Jared Kushner

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Jared Kushner

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:34 pm


Michael Flynn (left) and Jared Kushner Photo credit: DIA and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Editor’s note: Martin J. Sheil is a retired branch chief of the IRS Criminal Investigation division.

When media pundits discuss the potential legal problems arising from Jared Kushner meeting with Russian officials, they often cite the Logan Act, an ancient law that has never been successfully applied. There is, however, an entirely different — and potentially more realistic — approach to investigating and possibly prosecuting President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser-for-everything.

The key question is this: Was the point of the December 2016 meeting between Kushner, then a private citizen, Sergey Gorkov, Chairman of Vnesheconombank (VEB) and Sergei Kislyak, Russian ambassador and reputed spymaster, to discuss evading sanctions imposed against Russia for its annexation of Crimea?

If so, did Kushner violate any laws, and could he be prosecuted at this time?

The short answer is maybe, and it depends on all the facts and circumstances, much of which are unknown at this time.

Let’s take a somewhat different approach here as to how a prosecutor might look at some of Kushner’s actions and project how an investigation, and potential prosecution of Kushner, for attempting to circumvent the economic sanctions under which VEB was operating, might result.

History Lesson
The talking heads on cable news periodically posit the potential of prosecuting folks like Michael Flynn and Kushner for violating the Logan Act, which was passed around 1799. It essentially bars private citizens from negotiating with foreign powers in disputes with the US. This antique law has not been dusted off in a long time and was likely flawed from its onset.

The Logan Act was passed by a Federalist Party-dominated Congress in a snit after Dr. George Logan, who belonged to the aptly named Democrat-Republican party, traveled to Europe on his own to give European leaders a piece of his mind in opposition to pending Federalist legislation with which he disagreed. Congress decided to teach Logan a lesson and passed the Logan Act barring private citizens from negotiating with foreign powers on their own. Unfortunately for the Federalists, it was found that you can’t retroactively prosecute a violator since there was no law in place at the time of Logan’s activity.

The Logan Act simply does not work as a potential prosecutive instrument with regard to addressing Kushner’s surreptitious and highly suspect communications and meetings with Kislyak, and Gorkov. Only one prosecution has been brought in the 218-year existence of this statute. Prosecutors don’t think it works.

Sergei Gorkov, Sergey Kislyak
Sergei Gorkov, chairman of VEB (left), and Sergey Kislyak, Russian Ambassador to the US. Photo credit: Chechais / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0) and Joel Kowsky / NASA / Wikimedia

So if prosecuting Kushner in 2017 under the Logan Act is not any more viable than prosecuting Logan was in 1799, what statute should DOJ and the special prosecutor be looking at?

The answer is the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which is the primary law under which the US sanctions programs are issued. This federal law was signed by President Jimmy Carter on December 28, 1977.

IEEPA authorizes the president to regulate commerce after declaring a national emergency in response to any unusual and extraordinary threat to the US which has a foreign source. In this case, the relevant parts are as follows:

“It shall be unlawful for a person to violate, attempt to violate, conspire to violate or cause a violation of any license, order, regulation, or prohibition issued under this chapter.” (emphasis added)

Criminal Penalty:

“A person who willfully commits, willfully attempts to commit, or willfully conspires to commit, or aids or abets in the commission of, an unlawful act described in subsection (a) shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $1,000,000 or if a natural person, may be imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both.” (emphasis added)

The US has successfully levied huge fines on banks and corporations that tried to evade federal sanctions on foreign countries.

A list of recent IEEPA offenders and their penalties is as impressive as it is informative:

1. In 2014, BNP Paribas & Commerzbank AG were required to pay almost $9 billion & $285 million respectively to resolve investigations into concealed transactions involving sanctioned entities.

2. In 2015, Schlumberger Oilfield Holdings Ltd., the world’s largest oilfield services company, paid a $237 million settlement and negotiated a criminal plea wherein DOJ charged a unit of Schlumberger with conspiracy to violate sanctions imposed against Iran & Sudan.

3. On 3/18/17, ZTE, a giant Chinese Telecommunications company, plead guilty to criminal charges of violating US sanctions on North Korea & Iran and was required to pay $1.2 billion

What got banks into trouble was so-called wire transfer “stripping.” This means that before performing a wire transfer, the bank removes pertinent information such as customer names and/or addresses to avoid economic sanctions violation detection.

If Kushner wanted to further US collusion with Russia in circumventing economic sanctions, either in Russia or Syria, concealment of any American involvement would certainly be required. VEB, which is the favorite bank of Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as that of Russia’s oligarchs, would be more than capable of stripping the identity of any American individuals involved.

In the case of the Trump campaign’s off-the-books meetings with Russians, we know that Flynn had at least 18 undisclosed communications with Sergey Kislyak prior to Trump’s inauguration. At least one of those discussions with the Russian ambassador reportedly concerned economic sanctions on Russia. Flynn lied to Vice President Mike Pence, saying that his conversation with Kislyak did not address economic sanctions, and was eventually fired as a result. Later it was discovered that Flynn did not disclose his travels and contacts in Moscow, nor his receipt of approximately $45k from the Kremlin-backed RT television network in Russia in December of 2015. Furthermore, it was found that he lied to the DOD about his contacts and the foreign payments.

As part of Russia’s punishment for its annexation of Crimea, VEB was placed under sanctions in July 2014. The bank suffered extensive economic losses from the sanctions and Putin was compelled to bail out VEB with over $20 billion in government subsidies.

Vladimir Putin, Sergei Gorkov
Vladimir Putin meeting with Sergei Gorkov in February 2017. Photo credit: Government of Russia / Wikimedia

According to multiple media reports, it has recently come to light that Flynn arranged a meeting at Trump Tower in December of 2016 (prior to inauguration) with Kislyak and Kushner. Shortly after this meeting another meeting was arranged by Kislyak with Kushner and Gorkov. In January the secret Ukraine peace plan was delivered to Flynn’s desk by Trump attorney Michael Cohen and, according to recent media reports, the State Department began plans to revoke economic sanctions against Russia.

VEB translated closely, means “Bank of Foreign Economic Activity.” Putin overhauled VEB in 2007 and took over as Chairman of the Board in 2008. According to DOJ, VEB was used as a cover for Russian spy Evgeny Buryakov, who attempted to recruit NYC residents as intelligence sources for Moscow. Gorkov graduated from the training course at FSB (the Russian intelligence service that used to be the KGB) in the 90s and was the VP of the government-controlled Sberbank before joining VEB. Gorkov’s boss at Sberbank was Herman Gref, who was close to Putin. Gref recommended to Putin that Gorkov be put in charge of VEB. Putin promoted Gorkov in January 2016. Gref introduced Trump to numerous oligarchs in 2013 at the Miss Universe contest that Trump sponsored.

Putin viewed VEB as a primary economic development vehicle for Russia. Large volumes of oil monies were deposited into VEB and profits soared early on in the second decade of the 21st century according to available media reports. Russian oligarchs were encouraged to deposit their plunder into VEB. But the bottom fell out of oil and gas prices in 2014. All the financial institutions in Russia were hit hard and VEB came close to a full crash.

Secondarily, 2014 saw the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Crimea which created an international economic backlash, with the US and other countries imposing economic sanctions on Russia.

Sanctions hurt much of the Russian finance sector by barring individual Americans and US companies from buying the debt of Russia’s financial institutions which really limited them from raising money. So to finish painting the Russian financial picture in 2014 — the price of their main export oil had dropped precipitously; deposits in their financial institutions were evaporating; loan repayments were dropping and their economy was hanging in the balance.

Jared Kushner, Air Force One
Jared Kushner arriving in Baghdad, Iraq, April 3, 2017. Photo credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Russians had ample motive to talk to Kushner. Kislyak, the veteran diplomat/spymaster knew that he might be able to compromise Trump’s inexperienced son-in-law. Gorkov, on the other hand, is desperate to resuscitate VEB economically while maintaining VEB’s historical intelligence function.

But what’s in it for Kushner? Before we examine his motives, let’s review what has been revealed in the media in recent days with regard to Kushner’s contacts with Kislyak and Gorkov:

1. Kushner met with VEB while he was still trying to find investors for a large 5th Ave. office building owned by Kushner companies.

2. Hope Hicks, a White House press person, stated “that the Kushner Tower project was NOT discussed during the meeting” and a WH official said in a statement released to the media, “that Kushner took the meeting with Kislyak and Gorkov, as part of his role as the official primary point of contact with foreign government & officials.”

3. White House press spokesman Sean Spicer said “Kushner was a conduit to leaders until we had a State Department.”

4. CNN reported that VEB announced that the meeting with Kushner “revolved around Kushner’s businesses and not as a representative of Trump.”

5. Reliable sources disclose that Kushner was “trying to establish a backchannel with Moscow” and was attempting to establish secure communication channels within the Russian embassy.

6. Just recently the White House has indicated that the Kushner, Kislyak, Gorkov meeting discussed Syria as a central point of the conversation.

7. Kushner’s attorney Jamie Gorelick has issued a statement that Kushner does not remember any other telephone contacts with Kislyak. Kushner has amended his Security Disclosure forms to include the Kislyak-Gorkov meeting, which he initially left off despite the fact that he had to sign the form under oath.

Michael Flynn
Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Photo credit: US Embassy in Syria

If Kushner’s business was in such desperate financial straits that he needed to obtain investments/loans from VEB and/or Russian oligarchs then clearly he was compromised and in danger of becoming another Putin puppet. It appears as though Kushner’s surreptitious actions were, at the least, the first steps to violate IEEPA or an attempt to violate IEEPA.

The White House has revised its justification of Kushner’s meetings with the Russians to generically cover discussion of the Syria situation. The White House has not provided any explanation for Kushner’s meeting with VEB. If Kushner discussed financing armaments to Syria through VEB than he willfully violated IEEPA on two fronts, since VEB, as a financial institution centered in Russia, was clearly under sanctions. Any economic transactions between Kushner, a Kushner company and VEB and Syria would be a willful violation of IEEPA.

Now there are those who would say in defense of Kushner, that there is nothing wrong in just meeting with the head of a financial institution from a country under sanctions. But if some overt actions were taken to advance the plan for Kushner’s companies to obtain economic relief from VEB, e.g. securing concealed communication links with Moscow in the Russian embassy, then a good prosecutor has a basis to consider prosecution.

To build a case against Kushner, telephone records are needed documenting his contacts with Kislyak. Recordings would be better.

Furthermore, Flynn’s testimony regarding setting up the initial surreptitious meeting at Trump Tower with Kislyak that immediately led to the meeting at Trump Tower between Kushner, Kislyak and Gorkov.

Telephone records can be subpoenaed. Telephone intercepts can be obtained from NSA, CIA or FBI.

Flynn can be compelled to plea bargain given his filing of a false SF-86 with regard to his contacts and payments from Russia and Turkey in 2015 and 20016, his perjury in lying to DOD personnel regarding his receipt of foreign payments, and his likely filing of false tax returns. If Flynn did not report his foreign income on his SF-86 forms or advise his superiors at DOD then it is highly unlikely that he reported his income on his individual tax returns.

This is important because any plea bargain will likely be to the crime that offers the least criminal exposure. Title 26-7206(1) has a statutory exposure of 3 years while the false statements and perjury charges would yield a 5-year exposure.

Should Kushner be boxed in by Flynn’s testimony and need to plea bargain, we can only guess what that can lead to. It should be noted that statutory exposure for IEEPA violations is 20 years. Kushner is 36 years old. If Mueller were to offer to plea Kushner to filing a false disclosure form that has a statutory exposure of 5 years with a likely sentencing of about a year in exchange for full cooperation, that would beg the following question:

Who could he provide testimony on? One answer is that he could testify against anyone who directed him to set up the meeting with VEB, and anyone who went along with him to the meeting, knowing that the intent of the meeting was to initiate and/or carry on the attempted circumvention of the sanctions and therefore IEEPA.

It is unlikely, however, that such a scenario would unfold in such seamless fashion. It is much more likely that the president, Kushner’s only boss, would offer to resign before allowing his son-in-law to face criminal charges and face the anguish of deciding whether to testify against his father-in-law. There are other possibilities of course, but the above scenario goes far in explaining the president’s concern regarding the Flynn investigation and why he may well have obstructed justice in allegedly hinting that Comey drop the Flynn case and then firing the FBI Director when his request was not met.
https://whowhatwhy.org/2017/06/12/every ... egal-woes/

Trump Dumpf
Now at this very moment, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is rising on the world stage in Drumpf’s Dark Empire that forms a cloud over the presidency and a diversified citizenry of the United States, and the world. There are no degrees of separation between Kushner and Steve Bannon when it comes to absolute evil, white supremacy and racial bigotry. Kushner is a Zionist, and an extreme religious bigot and isolationist that advocates the blood sacrifice of the global masses of color.
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: Jared Kushner

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:58 pm

Trump, Kushner family partner a finalist for $1.7 billion contract to build FBI headquarters
Trump, Kushner partner

Vornado Realty Trust is a major investor in the 666 Fifth Avenue office tower, the flagship skyscraper owned by the Kushner Cos. (Richard Drew / AP)

Bernard Condon
Associated Press
A company that owns buildings with Donald Trump and the family of Jared Kushner is a finalist for a $1.7 billion contract to build the FBI's new headquarters.

Vornado Realty Trust is one of three finalists to build a replacement for the bureau's current headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., the massive J. Edgar Hoover Building, according to Garth Beall, manager of Renard Development. Renard is hoping the federal agency running the bidding process, the General Services Administration, will choose a Renard site in Greenbelt, Maryland, for the new headquarters.

Vornado is a partial owner with the Trump Organization in two buildings, one each in New York and San Francisco. It is also a major investor in 666 Fifth Ave., the flagship skyscraper of the Kushner Cos.

Virginia Congressman Gerald Connolly said the White House ties to Vornado create a conflict of interest.

Since Trump hasn't divested from his company, "that shifts the ethical burden to his business partners," Connolly said. "We're in a position where once again he shrugged off his responsibilities and sloughed it off to someone else."

Connolly, who represents an area in Virginia vying for the new headquarters, called on Vornado to drop out of the bidding.

The choice of Vornado as a finalist was earlier reported by ABC News.

Requests for comment from Vornado, and its partner in the FBI bid, JBG Cos., were not immediately returned. A spokesman for the General Services Administration said the agency doesn't comment on projects in "active procurement."

"Jared takes the ethics rules very seriously and would never compromise himself or the administration," the White House said in a statement. There was no immediate response from the White House about the president's potential conflicts stemming from the FBI building bid.

Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser to the president, sold his personal interest in 666 Fifth Ave. earlier this year.

The Kushner Cos. declined to comment.

Vornado is run by Steven Roth, who has been advising Donald Trump on his plans to revamp the nation's infrastructure. He also is consulting with the White House Office of American Innovation, which is being led by Kushner.

Steven Schooner, a professor of government procurement law at George Washington University, said the relationship between Vornado and the White House makes any government deal with the real estate company suspect.

"This would absolutely pose an apparent, and, potentially, an actual conflict of interest," Schooner said in an email. "I cannot imagine any modern-era precedent for the president (and his advisor and son-in-law) not recognizing that this is a problem and shutting this down before it gets any worse."

Renard's Beall indicated he isn't as worried. He said the bidding process is unlikely to be tainted.

"Typically the president doesn't get involved in GSA solicitations," he said. "It's pretty easy for the president to recuse himself."

Vornado is a partial owner with the Trump Organization in 1290 Sixth Avenue in Manhattan and 555 California St. in San Francisco.

The Kushner building owned with Vornado, 666 Fifth Ave., has been at the center of a conflicts of interest debate before. A Chinese insurer considering investing in the skyscraper had to pull out of negotiations with the Kushners after news reports highlighted the insurer's close ties to the Beijing government.

The skyscraper was bought by the Kushner Cos. for record $1.8 billion before the 2008 financial crisis, and soon ran into financial trouble. Vornado came to the rescue a few years later, buying a big stake in the building at a discount.

The GSA ruled in March that the Trump Organization can keep using a government-owned building in Washington for its new hotel, the Trump International Hotel, a favorite of diplomats and lobbyists. That decision drew criticism from good-government groups and Democrats. They note the contract the president's company signed forbids government officials from being a party to or benefiting from the building.

The GSA said Trump was in "full compliance" because profits from the hotel won't go directly to Trump while he's president.

The agency has said the winning bidder for the FBI building will have to construct in one of three locations in the Washington, D.C., area. The bidder will also get to take over the old FBI headquarters building to convert to other uses.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nati ... story.html

Jared Kushner’s Not-So-Secret Channel to Putin

Credit Matt Chase
In developed capitalist democracies, financial, media and energy companies are private enterprises that don’t report to presidents. In Russia, things are different. Most of those businesses are majority-state-owned corporations, virtual branches of the government. And that means when you talk to the head of a Russian bank or oil company, you are effectively talking to the Kremlin.

In 2000, when Vladimir Putin assumed the presidency, he consolidated competing power centers — media, business, local government, opposition parties and the Parliament — under his authority. He called it “a vertical of power.” This system now includes organized crime and cybercriminals. Today the top management of these enterprises are Putin allies, and many, like Mr. Putin himself, have worked in the security services, specifically in the K.G.B. and its successor organization, the F.S.B.

The Russian government owns the major television outlets and, according to Russian journalists, sets the daily news agenda. The head of Rosneft, the state-owned oil company, is Igor Sechin, a former K.G.B. and F.S.B. security officer who served as a top lieutenant to Mr. Putin. Gazprom, the state gas company, is run by Alexei Miller, another former St. Petersburg associate of Mr. Putin. With exclusive rights to export gas, Gazprom controls prices, pipelines and energy diplomacy in Russia. It also owns the country’s largest media holding company, Gazprom Media.

The deal Mr. Putin made with these companies, oligarchs and banks was that they would be free to make money with state help (often to the detriment of the Russian people) as long as Mr. Putin and his cronies got their cut of the profits — and the Kremlin and security forces were free to govern without interference. Failure to comply could lead to loss of one’s company or worse: The oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky challenged Mr. Putin on corruption in 2003 and was stripped of his company and put in jail. Oligarchs once close to Mr. Putin have died under suspicious circumstances.

There was one more part of this arrangement: Since the government facilitated the moneymaking, the Kremlin could also demand in return payments or loans to favored individuals and institutions — no questions asked.

All this is important to understand when considering the case of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. According to news reports, Mr. Kushner held a secret meeting with the chief executive of a Russian bank, Vnesheconombank, or VEB, in December, before the Trump administration took office. The purpose of the meeting remains unclear. Was it related to some diplomatic issue, as the White House has suggested? Or was it about Trump or Kushner family enterprises? It is possible the meeting was entirely legal (although actually doing business with the bank would not have been). Because of the nature of Russian banks, either scenario raises troubling questions.

In the case of the major Russian state banks, their lending decisions are often politically directed, and when capital is tight — such as after the 2008 recession or the 2014 imposition of sanctions by the United States and the European Union on banks for supporting Moscow’s military adventurism in Crimea and eastern Ukraine — the Russian government has provided cash infusions from the state treasury.

The bank executive Mr. Kushner met with last December, Sergey Gorkov, is a graduate of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service academy. His bank, VEB, is regularly used by the Kremlin to finance politically important projects, including some of the infrastructure for the Sochi Olympics in 2014, which cost the Russian government a total of about $50 billion. VEB also bailed out Ukrainian banks after the 2008 global financial crisis and purchased two failing steel plants in Ukraine — aid reportedly designed to keep President Yanukovych, a Putin ally, under the Kremlin’s control. In Chechnya, the bank provided funds for an industrial park to Ramzan Kadyrov, the republic’s ruthless leader and a staunch Putin loyalist. The bank also purchased shares in a Ukrainian steel maker from a Russian-Canadian partner of Mr. Trump in 2010, who built a Trump hotel in Toronto.

VEB employed and financed the defense of a Russian intelligence operative, Evgeny Buryakov, who was deported in April after pleading guilty and being sentenced in 2016 to 30 months in prison for his role in a spy ring. That ring also attempted in 2013 to recruit Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign who has sought to do business with Gazprom. Another Trump campaign adviser, Michael Caputo, did work for Gazprom Media in the early 2000s.

The United States government is aware of the special role Russian banks play in advancing Moscow’s espionage efforts and foreign policy. That is almost certainly one reason the F.B.I. has been looking into computer communications between Alfa Bank, a private bank with close Kremlin ties, and the Trump Organization, as part of its broader investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Russian banks conduct legitimate business with law-abiding companies around the world, including American banks. But their close ties to the Russian government make Mr. Kushner’s meeting with Mr. Gorkov worthy of deeper scrutiny. Mr. Gorkov is part of the Putin power vertical. When Mr. Kushner spoke to him, he was also talking to the Kremlin, and we should know what they discussed.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/08/opin ... .html?_r=0
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: Jared Kushner

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Jun 26, 2017 7:43 am

Kushner dealings with Deutsche Bank may draw scrutiny from special counsel

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
By Michael Kranish June 25 at 9:04 PM
One month before Election Day, Jared Kushner’s real estate company finalized a $285 million loan as part of a refinancing package for its property near Times Square in Manhattan.

The loan came at a critical moment. Kushner was playing a key role in the presidential campaign of his father-in-law, Donald Trump. The lender, Deutsche Bank, was negotiating to settle a federal mortgage fraud case and charges from New York state regulators that it aided a possible Russian money-laundering scheme. The cases were settled in December and January.

Now, Kushner’s association with Deutsche Bank is among a number of financial matters that could come under focus as his business activities are reviewed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is examining Kushner as part of a broader investigation into possible Russian influence in the election.

The October deal illustrates the extent to which Kushner was balancing roles as a top adviser to Trump and a real estate company executive. After the election, Kushner juggled duties for the Trump transition team and his corporation as he prepared to move to the White House. The Washington Post has reported that investigators are probing Kushner’s separate December meetings with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, and with Russian banker Sergey Gorkov, the head of Vnesheconombank, a state development bank.

The Deutsche Bank loan capped what Kushner Cos. viewed as a triumph: It had purchased four mostly empty retail floors of the former New York Times building in 2015, recruited tenants to fill the space and got the Deutsche Bank loan in a refinancing deal that gave Kushner’s company $74 million more than it paid for the property.

The White House, in response to questions from The Post, said in a statement that Kushner “will recuse from any particular matter involving specific parties in which Deutsche Bank is a party.” Kushner and Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

Deutsche Bank loans to Trump and his family members have come under scrutiny. As Trump’s biggest lender, the bank supplied funds to him when other banks balked at the risk. As of last year, Trump’s companies had about $364 million in outstanding debts to the bank.

Democrats from the House Financial Services Committee wrote on March 10 that they were concerned about the “integrity” of a reported Justice Department investigation into the Russian money-laundering matter “given the President’s ongoing conflicts of interest with Deutsche Bank,” citing “the suspicious ties between President Trump’s inner circle and the Russian government.” The Justice Department did not respond to a question about whether it is following up on the money-laundering settlement that Deutsche Bank reached with New York state regulators in December.

On May 23, the Democratic members asked Deutsche Bank to disclose what it had learned in its internal review about whether Trump may have benefited from the improper Russian money transfers. The bank refused, citing U.S. privacy laws. The Democratic letter also raised the possibility that the bank had conducted a similar review of Kushner — without mentioning his name — by referring to a review of accounts “held by family members, several of whom serve as official advisers to the president.”

The Democrats wrote that it was important to learn more about Deutsche Bank loans to Trump and family members to determine whether they were “in any way connected to Russia.”

The refinancing loan with Deutsche Bank is mentioned in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission as part of a public offering of ­mortgage-backed securities. It states that Kushner and his brother, Joshua, “will be guarantors” under what was called a “nonrecourse carve-out.” Such guarantees require more than a loan default to kick in. They are commonly known as “bad boy” clauses, a reference to how a lender could seek to hold the guarantor responsible for the debt under circumstances that might include fraud, misapplication of funds or voluntary bankruptcy deemed inappropriate. The terms of the guarantee, which generally are not secured by collateral, are negotiated between lender and borrower.

“The way to look at this is, so long as you’re not a ‘bad boy’ and don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about,” said James Schwarz, a real estate lawyer who is an expert in such clauses. “To the extent you would do something fraudulent, then you have things to worry about.”

The corporate loan and Kushner’s personal guarantee are not mentioned on his financial disclosure form, filed with the Office of Government Ethics. Blake Roberts, a lawyer who represented Kushner on the matter, said in a statement to The Post that Kushner’s form “does not list the loan guarantee” because the disclosure relied on “published guidance” from OGE that he said “clearly states that filers do not have to disclose as a liability a loan on which they have made a guarantee unless they have a present obligation to repay the loan.”

The Post sent the language cited by Kushner’s lawyer to Don Fox, a former general counsel and acting OGE director. After reviewing the wording, he said in an interview that he would have advised Kushner to disclose the personal guarantee of the $285 million corporate loan because of its size and possible implications.

“If I were still at OGE and somebody came to us with that set of facts, I would say, ‘By all means, disclose it,’ ” he said, referring to “the spirit of the law.”

After being informed of Fox’s statement, Roberts contacted Fox to present his view that no disclosure was required. Fox said in a follow-up email to The Post that even if OGE “advised there was no requirement to disclose,” he would not have argued that point but “I would have nonetheless recommended Jared over report in this instance given the magnitude of the contingency and the public interest in liabilities — actual and potential — to Deutsche Bank.”

Separately, Kushner disclosed that he and his mother have a personal line of credit with Deutsche Bank worth up to $25 million.

The Deutsche Bank deal was one of the last Kushner orchestrated before joining the White House. It is among the dozens of complex transactions that he was involved with during his decade in the real estate business.

Although Kushner divested some properties in an effort to address potential conflicts, he retains an interest in nearly 90 percent of his real estate properties, including the retail portion of the former New York Times headquarters, and holds personal debts and loan guarantees.

The deal that led to the Deutsche Bank loan is rooted in a holiday party held in late 2014 at the Bowlmor bowling alley, which is located in the retail portion.

At the party, Kushner decided that the four retail floors of the building, while rundown, could be transformed into a thriving tourist destination, according to his associates.

The building passed through several owners after the newspaper sold the property for $175 million in 2004 to Tishman Speyer. Tishman sold it three years later for $525 million to a company called Africa-Israel Investments. (Those transactions prompted Trump a few months ago to poke fun at the Times, tweeting that the “dopes” at the newspaper “gave it away.”)

Africa-Israel’s decision to purchase the building was made by its chairman, an Uzbek-born Israeli citizen, Lev Leviev. He is one of the world’s wealthiest men, known as the “King of Diamonds” for his extensive holdings in Africa, Israel and Russia. He was then expanding his real estate holdings in New York City.

Leviev told the New York Times shortly after the building’s purchase that he was a “true friend” of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, largely through his work with an influential Jewish organization in the former Soviet Union. The newspaper wrote that he kept a photo of Putin in his office in Israel. Leviev’s company said in a statement to The Post that Leviev “does not have a personal relationship” with Putin but has met him “on a few occasions.” Leviev’s statement said he was referring to his belief that “Mr. Putin has been a ‘true friend’ to the Jewish people in Russia.”

In 2008, a year after the building’s purchase, Leviev invited Trump to his Madison Avenue store, an ultra-high-end establishment called Leviev Jewelry, where they were photographed together, according to the Leviev statement. Leviev hoped to work with Trump on Moscow real estate deals, according to an article in Kommersant, a Russian newspaper. The Leviev statement said that the two “never had any business dealings with one another, contrary to speculation.”

Six years later, Kushner saw an opportunity for his own company.

Leviev, whose company was having financial difficulties, according to an Israeli press account, sold the building’s 12-floor office portion for $160 million, a transaction that did not involve the four retail floors.

Leviev’s daughter, Chagit, took charge of her father’s U.S. subsidiary and set out to find a buyer for the retail portion of the building. The company said it would entertain offers no lower than $300 million.

Kushner’s company offered $265 million, which was rejected. Kushner himself then negotiated with Chagit Leviev and others in 2015 and succeeded with a $296 million offer, according to an official involved in the matter.

“It was a very hard back-and-forth New York negotiating style,” said Kushner’s broker, Lon Rubackin. Leviev’s partner in the deal, Five Mile Capital, did not respond to a request for comment.

Few knew it at the time, but the negotiations were nearly consummated when Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, ran into Chagit Leviev on May 4, 2015, at an after-party for a Metropolitan Museum of Art gala — an encounter that was memorialized in a picture posted on Instagram.

“Such a pleasure seeing ­@jaredckushner and his stunningly beautiful wife @ivankatrump last night [at] the #metball­afterparty,” Chagit Leviev wrote.

The deal was signed a week later and closed in October 2015. The Leviev company said in a statement to The Post that Kushner simply made the highest offer and “there was no political element to the transaction.”

Kushner took over a property that was only 25 percent leased, according to a company official. His company recruited tenants, offering some a year’s free rent to lock in long-term contracts, according to an SEC filing. As a result, the building was nearly fully leased, with higher rents, including new tenants such as National Geographic.

The strategy paid off when Kushner’s company went to Deutsche Bank for refinancing. An appraisal cited in SEC filings for the package of mortgage-backed securities placed the value at $470 million, a 59 percent increase in a year. The bank declined to release the appraisal, but a person involved in the deal said that such a rapid increase was unusual when New York real estate was rebounding from recession, and credited Kushner for finding stellar tenants.

In a statement, Kushner Cos. President Laurent Morali said the property’s value increased sharply “for a simple reason: the building’s dramatic turnaround. We had a vision for the property when we purchased it that no one else had, and are proud to say that we executed on it.”

Kushner’s company took out $370 million in new loans in October 2016, giving it $74 million more than the purchase price a year earlier. Along with $285 million from Deutsche Bank, Kushner’s firm received $85 million from SL Green Realty, where Kushner had once worked as an intern. SL Green spokesman Rick Matthews said the deal made sense because the building has been mostly leased, giving it “increased value.”

The Deutsche Bank loan was delivered just before the bank — which has long been under investigation by federal and state authorities — agreed to pay a $7.2 billion U.S. penalty in December for mortgage securities fraud in its packaging of residential mortgages. The bank also paid a $425 million New York state fine in January for failing to properly track large transfers from Russia.

Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee wrote in their March 10 letter that because “press reports indicate” the Justice Department is continuing to investigate the money- laundering case, they are “concerned about the integrity of this criminal probe” in light of Trump’s “ongoing conflicts of interest with Deutsche Bank.” Bloomberg News has reported that the Justice Department has requested records related to money laundering from Deutsche Bank as part of a probe.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national ... a96038ffcf

Africa-Israel’s decision to purchase the building was made by its chairman, an Uzbek-born Israeli citizen, Lev Leviev. He is one of the world’s wealthiest men, known as the “King of Diamonds” for his extensive holdings in Africa, Israel and Russia. He was then expanding his real estate holdings in New York City.

Leviev told the New York Times shortly after the building’s purchase that he was a “true friend” of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, largely through his work with an influential Jewish organization in the former Soviet Union. The newspaper wrote that he kept a photo of Putin in his office in Israel. Leviev’s company said in a statement to The Post that Leviev “does not have a personal relationship” with Putin but has met him “on a few occasions.” Leviev’s statement said he was referring to his belief that “Mr. Putin has been a ‘true friend’ to the Jewish people in Russia.”

Donald trump and the King of Diamonds Lev Leviev


ZEMBLA - The dubious friends of Donald trump: King of Diamonds


In the second part of our programme about Donald Trump’s controversial friends, we will set our sights on the Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, who is controversial because he is suspected of trading in blood diamonds. He is one of the world’s biggest diamond traders and owns prestigious stores in New York and Moscow, but he is also the owner of Siebel, the Netherlands’ biggest jewellery chain. Leviev has ties with Russian president Putin, US president Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Trump, however, claims he hardly knows this “King of Diamonds” . Zembla investigates Lev Leviev’s business empire.

The Israeli-American diamond cartels involved in Congo are seeking to displace the diamond interests in Angola run by Israel-American Lev Leviev and Maurice Tempelsman, top-level partners of the Angolan state diamond companies.

In another stunning blow to Israeli settlement-builder Lev Leviev, the Israeli business magazine Globes Online has reported that BlackRock Inc., one of the world's largest investment management firms, has divested from Leviev's Africa-Israel Investments. The Globes article follows a similar report by the Norwegian news service Norwatch. The move comes after a nearly two-year-long global boycott campaign of Leviev's businesses that developed in response to the billionaire's construction activities in at least four Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, all of which violate international law, and his abusive labor practices in the diamond industry in Angola and Namibia.

Hiding Leviev
The Village of Bil'in in the West Bank in Occupied Palestine is suing two Canadian corporations in Quebec Superior Court for committing war crimes connected with the construction of illegal settlements. The interesting aspect is that the Canadian companies, Green Mount International Inc. and Green Park International Inc., are allegedly fronts, through an elaborate series of holding companies, nominees and trustees, for none other than our old friend Lev Leviev, the guy who sells blood diamonds and uses the proceeds to fund the building of illegal settlements:

Bipartisan Senate inquiry goes after Jared Kushner’s security clearance
By Bill Palmer
Updated: 3:13 am EDT Sun Jun 25, 2017 | 6
Home » Politics

In the weeks since it was revealed that Donald Trump’s son-in-law held suspicious secret meetings with the Russians and then lied about it on his White House clearance forms, various Democrats in Congress have made efforts at getting Kushner’s security clearance revoked. But those efforts haven’t gotten anywhere because the Democrats are not in the majority. However, the effort to go after Kushner’s clearance has now become a bipartisan one.
The Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the White House and the FBI this week, demanding answers regarding Jared Kushner’s security clearance and Donald Trump’s role in the matter. The letter has the power to get things done because it’s bipartisan in nature. It’s signed by the Republican chair of the committee, Chuck Grassley, in addition to the Democratic ranking member Dianne Feinstein. It’s also signed by Republican subcommittee chair Lindsey Graham in addition to Democratic subcommittee ranking member Sheldon Whitehouse. The letter pulls no punches.
The letter demands answers to eight key questions:
1. WhatisthestatusofMr.Kushner’ssecurityclearance? Pleaseincludeinyourresponsethe level of information that he has been cleared to receive and the nature (whether interim or permanent) ofhis clearance, as well as the dates on which major decisions concerning Mr. Kushner’s security clearance were made.
2. Did President Trump or any other White House official outside the Office of Administration intervene in or overrule any decision concerning Mr. Kushner’s background investigation, the Office of Administration’s determination that Mr. Kushner was eligible for a clearance, or at any other point in the security clearance process?
3. Has Mr. Kushner supplemented his incomplete January 18, 2017 SF 86? If so, when?
4. Section 19 of the SF 86 requires applicants to disclose any “close and/or continuing contact with a foreign national” with whom the applicant is “bound by affection, influence, common interests, and/or obligation” within the previous seven years. Please produce to us that section of Mr. Kushner’s SF 86, including any additional materials that may have been submitted to supplement Mr. Kushner’s original submission.
5. Section 20B. l of the SF 86 requires applicants to document foreign government contacts, including any instance in which the applicant “provided advice or support to any individual associated with a foreign business or other foreign organization” that the applicant has not listed as a former employer. Please produce to us that section ofMr. Kushner’s SF 86, including any additional materials that may have been submitted to supplement Mr. Kushner’s original submission.
6. Section 20B.6 ofthe SF 86 requires applicants to document foreign government contacts, including “any contact with a foreign government, its establishment (such as embassy, consulate, agency, military service, intelligence or security service, etc.) or its representatives, whether inside or outside the U.S.,” in the past seven years. Please produce to us that section of Mr. Kushner’s SF 86, including any additional materials that may have been submitted to supplement Mr. Kushner’s original submission.
7. Would the omission of information describing the number or purpose of Mr. Kushner’s publicly reported meetings with Ambassador Kislyak and/or Mr. Gorkov have materially affected your assessment ofhis ability to safeguard sensitive information, or otherwise influence your determination o f his eligibility for a security clearance?
8. Have you concluded that Mr. Kushner has, as ofthis date, provided full and accurate information regarding his contacts with foreign government officials? Ifnot, what steps have been taken to ensure that Mr. Kushner provides such an accounting? Read the full letter here.
http://www.palmerreport.com/politics/bi ... ance/3619/
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Re: Jared Kushner

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:06 pm

Attorney Abbe Lowell, a Democrat, has represented prominent politicians such as John Edwards and lobbyist Jack Abramoff. | AP Photo

Kushner adds powerhouse lawyer Abbe Lowell to legal team
By JOSH DAWSEY 06/26/2017 06:04 PM EDT

Jared Kushner has hired Abbe Lowell, one of the country's leading criminal defense lawyers, to represent him in the special counsel's probe of potential Russian collusion with the Trump campaign and his financial dealings, as well as in separate congressional inquiries.

But Kushner has also decided to keep Jamie Gorelick, his current lawyer and a WilmerHale partner, on his legal team, a spokesman said in response to questions. Some close to Kushner have raised questions about Gorelick remaining on his team because Bob Mueller, the special counsel, was previously a partner at WilmerHale.

"When Bob Mueller left WilmerHale to become Special Counsel and three of our colleagues joined him, we asked Mr. Kushner to get independent legal advice on whether to continue with us as his counsel. He engaged Abbe Lowell to advise him and then decided to add Mr. Lowell to the team representing him in the various inquiries into the Russia matter," a Monday statement from Gorelick said.

Lowell, a Democrat, has represented prominent politicians such as John Edwards and lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He didn't respond for comment Monday afternoon. Lowell is currently representing New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, who is charged with corruption and faces a trial later this year. He was also chief minority counsel to the Democrats during the Bill Clinton impeachment proceedings.
http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/2 ... eam-239973

Kushner meeting shines spotlight on Russian bank

Moscow-controlled VEB has no banking licence but supports Kremlin’s priority projects


Sergei Gorkov, Vnesheconombank chairman (left), with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in 2016 © AFP

JUNE 24, 2017 by: Max Seddon in Moscow
When President Vladimir Putin needed billions of roubles to build facilities for the Sochi Winter Olympics or fund spending in a region of Ukraine claimed by Russian separatists, he turned to Vnesheconombank (VEB).

So when it emerged that Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and special adviser, had met the ailing state development bank’s chairman Sergei Gorkov in New York in December, it set alarm bells ringing with US investigators examining ties between Mr Trump’s inner circle and some of the Kremlin’s power-brokers.

Now an institution founded by Lenin, once chaired by Mr Putin and subject to international sanctions has been drawn into the spreading inquiry, widely termed “Russiagate”, as speculation continues over what Mr Gorkov and Mr Kushner discussed at the meeting just weeks before Mr Trump was installed in the White House.

Without a banking licence, central bank regulation or an independent board, VEB is not a bank in any conventional sense. Instead it is essentially an instrument of the Kremlin that has become a special-purpose vehicle to support priority projects from Moscow.

Mr Gorkov was last year chosen by Mr Putin to lead a turnround of VEB after it racked up huge financial losses. But bankers and analysts in Moscow say its difficulties are an inevitable consequence of decisions stemming from Mr Putin’s revamp of the institution a decade ago.

During the four years Mr Putin spent as VEB chairman while Russia’s prime minister, lending to support the Kremlin’s pet projects was ramped up, regardless of whether they were financially viable.

VEB’s leadership say this was necessary to support Russian business, especially after the financial crisis. “We supported projects that never would have had a chance of getting financing from anywhere else,” says a VEB executive.

The bank is not subject to central bank capital adequacy requirements and its board, currently led by Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s prime minister, is made up entirely of government officials.

“You just call the supervisory board, they take a decision and then VEB invests in some projects which the government thinks are important,” says Karen Vartapetov, an analyst at Standard & Poor’s.

That approach led VEB to lend billions to fund construction work ahead of the 2014 Sochi Games, as well as spending $8bn on steel mills in disputed eastern Ukraine. Defaults on the Olympic projects and the conflict that broke out in Ukraine that year mean they now make up a significant proportion of the bank’s non-performing assets.

Problems came to a head when Russia’s slide into recession hampered the Kremlin’s ability to finance VEB, just as international sanctions — stemming from Russia’s interventions in Ukraine — on raising capital left the lender struggling to repay more than $18bn in outstanding foreign debt.

Mr Gorkov was the man chosen to clear up the mess. A graduate of Russia’s secret service academy, the 48-year-old was a senior executive at Sberbank, the country’s biggest lender, who won praise for overseeing the acquisitions of several European banks.

VEB made a Rbs116bn loss in 2016 and Mr Gorkov said last year that Rbs200bn of Olympic loans needed to be restructured. The government provides it with Rbs300bn annually for new projects, but is reluctant to bail it out, according to the VEB executive. “It’s not that they don’t have the money to bail out VEB, they just don’t want to,” he says.

It was never going to be business as usual. But leaks, power struggles and policy reversals have dominated the first three months of President Trump’s administration

Sergey Aleksashenko, a former deputy central bank governor now at the Brookings Institution, says denying funding to VEB is simpler than, for instance, cutting social spending. “[Mr Putin] cannot take away the salaries of teachers, doctors, KGB, police or the army. But if you do not fund VEB this year, nothing [bad] will happen.”

In the same month he met Mr Kushner, Mr Gorkov unveiled a new strategy to help VEB become profitable next year, which included plans to sell non-core assets and prune its loan book.

Mr Gorkov said in March that the meeting with Mr Kushner — arranged via Sergei Kislyak, the diplomat who serves as Moscow’s ambassador to the US — was part of a roadshow to promote this strategy. He declined to elaborate to the Financial Times in June. Mr Kushner says the pair met as part of the wide-ranging diplomatic role given to him by his father-in-law.

Analysts have speculated that Mr Gorkov may have been sent to New York to float the idea of partially rolling back US financial sanctions, which have hit VEB much harder than the main state lenders, which have excess dollar liquidity.

A senior executive at a state bank told the FT last year that Russia had lobbied the US to begin lifting sanctions on the financial sector. But as the probe into links between Mr Trump’s camp and Moscow has widened, the executive says the Kremlin abandoned that approach.

Despite the discrepancy in the descriptions of the meeting by the VEB and the White House, Mr Aleksashenko said it was unlikely that Mr Gorkov was there to discuss a business deal. “The bank has no cash, they have no capital, they have no funding from the markets or the government. In this situation you cannot finance big projects,” he says.

He adds: “Even if you are under sanctions, you hope that sooner or later sanctions will be removed”.
https://www.ft.com/content/14c0cf6a-540 ... 2?mhq5j=e2
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Re: Jared Kushner

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:31 pm


Who Are These Russian Bankers?

As Jared Kushner lawyers up, keep in mind that one of his meetings reportedly under investigation was effectively with Putin’s own banker.

In the middle of December, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner met the CEO of Russian Vnesheconombank (VEB), Sergei Gorkov, in New York. He had kept this meeting secret, but in March the New York Times revealed that it had in fact happened. Some of the speculation in the media focuses on the possibility that Kushner met with Gorkov in order to procure investments or loans for the redevelopment of an over-leveraged property on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. In that context, VEB is usually presented as a state bank. But in truth, VEB it is neither state-owned, nor is it really a bank. In truth, it operates as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal slush fund.

VEB is a strange creation. Its website states: “Vnesheconombank is not a commercial bank…. VEB does not compete with commercial credit institutions and participates only in those projects that cannot receive funding from private investors.” It used to be the Soviet foreign trade bank, but that changed in 2007, when it was re-established as a “state corporation” through a federal law.

It is regulated through one specific law, which underscores its official status: “Vnesheconombank is one of the key instruments of government investment policy.” Its international credit rating equals that of the Russian government, since it is fully covered by state guarantees. It is exempt from profit tax. Yet legally it is a non-governmental organization, and Putin controls it himself.

VEB has been closely linked to Russia’s foreign intelligence, and has a senior foreign intelligence officer as CEO— Sergey Gorkov, whom Putin appointed in February 2016. His official CV acknowledges that “in 1994, [he] graduated from the Academy of the Federal Security Service of Russia.” His predecessor, Vladimir Dmitriev, served as a diplomat in Stockholm, but the Swedish authorities expelled him for espionage in 1993. A recent example of VEB engagement in intelligence is the case of VEB employee Evgeny Buryakov, who was arrested for spying in the United States in 2015 and sentenced to 30 months in prison. He was accused of having tried to recruit the Carter Page, who would later become foreign affairs adviser to the Trump campaign.

VEB is completely non-transparent. It has no outside shareholders, no shareholders’ meeting, no public annual reports, and no external auditing. It has a supervisory board with nine members, including the CEO, all appointed by Putin. By law the Prime Minister serves as its chairman; Putin did so when he was Prime Minister, from 2008 to 2012. Six other board members are Ministers, and the last member is Putin’s economic aide. In practice, VEB appears to take direct orders from Putin. Gorkov is not considered to be “close” to Putin—he is his obedient servant.

VEB has issued financial statements to raise international bond issues. Its assets are sizable, amounting to $60.1 billion in January 2017. Its loan portfolio at the time was $33.2 billion. Its dominant activity is giving loans to large investment projects, acting as an agent of the state. It also provides export credits and offers government support to large enterprises. A minor side activity is giving credits to small and medium-sized enterprises. Its export credits tend to be linked to major projects of big Russian state corporations, such as Rosatom’s nuclear power station in Hungary, for which it received a VEB credit of $11 billion.

In the past decade, VEB has carried out three major government operations, the bailout program of Russia’s big companies in 2008-09, enterprise investments in Ukraine in 2010, and the financing of construction for the Sochi Winter Olympics. They all bear Putin’s fingerprints.

The 2008-09 bailout program of $50 billion was directly financed by the Russian government but managed by VEB. The government also funneled $12.5 billion in financial support to VEB for capital replenishment from one of its two sovereign wealth funds, the National Welfare Fund. The Central Bank allocated $50 billion of gold reserves to VEB for refinancing the foreign loans of Russian companies and banks. It bailed out state corporations as well as large private strategic companies.

In the first half of 2010, after Viktor Yanukovych was elected President of Ukraine, VEB spearheaded a mysterious Russian investment campaign in the country. It bought one big private commercial bank, Prominvestbank, and financed the purchase of half of each of the two big metallurgical companies, the Industrial Union of Donbas and Zaporizhstal. No known owner of the bulk of the Russian shares ever emerged, arousing speculation that the ultimate Russian owner was Putin. However, Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s dominant businessman, blocked the Russian expansion in Ukraine by winning Ukrainian court cases, reportedly enraging Putin. Whatever VEB’s design was, it failed: VEB lost up to $10 billion dollars in Ukraine.

Strangely, Putin used VEB rather than the state budget to finance the Sochi Olympics, spending another $50 billion. Once again VEB received money from the National Welfare Fund for its capitalization, but this time only $9 billion, which was far from enough for the job at hand. Putin effectively financed the Sochi Olympics with the balance sheet of VEB, bringing it to the brink of bankruptcy. VEB reported a net loss of $4.5 billion in 2014, and in late 2015, a capital infusion of $20 billion was discussed, though that number shrank with time. In the end, the government bailed out the non-governmental organization VEB for $2.2 billion.

On July 16, 2014, the U.S. government sanctioned VEB, depriving it of access to international debt markets, and thus tightening its financial constraints. It was an obvious target, since it did little for the Russian people while providing Putin with a vast source of discretionary state funding.

In the March report, New York Times noted that Gorkov “said in a statement…that he met with Mr. Kushner in his capacity as the then-chief executive of Kushner Companies.” Kushner has played it down, and the White House has said that Kushner attended in his capacity as a transition official. It’s important to remember that the Trump International Hotel in Toronto was saved due to $850 million of VEB funding to a Canadian-Ukrainian partner of the Trump Organization. The only bank that has given the notoriously bankruptcy-prone Trump Organization credits is Deutsche Bank—to the tune of some $400 million. The German publications Die Welt and Die Zeit now demand to know whether this funding comes from Russia in some way. And according to its statutes VEB “participates only in those projects that cannot receive funding from private investors.”

As Jared Kushner hires high-powered defense attorneys in what is likely to be a protracted investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, keep the details of just what VEB is in the back of your mind. If there was talk of any kind of loan, it wasn’t really with a “Russian bank,” but with “Putin’s banker.”
https://www.the-american-interest.com/2 ... n-bankers/
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Re: Jared Kushner

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:33 am



So I think this is the part people will focus on as showing knowledge he was getting something of value from foreign source

and this about the "thing of value" itself


And as to proving "solicitation" or "coordination" under campaign laws, Trump Jr. says "If it's what you say I love it"


the emails are literally admissions of guilt


Donald Trump Jr. shares email chain that set up meeting with Russian lawyer
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/11/trump-jr ... awyer.html

Lawyer Who Met Don Jr. Was Key Player In High-Profile Money Laundering Case

By SAM THIELMAN Published JULY 10, 2017 6:08 PM

In July of 2016, Donald Trump, Jr. met a 42-year-old Russian attorney named Natalia Veselnitskaya who had promised him damaging information about then-candidate Hillary Clinton. One of his father’s contacts, a music publicist named Rob Goldstone, had arranged the meeting as a favor to a client of his, the Azeri real estate developer and pop singer Emin. Goldstone had worked with the Trumps on the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. There were other reasons to take the meeting, too: Emin’s father, Aras Agalarov, is the 51st-richest man in Russia and an instrumental figure in the President’s aborted foray into Russian real estate: the Moscow tower he tried—and failed—to erect.

Trump Jr. has said he knew absolutely nothing about Veselnitskaya before their meeting, not even her name. She turned out to use the promise of information that could help his father’s campaign as a pretext to discuss reinstating a popular Russian-American adoption program, according to his version of events. What could be more harmless?

In fact, Veselnitskaya was already a key figure for the defense in one of the most notorious money-laundering scandals in recent memory, encompassing $230 million in public funds allegedly stolen from the Russians by a network of corrupt bureaucrats and routed through ironclad Swiss bank accounts into real estate sales, including some in Manhattan. And she was accused of lobbying U.S. officials for a Russian NGO that sought to overturn the Russian ban on U.S. adoptions, according to a complaint filed with the U.S. Justice Department and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

Veselnitskaya’s Facebook page paints a picture of a conservative Russian woman eager to defend her government from insults, hawkish on Israel and deeply concerned about American politics. “Liberalism is a fucking mental disorder,” she wrote on July 1, 2016—American liberalism. She also had derisive remarks for Brooklyn-born Muslim organizer Linda Sarsour and crusading former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who was ousted by Trump. “The current U.S. Attorney General (Sally Yates) stated that all lawyers working for the government do not have the right to defend the government and trump orders!” Veselnitskaya wrote on Jan. 31. “In such cases, the general should resign.”

Veselnitskaya received her degree from Kutafin Moscow State Law University in 1998. In 2013, she agreed to represent Denis Katsyv, the son of Russian railroad baron Petr Katsyv and owner of the Prevezon group. The younger Katsyv was accused of collaborating with corrupt Russian officials in the money-laundering scheme. Then-U.S. attorney and “Sheriff of Wall Street” Preet Bharara led the charge against Prevezon; the company, his office said, had used cash from the theft to buy condos in Bharara’s jurisdiction.

Katsyv had been Veselnitskaya’s highest-profile client by far, and his defense would be a world-historic success not just for the wealthy real estate investor, but for the Russian establishment under President Vladimir Putin.

Until this weekend, the closest Veselnitskaya had come to the public eye was as a footnote to the compounding scandal of the Prevezon affair. Veselnitskaya had come to the United States with Katsyv, who was to be deposed by Bharara’s team. Not only wasn’t she deposed herself, she didn’t attend her client’s deposition in person. But after the deposition, she moved to the Plaza Hotel for the remaining two nights of her stay at a cost of $995 per night. Her firm then billed the U.S. government for the entire stay, as well as a single meal for five that included eight grappas, two bottles of wine, eighteen dishes and a bill that came to nearly $800. The group’s total expenses topped $50,000, and they promised to file more.

The legal proceedings in which Veselnitskaya was enmeshed contain a spy novel’s-worth of twists, turns and tragic, suspicious accidents. Sergei Magnitsky, a whistleblowing accountant who called attention in Russia to Prevezon’s alleged widespread embezzlement, was arrested and detained without trial for nearly a year until his death in 2009 from what prison staff described as “pancreonecrosis, ruptured abdominal membrane and toxic shock,” according to the U.S. government’s suit against Prevezon. The Russian Interior Ministry later revised the cause of death to heart failure. When Magnitsky’s family examined his body, they found bruises and that his fingers had been broken, according to an early draft of a report by then-president Dmitry Medvedev’s own investigative committee.

The incident led to a controversial piece of legislation: 2012’s Magnitsky Act, which sanctioned 18 Russian officials believed by the US to have been involved in Magnitsky’s death. Five days later, the Russian parliament voted to ban adoptions of Russian children by Americans, a move understood to be retaliation for the Magnitsky Act. Putin, by that time president of Russia again, also began to compile an “anti-Magnitsky” list of his own, according to the New York Times. Bharara was among the prominent names on it.

Trump Jr.’s conversation with Veselnitskaya, to his disappointment, focused on “a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government,” he said in a Sunday statement. That may be a roundabout way of saying Veselnitskaya wanted to discuss sanctions on Russian officials. Veselnitskaya campaigned unsuccessfully to keep Magnitsky’s name off the punitive 2012 law, according to the Times, and then, through an NGO called The Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation (HRAGIF), to have it repealed, supposedly for the sake of Russian children who could find American homes if the adoption ban were lifted in response.

The latter activity got Veselnitskaya some unwanted attention. She is not named on HRAGIF’s list of lobbyists under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, but she was accused of lobbying U.S. politicians, according to an email provided to Sen. Grassley by Hermitage Capital in a complaint (Magnitsky was at work for Hermitage CEO William Browder when he discovered the alleged money-laundering scheme). HRAGIF listed only two lobbyists, one of whom is Renit Akhmetsin, the former agent for the Russian FSB security service who in April met with Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) in Berlin to discuss Prevezon. Russian friendliness to Rohrbacher has been a bone of contention with the FBI and the butt of “jokes” from Rohrbacher’s fellow Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told colleagues in an audio recording that surfaced in May: “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrabacher and Trump.”

Magnitsky’s death, and the original theft by Russian bureaucrats, are believed by many, including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), to be the work of the Klyuev Group, a network of criminals working in the Russian government to enrich themselves at the expense of Russian citizens (its exploits are chronicled in English in a number of articles by reporter Michael Weiss). Magnitsky and others sought to expose what they believed was hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of graft by the group.

The suit against Prevezon never went to trial. On March 11, Donald Trump fired Bharara, and on March 21, Nikolai Gorokhov, the Magnitsky family’s attorney and a key witness for the prosecution, fell from the fourth floor of an apartment building, apparently when a rope broke while he and others were trying to move a bathtub in through the window. He sustained head injuries.

The United States settled its case against Prevezon and its associated companies in May for $6 million, a fraction of the judgment a guilty verdict would likely have brought. Veselnitskaya declared victory on Facebook: “[A] 4-Year-old battle of the American State with a Russian citizen is over. With the Russians,” she wrote on Facebook.
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/tak ... re-1069057

Trump Jr. Was Told in Email of Russian Effort to Aid Campaign

WASHINGTON — Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting. In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs. Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy.

Mr. Goldstone’s message, as described to The New York Times by the three people, indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information. It does not elaborate on the wider effort by Moscow to help the Trump campaign. There is no evidence to suggest that the promised damaging information was related to Russian government computer hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails.

But the email is likely to be of keen interest to the Justice Department and congressional investigators, who are examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election. American intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government attempted to sway the election in favor of Mr. Trump.

Trump’s Son Met With Russian Lawyer After Being Promised Damaging Information on Clinton JULY 9, 2017

Donald Trump Jr.’s Two Different Explanations for Russian Meeting JULY 9, 2017

Alan Futerfas, the lawyer for the younger Mr. Trump, said his client had done nothing wrong but pledged to work with investigators if contacted.

”In my view, this is much ado about nothing. During this busy period, Robert Goldstone contacted Don Jr. in an email and suggested that people had information concerning alleged wrongdoing by Democratic Party front-runner, Hillary Clinton, in her dealings with Russia,” he said to The Times in an email on Monday. “Don Jr.’s takeaway from this communication was that someone had information potentially helpful to the campaign and it was coming from someone he knew. Don Jr. had no knowledge as to what specific information, if any, would be discussed.”

It is unclear whether Mr. Goldstone had direct knowledge of the origin of the damaging material. One person who was briefed on the emails said it appeared that he was passing along information that had been given to him by others.

Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, and Paul J. Manafort, the campaign chairman at the time, also attended the June 2016 meeting in New York. Representatives for Mr. Kushner referred requests for comments back to an earlier statement, which said he voluntarily disclosed the meeting to the federal government. He has deferred questions on the content of the meeting to Donald Trump Jr.

A spokesman for Mr. Manafort declined to comment.

But at the White House, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was adamant from the briefing room lectern that “the president’s campaign did not collude in any way. Don Jr. did not collude with anybody to influence the election. No one within the Trump campaign colluded in order to influence the election.”

The president, a prolific Twitter user, did not address his son’s controversy on Monday, and instead sought to highlight other issues throughout the morning.

In a series of tweets, the president’s son insisted he did what anyone connected to a political campaign would have done — to hear out potentially damaging information about an opponent. He maintained that his various statements about the meeting weren’t in conflict.

“Obviously I’m the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent... went nowhere but had to listen,” he wrote in one tweet. In another, he added, “No inconsistency in statements, meeting ended up being primarily about adoptions. In response to further Q’s I simply provided more details.”

The younger Mr. Trump, who had a reputation during the campaign for having meetings with a wide range of people eager to speak to him, did not join his father’s administration. He runs the family business, the Trump Organization, with his brother, Eric.

On Monday, after news reports that he had hired a lawyer, he indicated in a tweet that he would be open to speaking to the Senate Intelligence Committee, one of the congressional panels investigating Russian meddling in the election. “Happy to work with the committee to pass on what I know,” the younger Mr. Trump wrote.

Mr. Goldstone represents the Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, whose father was President Trump’s business partner in bringing the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow in 2013. In an interview Monday, Mr. Goldstone said he was asked by Mr. Agalarov to set up the meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya.

“He said, ‘I’m told she has information about illegal campaign contributions to the D.N.C.,’” Mr. Goldstone recalled, referring to the Democratic National Committee. He said he then emailed Donald Jr., outlining what the lawyer purported to have.

But Mr. Goldstone, who wrote the email over a year ago, denied any knowledge of involvement by the Russian government in the matter, saying that never dawned on him. “Never, never ever,” he said. Later, after the email was described to The Times, efforts to reach him for further comment were unsuccessful.

In the interview, he said it was his understanding that Ms. Veselnitskaya was simply a “private citizen” for whom Mr. Agalarov wanted to do a favor. He also said he did not know whether Mr. Agalarov’s father, Aras Agalarov, a Moscow real estate tycoon known to be close to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, was involved. The elder Mr. Agalarov and the younger Mr. Trump worked together to bring a Trump Tower to Moscow, but the project never got off the ground.

Mr. Goldstone also said his recollection of the meeting largely tracked with the account given by the president’s son, as outlined in the Sunday statement Mr. Trump released in response to a Times story on the June 2016 meeting. Mr. Goldstone said that the last time he had communicated with the younger Mr. Trump was to send him a congratulatory text after the November election, but added that he did speak to the Trump Organization over the past weekend, before giving his account to the media.

Donald Trump Jr., who initially told The Times that Ms. Veselnitskaya wanted to talk about the resumption of adoption of Russian children by American families, acknowledged in the Sunday statement that one subject of the meeting was possibly compromising information about Mrs. Clinton.

But he said that the Russian lawyer produced nothing of consequence, and that the meeting ended after she began talking about the Magnitsky Act — an American law that blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. The 2012 law so enraged Mr. Putin that he halted American adoptions of Russian children.

Mr. Goldstone said Ms. Veselnitskaya offered “just a vague, generic statement about the campaign’s funding and how people, including Russian people, living all over the world donate when they shouldn’t donate” before turning to her anti-Magnitsky Act arguments.

“It was the most inane nonsense I’ve ever heard,” he said. “And I was actually feeling agitated by it. Had I, you know, actually taken up what is a huge amount of their busy time with this nonsense?”

Ms. Veselnitskaya, for her part, denied that the campaign or compromising material about Mrs. Clinton ever came up at all. She said she never acted on behalf of the Russian government. A spokesperson for Mr. Putin said on Monday that the Russian president did not know Ms. Veselnitskaya, and had no knowledge of the June 2016 meeting.

Ms. Sanders said at a press briefing that the American president had learned of the meeting recently but declined to discuss details.

The White House press office, however, accused Mrs. Clinton’s team of hypocrisy. The office circulated a January 2017 article published in Politico, detailing how officials from the Ukranian government tried to help the Democratic candidate conduct opposition research on Mr. Trump and some of his aides.

News of the meeting involving the younger Mr. Trump, Mr. Kushner and Mr. Manafort blunted whatever good feeling the president’s team had after his trip to Europe for the Group of 20 economic summit.

The president learned from his aides about the 2016 meeting at the tail end of the trip, according to one White House official. But some people in the White House had known for several days that it had occurred, because Mr. Kushner had revised his foreign contact disclosure document to include it.

The president was aggravated by the news of the meeting, according to one person close to him — less over the fact that it had happened, and more because it was yet another story about Russia that had swamped the media cycle.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/10/us/p ... idacy.html

somebody's leaking big time on jr. :)

the first persons team trump to may have known about the email hack was jr. Manafort and Kushner

timing is everything :D

The Sunday Afternoon of the Long Knives?

Evan Vucci/AP
By JOSH MARSHALL Published JULY 10, 2017 3:44 PM

Yesterday I noted that the biggest thing in the Times‘ Don Jr article was the sourcing. The story came, apparently unprompted or voluntarily, from what the Times identified as 5 advisors to the White House. Top Trump advisors don’t casually drop incredibly damaging information about the President’s son for no reason. You do that to get ahead of something bigger.

But … remember, this is Trump World. And now I realize there’s a quite different potential explanation, but in the spirit of Trump’s Razor (perhaps Trump’s Razor by Proxy?) the stupidest one possible.

Let’s speak entirely hypothetically. We tend to think of Donald Trump and his top advisors and associates as something of a group. But really there are numerous players, each with their own particular and distinct legal exposure. Many of them are driven by comical but intense feuds with each other. Flynn, Kushner, Manafort and a bunch of others are already in profound legal jeopardy. Anyone already in hot water might see advantage in making Don Jr the center of attention in the scandal. Not smart or longterm thinking but thinking nonetheless.

Who else might have it in for Don Jr? Well, what about Corey Lewandowski? Lewandowski was canned on June 20th, 2016, a bit less than two weeks after Don Jr’s meeting with that Russian lawyer. He’d be in a position to know the details of the meeting since he was still at least nominally still the campaign manager. And Lewandowski was reportedly fired after an intervention with Trump by his kids, Ivanka and Don Jr and Jared Kushner (my sense is at this point is that Eric is only allowed to run the winery). It also wouldn’t be the first time. One of the things that got Lewandowski fired was that he started shopping dirt to reporters about Kushner. That was reckless and stupid and poorly executed. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Flynn, Manafort and perhaps Flynn’s ne’er-do-well son also look like logical culprits. But it’s not clear any of them could still be reasonable called advisors – though we cannot rule out at least the first two from still advising from the outside. Remember, the White House Counsel has reportedly had to warn Trump repeatedly against contact with Flynn (it’s a bit like a Mary Kay Letourneau situation). But Lewandowski has definitely been back in the fold, even coming close to being hired a month or so ago to run a Russia war room.

These are all purely hypotheticals. It remains key that five people that the Times chose to call advisors to the White House talked to the Times. That’s a lot of people. But today I get the sense that the story is one I should have considered more fully yesterday: one of the biggest threats to the Trump White House is the kind of dingbat, spy v spy infighting and blood feuds we’ve observed already but likely only know the half of. In a normal White House this might just lead to lots of bad press and lack of esprit de corps. Reagan’s White House was a bit notorious for this. But when numerous advisors, in and outside the White House, are looking at profound legal jeopardy, the stakes get a lot higher.

If my hypothetical is correct, it is bad news for the White House. If “advisors” to the White House are sharing incriminating stories with reporters to knife their administration enemies rather than help the White House by making the best of a bad situation, which is what I surmised yesterday, well … that won’t end well for any of them. And it looks like that is what’s happening.
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/the ... re-1069274

Donald Trump Jr. Hires Crime Mob Lawyer for Russia Investigation
The president's son hired New York lawyer Alan Futerfas, who has experience defending cases involving organized crime groups.
By Celisa Calacal / AlterNet July 10, 2017, 2:18 PM GMT

Donald Trump Jr. has hired New York lawyer Alan Futerfas to represent him in ongoing investigations regarding his father Donald Trump and his potential ties to Russia, according to Reuters. Futerfas, a criminal defense lawyer, has had experience in the past representing members of organized crime mobs, particularly the Gambino, Genovese, and Colombo families.

The hiring of Futerfas comes on the heels of a New York Times investigation revealing that Trump Jr. had met with a Russian lawyer in the midst of the 2016 presidential election who offered to hand over potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Futerfas has a history of representing members of organized crime rings. In 1993, Futerfas represented a member of the infamous Genovese crime family, Salvatore “Sally Dogs” Lombardi from Staten Island. Lombardi and a number of other defendants from the family were facing trial for attempting to illegally expand gambling operations into Atlantic City. A jury ultimately found Lombardi guilty of racketeering, extortion and illegal gambling.

Again in 1998, Futerfas was the defense attorney for Anthony Russo, who was convicted of murder and racketeering charges along with two other mobsters for involvement in the crime family’s street war. The constant violence in 1991 and 1992 caused by the crime family led to 11 deaths. In 1998, the three mobsters were denied a new trial after being found guilty in 1993.

Futerfas also represented Anthony's son, Alfonse Russo, in a case where he and two other white teenagers beat a black man in Brooklyn in 1997 in a racially motivated attack. According to the New York Times, Alfonse had beat the victim with the bar of a steering wheel. Alfonse and the two teenagers were later convicted of second-degreee assault and second-degree aggravated harassment, but escaped the more serious charge of attempted murder.

In 2012, Futerfas was the defense attorney 35-year-old Michael “Roc” Roccaforte, a mobster who was part of the group of 27 arrested by police in the Southern District of Manhattan. Roccaforte had pleaded guilty to breaking a multitude of laws in the past decade, including racketeering, selling drugs, gambling and loan sharking. He received a 118-month sentence for his crimes, a sentence four months harsher than what federal prosecutors aimed for. Futerfas unsuccessfully tried arguing for the minimum-possible 97-month sentence for Roccaforte.
http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politi ... estigation

The first tweet Trump sent after the meeting between Manafort, Don Jr. and Veselnitskaya happened to also be the first time Trump mentioned former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “missing 33,000 emails.”

WASHINGTON — Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

one email is the start of the downing of blimp trump :D

What else is there to say? :lol:

live by the email die by the email :evilgrin

The Hits Keep Coming

By JOSH MARSHALL Published JULY 10, 2017 11:03 PM
The New York Times has followed up with a third installment in its Don Jr series in as many days. I’m not sure there’s much to analyze. It’s pretty straightforward. When Don Jr was contacted about meeting with the Russian lawyer who had dirt on Hillary Clinton he was told that the dirt was part of a Russian government operation. He took the meeting on that basis.

Aside from artfully described changing stories from the various people in the story, people suddenly disappearing when confronted with more damning evidence and the like, that is basically the entirety of the article. But that fact seems like more than enough for twenty articles or perhaps a hundred.

Less than six weeks before Wikileaks released its first tranche of emails, only a month before that still never explained platform intervention, Donald Trump Jr was was asked to take a meeting with a Russian lawyer who had dirt on Hillary Clinton. He was told that the dirt was the product of a Russian government program. He took the meeting in hopes of getting the dirt.

What else is there to say?

when you've lost the Drudge :)


Trump Jr. Now Tied To Banker Behind Russian Money Laundering Scheme

Donald Trump spoke at a Latvian bank with branches in Moscow, Kiev and London, and held a meeting with the owner of Baltic International Bank in 2012.
Donald Trump Jr. has a direct, personal connection to the central figure in multiple money laundering cases involving Russia, Latvia, Ukraine, UK, Seychelles Islands, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico and the United States.
Donald Trump Jr. gave a paid speech to Baltic International Bank’s annual conference in 2012 and now he’s blocking people on Twitter who discuss the trip — and his meeting in Riga with its founder — the controversial Latvian banker and former-British football club executive Valērijs Belokoņs aka Valeri Belokon.

Baltic International Bank has branches in Moscow, Latvia, Ukraine and London.
Trump Jr.’s hyper-active Twitter blocking led me to dig deeper into his contact at Baltic International Bank (BIB), and when the Democratic Coalition’s senior advisor Scott Dworkin found a series of #TrumpLeaks photos of Trump Jr. on the bank’s website we both believed there was more to the story. He said:

“Don Jr. is looking for an easy out. He met one on one with the head of a bank that was actively running a scam to launder money for mexican drug lords. When confronted with hard evidence, he didn’t deny or clarify, he ran away and hid like a coward.”

It turns out that Baltic International Bank has been named as a Mexican cartel money laundering agent, is subject of a criminal inquiry in another former Soviet state Kyrgyzstan, plus Valeri Belokon’s partners in Blackpool F.C. accuse the banker of pumping dirty cash into their one-time British Premier League football club.
I suppose that is why Donald Trump Jr. blocked me on Twitter as well, after writing this story about his meeting with said Latvian banker.
Belokon’s Baltic International Bank wrote a money laundering manual, and got caught last year, and fined because of the OOCRP’s reporting.

This short video by the Organized Crime & Corruption Reporting Project (OOCRP) explains how Baltic International Bank’s money laundering “how to” manual (in English) helped criminals move illicit cash.

Just like the Mediterranean island of Cyprus who shares a religion with Russia — and where Democratic Congressional investigators visited investigating Trump related money laundering — Latvia’s cultural and language ties has enabled it too, to become an EU hotspot for Russian money laundering.

Even Deutche Bank — recently cited in the $10 billion dollar mirror trading money laundering scam — has cut off most Latvian banks from dollar based transactions, as foreign cash pours into the tiny nation.
BIB even posted new photos to congratulate Donald Trump on winning America’s presidency on November 9th, 2016.
And they show Trump Jr. meeting with Belokon.
One on one.
The Trump Organization made Latvian headlines in 2011 when it entered into discussions about funding a major concert hall.
Then Latvian media reported in 2012 that Trump Jr. was mainly interested in building a concert hall venue in Riga.
After last year’s election, a Latvian news website wrote a follow up story — which the source of the cover image of this story — showing a meeting between the two men, Trump Jr. and Belokon, looking rather pleased in a posed action photo, as well as the two images below.
Latvian media made no mention of this meeting, nor did a subsequent video where Trump Jr. claimed to have lots of Russian business ties — which has still somehow evaded numerous media reports about the family’s business.

Trump Jr. is wearing the same powder blue tie in all of his photos from both 2012 and those released in 2016 which detail his meeting with Baltic International Bank owner Valeri Belokon.
EXIF data from the above photos dates the images from the same time as Trump Jr.’s public speech in 2012 to the Latvian bank conference.
Trump Jr. himself said it was mostly a networking opportunity and never publicly mentioned meeting the owner of the bank.
He even met with the concert hall project promoters again — making local headlines — but it would it would be the final media mention of the Trump Organization’s interest in the project.

Trump Jr. Has Good Reason To Fear Being Associated With Belokon And BIB

Belokon’s Baltic International Bank also was caught laundering $860 million dollars in Mexican cartel money in 2011, from a company named Tormex — a phantom company in New Zealand — into the now-defunct US bank Wachovia.
The money laundering scam reached from Mexico to Latvia through Russia and to the remote Seychells Islands and Vanautu in the South Pacific to New Zealand. Ukrainian companies were used to generate fake invoices and contracts.


In the end, Wachovia was caught handling over $350 billion dollars in Mexican cash transactions without money laundering controls by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, before failing and being acquired by Wells Fargo.
Australia’s financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC published a complete case study with the succinct diagram you see on the left explaining exactly how Sinaloa cartel money found its way to Latvia.
Notably, the Latvian bank’s ties to Mexican drug cartels were publicly established before Trump Jr. met with Valeri

Belokon at Baltic International Bank the following year.

Belokon’s British Football Dealings Sunk By Former Soviet State Money Laundering Problems

Valeri Belokon is also involved in a series of high-stakes lawsuits over British football club Blackpool FC.

Belokon’s Latvian bank was involved with another bank he set up in the former Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan.
The two issues have become linked as Belokon’s British partners accused the Latvian of pumping laundered money into Blackpool FC’s books after buying a minority stake in the club and spending big bucks on player acquisitions.
Blackpool FC formally suspended Valeri Belokon this March after a Paris court found that his Latvian bank and his Kyrgyzstani Manas Bank, were both involved in large scale money laundering — an accusation which he of course denies.

The Paris Court overturned a lower court ruling against Kyrgyzstan which called their shutdown and seizure of Manas Bank an illegal taking, in light of the new evidence of money laundering practices from Latvian bank regulators.
The Court also found that Belokon’s Manas Bank engaged in a greater volume of transactions than that of the entire GDP for the country of Kyrgyzstan:

The Court gave weight to the data from the experts’ reports regarding the amount of transactions that Manas Bank operated. The Cour d’Appel noted that it had considerably exceeded the GDP of Kyrgyzstan in 2008, which could not be explained by the ordinary banking practices in a country with such poor economic conditions as in the Kyrgyz Republic.
Just last month, Kyrgyzstan hit Belokon with a criminal 20-year money laundering sentence after a trial in absentia last month. However, because of the lack of due process, the verdict isn’t enforceable in European jurisdictions.
After Belokon’s big cash investments into Blackpool’s soccer team in 2010 — and management as club President — the small town soccer club made an astronomical rise to enter the British Premier League — the world’s most watched football league — which led to a windfall of television money.
Belokon wound up suing his partners for unfair practices by refusing to pay him profit sharing based upon his return on investment for elevating the club out of the 3rd rate league, and for making loans to the club. Belkon won a cash verdict in the first major case earlier this year.
Blackpool FC has fallen all the way to British football’s 4th division today.
Meanwhile, there’s second civil case against Blackpool F.C.’s owners by Belokon that is being tried in London right now, in what’s being called one of the most expensive cases in British football history.
If the money laundering Latvian bank hadn’t celebrated Donald Trump’s improbable election, we might never have known his son met with a money laundering banker for cartels and Russians so daring, that he marched openly into the world of international sport and started spreading cash everywhere.
I first reported Trump Jr.’s trip to Latvia last October based on the Democratic Coalition’s research, but then only for its significance about his video confession to “lots of Russian business ties” when his father denied having Russian business ties.
We know that was a big fat lie.
Trump Jr.’s ties are President Trump’s ties since the younger is merely an agent of the Trump Organization family business — which is wholly owned by Donald Trump Sr.
If Donald Trump Jr. hadn’t blocked myself and Scott Dworkin, we might’ve never known to follow up on the post-election blog posts about this meeting.
“Blocking people on Twitter for asking questions isn’t leadership,” Dworkin told me in disgust about the President and his sons new penchant for running away from problems.
“It’s un-American.”
Here are the rest of the photos from Trump Jr.’s appearance at Baltic International Bank’s annual conference:
https://thesternfacts.com/trump-jr-now- ... 64d24642fc

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: Jared Kushner

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:45 am

Trump-Russia investigators probe Jared Kushner-run digital operation
McClatchy Washington Bureau

Investigators at the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation – overseen by Jared Kushner – helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Congressional and Justice Department investigators are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states – areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton, according to several people familiar with the parallel inquiries.

Also under scrutiny is the question of whether Trump associates or campaign aides had any role in assisting the Russians in publicly releasing thousands of emails, hacked from the accounts of top Democrats, at turning points in the presidential race, mainly through the London-based transparency web site WikiLeaks, .

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told McClatchy he wants to know whether Russia’s “fake or damaging news stories” were “coordinated in any way in terms of targeting or in terms of timing or in terms of any other measure … with the (Trump) campaign.”

By Election Day, an automated Kremlin cyberattack of unprecedented scale and sophistication had delivered critical and phony news about the Democratic presidential nominee to the Twitter and Facebook accounts of millions of voters, many in swing states, even in key precincts.

Russia’s operation used computer commands knowns as “bots” to collect and dramatically heighten the reach of negative or fabricated news about Clinton, including a story in the final days of the campaign accusing her of running a pedophile ring at a Washington pizzeria.

One source familiar with Justice's criminal probe said investigators doubt Russian operatives controlling the so-called robotic cyber commands that fetched and distributed fake news stories could have independently "known where to specifically target … to which high-impact states and districts in those states."

All of the sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation, led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, is confidential.

Top Democrats on the committees investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election have signaled the same.

Schiff said he wants the House panel to determine whether Trump aides helped Russia time its cyberattacks or target certain voters and whether there was “any exchange of information, any financial support funneled to organizations that were doing this kind of work.”

Trump son-in-law Kushner, now a senior adviser to the president and the only current White House aide known to be deemed a “person of interest” in the Justice Department investigation, appears to be under the microscope in several respects. His real estate finances and December meetings with Russia’s ambassador and the head of a sanctioned, state-controlled bank are also being examined.

Kushner’s “role as a possible cut-out or conduit for Moscow’s influence operations in the elections,” including his niche overseeing the digital operations, will be closely looked at, said the source knowledgeable about the Justice Department inquiry.

Kushner joined Donald Trump Jr. and Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort at a newly disclosed June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in New York.. The meeting, revealed by The New York Times, followed emails in which Trump Jr. was told the lawyer for the Russian government would provide him with incriminating information on Clinton and he replied “If it’s what you say I love it.”

That disclosure could only serve to heighten interest in whether there was digital collaboration.

Mike Carpenter, who in January left a senior Pentagon post where he worked on Russia matters, also has suspicions about collaboration between the campaign and Russia’s cyber operatives.

“There appears to have been significant cooperation between Russia’s online propaganda machine and individuals in the United States who were knowledgeable about where to target the disinformation,” he said, without naming any American suspects.

Trump has repeatedly repudiated or equivocated about the finding of four key intelligence agencies – the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency and the Directorate of National Intelligence – that Russian cyber operatives meddled with the U.S. election.

Last Friday, during their first face-to-face meeting, Trump questioned Putin about Russia’s role in the election meddling and Putin denied culpability, said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was present. Trump then said the two countries should find ways to move forward in their relationship, Tillerson said.

A Russian official who was at the meeting said the two sides agreed to form a working group to address cybersecurity, including interference in other countries’ internal affairs. However, Trump backtracked Sunday night, saying in a tweet that he doesn’t believe such an effort can happen.


Mike Carpenter, former senior Pentagon official who specialized on Russia matters

As more has been learned about the breadth of the Russian cyber onslaught, congressional Democrats have shown growing resolve to demand that the Republican-controlled intelligence committees fully investigate ways in which Trump associates may have conspired with the Russians.

Among other things, congressional investigators are looking into whether Russian operatives, who successfully penetrated voting registration systems in Illinois, Arizona and possibly other states, shared any of that data with the Trump campaign, according to a report in Time.

“I get the fact that the Russian intel services could figure out how to manipulate and use the bots,” Virginia Sen. Mark Warner told Pod Save America recently. “Whether they could know how to target states and levels of voters that the Democrats weren’t even aware (of) really raises some questions … How did they know to go to that level of detail in those kinds of jurisdictions?”

The Russians targeted women and African-Americans in two of the three decisive states, Wisconsin and Michigan, “where the Democrats were too brain dead to realize those states were even in play,” Warner said.

Twitter’s and Facebook’s search engines in those states were overwhelmed, he said, meaning they couldn’t discern fake news from real news.

“On your news feed, you suddenly got … ‘Hillary Clinton’s sick’ or ‘Hillary Clinton’s stealing money from the State Department,’” said Warner.

It started even before Trump locked up the nomination. Throughout the Republican primary elections in early 2016, Russia sent armies of bots carrying pro-Trump messages and deployed human “trolls” to comment in his favor on Internet stories and in social media, former FBI special agent Clint Watts told Congress weeks ago.

Watts, now a cybersecurity specialist with the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said the targets included former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

As Donald Trump was locking up the Republican presidential nomination in May 2016, a U.S. intelligence intercept picked up Russians discussing ways to spread news damaging to Clinton, two people familiar with the matter said.

No one has proved that Russia’s attack influenced the vote count in the Nov. 8 general election., but it wouldn’t have taken much to tip the results and change the course of history.

Clinton lost the decisive states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by a combined 77,744 votes out of 13.9 million ballots cast. She could have won Michigan if 5,353 Trump voters had gone for her instead, Wisconsin if 11,375 votes had flipped to her and Pennsylvania if 22,147 Trump voters had instead picked her.

Kushner’s pivotal role in the Trump cyber effort was underscored by his hiring in 2015 of Brad Parscale, a Texas-based digital guru who previously had done work for the Trump Organization, said two GOP operatives familiar with the campaign.

Parscale’s company raked in about $90 million for work targeting many states with paid advertisements, social media messages and other cyber tools.

As the Trump campaign’s top digital director, Parscale ran much of the operation from his San Antonio offices. He is expected to appear before at least one of several congressional committees investigating aspects of Russia’s interference in the election.

Parscale could not be reached for comment.

CNN quoted him last month as dismissing suggestions that Russian-directed online bots would have been effective in swinging votes to Trump. He said the campaign did not find Twitter -- where those bots mainly functioned – to be an effective tool.

Washington attorney Abbe Lowell, who was recently hired to be Kushner’s chief defense counsel and has “a reputation as a guy you hire if you're going to do battle with the government,” according to one former federal prosecutor, declined to comment on the Russia inquiries facing Kushner.

Shortly after his name arose in the inquiry, Kushner publicly volunteered to tell Congress about his Russia contacts and to answer questions about all issues for which he’s being scrutinized. Another of Kushner’s lawyers, Jamie Gorelick, says he will cooperate with both congressional and Justice Department investigations.

However, no interview date has been set, and Kushner’s attorneys decline to say whether he has produced records sought by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation- ... #pq=fGudPw

seemslikeadream » Fri Jun 23, 2017 5:35 pm wrote:I will say this again Brad Parscale will be a household name in the near future

He got paid around 90 million for his work 20 million of which can't be accounted for.

He is Kushner's BFF but I doubt he'll go to jail for Jared

A long-overlooked player is emerging as a key figure in the Trump-Russia investigation

Natasha Bertrand

Brad Parscale was the director of the Trump campaign's digital operations. Screenshot/Fox
A congressional committee wants to interview President Donald Trump's digital director as part of its investigation.

Investigators are probing whether voter information stolen by Russian hackers made its way to the Trump campaign.
A top official said Russia targeted election systems in at least 21 states.
The House Intelligence Committee plans to interview the digital director for President Donald Trump's campaign, Brad Parscale, as it continues to investigate whether any collusion occurred between the campaign and Russia, according to a recent CNN report.

The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, would not confirm whether Parscale had been invited to testify as part of the congressional investigation.

But Schiff told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow this week that he is "very interested in finding out" whether there was "Russian funding or support" for the Trump campaign's data analytics operation, "or Russian assistance in any way with gathering data" that was then used by the campaign.

Congressional investigators are now probing whether voter information stolen by Russian hackers from election databases in several states made its way to the Trump campaign, Time reported on Thursday. The data operation Parscale directed was supervised by Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is now being scrutinized by the FBI over his contacts with Russia's ambassador and the CEO of a sanctioned Russian bank in December.

"If any campaign, Trump or otherwise, used inappropriate data the questions are, how did they get it? From whom? And with what level of knowledge?" the former top Democratic staffer on the House Intelligence Committee, Michael Bahar, told Time. "That is a crux of the investigation."

Kushner, a person familiar with the campaign's inner workings told Business Insider, "was Parscale's patron."

"Jared got [Brad] hired, despite the fact that a number of people in the campaign wondered whether he had any idea what he was doing," the person said. "He's Jared's boy. I had [campaign] deputies telling me they couldn't question anything the guy did or said, and they were unhappy about that."

Parscale did not respond to a request for comment. He is now the digital media director for America First Policies, a nonprofit group whose aim is to bolster Trump's agenda.

Kushner also did not respond to a request for comment.

Parscale's firm, Giles-Parscale, was paid a whopping $91 million by the Trump campaign, which famously shunned television ads. According to CNN, the data operation "helped the Trump campaign figure out where the candidate's message was resonating in states like Michigan and Wisconsin, places where conventional political wisdom suggested they would be wasting time and money."

A senior GOP strategist who worked with Parscale on the Republican National Committee's digital operations last year denied that he oversaw or was even aware of any nefarious collaboration between hackers and the campaign.

"When it was reported that they'd be calling up Parscale, I knew there was a 0% chance that they had anything," the strategist said, referring to the House Intelligence Committee. "The questions they want to ask him are apparently some of the most basic digital marketing questions, and other simple ones like 'how would the Russians have known which precincts to target?'"

At least one Republican operative, however, made use of voter data stolen by Russian hackers last year: Florida political strategist Aaron Nevins.

Then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks on the USS Iowa in San Pedro, Los Angeles, California, United States September 15, 2015. Reuters
Guccifer 2.0, the self-described hacker that US intelligence officials and cybersecurity experts have linked to Russian military intelligence, sent 2.5 gigabytes of voter analysis data compiled by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to Nevins late last summer, The Wall Street Journal reported late last month.

The documents provided to Nevins, who then posted them on his blog, analyzed districts in Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. They showed "how many people were dependable Democratic voters, how many were likely Democratic voters but needed a nudge, how many were frequent voters but not committed, and how many were core Republican voters — the kind of data strategists use in planning ad buys and other tactics," the Journal said.

The exposure of that voter data, which Nevins remarked was worth "millions of dollars," led at least one Republican campaign consultant, Anthony Bustamante, to "adjust" the voting targets of the campaign he was advising at the time, according to the Journal.

"Basically if this was a war, this is the map to where all the troops are deployed," Nevins told Guccifer 2.0 in a text message, according to the Journal.

Nevins said he had no regrets in using the "map," even if it had been handed to the Russians.

"If your interests align, never shut any doors in politics," he told The Journal.

The theft of sensitive voter data by Russian-linked hackers like Guccifer 2.0 has left upcoming elections vulnerable to manipulation, experts say. Virginia and New Jersey will hold gubernatorial elections later this year, and all 435 seats in the House and one-third of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested in the 2018 midterm elections.

Jeanette Manfra, a top official in the DHS's National Protection and Programs Directorate, told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that Russian hackers targeted election systems in at least 21 states last year. Bloomberg reported last week that as many as 39 states were targeted.

Sam Liles, the DHS's top cyber official, told lawmakers on Wednesday that the Russians probed election infrastructure and successfully infiltrated a "small number of networks." According to Time, the hackers successfully altered voter information in at least one election database and stole thousands of voter records containing private information like Social Security numbers.

Bill Priestap, Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division at the FBI, testifies about Russian interference in U.S. elections to the Senate Intelligence Committee in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017. Joshua Roberts/Reuters
The cyberattacks continued right up to the election, according to a top-secret National Security Agency document leaked to the Intercept and published earlier this month. The document revealed that hackers associated with Russia's military intelligence agency targeted a company with information on US voting software days before the election, and used the data to launch "voter-registration-themed" cyberattacks on local government officials.

Bill Priestap, one of the FBI's top counterintelligence officials, told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that the type of data can be used "in a variety of ways," including to manipulate future elections and target individual voters. As Nevins, the Florida Republican operative, had said, the data is also extremely valuable — politically and financially.

Earlier this week, it emerged that data-analytics firm hired by the Republican National Committee last year to gather political information about US voters accidentally leaked the sensitive personal details of roughly 198 million citizens earlier this month, as its database was left exposed on the open web for nearly two weeks.

Upon reviewing the exposed data — which included names, dates of birth, home addresses, phone numbers, and voter registration details, as well as proprietary information based on predictive models of voters' behavior — Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology said simply: "This data is worth a s---load of money."

Archie Agarwal, the founder of the cybersecurity firm ThreatModeler, agreed that the data was a "gold mine" for anyone looking to target and manipulate voters. The security researcher who discovered the leaked database, Chris Vickery, said it was the kind of information "you can use to steal an election at the state and local level. It tells you who you need to advertise to to swing votes."
http://www.businessinsider.com/brad-par ... ion-2017-6

WaPo: CIA Intel Showed Putin Directly Ordered Operation To Get Trump Elected

By ALLEGRA KIRKLAND Published JUNE 23, 2017 10:30 AM

Intelligence obtained by the CIA last summer found that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered a cyber campaign intended to help elect Donald Trump and damage the electoral chances of Hillary Clinton, according to an exhaustive Washington Post report out Friday into the Obama administration’s response to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 campaign.

This explosive information was first delivered to former president Barack Obama in Aug. 2016, according to the newspaper.

The Post investigation details how Obama and his team struggled to develop a response to this unprecedented interference by a foreign country, worrying that they would be seen as trying to tip the scales in the presidential race. By the time the CIA’s warning arrived, the Obama White House knew that Russian hackers were behind cyberattacks on Democratic Party operatives and the Democratic National Committee, and that the FBI had launched an investigation into ties between Russian officials and Trump campaign staffers.

Trump, who has repeatedly cast doubt the extent of Russia’s interference, has criticized the Obama administration for not doing more to “stop them.”

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
By the way, if Russia was working so hard on the 2016 Election, it all took place during the Obama Admin. Why didn't they stop them?
8:22 AM - 22 Jun 2017
24,522 24,522 Retweets 86,604 86,604 likes
Twitter Ads info and privacy
Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified before the House Intelligence Committee this week that Trump’s repeated insistence that the election would be “rigged” against him stymied their response.

For now, the only action the U.S. has taken in response to Russia is an Obama administration package involving the expulsion of 35 diplomats, closure of two Russian diplomatic compounds, and imposition of new, narrowly targeted economic sanctions.
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/c ... et-elected

seemslikeadream » Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:09 pm wrote:
The Data That Turned the World Upside Down

Jan 28 2017, 8:15am
Psychologist Michal Kosinski developed a method to analyze people in minute detail based on their Facebook activity. Did a similar tool help propel Donald Trump to victory? Two reporters from Zurich-based Das Magazin went data-gathering.​

An earlier version of this story appeared in Das Magazin in December.

On November 9 at around 8.30 AM., Michal Kosinski woke up in the Hotel Sunnehus in Zurich. The 34-year-old researcher had come to give a lecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) about the dangers of Big Data and the digital revolution. Kosinski gives regular lectures on this topic all over the world. He is a leading expert in psychometrics, a data-driven sub-branch of psychology. When he turned on the TV that morning, he saw that the bombshell had exploded: contrary to forecasts by all leading statisticians, Donald J. Trump had been elected president of the United States.

For a long time, Kosinski watched the Trump victory celebrations and the results coming in from each state. He had a hunch that the outcome of the election might have something to do with his research. Finally, he took a deep breath and turned off the TV.

On the same day, a then little-known British company based in London sent out a press release: "We are thrilled that our revolutionary approach to data-driven communication has played such an integral part in President-elect Trump's extraordinary win," Alexander James Ashburner Nix was quoted as saying. Nix is British, 41 years old, and CEO of Cambridge Analytica. He is always immaculately turned out in tailor-made suits and designer glasses, with his wavy blonde hair combed back from his forehead. His company wasn't just integral to Trump's online campaign, but to the UK's Brexit campaign as well.

Of these three players—reflective Kosinski, carefully groomed Nix and grinning Trump—one of them enabled the digital revolution, one of them executed it and one of them benefited from it.

How dangerous is big data?

Anyone who has not spent the last five years living on another planet will be familiar with the term Big Data. Big Data means, in essence, that everything we do, both on and offline, leaves digital traces. Every purchase we make with our cards, every search we type into Google, every movement we make when our mobile phone is in our pocket, every "like" is stored. Especially every "like." For a long time, it was not entirely clear what use this data could have—except, perhaps, that we might find ads for high blood pressure remedies just after we've Googled "reduce blood pressure."

On November 9, it became clear that maybe much more is possible. The company behind Trump's online campaign—the same company that had worked for Leave.EU in the very early stages of its "Brexit" campaign—was a Big Data company: Cambridge Analytica.

To understand the outcome of the election—and how political communication might work in the future—we need to begin with a strange incident at Cambridge University in 2014, at Kosinski's Psychometrics Center.

Psychometrics, sometimes also called psychographics, focuses on measuring psychological traits, such as personality. In the 1980s, two teams of psychologists developed a model that sought to assess human beings based on five personality traits, known as the "Big Five." These are: openness (how open you are to new experiences?), conscientiousness (how much of a perfectionist are you?), extroversion (how sociable are you?), agreeableness (how considerate and cooperative you are?) and neuroticism (are you easily upset?). Based on these dimensions—they are also known as OCEAN, an acronym for openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism—we can make a relatively accurate assessment of the kind of person in front of us. This includes their needs and fears, and how they are likely to behave. The "Big Five" has become the standard technique of psychometrics. But for a long time, the problem with this approach was data collection, because it involved filling out a complicated, highly personal questionnaire. Then came the Internet. And Facebook. And Kosinski.

Michal Kosinski was a student in Warsaw when his life took a new direction in 2008. He was accepted by Cambridge University to do his PhD at the Psychometrics Centre, one of the oldest institutions of this kind worldwide. Kosinski joined fellow student David Stillwell (now a lecturer at Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge) about a year after Stillwell had launched a little Facebook application in the days when the platform had not yet become the behemoth it is today. Their MyPersonality app enabled users to fill out different psychometric questionnaires, including a handful of psychological questions from the Big Five personality questionnaire ("I panic easily," "I contradict others"). Based on the evaluation, users received a "personality profile"—individual Big Five values—and could opt-in to share their Facebook profile data with the researchers.

Followers of Lady Gaga were most probably extroverts, while those who "liked" philosophy tended to be introverts.

Kosinski had expected a few dozen college friends to fill in the questionnaire, but before long, hundreds, thousands, then millions of people had revealed their innermost convictions. Suddenly, the two doctoral candidates owned the largest dataset combining psychometric scores with Facebook profiles ever to be collected.

The approach that Kosinski and his colleagues developed over the next few years was actually quite simple. First, they provided test subjects with a questionnaire in the form of an online quiz. From their responses, the psychologists calculated the personal Big Five values of respondents. Kosinski's team then compared the results with all sorts of other online data from the subjects: what they "liked," shared or posted on Facebook, or what gender, age, place of residence they specified, for example. This enabled the researchers to connect the dots and make correlations.

Remarkably reliable deductions could be drawn from simple online actions. For example, men who "liked" the cosmetics brand MAC were slightly more likely to be gay; one of the best indicators for heterosexuality was "liking" Wu-Tang Clan. Followers of Lady Gaga were most probably extroverts, while those who "liked" philosophy tended to be introverts. While each piece of such information is too weak to produce a reliable prediction, when tens, hundreds, or thousands of individual data points are combined, the resulting predictions become really accurate.

Kosinski and his team tirelessly refined their models. In 2012, Kosinski proved that on the basis of an average of 68 Facebook "likes" by a user, it was possible to predict their skin color (with 95 percent accuracy), their sexual orientation (88 percent accuracy), and their affiliation to the Democratic or Republican party (85 percent). But it didn't stop there. Intelligence, religious affiliation, as well as alcohol, cigarette and drug use, could all be determined. From the data it was even possible to deduce whether someone's parents were divorced.

The strength of their modeling was illustrated by how well it could predict a subject's answers. Kosinski continued to work on the models incessantly: before long, he was able to evaluate a person better than the average work colleague, merely on the basis of ten Facebook "likes." Seventy "likes" were enough to outdo what a person's friends knew, 150 what their parents knew, and 300 "likes" what their partner knew. More "likes" could even surpass what a person thought they knew about themselves. On the day that Kosinski published these findings, he received two phone calls. The threat of a lawsuit and a job offer. Both from Facebook.

Michal Kosinski. Courtesy of Kosinski

Only weeks later Facebook "likes" became private by default. Before that, the default setting was that anyone on the internet could see your "likes." But this was no obstacle to data collectors: while Kosinski always asked for the consent of Facebook users, many apps and online quizzes today require access to private data as a precondition for taking personality tests. (Anybody who wants to evaluate themselves based on their Facebook "likes" can do so on Kosinski's website, and then compare their results to those of a classic Ocean questionnaire, like that of the Cambridge Psychometrics Center.)

Our smartphone, Kosinski concluded, is a vast psychological questionnaire that we are constantly filling out, both consciously and unconsciously.

But it was not just about "likes" or even Facebook: Kosinski and his team could now ascribe Big Five values based purely on how many profile pictures a person has on Facebook, or how many contacts they have (a good indicator of extraversion). But we also reveal something about ourselves even when we're not online. For example, the motion sensor on our phone reveals how quickly we move and how far we travel (this correlates with emotional instability). Our smartphone, Kosinski concluded, is a vast psychological questionnaire that we are constantly filling out, both consciously and unconsciously.

Above all, however—and this is key—it also works in reverse: not only can psychological profiles be created from your data, but your data can also be used the other way round to search for specific profiles: all anxious fathers, all angry introverts, for example—or maybe even all undecided Democrats? Essentially, what Kosinski had invented was sort of a people search engine. He started to recognize the potential—but also the inherent danger—of his work.

To him, the internet had always seemed like a gift from heaven. What he really wanted was to give something back, to share. Data can be copied, so why shouldn't everyone benefit from it? It was the spirit of a whole generation, the beginning of a new era that transcended the limitations of the physical world. But what would happen, wondered Kosinski, if someone abused his people search engine to manipulate people? He began to add warnings to most of his scientific work. His approach, he warned, "could pose a threat to an individual's well-being, freedom, or even life." But no one seemed to grasp what he meant.

Around this time, in early 2014, Kosinski was approached by a young assistant professor in the psychology department called Aleksandr Kogan. He said he was inquiring on behalf of a company that was interested in Kosinski's method, and wanted to access the MyPersonality database. Kogan wasn't at liberty to reveal for what purpose; he was bound to secrecy.

At first, Kosinski and his team considered this offer, as it would mean a great deal of money for the institute, but then he hesitated. Finally, Kosinski remembers, Kogan revealed the name of the company: SCL, or Strategic Communication Laboratories. Kosinski Googled the company: "[We are] the premier election management agency," says the company's website. SCL provides marketing based on psychological modeling. One of its core focuses: Influencing elections. Influencing elections? Perturbed, Kosinski clicked through the pages. What kind of company was this? And what were these people planning?

What Kosinski did not know at the time: SCL is the parent of a group of companies. Who exactly owns SCL and its diverse branches is unclear, thanks to a convoluted corporate structure, the type seen in the UK Companies House, the Panama Papers, and the Delaware company registry. Some of the SCL offshoots have been involved in elections from Ukraine to Nigeria, helped the Nepalese monarch against the rebels, whereas others have developed methods to influence Eastern European and Afghan citizens for NATO. And, in 2013, SCL spun off a new company to participate in US elections: Cambridge Analytica.

Kosinski knew nothing about all this, but he had a bad feeling. "The whole thing started to stink," he recalls. On further investigation, he discovered that Aleksandr Kogan had secretly registered a company doing business with SCL. According to a December 2015 report in The Guardian and to internal company documents given to Das Magazin, it emerges that SCL learned about Kosinski's method from Kogan.

Kosinski came to suspect that Kogan's company might have reproduced the Facebook "Likes"-based Big Five measurement tool in order to sell it to this election-influencing firm. He immediately broke off contact with Kogan and informed the director of the institute, sparking a complicated conflict within the university. The institute was worried about its reputation. Aleksandr Kogan then moved to Singapore, married, and changed his name to Dr. Spectre. Michal Kosinski finished his PhD, got a job offer from Stanford and moved to the US.

Mr. Brexit

All was quiet for about a year. Then, in November 2015, the more radical of the two Brexit campaigns, "Leave.EU," supported by Nigel Farage, announced that it had commissioned a Big Data company to support its online campaign: Cambridge Analytica. The company's core strength: innovative political marketing—microtargeting—by measuring people's personality from their digital footprints, based on the OCEAN model.

After the Brexit result, friends and acquaintances wrote to him: Just look at what you've done.

Now Kosinski received emails asking what he had to do with it—the words Cambridge, personality, and analytics immediately made many people think of Kosinski. It was the first time he had heard of the company, which borrowed its name, it said, from its first employees, researchers from the university. Horrified, he looked at the website. Was his methodology being used on a grand scale for political purposes?
After the Brexit result, friends and acquaintances wrote to him: Just look at what you've done. Everywhere he went, Kosinski had to explain that he had nothing to do with this company. (It remains unclear how deeply Cambridge Analytica was involved in the Brexit campaign. Cambridge Analytica would not discuss such questions.)

For a few months, things are relatively quiet. Then, on September 19, 2016, just over a month before the US elections, the guitar riffs of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising" fill the dark-blue hall of New York's Grand Hyatt hotel. The Concordia Summit is a kind of World Economic Forum in miniature. Decision-makers from all over the world have been invited, among them Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann. "Please welcome to the stage Alexander Nix, chief executive officer of Cambridge Analytica," a smooth female voice announces. A slim man in a dark suit walks onto the stage. A hush falls. Many in attendance know that this is Trump's new digital strategy man. (A video of the presentation was posted on YouTube.)

A few weeks earlier, Trump had tweeted, somewhat cryptically, "Soon you'll be calling me Mr. Brexit." Political observers had indeed noticed some striking similarities between Trump's agenda and that of the right-wing Brexit movement. But few had noticed the connection with Trump's recent hiring of a marketing company named Cambridge Analytica.

Alexander Nix. Image: Cambridge Analytica

"Pretty much every message that Trump put out was data-driven," says Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix

Up to this point, Trump's digital campaign had consisted of more or less one person: Brad Parscale, a marketing entrepreneur and failed start-up founder who created a rudimentary website for Trump for $1,500. The 70-year-old Trump is not digitally savvy—there isn't even a computer on his office desk. Trump doesn't do emails, his personal assistant once revealed. She herself talked him into having a smartphone, from which he now tweets incessantly.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, relied heavily on the legacy of the first "social-media president," Barack Obama. She had the address lists of the Democratic Party, worked with cutting-edge big data analysts from BlueLabs and received support from Google and DreamWorks. When it was announced in June 2016 that Trump had hired Cambridge Analytica, the establishment in Washington just turned up their noses. Foreign dudes in tailor-made suits who don't understand the country and its people? Seriously?

"It is my privilege to speak to you today about the power of Big Data and psychographics in the electoral process." The logo of Cambridge Analytica— a brain composed of network nodes, like a map, appears behind Alexander Nix. "Only 18 months ago, Senator Cruz was one of the less popular candidates," explains the blonde man in a cut-glass British accent, which puts Americans on edge the same way that a standard German accent can unsettle Swiss people. "Less than 40 percent of the population had heard of him," another slide says. Cambridge Analytica had become involved in the US election campaign almost two years earlier, initially as a consultant for Republicans Ben Carson and Ted Cruz. Cruz—and later Trump—was funded primarily by the secretive US software billionaire Robert Mercer who, along with his daughter Rebekah, is reported to be the largest investor in Cambridge Analytica.

"So how did he do this?" Up to now, explains Nix, election campaigns have been organized based on demographic concepts. "A really ridiculous idea. The idea that all women should receive the same message because of their gender—or all African Americans because of their race." What Nix meant is that while other campaigners so far have relied on demographics, Cambridge Analytica was using psychometrics.

Though this might be true, Cambridge Analytica's role within Cruz's campaign isn't undisputed. In December 2015 the Cruz team credited their rising success to psychological use of data and analytics. In Advertising Age, a political client said the embedded Cambridge staff was "like an extra wheel," but found their core product, Cambridge's voter data modeling, still "excellent." The campaign would pay the company at least $5.8 million to help identify voters in the Iowa caucuses, which Cruz won, before dropping out of the race in May.

Nix clicks to the next slide: five different faces, each face corresponding to a personality profile. It is the Big Five or OCEAN Model. "At Cambridge," he said, "we were able to form a model to predict the personality of every single adult in the United States of America." The hall is captivated. According to Nix, the success of Cambridge Analytica's marketing is based on a combination of three elements: behavioral science using the OCEAN Model, Big Data analysis, and ad targeting. Ad targeting is personalized advertising, aligned as accurately as possible to the personality of an individual consumer.

Nix candidly explains how his company does this. First, Cambridge Analytica buys personal data from a range of different sources, like land registries, automotive data, shopping data, bonus cards, club memberships, what magazines you read, what churches you attend. Nix displays the logos of globally active data brokers like Acxiom and Experian—in the US, almost all personal data is for sale. For example, if you want to know where Jewish women live, you can simply buy this information, phone numbers included. Now Cambridge Analytica aggregates this data with the electoral rolls of the Republican party and online data and calculates a Big Five personality profile. Digital footprints suddenly become real people with fears, needs, interests, and residential addresses.

The methodology looks quite similar to the one that Michal Kosinski once developed. Cambridge Analytica also uses, Nix told us, "surveys on social media" and Facebook data. And the company does exactly what Kosinski warned of: "We have profiled the personality of every adult in the United States of America—220 million people," Nix boasts.

He opens the screenshot. "This is a data dashboard that we prepared for the Cruz campaign." A digital control center appears. On the left are diagrams; on the right, a map of Iowa, where Cruz won a surprisingly large number of votes in the primary. And on the map, there are hundreds of thousands of small red and blue dots. Nix narrows down the criteria: "Republicans"—the blue dots disappear; "not yet convinced"—more dots disappear; "male", and so on. Finally, only one name remains, including age, address, interests, personality and political inclination. How does Cambridge Analytica now target this person with an appropriate political message?

Alexander Nix at the 2016 Concordia Summit in New York. Image: Concordia Summit

Nix shows how psychographically categorized voters can be differently addressed, based on the example of gun rights, the 2nd Amendment: "For a highly neurotic and conscientious audience the threat of a burglary—and the insurance policy of a gun." An image on the left shows the hand of an intruder smashing a window. The right side shows a man and a child standing in a field at sunset, both holding guns, clearly shooting ducks: "Conversely, for a closed and agreeable audience. People who care about tradition, and habits, and family."

How to keep Clinton voters away from the ballot box

Trump's striking inconsistencies, his much-criticized fickleness, and the resulting array of contradictory messages, suddenly turned out to be his great asset: a different message for every voter. The notion that Trump acted like a perfectly opportunistic algorithm following audience reactions is something the mathematician Cathy O'Neil observed in August 2016.

These "dark posts"—sponsored Facebook posts that can only be seen by users with specific profiles—included videos aimed at African-Americans in which Hillary Clinton refers to black men as predators, for example.

"Pretty much every message that Trump put out was data-driven," Alexander Nix remembers. On the day of the third presidential debate between Trump and Clinton, Trump's team tested 175,000 different ad variations for his arguments, in order to find the right versions above all via Facebook. The messages differed for the most part only in microscopic details, in order to target the recipients in the optimal psychological way: different headings, colors, captions, with a photo or video. This fine-tuning reaches all the way down to the smallest groups, Nix explained in an interview with us. "We can address villages or apartment blocks in a targeted way. Even individuals."

In the Miami district of Little Haiti, for instance, Trump's campaign provided inhabitants with news about the failure of the Clinton Foundation following the earthquake in Haiti, in order to keep them from voting for Hillary Clinton. This was one of the goals: to keep potential Clinton voters (which include wavering left-wingers, African-Americans, and young women) away from the ballot box, to "suppress" their vote, as one senior campaign official told Bloomberg in the weeks before the election. These "dark posts"—sponsored news-feed-style ads in Facebook timelines that can only be seen by users with specific profiles—included videos aimed at African-Americans in which Hillary Clinton refers to black men as predators, for example.

Nix finishes his lecture at the Concordia Summit by stating that traditional blanket advertising is dead. "My children will certainly never, ever understand this concept of mass communication." And before leaving the stage, he announced that since Cruz had left the race, the company was helping one of the remaining presidential candidates.

Just how precisely the American population was being targeted by Trump's digital troops at that moment was not visible, because they attacked less on mainstream TV and more with personalized messages on social media or digital TV. And while the Clinton team thought it was in the lead, based on demographic projections, Bloomberg journalist Sasha Issenberg was surprised to note on a visit to San Antonio—where Trump's digital campaign was based—that a "second headquarters" was being created. The embedded Cambridge Analytica team, apparently only a dozen people, received $100,000 from Trump in July, $250,000 in August, and $5 million in September. According to Nix, the company earned over $15 million overall. (The company is incorporated in the US, where laws regarding the release of personal data are more lax than in European Union countries. Whereas European privacy laws require a person to "opt in" to a release of data, those in the US permit data to be released unless a user "opts out.")

Groundgame, an app for election canvassing that integrates voter data with "geospatial visualization technology," was used by campaigners for Trump and Brexit. Image: L2

The measures were radical: From July 2016, Trump's canvassers were provided with an app with which they could identify the political views and personality types of the inhabitants of a house. It was the same app provider used by Brexit campaigners. Trump's people only rang at the doors of houses that the app rated as receptive to his messages. The canvassers came prepared with guidelines for conversations tailored to the personality type of the resident. In turn, the canvassers fed the reactions into the app, and the new data flowed back to the dashboards of the Trump campaign.

Again, this is nothing new. The Democrats did similar things, but there is no evidence that they relied on psychometric profiling. Cambridge Analytica, however, divided the US population into 32 personality types, and focused on just 17 states. And just as Kosinski had established that men who like MAC cosmetics are slightly more likely to be gay, the company discovered that a preference for cars made in the US was a great indication of a potential Trump voter. Among other things, these findings now showed Trump which messages worked best and where. The decision to focus on Michigan and Wisconsin in the final weeks of the campaign was made on the basis of data analysis. The candidate became the instrument for implementing a big data model.


What's Next?

But to what extent did psychometric methods influence the outcome of the election? When asked, Cambridge Analytica was unwilling to provide any proof of the effectiveness of its campaign. And it is quite possible that the question is impossible to answer.

And yet there are clues: There is the fact of the surprising rise of Ted Cruz during the primaries. Also there was an increased number of voters in rural areas. There was the decline in the number of African-American early votes. The fact that Trump spent so little money may also be explained by the effectiveness of personality-based advertising. As does the fact that he invested far more in digital than TV campaigning compared to Hillary Clinton. Facebook proved to be the ultimate weapon and the best election campaigner, as Nix explained, and as comments by several core Trump campaigners demonstrate.

Cambridge Analytica counts among its clients the U.S. State Department, and has been reported to have communicated with British Prime Minister Theresa May, pictured here with Secretary of State John Kerry on July 19, 2016. Image: U.S. Dept. of State

Many voices have claimed that the statisticians lost the election because their predictions were so off the mark. But what if statisticians in fact helped win the election—but only those who were using the new method? It is an irony of history that Trump, who often grumbled about scientific research, used a highly scientific approach in his campaign.


Another big winner is Cambridge Analytica. Its board member Steve Bannon, former executive chair of the right-wing online newspaper Breitbart News, has been appointed as Donald Trump's senior counselor and chief strategist. Whilst Cambridge Analytica is not willing to comment on alleged ongoing talks with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Alexander Nix claims that he is building up his client base worldwide, and that he has received inquiries from Switzerland, Germany, and Australia. His company is currently touring European conferences showcasing their success in the United States. This year three core countries of the EU are facing elections with resurgent populist parties: France, Holland and Germany. The electoral successes come at an opportune time, as the company is readying for a push into commercial advertising.

Kosinski has observed all of this from his office at Stanford. Following the US election, the university is in turmoil. Kosinski is responding to developments with the sharpest weapon available to a researcher: a scientific analysis. Together with his research colleague Sandra Matz, he has conducted a series of tests, which will soon be published. The initial results are alarming: The study shows the effectiveness of personality targeting by showing that marketers can attract up to 63 percent more clicks and up to 1,400 more conversions in real-life advertising campaigns on Facebook when matching products and marketing messages to consumers' personality characteristics. They further demonstrate the scalability of personality targeting by showing that the majority of Facebook Pages promoting products or brands are affected by personality and that large numbers of consumers can be accurately targeted based on a single Facebook Page.

In a statement after the German publication of this article, a Cambridge Analytica spokesperson said, "Cambridge Analytica does not use data from Facebook. It has had no dealings with Dr. Michal Kosinski. It does not subcontract research. It does not use the same methodology. Psychographics was hardly used at all. Cambridge Analytica did not engage in efforts to discourage any Americans from casting their vote in the presidential election. Its efforts were solely directed towards increasing the number of voters in the election."

The world has been turned upside down. Great Britain is leaving the EU, Donald Trump is president of the United States of America. And in Stanford, Kosinski, who wanted to warn against the danger of using psychological targeting in a political setting, is once again receiving accusatory emails. "No," says Kosinski, quietly and shaking his head. "This is not my fault. I did not build the bomb. I only showed that it exists."
https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/arti ... -trump-win

seemslikeadream » Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:09 pm wrote:
At height of Russia tensions, Trump campaign chairman Manafort met with business associate from Ukraine

Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, walks the floor at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 21, 2016. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)
By Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Rachel Weiner June 19 at 11:44 AM
In August, as tension mounted over Russia’s role in the U.S. presidential race, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, sat down to dinner with a business associate from Ukraine who once served in the Russian army.

Konstantin Kilimnik, who learned English at a military school that some experts consider a training ground for Russian spies, had helped run the Ukraine office for Manafort’s international political consulting practice for 10 years.

At the Grand Havana Room, one of New York City’s most exclusive cigar bars, the longtime acquaintances “talked about bills unpaid by our clients, about [the] overall situation in Ukraine . . . and about the current news,” including the presidential campaign, according to a statement provided by Kilimnik, offering his most detailed account of his interactions with the former Trump adviser.

Kilimnik, who provided a written statement to The Washington Post through Manafort’s attorney, said the previously unreported dinner was one of two meetings he had with Manafort on visits to the United States during Manafort’s five months working for Trump. The first encounter was in early May 2016, about two weeks before the Trump adviser was elevated to campaign chairman.

The August dinner came about two weeks before Manafort resigned under pressure amid reports that he had received improper payments for his political work in Ukraine, allegations that he has denied.

Sean Spicer said using Paul Manafort, who was Trump's campaign manager for part of the 2016 presidential race, as an example to prove collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is "ridiculous," because he was an "individual who was there for a short period of time." (Video: Reuters / Photo: Jabin Bostford/The Washington Post)
Kilimnik is of interest to investigators on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is examining possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia, said a person familiar with the inquiry.

Kilimnik’s name also appeared this spring in a previously undisclosed subpoena sought by federal prosecutors looking for information “concerning contracts for work . . . communication or other records of correspondence” related to about two dozen people and businesses that appeared to be connected to Manafort or his wife, including some who worked with Manafort in Kiev.

The subpoena was issued by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia, where, until recently, Manafort’s business was headquartered. The subpoena did not specify whether it was related to the FBI’s investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. election or a separate inquiry into Manafort’s business activities. Investigators in the Eastern District of Virginia have been assisting with the Russia investigation.

In Ukraine, Kilimnik’s political adversaries have said he may be working with Russian intelligence. U.S. officials have not made that charge.

Kilimnik rejected the allegation, telling The Post in his written statement that he has “no relation to the Russian or any other intelligence service.”

His dinner with Manafort came as Trump’s campaign chairman was facing mounting questions about his work in Ukraine and his business ties to allies of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.

Kilimnik said his meetings with Manafort were “private visits” that were “in no way related to politics or the presidential campaign in the U.S.” He said he did not meet with Trump or other campaign staff members, nor did he attend the Republican National Convention, which took place shortly before the Grand Havana Room session. However, he said the meetings with Manafort included discussions “related to the perception of the U.S. presidential campaign in Ukraine.”

As a lobbyist and political consultant in the 1980s, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort worked with international clients that included two dictators who were then allied with the United States. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)
Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said that Kilimnik was a “longtime business associate” who would have naturally been in touch with Manafort. Manafort told Politico, which first reported his relationship with Kilimnik, that his conversations included discussions about the cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee and the release of its emails.

“It would be neither surprising nor suspicious that two political consultants would chat about the political news of the day, including the DNC hack, which was in the news,” Maloni said.

He added, “We’re confident that serious officials will come to the conclusion that Paul’s campaign conduct and interaction with Konstantin during that time was perfectly permissible and not in furtherance of some conspiracy.”

Before joining Trump’s campaign, Manafort had built a practice in Ukraine as an adviser to the Russia-friendly Party of Regions and helped elect former president Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in 2014 and fled to Russia. Manafort kept his Kiev office open until mid-2015.

Federal investigators have shown an interest in Manafort on several fronts beyond his work on behalf of Trump.

Subpoenas in New York have sought information about Manafort’s real estate loans, according to NBC News. Justice Department officials also are exploring whether Manafort should have more fully disclosed his work for foreign political parties, as required by federal law.

Former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III has been appointed special counsel to oversee the Russia inquiry, and people familiar with his work said his office has now taken over investigations of Manafort’s conduct unrelated directly to the Russia probe.

A spokesman for the Eastern District of Virginia declined to discuss the subpoena there. A spokesman for Mueller also declined to comment.

Manafort’s relationship with Kilimnik shows the challenge facing investigators as they seek to determine whether contacts between Russian allies and Trump associates during the height of Russian interference in the campaign amounted to collusion or reflected routine interactions between people with relationships unrelated to the campaign.

Kilimnik said he grew up in southeastern Ukraine, which was then part of the Soviet Union. He said he moved to Moscow in 1987, when he was 17, and enrolled in the Military Institute of the Ministry for Defense, an elite academy for training military translators.

Kilimnik said he was trained in English and Swedish and spent the early 1990s serving as a military translator, including in 1993 on a trade mission of a Russian arms company.

He said the GRU, the military intelligence service that U.S. officials have linked to the 2016 cyberattacks, did not recruit from his language academy.

“No one ever spoke to me ever about doing any intelligence work — neither Russians or Ukrainians or any other foreign country,” he said.

Some experts disputed Kilimnik’s description of the Moscow academy.

Stephen Blank, a Russia expert at the American Foreign Policy Council, a Washington think tank, and a longtime former instructor at the U.S. Army War College, called the institute a “breeding ground” for intelligence officers.

Mark Galeotti, a Russia security specialist at the Institute of International Relations, a Prague-based foreign policy think tank, said the school is one of the “favored recruiting grounds” of the GRU.

In 1995, amid uncertainty in the post-Soviet economy, Kilimnik said he needed money and took a job as a translator for the International Republican Institute, a pro-democracy group affiliated with the U.S. Republican Party.

People who worked with Kilimnik said he was proficient in several languages and a savvy reader of people.

“I relied on him,” said Sam Patten, who was Kilimnik’s boss at the Moscow office of IRI from 2001 to 2004.

At the time, Kilimnik openly discussed his work in the Russian army, said Phil Griffin, a political consultant who hired him at the IRI. “He was completely upfront about his past work with Russian military intelligence,” Griffin said. “It was no big deal.”

Julia Sibley, a spokeswoman for the IRI, confirmed that Kilimnik worked for the organization a decade ago but declined to provide additional information.

In 2005, Griffin, who had left Moscow to work for Manafort in Ukraine, invited Kilimnik to join him there, according to both men.

Kilimnik said he has worked largely in Ukraine ever since, although he declined to say whether he has become a Ukrainian citizen.

Kilimnik’s role for Manafort grew over time. Beyond his work as a translator, Kilimnik would “help Manafort understand the political context and why people were doing what they were doing,” Patten said.

People familiar with Kilimnik’s work in Ukraine for Manafort say his assignments included meeting with powerful Ukrainian politicians and serving as a liaison to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, who is close to Putin and did business with Manafort.

A spokeswoman for Deripaska did not respond to a request for comment.

In August, Volodymyr Ariev, a member of the Ukrainian parliament who represents a party that opposed Manafort’s clients, requested that Ukraine’s top prosecutor investigate whether Kilimnik had worked with Russian intelligence services.

A spokeswoman for the prosecutor did not respond to questions from The Post. The prosecutor’s office told Politico in March that Kilimnik was “not being processed now as a witness, suspect or accused.”

Others viewed Kilimnik as more aligned with Washington than Moscow.

Oleg Voloshin, who served as a spokesman for the foreign minister of Ukraine under Yanukovych, said Manafort and Kilimnik were pushing Yanukovych to ally with Europe rather than Russia, which angered some in Yanukovych’s party.

“Kilimnik was always trying to promote this message — if you want to be successful here, you want to look westward,” Voloshin said.

Kilimnik was also well known at the U.S. Embassy, and officials there and at other western embassies appeared to trust him, meeting with him frequently to discuss Ukrainian politics, said people familiar with his work.

“He’s not working for the Russians,” said a foreign policy expert close to Republicans who was working in Ukraine at the time. “If anything, he’s working for us.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics ... 377a7f1465

Paul Manafort admits he dined with Russian spy figure just before becoming Donald Trump’s campaign chairman
By Bill Palmer
Updated: 10:01 pm EDT Mon Jun 19, 2017 | 0
Home » Politics

On a day in which former Donald Trump adviser Michael Flynn was threatening to take all the unwanted headlines for himself, it turns out former Trump adviser Paul Manafort is suddenly back in the spotlight as well. In response to earlier subpoenas from the Eastern District Court of Virginia, it’s come to light that Manafort had dinner with an alleged Kremlin spy figure just two weeks before he became the chairman of the Trump campaign.

Konstantin Kilimnik is a Ukrainian political operative who is widely suspected by Ukrainians of being a Russian government spy for the Kremlin. His name surfaced in a subpoena, according to the Washington Post (link), prompting him to admit that he did indeed meet with Manafort. But that’s just the beginning.

Manafort is also admitting to the meeting. But both Manafort and Kilimnik are insisting that the dinner somehow had nothing to with the Donald Trump campaign or Russia, and that it was all just a grand coincidence. Kilimnik is also insisting that he has nothing to do with the Kremlin. But Kilimnik does have plenty to do with the Trump campaign. Back in March, it was reported by Politico (link) that he flew to the United States for the Republican National Convention, helping to get the Republican Party platform changed in Russia’s favor.

It’s also notable that while Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik are both publicly pleading their innocence when it comes to any Trump-Russia collusion, they did both cooperate with the subpoena by providing a response and admitting to their dinner together. This in turn raises the question of what other ways in which Manafort may be cooperating with the Feds. And in almost surreal fashion that may not be coincidental, this comes on the same day that Senator Sheldon Whitehouse stated during a CNN interview that he thinks Michael Flynn has already flipped on Donald Trump.
http://www.palmerreport.com/politics/pa ... rman/3532/

Close Manafort Ally Is Latest Trump Campaign Figure Caught In Russia Mess

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, center, talks with production crew during a walk through in preparation for his speech at the Republican National Convention, Thursday, July 21, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Evan Vucci/AP
By ALLEGRA KIRKLAND Published JUNE 16, 2017 4:35 PM
The circle of people under scrutiny in the various investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election apparently has widened to include Rick Gates (pictured at left), former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s closest ally on the trail.

According to a memo sent out to former campaign officials and obtained by various news outlets, a lawyer for President Donald Trump’s transition team requested the preservation of all documents related to Russia and Ukraine, as well as travel records and all documents connected to a small handful of former campaign officials. Gates’ name was on that list, sandwiched between other Trump allies known to be under federal investigation like Manafort and Michael Flynn, the ousted national security adviser.

Gates told the New York Times on Thursday that he has not been contacted by federal officials. He brushed aside any allegations of personal wrongdoing, telling the newspaper “Everything was done legally and with the approval of our lawyers.”

“Everybody has tried to take these instances of anyone in the Trump orbit doing something in Russia, and then fast-forwarding however many years, and then saying it is evidence of collusion with Russia on the election,” Gates griped to the Times. “It’s totally ridiculous and without merit.”

Manafort and Gates joined the campaign together in spring 2016 to assist with preparations for the Republican National Convention. The duo was tasked with convincing delegates to vote in Trump’s favor, and worked from a box on Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena nicknamed “The Eagle’s Nest”—a reference to a Nazi Party country home gifted to Adolf Hitler, according to a Daily Beast report.

After Manafort was ousted from the campaign over reports that he received off-the-books payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, Gates hung on, serving as a liaison to the Republican National Committee and assisting Trump donor Thomas Barrack Jr. with preparations for the inauguration. In January, he joined America First Policies, a new pro-Trump outfit organized by the campaign’s digital director, Brad Parscale, and former surrogate Katrina Pierson. He served there until March, when he reportedly was forced out over concerns about the work he and Manafort undertook in Ukraine.

That work is outlined in detail in the New York Times profile out Friday, which lays out the years Gates has spent as Manafort’s protege. They first crossed paths in 2006 at lobbying firm Davis Manafort, where they worked to bolster the image of Ukraine’s Moscow-friendly former president Viktor Yanukovych. As the Times reported last year, Manafort was slated to receive $12.7 million in cash payments in a secret ledger of cash payments maintained by Yanukovych’s political party.

Gates’ name did not appear in that ledger, but he played a key role in seeking investment deals with Kremlin-allied oligarchs across Eastern Europe such as aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska.

Manafort’s financial dealings have been under scrutiny by federal investigators since 2014, and the federal Russia probe now involves agents from the Treasury Department division specializing in money laundering.
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/rick-ga ... sia-probes

seemslikeadream » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:12 am wrote:what did Parscale do to earn all that money?

"Giles-Parscale received over $91 million from the Trump campaign and an allied super PAC over an 18-month period."

The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked

A shadowy global operation involving big data, billionaire friends of Trump and the disparate forces of the Leave campaign influenced the result of the EU referendum. As Britain heads to the polls again, is our electoral process still fit for purpose?
by Carole Cadwalladr
Sunday 7 May 2017 04.00 EDT

“The connectivity that is the heart of globalisation can be exploited by states with hostile intent to further their aims.[…] The risks at stake are profound and represent a fundamental threat to our sovereignty.”
Alex Younger, head of MI6, December, 2016

“It’s not MI6’s job to warn of internal threats. It was a very strange speech. Was it one branch of the intelligence services sending a shot across the bows of another? Or was it pointed at Theresa May’s government? Does she know something she’s not telling us?”
Senior intelligence analyst, April 2017

In June 2013, a young American postgraduate called Sophie was passing through London when she called up the boss of a firm where she’d previously interned. The company, SCL Elections, went on to be bought by Robert Mercer, a secretive hedge fund billionaire, renamed Cambridge Analytica, and achieved a certain notoriety as the data analytics firm that played a role in both Trump and Brexit campaigns. But all of this was still to come. London in 2013 was still basking in the afterglow of the Olympics. Britain had not yet Brexited. The world had not yet turned.

“That was before we became this dark, dystopian data company that gave the world Trump,” a former Cambridge Analytica employee who I’ll call Paul tells me. “It was back when we were still just a psychological warfare firm.”

Was that really what you called it, I ask him. Psychological warfare? “Totally. That’s what it is. Psyops. Psychological operations – the same methods the military use to effect mass sentiment change. It’s what they mean by winning ‘hearts and minds’. We were just doing it to win elections in the kind of developing countries that don’t have many rules.”

Why would anyone want to intern with a psychological warfare firm, I ask him. And he looks at me like I am mad. “It was like working for MI6. Only it’s MI6 for hire. It was very posh, very English, run by an old Etonian and you got to do some really cool things. Fly all over the world. You were working with the president of Kenya or Ghana or wherever. It’s not like election campaigns in the west. You got to do all sorts of crazy shit.”

On that day in June 2013, Sophie met up with SCL’s chief executive, Alexander Nix, and gave him the germ of an idea. “She said, ‘You really need to get into data.’ She really drummed it home to Alexander. And she suggested he meet this firm that belonged to someone she knew about through her father.”

Who’s her father?

“Eric Schmidt.”

Eric Schmidt – the chairman of Google?

“Yes. And she suggested Alexander should meet this company called Palantir.”

I had been speaking to former employees of Cambridge Analytica for months and heard dozens of hair-raising stories, but it was still a gobsmacking moment. To anyone concerned about surveillance, Palantir is practically now a trigger word. The data-mining firm has contracts with governments all over the world – including GCHQ and the NSA. It’s owned by Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of eBay and PayPal, who became Silicon Valley’s first vocal supporter of Trump.

In some ways, Eric Schmidt’s daughter showing up to make an introduction to Palantir is just another weird detail in the weirdest story I have ever researched.

A weird but telling detail. Because it goes to the heart of why the story of Cambridge Analytica is one of the most profoundly unsettling of our time. Sophie Schmidt now works for another Silicon Valley megafirm: Uber. And what’s clear is that the power and dominance of the Silicon Valley – Google and Facebook and a small handful of others – are at the centre of the global tectonic shift we are currently witnessing.

It also reveals a critical and gaping hole in the political debate in Britain. Because what is happening in America and what is happening in Britain are entwined. Brexit and Trump are entwined. The Trump administration’s links to Russia and Britain are entwined. And Cambridge Analytica is one point of focus through which we can see all these relationships in play; it also reveals the elephant in the room as we hurtle into a general election: Britain tying its future to an America that is being remade - in a radical and alarming way - by Trump.

There are three strands to this story. How the foundations of an authoritarian surveillance state are being laid in the US. How British democracy was subverted through a covert, far-reaching plan of coordination enabled by a US billionaire. And how we are in the midst of a massive land grab for power by billionaires via our data. Data which is being silently amassed, harvested and stored. Whoever owns this data owns the future.

My entry point into this story began, as so many things do, with a late-night Google. Last December, I took an unsettling tumble into a wormhole of Google autocomplete suggestions that ended with “did the holocaust happen”. And an entire page of results that claimed it didn’t.

Google’s algorithm had been gamed by extremist sites and it was Jonathan Albright, a professor of communications at Elon University, North Carolina, who helped me get to grips with what I was seeing. He was the first person to map and uncover an entire “alt-right” news and information ecosystem and he was the one who first introduced me to Cambridge Analytica.

He called the company a central point in the right’s “propaganda machine”, a line I quoted in reference to its work for the Trump election campaign and the referendum Leave campaign. That led to the second article featuring Cambridge Analytica – as a central node in the alternative news and information network that I believed Robert Mercer and Steve Bannon, the key Trump aide who is now his chief strategist, were creating. I found evidence suggesting they were on a strategic mission to smash the mainstream media and replace it with one comprising alternative facts, fake history and rightwing propaganda.

Mercer is a brilliant computer scientist, a pioneer in early artificial intelligence, and the co-owner of one of the most successful hedge funds on the planet (with a gravity-defying 71.8% annual return). And, he is also, I discovered, good friends with Nigel Farage. Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU’s communications director, told me that it was Mercer who had directed his company, Cambridge Analytica, to “help” the Leave campaign.

The second article triggered two investigations, which are both continuing: one by the Information Commissioner’s Office into the possible illegal use of data. And a second by the Electoral Commission which is “focused on whether one or more donations – including services – accepted by Leave.EU was ‘impermissable’”.

What I then discovered is that Mercer’s role in the referendum went far beyond this. Far beyond the jurisdiction of any UK law. The key to understanding how a motivated and determined billionaire could bypass ourelectoral laws rests on AggregateIQ, an obscure web analytics company based in an office above a shop in Victoria, British Columbia.

It was with AggregateIQ that Vote Leave (the official Leave campaign) chose to spend £3.9m, more than half its official £7m campaign budget. As did three other affiliated Leave campaigns: BeLeave, Veterans for Britain and the Democratic Unionist party, spending a further £757,750. “Coordination” between campaigns is prohibited under UK electoral law, unless campaign expenditure is declared, jointly. It wasn’t. Vote Leave says the Electoral Commission “looked into this” and gave it “a clean bill of health”.

How did an obscure Canadian company come to play such a pivotal role in Brexit? It’s a question that Martin Moore, director of the centre for the study of communication, media and power at King’s College London has been asking too. “I went through all the Leave campaign invoices when the Electoral Commission uploaded them to its site in February. And I kept on discovering all these huge amounts going to a company that not only had I never heard of, but that there was practically nothing at all about on the internet. More money was spent with AggregateIQ than with any other company in any other campaign in the entire referendum. All I found, at that time, was a one-page website and that was it. It was an absolute mystery.”

Moore contributed to an LSE report published in April that concluded UK’s electoral laws were “weak and helpless” in the face of new forms of digital campaigning. Offshore companies, money poured into databases, unfettered third parties… the caps on spending had come off. The laws that had always underpinned Britain’s electoral laws were no longer fit for purpose. Laws, the report said, that needed “urgently reviewing by parliament”.

AggregateIQ holds the key to unravelling another complicated network of influence that Mercer has created. A source emailed me to say he had found that AggregateIQ’s address and telephone number corresponded to a company listed on Cambridge Analytica’s website as its overseas office: “SCL Canada”. A day later, that online reference vanished.

There had to be a connection between the two companies. Between the various Leave campaigns. Between the referendum and Mercer. It was too big a coincidence. But everyone – AggregateIQ, Cambridge Analytica, Leave.EU, Vote Leave – denied it. AggregateIQ had just been a short-term “contractor” to Cambridge Analytica. There was nothing to disprove this. We published the known facts. On 29 March, article 50 was triggered.

Then I meet Paul, the first of two sources formerly employed by Cambridge Analytica. He is in his late 20s and bears mental scars from his time there. “It’s almost like post-traumatic shock. It was so… messed up. It happened so fast. I just woke up one morning and found we’d turned into the Republican fascist party. I still can’t get my head around it.”

He laughed when I told him the frustrating mystery that was AggregateIQ. “Find Chris Wylie,” he said.

Who’s Chris Wylie?

“He’s the one who brought data and micro-targeting [individualised political messages] to Cambridge Analytica. And he’s from west Canada. It’s only because of him that AggregateIQ exist. They’re his friends. He’s the one who brought them in.”

There wasn’t just a relationship between Cambridge Analytica and AggregateIQ, Paul told me. They were intimately entwined, key nodes in Robert Mercer’s distributed empire. “The Canadians were our back office. They built our software for us. They held our database. If AggregateIQ is involved then Cambridge Analytica is involved. And if Cambridge Analytica is involved, then Robert Mercer and Steve Bannon are involved. You need to find Chris Wylie.”

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I did find Chris Wylie. He refused to comment.

Key to understanding how data would transform the company is knowing where it came from. And it’s a letter from “Director of Defence Operations, SCL Group”, that helped me realise this. It’s from “Commander Steve Tatham, PhD, MPhil, Royal Navy (rtd)” complaining about my use in my Mercer article of the word “disinformation”.

I wrote back to him pointing out references in papers he’d written to “deception” and “propaganda”, which I said I understood to be “roughly synonymous with ‘disinformation’.” It’s only later that it strikes me how strange it is that I’m corresponding with a retired navy commander about military strategies that may have been used in British and US elections.

What’s been lost in the US coverage of this “data analytics” firm is the understanding of where the firm came from: deep within the military-industrial complex. A weird British corner of it populated, as the military establishment in Britain is, by old-school Tories. Geoffrey Pattie, a former parliamentary under-secretary of state for defence procurement and director of Marconi Defence Systems, used to be on the board, and Lord Marland, David Cameron’s pro-Brexit former trade envoy, a shareholder.

Steve Tatham was the head of psychological operations for British forces in Afghanistan. The Observer has seen letters endorsing him from the UK Ministry of Defence, the Foreign Office and Nato.

SCL/Cambridge Analytica was not some startup created by a couple of guys with a Mac PowerBook. It’s effectively part of the British defence establishment. And, now, too, the American defence establishment. An ex-commanding officer of the US Marine Corps operations centre, Chris Naler, has recently joined Iota Global, a partner of the SCL group.

This is not just a story about social psychology and data analytics. It has to be understood in terms of a military contractor using military strategies on a civilian population. Us. David Miller, a professor of sociology at Bath University and an authority in psyops and propaganda, says it is “an extraordinary scandal that this should be anywhere near a democracy. It should be clear to voters where information is coming from, and if it’s not transparent or open where it’s coming from, it raises the question of whether we are actually living in a democracy or not.”

Paul and David, another ex-Cambridge Analytica employee, were working at the firm when it introduced mass data-harvesting to its psychological warfare techniques. “It brought psychology, propaganda and technology together in this powerful new way,” David tells me.

And it was Facebook that made it possible. It was from Facebook that Cambridge Analytica obtained its vast dataset in the first place. Earlier, psychologists at Cambridge University harvested Facebook data (legally) for research purposes and published pioneering peer-reviewed work about determining personality traits, political partisanship, sexuality and much more from people’s Facebook “likes”. And SCL/Cambridge Analytica contracted a scientist at the university, Dr Aleksandr Kogan, to harvest new Facebook data. And he did so by paying people to take a personality quiz which also allowed not just their own Facebook profiles to be harvested, but also those of their friends – a process then allowed by the social network.

Facebook was the source of the psychological insights that enabled Cambridge Analytica to target individuals. It was also the mechanism that enabled them to be delivered on a large scale.

The company also (perfectly legally) bought consumer datasets – on everything from magazine subscriptions to airline travel – and uniquely it appended these with the psych data to voter files. It matched all this information to people’s addresses, their phone numbers and often their email addresses. “The goal is to capture every single aspect of every voter’s information environment,” said David. “And the personality data enabled Cambridge Analytica to craft individual messages.”

Finding “persuadable” voters is key for any campaign and with its treasure trove of data, Cambridge Analytica could target people high in neuroticism, for example, with images of immigrants “swamping” the country. The key is finding emotional triggers for each individual voter.

Cambridge Analytica worked on campaigns in several key states for a Republican political action committee. Its key objective, according to a memo the Observer has seen, was “voter disengagement” and “to persuade Democrat voters to stay at home”: a profoundly disquieting tactic. It has previously been claimed that suppression tactics were used in the campaign, but this document provides the first actual evidence.

But does it actually work? One of the criticisms that has been levelled at my and others’ articles is that Cambridge Analytica’s “special sauce” has been oversold. Is what it is doing any different from any other political consultancy?

“It’s not a political consultancy,” says David. “You have to understand this is not a normal company in any way. I don’t think Mercer even cares if it ever makes any money. It’s the product of a billionaire spending huge amounts of money to build his own experimental science lab, to test what works, to find tiny slivers of influence that can tip an election. Robert Mercer did not invest in this firm until it ran a bunch of pilots – controlled trials. This is one of the smartest computer scientists in the world. He is not going to splash $15m on bullshit.”

Tamsin Shaw, an associate professor of philosophy at New York University, helps me understand the context. She has researched the US military’s funding and use of psychological research for use in torture. “The capacity for this science to be used to manipulate emotions is very well established. This is military-funded technology that has been harnessed by a global plutocracy and is being used to sway elections in ways that people can’t even see, don’t even realise is happening to them,” she says. “It’s about exploiting existing phenomenon like nationalism and then using it to manipulate people at the margins. To have so much data in the hands of a bunch of international plutocrats to do with it what they will is absolutely chilling.

“We are in an information war and billionaires are buying up these companies, which are then employed to go to work in the heart of government. That’s a very worrying situation.”

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The right is rewriting history on the web. We must seize back control | Carole Cadwalladr
Carole Cadwalladr Read more

A project that Cambridge Analytica carried out in Trinidad in 2013 brings all the elements in this story together. Just as Robert Mercer began his negotiations with SCL boss Alexander Nix about an acquisition, SCL was retained by several government ministers in Trinidad and Tobago. The brief involved developing a micro-targeting programme for the governing party of the time. And AggregateIQ – the same company involved in delivering Brexit for Vote Leave – was brought in to build the targeting platform.

David said: “The standard SCL/CA method is that you get a government contract from the ruling party. And this pays for the political work. So, it’s often some bullshit health project that’s just a cover for getting the minister re-elected. But in this case, our government contacts were with Trinidad’s national security council.”

The security work was to be the prize for the political work. Documents seen by the Observer show that this was a proposal to capture citizens’ browsing history en masse, recording phone conversations and applying natural language processing to the recorded voice data to construct a national police database, complete with scores for each citizen on their propensity to commit crime.

“The plan put to the minister was Minority Report. It was pre-crime. And the fact that Cambridge Analytica is now working inside the Pentagon is, I think, absolutely terrifying,” said David.

These documents throw light on a significant and under-reported aspect of the Trump administration. The company that helped Trump achieve power in the first place has now been awarded contracts in the Pentagon and the US state department. Its former vice-president Steve Bannon now sits in the White House. It is also reported to be in discussions for “military and homeland security work”.

In the US, the government is bound by strict laws about what data it can collect on individuals. But, for private companies anything goes. Is it unreasonable to see in this the possible beginnings of an authoritarian surveillance state?

A state that is bringing corporate interests into the heart of the administration. Documents detail Cambridge Analytica is involved with many other right-leaning billionaires, including Rupert Murdoch. One memo references Cambridge Analytica trying to place an article with a journalist in Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal: “RM re-channeled and connected with Jamie McCauley from Robert Thomson News Corp office,” it says.

It makes me think again about the story involving Sophie Schmidt, Cambridge Analytica and Palantir. Is it a telling detail, or is it a clue to something else going on? Cambridge Analytica and Palantir both declined to comment for this article on whether they had any relationship. But witnesses and emails confirm that meetings between Cambridge Analytica and Palantir took place in 2013. The possibility of a working relationship was at least discussed.

Further documents seen by the Observer confirm that at least one senior Palantir employee consulted with Cambridge Analytica in relation to the Trinidad project and later political work in the US. But at the time, I’m told, Palantir decided it was too much of a reputational risk for a more formal arrangement. There was no upside to it. Palantir is a company that is trusted to handle vast datasets on UK and US citizens for GCHQ and the NSA, as well as many other countries.

Now though, they are both owned by ideologically aligned billionaires: Robert Mercer and Peter Thiel. The Trump campaign has said that Thiel helped it with data. A campaign that was led by Steve Bannon, who was then at Cambridge Analytica.

A leading QC who spends a lot of time in the investigatory powers tribunal said that the problem with this technology was that it all depended on whose hands it was in.

“On the one hand, it’s being done by companies and governments who say ‘you can trust us, we are good and democratic and bake cakes at the weekend’. But then the same expertise can also be sold on to whichever repressive regime.”

In Britain, we still trust our government. We respect our authorities to uphold our laws. We trust the rule of law. We believe we live in a free and fair democracy. Which is what, I believe, makes the last part of this story so profoundly unsettling.

Donald Trump with Peter Thiel, one of his key Silicon Valley supporters. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
The details of the Trinidad project finally unlocked the mystery that was AggregateIQ. Trinidad was SCL’s first project using big data for micro-targeting before the firm was acquired by Mercer. It was the model that Mercer was buying into. And it brought together all the players: the Cambridge psychologist Aleksandr Kogan, AggregateIQ, Chris Wylie, and two other individuals who would play a role in this story: Mark Gettleson, a focus group expert who had previously worked for the Lib Dems. And Thomas Borwick, the son of Victoria Borwick, the Conservative MP for Kensington.

When my article linking Mercer and Leave.EU was published in February, no one was more upset about it than former Tory adviser Dominic Cummings, the campaign strategist for Vote Leave. He launched an irate Twitter tirade. The piece was “full of errors & itself spreads disinformation” “CA had ~0% role in Brexit referendum”.

A week later the Observer revealed AggregateIQ’s possible link to Cambridge Analytica. Cummings’s Twitter feed went quiet. He didn’t return my messages or my emails.

Questions had already been swirling about whether there had been any coordination between the Leave campaigns. In the week before the referendum, Vote Leave donated money to two other Leave groups – £625,000 to BeLeave, run by fashion student Darren Grimes, and £100,000 to Veterans for Britain, who both then spent this money with AggregateIQ.

The Electoral Commission has written to AggregateIQ. A source close to the investigation said that AggregateIQ responded by saying it had signed a non-disclosure agreement. And since it was outside British jurisdiction, that was the end of it. Vote Leave refers to this as the Electoral Commission giving it “a clean bill of health”.

On his blog, Dominic Cummings has written thousands of words about the referendum campaign. What is missing is any details about his data scientists. He “hired physicists” is all he’ll say. In the books on Brexit, other members of the team talk about “Dom’s astrophysicists”, who he kept “a tightly guarded secret”. They built models, using data “scraped” off Facebook.

Finally, after weeks of messages, he sent me an email. We were agreed on one thing, it turned out. He wrote: “The law/regulatory agencies are such a joke the reality is that anybody who wanted to cheat the law could do it easily without people realising.” But, he says, “by encouraging people to focus on non-stories like Mercer’s nonexistent role in the referendum you are obscuring these important issues”.

And to finally answer the question about how Vote Leave found this obscure Canadian company on the other side of the planet, he wrote: “Someone found AIQ [AggregateIQ] on the internet and interviewed them on the phone then told me – let’s go with these guys. They were clearly more competent than any others we’d spoken to in London.”

The most unfortunate aspect of this – for Dominic Cummings – is that this isn’t credible. It’s the work of moments to put a date filter on Google search and discover that in late 2015 or early 2016, there are no Google hits for “Aggregate IQ”. There is no press coverage. No random mentions. It doesn’t even throw up its website. I have caught Dominic Cummings in what appears to be an alternative fact.

But what is an actual fact is that Gettleson and Borwick, both previously consultants for SCL and Cambridge Analytica, were both core members of the Vote Leave team. They’re both in the official Vote Leave documents lodged with the Electoral Commission, though they coyly describe their previous work for SCL/Cambridge Analytica as “micro-targeting in Antigua and Trinidad” and “direct communications for several PACs, Senate and Governor campaigns”.

And Borwick wasn’t just any member of the team. He was Vote Leave’s chief technology officer.

This story may involve a complex web of connections, but it all comes back to Cambridge Analytica. It all comes back to Mercer. Because the connections must have been evident. “AggregateIQ may not have belonged to the Mercers but they exist within his world,” David told me. “Almost all of their contracts came from Cambridge Analytica or Mercer. They wouldn’t exist without them. During the whole time the referendum was going on, they were working every day on the [Ted] Cruz campaign with Mercer and Cambridge Analytica. AggregateIQ built and ran Cambridge Analytica’s database platforms.”

Infographic on how the Brexit campaigns were linked
Illustration: James Melaugh
Cummings won’t say who did his modelling. But invoices lodged with the Electoral Commission show payments to a company called Advanced Skills Institute. It takes me weeks to spot the significance of this because the company is usually referred to as ASI Data Science, a company that has a revolving cast of data scientists who have gone on to work with Cambridge Analytica and vice versa. There are videos of ASI data scientists presenting Cambridge Analytica personality models and pages for events the two companies have jointly hosted. ASI told the Observer it had no formal relationship with Cambridge Analytica.

Here’s the crucial fact: during the US primary elections, Aggregate IQ signed away its intellectual property (IP). It didn’t own its IP: Robert Mercer did. For AggregateIQ to work with another campaign in Britain, the firm would have to have had the express permission of Mercer. Asked if it would make any comment on financial or business links between “Cambridge Analytica, Robert Mercer, Steve Bannon, AggregateIQ, Leave.EU and Vote Leave”, a spokesperson for Cambridge Analytica said: “Cambridge Analytica did no paid or unpaid work for Leave.EU.”

This story isn’t about cunning Dominic Cummings finding a few loopholes in the Electoral Commission’s rules. Finding a way to spend an extra million quid here. Or (as the Observer has also discovered )underdeclaring the costs of his physicists on the spending returns by £43,000. This story is not even about what appears to be covert coordination between Vote Leave and Leave.EU in their use of AggregateIQ and Cambridge Analytica. It’s about how a motivated US billionaire – Mercer and his chief ideologue, Bannon – helped to bring about the biggest constitutional change to Britain in a century.

Because to understand where and how Brexit is connected to Trump, it’s right here. These relationships, which thread through the middle of Cambridge Analytica, are the result of a transatlantic partnership that stretches back years. Nigel Farage and Bannon have been close associates since at least 2012. Bannon opened the London arm of his news website Breitbart in 2014 to support Ukip – the latest front “in our current cultural and political war”, he told the New York Times.

Britain had always been key to Bannon’s plans, another ex-Cambridge Analytica employee told me on condition of anonymity. It was a crucial part of his strategy for changing the entire world order.

“He believes that to change politics, you have to first change the culture. And Britain was key to that. He thought that where Britain led, America would follow. The idea of Brexit was hugely symbolically important to him.”

On 29 March, the day article 50 was triggered, I called one of the smaller campaigns, Veterans for Britain. Cummings’s strategy was to target people in the last days of the campaign and Vote Leave gave the smaller group £100,000 in the last week. A small number of people they identified as “persuadable” were bombarded with more than a billion ads, the vast majority in the last few days.

I asked David Banks, Veterans for Britain’s head of communications, why they spent the money with AggregateIQ.

“I didn’t find AggegrateIQ. They found us. They rang us up and pitched us. There’s no conspiracy here. They were this Canadian company which was opening an office in London to work in British politics and they were doing stuff that none of the UK companies could offer. Their targeting was based on a set of technologies that hadn’t reached the UK yet. A lot of it was proprietary, they’d found a way of targeting people based on behavioural insights. They approached us.”

It seems clear to me that David Banks didn’t know there might have been anything untoward about this. He’s a patriotic man who believes in British sovereignty and British values and British laws. I don’t think knew about any overlap with these other campaigns. I can only think that he was played.

And that we, the British people, were played. In his blog, Dominic Cummings writes that Brexit came down to “about 600,000 people – just over 1% of registered voters”. It’s not a stretch to believe that a member of the global 1% found a way to influence this crucial 1% of British voters. The referendum was an open goal too tempting a target for US billionaires not to take a clear shot at. Or I should say US billionaires and other interested parties, because in acknowledging the transatlantic links that bind Britain and America, Brexit and Trump, so tightly, we also must acknowledge that Russia is wrapped somewhere in this tight embrace too.

For the last month, I’ve been writing about the links between the British right, the Trump administration and the European right. And these links lead to Russia from multiple directions. Between Nigel Farage and Donald Trump and Cambridge Analytica.

A map shown to the Observer showing the many places in the world where SCL and Cambridge Analytica have worked includes Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Iran and Moldova. Multiple Cambridge Analytica sources have revealed other links to Russia, including trips to the country, meetings with executives from Russian state-owned companies, and references by SCL employees to working for Russian entities.

Article 50 has been triggered. AggregateIQ is outside British jurisdiction. The Electoral Commission is powerless. And another election, with these same rules, is just a month away. It is not that the authorities don’t know there is cause for concern. The Observer has learned that the Crown Prosecution Service did appoint a special prosecutor to assess whether there was a case for a criminal investigation into whether campaign finance laws were broken. The CPS referred it back to the electoral commission. Someone close to the intelligence select committee tells me that “work is being done” on potential Russian interference in the referendum.

Gavin Millar, a QC and expert in electoral law, described the situation as “highly disturbing”. He believes the only way to find the truth would be to hold a public inquiry. But a government would need to call it. A government that has just triggered an election specifically to shore up its power base. An election designed to set us into permanent alignment with Trump’s America.

Martin Moore of King’s College, London, pointed out that elections were a newly fashionable tool for would-be authoritarian states. “Look at Erdoğan in Turkey. What Theresa May is doing is quite anti-democratic in a way. It’s about enhancing her power very deliberately. It’s not about a battle of policy between two parties.”

This is Britain in 2017. A Britain that increasingly looks like a “managed” democracy. Paid for a US billionaire. Using military-style technology. Delivered by Facebook. And enabled by us. If we let this referendum result stand, we are giving it our implicit consent. This isn’t about Remain or Leave. It goes far beyond party politics. It’s about the first step into a brave, new, increasingly undemocratic world.

Key names
SCL Group
British company with 25 years experience in military “psychological operations” and “election management”.

Cambridge Analytica
Data analytics company formed in 2014. Robert Mercer owns 90%. SCL owns 10%. Carried out major digital targeting campaigns for Donald Trump campaign, Ted Cruz’s nomination campaign and multiple other US Republican campaigns – mostly funded by Mercer. Gave Nigel Farage’s Leave.EU “help” during referendum.

Robert Mercer
US billionaire hedge fund owner who was Trump’s biggest donor. Owns Cambridge Analytica and the IP [intellectual property] ofAggregateIQ. Friend of Farage. Close associate of Steve Bannon.

Steve Bannon
Trump’s chief strategist. Vice-president of Cambridge Analytica during referendum period. Friend of Farage.

Alexander Nix
Director of Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group.

Christopher Wylie
Canadian who first brought data expertise and microtargeting to Cambridge Analytica; recruited AggregateIQ.

Data analytics company based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Worked for Mercer-funded Pacs that supported the Trump campaign. Robert Mercer owns AggregateIQ’s IP. Paid £3.9m by Vote Leave to “micro-target” voters on social media during referendum campaign. Outside British jurisdiction.

Veterans for Britain
Given £100,000 by Vote Leave. Spent it with AggregateIQ.

Youth Leave campaign set up by 23-year-old student. Given £625,000 by Vote Leave & £50,000 by another donor. Spent it with AggregateIQ.

Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland. Spent £32,750 with AggregrateIQ.

Thomas Borwick
Vote Leave’s chief technology officer. Previously worked with SCL/Cambridge Analytica and AggregateIQ.

ASI Data Science
Data science specialists. Links with Cambridge Analytica, including staff moving between the two and holding joint events. Paid £114,000 by Vote Leave. Vote Leave declared £71,000 to Electoral Commission.

Donald Trump
US president. Campaign funded by Mercer and run by Bannon. Data services supplied by Cambridge Analytica and AggregrateIQ.

Nigel Farage
Former Ukip leader. Leader of Leave.EU. Friend of Trump, Mercer and Bannon.

Arron Banks
Bristol businessman. Co-founder of Leave.EU. Owns data company and insurance firm. Single biggest donor to Leave – £7.5m.

Some names, ages and other identifying details of sources in this article have been changed
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/ ... -democracy
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: Jared Kushner

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:04 am

seemslikeadream » Sun Jun 18, 2017 7:30 am wrote:if it wasn't for Mercer no one would even be talking about Russia right now

Mercer/Cambridge Analytica/Brad Parscale got trump elected...

Mercer would do ANYTHING including colluding with Russia to get the Russian mob infested trump elected...

Why Mercer bought election: "IRS demandng $7 billion..back taxes frm world’s most profitable hedge fund"

MAY 01, 2017 6:00 AM
Billionaire Robert Mercer did Trump a huge favor. Will he get a payback?
McClatchy Washington Bureau

The Internal Revenue Service is demanding a whopping $7 billion or more in back taxes from the world’s most profitable hedge fund, whose boss’s wealth and cyber savvy helped Donald Trump pole-vault into the White House.

Suddenly, the government’s seven-year pursuit of Renaissance Technologies LLC is blanketed in political intrigue, now that the hedge fund’s reclusive, anti-establishment co-chief executive, Robert Mercer, has morphed into a political force who might be owed a big presidential favor.

With Trump in the Oval Office, Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, who has become his public voice, seem armed with political firepower every which way you look – and that’s even though presidential adviser Stephen Bannon, their former senior executive and political strategist, appears to have recently lost influence.

Since the IRS found in 2010 that a complicated banking method used by Renaissance and about 10 other hedge funds was a tax-avoidance scheme, Mercer has gotten increasingly active in politics. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, he doled out more than $22 million to outside conservative groups seeking to influence last year’s elections, while advocating the abolition of the IRS and much of the federal government.

The Mercer Family Foundation, run by Rebekah Mercer, also has donated millions of dollars to conservative nonprofit groups that have called for the firing of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, an Obama administration holdover whose five-year term expires in November.

Trump's Biggest Donors Are At Odds With Administration Team

One of them, the Heritage Foundation, received $1.5 million from the Mercer foundation from 2013 through 2015, according to its most recent public tax filings.

Renaissance co-founder Nick Patterson, who recruited Mercer to the hedge fund in 1993

IRS leader Koskinen has said publicly that he intends to finish his term. On his watch, the agency hasn’t been cowed by the Mercers.

The IRS recently released a little-noticed advisory stating that its top targets in future business audits will include so-called “basket options,” the instruments that Renaissance and some other hedge funds have used to convert short-term capital gains to long-term profits that have lower tax rates.

But Renaissance, with assets estimated at $97 billion on Dec. 31, 2016, has shown no signs of buckling to the IRS’s demands.

Nor has there been a hint as to whether Trump, a real estate developer who has refused to make his tax returns public, will intercede. The White House declined to respond to questions about the matter.

Richard Painter, chief White House ethics adviser under President George W. Bush, said the optics surrounding the Mercers’ political connections and the IRS case “are terrible.”

“The guy’s got a big case in front of the IRS,” said Painter, now a University of Minnesota law professor who is also vice chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “He’s trying to put someone in there who’s going to drop the case. Is the president of the United States going to succumb to that or is he not?”

“Are we going to have a commissioner of the IRS who aggressively enforces the law and takes good cases to Tax Court or (somebody who) just throws away tax cases so billionaires don’t have to pay their taxes and the rest of us can pay more taxes?”

The case against Renaissance was initiated before Koskinen became commissioner.

It’s illegal for the IRS to discuss ongoing tax cases, and the agency declines to comment about Renaissance. But in 2014, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued a blistering report detailing Renaissance’s use of so-called “basket options” trades by its employees-only Medallion Fund to slash taxes on $34 billion in profits. The panel estimated that Renaissance’s back tax bill dating to the earliest IRS audit would be at least $6.8 billion.

Jonathan Gasthalter, a spokesman for the Mercers, declined to comment on the case.

He pointed McClatchy to a Renaissance statement issued in 2014 in response to the Senate findings. Renaissance said then that its tax calculations were “appropriate under current law” and that it had “cooperated fully” with the IRS inquiry.

Robert Martin, a lawyer in the IRS’s chief counsel’s office who co-authored the agency’s legal notices on the issue in 2010 and 2014, said the law covering reporting of the options profits had held up for more than 75 years.

Trump has the legal authority to replace Koskinen and the IRS’s chief counsel, the other agency position requiring Senate confirmation. The latter post is occupied by an acting chief counsel.

John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University who monitors the behavior of Wall Street firms, said the Mercers might win Koskinen’s ouster, but he doubts they could undermine the case.

“I don’t know they’re going to get their candidate in,” he said, “and I’m not sure many candidates are going to try to reverse the staff on something that’s already deeply advanced in either litigation or negotiation.”

Dennis Ventry, an expert in tax law policy from the University of California at Davis School of Law, said he was unaware of any instance in which a president had intervened to stop a tax audit or prosecution. So far, he said, Trump “has been remarkably restrained regarding the IRS.”

Richard Painter, chief White House ethics adviser under President George W. Bush

A former IBM computer scientist, Mercer has forged a web of relationships reaching high into the new administration.

At the top is Bannon, a former senior executive of Cambridge Analytica, a data analysis firm in which Mercer owns the largest stake. The firm, a U.S. subsidiary of a British company, is credited with playing a key role in Trump’s victory by providing his campaign with electronic dossiers shedding light on the views of 220 million Americans.

Mercer funded Bannon to produce hard-edged political films and a book attacking Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in the presidential race. Mercer also invested millions of dollars to become majority owner of far-right Breitbart News with Bannon at the helm. The Mercers and Bannon helped to fuel conservatives’ anger over the IRS’s 2013 investigations challenging the tax-exempt status of right-leaning nonprofit groups, and Mercer funded a number of efforts calling for Koskinen’s impeachment.

On March 29, at least 30 conservative leaders, including a Heritage Foundation representative, converged on the White House for an off-the-record meeting with Trump aides. The groups pressed a range of agendas, especially urging Koskinen’s firing, said one attendee, President Tom Fitton of the nonprofit group Judicial Watch.

In a phone interview, Fitton said “the conservative movement is united in its belief there need to be changes at the IRS,” but he voiced frustration “that the Trump administration seems to be of two minds on whether or not to replace” Koskinen before his term expires.

Fitton declined to identify other attendees, and the Trump White House has abandoned a longtime practice of publicly releasing visitor logs.

The meeting was organized by White House aide Paul Teller, who worked with Rebekah Mercer on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s failed Republican presidential campaign – an effort that Robert Mercer backed with $13.5 million in donations to an independent, pro-Cruz super PAC freed of the usual contribution limits. Mercer gave millions of dollars more to the committee after Cruz bowed out and the super PAC threw its financial allegiance to Trump.

Other groups that have joined the anti-IRS and anti-Koskinen choruses also got money from the Mercer foundation – $600,000 to the Cato Institute in 2014 and 2015 and $250,000 to Citizens for Self-Governance in 2014.

Perhaps the biggest Mercer foundation beneficiary has been the Citizens United Foundation, which received $3.8 million from 2011 through 2015. The foundation’s advocacy arm, Citizens United, wants Koskinen to be impeached. It also spearheaded attacks on Clinton last year over her use of a personal email account to conduct official business during eight years as secretary of state. David Bossie, who is president of both Citizens United entities, and Rebekah Mercer collaborated on the super PAC that backed Trump and later as members of Trump’s transition team.

“Bob (Mercer) has always been very good at leveraging his money” in both business and politics, said Nick Patterson, a Renaissance co-founder and former intelligence code-breaker who recruited Mercer to the hedge fund in 1993. “Bob’s been very dissatisfied with U.S. politics for many years.”

Spokespeople for the Heritage Foundation, Cato, Citizens for Self-Governance and Citizens United did not respond to requests for comment.

Robert Mercer became co-CEO at Renaissance, or RenTech, in November 2009 as the federal government was cracking down on abuses that had contributed to the nation’s worst financial crisis since the Depression.

As a high-volume, high-frequency trader, RenTech’s role in the crisis attracted scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the IRS. Federal agents were alarmed by what they found.

In 2010, the IRS issued a public memorandum warning hedge funds and banks about using “basket options,” structures in which banks loaned funds for the traders to purchase derivatives, which they held in “baskets.” It didn’t mention RenTech by name.

The IRS memo said that hedge funds – not their partner banks – controlled the underlying assets and thus should pay taxes at a higher capital gains rate.

Some hedge funds and banks stopped using basket options, but RenTech persisted.

Then, in July 2014, Democratic Chairman Carl Levin of the Senate Investigations Subcommittee and its ranking Republican, Arizona Sen. John McCain, issued the report accusing Renaissance of a giant tax dodge on hundreds of millions of options trades dating to 1999.

The panel said basket-trading also had enabled RenTech to dramatically increase its leverage, meaning it could borrow up to 10 times more money against its securities portfolio.

Following the Senate investigation, the IRS issued a notice in 2015 that left no doubt basket-option contracts were taxable as ordinary income.

Without identifying the affected party, IRS attorney Martin confirmed in a phone interview that one ongoing IRS enforcement case stems from basket trades. He said such options cases came down to ensuring that financial instruments were defined for what they really were.

“If you are going to call it a derivative . . . it has to function like a derivative,” he said. “And if it functions like a brokerage account, that’s how it has to be treated.”

The Renaissance case is not yet in tax court.

In the years since the case began, the father-daughter Mercer team has set an agenda that amounts to a full-fledged assault on the established order.

Besides the IRS, targets have included former President Barack Obama, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Reserve, the Department of Justice, various Democratic and moderate Republican members of Congress, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and burdensome regulations and agencies that hinder Mercer’s energy investments.

Mercer has called the Civil Rights Act of 1964 a mistake and has voiced disdain for other federal measures to protect the rights of African-Americans and other minorities.

The Mercers’ foundation gave nearly $11 million from 2011 to 2014 to the Media Research Center, an advocacy group whose “sole mission,” according to its website, “is to expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the Left: the national news media.”

In a rare public statement weeks before Trump’s upset victory, the Mercers said they believe that “America is finally fed up and disgusted with its political elite.”

“Trump is channeling this disgust,” they said, “and those among the political elite who quake before the boom-box of media blather do not appreciate the apocalyptic choice that America faces.”

In 2010, the same year the IRS issued its memo, the Supreme Court handed down a landmark ruling lifting restraints on how much money wealthy donors such as the Mercers may spend to influence election outcomes.

RenTech soon tripled its lobbying expenditures. Last year, it paid $300,000 to a Washington lobbyist and tax strategist, James Miller, a former high-ranking attorney in the IRS’s office of chief counsel. Miller’s public disclosures say his lobbying topics included taxes on derivatives.

And by 2014 the Mercer Family Foundation had distributed $70 million in donations, mainly to conservative nonprofit groups.

By 2016, Renaissance’s founder and chairman, Jim Simons, was one of the Democratic Party’s top backers, and Mercer was a leading Republican donor, making RenTech a leading player in national politics.

Some of Mercer’s projects sought to unseat his Republican adversaries, such as McCain, who became the target of negative ad campaigns during a primary race.

Meanwhile, Rebekah Mercer accumulated so much clout she has been credited with influencing Trump’s choices of several top appointees, including Bannon, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, resigned in February after revelations that he had misled the White House about post-election discussions with Russia’s ambassador.

In January, Rebekah Mercer attended a private meeting in which she had “substantative communications” with Jay Clayton, Trump’s likely nominee to chair the SEC, Clayton later revealed in response to questions from the Senate Banking Committee in advance of his confirmation hearings. The SEC regulates hedge funds.

The Mercers’ struggle didn’t end with Trump’s election.

Bannon, the former Mercer political strategist who now speaks for the White House, seemed to capsulize it in a speech to conservative activists in February.

The goal, he said, amounts to nothing less than unfettered American capitalism and the “deconstruction of the administrative state.”

Christianson is a McClatchy special correspondent.
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politic ... 54324.html

seemslikeadream » Sat Jun 17, 2017 7:32 am wrote::P
Washington, D.C. is now officially out of lawyers. Emergency legal support is being brought in from New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, etc.

Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo has been contacted by FBI in Russia probe and has hired his own attorney, a source confirms.


Trump Parscale Chart
Chart below displays open-source information showing organizations and people connected to President Trump and Brad Parscale as of June 2017. Source links are provided below the chart. Also see SCL/Cambridge Analytica chart and Rosneft-Trump-Putin chart.


Source Links as of June 2017:
PAC payments 2016 election cycle — Open Secrets — (Donald J Trump for President $87,838,376 & Trump Make America Great Again Committee $3,702,533)
Giles Parscale website
Parscale Media LLC — Incorporated 4 Oct 2005 — Active
Parscale Properties LLC — Incorporated 24 Aug 2013 — Active
DevDemon website
Vector Media acquires DevDemon from Parscale in January 2017
Parscale’s El Technology Group, LLC — Incorporated 7 Aut 2003 (status: Franchis Tax Ended)
Lara Trump hired by Giles Parscale March 2017
America First Priorities — Parscale — Ayers — Obst — Bossie — Pierson — Gates
Rick Gates business partner with Paul Manafort
Giles Parscale hired Harris Media
Cambridge Analytica’s Alexander Nix meets Brad Parscale
SCL Balkans in Macedonia — Nicola Spasov & Vlado Andonovski
Rating Center team — Nicola Spasov & Vlado Andonovski
Machiavelli Strategies— Nicola Spasov — Edmond Ademi — Mitch Kates
Additional info not yet in chart:
Parscale purchased tv ad space through National Media
Parscale shared office in Trump Tower with Bannon, Conway and Bossie

https://medium.com/@wsiegelman/trump-pa ... ff531064ef

Steve Bannon “crapping” himself over probe into Donald Trump campaign’s Russian data connections
By Bill Palmer
Updated: 12:16 am EDT Sat Jun 17, 2017 | 0
Home » Politics

The House of Representatives investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia scandal is expanding to include the Trump campaign’s possible data connections to Russia, and is bringing in the campaign’s digital director Brad Parscale for questioning. But according to a political insider, this development has Steve Bannon spooked, as he was closely involved with that digital effort.
After the news broke that the House is indeed probing the Trump campaign’s digital data efforts (link), Republican political strategist Rick Wilson posted the following: “A little bird tells me that a certain White House staff member whose name rhymes with Beeve Stannon is crapping diamonds over Parscale.” (link). This raises a number of possibilities for where this might lead.
During the 2016 election cycle, immediately prior to officially joining the Donald Trump campaign, Steve Bannon was running a voter data analysis company called Cambridge Analytica. Although there is no publicly available proof, there has long been widespread suspicion that the company may have been working with voter data stolen by Russian hackers – both during the 2016 U.S. election and during the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom which preceded it. If this were to be proven about Bannon’s company, and if it were to be tied to Brad Parscale’s online voter data efforts for the Donald Trump campaign, it could be legally devastating for everyone involved. It raises the question of what the House committee knows that the public doesn’t. And the news may be even worse for Bannon.
According to another political insider, Claude Taylor, Steve Bannon is now under investigation for obstruction and physically threatening other members of the White House staff (link). In the past months the Trump-Russia scandal and investigation has largely been focused on the likes of Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn. But now it appears the Russia investigation spotlight may finally be increasingly shifting toward Steve Bannon.
http://www.palmerreport.com/politics/st ... ssia/3492/

seemslikeadream » Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:23 pm wrote:
Along with RNC operatives dispatched to San Antonio, the operation employed staff from Cambridge Analytica, the U.S.-based offshoot of a British company that deploys what it calls “psychographics,” research using personality, values and other voter traits for targeting.


The Man Behind Trump’s Bid to Finally Take Digital Seriously

BRAD PARSCALE IS a survivor—at least in Donald Trump’s universe. Today, Parscale, Trump’s digital director, is one of the last men standing as the Trump campaign’s revolving door keeps spinning. And with 80 days left in the campaign, he’s about to get a lot busier.

Trump has cycled through campaign personnel—first Corey Lewandowski, and then today Paul Manafort. Through it all, Parscale has kept his head down, working on the campaign since before Trump even announced his candidacy publicly. But from an office in San Antonio, far from the Washington—New York hub of campaign drama, his influence has only grown.

The bearded, 6-foot-7-inch Kansan was there in Cleveland during the Republican convention, hopping into a car with Trump’s social media manager and pushing his way through the chaos on the convention floor to shoot a Facebook Live video of Trump’s children the night their father received the official nomination. Through it all, he’s remained out of the spotlight, but that may soon change. Tomorrow, the Federal Election Commission releases the presidential campaigns’ July financial disclosures. Parscale says the Trump campaign’s ledger will show an $8.4 million payment to his digital marketing firm, about 90 percent of which was spent on digital ads.1 It’s a massive leap that shows Trump may finally be getting serious about a digital strategy that goes beyond tweets.

In June, the Trump campaign spent just $1.63 million on digital advertising, which itself was still dramatically more than the $21,000 Parscale’s firm, Giles-Parscale, made between October and the end of December 2015. During that same time period, the Clinton campaign paid nearly 100 times that to its digital consulting firm, Bully Pulpit Interactive. During primary season, when his poll numbers were strong, Trump utilized free media exposure to gain an edge on his competitors. Now that Clinton’s dominating the polls, it seems, Trump is not only raising money ($80 million in July), he’s spending it too. And Parscale is helping him do it online.

“Mr. Trump understands the value of digital operations,” he says, “and he’s been extremely supportive of this operation.”

Me and Mr. Trump
Parscale, who grew up in Kansas, says he sees a lot of himself in the man he calls “Mr. Trump.” For starters, like Trump, he’s a political novice who has built a professional reputation for himself in Texas but has never worked in Washington. “Brad is a non-traditional guy, and he’s good for a non-traditional campaign,” says Vincent Harris, a Republican digital strategist who briefly worked for Trump’s campaign.

But more than that, Parscale feels his story parallels Trump’s rise in business. Parscale started out with a small investment in 2004. (Parscale’s was his own $500. Trump’s was his father’s $1 million). He began by cold-calling local clients but soon graduated to major contracts with the likes of the Trump Organization, which led to gigs building websites for Trump Winery and the Eric Trump Foundation. Now he’s managing multi-million dollar advertising budgets for perhaps the most-watched man in the world.

In conversation, Parscale expresses fierce loyalty for his controversial boss. He says Trump gave “a farm boy from Kansas” a chance. “When I was successful, he continued to reward me over and over again, because I worked hard and produced success,” he says.

Still, while his boss called for boycotting Apple and prefers talking about the glory days of trade in Pennsylvania steel country, Parscale exhibits the the forward-looking attitude of the typical tech exec. Among other things, he recently helped found a group called Tech Bloc in San Antonio, which represents the tech industry’s interests there. Among its biggest accomplishments was pushing San Antonio’s city council to reverse its decision to ban Uber from the city. Parscale is proud to say he was “rider zero” for Uber when they launched.

“Tech can be something that can be great for us. We don’t need to fear it,” Parscale says.

And yet the Trump campaign has lagged in embracing tech, both as a campaign tool and a policy priority. Unlike Clinton, Trump has not released anything resembling a tech policy agenda. And while Trump initially rejected the need for data as a crucial tool for targeting voters, Clinton has built a huge tech team in Brooklyn, drawing talent from the likes of Google, Twitter, and Facebook. Even some of Trump’s primary season competitors outstripped his campaign in terms of tech. Now, Trump’s team is finally trying to catch up, and Parscale is at the center.

This Ain’t Hollywood
Just before Trump spoke at the Republican convention, Parscale made a six-figure ad buy on Twitter, purchasing the promoted hashtag, #TextTrump88022. Meanwhile, the campaign has released a truly odd series of ads that feature Trump and various shots of astronauts and other space imagery.

For Harris, who ran digital for Sen. Rand Paul’s 2016 presidential bid, it’s the weirdness of these ads that makes them work. “I think the Trump campaign has shown again to Beltway consultants that this isn’t about $50,000 Hollywood video shoots,” Harris says. “This is about effective digital operations. It’s gritty. It’s fast-paced, and it’s about what the base wants to hear.”

Trump’s attempt to make up the gap via digital ads will be a difficult battle for a candidate who’s already starting from behind.
There is, of course, another reason why Trump’s campaign has to spend more on digital advertising, and that is because the campaign has not reserved much television time. According to a July report in AdAge, between July and November, Trump and his PACs had reserved $654,455 in TV and radio advertising compared to $111 million by Hillary Clinton and her PACs. Though he just recently spent $4 million on a new ad buy, that’s still a small amount compared to what Clinton has planned. That could make Trump’s attempt to make up the gap via digital ads a difficult battle for a candidate who’s already starting from behind and whose base is less likely to see those ads anyway.

“Republican voters in the general election are traditionally older,” says Harris. “Older people traditionally get their news and information from television.”

Still, Parscale is satisfied that the investment in digital produced a serious return for Trump in July. He declined to say what percentage of the $80 million raised was the result of the surge in digital ad spending. But it seems unlikely the campaign will let up on the digital front. Trump’s new campaign CEO, Steve Bannon, has spent the last few years sitting atop a far-right digital media empire. He seems to know how the web works. And finally Trump seems ready to spend the money to make the web work for him, if it’s not already too late.
https://www.wired.com/2016/08/man-behin ... seriously/

S.A. web firm might be included in probe of the Trump-Russia ties
By Bill Lambrecht, Washington BureauMay 26, 2017 Updated: May 26, 2017 7:52pm

Brad Parscale, who was the Trump campaign's digital director, waits for an elevator at Trump Tower, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) Photo: Carolyn Kaster, STF / Associated Press / Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Photo: Carolyn Kaster, STF / Associated Press
IMAGE 1 OF 4 Brad Parscale, who was the Trump campaign's digital director, waits for an elevator at Trump Tower, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
WASHINGTON — The FBI’s wide-ranging criminal investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election may include scrutiny of the Trump campaign’s San Antonio-based digital operation overseen by senior White House adviser Jared Kushner.

CNN reported that along with Kushner’s contacts with Russians and his relationship with fired national security adviser Michael Flynn, the FBI is looking at the campaign’s 2016 data analytics programs conducted largely out of San Antonio under the direction of local digital advertising executive Brad Parscale.

In looking at possible ties with Russia, the FBI has collected data on computer bots — software that runs automated scripts over the internet — that pushed negative information on Hillary Clinton and positive information on Trump, the cable network reported.

An FBI spokesman declined comment Friday, and the White House did not respond to messages.

Parscale did not respond to phone messages left at Giles-Parscale, the San Antonio web design and digital marketing company that he co-owns.

Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, has not been accused of wrongdoing. His lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, said he will cooperate with the FBI if asked.

“Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings,” she said in a statement, referring to reports of meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and with a Russian banker. “He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry.”

Parscale, 41, became heavily involved in the Trump campaign after designing a website for the campaign exploratory committee and carrying out other tasks for the Trump family. He worked under Kushner. By the campaign’s end, Parscale ran Trump’s digital operation, media buys and overall advertising, an exceptionally large role for someone with little experience in political campaigns.

“It was a data-driven campaign, so I was in the middle of it all,” Parscale said in an interview with the San Antonio Express-News after the election.

Federal Election Commission reports showed that Giles-Parscale received over $91 million from the Trump campaign and an allied super PAC over an 18-month period.

Parscale noted that while his company ended “in a healthy situation,” much of that money was paid for advertising and vendors.

Parscale remained on the campaign payroll through January and is associated with Trump’s re-election committee. FEC records show that his company received an additional $1.6 million through March for what was described as digital consultation and online advertising.

In the “Project Alamo” operation, Parscale had over 100 people employed on Trump’s behalf last year in San Antonio, many of them digital and media experts.

They worked closely with the Republican National Committee, which invested heavily in data and digital technology after losing the previous two presidential elections. The RNC provided the Trump campaign with a massive database that included details on millions of voters’ attitudes, buying habits and personal information available from public and private sources, combined with information the party had gleaned from contacts over the years.

The Parscale-run operation relied heavily on Facebook both for targeting voters and fundraising, Parscale has said, noting that Facebook helped the campaign raise more than

$260 million.

Along with RNC operatives dispatched to San Antonio, the operation employed staff from Cambridge Analytica, the U.S.-based offshoot of a British company that deploys what it calls “psychographics,” research using personality, values and other voter traits for targeting.

Cambridge was paid $6 million for its work, which Republican operatives described as voter persuasion.

BusinessWeek quoted an unnamed member of the Trump campaign staff late in the campaign as saying that their digital operation used Facebook ads and other means to suppress Clinton’s vote totals with negative messages aimed at African-Americans, young women and segments of liberals.

Parscale said in an earlier interview with the Express-News that his operation’s ability to identify 14.4 million persuadable voters in several swing states just prior to the election was a key to Trump’s victory.

“That’s why we won. We knew just the voters we needed to turn out, and we turned them out in big numbers,” he said.

Parscale’s success earned him the Digital Strategist of the Year Award, presented in March by the American Association of Political Consultants.

While not commenting on the report about FBI scrutiny of Kushner, Parscale has used his Twitter account in recent days to step up attacks on CNN and other news outlets with more than a dozen posts since last weekend.

“SO fake news,” Parscale tweeted May 20 in response to a CNN report that a former Trump staffer wants the president to set up a fund to help associates caught in the Russia investigation pay their legal bills. “Let’s fight back against @CNN.”

In another tweet that day, he wrote: “#1 lesson I’ve learned. Media is the enemy of this country.”
http://www.expressnews.com/news/local/a ... 177097.php
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Re: Jared Kushner

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Jul 13, 2017 2:15 pm

The Lava Moves Closer to the President
By JOSH MARSHALL Published JULY 13, 2017 1:57 PM

In that overnight article from the Times, it noted that Jared Kushner may not have shared the full story of that June 9th meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya when they discussed it in June. That is a problem on a number of levels, not least of which because I’m pretty sure it is – big picture – not true.

First, let me know excerpt the key passage from the article …

Also under scrutiny is how forthcoming Mr. Kushner was with his father-in-law about the nature of the June meeting. He met with Mr. Trump to discuss the issue, according to advisers to the White House, around the time he updated his federal disclosure form to include Ms. Veselnitskaya’s name on a list of foreign contacts that Mr. Kushner was required to submit to the F.B.I. to obtain a security clearance.

Mr. Kushner supplemented the list of foreign contacts three times, adding more than 100 names, people close to him said.

Mr. Kushner played down the significance of the meeting and omitted significant details, according to two people who were briefed on the exchange. They said Mr. Kushner informed the president that he had met with a Russian foreign national, and that while he had to report the name, it would not cause a problem for the administration.

Another official said Mr. Kushner’s assurance to the president was based on the fact that nothing came of the June meeting.

The upshot of this is that Kushner said something to the effect of, ‘I met with a Russian national. But it was no big deal, not something to worry about.’ That is needless to say, not really what happened at all.

But here’s the thing. The President’s son was in the meeting. The President’s son arranged the meeting. If he had any question about the account he was getting, he could have asked his son. Given the centrality of this entire story to Trump’s presidency, you’d think he’d want to make sure he had the full story.

Now, let me be clear myself. My strong assumption is that President Trump knew all about it at the time. (My sense is also that Trump is not the type to make sure he doesn’t find out things he doesn’t want to know.) Obviously, however, we do not yet specific evidence that that is the case. So we need to consider the possibility that he actually didn’t know about it at the time but only learned about it in recent weeks. If that’s the case, and unless Kushner hid from the President that Don Jr was involved, it’s just not credible that the President was left in the dark. Again, his own son was there.

I’m pretty sure Trump knew about it all at the time. But if didn’t, and he only really found out the real details in the weekend press accounts, it’s because he deliberately avoided finding out.
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/the ... -president
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Re: Jared Kushner

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:28 am


another person in the room A 5TH PERSON......a Russian American..... former Russian lobbyist FORMER RUSSIAN COUNTERINTELLIGENCE OFFICER not being named yet

There are no former FSB agents.

who did they think that guy was.......the bellhop? :jumping: :jumping: :jumping:


no really we are just American military....please just speak directly into the blue button


oh I guess his name is


Michael Adams‏

The other person in the room during Trump Jr. meeting was Rinat Akhmetshin, known provocateur

We named him Tuesday


A key senator said a former Russian spy is lobbying without registering as a foreign agent

By Circa News
April 05, 2017 08:57 AM EDT
An admitted former Russian spy who now works as a lobbyist in Washington and has been tied to the creators of the unverified Trump dossier may have lobbied against Russian sanctions, according to a letter by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

Grassley requested all immigration information available on Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian citizen who became an American citizen in 2009, in a letter written Tuesday. He cited a July 2016 complaint alleging Akhmetshin had not registered as a foreign agent as required by law.

Akhmetshin was described by Radio Free Europe as a "Russian gun-for-hire [lurking] in the shadows of Washington's lobbying world." In one interview, he admitted to having worked as a Soviet counterintelligence officer. In another interview, he denied it. He would have had to mention his intelligence work when applying for U.S. citizenship.

He allegedly worked with Fusion GPS, the company behind the unverified dossier that claimed ties between President Trump and Russia.

Akhmetshin's campaign allegedly targeted the Global Magnitsky Act. Passed by Congress in December, the bill applies sanctions to human rights abusers and corrupt leaders. It was originally named for Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer for Hermitage Capital Management who was killed by Russian authorities after exposing a tax fraud scheme.

Grassley's letter alleges Akhmetshin was lobbying against the Magnitsky Act while Fusion GPS was making the controversial dossier. Grassley requested more info on Akhmetshin by April 18.

https://www.circa.com/story/2017/04/05/ ... eign-agent

Inside The Russian Lawyer’s And An Accused Spy’s ‘Adoption’ Crusade
William Browder
By SAM THIELMAN Published JULY 13, 2017 10:41 AM
Dominating headlines this week is the startling revelation that Donald Trump, Jr. met with a Kremlin-connected attorney who promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign.

But that June 2016 meeting, which the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort also attended, served another purpose for the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskya, and her wealthy client Denys Katsyv: It was a stop on a major PR tour against a sanctions bill.

Katsyv had retained Veselnitskaya as his defense counsel in a vast money-laundering scandal ensnaring his consortium of businesses, the Prevezon Group. But the Russian real estate baron was associated with another operation at work under the anodyne name of the Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation, which was founded in February 2016 and dedicated to the apparently noble mission of helping “restart American adoption of Russian children.” When the meeting was first reported by the New York Times, Trump Jr. said only that he and Veselnitskaya met to discuss the adoption issue.

Veselnitskaya had been accused of lobbying U.S. officials on behalf of the foundation before. The foundation had just two registered lobbyists, one of whom, Rinat Akhmetshin, had worked for Russian counterintelligence. And the foundation wasn’t asking for the reinstatement of an adoption program; it was, at least by implication, offering it. The group sought the alteration of a U.S. sanctions program that was about to become law, the Global Magnitsky Act, which was named after a dead Russian whistleblower. The original Magnitsky Act, enacted in 2012, had annoyed Russian President Vladimir Putin so much that he banned American adoptions of Russian children in retaliation; the expanded version had him enraged.

“What’s happening around the time of her meeting with Don, Jr. is the most serious-resourced and aggressive counterattack ever that the Kremlin has mounted on the Magnitsky Act,” one congressional aide told TPM. “They have learned over the years in their attempts to fight and derail this and they have gotten better at it. They’ve involved less ham-handed folks, and less people who might be out of central casting.”

In his 2007 book “The Oil and the Glory,” journalist Steve LeVine describes the charming “English-speaking former Soviet Army counterintelligence officer” Akhmetshin as he appeared in 1999, when he went to work lobbying Washington on behalf of crusading Kazakh politician Akezhan Kazhegeldin. “The stylish Akhmetshin looked harmless enough, with his designer spectacles and fresh, youthful face,” LeVine wrote.

Akhmetshin, who has said repeatedly that he no longer works for Russian intelligence, did not return multiple calls to a number listed under his name in Washington, D.C. But even as a beltway freelancer, Akhmetshin has been involved in Russian and Eastern Bloc politics for two decades, so the now-notorious Magnitsky affair is firmly in his wheelhouse.

Sergei Magnitsky, a whistleblowing accountant who died in prison in 2009, apparently after being severely beaten, had become a cause célèbre after Chicago-born millionaire William Browder, who had retained Magnitsky’s firm to investigate irregularities in his Russian businesses, publicized the conditions of his death. Magnitsky had been imprisoned after he exposed the alleged money-laundering scheme in which Katsyv was implicated while working for Browder. Browder, an investment banker with significant Russian holdings, had become a key witness for then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s prosecution of Katsyv and Prevezon, which the government settled at the end of May, less than a week before jury selection was to begin.

Naming the law after Magnitsky goaded Putin and Katsyv alike, as it emphasized apparent corruption in Putin’s regime and Katsyv’s alleged complicity in the same. Both want it renamed. Katsyv employed Akhmetshin to explore the corridors of power for ways to accomplish that.

Browder told TPM that Veselnitskaya’s 2016 meeting with Trump Jr. didn’t surprise him in the least. “They were trying to get in touch with anybody who had any power,” he said. “I’m sure they’d have tried to contact the Clinton campaign if they thought they would help.”

The investor also caught Akhmetshin at a recent hearing—a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Putin’s Russia that Veselnitskaya also attended, according to the Daily Beast. Browder provided two photos to TPM, shown at the top of the page and below.

By 2006, Akhmetshin was at work in Washington on behalf of Azeri politicians, according to lobbying disclosures. In 2011, he was accused of participating in an attempt to paint asylum-seeking Russian bureaucrat Ashot Egiazaryan as an anti-Semite in order to enlist Jewish groups to prevent him from being admitted to the United States (Browder echoed the accusation that Akhmetshin smeared Egiazaryan in a phone interview). Akhmetshin has never registered as a foreign agent, however, according to complaints Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has filed with the Justice Department.

Akhmetshin acknowledged to Politico last year that he previously worked for Russian counterintelligence, but protested that “Just because I was born in Russia doesn’t mean I am an agent of [the] Kremlin.” The context for Akhmetsin’s semi-denial is striking: he met multiple times with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Politico reported, once in April 2016 at the lobby bar of the Westin Grand Hotel in Berlin and then a month later at Rohrabacher’s office.

Whether Katsyv and Putin are working in concert or have coincidentally aligned goals, Rohrabacher had already received a document from a Moscow politician that made explicit a quid pro quo that lobbying boilerplate from Katsyv’s foundation only implies. Rename the Magnitsky Act, it said, and Putin will drop the adoption ban he imposed in retaliation, according to a Politico reporter who saw the document. After the May 18 meeting in Rohrabacher’s office, the California Republican proposed changing the name on the legislation, calling it “a gratuitous slap at Russia.”

On June 9, Veselnitskaya met with Trump Jr. And less than a week after that fateful rendezvous at Trump Tower, Akhmetshin was planning what Katsyv must have hoped would be the most memorable part of the anti-Magnitsky Act publicity blitz: The screening of a documentary that would tell his version of the Magnitsky affair.

A well-regarded Russian documentarian named Andrei Nekrasov had agreed to tell Katsyv’s version of events, and despite Browder’s attempt to sue Nekrasov to prevent the film’s distribution, it screened at the Newseum in D.C. on June 13 with a talkback moderated by legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. Akhmetshin was in attendance, according to coverage of the screening by Radio Free Europe.

At a glance, the event might have looked as if it had been scheduled by the Newseum, but in fact a D.C. PR firm representing Nekrasov called the Potomac Square Group had rented out the facility. Browder claimed to TPM that Katsyv had bankrolled the entire event, including the film’s production. Akhmetshin denied that the foundation paid for the event.

According to video of the talkback, irate Russian protestors jeered at Hersh and at Nekrasov after the screening.

“He’s not a journalist,” says one protester in a video posted to Veselnitskaya’s Facebook page, apparently about Nekrasov. “He’s a state propagandist, and he’s talking about first amendment in a country where it exists while in Russia, no one can speak because of these people.” A man arguing with him cites Hersh’s bona fides, saying “Just let him finish.”

“No respect to propagandists,” the protestor replies.
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/ ... nitsky-act

now there maybe a 6th person in the room :jumping: :jumping: :jumping: :jumping:


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Re: Jared Kushner

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:29 am

up to 8 people in the room now and Kushy's lawyer has had enough

6 hours ago
Kushner’s Lawyer Abbe Lowell Taking Over Russia Case

Jamie Gorelick, one of the lawyers representing White House senior adviser Jared Kushner on matters relating to the Russia investigation, said Friday she is stepping back from the case but “will continue to work on the matters for which we were originally retained, with regard to ethics compliance, the SF-86 process, and related issues." Gorelick said that Kushner decided on the change. Abbe Lowell, a criminal-defense attorney, will now be in charge of the inquiry. He has represented high-profile clients including John Edwards and Jack Abramoff. "As we have stated, once Bob Mueller and three of our partners left the firm to form the Special Counsel's Office, we advised Jared to get independent legal advice on whether to continue with us as counsel," Gorelick said. "As a result of this process, Jared decided that Abbe would represent him in the Russia-related inquiries. We are currently helping Abbe’s team."
http://www.thedailybeast.com/jared-kush ... -drops-him

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Re: Jared Kushner

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:17 am

Rinat Akhmetshin

Adam Parkhomenko‏Verified account

1/ This maybe a court case reporters covering Trump Jr. meeting should take a look at very closely.
12:56 AM - 17 Jul 2017
356 Retweets 436 Likes Marc Chumneychmayer Roberta ReidPussy hat CanadaSuzy Herrinwimom03HillaryForevercyndi schatzmannPanthera

Adam Parkhomenko‏Verified account @AdamParkhomenko 4h4 hours ago

Replying to @AdamParkhomenko
2/ 2015 lawsuit relating to Russian company & hacking + dissemination. Defendent: Rinat Akhmetshin http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2825784-2015-11-12-International-Mineral-Resources-B-v-v.html …

Adam Parkhomenko‏Verified account @AdamParkhomenko 4h4 hours ago

3/ Here is how Rinat Akhmetshin is described as background in this case:

Adam Parkhomenko‏Verified account @AdamParkhomenko 4h4 hours ago

4/ allegation: Rinat Akhmetshin hacks, and steals at the direction of said company.

Adam Parkhomenko‏Verified account @AdamParkhomenko 4h4 hours ago

5/ documentation of company officially retaining Rinat Akhmetshin

Adam Parkhomenko‏Verified account @AdamParkhomenko 4h4 hours ago
6/ Rinat Akhmetshin distributes said materials. Akhmetshin received a transfer of $100,000 for his work on the "hacking and smear campaign"

Adam Parkhomenko‏Verified account @AdamParkhomenko 4h4 hours ago
7/7 read the case closely. Down to the meetings that take place where Rinat Akhmetshin brings tangible materials in person for review.
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Re: Jared Kushner

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Jul 18, 2017 11:29 am

The Master of ‘Kompromat’ Believed to Be Behind Trump Jr.’s Meeting

Yuri Y. Chaika, Russia’s prosecutor general, right, at a plenary meeting of the Russian Federation Council in April in Moscow. He is widely considered to have been the source of the incriminating information on Hillary Clinton that Donald Trump Jr. was promised. Credit Stanislav Krasilnikov\TASS, via Getty Images
MOSCOW — The salacious video, of a naked man in bed with two women, was one of the most prominent examples of “kompromat,” the Russian art of spreading damaging information to discredit a rival or an enemy, in recent Russian history.

It was made available to Russian state television in the late 1990s and authenticated in public by Yuri Y. Chaika, Russia’s prosecutor general, who at 66 has a long and storied background in kompromat. Mr. Chaika benefited from the video, as it destroyed a predecessor as prosecutor general, Yuri I. Skuratov, who had been looking into suspicions of corruption by President Boris N. Yeltsin and his associates.

Mr. Chaika (pronounced CHIKE-uh) is also the man who is widely considered to have been the source of the incriminating information on Hillary Clinton that Donald Trump Jr. was promised at a meeting last June in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer and a Russian-American lobbyist. And yet, oddly, the accusations brought to New York fell flat, by the accounts of those present, despite their having originated from such a seasoned master of kompromat.

Donald Trump Jr. said in a statement that the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had offered him the information but that it “made no sense” and was not “meaningful.”

Ms. Veselnitskaya has said that two others at the meeting, the Trump campaign chairman, Paul J. Manafort, and President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, paid little attention.

That stands in sharp contrast to the video, which led to the ouster of Mr. Skuratov, helped Vladimir V. Putin establish himself as the successor to Mr. Yeltsin and, ultimately, enabled Mr. Chaika to ascend to the prosecutor general’s office.

In Russia, said Thomas Rid, a scholar of intelligence history at King’s College London, “there’s an appreciation that information is power, and having information that somebody considers very private information is even more powerful.”

Mr. Skuratov has insisted all along that he was not the man in the tape. But Mr. Chaika, after becoming acting prosecutor general in 1999, endorsed the video’s authenticity, saying it showed a “legal basis” to open an investigation.

News media coverage in Russia was relentless, with state television going so far as to interview one of the women in the video. “He is a good uncle,” she said, in a final twist of the knife. “I feel sorry for him.”

In the current case, Rob Goldstone, the former British tabloid journalist and music promoter who arranged the Trump Tower meeting, had written in an email to Donald Trump Jr. that Ms. Veselnitskaya would bring information from Mr. Chaika that would be damaging to Mrs. Clinton.

What that information was is still not known. But at the time, Mr. Chaika was trying to push back against an American sanctions law, the Magnitsky Act, in part by trying to discredit an American-born businessman, William J. Browder, who had lobbied for its passage. At least some of the information seemed to concern accusations of tax evasion by prominent Democratic donors involved with Mr. Browder.

Mr. Chaika made the same accusations in a statement on his website and in documents handed to Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, when he was in Moscow. In an interview, Mr. Rohrabacher said using the information in opposition research against the Democrats in the presidential campaign had never crossed his mind. “That’s a big zero,” he said.

How Key Trump Associates Have Been Linked to Russia
Several are under scrutiny by the F.B.I. and Congress.

Whether anything discussed at the Trump Tower meeting was as explosive as that long-ago video remains to be seen. But the Russian prosecutor’s subsequent experience with kompromat has shown that those who live by the sword may die from it — or at least feel the pain.

Mr. Chaika benefited enormously from the video, becoming acting prosecutor general after Mr. Skuratov was dismissed and then justice minister. He returned to the prosecutor general position in 2006 in another shake-up of the law enforcement and intelligence elite.

But in that capacity, Mr. Chaika made the surprising mistake of investigating suspected corruption at the F.S.B., the successor agency to the K.G.B., a bit too enthusiastically.

So in 2007, Mr. Putin realigned the prosecutorial powers again, giving control of high-profile cases to a separate agency, the Investigative Committee. That created a fierce rival for Mr. Chaika — and compromising material started to spill into public view.

In 2011, the committee accused Mr. Chaika’s son, Artyom Chaika, of protecting illegal casinos operating in the Moscow region. He was never charged, but the publicity dented his father’s standing.

“Chaika has been masterful, but not every time and in every fight,” Stanislav Belkovsky, a political analyst and founder of the National Strategy Institute, a think tank based in Moscow, said of the prosecutor general’s role in Russia’s kompromat wars.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/17/worl ... haika.html
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: Jared Kushner

Postby The Consul » Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:08 pm

What I find telling is that Jamie Gorelick would quite probably have been H Clinton's Attorney General.

That particular kind of stink is the stench of no hope.

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Re: Jared Kushner

Postby Elvis » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:46 pm

I wonder if there's anything to this "adoption" business, why the Trump Gang would be interested in that, if they are? Just a thought.
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