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|Manafort took 18 trips to Moscow while working for Putin allies.|
Political guru Paul Manafort took at least 18 trips to Moscow and was in frequent contact with Vladimir Putin’s allies for nearly a decade as a consultant in Russia and Ukraine for oligarchs and pro-Kremlin parties.
Even after the February 2014 fall of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, who won office with the help of a Manafort-engineered image makeover, the American consultant flew to Kiev another 19 times over the next 20 months while working for the smaller, pro-Russian Opposition Bloc party. Manafort went so far as to suggest the party take an anti-NATO stance, an Oppo Bloc architect has said. A key ally of that party leader, oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, was identified by an earlier Ukrainian president as a former Russian intelligence agent, “100 percent.”
It was this background that Manafort brought to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, which he joined in early 2016 and soon led. His web of connections to Russia-loyal potentates is now a focus of federal investigators.
Manafort’s flight records in and out of Ukraine, which McClatchy obtained from a government source in Kiev, and interviews with more than a dozen people familiar with his activities, including current and former government officials, suggest the links between Trump’s former campaign manager and Russia sympathizers run deeper than previously thought.
What’s now known leads some Russia experts to suspect that the Kremlin’s emissaries at times turned Manafort into an asset acting on Russia’s behalf. “You can make a case that all along he …was either working principally for Moscow, or he was trying to play both sides against each other just to maximize his profits,” said Daniel Fried, a former assistant secretary of state who communicated with Manafort during Yanukovych’s reign in President George W. Bush’s second term.
“He’s at best got a conflict of interest and at worst is really doing Putin’s bidding,” said Fried, now a fellow with the Atlantic Council.
A central question for Justice Department Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and several congressional committees is whether Manafort, in trying to boost Trump’s underdog campaign, in any way collaborated with Russia’s cyber meddling aimed at improving Trump’s electoral prospects.
His lucrative consulting relationships have already led a grand jury convened by Mueller to charge him and an associate with conspiracy, money laundering and other felonies – charges that legal experts say are likely meant to pressure them to cooperate with the wider probe into possible collusion.
Government investigators are examining information they’ve received regarding “talks between Russians about using Manafort as part of their broad influence operations during the elections,” a source familiar with the inquiry told McClatchy.
Suspicions about Manafort have been fueled by a former British spy’s opposition research on Trump. In a now-famous dossier, former MI6 officer Christopher Steele quoted an ethnic Russian close to Trump as saying that Manafort had managed “a well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the campaign and the Kremlin.
You can make a case that he …was either working principally for Moscow, or he was trying to play both sides against each other just to maximize his profits.
Daniel Fried, an assistant secretary of state in the Bush administration
Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, called that allegation “false,” saying that Manafort “never – ever – worked for the Russian government.” He also denied that Manafort ever recommended Ukrainian opposition to NATO, saying he “was a strong advocate” of closer relations with the western military alliance while advising political parties there.
“Paul Manafort did not collude with the Russian government to undermine the 2016 election,” Maloni said. “No amount of wishing and hoping by his political opponents will make this spurious allegation true.”
Maloni declined to say whether, while in Moscow, Manafort met with any Russian government officials.
Land of the oligarchs
The trail of Manafort’s decade of dealings 5,000 miles from America’s capital is murky. But the previously unreported flight records, spanning from late 2004 through 2015, reflect a man seemingly always on the move. Over those years, Manafort visited Ukraine at least 138 times. His trips between Ukraine and Moscow all occurred between 2005 and 2011 and were mostly in 2005 and 2006.
Prosecutors have charged that Manafort and associate Rick Gates funneled through a maze of foreign accounts at least $75 million in consulting fees from an array of Kremlin-leaning clients: Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who secretly paid them $10 million annually for several years; a second Ukrainian oligarch; and the ruling Party of Regions, which supported Yanukovych until corruption allegations and bloody protests led to his overthrow in February 2014.
Maloni said Manafort’s trips to Russia were “related to his work on behalf of Oleg Deripaska’s commercial interests.”
The further unmasking of Manafort’s relationship with Deripaska in recent months, however, has heightened suspicions about Manafort.
In July 2016, weeks after he was named Trump’s campaign chairman, Manafort crafted an unusual, eyebrow-raising proposal for Deripaska, a member of Putin’s inner circle. In emails first reported by the Washington Post, Manafort offered in seemingly coded language to provide “private briefings” on the U.S. presidential race for the Russian aluminum magnate. Manafort directed a trusted associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, to relay his message to Deripaska, remarking that it could be a way to make himself “whole” — possibly an allusion to a multimillion-dollar legal action Deripaska had filed against Manafort. Kilimnik, a Ukrainian citizen, once attended a Russian military academy known for training spies.
Deripaska, who did not respond to a request for comment, has denied seeing Manafort’s proposal and says it went nowhere. Kilimnik did not respond to emailed questions, but he has denied in published reports having any connection to Russian intelligence services.
Paul Manafort did not collude with the Russian government to undermine the 2016 election. No amount of wishing and hoping by his political opponents will make this spurious allegation true.
Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee’s inquiry, told McClatchy: “It certainly looks like Mr. Manafort viewed his position on the campaign as a way of further profiting personally from the work that he was doing on behalf of Russian interests.”
Manafort’s proposal to Deripaska “shows a certain willingness to trade information in the hope of obtaining financial rewards from pro-Russian interests,” Schiff said in a phone interview. “If accurate, that’s a dangerous quality to have in a campaign chairman for a presidential campaign.”
Two former U.S. government officials with knowledge of the way Putin operates said three of the oligarchs with whom Manafort had contacts – Deripaska, Dmitry Firtash, who helped finance the party behind Yanukovych, and Medvedchuk – were potential conduits with the Kremlin.
“All three of those guys are able to pass messages directly to Putin, as well as to his subordinates and aides within the Russian presidential administration,” said one of the ex-officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. “So they all have access and Manafort knew all three or their close associates fairly well.”
No evidence has surfaced that Manafort used any of them to pass messages between the campaign and the Kremlin.
During Manafort’s five-month tenure with the campaign, Russian emissaries made at least two behind-the-scenes offers to deliver “dirt” about Clinton to Trump’s campaign, including at a June 9, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower three weeks after Manafort was promoted to campaign chairman; he attended the meeting along with Donald Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and a Russian lawyer. Trump’s aides say nothing came of that discussion, or a similar offer conveyed in April 2016 to foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos; Manafort was copied on an email relaying that offer, which said the Russians had “thousands” of emails from Democrats.
In July, days before the Democratic National Convention, the British transparency group WikiLeaks began publishing thousands of embarrassing emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia was behind the hacking, and also was responsible for the social media dissemination of a blizzard of fake and harshly critical news about Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Schiff, emphasizing he could only discuss what’s on the public record, said “these are some of the communications and interactions that are of deep interest to us, because obviously the timing is highly suggestive. It’s one of the reasons why Manafort is such a key figure in all of this.”
He certainly brought a pro-Russian proclivity to a campaign that already seemed to have one. Whether he was attracted to the trump campaign or the campaign was attracted to him on the basis of his Russian contacts … he did bring those Russian contacts and pro-Russian prejudices with him to the campaign and apparently found a welcome environment there.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee
Manafort first began to establish connections in Ukraine – ground zero in the geopolitical struggle between Putin’s Russia and the West – in late 2004. His reputation as a masterful political strategist and fixer was earned over decades hopping planes to the Congo, Philippines and elsewhere to advise authoritarian rulers friendly with the United States.
By the end of that year, the former Soviet republic of Ukraine was paralyzed by widespread protests amid allegations that Yanukovych, the prime minister in a government rife with corruption, had won the presidency in a rigged election. What became the Orange Revolution persisted until another, internationally monitored vote was held and rival Victor Yushchenko was declared the winner.
Manafort and a partner formed Davis Manafort Partners Inc. in early 2005 and opened offices in Kiev.
EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM
Manafort’s first client in Ukraine was Rinat Akhmetov, the country’s richest man and a key funder of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. Deripaska introduced Manafort to Akhmetov, who hailed from Russia-leaning Eastern Ukraine. In the summer of 2005, Akhmetov tapped Manafort to help Yanukovych and his party in the 2006 elections, according to an American consultant based in Kiev, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid damaging relationships.
The multimillion-dollar political consulting deal was sealed at a meeting in an elite Moscow hotel attended by Manafort, Akhmetov and a half dozen other wealthy Ukrainians.
Manafort spent the next several years advising Deripaska, Akhmetov and other Ukrainian oligarchs and giving the gruff-talking Yanukovych a makeover down to his hair style and attire. Yanukovych won the presidency in 2010.
EDITORS: END OPTIONAL TRIM
In 2014, however, Manafort’s business took a hit when Yanukovych fled to Russia, days before Kremlin-backed forces invaded Eastern Ukraine. He was quickly hired by the Opposition Bloc, which leaned even more toward Moscow.
His work drew rave reviews from one Oppo Bloc leader, Nestor Shufrych, whom multiple people in positions to know described as a close ally of Medvedchuk. Shufrych told a Ukrainian publication that Manafort urged the new party to take an anti-NATO stance and be the “voice of Russians in (Ukraine’s) East.”
Calling Manafort “a genius,” Shufrych said the party had paid him about $1 million, and the investment “paid off.”
Philip Griffin, a former associate of Manafort’s who consults in Kiev, said he could not imagine Manafort opposing NATO. “Paul Manafort is a Reagan Republican,” Griffin said. “He would never betray that legacy by doing Russia’s bidding.”
Maloni said Manafort argued strongly that “Ukraine was better served by having closer relations with the West and NATO.”
He also said Manafort succeeded in pushing “a number of major initiatives that were strongly supported by the U.S. government and opposed by Russia,” including the denuclearization of Ukraine and the expansion of NATO exercises in the region.
138 The number of trips Paul Manafort took to Ukraine between 2004 and 2015 while consulting for Russian and pro-Russian oligarchs.
Some former U.S. government officials, though, are skeptical.
Despite Ukraine’s popular uprising against Yanukovych that led to at least 75 deaths, “Paul Manafort maintained ties to the Opposition Bloc party and Viktor Yanukovych’s former cronies, thus choosing to associate himself with crooks and kleptocrats rather than Ukraine’s pro-Western reformers,” said Mike Carpenter, who focused on Russia matters as a top Pentagon and National Security Council official during the Obama administration. “This speaks volumes about his character and lack of respect for democratic values.”
One of Shufrych’s and Oppo Bloc’s behind-the-scenes allies was Medvedchuk, who is so close to Putin that the Russian president is the godfather of his daughter.
Partial transcripts from tape recordings of then-Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, published in 2002, show Kumcha saying: “Well, we know about it, that he was a KGB agent, 100 percent.”
Details of Manafort’s contacts with Medvedchuk could not be learned. But Medvedchuk, who is under U.S. sanctions, has acknowledged meeting Manafort once in 2014.
Flights of interest
Several of the trips in Manafort’s flight records could draw investigators’ interest.
In April 2014, for instance, Manafort traveled to Vienna. Ukrainian oligarch Firtash had been arrested there the prior month on U.S. charges that he helped orchestrate an $18.5 million bribery scheme involving the government of India, a U.S. firm and a Firtash company in the Virgin Islands. A former U.S. government official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Manafort met with Firtash in Vienna, where he is awaiting extradition to the United States.
Another Manafort trip that could interest investigators took place in July 2013 when Manafort and Kilimnik flew to Frankfurt on a private plane owned by Andrey Artemenko, a pro-Moscow Ukrainian legislator.
American experts on Russia said privately they suspect the trip was a prelude to a broader Russian influence effort to dissuade Yanukovych’s government from signing an agreement to associate with the European Union. That decision, experts say, opened the door to Russia’s 2014 invasion of eastern Ukraine. This year, Artemenko was expelled from the Ukrainian legislature and his citizenship was revoked after disclosures he and a Trump attorney had pitched a “peace plan” for Ukraine and Russia widely seen as favoring Moscow.
Some of Trump’s most remarked-upon statements about foreign policy that directly or indirectly implicated Russia occurred on Manafort’s watch in the 2016 campaign. For example, Trump launched broadsides against NATO allies for not contributing enough money and suggested the United States might rethink its commitment to the European mutual defense alliance credited with deterring Russian military ambitions.
Trump also raised doubts about whether he would stand behind U.S. sanctions that President Barack Obama imposed in December 2014 in retaliation for the Crimean invasion.
As the GOP platform committee drew up party positions a week before the Republican National Convention, a plank calling for the United States to provide “lethal weapons” for Ukraine’s defense wasaltered in a controversial and mysterious move. The American consultant in Ukraine said that Manafort aide Kilimnik had boasted he played a role in easing the language to recommend only “appropriate assistance” to Ukraine’s military.
EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM
Charlie Black, a onetime partner of Manafort’s, says he remains baffled by the change.
“It was inexplicable to me that a majority of platform members would have taken a pro-Russian position on Ukraine,” he said. “They must not have known this was a pro-Russia provision.”
EDITORS: END OPTIONAL TRIM
In late July after FBI Director James Comey said he would not back prosecution of Clinton over her use of a private email server to conduct State Department business, Trump took a bizarre step. He publicly beseeched Russia to help unearth 30,000 emails that Clinton said she had deleted because they dealt with personal matters.
Paul Manafort maintained ties to the Opposition Bloc party and Viktor Yanukovych’s former cronies, thus choosing to associate himself with crooks and kleptocrats rather than Ukraine’s pro-Western reformers.
Mike Carpenter, senior Pentagon and White House official who specialized in Russia during the Obama administration.
During the summer, a U.S. group supporting Ukraine asked both presidential candidates for a letter recognizing the country’s 25th year of independence since the fall of the Soviet Union. Clinton obliged. But the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America was unable to wrest a letter from the Trump campaign, said a person familiar with the matter. The group’s president did not respond to phone messages.
Manafort resigned from the campaign on Aug. 19, 2016 after The New York Times disclosed a secret Ukrainian ledger indicating he was to receive more than $12 million in off-the-books payments from Yanukovych’s party from 2007 to 2012.
Schiff said he found an intriguing symmetry between Trump’s Russia stances and Manafort’s work in Kiev that might explain their mutual attraction.
“Whether he was attracted to the Trump campaign or the campaign was attracted to him on the basis of his Russian contacts,” Schiff said, “the fact of the matter is, he did bring those Russian contacts and pro-Russian prejudices with him to the campaign and apparently found a welcome home there.”
Kevin G. Hall, James Whitlow and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project contributed to this story. Peter Stone is a McClatchy special correspondent.
|Russias Lies Are Aimed at Undermining European Democracies|
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|Exclusive: Manafort flight records show deeper Kremlin ties than previously known – News & Observer|
|harding collusion – Google Search|
|harding collusion – Google Search|
NPR–Nov 21, 2017
The new book “Collusion” is about what the author, my guest Luke Harding, says appears to be an emerging pattern of collusion between Russia, Donald Trump and his campaign. Harding also writes about how Russia appears to have started cultivating Trump back in 1987. The book is based on original …
Vanity Fair–Nov 16, 2017
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HuffPost–Nov 9, 2017
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Business Insider–Nov 18, 2017
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Raw Story–11 hours ago
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Publishers Weekly–Nov 6, 2017
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Guardian journalist has book coming on Trump and Russia
ABC News–Nov 6, 2017
MSNBC–Nov 16, 2017
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POLITICO Magazine–Nov 19, 2017
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|Alt-America and English Uprising review Trump, Brexit and the far right|
Both David Neiwerts book on the US radical right and Paul Stockers on Brexit argue that economic factors take second place in explaining populismDonald Trump is US president because just under 80,000 people in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin flipped those states his way. Many of his extra voters were working-class white men who had voted for Obama in 2012 and switched because of Trumps pledge to bring jobs back to the rust belt. They may not have liked Obamas liberal policies on gay people and guns, but for them the big issue remained the economy.
But Trump would not have won without the support of three other groups: his gains in suburban and rural counties outweighed Hillary Clintons success in the big cities; despite the reservations of the Republican establishment about his candidacy, Trump retained the partys base, particularly among religious voters (the three times married pussy-grabber won more than 80% of white evangelicals); and he energised a movement of supporters that gained him the Republican nomination, without which he wouldnt have got any votes at all.
|trump and far right – Google Search|
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HuffPost–Nov 3, 2017
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Washington Post–Nov 9, 2017
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Newsweek–Nov 8, 2017
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|Ynetnews News – Classified Israeli intel Trump disclosed to Russia revealed|
New information on the classified Israeli intelligence US President Donald Trump revealed to Russia has been uncovered, detailing a special operations mission by the IDF special commando unit Sayeret Matkal and the Mossad deep inside Syrian territory, it was reported in the US magazine Vanity Fair.
It was revealed in June that Israeli cyber operators were able to penetrate a small cell of extremist bomb makers in Syria who were working to make explosives resembling laptop batteries capable of bypassing X-ray machines unnoticed.
According to Vanity Fair’s report, the operation—which took place in February—aimed to acquire information on new explosive technology being developed by Ibrahim al-Asiri, an al-Qaeda’s chief bombmaker.
Intelligence for the classified mission, according to an ABC report from American sources, was provided by an Israeli spy who was planted deep within ISIS territory. His life was reportedly put in danger due to Trump’s disclosure.
According to Israeli and American intelligence sources, a Sayeret Matkal commando unit and Mossad tech agents flew two Yasur helicopters over Jordanian territory into Syrian territory.
The helicopters landed a few kilometers from the target, unloaded two jeeps bearing Syrian army insignia, which the Mossad and Sayeret Matkal personnel drove into enemy territory. The details of their operation are scarce, and specifics on how they managed to gather the information is contradictory at times. According to one source, the forces installed a microphone in the room where the ISIS terror cell was to meet, but a second source claimed that the forces had retooled a telephone booth in the meeting area to pick up and transmit surrounding sounds to the IDF Intelligence Corps Unit 8200, which is responsible for collecting signal intelligence and deciphering codes.After a few days of Unit 8200 crews listening at their base in the Golan Heights to the terror cell, there was concern that Israel had been misled by their sources in the field.
Eventually, the unit picked up the voice of an ISIS soldier who described how to turn a laptop into a bomb that can be transferred to airport airfields and board a passenger plane.
When the information reached the Mossad headquarters, officials in the organization decided to share the information with their American counterparts. According to an Israeli military source, the decision to share was also due to professional arrogance stemming from a desire to impress their partners in Washington by the tasks they were able to perform.
According to the magazine, the American espionage community considered the Israeli mission to be a “casebook example” of intelligence gathering of valued information being put to good use.As a result of this information, US officials, followed by the United Kingdom, have banned people from bringing laptops and electronic devices larger than a mobile phone on flights from several Muslim-majority countries.
Only four months later, after the airports adopted the new and tougher US safety regulations, the ban was gradually lifted.
The achievement was then overshadowed when, on May 10, Trump boasted to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak in a White House meeting about the his access to classified information.”I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” Trump reportedly bragged in the White House meeting, going on to brief the two on “code-word information” the US received from Israel which compromised Israel’s sources in enemy territory.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters that Trump’s disclosure was “wholly appropriate.” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tweeted that the allies will continue to have a “deep, meaningful and unprecedented” security relationship.
President Trump himself defended his decision by saying he had an “absolute right” to share information with Moscow.
During a press conference at the White House with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump said that his meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak was “very successful and will contribute to the war on terrorism.”
|Revealed: The highly sensitive Israeli intelligence on Isis that Donald Trump gave away to Russia – The Independent|
|Who is Bijan Kian? Feds Probe Ex-Flynn Associate for Payments From Companies With Russian and Turkish Ties|
Federal investigators probing the lobbying work of ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn are focused in part on the role of Bijan Kian, Flynn’s former business partner, according to a person interviewed by the FBI.
Investigators are also looking at whether payments from foreign clients to Flynn and his company, the now-inactive Flynn Intel Group, were lawful, according to two separate sources with knowledge of the broad inquiry into Flynn’s business activities. That includes payments by three Russian companies and Inovo, a Netherlands-based company controlled by Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin, they said.
The FBI’s interest in Kian had not been previously reported. Kian played a central role in securing and overseeing the Inovo contract, two people with knowledge of that project said.
It is not clear whether Kian is a target of the criminal investigation or whether investigators are trying to build a fuller understanding of how Flynn’s company operated.
A person recently interviewed by the FBI in connection with the Flynn investigation said agents from the bureau’s criminal division had asked as much about Kian and his work on the project with Alptekin as they had about Flynn.
Kian did not respond to repeated requests for comment, nor did the lawyer he recently hired, Robert Trout. The FBI declined to comment.
Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, did not respond to requests for comment. Alptekin declined to comment for this story but last month told Reuters that he was satisfied with the work done by Flynn Intel Group and denied any wrongdoing.
The FBI has been investigating whether Flynn’s consulting firm lobbied on behalf of Turkey—after being paid $530,000 by Inovo—without making the proper disclosure, Reuters reported earlier this month.
The federal investigation is being run by special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller has a mandate to investigate contacts between Russia and Trump’s 2016 election campaign team and any related matters. Flynn was fired by the Trump administration in February after officials said he mischaracterized a series of phone calls with Russia’s ambassador last December.
The top Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which has separately been looking into whether Flynn made false statements in applying for security clearance, said he was also scrutinizing Kian.
“I have an interest in Bijan Kian and his interactions with General Flynn based on specific documents already obtained by the committee,” Elijah Cummings told Reuters in an email.
Kelner has sought immunity for Flynn in exchange for his testimony, saying his client “certainly has a story to tell.”
Failed Coup Opens Door
In private conversations with potential clients, Kian portrayed himself as a rainmaker for Flynn, tapping into connections cultivated during a five-year tenure as a director at the U.S. Export-Import Bank, according to one person who worked with the firm.
Alptekin told Reuters in May that his firm hired Flynn Intel Group to research Fethullah Gulen’s activities in the United States, which he suspected were “poisoning” relations between the United States and Turkey. Like Turkey President Tayyip Erdogan, Alptekin blamed the coup on followers of Gulen.
Gulen has denied any role in the coup and dismisses Turkey’s allegations that he heads a terrorist organization.
Kian oversaw key elements of the project that emerged, including a still-unfinished documentary on Gulen, according to two people involved in the project.
Inovo paid Flynn Intel Group a total of $530,000, starting in September, according to a Justice Department filing by the company in March. Flynn Intel Group paid $80,000 to Inovo in “consultancy fees,” according to the filing, which does not provide more detail on why payments were made in both directions.
On September 19, 2016, Kian and Flynn met in New York with Turkey’s foreign minister and energy minister, who is Erdogan’s son-in-law, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting.
In late October Kian invited staff of the House Homeland Security Committee to Flynn Intel Group’s headquarters in Virginia. The meeting was called to show off new mobile-phone security technology, but Kian also used the opportunity to try to get a congressional hearing on Gulen, according to a person at the meeting.
At that point, the Flynn Intel Group had only disclosed its work for Alptekin’s Inovo in a filing with Congress. It had not mentioned Inovo’s ties to Turkey.
When Justice Department officials became aware months later that Kian and other Flynn Intel Group officials had met with Turkish officials, they insisted on a fuller disclosure, people involved in those discussions said.
The Flynn Intel Group made the more detailed disclosure in its March filing with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act that said the work that Flynn and Kian did for Inovo “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.”
|Bijan Kian – Google Search|
<a href=”http://NBCNews.com” rel=”nofollow”>NBCNews.com</a>–14 hours ago
Federal investigators are zeroing in on Bijan Kian, an Iranian-American who was a partner at the now-dissolved Flynn Intel Group, and have …
Report: Mueller Focusing on Flynn Business Partner Bijan Kian
Daily Beast–14 hours ago
Mueller is zeroing in on Michael Flynn
Business Insider–11 hours ago
Grand jury in Russia probe expected to question witnesses about …
Washington Examiner–11 hours ago
Mueller grand jury to question Flynn associate: report
The Hill–13 hours ago
|Will Mueller Indict Kushner? Trump’s Son-in-Law Natural Target For Russia Probe, Legal Experts Say|
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner’s failure to properly list foreign contacts on his national security clearance forms and his vast financial holdings make him a “natural” target for special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, legal experts told Newsweek.
Indeed, while there are no official indications that Kushner is a target of Mueller’s probe, he figures prominently in several exchanges that are known to be of interest to the special counsel’s team.
Kushner had contact with foreign officials during last year’s transition to the White House, at the behest of then President-elect Donald Trump. He also directly worked with data company Cambridge Analytica, whose CEO reportedly reached out to WikiLeaks to help organize the damaging Democratic emails the site published. Kushner’s also a member of Trump’s family, had glaring omissions on his security clearance forms, and his potential influence in former FBI Director James Comey’s dismissal makes him an integral player in the ongoing Trump-Russia saga that’s cast a shadow over the administration’s first year in office.
“In the broader context here, one of the main lines of inquiry about Jared Kushner is about the omissions from his national security forms,” Savannah Law School associate professor and former White House associate counsel Andrew Wright told Newsweek Wednesday. “To the extent that he had to revise his S-86 forms…to add foreign contacts that he hadn’t done, that’s going to be a natural source of investigative interest.
“That’s going to then lead the special counsel folks to start looking into that, to all the different contacts he’s had,” added Wright, who worked in the Obama administration.
Kushner and his foreign contacts during the transition have reportedly been the focus of questions by Mueller’s team, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
Trump and his administration, including Kushner, have resoundingly denied any collusion with Russia to win the election last year. Trump himself has called Mueller’s probe the greatest “political witch hunt” in the country’s history.
The special counsel’s wide-ranging probe is specifically curious about Kushner’s contacts while a United Nations resolution pertaining to Israel’s occupied settlements was before the General Assembly in December 2016, during the heart of the transition. The resolution passed 14-0, as the Obama administration opted not to use its veto power despite lobbying by the incoming Trump administration and Israel.
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner waits for President Donald Trump and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to speak at a joint statement at the White House on October 23. Kushner is now reportedly the focus of questions by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in the Trump-Russia probe.REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
To Wright’s point, Kushner’s “multiple attempts” to wrap up his security clearance forms was labeled as unprecedented by the head of the government agency charged with reviewing the forms, Newsweekreported last month.
“I have never seen that level of mistakes,” the director of the National Background Investigations Bureau, Charles Phalen, told a House subcommittee during a hearing.
Kushner has since submitted the security clearance forms three times and added an addendum with more than 100 interactions or meetings with foreign contacts, including Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, The New York Times reported in July. She was the Kremlin-linked attorney whom Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort met with at Manhattan’s Trump Tower in June 2016 to possibly obtain political opposition research on Hillary Clinton.
Kushner dismissed the meeting, but the possibility of creating a diplomatic back channel between Trump and Moscow in order to evade detection by U.S. intelligence services—as reported by The Washington Post—only brings extra scrutiny to the omissions on his clearance forms.
“I’m not sure the questions themselves signal an imminent indictment or anything, but I think they are a natural progression when you start looking at someone’s foreign contacts in total,” Wright said.
Mueller’s 12-count indictment of Manafort, which included charges of laundering $75 million through offshore accounts, was written in a way that could be applied to others within Trump’s world.
“I think a number of the counts or theories that you see in the Manafort indictment are translatable to other people within the Trump orbit, and Kushner’s one of them,” Pace Law School associate professor David Dorfman told Newsweek. “The use of real estate transactions to hide money, and possible money laundering, I think is definitely a possibility.”
While drawing similarities in how Kushner and Trump each rose in the real estate world and took over their family’s business, Dorfman noted that the potential for Kushner to lose a prized 666 Fifth Avenue property in New York and his $285 million loan with German financial titan Deutsche Bank makes him potentially vulnerable to Mueller and the Russia probe.
“Supposedly the jurisdiction of the Mueller investigation is collusion with Russians,” Dorfman said. “He’s going get there by first finding and proving substantial financial crimes and failures to report…and put the clamps on these people. And then hopefully, in his mind, someone will crack and say, ‘OK, if you give me leniency on this I’ll tell you the real story about what’s going on between people in the Trump Organization, and Trump himself maybe, and the Russians.’”
|Mueller Probing Pre-Election Flynn Meeting With Pro-Russia Congressman|
WASHINGTON — Investigators for Special Counsel Robert Mueller are questioning witnesses about an alleged September 2016 meeting between Mike Flynn, who later briefly served as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a staunch advocate of policies that would help Russia, two sources with knowledge of the investigation told NBC News.
The meeting allegedly took place in Washington the evening of Sept. 20, while Flynn was working as an adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign. It was arranged by his lobbying firm, the Flynn Intel Group. Also in attendance were Flynn’s business partners, Bijan Kian and Brian McCauley, and Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, who worked closely with his father, the sources said.
Mueller is reviewing emails sent from Flynn Intel Group to Rohrabacher’s congressional staff thanking them for the meeting, according to one of the sources, as part of his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Rohrabacher, a California Republican, has pushed for better relations with Russia, traveled to Moscow to meet with officials and advocated to overturn the Magnitsky Act, the 2012 bill that froze assets of Russian investigators and prosecutors. The sources could not confirm whether Rohrabacher and Flynn discussed U.S. policy towards Russia in the alleged meeting.
The Washington Post reported in May that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, also a California Republican, was secretly recorded telling other party members, in what seemed to be a joke, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”
In September, the Wall Street Journal reported that Rohrabacher offered Trump a deal that to protect Julian Assange, creator of WikiLeaks, which released emails damaging to Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 election, from legal peril. In return for not prosecuting him for his group’s 2010 leak of State Department emails, Assange would allegedly provide proof that Russia was not the source of the hacked Democratic emails. The intelligence community has pointed to Russia as the secret provider of the email trove to WikiLeaks.
Rohrabacher’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mueller’s interest in the nature of Flynn and Rohrabacher’s discussion marks the first known time a member of Congress could be wrapped into the investigation.
Most of what has been reported about Mueller’s questioning of Flynn’s lobbying work has concerned his efforts on behalf of Turkey. Less is known about his lobbying ties to Russia, though he was paid $45,000 plus expenses for attending a gala in Moscow in December 2015 and being interviewed by RT, the Kremlin-financed cable TV news channel.
Multiple sources have told NBC News that Mueller has gathered enough evidence to lead to an indictment in the investigation into Flynn and his son.
Federal investigators have been probing Flynn’s lobbying efforts on behalf of Turkey, including an alleged meeting with senior Turkish officials in December 2016 where he was offered millions of dollars to secure the return of the Turkish president’s chief rival to Turkey and see that a U.S. case against a Turkish national was dismissed.
In a statement, Flynn’s lawyers, led by Robert Kelner, said that “out of respect for the process of the various investigations” regarding the 2016 campaign, they have avoided responding to every “rumor or allegation” in the media. “But today’s news cycle has brought allegations about General Flynn, ranging from kidnapping to bribery, that are so outrageous and prejudicial that we are making an exception to our usual rule: they are false.”
A grand jury impaneled by Mueller is continuing to interview witnesses with knowledge of Flynn’s business activities over the next week, the two sources said.
|Mike Flynn business partner Bijan Kian now subject of Mueller probe|
WASHINGTON — A former business associate of Michael Flynn has become a subject of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation for his role in the failure of Flynn’s former lobbying firm to disclose its work on behalf of foreign governments, three sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News.
Federal investigators are zeroing in on Bijan Kian, an Iranian-American who was a partner at the now-dissolved Flynn Intel Group, and have questioned multiple witnesses in recent weeks about his lobbying work on behalf of Turkey. The grand jury convened for the investigation will soon have a chance to question some of those witnesses, the sources say.
Mueller’s strategy becoming more clear 1:31
Mueller recently indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates simultaneously. Manafort and Gates have pleaded not guilty. Both Flynn’s and Manafort’s lobbying firms have come under investigation for failing to disclose lobbying work on behalf of foreign governments.
Mueller is leading the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign, which led him to probe the work of Flynn and Manafort, who both served on the Trump campaign and lobbied on behalf of foreign governments without initially disclosing it.
The Flynn Intel Group, managed by Flynn, who was briefly President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, was paid $530,000 for lobbying on behalf of a Netherlands-based firm called Inovo BV, owned by Turkish-American businessman Ekim Alptekin. Months later, the firm filed the required paperwork under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), acknowledging that the work “could be construed to have principally benefitted the Republic of Turkey,” according to the filing.
Mueller’s team is interested in Kian’s role in the Inovo contract as well as foreign lobbying efforts that the Flynn Intel Group may have yet to disclose, according to the sources familiar with the investigation. Emails subpoenaed by the Special Counsel’s Office revealed a September 20, 2016, meeting between Kian, Flynn and pro-Russia Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.
That meeting has been the subject of prosecutors’ recent questions to witnesses in the case, the three sources said. Rohrabacher, a California Republican, has pushed for better relations with Russia, traveled to Moscow to meet with officials and advocated to overturn the Magnitsky Act, the 2012 bill that froze assets of Russian investigators and prosecutors.
The Flynn Intel Group did not disclose this meeting even after the company retroactively filed as a foreign agent under FARA, which has led to scrutiny by Mueller’s team, two people familiar with the investigation told NBC.
Reuters previously reported that Mueller was interested in Kian, but not that he was a subject of the investigation or that witnesses would be testifying about his actions in front of the grand jury.
Kian previously served as a board member of the Export-Import Bank. He is also a co-founder of the Nowruz Commission, a D.C.-based nonprofit that hosts an opulent annual Nowruz, or Iranian New Year, gala, which Flynn and Alptekin both attended in the past.
NBC News has reported that Mueller has gathered enough evidence to bring charges in the investigation into Flynn and his son Michael G. Flynn. The elder Flynn was fired after just 24 days on the job for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
Kian’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment. Flynn and Rohrabacher did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Special Counsel’s office also did not respond.
|Trump Investigations – Google Search|
Washington Post–Nov 21, 2017
The military is scrutinizing three Army noncommissioned officers who allegedly broke curfew during Trump’s trip to Vietnam this month, officials …
Army members investigated for misbehavior during Trump trip
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Newsweek–16 hours ago
Trump’s Son-in-Law ‘Natural’ Target For Russia Probe, Legal … of the National Background Investigations Bureau, Charles Phalen, told a …
Washington Post–Nov 17, 2017
Trump told voters that his opponent in the presidential race, Hillary Clinton, … the Justice Department when it comes to criminal investigations?
Jeff Sessions Should Investigate Hillary Clinton and Trump Dossier …
Newsweek–Nov 13, 2017
Sessions says he knew of ex-Trump aide’s Russia ties, despite …
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The calls for a new Clinton investigation show how Republicans fuel …
In-Depth–Vox–Nov 15, 2017
|Stunning Report Shows The CIA Warned Israel That Trump Was A Putin Puppet Who Can’t Be Trusted|
|Exclusive: What Trump Really Told Kislyak After Comey Was Canned|
On a dark night at the tail end of last winter, just a month after the inauguration of the new American president, an evening when only a sickle moon hung in the Levantine sky, two Israeli Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters flew low across Jordan and then, staying under the radar, veered north toward the twisting ribbon of shadows that was the Euphrates River. On board, waiting with a professional stillness as they headed into the hostile heart of Syria, were Sayeret Matkal commandos, the Jewish state’s elite counterterrorism force, along with members of the technological unit of the Mossad, its foreign-espionage agency. Their target: an ISIS cell that was racing to get a deadly new weapon thought to have been devised by Ibrahim al-Asiri, the Saudi national who was al-Qaeda’s master bombmaker in Yemen.
It was a covert mission whose details were reconstructed for Vanity Fair by two experts on Israeli intelligence operations. It would lead to the unnerving discovery that ISIS terrorists were working on transforming laptop computers into bombs that could pass undetected through airport security. U.S. Homeland Security officials—quickly followed by British authorities—banned passengers traveling from an accusatory list of Muslim-majority countries from carrying laptops and other portable electronic devices larger than a cell phone on arriving planes. It would not be until four tense months later, as foreign airports began to comply with new, stringent American security directives, that the ban would be lifted on an airport-by-airport basis.
In the secretive corridors of the American espionage community, the Israeli mission was praised by knowledgeable officials as a casebook example of a valued ally’s hard-won field intelligence being put to good, arguably even lifesaving, use.
Yet this triumph would be overshadowed by an astonishing conversation in the Oval Office in May, when an intemperate President Trump revealed details about the classified mission to Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and Sergey I. Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Along with the tempest of far-reaching geopolitical consequences that raged as a result of the president’s disclosure, fresh blood was spilled in his long-running combative relationship with the nation’s clandestine services. Israel—as well as America’s other allies—would rethink its willingness to share raw intelligence, and pretty much the entire Free World was left shaking its collective head in bewilderment as it wondered, not for the first time, what was going on with Trump and Russia. (In fact, Trump’s disturbing choice to hand over highly sensitive intelligence to the Russians is now a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia, both before and after the election.) In the hand-wringing aftermath, the entire event became, as is so often the case with spy stories, a tale about trust and betrayal.
And yet, the Israelis cannot say they weren’t warned.
In the American-Israeli intelligence relationship, it is customary for the Mossad station chief and his operatives working under diplomatic cover out of the embassy in Washington to go to the C.I.A.’s Langley, Virginia, headquarters when a meeting is scheduled. This deferential protocol is based on a realistic appraisal of the situation: America is a superpower, and Israel, as one of the country’s senior intelligence officials recently conceded with self-effacing candor, is “a speck of dust in the wind.”
Nevertheless, over the years the Israeli dust has been sprinkled with flecks of pure intel gold. It was back in 1956, when the Cold War was running hot, that Israeli diplomats in Warsaw managed to get their hands on the text of Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev’s top-secret speech to the Twentieth Party Congress in Moscow. Khrushchev’s startling words were a scathing indictment of Stalin’s three decades of oppressive rule, and signalled a huge shift in Soviet dogma—just the sort of invaluable intelligence the C.I.A. was eager to get its hands on. Recognizing the value of what they had, the Israelis quickly delivered the text to U.S. officials. And with this unexpected gift, a mutually beneficial relationship between the resourceful Jewish spies and the American intelligence Leviathan began to take root.
Over the ensuing decades it has expanded into a true working partnership. The two countries have gone as far as to institutionalize their joint spying. The purloined documents released to the press by Edward Snowden, for example, revealed that the N.S.A., the American electronic-intelligence agency that eavesdrops on the world, and Unit 8200, its Israeli counterpart, have an agreement to share the holiest of intelligence holies: raw electronic intercepts. And the two countries inventively worked in tandem, during the administration of George W. Bush and continuing with President Obama, on Operation Olympic Games, creating and disseminating the pernicious computer viruses that succeeded in damaging Iran’s uranium-enrichment centrifuges. American and Israeli spooks have even killed together. In 2008, after President George W. Bush signed off on the operation, the C.I.A. cooperated with agents from the Mossad’s Kidon—the Hebrew word for “bayonet,” an appropriate name for a sharp-edged unit that specializes in what Israeli officials euphemistically call “targeted prevention.” The shared target was Imad Mughniyah, the Hezbollah international operations chief, and any further terrorist acts he’d been planning were quite effectively prevented: Mughniyah was blown to pieces, body parts flying across a Damascus parking lot, as he passed an S.U.V. containing a specially-designed C.I.A. bomb. But like any marriage, the cozy—yet inherently unequal—partnership between the American and Israeli intelligence agencies has had its share of stormy weather. In fact, an irreparable divorce seemed likely in 1985 after it was discovered that Israel was running a very productive agent, Jonathan Pollard, inside U.S. Naval Intelligence. For a difficult period—measured out in years, not months—the American spymasters fumed, and the relationship was more tentative than collaborative.
But spies are by instinct and profession a pragmatic breed, and so by the 1990s the existence of shared enemies, as well as shared threats, worked to foster a reconciliation. Besides, each had something the other needed: Israel had agents buried deep in neighboring Arab countries, producing “HUMINT,” as the jargon of the trade refers to information obtained by human assets. While the U.S. possessed the best technological toys its vast wealth could buy; its “SIGINT,” or signals intelligence, could pick up the chatter in most any souk in the Arab world.
And so by the time of Trump’s election, despite the snarky, rather personal feud between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama, the two countries’ spies were back playing their old tricks. Together they were taking on a rogues’ gallery of common villains: al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamic State. “We are the front line,” a high-ranking Israeli military official bragged to me, “in America’s war on terror.” Over recent months, the U.S. intelligence windfall has been particularly bountiful. Israel, according to sources with access to the activities of the Mossad and Unit 8200, has delivered information about Russia’s interaction with the Syrian, Iranian, and Hezbollah forces taking the field in the Syrian civil war. And there is little that gets American military strategists more excited than learning what sort of tactics Russia is employing.
It was against this reassuring backdrop of recent successes and shared history, an Israeli source told Vanity Fair, that a small group of Mossad officers and other Israeli intelligence officials took their seats in a Langley conference room on a January morning just weeks before the inauguration of Donald Trump. The meeting proceeded uneventfully; updates on a variety of ongoing classified operations were dutifully shared. It was only as the meeting was about to break up that an American spymaster solemnly announced there was one more thing: American intelligence agencies had come to believe that Russian president Vladimir Putin had “leverages of pressure” over Trump, he declared without offering further specifics, according to a report in the Israeli press. Israel, the American officials continued, should “be careful” after January 20—the date of Trump’s inauguration. It was possible that sensitive information shared with the White House and the National Security Council could be leaked to the Russians. A moment later the officials added what many of the Israelis had already deduced: it was reasonable to presume that the Kremlin would share some of what they learned with their ally Iran, Israel’s most dangerous adversary.
Currents of alarm and anger raced through those present at the meeting, says the Israeli source, but their superiors in Israel remained unconvinced—no supporting evidence, after all, had been provided—and chose to ignore the prognostication.
The covert mission into the forbidden plains of northern Syria was a “blue and white” undertaking, as Israel, referring to the colors of its flag, calls ops that are carried out solely by agents of the Jewish state.
Yet—and this is an ironclad operational rule—getting agents in and then swiftly out of enemy territory under the protection of the nighttime darkness can be accomplished only if there is sufficient reconnaissance: the units need to know exactly where to strike, what to expect, what might be out there waiting for them in the shadows. For the mission last winter that targeted a cell of terrorist bombers, according to ABC News, citing American officials, the dangerous groundwork was done by an Israeli spy planted deep inside ISIS territory. Whether he was a double agent Israel had either turned or infiltrated into the ISIS cell, or whether he was simply a local who’d happened to stumble upon some provocative information he realized he could sell—those details remain locked in the secret history of the mission.
What is apparent after interviews with intelligence sources both in Israel and the U.S. is that on the night of the infiltration the helicopters carrying the blue-and-white units came down several miles from their target. Two jeeps bearing Syrian Army markings were unloaded, the men hopped in, and, hearts racing, they drove as if it had been the most natural of patrols into the pre-dawn stillness of an enemy city.
“A shadow unit of ghosts” is what the generals of Aman, Israel’s military-intelligence organization, envisioned when they set up Sayeret Matkal. And on this night the soldiers fanned out like ghosts in the shadows, armed and on protective alert, as the Mossad tech agents did their work.
Again, the operational details are sparse, and even contradictory. One source said the actual room where the ISIS cell would meet was spiked, a tiny marvel of a microphone placed where it would never be noticed. Another maintained that an adjacent telephone junction box had been ingeniously manipulated so that every word spoken in a specific location would be overheard.
The sources agree, however, that the teams got in and out that night, and, even before the returning choppers landed back in Israel, it was confirmed to the jubilant operatives that the audio intercept was already up and running.
Now the waiting began. From an antenna-strewn base near the summit of the Golan Heights, on Israel’s border with Syria, listeners from Unit 8200 monitored the transmissions traveling across the ether from the target in northern Syria. Surveillance is a game played long, but after several wasted days 8200’s analysts were starting to suspect that their colleagues had been misinformed, possibly deliberately, by the source in the field. They were beginning to fear that all the risk had been taken without any genuine prospect of reward.
Then what they’d been waiting for was suddenly coming in loud and clear, according to Israeli sources familiar with the operation: it was, as a sullen spy official described it, “a primer in constructing a terror weapon.” With an unemotional precision, an ISIS soldier detailed how to turn a laptop computer into a terror weapon that could pass through airport security and be carried on board a passenger plane. ISIS had obtained a new way to cause airliners to explode suddenly, free-falling from the sky in flames. When the news of this frightening ISIS lecture arrived at Mossad’s headquarters outside Tel Aviv, officials quickly decided to share the field intelligence with their American counterparts. The urgency of the highly classified information trumped any security misgivings. Still, as one senior Israeli military official suggested, the Israeli decision was also egged on by a professional vanity: they wanted their partners in Washington to marvel at the sort of impossible missions they could pull off.
They did. It was a much-admired, as well as appreciated, gift—and it scared the living hell out of the American spymasters who received it.
On the cloudy spring morning of May 10, just an uneasy day after the president’s sudden firing of F.B.I. director James B. Comey, who had been leading the probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives, a beaming President Trump huddled in the Oval Office with Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak.
And, no less improbably, Trump seemed not to notice, or feel restrained by, the unfortunate timing of his conversation with Russian officials who were quite possibly co-conspirators in a plot to undermine the U.S. electoral process. Instead, full of a chummy candor, the president turned to his Russian guests and blithely acknowledged the elephant lurking in the room. “I just fired the head of the F.B.I.,” he said, according to a record of the meeting shared with The New York Times. “He was crazy, a real nut job.” With the sort of gruff pragmatism a Mafia don would use to justify the necessity of a hit, he further explained, “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” Yet that was only the morning’s perplexing prelude. What had been an unseemly conversation between the president and two high-ranking Russian officials soon turned into something more dangerous.
“I get great intel,” the president suddenly boasted, as prideful as if he were bragging about the amenities at one of his company’s hotels. “I have people brief me on great intel every day.”
He quickly went on to share with representatives of a foreign adversary not only the broad outlines of the plot to turn laptop computers into airborne bombs but also at least one highly classified operational detail—the sort of sensitive, locked-in-the-vault intel that was not shared with even Congress or friendly governments. The president did not name the U.S. partner who had spearheaded the operation. (Journalists, immediately all over the astonishing story, would soon out Israel). But, more problematic, President Trump cavalierly identified the specific city in ISIS-held territory where the threat had been detected.
As for the two Russians, there’s no record of their response. Their silence would be understandable: why interrupt the flow of information? But in their minds, no doubt they were already drafting the cable they’d send to the Kremlin detailing their great espionage coup.
So why? Why did a president who has time after volatile time railed against leakers, who has attacked Hillary Clinton for playing fast and loose with classified information, cozy up to a couple of Russian bigwigs in the Oval Office and breezily offer government secrets?
Any answer is at best conjecture. Yet in the search for an important truth, consider these hypotheses, each of which has its own supporters among past and current members of the U.S. intelligence community.
The first is a bit of armchair psychology. In Trump’s irrepressible way of living in the world, wealth is real only if other people believe you’re rich. If you don’t flaunt it, then you might as well not have it.
So there is the new president, shaky as any bounder might be in the complicated world of international politics, sitting down to a head-to-head with a pair of experienced Russians. How can he impress them? Get them to appreciate that he’s not some lightweight, but rather a genuine player on the world stage?
There’s also the school of thought that the episode is another unfortunate example of Trump’s impressionable worldview being routinely shaped by the last thing he’s heard, be it that morning’s broadcast of Fox & Friends or an intelligence briefing in the Oval Office. As advocates of this theory point out, the president was likely told that one of the issues still on his guests’ minds would be the terrorist explosion back in October 2015 that brought down a Russian passenger plane flying above Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. With that seed planted in the president’s undisciplined mind, it’s a short leap for him to be off and running to the Russians about what he knew about an ISIS scheme to target passenger aircraft.
Yet there is also a more sinister way to connect all the dots. There are some petulant voices in official Washington who insist that the president’s treachery was deliberate, part of his longtime collaboration with the Russians. It is a true believer’s orthodoxy, one which predicts that the meeting will wind up being one more damning count in an indictment that Robert Mueller, the special counsel, will ultimately nail to the White House door.
But, for now, to bolster their still very circumstantial case, they point to a curiosity surrounding the meeting in the Oval Office—U.S. journalists were kept out. And, no less an oddity, the Russian press was allowed in. It was the photographer from TASS, the state-run Russian news agency, who snapped the only shots that documented the occasion for posterity. Or, for that matter, for the grand jury.
But ultimately it is the actions of men, not their motives, that propel history forward. And the president’s reckless disclosure continues to wreak havoc. On one level, the greatest casualty was trust. The president was already waging a perilous verbal war with the U.S. intelligence agencies. His sharing secrets with the Russians has very likely ground whatever remnants of a working relationship had survived into irreparable pieces. “How can the agency continue to provide the White House with intel,” challenged one former operative, “without wondering where it will wind up?” And he added ominously, “Those leaks to The New York Times and The Washington Post about the investigations into Trump and his cohorts is no accident. Trust me: you don’t want to get into a pissing match with a bunch of spooks. This is war.”
And what about America’s vital intelligence relationships with its allies? Former C.I.A. deputy director Michael Morell publicly worried, “Third countries who provide the United States with intelligence information will now have pause.”
In Israel, though, the mood is more than merely wary. “Mr. Netanyahu’s intelligence chiefs . . . are up in arms,” a prominent Israeli journalist insisted in The New York Times. In recent interviews with Israeli intelligence sources the frequently used operative verb was “whiten”—as in “certain units from now on will whiten their reports before passing them on to agencies in America.”
What further exacerbates Israel’s concerns—“keeps me up at night” was how a government spymaster put it—is that if Trump is handing over Israel’s secrets to the Russians, then he just might as well be delivering them to Iran, Russia’s current regional ally. And it is an expansionist Iran, one Israeli after another was determined to point out in the course of discussions, that is arming Hezbollah with sophisticated rockets and weaponry while at the same time becoming an increasingly visible economic and military presence in Syria.
“Trump betrayed us,” said a senior Israeli military official bluntly, his voice stern with reproach. “And if we can’t trust him, then we’re going to have to do what is necessary on our own if our back is up against the wall with Iran.” Yet while appalled governments are now forced to rethink their tactics in future dealings with a wayward president, there is also the dismaying possibility that a more tangible, and more lethal, consequence has already occurred. “The Russians will undoubtedly try to figure out the source or the method of this information to make sure that it is not also collecting on their activities in Syria—and in trying to do that they could well disrupt the source,” said Michael Morell.
What, then, was the fate of Israel’s agent in Syria? Was the operative exfiltrated to safety? Has he gone to ground in enemy territory? Or was he hunted down and killed? One former Mossad officer with knowledge of the operation and its aftermath will not say. Except to add pointedly, “Whatever happened to him, it’s a hell of price to pay for a president’s mistake.”
CAN WE HELP?
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner attend a press conference in the White House Rose Garden.
Photo: By Zach Gibson/Bloomberg/Getty Images.
German chancellor Angela Merkel, Kushner, President Donald Trump, and Ivanka Trump at the White House.
Photo: By Shealah Craighead/White House/Polaris.
Kushner, Trump, and their children disembark from Air Force One in West Palm Beach.
Photo: From A.P. Images/REX/Shutterstock.
Lebanese delegates and journalists pose for selfies with Trump and Kushner in the Rose Garden.
Photo: By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
Trump and Kushner dance at Donald Trump’s “Liberty” Inaugural Ball.
Photo: By Brian Snyder/Reuters.
Kushner whispers to Trump during a welcoming ceremony for her father at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Photo: By Jonathan Ernst/Reuters.
The couple seen arriving with their three children at JFK International Airport, where they boarded Marine One.
Photo: From Xinhua/Alamy Stock Photo.
|3:54 PM 11/22/2017 Felix Sater Google News: Trump Organization Will Walk Away From Its Struggling SoHo Hotel in New York New York Times|
Saved Stories Saved Stories – None Felix Sater – Google News: Trump Organization Will Walk Away From Its Struggling SoHo Hotel in New York – New York Times GOP rep: We need a ‘counter’ to Russian disinformation – The Hill Why did Russian social media swarm the digital conversation about Catalan independence? – Washington Post … Continue reading“3:54 PM 11/22/2017 – Felix Sater – Google News: Trump Organization Will Walk Away From Its Struggling SoHo Hotel in New York – New York Times”
|Felix Sater – Google News: Trump Organization Will Walk Away From Its Struggling SoHo Hotel in New York – New York Times|
Felix Sater – Google News
|Арест Керимова удар по Путину|
Ницца, проклятое место место российского сенатора Сулеймана Керимова. Одни несчастья. Сначала авария с Тиной Канделаки. Теперь арест. Наблюдатели полагают, что это прямой удар по Владимиру Путину. Разбираемся с Дмитрием Гудковым, Иваном Стариковым, Сергеем Ежовым и Сергеем Пугачевым.
|Author Luke Harding Says Russia-Trump Ties Are ‘Credible’ | Thomas Jefferson Street | US News|
|The Past and Present of Trump’s Russia Ties – U.S. News & World Report|
|The multiplicity of Russian contacts cant be a coincidence – The Washington Post|
Opinion A column or article in the Opinions section (in print, this is known as the Editorial Pages).
There has never been a presidential campaign with as many connections to a hostile foreign power as the Trump 2016 presidential campaign. Each day brings new revelations of foreign connections — with Russia, Russian cut-outs and/or Russian surrogates.
In addition, Kushner’s New York Observer had a friendly relationship with Julian Assange, as Foreign Policy documented: