert Mueller indicted 12 GRU officers for hacking into computers of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The GRU allegedly was behind the recent poisonings of four people in Britain, including former GRU officer Sergei Skripal, who survived, and a woman accidentally exposed to the powerful nerve agent used, who died.

The 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine has been laid at the door of the GRU. And recently there were reports that GRU hackers are directing their efforts at the U.S. power grid. Russian mercenaries serving in Syria and in Africa are largely drawn from GRU ranks. Three Russian journalists investigating their activities were murdered last month.

Igor Korobov, the head of the GRU, was singled out personally for U.S. Treasury sanctions in March, along with his organization, even though he had already been sanctioned by the Obama administration in late 2016 for interference in our elections.

Maybe Trump’s people felt they had to make the point after Korobov was invited, along with chiefs of other Russian secret services, to Washington, D.C., in late January—just weeks before the new sanctions were announced. The visit was supposed to be a secret, but the Russians leaked it. The others in attendance were Sergei Naryshkin, the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), and Aleksandr Bortnikov, director of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

“It was necessary to look each other in the eye and talk about issues that threaten us and the Americans.”

— Russian intelligence veteran commenting on secret visit of Russian spy chiefs to Washington.

Steven Hall, a former CIA station chief in Moscow, told Radio Free Europe it is always considered a “big political win” when a Russian spy chief meets one-on-one with his U.S. counterpart, because it puts them on equal footing.

The intelligence chiefs reportedly discussed with the Americans their mutual struggle against global terrorism, but it would be remarkable if the talks were limited to that subject. As a veteran of the FSB explained to a TV audience in Russia, “Many questions cannot be discussed by phone. It was necessary to look each other in the eye and talk about issues that threaten us and the Americans.”

Hall had a different take: “Given the political conditions in the United States now, it’s flabbergasting, to be honest. I can’t imagine who would have signed off on that.”

At home in Russia meanwhile, Korobov is riding high. In 2017, conceivably for his work helping to get Trump elected, Korobov was promoted to colonel-general, and Putin bestowed on him the highest state honor—Hero of the Russian Federation.

It is hard to believe that just a few years ago there was widespread talk in the Russian media about the GRU being on its last legs, perhaps even about to be disbanded. In November 2010, at a celebration of the anniversary of the founding of the GRU in 1918, GRU officers one after another toasted mournfully “to the bright memory” of their agency. The new 70,000-square-meter GRU headquarters, built in 2006 on Khoroshevskoye Shosse, was emptying out, they said.

By one estimate, of the 7,000 GRU officers working in the Soviet era, only 2,000 remained. This included a 40-percent reduction among GRU staff at foreign embassies. The GRU’s famed special combat brigades, the so-called Spetsnaz units, supposedly were going to be transferred to the regular army.

Lt. Gen. Dmitry Gerasimov, who had directed the GRU’s special-purpose brigades, told The New Times: “I am deeply convinced that the GRU special forces are completely devastated. Of the 14 brigades and two GRU training regiments, at best there are not more than four brigades left.” There was also talk of placing GRU signals intelligence systems under the command of the SVR, the foreign intelligence service.

“The chaos in Ukraine was a boon for the GRU.”

— Mark Galeotti, War on the Rocks

There were several reasons for the GRU’s decline. In the 2008 conflict with the Republic of Georgia, it failed to alert the Russian military that Georgia had received anti-aircraft missiles from Ukraine. Moreover, in Moscow’s intramural spy-vs.-spy rivalries, the GRU had its own channel of information on corruption and money-laundering by the Russian elite that represented a threat to the interests of the FSB and SVR.

According to this analysis, there was a shadow intelligence network, consisting of a clan close to Putin from the FSB, the SVR, and the regular police that was running the country. And this group did not like having a competitor agency capable of independent comparative analysis. Significantly, the chiefs of both the FSB and the SVR sit on Putin’s National Security Council, but not the GRU head, who reports only to the armed forces general staff.

Miraculously, however, the GRU bounced back after Igor Sergun became chief of the agency in 2011. According to security expert Mark Galeotti, writing in War on the Rocks, Sergun was “an able, articulate, and effective champion of his agency’s interests… He was particularly good at managing relations with Putin and those to whom the president listens.”

Sergun managed to have several Spetsnaz units transferred back to the GRU. These troops are roughly comparable to U.S. special operations forces. They perform reconnaissance, diversion, and combat operations in various hot spots where there is ethnic strife, such as Chechnya, where they were widely deployed.

Then came the Crimean invasion and the Ukrainian conflict.

As Galeotti pointed out: “The chaos in Ukraine was a boon for the GRU, which was one of the lead agencies both in the seizure of the Crimea in 2014 and the subsequent destabilization of the Donbas [Eastern Ukraine]. If the future means more ‘hybrid war’ operations, more interactions with warlords, gangsters, and insurgents, then this is much more the forte of the GRU than the SVR.”

Some members of GRU units became mercenaries in private military companies like the Wagner Group, under the command of reserve GRU Lt. Col. Dmitry Utkin. In 2014-15 Wagner was one of the main forces in battles fought on the territories of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine. Subsequently Wagner moved to Syria, where it has played a vital role as the Kremlin’s proxy force supporting Syrian government military offensives.

When some of its operatives were involved in an attack on oil installations controlled by U.S. allies on the ground, the Americans counterattacked from the air, allegedly killing several Wagner personnel. In April, a Russian reporter writing about Wagner operations and casualties died under mysterious circumstances, supposedly falling accidentally from the balcony of his fifth floor apartment.

“The order to fire the missile was approved by GRU Gen. Oleg Vladimirovich Ivannikov.”

Wagner also runs significant operations as far afield as the Central African Republic, where it bolsters government forces, negotiates with rebels, and guards valuable diamond, gold, and other mineral deposits—activities being investigated by the Russian journalists murdered there.

These ad hoc GRU operations have had some negative repercussions for Moscow. A joint Australian and Dutch investigation determined that the missile used to down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July 2014 originated from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile brigade, a unit of the Russian army from Kursk in the Russian Federation. The respected Bellingcat group has now found that the order to fire the missile was approved by GRU Gen. Oleg Vladimirovich Ivannikov, who supervised several divisions of fighters in Donetsk, including those of Ukrainian separatists and the Wagner Group.

Korobov got off to a rocky start when he assumed the post of GRU chief in early 2016. For starters, there were questions raised about the sudden death in January that year of his predecessor, Sergun.

Officially, Sergun died of natural causes in Moscow, but there were reports that he perished in Lebanon. The decision to appoint Korobov took an entire month, reportedly because of a conflict within the Kremlin elite over who should get the job from a choice of four candidates. A group that was allied with the FSB and the SVR, led by Sergei Ivanov (then head of the presidential administration and an old KGB colleague of Putin), wanted one of their own to head the GRU, while those representing Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu were pushing for Korobov.

The army clan, proponents of an aggressive, confrontational approach toward the West in Ukraine and elsewhere, won out, and within several months Ivanov would lose his Kremlin job.

It is said that Korobov, who specialized in strategic military intelligence, is a pragmatist who is not interested in Kremlin politics and just wants to get the job done, whatever that might be. So it must be unsettling for Korobov to be the only high-level Russian official with staff members under indictment in the United States.

In fact, back in 2006, at the opening of the new GRU headquarters, a journalist asked a GRU general whether U.S. elections were a topic that was followed by their intelligence analysts. The general responded, “That is primarily a task for the SVR. We follow [the elections] but to a much lesser extent than the SVR."”

So how to explain that 12 years later the GRU is in the forefront of election meddling in the U.S.?

According to Vadim Birstein, an authority on the Russian security services, “In the past, the ‘active measures’ deployed for decades by the KGB/SVR against the West referred mainly to HUMINT (human intelligence) and disinformation campaigns in the media, rather than cyber warfare operations which are a new level in intelligence wars.”

Although the SVR has cyber weapons—and in fact was reported to be behind the initial 2015 attack on the DNC under the guise of “Cozy Bear”—the GRU, Birstein says, “has more technical resources to conduct operations like those described in the Mueller indictment.”

A persistent question is how Mueller’s team got the information detailed in the indictment. As Alexei Venediktov, editor of Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) radio, noted: “When you read parts of the indictment you just freak out. Because they [Mueller’s team] know everything—time, place, login, password, career. And this supposedly just by remote methods.” As Venediktov and others say, the FBI must have had insider information.

Where did the leak come from? Putin obviously wants to know. When he spoke at a news conference with Trump in Helsinki on July 16, he suggested that Russia and the U.S. cooperate in the investigation by having members of Mueller’s team come to Russia and take part in questioning the GRU officers. (As The Daily Beast reported, this is not nearly as generous as it sounds. When British investigators looking into the murder of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko went to Moscow, they found themselves thwarted and put under surveillance.)

“With Putin everything is personal.”

— Marina Litvinenko, widow of murdered Alexander Litvinenko

Although it is the job of the FSB, as a counterintelligence agency, to find spies and potential traitors within the military, there is some speculation that FSB officers passed information about the GRU’s hacking operations to American intelligence.

Back in December 2016, by which time the GRU had been exposed, some high-level FSB officers in the FSB’s cybersecurity unit were arrested and charged with treason. (One, Sergei Mikhailov, was physically removed from a meeting with a black sack over his head.) The treason case has been kept a closely guarded secret, but Russian insiders suggest that Mikhailov and his colleagues were motivated by the long-standing rivalry between the FSB and the GRU to betray the GRU. According to some sources, money was also a motive.

Of course, the GRU is no stranger to defections and international scandal. The first major spy case to erupt after World War II, igniting the Cold War, occurred in 1945 when a GRU cipher clerk from the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa defected, taking with him reams of secret documents that showed the Soviets had an atomic spy ring in North America.

Then there was the infamous GRU Gen. Oleg Penkovsky, who tipped off Britain that the Soviets had missiles in Cuba—and was executed for treason in 1963. Much later, Sergei Skripal, who for several years cooperated with MI6, provided hundreds of names of his fellow GRU agents before he was caught in 2006 and charged with treason. In 2010 he was handed over to Britain as part of a spy swap, and earlier this year he was poisoned.

British authorities are now saying that the GRU carried out the U.K. murder attempt on Skripal, apparently because Skripal betrayed the agency. Investigators reportedly have evidence that the GRU hacked into the email of Skripal’s daughter, Yulia. But revenge against traitors is traditionally up to the FSB. Recall that the 2006 poisoning of Litvinenko in London, shown by the British High Court Inquiry to be the work of the FSB, was preceded by the July 2006 enactment of a new Russian law that specifically authorized the FSB to carry out assassinations abroad.

But maybe we in the West should stop trying to figure out which Russian security service has been doing what to us. After all, the buck stops in the Kremlin. Putin is a hands-on leader—a KGB veteran himself—who calls the shots on just about everything from assassinations of alleged traitors to revenge against Western politicians he resents, like Hillary Clinton. As the widow of Alexander Litvinenko told me once, “with Putin everything is personal.” ... everything


'Putin's Chef' Has His Fingers In Many Pies, Critics Say

Greg MyreJanuary 30, 20191:02 PM ET

In a 2006 photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) hosts U.S. President George W. Bush in St. Petersburg, Russia. At second right is Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as "Putin's chef." The U.S. has charged Prigozhin with running an Internet operation that interfered with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He's also been sanctioned for supporting Russia's occupation in Ukraine.

Sergei Zhukov/AP
In 2006, Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted a dinner for President George W. Bush and other world leaders in St. Petersburg, Russia. In a photo, the man standing behind them is the caterer, wearing a tux and a white bow tie. His name is Yevgeny Prigozhin.

His nickname is "Putin's chef." So what's the big deal about him?

"He epitomizes a real renaissance man in contemporary Russia, which is to say that he runs some very high-end restaurants," said Angela Stent, the head of Russian Studies at Georgetown University and author of the forthcoming book Putin's World.

Interesting. But what else does he do?

"He was the one running this Internet Research Agency, this troll factory in St. Petersburg that managed to mobilize thousands of Americans from 5,000 miles away to demonstrate and protest in the 2016 election," said Stent.

That gets your attention. And there's more.

Yevgeny Prigozhin (second right) shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, around his Concord Catering factory, outside St. Petersburg in 2010. The company has secured large government contracts to provide school lunches and feed the Russian military.

Alexei Druzhinin/AP
"He also runs Wagner, one of the largest mercenary private military groups in Russia," she added. "His troops are in Syria, they're in Ukraine, they're in a number of other places, where they are fighting in the Russian state's interest."

So he's got a lot cooking.

Tracking the key figures around Putin, and how they fit into the Russia investigation in this country, can be confusing.

Yet Prigozhin's name is worth knowing. He's burly and bald, at age 57. And while his name keeps cropping up, he's largely invisible — even in Russia.

"He doesn't have much of a public persona in Russia. Until very recently he was virtually unknown," said Dmitri Simes, who heads the Center for the National Interest, a think tank in Washington, D.C. "This is not a person who speaks at important political or business meetings. This is not a person who regularly appears on TV."

So where did Prigozhin come from?

He spent most of his 20s in prison on robbery, fraud and prostitution convictions. In the 1990s, he rebuilt his life with hotdog stands, which evolved into a catering business in St. Petersburg, Putin's hometown.

Yevgeny Prigozhin (left) serves food to Russian leader Vladimir Putin during a 2011 dinner at Prigozhin's restaurant outside Moscow.

Misha Japaridze/AP
"He proceeded to get a big break catering high-profile events, one with Vladimir Putin and French President Jacques Chirac in 2001," said Michael Kofman, who closely follows Russia for the U.S. government-funded research organization CNA. "Eventually, he got a massive contract for feeding the Russian military and the Russian armed forces, which is probably where most of his money comes from."

At a recent press conference, Putin was dismissive when asked about his putative chef.

"All my chefs are employed by the Federal Guard Service. They are all servicemen holding different ranks. I have no other chefs," Putin said.

Regarding the private military company, Putin added: "If they comply with Russian laws, they have every right to work and promote their business interests anywhere in the world."

Those interests extend to Syria. In a dramatic confrontation last year, Russian mercenaries tried to seize an oil facility that was held by the U.S military and its allies.

As it was unfolding, former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he wanted to find out who the attackers were and make sure they weren't part of the formal Russian army. The U.S. military contacted their Russian counterparts on a "deconfliction" hotline the two sides use to make sure they didn't shoot at each other in Syria.

"The Russia High Command in Syria assured us it was not their people," Mattis told Congress last year.

Once that was cleared up, Mattis said, "My direction was for the force to be annihilated."

And it was. The Americans say more than 200 Russian mercenaries were killed in withering airstrikes before they retreated from the one-sided fight near the eastern city of Deir el-Zour.


Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, in a dark suit, second from right, attends a meeting involving top Russian defense officials and members of Libya's National Army in Moscow on Nov. 7, 2018. The photo is taken from a video released by the Libyan National Army.

"They are hired mercenaries who fight for money," Kofman said of the Wagner fighters. He said the mercenaries are allowed to keep a percentage of what they capture, and that's why they targeted the oil facility.

"They thought they'd take it and the thing turned out to be a fiasco," he said.

Kofman and other analysts see Prigozhin as the man funding these ventures, though he may not be involved in the details. In addition, it's not clear how much guidance the Kremlin provides, but it may be limited to some general guidelines, according to analysts.

Simes, meanwhile, notes that many rich businessmen in Putin's orbit are often described as "oligarchs." He disagrees with this label, saying it suggests they have real political power, which they don't in Putin's Russia.

He describes the Putin-Prigozhin ties as "not a relationship of co-equals, not a relationship of two intimate friends, but somebody who knows Putin reasonably well, who benefited from that relationship and who is prepared to be of help when needed."

Because Prigozhin and others like him are not formally part of the government, the Kremlin can distance itself and deny they are acting on behalf of the Russian state.

However, the U.S. government has shown a strong interest in Prigozhin.

The Treasury Department sanctioned him in 2016 for supporting Russia's military occupation in Ukraine.

Robert Mueller's team indicted him last February, saying he used his catering company to fund the Internet Research Agency, which interfered in the 2016 election.

There's virtually no record of Prigozhin speaking publicly. But he did comment on the indictment, telling Russia's state-run Ria Novosti news agency, "Americans are very impressionable people. They see what they want to see. If they want to see the devil — let them see one."

There was a rare sighting in November, when a Libyan military delegation met their Russian counterparts in Moscow. A video of the meeting shows everyone in a military uniform — except one Russian, who's conspicuously wearing a business suit. The man is Yevgeny Prigozhin.

And in the latest twist, Reuters reports that hundreds of Russian mercenaries are now in Venezuela supporting Nicolás Maduro, the embattled president. The Kremlim denies this. ... ritics-say

Wait until Michael Tracey finds out ...

In an normal time, this entire footnote would be redacted. But FBI left this imaged servers -- plural -- unredacted for all the Single Server Truthers.


This person really should be named.


This detail wasn't in the GRU indictment.

Note: the report doesn't have all the comms between WikiLeaks and G20, at least not in unredacted form.
So the email hack and leak *wasn't* a DNC insider rouse after all?


FBI was investigating Flynn BEFORE calls with Kislyak


Michael Weiss

News to me: Joseph Mifsud, the nutty Maltese professor, was chums with a onetime employee of the Internet Research Agency:


And that person was in touch with the Russian Defense Ministry (and through it to the GRU), which is presumably how Mifsud learned that the Russians had hacked the Dems.
Image ... 8115354625

This is referenced in Carter Page's FISA application: he SOUGHT OUT RUSSIA to tell them he hadn't cooperated with the FBI.

Then tells FBI sharing info w/RU spies is good for the US.

I just can't understand why this guy was surveilled.

Mifsud's bona fides.

Maltese professor had link to Russian troll factory
Joseph Mifsud had link to campaign intended to amplify political discord in US

The Mueller report found evidence of Russian agencies intentionally sowing discord within the US political system. Photo: Shutterstock
Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud's "various Russian contacts" included a one-time employee of a Russian troll factory which ran social media campaigns designed to sow discord in the US, the Mueller report found.

The report, which looked into claims of Russian interference in the US election, established that one of Prof. Mifsud's Russian contacts in London had worked for the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Russian agency identified as carrying out the Russian interference operations identified by the investigation.

The report describes the IRA as running a social media campaign designed to provoke and amplify political and social discord in the United States.

Joseph Mifsud fostered 'various Russian contacts', the report said.
Joseph Mifsud fostered 'various Russian contacts', the report said.
It was based in St Petersburg and and received funding from Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhin and companies he controlled, the report found.

Mr Prigozhin is widely reported to have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, investigators added.

IRA's 'information warfare'

The IRA used social media accounts and interest groups to sow discord in the US political system through what it termed "information warfare."

The campaign evolved from a generalised programme designed in 2014 and 2015 to undermine the US electoral system, to a targeted operation that by early 2016 favoured Donald Trump and disparaged Hillary Clinton.

The IRA's operation also included the purchase of political advertisements on social media in the names of US persons and entities, as well as the staging of political rallies inside the United States.

To organise those rallies, IRA employees posed as US grassroots entities and persons and made contact with Trump supporters and Trump Campaign officials in the United States.

Dozens of IRA employees were responsible for operating accounts and personas on different US social media platforms.

Starting as early as 2014, the IRA's US operations included social media specialists focusing on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter

The IRA later added specialists who operated on Tumblr and Instagram accounts.

Initially, the IRA created social media accounts that pretended to be the personal accounts of US persons.

By early 2015, the IRA began to create larger social media groups or public social media pages that falsely claimed to be affiliated with US political and grassroots organisations.

More commonly, the IRA created accounts in the names of fictitious US organisations and grassroots groups and used these accounts to pose as anti-immigration groups, Tea Party activists, Black Lives Matter protestors, and other US social and political activists.

The Mueller report also found that Prof. Mifsud gave “inaccurate statements” about the extent of his contact with former campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, who was convicted in 2018 of lying to the FBI.

Who is Joseph Mifsud?

Prof. Mifsud worked within the Maltese civil service for several years, served as private secretary to then-foreign minister Michael Frendo and also headed the University of Malta's international office.

Two weeks before the 2013 election, he reappeared in Malta as a consultant for INTO-University Partnerships and held a meeting with then-Opposition leader Joseph Muscat. During the meeting, Prof. Mifsud said the company intended to set up shop in Malta with the intention of attracting some 3,000 foreign students to study here.

A profile by the Press Association described Prof. Mifsud as a vocal backer of Vladimir Putin.

While Prof. Mifsud appeared to have extensive ties to several important institutions in Russia, the Maltese native's academic credentials in Britain were far hazier, the profile said.

He held a professorial teaching position in the politics department at the University of Stirling in Scotland, according to officials there who said he took up the post in May.

However, he was not named on the university's list of experts and the university press office refused to say how often he was on campus. A reporter with the university's student newspaper had said he did not maintain an office there. ... ory.707717
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:28 pm

The right has hinted

The right has hinted that Mifsud was in fact a US agent sent to snare the Trumpkins. Strange that he’s been hanging with the Kremlin-supported Five Star Movement in Italy.


Missing Mifsud was hidden in Rome
Luciano Capone
The Russiagate investigation has ended, but Russiagate is not over. According to the conclusions of the investigation led by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, there was no collusion between Russia and Donald Trump. But many aspects of the story remain unclear. Mueller's report has not been published yet (it should be today), and it could reveal more details about Russia's interference in the US presidential campaign. Trump has instead called for the prosecutors to be investigated (who allegedly plotted against him).

One of the key turning points in the investigation happened in Italy. It is no coincidence that US Senator Lindsay Graham, one of Trump's closest allies and one of the leading critics of Mueller's investigation, has been visiting Rome over the last few days. There are many unanswered questions, one of the most important being: where is Joseph Mifsud? Il Foglio does not know, but it can reveal where he hid for seven months after disappearing: in Rome, in a rented flat paid by Link Campus University. Mifsud taught there, and Il Foglio understands that he owns 35 per cent of Link International, which Link Campus owns 55 per cent of (the remaining 10 per cent is owned by Roberto Lippi, domiciled in Bogotà, Colombia).

Who is Mifsud and why is he so important? Mifsud was a Maltese lecturer at Link Campus, the university where Italian Deputy PM Luigi Di Maio introduced the Five Star Movement's foreign policy manifesto. The Five Star Movement recruited two of its senior staff from among Link's lecturers: Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta and Deputy Foreign Minister Emanuela Del Re.

Mifsud is a central player in Russiagate. According to Mueller's investigation, Mifsud is “The Professor” who informed Trump's campaign manager at the time, George Papadopoulos, about the “thousands of emails” revealing dirt on Hillary Clinton that had come into Russian hands. This happened in April 2016, long before the Democrats discovered that their system had been hacked. Mifsud introduced Papadopoulos to figures close to Vladimir Putin, such as Ivan Timofeev, a member of the Russian International Affairs Council (a think tank founded by the Kremlin). Link Campus, the university founded by former Italian Minister of Home Affairs Vincenzo Scotti is a crucial place in this spy story, which resembles a Le Carré novel.

Mifsud and Papadopoulos met for the first time at Link Campus on 14 March 2016. On 31 October 2017, when the documents in the investigation file were made public, Mifsud was at Link Campus coordinating joint projects between the Italian university and the Lomonosov University in Moscow. Mifsud disappeared the day after and has not answered emails or phone calls since. His name has also disappeared from the website of the organisations he has been affiliated with. He is currently being sought by the Americans, the Russians and an Italian court. But nobody knows where Mifsud actually is. Link Campus might know but is unwilling to say. Mifsud lived in an apartment in Rome, in Via Cimarosa 3, owned by a Greek diplomat, and the rent was paid by Link Campus. Il Foglio spoke with several of Mifsud's former neighbours and understands that he moved in when he went underground. The rental contract expired last July or August and was registered to “Link International”: a company co-owned by Link Campus, with 30 employees and no financial statements available.

These new elements refute previous claims by Link Campus regarding its relationship with the Maltese academic. The university has repeatedly said that its relationship with “The Professor” was suspended in 2008 and resumed later when he was given the position of “visiting professor for 2017–2018”. Mifsud never actually held any lectures because his contract was terminated when the scandal came to light, and all contact with the university ended after November 2017.

“The university has no information on his whereabouts”, said Scotti. This assertion is incomplete, to put it mildly. Il Foglio's investigation last 11 April had already traced Mifsud's pivotal role in creating Link's international network. Mifsud coordinated a partnership between Link Campus and the Essam & Dalai Obaid Foundation (Edof), a foundation linked to the Saudi royal house, which gave birth to the Center for War and Peace Studies (it eventually shut down). Mifsud found a new shareholder, Stephan Roh, the owner Drake Global Ltd, who bought 5 per cent of the university. Finally, the Maltese academic spearheaded the agreement between Link Campus and Lomonosov Moscow State University (“the most important state-owned university in Russia”). Mifsud attended the ceremony for the signing, alongside Scotti and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Franco Frattini (who is also a lecturer at Link Campus). We now also know that Mifsud is one of Link Campus’ business partners and lived in a flat paid by the university – all the while being sought after by an Italian court.


Mifsud (al centro) alla Link durante la summer school in collaborazione con l’Università di Mosca

This version of events was confirmed by Link Campus. They initially said that our articles from April 2018 and 11 March 2019 “suggest to the reader that Link Campus played a role in these political scandals due to the academic relationship with Prof. Joseph Mifsud. This undermines the reputation of our university”. Vanna Fadini, president of the company that runs the university (GEM) confirmed that “when Mifsud was in Rome, we provided him with accommodation, as we generally do for our international staff”. According to Ms Fadini, a flat is a benefit granted to all 14 non-Italian lecturers at Link Campus. Fadini added that “the flat rental ended in January 2018, and the flat was returned to the owners after the usual six months required by law”. When asked about the meetings and exchanges with Mifsud regarding the flat, Fadini answered that “all the procedures to end the rental and return the flat were completed by our legal office transparently. We duly notified by email, to all the addresses he provided us. When we returned the flat, we found no personal items or documents of his”.

As to Mifsud being a shareholder of Link International (which Fadini happens to be the administrator of), she said that “Mifsud has carried out his work (with Link) at different times and in different ways, including through his being a shareholder in a company, Link International, whose purpose is to search for international students”. There are some peculiarities in this account. The number of employees at Link International is very high: 32 people work there, which is more than half the total number of employees at the university (59). This figure seems somewhat exaggerated when we consider that Link Campus enrols 300 students every year, according to the Department of Education. If we assume that 10 per cent of students are international (this percentage is way beyond the average at Italian universities), this means that Link International employs a staff member for every single foreign student enrolled. The second peculiarity is that Link International has never filed financial statements, according to the Italian Companies House. The third anomaly is that a purely academic activity such as selecting international students is outsourced to a company co-owned by private individuals such as Mifsud and the shareholder from Bogotà.

If this is considered normal, then the question is: why did Link hide its relationship with Mifsud, pretending that it barely even knew him? Mrs Fadini replied saying that “contrary to what you are saying, the university did not hide anything regarding its relationship with Mr Mifsud. I also think that the reputation of the university should not be damaged by its association with Mifsud on the basis of his alleged relationship with third parties that have nothing to do with the academic activities of the university or its research”. On this issue, we disagree. Mifsud was introduced to George Papadopoulos at Link Campus, the university where he taught. They met again in London in the following weeks, when Mifsud was accompanied by a young student from Link Campus introduced as “Putin’s niece”. When the scandal erupted, Mifsud went underground and for several months lived in an flat paid by a company co-owned by Link and Mifsud himself. The name of the university keeps re-surfacing, and the answers provided by its senior staff are too vague to safely assert that it has nothing to do with this international intrigue.

Moreover, another witness sheds light on this story. The book “The Faking of Russia-gate” is co-written by Swiss lawyer Stephan Roh, who owns 5 per cent of GEM (the company which manages Link Campus) and is Mifsud’s lawyer. Roh writes that he spoke to Mifsud over the phone on the “advice of the professor’s friends” on 13 January 2018, while visiting Link's main campus in Casale San Pio V, in Rome. In a conversation-interview reported in the book, Mifsud rejects all the accusations. When asked about why he disappeared, Mifsud said that “the head of the Italian secret services contacted the president of Link Campus, Vincenzo Scotti, and recommended that the Professor shall disappear and stay for some time in a safe locaton”. The authors write that the “Professor and his friends feared for his life”. It is unclear why the Italian secret services hid Mifsud and why they asked for Scotti's help. Everyone can make their own speculations. But the important issue is that, according to a Link shareholder, who also happens to be Mifsud's lawyer, the university played an active role in the disappearance of the Maltese professor, as part of an operation that has more to do with secret services than with academia.

Nobody knows where Mifsud currently is, and many suspect he is no longer alive. The last time anyone saw him was last May, according to the Associated Press, which was sent a photo of Mifsud by his lawyers. There has been no news since. The Italian government should probably be more transparent about an international spy story that has disrupted an allied country such as the US. Clarification should come from Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta and Deputy Foreign Minister Emanuela Del Re, who come from Link Campus. Ever since the scandal broke out and Mifsud disappeared, all roads lead to the university in Rome. Whoever wants to solve the Russiagate enigma – whether they believe that Mifsud plotted with the Russians to help Trump or that he conspired with Western intelligence services to weaken Trump – should look for evidence at Link Campus, the small university presided over by Vincenzo Scotti. ... me-250522/

When the “fundamental error” is the Special Counsel was not Alex Acosta


Mueller Redactions Raise Questions About Stone, Trump, and the “No Collusion” Claim
Tantalizing clues to an enduring Russiagate mystery.

Mother Jones; Alexey Agarishev/Sputnik/AP; Getty
No collusion, no collusion, no collusion. Donald Trump has manically embraced that mantra as if it were a life jacket for his entire presidency. But as with so many of his proclamations—My inauguration was the biggest; I’ve done more than any other president; I have the best memory; I know more than the generals—there may well be a tell in his favorite chorus. That is, a sign that what he has been worried most about is…collusion. And the just-released Mueller report provides a big clue—sitting within some of the most-redacted pages—as to what might have unnerved Trump about the investigation into interactions between his camp and Russia: Roger Stone.

The report shows the many ways Trump has lied about his team’s contacts with Russia and about Vladimir Putin’s attack on the 2016 election—an attacked aimed at helping Trump win the presidency. Trump lied to the public when he said as a candidate that he had nothing to do with Russia, though he had been privately negotiating to develop a major tower project in Moscow.

It’s all but impossible to read this passage and not get the impression that when it came to WikiLeaks, Trump’s stance was, “Get me Roger Stone.”
He lied repeatedly during the campaign, the report notes, when he denied Russia was waging information warfare against the United States. He lied months after the election when the news broke of the Trump Tower meeting—where Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian emissary in order to get dirt on Hillary Clinton supposedly generated by a secret Kremlin operation to help Trump. He cooked up a phony cover story claiming this meeting was simply about adoption policy. Yet Trump has never seemed worried about getting caught in any of these lies. He doesn’t ceaselessly shout, “No lies.”

The report does depict certain actions that could fall under the collusion rubric: notably, that Trump Tower meeting and Manafort’s furtive discussions with a business partner allegedly tied to Russian intelligence that involved advancing a policy that would give Russia control of eastern Ukraine. But, as expected, Mueller’s investigation did not yield instances of Trump huddling with Russian hackers or trolls and telling them how to penetrate the Democratic National Committee servers or how to best use Facebook and Twitter for their clandestine social media assault. Putin did not need assistance from Trump or the campaign to wage his secret war against American democracy.

So is that the reason why Trump has constantly shrieked, “No collusion”? He knew he did not directly conspire with the Russians and realized that if he made direct collusion the issue—rather than the Trump-Russia contacts that might have encouraged the Kremlin or his steady stream of denials that supported and amplified Putin’s we-didn’t-do-it disinformation—he could skate by?

Or might there be another reason he so loudly protested “no collusion”? Maybe because he thought he himself might have been involved in collusion.

Which brings us to Roger Stone.

Many of the Mueller report’s passages regarding the veteran dirty trickster who has long been an adviser to Trump were redacted because Stone’s case remains open, as he faces a trial in November on charges of lying, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice. But the report refers to incidents during the 2016 race—while WikiLeaks was dumping Democratic emails hacked by Russian operators as part of Moscow’s attack—suggesting that Trump, Manafort, and deputy campaign chief Rick Gates were in contact with Stone about WikiLeaks and its anti-Clinton actions.

In the summer of 2016, Stone was publicly claiming he was in direct communication with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange—he now says that was untrue. It’s not clear what Trump knew or believed about any interactions Stone may have had with WikiLeaks. But the report states, “Some witnesses said that Trump himself discussed the possibility of upcoming [WikiLeaks] releases [redacted].” The hidden portion of the sentence in all likelihood refers to Stone. (All direct references to Stone have been excised under the justification that revealing information about his case could harm this “ongoing matter.”) And when Michael Cohen testified to Congress in February, he asserted that Stone had informed Trump before WikiLeaks’ dump of Democratic emails at the Democratic convention that such a strike was coming.

Now look at the below passage from the Mueller report which obviously refers to the Stone case:

It’s all but impossible to read that and not get the impression that when it came to WikiLeaks, Trump’s stance was, “Get me Roger Stone.” And as the Mueller report notes, the Trump campaign “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts”—meaning the WikiLeaks dumps.

Stone’s relationship to WikiLeaks remains something of an open question. But it appears that Trump and his chief lieutenants believed Stone’s connection to Assange was real. Consequently, after the election, Trump would have had true cause to be concerned about Stone.

Trump presumably had not conspired with the Kremlin, but the Mueller report (and Cohen’s testimony) suggests Trump was in communication (directly or through aides) with his old pal Stone, who seemed at the time to have hooked up with WikiLeaks, a crucial player in Putin’s plot. Did Trump, Manafort, and Gates know exactly what Stone was doing with WikiLeaks (assuming his interactions with it were real)? Was he just kibbitzing? Was he providing advice to Assange? For all they knew then, Stone could have been fully collaborating with WikiLeaks, as it disseminated the material cyber-swiped by the Russians.

And if Stone was in cahoots with WikiLeaks, that meant there would be a straight line from Trump to a player in the conspiracy. In other words, collusion!

Whether or not Trump has feared that a focus on Stone would tie Trump to Putin’s clandestine operation, the Mueller report’s redacted passages about Stone do raise important questions. Did this political operative with a reputation for the underhanded activities actually provide the Trump campaign with inside information about WikiLeaks’ plans? What happened with Stone’s efforts to reach out to Assange and WikiLeaks during the campaign? Why was Stone publicly (and falsely) declaring during this stretch that the Russians were not behind the hacks? What did he and Trump discuss related to the WikiLeaks part in the of Moscow operation?

Mueller’s case against Stone has centered on allegations that Stone lied to investigators and Congress about his efforts in the summer of 2016 to communicate with WikiLeaks. Yet Mueller’s report casts Stone in an even more intriguing role. Was he really feeding Trump and his campaign useful information? Or was he bullshitting them about his access to WikiLeaks? For Trump, Stone could be the source of much worry. And Stone’s case is a reminder that even though Mueller has submitted his final report, there remain Russiagate mysteries yet to be explained. His trial might yield crucial information that is now withheld from the public. ... ion-claim/

Polly Sigh

Details of possible criminal activity in Mueller's report was not the entirety of his probe. The missing piece of the report is an FBI counterintelligence investigation that should set off alarm bells about our democracy & security.
by @jgeltzer @rgoodlaw

"A failure by political leaders to condemn the activities of a Trump campaign that openly welcomed Russian hacking and privately encouraged timely releases of damaging information about the campaign’s opponent would put our nation at further risk."

Details of possible criminal activity in Mueller's report was not the entirety of his probe. The missing piece of the report is an FBI counterintelligence investigation that should set off alarm bells about our democracy &…
Show this thread

NEW: FBI's counterintelligence investigation of the Trump team and Russia is ongoing. Officials are still looking into whether any Americans helped the Russians interfere in the 2016 election, or are still compromised by Russia.
by @KenDilanianNBC #Maddow


The Mueller Report doesn't cite the counterintelligence investigation or the FBI briefing Trump received, warning that Russia would try to infiltrate his campaign.
"[Which] tells me the ball is now & remains in the court of the FBI." -@Figliuzzi

NEW: FBI's counterintelligence investigation of the Trump team and Russia is ongoing. Officials are still looking into whether any Americans helped the Russians interfere in the 2016 election, or are still compromised by Russia…

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

Postby BenDhyan » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:12 pm

Fair assessment imho...

Mueller's done, and Dems should be too — because Trump is no Nixon

By Mark Penn, opinion contributor — 04/19/19 10:15 AM EDT 04/19/19 10:15 AM EDT

The walls were not coming down. They were not closing in. There was, at the end of the day, no evidence whatsoever of any collusion — and there was nothing but a president frustrated at being wrongly accused and wrongly investigated over a very effective hoax.

Most people don’t understand what it is to not only to be personally investigated for something you didn’t do but to have your friends, family members and associates placed in legal jeopardy over it. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team systematically targeted the people around the president, squeezing them like lemons, indicting them on mostly process crimes created by the investigation itself. They reviewed everyone’s emails, text messages, phone calls, bank statements — and yet, their conclusion on collusion was clear and definitive. It has to be believed.

I was there working with President Clinton in 1998 when he pondered whether to send missiles against Osama bin Laden but was concerned it would be viewed as “wagging the dog.” We missed bin Laden that day. It was symbolic of how everything in the White House was affected by the Monica Lewinsky investigation; it changed everything we did. And, yes, there was a good bit of cursing then, too.

The big difference between today and what happened in 1998 or during the Nixon era is that, at the end of the day, the Mueller investigators found no stained dress, no break-in, no hush money, no enemies list. There never was a crime, and what seemed far-fetched was simply that — this time, a duly elected president was investigated for a crime that never even existed. In fact, evidence is mounting that the investigation itself was launched on phony grounds.

And so, the screaming partisan antics of Democrats in the House are likely to set the Democratic Party back a decade if they do not get a grip on themselves. In partisan unison, with scripted talking points, they keep calling everyone else “partisan.” It simply does not pass the laugh test at this point.

But the problem is that Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) are congressmen from safe districts who are nobodies if they have no investigations to launch. It’s in the interest of their egos to keep it all going so that they can have daily press availabilities. And they are whipping up their political bases. It will take some Democrats of courage to turn this off and stop the abuse of going after the president’s financial records. These are the kinds of things Nixon was doing, and there is no justification for those in Congress to be doing exactly those things for which Nixon resigned from office — going after his political enemies.

As I predicted in earlier columns, the Mueller report was always going to try to paint a picture of obstruction of justice. It was a lot weaker than I thought it would be because the alleged acts of obstruction are nothing more than acts the president could have legally taken or ordered. While talking a tough game publicly and brooding in private, the president and his legal team gave unprecedented access to White House documents and personnel.

In fact, the event that triggered the appointment of the special counsel — the firing of former FBI Director James Comey — didn’t even merit much discussion in the report, raising again the question of why there ever was a Mueller investigation whose focus was Trump and his campaign.

Even if you believe Mueller should have been appointed given the swirl of questions kicked up about Russia, Volume 2 of the Mueller report should not exist at all, once investigators determined there was no collusion and they were not issuing any charges. Most likely it was a compromise by Mueller with his aggressive prosecutors, including former Clinton counsel, to get agreement on the report and its strong language on the lack of collusion. It was a bone for the Democrats that was unfortunate, as it would have been much better for the country had they simply said that a bewildered president contemplated some strong actions but, in fact, did nothing to impede the investigation. If anything, he waived executive privileges over witnesses and documents that other presidents have routinely asserted.

It’s time for Democrats and the country to move past the Russia collusion narrative, and for the media to ’fess up. If we are not going to respect the outcome of the Mueller report, then what was the point of the whole exercise? They found no collusion and they did not charge obstruction.

The cloud under which the president and his associates have lived for more than two years deserves to be lifted. The officials who launched this aborted investigation should be held accountable for their actions. And the country deserves a Congress focused, not on investigations, but on issues like health care, infrastructure and immigration.

Mark Penn is a managing partner of the Stagwell Group, a private equity firm specializing in marketing services companies, as well as chairman of the Harris Poll and author of “Microtrends Squared.” He also is CEO of MDC Partners, an advertising and marketing firm. He served as pollster and adviser to President Clinton from 1995 to 2000, including during Clinton’s impeachment.

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:17 pm

but Mueller is not done...who told you that?

OMG Mark Penn!

2 investigations ongoing connected to Mueller probe, 12 referred to other jurisdictions


a counter intelligence investigation

20 ongoing federal and state investigations
14 referred Mueller prosecutions
2+ ongoing counterintelligence investigations
1 pending impeachable felony charge in NYC
1 pending impeachable felony before Congress
100+ Congressional subpoenas coming

trump is no Nixon that's for sure much worse

House chairman: "I am begging the American people to pay attention to what's going on"

Natasha Bertrand

It’s possible that some or all of these topics are still being investigated by the FBI. Notably, while Mueller’s original mandate directed him to pursue both a counterintelligence investigation and a criminal probe, his report contains no classified information.

New from me: An Alfa Bank-Trump Org connection, Cambridge Analytica, the N.R.A...several lines of inquiry that Mueller & FBI had been pursuing went completely unaddressed in the final report. Others, like salacious tapes, were mentioned but not resolved: ... es-1283775

Mueller also revealed that foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information was often transferred to the FBI. "Those communications...between the Office and the FBI contain information derived from the investigation, not all of which is contained in this Volume."

And of course, as I mention, Mueller made 14 criminal referrals, only 2 of which are publicly known for now. (Cohen and Greg Craig) ... 6392632321

Elizabeth Warren

The Mueller report lays out facts showing that a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election to help Donald Trump and Donald Trump welcomed that help. Once elected, Donald Trump obstructed the investigation into that attack.

Mueller put the next step in the hands of Congress: “Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.” The correct process for exercising that authority is impeachment.

To ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways.

The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Apr 20, 2019 12:01 am

Imagine this:

You are Donald Trump.

You were born into a crime family. But you have... issues. You’re compulsive. Craven. Not too bright.
You were raised around mob bosses. Brilliant criminals. Roy Cohn. Tony Salerno. Even Costello, but no one’s supposed to talk about that.../1

2/...As Donald, you inherited your father’s carefully constructed laundering front for the mob. An empire - filled with graft and rackets that Cohn and Salerno and a generation of men all the way back to Luciano had leveraged politicians and other businessmen to build.

3/...As Donald, you are not bright enough to run it. You have no subtlety to keep it hidden from view. You are craven & lustful & so empty inside that you have to consume more & more of everything around you - trying to fill that void. Trying to outdo those brilliant criminals...

4/...It doesn’t take long before you, as Donald, burn through it all.
And there was something else happening in the underworld that helped to tip the scales.
The Russians were coming. Mobsters. Connected to the Kremlin.
They infiltrated our shores through our underworld...

5/...Through all the players & their rackets that Fred’s empire fronted for.
Now, you - as Donald - are rolled up by those Russian mobsters, who work with/for the Kremlin.
And then, they wash their money through you.
But they’re much smarter than even your dad’s masters...

6/...When the Russians roll you, they take everything. Leaving you filing for bankruptcy again & again - until no one else can touch you but the banks and people they control.
And then you’re owned.
And used however they see fit.
If they need you to be a pretend billionaire...

7/ maintain a facade for their laundering, then that’s what you are.
If they need you to front for their Saudi & Chinese partners (or maybe new masters?), then that’s what you do.
But, you’re still a fraud. A con. Broke.
And you still have that empty hole inside - that need.

8/If you are that person - Donald, well...
Imagine how damaging a Special Cousel probe would be. Imagine the threat of having who you really getting exposed by the very man, Mueller - & an entire team of prosecutors who’ve spent their entire careers hunting all your mob bosses -

9/ foreign and domestic.
Imagine knowing the entire world was going to find out that you, Donald, were an idiot con - owned by criminals - who burned thru your father’s empire.
You, Donald - who had a tv show, then a campaign, then a presidency, where you’d touted for decades..

10/...a version of yourself that was a complete and total lie.
Imagining all of that -
How far would you go to keep it all from coming out?
- End -

11/ CODA for the new followers, who will demand an answer as to why if all that is true, then why wasn’t he caught?
And you’re going to have to read that first tweet within this thread as well.

Lincoln's Bible

A little more on this, you say...?

"Dotard is a 'Bulger' Rat.
- SHORT THREAD - ... 6966693888
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Apr 20, 2019 4:31 pm

Seth Abramson

(THREAD) Mueller's *biggest* revelation is being ignored: the SCO confirms that in the weeks before the 2016 election, Trump believed Kremlin agents held videos of him from a 2013 Moscow trip that could end his candidacy. Please RETWEET this thread widely.

1/ It doesn't require proof of criminality beyond a reasonable doubt to impeach a POTUS, though we have that now as to obstruction—an impeachable crime that can't be indicted because Trump is president—and campaign finance felonies (ditto). A national security risk is sufficient.

2/ Counterintelligence investigations of Trump remain outstanding—their findings haven't yet been disclosed, though they eventually will be to the House and Senate intelligence committees—but Mueller's report does include corroborated information that is *central* to those cases.

3/ A president *must* be impeached if—in counterintelligence terms—there's "high confidence" intel that he is "compromised" by a foreign power, meaning not that he is necessarily an agent of any foreign power, but that he cannot uphold his Oath of Office (and loyalty) to America.

4/ The primary ground under which a POTUS could be impeached for an inability to uphold his Oath of Office— and secure the national defense—that *isn't* criminal is if he has been "compromised" by a foreign power via blackmail that provably puts him in thrall to a foreign power.

5/ In January 2017, a major BBC investigative report confirmed the following: the CIA believes Trump to be compromised by the Kremlin due to the Kremlin's possession of "multiple" tapes, from "multiple" locations/dates, involving Trump and sexual conduct.

6/ Almost immediately thereafter, I passed on this internationally available BBC report to the American public because—as a curatorial journalist—that's one of the main things I do: find reliable international reporting that links up to domestic stories in a way that's critical.

7/ To the extent you've ever heard me called a "conspiracy theorist," it was this *BBC* reporting—which American media for some reason attributed to me—that earned me that erroneous title. So I wrote a book, PROOF OF COLLUSION, with all the British reporting on Kremlin kompromat.

8/ PROOF OF COLLUSION has an entire chapter on Kremlin kompromat called "Kompromat," and it amasses a wealth of internationally reported information on Trump being blackmailed by the Kremlin that was *all* from the reliable overseas major media outlets that many of us read daily.

9/ These outlets found ten witnesses (inclusive of—but not limited to—dossier witnesses) who could confirm the brief section of Steele's dossier that indicated the Kremlin was holding video blackmail material ("kompromat") over Trump's head. Most Americans never saw the evidence.

10/ The evidence included BBC-confirmed witnesses from the Ritz Moscow who saw a "row" in the lobby of the Ritz on the night in question—as a group of women argued with the hotel staff about whether they would need to sign in or give their names in order to go up to Trump's room.

11/ The evidence included a whistleblower from within Trump Org who confirmed the events, as well as multiple Ritz staff members besides the American staying at the Ritz who saw the row. The evidence included contradictory stories given by Trump and his bodyguard, Keith Schiller.

12/ The evidence included the fact that the best friend of a key member of Trump's Moscow entourage runs Moscow's largest "dark web" brothel; the evidence included actual dollar-amounted payoffs to Trump's bodyguard Schiller and much more—including spycraft evidence—of the event.

13/ The presumption of *all* these stories was that the blackmail had been coordinated by Trump's Kremlin-connected Moscow business partner, Aras Agalarov, the man who runs the "Crocus Group" (a Russian business entity) and is known for being Putin's favorite real estate builder.

14/ Vladimir Putin had *personally* given Agalarov Russia's highest civilian honor just 10 days before Trump arrived in Moscow to be surreptitiously taped by Agalarov. (NOTE: major-media citations for all these statements are in PROOF OF COLLUSION, which I here merely summarize.)

15/ One of the witnesses who spoke to British media said it was Agalarov's son who arranged for the women to go to Trump's room—a Ritz Moscow room often used for surveillance of foreigners that Trump himself (quite oddly, very *publicly*) *admitted* was wired for sound and audio.

16/ Emin Agalarov is close with—and was in Trump's entourage with—Artem Klyushin, whose best friend, Konstantin Rykov, runs Moscow's largest dark-web brothel and has boasted of being involved in a conspiracy with Klyushin whose details he wouldn't reveal but which involved Trump.

17/ We know that, in fall 2016, Trump's fixer for video, audio, or (well) *women* who could harm Trump was Michael Cohen. And we know that after the Access Hollywood tape, many Republicans wanted to withdraw their support from Trump. A Kremlin tape would have ended his candidacy.

18/ We know that in October 2016, Trump was lying to America about whether he had any ties to the Kremlin—even as he was planning the unilateral removal of all sanctions on Russia for its illegal annexation of Crimea—a policy whose basis or utility to the U.S. he never explained.

19/ Trump's foreign policy in October 2016 was a *trillions*-of-dollars giveaway to Putin that'd *bless* its unilateral European military aggression, too. So if the Kremlin held *blackmail* on Trump in October 2016—and could end his candidacy—he was a fully compromised candidate.

20/ Here's what Mueller found:

1) The videos the CIA, BBC, and this writer said existed *did exist*;
2) Trump *knew* they existed;
3) Trump's "blackmail fixer"—Cohen—negotiated with a Kremlin agent their suppression in October 2016, when they could have ended Trump's candidacy.

21/ This is *the* top story in America, indeed the *most significant story* in U.S. political history: a President of the United States with a historically pro-Russia foreign policy was being actively and knowingly blackmailed by Russia in the lead-up to his election—and *still*.

22/ That Trump and Cohen *discussed these tapes* suggests *they believed*—as did the Kremlin agent they were dealing with—that they existed, and that the Kremlin was (through an intermediary) reassuring Trump that the Agalarov-held (Kremlin agent-held) tapes would be suppressed.

23/ So Trump was being blackmailed; *knew* he was being accurately blackmailed; knew that blackmail could—at that moment—*end his candidacy*; *hid* that blackmail from the country; and was secretly advancing a plan to benefit the Kremlin to the tune of *trillions* at that moment.

24/ And all of this *confirms* that Trump *believed the tapes to be damaging enough that he needed to keep them suppressed*—which means he is *being blackmailed right now by the Kremlin*, as all Rtskhiladze did was stop the *flow* of those videos. They *still exist fully intact*.

25/ Mueller *only* put "high confidence" intel in his Report—so we *know* US law enforcement holds that Rtskhiladze was *telling the truth* about the videos. And *no* US president can stay in power—avoid impeachment—if they are compromised. So impeachment is *mandated* here. /end

NOTE/ "Rumored" appears in the story twice:

1) FROM CNN, as they're worried about being attacked for reporting CIA, BBC and SCO intel just as I was;
2) FROM RTSKHILADZE, but in a way that makes no sense—i.e. he may have said "rumored," but he also *acknowledged* the tapes exist.

NOTE2/ In other words, RTSKHILADZE was saying that he "stopped the flow" of the *actual tapes* which had been (at that point) "rumored" to exist—by which statement Rtskhiladze, acting as a Kremlin agent (which Agalarov also is) was confirming the tapes to be authentic and extant.

NOTE3/ There's *not one revelation in the Mueller Report* as important as this one, as it *confirms* Trump was compromised by the Kremlin not just by his lies about the Trump Tower Moscow deal (themselves blackmail material), but *hard evidence* that would've ended his candidacy.

NOTE4/ I'm ultimately OK with the fact that my reputation took a hit for two years because, unlike me, US media refused to acknowledge a BBC report, but now that Special Counsel Mueller—whose work even Trump has called "honorable" in the past—has said it, media *must* report it.

NOTE5/ What you can do—as reader and citizen—is (a) RETWEET my pinned tweet, so that media can no longer ignore this top-line result of the Mueller Report, and (b) TWEET AT MEDIA the name "Rtskhiladze" and ask them if they only reason they won't say it is they can't pronounce it.

PS/ The term "national security impeachment" should be on the lips of *every voter and politician*. We do have other crimes—at least two—now confirmed to add to any articles of impeachment, but *national security* is more important than all else. Impeachment is *mandatory* now.

REFERENCE/ In June 2017, this is how The New Republic covered my *retweeting of a BBC story*. (The very story I linked to in this thread.) When I asked @newrepublic to correct its story to say it wasn't my "theory" but a BBC report, they refused. *That's* what's wrong with media.

REFERENCE/ At the time The New Republic called me a "poet," I hadn't written new poetry in years—but *was* an attorney in good standing with state and federal bars who'd previously been a criminal investigator, and I *did* teach journalism and pre-law courses at an R2 university.

REFERENCE/ This isn't about me, but about why and how this story many of you are just hearing about now got buried—and why. I post these REFERENCE tweets so that anyone asking, "How could this be true if I never heard of it before?" will see *how* these stories just... disappear.

PS2/ My hope is that everyone read in full the link I provided in the very first tweet in this thread. If not, you will find there Trump's denial (which, after 9,000+ lies, journalists only include for legal reasons, not for the truth of the matter); an erroneous CNN statement...

PS3/ ...saying that there's "no indication" (evidence) of the tape existing, which I didn't repeat here because BBC, CIA, Guardian, and numerous reports cited in my book confirm it false; and then an odd statement by Rtskhiladze about something he heard that he didn't tell Cohen.

PS4/ Rtskhiladze told prosecutors something *not* reflected in the hard evidence they have, which calls into question its credibility *and* whether Rtskhiladze believed it: that while the tapes exist, they in some way were "faked." There's no evidence Trump believed that, either.

PS5/ If the best evidence that Trump isn't compromised that Trump has is an oral statement *contradicted by Rtskhiladze's email* and—to be candid—illogical on any of a number of fronts, I think Congress should *definitely* hold a public hearing on the claim to address it head-on.

UPDATE/ Rtskhiladze is a Soviet-born US citizen who was one of Trump's partners in a $250 million deal in the former Soviet republic of Georgia during the presidential election season. Nixing Trump kompromat was critical to that deal—and Trump's reputation—surviving the election.

UPDATE2/ Rtskhiladze now says that Mueller lied about him, the sort of desperate "you lie!" claim against a US law enforcement official reporting damning evidence about Trump with high confidence that—with due respect to Rtskhiladze—it basically *guarantees* Mueller has it right.

UPDATE3/ Because Rtskhiladze is a US citizen, we should expect Congress to *immediately* set an urgent national security hearing at which he appears under oath to swear he never had knowledge of the tapes he privately told Cohen he did. He should then be indicted if/when he lies.

UPDATE4/ Moreover, since Rtskhiladze has now made public representations about what *Cohen* believed about the tapes, Congress should call Cohen to testify *in detail* about his interactions with Rtskhiladze *and* his pre-election conversations with Trump about Russian kompromat.

UPDATE5/ Note that the actual existence of the tapes doesn't matter: if US intel briefers told Trump in August '16 to be on the lookout for attempts to blackmail/pressure him from Russia, and he *believed* that had happened in October and hid it, we're done here—he's compromised. ... 2566427654
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Apr 20, 2019 6:28 pm



We're back! Thanks to my yoga instructor for helping me get through the Mueller Report ...

Anyway: Really functional information flow in the WH:

Someone (Individual 1?) > Hannity > CoS


Remember: multiple witnesses believe Trump knew of the June 9 meeting ahead of time. But when the failson-in-law tries to remind pops about it (in a meeting in the private residence), Trump tells him not to show him the proof.

2 points:

1) The president was worried about these emails leaking AFTER HANNITY ALREADY KNEW ABOUT THEM.

Because if Hannity knows it's not like the press knowing.

2) The idea to obstruct justice by withholding the emails came from the President.
Note, this March 13, 2018 interview, which came in the wake of Hicks admitting she told white lies for the President and announcing her resignation, was previously unknown.

Hicks was in transition out of the WH at this time, but technically still employed there.

Two things

1) It's not clear Kushner stayed in the June 9 meeting long enough to hear the "adoptions" pitch.
2) Again, Trump not wanting to be told details about a meeting he likely knew about.

Trump committed what he considers "the ultimate sin" in attempting to deny the June 9 meeting.

Again, a pretty big counterintelligence detail left out of the report.

Trump's statement (which might be Putin's statement) is even more stupid and damning that Jr's, which is saying something.


Hicks' very plausible excuse for why she suggested they'd suppress the emails -- that she was just channeling Trump -- was made in her later interview, after she had already resigned.


Again, this grand jury redaction hides the details of why Jr wasn't interviewed (or, if he was, whether he invoked the Fifth).

One more instance where the Report is silent about Putin's interactions with the President while he was working on the adoption lie.

So much of the discussion about things that Jefferson Beauregard Sessions refused to do (!!!) are things that William Barr, alleged institutionalist, has already agreed to.

Side note: I can't *wait* to write up my narratological analysis of this report, and not just so I can show off the value of a CompLit PhD.

What's lovely about this attempt by one of Trump's lawyers to correct the NYT (false) claim that McGahn told the President he'd quit rather than fire Mueller is that McGahn was, in part, refusing to correct his own false PR.

What is the Constitutional significance of the President's personal lawyer calling the lawyer for the WHCO and telling him his client (that is, the WHCO) cannot resign before a meeting where he's going to be chewed out?


A lot of people have commented on Trump's complaint that his "real lawyer" WHCO took notes, but in case you haven't seen it yet.

Mueller adopts a somewhat different standard for when the President "directs" something with the WHCO than he does for Trump's personal lawyer.

In their soft threat to Flynn's lawyers, Trump's lawyers (Dowd, probably), suggested it would raise NatSec issues if Flynn implicated the President.

That's ... rather interesting, constitutionally.

Cohen told Trump he wished Trump Org had assistants as good as Dmitry Peskov's.

I've said that when Jr took that June 9 meeting he thought cozying up to Russia might be worth $300M.

Correction: because he's a dumbass, he might have thought it'd be worth $1B.

Mueller was still shoring up details about Trump Tower Moscow 3 days before "finishing" this report.
Mueller hit a wall on Jay Sekulow suborning perjury because of the JDA, including convos he had with other JDA participants (so Don Jr and Ivanka).

Also, anyone tracking how many of Trump's lawyers have had to lawyer up themselves? Trump is like a pyramid scheme for the Bar.

In addition to discussing the Pee Tape that may or may not be superfake as opposed to just fake, Cohen closed out the Trump Tower deal.

One thing "the JDA" (aka the President's lawyer) took out of Cohen's statement was a reference to contacts with Russian officials.
This is important background for the dispute over whether the President "directed" Cohen to lie: Mueller didn't review all of the changes that Trump's lawyer would have made.

Jay Sekulow: Don't tell Congress the President was pursuing a $1B real estate deal that required the personal involvement of Putin.

Jared Kushner's statement had appeared, at the time, to be an attempt to cement a lie, and this would reinforce that possibility (esp since Abbe Lowell helped edit Cohen's statement).
Also: no comment here abt Don Jr matching Cohen's lies.

Explanation that Mueller got permission to investigate Essential Consultants bc it was getting money from RU-backed entities is not redacted as an ongoing thing.

But parts of that discussion were redacted when Cohen's warrants were released a month ago. ... -peddling/
Seems highly likely that Robert Costello is one of the names of referred prosecutions between Cohen and Craig in the appendix (the other likely being Corsi, though maybe not).

The Report doesn't say this, but this is more obviously a lie than most of Trump's other contemptuous non-answers.


The Report also strongly suggests that Trump's public comments after he learned Cohen had cooperated on Trump Tower were more honest than the sworn comments made to Mueller.

This is the significance about follow-up questions to POTUS. They gave him an opportunity to correct his answer, but he declined.

The tweet cited in this redacted passage is this one, lauding Stone's refusal to flip on Trump.

Glad Rudy gets credit for contradicting the sworn statement of his client.
This reference -- to Cohen's attempt to set up a meeting with Putin in 2015 -- is more significant in retrospect, as its removal may have come from the JDA (AKA, Trump).
Mueller notes that when Congress passed the obstruction of justice statute Barr reinvented, they specifically invoked Watergate.

Interesting invocation of family members here.

I feel like this language abt presumption of regularity may be here to pre-empt Barr's attack on the investigators.

Having finished my first detailed read, it is utterly clear that Barr's decision to weigh in was a usurpation of Article I authority.

This is an impeachment referral AND a referral for prosecution once Trump is out. ... 7238763521

Ryan Goodman

Barr '18 memo: "if a President...commits any act deliberately impairing the integrity…of evidence, then he, like anyone else, commits the crime of obstruction"

Mueller report: Trump "ORDERED" White House Counsel to create false record to impair "ongoing investigation." 1/


2. Greatest criminal exposure for Trump: ordering White House Counsel to create false record (record denying POTUS tried to fire Special Counsel).

Mueller's conclusion: incident satisfies all three elements for obstruction.

(and Trump made "repeated efforts." McGahn refused.)

3. Klobuchar: "You said that a president deliberately impairing the integrity or availability of evidence would be obstruction. Is that correct?"

Barr: "Yes"

Klobuchar: "You wrote…that if a president knowingly destroys or alters evidence that would be obstruction?"


Ryan Goodman Retweeted Kyle Griffin
4. Here's the video of Klobuchar and Barr exchange via @kylegriffin1 ... 3922905089



Klobuchar: "A president persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction. Is that right?"…

P.S. Don McGahn's lawyer, April 19, 2019:

The details in the Mueller Report are “accurately described.”
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They could still get him out of office.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:05 am

Ted Lieu

Looks like @realDonaldTrump committed a felony campaign finance violation. His co-conspirator Michael Cohen is in prison in part for violating the same law.

We at @HouseJudiciary are going to win the subpoena litigation. And then Hope Hicks cannot avoid testifying publicly.

FBI believed Trump was closely involved in hush-money scheme, unsealed documents show

The release of the previously redacted documents came one day after the judge in the case disclosed that prosecutors had concluded their probe into Cohen’s campaign finance crimes.

July 18, 2019, 11:20 AM CDT

The FBI believed then-candidate Donald Trump was closely involved in a scheme to hide hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who claimed to have had an affair with Trump, court documents from the closed campaign finance case against former Trump-fixer Michael Cohen show.

The documents, released Thursday, describe a “series of calls, text messages, and emails” among Cohen, Trump, Trump campaign aide Hope Hicks, Keith Davidson — an attorney for Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford — and David Pecker, an executive of the company that published the National Enquirer.

“I have learned that in the days following the Access Hollywood video, Cohen exchanged a series of calls, text messages and emails with Keith Davidson, who was then Clifford’s attorney, David Pecker and Dylan Howard of American Media Inc. (“AMI”), the publisher of the National Enquirer, Trump, and Hope Hicks, who was then press secretary for Trump’s presidential campaign,” an FBI agent investigating the matter wrote in the released documents.

“Based on the timing of these calls, and the content of the text messages and emails, I believe that at least some of these communications concerned the need to prevent Clifford from going public, particularly in the wake of the Access Hollywood story,” the agent said.

The unsealed documents say Hicks called Cohen at 7:20 p.m. on Oct. 8, 2016 — the first time she had called him in weeks — and that Trump joined the call seconds later. The conversation lasted four minutes. Hicks and Cohen spoke privately after Trump left the call and, after that, Cohen phoned Pecker. Moments after that conversation ended, Cohen received a phone call from Howard, the chief content officer of American Media. After that call, Cohen rang Hicks back, ended that call, and then took another from Pecker. At 8:03 p.m., according to the unsealed court documents, Cohen called Trump. They spoke for eight minutes.

Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics

The two would speak again Oct. 26, the day when Cohen would wire $130,000 to an escrow account that would eventually be sent to Daniels' attorney as payment for the agreement to secure her silence. The first call was at 8:26 a.m. for three minutes, and the second came at 8:34 a.m.

The last phone call between Trump and Cohen described in the documents took place at 11:48 a.m. on Oct. 28 and lasted about five minutes. Later that day, Cohen's and Daniels' attorneys confirmed that the paperwork for the agreement for Daniels' silence was complete.

The FBI agent wrote in the document that the information came from a review of Cohen's telephone records and under warrants to obtain Cohen’s emails. In addition, the documents say the FBI questioned Hicks about her involvement.

In a statement from jail, Cohen said, "As I stated in my open testimony, I and members of the Trump Organization were directed by Mr. Trump to handle the Stormy Daniel' matter, including making the hush-money payment."

"The conclusion of the investigation exonerating the Trump Organization's role should be of great concern to the American people and investigated by Congress and the Department of Justice," Cohen said.

He added that a statement a day earlier from Jay Sekulow, Trump's personal attorney, was "completely distorted and dishonest."

Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, accused Sekulow of having "issued a misleading and false statement" and asked him to answer two questions.

"Is it not a fact that SDNY prosecutors found President Trump to have directly and coordinated the commission of felony involving campaign finance federal laws?" Davis wrote in a statement. "Is it not also a fact that upon his loss of purported immunity as President of the United States, he is subject to arrest, incarceration and trial for that trial?"

On Wednesday, Sekulow said, "We are pleased that the investigation surrounding these ridiculous campaign finance allegations is now closed," adding, "We have maintained from the outset that the president never engaged in any campaign finance violation."

The release of the previously redacted documents comes a day after the federal judge in the case disclosed that prosecutors had concluded their probe into Cohen’s campaign finance crimes and ordered the release of search warrants tied to the case.

Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and fixer, is serving a three-year prison sentence for a slew of crimes, including breaking campaign finance laws by hiding payments to Daniels and another woman who also claimed she had an affair with Trump.

"The campaign finance violations discussed in the materials are a matter of national importance," Judge William Pauley III said in court papers, denying the government's request for limited redactions. "Now that the government’s investigation into those violations has concluded, it is time that every American has an opportunity to scrutinize the materials."

Last August, Cohen admitted to making the illegal payments to Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal at Trump's behest to silence them ahead of the 2016 election.

Trump has denied the affairs.

The New York probe has long been viewed as potentially perilous for Trump and his associates. The judge's disclosure is the clearest indication yet that federal investigators have concluded their investigation of possible campaign finance crimes involving Cohen and likely any of Trump's other business associates or family members. ... d-n1031246

Adam Klasfeld

And we're live. #CohenFiles


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The materials say that Cohen exchanged "a series of calls, text messages, and emails" with Daniels' atty Keith Davidson, David Pecker and Dylan Howard of AMI; Trump and Hope Hicks.



The day after the Access Hollywood video dropped, Cohen received a call from Hope Hicks, the first such call in weeks. Trump joined into it. Hicks and Cohen spoke privately after; immediately after that call, Cohen called Pecker.


Day after Access Hollywood tape, per doc:

7:39 pm: Flurry of calls between Cohen, Pecker and Howard.
7:56 pm: Cohen calls Hicks for two minutes. Pecker calls him right after for two-minute conversation.
8:03 pm: Cohen calls Trump, speaking for nearly eight minutes.


9:13 p.m.: Text message from Howard to Cohen.

"Keith will do it. Let's reconvene tomorrow."

An apparent reference to Stormy's lawyer.


Same screenshot shows that Cohen and Howard's communications went well after midnight the next day.

3:31 a.m.: Cohen texts Howard, "Thank you.
"Eight minutes later": Cohen texts Howard that "Resolution Consultant LLC" is entity he formed week ago.

Day Two after WaPo publishes Access Hollywood tape:

10:58 a.m.: Howard texts Cohen and Davidson: "Keith/Michael: connecting you both in regards to that business opportunity. Spoke to the client this AM and they're confirmed to proceed with the opportunity."

Feds: Stormy deal


"AMI was also involved in a payment to model Karen McDougal." #AlwaysReadTheFootnotes

Three days later...

8:54 a.m.: Cohen texts Pecker, "I need to talk to you."
9:06 a.m.: Pecker texts Cohen, "I called please call me back."

No call records. They chatted on Signal, the encrypted messaging app, per feds.


So commenced a flurry of activity from Cohen to sort out paperwork to dissolve one Delaware shell company, Resolution Consultants LLC, and open another Delaware shell company, Essential Consultants LLC, the hush-money payment conduit, per feds.


Nov. 4, 2016: WSJ publishes story alleging National Enquirer "Shielded Donald Trump" from Karen McDougal's allegations.

Howard responds to Cohen:

"We just need her to disappear," referring to McDougal.


Cohen on then-forthcoming WSJ reporting:

"He's pissed," referring to Trump, authorities believed.

Howard: "I'm pissed! You're pissed. Pecker is pissed. Not much we can do."


Still Nov. 4, 2016, minutes later...

9:03 p.m.: Hicks calls Cohen, for two-minute conversation.

9:11 p.m.: Cohen calls Howard, 5 minutes.

9:15 p.m.: Hicks calls Cohen, nearly 7 minutes.

9:32 p.m.: Cohen texts Pecker, "The boss just tried calling you. Are you free?"


9:50 p.m.: WSJ store drops and Howard and Hicks both send Cohen links.

Next morning, Nov. 5, 2016...

7:35 a.m.: Cohen texts Hicks, "So far I only see 6 stories. Getting little to no traction."

Hicks responds, "Same. Keep praying!! It's working!"

Cohen: Even CNN not talking


Adam Klasfeld

Verified account

22s22 seconds ago
Updating both stories now for @CourthouseNews.

Read the files to learn the panic--there's no other word for it--that ensued in the Trump campaign and AMI after the Access Hollywood tapes and WSJ revelations.

A blow-by-blow, minute-by-minute accounting of crisis management. ... 7167884288

Hope’s in play should be interesting

Oh now we know why Hope didn't want to testify ...

USA v. Cohen
Criminal Case New York Southern District Court, Case No. 1:18-cr-00602-WHP ... a-v-cohen/

Michael Cohen Files Implicate Trump, Hope Hicks and David Pecker
ADAM KLASFELDJuly 18, 2019

MANHATTAN (CN) – When the first batch of Michael Cohen search-warrant materials became public, the files disclosed evidence that President Trump’s former fixer secretly worked for a foreign government.

The new materials released on Thursday proved no less significant, detailing the actions Cohen took after the release of the “Access Hollywood” video threatened to derail Trump’s campaign. Within days of the release, according to the warrants, Cohen exchanged a “series of calls, text messages and emails” with Trump; his then-press secretary Hope Hicks; the National Enquirer’s David Pecker; and Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Keith Davidson.

Detailing Cohen’s illegal hush-money payments to two women, the unsealed pages dispensed with the veiling of “Individual-1.”

“As set forth below, there is probable cause to believe that Cohen made an excessive in-kind contribution to the presidential election campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump in the form of a $130,000 payment to Stephanie Clifford, an individual who was rumored to have had an extramarital affair with Trump, in exchange for her agreement not to disclose the alleged affair,” the document states.

Michael Cohen leaves his Manhattan apartment building to head to Otisville prison in Upstate New York on May 6, 2019, to serve a three-year term. (AP photo/Kevin Hagen)
U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III ordered the release of the information a day earlier, rejecting the government’s request to protect the privacy interests of third parties.

“The campaign finance violations discussed in the materials are a matter of national importance,” Pauley wrote. “Now that the government’s investigation into those violations has concluded, it is time that every American has an opportunity to scrutinize the materials.”

In March, the government released a trove of hundreds of meticulously documented pages of search warrant materials used to justify the judicially authorized raids of Cohen’s home, office and hotel suite in April 2018.

This story is developing… ... id-pecker/

Tim O'Brien

Now that what everyone knew is confirmed -- "Individual 1" was President Trump -- it would also be good for the public to know the extent of Bill Barr's involvement in the SDNY's investigations of Michael Cohen's payments to Stormy Daniels.

Flynn juggled Trump campaign role with foreign lobbying, jurors told
His foreign lobbying role has been central to the case against Bijan Rafiekian, a former business partner.

By JOSH GERSTEIN07/17/2019 03:10 PM EDT

Michael Flynn’s foreign lobbying role during the 2016 election has been central to the case against his ex business partner. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Michael Flynn was actively involved in his firm’s Turkey-related lobbying in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election, while he was also serving as Donald Trump’s top foreign policy adviser, jurors were told Wednesday at the trial of Flynn’s ex-business partner.

Flynn’s foreign lobbying role during the 2016 election has been central to the case against Bijan Rafiekian, who is on trial for secretly working as an agent of Turkey in the U.S. Flynn’s consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, was hired during the election to publicly disparage U.S.-based Turkish cleric, Fetullah Gulen, that the Turkish government blames for orchestrating an attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

On Wednesday, Michael Boston, the manager of the Turkey efforts at Flynn’s firm, testified that Flynn was on an October 7, 2016, conference call where the Turkish businessman who commissioned the $600,000 project complained then-candidate Trump wasn’t being supportive enough towards Turkey or doing enough to expose Gulen.

Jurors saw Boston’s handwritten and typed notes from the conversation.

“Republican Presidential candidate has not defended subject's home country publicly. He should specifically ask questions about subject's operations and funding,” said one memo recounting the feedback from the Turkish businessman spearheading the project, Ekim Alptekin.

Prosecutor John Gibbs asked Boston what Flynn’s relationship was with the GOP candidate at that time.

“He was working on … Trump’s campaign,” replied Boston, a retired U.S. Army Reserve officer hired by Flynn Intel Group to oversee the hastily-executed project aimed at prompting the U.S. to extradite or deport Gulen, who has lived in Pennsylvania for two decades.

Prosecutors trying the case against Rafiekian in federal court in Alexandria, Va., did not dwell on indications that the $600,000 contract may have been intended, at least in part, to influence candidate Trump and a potential future Trump administration.

However, earlier Wednesday, jurors heard more testimony to support that notion. Retired FBI agent Brian McCauley, who was working on the project, said when he attended a September 2016 meeting in New York involving Flynn and various senior Turkish officials, Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavosolgu began the session by mentioning the ongoing U.S. election campaign.

“I remember the foreign minister wished Gen. Flynn and Trump good luck in the election and that he wished the Turkish government would be working closely with the new administration,” said McCauley, who once held a top FBI post dealing with international matters.

Rafiekian was indicated last December on two felony charges: acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government in the U.S. and conspiring to break that same law and provide false information to the Justice Department in a Foreign Agent Registration Act filing belatedly submitted in 2017.

McCauley recounted to the jury that early in the project he was told by Rafiekian that he had come up with a way to avoid filing under FARA, and to instead file under another law that allows for less detailed public reports, the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

The ex-FBI official said Rafiekian said: “The General wants me to file with DOJ, but I have a better idea.” McCauley said it involved filing with either Congress or the Commerce Department, but he was not certain.

Rafiekian said it was important that the project remain “under the radar to avoid detection by Tony Podesta and other members of Congress who are favorable to Gulen.” Podesta was a high-profile lobbyist but has never been a member of Congress.

After apologizing to the women in the courtroom, the ex-FBI agent testified that he emphasized in very blunt terms to Rafiekian that it would be unwise to try to get around the foreign-agent law.

“I told him, “I wouldn’t f--- around with that,” McCauley said.

Retired FBI agents that the Flynn firm hired to investigate Gulen and his followers said they were uncomfortable with some of the requests made by Rafiekian and others involved with the project. McCauley, who was paid $5,000 to attend the New York meeting, said that on a train ride there, Rafiekian asked about getting hold of classified FBI information on Gulen.

“He asked me if I had access to records against Gulen….FBI classified records,” McCauley said. “I said, ‘No, I don’t. I’m retired….I no longer have that access.”

McCauley said he gathered evidence linking Gulen to financial fraud and immigration issues, but faced requests to look into terrorism links. The ex-FBI official said made clear from the outset that only the FBI itself should be conducting terrorism investigations. He said he also declined requests to conduct visual and audio surveillance of Gulen supporters in the U.S.

McCauley said at one point Rafiekian asked him to meet with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and tell him Gulen is a terrorist.

“I would not commit to that,” the former FBI agent said. “I refused…I wasn’t going to compromise myself by saying something like that.”

McCauley also said Alptekin, the former head of the Turkish-U.S. business council, made clear he wanted new, derogatory information on Gulen. “I’m looking for dirt,” the FBI agent quoted Alptekin as saying.

Another witness, Grant Miller of lobbying and PR firm Sphere Consulting, said he attended a meeting where Alptekin made a similar pitch for negative, even salacious, information about Gulen. Alptekin “made a reference to the TV show, ‘Scandal.’ He had sort of a more Hollywood version of what FIG’s work was,” Miller said.

Prosecutors also emphasized that Rafiekian stressed the need for secrecy surrounding the project, instructing participants to communicate via the encrypted messaging app Signal and a similar service for email, Virtru.

“He said he wanted to keep Flynn Intel Group and our work non-disclosed,” Boston said.

To underscore the desire for secrecy, prosecutors called freelance journalist David Enders, who was hired to produce a documentary about Gulen that was never completed. Enders said that a few weeks before the election, he reported to a Dupont Circle-area hotel to videotape interviews with Turkish citizens who offered comments critical of Gulen. Aspects of the arrangement were unusual. Enders said a former CNN anchor, Rudi Bakhtiar, did the interviews, but didn’t know who she was interviewing before she arrived. The questions for the interviewees were prepared by Rafiekian, said Enders.

Enders said Rafiekian stressed not to draw attention as he moved his equipment into the hotel. “I was asked to do it in multiple trips so as to be discreet,” said the journalist, who’s now based in Beirut and testified under subpoena. “He did indicate he didn’t want Flynn Intel Group connected to what we were doing.”

Defense attorney Mark MacDougall suggested there was a simple explanation for the secrecy: the election and the polarizing figure Flynn had become, particularly after his Republican National Convention speech for Trump.

One key point of contention in the case involves an op-ed published under Flynn’s name on the website of The Hill newspaper on Election Day 2016. Prosecutors claim it was part of the Flynn Intel Group’s work for Alptekin and, in turn, Turkey. Rafiekian’s lawyers insist it was not part of that project.

Miller testified about receiving an urgent, election-eve message from Rafiekian about placing the op-ed immediately — no later than the following day. The Flynn partner’s initial plan was to give it to Fox News, but that fell through. Rafiekian then proposed the New York Post or the Drudge Report. Early the next morning, Miller began trying to find a place for the opinion piece. “The Hill was the only option where we felt that we could get it posted today,” he said.

Miller did say that Rafiekian claimed the op-ed was not part of the broader project Sphere was engaged for, but prosecutors emphasized that the themes and narrative seem to be drawn directly from the Gulen-focused assignment FIG was pursuing.

On cross-examination, Miller acknowledged that trying to keep a client’s identity secret isn’t unusual in the lobbying and PR world.

“There nothing illegal about that,” defense attorney Stacy Mitchell said.

“No,” Miller replied.

Mitchell also suggested Flynn was trying to help the Trump campaign, rather than Turkish interests, when he published the op-ed. “General Flynn had been using the method of op-eds throughout the campaign,” the defense lawyer said, introducing at least seven the general issued during 2016.

Jurors are getting brief glimpses of some political aspects of the case without much explanation. On Wednesday, jurors saw notes indicating that Alptekin wanted the Flynn group to explore Gulen’s connections to the Clinton Foundation. Neither side delved into the alleged links, which Flynn also raised in his Election Day op-ed.

While Flynn’s role has been a prominent topic at Rafiekian’s trial, he is not charged in the case. As part of a plea deal cut in 2017 with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, the government agreed not to prosecute Flynn for anything related to the Turkey-focused lobbying.

In the deal, Flynn pleaded guilty to a single count of making false statements to the FBI during his brief tenure as Trump’s first national security adviser. But he also conceded to making false statements and omissions in the belated foreign-agent filing.

In the filing, Flynn’s firm reported that it was hired by Inovo BV, a Dutch firm controlled by Alptekin, the Turkish businessman. But prosecutors say the influence campaign was directed by senior Turkish officials.

Flynn’s lawyers now say he didn’t closely review the foreign-agent filing and didn’t intentionally lie about the effort. Prosecutors viewed that as a shift from his previous position and dropped him as a witness for Rafiekian’s trial.

Prosecutors are expected to wrap up their case against Rafiekian on Thursday, giving the defense the opportunity to start calling witnesses. It’s possible the defense could call Flynn, but at the moment that looks unlikely.

Alptekin, who was also charged in the indictment last December, has publicly denied the project was connected to the Turkish government. He has not been taken into custody and is believed to be living in Turkey.

While the witnesses said Alptekin was repeatedly critical and dismissive of what the Flynn Intel Group did, he told the Wall Street Journal in 2017 that he was impressed with the work. “They did a great job,” Alptekin said. ... ng-1418837
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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