12:20 PM 9/29/2017 – Kazakh clan had deep ties to Trump orbit | McClatchy Washington Bureau

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A powerful Kazakh family and a developer linked to Donald Trump enlisted the law firm of a high-profile Trump confidante to create a web of offshore companies designed to minimize taxes.

Source: Kazakh clan had deep ties to Trump orbit | McClatchy Washington Bureau

Kazakh clan had deep ties to Trump orbit

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A powerful Kazakh family and a developer linked to Donald Trump enlisted the law firm of a high-profile Trump confidante to create a web of offshore companies designed to minimize taxes.

The firm: Bracewell & Giuliani, which carried the name of former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Giuliani was a frequent surrogate for Trump during the 2016 campaign and was considered for a position in his Cabinet.

Bracewell & Giuliani had an office in Kazakhstan, and Giuliani even raised funds from expatriates there for his failed 2008 presidential bid.

An ongoing investigation by McClatchy and its reporting partners has shown that the developer, Bayrock Group, which partnered with the Trump Organization on at least three projects in the mid-2000s, was in business with the Khrapunov family.

Bayrock is believed to be under the microscope of Justice Department and congressional investigators looking at Russian meddling in the 2016 election, in part because of its foreign investors and buyers and in part because Bayrock’s Russian-born then-managing director Felix Sater, who served time in prison in the U.S. in the mid-1990s, became an adviser to Trump’s company.

Sater and Trump Organization lawyer Michael Cohen were seeking a hotel deal in Moscow even during the election, according to emails that recently surfaced and are now in the hands of investigators. The emails undercut Trump’s post-election claim that he had no business in Russia, showing he was actively trying to develop a luxury tower.

Kazakh connections

Documents obtained by McClatchy, Dutch broadcaster Zembla and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project show that the Khrapunovs — former Kazakh politician Viktor, his anchorwoman wife Leila and Geneva-based son Ilyas — joined forces with Bayrock and Sater during a period that Bayrock was developing the famed Trump Soho project in Manhattan, which Trump touted often on NBC’s hit show The Apprentice.

Together, the Khrapunovs and Bayrock Group created KazBay B.V. in the Netherlands in 2007, with the legal advice of Bracewell & Giuliani.

The Khrapunovs, with the help of a partner of Sater’s, later purchased and quickly flipped three condos in the Trump Soho hotel and condo complex. They are accused in Kazakhstan of embezzlement and money laundering. The Khrapunovs face civil lawsuits in New York and Los Angeles that seek to claw back what the Kazakh government says is stolen money. Some of the cash allegedly washed through U.S. real estate, including the Trump properties.

When Zembla readied to air a documentary this week (Sept. 27) about the relationship between the Khrapunovs and Sater, the Khrapunovs sued in the Netherlands to block it, accusing the Kazakh government of defamation.

Dutch courts rejected the argument and the program, which featured prior reporting by McClatchy, aired as scheduled. An English language version was shared widely on the Internet.

Internal records show KazBay B.V. was 50 percent owned by Bayrock B.V. and its owner Tevfik Arif, and 50 percent owned by Helvetic Capital S.A., a Swiss company whose true owner, according to the documents, was Leila Khrapunova. She’s the former TV anchor and back in 2007 was the wife of Viktor Khrapunov, the former mayor of Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, and an ex-energy minister.

This snippet of a document from September 2007 obtained by McClatchy and reporting partners shows the ownership structure of the joint venture KazBay B.V. between a now-fugitive Kazakh family and Trump-linked developer Bayrock Group.

Wieder, Ben

People familiar with KazBay describe the joint venture as a company operating on multiple tracks. Some documents show the ventures oil-drilling business, but it also planned open-mouth coal mining, where extracted coal would go to a nearby power plant.

How long the venture lasted and why it ended are unclear.

KazBay wasn’t the only project involving the Khrapunovs and Bayrock. They partnered on a luxury condominium project overlooking Lake Geneva, and established a Swiss corporation in early 2008 called Swiss Capital IB SA that listed two addresses on its website: Bayrock’s New York offices in Trump Tower, two floors down from Trump, and a Switzerland address used by Helvetic Capital.

A series of investigative reports by McClatchy earlier this year showed how Sater maintained a business relationship with Khrapunovs, including investing together in a shopping mall debt deal in Ohio that ended in litigation and a sealed settlement. They also worked together in Syracuse, N.Y, to purchase a former state institution, another deal mired in lawsuits.

Multiple people with knowledge of the KazBay deal describe Bracewell & Giuliani’s work as limited to creating a tax structure that worked to reduce tax exposure and benefit investors in Switzerland, the United States and Kazakhstan. It’s why Holland was chosen as the home base, on paper, for KazBay.

Houston-based Bracewell & Giuliani was one of the few prominent U.S. firms in 2007 with an office in Kazakhstan, at once both a land of promise because of its rich natural resources and a “kleptocracy” run by President Nursultan Nazerbayev since 1989.

Giuliani joined the law firm as a partner in 2005, staying until 2016. It’s unclear how involved he was in Kazakhstan, but the head of the law firm’s Kazakh office at the time, Gregory Vojack, raised money there for Giuliani’s failed presidential bid in 2008.

Federal records show that Vojack and his wife donated about $4,400 in early 2007 to the campaign. Months later, a Wall Street Journal story spotlighted attempts to raise campaign money from Americans working there.

That was not illegal but raised eyebrows. Giuliani greeted the guests via video conference at a fundraiser held at Vojack’s home in Almaty.

Reached in China, Vojack declined comment, saying that although he no longer works for Bracewell (which last year parted ways with Giuliani), he is bound by rules that prevent him from discussing work for private clients.

Vojack’s bio shows he has worked in Kazakhstan since 1994, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In early 2007, Bracewell & Giuliani issued a news release, in which Vojack touted the law firm’s role as international counsel for the offering of $1 billion in corporate debt for Bank TuranAlem, or BTA.

“We are in the best position now that we’ve ever been,” he said at the time. “This is an exciting time for Kazakhstan, and we are thrilled to be a part of its expansion and wealth consolidation.”

But soon afterwards, the Nazerbayev government sought to claw back ownership of the fast-growing bank. BTA Chairman Mukhtar Ablyazov refused, and a power struggle came to a head early in 2009 when Ablyazov fled to London and Kazakhstan seized the bank, alleging widespread embezzlement.

Bracewell & Giuliani was not accused of impropriety. However, the BTA debt issuance intersects with the KazBay venture in a curious way.

Numerous people familiar with the KazBay deal describe it as driven by Sater and Ilyas Khrapunov, who is married to Ablyazov’s daughter Madina.

The Kazakh government has accused Ablyazov of hiding massive theft through a complex web of offshore shell companies. U.S. lawyers representing the city of Almaty in civil lawsuits in Los Angeles and New York against the Khrapunovs allege that they comingled funds stolen by Mukhtar Ablyazov.

Attorneys for the Khrapunovs and Ablyazov have repeatedly countered that they are the targets of political persecution. President Nazerbayev and members of his extended family have also been accused of hiding fortunes in offshore havens.

This portion of a document from September 2007 obtained by McClatchy and reporting partners shows the true owners of Dutch companies created as a joint venture between a now-fugitive Kazakh family and Trump-linked developer Bayrock Group.

Wieder, Ben

Reasons for KazBay’s collapse vary based on who tells the story. Some blame a New York Times story in late 2007 that revealed the Russian-born Sater had a criminal past, forcing him to step down from his public role at Bayrock, later becoming a senior advisor to the Trump Organization. Others involved in KazBay assert the Khrapunovs were to blame.

None of the actors involved have publicly commented since initial reports earlier this year.

Numerous former Bayrock employees, now spread across the globe, declined to comment on the record for the story, wanting nothing to do with a company under scrutiny by investigators probing Trump’s businesses.

Bayrock spokeswoman Angela Pruitt declined to comment Thursday, providing a statement given earlier this month to partner Zembla.

“Bayrock B.V. and KazBay B.V. were entities formed with the advice of outside legal counsel as part of the structuring of an investment by Bayrock,” it read. “The investment was not successful, and the structure subsequently was abandoned.”

There’s no evidence that Trump or Giuliani participated in KazBay, or even knew of it.

Yet because the Khrapunovs worked with Sater over the course of a decade, were buyers in Trump Soho in 2013 and are involved in numerous legal disputes playing out in U.S. courts, investigators probing Russia’s 2016 election meddling may well consider the Khrapunovs and Sater as persons of interest.

This story involved collaboration between McClatchy , Dutch public broadcaster Zembla and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a global journalism network that investigates transnational corruption

SANDER RIETVELD OF ZEMBLA CONTRIBUTED TO THIS ARTICLE, AS DID OCCRP’S AUBREY BELFORD, CHRIS BENEVENTO, LEJLA SARCEVIC AND BERMET TALANT.

PALUCH IS A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

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Feds Demand Facebook Share Information on Anti-Trump Protesters – NBCNews.com

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8:39 AM 9/29/2017 – Twitter’s briefing to congressional investigators yesterday 

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TRUMP-RUSSIA Twitter’s briefing to congressional investigators yesterday about Russian use of its platform invited plenty of criticism from lawmakers, its limited disclosure failing to reveal the extent of the platform’s use by accounts seeking to spread misinformation. Georgia Wells, Byron Tau and Robert McMillan report at the Wall Street Journal. Twitter has shut down 201 accounts tied … Continue reading “8:39 AM 9/29/2017 – Twitter’s briefing to congressional investigators yesterday”

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Fugitive Kazakh clan has deep ties to Trump associates – McClatchy Washington Bureau

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McClatchy Washington Bureau
Documents obtained by McClatchy, Dutch broadcaster Zembla and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project show that the Khrapunovs — former Kazakh politician Viktor, his anchorwoman wife Leila and Geneva-based son Ilyas — joined forces with 

felix sater – Google News: Fugitive Kazakh clan has deep ties to Trump associates – Miami Herald

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Miami Herald
… of Justice Department and congressional investigators looking at Russian meddling in the 2016 election, in part because of its foreign investors and buyers and in part because Bayrock’s Russian-born then-managing director Felix Sater, who served and more »

 felix sater – Google News

 

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9:11 AM 9/24/2017 – ‘No joy in Trumpworld’: White House staffers looking to jump ship …

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Baltimore psychologist heads effort to ‘warn’ about Trump’s mental health

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Put psychologist John Gartner on a couch and ask him about his childhood and one of the first stories he will recall is about his mom, Diana, and a touchstone moment in the fight for women’s rights.

In 1969, Diana Gartner and other leaders of the relatively new National Organization for Women made a reservation at the Oak Room Bar in New York under the name “Dr. Gartner.” The showdown that followed when the women arrived during the establishment’s male-only hours would lead to an early victory for feminism: The storied bar ultimately changed its gender policy.

John Gartner was 10 years old when the incident made headlines.

“It does run in our family to be mavericks,” he said. “Or rebels with a cause.”

These days Gartner is gaining national attention for a cause of his own — and creating a stir in his field — by trying to convince voters that President Donald Trump has a mental illness, and should be removed from his job because of it.

From a small office at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, Gartner has emerged as a leader of a group of mental health professionals called Duty To Warn. The campaign began as an internet petition seeking to remove Trump under the 25th Amendment, which broadly lays out the procedure for booting a president who is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

The <a href=”http://Change.org” rel=”nofollow”>Change.org</a> petition, launched in January and aimed at Trump’s cabinet, has garnered more than 62,000 signatures. But it has also drawn substantial criticism, and not just from Trump supporters. Both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association advise members against assessing the mental health of individuals they haven’t personally examined .

And yet the campaign by Gartner and others appears to be expanding. Duty to Warn is planning to hold conferences in cities across the country on Oct. 14, many drawing established psychologists and psychiatrists. Gartner and others, meanwhile, have contributed to a book to be published next month: “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”

Gartner — a Princeton graduate and former assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins medical school, specializes in borderline personality disorder and depression. He describes Trump as a “malignant narcissist,” a condition that includes paranoia, anti-social behavior, sadism and other traits along with narcissism.

Gartner points to the president’s insistence that President Barack Obama bugged his office, or that the crowds at his inauguration were historically large, as validating signs.

“Unless he doesn’t believe a word he’s saying, there’s evidence here of someone, really, who’s actually disconnected from reality,” said Gartner, 59. “We have someone in charge of the nuclear codes who is not in touch with reality. I can’t imagine anything more dangerous.”

Among Gartner’s most notable critics is psychiatrist Allen Frances, who wrote the guidelines for diagnosing narcissistic personality disorder — and who rejects any claim that Trump has it.

To meet the criteria for a narcissistic personality disorder, Frances said, Trump would have to display distress or impairment himself. One could argue he’s caused distress, Frances said, but he doesn’t appear to experience it.

“I think that this guy and other people like him mean well and are sincere and believe that somehow they have a professional responsibility to warn America about the horrors of Trump,” said Frances, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Duke University. “But I don’t see them as knowing much about diagnoses.”

Frances, who published a book this month titled “Twilight of American Sanity,” is hardly a fan of the 45th president. He describes Trump as “the biggest threat to democracy since the Civil War.” But he says that doesn’t mean he has a mental illness.

The effort to apply a diagnosis to Trump, Frances said, “confuses bad behavior for mental illness.”

A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump supporters frequently say the president’s brazen rhetoric is a big part of the reason why he was elected. His voters did not want another carefully scripted, play-it-safe politician.

And as with any politician, it’s impossible to sort out what Trump believes from political theater.

Gary Collins led the Trump campaign in Baltimore.

“Time and again on the campaign and in the White House, while something might sound a little different, the reality is that it usually comes out in weeks, months or even days that what he’s saying has a lot of validity to it,” he said.

Collins said Gartner “is clearly pushing a political agenda, and clearly doesn’t like the president.”

Duty to Warn has reopened a heated discussion in the psychiatric community over the Goldwater Rule, the 1973 prohibition on analyzing people from afar. It’s named for Sen. Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican nominee for president. When Fact magazine published an article in which psychiatrists opined that Goldwater was mentally unfit for the presidency, the Arizona senator successfully sued.

The policy was reaffirmed this spring by the American Psychiatric Association.

“The complexity of today’s media environment demands that we take special care when speaking publicly about mental health issues,” the association says on its website.

The Goldwater rule doesn’t apply to Gartner, who is a psychologist. But the American Psychological Association takes a similar — if less ironclad — position.

“APA’s Code of Ethics counsels psychologists against diagnosing living individuals whom they have not personally assessed,” spokeswoman Kim I. Mills said. “Singling out mental illness is misguided and tends to further stigmatize mental health problems.”

Gartner dismisses the rule and similar guidelines as a product of professional associations concerned primarily with protecting members from lawsuits. It is preferable to meet with patients before assessing them, he agrees, but in cases where that’s not possible it shouldn’t be a requirement.

Much can be gleaned, he says, by observing years of public interactions.

“The only people who aren’t allowed to comment on Donald Trump’s mental health are the people who are most expert and qualified to do it,” Gartner said.

The phrase “duty to warn” has its antecedent in a similar ethical dilemma. It’s based on the name used for laws on the books in at least 28 states, including Maryland, that require mental health professionals to break patient confidentiality rules and report information about a patient if they believe that person may become violent.

Garter isn’t alone in his assessment of the Goldwater Rule.

Justin A. Frank, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical Center, has written books analyzing Presidents George W. Bush and Obama, and expects to publish a third in the series, on Trump, next year.

“My feeling is that the rule was based on a very specific kind of thing: Financial fear,” he said.

Frank said he relies on principles of applied psychoanalysis to build profiles of presidents.

“It’s true that I don’t get them in my office — and that’s a serious issue,” he said. “But there’s nothing I can do about that.”

Asked whether he has come to any conclusions yet about Trump, Frank declined to offer a diagnosis.

“He’s Donald Trump,” Frank said. “I really think that he’s a fairly unique person.”

The Duty to Warn effort has drawn some attention on Capitol Hill, but almost entirely from Democrats — making it an easy target for Trump supporters and others to dismiss as a partisan endeavor.

Supporters of the group point to a private conversation caught on an open microphone this summer between Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island. During a conversation about the federal budget, Reed was heard describing the president as “crazy,” and Collins responded with “I’m worried.”

Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee told reporters last month that Trump had failed to display the “stability nor some of the competence” to be a successful president.

But those comments have been exceptions to the rule in both parties.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Montgomery County Democrat, introduced legislation this year to create a commission that would determine whether a president is unable to meet the responsibilities of the office under the 25th Amendment.

Raskin, a constitutional law professor from the liberal wing of the party, says he is addressing a long-term process issue, not targeting the current president.

Raskin, whose bill has 31 Democratic co-sponsors, declined to say whether he agrees with Gartner on Trump’s mental health.

“I do not take a position on that and I don’t think it’s my role to take a position on that,” he said. “There are enough signs of chaos in some of the dealings of the president that it reminds us of the importance of the 25th Amendment, but I personally will reserve judgment on presidential fitness — that’s why we have the process.”

Raskin is set to receive an award from Duty to Warn at its meeting in Washington next month.

“They appreciate the work that I’m doing in trying to flesh out the constitutional process,” he said.

Gartner is a registered Democrat, and has contributed to Democratic campaigns, including Hillary Clinton’s. But Gartner insists Duty to Warn isn’t a political exercise.

“I didn’t like George Bush, but I never circulated a petition about him,” he said. “I’d be grateful for a President Pence, even though I disagree with everything he believes in. … He’s conservative, [but] he’s not mentally unstable.”

Gartner says the petition will be sent to each member of Trump’s cabinet next month.

He acknowledges he’s unlikely to get the kind of quick response his mother received decades ago at the Oak Room Bar.

“All along I’ve felt, even if it was a hopeless cause, that we still needed to speak out,” Gartner said. “Bearing witness to these things is important. And I think bringing out the truth is important.”

john.fritze@baltsun.com

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‘No joy in Trumpworld’: White House staffers looking to jump ship … – Raw Story

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Raw Story

Today in Trumpworld — September 22

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TRUMP’S SCHEDULE TODAY

5 p.m.: President Donald Trump will depart the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey en route to Alabama.

Story Continued Below

7:30 p.m.: Trump will arrive at Huntsville International Airport.

8 p.m.: Trump will arrive at the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville.

8:15 p.m.: Trump will participate in a rally for Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.).

9:10 p.m.: Trump will depart the Von Braun Civic Center en route to Bedminster, New Jersey.

11:50 p.m.: Trump will arrive at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster.

TRUMP’S TWITTER THIS MORNING: “Rand Paul, or whoever votes against Hcare Bill, will forever (future political campaigns) be known as ‘the Republican who saved ObamaCare.’ … Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before! … The Russia hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook. What about the totally biased and dishonest Media coverage in favor of Crooked Hillary? … The greatest influence over our election was the Fake News Media “screaming” for Crooked Hillary Clinton. Next, she was a bad candidate! … Will be in Alabama tonight. Luther Strange has gained mightily since my endorsement, but will be very close. He loves Alabama, and so do I!”

INSIDE THE HEALTH CARE PUSH: From POLITICO’s Josh Dawsey and Burgess Everett: “In public, President Donald Trump is all-in on the Senate’s final chance to repeal Obamacare. But privately, there’s ambivalence in the White House about the bill’s contents and its chances of clearing the tightly divided chamber next week. Trump spent time between meetings at the United Nations calling senators and other senior White House officials about the Graham-Cassidy bill, asking for updated vote tallies and how to woo senators for the bill. White House officials have considered tweaking the state funding to win a vote from GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — and others. Trump has also publicly excoriated Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul for voting against the legislation, telling aides he would go after other senators.”

SCRAMBLE TO LEAVE THE WEST WING: From POLITICO’s Nancy Cook: “A fast-growing number of White House staffers are starting to look for the exits, even though the one-year mark of President Donald Trump’s first term is still months away. Many who joined the administration in January did so with the explicit idea that they’d stay for at least a year, enough to credibly say they’d served. But in the aftermath of a wave of abrupt, high-profile departures over the summer that culminated with former strategist Steve Bannon’s ouster in August, aides up and down the chain are reaching out to headhunters, lobbyists, and GOP operatives for help finding their next job.”

FACEBOOK TO COOPERATE: From POLITICO’s Nancy Scola, Josh Dawsey and Ali Watkins:“Facebook has agreed to provide details to congressional investigators about ads purchased by Russians to influence the 2016 presidential campaign, and on Thursday vowed greater transparency in political advertising. But some Democratic senators want to make those pledges mandatory. The moves come amid mounting pressure from Congress to release the Russian-related ads, particularly criticism from Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Two people familiar with the matter disclosed the deal to POLITICO on Thursday shortly before Facebook announced it publicly.”

MUELLER’S WORK: From POLITICO’s Josh Dawsey: “Special counsel Robert Mueller has sought phone records concerning the statement written aboard Air Force One defending a meeting between Trump campaign officials and Russians at Trump Tower last year that was set up by Donald Trump Jr., according to two people familiar with the investigation. Mueller has also asked the White House for documents and emails connected to a May 3 press briefing where Sean Spicer said the president had confidence in James Comey as FBI director, these people said. The request seeks to determine what White House officials – particularly Spicer – knew about the president’s plans to fire Comey in the days before it happened, according to one of the people familiar with it.”

PRICE UPDATE: From POLITICO’s Rachana Pradhan and Dan Diamond: “Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has taken at least 24 flights on private charter planes at taxpayers’ expense since early May, according to people with knowledge of his travel plans and a review of HHS documents. … The cost of the trips identified by POLITICO exceeds $300,000, according to a review of federal contracts and similar trip itineraries.”

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Paul Manafort Has A Bad Week; Twitter, Facebook In The Hot Seat : NPR

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Paul Manafort speaks on the phone while touring the floor of the Republican National Convention on July 17, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption

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Paul Manafort speaks on the phone while touring the floor of the Republican National Convention on July 17, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Last week in the Russia imbroglio: Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, got some bad news; members of Congress put social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, under the interrogation lights; and with all these many lawyers now running around — the meter is running too.

Much more below.

The Russia story is so vast, has been running for so long — and may continue for so much longer — that NPR journalists have been getting an update inside the newsroom every day to try to keep them in step. On the theory that other readers also might find the reports useful, here’s a version of our newsletter called “The Daily Imbroglio,” which also includes a look back at events from the past week you might have missed.

Reports: U.S. Government Surveilled Manafort … Sometime … Somewhen

Donald Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was under U.S. government surveillance at some point, according to reports this week — although they do not agree as to the particulars. CNN was first out of the gate with its story about surveillance on Monday, which called what the FBI or other spy agencies were doing “a wiretap.” The eavesdropping took place before, during and after the campaign, according to CNN.

CBS News also cited a source confirming CNN, but not many other news organizations reported this development. That stood until Friday, when the Wall Street Journal’s Shane Harris reported that the U.S. put Manafort under surveillance after he resigned from the Trump campaign in August of 2016.

But the monitoring the Journal describes is very different. Not a “wiretap” like you might have seen on The Sopranos, where FBI agents listen in real-time, but surveillance after the fact, “possibly by obtaining copies of his emails and other electronically stored communications, or by having agents follow him or conduct physical searches of his property.”

NPR has not confirmed any of these reports, and U.S. government officials have declined to comment about these kinds of law enforcement operations. A spokesman for Manafort, Jason Maloni, told NPR’sGeoff Bennett that if the stories are true, it’s evidence of abuse of power by then-President Obama and also evidence of criminal leaking by whatever sources revealed the surveillance was taking place.

Why would the Feds want to spy on Manafort? Former U.S. intelligence officials, including ex-CIA Director John Brennan, have said they’ve documented evidence of a lot of clandestine communications between people in Trumpworld and Russians. The latest data point came on Wednesday, when the Washington Post reported that Manafort had offered a private briefing on the U.S. election to to Oleg Deripaska, a Ukrainian billionaire friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The FBI wants to know whether Manafort was colluding with the Russians whose interference in the U.S. was aimed at helping Trump be elected.

Timeline Of Trump And Russia In Mid-2016: A Series Of Coincidences Or Something More?

That’s one example of what are believed to be tens of thousands of emails and other documents the Trump campaign has given congressional investigators looking into the Russia imbroglio — but it also confirms what Brennan and others have suggested. The frustration in trying to understand this story from the outside is how more evidence is deemed classified, possibly from Congress or the Justice Department, which U.S. spy agencies might not want to reveal because it compromises the sources or methods they used to collect it.

Learn More About The Trump-Russia Imbroglio

In Manafort’s particular case, investigators’ focus appears to be on alleged money laundering, foreign advocacy or other such crimes — sources told The New York Times that prosecutors working for Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller have warned Manafort they intend to indict him.


Next In The Hot Seat: Facebook And Twitter

Russian influence-mongers used more overt tools to attack the election last year than anyone first appreciated, including Facebook ads, public accounts (of fake Americans) and others. And as NPR’s Ryan Lucas reports, members of Congress want answers about what social media platforms knew at the time about what was happening — and what they’ve learned in retrospect.

The Next Big Focus In The Russia Investigations: Social Media

“The moves on Capitol Hill follow concerns that the social media giants have been less than forthcoming about how Russia may have used their platforms to try to undermine the American election,” Lucas writes.

“Facebook has acknowledged that it sold ads to some 500 fake Russia-linked accounts between 2015 and 2017. The ads addressed socially divisive issues like gun control, immigration and race relations. It also conceded in a statement that it may discover more.”

Russia's Election Meddling Part Of A Long History Of 'Active Measures'

The Intelligence Committee’s leaders, North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr and Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, had been turning up the heat on Facebook especially: The social behemoth had shown the content of some ads to committee staffers in a briefing, but not permitted the Hill investigators to keep them. Burr and Warner said they wouldn’t abide any deflection or soft-pedaling, so Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday the company would turn over the contents and cooperate with the congressional investigations. More from Facebook.

In a file photo taken on May 15, 2012, a login page of Facebook reflects in a glass panel in Kuala Lumpur. Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

In a file photo taken on May 15, 2012, a login page of Facebook reflects in a glass panel in Kuala Lumpur.

Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

How Russian Twitter Bots Pumped Out Fake News During The 2016 Election

The Intelligence Committee has scheduled a hearing about the social media aspect of the Russian influence campaign for next month. And ahead of that, representatives for Twitter — much smaller in terms of users and business throw-weight, but still highly visible in key areas — are set to meet with the Intelligence Committee next week.

Here’s what Facebook does not want: Regulations it considers onerous. So company leaders are expected to go along to get along in the hope that if they’re cooperative and forthright, Congress will not mandate restrictions on the way it does business. That might not be good enough for Warner, however, who has broached the idea of new requirements for disclosures about ad-buyers or other such new policies.


All These Lawyers Are Getting Expensive

President Trump and several administration officials have retained their own lawyers in the Russia matter, and all that advice is not cheap. So donors are covering the costs: The Republican National Committee has directed more than $427,000 to attorneys representing Trump and Donald Trump Jr., Matea Gold reported in the Washington Post.

Separately, family members of former Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn announced on Monday that they have set up a legal defense fund to help Flynn continue to pay the lawyers helping him in the Russia matter. Joe Flynn and Barbara Redgate, Flynn’s brother and sister, made a case based on Flynn’s record of service.

“Mike devoted 33 years of his life to our country serving in the United States Army, spending years away from his family while he fought this nation’s battles overseas, including the war on terror,” they wrote.

Attorneys say Flynn’s fund will not accept contributions from foreign nationals, anonymous givers or Trump’s business or campaign. But the fund is not expected to disclose how much it raises or the identities of its donors, as NPR’s Tom Bowman reported.


Briefly:

Mueller Wants White House Phone Records

Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller has asked the White House for records specifically about President Trump’s role in drafting Donald Trump Jr’s initial statement about the June 2016 meeting between campaign aides and a Russian delegation, reports Josh Dawsey for Politico.

Businessman Paints Terrifying And Complex Picture Of Putin's Russia

Meaning what? Trump had a hand in drafting the original statement that said Trump Jr., Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner met with Russians to talk about “adoptions.” But “adoptions” is the code word that Russians use when they talk about the 2012 sanctions imposed by the U.S. under the Magnitsky Act. So Mueller wants to know who in the White House was involved, what discussions took place and what the intentions of the principals were.

Rosenstein: Trump Knew Comey Ouster Wouldn’t End Russia Probe

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has told Mueller’s team that he believes Trump knew he’d encounter a political backlash by firing FBI Director James Comey, but that he didn’t expect it would end the Russia investigation, report Aruna Viswanatha and Del Quentin Wilber for the Wall Street Journal.

The James Comey Saga, In Timeline Form

Meaning what? Mueller is reported to be weighing whether Trump has obstructed justice: Comey said the president asked him to ease off of Flynn, there are reports he also asked other intelligence agency bosses how to get the FBI off the case and then Trump went ahead and fired Comey. Although Trump has said in subsequent interviews that he fired Comey (among other reasons) because of the whole “Russia thing,” Rosenstein may be trying to put in a word for his boss. He could be making the case, in so many words, that Trump isn’t guilty of obstruction because he didn’t actually expect that getting rid of Comey would get rid of the Russia matter.

Howard Students to Comey: You, Sir, Are Not Our Homey

'You're Not Our Homey,' Howard University Protesters Tell Ex-FBI Director James Comey

The former FBI director addressed the students of Howard University in Washington, D.C. on Friday, Sept. 22, in the first of what’s set to be a series of speeches as he takes a lecturer post there. Comey has built a relationship with the president of the historically black university because, in part, he wanted to bring more non-white recruits into the FBI.

It did not go over well, as NPR’s Ryan Lucas reports: Protesters interrupted with chants of “no justice, no peace” and “James Comey, you’re not our homey.” They also sang the civil rights song “We Shall Not Be Moved.”

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7 signs Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is getting serious

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While President Trump made headlines this week for his provocative rhetoric on North Korea and the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, several major developments related to the ongoing probe of possible collusion between his associates and Russia flew quietly under the radar.

Each new disclosure about the direction and breadth of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation lent credence to what many legal experts have been saying since the former FBI director began hiring lawyers with expertise in corruption, foreign bribery, and white collar crime: This is serious, and some in Trump’s orbit should be worried.

“Combined with a flurry of stories about subpoenas, grand-jury appearances and other activity, it’s reasonable to expect that Mueller is moving forward on a number of different fronts and is getting close to entering a litigation phase,” Brookings Institution fellows Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes wrote earlier this week.

Here are seven key signs that indicate Mueller and his high-powered team are digging deep and may be nearing the “litigation phase,” as Hennessy and Wittes put it.

1. Indictment warning

During the FBI’s raid of an apartment belonging to Paul Manafort earlier this summer, Mueller explicitly told the former Trump campaign chairman he “planned to indict him,” the New York Times reported Monday. According to the report, Manafort and several FBI agents picked the lock of Manafort’s home in the predawn hours of July 26 and left with “binders stuffed with documents” and photographs of “expensive suits in his closet.”

The report shed light on the aggressive tactics Mueller has employed as he reportedly seeks to “flip” Manafort against several other persons of interest in the special counsel’s investigation, including the president.

2. Record requests

It was widely reported this week that Mueller has begun requesting exhaustive records from White House aides who were clued in to the decision-making process that led to former FBI director James Comey’s firing in May, and aware of Trump’s response when he learned that ex-national security adviser Mike Flynn was under federal investigation for his lobbying for foreign governments.

Beyond Comey and Flynn, the Washington Post claimed Mueller demanded that any correspondence related to the following individuals or incidents be turned over to his team: Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian attorney last June; Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov; Manafort; the FBI’s interview of Flynn shortly after the inauguration; and a statement issued by former White House press secretary Sean Spicer the night Comey was fired.

3. Spicer’s notes and texts

Spicer made news Thursday for being snappish with Axios co-founder Mike Allen during an exchange about the notes he kept during his time in Trump’s circle, which could become a valuable resource for Mueller.

“From a legal standpoint I want to be clear: Do not email or text me again. Should you do again I will report to the appropriate authorities,” Spicer said in an email, later adding that he would “contact the appropriate legal authorities to address [Allen’s] harassment” if he continued to receive requests for comment.

A source close to Spicer said the exchange, which the former press secretary later apologized for, showed how current and former White House officials are trying to be “careful … and want to avoid attracting attention to themselves” as long as the Russia investigation is ongoing.

Spicer is one of several former and current Trump aides whom Mueller has expressed an interest in interviewing, ABC News reported earlier this month. The others include: former chief of staff Reince Priebus, White House communications director Hope Hicks, White House counsel Don McGahn, senior associate counsel James Burnham, and White House spokesman Josh Raffel.

4. Surveillance of Manafort

A bombshell report by CNN late Monday night alleged that U.S. government officials wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who remains at the center of Mueller’s investigation, before the November election and during the subsequent transition phase. The surveillance was conducted after federal investigators obtained a so-called FISA warrant, which almost always requires the demonstration of probable cause.

Sources told CNN that “some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign.”

5. Grand jury testimony

Mueller is beginning to bring in lobbyists and public relations consultants who have worked with Manafort to testify before a federal grand jury in Washington. One such individual – Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni – did so last week at a courthouse in downtown D.C.

Maloni, who began working for Manafort after the 2016 election, testified for more than two-and-a-half hours, telling reporters on his way in that “hell yeah” he was ready to appear before the grand jury. It was not immediately clear what investigators sought from Maloni’s testimony, though the longtime public relations executive may have been aware of potential errors on Manafort’s foreign-agent filing amendments, which he retroactively disclosed in June.

Mueller also issued a grand jury subpoena in August to Melissa Laurenza, a lawyer and former National Republican Senatorial Committee staffer who represented Manafort until recently.

6. Facebook ads

The social media giant turned over detailed records to congressional committees and Mueller’s team this week regarding ads purchased by a Russian company during the 2016 election. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed earlier this month that the company bought approximately $3,000 ads between June 2015 and May 2017, totalling $100,000.

There is a good chance Mueller will probe whether the advertisements “showed any of the kind of sophisticated targeting that might indicate that Americans had provided assistance,” the Atlantic’s David Graham wrote earlier this week.

7. James Quarles

Former assistant special prosecutor for the Watergate investigation James Quarles is the latest to emerge as a central figure assisting with Mueller’s probe. The Daily Beast reported Tuesday that Quarles was added to the team as its “point person” for interactions with the White House, noting that he has been constantly in touch with Trump’s legal aides to check in on document requests and confirm the status of upcoming interviews.

Quarles left his position as a partner at the global law firm WilmerHale to join Mueller’s team in June.

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Clapper: Intelligence community ‘cast doubt on the legitimacy’ of Trump’s victory – The Hill (blog) Saturday September 23rd, 2017 at 12:33 PM 

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Clapper: Intelligence community ‘cast doubt on the legitimacy’ of Trump’s victory – The Hill (blog) Saturday September 23rd, 2017 at 12:33 PM Trump And Intelligence Community – Google News 1 Share The Hill (blog) Clapper: Intelligence community ‘cast doubt on the legitimacy’ of Trump’s victory The Hill (blog) The former director of National Intelligence said that the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russians sought … Continue reading “Clapper: Intelligence community ‘cast doubt on the legitimacy’ of Trump’s victory – The Hill (blog) Saturday September 23rd, 2017 at 12:33 PM”
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These Are The 21 States Russian Hackers Targeted In The 2016 Election

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State election officials didn’t know whether their systems had been targeted until Friday.

Ukraine-born billionaire with biz ties to Russian oligarchs is funding Trump’s legal defense via the RNC / Boing Boing

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Source: Ukraine-born billionaire with biz ties to Russian oligarchs is funding Trump’s legal defense via the RNC / Boing Boing

Mueller Scorches the Earth – National Review

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National Review
Mueller Scorches the Earth
National Review
It was not enough to get a search warrant to ransack the Virginia home of Paul Manafort, even as the former Trump campaign chairman was cooperating with congressional investigators.Mueller’s bad-asses persuaded a judge to give them permission to pick …
Robert Mueller Has Requested Air Force One Phone Records in the Russia InvestigationGQ Magazine
What Scares Paul Manafort More than Mueller?Vanity Fair
What the FISA Warrants Against Paul Manafort Tell us About Mueller’s InvestigationJust Security
The Hill –The Guardian –Conservative Review –CNN
all 39 news articles »

FBI agent sentenced for disclosing sensitive material to mistress – MyAJC

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MyAJC
FBI agent sentenced for disclosing sensitive material to mistress
MyAJC
When FBI agent Ken Hillman was assigned to Northwest Georgia, his aim was clear: catch sex predators who target children online. But on Friday, Hillman stood in front of a federal judge and pleaded guilty to a crime of his own; disclosing sensitive law …and more »

Clapper: Russia’s election interference ‘cast doubt’ on Trump’s victory – Business Insider 

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Donald Trump’s election victory was called into question by the US intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s election interference, Clapper said. Source: Clapper: Russia’s election interference ‘cast doubt’ on Trump’s victory – Business Insider

Facebook to give Congress copies of 3,000 political ads bought through Russian accounts, reversing previous decision

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The company had previously shown some of the ads to Capitol Hill investigators but took back copies before they could be studied carefully, citing concerns over user privacy at the time. Facebook has reversed that position amid rising complaints from Capitol Hill that the company was not cooperating fully with its investigation. Chief Executive Mark […]

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Another connection has emerged between Donald Trump and Felix Sater: Trump’s bodyguard, Gary Uher who was an FBI agent

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Donald Trump’s bodyguard tied to figure in Russia probe

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Another connection has emerged between Donald Trump and Felix Sater, the Russian emigre and ex-con who’s become a key figure in widening investigations into ties between Trump associates and Russian figures.

Trump plays down his relationship with Sater, despite growing evidence of links between the two, including recently published emails detailing how Sater worked with a top Trump Organization lawyer on a planned Moscow property deal as late as 2016, during the presidential campaign.

McClatchy’s investigation now shows that a trusted Trump security aide hired in 2015 had intimate knowledge that Sater, twice convicted, had a criminal past and underworld connections.

Before he became Trump’s bodyguard, Gary Uher was an FBI agent involved in a complex deal to bring Sater back from Russia in the late 1990s. The resulting plea deal allowed Sater to avoid prison time in a Wall Street probe by serving as a government informant until his sentencing in 2009. During much of the time that he was a secret informant, Sater was a Trump Organization business associate, working on projects in New York, Florida and Arizona.

It’s not clear if Sater and Uher maintained an active relationship. Sater declined comment, and Uher did not respond to multiple requests for a response.

But the new information raises more questions about Trump’s ties to the Russian-born felon, Sater, and those in Sater’s orbit. “This latest revelation adds yet another connection between Trump and Russian criminals,” said Kathleen Clark, a Washington University law professor in St. Louis, who specializes in government ethics and national security law.

The Trump Organization did not respond to detailed questions about the two, and whether its executives or Trump himself were aware of Uher’s role in Sater’s federal plea deal.

But court documents from almost two decades ago, obtained by McClatchy, show that Uher played an important part in Sater’s decision to return from Russia.

This snipped section of a 2000 court deposition of then-informant Lawrence Ray shows how FBI agent Gary Uher worked to bring Felix Sater back from Russia. Almost 20 years later they both were in Donald Trump’s orbit.

Wieder, Ben

Uher was a young FBI agent when he helped convince Sater to stay out of U.S. prison by cooperating in an operation that uncovered a $40 million scam by criminally connected Wall Street firms. Numerous members of the New York-area Mafia were eventually sent to prison.

FBI veterans loosely divide agents into two categories: the brainy, whose talents tend toward pursuing paper trails, and the brawny, who prefer to be out on the street and can be more inclined to be part of a security detail.

Tall, thick and imposing, Uher fell into the latter category.

“He was a good agent,” recalled Lewis Schiliro, an expert on organized crime who at the time was the assistant director of the FBI’s New York office. He referred to the late 1990s as “a really wild time” for Russia-linked crime.

Recent court documents obtained by McClatchy show that Uher, after leaving the bureau, was referred to the Trump Organization in 2015 by Bernard Kerik, the former New York police commissioner and onetime nominee to head the federal Department of Homeland Security. Kerik withdrew his nomination and was imprisoned in 2010 after pleading guilty to tax fraud and making false statements in a federal bribery probe.

Kerik is also a former business partner of high-profile Trump surrogate Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York mayor.

Uher said in a court deposition that he and Kerik had known each other since the early 1980s in New Jersey, when Kerik trained Uher in the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department.

The December 2016 deposition came after Uher briefly made headlines in the early days of Trump’s campaign. He and other members of Trump’s security detail were accused in a lawsuit of roughing up protestors in front of Trump Tower during a book signing in September 2015.

Uher indicated in the deposition that he had worked for both the campaign and the Trump Organization, reporting directly to Keith Schiller, who headed security for the organization and went on to a similar position at the White House this year. (Schiller left that post this month.)

Uher appears to no longer work for either the Trump campaign or Trump Organization, though his current employer’s website touts those past positions.

Oshirak Group International, headquartered in suburban Virginia, shows a picture of Uher on its website and lists him as director of law enforcement. The first item on his website bio cites his work as “Body guard for Donald Trump and family.”

This screenshot from the website of the security firm OGI Security shows Gary Uher’s biography, including his time as a bodyguard for Donald Trump and his long career at the FBI.

Disclosure records show Uher’s work for the Trump campaign, which paid him and a company he worked for called XMark LLC.

Uher was paid a total of $44,920 by the Trump campaign for security work and travel expenses between June 2015 and January 2016, according to Federal Election Commission records.

XMark LLC, which is run by another former FBI agent, was paid more than $500,000 for security-related services by the Trump campaign as recently as March 2017.

Uher’s work for the campaign occurred just as Sater was scouting potential real-estate deals for Trump in Russia.

Curious overlap

Sater derailed his early career as a trader on Wall Street when he went to prison in 1993 for slashing a man in a bar-fight.

After he emerged, having lost his brokerage license, Sater joined childhood friends Gennady Klotsman and Salvatore Lauria in a criminal stock-manipulation scheme through two brokerage companies: White Rock Partners & Co. and State Street Capital Markets Corp.

Sater and Klotsman left the business in 1996, moving to Russia and working in telecommunications, including with AT&T.

While Sater was in Russia, New York City police stumbled on a Manhattan storage locker belonging to him that held weapons and documents revealing details of the stock manipulation scheme.

And that’s where Uher and Sater’s lives seem to have first intersected.

As an FBI agent, Uher worked closely with a government informant named Lawrence Ray. In a 2000 affidavit, Ray said he was dispatched to Russia by the FBI to lure Sater home. McClatchy has corroborated much of what Ray testified to in the affidavit.

A convict who has served prison time, Ray had business interests in Russia. He was eventually charged in the same investigation that swept up Sater and associates.

Ray was also close friends with Kerik, frequently dropping his name to associates. The relationship soured, according to media reports, after Kerik refused to testify on Ray’s behalf in the same stock-fraud probe involving Sater.

Ray later turned over documents to investigators in the prosecution of the politically connected Kerik, which stemmed partly from gifts Kerik accepted from a Mafia-linked construction company called Interstate Industrial, where Ray worked at the time.

During the same period as Kerik’s legal woes, Sater was a government informant. He also became a top executive at the real estate company Bayrock Group. Located two floors down from the Trump Organization in Trump Tower, it worked on a number of Trump-themed projects, including Trump SoHo in Manhattan.

After leaving Bayrock because of news reports about his criminal past, Sater nonetheless would maintain Trump Organization ties, as a “Senior Advisor to Donald Trump,” according to a business card he carried in 2010.

In 2013, Trump would say of Sater in a Florida court deposition: “If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.”

Sater for his part has frequently touted his connection to Trump. In fact, e-mails that recently surfaced in the course of the investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia show that Sater had plenty of back and forth about possible deals with Trump Organization lawyer Michael D. Cohen – whom he has known for decades — on a potential Trump real-estate project in Russia in late 2015 and early 2016.

In one email, Sater exclaims to Cohen, “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it.”

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Manafort offered ‘private briefings’ with Russian billionaire during Trump’s presidential campaign – Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles Times
Manafort offered ‘private briefings’ with Russian billionaire during Trump’s presidential campaign
Los Angeles Times
In the middle of Donald Trump‘s presidential run, then-campaign Chairman Paul Manafort said he was willing to provide “private briefings” about the campaign to a Russian billionaire the U.S. government considers close to Russian President Vladimir 
Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire ‘private briefings’ on 2016 campaignWashington Post
Paul Manafort reportedly offered to brief Russian billionaire on 2016 campaignCNBC
Manafort Offered Private Briefings on 2016 Race to Russian BillionaireNBCNews.com
New York Post –CBS News
all 137 news articles »

The specific weakness that’s cost Donald Trump everything

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Donald Trump has so many weaknesses, flaws, sins, and vulnerabilities that it would be difficult to list them all from memory. His life has been essentially a field guide for everything that’s wrong with humanity, and his legacy will be a cautionary tale. But there’s one weakness in particular that’s cost him everything – and it’s an ironic one, considering how much value he places on arrogant bluster.

Trump has gotten ahead in the business world over the years by accurately identifying the kind of wide-eyed greedy suckers who were ripe for his financial scams. He conned investors with too-good-to-be true deals, then simply kept their money and sued them if they tried to get it back. He relied on contractors that he knew he could get away with not paying. He found the kind of suckers who were eager to fall for scams like Trump University. He was adept that reading people. But then he went into politics, and something changed.

Maybe it’s because he’s in severe cognitive decline and he just can’t read people anymore, or maybe it’s because political figures are a different breed, but Donald Trump has shown himself to be remarkably bad at reading people during his time in politics. He thought Jeff Sessions was the kind of harmless doofus who would be personally loyal to him, when everyone else knew Sessions had survived as a corrupt politician all these years by being a self interested snake. When Sessions quickly recused himself in the Russia scandal in order to protect himself, Trump was the only one who was shocked.

When FBI Director James Comey put his finger on the scale in Donald Trump’s favor during the election, Trump took that as a sign that Comey liked him. In hindsight, Comey simply believed the FBI and its procedures to be more important than the real-world sanctity of the election process. So when Trump took office, he assumed Comey would protect him in the Russia investigation. Trump could have fired Comey on day one, and he’d probably have gotten away with it. But instead he waited until it was far too late, and by the time he did fire Comey, it blew up in his face.

Trump’s biggest misread of a fellow political figure might have come with his decision to latch onto Paul Manafort. Trump seemed to believe that because Manafort was a fellow scumbag who was also beholden to the Kremlin, the two would naturally watch out for each other’s interests. But now we’re learning that Manafort was only using Trump’s campaign as a way of getting out from under his Russian financial debts. We’re about to find out how Manafort managed to convince Trump to go along with this stupidity, once all those intercepted wiretapped phone calls between them inevitably surface. It’s going to come out that Manafort played Trump like a fiddle, and Trump was dumb enough to go along with it even though he was aware of Manafort’s every move.

During his time in politics, Donald Trump has consistently misjudged nearly every major political figure he’s encountered. It’s cost him time and again. It’s how he got himself incriminated in the Russia scandal to begin with. It’s how he ended up with a Special Counsel breathing down his neck, and flipping over every rock of his corrupt existence. Trump has lost everything; it’s just a matter of time. He’s lost it all because of his specific inability to read people correctly since he entered the political world. Contribute to Palmer Report

The post The specific weakness that’s cost Donald Trump everything appeared first on Palmer Report.

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New evidence that Donald Trump is flat broke – by Bill Palmer, and other stories 

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New evidence that Donald Trump is flat broke by Bill Palmer Thursday September 21st, 2017 at 2:29 AM Palmer Report 1 Share Earlier this month I wrote about how Special Counsel Robert Mueller isn’t merely going to destroy Donald Trump, he’s going to reveal his most humiliating secret: Trump is flat broke (link). I got some pushback on … Continue reading “New evidence that Donald Trump is flat broke – by Bill Palmer, and other stories”

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani trolls Donald Trump with poetry — Quartz

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A condom ad coming amidst one of India’s biggest festivals, and featuring a former porn star, has sparked outrage in the western state of Gujarat.

Furious traders have written to prime minister Narendra Modi’s government seeking a ban on the commercial hoardings—calling it an “irresponsible and immature attempt to boost sales by putting our cultural value system at stake.”

The complaint is against the Manforce condom ad in the coastal trading city of Surat. The local cops promptly brought down the hoardings. While the ad itself does not mention the word condom or sex, it does show Bollywood actress Sunny Leone and carry the tagline “Aa Navratrie ramo parantu prem thi”(This Navratri, play, but with love).

Navratri, or “Nine Nights,” which begins today (Sept. 21), is a festival observed across the country by most Hindus, who fast and pray for nine days. Piety apart, the festival is also a time to rejoice and make merry. Among Gujaratis particularly, it is marked by night-long social gatherings and community dancing—the Garba or Dandiya dance form being extremely popular.

With large parts of India still socially conservative, festivals like Navratri usher in some temporary levity and euphoria, increasing the chances of youngsters getting intimate with those of the opposite sex. “Children can do anything. Drugs, unprotected sex, and bad company are my main worry,” one parent was quoted by Reuters as saying under these circumstances.

According to the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which works towards the prevention of the disease, there is even a perceived increase in the incidence of abortions post-Navratri festivities. “Sexually-transmitted infections also rise during this period,” said Dr V Sam Prasad, the organisation’s country programme director for India.

In any case, it is often reported that contraceptive sales hit the roof during Navratri, including in Gujarat. Not surprisingly, condom companies look to ride this spike.

However, Leone, a popular celebrity in India, being featured in the ad this time has earned the wrath of Gujarat’s Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

In the letter written to the Modi’s ministry of consumer affairs, CAIT national secretary general Praveen Khandelwal has said that the ad is “shouting out to encourage youths to use Manforce condoms in the name of Navratri festival.” It labels Leone’s presence in the ad as a sign “of lust of earning huge money…brand ambassadors can go to any level irrespective of the pious and religious occasion of Navratri even.”

An e-mail sent to Mankind Pharma, the maker of Manforce condoms, did not elicit a response.

India is a fairly complex market for condom companies.

Less than 5% of households in the country use condoms. Even among those who do use them, their sale or purchase is mostly a hush-hush affair, making it difficult for companies to market and sell their brands. In any case, they mostly rely on pharmacies and online stores for this rather than regular grocery or general stores.

Condom ad campaigns, too, are sanitised to not ruffle prevalent conservative attitudes too much.

However, signing up Leone as brand ambassador in 2012 did a world of good for Manforce condoms. It resulted in a spike in sales, making the brand the largest in the category by market-share.

It wasn’t surprising, considering how popular Leone. In 2016, she trumped prime minister Modi and Bollywood star Salman Khan to become the most searched for Indian personality on Google.

Meanwhile, despite Indians’ professed attitude towards sex, they are among the world’s biggest consumers of pornography.

“The problem really is the billboard. We are a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ society. Sunny Leone is our goddess of the darkened movie theatre or our private bedrooms….When Sunny Leone winks at us from a billboard on a busy highway as we are headed to work or a family dinner, we look away nervously…Sunny Leone reminding us that we might have lustful thoughts during Navaratri embarrasses us even if the condom sales spike prove that she’s on the money,” journalist Sandip Roy wrote.

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New evidence that Donald Trump is flat broke 

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Earlier this month I wrote about how Special Counsel Robert Mueller isn’t merely going to destroy Donald Trump, he’s going to reveal his most humiliating secret: Trump is flat broke (link). I got some pushback on it, from people asking how someone with assets in the billions can be broke. The answer is simple: if your debts are larger than your assets, and servicing your debt has left you cash-poor, you’re broke. Now there’s even more anecdotal evidence of just how broke Trump is.

This summer it was revealed that Donald Trump was using funds from his phony “2020 reelection campaign” to pay for his son Don’s legal bills in the Trump-Russia scandal. This in and of itself could have been written off as Trump simply being his scamming self. He sees his campaign fundraising as being his own personal money, so of course he spent it on his own personal interests. He’s also used his own charity as a personal piggy bank, while scamming money from his other son Eric’s charity. This doesn’t mean he’s broke, just that he’s a criminal scumbag. But now it turns out he’s skimming money from a different, and more eye popping, source.

Last night it was revealed that Trump has conned the Republican National Committee into paying his own legal bills (link). This is not easily pulled off. Trump has precious little influence remaining over the Republican Party. But he’s so desperate for yet another minor cash infusion to pay his lawyers, he’s using up that last bit of remaining goodwill with the RNC. As per usual, Trump is doing all of this for a relatively small amount of money. It’s a mere $230,000 – which for a billionaire should be not even be worth the trouble.

What stands out here is the time and trouble which Donald Trump is willing to go to, just so he can pilfer small amounts of cash. He lugged himself to his own resorts every weekend just so he could steal money from the Secret Service to the tune of $60,000 in golf cart rentals and such. That’s a ton of work for what should be the equivalent of a penny lying on the ground for a billionaire. That’s because he’s not a billionaire. His properties are over-mortgaged, he has hidden international debts, and a negative net worth. Donald Trump is flat broke. Eventually it’ll surface that the $1 million he donated to hurricane relief wasn’t actually his money either. He simply doesn’t have that kind of cash available.

The post New evidence that Donald Trump is flat broke appeared first on Palmer Report.

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Oligarch family in Trump Russia dealings sells New York apartment

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The oligarch tied to President Trump’s dealings in Moscow sold a multimillion-dollar apartment in Midtown as his family’s name began to surface in the Russia investigation.

Irina Agalarova, the wife of Kremlin-connected billionaire Aras Agalarov, closed the sale of her pad on W. 52nd Street at the end of June, according to city property records.

The two-bedroom property fetched more than $2.8 million, up only $300,000 from what the Agalarovs paid for it last February.

It was not immediately clear why the wealthy family, whose patriarch rose from his roots in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan to become one of the biggest real estate developers in Russia, chose to sell its Manhattan digs.

Michael Flynn wants donations for his Trump-Russia legal defense

The sale, which had not previously been reported, closed roughly 15 months after the apartment was purchased.

Agalarov’s connections to Trump came under scrutiny as part of the probes into alleged Moscow meddling in the 2016 election.

Property documents list the Midtown apartment contract date as May 11, as investigations into possible Kremlin collusion with the Trump campaign heated up with the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

The family’s connections to Trump go back further, however, to when Emin Agalarov, the pop-star son of Aras, featured Miss Universe in a music video.

Trump-Russia investigation extends into Trump family businesses

That choice that later led to the family bringing Trump and his Miss Universe pageant to Moscow in 2013, with the then-reality TV star trotting out his catchphrase, “you’re fired,” in another of Emin’s Europop videos.

Trump and Agalarov also had discussions about creating a Trump Tower Moscow, which never materialized.

While Aras Agalarov had a passing mention in the unverified “dossier” against Trump published in January, his family was brought back into investigators’ orbit after Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, unveiled his list of foreign contacts in late June.

Those contacts included a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on the Clinton campaign that Aras Agalarov had obtained from Moscow’s top prosecutor.

Eighth person at Trump Tower meeting identified as Ike Kaveladze

Emails show that Rob Goldstone, the British publicist for Emin Agalarov, told Trump Jr. that the information was part of the Russian government’s “support for Mr. Trump.”

Trump Jr. and others have said that nothing came of the meeting, which also included Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, Kushner, Goldstone, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, a translator and Agalarov employee Ike Kaveladze.

News of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting sparked interest in the oligarch family’s dealings, including that Aras Agalarov had put his posh home in Bergen County, N.J., up for sale in mid-June.

Not Released (NR)

Top officials who have been fired or quit under Trump administration

Real estate website Zillow shows that the listing was removed on July 14, in the aftermath of the Trump Jr. emails.

Trump to pay Russia probe legal bills with campaign, RNC funds

Scott Balber, a lawyer representing the Agalarovs in the U.S., told the Daily News Wednesday that the timing was not in any way a reaction to swirling investigations in Washington.

“There is absolutely no connection between selling these two properties to anything in the news,” Balber said.

“I can assure you that Mr. Agalarov knows a lot more about real estate investment than you or I do,” he said.

In fact, the Agalarov clan’s properties in New York, which public records show include two other apartments, are just a few tacks on the map of foreign buyers gobbling up Manhattan real estate.

The many mistakes and gaffes of President Trump’s legal team

David Reiss, a real estate expert at Brooklyn Law School, told The News the buyers from abroad can have numerous motivations for coming to New York including “getting real estate as an asset class, taking money from their home country and bringing it abroad so it can’t be clawed back by the local government, or to have another home for family members.”

While Balber trumpeted his client’s investment acumen as a reason for the sale, Reiss said that the $300,000 gain may have actually been a loss after other fees are included, raising questions about its use as an investment.

Not Released (NR)

Donald Trump in the White House

“In the context of the Agalarovs’ portfolio this is probably a very small item so it was unlikely that this was considered a significant investment by the family,” he said.

While Reiss said there are no indications of wrongdoing on the Agalarov’s part, money laundering has become a persistent worry as multimillionaires and billionaires stash possibly ill-begotten cash in Manhattan apartments.

President Trump’s outrageous UN silence on climate change

The building where the Agalarov family sold their apartment has previously been involved in accusations of wrongdoing over allegedly illicit money from the former Soviet Union.

The government of Kazakhstan filed suit against the building’s developer Chetrit Group in October 2015, saying that former officials Mukhtar Ablyazov and Viktor Khrapunov had used the property to funnel $40 million allegedly stolen from the Central Asian country.

Chetrit reached an unspecified with Kazakhstan shortly after, saying that the “dispute has been amicably resolved.”

More than $3 million of Ablyazov and Khrapunov’s money also into the Trump SOHO project through the future President’s partner Bayrock after the pair were charged with theft, according to a Financial Times investigation last year.

Trump’s ambassador pick says Russia meddled in the U.S. election

Balber told the News that he was not aware of the allegations that were made against Chetrit.

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Trump won thanks to social media

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By Laeeq Khan, contributors – 11/15/16 05:10 PM EST
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The key to the Trump-Russia scandal? Follow the data

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They were just three words — not even uttered in real life but in a Hollywood movie — that nevertheless came to define American politics over the last 40-plus years. “Follow the money.” That’s what the fictional portrayal of the whistleblower “Deep Throat” told Bob Woodward in the 1976 movie version of “All the President’s Men” was the key to tracing the real roots of the Watergate scandal — follow the flow of illegal campaign money into Richard Nixon’s 1972 campaign…who it came from and where it was going. It turned out, of course, that the money from favor-seeking millionaires paid for illegal bugging, break-ins and other dirty tricks, and Nixon became the first and only president to resign in disgrace (so far). Despite that, the role of money in propelling political power in America grew only stronger.

Now it’s 2017 and things have changed. Money is still important, and more dark money flows into our politics than ever before. But that’s because money helps campaigns buy the real source of political power: Knowledge. And in the computer era, knowledge means data: Where to find your voters, how to reach them, what to tell them that will guarantee they turn out to vote for your candidate … or how to make the other side stay home.

If there was a Deep Throat in the Trump-Russia scandal, this is what he’d be telling today’s Woodwards and Bernsteins:

Follow the data.

With all the drama over this week’s bombshell disclosures of Donald Trump Jr.’s emails and a previously unknown Trump Tower meeting between top campaign officials and a woman who’d been pitched to them as “a Russian government lawyer,” there was another investigative report that arguably could have equal or greater significance in the ongoing probes of wrongdoing in the 2016 campaign. It said probers are now taking a much closer look at possible cooperation between Russia — which had an operation to churn out “fake news” about Hillary Clinton during the fall campaign  — and the Trump campaign’s data operation.

The campaign’s data effort was overseen by President Trump’s son-in-law and arguably his closest adviser, Jared Kushner. Here’s what the McClatchy News Service reported Wednesday:

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

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

The Washington Post also took a deep dive into the important of the “fake news” blitz in helping bring out Trump’s surprise victory in November.

In October of last year, Bloomberg News reported that the campaign’s digital arm, run by Brad Parscale, would target possible Hillary Clinton voters for an inverse pitch. The Trump campaign would not show them ads making the case for voting for Trump; instead, they showed videos that they hoped would dampen enthusiasm for Clinton — and get the voters to stay home.

[A] young staffer showed off a South Park-style animation he’d created of Clinton delivering the “super predator” line (using audio from her original 1996 sound bite), as cartoon text popped up around her: “Hillary Thinks African Americans are Super Predators.” The animation will be delivered to certain African American voters through Facebook “dark posts” — nonpublic posts whose viewership the campaign controls so that, as Parscale puts it, “only the people we want to see it, see it.”

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia back in May questioned how the Russian fake-news-spreaders knew which voters to contact. He said: “When you see some of the explanation and some of the fact that it appears that, for example, women and African Americans were targeted in places like Wisconsin and Michigan, where the Democrats were too brain dead to realize those states were even in play … It was interesting that those states seem to be targeted where the bots — where they could could create a lot of these fake Twitter and Facebook accounts, could in fact overwhelm the targeted search engines that would end up saying on your news feed, you suddenly got stuff that “Hillary Clinton’s sick” or “Hillary Clinton’s stealing money from the State Department.”

It’s fascinating: Most of the media attention has focused on the emails that were hacked — i.e., stolen … a felony — from Democratic sources, allegedly by the Russians, and then leaked to help Trump’s campaign. The key points in the Trump Jr. emails bombshell were that 1) Russia wanted Trump to win the election and 2) Trump’s inner circle seemed eager to cooperate with them. And so if the Trump campaign somehow provided data to Russia’s “fake news” content farms, that would suggest an even closer level of cooperation between the winning presidential campaign and an adversarial foreign power that wanted a new president to lift economic sanctions.

Here’s where it really gets interesting. The Trump campaign, including Kushner (who also took part in the Trump Tower confab with the Russian lawyer) worked closely with a data firm — Cambridge Analytica — connected to Trump’s richest, most secretive and arguably most influential backer, hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and his daughter Rebekah. That circle also includes another top Trump adviser, Steve Bannon, who was on the Cambridge Analytica board of directors, and Kellyanne Conway, who did consulting work for the Mercers before she connected with Trump.

Much of this scenario was spelled out in an article that appeared on the website Just Security in May. After the election, Kushner bragged that micro-targeting was Trump’s secret weapon, and he specifically praised the Mercer-run outfit for Forbes:

This wasn’t a completely raw startup. Kushner’s crew was able to tap into the Republican National Committee’s data machine, and it hired targeting partners like Cambridge Analytica to map voter universes and identify which parts of the Trump platform mattered most: trade, immigration or change.

A deeply reported investigative piece in the Guardian, also published in May, made two explosive claims about Cambridge Analytica’s work over the course of 2016 that go well beyond Kushner’s claims. The first was that a key part of the Mercers’ firm’s work was indeed to suppress the Democratic turnout last November. Specifically:

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

Second, it claims that Cambridge Analytica also played a critical role in the other 2016 vote that shocked the world: The successful Brexit campaign to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union. Both that result and Trump’s election achieved the key strategic goal of Russia: Destabilizing the Western alliance. That’s no proof of collusion, of course. But you can see why investigators are stepping up their probes. In the case of hacking, we know that the Trump campaign was seeking dirt on Hillary Clinton and the Democrats and that dirt — courtesy, it is alleged, of Russian hackers — appeared just weeks later. In the case of data, we know that Jared Kushner wanted to target specific voters and the Russians set up an operation to create “fake news” content for exactly those readers. Either it’s the world’s greatest coincidence, or something darker was going on. This take by the Guardian’s writer Carole Cadwalladr is as dark as it gets:

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

To say it more simply: Follow the data.

Published: | Updated:

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Anatomy of a Russian attack: From robocalls to hoaxes, a look at tactics used

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About this series: The U.S. intelligence community has concluded an attempt to interfere in the 2016 presidential election was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin. A WTOP investigation that began in November 2016 examined how the attack happened, when it started, who was involved and what’s next. Dozens of interviews with current and former U.S. intelligence officials, members of Congress, cyber security and intelligence experts, foreign government officials, Russian nationals and American victims were conducted. Here is what WTOP learned.

WASHINGTON — In the early hours of Feb. 13, 2017, just after returning home from a trip to Africa earlier in the month, David Pollock woke up to the incessant ringing of his mobile phone.

He answered it. On the other end was someone speaking in Russian, who abruptly hung up.

“It started probably about 7 a.m. and continued many hours after that. I was getting robocalls from Russia in Russian,” he said.

Some of the relentless callers “left messages. Sometimes, they hung up, and sometimes, there was just noise after I answered,” said Pollock, the Kaufman fellow at The Washington Institute. He said that for nearly an entire working day, “the calls were coming in so fast; I couldn’t block them or delete them until many hours went by.”

Pollock believes he was targeted after publicly confronting a Russian academic, who denigrated the U.S. military and the U.S. government during a plenary session at a security conference in Morocco a few days before.

But as annoying as it was, what happened to Pollock was tame compared to the scene that unfolded in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, on the morning of Sept. 11, 2014.

‘A certain mission’

“We started getting phone calls in regards to a message titled ‘toxic fumes, hazard warning,’” said Duval Arthur, director of the office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

He told WTOP that citizens received a text message alert about 8 a.m. about an explosion at a manufacturing plant. The alert read “‘take shelter, check local media,’” according to Arthur; the dispatch was sent from Columbia Chemical Company and listed its website as <a href=”http://columbiachemical.com” rel=”nofollow”>columbiachemical.com</a>.

Within two hours, social media users from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes were inundated with posts about the incident.

Twitter and other social media platforms were jammed with images of the explosion and a screenshot of a CNN homepage. Even a YouTube video had been posted showing someone watching a TV broadcast in which ISIS had allegedly claimed responsibility for an attack on the plant.

But not a word of it was true. It was all an elaborately staged hoax.

The organization mentioned in the alert, Columbia Chemical Company, does not exist.

There is a company in the area called Columbian Chemical, owned by Birla.

Arthur told WTOP he called the company, and they said the following in a news release:

“We have been informed by the community that a text message has been received by several individuals indicating a release of toxic gas from the Birla Carbon’s Columbian Chemicals Plant near Centerville, Louisiana. The content as stated by the text message is not true. There has been no release of such toxic gas, explosion or any other incident in our facility. We are not aware of the origin of this text message.”

When WTOP asked who was responsible, Arthur said, “I was told it was the Russians, but I have no information on that — none whatsoever.”

WTOP contacted the Louisiana division of the FBI and asked about the investigation. A spokesman declined to comment on the disposition and nature of the inquiry.

Arthur is uncertain about who was behind the incident, but current and former U.S. intelligence sources are clear that it and other incidents like it are the work of a Russian government-funded network.

Both Pollock and St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, were likely victims of a troll house operation.

“These folks have a certain mission. They go 24 hours a day in 12-hour shifts. In those shifts, they are given a certain number of posts that they have to fulfill,” said former Congressman Michael J. Rogers, R-Mich.

Rogers, who chaired the House Intelligence Committee from 2011-2015, told WTOP hundreds of workers at the troll houses are assigned to target websites, social media accounts and online platforms, “which have some impact on people’s opinion on either a person or some idea or a political candidate,” that is important to the Russian government.

He said each troll, “based on the information I saw, is assigned about 135 online posts (or targets).”

In each post, according to Rogers, the troll is required to include a minimum number of characters — “something like 200,” said Rogers.

Whether it’s robocalling people perceived as hostile to the Russian government or launching intricately scripted hoaxes, it’s all believed to be a part of the Russian military’s new information warfare division — designed specifically to fight the U.S. and the West.

“They took all of their cyber-actors and combined them in this information warfare center. They talked openly about propaganda being a part of what they do. They said they were going to be smart and effective in everything they do to protect the Russian federation,” Rogers said.

Russia’s influence operations

Moscow’s new hybrid warfare machine was on full display last year.

“What we have seen in the 2016 election was an unprecedented attempt by Russia to manipulate our most basic democratic process: our electoral process and the jewel of the crown, the presidential process,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in an exclusive interview with WTOP.

The operation was based on an old idea.

“Russia, a long time back in time inside the Soviet Union, was an agent of misinformation. When it was a communist dictatorship, it used propaganda to contain its own people,” Warner said.

Many of the tactics that Russia deployed in 2016 against the U.S., he said, “They’ve been using for the last decade in places like Poland, Hungary, Romania and, of course, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.”

A U.S. intelligence official told WTOP, “Russia relies on tools it uses in its influence campaigns, such as media messaging and funding of parties, to muddy the waters about Russian activities and bolster its preferred candidates.”

Russia “probably is also increasingly using cyber-enabled disclosures to undermine the credibility of Western institutions,” said the official, looking at how Moscow skillfully hacked the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, former chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

After both entities were hacked, sources told WTOP, the information was then funneled to organizations such as WikiLeaks and DCleaks.

Warner said, “Russia started by hacking into private individual accounts of both political parties, but decided to only release information that was harmful to the Democratic candidate — Clinton.”

Somewhere mid-spring to summer of 2016, according to Warner, “Moscow changed from saying they just wanted to sow chaos to deciding they’d rather see Trump over Clinton.”

There were two phases of the operation, he said.

The first was the selective hacking of information and then letting that information be released at critical times. The second part, which Warner said “was even more sophisticated, was using modern technology and the internet, and they would pay people to create fake social media accounts and create botnets.”

He said they would use those accounts and bots to flood the internet with fake news. And, according to Warner, they were so skilled at it that they could even target specific areas.

“Data scientists have shown that in certain areas, for example in Wisconsin, Michigan or Pennsylvania, during the last 10 days of the campaign, Twitter or Facebook users wouldn’t find stories about Clinton vs. Trump,” Warner said.

Instead, he said, they would encounter fake stories “about Hillary Clinton being sick or stealing money from the State Department.”

The reason, he said, was because the overwhelming number of bots and fake social media accounts — a part of Russia’s information warfare operation — could determine what the top trending stories would be on social media platforms.

Editor’s noteWTOP’s next article looks at the evolution of Russian influence operations in the U.S.


Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2017 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

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Anatomy of a Russian attack: From robocalls to hoaxes, a look at tactics used – WTOP

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Anatomy of a Russian attack: From robocalls to hoaxes, a look at tactics used
WTOP
About this series: The U.S. intelligence community has concluded an attempt to interfere in the2016 presidential election was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin. A WTOPinvestigation that began in November 2016 examined how the attack 

4:51 AM 9/20/2017 – Paul Manafort asks Justice to investigate FBI wiretap report and other stories – Trump News Review

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Paul Manafort asks Justice to investigate FBI wiretap report Tuesday September 19th, 2017 at 8:39 PM 1 Share Sponsor Message CLOSE Former Trump associate Paul Manafort was reportedly put under surveillance following a probe into his business dealings in 2014. Video provided by Newsy Newslook President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, demanded on Tuesday that the government … Continue reading “4:51 AM 9/20/2017 – Paul Manafort asks Justice to investigate FBI wiretap report and other stories – Trump News Review”
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For Trump Aides Caught in Russia Probe, Legal Bills and Paranoia – Bloomberg

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For Trump Aides Caught in Russia Probe, Legal Bills and Paranoia
Bloomberg
The Russia investigations by Special Counsel Bob Mueller and five congressional committees appear to have focused on prominent Trump associates including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his former national security adviser, Michael …

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laocoon – Google Search

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What Trump overlooked in his UN speech – National Review

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What Trump overlooked in his UN speech
National Review
President Donald J. Trump made a speech to the United Nations, an organization he had recently dismissed as an impotent debating club, during which he mentioned North Korea, Iran, Syria, Israel, China, France, the United Kingdom, Cuba, Venezuela 
Trump speaks at the UN: 5 takeawaysWTOP

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Mueller ratchets up pressure on Paul Manafort, but who is leaking these damaging details? – Fox News

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Mueller ratchets up pressure on Paul Manafort, but who is leaking these damaging details?
Fox News
Manafort, a veteran Washington lobbyist before he joined Trump’s campaign, is under investigation for possible money laundering, tax violations and failure to disclose foreign lobbying. The disclosure does not confirm the president’s charge that the 

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The Electoral College Is a National Security Threat – Politico

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Politico
The Electoral College Is a National Security Threat
Politico
Donald Trump, of course, won those three states by a combined total of fewer than 80,000 votes, securing him an Electoral College victory and a four-year trip to the Oval Office, despite losing the national popular vote by nearly 3 million. Facebook 

Of Course Donald Trump Didn’t Coin The North Korea ‘Rocket Man’ Nickname First

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The insult is actually more than 11 years old.

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5:18 AM 9/20/2017 – Mueller team questions deputy AG amid probe of Comey firing – SFGate, and other stories | The real reason Rod Rosenstein is refusing to recuse himself in the Trump-Russia investigation by Bill Palmer 

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Trevor Noah: Donald Trump’s UN Speech Was ‘Like An Insult Comic Roasting The World’ Wednesday September 20th, 2017 at 5:03 AM Donald Trump 1 Share “If Trump didn’t have power or nuclear weapons, I think that would be a pretty dope show.” Mueller team questions deputy AG amid probe of Comey firing – SFGate Robert Mueller’s investigators … Continue reading “5:18 AM 9/20/2017 – Mueller team questions deputy AG amid probe of Comey firing – SFGate, and other stories | The real reason Rod Rosenstein is refusing to recuse himself in the Trump-Russia investigation by Bill Palmer”

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Uncovered Trump Organization Document Suggests Trump Really Was Putin’s Puppet – Independent Journal Review

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Trump’s Moscow Tower and Back-Channel Ukraine Dossier: Both … – Just Security

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Uncovered Trump Organization Document Suggests Trump Really Was Putin’s Puppet

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Along with the roiling investigation around the Trump campaign’s high-level meeting with Russian cutouts to discuss collusion, there have recently been a series of eyebrow-raising revelations about the once-planned Trump Tower Moscow, and one newly revealed document goes a long way toward connecting those dots.

It had previously been reported that plans for a luxury Trump property in Moscow were scrapped before his presidential campaign began, but a few weeks ago, it was revealed that Trump signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) for the deal while his campaign was ongoing. Now, CNN has obtained a copy of that LOI, which was later signed by Trump in January 2016.

Aside from the details of the deal, and the letter’s confirmation that Trump was definitely involved in business with Russia during his presidential campaign, the Oct. 13, 2015, email that accompanied it contained a fascinating detail. Felix Sater, the intermediary for the deal, openly suggested that Trump and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin coordinate their public comments, CNN reported (emphasis added):

Attached is the signed LOI, by Andrey Rozov. Please have Mr. Trump counter-sign, signed and sent back. Lets make this happen and build a Trump Moscow. And possibly fix relations between the countries by showing everyone that commerce & business are much better and more practical than politics. That should be Putin’s message as well, and we will help him agree on that message. Help world peace and make a lot of money, I would say that’s a great lifetime goal for us to go after.

It was right around this time, you may recall, that Trump and Putin began a very public verbal love-festthat included moments like this December interview, when Trump bashfully accepted Putin’s praise, bashed President Barack Obama in Putin’s favor, and defended his brutal repression in return:

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Trump’s pattern of behavior following this email is similar to that which followed the Trump Tower meeting, which intensifies the possibility that Trump was aware of both overtures, and willingly accepted them.

But this email also suggests that, like a great many other things, Hillary Clinton was right when she called Trump a puppet during her third presidential debate with him.

Relive Trump’s priceless reaction to that slam below, via CBS News.

Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.

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How the Trump administration’s secret efforts to ease Russia sanctions fell short

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In the early weeks of the Trump administration, former Obama administration officials and State Department staffers fought an intense, behind-the-scenes battle to head off efforts by incoming officials to normalize relations with Russia, according to multiple sources familiar with the events.

Unknown to the public at the time, top Trump administration officials, almost as soon as they took office, tasked State Department staffers with developing proposals for the lifting of economic sanctions, the return of diplomatic compounds and other steps to relieve tensions with Moscow.

These efforts to relax or remove punitive measures imposed by President Obama in retaliation for Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and meddling in the 2016 election alarmed some State Department officials, who immediately began lobbying congressional leaders to quickly pass legislation to block the move, the sources said.

“There was serious consideration by the White House to unilaterally rescind the sanctions,” said Dan Fried, a veteran State Department official who served as chief U.S. coordinator for sanctions policy until he retired in late February. He said in the first few weeks of the administration, he received several “panicky” calls from U.S. government officials who told him they had been directed to develop a sanctions-lifting package and imploring him, “Please, my God, can’t you stop this?”

Fried said he grew so concerned that he contacted Capitol Hill allies — including Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the ranking minority member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — to urge them to move


Just Security
Trump’s Moscow Tower and Back-Channel Ukraine Dossier: Both …
Just Security
Congressional investigators are reportedly exploring any connections between two deals brokered by Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen and Felix Sater …
Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Set to Meet with Senate Behind …LawNewzall 5 news articles »

On MSNBC Steven Harper Talks About the Moscow Tower Deal That ‘Will Get Donald Elected’ – BillMoyers.com

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BillMoyers.com
On MSNBC Steven Harper Talks About the Moscow Tower Deal That ‘Will Get Donald Elected’
BillMoyers.com
Felix Sater, wrote a series of emails to Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, in which he boasted about his ties to Mr. Putin. He predicted that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would highlight Mr. Trump’s savvy negotiating skills and be a political boon 
Russia Sought A Broad Reset With Trump, Secret Document ShowsBuzzFeed Newsall 26 news articles »

How Donald Trump Lied to Conceal His Moscow Business Partner – Mother Jones

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Mother Jones
How Donald Trump Lied to Conceal His Moscow Business Partner
Mother Jones
On December 2, 2015, during an interview with an Associated Press reporter, Trump was asked about his relationship with a fellow named Felix Sater. Trump, who was then the front-runner in the GOP presidential nomination contest, replied, “Felix Sater 
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Trump Tower Moscow Plan, Russia Sanctions Rollback Linked In New Trump Collusion Evidence, Expert SaysThe Inquisitr
Russia Sought A Broad Reset With Trump, Secret Document ShowsBuzzFeed Newsall 111 news articles »

‘Help world peace and make a lot of money’: Here’s the letter of intent to build a Trump Tower Moscow – Yahoo News

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Yahoo News
‘Help world peace and make a lot of money’: Here’s the letter of intent to build a Trump Tower Moscow
Yahoo News
A letter of intent forwarded by Russian-born businessman Felix Sater to the Trump Organization’s lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen, outlines the terms of a licensing agreement to purchase property to build a “Trump World Tower Moscow.” Sater sent the 
Uncovered Trump Organization Document Suggests Trump Really Was Putin’s PuppetIndependent Journal Reviewall 2 news articles »

Uncovered Trump Organization Document Suggests Trump Really Was Putin’s Puppet – Independent Journal Review

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Independent Journal Review
Uncovered Trump Organization Document Suggests Trump Really Was Putin’s Puppet
Independent Journal Review
Along with the roiling investigation around the Trump campaign’s high-level meeting with Russian cutouts to discuss collusion, there have recently been a series of eyebrow-raising revelations about the once-planned Trump Tower Moscow, and one newly …and more »

Who Is Felix Sater, and Why Is Donald Trump So Afraid of Him? – The Nation.

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The Nation.
Who Is Felix Sater, and Why Is Donald Trump So Afraid of Him?
The Nation.
Every time someone asks Donald Trump if he knows Felix Sater, his Russian-born, Brooklyn-bred former business associate, Trump draws a blank. Despite the fact that Sater worked on and off for a decade with the Trump Organization, and despite his recent …
‘Help world peace and make a lot of money’: Here’s the letter of intent to build a Trump Tower MoscowBusiness Insider
Document details scrapped deal for Trump Tower MoscowCNN
Not at all quiet for Trump on the Russia frontSt. Louis American
Raw Story –Metro US –Telegraph.co.uk
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‘Help world peace and make a lot of money’: Here’s the letter of intent to build a Trump Tower Moscow – Business Insider

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Business Insider
‘Help world peace and make a lot of money’: Here’s the letter of intent to build a Trump Tower Moscow
Business Insider
A letter of intent forwarded by Russian-born businessman Felix Sater to the Trump Organization’s lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen, outlines the terms of a licensing agreement to purchase property to build a “Trump World Tower Moscow.” Sater sent the 
Not at all quiet for Trump on the Russia frontSt. Louis American
REVEALED: Longtime Trump associate floated this bizarre ulterior motive for Moscow TowerRaw Story
Letter of intent to build Trump Tower Moscow: ‘Help world peace and make a lot of money’Metro US
CNN –Mother Jones –The Columbian
all 9 news articles »

Russian émigré in Trump saga still surrounded by fellow financial fraudsters – Sacramento Bee

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Russian émigré in Trump saga still surrounded by fellow financial fraudsters
Sacramento Bee
The office is rented by the engaging but elusive émigré, Felix Sater. He’s been front-page news of late for emails, now in the hands of congressional and federal investigators, detailing how he and Trump Organization attorney Michael D. Cohen sought a …and more »

‘Business as usual and nothing more’: Trump’s longtime lawyer defends contacts with top Russian official – Business Insider

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Business Insider
‘Business as usual and nothing more’: Trump’s longtime lawyer defends contacts with top Russian official
Business Insider
Cohen was in touch with the businessman, Felix Sater, in late 2015, when Trump was a candidate. The two men exchanged a series of emails in November 2015 in which they geared up to celebrate the Moscow deal, as well as Trump’s election victory, which …
Russian émigré in Trump saga still surrounded by fellow financial fraudstersMcClatchy Washington Bureau
Michael Cohen Would Take a Bullet for Donald TrumpVanity Fair
All’s Not Quiet on Trump’s Russian FrontLynchburg News and Advance
CNN –Raw Story
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Editorial: Mueller finds alarming signs — and sleazy people — in collusion probe – STLtoday.com

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Gears Of Biz
Editorial: Mueller finds alarming signs — and sleazy people — in collusion probe
STLtoday.com
But other sources have leaked three names — Michael D. Cohen, Felix Sater and Eric Schneiderman — that indicate that Mueller’s team is probing very deeply. If there’s a smoking gun to be found, Mueller is getting closer to it. Cohen is Trump’s 
Who Is Felix Sater? Trump’s Associate Bragged His Russian Deal Could Get “Our Boy” ElectedGears Of Biz
Eugene Robinson: The Russia frontWinston-Salem Journal
Week 15: A Hard Rain Falls on Trump TowerPOLITICO Magazineall 48 news articles »

Top House Democrat: ‘Past time’ to subpoena Comey documents – Los Angeles Times

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Top House Democrat: ‘Past time’ to subpoena Comey documents
Los Angeles Times
The California Democrat also says he expects Trump attorney Michael Cohen and a Russia-born associate, Felix Sater, to testify before the panel. Last week, Cohen confirmed Trump’s company pursued a project with Sater in Moscow during the Republican … 

Who Is Felix Sater? Trump’s Associate Bragged His Russian Deal Could Get “Our Boy” Elected – Gears Of Biz

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Gears Of Biz
Who Is Felix Sater? Trump’s Associate Bragged His Russian Deal Could Get “Our Boy” Elected
Gears Of Biz
Following a recent report from The New York Times, you might be wondering exactly who Felix Sater is. The Trump associate wrote an email in November 2015 to Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, saying he could get Trump elected as president. And to put …and more »

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The Trump-Russia probe contains explosive allegations and the President will struggle to conceal the secrets of his past – The Independent

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The Independent
The Trump-Russia probe contains explosive allegations and the President will struggle to conceal the secrets of his past
The Independent
And, then we have Felix Sater (aka Felix Sheferovsky), a Russian-born criminal once jailed for stabbing a man in the face, who is also a former associate of gangsters and of Trump and was once an FBI informant who, it has been claimed, supplied 
Robinson: Not all quiet for Trump on the Russian frontThe Mercury News
Week 15: A Hard Rain Falls on Trump TowerPoliticoall 942 news articles »

Felix Sater, possible key to Trump-Russia probe, faces credibility questions – Washington Examiner

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Washington Examiner
Felix Sater, possible key to Trump-Russia probe, faces credibility questions
Washington Examiner
A violent fraudster told one of Donald Trump’s closest confidants he could get Vladimir Putin’s support for the 2016 presidential campaign. But questions remain about whether Felix Saterwould be in a position to do so. Sater, whose late 2015 emails to 
Trevor Noah whistles at the new Trump Russia emails, says Felix Sater may be Trump’s ‘broken tail light’The Week Magazine
Developer who promised Russian help for Trump project was behind failed Fort Lauderdale condoMiami Herald
Felix Sater Is a Lean, Mean Trump-Russia MachineBloomberg
Esquire.com –TPM (blog) –Los Angeles Times –New York Times
all 112 news articles »

Now embroiled in Trump-Russia inquiry, Felix Sater once was an FBI informant – Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles Times
Now embroiled in Trump-Russia inquiry, Felix Sater once was an FBI informant
Los Angeles Times
On Monday, the New York Times and Washington Post reported about Felix Sater, one of Donald Trump’s business associates, and the role he allegedly played during the presidential campaign in connecting Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, to Russian …
Felix Sater Is a Lean, Mean Trump-Russia MachineBloomberg
Developer who promised Russian help for Trump project was behind failed Fort Lauderdale condoMiami Herald
Felix Sater, possible key to Trump-Russia probe, faces credibility questionsWashington Examiner
Esquire.com –The Guardian –Business Insider –New York Times
all 527 news articles »

Felix Sater Is a Lean, Mean Trump-Russia Machine – Bloomberg

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Bloomberg
Felix Sater Is a Lean, Mean Trump-Russia Machine
Bloomberg
On Monday, the New York Times and the Washington Post disclosed a series of emails involvingSater’s efforts in 2015 and 2016 to help the Trump Organization build a Trump Tower knock-off in Moscow. There’s is a little hitch that makes that noteworthy: …
Now embroiled in Trump-Russia inquiry, Felix Sater once was an FBI informantLos Angeles Times
Developer who promised Russian help for Trump project was behind failed Fort Lauderdale condoMiami Herald
Felix Sater, possible key to Trump-Russia probe, faces credibility questionsWashington Examiner
Esquire.com –The Guardian –Business Insider –New York Times
all 527 news articles »

‘Fecalboy.com’ is just one of the nasty domain names Trump pal Felix Sater used to target a common foe – MarketWatch

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MarketWatch
‘Fecalboy.com’ is just one of the nasty domain names Trump pal Felix Sater used to target a common foe
MarketWatch
Those are just some of the domain names that convicted felon Felix Sater used in his efforts to go after a common enemy of his and President Donald Trump’s, according to the Daily Beast. Jody Kriss, who is said to have worked with Sater at a real  

Felix Sater: the enigmatic businessman at the heart of the Trump-Russia inquiry – The Guardian

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The Guardian
Felix Sater: the enigmatic businessman at the heart of the Trump-Russia inquiry
The Guardian
Felix Sater, a Moscow-born businessman now at the centre of the Trump-Russia affair, says he lives by a simple code: “Screw me once, shame on you; screw me twice, shame on me for letting it happen.” As the Trump presidency finds itself increasingly …
Felix Sater Is a Lean, Mean Trump-Russia MachineBloomberg
Now embroiled in Trump-Russia inquiry, Felix Sater once was an FBI informantLos Angeles Times
Developer who promised Russian help for Trump project was behind failed Fort Lauderdale condoMiami Herald
Washington Examiner –Esquire.com –The Atlantic –New York Times
all 518 news articles »
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Anthony Weiner’s Lawyers Question Motivation of Sexting Victim

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Anthony Weiner’s Lawyers Question Motivation of Sexting Victim – New York Times

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New York Times
Anthony Weiner’s Lawyers Question Motivation of Sexting Victim
New York Times
That discovery led to the late October announcement by James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, that the bureau had opened a new investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s handling of official email, an inquiry that ended two days before the election. … In 
Pervert Weiner comes clean at last: He admits to Skype and Snapchat sessions with girl, 15 – and sexting Daily Mailall 80 news articles »

2:37 PM 9/16/2017 – Mueller obtains warrant for Russia linked Facebook ads and accounts: Legal experts say the revelation has enormous implications for the trajectory of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference 

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Mueller obtains warrant for Russia linked Facebook ads and accounts Saturday September 16th, 2017 at 2:27 PM Politics 1 Share Robert Mueller. Thomson Reuters Robert Mueller obtained a search warrant for records of “inauthentic” Facebook accounts It’s bad news for Russian election interference “deniers” Mueller may be looking to charge specific foreign entities with a crime FBI Special … Continue reading “2:37 PM 9/16/2017 – Mueller obtains warrant for Russia linked Facebook ads and accounts: Legal experts say the revelation has enormous implications for the trajectory of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference”

Facebook turns over ‘American election adverts bought by Russians’ to special counsel Robert Mueller – Daily Mail

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Daily Mail
Facebook turns over ‘American election adverts bought by Russians’ to special counsel Robert Mueller
Daily Mail
Facebook has reportedly turned over information about US election ads it believes were purchased by Russians to special counsel Robert Mueller. A source told Reuters the information includes copies of advertisements and data about the buyers of the ads.
Report: Facebook gave special investigator Robert Mueller detailed info on Russian ad buysTechCrunch
Rash Report: Russia’s election meddling extends to social mediaMinneapolis Star Tribune
Ex-Trump staffer says US President has ‘hung us out to dry’ over spiralling Russia probe legal costsThe Independent
CNNMoney –POLITICO Magazine
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Juggalos Draw Bigger Crowd On The National Mall Than Pro-Trump Rally

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Make America Whoop Whoop Again!

The Latest: Rally near White House seeks moves against Putin – Washington Post

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Washington Post
The Latest: Rally near White House seeks moves against Putin
Washington Post
… against Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The protesters who gathered in Lafayette Square park across from the White House want Trump to retaliate for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Some protesters wore T-shirts that said: “We’re not and more »

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9:50 AM 9/16/2017 – Trump News Review | Trump-Russia Investigation Updates 

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Trump Holds High Holidays Conference Call With Select Jewish Leaders

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The call exposed a fissure within the American Jewish community on how to approach relations with the White House.

Trump News Review

1. Trump from mikenova (194 sites)
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A woman who still can’t face her future: Hillary Clinton’s self-serving book blames everyone else for her defeat to … – Daily Mail
Mnuchin and Pompeo should recuse themselves from the Russia investigation – Washington Post
Who’s looking great again? It’s not America. – Washington Post
Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials – Washington Post
Morality Is Negotiable for Mr. Trump – New York Times
Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials – San Francisco Chronicle
Facebook handed Russia-linked ads over to Mueller under search warrant – CNNMoney
Donald Trump doesnt appear to recognize Melania when he sees her
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Bill Moyers: Renowned Psychiatrist Warns That Trump Is a Danger to Us All – AlterNet
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NYPD doctor recalls wounded cops and Louima crisis in new book – New York’s PIX11 / WPIX-TV
Another prosecutor joins Trump-Russia probe – Politico
Russia probes leave Trump associates struggling with huge legal bills – Washington Examiner
O say, can you see the latest example of leftist fascism? – News Sentinel
Antifa: Protectors against fascism or violent thrill-seekers? – Las Vegas Review-Journal
Bill Maher Reveals ’25 Things You Don’t Know’ About Melania Trump
Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials – Las Vegas Sun
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Afghan strategy and intel — how it works – Fox News
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Mueller obtains warrant for Russia linked Facebook ads and accounts

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  • robert muellerRobert Mueller. Thomson ReutersRobert Mueller obtained a search warrant for records of “inauthentic” Facebook accounts
  • It’s bad news for Russian election interference “deniers”
  • Mueller may be looking to charge specific foreign entities with a crime

FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller reportedly obtained a search warrant for records of the “inauthentic” accounts Facebook shut down earlier this month and the targeted ads these accounts purchased during the 2016 election.

The warrant was first disclosed by the Wall Street Journal on Friday night and the news was later confirmed by CNN.

Legal experts say the revelation has enormous implications for the trajectory of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference, and whether Moscow had any help from President Donald Trump’s campaign team.

“This is big news — and potentially bad news for the Russian election interference ‘deniers,'” said Asha Rangappa, a former FBI counterintelligence agent.

Rangappa, now an associate dean at Yale Law School, explained that to obtain a search warrant a prosecutor needs to prove to a judge that there is reason to believe a crime has been committed. The prosecutor then has to show that the information being sought will provide evidence of that crime.

Mueller would not have sought a warrant targeting Facebook as a company, Rangappa noted. Rather, he would have been interested in learning more about specific accounts.

“The key here, though, is that Mueller clearly already has enough information on these accounts — and their link to a potential crime to justify forcing [Facebook] to give up the info,” she said. “That means that he has uncovered a great deal of evidence through other avenues of Russian election interference.”

It also means that Mueller is no longer looking at Russia’s election interference from a strict counterintelligence standpoint — rather, he now believes he may be able to obtain enough evidence to charge specific foreign entities with a crime.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, now a partner at Thompson Coburn LLP, said that the revelation Mueller obtained a search warrant for Facebook content “may be the biggest news in the case since the Manafort raid.”

The FBI conducted a predawn July raid on the home of Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in late July. The bureau is reportedly investigating Manafort’s financial history and overseas business dealings as part of its probe into possible collusion between the campaign and Moscow.

jared kushnerWhite House senior adviser Jared Kushner listens as President Donald Trump answer questions regarding the ongoing situation in North Korea, Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Associated Press/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The Facebook warrant “means that Mueller has concluded that specific foreign individuals committed a crime by making a ‘contribution’ in connection with an election,” Mariotti wrote on Saturday.

“It also means that he has evidence of that crime that convinced a federal magistrate judge of two things: first, that there was good reason to believe that the foreign individual committed the crime. Second, that evidence of the crime existed on Facebook.”

That has implications for Trump and his associates, too, Mariotti said.

“It is a crime to know that a crime is taking place and to help it succeed. That’s aiding and abetting. If any Trump associate knew about the foreign contributions that Mueller’s search warrant focused on and helped that effort in a tangible way, they could be charged.”

Congressional intelligence committees are homing in on the campaign’s data operation as a potential trove of incriminating information.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC earlier this month that he wants to know how sophisticated the Russian-bought ads were — in terms of their content and targets — to determine whether they had any help from the Trump campaign.

The House Intelligence Committee also wants to interview the digital director for Trump’s campaign, Brad Parscale, who worked closely with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Kushner was put in charge of the campaign’s entire data operation and is  now being scrutinized by the FBI over his contacts with Russia’s ambassador and the CEO of a sanctioned Russian bank in December.

Facebook said in its initial statement that about 25% of the ads purchased by Russians during the election “were geographically targeted,” and many analysts have found it difficult to believe that foreign entities would have had the kind of granular knowledge of American politics necessary to target specific demographics and voting precincts.

In a post-election interview, Kushner told Forbes that he had been keenly interested in Facebook’s “micro-targeting” capabilities from early on.

“I called somebody who works for one of the technology companies that I work with, and I had them give me a tutorial on how to use Facebook micro-targeting,” Kushner said.

“We brought in Cambridge Analytica. I called some of my friends from Silicon Valley who were some of the best digital marketers in the world,” Kushner said. ”

And I asked them how to scale this stuff . . . We basically had to build a $400 million operation with 1,500 people operating in 50 states, in five months to then be taken apart. We started really from scratch,” he added.

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Mueller just obtained a warrant that could change the entire nature of the Russia investigation – Business Insider

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Business Insider
Mueller just obtained a warrant that could change the entire nature of the Russia investigation
Business Insider
Legal experts say the revelation has enormous implications for the trajectory of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference, and whether Moscow had any help from President Donald Trump’s campaign team. “This is big news — and 
New Legislation to Protect Russia Investigation’s Robert Mueller From TrumpNewsweek
Facebook handed Russia-linked ads over to Mueller under search warrantCNNMoney
Report: Facebook gave special investigator Robert Mueller detailed info on Russian ad buysTechCrunch
CBS News –Bloomberg –CNET
all 33 news articles »

The Latest: Rally near White House seeks moves against Putin – ABC News

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The Latest: Rally near White House seeks moves against Putin
ABC News
About two dozen protesters have kicked off a day of diverse demonstrations in the nation’s capital with a rally demanding that President Donald Trump take strong action against Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The protesters who gathered in Lafayette and more »

Robert Mueller’s latest hire reveals new twist in Trump-Russia probe 

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Robert Mueller spent the summer assembling a dream team for his Trump-Russia probe, and in the process he revealed something crucial. Everyone he hired was a prosecutor, not an investigator, which pointed to how he planned to approach his takedown of Trump: by prosecuting everyone around him for their various crimes and thus prompting some of them to flip on him. Now Mueller has doubled back and made another major hire, which reveals a new development in his investigation.

Mueller just hired Kyle Freeny, a prosecutor who specializes in money laundering cases (link). Here’s the thing: he already has a money laundering specialist on his team. Each of the people he’s picked has a different specialty. Now he’s doubling up, and he’s pulling someone from a fairly important federal case to make it happen. The most logical explanation for this comes down to two words: parallel prosecutions.

Let’s say that Mueller’s existing money laundering prosecutor is leading the charge against Paul Manafort. Why bring on a second money laundering prosecutor? It points to pursuing two different money laundering cases at the same time. So who’s the second target? These kinds of probes always work from the bottom of the food chain upward. This new money laundering prosecution would have to be of someone who’s at least as vital and far up the chain as Manafort is.

So now we can presume that, in addition to pursuing Paul Manafort for money laundering, Robert Mueller is also pursuing another key Trump adviser for the same charge – or he’s begun a money laundering case against Donald Trump himself. Mueller’s hires have long telegraphed where he was headed with his strategy and prosecutions. This latest hire is telegraphing that he’s so far along, he’s now pursuing parallel prosecutions of multiple major figures in the scandal.

The post Robert Mueller’s latest hire reveals new twist in Trump-Russia probe appeared first on Palmer Report.

Mueller adds money laundering expert to focus on Kushner’s shady international dealings: report

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Mueller adds money laundering expert to focus on Kushner’s shady international dealings: report

Special counsel Robert Mueller has brought on a Justice Department lawyer specializing in international money laundering, according to a new report in Politico.

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“[Kyle] Freeny, whose assignment to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s staff has not been previously reported, is the 17th lawyer known to be working with the former FBI chief on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election,” Josh Gerstein reported.

Freeny is a trial attorney from the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section.

“The Justice Department billed the “Wolf of Wall Street” case as a product of the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, an effort to pursue the proceeds of foreign corruption and return such monies to the public in the affected countries,” Politico noted. “Justice Department officials including former Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the same kleptocracy project is probing the transfer of assets overseas by Ukrainian officials, including former President Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort served as a consultant to Yanukovych and his Party of Regions — work that has triggered suspicions about the former Trump campaign chief because of Yanukovych’s warm relationship with Moscow.”

Freeny taught kindergarten in Egypt between achieving her undergrad and law degrees at Harvard.

Her Arabic language skills may be useful after the latest report that Mike Flynn, Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner had a secret meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan about building nuclear reactors in the Middle East.

Mueller has also hired Russian-speaking attorney Elizabeth Prelogar to assist Michael Dreeben — DOJ’s top criminal law expert — in the probe of possible Trump campaign collusion and/or obstruction of justice. Prelogar also graduated from Harvard Law and was a Fulbright scholar in Russia.

Andrew Weissmann headed DOJ’s criminal fraud section before joining Mueller’s team. Weissmann’s speciality is persuading witnesses to turn on friends, colleagues and superiors.

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Why Mueller’s Counterintelligence Effort is Just as Important as His Criminal Probe

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The Trump-Russia investigation: Every day, we hear something new about Robert Mueller’s criminal probe—from rumors of Kremlin-connected money laundering to questions about why the president fired former FBI director James Comey. Considering how polarized this country is, it’s understandable that much of the focus has centered on Mueller’s criminal probe.

But as the special counsel investigates possible coordination between Moscow and the Trump team, he’s not only looking at potential crimes. He’s also overseeing a counterintelligence operation, looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It’s this counterintelligence effort, not the criminal investigation, that will unravel why and how Moscow-connected groups spent at least $100,000 on Facebook ads during the campaign. Among other things.

Related: Is Trump really a Russian spy?

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Criminal investigators can’t thwart a foreign intelligence op or fix the gaps that allowed it go undetected. Both are the purview of the FBI’s counterintelligence division. These folks don’t necessarily need arrests to be successful. Take the 1989 case of Felix Bloch, a State Department officer suspected of being a Soviet spy. After attracting the attention of the FBI, the bureau’s counterintelligence officers spotted him meeting a known Soviet agent in Paris with whom he left a bag. Before the FBI could close in, however, an FBI spy named Robert Hansen tipped Bloch off, saying he was under surveillance. When the bureau confronted him about his spying activities, Bloch claimed he was simply passing stamps to the Soviet agent. He was fired, but a case against him never materialized. The good news: Soviet agents never worked with him again, and that was a win for the bureau’s counterintelligence officers.

For the FBI’s criminal division, the outcome was a lot less favorable. Which is why the two divisions are separate: One is a law enforcement agency, the other an intel shop. Law enforcement is interested in perp walks and courtroom presentations. Counterintelligence officers? Not so much. Stopping a foreign intelligence service is best done in secret. “The end goal for a prosecutor is to publicly present everything they’ve uncovered to a jury,” says Vince Houghton, a historian and curator at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. “But in counterintelligence you’d never lay all of your cards out on the table—if you do, you’re just letting your opponent gain the advantage.”

Take my case, for example. When I worked for the bureau as a double agent, my handlers at first wanted me just to watch the Russians. Knowing what they were asking for showed them what Moscow’s military needed, which helps U.S. intelligence. But there was no interest or desire to build a criminal case. (Later, when Russia showed interest in developing me into a spy, my handlers changed my role, making me an asset).

In the Trump-Russia probe, Mueller’s job is twofold: building a criminal case and investigating how the Russians meddled in the election. The former may seem more important for those hoping Trump will be impeached. But if we really want to understand what happened—and how we can make sure Moscow never interferes in our election again—it’s actually the counterintelligence part of the probe that’s paramount.

This part of the investigation may get fewer headlines, but it’s just as important.

Naveed Jamali is the author of How to Catch a Russian Spy, a memoir about working undercover as a double agent for the FBI. He continues to serve as an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve and a senior fellow in the Program on National Security at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

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Trump Holds High Holidays Conference Call With Select Jewish Leaders

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The call exposed a fissure within the American Jewish community on how to approach relations with the White House.

Mnuchin and Pompeo should recuse themselves from the Russia investigation

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Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials – Washington Post

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Washington Post
Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials
Washington Post
… Senate Judiciary Committee is considering issuing subpoenas to President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and two FBI officials close to fired director James Comey as part of the panel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.
Ex-Trump aide Manafort’s spokesman testifies to Russia probe grand juryReuters.comall 34 news articles »

Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials – San Francisco Chronicle

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San Francisco Chronicle
Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials
San Francisco Chronicle
FILE – In this July 17, 2016 file photo, then-Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland as Rick Gates listens at back left. Senate Judiciary Committee …and more »

Bill Moyers: Renowned Psychiatrist Warns That Trump Is a Danger to Us All – AlterNet

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AlterNet
Bill Moyers: Renowned Psychiatrist Warns That Trump Is a Danger to Us All
AlterNet
There will not be a book published this fall more urgent, important, or controversial than The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, the work of 27 psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health experts to assess President Trump’s mental health. They had  

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Report: Facebook gave special investigator Robert Mueller detailed info on Russian ad buys – TechCrunch

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Newsweek
Report: Facebook gave special investigator Robert Mueller detailed info on Russian ad buys
TechCrunch
An official for Facebook told TechCrunch that the company is “continuing to cooperate with the relevant U.S. authorities,” as investigations into the Russian hack of last year’s presidentialelection continue to expand. In the latest development 
New Legislation to Protect Russia Investigation’s Robert Mueller From TrumpNewsweek
Congress struggles to figure out which Russia investigation trumps the othersUSA TODAY
Facebook gives investigators new details on Russian adsCNET
The Independent –Gears Of Biz –Axios –Wall Street Journal
all 49 news articles »

Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials – Las Vegas Sun

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Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials
Las Vegas Sun
WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering issuing subpoenas to President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and two FBI officials close to fired director James Comey as part of the panel’s investigation into Russian meddling …and more »

Trump coup sees Russian cyber experts arrested and ex-KGB chief found dead

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US president Donald Trump is facing legal challenges to his “extreme vetting” order, which freezes immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and temporarily bans refugees. Elsewhere, a lesser publicised but highly significant drama is taking place. And it could undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency.

In December, the Russian security service arrested four senior cybersecurity experts as a result of an investigation into the hacking of US Democratic Party emails. The arrests could see further evidence revealed that explains how that hacking helped Trump to win the presidency. It could also provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with another ‘blackmail’ lever to use against Trump.

Meanwhile, a former KGB chief has been found dead under mysterious circumstances.

The arrests

The four men arrested are no lightweights. They include [Russian] Sergei Mikhailov, the most senior cybersecurity officer in Russia’s Federal Security Bureau (FSB, formerly KGB). Mikhailov is accused of treason – specifically, of taking bribes from an unspecified foreign organisation, so as to share data on Russian hacking.

Others arrested include Dmitry Dokuchaev (also of the FSB) and Ruslan Stoyanov [LinkedIn], the lead cybercrime investigator at Kaspersky Labs. Kaspersky is one of the largest cybersecurity firms in Europe. An unidentified man has also been arrested.

Accusations

According to The Moscow Times, a report in Novaya Gazeta claims Mikhailov implicated Vladimir Fomenko and his server rental company King Servers. In September 2016, ThreatConnect (a US cyber investigations agency) accused King Servers of involvement in the hacking of the Arizona and Illinois voting systems. And according to The New York Times, Fomenko claims he was unaware that this had happened until ThreatConnect released its findings.

Stoyanov was in charge of investigating the alleged hacking for Kaspersky Labs. He has been charged with treason. There is speculation that he passed on details of the hacking to US intelligence agents investigating alleged Russian interference in the US elections. But according to Forbes, Stoyanov’s arrest is in connection with the bribery allegations levelled against Mikhailov.

Teddy bears picnicking or hacking?

Then there are the teddy bear hackers.

ThreatConnect has accused the FSB of being the base for hacking group ‘Cozy Bear’. The GRU (Russia’s equivalent of the America’s National Security Agency (NSA)) is accused of being the base for hackers at ‘Fancy Bear‘ (aka APT 28, Strontium, and the Sofacy Group). German intelligence has agreed [German pdf] with ThreatConnect’s assessments.

It was Fancy Bear that allegedly released information which ultimately helped undermine America’s Democratic National Committee. That hack undoubtedly helped Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Unanswered questions

On 16 January, The Canary published an article about the so-called dossier on Trump, authored by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele. After summarising the history of that dossier, I concluded:

If Steele’s allegations are genuine, he should come in from the cold, face off his critics, and provide back-up evidence. If only 10% of his claims are shown to be true, there would be grounds for Trump’s impeachment.

To date, that has not happened.

The arrests of cybersecurity specialists in Russia could be interpreted as an attempt by the Kremlin to prevent further information about the alleged hacking being released. Information that could damage Putin’s relationship with Trump. And possibly damage even further the legitimacy of the US elections – and Trump’s victory.

Mysterious death

Meanwhile, linked to the Steele dossier case is the unexplained death [Russian] of a former KGB chief. Oleg Erovinkin was found dead in his Lexus on Boxing Day 2016. That was only days before the Steele dossier was made public.

According to one Kremlin watcher, after leaving the FSB, Erovinkin was appointed deputy to Igor Sechin of state-owned oil giant Rosneft. In his dossier, Christopher Steele referred to Sechin and an alleged meeting with Trump’s foreign affairs adviser, Carter Page.

screenshot-from-2017-01-15-13-28-35

Steele also added:

“A source close to Rosneft President, Putin close associate and US-sanctioned Igor Sechin, confided details of a recent secret meeting between him and visiting Foreign Affairs Adviser to Donald TRUMP, Carter Page.”

This story is still evolving and may well take centre stage again. We will be following the situation closely as it develops.

Get Involved!

– See other Canary articles about Donald Trump and the BuzzFeed dossier saga at The Canary Global.

– Visit our Facebook and Twitter pages for more of our international coverage.

Featured image via Flickr Creative Commons

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· · · · ·

Trump coup sees Russian cyber experts arrested and ex-KGB chief found dead – The Canary

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The Canary
Trump coup sees Russian cyber experts arrested and ex-KGB chief found dead
The Canary
They include [Russian] Sergei Mikhailov, the most senior cybersecurity officer in Russia’s Federal Security Bureau (FSB, formerly KGB). Mikhailov is accused of treason – specifically, of taking bribes from an unspecified foreign organisation, so as to  

Two FBI officials, Jim Rybicki and Carl Ghattas, are considered to be subpoenaed, in addition to Manafort 

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Investigate the Investigators!

Save America!

Reform the FBI!

Two FBI officials, Jim Rybicki and Carl Ghattas, are considered to be subpoenaed 

See also: 

FBI – Current News and Selected Articles Review

Peter Stzork | Peter Strzok and elections 2016

James Comey | James Comey and elections 2016

James Kallstrom | James Kallstrom and elections 2016

Rudy Giuliani | Rudy Giuliani and elections 2016

“It would be the first subpoenas for the two FBI officials, Jim Rybicki and Carl Ghattas, after the Justice Department reiterated in a letter this week that it won’t permit the two men to testify. The department had initially declined the panel’s request in July.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said in the letter that the overlapping areas of the committee’s investigation and special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe had not yet been sorted out.”

Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials – ABC News

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CNN
Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials
ABC News
The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering issuing subpoenas to President Donald Trump’sformer campaign chairman and two FBI officials close to fired director James Comey as part of the panel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 …
Ex-Trump aide Manafort’s spokesman goes before Russia probe grand juryReuters
Ex-Trump aide Manafort’s spokesman testifies to Russia probe grand juryReuters.comall 42 news articles »

Trump Russia Investigation and Facebook: Why Mueller’s Counterintelligence Effort is Just as Important as His … – Newsweek

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Newsweek
Trump Russia Investigation and Facebook: Why Mueller’s Counterintelligence Effort is Just as Important as His …
Newsweek
The Trump-Russia investigation: Every day, we hear something new about Robert Mueller’s criminal probe—from rumors of Kremlin-connected money laundering to questions about why the president fired former FBI director James Comey. Considering how …

what does Robert Mueller know?

1 Share

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with a prominent lawyer in Washington when she lamented that one of her brightest colleagues had just left her firm — and a multimillion-dollar salary — to join the government for a pittance.

Of course, that’s not unheard of; many high-fliers decide to devote part of their careers to public service. But this decision was particularly intriguing, because the senior lawyer in question had joined the secretive team working for Robert Mueller, the former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who was appointed this year to probe President Donald Trump’s dealings with Russia.

“I was surprised to see [my colleague] go — he gave up a big job,” my lawyer friend said. “But I have to think that Mueller is working on something even bigger.”

Is he? That is the $50m, or $5bn, question sparking endless chatter in Washington right now. As autumn gets under way, the headlines have mostly been dominated by stories such as hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the president’s latest speeches and tweets about immigration and tax reform, and the North Korea crisis.

But while Mueller’s probe has slipped from the spotlight, it is provoking lively — if furtive — gossip behind the scenes. The Trump team insist the probe is merely a procedural matter, sparked by the president’s Democratic opponents. “We are pleased Mueller is investigating,” one White House figure recently declared, insisting the investigation “will just prove that there is nothing there”. After all, these Trump supporters point out, it is notable that nothing incriminating has tumbled out so far from the investigation. Certainly there have been news reports this year that seem damaging: intelligence documents have suggested that Trump’s team have had extensive contact with Russian players, while CIA officials say the Russian government meddled in the election to support Trump.

However, Mueller has not revealed what he is actually investigating. And nobody has produced any public evidence showing that Trump actually colluded with Russians or broke any laws — even though large teams of investigative journalists have been looking into these tales for months. “With so many journalists on this, it’s strange they haven’t found something yet,” one senior Democratic congressman told me last week.

The Trumpians have an explanation: there is nothing to find. But lawyers who know Mueller’s team suspect there might be another explanation: Mueller is doing such a ruthlessly disciplined job that he is preventing any material from leaking. This partly reflects the character of the man, who is respected across party lines as a consummate professional. It also stems from something else: for Mueller and his other former FBI colleagues, this investigation has extraordinary historic importance, given that Trump fired James Comey in May as head of the agency for having mishandled last year’s email investigation into Hillary Clinton. “Mueller is absolutely determined to pursue this to the end — the credibility of the FBI is at stake,” said a lawyer who knows him well.

Then there is the issue of all those lawyers Mueller has hired. These already total 17, many from senior roles. Indeed, the roster is so experienced that it reads like a who’s who of the legal world, featuring prosecutors who are considered top of their field when it comes to pursuing members of the mafia, turning witnesses, and investigating money laundering and other financial crimes.

Take Andrew Weissmann, one lawyer who answered Mueller’s call; a former general counsel to the FBI, he ran the task force that sued Enron more than a decade ago. Before that, he was a federal prosecutor who successfully convicted mafia members and bosses. Then there is James Quarles, a long-time litigator who worked on the Watergate investigation, and Greg Andres, who helped to prosecute the Texas financier Robert Allen Stanford for running an $8bn Ponzi scheme. The list goes on and on.

Nobody outside the team knows exactly what they are doing. But there is speculation that they are now probing questions such as: did the Trump group launder Russian money through its real estate operations? Did Russian banks guarantee loans that big European banks made to Trump? Did the Trump organisation pay bribes to Russian groups? And, most importantly, did anybody around Trump collaborate with the Russians during the recent election to gain their support for his campaign?

As I have said, there is no proof that any of these questions will produce evidence of wrongdoing. And Trump’s supporters dismiss the whole effort as a political attack, particularly since some of Mueller’s team are Democrats. “You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history,” the president tweeted in June, insisting that Mueller’s probe was being “led by some very bad and conflicted people!”.

But don’t expect the rumour mill to stop churning; at least not until Mueller’s team issues its report or, as some Democrats fear, he is fired. One thing is clear — some day, somebody is going to make a stunning film about this drama, with its all-star legal cast. In Trumpland, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, and less believable.

gillian.tett@ft.com@gilliantett

Illustration by Shonagh Rae

Read the whole story
· · · · · · · ·

Trump and Russia: what does Robert Mueller know? – Financial Times

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Financial Times
Trump and Russia: what does Robert Mueller know?
Financial Times
And nobody has produced any public evidence showing that Trump actually colluded withRussians or broke any laws — even though large teams of investigative journalists have been looking into these tales for months. “With so many journalists on this, …
New Legislation to Protect Russia Investigation’s Robert Mueller From TrumpNewsweek
Why Mueller is drilling into Trump’s role in drafting Don Jr.’s false Russia statementVox
Robert Mueller’s Russia probe has a ‘red-hot’ focus on Facebook and other social mediaThe Independent
USA TODAY –Axios –The Inquisitr –Axios
all 52 news articles »

FAKE MEOWS: Trump Fans Share Bogus Snap Of Him Saving Cats From Harvey

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The president grabs two felines from floodwater in the clearly fake picture.

Read the whole story
· · · · · · · ·

Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials – ABC News

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CNN
Judiciary considers subpoenas for Manafort, FBI officials
ABC News
The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering issuing subpoenas to President Donald Trump’sformer campaign chairman and two FBI officials close to fired director James Comey as part of the panel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 …
Ex-Trump aide Manafort’s spokesman goes before Russia probe grand juryReuters
Ex-Trump aide Manafort’s spokesman testifies to Russia probe grand juryReuters.comall 42 news articles »

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Page 8

Trump Russia Investigation and Facebook: Why Mueller’s Counterintelligence Effort is Just as Important as His … – Newsweek

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Newsweek
Trump Russia Investigation and Facebook: Why Mueller’s Counterintelligence Effort is Just as Important as His …
Newsweek
The Trump-Russia investigation: Every day, we hear something new about Robert Mueller’s criminal probe—from rumors of Kremlin-connected money laundering to questions about why the president fired former FBI director James Comey. Considering how … 

what does Robert Mueller know?

1 Share

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with a prominent lawyer in Washington when she lamented that one of her brightest colleagues had just left her firm — and a multimillion-dollar salary — to join the government for a pittance.

Of course, that’s not unheard of; many high-fliers decide to devote part of their careers to public service. But this decision was particularly intriguing, because the senior lawyer in question had joined the secretive team working for Robert Mueller, the former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who was appointed this year to probe President Donald Trump’s dealings with Russia.

“I was surprised to see [my colleague] go — he gave up a big job,” my lawyer friend said. “But I have to think that Mueller is working on something even bigger.”

Is he? That is the $50m, or $5bn, question sparking endless chatter in Washington right now. As autumn gets under way, the headlines have mostly been dominated by stories such as hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the president’s latest speeches and tweets about immigration and tax reform, and the North Korea crisis.

But while Mueller’s probe has slipped from the spotlight, it is provoking lively — if furtive — gossip behind the scenes. The Trump team insist the probe is merely a procedural matter, sparked by the president’s Democratic opponents. “We are pleased Mueller is investigating,” one White House figure recently declared, insisting the investigation “will just prove that there is nothing there”. After all, these Trump supporters point out, it is notable that nothing incriminating has tumbled out so far from the investigation. Certainly there have been news reports this year that seem damaging: intelligence documents have suggested that Trump’s team have had extensive contact with Russian players, while CIA officials say the Russian government meddled in the election to support Trump.

However, Mueller has not revealed what he is actually investigating. And nobody has produced any public evidence showing that Trump actually colluded with Russians or broke any laws — even though large teams of investigative journalists have been looking into these tales for months. “With so many journalists on this, it’s strange they haven’t found something yet,” one senior Democratic congressman told me last week.

The Trumpians have an explanation: there is nothing to find. But lawyers who know Mueller’s team suspect there might be another explanation: Mueller is doing such a ruthlessly disciplined job that he is preventing any material from leaking. This partly reflects the character of the man, who is respected across party lines as a consummate professional. It also stems from something else: for Mueller and his other former FBI colleagues, this investigation has extraordinary historic importance, given that Trump fired James Comey in May as head of the agency for having mishandled last year’s email investigation into Hillary Clinton. “Mueller is absolutely determined to pursue this to the end — the credibility of the FBI is at stake,” said a lawyer who knows him well.

Then there is the issue of all those lawyers Mueller has hired. These already total 17, many from senior roles. Indeed, the roster is so experienced that it reads like a who’s who of the legal world, featuring prosecutors who are considered top of their field when it comes to pursuing members of the mafia, turning witnesses, and investigating money laundering and other financial crimes.

Take Andrew Weissmann, one lawyer who answered Mueller’s call; a former general counsel to the FBI, he ran the task force that sued Enron more than a decade ago. Before that, he was a federal prosecutor who successfully convicted mafia members and bosses. Then there is James Quarles, a long-time litigator who worked on the Watergate investigation, and Greg Andres, who helped to prosecute the Texas financier Robert Allen Stanford for running an $8bn Ponzi scheme. The list goes on and on.

Nobody outside the team knows exactly what they are doing. But there is speculation that they are now probing questions such as: did the Trump group launder Russian money through its real estate operations? Did Russian banks guarantee loans that big European banks made to Trump? Did the Trump organisation pay bribes to Russian groups? And, most importantly, did anybody around Trump collaborate with the Russians during the recent election to gain their support for his campaign?

As I have said, there is no proof that any of these questions will produce evidence of wrongdoing. And Trump’s supporters dismiss the whole effort as a political attack, particularly since some of Mueller’s team are Democrats. “You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history,” the president tweeted in June, insisting that Mueller’s probe was being “led by some very bad and conflicted people!”.

But don’t expect the rumour mill to stop churning; at least not until Mueller’s team issues its report or, as some Democrats fear, he is fired. One thing is clear — some day, somebody is going to make a stunning film about this drama, with its all-star legal cast. In Trumpland, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, and less believable.

gillian.tett@ft.com@gilliantett

Illustration by Shonagh Rae

Read the whole story
· · ·

Trump and Russia: what does Robert Mueller know? – Financial Times

1 Share

Financial Times
Trump and Russia: what does Robert Mueller know?
Financial Times
And nobody has produced any public evidence showing that Trump actually colluded withRussians or broke any laws — even though large teams of investigative journalists have been looking into these tales for months. “With so many journalists on this, …
New Legislation to Protect Russia Investigation’s Robert Mueller From TrumpNewsweek
Why Mueller is drilling into Trump’s role in drafting Don Jr.’s false Russia statementVox
Robert Mueller’s Russia probe has a ‘red-hot’ focus on Facebook and other social mediaThe Independent
USA TODAY –Axios –The Inquisitr –Axios
all 52 news articles »

FAKE MEOWS: Trump Fans Share Bogus Snap Of Him Saving Cats From Harvey

1 Share

The president grabs two felines from floodwater in the clearly fake picture.

“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,”

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“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,”

NC senator Thom Tillis wants to remove barriers to research on marijuana

Sen. Thom Tillis is backing the Marijuana Effective Drug Study (MEDS) Act of 2017, which was introduced Wednesday by Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Who needs the “false”, pretended, “make believe” improvement, rather than the real one? The Russians have the incorrigible historical affliction with the “Potyomkin villages”, which the American side does not share, wisely and luckily.

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mikenova shared this story from  Trump Investigations Report.

Related image

M.N.: The improvement in the US – Russia relations is needed (it looks like they cannot descend any lower) and is desirable, but: 

Who needs the “false”, pretended, “make believe” improvement, rather than the real one? The Russians have the incorrigible historical affliction with the “Potyomkin villages”, which the American side does not share, wisely and luckily. 

Address the real issues and problems, formulate and resolve the bones of contention, share honestly and fully all the information (and I mean all the information) on the present crisis, clear the mess honestly, in good faith, in-depth. And only after that, you can start rebuilding. 

The key quote: “It just ignores everything that caused the relationship to deteriorate and pretends that the election interference and the Ukraine crisis never happened,” Angela Stent, a former national intelligence officer on Russia during the Bush administration (who reviewed the document) told BuzzFeed.

“Russia confirmed that it sought to reset relations with the Trump administration but was not met with “reciprocity,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said yesterday in response to reports that Russia sent a document to the U.S. in March setting out various initiatives. Thomas Grove reports at the Wall Street Journal.”

See also:

How did these 650,000 emails get into the Abedin -Weiner laptop? | Lawyers: Teen girl Weiner sexted wanted to affect election | EXCLUSIVE: HOW TRUMP BACKERS WEAPONIZED ANTHONY WEINER TO DEFEAT CLINTON

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION – 9.14.17

The son of Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn has been a subject of the Russia investigation, according to current and former government officials, the probe into Michael G. Flynn has been focused at least partly on his work with his father’s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group. Carol E. Lee, Julia Ainsley and Ken Dilanian report at NBC News.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation includes a “red-hot” focus on Russian activities on social media, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter, Mueller’s team has also been seeking additional information from companies like Facebook and Twitter. Chris Strohm reports at Bloomberg.

The representatives of social media companies should appear before the House Intelligence Committee as part of the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 electionRep. Adam Schiff (D-Califf.) said yesterday, Max Greenwood reporting at the Hill.

Facebook cannot “speculate” whether users will be told that they were targeted by Russian propaganda, a Facebook representative said yesterday, stating that the social media company’s focus is to cooperate with the Russia investigations. Ben Collins and Spencer Ackerman report at The Daily Beast.

Allies of former F.B.I. Director James Comey have hit back at the White House for comments made by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders this week suggesting that Comey should be investigated for criminal activity, Comey’s defenders arguing that the allegations are a political attempt to discredit the original investigator into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. Niall Stanage reports at the Hill.

The White House smears against Comey have been riddled with flaws and have sometimes offered ridiculous legal arguments that have undermined the credibility of the Trump’s team, and they need “far better legal arguments” if they want to continue the campaign against Comey. Bradley P. Moss writes at POLITICO Magazine.

The revelations connecting the Trump campaign and Russia are likely to continue throughout Trump’s presidency and, as a frenzied summer full of major political stories draws to a close, “let’s not lose sight of the Kremlingate scandal.” Max Boot writes at Foreign Policy, giving an overview of the evidence of collusion that emerged over the summer.

RUSSIA-BELARUS MILITARY EXERCISES

The Russia-Belarus joint “Zapad” military exercises starting today have caused alarm in Western nations concerned that the large-scale war games could be used as a cover for Moscow to establish a permanent military presence on the border with N.A.T.O. countries, with the Secretary General of N.A.T.O. Jens Stoltenberg stating that the “lack of transparency increases the risk of misunderstanding, miscalculations, accidents and incidents that can become dangerous.” Andrew Higgins reports at the New York Times.

The exercises simulate a separatist incursion into Belarus by three imaginary countries and will be overseen by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, demonstrating the importance that Putin attaches to the drills who has promised to prevent “color revolutions” in the former Soviet regions. David Filipov reports at the Washington Post.

Sweden has launched its largest military exercise in two decades amid the “Zapad” exercises, the neutral, non-N.A.T.O. country simulating an attack from the east on a Swedish Baltic island. Johan Ahlander reports at Reuters.

The fears about “Zapad” have been unduly heightened as there is no current political crisis on Russia’s northwestern border that Moscow could take advantage of; instead the West should see the exercise as an opportunity to understand the capabilities of the Russian military. Keir Giles writes at POLITICO.

The large-scale “Zapad” exercises have increased tensions and caused concerns, Ishaan Tharoor explains the key points about the military drills at the Washington Post.

RUSSIA-U.S. RELATIONS

Russia confirmed that it sought to reset relations with the Trump administration but was not met with “reciprocity,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said yesterday in response to reports that Russia sent a document to the U.S. in March setting out various initiatives. Thomas Grove reports at the Wall Street Journal.

The Trump administration’s decision to stop using products from the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab moves back the “prospects of bilateral ties recovery,” the Russian embassy in the U.S. said in a statement yesterday, also calling for the U.S. to consider a Russian proposal to form a joint group to address cyber security issues. Reuters reports.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Damascus for a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad yesterday, Shoigu handing Assad a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulating him on lifting the Islamic State group’s siege on the eastern city of Deir al-Zour, the meeting also taking place ahead of a new round of peace talks at the Kazakh capital of Astana due to take place today and tomorrow. Al Jazeera reports.

IRAQ

The Iraqi Kurdistan region “should be aware that there will almost certainly be a price to pay for insisting on its approach for a referendum,” a statement from Turkey’s Foreign ministry said today, the APreports.

The decision to hold a referendum on Sept. 25 “is a historic mistake,” Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said today, welcoming the Iraqi parliament’s vote to reject the referendum. Reuters reports.

The impending defeat of the Islamic State group in Mosul carries risks for the future of the city, opening up the possibility of reemerging sectarian divides, posing challenges in terms of rebuilding and has also been complicated by the upcoming referendum for an independent Iraqi Kurdistan. Liz Sly and Aaso Ameen Schwan explain at the Washington Post.

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION – 9.13.17

The Department of Justice should “look at” prosecuting former F.B.I. Director James Comey, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday, emphasizing that the President was “100 percent right” in firing Comey because of his “improper” actions that “likely could have been illegal.” Anne Gearan reports at the Washington Post.

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn refused to comply with a new request to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee, a congressional source said yesterday, Jim Sciutto reporting at CNN.

RUSSIA

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed the full normalization of relations with the U.S. in an effort that began in April, according to a document obtained by BuzzFeed News, which called for a reset of diplomatic, military and intelligence interactions to the position before Russia’s interventions in Ukraine and Syria. John Hudson reports at BuzzFeed News.

Two Russian government-backed news outlets have come under the scrutiny of the Justice Department, which is seeking to establish whether they are operating in the U.S. as foreign agents. Byron Tau reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Turkish President Reçep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed concerns raised by N.A.T.O. allies over a deal to purchase Russian air missile defense systems, adding that Turkey would “continue to take precautions when it comes to our security and we’ll fend for ourselves,” the AP reports.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY

Trump is likely to visit China in November during his first official visit to Asia where he is scheduled to attend three summits, a U.S. official said yesterday, Reuters reports.

Russia Sought A Broad Reset With Trump, Secret Document Shows

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A Russian proposal obtained by BuzzFeed News reveals Moscow’s ambitious plan to break with the past and launch a major rapprochement with the United States.

Originally posted on
Updated on

us russia relations – Google Search

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Story image for us russia relations from Axios

Putin proposed a full reset on USRussia relations

AxiosSep 12, 2017
Despite Trump’s public comments on Russia (“I would love to be able to get along with Russia“), engagement between the U.S. and Russia has …

‘Probably bigger than Watergate’: Hillary Clinton frets over Russian influence in 2016 election – Business Insider

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Business Insider
‘Probably bigger than Watergate’: Hillary Clinton frets over Russian influence in 2016 election
Business Insider
While promoting her new memoir on the contentious 2016 US presidential election, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday offered her thoughts on the assessment that Russia had interfered in theelection and potentially colluded with the Trump campaign. “This is a …and more »

 

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Ex-US congressman Weiner seeks to avoid prison in teen ‘sexting’ case – Business Insider

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Daily Mail
Ex-US congressman Weiner seeks to avoid prison in teen ‘sexting’ case
Business Insider
The discovery prompted James Comey, then director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to announce in late October that the agency was reviewing the messages to determine whether toreopen its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email 
Anthony Weiner And Huma Abedin Appear In Divorce CourtHuffPost
Anthony Weiner: I ‘crushed the aspirations’ of Huma AbedinPolitico
Huma Abedin begs for mercy for ex-husband Anthony Weiner asking for sentence for sexting a 15-year-old girl not to …Daily Mail
BuzzFeed NewsCBS News
all 62 news articles »

Special operations forces injured in explosion at Fort Bragg – WLOS

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WLOS
Special operations forces injured in explosion at Fort Bragg
WLOS
Bockholt didn’t yet know the number of soldiers injured or the extent of those injuries. He also could not say what exactly caused them. “There was an incident that occurred on one of the ranges,” Bockholt said, adding that the command is investigating  

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: Robert Jay Lifton and Bill Moyers on “A Duty to Warn” – BillMoyers.com

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The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: Robert Jay Lifton and Bill Moyers on “A Duty to Warn”
BillMoyers.com
There will not be a book published this fall more urgent, important, or controversial than The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, the work of 27 psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health experts to assess President Trump’s mental health. They had 

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Trump and Russia: what does Robert Mueller know? – Financial Times Friday September 15th, 2017 at 3:10 PM

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Trump and Russia: what does Robert Mueller know? – Financial Times – GS

Trump and Russia: Investigative Journalism – GS 

__________________________

Trump and Russia: what does Robert Mueller know? – Financial Times

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what does Robert Mueller know?

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A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with a prominent lawyer in Washington when she lamented that one of her brightest colleagues had just left her firm — and a multimillion-dollar salary — to join the government for a pittance.

Of course, that’s not unheard of; many high-fliers decide to devote part of their careers to public service. But this decision was particularly intriguing, because the senior lawyer in question had joined the secretive team working for Robert Mueller, the former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who was appointed this year to probe President Donald Trump’s dealings with Russia.

“I was surprised to see [my colleague] go — he gave up a big job,” my lawyer friend said. “But I have to think that Mueller is working on something even bigger.”

Is he? That is the $50m, or $5bn, question sparking endless chatter in Washington right now. As autumn gets under way, the headlines have mostly been dominated by stories such as hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the president’s latest speeches and tweets about immigration and tax reform, and the North Korea crisis.

But while Mueller’s probe has slipped from the spotlight, it is provoking lively — if furtive — gossip behind the scenes. The Trump team insist the probe is merely a procedural matter, sparked by the president’s Democratic opponents. “We are pleased Mueller is investigating,” one White House figure recently declared, insisting the investigation “will just prove that there is nothing there”. After all, these Trump supporters point out, it is notable that nothing incriminating has tumbled out so far from the investigation. Certainly there have been news reports this year that seem damaging: intelligence documents have suggested that Trump’s team have had extensive contact with Russian players, while CIA officials say the Russian government meddled in the election to support Trump.

However, Mueller has not revealed what he is actually investigating. And nobody has produced any public evidence showing that Trump actually colluded with Russians or broke any laws — even though large teams of investigative journalists have been looking into these tales for months. “With so many journalists on this, it’s strange they haven’t found something yet,” one senior Democratic congressman told me last week.

The Trumpians have an explanation: there is nothing to find. But lawyers who know Mueller’s team suspect there might be another explanation: Mueller is doing such a ruthlessly disciplined job that he is preventing any material from leaking. This partly reflects the character of the man, who is respected across party lines as a consummate professional. It also stems from something else: for Mueller and his other former FBI colleagues, this investigation has extraordinary historic importance, given that Trump fired James Comey in May as head of the agency for having mishandled last year’s email investigation into Hillary Clinton. “Mueller is absolutely determined to pursue this to the end — the credibility of the FBI is at stake,” said a lawyer who knows him well.

Then there is the issue of all those lawyers Mueller has hired. These already total 17, many from senior roles. Indeed, the roster is so experienced that it reads like a who’s who of the legal world, featuring prosecutors who are considered top of their field when it comes to pursuing members of the mafia, turning witnesses, and investigating money laundering and other financial crimes.

Take Andrew Weissmann, one lawyer who answered Mueller’s call; a former general counsel to the FBI, he ran the task force that sued Enron more than a decade ago. Before that, he was a federal prosecutor who successfully convicted mafia members and bosses. Then there is James Quarles, a long-time litigator who worked on the Watergate investigation, and Greg Andres, who helped to prosecute the Texas financier Robert Allen Stanford for running an $8bn Ponzi scheme. The list goes on and on.

Nobody outside the team knows exactly what they are doing. But there is speculation that they are now probing questions such as: did the Trump group launder Russian money through its real estate operations? Did Russian banks guarantee loans that big European banks made to Trump? Did the Trump organisation pay bribes to Russian groups? And, most importantly, did anybody around Trump collaborate with the Russians during the recent election to gain their support for his campaign?

As I have said, there is no proof that any of these questions will produce evidence of wrongdoing. And Trump’s supporters dismiss the whole effort as a political attack, particularly since some of Mueller’s team are Democrats. “You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history,” the president tweeted in June, insisting that Mueller’s probe was being “led by some very bad and conflicted people!”.

But don’t expect the rumour mill to stop churning; at least not until Mueller’s team issues its report or, as some Democrats fear, he is fired. One thing is clear — some day, somebody is going to make a stunning film about this drama, with its all-star legal cast. In Trumpland, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, and less believable.

gillian.tett@ft.com@gilliantett

Illustration by Shonagh Rae


Financial Times
Trump and Russia: what does Robert Mueller know?
Financial Times
And nobody has produced any public evidence showing that Trump actually colluded withRussians or broke any laws — even though large teams of investigative journalists have been looking into these tales for months. “With so many journalists on this, …
New Legislation to Protect Russia Investigation’s Robert Mueller From TrumpNewsweek
Why Mueller is drilling into Trump’s role in drafting Don Jr.’s false Russia statementVox
Robert Mueller’s Russia probe has a ‘red-hot’ focus on Facebook and other social mediaThe Independent
USA TODAY –Axios –The Inquisitr –Axios
all 52 news articles »

FAKE MEOWS: Trump Fans Share Bogus Snap Of Him Saving Cats From Harvey

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The president grabs two felines from floodwater in the clearly fake picture.

“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,”

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“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,”

NC senator Thom Tillis wants to remove barriers to research on marijuana

Sen. Thom Tillis is backing the Marijuana Effective Drug Study (MEDS) Act of 2017, which was introduced Wednesday by Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Who needs the “false”, pretended, “make believe” improvement, rather than the real one? The Russians have the incorrigible historical affliction with the “Potyomkin villages”, which the American side does not share, wisely and luckily.

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mikenova shared this story from  Trump Investigations Report.

Related image

M.N.: The improvement in the US – Russia relations is needed (it looks like they cannot descend any lower) and is desirable, but: 

Who needs the “false”, pretended, “make believe” improvement, rather than the real one? The Russians have the incorrigible historical affliction with the “Potyomkin villages”, which the American side does not share, wisely and luckily. 

Address the real issues and problems, formulate and resolve the bones of contention, share honestly and fully all the information (and I mean all the information) on the present crisis, clear the mess honestly, in good faith, in-depth. And only after that, you can start rebuilding. 

The key quote: “It just ignores everything that caused the relationship to deteriorate and pretends that the election interference and the Ukraine crisis never happened,” Angela Stent, a former national intelligence officer on Russia during the Bush administration (who reviewed the document) told BuzzFeed.

“Russia confirmed that it sought to reset relations with the Trump administration but was not met with “reciprocity,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said yesterday in response to reports that Russia sent a document to the U.S. in March setting out various initiatives. Thomas Grove reports at the Wall Street Journal.”

See also:

How did these 650,000 emails get into the Abedin -Weiner laptop? | Lawyers: Teen girl Weiner sexted wanted to affect election | EXCLUSIVE: HOW TRUMP BACKERS WEAPONIZED ANTHONY WEINER TO DEFEAT CLINTON

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION – 9.14.17

The son of Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn has been a subject of the Russia investigation, according to current and former government officials, the probe into Michael G. Flynn has been focused at least partly on his work with his father’s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group. Carol E. Lee, Julia Ainsley and Ken Dilanian report at NBC News.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation includes a “red-hot” focus on Russian activities on social media, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter, Mueller’s team has also been seeking additional information from companies like Facebook and Twitter. Chris Strohm reports at Bloomberg.

The representatives of social media companies should appear before the House Intelligence Committee as part of the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 electionRep. Adam Schiff (D-Califf.) said yesterday, Max Greenwood reporting at the Hill.

Facebook cannot “speculate” whether users will be told that they were targeted by Russian propaganda, a Facebook representative said yesterday, stating that the social media company’s focus is to cooperate with the Russia investigations. Ben Collins and Spencer Ackerman report at The Daily Beast.

Allies of former F.B.I. Director James Comey have hit back at the White House for comments made by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders this week suggesting that Comey should be investigated for criminal activity, Comey’s defenders arguing that the allegations are a political attempt to discredit the original investigator into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. Niall Stanage reports at the Hill.

The White House smears against Comey have been riddled with flaws and have sometimes offered ridiculous legal arguments that have undermined the credibility of the Trump’s team, and they need “far better legal arguments” if they want to continue the campaign against Comey. Bradley P. Moss writes at POLITICO Magazine.

The revelations connecting the Trump campaign and Russia are likely to continue throughout Trump’s presidency and, as a frenzied summer full of major political stories draws to a close, “let’s not lose sight of the Kremlingate scandal.” Max Boot writes at Foreign Policy, giving an overview of the evidence of collusion that emerged over the summer.

RUSSIA-BELARUS MILITARY EXERCISES

The Russia-Belarus joint “Zapad” military exercises starting today have caused alarm in Western nations concerned that the large-scale war games could be used as a cover for Moscow to establish a permanent military presence on the border with N.A.T.O. countries, with the Secretary General of N.A.T.O. Jens Stoltenberg stating that the “lack of transparency increases the risk of misunderstanding, miscalculations, accidents and incidents that can become dangerous.” Andrew Higgins reports at the New York Times.

The exercises simulate a separatist incursion into Belarus by three imaginary countries and will be overseen by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, demonstrating the importance that Putin attaches to the drills who has promised to prevent “color revolutions” in the former Soviet regions. David Filipov reports at the Washington Post.

Sweden has launched its largest military exercise in two decades amid the “Zapad” exercises, the neutral, non-N.A.T.O. country simulating an attack from the east on a Swedish Baltic island. Johan Ahlander reports at Reuters.

The fears about “Zapad” have been unduly heightened as there is no current political crisis on Russia’s northwestern border that Moscow could take advantage of; instead the West should see the exercise as an opportunity to understand the capabilities of the Russian military. Keir Giles writes at POLITICO.

The large-scale “Zapad” exercises have increased tensions and caused concerns, Ishaan Tharoor explains the key points about the military drills at the Washington Post.

RUSSIA-U.S. RELATIONS

Russia confirmed that it sought to reset relations with the Trump administration but was not met with “reciprocity,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said yesterday in response to reports that Russia sent a document to the U.S. in March setting out various initiatives. Thomas Grove reports at the Wall Street Journal.

The Trump administration’s decision to stop using products from the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab moves back the “prospects of bilateral ties recovery,” the Russian embassy in the U.S. said in a statement yesterday, also calling for the U.S. to consider a Russian proposal to form a joint group to address cyber security issues. Reuters reports.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Damascus for a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad yesterday, Shoigu handing Assad a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulating him on lifting the Islamic State group’s siege on the eastern city of Deir al-Zour, the meeting also taking place ahead of a new round of peace talks at the Kazakh capital of Astana due to take place today and tomorrow. Al Jazeera reports.

IRAQ

The Iraqi Kurdistan region “should be aware that there will almost certainly be a price to pay for insisting on its approach for a referendum,” a statement from Turkey’s Foreign ministry said today, the APreports.

The decision to hold a referendum on Sept. 25 “is a historic mistake,” Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said today, welcoming the Iraqi parliament’s vote to reject the referendum. Reuters reports.

The impending defeat of the Islamic State group in Mosul carries risks for the future of the city, opening up the possibility of reemerging sectarian divides, posing challenges in terms of rebuilding and has also been complicated by the upcoming referendum for an independent Iraqi Kurdistan. Liz Sly and Aaso Ameen Schwan explain at the Washington Post.

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION – 9.13.17

The Department of Justice should “look at” prosecuting former F.B.I. Director James Comey, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday, emphasizing that the President was “100 percent right” in firing Comey because of his “improper” actions that “likely could have been illegal.” Anne Gearan reports at the Washington Post.

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn refused to comply with a new request to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee, a congressional source said yesterday, Jim Sciutto reporting at CNN.

RUSSIA

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed the full normalization of relations with the U.S. in an effort that began in April, according to a document obtained by BuzzFeed News, which called for a reset of diplomatic, military and intelligence interactions to the position before Russia’s interventions in Ukraine and Syria. John Hudson reports at BuzzFeed News.

Two Russian government-backed news outlets have come under the scrutiny of the Justice Department, which is seeking to establish whether they are operating in the U.S. as foreign agents. Byron Tau reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Turkish President Reçep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed concerns raised by N.A.T.O. allies over a deal to purchase Russian air missile defense systems, adding that Turkey would “continue to take precautions when it comes to our security and we’ll fend for ourselves,” the AP reports.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY

Trump is likely to visit China in November during his first official visit to Asia where he is scheduled to attend three summits, a U.S. official said yesterday, Reuters reports.

Russia Sought A Broad Reset With Trump, Secret Document Shows

1 Share

A Russian proposal obtained by BuzzFeed News reveals Moscow’s ambitious plan to break with the past and launch a major rapprochement with the United States.

Originally posted on
Updated on

us russia relations – Google Search

1 Share

Story image for us russia relations from Axios

Putin proposed a full reset on USRussia relations

AxiosSep 12, 2017
Despite Trump’s public comments on Russia (“I would love to be able to get along with Russia“), engagement between the U.S. and Russia has …

‘Probably bigger than Watergate’: Hillary Clinton frets over Russian influence in 2016 election – Business Insider

1 Share

Business Insider
‘Probably bigger than Watergate’: Hillary Clinton frets over Russian influence in 2016 election
Business Insider
While promoting her new memoir on the contentious 2016 US presidential election, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday offered her thoughts on the assessment that Russia had interfered in theelection and potentially colluded with the Trump campaign. “This is a …and more »

 

Read the whole story
· · · · · · · · · · · ·

Ex-US congressman Weiner seeks to avoid prison in teen ‘sexting’ case – Business Insider

1 Share

Daily Mail
Ex-US congressman Weiner seeks to avoid prison in teen ‘sexting’ case
Business Insider
The discovery prompted James Comey, then director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to announce in late October that the agency was reviewing the messages to determine whether toreopen its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email 
Anthony Weiner And Huma Abedin Appear In Divorce CourtHuffPost
Anthony Weiner: I ‘crushed the aspirations’ of Huma AbedinPolitico
Huma Abedin begs for mercy for ex-husband Anthony Weiner asking for sentence for sexting a 15-year-old girl not to …Daily Mail
BuzzFeed NewsCBS News
all 62 news articles »

Special operations forces injured in explosion at Fort Bragg – WLOS

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WLOS
Special operations forces injured in explosion at Fort Bragg
WLOS
Bockholt didn’t yet know the number of soldiers injured or the extent of those injuries. He also could not say what exactly caused them. “There was an incident that occurred on one of the ranges,” Bockholt said, adding that the command is investigating 

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