Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Election

Moderators: DrVolin, Elvis, Jeff

Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby stillrobertpaulsen » Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:02 pm

Thank you for providing this context, seemslikeadream.

Yeah, overcoming hope, that was a bit of mean spirited disruption. You've been warned: don't do it again.

seemslikeadream » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:39 pm wrote:I originally thought she/he was actually interested but now that I read this it seems like the posts were intentionally disruptive and I have no clue why he would do that to this thread seems a bit mean spirited and over the top :roll:

fool me once overcoming hope ...sorry I sent you that pm thanking you for reading this thread ...a bit premature it seems

overcoming hope » Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:59 pm wrote:I think this forum is a microcosm of the Russian news coverage nationwide. Look how inundated the board is with the stuff. See how distracting it is. Feel how frustrating it is to try and have a discussion that doesn't get sidetracked with machine gun coverage of russia, russia, russia. I guess where there is smoke there is fire, or maybe in this case where there is flatulence there is shit.


My last post before that disruption was kinda important maybe he was trying to mask it?

Dokuchaev guilty plea and connection to Nikulin is really important

Russian cyber spy wanted by FBI admits intel sharing

The hacked emails at the center of Mueller’s Russia investigation, explained
The leaks that plagued the DNC, John Podesta, and others are crucial to the collusion probe. Were any Trump associates involved?

By Andrew Prokopandrew@vox.com Apr 2, 2018, 8:00am EDT
Christina Animashaun/Vox

There’s one positively enormous shoe that still hasn’t dropped in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 campaign: an indictment about all those hacked emails.

The hacking and release of leading political figures’ emails is the most visible election intervention attributed to Russia’s government. And it’s long been one of the leading, and perhaps the leading, possibility about just what “collusion” between Donald Trump’s team and the Russians might have involved.

That’s not mere speculation. We’ve gradually learned of not one but six different times Trump associates at least tried to get involved with either Russian-provided dirt, hacked Democratic emails, or WikiLeaks. We don’t yet know whether these furtive contacts resulted in anything of significance — but one of these advisers, George Papadopoulos, has already pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the matter, and began cooperating with Mueller’s team.

These hacks were crimes, victimizing many hundreds of Americans (those who had their documents stolen, and those who corresponded with them). The operation was more wide-ranging than many remember, targeting not just John Podesta and the DNC, but many other people and groups. It wasn’t just emails stolen, either — posted material ranged from Democratic Party turnout data a Republican operative thought was “probably worth millions of dollars” to even a purported picture of Michelle Obama’s passport.

No charges have been filed in the matter — yet. But some are likely coming. The Wall Street Journal has reported that the US has identified “more than six members of the Russian government” involved in the DNC hacks. And the Daily Beast recently wrote that investigators have identified a specific Russian intelligence officer behind “Guccifer 2.0,” a leading figure in the hacks. Mueller is now overseeing the probe.

To understand what happened in 2016, we have to understand the hackings. And though some mysteries remain, much of the complex story has, gradually, been pieced together by journalists and cybersecurity experts. The consequences, of course, unfolded in plain sight during the campaign itself.

How the hacks happened (a phishing expedition)
The media often shorthands the 2016 hack story as: Russians hacked Podesta and the DNC’s email accounts, and WikiLeaks then posted those hacked emails publicly.

The full story is more complex. Let’s start at the beginning.

Between March 2015 and May 2016, a group of hackers went on a phishing expedition. The “baited lines” they cast out were at least 19,000 malicious emails that resembled the one below:


A screencap of a phishing email received by Hillary Clinton campaign aide William Rinehart. The Smoking Gun
These emails were designed to look as if they were coming from Google. But they were in fact designed to trick people into clicking through and entering their login credentials — delivering them right into the hackers’ hands.

According to a later Associated Press analysis of a report by the information security firm SecureWorks, at least 573 of the more than 4,700 different email addresses targeted were American. They included many US government officials, military officials, intelligence officials, and defense contractors.


Particularly beginning in March and April 2016, these targets began to include many Democrats as well. Per the AP, more than 130 Democratic accounts were sent these malicious links, compared to just “a handful” of Republicans. Podesta and several Clinton staffers — along with former Secretary of State Colin Powell, retired Gen. Philip Breedlove, and others — had their accounts successfully compromised. (We know all this because the hackers used the link-shortening tool Bitly to do their work and accidentally left their activity publicly viewable.)

Russia was eventually blamed for the phishing expedition, for several reasons. For one, Secureworks concluded the particular malware used in this campaign was tied to a hacking group that outside researchers had been tracking for some time — a group they thought to be linked the GRU, Russia’s foreign military intelligence agency. We don’t know what the secretive hacking group calls itself, but various cybersecurity researchers had given it several different names. Iron Twilight. APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) 28. Pawn Storm. And — most famously of all — “Fancy Bear.”

In this photo illustration artwork found on the Internet showing Fancy Bear is seen on the computer of the photographer during a session in the plenary hall of the Bundestag, the German parliament, on March 1, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Authorities said the
We don’t know the hacking group’s true name, but outside researchers dubbed it “Fancy Bear.” Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Circumstantial evidence also suggests a Russian-tied culprit. For instance, the phishers were extremely focused on Ukraine — at least 545 targeted email accounts were from there, comparable to the number of American targets. These included Ukraine’s president and many other top government officials, who are hostile to Vladimir Putin’s regime.

The Russians targeted, meanwhile, were generally critics of Putin’s government and journalists. Another interesting detail, per the AP, is that more than 95 percent of the malicious links were created between the hours of 9 am and 6 pm, Monday to Friday — Moscow time.

Around April 2016, as this phishing campaign increasingly began to target Democrats, material was also taken from the DNC. The firm Crowdstrike attributed this as a hack from Fancy Bear, citing the malware used, and other firms agreed with this assessment. These firms also concluded that a separate group of Russian-tied hackers (dubbed “Cozy Bear”) had been in the DNC’s systems for much longer, since all the way back in the summer of 2015.

The precise mechanisms of how the DNC was breached remain somewhat murky. But Fancy Bear’s phishing campaign did send out malicious links to nine DNC email accounts in March and April 2016. And as we’ll soon see, hacked DNC material ended up in the same place as hacked material from Podesta and others. A January 2017 US intelligence report would later specifically blame Russia’s GRU — the agency thought to be behind Fancy Bear — for taking “large volumes of data from the DNC.”

As striking as all this may seem, though, government-backed hacking is far from unusual. The US does it. Our allies do it. Our rivals do it. China was said to have hacked Barack Obama and John McCain’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and was then tied to a massive theft of federal data in 2015. Foreign intelligence agencies trying to peek into political activities seemed to be something that just, well, happened all the time.


What came next in 2016, however, was a jarring departure from these norms — the hacked information began to be posted publicly, in massive amounts.

A timeline of odd events between the hacks and the leaks
The backdrop to all of this was the US presidential election — the first series of primaries and caucuses took place in February and early March. The surprisingly Russia-friendly Donald Trump emerged as the clear leader in the Republican contest, over his Putin-critical rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, who Putin’s regime had long had chilly relations with, emerged as the favorite for the Democratic nomination over Bernie Sanders.

It was around this point — in mid-March 2016 — that the phishing campaign began to particularly target many Democrats’ and Clinton campaign staffers’ email accounts, according to Secureworks’ analysis.

There were several other events that, in retrospect, are either relevant or at the very least intriguing:


Russian President Vladimir Putin Mikhail Klimentyev/TASS
April 7: Putin condemns the Panama Papers leak. In early April, an international consortium of journalists published reports on a cache of leaked documents tracing offshore wealth — the Panama Papers. Many of the documents revealed financial information about Putin’s inner circle, and Putin publicly claimed the stories were part of a United States plot against Russia. “They are trying to destabilize us from within in order to make us more compliant,” Putin said. Many have posited that the Russian government may have then wished to retaliate.
April 19: The domain for DCLeaks, a website that would eventually post many hacked documents, is registered. For now, nothing is posted. (US intelligence agencies have said Russia’s GRU is behind the site.)
April 26: George Papadopoulos gets an intriguing tip. Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, sat down in London with a professor named Joseph Mifsud. Mifsud told him he’d just traveled to Moscow and met high-level Russian government officials. He added to Papadopoulos that Russia had obtained “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, in the form of thousands of emails.
June 6 to 8: DCLeaks begins posting, but not about the election. DCLeaks’s posts of hacked documents indicated that it was Russian ties. That’s because they included the hacked emails of retired Gen. Philip Breedlove, who had commanded NATO forces in Europe and pushed for a harder line against Russia in Ukraine. They also included documents from George Soros’s Open Society Foundation. (The Russian government has blamed Soros and his associated groups for opposing its interests in Ukraine.)
June 9: The Trump Tower meeting: Shortly afterward, Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner met a Russian lawyer and four other people with Russian ties at Trump Tower. Don Jr. had agreed to take the meeting based on the promise of “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary,” as part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump” (as it was put to him in an email). Everyone involved claims nothing came of this meeting.
Throughout all this time, there was no public indication that the phishing campaign, or the hacking of the DNC and other campaign figures’ emails, had taken place. Just days later, that would change.

The email leaks begin
Julian Assange speaks to the media from the balcony of the Embassy Of Ecuador on May 19, 2017 in London, England.
Julian Assange speaks to the media from the balcony of the Embassy Of Ecuador on May 19, 2017, in London, England. Jack Taylor/Getty Images
On June 12, 2016, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange dropped a bombshell. “We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton,” Assange announced, during a British television interview. “We have emails pending publication.”

WikiLeaks — a nonprofit launched back in 2006 by Assange, an Australian activist — had previously been most famous for posting a plethora of internal US military documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (including video of a deadly airstrike), and more than 250,000 diplomatic cables from the US State Department — leaked by Chelsea Manning. Assange himself was then accused of rape and sexual assault in Sweden and he sought political asylum from Ecuador. He has been holed up in the nation’s London embassy since June 2012.


Assange’s announcement was the first public indication that Democrats would soon be plagued by leaked internal emails. So two days after that, the DNC, which had learned of the hacking of its systems and hired Crowdstrike to respond, decided to get in front of what they feared was coming. They told the Washington Post that they’d been hacked — by, they claimed, the Russian government. Crowdstrike’s CEO put up a blog post explaining why he identified Russia as the culprit.

Yet the next day, June 15, things got even weirder — because that is when “Guccifer 2.0” arrived on the scene. (The name, a portmanteau of “Gucci” and “Lucifer,” is an homage to the original Guccifer, the jailed Romanian hacker Marcel Leher Lazar, who’d broken into high-profile Americans’ email accounts.)

In a Wordpress post, the new Guccifer said that Crowdstrike was quite wrong about the DNC hack, which he said was carried out by him, “a lone hacker.” (“Fuck CrowdStrike!!!” he wrote.) He said that he’d given “the main part of the papers, thousands of files and mails” that he’d stolen, to WikiLeaks. (WikiLeaks has refused to confirm that he was their source.) He also began to post several documents he claimed were from the DNC server.


Image from from Guccifer 2’s Wordpress
Almost immediately, journalists pointed to inconsistencies in Guccifer’s story and linguistic tics to suggest he was Russian — or, more than one Russian. (US intelligence agencies would eventually say Russia’s GRU was behind the persona, and the Daily Beast recently reported that the account’s user once slipped up and neglected to mask his identity through a VPN — allowing investigators to match a particular Russian intelligence officer to that Guccifer 2.0 login.)

Yet what Guccifer had access to was clearly broader than just the DNC. None of the first documents he posted showed up in WikiLeaks’ DNC email dump, and in fact many of them eventually showed up in John Podesta’s emails, which were released much later. Additionally, on June 27, Guccifer emailed the Smoking Gun’s William Bastone a link to a password protected post on DCLeaks.com that contained phished emails and documents from Clinton staffer Sarah Hamilton. (DCLeaks had not yet publicly posted any material related to the election.)

On July 6, Guccifer 2.0 posted his first documents that would eventually be found in the DNC emails. The New Yorker’s Raffi Khatchadourian speculates, based on some comments Guccifer made to journalists at the time, that Guccifer or his handlers were frustrated that WikiLeaks was taking too long to actually post the DNC material, and were threatening to spoil Assange’s exclusive. (A week later, Guccifer would send documents to the Hill’s Joe Uchill, writing that he was doing so because the press was “gradually forget[ing] about me,” and complained that WikiLeaks was “playing for time.”)

All the while, Assange and WikiLeaks were working to prepare their database of DNC emails, with the apparent goal of publishing them before the Democratic convention began in late July. It’s unclear how they set that goal. Assange would later tell Khatchadourian that he originally had a deadline of July 18 to release them, but “we were given a little more time.” (It’s unclear, though, who gave him more time, and Assange later disputed the accuracy of the recorded quote.)

Finally, on July 22 — the Friday before the convention — WikiLeaks posted those thousands of DNC emails and attachments online. They revealed that many DNC members privately spoke of Bernie Sanders with disdain, drove DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other top staffers to resign, and overall made an ugly start for the Democratic convention. Though Assange remained mum on his source, Guccifer 2.0 jubilantly claimed credit in a tweet:


The DNC leaks proved to be just the beginning. News soon broke that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) had also been hacked, and on August 12, DCCC documents started showing up on Guccifer’s Wordpress site. Guccifer also sent the DCCC’s internal turnout model data to Florida Republican Party operative Aaron Nevins, who was positively thrilled to receive it. “Holy fuck man I don’t think you realize what you gave me,” Nevins wrote in a DM. “This is probably worth millions of dollars.” Nevins soon put it online on his anonymously run blog.

Then, DCLeaks got in the game. On August 12, the site posted a few emails from some little-known Republican state party aides, and from campaign advisers to Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — both of whom were known as Russia hawks. In September, the site’s anonymous administrators sent Colin Powell’s phished emails to reporters, revealing his candid assessments of both Clinton (“greedy”) and Trump (“national disgrace”).

DCLeaks then posted phished emails from Ian Mellul, an Obama White House staffer who had volunteered for Clinton. The Mellul documents included a picture of Michelle Obama’s passport and a months-old audio file in which Hillary Clinton said Sanders’s young supporters were “living in their parents’ basement.” Longtime Clinton ally Capricia Marshall’s phished emails came next.

Many of these disclosures caused brief stirs, but what everyone was really waiting for was the next WikiLeaks dump. Roger Stone, the Trump associate, claimed that he knew Assange had something huge on the way and speculated it would involve the Clinton Foundation.


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange Carl Court/Getty Images
Assange himself told Fox News back on August 24 that his team had “thousands of pages of material” and was “working around the clock” to prepare it for publication. By early October, there was still nothing from WikiLeaks, but Stone continued to hype an imminent release, saying “an intermediary” who’d met with Assange said, “the mother lode is coming Wednesday.”

The mother lode instead came two days later, on Friday, October 7, when WikiLeaks posted its first batch of John Podesta’s emails. The site would continue to post them, in batches, up through the election. Earlier on that very same day, the US government officially attributed the hacking effort to the Russian government, and the Donald Trump Access Hollywood tape hit the news.

In the end, the 2016 election was close, decided by just over one percentage point in three Electoral College states. And whether or not the email leaks were sufficient to swing the outcome, they certainly were effective at keeping the words “Hillary Clinton” and “emails” in the headlines throughout the campaign’s final stretch.

Trump associates tried to get in touch with hackers or leakers at least six separate times
During the campaign, it was clear enough that Trump was unusually friendly to Russia, and that the Russian government interventions seemed aimed at trying to help his electoral chances at the expense of Hillary Clinton. But after the election, more and more attention became devoted to whether Trump associates and Putin’s government coordinated to intervene in the campaign in some way. And on March 20, 2017, then-FBI Director James Comey publicly confirmed the FBI was investigating just that topic.

No one has produced a smoking gun demonstrating clear involvement just yet. But this isn’t mere idle speculation, either — there are at least six instances in which Trump associates at least tried to get Russian dirt or communicated with hacking and leaking figures. The first of them was what initiated the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia in the first place:


1) The Papadopoulos tip: Fancy Bear’s phishing campaign targeted Clinton staffers and Democrats in large numbers in March and April 2016, but the hacks remained publicly unknown for months afterward. Yet it was very early indeed — on April 26 — that Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos got his tip about what was coming.

As described above, the tip was from a source Papadopoulos understood to have Russian government connections, professor Joseph Mifsud. Mifsud specifically said he’d gained his information from traveling to Moscow and meeting high-level officials there. And he said Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton — and, specifically, thousands of emails.

We don’t yet know whether he told others in the Trump campaign about what he’d heard. But it seems highly likely that he did. He was a young adviser eager to impress campaign higher-ups. And we already know he drunkenly bragged about his inside info to an Australian diplomat a few weeks later. (The Australians later told the FBI, which led the bureau to open the investigation.)

In any case, Papadopoulos was arrested last summer for making false statements to FBI investigators, cut a plea deal, and began cooperating with investigators. So whatever he did do with his tip, Mueller likely now knows it.

A view of the Trump Tower from 5th Avenue in New York on April 14, 2011.
A view of Trump Tower from 5th Avenue in New York Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
2) The Trump Tower meeting: It was on June 3, 2016 — a little more than a month after Papadopoulos’s tip, but still before any news broke about Democrats having been hacked — that publicist Rob Goldstone emailed an acquaintance of his, Donald Trump Jr. Goldstone described some news from his clients Aras and Emin Agalarov, a father-son pair of real estate developers who’d done business with the Trumps.

The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.

This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump - helped along by Aras and Emin.
Don Jr. enthusiastically accepted the offer, and Goldstone arranged a meeting six days later, on June 9. The Trump delegation included Don Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner. They met Goldstone, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Agalarov company executive Ike Kaveladze, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, and translator Anatoli Samochornov.

Once the existence of the meeting became public, all parties involved claimed it was a dud, resulting in nothing of consequence. But the timing of the meeting is strange. Three days later, Assange announced he’d received emails related to Hillary Clinton. Two days after that, the DNC announced it had been hacked, and blamed Russia.

Goldstone saw an article about that, and emailed it to Emin and Kaveladze, writing that the news was “eerily weird” considering what they’d just discussed at the Trump Tower meeting. Guccifer 2.0 began posting the day after that.

3) The Cambridge Analytica CEO’s contacts with WikiLeaks: Cambridge Analytica is the Steve Bannon-tied firm that did digital work for the Trump campaign and has been in the news of late.

CEO of Cambridge Analytica Alexander Nix speaks at the 2016 Concordia Summit - Day 1 at Grand Hyatt New York on September 19, 2016 in New York City
CEO of Cambridge Analytica Alexander Nix, speaking on September 19, 2016, in New York City. Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Concordia Summit
And last year, we learned that Cambridge’s CEO, Alexander Nix, had twice contacted WikiLeaks on the topic of hacked emails.

Nix says that in “early June,” after he learned of Assange’s claims to have Hillary Clinton-related emails, he reached out to Julian Assange to ask for an advance look at those emails. He says that Assange turned him down.

Then, in August — after Assange had posted the DNC emails — Nix emailed Cambridge employees to say that he’d recently reached out to Assange again, offering help at organizing the DNC material on WikiLeaks. He said he hadn’t yet heard back. Both Nix and Assange have said these overtures didn’t go anywhere.

4) Donald Trump Jr.’s contacts with WikiLeaks: Then, separately, Donald Trump Jr. had some communications with WikiLeaks through the group’s Twitter account toward the end of the campaign.

As best we know, WikiLeaks began the communication, DMing Don Jr. to tell him that they had guessed the password to a new “PAC run anti-Trump site,” putintrump.org, that was about to launch. “Any comments?” the group asked. Trump Jr. answered: “Off the record I don’t know who that is but I’ll ask around. Thanks.”

Then, on October 3, 2016, WikiLeaks DMed Don Jr. again, asking him to “comment on” or “push” a story that Hillary Clinton had once said she wanted to “just drone” Assange. Don Jr. answered, “Already did that earlier today. It’s amazing what she can get away with.”

He then followed up with a question: “What’s behind this Wednesday leak I keep reading about?” This was at the height of chatter that WikiLeaks had a major batch of anti-Clinton material ready. However, there is no indication that WikiLeaks answered this question from Don Jr. or gave him any advance information that it was Podesta’s emails that were coming. The group sent him a couple more messages but there are no more known responses from Don Jr.

5) Roger Stone’s several contacts with both Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks: Roger Stone is a longtime Republican operative with a reputation for dirty tricks and a decades-long relationship with Donald Trump. Stone was only an official Trump campaign adviser briefly, departing the operation in early August 2015 after clashing with other staffers. But he remained in Trump’s orbit and, to some extent, in communication with the candidate himself afterward.

Both in public and in private, he was fixated on the hackings and leaks.

One associate of Stone’s claimed to the Washington Post that at some point in the spring of 2016, before news of the hackings broke, Stone said he’d learned from Julian Assange that WikiLeaks had obtained emails that would hurt Democrats. (Stone denies this.) Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg also says Stone told him he’d met with Assange. (Stone says he was joking.)

Roger Stone at the 'Roger Stone Holds Court' panel during Politicon at Pasadena Convention Center on July 30, 2017 in Pasadena, California
Roger Stone on July 30, 2017 Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images
The initial leaks from Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks were posted in June and July. Afterward, on August 5, Stone penned a Breitbart article in which he took Guccifer’s story about being a lone hacker who stole the DNC emails at face value and argued Russia probably wasn’t responsible.

Three days later, on August 8, Stone started publicly claiming to have inside information. “I actually have communicated with Assange,” he said. “I believe the next tranche of his documents pertain to the Clinton Foundation but there’s no telling what the October surprise may be.”

A few days after that, Stone began tweeting at, and eventually DMing with, Guccifer 2.0 (who, again, has reportedly been identified as a Russian intelligence officer). Some of these DMs later leaked, leading Stone himself to post what he claimed was their full exchange. The posted messages are mainly friendly chit-chat, and not particularly substantive.


On August 21, Stone tweeted an odd prediction: “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary”. Many would later point to this — which came months before the Podesta emails became public — and ask whether Stone had advance knowledge of the Podesta email leak. (Stone himself would later claim that, since this came in the midst of a scandal surrounding Stone’s old friend Paul Manafort’s Ukraine work, he was merely predicting “Podesta’s business dealings would be exposed.”)

As October began, Stone took on a new role — as WikiLeaks’ hype man. He again claimed inside knowledge, saying a “friend” of his met with Assange and learned “the mother lode is coming Wednesday.” He tweeted: “Wednesday @HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks”. And when nothing came on Wednesday, Stone tweeted, “Libs thinking Assange will stand down are wishful thinking. Payload coming. #Lockthemup”. Assange published the Podesta emails two days later.

Immediately, there were questions about whether the garrulous operative had been involved, which eventually spurred WikiLeaks itself to tweet that the group “has never communicated with Roger Stone.” The Atlantic later reported that Stone DMed the WikiLeaks Twitter account afterward, complaining that they were “attacking” him. “The false claims of association are being used by the democrats to undermine the impact of our publications,” WikiLeaks responded. “Don’t go there if you don’t want us to correct you.” Stone shot back: “Ha! The more you ‘correct’ me the more people think you’re lying. Your operation leaks like a sieve. You need to figure out who your friends are.”

What to make of all this? Stone was obviously in contact with two of the key leakers, and his own public statements show that at one point he wanted people to think he had an inside line on WikiLeaks’s plans. However, he’s repeatedly denied any inside knowledge or involvement, and we haven’t seen any clear evidence that he truly had such knowledge.

In any case, we might learn more from Mueller’s probe soon enough. “They want me to testify against Roger,” Sam Nunberg recently said, referring to the special counsel’s team. “They want me to say that Roger was going around telling people he was colluding with Julian Assange.”

6) Peter Smith’s hunt for Hillary’s deleted emails: Last, but certainly not least, there is one more email-related subplot to the 2016 campaign — and it’s a weird one.


Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Brooks Kraft/Getty Images
This one involves a separate set of emails: When word got out that Hillary Clinton had used a personal email account for all her work at the State Department, she agreed to hand over the work-related emails on that account to government investigators. But it turned out that she had previously deemed about 32,000 emails (about half of the total) to be “personal” rather than work-related, and deleted them.

Conservatives like longtime Republican operative Peter Smith didn’t take Clinton’s explanation for why she deleted the emails at face value and questioned whether they could have contained scandalous behavior or criminal evidence. Their number included GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Hillary Clinton] emails that are missing,” Trump said at a July 27, 2016, press conference. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That will be next.”

It was around this time that Smith began an unusual project. He assumed that Clinton’s email server had been hacked and that her emails must be out there somewhere, on the “dark web.” So he reached out to computer experts and conservative activists, hoping to assemble a team that would track those emails down.

Smith didn’t work for the Trump campaign. But he is said to have repeatedly claimed to be in contact with Michael Flynn, who was advising Trump. One recruiting document Smith sent to cybersecurity expert Matt Tait contained the subheader “Trump Campaign (in coordination to the extent permitted as an independent expenditure).” It then listed several names: Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Sam Clovis, Michael Flynn, and Lisa Nelson. (Bannon and Conway have denied any involvement. The other three haven’t commented.)

Eventually, Smith gave his version of what happened to the Wall Street Journal’s Shane Harris. He said his team found five hacker groups who said they had Clinton’s emails, of which two seemed to be Russian. “We knew the people who had these were probably around the Russian government,” Smith said. However, he went on, he couldn’t determine whether the emails were authentic, so he ended up just advising the hackers to give them to WikiLeaks. No such emails have ever surfaced. Smith — 81 years old and in poor health — committed suicide in May 2017, 10 days after speaking to Harris.

Smith’s effort appears to have failed. But he himself admitted he had tried to get stolen documents from groups he understood to be Russian government-tied. And then there is the question of Michael Flynn’s role — particularly since, per Harris’s sources, there are intelligence reports that say Russian hackers discussed how they could get leaked emails into Flynn’s hands. Much remains murky about this situation, but Flynn is cooperating with Mueller’s team as part of a plea deal, so the special counsel likely now knows whatever he does.

Mueller will likely bring charges in the email hacking matter. But against whom?
Special counsel Robert Mueller (C) leaves after a closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 at the Capitol in Washington, DC. The committee meets with Mueller to discuss the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
Special counsel Robert Mueller (C) leaves after a closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017, at the Capitol in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images
Last November, the Wall Street Journal’s Aruna Viswanatha and Del Quentin Wilber reported that the Justice Department had identified more than six Russian government officials involved in the DNC hack and was considering bringing charges.

Interestingly, though, the report claimed that special counsel Robert Mueller had chosen not to take over the DNC hack investigation because it was “relatively technical” and had already “been under way for nearly a year.”

That appears to have since changed. Both NBC News and the Daily Beast reported this month that Mueller had now taken charge of the email hacking investigation. And the Washington Post reported in January that Mueller had added “a veteran cyber prosecutor,” Ryan Dickey, to his team. (Credit to Marcy Wheeler for flagging this point.)

So it’s a pretty safe bet that Mueller will bring some charges related to the email hackings. And judging by Mueller’s past indictments, he’ll also use them to tell a story about what exactly happened, to the extent he can. There is, after all, a good deal we still don’t know — for instance, how, exactly, did the DNC and Podesta emails get from the hackers to WikiLeaks?

It’s important to remember that this is all just we know about — there could be more that is still not public. It is certainly possible that several of their contacts with real or purported leakers and hackers listed above went nowhere, but it’s a bit harder to believe that all six of those separate contacts resulted in nothing of consequence.

Mueller has already gotten three people tied to Trump to plead guilty and cooperate with the investigation. What is he getting from George Papadopoulos, who got the earliest known tip that the Russians hacked the emails? What is he getting from Michael Flynn, who may have been tied to Peter Smith’s effort to get Clinton emails from Russian hackers? What was he getting from Rick Gates, who was Paul Manafort’s right-hand man both before and during the campaign?

All three men have pleaded guilty, and we haven’t seen any of the fruits of their cooperation yet. They may be providing Mueller information about the hacked emails, and they may not. But it’s safe to say they’re telling Mueller a good deal that’s of interest — and eventually, we will find out what.
https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics ... nc-clinton



Wendy Siegelman


A senior leader in Russia’s spy agency, Dmitry Dokuchaev, wanted by FBI and suspected to be linked to Russian meddling in 2016 US election, has agreed to plead partially guilty to sharing information with foreign intelligence, by @KevinGHall


Report: Russian cyber spy wanted by FBI admits intel sharing

By Kevin G. Hall khall@mcclatchydc.comWASHINGTON
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Dmitry Dokuchaev in an FBI “Wanted” poster. The Russian cyber spy is under arrest in Moscow and sought in San Francisco in connection with alleged hacking of the databases of U.S. tech firms.
Dmitry Dokuchaev in an FBI “Wanted” poster. The Russian cyber spy is under arrest in Moscow and sought in San Francisco in connection with alleged hacking of the databases of U.S. tech firms. FBI Handout
A senior leader in Russia’s spy agency, wanted by the FBI and suspected to be linked to Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, has agreed to plead partially guilty to sharing information with foreign intelligence, according to a Russian media report.

The Russian news site RBC reported Monday that Dmitry Dokuchaev, a major in the FSB intelligence service, has admitted that he indirectly transferred information to foreign intelligence, presumably the United States. RBC, citing two anonymous sources, said that Dokuchaev insisted it amounted to informal information-sharing about activities of cybercriminals who did not work for Russia.

That’s at odds with a report from another Russian news outlet last year, which said that one of the individuals about whom Dokuchaev shared information was alleged Russian hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin. On Friday, it became public that the United States had succeeded in its attempt to extradite Nikulin from the Czech Republic – an effort bitterly fought by Moscow. Nikulin faces charges in California for allegedly hacking the databases of LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring in 2012.

Dokuchaev, 34, once a high-ranking official in the FSB’s unit that investigates cybercrime, is also the target of an arrest warrant in the U.S. The FBI accused him in February 2017 of directing and facilitating criminal hackers who stole user information on 500 million Yahoo accounts.

How exactly Nikulin and Dokuchaev fit into Russia’s efforts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election is not completely clear. The FSB is known to tolerate cybercriminals because it can piggyback off their illicit behaviors. U.S. intelligence believes the high-profile hacks of U.S. tech-firm databases allowed Russia to mine hundreds of millions of user accounts for personal information on election officials and U.S. political activists. This data could be used to try to enter secure websites or hypothetically to gather compromising information.

Importantly, Dokuchaev’s signed pre-trial agreement reported by RBC means evidence collected against him might not be made public and he could receive a lighter sentence if convicted. The Kremlin has said little publicly about Dokuchaev, and his alleged ties to accused hackers has provoked speculation of involvement in U.S. election meddling.

Dokuchaev and his boss, the cybercrime unit’s deputy director Sergey Mikhailov, were arrested on treason charges and reportedly led out of FSB headquarters with sacks over their heads in December 2016 — but that wasn’t revealed until shortly after the release of the so-called Trump dossier, a collection of business-intelligence memos compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele that alleged collusion between Russia and members of the Trump campaign team.

That explosive document, published in full on Jan. 10, 2017, by the news site BuzzFeed, led to congressional investigations and was in part the basis for the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller III as special counsel to investigate possible collusion. Earlier this year, Mueller brought charges against 13 alleged Russian intelligence officials, accusing them of attempting to undermine confidence in U.S. election results.

Adding to the intrigue of that period, Gen. Oleg Erovinkin, a former FSB leader, was found dead in the back seat of his car on Dec. 26, 2016. His death later sparked speculation that he might have been somehow involved in sharing information that made it into the dossier.

The next public hearing in Dokuchaev’s case is expected on Wednesday, RBC reported. A lawyer for Mikhailov, also facing treason charges, told RBC his client was not admitting guilt.
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation- ... 23644.html


“one of the individuals about whom Dokuchaev shared information was alleged Russian hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin” who was extradited to California on Friday and has pleaded not guilty http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation- ... 23644.html
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby overcoming hope » Tue Apr 03, 2018 6:14 pm

stillrobertpaulsen » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:34 pm wrote:
overcoming hope » Tue Apr 03, 2018 1:27 am wrote:Crazy
Whoa
Scary
Disturbing
Troubling
Frightening
Sickening
Disconcerting

Nothingburger?
Somethingburger?
Please elaborate on your thoughts regarding the subject of this thread, overcoming hope. Preferably in complete sentences.


yeah I was not being nice. I believe the Russia narrative is a dead end. Corporate Dems don't have to worry about their voters doing any soul searching wondering how we have arrived at this point because Russia. Opportunity to Smear progressives like Bernie (Russia helped him) 3rd parties (Russia helped Jill Stein). Attack Trump from the right and work on starting up an arms race or actual war. It preaches to the choir and will not win hearts and minds of his supporters and further galvanizes them instead of focusing on policy or anything of substance. People only have so much energy and once this thing is over (another year?) all that energy and enthusiasm for fighting Trump will have evaporated. Dem leadership have already stated they have no interest in pursing impeachment and even if they did, as many have already pointed out, Pence will probably be worse and he actually knows what he is doing. The admiration from progressives of people like Mueller who helped sell the Iraq war is odd to say the least, but I guess it fits in with the democrats glorification of good Republicans like Bush jr who of course is a good normal Republican unlike the anomaly that is Trump.
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Apr 03, 2018 6:21 pm

WHY WOULD FSB OFFICER DMITRY DOKUCHAEV USE A YAHOO EMAIL ACCOUNT TO SPY FOR RUSSIA?

March 18, 2017/9 Comments/in Cybersecurity, Russian hacks /by empty wheel

At the Atlantic, I expanded on this post to explore how Russia has to do by hacking what the US can do using Section 702. As I lay out, for a lot of foreign spying involving US tech companies, Russia has to do things like phish or hack Yahoo’s servers to gain the kind of access the NSA gets just by asking nicely.

But as Jeffrey Carr notes in this post, that’s not true for unencrypted communications that originate in Russia. FSB — the agency where alleged Yahoo hackers Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin worked — have access to anything that originates in Russia.

To put it another way, the FSB has total information awareness on every type of communication that originates in Russia or passes through Russian servers.


Carr uses that detail to argue that this probably means Dokuchaev — who was charged by Russia with treason in December — and Suschin were operating on their own.

[W]hy would the FSB, with their vast resources and legal authorities, need to collect information on Russian targets in Russia via Yahoo?

The obvious answer is — they don’t. And since all of the defendants with the exception of one person are either criminals or charged by the Russian government with treason, the Yahoo breach was most likely the act of corrupt FSB employees and criminal hackers rather than an official FSB operation.


Now, many if not most accounts identified in the indictment (I made a list of the described targets in this post) wouldn’t be officially available, because they’re located in countries adjoining Russia or the US.

But there are a few other details that do support Carr’s argument.

First, in addition to Yahoo and Google accounts, the conspirators targeted a Russian webmail service — probably Yandex.

In or around April 2016, the conspirators sought access to an account of a senior officer at a Russian webmail and internet-related services provider (the “Russian Webmail Provider”). On or about April 25, 2016, DOKUCHAEV successfully minted a cookie to gain access to the victim user’s account.


Admittedly, FSB might not want to go to Yandex (or whichever provider it is) to ask for information on one of their senior officers, but nevertheless, this information should be available officially in Russia. Another passage that describes the Russian webmail service lists only Russian targets, though that section also includes Google targets, so those may have been the GMail accounts of Russians unavailable in Russia.

In addition, the day after the indictment, Sushchin got fired from Renaissance Capital (which is owned by Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov), where he was embedded. That suggests his was not an official embed noticed to the company (though it still may have been a legitimate FSB placement).

Most interesting of all is that Dokuchaev used US resources to conduct the hack. He had a Paypal account, which he presumably used to pay Karim Baratov.

All funds which constitute proceeds that are held on deposit in PayPal account number xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx2639, held by DOKUCHAEV;


And, according to the G&M (and this is the most amazing part), Dokuchaev used a Yahoo account to communicate with Baratov.

Mr. Dokuchaev is alleged in the court documents to have used a Yahoo e-mail account to contact Mr. Baratov and hire him to get the log-in information for about 80 accounts belonging to victims of the Yahoo hack.


I get why you wouldn’t email Baratov from your Dokuchaev@FSB.ru account, because that would alert Canadian and US authorities he was working with Russian spies. But surely a Russian spy knows enough not to communicate via an account that is readily available to US authorities under Section 702, even if the conspirators’ persistent presence in the Yahoo servers might alert you to such surveillance? Even if you wanted to use an account in North America there are surely better options.

In other words, there are a lot of reasons to believe that Dokuchaev was making more effort to keep this activity out of easy reach of Russian authorities then he did to hide it from the US.https://www.emptywheel.net/2017/03/18/w ... or-russia/
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby stillrobertpaulsen » Tue Apr 03, 2018 6:33 pm

overcoming hope » Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:14 pm wrote:yeah I was not being nice. I believe the Russia narrative is a dead end. Corporate Dems don't have to worry about their voters doing any soul searching wondering how we have arrived at this point because Russia. Opportunity to Smear progressives like Bernie (Russia helped him) 3rd parties (Russia helped Jill Stein). Attack Trump from the right and work on starting up an arms race or actual war. It preaches to the choir and will not win hearts and minds of his supporters and further galvanizes them instead of focusing on policy or anything of substance. People only have so much energy and once this thing is over (another year?) all that energy and enthusiasm for fighting Trump will have evaporated. Dem leadership have already stated they have no interest in pursing impeachment and even if they did, as many have already pointed out, Pence will probably be worse and he actually knows what he is doing. The admiration from progressives of people like Mueller who helped sell the Iraq war is odd to say the least, but I guess it fits in with the democrats glorification of good Republicans like Bush jr who of course is a good normal Republican unlike the anomaly that is Trump.


You bring up some cogent points. I agree with many of them. But this isn't Democratic Underground - nobody here much cares about the Corporate Dem/MSM narrative - just what is the real truth behind it. If you've been paying attention to what seemslikeadream has uncovered in its entirety (which includes mainstream, independent and other sources), you would see Pence is neck-deep in all of this; he just knows how to hide it better because as you put it "he actually knows what he is doing." If they can't all be held accountable in the legal sphere (and yes, Mueller is hardly one to be trusted to let justice prevail, though the heavens may fall) then at least we can hold them accountable in the public sphere, however limited it may be.

Slightly off-topic, I think your idea of "Attack Trump from the right and work on starting up an arms race or actual war" is scary and dangerous. But I won't hold that against you, you're certainly entitled to your opinion.
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Apr 03, 2018 6:38 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Newly Unsealed Court Docs Reveal Trump Family Involved in Bank Fraud With Russian Mobster

Grant Stern
Apr 3

Federal authorities already have information tying Donald Trump and his adult children Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka to a major financial crime which helped build the Trump SoHo tower in lower Manhattan with the Bayrock Company.

Former Bayrock Company owner Felix Sater is a Soviet-born convicted financial felon, whose criminal history lies at the heart of the potentially explosive criminal liability hanging over the Trump Organization’s head and heirs.

Newly unsealed court records from the former Trump senior advisor Felix Sater’s illegally hidden prosecution reveal details of his 1998 plea deal and 2004 pre-sentencing report, providing a factual basis for which federal authorities could bring bank fraud and racketeering criminal charges against he and the Trump family.

Sater’s Bayrock Company licensed the Trump name to build Trump SoHo, as well as failed projects in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Phoenix, Arizona.

The Trump family’s role in Sater’s fraud racket involved them knowingly concealing the Russian mob-connected businessman’s financial felony past from banks to borrow $550 million and obtain $200 million of investor equity to build the Trump SoHo tower.

In 2012, Manhattan’s DA investigated the Trump family’s statements in connection with selling the Trump SoHo, but declined to prosecute under murky circumstances.

The unsealed records along with Sater’s recent media remarks also indicate that Donald Trump committed perjury to a Florida court by covering up the extent of his involvement with his former “senior advisor” during a 2013 video deposition.

A federal judge in the New York-based 2nd Circuit Appeals Court just redacted and unsealed new information about Sater’s agreement with federal prosecutors to become a cooperating witness for the FBI against the mafia, as I exclusively reported in February 2018.

Lawyer Robert S. Wolf responded to that February 10th story by sending a threat email to this author.

He is counsel of record for Felix Sater in the Bayrock lawsuits, which court records show is a role he has held for at least the past 24 years. Wolf told me: (complete email chain below, with reply)

“The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Pamela Chen’s earlier decision,” and “continued to keep everything sealed that the government and Mr. Sater requested to remain sealed including his Pre-Sentence Report.”
However, a careful examination of the unsealed records shows that the judge’s redactions actually serve to confirm Donald Trump’s involvement with Sater in a criminal racket.

When asked for further comment for this story, Robert Wolf told me from his cellphone ten days later, “I have nothing further to tell you based on your response,” and reached by phone twice more while his client was busy on a media blitz, he asked to be called back or muttered that he was busy, declining further comment.

Judge Chen’s vain attempt to partially redact details of Felix Sater’s pre-sentencing report and Wolf’s statement serve, ironically, to confirm the authenticity of the information from Sater’s 2004 pre-sentencing report that was included in a legal brief filed with the Supreme Court in 2012.

Read the newly unsealed, redacted brief here and the unredacted brief from the National Archives. The story continues below…
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This is a comparative analysis of two above linked legal filings available from the federal court’s PACER system. Legal briefs filed with the Supreme Court in 2012 contained the information from Sater’s PSR, which SCOTUS itself made public, and which was, ironically, also publicly cross-docketed on an earlier “PKC” docket (Judge Pamela K. Chen), but which the Second Circuit judges still wish to hide from the public.
The records and Sater’s recent media remarks also indicate that Donald Trump committed perjury to a Florida court by covering up the extent of his involvement with his former “senior advisor” during a 2013 video deposition.

Leaked emails emerged documenting a 2008 meeting between the entire Trump family (Don, Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric) and Bayrock, where they discussed the plea deal and ultimately hid Felix Sater’s continued ownership in Trump SoHo before refinancing in 2010. Lenders foreclosed on the remaining partners in 2014.

A New York state or federal prosecutor could use the confirmed facts above and the leaked emails to build a case for RICO bank fraud by concealment against the Trump family, Sater and his colleagues in the Bayrock Company.

The statute of limitations for federal RICO bank fraud charges is 10 years, and Bayrock refinanced its last mortgage in 2010.

The above image may also partially explain why Felix Sater suddenly settled the long-running civil racketeering and fraud lawsuit just last month, since it makes clear that he was skimming funds from Bayrock, and even the federal government knew about it.

For example, in just one of the settled complaint’s 2007 allegations alone (page 14), Sater and his cohort at Bayrock were alleged to have kept a $50 million investment just to pad their own bank accounts.

President Trump’s nearly 20-year relationship with this Russian mob-connected business associate Felix Sater ultimately blossomed into a business partnership with family and the Bayrock company to build the Trump SoHo Hotel in lower Manhattan, as seen on NBC’s “The Apprentice.”

Jody Kriss, a Bayrock whistleblower, filed a civil racketeering suit against Sater and Bayrock for (amongst other things) hiding the Russian-American’s 1998 felony plea deal, which is a material fact that must be disclosed to lenders once known.

Just because a criminal case is sealed like Sater’s, and sentencing is delayed or incomplete, a cooperating witness isn’t accorded a free pass under the law to keep breaking new laws or engage in new crimes beyond that which he might have witnessed. Those acts are actually grounds for canceling a cooperation agreement.

But Felix Sater did so anyhow, and Donald Trump and his family found out and hid his felony financial crimes conviction anyhow while maintaining an 18% interest in the Bayrock project that became the Trump SoHo condominium hotel.

Later in 2013, President Trump gave a sworn statement to attorney Jared Beck of Beck & Lee during Florida court deposition from Trump Tower, saying that he didn’t speak often with, and he “would not recognize” the Russian-American businessman with mob ties if they were in the same room.

The Trump Organization retained a multimillion-dollar management deal at Trump SoHo — even though only 15.8% of the hotel-condo units were sold by 2010 and the other partners went belly up — until late last year when they were bought out by new owners, who very publicly removed the Trump name from the lower Manhattan high-rise.

Workers remove the Trump SoHo brand from the lower Manhattan hotel developed by Bayrock with the Trump Organization.
Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. was investigating the Trump SoHo for violations of New York’s “blue sky” law — the Martin Act — until a 2012 meeting with Trump’s attorney Marc Kasowitz strangely led to the case being dropped.

The Martin Act is a state law that regulates securities, condominiums and co-op transactions, making it a prosecutable civil or criminal offense for a developer to make materially false statements.

One of the reasons why Trump SoHo’s units are (still) so deeply unpopular with buyers, is that the family negotiated onerous occupancy restrictions to no more than 120 days a year in order to obtain the hotel’s permit without violating residency requirements in one of Manhattan’s few industrially zoned districts. The building’s neighbors were not happy about the compromise.

That’s probably why two of the Trump children — Don Jr. and Ivanka — decided to blatantly lie about the percentage of SoHo units sold.

The family held a press conference for international reporters in Trump Tower in June 2008 — just over 90 days after the Trump Panama Hotel’s financiers at Bear Stearns went bankrupt — where Ivanka lied, claiming that Trump SoHo was nearly 60 percent sold.

Later, Don Jr. told The Real Deal the following spring that 55% of the units were sold.

The percentage of units sold is materially important information for a buyer, since a condo developer in New York must sell at least 15% of the units to begin closings.

As of late last year, only 33% of the Trump SoHo’s 391 units have sold to end buyers.

And the now-former Trump SoHo’s neighbors are still upset, even though the building has paid nearly $500,000 in occupancy related fines.

Donald Trump personally obtained millions of dollars in management fees, and naming rights from the failed Trump SoHo project for his family real estate company.

The Trump Organization obtained those millions of dollars by staying loyal to a twice-convicted financial felon, lying about sales information to attract buyers, and defrauding lenders for unspeakably large sums of money, which harmed everyone else who invested into the Trump SoHo property.

Virtually everyone else lost their shirt in Trump SoHo.

Except Felix Sater.

And the Trump Organization.

But Sater and the Trump family could be charged with bank fraud by concealment by state or local prosecutors in connection with the Trump SoHo loans sometime before the November 2020.

Felix Sater’s legal counsel Robert S. Wolf sent this threat email in the middle of President’s Day weekend, the evening of Saturday, February 17th, 2018:
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Apr 03, 2018 6:44 pm

Trump’s Mafia-linked Advisor Felix Sater Kept Millions From His Crime Victims With FBI’s Help

Grant Stern
Apr 3

Federal officials knew that Felix Sater conducted a national fraud scam with the Trump brand, but let him walk away with the proceeds of his old crimes, and his new ones.
Recently unsealed federal court records reveal that former Trump Organization senior advisor Felix Sater landed an illegal, sweetheart deal on sentencing from the Eastern District of New York’s federal judges and prosecutors in 2009.

It is still unclear why his cooperation agreement was extended for many years by the feds, even after they knew that Sater was violating the terms of his cooperation by committing further acts of fraud.

What is entirely clear, is that Felix Sater’s sentencing violated multiple federal laws that require notice to victims and cash restitution for their losses.

Federal prosecutors and the sentencing judge, I. Leo Glasser, illegally allowed him to keep the proceeds of a multiple mafia-linked, major financial felony racketeering scheme, with full knowledge of the situation.

That’s because his federal probation officer was instructed not to ask Sater the whereabouts of his ill gotten gains, or about skimming millions from Bayrock’s victims, who thought they were buying the Trump brand, and had no idea it was being peddled by a financial felon.

However, we do know for certain that Felix Sater knew he owed restitution to his victims, because he agreed to pay them back in writing as part of his plea deal, as this newly unsealed, redacted passage of court record about his pre-sentencing report for major white collar crime highlights.

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Federal Judge Pamela K. Chen unsealed records relating to Felix Sater’s secret felony plea deal, but redacted everything about his 2004 pre-sentencing report, which was released elsewhere. Her redactions confirm the factual basis of the un-redacted legal brief as true statements about Sater’s PSR.
One of Felix Sater’s co-conspirators in a massive Wall Street pump-and-dump scheme —a man named Gennady Klotsman — who blew the whistle on Sater’s felony conviction to the New York Times in 2007.

Klotsman was a co-equal in Sater’s stock pump-and-dump scheme run from the Trump Offices at 40 Wall Street (and amazingly also a witness to his first felony, a brutal unprovoked beating).

Gennady Klotsman also testified as a cooperating witness against 19 other mobsters, but got the worst end of the deal.
Image

Felix Sater’s 2009 sentencing notice only says “John Doe” is to be sentenced. Omitting the convicted person’s name is illegal. The American public has a statutory right to know who has been prosecuted, who is sentenced, but the judge and prosecutors in Felix Sater’s case ignored a Congressionally mandated obligation to notify Sater’s victims. Page 9, http://bit.ly/2IQ2VqE
For his role in Sater’s crimes, Gennady Klotsman was sentenced to pay $40 million in victim restitution in addition to 6 years in jail many years prior, just as Sater should’ve been sentenced in 2009 under the ‘joint and several liability’ provisions of the federal racketeering law, by which each member of a criminal racket is considered equally liable for damages. In the end, Klotsman landed in a Russian prison for running a 2010 diamond heist, and the Kremlin desperately wishes to trade him to America for imprisoned notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Just as a judge has no power to go against the black letter of the law, such as mandatory minimum sentencing laws, they cannot ignore two federal laws compelling notice to victims, their opportunity to be heard in court at sentencing hearings, and mandatory restitution by criminals to their victims.

In Felix Sater’s case, Judge Glasser was obligated to comply with the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA) and with the 2004 Crime Victims Rights Act, which mandates that courts give crime victims proper notice and the right to be heard at sentencing.

Sater’s 1998 plea deal was arranged by top federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who in 2010 remarked that, “I’ve seen guilty pleas under seal. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a sentencing under seal,” when Texas prosecutors arranged one for the Mexican cartel boss who founded the bloody Zetas gang. Weissmann is better know these days for his current role as a prosecutor in Special Counsel Mueller’s Russia probe.

But a secret sentencing also happened in New York for Felix Sater.

Judge Glasser had zero discretion, obligated by the law to impose a restitution order of $40 million, but instead, he illegally abdicated his judicial responsibilities.

Sater’s secret conviction on a secret court docket led to a virtually secret sentencing 11 years after the fact, and it was all sealed, and kept under seal by the full force of the federal government acting outside the laws Congress wrote.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch was the Eastern District of New York’s US Attorney during the fight to keep Sater’s records sealed.

She was forced to personally answer about Sater’s unusual sentencing to Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in sworn testimony (page 142) during her 2013 confirmation hearings.

Ultimately, Lynch deflected the questions about Sater’s unusual sentencing, even in writing, claiming national security interests.

Amazingly, Felix Sater’s father Michael Sater aka Michael Sheferovsky also obtained a sweet plea deal with the federal government, which he entered into just a couple of years after his son’s cooperation agreement was signed.

Image

Sater’s father is a known Russian mafia associate of Semion Mogilevich, but seems to have had a smaller portfolio of crimes than the son.

But he too didn’t have to pay restitution because the court agreed when the prosecutors argued that his victims were either dead or also criminals , while ignoring the MVRA’s requirement to pay restitution to the rightful heirs of the deceased.

Michael Sater’s records were only unsealed eight years after his sentencing to probation, and fourteen years after originally entering into a plea bargain to tell the FBI about mob activities, including his 2006 sentencing hearing transcript.

It appears that Sater’s father perfected the son’s method of becoming a cooperating witness to abscond with the proceeds of a crime — and stay out of jail — by strategically snitching, then getting prosecutors and judges to keep it all secret.

While we do not know if Michael Sater committed more crimes while cooperating with the FBI, none have surfaced since then.

Hwoever, Federal judge I. Leo Glasser’s sentencing of Felix Sater to a small fine and no restitution very plainly violated the Constitutional separation of powers between Congress, with the Judiciary acting in concert with the Executive Branch’s Department of Justice and FBI agencies to evade the law.

If the FBI wanted to pay Felix Sater millions for his cooperation, they should’ve used their budget to compensate his victims, or asked Congress for an appropriation to do so.

Instead, Felix Sater’s victims funded a secret government program built on his activities, which we, the public, know virtually nothing about, except that the secrecy enabled him to go from a $60 million dollar fraud, on to something much, much larger with Donald Trump as a knowing co-conspirator from 2008 onwards.

New York federal judges throw the First Amendment to the wind

A group of New York federal judges abandoned ample case law, precedents and the public’s First Amendment right to view court dockets in the Sater case.

In their zeal to hide records which can be obtained elsewhere, they accidentally revealed their own cover up.

The last relevant redaction highlights applied by Judge Chen to Sater’s case show the federal court system’s urgent efforts to stymie the First Amendment rights of attorneys Richard Lerner and Fred Oberlander, who uncovered the web of secrecy surrounding Donald Trump’s business partner.

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In effect, Sater was given permission to ‘make crime pay’ by the FBI, Department of Justice and a federal judge who violated the black letter of the law believes “Richard Roe” — that is, Fred Oberlander — the party who first sought to unseal these records. “Justice Brandeis said that sunshine is the best disinfectant of all,” says Oberlander, “and today the sun is shining a little brighter on the activities of Felix Sater and his enablers.”

“It’s a bedrock principle of law that once something is made public,” attorney Richard Lerner told me, summarizing the case law from his 10,000 word article in Law360.com by LexisNexus about court secrecy, “it can’t be sealed later, and kept secret by a court.”

“Period.”

This means that Judge Chen shouldn’t have attempted to redact the material used in this filing, but Felix Sater’s attorney Robert S. Wolf celebrated her censorship activities. Wolf told me by email:

“The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Pamela Chen’s earlier decision which was adverse to the media outlets and journalists and continued to keep everything sealed that the government and Mr. Sater requested to remain sealed including his Pre-Sentence Report.”
Federal judges even ordered Oberlander and Lerner not to tell Congress about the secret proceedings with Sater — an unheard of abrogation of their First Amendment rights — which has kept judicial and prosecutorial lawbreaking from the only other branch of government capable of checking the first two.

“Throughout the case against Felix Sater — at the request of his attorneys and federal prosecutors — judges have rubber stamped their demands inexplicably,” says attorney Richard Lerner, who gave up a lucrative law partnership to pursue this case, and whose efforts led to the initial unsealing of Sater’s record by the Supreme Court. “The Second Circuit and Eastern District federal judges ordered public information to be buried forever, and for me to never discuss his organized crime racket.”

“If I speak out,” says Lerner, “the judges have threatened to jail me.”
Oberlander is still similarly threatened by the heavy hand of the Eastern District of New York’s apparently unlawful demands for secrecy in court, but he continues to fight for full transparency.

“No matter what remains to be unsealed in the future,” says Oberlander who was gagged by federal judges when he attempted to tell Sater’s story to The Daily Beast. He says:

“The American public always wins when truth triumphs over deceit and openness triumphs over secrecy.”
Felix Sater’s spectacularly unusual secret criminal proceeding raises the spectre of an obstruction of justice racket operating in the New York federal court system.

Judges have no legal authority to abrogate the black letter of the law as set down by Congress, and federal agencies like the FBI or CIA have no lawful mechanism to deliver stolen funds to cooperators, no matter how important their information is deemed to be.

However, that’s precisely what happened with Felix Sater, who agreed to pay restitution to his victims in a written agreement, but instead got to keep the proceeds of his crime, and to go out and steal more with Donald Trump’s brand and family real estate company as his partner.

“We know that Sater is another Whitey Bulger of financial crimes already,” Yale global justice fellow and New York attorney James S. Henry told me, “he really has been profiting from all of these crimes, right up to the minute.”
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby overcoming hope » Tue Apr 03, 2018 6:54 pm

stillrobertpaulsen » Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:33 pm wrote:
overcoming hope » Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:14 pm wrote:yeah I was not being nice. I believe the Russia narrative is a dead end. Corporate Dems don't have to worry about their voters doing any soul searching wondering how we have arrived at this point because Russia. Opportunity to Smear progressives like Bernie (Russia helped him) 3rd parties (Russia helped Jill Stein). Attack Trump from the right and work on starting up an arms race or actual war. It preaches to the choir and will not win hearts and minds of his supporters and further galvanizes them instead of focusing on policy or anything of substance. People only have so much energy and once this thing is over (another year?) all that energy and enthusiasm for fighting Trump will have evaporated. Dem leadership have already stated they have no interest in pursing impeachment and even if they did, as many have already pointed out, Pence will probably be worse and he actually knows what he is doing. The admiration from progressives of people like Mueller who helped sell the Iraq war is odd to say the least, but I guess it fits in with the democrats glorification of good Republicans like Bush jr who of course is a good normal Republican unlike the anomaly that is Trump.


You bring up some cogent points. I agree with many of them. But this isn't Democratic Underground - nobody here much cares about the Corporate Dem/MSM narrative - just what is the real truth behind it. If you've been paying attention to what seemslikeadream has uncovered in its entirety (which includes mainstream, independent and other sources), you would see Pence is neck-deep in all of this; he just knows how to hide it better because as you put it "he actually knows what he is doing." If they can't all be held accountable in the legal sphere (and yes, Mueller is hardly one to be trusted to let justice prevail, though the heavens may fall) then at least we can hold them accountable in the public sphere, however limited it may be.

Slightly off-topic, I think your idea of "Attack Trump from the right and work on starting up an arms race or actual war" is scary and dangerous. But I won't hold that against you, you're certainly entitled to your opinion.


I was saying that many of the attacks on Trump (foreign policy) are coming from the Right (ideologically speaking even though it is Democrats saying it). example would be, 'he doesn't want to escalate the war in Syria because he is compromised.' Remember when he bomb some places and became presidential? but of course the majority of the criticism from democrats and corporate media is that he could have bombed so much more! And lets not forget, 'he wants to sit down and talk to North Korea? He is capitulating and giving North Korea exactly what they want and it makes USA look weak' All attacks from the right.
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Apr 03, 2018 7:01 pm

all background on Dokuchaev is in this thread
Russia Biggest Cybersecurity Firm Head Arrested For Treason
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=40330



_________________________

Trump’s Convicted Mobster Advisor Defrauded Journalists in Recent Media Blitz

Grant Stern
Apr 3
Miami based columnist and radio broadcaster, and professional mortgage broker.


Sater’s media appearances pushed the central lie that he didn’t benefit from being a cooperating witness for the federal government while he sells his story to Hollywood, where he is pictured after giving autographs and an impromptu paparazzi interview.
Longtime Trump business associate and mafia-linked felon Felix Sater whipped up a media frenzy telling a self-serving story that bamboozled reporters about his true motives for being an FBI confidential informant.

Sater went on a media blitz recently, giving interviews to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, CNN and to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos where he crucially confirmed to interviewers that his relationship with Donald Trump stretches back to 1999.

There are two key takeaways from Sater’s interviews.

Contrary to the published reporting, Felix Sater in fact in fact was richly rewarded for his help to the federal government; secondly, his confirmed contributions to US national security included no strategic victories.

But it was a useful exercise for the twice convicted felon who spun a half baked story about the Trump Tower Moscow emails with lawyer Michael Cohen proclaiming that Putin would help Trump get elected, and about his subsequent back channel Ukraine “peace deal.”

Felix Sater stole millions in a mob-linked Wall Street racket, he cut a deal, he kept the money, and he served no jail time for his crimes whatsoever, continuing on to work with Donald Trump on even larger scams that netted him millions with full knowledge of the federal government, yet Buzzfeed News reported:

“[Sater] said he was not paid for his work — which two Justice Department officials confirmed — but did it to help his country and for the ‘thrill.’”
Disseminating a big lie about selfless public service was one of Felix Sater’s central public relations goals.

His thrill was stealing, and getting to keep the money.

The reality is that Felix Sater obtained an illegally light sentence through cooperation after conducting a major fraud racket.

Sater’s involvement in the scheme was accidentally exposed in a March 2000 press release by then-US Attorney Loretta Lynch describing his crime:


Sater wasn’t listed in the defendants list at the end of the press release; only the 2nd footnote commemorated his guilty plea to RICO charges.

Lynch’s press release described the stiff punishment each of the accused faced for running a $40 million dollar, mob protected, stock pump-and-dump racket.


But Felix Sater signed a cooperation agreement in December 1998 and avoided sentencing altogether until 2009, when he only paid a modest $25,000 fine and skipped the mandatory restitution due to his victims, while pocketing the cash from the scam and more money from another decade of fraud schemes, with full knowledge of federal prosecutors and judges.

Sater was sentenced an extraordinary eleven years after his guilty plea, without having to pay mandatory restitution, and while gaining tacit permission to scam Bayrock’s buyers, investors, employees and partners.

Felix Sater very much knew that he was working the system for a sweet deal, as he candidly explained to a Russian magazine, Snob.ru just days after the 2016 election. Here are a few of his translated quotes from that story:

“If you continue to cooperate with law enforcement agencies, the state delays your verdict.”
“Of course, I helped to help myself. Of course, I wanted the verdict to be easy. Who wants to go to jail?“
“But I’ll say: they told me back in 2000 that there was no deadline.”
Federal prosecutors and law enforcement have not made public the reasons for their termination of Felix Sater’s cooperating witness agreement in 2009 as opposed to 2004 when his pre-sentencing report was first written.

What did America get for giving Felix Sater a license to make crime pay?

Buzzfeed News confirmed four deliverables to US authorities from Sater.

Not one has not led to a known, major strategic success for United States foreign policy.

Buzzfeed’s list is in italics, analysis in bold:

— “He obtained five of the personal satellite telephone numbers for Osama bin Laden,” but Bin Laden got away and still bombed the World Trade Towers

— “He persuaded a source in Russia’s foreign military intelligence to hand over the name and photographs of a North Korean military operative,” but North Korea still got nukes.

— “Sater provided US intelligence with details about possible assassination threats,” but there’s no assessment if he really stopped an assassination plot in Afghanistan. Is it really news that someone in a country we’ve invaded wants to kill a top official from our country?

— “He went undercover in Cyprus and Istanbul to catch Russian and Ukrainian cybercriminals,” but plainly, Sater’s work in Cyprus and Ukraine didn’t lead to an end of money laundering, though it may have enabled some tactical victory.

Perhaps Felix Sater really did produce high value intelligence to the US government, but nobody knows the true story, except that whatever the convicted financial felon and fraudster did do, induced federal prosecutors and judges to break the law to help him out.


Felix Sater also went on CNN with Chris Cuomo in March, where he mentioned the gist of an email reply I sent to his lawyer Robert S. Wolf in response to complaints about a previous story, where I told him that his client should come forward if he’s got nothing to hide, since it’s been reported that he’s trying to sell his story to Hollywood.

Felix Sater leaving a Hollywood, Ca. restaurant, bragging and signing autographs before getting into a Rolls Royce.
“You want gangsters?” Sater told the assembled paparazzi in December 2017, “I’ll give you the biggest gangster since Bugsy [Siegel].”

A few days later when Felix Sater delivered his written testimony to Congress — it was controversially given to the House Intel Committee without Democrats present.

He and his lawyer have since delivered a copy of that testimoy to Buzzfeed News, but, they clearly elected to withhold from those outlets a few important details from the now unsealed court documents — when he wasn’t busy lying during live national interviews altogether about his past felony convictions.

Sater carefully avoided discussing the Trump SoHo project in the three television interviews — apologizing directly to his uncompensated victims from the 1990s — while claiming he was presenting the ‘full story’ of his work for national security.

Sater’s March publicity tour aimed to spin his relationship with Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen and the Trump Tower Moscow deal

Felix Sater used the rest of his ’45 minutes of fame’ on national cable television to lobby public opinion on the issue of his secretive role advising the Trump campaign, which only emerged last year after emails leaked about building a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Both of Felix Sater’s most recent Trump deals involved attorney Michael Cohen, his childhood friend from Brooklyn, who has deep ties to Ukraine.

He described the now-infamous back-channel peace deal on television as a nuclear development deal which would’ve hurt the Kremlin, which is, of course, totally unverifiable at present.

And Felix Sater didn’t bother to give Buzzfeed a copy of his “peace” proposal.

Nobody knows exactly what happened with the latest failed Trump Tower Moscow — with a shady company controlled by a Cypriot attorney — even after Sater offered the flimsy excuse to CNN’s Cuomo that his email to Cohen about Putin was “just a real estate deal in Moscow.”

But he touted the ability to rouse Putin’s help during the presidential election campaign on CNN:

“I don’t know Putin, I’ve never met him… If the project was moving forward; believe me, I’d start working the phones. I’d start calling business people. I’d start finding people that knew Putin. I’d start finding people that could get Donald involved in this project.”
This all belies the point that Donald Trump didn’t need Sater’s help to find Putin-linked real estate business people, like Igor Krutoy, who began visiting him at Trump Tower New York as far back as 2011.

Krutoy was a campaign surrogate for Putin in last month’s sham elections.

The Great Recession provides important context to the Trump Organization’s big push into Russia, and the family’s concealment of Felix Sater’s mob-linked financial felony conviction during their development deals with Bayrock.

American capital markets were frozen and oil prices simultaneously peaked, simultaneous to the construction of the family’s most profitable, and most shady international project, the embattled Trump International Hotel & Tower Panama.

Wall Street giant Bear Stearns issued bonds to finance the Trump Panama project, but shockingly went out of business in March 2008.

In short, the Trump Organization was facing another mass bankruptcy event, but this time could’ve really wiped the family out. Donald Trump lost the Trump Taj Mahal for good, and even frivolously sued Deutsche Bank because they tried to collect on his development loan in Chicago and he couldn’t pay.

But the Trump family did need Felix Sater’s help in Russia.

He described that assistance to the three television news interviewers in March, how he took Ivanka Trump, Eric, and Don Jr. to Moscow in 2007, along with American developer Michael Dezer, a South Florida developer who built several Trump Towers in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida.

And Sater told his interviewers the colorful story of how Ivanka Trump got to sit behind Vladimir Putin’s desk.

But the former Trump Organization senior advisor neglected to mention linking the Trumps up with a shady Moscow real estate developer named Mikhail Babel in 2007 — a now-former lieutenant of Kremlin-linked oligarch Oleg Deripaska —who recently fled Russia while facing embezzlement charges.

Sater had also arranged the Trump family’s trip to Moscow what appears to be a second attempt to brand what eventually became the 60-story Imperia Tower with Putin-linked developer Pavel Fuks in his Moscow City project — a modern high rise district near the Kremlin — after their 2004 negotiations broke down.

But Fuks, the Ukrainian-born builder balked at the $200 million dollar price tag because the Trump brand was then considered to be worthless in Russia, which is a fairly harsh piece of public information, and it arrived just as the family tried to greatly increase their presence with a Moscow press blitz.

In early June 2008, Donald Trump Jr. landed a role as the keynote speaker to a prestigious Adam Smith Conference in Moscow, where he announced the big plan for his family’s business to move into Russia in a June 3rd press conference.

Just three and a half weeks after Don Jr.’s big speech and press conference, he and his sister Ivanka were urgently pitching the Trump SoHo project at international buyers, while American real estate markets crashed.

In July 2008, Donald Trump mysteriously closed the sale of a Palm Beach, Florida mansion “no one wanted” to a Russian oligarch, shocking local real estate professionals.

The following year, Eric Trump told a Russian news-magazine that the SoHo project in particular, “in the New York hotel-condominium Trump SoHo the bulk of buyers are foreigners, among whom there are a lot of Russians.”

All of the above background serves to defenestrate Felix Sater’s claims about rounding up Putin’s gang just to do a high-rise Trump Tower deal during the 2016 election, because that appears to be one of the main parts of his role as a Trump Organization associate for at least a decade.

Donald Trump simply did not need the help to find a Putin-linked real estate developer, certainly not by 2015, because Sater had already linked him with Putin’s people.

Felix Sater told his interviewers that he had no involvement with the Trump campaign, neglecting to mention his regular donations to Donald Trump, Trump’s joint fundraising committee and to the Republican National Committee, or his July 21st, 2016 in person visit to Trump Tower.

Admittedly, nobody knows the entire extent of embattled lawyer Michael Cohen’s — Sater’s childhood friend — involvement with the Trump campaign, though we know he was a surrogate, fixer and hush money conduit.

What we do know is that none of Felix Sater‘s remarks about his dealings with Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen regarding a secret Ukrainian peace deal, or the Trump Tower Moscow project were delivered with factual evidence to the major news outlets who covered his story in March.

And the real story of Trump’s advisor’s amazing ability to make crime pay, and to get away with multiple, national level interstate financial crimes, wasn’t told, nor did any news outlet report on a single strategically important outcome from his cooperation with the Feds.
https://thesternfacts.com/trumps-convic ... 3b11b924c2
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:44 pm

Robert Costa
NEWS w/ @carolleonnig: Mueller described Trump as a *subject* & and is preparing a *report* on Trump’s conduct and potential obstruction

What we learned over past week: Mueller is directly engaging with Trump's attys. Wants an intvw w/ POTUS. POTUS wants to do it. But many in Trump camp counseling him against doing so, worry he's just a *subject* now... but could risk becoming a *target,* if he's not careful.

Mueller's convo w/ Trump lawyers in early March now a point of friction in Trump’s inner circle. Many in WH and around POTUS wary, worry Mueller is baiting Trump into intvw that could be perilous...

MUELLER is pushing Trump team for an interview as *necessary* to complete that upcoming report... wants to understand whether president had any corrupt intent




Renato Mariotti


THREAD: What does today’s news that Trump is a “subject” of Mueller’s investigation but not a “target” mean? (Short answer: Not as much as it seems at first glance.)

1/ Today the @washingtonpost reported that Mueller told Trump’s attorneys that he is a “subject” but not a “target” of his investigation.

2/ You are a “subject” of a federal investigation when your conduct is part of the government’s investigation. So if the government is investigating what you did, you are a “subject.” It’s what people commonly refer to as being “under investigation.”

3/ A “target” of an investigation is someone for whom the prosecutor has substantial evidence linking him or her to a crime and is a “putative defendant.” In other words, is someone the prosecutor intends to charge.

4/ As a practical matter, federal prosecutors typically don’t decide until late in an investigation whether they will charge a person who is under investigation. Usually prosecutors don’t make that judgement until they’ve interviewed witnesses and reviewed the relevant documents.

5/ For that reason, defense attorneys typically complain that a “non-target letter” isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. As a practical matter, if your client is a “subject,” a statement that the prosecutor doesn’t intend to indict you at this time doesn’t mean much.

6/ The prosecutor can just continue to collect evidence and make the decision to indict at a later time. That’s why any good federal criminal defense attorney knows that what really matters most is whether your client is a subject.

7/ So all today’s news tells us is that Mueller hasn’t decided to indict Trump at this time. But if Trump’s lawyers know what they’re doing, they’ll tell him that he’s still under great risk. /end
https://twitter.com/renato_mariotti/sta ... 6122119168
Last edited by seemslikeadream on Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby stillrobertpaulsen » Tue Apr 03, 2018 8:52 pm

overcoming hope » Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:54 pm wrote:
stillrobertpaulsen » Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:33 pm wrote:
overcoming hope » Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:14 pm wrote:yeah I was not being nice. I believe the Russia narrative is a dead end. Corporate Dems don't have to worry about their voters doing any soul searching wondering how we have arrived at this point because Russia. Opportunity to Smear progressives like Bernie (Russia helped him) 3rd parties (Russia helped Jill Stein). Attack Trump from the right and work on starting up an arms race or actual war. It preaches to the choir and will not win hearts and minds of his supporters and further galvanizes them instead of focusing on policy or anything of substance. People only have so much energy and once this thing is over (another year?) all that energy and enthusiasm for fighting Trump will have evaporated. Dem leadership have already stated they have no interest in pursing impeachment and even if they did, as many have already pointed out, Pence will probably be worse and he actually knows what he is doing. The admiration from progressives of people like Mueller who helped sell the Iraq war is odd to say the least, but I guess it fits in with the democrats glorification of good Republicans like Bush jr who of course is a good normal Republican unlike the anomaly that is Trump.


You bring up some cogent points. I agree with many of them. But this isn't Democratic Underground - nobody here much cares about the Corporate Dem/MSM narrative - just what is the real truth behind it. If you've been paying attention to what seemslikeadream has uncovered in its entirety (which includes mainstream, independent and other sources), you would see Pence is neck-deep in all of this; he just knows how to hide it better because as you put it "he actually knows what he is doing." If they can't all be held accountable in the legal sphere (and yes, Mueller is hardly one to be trusted to let justice prevail, though the heavens may fall) then at least we can hold them accountable in the public sphere, however limited it may be.

Slightly off-topic, I think your idea of "Attack Trump from the right and work on starting up an arms race or actual war" is scary and dangerous. But I won't hold that against you, you're certainly entitled to your opinion.


I was saying that many of the attacks on Trump (foreign policy) are coming from the Right (ideologically speaking even though it is Democrats saying it). example would be, 'he doesn't want to escalate the war in Syria because he is compromised.' Remember when he bomb some places and became presidential? but of course the majority of the criticism from democrats and corporate media is that he could have bombed so much more! And lets not forget, 'he wants to sit down and talk to North Korea? He is capitulating and giving North Korea exactly what they want and it makes USA look weak' All attacks from the right.


Ah! OK, I understand now.
"Huey Long once said, “Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism.” I'm afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security."
-Jim Garrison 1967
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Apr 04, 2018 9:25 am

MUELLER TELLS GUY WHO LEGALLY CAN’T BE A TARGET THAT HE’S NOT A TARGET, PERHAPS IN A BID TO MAKE HIM LEGALLY TARGETABLE

April 4, 2018/11 Comments/in 2016 Presidential Election, 2018 Mid-Term Election, Mueller Probe /by empty wheel

The WaPo has a fascinating report describing that Robert Mueller informed Trump’s lawyers “in early March” that he doesn’t consider Trump a target in his investigation. That news made Trump even more determined to sit for an interview with Mueller, a decision which some of Trump’s less appropriate lawyers seem to have supported. That’s what led John Dowd to quit on March 22 (which would presumably have been two weeks or so later).

John Dowd, Trump’s top attorney dealing with the Mueller probe, resigned last month amid disputes about strategy and frustration that the president ignored his advice to refuse the special counsel’s request for an interview, according to a Trump friend.


Of course, as many people have pointed out, a sitting President can’t be indicted. NYCSouthpaw pointed to the appropriate section of the US Attorney’s Manual, which states that, “A ‘target’ is a person as to whom the prosecutor or the grand jury has substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant.”

If Trump, as President, can’t be indicted, then he can’t be a putative defendant. So he’ll never be a target so long as he remains President. Dowd is likely the only lawyer on Trump’s team who has enough defense experience to understand that this should offer the President zero assurance at all.

He left when the other, ill-suited attorneys refused to believe him on this point.

Which is why the other main thrust of the story is so interesting. Mueller has also indicated that Mueller wants to start writing his report on obstruction — according to Robert Costa, with the intent of finishing it by June or July, just before Congress breaks for August recess, the official start of campaign season — with plans for a second report on the election conspiracy to follow.

The special counsel also told Trump’s lawyers that he is preparing a report about the president’s actions while in office and potential obstruction of justice, according to two people with knowledge of the conversations.

Mueller reiterated the need to interview Trump — both to understand whether he had any corrupt intent to thwart the Russia investigation and to complete this portion of his probe, the people said.

[snip]

Mueller’s investigators have indicated to the president’s legal team that they are considering writing reports on their findings in stages — with the first report focused on the obstruction issue, according to two people briefed on the discussions.

Under special counsel regulations, Mueller is required to report his conclusions confidentially to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who has the authority to decide whether to release the information publicly.

“They’ve said they want to write a report on this — to answer the public’s questions — and they need the president’s interview as the last step,” one person familiar with the discussions said of Mueller’s team.

Trump’s attorneys expect the president would also face questions about what he knew about any contacts by his associates with Russian officials and emissaries in 2016, several White House advisers said. The president’s allies believe a second report detailing the special counsel’s findings on Russia’s interference would be issued later
.

That leads us to the question of how a report that Rod Rosenstein has authority to quash could be assured of “answering the public’s questions.” One option is Mueller could propose charges he knows Rosenstein won’t — or can’t — approve, which guarantees that the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Judiciary Committees (currently, Bob Goodlatte, who is retiring, Jerry Nadler, Chuck Grassley, and Dianne Feinstein, who faces a real challenge this year) will get at least a summary.

Mueller could trigger a reporting requirement in the special counsel regulations under which the attorney general must inform “the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member of the Judiciary Committees of each House of Congress” — both parties, in other words — at the end of the special counsel’s investigation, of any instance in which the attorney general vetoed a proposed action. Simply by proposing to indict Trump, Mueller could ensure that Congress gets the word. But this would be of only limited scope: instead of an evidence dump, it need only be a “brief notification, with an outline of the actions and the reasons for them.”


Alternately, Mueller could recommend impeachment, but Rosenstein would be bound by grand jury secrecy rules.

If Mueller believes he has information that could warrant impeachment, he could weave it into a narrative like the Starr Report. But even if Rosenstein wanted to make the report public, he would be limited by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e), which imposes strict limits on the disclosure of grand jury materials. This rule, which has the force of law, is intended to preserve the integrity of grand jury investigations and encourage witnesses to testify fully and frankly. Rosenstein could, if he chose, issue a redacted report that conveys the gist of Mueller’s findings.


While the election conspiracy has involved grand jury subpoenas (to people like Sam Nunberg and Ted Malloch, most recently), the obstruction investigation into Trump has involved (as far as I remember) entirely voluntary interviews and mostly, if not entirely, voluntarily produced evidence. So whereas for the larger investigation, Rosenstein will face this limit (but not if the targets — like Roger Stone — are indicted), he may not here.

All of which is to say we may be looking at a public report saying that Trump should be impeached just as Republicans attempt to keep Congress.

Even as some of Mueller’s 17+ prosecutors write that up (by my estimate, only Watergate prosecutor James Quarles has been working the Trump obstruction full time), the rest will continue to roll out evidence — possibly in the form of very inflammatory indictments — of what Trump was trying to obstruct.

Effectively, I think Mueller is giving the GOP Congress a choice. They impeach Trump on the less inflammatory stuff,which will remove all threat of firing and/or pardons to threaten the investigation, not to mention make Trump eligible to be a target for the actual election conspiracy he tried to cover up. Or after they fail to hold the House while explaining why they’re covering up for Trump’s cover up, they will face a more serious inquiry relating to Trump’s involvement in the election conspiracy.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/04/04/m ... argetable/


emptywheel
April 4, 2018 at 8:57 am
I think the notion he wants two reports finally makes sense of the purported focus on obstruction.

As I’ve always said, there is zero way you indict a president on obstruction, maybe not even as an unindicted.

But you do name the president on the ConFraudUs stuff, and that will be truly alarming stuff.

So the initial focus on obstruction didn’t make sense if you were assuming that Mueller was thinking indictments. It makes a ton more sense if you assume that Mueller is thinking of an early report showing that Trump has abused the presidency.


Mueller may release multiple reports on Trump, obstruction and Russian interference


POLITICS 04/03/2018 11:08 pm ET Updated 9 hours ago

Mueller Reportedly Is Making A List Of All The Stuff Trump Has Done In Office

The special counsel has also told the president’s lawyers that Trump is not a criminal target at this point.

By Nick Visser

AARON BERNSTEIN / REUTERS
Special counsel Robert Mueller is working on a report about President Donald Trump’s actions in office, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is drafting a report about President Donald Trump’s actions in office as part of his ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

Mueller met with Trump’s lawyers in early March to request an interview with the president, saying he needed to ask questions in order to finalize aspects of his investigation, including his determination of whether Trump obstructed justice. Such information would be gathered into a report that would then be sent to officials at the Justice Department.

However, two sources familiar with the conversation said Mueller told the lawyers Trump was not a criminal target at this point.

“They’ve said they want to write a report on this — to answer the public’s questions — and they need the president’s interview as the last step,” one of the sources told the Post.

Mueller reports to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein ― since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from Russia matters ― and is required to confidentially share his report with him first. Rosenstein then can decide whether to share it publicly.

It’s unclear if Mueller believes he can indict the president or not, and there is some debate among legal scholars regarding the ability of the Justice Department to do just that.


But Asha Rangappa, a former FBI special agent, noted on Twitter that if Mueller determined Trump had obstructed justice, the report could eventually be used by Congress, who could then decide whether to launch impeachment proceedings.

Trump has said publicly several times that he’d be willing to meet with Mueller for an interview, going so far as to say he was “looking forward” to it. But some members of his legal team have cautioned him against the meeting and urged him to refuse the special counsel’s request, afraid the president would go off-script.

The president’s lead attorney, John Dowd, who was handling interactions with Mueller, resigned in March, reportedly over disagreements with Trump. Sources told The New York Times and the Post that Dowd felt Trump was increasingly ignoring his advice.
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mu ... ce2e56fd13
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Apr 04, 2018 5:43 pm

Exclusive: In an unusual step, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is questioning Russian oligarchs who traveled to the US, including asking whether illegal cash donations were funneled into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and inauguration


emptywheel

Three obvious candidates to be the oligarchs:

Dmitry Rybolovlev
Aras Agalarov

Oleg Deripaska (as the one who doesn't travel here anymore)



1 Mueller looking for Russian money for Trump inauguration

2 Gates—cooperating with Mueller—was inaugural committee deputy chair

3 CNN source: Mueller’s new tactics “may reflect that Mueller's team has already obtained records...and now it's a ‘wish list’” for any other info


Mueller's team is reportedly questioning Russian oligarchs who travel into the U.S., stopping at least one and searching his electronic devices when his private jet landed at a New York area airport

Vekselberg and Wilbur Ross were business partners (the super shady Bank of Cyprus deal).

Exclusive: Mueller's team questioning Russian oligarchs

Mueller's team questioning Russian oligarchs
Washington (CNN)Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has taken the unusual step of questioning Russian oligarchs who traveled into the US, stopping at least one and searching his electronic devices when his private jet landed at a New York area airport, according to multiple sources familiar with the inquiry.

A second Russian oligarch was stopped during a recent trip to the US, although it is not clear if he was searched, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Mueller's team has also made an informal voluntary document and interview request to a third Russian oligarch who has not traveled to the US recently.

Why deep down Donald Trump really wants to sit down with Robert Mueller
The situations have one thing in common: Investigators are asking whether wealthy Russians illegally funneled cash donations directly or indirectly into Donald Trump's presidential campaign and inauguration.

Investigators' interest in Russian oligarchs has not been previously reported. It reveals that Mueller's team has intensified its focus into the potential flow of money from Russia into the US election as part of its wide-ranging investigation into whether the Trump team colluded with Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The approach to Russian oligarchs in recent weeks may reflect that Mueller's team has already obtained records or documents that it has legal jurisdiction over and can get easily, one source said, and now it's a "wish list" to see what other information they can obtain from Russians entering the US or through their voluntary cooperation.

Stone, on day he sent Assange dinner email, also said 'devastating' WikiLeaks were forthcoming
Foreign nationals are prohibited under campaign finance laws from donating to US political campaigns.

The sources did not share the names of the oligarchs but did describe the details of their interactions with the special counsel's team.

One area under scrutiny, sources say, is investments Russians made in companies or think tanks that have political action committees that donated to the campaign.

Another theory Mueller's office is pursuing, sources said, is whether wealthy Russians used straw donors -- Americans with citizenship -- as a vessel through which they could pump money into the campaign and inauguration fund.

The encounters with Russian oligarchs at American airports are another sign of the aggressive tactics Mueller's investigators are using to approach witnesses or people they are interested in speaking with.

"Prosecutors and investigators like the element of surprise when you can get more instinctive (and often truthful) responses," said Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor, in a text. Mueller's team is using search warrants to access electronic devices and, Goldman added, "surprise is crucial for those searches because you don't want anyone to wipe their phone."

In January, FBI agents stopped and questioned George Nader, a Middle East specialist, when he arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport. They imaged his electronic devices and subpoenaed him for testimony. Nader, who attended secret meetings during the transition between the United Arab Emirates and Trump associates, is cooperating with the investigation. Nader was in the Seychelles when Trump supporter Erik Prince met with Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive of the state-run Russian Direct Investment Fund. Prince denied any wrongdoing when he spoke with congressional investigators.
Ted Malloch, a self-described informal Trump campaign adviser, last week issued a statement saying he was stopped in Boston when returning from an international trip by FBI agents who took his cellphone and questioned him about Republican political operative Roger Stone and WikiLeaks. Malloch is scheduled to appear before Mueller's grand jury on April 13.
Late last year Mueller's team asked some witnesses if they knew of Russians who made donations directly or indirectly to the Trump campaign, sources said.

Another source added that Mueller's investigators have asked about a handful of American citizens who were born in former Soviet states and maintain ties with those countries. This person said the inquiry appeared focused on Republican fundraising and how money flows into US politics. ABC News reported in September that Mueller's team has asked questions about the timing of contributions from US citizens with ties to Russia, citing a Republican campaign aide interviewed by Mueller's team.
Trump raised $333 million for his presidential campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. His inauguration committee raised a record $106.8 million, more than twice as much as any of his predecessors. Watchdog groups have criticized the committee for not fully disclosing how it spent the inauguration funds.
Another potential source of information for Mueller's investigators is Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign deputy chairman who pleaded guilty in February to financial fraud and lying to Mueller's team. Gates worked closely with Paul Manafort, who was Trump's campaign chairman for part of 2016, and stayed on as deputy chair of Trump's inaugural committee. As part of his plea agreement Gates is required to cooperate fully with Mueller's investigators and answer all their questions.
It isn't clear whether Mueller's team has identified illegal financing or if the questions are more exploratory. A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.

"One could say either money is fungible wherever it [ended] up," one source familiar with the inquiry said. Or Mueller's team could take the view that "you made a contribution for a purpose."
https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/04/politics ... olitics=Tw

A Putin-Friendly Oligarch’s Top US Executive Donated $285,000 to Trump

The head of Viktor Vekselberg’s American subsidiary helped finance Trump’s inauguration.
DAVID CORN AND DAN FRIEDMAN
AUG. 17, 2017 6:00 AM


Earlier this year, as Donald Trump, then the president-elect, was trying to counter news reports that Russia had hacked the 2016 election to help him win, the head of the American subsidiary of a Russian conglomerate owned by a Russian oligarch with close ties to President Vladimir Putin made a huge donation to Trump.

On January 6—the day the US intelligence community reported that Putin had approved a covert operation to subvert the presidential campaign to assist Trump—Andrew Intrater donated $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration fund.

Intrater is the CEO of Columbus Nova, the lone American subsidiary of Renova Group, a giant holding company owned by oligarch Viktor Vekselberg with interests in the metals, mining, chemical, construction, transport, energy, telecommunication, and financial sectors in Russia and abroad. Intrater, an American citizen, is Vekselberg’s cousin, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In June, Intrater also made a $35,000 contribution to a joint fundraising committee for Trump’s reelection and the Republican National Committee.

Intrater has no public history as a major political funder; his Trump donations dwarf his previous contributions. According to Federal Election Commission records, his only past political donations were $2,600 in 2014 to a business associate running as a Republican for Congress, $1,200 to Democratic New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s 2008 presidential campaign, and $250 to the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts in 1995. Intrater’s hefty gift to the inauguration fund earned him special access to inaugural events, including a dinner billed as “an intimate policy discussion with select cabinet appointees,” according to a fundraising brochure obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

Vekselberg is one of Russia’s richest men. Bloomberg recently estimated his net worth at $15.5 billion. The same month that Intrater pumped that quarter of a million dollars into Trump’s inauguration bank account, Vekselberg publicly expressed hope for the lifting this year of the tough US and European economic sanctions imposed on Russia after it annexed Crimea and supported pro-Russian separatists fighting in Ukraine.

Vekselberg, one of Russia’s richest men, seems to be on good terms with Putin and the Kremlin.
During the campaign, Trump advisers hinted at the possibility of easing or removing the sanctions. After Trump took office, his administration reportedly considered unilaterally lifting sanctions on Russia and returning diplomatic compounds seized in December as retaliation for Russian interference in the 2016 election, moves Trump aides hoped would improve relations with Moscow. The White House also unsuccessfully opposed a congressional measure to bar Trump from undoing sanctions without approval from Capitol Hill lawmakers.

Vekselberg seems to be on good terms with Putin and the Kremlin. He heads a major Russian initiative to bring high-tech businesses into the country. In December 2015, he attended a gala dinner featuring Putin that celebrated the 10th anniversary of RT, the English-language, Kremlin-cozy media outlet. (Retired Gen. Michael Flynn, then an adviser to Trump, was an honored guest at the dinner and was paid $45,000 to speak at a conference that was part of this RT celebration.) In March, Vekselberg had a one-on-one meeting with Putin to discuss infrastructure projects involving his business. (Renova is constructing an airport in southern Russia as part of the nation’s preparations to host the 2018 soccer World Cup.)

Vekselberg certainly scored points with Putin with a pet project: his acquisition and repatriation to Russia of Fabergé eggs. In 2013, Vekeslberg told an interviewer he had spent more than $100 million to obtain the eggs, which once were owned by the late Malcolm Forbes. He noted that Putin personally thanked him for this: “I’ve seen the emotion of our president. It’s important to him that a Russian citizen has brought back this important collection.”

Like many Russian oligarchs, Vekselberg has faced accusations of corruption. One lawsuit claimed he used gunmen to gain control of a Siberian oil field. Two senior executives at firms controlled by Vekselberg were imprisoned last year in Russia on charges that they bribed regional officials.

Republicans were previously eager to highlight Renova and Vekselberg’s political contributions—to Hillary Clinton.
In 2014, Vekselberg’s Renova Group became a partner with American billionaire investor Wilbur Ross in the takeover of the Bank of Cyprus, which had held billions in deposits from wealthy Russians—some of it presumably dirty money or funds deposited there to avoid Russian taxation. The bank had failed in 2013. Ross went on to become Trump’s secretary of commerce. During his confirmation hearings in February, Democratic senators sent Ross a list of questions regarding his relationship with Vekselberg. Ross has yet to answer them.

Columbus Nova, the Renova American subsidiary headed by Intrater, is a New York-based investment firm that claims more than $2 billion in investments in a variety of industries, including biofuels, real estate, health care, insurance, telecommunications, and construction.

Intrater and Renova and the Republican National Committee did not respond to requests for comment. Asked about Intrater’s donations to Trump, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “You would need to contact inaugural.” The Trump inaugural committee did not respond to a subsequent inquiry.

Republicans were previously eager to highlight Renova and Vekselberg’s contributions—but to another candidate. During the 2016 election, the Trump campaign and conservatives blasted Hillary Clinton for a link with Vekselberg because the Renova Group had donated between $50,000 an $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. The Trump campaign issued a press release claiming that this contribution was evidence Clinton was actually the candidate in the race with “close ties” to Putin and had “sold out American interests to Putin in exchange for political and financial favors.” (That press release is no longer available online.) Conservative groups and media outlets—including the National Review, Investors Business Daily, and the Wall Street Journal‘s op-ed page—have cited this relatively modest Renova donation as proof the Clintons were chummy with Putin’s regime. In 2015, David Bossie, a conservative activist who went on to serve as deputy campaign manager for Trump, said the Clinton Foundation’s connection to Vekselberg was “just another example of how the Clintons will take money from any source, good, bad, or ugly.”

Besides Intrater’s $250,000 donation—which has not previously been reported—Trump’s inaugural committee accepted other Russia-related contributions. Russian American businessman Alexander Shustorovich and Access Industries, a firm owned by Len Blavatnik, a Soviet-born American citizen and Vekselberg’s longtime business partner, each gave $1 million to finance Trump’s inauguration.
https://www.motherjones.com/politics/20 ... -to-trump/



Special counsel probing flow of Russian-American money to Trump political funds

Three Americans with significant Russian business connections contributed almost $2 million to political funds controlled by Donald Trump, ABC News has learned.

The timing of contributions coming from US citizens with ties to Russia is now being questioned by investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller, according to a Republican campaign aide interviewed by Mueller’s team.

Unless the contributions were directed by a foreigner, they would be legal, but could still be of interest to investigators examining allegations of Russian influence in the 2016 campaign, said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

“Obviously, if there were those that had associations with the Kremlin that were contributing, that would be of keen concern,” Schiff told ABC News.

A review of Trump campaign records conducted by the Center for Responsive Politics for ABC News found large contributions coming from two émigrés born in the former Soviet Union who now hold U.S. citizenship, and from a third American who heads the subsidiary of a large Russian private equity firm.

Those donations began flowing to the Republican National Committee, the group says, just as Trump was on the verge of securing the Republican nomination and culminated in two large gifts – totaling $1.25 million – from these individuals to the Trump inaugural fund following his victory.

Government officials familiar with the House and Senate investigations into Russian election interference told ABC News that near the conclusion of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting involving Trump’s son Don Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner, then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and Russian emissaries interested in curtailing U.S. sanctions, Manafort made a cryptic and cursory notation on his phone. It said, “Active sponsors of RNC,” a phrase that some investigators have viewed as a reference to campaign donations, the sources said.

Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni disputed any notion that he was referencing contributions, telling ABC News any assertion that they talked money was “not true.”

“This sounds like more Washington whispers,” Maloni said. “Anonymous sources with self-serving motives peddling rumors and speculation.”

Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which specializes in analyzing and tracking political contributions, said she would expect the special counsel to look closely at one of the most time-honored ways to exert influence in an election -- donations.

“I think it will be a dereliction of duty for the investigators and special counsel Mueller not to look into” that flow of money, Krumholz said.

Do you have information about this or another story? CLICK HERE to send your confidential tip in to Brian Ross and the ABC News Investigative Unit.

Leonard Blavatnik, a Ukrainian-born billionaire who holds American and British citizenship, has contributed $383,000 to the Republican National Committee since late April 2016 and added another $1 million to Trump’s inauguration fund. Those figures include more than $12,000 that was later directed into President Trump’s legal defense fund, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal. He did not give directly to the Trump campaign.

Blavatnik made his fortune in heavy industry and oil and gas after the fall of the Soviet Union, expanding his Russian holdings under Putin through a lucrative oil deal while also purchasing familiar Western brands such as the Warner Music Group, which he bought in 2011 for $3.3 billion.

He has donated tens of millions of dollars to educational and charitable causes and prefers to be known as an American philanthropist. He also has a long history of political giving to PACs supporting candidates of both parties. He gave $1.5 million for Sen. Marco Rubio during the early 2016 primary campaign, as well as $1 million for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and $800,000 for South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. In 2011, he gave for both President Barack Obama and his GOP challenger, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

When asked if Blavatnik had been contacted by federal investigators about his contributions during and after the 2016 campaign, a spokesperson told ABC News the billionaire would not comment. In an earlier statement made to British media, Blavatnik noted that neither his contributions, nor those of his company Access Industries, were made directly to Trump.

"Access Industries made a donation to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, a joint Congressional committee that has been responsible for organizing the inauguration ceremonies of every U.S. president since 1901 and which helps to organize public and private events during the week leading up to the Inauguration,” the statement said. "The types of events that the Presidential Inaugural Committee plans and supports include public concerts, fireworks, lunches, dinners, the inauguration ceremony, and the inaugural parade.”

Krumholz, however, said the donations to the inauguration are hard to view as having a solely charitable motive. Blavatnik, she said, is a political “heavy hitter,” and longstanding political donor. “He runs Access Industries and I think the name probably says it all,” she said.

Additional contributions from Russian-connected donors came from Russian-born oil executive Simon Kukes and New York businessman Andrew Intrater, who oversees the U.S. arm of the Russian conglomerate Renova Group. Neither Kukes nor Intrater had an appreciable record of political contributions until last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

After Trump secured the nomination, Kukes gave $280,000 to an assortment of Trump-controlled funds over the next several months. Intrater contributed $35,000 to the Trump Victory committee, plus $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration fund.

Neither Kukes nor Intrater returned messages left at their homes and offices.

All three men -- Blavatnik, Kukes, and Intrater -- have been publicly identified as associated with Viktor Vekselberg, considered one of the richest men in Russia. Vekselberg is reported to hold frequent meetings with President Vladimir Putin as part of a business group known as the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. Emails to Vekselberg’s Moscow-based company, Renova, were not returned. Vekselberg’s firm, the Renova Group, has also donated between $50,000 and $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

Experts who follow the activities of Russia’s cadre of billionaires, commonly known as the “oligarchs,” told ABC News they believe donations from these three men, all of whom have worked closely with Vekselberg, warrant intense scrutiny.

Louise Shelley, director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University, said she does not believe large contributions from Blavatnik or from donors associated with Vekselberg would occur without the implicit approval of the Kremlin.

“If you have investments in Russia then you cannot be sure that they are secure if you go against the Kremlin's will,” Shelley said. “You can't be an enormously rich person in Russia, or even hold large holdings in Russia without being in Putin's clutches.”

Both Blavatnik and Vekselberg had crossed paths with officials in Trump’s inner circle prior to the real estate mogul’s run for president.

After Trump supporter and now Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross took a controlling interest in the Bank of Cyprus, for instance, a company controlled by Vekselberg became the biggest single Bank of Cyprus shareholder. During Ross’s confirmation hearings in February, a group of six Democratic senators raised questions about the nominee’s ties to Vekselberg. They noted that Vekselberg had served on the board of the Russian oil company, Rosneft, which was placed under sanctions in 2014 after Russia’s armed incursion into Crimea.

Vekselberg also oversaw fundraising for the Moscow Jewish Museum, including hosting a 2014 gala in Russia attended by Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner. Blavatnik also attended the event.

In addition, both men have business ties to another Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, whose name has already surfaced in connection with the Mueller investigation -- Deripaska was a client of Manafort’s prior to joining Trump’s campaign, as first revealed in Manafort’s foreign registration filings. Deripaska is the majority owner of RUSAL, the world's second largest aluminum company. Vekselberg and Blavatnik hold a significant interest in RUSAL, and Blavatnik served on the company’s board until shortly after Trump was elected.

Ilya Zaslavskiy, an Oxford-trained scholar and frequent critic of the oligarchs, told ABC News there is good reason for concerns about the role Vekselberg and Blavatnik may have played in the 2016 elections, given what he says was “a continuous relationship of these oligarchs with Kremlin and security services.”

Special counsel Mueller “should absolutely look into this because these people have a track record of very close relationships with the Kremlin,” Zaslavskiy said. “There is now overwhelming evidence that Putin has run a multilayered, sophisticated campaign against American institutes.”

Schiff said he has not reached any firm conclusions, but his committee will be looking closely at every facet of the Russian influence effort, including political donations from billionaires with lasting ties inside Russia.

“The oligarchs are really part and parcel of service to the Kremlin,” Schiff said. “They can be called upon at basically Putin’s will to do what he needs done. It gives them some distance from the Kremlin, it gives them some plausible deniability.”

Shelley said the country may never know if the contributions were made independently or covertly directed by the Kremlin. But she believes that in the 2016 presidential contest, anyone with deep business investments in Russia “would not be contributing to Hillary, [and] Russians would not be aligning themselves with Hillary, because they knew that Putin really disliked her.”
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/investig ... d=50100024
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Apr 04, 2018 6:49 pm

THE RUSSIA WEB
Accused Russian Intel Asset Teamed Up With GOP Operative

Konstantin Kilimnik found himself a partner in Sam Patten, a lobbyist and political hand who just happens to have worked previously for Cambridge Analytica

LACHLAN MARKAY
04.04.18 2:43 PM ET
As 2016 campaign season neared, a Russian national who Special Counsel Robert Mueller now believes was working with the country’s intelligence services founded a consulting firm in Washington D.C.

Begemot Ventures International was incorporated in February 2015, occupying an office on Constitution Avenue. Like other firms in the nation’s capital it offered services catering to the politically inclined. But unlike those other shops, Begemot had executives tied not just to an alleged Russian influence campaign, but also a controversial data firm that would later help elect President Donald Trump.

The space that the firm continues to occupy also houses the offices of Sam Patten, a Republican lobbyist and foreign policy consultant who had previously worked to hone the firm Cambridge Analytica’s microtargeting operation during the 2014 midterm election cycle. They don’t just share a location either. Patten is listed as one of two Begemot executives in Washington D.C. incorporation records.

The other is Konstantin Kilimnik, who is currently front-and-center in the federal investigation into Russian government meddling in the 2016 presidential election. A recent court filing by Mueller alleged that “Person A”—believed to be Kilimnik—“has ties to Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016.”

Kilimnik has a years-long professional relationship with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, whom Mueller has accused of illegally advancing the interests of foreign clients in the U.S. Kilimnik was a frequent intermediary between Manafort and Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, to whom Manafort offered private briefings on the 2016 presidential race. Kilimnik has long been suspected of having worked with or for Russian intelligence services in the past. But Mueller’s allegations are so explosive because they allege such ties continued through the presidential election—ties that would, by virtue of Kilimnik’s association with Manafort, represent the Trump campaign’s closest known link to Kremlin operatives.

But those close to Kilimnik say the allegations are at a minimum overblown, and at most an outright fabrication. Patten too rejected allegations of Kilimnik’s Russian intelligence ties in an interview this week.


Patten acknowledged his collaboration with Kilimnik on Begemot, which he said operates entirely abroad despite its D.C. address. Patten also confirmed his work with Cambridge Analytica, saying he assisted the firm’s U.S. operations in 2014, and also worked with the company on “several overseas campaigns.” He declined to go into further detail, citing a non-disclosure agreement, but stressed that his work for Begemot and Cambridge Analytica were entirely separate.


NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25: Robert Mercer and Rebekah Mercer attend the 2017 TIME 100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Rebekah Mercer Stands by Cambridge Analytica

It’s Not Just Facebook & Trump—The Whole Web Is Stalking You
Cambridge Analytica did not respond to a request for additional information.

There is little public information about Begemot, whose name literally translates (from Russian) to hippopotamus but also may be a reference to a character in the Russian novel “The Master and Margarita.” Its emergence on the political scene—and the principles involved in its creation—underscore the smallness of the universe of Republican operatives and foreign policy hands who have done business with those at the center of the Russia investigation.

Begemot’s website says it “helps its clients win elections, strengthen political parties, build the right arguments before domestic and international audiences, and achieve better results.” But it doesn't disclose any of those clients, or even the countries in which they operate. Patten declined to go into any detail about its work.

Patten’s relationship with Kilimnik goes back nearly two decades, when they worked together at the International Republican Institute, a GOP-aligned foreign policy group. In 2007 and 2008, Patten was an Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs in the Bush administration. He has also lobbied for political parties in Iraq and Georgia, and currently represents a group called the Committee to Destroy ISIS, a campaign funded in part, records show, by a Jordanian construction company.

“I operate in a small niche,” Patten said of his work.

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Patten’s association with Cambridge Analytica began in 2014. His personal website says he worked with the firm “to introduce new technologies and methodologies to U.S. campaigns during the 2014 congressional cycle.” The “beta run” of Cambridge Analytica’s microtargeting efforts, the website says, was “adopted by at least one major U.S. presidential candidate.” At the time the website was written, Patten said, Cambridge Analytica was working on behalf of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), though Patten never worked on behalf of the Cruz campaign. Cambridge Analytica would later work to elect Trump.

The data firm is at the center of controversy over the use of social media data in political micro-targeting efforts. A Cambridge Analytica whistleblower claims the company pilfered data from Facebook for use on behalf of its political clients. The company denies any wrongdoing. And Trump campaign officials have tried to downplay the efficacy of the firms work, even though the campaign spent nearly $6 million for its services.

Mueller’s team is examining the role that Cambridge Analytica played in Trump’s election victory, but there is no indication that Patten’s work for the firm is problematic or of any interest to the special counsel’s investigation. Patten himself played down the connection, saying his work for the firm was “wholly unconnected” to Begemot and Kilimnik.

Begemot, Patten said, “is a privately-held, small consulting company that has provided public relations and political strategy advice for clients outside the United States, and [is] not related to the ongoing circus here.”

Patten expressed skepticism about Mueller’s recent allegations about his colleague. “A lot of people in our country wish Mueller well. If this is his ace in the hole, I am profoundly depressed,” he said.

“I have no reason to suspect him of being a Russian agent,” Patten added. “For people to continuously repeat the ‘in contact with/working with Russian intel’ epithet about anyone who lives or works in a country ruled by an ex KGB officer is rather absurd.” Such a description, he said, could include “anyone who rides the Moscow metro.”
https://www.thedailybeast.com/accused-r ... 3?ref=home



Polly Sigh

How Putin's proxies helped funnel millions into GOP campaigns – @UofDallas researcher Ruth May is an expert in all things corporate in Russia and has mapped the money trail from Russian oligarchs to the @GOP and Trump.
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Buried in the campaign finance reports available to the public are troubling connections between a group of Kremlin-linked wealthy donors and their political contributions to Trump and a number of top @GOP leaders.

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An example is Kremlin-linked Len Blavatnik [Access Industries/AI-Altep], who in 2015-2016 pumped $6.35M into @GOP PACs, w/ millions going to top GOP leaders including McConnell, Rubio & Graham and in 2017 poured $1M into to McConnell's Senate Leadership Fund.
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^ The extent of Russian infiltration in many state election systems remains unclear. Obama's DHS Sec wanted to declare the systems as national critical infrastructure in Aug 2016 [giving fed gov’t broader powers to intervene] but @GOP balked.
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How Mitch McConnell Prevented Stronger Action Against Russian Election Meddling
http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/ ... dling.html
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Apr 04, 2018 9:06 pm

Mr. Nader used his longstanding ties to Kirill Dmitriev, the manager of a state-run Russian investment fund, to help set up a meeting in the Seychelles between Mr. Dmitriev and a Trump adviser days before Donald J. Trump took office

Witness in Mueller Inquiry Who Advises U.A.E. Ruler Also Has Ties to Russia

By MARK MAZZETTI, DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, BEN PROTESS and SHARON LaFRANIERE
APRIL 4, 2018


An adviser to the leader of the United Arab Emirates, George Nader, who is cooperating in the special counsel investigation, also has previously undisclosed links to Russia. Credit Ron Sachs/Picture-Alliance, via Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A witness who is cooperating in the special counsel investigation, George Nader, has connections to both the Persian Gulf states and Russia and may have information that links two important strands of the inquiry together, interviews and records show.

Mr. Nader’s ties to the United Arab Emirates are well documented — he is an adviser to its leader — but the extent of his links to Russia have not been previously disclosed.

Mr. Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, has a catalog of international connections that paved the way for numerous meetings with White House officials that have drawn the attention of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. For example, Mr. Nader used his longstanding ties to Kirill Dmitriev, the manager of a state-run Russian investment fund, to help set up a meeting in the Seychelles between Mr. Dmitriev and a Trump adviser days before Donald J. Trump took office.

Separately, investigators have asked witnesses about a meeting Mr. Nader attended in 2017 with a New York hedge fund manager, where he was joined by Jared Kushner and Stephen K. Bannon, who at the time were both senior advisers to Mr. Trump.

The investigative trail even led Mr. Mueller’s team to stop an Australian entrepreneur with ties to the U.A.E. after he landed at a Washington-area airport, according to people briefed on the matter. The investigators questioned the entrepreneur about Mr. Nader, including Mr. Nader’s relationship with Russia and his contacts with Mr. Trump’s advisers, as well as the movement of money from the U.A.E. into the United States.

Mr. Nader has received at least partial immunity for his cooperation, and it appears unlikely that Mr. Mueller is trying to build a case against him. Instead, it is common for prosecutors to interview as many people as possible to corroborate the testimony of a key witness like Mr. Nader.

Mr. Nader’s dealings with Russia date at least to 2012, when he helped broker a controversial $4.2 million deal for the government of Iraq to buy Russian weapons. At the time, he was an informal adviser to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq, and he accompanied Mr. Maliki to Moscow in September 2012 to sign the arms deal at a meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

The deal was canceled shortly after because of concerns about corruption, and a spokesman for the prime minister said it would be renegotiated.

Earlier that year, Mr. Nader also attended the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, an invitation-only conference organized by senior officials close to Mr. Putin that Russia presents as its answer to the World Economic Forum held annually in Davos, Switzerland. Mr. Nader is on a list of participants from 2012. Representatives of the St. Petersburg forum did not respond to inquiries about his attendance in subsequent years.

Since then, according to people familiar with his travels, Mr. Nader has returned frequently to Russia on behalf of the Emirati government. He even had his picture taken with Mr. Putin, according to one person who has seen the photograph, although it is unclear when the picture was taken.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, the de facto ruler of the U.A.E., is a close ally of the United States and a frequent visitor to the White House. He has also visited Moscow and met with Mr. Putin several times in recent years. One person briefed on the matter said Mr. Nader had accompanied the crown prince to Moscow on numerous occasions.

Last year, days before Mr. Trump took office, Mr. Nader helped set up a meeting at a Seychelles resort between Mr. Dmitriev, Emirati officials and Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater Worldwide and an adviser to Mr. Trump’s transition team. The meeting, at the bar of a Four Seasons Hotel overlooking the Indian Ocean, was brokered in part to explore the possibility of a back channel for discussions between the Trump administration and the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Kirill Dmitriev, the manager of a state-run Russian investment fund, met with Mr. Nader and an adviser to the Trump campaign days before Donald J. Trump took office. Credit Ramil Sitdikov/Sputnik, via Associated Press

Such contacts are at the heart of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, and his investigators have repeatedly used aggressive tactics to press witnesses. About four weeks ago, F.B.I. agents working with Mr. Mueller’s team stopped a Russian oligarch at a New York-area airport, questioned him about his dealings with Mr. Trump and seized his electronics, according to a person familiar with the matter, which was first reported by CNN.

Mr. Mueller’s investigators have asked multiple witnesses about the Seychelles meeting, part of a broader line of inquiry surrounding contacts between Emirati advisers and Trump administration officials. They have also pressed for details about a meeting Mr. Nader attended in New York in early 2017 with Mr. Kushner and Mr. Bannon with the hedge fund manager Richard Gerson, a friend of Mr. Kushner’s and the founder of Falcon Edge Capital.

Mr. Mueller’s particular interest in that meeting is unclear, although Mr. Gerson has had business dealings with the court of the U.A.E.’s Prince Mohammed. Mr. Gerson has developed relations with several senior Emirati officials over the years, including with Prince Mohammed himself, and he has often sought investments from Emirati state funds.

Mr. Gerson’s family also has business and philanthropic ties to the Kushners. Mr. Kushner has been friends for more than a decade with Mr. Gerson’s brother Mark, a founder of the specialized research company Gerson Lehrman Group. Mark Gerson was also an early investor in Cadre, a real estate technology company founded by Mr. Kushner and his brother, Josh.

Jared Kushner’s family foundation has also donated tens of thousands of dollars to an Israeli medical aid group led by Mark Gerson.

A lawyer for Mr. Nader and a spokesman for Rick Gerson declined to comment. Mark Gerson did not reply to requests for comment.

Mr. Mueller’s investigators have also questioned Joel Zamel, an Australian entrepreneur who has an office in Tel Aviv and knows Mr. Nader, according to people briefed on the matter. Mr. Zamel has had contacts with senior U.A.E. officials close to its ruler since at least 2014.

In February, federal agents working for Mr. Mueller stopped Mr. Zamel at Reagan National Airport outside Washington and briefly seized his electronic devices, the people said. Mr. Zamel later appeared before a grand jury and was questioned about Mr. Nader, though it was unclear whether Mr. Zamel had any information about Mr. Nader’s ties to Russia.

Mr. Zamel is a witness in Mr. Mueller’s investigation and is not suspected of any wrongdoing, according to Marc Mukasey, a lawyer for Mr. Zamel and his crowdsourced consulting firm, Wikistrat. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Mr. Zamel informally met with Mr. Mueller’s team.

“Joel and Wikistrat have not been accused of anything, have done nothing wrong and are not the focus of the special counsel,” said Mr. Mukasey, a global chairman of Greenberg Traurig’s white-collar defense and special investigations practice. “Prosecutors like to question as many people as they can — even if they have tangential involvement and limited knowledge.”

Mr. Zamel briefly met last spring with Jared Kushner at the White House, another person said, though that meeting does not appear to be a focus of Mr. Mueller’s inquiry.

Wikistrat, which pays security experts around the world for their insights, has landed several government contracts, according to databases and news reports. Its website says the firm can draw from a group of more than 2,200 analysts worldwide who share their thinking on an interactive platform.

Some well-known experts serve on Wikistrat’s advisory council, including Michael V. Hayden, a former head of the C.I.A. and the National Security Agency, and Dennis Ross, a former United States diplomat with deep expertise in the Middle East.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/us/p ... d=tw-share
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Re: NSA Chief Russia Hacked '16 Election Congress Must Inves

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Apr 04, 2018 10:05 pm

Seth Abramson

In 2012, George NADER was brokering a weapons deal in which Russian arms would go to Iraq. In 2013, Trump NatSec adviser Joe SCHMITZ was brokering a weapons deal in which Russian arms would go to Syria. I hope Mueller's looking at any possible connections.

How Ukrainian arms-dealing connects to Syria’s bloody civil war

Written by Tim Fernholz
All the ingredients are there for a proper arms deal: A former government official with connections to the military-industrial complex. A stockpile of Soviet arms in Ukraine. Soldiers in Syria with a yen for ammo and cash to burn. The biggest problem? Getting the arms from eastern Europe to the battleground without alerting international authorities or tipping off your enemies.

The story isn’t about Russia or the United States. It’s about Russia and the United States.

This week, the Wall Street Journal shone a light (paywall) on one American’s thwarted effort to run guns into Syria for the anti-regime Free Syrian Army. Last fall, analysts at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS) in Washington assembled public data to identify a network of businesses (pdf) in Ukraine and Russia at the heart of Russia’s efforts to arm the Syrian regime. The two stories have a lot in common, with a key difference being that Russia’s government is a lot more invested in arming its side of the conflict.

The guns of Odessa

While weapons of all kinds have cropped up throughout the Syrian conflict, from the chemical weapons that made president Bashar Al-Assad an international pariah to homemade rockets, the rebels have two main problems: Getting enough rifles and ammunition to give them a basic infantry force, and—the bigger problem—countering the regime’s vast military advantage, especially as it has aircraft and the rebels don’t.

Many weapons in the conflict hail from the former eastern bloc, according to surveys of small arms in Syria (pdf) that are admittedly unscientific. There’s a reason for this: The Soviet Union cranked up a massive arms machine, and when it collapsed, the combination of chaos, weapons stockpiles and criminal entrepreneurship gave men like Viktor Bout and Leonard Minin careers as arms dealers.

When it comes to recent arms deals to Syria, though, the C4ADS analysis sees a a new evolution in arms transit.

Using software developed by Palantir, the secretive Silicon Valley big-data firm, C4ADS tracked an interconnected network of businesses, often hidden behind shell companies, who handle most Russian arms shipments. The “Odessa network” it describes is centered on politically-connected Russian and Ukrainian businessmen and the Ukrainian seaport of Oktyabrsk, a former Soviet military base. At least 10 ships in the network visited Syria in 2012, while dozens of Syrian vessels have traveled back and forth to Oktyabrsk, according to C4ADS.

The most prominent firm discussed is the Kaalbye shipping group. It was founded by Igor Urbansky, a former Soviet naval captain who was a Ukrainian government deputy minister from 2006 to 2009, and Boris Kogan, whose business connections tie him to Russia’s defense industry. Kaalbye-operated vessels have shipped all kinds of cargo, but they have also have an important business transporting weapons to conflict zones on Russia’s behalf.

At least one of Kaalbye’s ships, the Ocean Voyager, took a shipment from Russia’s arms export agency to Syria’s ministry of defense in 2012, according to a cargo manifest obtained by C4ADS. The manifest (below) lists the contents of the shipment as only “equipment.” Kaalbye’s representatives at the law firm Patton Boggs declined to comment to Quartz, but the company has acknowledged this delivery to Syria and says it is the only one that occurred that year.

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 10.31.30 AM
A cargo manifest detailing the shipment of “equipment” from Russia’s arms export agency to Syria’s defense ministry.
The C4ADS report also notes that other Kaalbye vessels dropped out of sight of global ship-tracking databases at the same time that Russia increased weapons deliveries to Syrian ports in 2012 and 2013. While it’s possible that this is a coincidence, and the innocuous product of less-than-perfect infrastructure, C4ADS suggests the timeline could point to Kaalbye ships shutting off transceivers while making weapons deliveries.

It’s likely not illegal for Russian ships to deliver such cargos, depending on the jurisdictions they pass through en route. But delivering weapons to Syria would violate Western sanctions. Kaalbye, presumably concerned that other lines of business—including potential US government contracts—might be affected by the C4ADS allegations, threatened to sue the think tank for defamation and hired a public relations firm to challenge its findings. Kaalbye also provided evidence to the Washington Post that one of the missing ships was in fact using its tracking system and did not stop in Syria.

But in April, the think tank preemptively sued the shipping firm for interfering in its business. The back and forth between the company’s American representatives and C4ADS is a saga in itself, and more may be revealed in early June, when Kaalbye must respond to the suit in court.

Kaalbye’s role aside, Western intelligence agencies are confident that Russian (and, to a lesser extent, Iranian) supplies—from helicopters to tanks to ammunition and diesel—have allowed the Assad regime to wage war despite not having much of an industrial base or support from other nations.

This analysis of Russia’s arms shipment logistics also, incidentally, helps explain president Vladimir Putin’s interest in influencing or annexing eastern Ukraine. Yes, it’s a former part of the Soviet empire where a lot of ethnic Russians live; but it’s also vital infrastructure for Russia’s efforts to project power abroad today—and a profit center for the Russian defense industry.

And that’s why it’s interesting that a stockpile of weapons a group of Americans sought to provide to Syrian rebels also hails from Ukraine.

There’s something about Schmitz

About a year ago, according to the Journal’s story, a former US defense department official named Joseph Schmitz approached the leader of the rebel Free Syrian Army. He offered to give them 70,000 assault rifles from Ukraine and 21 million rounds of ammunition, for which an unnamed Saudi prince would foot the bill. Given that the fighting force of the Syrian rebels is estimated at perhaps 100,000 strong, it would have been a substantial injection of firepower—though it would not solve the air superiority problem. At the time, the US government was dithering over whether to provide much in the way of weapons at all, given the risks that they might reach anti-American groups or fail to change the dynamics of the conflict.

Schmitz, who had worked as the independent auditor for the US Defense Department, left that job in 2005 after coming under Congressional criticism for close relationships to contractors he supervised; no wrong-doing was ever identified. He became the the general counsel for Blackwater, the notorious US mercenary firm, before going into private practice as an attorney. Last year, the Journal reports, he somehow arose as the middleman between the unnamed Saudi benefactor, two unnamed US weapons brokers, and whoever owned those weapons and the capacity to transport them to Syria.

This all came to a halt, according to the Journal, when a US spy in Jordan apparently told one of Schmitz’s partners that the US government didn’t want any freelance arms dealing in Syria. This was before Schmitz had applied to the State Department for an official license to broker such weapons sales overseas, which he said he intended to do all along, though both arms trafficking experts and members of the Syrian opposition were skeptical of his approach. Soon, evidence that Syria had used chemical weapons against civilians in rebel-held areas loosened US restrictions. Now, the US is directly supplying training and an unknown amount of small arms and anti-tank weapons to select Syrian rebels across the border from Jordan—but still no anti-aircraft missiles.

How much do weapons cost?

The more the war in Syria drags on, the higher the demand for weapons. Here’s a chart from the Small Arms Survey (pdf) looking at the correlation between increases in casualties and the cost of weapons:

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 2.31.48 PM

In 2012, rebels seeking armaments in Turkey found that just one cartridge for a machine gun or assault rifle cost $2-$4, while a common assault rifle cost upward of $2,000. That puts some perspective on the value of Schmitz’s offer; at those prices, that much weaponry would have cost the rebels perhaps a quarter of a billion dollars. Presumably, the wholesale cost to Schmitz’s group would have run cheaper.

But those numbers also underscore that the conflict can be a boon for defense contractors. Russia exported some $17.6 billion in weapons in 2012 alone, and that’s just the arms transfers it reports; even if the government is underwriting most of those costs, it’s still promoting its industrial base. When it comes to arms sales, the US is it’s only rival, exporting perhaps $60 billion worth of military goods in 2012, although that’s an unusually high number driven by advance sales. Here’s a more representative picture of the global arms market:

download (1)

What’s most worrisome is that these data are mostly focused on large armaments—planes, tanks, ships and bombs—and not small arms. While the dangers of mechanized inter-state warfare are well known, small-arms trafficking is harder to spot, and that has people worried, since it increasingly fuels destabilizing conflicts from Africa to Latin America. Last year, the UN passed a treaty in part designed to create more transparency around arms trading and urge countries not to send weapons knowingly to places where they’re likely to be used in genocide, terrorism, and the like. The US has signed the treaty; Russia has not.

As the world’s top arms dealers square off in Syria, the situation looks to be approaching a stalemate. Fractured rebel groups retreating in the face of pressure from a regime confident in its ability to consolidate power and wait its enemies out. That’s not likely to change unless the US or someone else decides to send anti-aircraft weapons to the rebels. But as long as the steady migration of weaponry from eastern Europe to the Middle East continues, the suffering isn’t liable to stop anytime soon—the latest count by activists attempting to track the disaster is is that more than 160,000 people have been killed, and many more have been turned into refugees, with the UN claiming that Lebanon alone will hold 1.5 million by the end of the year.
https://qz.com/211603/how-ukrainian-arm ... civil-war/

6:20 PM - 4 Apr 2018

2/ Note that, per the New York Times, the NADER deal was cancelled and was going to be "renegotiated" at exactly the same time Schmitz starting trying to get Russian weapons (stored in the Ukraine) to Syria. Is there any chance these were the same weapons?

Witness in Mueller Inquiry Who Advises U.A.E. Ruler Also Has Ties to Russia

By MARK MAZZETTI, DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, BEN PROTESS and SHARON LaFRANIEREAPRIL 4, 2018


An adviser to the leader of the United Arab Emirates, George Nader, who is cooperating in the special counsel investigation, also has previously undisclosed links to Russia. Ron Sachs/Picture-Alliance, via Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A witness who is cooperating in the special counsel investigation, George Nader, has connections to both the Persian Gulf states and Russia and may have information that links two important strands of the inquiry together, interviews and records show.

Mr. Nader’s ties to the United Arab Emirates are well documented — he is an adviser to its leader — but the extent of his links to Russia have not been previously disclosed.

Mr. Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, has a catalog of international connections that paved the way for numerous meetings with White House officials that have drawn the attention of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. For example, Mr. Nader used his longstanding ties to Kirill Dmitriev, the manager of a state-run Russian investment fund, to help set up a meeting in the Seychelles between Mr. Dmitriev and a Trump adviser days before Donald J. Trump took office.

Separately, investigators have asked witnesses about a meeting Mr. Nader attended in 2017 with a New York hedge fund manager, where he was joined by Jared Kushner and Stephen K. Bannon, who at the time were both senior advisers to Mr. Trump.

The investigative trail even led Mr. Mueller’s team to stop an Australian entrepreneur with ties to the U.A.E. after he landed at a Washington-area airport, according to people briefed on the matter. The investigators questioned the entrepreneur about Mr. Nader, including Mr. Nader’s relationship with Russia and his contacts with Mr. Trump’s advisers, as well as the movement of money from the U.A.E. into the United States.

Mr. Nader has received at least partial immunity for his cooperation, and it appears unlikely that Mr. Mueller is trying to build a case against him. Instead, it is common for prosecutors to interview as many people as possible to corroborate the testimony of a key witness like Mr. Nader.

Mr. Nader’s dealings with Russia date at least to 2012, when he helped broker a controversial $4.2 billion deal for the government of Iraq to buy Russian weapons. At the time, he was an informal adviser to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq, and he accompanied Mr. Maliki to Moscow in September 2012 to sign the arms deal at a meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Mr. Nader’s role in the deal was earlier reported by Al-Monitor.

The deal was canceled shortly after because of concerns about corruption, and a spokesman for the prime minister said it would be renegotiated.

Earlier that year, Mr. Nader also attended the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, an invitation-only conference organized by senior officials close to Mr. Putin that Russia presents as its answer to the World Economic Forum held annually in Davos, Switzerland. Mr. Nader is on a list of participants from 2012. Representatives of the St. Petersburg forum did not respond to inquiries about his attendance in subsequent years.

Since then, according to people familiar with his travels, Mr. Nader has returned frequently to Russia on behalf of the Emirati government. He even had his picture taken with Mr. Putin, according to one person who has seen the photograph, although it is unclear when the picture was taken.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, the de facto ruler of the U.A.E., is a close ally of the United States and a frequent visitor to the White House. He has also visited Moscow and met with Mr. Putin several times in recent years. One person briefed on the matter said Mr. Nader had accompanied the crown prince to Moscow on numerous occasions.

Last year, days before Mr. Trump took office, Mr. Nader helped set up a meeting at a Seychelles resort between Mr. Dmitriev, Emirati officials and Erik Prince, the former head of Blackwater Worldwide and an adviser to Mr. Trump’s transition team. The meeting, at the bar of a Four Seasons Hotel overlooking the Indian Ocean, was brokered in part to explore the possibility of a back channel for discussions between the Trump administration and the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the meeting.



Kirill Dmitriev, the manager of a state-run Russian investment fund, met with Mr. Nader and an adviser to the Trump campaign days before Donald J. Trump took office. Ramil Sitdikov/Sputnik, via Associated Press
Such contacts are at the heart of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, and his investigators have repeatedly used aggressive tactics to press witnesses. About four weeks ago, F.B.I. agents working with Mr. Mueller’s team stopped a Russian oligarch at a New York-area airport, questioned him about his dealings with Mr. Trump and seized his electronics, according to a person familiar with the matter, which was first reported by CNN.

Mr. Mueller’s investigators have asked multiple witnesses about the Seychelles meeting, part of a broader line of inquiry surrounding contacts between Emirati advisers and Trump administration officials. They have also pressed for details about a meeting Mr. Nader attended in New York in early 2017 with Mr. Kushner and Mr. Bannon with the hedge fund manager Richard Gerson, a friend of Mr. Kushner’s and the founder of Falcon Edge Capital.

Mr. Mueller’s particular interest in that meeting is unclear, although Mr. Gerson has had business dealings with the court of the U.A.E.’s Prince Mohammed. Mr. Gerson has developed relations with several senior Emirati officials over the years, including with Prince Mohammed himself, and he has often sought investments from Emirati state funds.

Mr. Gerson’s family also has business and philanthropic ties to the Kushners. Mr. Kushner has been friends for more than a decade with Mr. Gerson’s brother Mark, a founder of the specialized research company Gerson Lehrman Group. Mark Gerson was also an early investor in Cadre, a real estate technology company founded by Mr. Kushner and his brother, Josh.

Jared Kushner’s family foundation has also donated tens of thousands of dollars to an Israeli medical aid group led by Mark Gerson.

A lawyer for Mr. Nader and a spokesman for Rick Gerson declined to comment. Mark Gerson did not reply to requests for comment.

Mr. Mueller’s investigators have also questioned Joel Zamel, an Australian entrepreneur who has an office in Tel Aviv and knows Mr. Nader, according to people briefed on the matter. Mr. Zamel has had contacts with senior U.A.E. officials close to its ruler since at least 2014.

In February, federal agents working for Mr. Mueller stopped Mr. Zamel at Reagan National Airport outside Washington and briefly seized his electronic devices, the people said. Mr. Zamel later appeared before a grand jury and was questioned about Mr. Nader, though it was unclear whether Mr. Zamel had any information about Mr. Nader’s ties to Russia.

Mr. Zamel is a witness in Mr. Mueller’s investigation and is not suspected of any wrongdoing, according to Marc Mukasey, a lawyer for Mr. Zamel and his crowdsourced consulting firm, Wikistrat. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Mr. Zamel informally met with Mr. Mueller’s team.

“Joel and Wikistrat have not been accused of anything, have done nothing wrong and are not the focus of the special counsel,” said Mr. Mukasey, a global chairman of Greenberg Traurig’s white-collar defense and special investigations practice. “Prosecutors like to question as many people as they can — even if they have tangential involvement and limited knowledge.”

Mr. Zamel briefly met last spring with Jared Kushner at the White House, another person said, though that meeting does not appear to be a focus of Mr. Mueller’s inquiry.

Wikistrat, which pays security experts around the world for their insights, has landed several government contracts, according to databases and news reports. Its website says the firm can draw from a group of more than 2,200 analysts worldwide who share their thinking on an interactive platform.

Some well-known experts serve on Wikistrat’s advisory council, including Michael V. Hayden, a former head of the C.I.A. and the National Security Agency, and Dennis Ross, a former United States diplomat with deep expertise in the Middle East.

Correction: April 4, 2018
An earlier version of this article misstated the value of a deal George Nader helped broker in 2012 for the government of Iraq. It was $4.2 billion, not $4.2 million.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/04/us/p ... ation.html

3/ If both NADER and SCHMITZ came into Trump's orbit having tried to aid Putin—implicitly—by getting Russian weapons to the Middle East, is it possible that Schmitz somewhat randomly ending up on Trump's NatSec team was no more a coincidence than was Nader entering Trump's orbit?

4/ This matters, given that SCHMITZ ends up taking a mysterious trip to Hungary during the presidential campaign—we *think* shortly before Hungary's Prime Minister, a Putin ally, made a highly unusual endorsement of Trump. Hungary is also where Putin's FSB has its headquarters.

5/ My point: PAGE went to Hungary and met with a Russian. SCHMITZ also had a Russian nexus; did he, too, meet a Russian in Hungary? What (if anything) was offered to Hungary by the Trump campaign in order to get the in-kind donation of a high-profile endorsement on July 23, 2016?

6/ If NADER was dealing Russian arms in 2012-13, is it too much to wonder whether he crossed paths with SCHMITZ, who was dealing Russian arms in 2013? Especially given that both men ended up in the orbit of the same pro-Russia politician, Donald Trump? Was that mere coincidence?

7/ MUELLER has NADER in his back pocket. But we've heard nothing about SCHMITZ for a very very long time—even though he was named to Trump's NatSec tiny team at the same time as PAGE and PAPADOPOULOS, who were both, apparently, hired in part in consideration of their Russia ties.

8/ Don't forget: saying PUTIN wanted Russian arms in Syria (which SCHMITZ was assisting with) is another way of saying that PUTIN wanted America out of the picture in Syria. And guess what Putin ally Donald Trump has just announced? Premature withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria.

9/ My point is NADER—we learned today—has UAE and Russia connections (as, by the way, does PAGE, who was, for reasons unknown, in the UAE on the very night Trump gave his now-infamous, pro-Russia "Mayflower Speech"). So it's worth imagining all the Trump people NADER came across.

10/ I've periodically made a short-list of people who we have heard little about and will soon hear much more about. Felix SATER has made that list. So has J.D. GORDON. So has Sam CLOVIS. And so too has Joseph SCHMITZ. I suspect NADER crossed paths with at least one of these men.

PS/ If you read the New York Times and Quartz articles in this thread, you will find it *very* hard to believe that NADER and SCHMITZ did not cross paths as they both tried to aid Putin in getting his weapons into the Middle East—at the same time.

It'd be a near-miracle, really.
https://twitter.com/SethAbramson/status ... 2120897536
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