Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Election

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Jul 22, 2019 9:29 am

OCCRP

NEW: In May, U.S. Pres. Donald Trump’s attorney, ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said that he planned to visit Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to win support for investigations into potentially damaging claims raised by Ukrainian officials. /1

Those included the contention that Joe Biden, Trump’s potential 2020 rival, pressured Ukraine’s govt to fire a top prosecutor; U.S. diplomats in the country held pro-Democrat bias; and local officials conspired against Trump in the 2016 election /2

Days after announcing the trip, Giuliani called it off amid a storm of criticism that he was inappropriately interfering in U.S. foreign relations. His efforts in Ukraine, though, continue. /3

OCCRP and @BuzzfeedNews now reveal how two Soviet-born Florida businessmen have become Giuliani’s guides and key hidden actors behind his plan to investigate Trump’s rivals. /4

Two Unofficial US Operatives Reporting To Trump’s Lawyer Privately Lobbied A Foreign Government In A Bid To Help The President Win In 2020
Reporting directly to Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, two operators waged a brazen back-channel campaign that could thrust another foreign country to the center of the next US election.

Posted on July 22, 2019, at 6:00 a.m. ET

Erik Carter for BuzzFeed News

Two unofficial envoys reporting directly to Donald Trump’s personal lawyer have waged a remarkable back-channel campaign to discredit the president’s rivals and undermine the special counsel’s inquiry into Russian meddling in US elections.

In a whirlwind of private meetings, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — who pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican campaigns and dined with the president — gathered repeatedly with top officials in Ukraine and set up meetings for Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, as they turned up information that could be weaponized in the 2020 presidential race.

The two men urged prosecutors to investigate allegations against the Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden. And they pushed for a probe into accusations that Ukrainian officials plotted to rig the 2016 election in Hillary Clinton’s favor by leaking evidence against Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chair, in what became a cornerstone of the special counsel’s inquiry.

They also waged an aggressive campaign in the United States, staying at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, and meeting with key members of Congress as they joined in a successful push that led to the removal of the ambassador to Ukraine, after she angered their allies in Kiev.

Meanwhile, the two men — who both have troubled financial histories — rose to prominence in Republican circles, meeting with party leaders while injecting hundreds of thousands of dollars into top Republican committees and dozens of candidates’ campaigns.

As they carried out their campaign, they used their proximity to the White House to tout a new business they set up to sell natural gas in Ukraine, with photos posted on Facebook showing Parnas posing with President Trump in the White House and top House members on Capitol Hill.

Their work proved influential. Prosecutors in Kiev announced in March they would investigate the officials accused of trying to steer the election in Clinton’s favor — a month after meeting with Parnas, Fruman, and Giuliani — and Trump applauded the plan in an interview with Fox News, calling the allegations “big” and “incredible.” The next month, Attorney General William Barr announced he had appointed a federal prosecutor to lead a probe into the origins of the Mueller investigation.

Parnas said he expected the information that he and Fruman advanced to become an important focus of Barr’s inquiry, and to dominate the debate in the run-up to the 2020 election. “It’s all going to come out,” he said. “Something terrible happened and we’re finally going to get to the bottom of it.”

In an exclusive interview with BuzzFeed News at the Trump International Hotel, the 47-year-old former stock broker insisted he and Fruman were not paid for acting as intermediaries between the Ukrainian officials and Giuliani. “All we were doing was passing along information,” he said. “Information was coming to us — either I bury it or I pass it on. I felt it was my duty to pass it on."

He said the back-channel was initiated by Ukrainian officials who wanted to meet US authorities and had trouble making the right connections. "They knew I was friends with the mayor," he said, referring to Giuliani, who previously served as mayor of New York City. That was what kick-started the campaign to dig up information on Democrats in Kiev — an effort that “is not going away,” Parnas added. “We’re American citizens, we love our country, we love our president."

Fruman did not respond to detailed questions sent by BuzzFeed News, nor did Giuliani or the White House. Giuliani has previously said the two men were his clients, and that neither he nor they did anything improper in pushing prosecutors to pursue investigations into Trump’s rivals.

But Kenneth McCallion, a former federal prosecutor who once represented Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, said Parnas and Fruman were “playing with fire” by carrying out their campaign in the US and Ukraine without registering as foreign agents or being vetted by the State Department.

“Trump has either authorized Giuliani to engage in private diplomacy and deal-making, or even worse, remains silent while Giuliani and his dodgy band of soldiers of fortune engage in activities that severely undermine US credibility and are contrary to fundamental US interests,” he said.


Nurphoto / Getty Images
Rudy Giuliani on March 20, 2018.

What’s clear is that, for Parnas and Fruman, the stakes were more than just political. While they launched a new energy company to operate in Ukraine, large sums of money were flowing into various bank accounts belonging to the men that are now the focus of legal complaints.

In one transaction in 2018, more than $1 million was wired to a bank account belonging to Parnas from the client trust account of a Florida lawyer specializing in real estate and foreign investments. Parnas and Fruman then redirected $325,000 to a Trump-supporting super PAC — without declaring the original source of the funds, records and interviews show.

The money is now the target of a complaint before the Federal Election Commission by a non-profit watchdog group.

The mission by the two men in Ukraine follows a tumultuous period when, at the height of the US presidential election in 2016, Manafort was forced to resign from Trump’s campaign after the leak of a “black ledger” detailing clandestine payments he had taken from the country’s recently toppled pro-Russian regime. Manafort’s work for the government of Viktor Yanukovych later became a focus of the special counsel’s inquiry into Russian election meddling, and the former campaign chair was convicted on tax and bank fraud in 2018.

Allies of Trump, including Giuliani, have since pushed the theory the ledger might have been faked by officials from the anti-Kremlin government that replaced Yanukovych in a bid to harm Trump and tilt the US election in Clinton’s favor.

The dispute over the black ledger has placed Ukraine’s diplomatic relations with the White House under strain at a time the country is heavily reliant on US military aid in its ongoing conflict with Russia. The relationship has also been fraught by public clashes between US diplomats and prosecutors in Kiev over floundering attempts to root out rampant corruption in the country since the toppling of Yanukovych.

The president’s allies have seized on that tension, touting allegations that Biden — the Democratic 2020 frontrunner — intervened during the Obama administration to orchestrate the firing of a prosecutor who was probing corruption claims at a company where Biden’s son Hunter had earned $3 million as a board member.

The first public glimpse of Parnas and Fruman’s work emerged in May of this year, when Giuliani told the New York Times that Parnas had helped arrange a trip for him to Ukraine, where he hoped to meet with the newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenesky, about matters that could help Trump. Critics said that amounted to evidence of foreign meddling in U.S. elections, and Giuliani quickly announced the meeting was off.

But the full extent to which the two unofficial envoys had inserted themselves into America’s diplomacy with Ukraine — a country both at war with and deeply compromised by Russia — has never previously been revealed.

BuzzFeed News and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project have examined scores of court filings and confidential financial records and interviewed dozens of people — including Parnas — to piece together the international maneuvers of the two men. The results raise questions about the origins of the money they were spending and whether their work should have been declared — as well as the impact of their efforts on the 2020 election.



Nurphoto / Getty Images
The Hilton hotel in Kyiv, Ukraine on March 29, 2019.

On a balmy evening in May, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman hunkered over a table on the terrace of the gleaming Hilton hotel tower in Kiev, a hookah pipe burning between them.

The gathering was one of their last stops on a tour of four countries to meet with Ukrainian authorities and unearth critical information on Trump’s potential 2020 challenger, Joe Biden, as well as Trump’s former opponent, Hillary Clinton, before the new president of Ukraine took office.

They were on familiar territory: Both men were born in the Soviet Union and had immigrated to the United States — Parnas in 1976, when he was 4, and Fruman as a young adult.

Both eventually settled in South Florida, where Parnas worked for three stockbrokerages that were later expelled by regulators for fraud and other violations — though he was never individually charged — and racked up nine court judgements for failing to pay loans and other debts. One of his businesses, Fraud Guarantee, set up to help people safeguard against fraud and other financial crimes, was evicted in 2015 for not paying the office rent, records show.

Fruman, 53, continued to make his money in Ukraine, running an export business that ships goods to and from the United States and a boutique hotel in Odessa — long known as a hub for both tourism and organized crime. One of his investments, a milk canning plant, was declared bankrupt seven years ago over debts that reached nearly $25 million.


But, over the past year, their connections in Kiev had suddenly helped propel them to the highest echelons of American society.

They had shared a breakfast last year with Donald Trump Jr. and Tommy Hicks Jr., current cochair of the Republican National Committee, at the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills as they collectively poured $576,500 into GOP campaigns — and dined with the president himself in Washington.

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Left to right: Donald Trump Jr., Tommy Hicks Jr., Parnas, and Fruman.
In their role as unofficial US envoys, Parnas and Fruman had met at least four times with top Ukrainian prosecutors — two of whom are steeped in corruption allegations of their own — as they pushed for investigations into Trump’s rivals. And they had jetted to Israel to meet with a powerful Ukrainian oligarch accused of stealing billions from one of the country's largest banks.

In one of a series of interviews with BuzzFeed News, near his home in Boca Raton, Florida, Parnas said the behind-the-scenes efforts started in late 2018 when Fruman received a call from “an acquaintance” in Ukraine who wanted to set up a meeting with the country’s most controversial prosecutor.


Viktor Shokin had been fired two years earlier, but he now wanted to unload on the man he held directly responsible for his fall from power: former vice president Biden. Parnas saw that the information about Biden, who was then eyeing a bid for the presidency, could eventually benefit the Trump campaign. He immediately turned to Giuliani, who had become a friend as Parnas rose to prominence as a GOP supporter.

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Pacific Press / Getty Images
Viktor Shokin
“I don’t remember if we were having dinner, or smoking a cigar, whenever we told him at the time,” Parnas said, but he viewed Giuliani as a “powerful, astute individual” who would make good use of the information. “I knew he would steer it in the right direction,” he said.

On a Skype meeting set up by Parnas and his partner, Shokin told Giuliani that he had overseen an investigation into a large energy company that was paying up to $50,000 a month to Biden’s son Hunter through a consulting firm that he cofounded, records show.

The former vice president had traveled to the country in 2016 as the White House’s point person on Ukraine to demand that Shokin be stripped of his job. If the government refused, he said, the US would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees. The prosecutor was dismissed a week later.


Shokin had already been facing criticism that he was not doing enough to fight crime, and voices around the world had been calling for his removal. As for the company, there are multiple investigations into the owner, but he has never been charged.

Giuliani seized on the former prosecutor’s allegations, calling publicly for an investigation into whether Biden’s intervention had been calculated to protect his son.

Hunter Biden said in a statement that he had never discussed his work for the energy company with his father. "In this political climate, where my qualifications and work are being attacked by Rudy Giuliani and his minions for transparent political purposes, I have decided not to renew my directorship," he added.

Buoyed by the success of their first encounter, Parnas and Fruman soon helped set up meetings for Giuliani with Ukraine’s new prosecutor general — Yuriy Lutsenko — who had details on another heated issue.

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Sergei Supinsky / AFP / Getty Images
Yuriy Lutsenko
Parnas and Fruman helped arrange meetings in New York between the prosecutor and Giuliani in January. Armed with documents from Ukraine, the prosecutor unloaded explosive evidence that he claimed showed that Americans in the US embassy in Ukraine had tried to rig the 2016 election in favor of Hillary Clinton. Lutsenko said officials at the US embassy had pressured Ukrainian agents to leak entries from the ledger that showed the millions taken by Manafort.

No public records have emerged to support the charges that the embassy was steeped in a concerted effort to help either side. But Giuliani leapt on the allegation. Trump had long claimed the special counsel’s inquiry was a political hit job by Clinton’s allies, and Lutsenko’s evidence seemed to bolster that claim.

“Every day, we just got more involved,” said Parnas. Giuliani "was angry.”

In February, Giuliani and Parnas met privately again with Lutsenko, this time in Warsaw, on the sidelines of the US-led Middle East conference that included US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The following month, the Ukrainian prosecutor general announced to the US-based news site the Hill that the allegations he had divulged in the meetings with Giuliani in New York were under investigation.

“As Russia Collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges,” Trump tweeted in response to the news, citing the headline in the Hill. Giuliani urged his own Twitter followers to “Keep your eye on Ukraine.”

Parnas and Fruman had scored a victory. But their growing association with Lutsenko put the men on a collision course with America’s official ambassador in Kiev.

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Genya Savilov / AFP / Getty Images
Marie Yovanovitch taking part in a gay pride march in Kiev.

Ambassador Yovanovitch inflamed tensions with Lutsenko in March when she publicly lambasted Ukraine’s efforts to root out corruption. The Obama appointee took the unusual step of calling for the firing of the country’s special anti-corruption prosecutor, Nazar Kholodnytsky, who was reprimanded last year after government agents found that he had shared investigative records with suspects.

Lutsenko, the top prosecutor, hit back against America’s official envoy to Ukraine by claiming, without evidence, that Yovanovitch had given him a list of people he should not prosecute during their first meeting two years earlier. His claim against Yovanovitch was dismissed as an “outright fabrication” by the US State Department — and Lutsenko himself retracted it the following month by saying he never actually saw a list. But the battle lines had been drawn.

Parnas and Fruman both shared the prosecutors’ antipathy toward the ambassador. The previous May, the pair had met with one of the most powerful Texas House members at the time on Capitol Hill, Republican Pete Sessions, and ripped into Yovanovitch. Parnas said he told Sessions that she was disloyal to Trump and had been “bad-mouthing our president about getting impeached.”

On the same date that Parnas posted a Facebook photo of the meeting, Sessions fired off a letter to Pompeo, saying he should consider firing her. “I have received notice from close companions that Ambassador Yovanovitch has spoken privately and repeatedly about her disdain for the current administration,” he wrote.


The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) requires anyone operating on behalf of a foreign entity in the United States to declare their work to the Department of Justice. Parnas and Fruman did not register.

Parnas said neither he nor his partner were acting at the behest of anyone. Sessions said in an interview that he raised the issue of Yovanovitch in the meeting — not Parnas and Fruman. “I sought their input,” he said.

But the partners’ briefing against the ambassador to a key lawmaker at a time the federal government was picking up its enforcement of FARA raised “the thorniest red flag,” said Ron Oleynik, a Washington attorney and expert on anti-bribery laws. “That, to me, is clearly trying to influence an office of the United States toward Ukraine.”

Yovanovitch was recalled from Kiev in May 2019, months after clashing with the local prosecutors with whom Parnas and Fruman had been meeting, in a decision branded as a “political hit job” by Democrats. “It’s clear that this decision was politically motivated, as allies of President Trump had joined foreign actors in lobbying for the Ambassador’s dismissal,” Democratic Reps. Steny Hoyer, House majority leader, and Eliot Engel, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a joint statement.

The State Department said the ambassador’s rotation had ended after three years. But Yovanovitch’s removal left the US without an official representative in Ukraine at a critical juncture: A new administration was taking office following the country’s April elections.


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Nurphoto / Getty Images
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy
By the spring of 2019, Parnas and Fruman’s efforts to curry favor with the authorities in Ukraine had hit a stumbling block. The president was ousted by the new administration of Volodymyr Zelensky — a comedian and political novice who rode a wave of anti-corruption fervor to sweep the board in the elections that April. They needed to find a way to reach Zelensky, and they set their sights on the Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky.

The 56-year-old billionaire was not just a major supporter of Zelensky’s. He owned the television channel that had broadcast the comedy shows in which the newcomer had once played the part of the president of Ukraine, which had made him a household name.

Parnas and Fruman jetted to Israel in late April to meet Kolomoisky, who was living in self-exile after the previous administration took over a bank he founded amid accusations of fraudulent loans and money laundering. (Kolomoisky has vehemently denied the allegations.)

The meeting went badly.

In an interview, Kolomoisky said he was led to believe Parnas and Fruman wanted to talk about their new export business. Instead, he said, they pushed to meet with Zelensky. “I told them I am not going to be a middleman in anybody’s meetings with Zelensky,” he said to reporters for BuzzFeed News and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. “I am not going to organize any meetings. Not for them, not for anybody else. They tried to say something like, ‘Hey, we are serious people here. Giuliani. Trump.’ They started throwing names at me.”


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Valentyn Ogirenko / Reuters
Igor Kolomoisky
Kolomoisky called Parnas and Fruman “fraudsters” in an interview shortly after the meeting. Soon after, a lawyer for the two men filed a claim for damages and told police in Kiev that the oligarch had threatened their lives.

“It was a threat that we took seriously,” said Parnas.

Giuliani jumped into the dispute, denouncing Kolomoisky in Tweets as a “notorious oligarch” who “must be held accountable for threats.”

Kolomoisky said he did not threaten their lives and that he was in the process of filing a court response to fight their claim. “They have an opportunity to say there was a misunderstanding,” he said. “They misinformed their lawyer about the threats."

But the men continued their mission. In May, they flew to Paris, where they joined Guiliani in talks with Kholodnytsky, the prosecutor who had been caught sharing investigative records with suspects. The prosecutor refused to say what he discussed with Giuliani when contacted by BuzzFeed News.


But Parnas said they managed to extract a key promise from him: If they needed someone to testify about the black ledger and the efforts to damage the Trump campaign, he would do so.

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Screenshots via Facebook
Parnas meets with various Republican representatives
While they met with prosecutors abroad, the men faced challenges at home that threatened to place their activities under scrutiny and derail their efforts to help the Trump campaign.

It began with a court judgment against Parnas in a case brought by an investor in a Hollywood movie that was never produced. The backer had invested $350,000 in the film, which was promoted by Parnas, and now he was alleging fraud and demanding his money back.

Parnas was forced to turn over bank records that showed a company he owned had received a payment of $1.26 million from the client trust account of a lawyer specializing in real estate and foreign investments — and records further showed that he and Fruman then tapped into that money to give $325,000 to the super PAC supporting Trump candidates, America First Action, without disclosing its source in their filings.

The contribution prompted a campaign watchdog to file a complaint in 2018 alleging irregularities, while the investor’s lawyer began questioning where the money came from. “I have never seen anything like this,” said Tony Andre, a Miami-Dade attorney who represents the investor in the movie deal. “Someone takes a half million dollars from you and he’s hanging with the president and the president’s lawyer. In 12 years, I’ve never gone after anyone who is so tied to the president of the United States.”


Andre filed a series of demands with the court, including questions over whether the men were working on behalf of Giuliani or Trump. Those queries, he said, have yet to be answered.

Parnas said the money was from a Florida real estate deal involving Fruman and that neither he nor his partner received any favors from Trump or Giuliani. “It was our money,” he said.

As far as Trump, Parnas said he has met with the president multiple times, in Washington and at Mar-a-Lago, but refused to say what they discussed.

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Screenshots via Facebook
Parnas with Trump at the White House
He promoted his business, Global Energy Producers, to some US lawmakers last year, he said, including Pete Sessions, but he did not ask for anything from them.


Sessions, who received $2,700 each from both partners, said he recalled talking to them about their native country. “They are Republicans. They have a strong interest in America not backing away from Ukraine,” said Sessions, who was defeated for reelection in November.

The Campaign Legal Center, the watchdog group challenging the contribution to America First Action PAC, said it sent its complaint to the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice to review for civil and criminal violations.

Records show the money that funded the contribution was from the gas export business the two men had created just weeks earlier.

“It was not the true donor,” said Brendan Fischer, an attorney for the Campaign Legal Center. “We still don’t know where the money actually came from.” The FEC has yet to rule in the case.

In addition to the large contribution to the super PAC, both men individually gave money to candidates, with Fruman the biggest donor: $226,300 to GOP candidates and organizations like the House Majority Trust, records show.

Parnas said the contributions were designed to get the attention of key lawmakers at a time he and Fruman were launching their gas export business. “We’ve got a business. We just want to get recognized,” he said. Both men continue to push for business in Ukraine, as well as more information from leaders in Kiev.

The new administration in Ukraine has so far proved unreceptive to their overtures. Giuliani announced angrily that he was calling off his planned trip to Kiev in May because he had learned of “enemies” of Trump on Zelensky’s team. But Parnas is confident the fruits of their work will come to the fore in the presidential campaign.


“Barr is going to get to the bottom of it,” he said. “So many people did so many bad things. And I don’t think it matters whether you support the president or not. I think it’s going to be a surprise to a lot of the American public, how explosive it’s going to be.”
https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/mi ... gc#4ldqpgc


Meet the Florida Duo Helping Giuliani Investigate for Trump in Ukraine
by Aubrey Belford and Veronika Melkozerova 22 July 2019
Credit: Edin Pasovic/OCCRP
Two Soviet-born Florida businessmen — one linked to a Ukrainian tycoon with reputed mafia ties — are key hidden actors behind a plan by U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s personal attorney to investigate the president’s rivals.

Trump’s attorney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said in May that he planned to visit then-incoming Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to win support for probes into potentially damaging claims raised by senior Ukrainian officials.

Among them was the misleading contention that Trump’s main 2020 Democratic rival, Joe Biden, improperly pressured Ukraine’s government to fire a top prosecutor; that American diplomats in Ukraine had exhibited pro-Democrat bias; and that local officials conspired to undermine Trump’s presidential campaign and help Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Giuliani set off a firestorm in the conservative media by promoting the allegations.

“We’re not meddling in an election; we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,” he told the New York Times.

The claims he was pressing have since largely been debunked, but remain politically potent as the next U.S. elections approach.
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Igor Fruman with U.S. President Donald J. Trump. Credit: Campaign Legal Center
Within days of announcing the planned trip to Ukraine, Giuliani called it off amid a storm of criticism that he was inappropriately interfering in U.S. relations with a foreign country. His efforts in Ukraine, however, have continued.

At the center of Giuliani’s back-channel diplomacy are the two businessmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who Giuliani has publicly identified as his clients.

Until now, the men have escaped detailed scrutiny. But a joint investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and BuzzFeed News, based on interviews and court and business records in the United States and Ukraine, has uncovered new information that raises questions about their influence on U.S. political figures.

Both men were born in the Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States. Parnas came with his family at the age of four. Fruman first arrived as a young adult in the 1980s, but later moved to Ukraine and established a series of businesses. Both now live in South Florida.

Since late 2018, the men have introduced Giuliani to three current and former senior Ukrainian prosecutors to discuss the politically damaging information.

The effort has involved meetings in at least five countries, stretching from Washington, D.C. to the Israeli office of a Ukrainian oligarch accused of a multi-billion dollar fraud, and to the halls of the French Senate.

Parnas and Fruman’s work with Giuliani has been just one facet of their political activity.


Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0
Since early last year, the men have emerged from obscurity to become major donors to Republican campaigns in the United States. They have collectively contributed over half a million dollars to candidates and outside campaign groups, the lion’s share in a single transaction that an independent watchdog has flagged as a potential violation of electoral funding law.

The men appear to enjoy a measure of access to influential figures. They’ve dined with Trump, had a “power breakfast” with his son Donald Jr., met with U.S. congressmen, and mixed with Republican elites.

Months before their earliest known work with Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman also lobbied at least one congressman — former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican — to call for the dismissal of the United States’ ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. She stepped down a year later after allegations in the conservative media that she had been disloyal to Trump.

While setting up meetings for Giuliani with Ukrainian officials, the men also promoted a business plan of their own: Selling American liquefied natural gas to Ukraine to replace Russian imports disrupted by war.

In a series of interviews, Parnas said he and Fruman weren’t paid by anyone for their work in Ukraine and that he and his partner have done nothing illegal.
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Parnas and Fruman meet with the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and Republican fundraiser Tommy Hicks Jr. in Beverly Hills in May 2018. Credit: Deleted Facebook post
“All we were doing was passing along information,” he said. “Information coming to us — either I bury it or I pass it on. I felt it was my duty to pass it on.”

He said their political activities were motivated by sincere conviction that they had uncovered wrongdoing that should be investigated.

“We’re American citizens, we love our country, we love our president,”he said.

The men make for unlikely back-channel diplomats. Parnas, 47, is a former stockbroker with a history of unpaid debts, including half a million dollars owed to a Hollywood movie investor. Fruman, 53, has spent much of his career in Ukraine, and has ties to a powerful local businessman reputed to be in the inner circle of one of the country’s most infamous mafia groups.

Giuliani and Fruman didn’t respond to multiple requests for interviews or to written questions. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Kenneth McCallion, an ex-federal prosecutor who has represented former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko in U.S. court, said that Parnas and Fruman were “playing with fire” by lobbying in the United States and Ukraine without registering as foreign agents.

“Trump has either authorized Giuliani to engage in private diplomacy and deal-making, or even worse, remains silent while Giuliani and his dodgy band of soldiers of fortune engage in activities that severely undermine U.S. credibility and are contrary to fundamental U.S. interests,” McCallion said.

‘It Opened Giuliani’s Eyes’

Parnas and Fruman’s work with Giuliani has largely centered on efforts to connect the president’s personal attorney with current and former senior Ukrainian prosecutors believed to hold information harmful to Trump’s rivals.

In late 2018, Parnas and Fruman organized a Skype call between Giuliani and Viktor Shokin, who served as Ukraine’s prosecutor general until he was dismissed by parliament in 2016 amid allegations he was blocking anti-corruption efforts.

Parnas and Giuliani visited the French Senate building, where Giuliani attended a meeting that included Nazar Kholodnitsky, the head of Ukraine’s Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, according to social media posts and interviews. (Kholodnitsky has faced calls to step down after wiretaps in his office last year allegedly caught him interfering in corruption cases.)

By the new year, Parnas said, he and Fruman had also connected Giuliani with Shokin’s replacement as top prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko. The Ukrainian official and Giuliani met in New York in January and again in Warsaw the following month.

“[Lutsenko] brought documentation, verification. It opened Giuliani’s eyes,” Parnas said.

“The Weather and General Issues”

On May 21, following President Zelensky’s inauguration, Giuliani joined Parnas for another discussion that Parnas said included allegations of pro-Clinton interference by Ukrainian officials.

Parnas and Giulani visited the French Senate building, where Giuliani attended a meeting that included Nazar Kholodnitsky, the head of Ukraine’s Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, according to social media posts and interviews. (Kholodnitsky has faced calls to step down after wiretaps in his office last year allegedly caught him interfering in corruption cases.)

Kholodnitsky said his encounter with Giuliani was “probably a coincidence.”

“I recognized his face, but I couldn’t identify who he was [at first],” Kholodnitsky said. “To communicate with such a person about the weather and general issues was an honor for me.”

Show
Shortly after their February meeting in Poland, both Lutsenko and Giuliani began airing a series of allegations in the U.S. media.

In March and April, the online publication The Hill published a series of opinion pieces largely based on an interview with Lutsenko. The articles relayed the allegations about the Bidens, and went further.

Lutsenko also claimed that officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv had worked with Ukrainian law enforcement to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election by coordinating the disclosure of the so-called “black ledger,” a document that appeared to detail millions of dollars in secret payments from Ukraine’s former ruling party to Paul Manafort, then Trump’s campaign manager. Some of those payments were later verified to be real.

The revelation of the black ledger in 2016 contributed to Manafort’s resignation from the Trump campaign, and helped lead to his prosecution and conviction by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Since then, prominent Trump supporters have used allegations that the ledger’s disclosure was motivated by anti-Trump bias to cast doubt on the origins of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
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Ukrainian General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko. Credit: Vadim Chuprina, Creative Commons
Lutsenko also told The Hill that Yovanovitch, who was still the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, had handed him a “do not prosecute” list at their first meeting. The Hill characterized the claim as evidence that Yovanovitch was favoring Democrats in the middle of a presidential election because the purported list contained the names of supposed Democrat allies in Ukraine’s parliament and civil society groups.

The State Department has forcefully rejected the claims. In a statement, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv told reporters: “The allegation of a ‘do not prosecute’ list is an outright fabrication. Such allegations only help the corrupt.”

Still, the allegations caught like wildfire in U.S. conservative media, and were amplified by Giuliani in a series of interviews with cable news and newspapers.

Trump called claims that Ukrainian officials had helped Clinton’s candidacy “big” and “incredible” in an April interview with Fox News, and said that he would leave it to Attorney General William Barr to decide whether to look into them. Barr announced a probe into the origins of the Mueller investigation — in which Manafort’s Ukrainian work became a focus — the following month.

Parnas said he expected all the information he and Fruman had helped advance to become an important part of Barr’s inquiry, and that it would dominate the debate in the run-up to the 2020 election.

“It’s all going to come out,” he said. “Something terrible happened and we’re finally going to get to the bottom of it.”

Debunked But Not Dead

Experts have largely dismissed most of the allegations raised by the prosecutors and relayed by Giuliani as being at best unfounded, and at worst deliberate disinformation.

Both Shokin and Lutsenko are widely viewed among Ukrainian reformers as lacking credibility, and civil society groups have accused them of covering for suspects in major corruption cases.

Joe Biden had indeed pushed for Shokin’s dismissal, threatening that the U.S. would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees if he remained.

“I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Biden recounted in a 2018 speech at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.”

However, Biden was not alone in his disdain for Shokin. The former top prosecutor was dismissed by parliament after a chorus of criticism by European diplomats and international organizations, and even street protests calling for his resignation.

Local anti-corruption activists had become convinced Shokin was quashing investigations into Burisma’s owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, and other oligarchs, said Daria Kaleniuk, the director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center, a Ukrainian transparency group.

“Shokin was not dismissed because he wanted to investigate Burisma,” Kaleniuk said. “Quite the contrary. He was dismissed because of a lack of willingness to investigate this particular case as well as other important cases involving high-level associates of [ousted former President Viktor] Yanukovych.”

As for Lutsenko, Kaleniuk said his claims were likely motivated by a desire to hold on to his job as top prosecutor with the incoming Zelensky administration, as well as to find friends in the United States government, where he has long been viewed as toxic.

“He wanted to become a person with whom people in the United States wanted to talk, and then probably he found Giuliani and found a sexy story that fit into the Giuliani agenda,” Kaleniuk said.

Hunter Biden’s work for Burisma, however, still raises eyebrows in Ukraine. The younger Biden’s paid tenure on Burisma’s board came at a time the company and its owner faced multiple corruption investigations. He was likely hired simply to impart his famous last name, Kaleniuk said.

“I think [working for Burisma] was wrong from an ethical point of view,” she said.

In a statement, Hunter Biden defended his previous position on Burisma’s board, saying he worked to help reform the company’s “practices of transparency, corporate governance and responsibility.”

“At no time have I discussed with my father the company’s business, or my board service. Any suggestion to the contrary is just plain wrong,” Biden said.

There is also no known documentary evidence that U.S. officials had worked with Ukrainians to release the black ledger.

Though Giuliani’s visit was canceled and many of his claims debunked, the allegations emerging from Ukraine remain very much alive in the lead-up to the 2020 U.S. election.

The accusation that Yovanovitch had exhibited political bias was reported to be behind her stepping down as ambassador in May.

Lutsenko and Shokin did not respond to requests for interviews. Reporters were unable to reach Yovanovitch.

From the Black Sea to Boca

The previous business dealings of both Parnas and Fruman raise serious concerns about their newfound access to senior American political figures.

A resident of upscale Boca Raton, Parnas once ran an electronics business that was successfully sued for its role in a fraudulent penny stock promotion scheme. He has also worked for three brokerages that later lost their licenses for fraud and other violations. He has never been personally charged.

Court records also show that judges have awarded a series of default judgements against Parnas for multiple unpaid debts. These include over $500,000 he owes to an investor in a Hollywood movie that he had promoted but was never made. He has also been sued a dozen times over the last decade for failing to pay rent on various Palm Beach County properties and has been evicted from two homes.

Fruman’s backstory is even more colorful.

The Ukrainian city of Odesa is a center of both tourism and organized crime. Credit: Aubrey Belford

His network of businesses extends from the United States to the city of Odesa, a Ukrainian Black Sea port notorious for corruption and organized crime.

Reporters found that Fruman has personal ties to a powerful local: Volodymyr “The Lightbulb” Galanternik, a shadowy businessman commonly referred to as the “Grey Cardinal” of Odesa.

Galanternik is described by local media and activists as a close associate of Gennadiy Trukhanov, the mayor of Odesa who was shown in the late 1990s to be a senior member of a feared organized criminal group involved in fuel smuggling and weapons trading.

Galanternik also owns a luxury apartment in the same London building as the daughter of another leader in the gang, Aleksander “The Angel” Angert, OCCRP has previously reported.

Vitaly Ustymenko, a local civic activist, describes Galanternik as an overseer of the clique’s economic domination of the city.

“[Galanternik] is not ‘one of the’ — he is actually the most powerful guy in Odesa, and maybe in the region,” Ustymenko said.
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investigations/Galanternik-Fruman-Miami.jpg
New Year's 2016 in Florida. From left: Yelyzaveta Naumova, Natasha Zinko, Volodymyr Galanternik, Igor Fruman. Credit: Instagram
Fruman’s recent ex-wife, Yelyzaveta Naumova, is the self-declared best friend of Galanternik’s wife, Natasha Zinko, according to her Instagram posts. Galanternik and Zinko also celebrated the New Year in 2016 with the Frumans in South Florida, according to a photo posted online by an acquaintance of Fruman.

Galanternik’s name is seldom tied directly to his businesses. Instead he operates via a network of offshore companies and trusted proxy individuals. But there are signs that either Fruman or his long-standing local partner, Serhiy Dyablo, may have a business relationship with Galanternik via two Odesa firms (see box).

Fruman’s Odesa Ties

Ukrainian records show what appears to be overlap between the web of businesses belonging to Fruman and his partner Dyablo and Galanternik’s empire.

Companies linked to Fruman include a New York-registered business, F.D. Import & Export. In Ukraine, Fruman jointly established a series of companies with Dyablo. Largely grouped under the brand name Otrada, the companies include a hotel, apartment buildings, a series of luxury boutiques, and a beach club on Odesa’s shoreline called “Mafia Rave.” Fruman is listed on Otrada Luxury Group’s website as its president and CEO.Fruman, Dyablo, and F.D. Import & Export previously held controlling stakes in many of these companies, but local registry documents show those holdings are mostly now under the ownership of Fruman’s ex-wife Naumova, Dyablo’s wife Inna, and a 74-year-old woman, Lyudmila Kalmykova.

Kalmykova appears to be a proxy shareholder. A reporter who visited several of the Otrada businesses found that employees had never heard of her, instead identifying Dyablo as their boss. Her relationship with the other shareholders is unknown, although members of Dyablo’s family are among her relatively low number of Facebook friends.

On paper, Kalmykova is in business with two long-standing business partners of Galanternik.

The two Galanternik partners are co-owners, along with Kalmykova, of a warehousing company on the outskirts of Odesa. One of those partners is also a co-owner, along with Kalmykova and another person, of a property development company that is registered in the same Odesa building as several of Fruman and Dyablo’s companies. That company began winding up in early July.

Reporters were unable to reach Kalmykova for comment.

Show
In an interview, Parnas said that Fruman and Galanternik knew each other through their wives, but said there were no business connections between the two men.

Galanternik and Fruman did not respond to written questions. Neither Dyablo nor Naumova responded to multiple requests for interviews.


Image

Igor Fruman (in black) and Lev Parnas (in blue) meet at the Kyiv Hilton on May 17, 2019. Credit: Aubrey Belford
“Where is the money coming from?”

Parnas and Fruman’s work with Giuliani was just one part of a broader foray into U.S. politics.

In 2018, the men made hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to Republican causes while enjoying VIP access to party and Trump administration circles.

Filings with the U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC) show that Fruman and Parnas spread their money widely.

Fruman kicked off the effort on Feb. 20, giving $2,700 each to two pro-Trump groups, Trump Victory and Donald J. Trump for President.

Less than two weeks later, Fruman and Parnas attended a fundraiser for Trump’s re-election at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.

This was followed by a several-month-long spree of donations — of a total value of at least $576,500 — to campaigns including the successful 2018 Senate bid of former Florida governor Rick Scott, and the re-elections of Texas Representative Pete Sessions and South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson. All are Republicans.

The lion’s share of these donations, however, was just one $325,000 payment, made on May 17, 2018, to America First Action. The group is one of the largest pro-Trump Super Political Action Committees (commonly known as Super PACs), a kind of outside campaign organization that is allowed to raise unlimited funds in support of a candidate, but is barred from working directly with their campaign.

That payment was declared as coming from a Delaware company, Global Energy Producers LLC, set up by Fruman and Parnas just weeks before as part of their plan to sell gas to Ukraine.

The donation is subject to an ongoing complaint to the FEC by the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group, alleging the company is likely a shell intended to hide other donors.

Parnas said the complaint was unfounded. “We have a real business,” he said.

Parnas said the contributions were designed to get the attention of key lawmakers at a time he and Fruman were launching their gas export business. “We’ve got a business. We just want to get recognized,” he said.

However, Parnas and Fruman’s plans to sell American gas to Ukraine has so far not borne fruit. In response to inquiries, Naftogaz, Ukraine’s natural gas monopoly, said that Global Energy Producers has not participated in any tenders to sell gas to Ukraine and has concluded no contracts. The company’s website contains only a countdown timer that has already reached zero.

The donation ascribed to Global Energy Producers in fact came from the bank account of another company belonging to Parnas. Days earlier, that company had received a wire transfer of $1.26 million from the trust fund of a Florida lawyer who specializes in real estate, court records show.

Parnas said that money came from the sale of a Florida condominium, but did not provide documents to back up his claim.

Within months of Parnas and Fruman’s six-figure donations, and even as their work with Giuliani began, allegations emerged in a public lawsuit in Florida that they had jilted an early investor in their Ukraine gas venture.

Felix Vulis, the head of Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, a firm owned by a trio of Kazakhstani oligarchs, asserted that Parnas and Fruman had failed to repay a two-month $100,000 loan he had given to Global Energy Producers earlier in the year. The two men had boasted about their relationship with Guiliani and other influential figures while asking for the loan, according to the complaint.

Vulis has yet to be paid, according to his lawyer, Robert Stok.

The men said “they had all this influence,” Stok said. “They said Trump and his associates were going to back their company. That they had direct access to the White House.”

Tony Andre, a Florida lawyer who has been trying to collect the $500,000 movie deal judgement against Parnas, also expressed astonishment at what he sees as the businessman’s brazenness.

“Someone takes a half million dollars from you and he’s hanging with the president and the president’s lawyer,” Andre said.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “Where is the money coming from?”

Dinner with the President

Amid their donation spree, Parnas and Fruman took part in an impressive series of meetings with senior Republicans.

On or about May 1, 2018, while staying at the Trump International Hotel in the U.S. capital, both men had dinner with the president in a meeting documented by Parnas in a now-deleted Facebook post.
Image
investigations/Parnas-Trump.jpg
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman’s 2018 dinner with President Trump. Credit: Deleted Facebook post
Later that month, the two men had a “power breakfast” in Beverly Hills with Donald Trump Jr. and Tommy Hicks Jr., who has since become co-chair of the Republican National Committee, according to a now-deleted Facebook post by Parnas. At the time, Hicks was head of America First Action, which had received the men’s $325,000 donation in the same month.

Parnas also had meetings in May on Capitol Hill with several Republican congressmen.

Among them was Sessions, the Texas Republican, according to a now-deleted May 9 Facebook post by Parnas. In a meeting also attended by Fruman, the two men urged the dismissal of the United States’ ambassador in Kyiv, Marie Yovanovitch.

On the same day that Parnas posted pictures of the meeting, Sessions wrote a private letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling for Yovanovitch’s dismissal.

Parnas said he and Fruman told Sessions that Yovanovitch was disloyal to the president and questioned whether she should serve. “She was bad-mouthing our president about getting impeached,” said Parnas.

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Lev Parnas meeting with then-Texas Representative Pete Sessions in May 2018. Credit: Deleted Facebook post
Sessions, however, said he had been the one to bring up concerns about Yovanovitch with Parnas and Fruman, but that he could not remember when or where the discussion took place.

“I do know both these gentlemen,” Sessions said. “They are Republicans. They are people who have an interest in foreign affairs. They have a strong interest in America not backing away from Ukraine.”

The next month, Parnas and Fruman donated a total of $5,400 to Sessions’ unsuccessful 2018 re-election campaign, FEC records show.

Yovanovitch stepped down this May following a flurry of negative stories about her in the conservative media, which included the publication in The Hill of a leaked copy of Sessions’ letter. The press blitz also included frequent reference to Lutsenko’s inflammatory allegations against the ambassador.

The Yovanovitch Fallout

Ambassador Yovanovitch’s departure from Kyiv was politically charged.

According to the State Department, her rotation in Ukraine had simply ended. But Congressional Democrats and veterans of the diplomatic corps have said she had become a partisan target who was pulled from her job two months early.

The affair hurt the United States’ relationship with Ukraine, said Nina Jankowicz, a Global Fellow at the Kennan Institute.

"[Yovanovitch’s retirement] was a clear indication Trump was using Ukraine as a political football and that he wasn’t concerned about its democratic future,” Jankowicz said.

“To take the word of a corrupt foreign prosecutor general over a career diplomat — one who has served both Republicans and Democrats — is an affront to the Foreign Service and undermines the credibility of our diplomats everywhere.”

Show
Given Parnas and Fruman’s relationships with senior Ukrainian officials and their business interests in the country, their lobbying against a U.S. ambassador raises questions about their compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

The act requires Americans operating on behalf of a foreign entity in the United States to declare their work to the Department of Justice. Parnas and Fruman did not do so.

Their lobbying of Sessions raises “the thorniest red flag,” said Ron Oleynik, a Washington attorney who advises clients on FARA compliance. “That, to me, is clearly trying to influence an office of the United States toward Ukraine.”

Parnas, however, said they acted on their own accord.

“I just kept hearing [about Yovanovitch] from different people,” he said.

Introduction to an Oligarch

After setting up meetings between Giuliani and Ukrainian prosecutors, Parnas and Fruman set their sights on connecting with Ukraine’s new president, former television comic Zelensky.

As Zelensky stormed to a landslide victory in the April election, Parnas and Fruman flew to Israel to meet Ihor Kolomoisky, a Ukrainian oligarch who is alleged to have stolen $5.5 billion from the country’s largest private bank. Earlier that month, the Daily Beast reported that Kolomoisky, who is a key Zelensky backer, was under FBI investigation for financial crimes.
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investigations/Kolomoisky1.jpg
Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky. Credit: Valentyn Ogirenko, Reuters
Fruman and Parnas were introduced to the oligarch by Alexander Levin, another pro-Trump Ukrainian-American businessman, on the pretence that they wanted to talk about their plan to sell gas to Ukraine, Kolomoisky said in an interview.

However, once inside the meeting, the two men told Kolomoisky that they wanted his help getting in touch with Zelensky, in order to help set up a meeting between Giuliani and the president-elect.

Offended, Kolomoisky said, he then stormed out of the meeting.

“I told them I am not going to be a middleman in anybody’s meetings with Zelensky,” Kolomoisky said. “Not for them, not for anybody else. They tried to say something like, ‘Hey, we are serious people here. Giuliani. Trump.’ They started throwing names at me.”

In response to inquiries, Levin said of Parnas and Fruman: “I met these gentlemen for the first time in March of 2019. I have no information about what they have done in the past, or what they have done since they met with me. I plan no involvement with them in the future.”

“I broke no laws and any suggestion otherwise constitutes slander.”

Despite the debacle in Israel, Parnas and Fruman continued their efforts to connect Giuliani with Zelensky. By mid-May, in the lead-up to Zelensky’s inauguration, both men were in Kyiv, staying in the city’s Hilton as they set up appointments around town.

The official reason for Giuliani’s visit was to give a paid speech for American Friends of Anatevka, a New York-based charity run by Fruman that supports the reconstruction of a Jewish village outside of Kyiv that was the setting of the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” The meeting with Zelensky was intended to take place on the sidelines of the event.

Though Giuliani cancelled his trip, Parnas and Fruman managed to hold meetings with two figures close to Zelensky: Serhiy Shefir, who has since been appointed as an aide to the president, and Ivan Bakanov, now acting head of Ukraine’s secret police. The meetings failed to lead to a meeting between Giuliani and Zelensky.

The two men also held a meeting with Ukraine’s national gas monopoly, Naftogaz, in order to pitch their plan to sell liquified natural gas (LNG) to the country, company spokeswoman Aliona Osmolovska confirmed in response to reporters’ questions.

“Among other initiatives, we had meetings with a number of potential suppliers of LNG. In this context, we have been approached by Mr. Parnas and Mr. Furman [sic], and met them,” Osmolovska wrote.

While Parnas and Fruman were in Kyiv, Kolomoisky, who had just returned from years of exile abroad, gave an impromptu interview to a local media outlet where he denounced the men as “scammers” and said he would take them “into daylight soon.”

Giuliani responded quickly. In a series of tweets, he labeled Kolomoisky a “notorious oligarch.”

“This is real test for President [Zelensky],” Giuliani tweeted. “Will [Kolomoisky] be arrested?”

Parnas and Fruman responded by filing a criminal complaint with Ukrainian police, alleging that Kolomoisky had threatened their lives. They also lodged a defamation suit against the oligarch, their lawyer Alina Samarets said.

Giuliani personally joined at least one call to discuss the case, Samarets said.

Despite these setbacks, Parnas told reporters that his and Fruman’s work in Ukraine would continue.

“It’s all going to come out.”

Additional reporting by Anna Babinets, Dima Replianchuk, Elena Loginova, Vladimir Petin, Karina Shedrofsky and Ilya Lozovsky.
https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations ... in-ukraine
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby RocketMan » Wed Jul 24, 2019 2:19 pm

So now, Mueller testified.

Trump is now toast, done, kaputt, right?
-I don't like hoodlums.
-That's just a word, Marlowe. We have that kind of world. Two wars gave it to us and we are going to keep it.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jul 24, 2019 2:20 pm

nope

much more to come

emolument clause

deutsche bank

money laundering

campaign finance (individual 1) trump

Epstein

Flynn
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
User avatar
seemslikeadream
 
Posts: 32090
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:28 pm
Location: into the black
Blog: View Blog (83)

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

Postby RocketMan » Wed Jul 24, 2019 2:23 pm

Well, fine. But if the Democrats will not impeach, what's the point?

This is a list of The Guardian's key takeaways:

Trump was not exonerated.
Mueller and his team were never going to indict Trump.
Trump could be charged with a crime after leaving office.
Republicans focused on discrediting Mueller.
Mueller says he did not seek FBI director job.
Mueller confirms several episodes of possible obstruction.


Weak sauce. The Democrats are too invested in the overall stability of the system to truly challenge Trump's hold on the presidency.

They will roll out juicy tidbits and press releases, and hey, maybe Trump will SELF-IMPEACH like Pelosi says.
-I don't like hoodlums.
-That's just a word, Marlowe. We have that kind of world. Two wars gave it to us and we are going to keep it.
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RocketMan
 
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jul 24, 2019 2:24 pm

btw the hearing is not over yet

point is the Americans are TV watchers not readers


RocketMan

The Democrats are too invested in the overall stability of the system to truly challenge Trump's hold on the presidency.


NO
Some Americans understand the impeachment process

FYI Mitch Mcconnell presides over the senate ....enough said

Counterintelligence investigation is STILL on going

still waiting for trump's tax returns and all the people he is blocking from testifying to congress

even trump said he was fucked

THIS IS THE END OF MY PRESIDENCY. I'M F***ED
- trump May 17, 2017

fun to see that slide on the wall at the hearing

Where is Manafort trump's campaign manager sleeping tonight?


oh and ALL those Chinese spies at Mar a Lago :D

security clearances

Adam Schiff

Here’s what Mueller said:

Russia interfered in our election to help Trump.

Russians made numerous contacts with the campaign.

Campaign welcomed their help.

No one reported these contacts or interference to FBI.

They lied to cover it up.






also Roger Stone trial

Flynn breaks his cooperation agreement

Flynn's buddy just got convicted of 2 felonies going to jail for 15 years

GUILTY: Jury rules Michael Flynn’s former business partner is guilty of lobbying for Turkey
https://www.rawstory.com/2019/07/guilty ... or-turkey/


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Trump directs McGahn to remove the new special counsel: Volume II, page 4 of the Mueller report
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The only reason you didn't charge the president with obstruction is because OLC guidelines prevented you from doing so?

MUELLER: "Correct."

Can the president be prosecuted for obstruction when he leaves office?

MUELLER: "Yes."


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Mueller now tells Dem Rep Demings his investigation WAS impeded by lies/evasions from witnesses


Jeremy Schulman


Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) just claimed that the Steele dossier "started all this." That's not true, as @DavidCornDC explains https://www.motherjones.com/politics/20 ... mp-russia/

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https://twitter.com/DavidCornDC


Here’s the Bullshit That Republicans Are About to Throw at Mueller
Be prepared.



Robert MuellerCarolyn Kaster/AP
When special counsel Robert Mueller appears before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on Wednesday, he will, no doubt, be asked about the damning conclusions of his report: Russia engaged in a “sweeping and systematic” attack on the 2016 election; Donald Trump and his aides publicly denied the Russian intervention was occurring but privately sought to benefit from it; Trump, during the campaign, hid from the public his concurrent effort to score a project in Moscow that could reap him hundreds of millions of dollars; and, as president, Trump took steps to derail the Russia probe that could amount to obstruction of justice.

A simple factcheck: completely false.
But it is likely that many Republicans on the two committees will do all they can to distract from these core components of the Trump-Russia scandal and will press Mueller on a host of diversionary matters that they and their compatriots in the conservative media have been hyping for the past two years. Their goal is simple: Peddle Deep State conspiracy theories to discredit Mueller and to protect Trump. They don’t have to persuade Americans to achieve their aim; they merely have to turn the Mueller hearings into a circus with unfounded allegations and enraged rants—anything to impede Mueller from clearly conveying the overall message of his report: Russia targeted the 2016 election to help Trump, Trump encouraged and accepted that, and then he sought to stop the investigation.

At every turn in the Russia probe, Trump’s comrades on the right have tried to assist him by claiming the real scandal is the investigation itself and how it began. They assert that Trump has been the victim of a US government cabal that kicked off this inquiry to keep Trump out of office. They have tried mightily to delegitimize the investigation, accusing the supposed Deep State (which apparently includes me) of spying on Trump to do him in.

It’s a good bet that when Republicans get their turn at the microphone during the Mueller hearings, several will seize the moment to advance this propaganda. So here’s a partial guide to some of the crap you can expect to hear from them when Mueller appears before Congress.

The FISA warrant

If you’ve paid any attention to Fox News, you know that that the right-wing proponents of so called “Spygate” are obsessed with an application the FBI submitted in order to surveil Carter Page, a onetime foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. Such top-secret warrants are presented to a secret court under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the law requires the feds to provide a judge information that justifies the surveillance. Page was an energy consultant who had done business in Russia; back in 2013, Russian spies had tried to recruit him—and appeared to have failed.

Page eventually found his way into Trump’s small group of national security advisers. And in July 2016, Page, while a Trump campaign adviser, traveled to Moscow, having been invited to give a speech at a prestigious college. There he interacted with several Russian officials. He emailed the Trump campaign that he had gathered “incredible insights” from Russian legislators and senior members of Vladimir Putin’s office. (Mueller would later note in his report, “Page’s activities in Russia—as described in his emails with the [Trump campaign]—were not fully explained.”)

Page also appeared in the memos former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele wrote in 2016 for an opposition research firm working for the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. Steele alleged that Page was being used as a go-between connecting the Trump campaign and Moscow and had met with a top Russian energy official to discuss an arrangement under which Trump, if elected president, would lift sanctions on Russia and Page and his associates would get a piece of a major energy deal. (Those claims have not been proven.) And this is what has caused the fuss on the right: The FBI cited the Steele dossier in its FISA application for Page. Sean Hannity and others have expressed outrage over this and have charged that an unsubstantiated report paid for by Democrats was the basis for kicking off surveillance on Trump.

In fact, because a redacted version of FISA application was made public, per a Trump order, we know that the Steele memos were not the sole basis of the submission. Moreover, the FBI did not file this FISA request until October 21, 2016—about a month after Page left the Trump campaign. He was merely a private citizen at this point. (The request was granted—and subsequently renewed several times, under the authority of then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was appointed by Trump.)

Even if the FBI erred in citing the Steele memos to obtain a surveillance warrant for Page—and FISA warrant mistakes do deserve scrutiny—this is hardly evidence of an anti-Trump conspiracy within the intelligence community. There were reasons beyond the Steele memos for the bureau to be interested in Page. And Page represented a small slice of the Russia investigation that had already been underway for months. Also, submitting a FISA application two weeks before Election Day—and not leaking word of it—hardly seems the work of a Deep State desperate to squash Trump, who was still considered an underdog. Many of Trump’s most ardent defenders in the House have fixated on the Page FISA application and the Steele dossier and have attempted to whip up shock over this. But this hullabaloo is akin to fretting about a mouse when a bear is at the door. Which brings us to…

The Steele dossier and the investigation

Another component of the conspiracy theory championed by Trump and his handmaids on the right is that the Steele memos are responsible for the FBI’s Russia investigation that Mueller inherited after Trump fired FBI chief James Comey. In January, Trump tweeted, “Remember it was Buzzfeed that released the totally discredited ‘Dossier,’ paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the Democrats (as opposition research), on which the entire Russian probe is based!” A simple factcheck: completely false. Still, when Mueller testifies, Republicans may well bash away at the Steele memos as a stand-in for the Russia investigation itself, suggesting that these documents are somehow responsible for the probe. Their calculation: If you blast apart the memos, you undermine the basis for Mueller’s probe.

But the Steele memos did not trigger the Trump-Russia investigation. And one source for this is none other than Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who did all he could to hinder, if not wreck, that panel’s own Russia investigation. Remember when Nunes clumsily tried to back up Trump’s unfounded claim that President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump in his precious tower? In early 2018, Nunes’ staff produced a memo—later publicly released—that tried to make the case the FBI had improperly sought the FISA warrant for Page. Key elements of the memo were debunked. But it did include a nugget that undid much of the right’s conspiracy theorizing. The memo confirmed previous reporting and testimony: The FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation was triggered in late July 2016 when the bureau learned that George Papadopoulos, another Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, had earlier in the year been told by a Russian intermediary that Moscow had thousands of Clinton emails and might weaponize them during the campaign. (Steele did forward his memos, as he wrote them, to an FBI contact during the summer of 2016, but he did not begin seriously talking with the bureau until October of that year.)

Trump has tried repeatedly to tie the Russia investigation to the memos—which contain some outlandish allegations that have been challenged or disproven—to discredit the whole probe. The Steele dossier is a good foil for Trump, a convenient diversion. Focusing on it draws attention from his own actions, particularly how he and his campaign aided and abetted the Russian attack by denying it was happening and by privately interacting with Russian go-betweens (and sending at least an implicit signal to Moscow that the Trump campaign did not mind the Russian intervention). So GOP legislators will probably shoot at the Steele dossier in order to present their competing narrative.

Strzok and Page

Another favorite set of targets for Republicans looking to provide Trump cover are former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. The two, who were having a romantic affair, traded texts critical of Trump as they worked on the Russia investigation and the bureau’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of State. Trump and his crew have cited these texts as evidence that the FBI was out to get Trump from the start—and that the investigation was not begun in good faith.

Trump and his acolytes have brayed about a message Strzok sent to Page describing the Russia investigation as an “insurance policy,” claiming this meant the FBI was hellbent on blocking Trump from winning the White House or thwarting him if he did triumph. A much more benign interpretation seems likelier. As Strzok testified to Congress, some FBI officials advocated a go-slow probe of contacts between Trump’s camp and Russia, noting that Trump probably wouldn’t be elected, but Strzok wanted to move ahead with an aggressive counterintelligence investigation that would examine possible Russian efforts to infiltrate Trump’s inner circle in case Trump won the election. That was the “insurance policy.” He wanted the bureau to be ready on this front in what seemed the unlikely event of a Trump victory.

Still, during a congressional hearing a year ago, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) exploded at Strzok: “The disgrace is what this man has done to our justice system. There is the disgrace. And it won’t be recaptured anytime soon because of the damage you’ve done to the justice system. And I’ve talked to FBI agents around the country. You’ve embarrassed them. You’ve embarrassed yourself. And I can’t help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eye and lie to her about Lisa Page?” The exchange went viral.

Mueller did remove Strzok from the Russia investigation after he learned of the text messages, which did show a personal bias. But there is no indication that Strzok’s or Page’s antipathy toward Trump influenced the investigation. A Justice Department inspector general’s report concluded that their texts did “cast a cloud” over the FBI, but it added, “We found no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations; rather, we determined that they were based on the prosecutors’ assessment of the facts, the law, and past department practice.” Nevertheless, it will be rather surprising if Republicans at the Mueller hearings don’t reprise their attacks on Strzok and Page to draw fire away from Trump.

The big picture

Strzok and Page are only a piece of the uber-conspiracy theory cheered by Trump and his followers. The bottom line of their narrative is this: The FBI, as part of a grand plot, schemed to stop Trump from becoming president, and then, once he was in the White House, attempted to take him out. And the Russia investigation was the main tool for this job.

But…this doesn’t make sense. During the summer and fall of 2016, the FBI knew it was investigating the Russian attack and possible connections between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Did it reveal or leak this information to harm Trump? Not at all. It did the opposite. During an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee on September 28, 2016, Comey was asked repeatedly by Democrats if the bureau was examining links between the Trump campaign and Russia. He stuck to the rulebook and refused to answer the question. Perhaps more important, when the New York Times weeks later was investigating this subject, FBI sources told the paper’s reporters that it had found no ties between Trump and the Russian government. This is not what a Deep State conspiracy to smash Trump would have done. (Meanwhile, Comey revived the Clinton email server controversy in the final stretch of the campaign—a move that damaged Clinton and possibly resulted in Trump’s victory. Another Deep State oops?)

The FBI did not turn its Russia investigation into ammunition against Trump during the campaign. Nor did it do so after the election. It was not the FBI that leaked the Steele dossier—which contained lurid, unsubstantiated allegations about Trump cavorting with prostitutes in Moscow—to Buzzfeed, which posted the memos in early 2017. It was a John McCain aide—and he was horrified when the memos were made public. And shortly before Trump moved into the White House, Comey tried to give the president-to-be a head’s up about the dossier and its salacious contents. There is one inescapable conclusion: If there was a Deep State plotting against Trump, it did a damn poor job.

All of the above may be far too many weeds for the average viewer who tunes into the Mueller hearings. But for the past two years, the Trumpsters have tried conjuring all of this and more (I left out other mind-numbing details) into an alternative reality. A reality in which the Russian attack barely figures and doesn’t matter, in which Trump’s lies about his actions in Russia and his denials and dismissals of the Moscow assault do not exist. The endgame is not persuading America that their bizarre and untrue reality is what actually happened; it’s providing a counter to the damning (for Trump) reality that did transpire. Trump, Fox News, and the rest are purposefully breeding confusion and muddying up what truly is the most significant political scandal in modern American history.

Mueller’s report, though, presents a clear and basic view of what occurred. If his facts cannot be challenged, the Republicans will have to try to impeach his investigation, his people, and perhaps even Mueller himself. And if they cannot do that, the next best thing is to create a mess, make each of the two Mueller hearings a chaotic ruckus with plenty of theatrics, shouting, and conspiratorial charges. The cult of Trump has no choice. He is president in part because of the Russian attack. Worse, he encouraged it and helped Moscow cover it up. He then attempted to block the investigation. Neither Trump nor his supporters can admit this without undercutting his legitimacy. Any serious recognition, consideration, and acceptance of Mueller’s finding is a threat to Trump and his tribe. They need a different script—even if it’s fake.


https://www.motherjones.com/politics/20 ... mp-russia/



UNDER OATH
Mueller to Congress: Trump Could Be Charged With a Crime After He Leaves Office

The former special counsel also said that his Russia investigation did not exonerate the president.
Betsy Woodruff
Political Reporter
Sam Brodey
Congressional Reporter
Updated 07.24.19 11:40AM ET / Published 07.24.19 9:00AM ET

Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast/Photo by Saul Loeb/Getty
Special Counsel Robert Mueller told Congress on Wednesday that he did not exonerate President Trump and that he could, in fact, be indicted after he leaves office.

In a curt exchange with Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck, the former special counsel said the Justice Department’s legal rules don’t shield Trump from criminal charges after he’s out of the White House.

“Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?” Buck asked.

“Yes,” Mueller replied.

“You believe that he committed–you could charge the president of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?” Buck asked.

“Yes,” Mueller replied.

Committee Democrats, including Rep. Jamie Raskin, nodded excitedly through the exchange—the closest Mueller came to explaining the significance of his refusal to exonerate the president in his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction by the White House. It followed a similar, shorter exchange earlier with the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler.

Volume 90%

Earlier in his testimony, under questioning from Nadler, Mueller torpedoed two of Trump’s favorite lines.

Nadler asked Mueller if it was true that his report did not clear the president of obstruction of justice. Mueller answered, “Correct—it is not what the report said.”

“What about total exoneration?” Nadler asked, referring to a phrase the president has tweeted many times. “Did you actually totally exonerate the president?”

“No,” Mueller replied.

He also confirmed that Trump refused to sit for an interview with his team.


Republicans Rush to Frame Mueller as Old and Confused

"Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller is sworn in during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee June 13, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Mueller testified on the oversight of the FBI."
Robert Mueller’s Testimony Postponed to July 24

Mueller to Testify on Russia Probe Before Congress
In the first of back-to-back hearings, Mueller spoke slowly, and his speech was sometimes halting. In one back-and-forth, he had to ask the fast-talking Georgia Republican Rep. Doug Collins to repeat himself multiple times. He consulted the report throughout questioning, often pausing to scrutinize the book-length document.

In his exchange with Collins, he struggled to explain how his report distinguished between conspiracy and collusion. And at one point, he called the president “Trimp” instead of “Trump”––a verbal slip-up that damaged what could have been a valuable video clip for Democrats.

In one tense and awkward moment, Mueller opted not to defend himself against. Rep. Louie Gohmert. A famously bombastic Republican from Texas, Gohmert laid into Mueller over his handling of the anti-Trump texts one of his investigators, Peter Strzok, sent to another FBI employee with whom he was having an affair. Gohmert, raising his voice, told Mueller he had “perpetuated injustice.” Then Gohmert’s time ran out, and Nadler told Mueller he could reply to the incendiary accusations. But he didn’t.

“I take your question,” Mueller said, and left it at that.


One new tidbit of information came out in Gohmert’s questioning, though: Mueller said that when he met with Trump in early 2017 about his search for a new FBI director, he was not a candidate for the position. Trump has long maintained—and tweeted during the hearing—that Mueller tried to get the job and resented Trump for not hiring him.

In moment after moment throughout the hearing, Mueller refused to throw political bones to Democrats. A striking instance came when Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a member of House Democratic leadership, pressed him on whether or not the president could be charged with obstruction of justice.

“Those are the elements of obstruction of justice,” Jeffries said, after describing how Trump ordered the White House Counsel to fire Mueller. “This is the United States of America. No one is above the law. No one. The president must be held accountable one way or the other.”

Mueller didn’t buy it––sort of.

“Let me just say, if I might, I don't subscribe necessarily to your––to the way you analyze that, I'm not supportive of that analytical charge,” he said, without elaborating.

Mueller also refused to read aloud from his report, another disappointment to Democrats who had hoped such moments could create viral video clips. When Rep. Ted Lieu, a firebrand California Democrat, asked him to do so, he refused.

“I’m happy to have you read it,” Mueller said with a smile.

Even before the first hearing began, the atmosphere in 2141 Rayburn on Wednesday morning matched the immense hype. Perennially late lawmakers were in their seats long before Mueller arrived in the room, chatting, joking, and in at least one case, literally biting their nails.

One of Mueller’s chief antagonists—Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the chairman of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, who does not sit on the committees that would question Mueller—sauntered into the room and took a seat in the audience, just a few feet behind the former special counsel.

While other GOP lawmakers tried and failed to get a seat in the room, Capitol Hill interns and members of the public waited overnight, sleeping in the marble hallways of Rayburn to make sure they snagged one. One seat opened up quickly when a man with his hair in a bun and a checkered keffiyeh started shouting about encrypted messages and Trump Tower Moscow as soon as Mueller entered; he was immediately escorted out by police.

As she walked into a room packed full of lawmakers, press, and cameras, Rep. Debbie Lesko, a freshman Republican from Arizona, succinctly summed up the vibe.

“This,” she said, “is a bit insane.”


The Capitol Hill doubleheader is the culmination, and all-but-certain conclusion, of Mueller’s work as special counsel—a job that started more than two years ago at a moment of extraordinary national tumult.

After the Intelligence Community released an assessment in January of 2017 that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election to try to help Trump win, then-FBI Director James Comey revealed the bureau was scrutinizing Trump World’s Russia ties. The disclosure enraged Trump, who then fired Comey, sending the Justice Department into emergency mode.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions had already recused himself from the Russia probe because of his role on Trump’s campaign. So Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was supervising the probe, named Mueller as special counsel and directed him to take it over. Mueller soon assembled a team of prosecutors and investigators to comb through all things 2016.

Naturally, controversy ensued. Republicans pointed to the fact that some members of Mueller’s team had donated to Democratic campaigns, and to the controversial career of Andrew Weissmann, a top Mueller deputy. And Congressional committees opened parallel probes, questioning witnesses, subpoenaing documents, and swimming in their own seas of controversy.

Over the next two years, Mueller plowed away. He questioned hundreds of witnesses and issued thousands of subpoenas. By the time he called it quits, his team had indicted more than 30 people and secured a host of guilty pleas, including from the president’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and from George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign. Longtime Republican operative Roger Stone is facing charges. And Paul Manafort, Stone’s former business partner and Trump’s former campaign chief, is serving a four-year sentence for crimes committed before the election season.


Mueller also charged a host of Russian nationals with breaking laws to influence the election. He zeroed in on the Internet Research Agency, a government-backed troll farm whose workers impersonated Americans to spread incendiary viral content via Facebook and Twitter. The trolls even organized real-life political rallies in the U.S., according to the report Mueller would later release.

The special counsel also farmed out a host of cases to different U.S. attorney’s offices, including a probe of the president’s inaugural committee.

After concluding his investigation, Mueller submitted a report on his work to Attorney General Bill Barr. Barr then released a brief letter downplaying its contents, which Mueller privately blamed for spreading “public confusion.” Members of Congress demanded the report’s immediate release, but it was several weeks before Barr, after putting it through a rigorous legal review, made it public—minus some redactions. But before the report dropped, he gave an unusual press conference that was widely viewed as an effort to spin the document in the most favorable way for the administration.

“President Trump faced an unprecedented situation,” Barr said at the press conference, appearing to defend Trump’s efforts to shutter Mueller’s probe. “As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as President, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the President’s personal culpability. Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion.”

The report detailed a host of contacts between Russian nationals and the Trump campaign, as well as efforts by third parties (including Washington think tanker Dmitri Simes) to set up talks. Mueller found no evidence that denizens of Trump World conspired with the Russians who interfered in the election. He left the door open, however, to the possibility that Trump broke the law by obstructing justice. And his report detailed a host of steps Trump took to interfere with Mueller’s work, including multiple efforts to get subordinates to fire the Special Counsel.

Despite those moves, Mueller did not charge Trump with a crime. Explaining his decision, he pointed to a Justice Department legal finding that concluded prosecutors cannot charge sitting presidents with a crime.

“[I]f we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said in his only public statement on the probe, at a question-free press conference.

“We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”

The subtext: The ball is in Congress’s court. And now, in the witness seat, Mueller is there, too.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/mueller-t ... ref=scroll



emptywheel


Adam Schiff spends a lot more time on TV than Jerry Nadler and it shows. He has sober face nailed perfectly.

"That disloyalty may not have been criminal ... did not establish conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt."

"his lifelong ambition, a Trump Tower in the heart of Moscow."

Welp. If Mueller isn't giving soundbite Adam Schiff will.

"Worse than all the lies and the greed, but the disloyalty to country."

"'Why not, everyone does it.' No, Mr President. They don't."

Nunes claims the Steele memo said Trump was a Russian agent. Two points:

1) No, it didn't.

2) The Mueller Report POINTEDLY did not address whether he was or not.

3) Mueller already testified today that blackmail was a real concern.

Okay--three points.

Nunes just misstated what Ohr's role is.

He also portrayed Alexander Downer as something other than Five Eyes intelligence.

https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1 ... 7235254273



For context, Fusion GPS was originally hired by Republicans opposing Trump in the primary. Also, Nunes knows full well that the Steele dossier was not the basis of the Fisa warrants. The lies start early and often



NEW: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr broke with fellow Republican Devin Nunes on Tuesday, saying there were "sound reasons" for judges to approve the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant on Carter Page.
https://cnn.it/2A8ayIE
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby Grizzly » Wed Jul 24, 2019 6:30 pm

Interesting comment to follow...


"Among the incidental damage of this farcical reprise of McCarthyite history was Emptywheel-Marci Wheeler, who must have known better but evidently believed that the Democrats would win this one and be distributing spoils galore.
A pity because, in her time, before 2016 Marci did much constructive work, now all wasted away. Most of the partisan Democrats who have felt obliged to pay lip service to this nonsense-including Bernie who must have known better- have damaged their credibility significantly. And they didn't have an abundance of credibility to draw on.
So we can expect the stupidity to continue: too many people have too much political capital invested in Russiagate not to keep selling this combination of a mirage and Brooklyn Bridge to the fan club.
I'm beginning to think that Julian Assange won't be extradited for the same reason as the Internet Research Agency of St Petersburg is not being charged: even the corrupt US court system cannot completely guarantee that Julian will not say something very interesting about the matter. And come up with irrefutable proof that it is true."
If Barthes can forgive me, “What the public wants is the image of passion Justice, not passion Justice itself.”
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:18 pm

link? I want to know who does not know what he is talking about

Internet Research Agency of St Petersburg is not being charged:


ok found it

Posted by: bevin | Jul 24 2019 20:03 utc | 25
https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/07/r ... crats.html



The Russia Investigations: Mueller Indicts The 'Internet Research Agency'
February 17, 20187:00 AM ET
https://www.npr.org/2018/02/17/58669836 ... rch-agency



seemslikeadream » Sat May 05, 2018 4:56 pm wrote:
Polly Sigh

Russian company Concord, charged in Mueller probe, plans to plead not guilty. Concord, like Kremlin-linked troll group Internet Research Agency, is owned by "Putin's chef" Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was also indicted in the Russia probe.

Image
Image







Grant Stern


If you thought Trump got beat to hell today by the #MuellerHearing, it just got a whole lot worse.

He also lost a dismissal motion on a Trump Org multi-level marketing scam in SDNY's civil court.

Here comes the next class-action fraud lawsuit.
https://twitter.com/grantstern/status/1 ... 0156827653



A federal judge just ruled against Trump and his children in massive pyramid scheme fraud case
By Vinnie Longobardo July 24, 2019
As Donald Trump tries to spin today’s congressional testimony by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into yet another denial of his now-proven criminal — although unindicted — behavior, the president, his three oldest children. and the Trump Organization now find themselves facing a new legal peril, this time on the civil front.

U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield ruled today that a class-action lawsuit — one that accuses Trump and the other related defendants of scamming the plaintiffs into spending money on fraudulent, multilevel marketing ventures and a dubious live-seminar program that would teach them the “secrets of success” of the Trump Organization’s real estate empire — could move ahead with claims based on state law, including fraud, unfair competition, and deceptive trade practices.

The only claim that the judge refused to approve was based on federal racketeering charges that could have tripled the damages that the plaintiffs could collect if they are successful in their suit.

Judge Schofield’s decision opens the door to the beginning of pre-trial discovery, allowing the lawyers for the four anonymous plaintiffs to begin gathering evidence and testimony to bolster their claims.

According to Bloomberg News, the plaintiffs filed their suit last October “using the names Jane Doe, Luke Loe, Richard Roe, and Mary Moe, claiming they feared Trump’s habit of criticizing opponents on Twitter and exposing them to potential retaliation by his followers.”

The complaint — which they hope to turn into a class-action suit – alleges that the Trumps defrauded thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs with the bogus and worthless Trump University program.

With Trump and his family now unable to avoid the civil lawsuit that can further reveal their unscrupulous business practices, the legal bills being racked up by the Trump Organization are surely eating into the profits of his company despite the infusion of cash that Trump’s presidency has injected into his businesses through likely foreign emoluments and the president’s frequent visits to his own golf resorts on the taxpayers’ dime.

Hopefully, the lawsuit will rectify the loss of tuition fees by the thousands of people who strived to learn the secrets of Trump’s success only to be handed a concrete example of exactly how the Trump family makes its money: by fraud and deception foisted upon innocent suckers, exactly like he runs his administration.

https://washingtonpress.com/2019/07/24/ ... raud-case/





Adam Klasfeld

NEW: The Trump Corporation must face claims of perpetrating a multilevel marketing scheme. The RICO claims are out, but the state law claims survive.

Background from October at @Courthousenews:

https://www.courthousenews.com/class-ta ... ng-scheme/

Image

Read the 26-page order here:

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents ... ation.html
https://twitter.com/KlasfeldReports/sta ... 8703719424


Amee Vanderpool


According to reports about a closed door Dem meeting, Pelosi has given Dems the green light to support impeachment if they think it's best and to publicly do what they have to do.

This is the time to call your Reps, it will make the most difference now if you want
impeachment.https://twitter.com/girlsreallyrule/sta ... 5890627591
[/quote]


The headline of the day

THERE ARE 14 ONGOING INVESTIGATIONS
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby RocketMan » Thu Jul 25, 2019 3:49 am

Again, it's all for jack if the Democrats are too chickenshit to impeach.

I really wonder at your endless faith in the Democrats. Not a single word of reproach for those corrupt motherfuckers.
-I don't like hoodlums.
-That's just a word, Marlowe. We have that kind of world. Two wars gave it to us and we are going to keep it.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:00 am

understanding the impeachment process is not an act of fact

I lived Watergate

I understand Mitch McConnell


there is an ongoing counterintelligence investigation


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd3km0_Ljpw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtWlM7ALGeU


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dz6G-o0QHj0


Seth Abramson

1/ The fact that after the Intel and Judiciary committee hearings Rep. Nadler (per @politico) "pushed to launch impeachment proceedings during a closed-door meeting" would seem to suggest there are plenty of powerful Democrats who saw today as a boost to the cause of impeachment.
https://twitter.com/SethAbramson/status ... 4780291074


Seth Abramson


IMPORTANT: Mueller testified Trump gave "hope" to "criminal activity" when he spoke glowingly of WikiLeaks *after* he'd been briefed on Kremlin election interference on August 17, 2016. Does anyone realize this begins to make out an aiding/abetting charge? Attn: @FrankFigliuzzi1

1/ Under federal law, you can't take any action that "induces" a crime once you have knowledge with "high likelihood" that crime has been committed or is being committed. I've long argued Trump may be guilty of aiding and abetting. Mueller's testimony seems to bolster that view.

2/ "Induce" means "move by persuasion or influence" or "call forth or bring about by influence or stimulation"—so one can't "move [someone to criminal activity] by persuasion or influence" or "stimulate" criminal activity. How does that differ from giving "hope" to such activity?

3/ Mueller says Trump "gave hope to criminal activity." We know from the Mueller Report and the underlying facts of the Trump-Russia case that Trump had knowledge of that criminal activity with "high likelihood" when he gave it "hope." That's a federal crime: aiding and abetting.

4/ @DavidCornDC and I have been the loudest—I think most would say—on the "aiding and abetting" angle for more than a year now. I'm amazed that this new criminal offense—"new" in that media hasn't covered it—isn't coming immediately and aggressively into public discourse tonight.

5/ The "hope" that Donald Trump gave WikiLeaks was that their "computer crimes" (a federal statute) were a) being appreciated and employed instrumentally by a U.S. campaign in real time, and b) in being employed, were making *more likely* what WikiLeaks wanted—*Trump's election*.

6/ Media is correctly noting that Mueller went beyond the question he was asked only *once* today: and it was *on that question* that I'm now saying he leveled a charge of aiding and abetting (a *serious* federal crime) against the President. We need to start discussing this now.

7/ @jimsciutto, please take a look at this thread. You're right that Mueller discussing the "new normal" was raising the specter of Trump "aiding and abetting"—but I think you'll find the question of whether the aiding and abetting was *criminal* was elevated significantly today.

8/ Whether Mueller alleged aiding and abetting in his report is no longer the question—the question is if, should Democrats draft Articles of Impeachment, they can accuse Trump of aiding and abetting and *directly cite Robert Mueller's sworn testimony*. I think that they now can.

9/ Needless to say, once we get more information from the ongoing counterintelligence probe of Trump and/or his associates, we will discover whether we have even more evidence (in addition to the significant evidence that *is* in the report) on the "aiding and abetting" question.

10/ PROOF OF CONSPIRACY observes that Mueller never considered aiding and abetting, bribery, or money laundering in his probe, and I think Mueller's testimony today fully confirms this. It's stunning that these criminal questions—not just counterintelligence ones—are unresolved.

PS/ I've noted it elsewhere, but I want to make sure I note it here too: Mueller *also* accused Trump of "boost[ing]" criminal activity—which of course *also* falls into the definition of "induce" and generates another line of discussion with respect to Trump's criminal activity.

https://twitter.com/SethAbramson/status ... 9983598594
Last edited by seemslikeadream on Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby Iamwhomiam » Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:26 am

That's not the case, RM. The Dems want to impeach but do not have enough votes from Republicans to achieve that objective. Pelosi's delay is warranted - designed to gather more evidence against Trump that's so far convinced a very few Rs to join them.

Here's a link to the House Committee on the Judiciary and video of Mueller's testimony: https://judiciary.house.gov/legislation/hearings/oversight-report-investigation-russian-interference-2016-presidential-election

From that link you'll be able to find the names of all House Judiciary Committee members.

The Dems have the majority of membership in the US House of Representatives and the Repubs have the majority membership in the US Senate.

Link to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary: https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/

The House Judiciary Committee will need to layout (in the simplest terms) their case for filing articles for impeachment.

Only the House Is empowered to bring articles of impeachment. If they vote to impeach, a Trial will be held by only the Senate, which has been so empowered to try cases brought to them seeking impeachment of a sitting President.

The Impeachment process:
https://www.ajc.com/news/national/how-does-impeachment-work-here-the-step-step-process/5wUTeEdEgheqohUL1WA0IJ/

https://litigation.findlaw.com/legal-system/presidential-impeachment-the-legal-standard-and-procedure.html
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:28 am

thank you for taking the time to explain Iamwhomiam

a Trial will be held by only the Senate


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

Postby Iamwhomiam » Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:31 am

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

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:35 am

GOP blocks election security bills after Mueller testimony

sure McConnell will vote to impeach :lol: :lol: :lol:

Devin Nunes, who is currently suing a cow, opens with: "Welcome everyone to the last gasp of the Russia collusion conspiracy theory" and then resorts to spewing Trump's favorite – and completely false –conspiracy theories.

The trump Fraud Sqaud – Gohmert, Jordan, Gaetz, Ratcliffe, and now Nunes – are going full on Ride or Die on the Mifsud conspiracy theory, which originated from now-convicted felon and former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos.


---------------------------

aiding and abetting

there is an ongoing counterintelligence investigation

Gerneral Yellowkerk Flynn

Mueller still has to go into private close door sessions with the committees Not over yet for him.

Robert Mueller confirmed that trump asked staff to falsify records relevant to the investigation

Joaquin Castrotx laying out false statements regarding Trump Tower Moscow Project leads him to final Q: Did you investigate whether Trump could be vulnerable to black mail by the Russians because they knew Trump lied about contact?

Mueller: I can't speak to that.



Himes: If a campaign receives an offer of dirt from a foreign individual from a government, should the campaign report those contacts?

Mueller: “It should be—and can be depending on the circumstances—a crime.”

Neal Katyal Has One More Question for Robert Mueller After His Testimony
Isaac Chotiner
On Wednesday, the former special counsel Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees about his report on Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election. Mueller and his team charged several members of Trump’s inner circle with a variety of crimes but did not indict anyone for conspiring with the Russian government. On the question of Trump’s alleged obstruction of the investigation, however, their conclusions were less clear. As Mueller confirmed on Wednesday, “The President was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed.” But a memo from the Office of Legal Counsel prevented Mueller from charging Trump with crimes while he is in office, and, Mueller claimed, because the Justice Department does not accuse people of crimes without charging them, he could not even say whether Trump’s conduct constituted obstruction of justice.

In his testimony before the Judiciary Committee, which concerned Volume II of the report, on Trump’s obstruction, Mueller did not go far beyond these conclusions. He refused to answer a number of questions or even to defend himself from Republican attacks. In the second hearing, with the Intelligence Committee, about Russian interference and its relation to the Trump campaign, he was more scathing in his account of Trump’s conduct and his willingness to welcome foreign interference in the election. “They’re doing it as we sit here,” Mueller said of Russian meddling. “And they expect to do it in the next campaign.”

To discuss what we learned from the hearings, I spoke by phone with Neal Katyal, who helped draft the special-counsel regulations, during the Clinton Administration, and was the acting Solicitor General under President Obama. Katyal is now a partner at the law firm Hogan Lovells and a professor at Georgetown Law School. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed the strengths and weaknesses of Mueller’s testimony, whether Mueller made mistakes during his investigation, and a question that Katyal believes should still be put to Mueller.

You wrote a piece for the Times a couple days ago saying that Mueller needed to be asked three questions. One was about whether the President was exonerated, to which Mueller clearly answered that he was not. The other two were whether the report found that “there was no collusion” and that “there was no obstruction.” Do you feel as if we got more clarity on those questions?

Yeah, I think we got more clarity on both. On collusion, Mueller said that it didn’t meet the criminal standard—beyond a reasonable doubt. But he said in the second hearing that that isn’t the relevant question when you are talking about the highest official in the land. A shade shy of being a federal felon isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. So I think we got a lot of progress on that. On the obstruction, he was very clear in saying he couldn’t reach such a determination because of the D.O.J. opinion.

As the last half of that piece said, there should be two follow-up questions, because Mueller—who is very by the book—has to be asked questions when the book has changed. And the book has changed because Attorney General [William] Barr, in an interview in May with CBS News, said that Mueller couldn’t indict but could have made a determination on whether the conduct constituted obstruction of justice. And so I was shocked that the Democrats didn’t ask that question and press Mueller on it, because the Attorney General himself gave sanction for it, and for answering it. I understand why, when Mueller turned in his report, he felt like he couldn’t answer that question. But, after Barr changed the rule book, he very well could have.

Even if Barr hadn’t said that, do you feel now that Mueller could have reached a conclusion on that opinion?

Yeah, I do. I don’t think there is anything in the Office of Legal Counsel opinion that precludes it. That is why Mueller gets paid the big bucks by the taxpayers. I do think that that question should have been answered. You won’t hear me say this too often, but on this one I did agree with Attorney General Barr.

When I interviewed you in April, you said, “Mueller believed—and I think this follows very standard D.O.J. thinking—that, if they have no way to defend themselves, then you don’t make the accusation.” Can you clarify that, given what you said you thought of what Barr said?

It is standard that, in general, as a prosecutor, if you are not going to indict, you don’t go off and say other stuff. There have obviously been some notable exceptions, with Comey and the Clinton e-mails being the most obvious. But that is the general rule. The hard thing is that this is anything but an ordinary case. This is the incredibly rare circumstance in which you can’t indict because of a constitutional prohibition on indictment. And, in that circumstance, I can see reasonable arguments being advanced, pro and con. But the important thing here is that Barr himself has resolved this by saying, “Yes, I do think that question can be answered.” And so, in that circumstance, because the special-counsel regulations require the special counsel to follow what the Attorney General said, there is now no legal prohibition the way that Mueller thought there was when he wrote his report against reaching such a conclusion. And, ordinarily, that is what you would want anyone to do, because this guy has spent twenty-two months investigating this. And we should know what those views are.

Did you come to a better understanding of why Mueller did not push harder for an interview with the President?

Yes, I did, a little bit. He was pushed hard in the second hearing, and he said he was weighing the delay costs from seeking a subpoena, which Trump would undoubtedly litigate in the federal courts, with the need for the information. And, here, a member of Congress [Sean Patrick Maloney] drew Mueller’s attention to page thirteen of Volume II, which, I have to confess, even I—who follows this stuff very closely—hadn’t focussed on. The congressman is right that it goes into the explanation for why they didn’t subpoena the President, which says that we already had substantial evidence to make a determination about the President’s actions and whether they constituted obstruction of justice. I thought the hearing was good in focussing on that, because it is a four-hundred-and-forty-eight-page report. What that page says is that we didn’t even need to talk to the President. Effectively, we knew what was going on. That’s a screaming red neon sign for the special counsel’s office saying we think something very untoward happened here.

If you were unsure, you would push for the interview?

Exactly.

Given Mueller’s reading of the Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion, what could have even been learned from an interview? Let’s say that the President had lied to Mueller, or let’s say, conversely, that he had gone full Jack Nicholson and said he did obstruct justice and was proud of doing so. How could Mueller’s conclusion have been different?

It couldn’t have been different, given the O.L.C. opinion, for the time being. But it could have done two things. One is inform a future impeachment proceeding in either of those two directions, if either of those two things happened. It would be additional evidence one way or the other. And, second, it could be the basis for a further criminal prosecution down the road. One of the things that the Mueller report makes very clear that it is trying to do, self-consciously, is lay down a record, because witnesses forget things, and evidence gets lost over years. And so Mueller is trying hard in the report to document all he can. The fact that he is saying he didn’t want to delay things further to get a sit-down with the President is a pretty good indication that he already has enough.

And then we have one other big clue on this, which is Representative Ted Lieu’s exchange with Mueller. Mueller took back one statement in the second hearing. But I think the relevant point was that Lieu went through page 97 of [Volume II of] the report and the obstruction-of-justice allegation about trying to get [then Attorney General Jeff] Sessions to un-recuse [himself from the investigation]. With respect to that, there are three elements of obstruction, and Lieu went through them with Mueller. Is there an obstructive act? Is there a criminal intent? Is there a nexus between the criminal proceeding and the obstructive act? And he basically gets Mueller to admit that all three elements have been met. It’s another example of where Mueller keeps saying we didn’t reach a formal determination about obstruction, but there are only three elements, and he said they were all met. It’s not hard to draw the next inferential step from that.

In his testimony, Mueller made clear that the President could be charged with obstruction once he leaves office. But the exchange in which he said this, with Ted Buck, Republican of Colorado, was slightly unclear, and it wasn’t obvious whether Mueller was speaking specifically about Trump’s conduct in this investigation, I thought. What did you make of that exchange?

I didn’t read it, as some people on social media did, to say, “Mueller is saying Trump will be indicted when he leaves office.” I didn’t understand that to be what Mueller was saying. He is saying that is a possibility, and that is one reason why he documented all he documented and preserved all the evidence and collected all the evidence—so that information could be used by a future prosecutor. And, by the way, the Office of Legal Counsel opinion is express in saying that an investigation can still continue, both because a sitting President might be indicted after he or she leaves office, and maybe because there might be information that is generated that is helpful to an impeachment inquiry.

When I interviewed you several months ago, I asked whether Mueller made any obvious mistakes, and you answered, “No, not yet. But I’d want to think more about it.” How do you feel now?

Well, I do feel like Mueller had an obligation to answer the question about whether the President committed obstruction. I understand that he feels that he was bound not to seek a formal indictment. But that’s the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question with regard to that part of the report, and the Attorney General is even saying that he can answer the question. I don’t understand what possible argument there is against answering the question, and I would still like to see him answer that in a supplemental question for the record from Congress.

Just generally, was your sense that he didn’t say more because he couldn’t due to Department of Justice regulations, or because he didn’t want to?

Generally speaking, I think Mueller came across as a totally consummate, by-the-book prosecutor, someone who was not trying to go after someone or get someone, someone who was not political, and that undoubtedly is going to frustrate a good chunk of the country who want fireworks. I think that is why President Trump and his allies were so celebratory after the first hearing.

But it’s precisely that demeanor that made him so devastating in the second hearing. Because he isn’t the person the President has tried to paint him to be, an angry Democrat. Everything he said seemed so credible—when he said the Russians massively interfered in the election, that the President was the beneficiary of that on purpose, that the Trump campaign welcomed the assistance from Russia, that the President’s own son said he loved it if the Russians had dirt on Hillary, and that Trump himself had business dealings with Russia. Mueller said all those things in the first few minutes of the second hearing, and it was a scary portrait of a President and a Presidential campaign. We are just an hour into the end of the hearing, and we don’t know where things will go, but I suspect they will not go where he thought they were going earlier in the day. If you were Donald Trump, the second hearing was just about as bad as one could have ever feared.

Except Mueller didn’t say he obstructed justice.

The second hearing was about Volume I.

I know, I’m just saying—

Oh, I could imagine the whole day in many Democrats’ fantasies going differently.

Since you had a role in writing the special-counsel regulations, how will Mueller’s performance and view of his job affect other special counsels? Do you have any concerns on that score?

I do, but I think it is way too early for us to try and write some new rules. Whenever you are writing rules, you are always in danger of overcorrecting for the last problem. The Independent Counsel Act was a reaction to Watergate, four years earlier, and the feeling that there weren’t independent enough prosecutors. So then you have that for a long time, but then [after the independent counsel Ken Starr’s investigation of President Clinton] people feel like that is an overreaction, because it gives too much independence for a prosecutor, so they want something more accountable. And now people are feeling like we want some more independence. These are really hard questions, and not until this saga ends can you really assess the right thing to do.
https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/ ... -testimony



Mueller Says Trump Gave a “Boost” to WikiLeaks’ “Illegal Activity”

“Problematic is an understatement.”

Image
A slide Democrats displayed during the hearing.
Robert Mueller on Wednesday condemned President Donald Trump’s repeated praise of WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election. According to the former special counsel, Trump’s public embrace of the organization—even as it was regularly releasing Hillary Clinton campaign emails hacked by the Russian government—was tantamount to promoting “illegal activity.”

“Problematic is an understatement, in terms of what it displays, in terms of giving some hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal activity,” Mueller said after Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) read direct statements from Trump expressing admiration for WikiLeaks. Mueller also said he agreed with Mike Pompeo, who as CIA director in 2017 called Wikileaks a “hostile intelligence service.” Pompeo is now Trump’s secretary of State.

It was a striking moment from the former special counsel, who had spent the bulk of his back-to-back congressional hearings on Wednesday largely repeating the findings of his lengthy report. On this matter, however, Mueller appeared to offer a personal indictment of Trump’s conduct.

The exchange represented a clear win for Democrats, who have been seeking to effectively demonstrate how the Trump campaign had eagerly sought to benefit from Russia’s assistance. In his opening statement, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) directly hit Trump for this very issue.

“Your investigation determined that the Trump campaign—including Trump himself—knew that a foreign power was intervening in our election and welcomed it, built Russian meddling into their strategy, and used it,” Schiff said to Mueller.
https://www.motherjones.com/politics/20 ... -activity/





Trump spoke in front of a fake presidential seal that included a Russian symbol. How it got there is a mystery.
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Image

Analysis How did Trump end up in front of a presidential seal doctored to include a Russian symbol?
Reis Thebault
The image projected behind President Trump at Turning Point USA's student summit July 23 had some key differences from the official presidential seal. (Elyse Samuels/The Washington Post)

This story has been updated.

At first glance, there was nothing unusual about President Trump’s introduction Tuesday at Turning Point USA’s student . In many ways, it mirrored the production style that has become synonymous with Trump’s campaign rallies.

Following a 12-minute video illustrating Trump’s rise to the presidency, music blared as the president’s name flashed across a giant screen in a bold shade of red. Trump took the stage and soaked in the raucous cheers from hundreds of young supporters packed inside the Marriott Marquis in Washington.

Charlie Kirk, Turning Point’s outspoken founder and executive director, was on his left. But the image on the screen to Trump’s right — from the event — is less familiar.

The image almost resembles the of the president, but a closer examination reveals alterations that seem to poke fun at the president’s golfing penchant and accusations that he has ties to Russia. Neither the White House nor Turning Point knows how it got there or who created it.

Left: Russia's coat of arms. (iStock) Right: The doctored presidential seal seen Tuesday at Turning Point USA's Teen Student Action Summit at the Marriott Marquis in Washington. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
The eagle has two heads instead of one — a symbol historically tied to empire and dominance. It closely resembles the bird on the Russian coat of arms and also appears on the flags of Serbia, Albania and Montenegro. Its left talons, rather than clasping 13 arrows, appear to clutch a set of golf clubs.

One Washington Post reader noted a website that sells merchandise featuring what appears to be the same fake seal. In those images, the words on the parody eagle’s banner say “45 es un titere,” which in Spanish translates to “45 is a puppet.” On the official presidential seal, the eagle’s mouth holds a banner with the U.S. motto, “E pluribus unum" — out of many, one. The fake seal on the shop’s merchandise shows the eagle clutching cash in its right talons.

The Post reached out to the Twitter and Facebook accounts associated with the Web retailer, “OneTermDonnie,” but has not received a reply.

A projection of the true presidential seal was centered behind Trump’s name as he walked onstage. The true seal was also on the lectern where the president spoke for 80 minutes.

A White House spokesperson told The Post they did not see the fake seal before it appeared on-screen and referred questions about the incident to Turning Point.

In a phone interview Wednesday, a spokesman for the conservative group said he didn’t know where the altered seal came from or how it ended up on a screen behind the president. He said the mistake probably came from the team that handled the event’s audio and visual production.

“It was a last-minute A/V mistake — and I can’t figure out where the breakdown was — but it was a last minute throw-up, and that’s all it was,” he said. “I can’t figure out who did it yet.”

“I don’t know where they got the image from,” he added.


The U.S. presidential seal. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
According to Turning Point, the audio/visual team helped create and coordinate the graphics, images and videos displayed at Tuesday’s event — including the official seal shown behind Trump’s flashing name on the screen.

The Turning Point spokesman said the team was made up of staff from his organization and from the hotel. On Wednesday evening, he was still working to determine who, exactly, was responsible.

“Somewhere there was a breakdown. I think it was as simple as a rushed move throwing up an image, and it was the wrong one,” the spokesman said, adding it was unfortunate that the faux seal drew attention away from the event’s star-studded lineup of conservative speakers. “It was an A/V mistake . . . it certainly wasn’t our intention.”

Employees at the Marriott Marquis say the hotel generally does not furnish images or video for groups hosting events there. The venue provides only the space and the technology, such as televisions and projectors. The hotel’s event manager who helped coordinate the summit did not return phone messages requesting comment Wednesday.

[While bemoaning Mueller probe, Trump falsely says the Constitution gives him ‘the right to do whatever I want’]

Richard Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, said the president’s staff should typically have advanced knowledge and command over images and video displayed at events where the president appears.

He called the incident “careless.”

“You should have control over what the private group is doing, what they’re putting on the screen and anything else,” said Painter, now a law professor at the University of Minnesota. “To let someone project something on the screen that isn’t controlled by the White House is pretty stupid.”

A congressional statute indicates that the presidential seal may not be used to falsely suggest sponsorship or approval by the U.S. government, but Painter and other legal experts say parodies of the seal are protected under the First Amendment right of free expression.

The projection appeared to be a practical joke — but one likely to embarrass a particularly image-conscious president, Painter said.

“Someone is going to be getting in trouble,” he said, “but they got one heck of a good laugh out of it.”

The bird on the doctored seal closely resembles the shape of the double-headed eagle that has been Russia’s coat of arms for centuries. It appears on some former renderings of the country’s flag and figures prominently in the jerseys of Russia’s vaunted national hockey team.

The set of clubs in the eagle’s claw are probably a tribute to Trump’s well-documented golfing habit. The Post previously reported that by October of last year, the president had visited his golf course in Virginia more than 40 times and spent all or part of more than 70 days at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

In May, the HuffPost reported that Trump’s golfing cost taxpayers more than $102 million in travel and security expenses. This comes despite the fact that Trump frequently censured Barack Obama for his love of the sport — he tweeted at least 27 times that Obama played golf too much. On Saturday, Trump made a surprise appearance at a wedding ceremony held at the Bedminster location.

The two-headed eagle also appears at the bottom of the logo for Turnberry, Trump’s luxury resort and golf course in Scotland.

For Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, the fact that a doctored seal appearing to mock Trump was allowed to be projected behind him as he walked onto a stage was equal parts stunning and perplexing.

“It’s hard to believe . . . who did this?” she said. “Was someone at Turning Point trolling Trump? I just think Putin would probably approve.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics ... 62eb8eb3f1



New York Attorney General Tish James, tweeting this: “President Trump has spent his career hiding behind lawsuits, and is now suing to hide his taxes. As NY’s chief law enforcement officer, I can assure him no one is above the law. I’ll vigorously fight to provide the much needed transparency the American people want & deserve.”

New York State is aggressively going after Donald Trump for his crimes. It’s worth noting that while Trump’s Department of Justice policy prevents him from being charged at the federal level while he’s still in office, that policy does not apply to state level charges, meaning New York can charge Trump whenever it sees fit.
Last edited by seemslikeadream on Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby RocketMan » Thu Jul 25, 2019 7:58 am

...
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-I don't like hoodlums.
-That's just a word, Marlowe. We have that kind of world. Two wars gave it to us and we are going to keep it.
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Re: Trumpublicons: Foreign Influence/Grifting in '16 US Elec

Postby RocketMan » Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:01 am

Well, that's a very West Wing analysis of it all.

The fact is, the Democrats are incredibly negligent in their oversight of their supposed adversaries and basic opposition politics on all fronts. Pelosi is practically waging a fight against Medicare for All along with her geriatric Dem cronies. Thanks to her amorality, Bush was never held to account for anything, or anyone else of that corrupt administration.

You can present all the political 5D chess scenarios you want, but the basic fact remains that Pelosi is negligent in her duties, and has been since Dubya. And she will disappoint again, unless vigorous opposition is given to her from within the party apparatus.
-I don't like hoodlums.
-That's just a word, Marlowe. We have that kind of world. Two wars gave it to us and we are going to keep it.
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