11:19 AM 9/4/2017- Dear thinking heads in the FBI and Mr. Wray, please do pay the most serious and decisive attention to this matter.

Published on Sep 7, 2017

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Feds arrest nine members of a Brooklyn-based Russian criminal enterprise – November 9, 2016

I live not far from Brighton Beach, the “capital” of the Russian speaking America. What I see (these are just the observations, and I do not have any legal proves of it), is that this area is thoroughly controlled by the Russian-Jewish Mafia or the “Red Mafia”, or more precisely a group of the recent Russian speaking emigres with the criminal backgrounds of various sorts who came to this country after the dissolution of the USSR, in early 1990-s, in a big difference from those who came here earlier, in 1970-s, and were very politically minded and motivated. The Russian-Jewish Mafia took over practically everything here: businesses, real estate, communities, health care, politics, etc., etc. 

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Construction is booming, new rich Russians are coming, in their flight for the safe harbor, away from the political uncertainties in the old country. The difference from the previous immigration waves is that they do not seek to adapt and acculturate that much. My impression is, and again I do not have any definitive proves but assume this on the basis of the tidbits of my observations, that these most recent waves are structured and controlled by the hierarchical system of the “smotryaschikh”, or the “overseers”, which is customary for the Russian Mafia and is inseparable from the closely related to it Russian “bidniz” practices. It reminds the historical-psychological situation of the “owners-landlords” ruling and exploiting their “serfs”. The names and the contact information of these “overseers” are given to the prospective immigrants prior to emigration, and apparently, this system is perpetuated by the Russian security and intelligence services. South Brooklyn is the base of the Red Mafia’s operations, from which they spread their tentacles to the rest of the country and to the rest of the world. It is their invisible criminal net that messed up with the elections of 2016. This system is either Putin’s invention or this idea of controlling the immigrants in this fashion was endorsed and blessed by him. There is nothing new there, it is practiced by all the ethnic mafias praying on the immigrants’ predicament. And at the same time, this phenomenon is a part of the particulars of the Russian immigration to the US, and it contains its particular dangers.

Russian-speaking veterans celebrate victory in Europe dayRussian-speaking veterans at Victory in Europe Day 2013 in Plummer Park. (Photo by Jon Viscott).

“Russia spends around 1 billion dollars on propaganda abroad, and I can guarantee you that they will translate this event to Moscow to show how money was spent,” said a community member, who reached out in an email message to WEHOville and has declined to be publicly identified to protect himself. “They already did it in SF and other US cities. Until now Los Angeles progressive activists were able to disable all attempts of Russian sleeping agents to organize pro-Putin movement in Los Angeles.”

The recent immigrants are viewed in Russia as their Fifth Columns. The ramblings of the Donbas pro-Russia separatists regarding the mobilization of support for them among the emigre communities in the U.S. is the illustration and the case in point. The “Immortal Regiment” pomposity is the another one. All this indicate that the Russian intelligence services do view and treat the recent immigrants from the former USSR as their “property” and as their “Fifth Column”. They pay for their activities, and they expect to get their money worth in various aspects and actions, both the propaganda and the more serious matters. 

“Investigators have tried to determine if Russia’s Federal Security Service, the intelligence agency known as the FSB, funneled payments disguised as pension benefits to U.S.-based operatives who hacked top Democrats’ emails and took other measures to discredit Hillary Clinton.”

What surprises and angers me greatly, is that the FBI practically does not pay any attention to these issues and to the unprecedented expansion of the Russian-Jewish Mafia in the U.S., and it looks like they allow them to prosper and flourish. This, naturally, leads to the different sets of questions, which is a separate topic. 

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russian mafia viper’s nest – GS

If this viper’s nest is not cleaned up, the problems will persist and multiply, and in the most surprising and unpredictable fashion: the criminal mind is very inventive, and it is difficult to catch up with their cunnings. The Russian Mafia – Intelligence Services influence networks have to be dismantled. 

Dear thinking heads in the FBI (there must be some!) and Mr. Wray, please do pay the most serious and decisive attention to this matter. It is too late to prevent the formation of this phenomenon, we overlooked it, in our naive, simple minded, unprepared blindness. Eradicate it now, in the most forceful and decisive efforts and actions, this is not something that can be overlooked and allowed to grow.  

Michael Novakhov 


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9:56 AM 9/4/2017 – Russia’s power play in North Korea aimed at China, US

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russia north korea china us – GS

Russia’s power play in North Korea aimed at China, US

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(CNN) – When Russia sent its bombers flying over the Korean Peninsula last week, it was as much a signal to its allies in Beijing as it was a telegraph to Washington that Moscow too, was pivoting to Asia.

The Kremlin may not become Pyongyang’s most steadfast and critical defender in this newest conflagration, but its cameo in the region is another attempt by Russian President Vladimir Putin to insert himself into a geo-political stalemate involving the U.S.

Experts say it may also help deflect attention from upcoming military exercises in Belarus and western Russia next month, which have upset NATO members concerned about what amounts to a mass buildup of Russian troops on the edges of eastern Europe.

China, which sent bombers into the air itself shortly after, declined to comment about the show of force from Moscow. In its regular press briefing on Wednesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it would not “quantify how close China and Russia are cooperating on the North Korean nuclear issue,” said Hua Chunying, a ministry spokeswoman.

“Just like China, Russia plays a pivotal role in maintaining global peace and stability as well as promoting peaceful solutions to hotspot issues in the region,” Hua said. “China is willing to strengthen its cooperation and coordination with Russia to jointly preserve peace and stability in the region and around the world.”

Both countries were quick to condemn North Korea’s latest boast Sunday, the successful testing of its most powerful hydrogen bomb yet.

In a statement, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called for all parties to “immediately return to dialogue,” reaffirming its “readiness for joint efforts in this direction, including in the context of the implementation of the Russian-Chinese road map.”

The real trouble maker

If China is perturbed by its once-dominant Communist partner seeking to commandeer more influence in the region, it’s not outwardly displaying those concerns.

“I think China is confident that its economic development, its military development, takes place at a faster pace than Russia, so in the long run Russia is in no position to seriously challenge Chinese core interests,” said Tong Zhao, a fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing. “There are certain elements of competition between the two countries, but their shared concerns about the U.S. very much outweigh that right now.”

Both Moscow and Beijing “share the basic perception of who is the real trouble maker and who is the biggest common threat in the Korean Peninsula,” Tong told CNN.

That trouble maker, he said, is the United States, and more specifically, the occupant in the White House.

“Secretary (Rex) Tillerson says he wants to do diplomacy before considering other options but the rhetoric from other people in the White House — (U.S. President Donald) Trump tweeting that talking is not the answer, I think from the Chinese perspective the U.S. is still considering a military option so that doesn’t reassure leaders in North Korea or China,” Tong said.

Every action Pyongyang takes, said Tong, could be construed by Beijing and Moscow as a reaction to Trump’s escalated posture.

Putin appeared to reiterate this on Thursday when he called attempts to get the regime of Kim Jong Un to cease its nuclear program “a dead-end road.”

“Russia believes that the policy of putting pressure on Pyongyang to stop its nuclear missile program is misguided and futile,” Putin said in an article released by the Kremlin. “Provocations, pressure and militarist and insulting rhetoric are a dead-end road.”

Russia has recently been making inroads to counter China’s perceived clout with North Korea. Overtures include Russia’s forgiveness of Soviet-era debt, of which $10 billion due from Pyongyang was written off by the Kremlin. Moscow is one of the largest donors of food aid to North Korea, and alongside Beijing, was recently hit with U.S. Treasury sanctions for selling oil to the North Korean regime.

This is all intentional, says Samuel Ramani, a Russian foreign policy specialist.

“As Russia takes an increasingly assertive approach to world affairs, it reminds its citizens of the Soviet Union’s status as a superpower that could influence conflicts worldwide,” Ramani wrote in the Washington Post in late July. “In this respect, Russia’s increased attention to North Korea is much like its military intervention in Syria and its expanded diplomatic presence in Libya and Afghanistan. Moscow is trying once again to project itself as a global power.”

Old rivalry reignites

The jostling between the two powers over North Korea has decades-long historical roots.

“To an extent it began when China and Russia became competitors for influence in the Communist world, they fought border battles in the late 1960s,” said Carl Schuster, retired Navy captain and now adjunct professor at Hawaii Pacific University.

Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s founder, was a guerilla leader who became a major in the Soviet Red Army and served in it until the end of World War II. Upon his return to Korea after 26 years in exile, the Soviets installed him as head of the Korean Communist Party. With their help he built up an army and air force, then declared the founding of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 1948.

“Russia had the greater advantage, they had much more influence in the region,” Schuster recalled. “When the Berlin Wall came down, Russia became very poor and China came to dominate.”

Over the last 25 years Russia had virtually no ability to sway Pyongyang; it wasn’t able to provide technological support or invest significantly in North Korean industry. Now, Schuster says, “Putin sees an opportunity to increase his influence, probably not by much, but it would be better than what he has, and it distracts America.”

Whatever little sway he may obtain, that, coupled with China’s own shaky standing with North Korea, highlights the possibility that neither power enjoys particularly friendly relations with the isolated regime.

“There is a profound sense of mistrust at the basis of the relationship North Korea has with China and even with Russia,” said James Person, an expert on Korea at the Wilson Center. “There’s a perception particularly with China that Beijing has been overly interventionist over the years and not respectful of Korean sovereignty.”

China and Russia both share a border with North Korea, a demarcation that has shifted over time as territorial disputes were resolved, and one that each of them jealously guards.

Person said that China’s determination to establish regional hegemony, or a “zone of deference” which takes in North Korea has created confusion among Western observers about China’s capacity to rein Pyongyang in. “People in Washington, including President Trump, believe China can just pick up the phone and solve the problem but because of this tortured history of relations they don’t have the ability to exercise at will political influence over North Korea.”

Moreover, there is risk in China’s chastising North Korea any further, something that has been compounded by statements as far back as May in which the North Korean state-run news agency publicly rebuked China for banning coal imports from North Korea after a February missile test.

The North Korean statements warned China of “grave consequences,” and said Beijing should “no longer try to test the limits of the DPRK’s patience.”

“The DPRK will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China, risking its nuclear program which is as precious as its own life, no matter how valuable the friendship is,” the commentary declared.

Yet China chooses to endure this apparent belligerence. Beijing will always prefer the current leadership in Pyongyang to any that might follow should the Kim dynasty fall, says Person.

“I think they would rather deal with the current North Korean regime with nuclear weapons than they would with a basically reunified Korea that places a U.S. treaty ally at the Chinese doorstep,” he said.

Moscow’s own relationship with Washington becomes more fraught each day. On Thursday, Trump’s administration announced it would shut down Russian diplomatic missions in U.S. cities, seemingly in response to an order from the Russian Foreign Ministry in July for Washington to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by nearly half.

Both Moscow and Beijing seek to keep the U.S. at bay to protect their own interests in the area, something Person says the U.S. could use to its advantage if it can quell North Korea’s panic and pursue diplomacy again. Even now, he said, there are “talks about talks” that could lead to a de-escalation. But that choice belongs with Trump.

“The important thing is, the U.S. has to recognize that only it has the ability to give Pyongyang what it wants,” Person said. “Yes, China is important in the region, but let’s not outsource to China anymore, especially given the fact that China is trying to reassert this hegemony in the region. By outsourcing our North Korea policy to China, we’re only abetting them in doing this.”

The U.S. must also contend with the notion that Moscow too will embrace a larger role.

“Russia wants to be, and be seen as, a great power. It wants to lead the nations that resist Western power and influence. In defying the United Nations and supporting North Korea, Russia bolsters that status at home and abroad,” Ramani says. “And so Moscow’s alignment with North Korea will likely get stronger in the near future.”

Read the whole story
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Any North Korea threat will bring ‘massive military response,’ Mattis says – Chicago Tribune

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TWC News
Any North Korea threat will bring ‘massive military response,’ Mattis says
Chicago Tribune
In briefs remarks after a White House meeting with Trump and other national security officials, Mattis told reporters that America does not seek the “total annihilation” of the North, but then added somberly, “We have many options to do so.” The 
Trump convenes national security team over North Korea nuclear testTWC News
A North Korea nuclear nightmare: Trump has strong options he can use against Kim but he’s got to act quicklyFox News
North Korean Nuclear Test Draws US Warning of ‘Massive Military Response’New York Times
Washington Post –Miami Herald
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Russia probes kick into high gear – Politico

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Washington Examiner
Russia probes kick into high gear
The congressional Russia investigations are entering a new and more serious phase as lawmakers return from the August recess amid fresh revelations about contacts between theTrump campaign and Russia. In the coming weeks, both intelligence …
The Trump campaign and the Russians’ ‘active measures’Washington Examiner

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Top House Intelligence Committee member: Trump is being ‘dishonest’ about Russia ties – Business Insider

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Business Insider
Top House Intelligence Committee member: Trump is being ‘dishonest’ about Russia ties
Business Insider
Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN on Sunday that President Donald Trump is misleading investigators and the public about his ties to Russia. Schiff made the remarks when CNN’s Dana Bash asked him about …
Rep. Adam Schiff: Proposed Trump Tower in Moscow shows Trump was ‘dishonest’CNN
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Trump Lawyer Asks Journalist If She’s On Drugs After James Comey Question

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Ty Cobb made the remarks in a late night email exchange with Business Insider’s Natasha Bertrand.

Can America handle the truth of the tarnished 2016 election? – Philly.com

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Can America handle the truth of the tarnished 2016 election?
Then, something remarkable — unprecedented, really — took place. The nation’s highest court decided to launch a thorough investigation of what really happened on Election Day. What the justices eventually uncovered was shocking — a scheme to change …

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9:25 AM 9/4/2017 – ‘He’s the pilot of a plane in a terrible downward spiral’: GOP consultants panicked…

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Saved Stories – 1. Trump
‘He’s the pilot of a plane in a terrible downward spiral’: GOP consultants panicked Trump is destroying the party – Raw Story
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Any North Korea threat will bring ‘massive military response,’ Mattis says – Chicago Tribune
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Donald Trump – Google News: Trump has decided to end DACA, with 6-month delay – Politico
This Thread Highlights Anxiety For Dreamers Over The Uncertainty Of DACA
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Deflecting attention – Sunbury Daily Item
Russia releases video of US officials searching its diplomatic posts, calling it a ‘blatantly hostile’ and ‘illegal’ act – Daily Mail
Defiant Dreamers Call Out Trump: ‘We Are Making America Great’
Putin says the nation that leads in AI ‘will be the ruler of the world’ – The Verge
As ex-fed, L.I’s Todd Kaminsky has walk-on in Trump probe drama – Newsday
Trump keeps up Twitter diplomacy on North Korea – Newsday
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Donald Trump is officially under investigation for Russian financial scheme during election
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8:52 AM 9/4/2017 – American workers will catch on to Trump’s con – Washington Post

Saved Stories – 1. Trump
GOP Consultants Are Worried Trump Is ‘In A Terrible Downward Spiral’ Ruining the Party – AlterNet
Trump Lawyer Asks Journalist If She’s On Drugs After James Comey Question – HuffPost
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Trump faces pair of double-barreled crises at home and abroad – Los Angeles Times
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6:57 AM 9/4/2017 – M.N.: FREE CYBERFORCE and Blogger-Force have to be developed and established – In America, there is a stubborn, almost inexplicable blindness about the myriad problems with our own 2016 election

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cyberwars – GS

M.N.: Do we really know the true extent of this (cyber-attacks with “fake news”) issue and problem?! We have to study it, in depth and in details, in order to prevent it. The example with the recent Kenyan elections shows that the same malevolent actors (and we still do not know exactly who they are) are buoyed by and greatly encouraged by their “success”, and they intend to practice and to implement these strategies wherever they can, worldwide. For them, a new world order is coming, and they enjoy with anticipation the sweet smell of success. Smells like BS to me. This is the brute force frontal attack on the western style democratic institutions and the type of governing.

Something in kind, but conceptually directly the opposite: well educated, well trained, capable and FREE (in a sense of western values) CYBER-FORCE and Blogger-Force (and not only military but the civilian as well, something along the lines with the now almost defunct and reduced to utterly toothless inefficiency, ‘invalid and incapacitated “Voice of America”, for example) have to be developed and established as the counterforce and the lines of defence and offence. 

Russian Election Hacking Efforts, Wider Than Previously Known, Draw Little Scrutiny- NYTimes

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But months later, for Ms. Greenhalgh, other election security experts and some state officials, questions still linger about what happened that day in Durham as well as other counties in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Arizona.

After a presidential campaign scarred by Russian meddling, local, state and federal agencies have conducted little of the type of digital forensic investigation required to assess the impact, if any, on voting in at least 21 states whose election systems were targeted by Russian hackers, according to interviews with nearly two dozen national security and state officials and election technology specialists.

The assaults on the vast back-end election apparatus — voter-registration operations, state and local election databases, e-poll books and other equipment — have received far less attention than other aspects of the Russian interference, such as the hacking of Democratic emails and spreading of false or damaging information about Mrs. Clinton. Yet the hacking of electoral systems was more extensive than previously disclosed, The New York Times found.

Beyond VR Systems, hackers breached at least two other providers of critical election services well ahead of the 2016 voting, said current and former intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information is classified. The officials would not disclose the names of the companies.

Intelligence officials in January reassured Americans that there was no indication that Russian hackers had altered the vote count on Election Day, the bottom-line outcome. But the assurances stopped there.

Government officials said that they intentionally did not address the security of the back-end election systems, whose disruption could prevent voters from even casting ballots.

That’s partly because states control elections; they have fewer resources than the federal government but have long been loath to allow even cursory federal intrusions into the voting process.

That, along with legal constraints on intelligence agencies’ involvement in domestic issues, has hobbled any broad examination of Russian efforts to compromise American election systems. Those attempts include combing through voter databases, scanning for vulnerabilities or seeking to alter data, which have been identified in multiple states. Current congressional inquiries and the special counsel’s Russia investigation have not focused on the matter.

“We don’t know if any of the problems were an accident, or the random problems you get with computer systems, or whether it was a local hacker, or actual malfeasance by a sovereign nation-state,” said Michael Daniel, who served as the cybersecurity coordinator in the Obama White House.

“If you really want to know what happened, you’d have to do a lot of forensics, a lot of research and investigation, and you may not find out even then.”

In interviews, academic and private election security experts acknowledged the challenges of such diagnostics but argued that the effort is necessary. They warned about what could come, perhaps as soon as next year’s midterm elections, if the existing mix of outdated voting equipment, haphazard election-verification procedures and array of outside vendors is not improved to build an effective defense against Russian or other hackers.

In Durham, a local firm with limited digital forensics or software engineering expertise produced a confidential report, much of it involving interviews with poll workers, on the county’s election problems. The report was obtained by The Times, and election technology specialists who reviewed it at the Times’ request said the firm had not conducted any malware analysis or checked to see if any of the e-poll book software was altered, adding that the report produced more questions than answers.

Neither VR Systems — which operates in seven states beyond North Carolina — nor local officials were warned before Election Day that Russian hackers could have compromised their software. After problems arose, Durham County rebuffed help from the Department of Homeland Security and Free & Fair, a team of digital election-forensics experts who volunteered to conduct a free autopsy. The same was true elsewhere across the country.

“I always got stonewalled,” said Joe Kiniry, the chief executive and chief scientist at Free & Fair.

Still, some of the incidents reported in North Carolina occur in every election, said Charles Stewart III, a political scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an expert on election administration.

“Election officials and advocates and reporters who were watching most closely came away saying this was an amazingly quiet election,” he said, playing down the notion of tampering. He added, though, that the problems in Durham and elsewhere raise questions about the auditing of e-poll books and security of small election vendors.

Ms. Greenhalgh shares those concerns. “We still don’t know if Russian hackers did this,” she said about what happened in North Carolina. “But we still don’t know that they didn’t.”

Disorder at the Polls

North Carolina went for Donald J. Trump in a close election. But in Durham County, Hillary Clinton won 78 percent of the 156,000 votes, winning by a larger margin than President Barack Obama had against Mitt Romney four years earlier.

While only a fraction of voters were turned away because of the e-poll book difficulties — more than half of the county cast their ballots days earlier — plenty of others were affected when the state mandated that the entire county revert to paper rolls on Election Day. People steamed as everything slowed. Voters gave up and left polling places in droves — there’s no way of knowing the numbers, but they include more than a hundred North Carolina Central University students facing four-hour delays.

At a call center operated by the monitoring group Election Protection, Ms. Greenhalgh was fielding technical complaints from voters in Mississippi, Texas and North Carolina. Only a handful came from the first two states.

Her account of the troubles matches complaints logged in the Election Incident Reporting System, a tracking tool created by nonprofit groups. As the problems mounted, The Charlotte Observer reported that Durham’s e-poll book vendor was Florida-based VR Systems, which Ms. Greenhalgh knew from a CNN report had been hacked earlier by Russians. “Chills went through my spine,” she recalled.

The vendor does not make the touch-screen equipment used to cast or tally votes and does not manage county data. But without the information needed to verify voters’ identities and eligibility, which county officials load onto VR’s poll books, voters cannot cast ballots at all.

Details of the breach did not emerge until June, in a classified National Security Agency report leaked to The Intercept, a national security news site. That report found that hackers from Russia’s military intelligence agency, the G.R.U., had penetrated the company’s computer systems as early as August 2016, then sent “spear-phishing” emails from a fake VR Systems account to 122 state and local election jurisdictions. The emails sought to trick election officials into downloading malicious software to take over their computers.

The N.S.A. analysis did not say whether the hackers had sabotaged voter data. “It is unknown,” the agency concluded, whether Russian phishing “successfully compromised the intended victims, and what potential data could have been accessed.”

VR Systems’ chief operating officer, Ben Martin, said he did not believe Russian hackers were successful. He acknowledged that the vendor was a “juicy target,” given that its systems are used in battleground states including North Carolina, Florida and Virginia. But he said that the company blocked access from its systems to local databases, and employs security protocols to bar intruders and digital triggers that sound alerts if its software is manipulated.

On Election Day, as the e-poll book problems continued, Ms. Greenhalgh urged an Election Protection colleague in North Carolina to warn the state Board of Elections of a cyberattack and suggest that it call in the F.B.I. and Department of Homeland Security. In an email, she also warned a Homeland Security election specialist of the problems. Later, the specialist told her Durham County had rejected the agency’s help.

When Ms. Greenhalgh, who works at Verified Voting, a nonprofit dedicated to election integrity, followed up with the North Carolina colleague, he reported that state officials said they would not require federal help.

“He said: ‘The state does not view this as a problem. There’s nothing we can do, so we’ve moved on to other things,’” Ms. Greenhalgh recalled. “Meanwhile, I’m thinking, ‘What could be more important to move on to?’”

An Interference Campaign

The idea of subverting the American vote by hacking election systems is not new. In an assessment of Russian cyberattacks released in January, intelligence agencies said Kremlin spy services had been collecting information on election processes, technology and equipment in the United States since early 2014.

The Russians shied away from measures that might alter the “tallying” of votes, the report added, a conclusion drawn from American spying and intercepts of Russian officials’ communications and an analysis by the Department of Homeland Security, according to the current and former government officials.

The most obvious way to rig an election — controlling hundreds or thousands of decentralized voting machines — is also the most difficult. During a conference of computer hackers last month in Las Vegas, participants had direct access and quickly took over more than 30 voting machines. But remotely infiltrating machines of different makes and models and then covertly changing the vote count is far more challenging.

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Beginning in 2015, the American officials said, Russian hackers focused instead on other internet-accessible targets: computers at the Democratic National Committee, state and local voter databases, election websites, e-poll book vendors and other back-end election services.

Apart from the Russian influence campaign intended to undermine Mrs. Clinton and other Democratic officials, the impact of the quieter Russian hacking efforts at the state and county level has not been widely studied.

Federal officials have been so tight-lipped that not even many election officials in the 21 states the hackers assaulted know whether their systems were compromised, in part because they have not been granted security clearances to examine the classified evidence.

The January intelligence assessment implied that the Russian hackers had achieved broader access than has been assumed. Without elaborating, the report said the Russians had “obtained and maintained access to multiple U.S. state and local election boards.”

Two previously acknowledged strikes in June 2016 hint at Russian ambitions. In Arizona, Russian hackers successfully stole a username and password for an election official in Gila County. And in Illinois, Russian hackers inserted a malicious program into the Illinois State Board of Elections’ database. According to Ken Menzel, the board’s general counsel, the program tried unsuccessfully “to alter things other than voter data” — he declined to be more specific — and managed to illegally download registration files for 90,000 voters before being detected.

On Election Day last year, a number of counties reported problems similar to those in Durham. In North Carolina, e-poll book incidents occurred in the counties that are home to the state’s largest cities, including Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville and Charlotte. Three of Virginia’s most populous counties — Prince William, Loudoun, and Henrico — as well as Fulton County, Georgia, which includes Atlanta, and Maricopa County, Arizona, which includes Phoenix, also reported difficulties. All were attributed to software glitches.

Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, argued for more scrutiny of suspicious incidents. “We must harden our cyber defenses, and thoroughly educate the American public about the danger posed” by attacks,” he said in an email. “In other words: we are not making our elections any safer by withholding information about the scope and scale of the threat.

In Durham County, officials have rejected any notion that an intruder sought to alter the election outcome. “We do not believe, and evidence does not suggest, that hacking occurred on Election Day,” Derek Bowens, the election director, said in a recent email.

But last month, after inquiries from reporters and the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, Durham county officials voted to turn over laptops and other devices to the board for further analysis. It was not clear which government agency or private forensics firm, would conduct the investigation.

Ms. Greenhalgh will be watching closely. “What people focus on is, ‘Did someone mess with the vote totals?’” she said. “What they don’t realize is that messing with the e-poll books to keep people from voting is just as effective.’”

Continue reading the main story

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Something smelled wrong about the election from the very start. In the weeks before the presidential balloting took place, millions of voters were bombarded with “fake news” about the candidates on Facebook and other social media sites. And when the vote tallies were announced, the nation was shocked by the results. There was scattered unrest, even violence — and loud whispers that the election had somehow been stolen. Some wondered about the role of Cambridge Analytica, the firm founded by a billionaire backer of Donald Trump.

Then, something remarkable — unprecedented, really — took place. The nation’s highest court decided to launch a thorough investigation of what really happened on Election Day. What the justices eventually uncovered was shocking — a scheme to change results from the actual polling places when they were tallied electronically. What happened next was perhaps more surprising: The Supreme Court justices ordered a new national election.

Yes, this scenario actually just played out.

In Kenya.

In America, there is a stubborn, almost inexplicable blindness about the myriad problems with our own 2016 election

— including the alarming possibility that at least some of those problems were the result of a now-pretty-well-documented effort by a foreign power, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, to meddle in the selection of this nation’s 45th president. It’s getting harder and harder not to think

our nation’s top officials — not just President Trump and his aides who were the alleged beneficiaries of Russian meddling, but our intelligence agencies and even state and local officials — don’t really want to know whether Moscow’s interference was so great that it actually decided the race.

It’s as if they are terrified by what they might discover.

First, let’s review what we do know about Russia’s 2016 tampering, because that’s disturbing enough. We know that Trump officials eagerly met in June 2016 in Trump Tower with a cast of characters tied to Putin insiders and Russian intelligence who promised inside dirt on Hillary Clinton. A short time later, hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and a top Clinton aide went public on Wikileaks, at the same time Trump aides were keeping an anti-Putin plank out of the GOP convention platform and as Trump bizarrely made a public plea for Russia to find Clinton’s deleted emails (a cause also adopted by a GOP insider who claimed he was working for Trump, right before he committed suicide).

Then came an avalanche of fake news — much of it grown in Russian content farms — to convince blacks or young people in  key states such as Wisconsin to stay home or vote third party.

That’s bad, but it’s not as bad as what we don’t know: Whether Russia was able to hack into any state and local election systems in a way that might have changed the result — and thus throw the entire Nov. 8, 2016, result, with Trump’s narrow Electoral College win, into doubt. Although officials have slowly confirmed over the last 10 months that there’s evidence of Russian hackers trying to breach government election websites in nearly 40 states and actually gaining some access, at least in Illinois and Arizona, they’ve also assured us that a beefed-up effort by U.S. law enforcement and intelligence found zero evidence of Election Day hacking.

Now comes the New York Times to say: Don’t be so certain about that. In a blockbuster report that was inexplicably dropped on the Friday before Labor Day weekend, the newspaper revealed a) in one of the key states that gave Trump the election — North Carolina — voters in heavily Democratic urban precincts faced unexplained computer glitches that in some cases prevented people from casting ballots, using an electronic system known to have been targeted by Russian hackers) no federal, state or local agency has really aggressively probed this possibility of Election Day hacking — despite mounting evidence that the attempted tampering was more widespread than first acknowledged.

The key takeaway:

After a presidential campaign scarred by Russian meddling, local, state and federal agencies have conducted little of the type of digital forensic investigation required to assess the impact, if any, on voting in at least 21 states whose election systems were targeted by Russian hackers, according to interviews with nearly two dozen national security and state officials and election technology specialists.

The Times article also raises the important possibility that Russian bad guys — or some other corrupt element — could have tampered with the U.S. presidential election in ways that no one has really focused on. A key point of the article involves problems on Election Day in 2016 with electronic poll books, the online system that officials at polling places use to determine who is eligible to vote and in what precinct.

Last Nov. 8, polling officials in Durham, N.C. — a town with a large college and non-white population that skews Democratic — found widespread problems with these records as voters showed up to cast their ballots. The problems were repeated in other localities in North Carolina and across the Sun Belt that had used electronic poll books run by software from VR Systems — a company that had been breached by Russian hackers months earlier.

The Times scoop makes the point that, while election watchers have looked for evidence that hackers stole the election by changing the actual votes that have been cast — and no hard evidence of that has been found — it was also possible to mess with the outcome by making sure that some votes in heavily Democratic wards were never cast at all. A recount is meaningless for votes that were prevented from happening in the first place. The even bigger problem, as noted by the Times, is that no one is looking too hard to see how often this happened, or why.

Something else here is important to note: American elections are easy to mess with because America’s election system is terrible — Russian hacking or no Russian hacking. Voters went to the polls in 2016 after years of efforts by mostly GOP-led state governments to make it hard for citizens — but especially non-white citizens, college students or the elderly — to cast ballots. Consider Wisconsin, the state where Trump pulled arguably his biggest upset, winning by only 22,748 votes. Critics have said Wisconsin’s turnout fell sharply because of its voter ID law (although maybe not by 200,000, as one study claimed.) Voters in the Badger State were also badgered with “fake news” — some of it undoubtedly from Russia. It’s hard to tell an array of innocent computer glitches and malfunctions from criminal hacking.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist or political scientist to figure out what needs to be done.

In the long run, we need massive election reform — including a new and improved Voting Rights Act that would pinpoint the most pernicious voter ID laws, an Election Day federal holiday, and same-day voter registration. We need a voting system that leaves a real paper trail that can be routinely audited and easily investigated when there are allegations of vote tampering. And, as the Times article makes clear, we need a more thorough investigation of computer hacking and other problems that occurred in 2016 — regardless of the possibility that we might learn the unthinkable.

This isn’t the first time America was afraid of asking hard questions. Does anyone remember the Warren Commission? There’s no precedent for undoing an election result if an investigation uncovered proof of direct interference with the balloting, and so perhaps it’s not shocking that the political establishment isn’t eager to contemplate this. Personally, I think that Americans can handle the truth — and that a serious investigation is called for. But for right now, if you want a government that takes election tampering seriously, you may have to move to Kenya.

Published: | Updated:

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Donald Trump is officially under investigation for Russian financial scheme during election 

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If you’ve been paying close attention, you’ve known all along that this would end up being inevitable. It was always a matter of time before the investigation into Donald Trump’s Russian election collusion and the investigation into Donald Trump’s corrupt finances would become one and the same. Now that day has arrived: Trump is officially under investigation for financial dealings with Russia during the election.

That’s the word according to House Intelligence Committee Ranking member Adam Schiff, who appeared on CNN on Sunday. He officially confirmed that the committee is now investigating Donald Trump’s attempt at building a Trump Tower in Moscow during the election. He also confirmed that Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen and Trump’s longtime business associate Felix Sater, who conspired to try to get the Kremlin itself to assist in the real estate deal, are targets in the investigation. But there’s more to this.

By now it’s become clear that the ongoing House and Senate committee investigations are working in lock step with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s own investigation. One of the committees brought in Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort for questioning, and after his testimony must have given something away, Mueller had the FBI bust down his door before the sun came up the next morning. There is no doubt that Mueller is now investigating the Trump Tower Moscow plot as well, and that he’ll proceed with the same level of aggression he’s displayed up to this point.

Furthermore, the upshot of the Trump Tower Moscow scandal is that Donald Trump has absolutely no deniability. Cohen has already confirmed that he discussed the deal with Trump three times during the election. It’s also been confirmed that Trump signed a letter of intent during the election to build it. Trump can’t pretend he somehow didn’t know what his aides were doing when they conspired with the Kremlin during the election.

The post Donald Trump is officially under investigation for Russian financial scheme during electionappeared first on Palmer Report.

In Defense of the Truth – New York Times

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New York Times
In Defense of the Truth
New York Times
Of the statements by Trump that the fact-checking site PolitiFact has checked, just 5 percent were deemed absolutely true. Another 26 percent were just “mostly true” or “half true.” But a whopping 69 percent were found to be “mostly false,” “false” or 

U.S. Sets Plan for Regular Patrols in South China Sea

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The Pentagon for the first time has set a schedule of naval patrols in the South China Sea in an attempt to create a more consistent posture to counter China’s maritime claims there, injecting a new complication into increasingly uneasy relations between the two powers.

Colombia Rebels Trade Guns for Ballots

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Colombia’s FARC rebel group recast itself as a political party on Friday, pledging to fight for power with votes a leave behind a half-century war against the state.

Buckingham Palace Terror Attack Suspect Got Lost En Route to Original Target

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The man arrested outside Buckingham Palace last Friday who allegedly attempted to pull out a 4-foot long sword was an Uber driver who got lost, according to U.K. court documents released this week.

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Benjamin Netanyahu Discloses Frequent Contacts With Israeli Newspaper

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has regularly lambasted the Israeli press, but a new disclosure related to an ongoing corruption probe shows the leader also worked hard to shape how the domestic media covers him.

In Moscow Tower Plan, Trump Paired With Developer for the Working Class

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A Russian businessman who explored building a tower with Donald Trump’s company during the presidential campaign is a little-known developer of middle-class apartments. His connection to the Trump world: a Russian-American former stockbroker who brought deals to the Trump firm.

Tropical Storm Lidia Reaches Baja Peninsula

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Tropical storm Lidia on Thursday reached Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, bringing heavy rain and strong winds to the tourism resort of Los Cabos.

U.S. to Hold Up Military Aid to Pakistan, Citing Terror Havens

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The State Department notified Congress this week that it will be holding up $255 million in military aid for Pakistan until the country takes steps to address U.S. concerns about providing safe haven to terrorist groups.

U.S. Orders Russia to Close Three Diplomatic Properties

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The U.S. has ordered Russia to close some diplomatic offices in San Francisco, Washington and New York by Saturday. The move comes after Russia ordered the U.S. to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by 755 people.

China Sets Date for Party Congress as Xi Looms Even Larger

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China’s Communist Party plans to hold its twice-a-decade congress in mid-October, setting the stage for President Xi Jinping to embark on a second term as the strongest Chinese leader in decades.

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U.S. Dispatches Stealth Jets, Bombers in Warning to North Korea

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The U.S. sent four of its most advanced fighter jets and a pair of B-1B bombers over the Korean Peninsula, alongside Japanese and South Korean jets, as a show of force in direct response to North Korea firing a missile over Japan.

Putin’s Hand Can Clearly Be Seen In the Chaos of a Destabilized West – Newsweek

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Putin’s Hand Can Clearly Be Seen In the Chaos of a Destabilized West
… policy of supporting the murderous Slobodan Milosevic in former Yugoslavia. Among the later results of these trends, under Putin, were a dismembered Georgia, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and prolonged Russian aggression in the Donbas region of and more »

Putin’s Hand Can Clearly Be Seen In the Chaos of a Destabilized West

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What role is Russia playing in the difficulties the United States, Europe, and other countries are experiencing?

Does the Kremlin reject the existing world order and aspire to a new division of the world?

Did Moscow’s political kitchen deliberately help to concoct the loathsome dish of domestic and international terrorism, the tsunami of refugees, and political destabilization in many countries?

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There can be no simple and straightforward answers, but serious consideration of recent Russian history leads to distressing conclusions.

When the totalitarian USSR collapsed there was cause for hope. The germs of a multi-party, parliamentary system and free enterprise appeared, political and religious freedoms were guaranteed, censorship vanished, and the mass media were liberated. Soviet citizens were free to travel, and punitive psychiatry ended.

And then–recoil. In 1993 President Yeltsin dealt a crushing blow to the parliamentary system, killing several hundred people in the process. Russia practiced genocide against its own people in Chechnya. Political assassinations and the murder of journalists commenced.

Vladimir Putin at the Russian General Staff’s Main Intelligence Department (GRU) in Moscow, 08 November 2006. DMITRI ASTAKHOV/AFP/Getty

The economic situation was no better. Even prior to the attempted coup by communist hardliners against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the KGB began transferring huge amounts of “party funds” to “trusted persons.,” thereby founding the fortunes of the first of Russia’s nouveaux riches. The most infamous cases followed in the mid-1990s.

The coup is said to have failed miserably. Not so. By then the USSR was falling apart. Key positions in the executive and legislative branches had already been seized by officials and agents of the special services, often working “under cover.” The same thing happened in the world of business.

Gorbachev in power ended the Cold War. Yet after the dissolution of the USSR, Russia began a gradual return to Cold War policies. Under the pretext of defending Russian compatriots abroad, the Kremlin interfered in the domestic politics of neighboring Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Moldova. It was suspected of involvement in the attempted assassination of Georgia’s president Eduard Shevardnadze.

Meanwhile, Russia pursued an anti-Western policy of supporting the murderous Slobodan Milosevic in former Yugoslavia. Among the later results of these trends, under Putin, were a dismembered Georgia, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and prolonged Russian aggression in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

Why were a number of terrorist acts in the West, such as the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006 and the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, performed by visitors or emigrants from the former Soviet Union?

Did the emigrants, the brothers Tsarnaev, of Chechen nationality, responsible for the Boston attack, act on their own initiative? It seems most unlikely.

Russia must accept a share of responsibility for the Syrian civil war, the flood of refugees into Europe, the rightward drift of several European countries, the rising influence of ultra-right politicians, attempts to weaken the EU, and the U.K.’s Brexit decision.

What is going on between Russia and Donald Trump?

Is the president of the United States linked more closely to the Kremlin than any Western political figure should be?

That these questions command serious and prolonged attention in the United States puts Russia in a very poor light.

Why didn’t democracy take root in Russia? Why under Putin has the overwhelming majority of the population joyously welcomed the rebirth of authoritarianism, in a different flavor, of extreme corruption and misappropriation of state funds and natural resources?

The ultimate answer is that it is extremely dangerous when the secret police, with their nationalistic mentality, seize power in an enormous nuclear state, and when a former hunter of dissidents becomes president. Dangerous not only for Russia, but for the whole world.

When it became clear that Russia interfered in the internal affairs of the United States, in the presidential election, increasing numbers of Americans were persuaded of this truth.

Unfortunately, Russia has entered a path that leads nowhere. Power is unlimited; legislation is repressive; there has long been no real opposition. There is no coherent opposition program. The slogans “Russia without Putin,” and “Russia will be free,” are just words.

Putin cynically and regularly proclaims a struggle against the corruption that he himself sponsors.

What would Russia be without Putin? Putin himself is nothing. He is merely a facade concealing the special services and the oligarchs. They can easily replace him with another representative of the secret services.

Was Russia free under Dmitri Medvedev, president in 2008-2012? Of course not. He was a puppet of these very same forces.

Sometimes I am reproached for attributing to the Kremlin too much influence in the world. My response is that the Putin regime is so convinced of its own impunity that it indulges in actions that even communist leaders during the Cold War refrained from attempting.

Russia is at a dead end. It is vital that it not drag the rest of the world down the path it has taken.

It is our responsibility to make sure that does not happen.

Andrei A.Kovalev served as a diplomat and official in the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-91) and then in similar capacities under presidents Yeltsin and Putin (1991-2007). He is author ofRussia’s Dead End: An Insider’s Testimony from Gorbachev to Putin (Potomac Books, University of Nebraska Press, 2017).

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· · · ·

Stephen Miller may be in the crosshairs of Mueller’s Russia probe

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Robert MuellerRobert Mueller. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

  • President Trump’s drafted letter laying out his reasons for firing FBI director James Comey could give the special counsel a direct window into the president’s intent when he later dismissed Comey.
  • The letter could also implicate top Trump aide, Stephen Miller, in Robert Mueller’s obstruction-of-justice investigation. 
  • The advice that White House counsel Don McGahn gave Trump to dissuade him from sending the letter could also prove to be a critical piece of the puzzle.

News on Friday that special counsel Robert Mueller has obtained a letter drafted by President Donald Trump that details his reasons for firing then-FBI director James Comey has likely bolstered the progress of the Russia investigation, and may have landed another close Trump confidant in its crosshairs.

Mueller was put in charge of the investigation — which is examining whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow during last year’s presidential election — after Trump dismissed Comey in May. As part of his investigation, Mueller is also examining whether Trump obstructed justice when he fired the FBI director four months ago.

The letter Mueller is reviewing was drafted by Trump along with policy adviser Stephen Miller, and legal experts say it is possibly the most critical piece of evidence in Mueller’s obstruction-of-justice case since Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June, because it can give prosecutors a direct window into Trump’s thinking shortly before he fired Comey.

The biggest challenge a prosecutor faces in an obstruction-of-justice case is proving corrupt intent, which is almost always difficult to establish. But Trump’s letter could change the ballgame.

“The best way to prove someone’s intent is through their own words and actions,” former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti told Business Insider in an interview Saturday. “Here, you have a letter that was written by Miller, at the direction of the president, that contains what the president’s thoughts were at that time.”

Though the letter’s full contents remain unclear, The Washington Post reported that it focused on what was perhaps Trump’s greatest frustration with Comey: that the FBI director did not publicly announce, when he was leading the bureau’s investigation, that Trump was not personally under investigation.

James ComeyFormer FBI Director James Comey Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“It’s problematic for Trump if he fired Comey because he did not take actions in the investigation that would benefit Trump personally,” Mariotti said. “That makes Mueller’s case stronger.”

Cornell Law School associate dean and criminal law expert Jens David Ohlin echoed that assessment.

“The draft letter is extremely relevant to Mueller’s investigation because it may yield evidence about the true reason that Trump fired Comey,” Ohlin said. “If Trump fired Comey to impede an investigation that might implicate his own campaign or administration, that is obstruction of justice.”

Trump put the letter together shortly after Comey’s May 3 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, during which he defended his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state. The president was reportedly incensed after Comey acknowledged that his October announcement that the FBI was reopening its investigation into Clinton, days before the election, could have impacted its results.

Trump’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, told Business Insider in an email Saturday that the letter has long been in Mueller’s possession and its existence was known both to the special counsel’s team, as well as to the Department of Justice, “which has had a copy since the day it was first discussed within the White House.” He added there was “little, IF ANY, objection within the White House” to the letter, and that it focused primarily on Comey’s “usurpation of powers and other erratic and inexplicable conduct.”

The long weekend during which Trump drafted the letter at his Bedminster golf club began on Thursday, May 4, The New York Times reported on Friday. Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein was given a copy of Trump’s draft letter on Monday, May 8, and then proceeded to write a separate memo as to why Comey should be fired.

stephen millerStephen Miller tapes Sunday show interviews from the White House. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The letter also implicates Miller, who The Post said acted as a “stenographer” for Trump in writing the letter.

Miller, an ally of the recently ousted chief strategist Steve Bannon, has emerged in recent months as a Trump loyalist within the administration.

Given his role in the matter, Miller will likely be, at the very least, a witness in Mueller’s investigation. Other possible witnesses include Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, who were both with Trump at his Bedminster golf club when he drafted the letter during a weekend in early May.

If Miller acted primarily as a transcriber, he could have a smaller part in the investigation. However, “if he was actively working with the president to plan how they could derail or kill the Russia investigation,” Mariotti said, “that could present legal problems for Miller.”

Ohlin added that Miller and anyone else involved in Comey’s firing — or drafting the letter — may be accessories or co-conspirators to that crime as well.

The question then becomes, Mariotti added, “whether there was an agreement between Miller and the president to obstruct justice.” If that were the case, it could amount to conspiracy, he said.

Another way the adviser could be implicated in the investigation is if, for example, the president was acting in a way to obstruct justice, and Miller knew about that and tried to do what he could to help Trump succeed. If that were the case, Miller could have been aiding and abetting a crime. 

Mariotti said those two possibilities are likely the biggest potential sources of criminal liability for Miller.

The letter, as a whole, is a crucial part of the Russia controversy because it “goes directly to the biggest issue at question — what Trump’s intent was as to the Russia investigation,” Mariotti said.

Trump’s best defense would likely be that the draft letter did not reflect his true thinking on the subject, and that’s why never sent it, Ohlin said.

He added, however, that he didn’t believe the argument would hold much water because “it seems more likely that the draft letter reflected his true thinking, but then was edited down for other reasons.”

Though the White House initially said that Trump fired Comey based entirely on Rosenstein’s and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recommendations, Trump later said he had already decided to fire Comey, and that Rosenstein’s recommendation sealed the deal.

His explanation changed again later on, when he admitted to NBC News’ Lester Holt that he had fired Comey because of “this Russia thing,” and that he was going to dismiss the FBI director regardless of Rosenstein’s input.

Donald TrumpPresident Donald Trump looks at Finnish President Sauli Niinisto during a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House, Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Washington. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

And as far as that goes, White House counsel Don McGahn’s conversation with Trump when he advised him against sending the letter could be another key piece of the puzzle.

“We don’t know exactly what McGahn said, but the mere fact that he put a stop to that letter is another piece of evidence that Mueller could use to say, ‘Donald Trump was warned by the White House counsel that this was a problematic step and decided to do it anyway,'” Mariotti told Business Insider on Saturday morning, and later spoke about on Twitter.

The substance of what McGahn told Trump is important — and there’s no guarantee that it could be withheld as privileged information.

The reason is that a federal court of appeals ruled in 1998, at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, that deputy White House counsel Bruce Lindsey had to submit to the special prosecutor’s questions about President Bill Clinton’s relationship with Lewinsky. In that case, the court held that there is no attorney-client privilege between a government lawyer and a government employee in response to a grand jury inquiry.

If that ruling holds as it relates to the obstruction-of-justice investigation, it’s possible the public will eventually hear what McGahn told the president. “If he said anything along the lines of, ‘There’s potential criminal liability if you shut down this investigation,’ that would be extraordinarily powerful evidence against Trump,” Mariotti said.

In that case, McGahn’s advice to Trump could possibly become as important as Trump’s state of mind when he crafted the letter.

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· · · · · · · · · ·

Standoff brews between Senate, FBI over Trump dossier

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Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, want to interview two high-ranking FBI officials about some key aspects of the bureau’s role in the Trump-Russia investigation — the Trump dossier, the firing of James Comey, and more. But the FBI doesn’t want those officials to talk — even though the Judiciary Committee has oversight responsibility for the FBI, and even though the request is bipartisan, and even though there appears to be no conflict with the ongoing Trump-Russia investigation conducted by special prosecutor James Mueller.

A standoff could be developing.

It began on July 11, when Grassley and Feinstein wrote letters to James Rybicki, who was Director Comey’s chief of staff, and Carl Ghattas, head of the bureau’s national security branch. “The committee is investigating the removal of FBI Director James Comey, Russian interference in the 2016 election, and allegations of improper interference in law enforcement investigations,” the chairman and ranking member wrote. “Please make yourself available for a transcribed interview during the week of July 24, 2017.”

It didn’t happen. On July 27, Samuel Ramer, the acting assistant attorney general, wrote to say that Rybicki and Ghattas would not be talking. Noting the Mueller investigation, Ramer said, “Under these circumstances and consistent with the department’s long-standing policy regarding the confidentiality and sensitivity of information relating to pending matters, the department cannot make Mr. Ghattas or Mr. Rybicki available for transcribed interviews at this time.”

Grassley and Feinstein did not agree. They knew that committee staff, Republican and Democrat, had had so-called “de-confliction” discussions with Mueller’s office on how the Senate investigation might proceed without interfering with Mueller’s criminal probe. And they didn’t see a conflict. So on August 25, Grassley and Feinstein wrote another letter, this time to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

“The department declined to make Mr. Ghattas and Mr. Rybicki available for interviews because of pending matters and their current work on those matters with Special Counsel Robert Mueller,” Grassley and Feinstein wrote. “However, in our de-confliction discussions with the Special Counsel’s office, we have clarified that the committee intends to limit the scope of the interviews to avoid that concern. There is no intent to seek information about these witnesses’ current work with the Special Counsel’s office. Rather, we seek their independent recollections, as fact witnesses, of events that occurred before and including Director Comey’s removal.”

The two lawmakers asked the Justice Department to get in touch by September 1 to schedule the interviews. “We appreciate and expect the department’s voluntary cooperation with this important request,” they wrote.

Including the words “expect” and “voluntary” was notable, because it essentially meant, “Don’t make us force you.” If they are united, the chair and the ranking minority of a Senate committee can make a lot of trouble for an agency under their oversight. Grassley and Feinstein, veterans of many years in the Senate, know that very well.

The Justice Department does, too. But September 1 came and went with no department effort to set up the interviews.

Now, it is not clear what is next. Grassley and Feinstein appear to be determined to talk to Rybicki and Ghattas. It is obvious that both men know a lot about what went on in the FBI in the last couple of years. As far as the Trump dossier specifically is concerned, they could be able to shed light on the FBI’s reported decision in October 2016 to support work on the dossier, which at the time was an anti-Trump opposition research project funded by Clinton donors. Grassley has said that decision “raises further questions about the FBI’s independence from politics.” There’s no doubt he wants to learn more about it.

Finally, sharp-eyed readers may have noticed the name of James Rybicki in the news in the last few days. He was one of the FBI officials cited in a letter from Grassley and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham suggesting that Comey may have decided to exonerate Hillary Clinton in the email investigation before Clinton and more than a dozen other witnesses were even interviewed. The senators based the charge on Rybicki’s interview with the Justice Department’s Office of Special Counsel. (They took care to note that, despite the name, the Office of Special Counsel is completely separate from and not related to the Robert Mueller investigation.) Rybicki, as Comey’s chief of staff, obviously knew a lot about the email investigation.

Now Grassley and Feinstein want to know what Rybicki, as well as Ghattas, knows about the dossier, the Comey firing, and other events that make up the broadest definition of the Trump-Russia affair. But first, they’ll have to get past the Justice Department’s determination to keep things secret.

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· · ·

Time for a Full Investigation… of the FBI

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What happens to a country whose most important police force — and its key investigators — is no longer telling the truth to the citizens of that nation? Nothing good, I’m sure most would agree.  There’s almost no point in going through all the analogies to despotic regimes. Writers from George Orwell to Arthur Koestler have already done it for us.

But those analogies come immediately to mind following two revelations regarding our Federal Bureau of Investigation that surfaced this week. In one instance, the FBI refused to turn over documents regarding the Hillary Clinton emails because of — wait for it — “lack of public interest.”

The head of the FBI Records Management Division wrote Ty Clevenger, a New York Attorney who filed the FOIA request in March 2016, to inform him that his request was being denied in late August.“You have not sufficiently demonstrated that the public’s interest in disclosure outweighs personal privacy interests of the subject,” the letter, obtained by Fox News, reads. “Therefore, records regarding your subject are withheld pursuant to FOIA exemptions.”

It’s hard to imagine what was going on in the mind of Records Management Division head David M. Hardy when he wrote — or was forced to write by some unknown superior — such a risible lie, but things have only gotten worse from there.  Now we learn that then FBI director James Comey may never have planned to find Clinton guilty in the first place.

While the transcripts of those interviews are heavily redacted, they indicate that Comey started working on an announcement clearing Clinton in April or May of last year, before the FBI interviewed 17 witnesses in the case, including Clinton and some of her top aides.Clinton was interviewed for several hours on July 2, just three days before Comey’s announcement.

Defenders of Comey insist this early draft exonerating Clinton is standard FBI practice, but, not surprisingly, none of them mention that a similar draft deeming Clinton culpable has not surfaced.  One doubts it exists.

To millions of Americans, Hillary Clinton was as guilty as O.J. Simpson.  You would have to be an imbecile not to think she didn’t know she was doing something illegal secreting her professional emails as secretary of State on a private server hidden in a bathroom. And yet James Comey’s ultimate decision on Clinton depended on her putative ignorance after literally decades of government service.

No wonder he vacillated so many times in his statements and actions.  Only someone completely without conscience wouldn’t have.  And  Comey should have a guilty conscience because it is now becoming increasingly clear he was looking for way to exonerate Clinton virtually no matter what. The famous Bill-Loretta tarmac meeting was an unnecessary embarrassment, as was Lynch instructing Comey to call the investigation a “matter.”  This was ultimately, as the Italian film goes, “The Investigation of a Citizen above Suspicion.”  That is why she was never interviewed under oath and so many of her subalterns were let off free or allowed to destroy records and negotiate the most outlandish requests that neutered the inquiry. That is why we have never seen the tens of thousands of erased and supposedly missing emails.

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Donald Trump is officially under investigation for Russian financial scheme during election

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Trump Investigations Report: I doubt that the Trump-Russia affair would become possible if the FBI were not thoroughly infiltrated by the Russian agents and the Fifth columnists Michael Novakhov

I doubt that the Trump-Russia affair would become possible if the FBI were not thoroughly infiltrated by the Russian agents and the “Fifth columnists” – Michael Novakhov

Trump Investigations Report

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Trump – from Huffington Post

Trump – from Huffington Post from mikenova (1 sites)
Donald Trump: Tim Cook Not Backing Down From Protecting Dreamers

The Apple CEO said he stood with his colleagues.

Donald Trump

Trump News Review

1. Trump from mikenova (194 sites)
Donald Trump: Tim Cook Not Backing Down From Protecting Dreamers
Russian Intelligence, organized crime and political interference – Google News: Brics Leaders’ Xiamen Declaration: Read full text here – Livemint
crime and terror – Google News: BRICS leaders call for broad anti-terror coalition – TASS
Donald Trump: Defiant Dreamers Call Out Trump: ‘We Are Making America Great’
Donald Trump: California Dreamers nervously await Trump decision
organized crime and terrorism – Google News: BRICS declaration condemns Pakistan-based terror groups: Full Text on what it said about terrorism – Financial Express
Trump liar – Google News: Virginia contest a referendum and bellwether in age of Trump – Bluefield Daily Telegraph
crime and terror link – Google News: BRICS Leaders Xiamen Declaration: Full text – Times of India
Russian Intelligence services and international organized crime and terrorism – Google News: BRICS Leaders Xiamen Declaration: Full text – Times of India
Donald Trump: GOP Lawmaker Mocks Trumps Great Heart In Blistering Response To DACA Threat
Trump liar – Google News: In Defense of the Truth – New York Times
analysis of trump electorate – Google News: Merkel faces down Schulz in TV election debate as Trump and Turkey dominate – CNBC
Donald Trump – Google News: Merkel faces down Schulz in TV election debate as Trump and Turkey dominate – CNBC
Trump and the Mob – Google News: Deflecting attention – Sunbury Daily Item
Elections 2016 Investigation – Google News: Senate intel committee chair briefs Journal on investigation – Albuquerque Journal
Donald Trump: Nuclear test drives wedge between US and South Korea
putin won US 2016 election – Google News: Russia probe puts Heinrich on map – Albuquerque Journal
former FBI agents power influence – Google News: Russia probe puts Heinrich on map – Albuquerque Journal
putin won US 2016 election – Google News: No evidence Obama wiretapped Trump Tower: US Justice Dept – Independent
Palmer Report: Donald Trumps father was arrested at a KKK rally
Donald Trump | The Guardian: South Korea simulates attack on Kim Jong-un’s nuclear test site as tensions increase


Saved Stories – 1. Trump
Top House Democrat: ‘Past time’ to subpoena Comey documents – WTHR
Republicans Could Protect Dreamers If They Wanted To. But Will They?
Trump Seriously Considering Ending DACA, With 6-Month Delay – New York Times
What’s left to sanction in North Korea after its big nuclear test? – CNNMoney
Trump Is the One Who Is Mentally Ill? Really? – American Spectator
The Trump campaign and the Russians’ ‘active measures’ – Washington Examiner
Daca: Trump ‘to scrap’ amnesty for young immigrants – BBC News
‘The Chinese are pissed off’ but what can Beijing do about North Korea?
In rare move, Trump slams South Korea’s approach to North Korea – Fox News
South Korea simulates attack on Kim Jong-un’s nuclear test site as tensions increase
Donald Trumps father was arrested at a KKK rally
No evidence Obama wiretapped Trump Tower: US Justice Dept – Independent
Russia probe puts Heinrich on map – Albuquerque Journal
Nuclear test drives wedge between US and South Korea
Senate intel committee chair briefs Journal on investigation – Albuquerque Journal
Merkel faces down Schulz in TV election debate as Trump and Turkey dominate – CNBC
In Defense of the Truth – New York Times
GOP Lawmaker Mocks Trumps Great Heart In Blistering Response To DACA Threat
BRICS Leaders Xiamen Declaration: Full text – Times of India
BRICS declaration condemns Pakistan-based terror groups: Full Text on what it said about terrorism – Financial Express
BRICS leaders call for broad anti-terror coalition – TASS
Brics Leaders’ Xiamen Declaration: Read full text here – Livemint
Three sources confirm Donald Trumps Pee Pee Tape
White House threatened with subpoena over draft letter from Trump to Comey – The Guardian
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