3:55 PM 10/31/2017 – Manafort Is the Tip of the Iceberg – New York Times

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Paul Manafort leaving the Federal District Court in Washington on Monday. Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Donald Trump | The Guardian: Trump associates’ links with Russia: what we know so far
Extremist Content and Russian Disinformation Online: Working with Tech to Find Solutions
31.10.2017 16:21
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Trump Investigations Report: 12:11 PM 10/31/2017 Muellers First Indictments Send a Message to Trump The New York Times
did fbi have obligation to warn Trump campaign about Manafort? – Google Search
Corey Lewandowski Points Finger At FBI: They Didn’t Warn Us About Paul Manafort
Muellers First Indictments Send a Message to Trump
An Introduction To The Dark Arts Of Opposition Research
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The Early Edition: October 31, 2017
Russias outreach to George Papadopoulos went just how spies would have done it – The Washington Post
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emails investigation is Russia-Trump set-up – Google News: The Painstaking Detail of the Manafort-Gates Indictment Shows What a Solid Job Robert Mueller Has Done – Slate Magazine (blog)
Robert Muellers indictment of Paul Manafort and Robert Gates is a painstaking catalog of alleged crimes.
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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Donald Trump | The Guardian: Trump associates’ links with Russia: what we know so far

mikenova shared this story from 1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites).

Questions continue to be asked about the scale of alleged Russian influence over the president and the campaign that took him to the White House. Here we look at the links known and alleged between Donald Trumps associates and allies and Moscow

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 Donald Trump | The Guardian

Manafort Is the Tip of the Iceberg – New York Times

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New York Times
Manafort Is the Tip of the Iceberg
New York Times
As a tax professor who specializes in anti-money laundering, what is most striking to me about the criminal indictment against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates is how easy they made it look to launder nearly $20 million dollars from prying government eyes 

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Trump Investigations Report: 12:11 PM 10/31/2017 Muellers First Indictments Send a Message to Trump The New York Times

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Muellers First Indictments Send a Message to Trump – The New York Times __________________________ The Daily 202: 10 takeaways from Muellers shock-and-awe gambit – The Washington Post Paul Manafort, Rick Gates charged with conspiracy in connection with special counsel probe – The Washington Post Paul Manafort, Rick Gates charged with conspiracy in connection with special … Continue reading“12:11 PM 10/31/2017 – Muellers First Indictments Send a Message to Trump – The New York Times “

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Story image for did fbi have obligation to warn Trump campaign about Manafort? from West Hawaii Today

First guilty plea, indictment of Trump aides in Russia probe

West Hawaii Today6 hours ago
And they send a warning that individuals in the Trump orbit who do not … Paul Manafort, who steered Trump’s campaign for much of last year, and business … Mueller’s investigation has already shadowed the administration for months, … In court papers, Papadopoulos admitted lying to FBI agents about the …
Story image for did fbi have obligation to warn Trump campaign about Manafort? from Washington Post

While Mueller probe plays out, Republicans shouldn’t forget Trump …

Washington Post1 minute ago
They might have been too subtle for the president, but surely Trump’s lawyers … Trump hired as a campaign chairman someone who had known ties to … Gates on even after evidence surfaced that the FBI was investigating Manafort, … what Russia did for him, so he cannot take seriously his obligationto …
Story image for did fbi have obligation to warn Trump campaign about Manafort? from USA TODAY

Michael Flynn faces legal peril in Washington. In his Rhode Island …

USA TODAY7 hours ago
Another Trump campaign aide, George Papadopolous, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian … Unlike Manafort – whom prosecutors allege spent more than $1 million from … Flynn hasmade no secret of his desire for a deal to testify in exchange for immunity from possible prosecution.
Story image for did fbi have obligation to warn Trump campaign about Manafort? from The Australian

Clinton, Democratic National Committee ‘behind’ explosive Trump …

The AustralianOct 24, 2017
Trump has also attacked the findings of the FBI, NSA and CIA that Russia … Clinton campaign officials did not immediately comment, but in a statement, … GPS, was intended to release the research firm from its obligation to keep … Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was told to …
Corey Lewandowski Points Finger At FBI: They Didn’t Warn Us About Paul Manafort

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Muellers First Indictments Send a Message to Trump

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“It’s obviously a big-deal day. These are big-deal developments,” said John Q. Barrett, who served as associate independent counsel during the Iran-contra investigation.

President Trump’s former campaign chairman is charged with channeling large sums of money from offshore bank accounts to pay for goods, services and real estate in the United States.

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Inside the White House, the mood changed drastically throughout the morning. Although Mr. Manafort was the first president’s former campaign chief indicted since John N. Mitchell during Watergate, aides to Mr. Trump felt momentarily relieved that it had largely tracked their expectations and did not include any surprise allegations involving the campaign.

But then, just as Mr. Trump tweeted that the charges involved actions that took place “before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign,” the news about Mr. Papadopoulos stunned and alarmed White House aides.

Mr. Trump said nothing more publicly through the day and left it to his advisers to argue that the cases did not impugn him because Mr. Manafort’s actions were unrelated to his campaign service while Mr. Papadopoulos was just a volunteer whose efforts to set up meetings with higher-ranking officials were unrealized and who pleaded guilty to lying to F.B.I. agents, not to illegal campaign activity.

“Today’s announcement has nothing to do with the president, has nothing to do with the president’s campaign or campaign activity,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary. She added, “We’ve been saying from Day 1 there has been no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, and nothing in the indictment today changes that at all.”

Jay Sekulow, a private lawyer for Mr. Trump, said the president and his legal team were not worried about the indictments. “No, not concerned,” Mr. Sekulow said on CNN. “I’m completely convinced, as I was from the outset, that not only was there no Russian collusion, there was no obstruction.” He added, “I’m not concerned about this at all, and no one else is either.”

But lawyers and former prosecutors said Mr. Papadopoulos’s admissions and the previously reported meeting involving Donald Trump Jr. already undercut such denials.

“Collusion is what Papadopoulos did. Collusion is what Trump Jr. and others in that meeting did,” Mr. Barrett said. “It’s meeting and discussing and seeing what common interests they can advance for each other.”

Mr. Mueller’s action also made it harder for Mr. Trump to brush off the investigation and blame Democrats. “After Mr. Trump whipped up a tweet storm of suspicion about Mueller this weekend, he really now has no place to go with this attack,” said Robert F. Bauer, a White House counsel under President Barack Obama. “Mueller’s first charge is beyond any potential claim of ‘politics’ or ‘stretching’ that the president might wish to bring against him and his office.”

The gravity of the threat may yet tempt Mr. Trump to take action to short-circuit the investigation, such as firing Mr. Mueller or pardoning Mr. Manafort or others. Conservative activists said Monday that Mr. Mueller should be pressed to resign because the charges against Mr. Manafort were not directly related to the campaign and therefore outside his prosecutorial mandate.

Roger J. Stone Jr., a sometimes adviser to the president, told The Daily Caller, a conservative website, that the president should not fire Mr. Mueller but could accomplish the same outcome by directing the Justice Department to investigate a deal consummated when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state giving Russian interests a share of the American uranium market.

Because Mr. Mueller was the F.B.I. director at the time, he could come under scrutiny and therefore could no longer conduct the Russia investigation because of a conflict of interest, Mr. Stone argued. That, he said, was Mr. Trump’s “only chance for survival.”

Both Ms. Sanders and Mr. Sekulow disputed suggestions that Mr. Trump might seek to fire Mr. Mueller. “There is no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel,” Ms. Sanders said.

George Papadopoulos, an adviser to the Trump campaign, contacted campaign officials at least 11 times from March to June 2016 about a potential meeting.

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The two also played down the possibility that Mr. Trump might pardon Mr. Manafort or others caught in the investigation. “I haven’t had a conversation with the president about pardons or pardoning individuals,” Mr. Sekulow said. Ms. Sanders likewise said that she had not spoken with the president about the possibility of pardons.

In the past, the president has signaled that he might dismiss Mr. Mueller if the special counsel exceeded what Mr. Trump considers the bounds of his investigation. Mr. Trump has also publicly noted that he has the “complete power to pardon” relatives, aides and possibly even himself in response to the special counsel investigation.

Democrats warned Mr. Trump on Monday not to impede Mr. Mueller’s investigation.

“The president must not, under any circumstances, interfere with the special counsel’s work in any way,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader. “If he does so, Congress must respond swiftly, unequivocally and in a bipartisan way to ensure that the investigation continues.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, said the indictment showed that Mr. Mueller was “doing his job” and that the process was working. “I’ll continue to support Bob Mueller as he follows the facts — his independence must remain sacrosanct,” she said.

With the indictments, Mr. Mueller made clear that he was not to be underestimated. In one court document, his team used two words to describe Mr. Papadopoulos that might send a chill down the spines of some in Mr. Trump’s circle: “proactive cooperator.” Mr. Papadopoulos has been cooperating with prosecutors for three months, and his statement refers to several other campaign advisers he consulted as he reached out to Russian officials.

Moreover, former prosecutors said the charges against Mr. Manafort and Rick Gates, Mr. Manafort’s longtime associate and also a Trump campaign adviser, were so serious that they might be an attempt to scare one or both into cooperating. A White House lawyer said last week that the president has nothing to fear if Mr. Manafort does talk with investigators, but Mr. Mueller and his team of prosecutors appear intent on finding that out themselves.

“They’ve done phenomenal work, they’ve done it quickly, they’ve done it ruthlessly, and they’ve done it efficiently,” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, who was the deputy independent counsel during the investigation that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton on charges of lying under oath about his affair with Monica S. Lewinsky. “They’re sending a message: ‘We’re here to stay; don’t mess with us.’”

Continue reading the main story

An Introduction To The Dark Arts Of Opposition Research

mikenova shared this story from Hilary Krieger FiveThirtyEight.

If you’re looking for someone to teach you the dark arts of opposition research, Alan Huffman is your man. A former daily news reporter and a political researcher for, by his count, more than 100 candidates, Huffman is the co-author of “We’re With Nobody,” a look inside the “oppo” industry.

That industry once aimed to stay out of the spotlight but now finds itself at center stage. Amid swirling questions and investigations into how campaigns obtain negative information on their opponents, recent reports on organizations linked to both Democrats and Republicans in 2016 have drawn attention and criticism.

A lawyer representing Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee reportedly paid a group called Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research, and that group hired former British spy Christopher Steele to dig up dirt on Donald Trump. (Fusion GPS had also worked with Republican interests during the 2016 primaries.) Steele’s salacious dossier of allegedly compromising informationgathered by the Russians — much of it unproven and denied by Trump — was eventually leaked to the media. Complicating matters further are accusations that Steele paid sources to get information. And it has been reported that a company that consulted for Trump’s campaign, Cambridge Analytica, had reached out in 2016 to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about exploiting emails from Democrats that Russia had allegedly hacked and passed on to WikiLeaks. Assange said he rebuffed the company’s requests.

We asked Huffman, who has worked with candidates from both major parties but mostly works with Democratic campaigns, to help us understand how campaigns and the media use opposition research, and how to interpret the latest revelations. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Hilary Krieger: Could you start by telling us a bit about the history of opposition research — how it developed and evolved?

Alan Huffman: People have been doing oppo for centuries. It’s just what you do: You try to find out the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent. I don’t really know when it sort of morphed into also finding out your own strengths and weaknesses. But the attacks that were made on political candidates go back to the origins of the country.

The process of getting that information sort of stayed submerged until really the last decade or so, maybe the last two decades, because when we [Huffman and research partner Michael Rejebian] first started doing it, the candidates were all really paranoid about anyone finding out. You know, like your opponent’s going to hold a press conference and say, “My opponent has hired a private investigator to dig up dirt on me.” But everybody knows that it’s done now.

Krieger: So can you give me an example from hundreds of years ago? Do you have any great stories of somebody like Thomas Jefferson doing oppo?

Huffman: I remember even back in the Roman days that it was not unusual for the Senate to dig up dirt on opponents — sometimes with violent results. [Huffman later emailed to relate a story that Rejebian wrote about in their book: “One case of early American oppo came during the 1800 presidential election between incumbent John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the latter of whom reportedly hired a ‘scandalmonger’ named James Callender, who had previously revealed a romantic tryst between Alexander Hamilton and a married woman, to research (and promote) an allegation that Adams for some reason wanted to go to war with France. Callender was subsequently jailed for sedition, and after Jefferson was elected, Callender sought a job as a postmaster. When he didn’t get the job, he publicly disclosed his arrangement with Jefferson, along with allegations that he’d dug up about Jefferson and his slave children.”]

Krieger: You said things changed about a decade or two ago.

Huffman: We started doing this in the early ’90s, and I would say probably toward the later ’90s is when it sort of came out into the open. I don’t think it was directly a result of this, but it coincided with all the Bill Clinton scandals. I think at that point, there was no point in pretending that this was all just civil discourse.

Krieger: So while the labors of opposition researchers have become more public since then, has the process itself stayed pretty much the same?

Huffman: What has changed about the process is really the advent of the internet infiltrating into every sector. We still have to go on the ground, but not for as long, usually, because some of the records are available online. So much is now recorded on social media.

But the overall process is still the same because we’ll talk to anybody. We sit down with some guy that seems a little bit crazy, who’s sitting outside of his trailer with a shotgun across his lap because he thinks somebody is going to kill him for talking to you. Maybe he has something and maybe he doesn’t, but we’ll talk to anybody so long as it leads to documentation — and it’s worthless for our purposes if it doesn’t.

Krieger: What are the kinds of things you do to get this information? Are there dirty tricks involved?

Huffman: Michael and I are both trained as journalists, and we approach all of this the same way we would if we were writing for a publication. So, no, there are no dirty tricks on our end, but there are sometimes things that are directed at us. We get death threats, we get followed, all kinds of things like that happen — which just serves the purpose of telling us that we’re getting warm. We like it when that happens because it tells us that we’re on the trail of something that somebody is afraid of.

People think of opposition researchers like political operatives — they are a sort of tool of the political machine — but in general they’re outsiders. And I can’t tell you how many times we’ve sat down with the candidates after we gave them the report, and he or she has said, “Whose side are you on? I look worse than my opponent in your report.”

We’re like, “Sorry, we’re not going to gloss over anything.” We’re also not going to encourage them to use something that sort of goes beyond the boundaries of what we consider our purpose, which is to document the fitness of a candidate to serve, ultimately. Sometimes that might be found in their divorce case records. But in general, we might look at all that stuff, but using it almost always backfires on someone unless it’s just really, really damning. Of course, now, with the way the whole political discourse is changing, who knows what will backfire or what people will just ignore. Trump has just changed the playing field for everybody.

Krieger: Can you spell out your process a bit more?

Huffman: We’ll start out like everyone else, I guess. Initially we just start doing manic googling and find out everything that we can about them. Then we’ll do an exhaustive Lexis Nexis search and see what’s been published. Basically you just build kind of a work outline and see what are the big issues here.

If you’re an incumbent, we’re going to look at, what is your voting history, what comments have you made that are telling in any way. And we’re going to look at whether you pay your taxes. Sometimes that leads you to interesting places. Sometimes it leads to clear wrongdoing.

Krieger: What are some of the information sources that are publicly available that people might not know to think about?

Huffman: Really anything that is public record, we’re going to look at. If we go to the courthouse, I always stop and just look at the building directory and look at every single office in that building. I think, is there anything that they keep that might be illuminating? The permit office, for example, if the guy’s a big developer or landlord. We just kind of go through the whole list every single time.

You customize it with what you know about the candidate, but you’re going to look at their personal voting history. At the county and city level, you’re going to look at all the criminal records. You’re going to look at whether they got a bunch of speeding tickets, and if so, does it make any difference? Is there something else that makes that notable?

You’re going to look at all the court cases. If there were minutes to meetings that they were a part of, you’re going to look at those — and fall asleep with your head on the table.

Once you’ve done the initial documentary research, you’re going to talk to any sources that you can that might just enlighten you about this candidate. And again, it’s always in the hopes that it will direct you toward documentation. So you might not know that there had been suspicious fires at a number of businesses owned by this candidate. It had never been reported in the news, but somebody who worked in the kitchen of the restaurant will tell you that. Then you can go back and find the records that you otherwise would not have known to look for. So it’s very important to talk to people.

And that’s what I thought about when I was looking at this whole issue of the dossier and whether we would have done that. We don’t normally deal with spies. But we will talk to just about anyone as long as it leads to documentation.

Krieger: What do you make of the dossier, the information in it, how it was obtained?

Huffman: You know, you hear a lot of things, and you might even take note of them, but there’s a lot in the dossier apparently that is undocumented, just as there’s a lot that’s documented. It’s such a complicated story that it’s hard to tell exactly what was going on. A Republican starts the process and then the Democrats pick it up, which is not as unusual as it sounds.

Krieger: You saw the dossier get into the media. So how does that part of the process work?

Huffman: That’s something that I have limited knowledge about because in some cases when we turn in the report, that’s the end of it for us. You know the campaign has no interest in us whatsoever from that point on, and we have no control over what they do. If we think there are red flags, we will note that in the report. But then again, in most cases they don’t use it at all. They just like knowing.

Krieger: When you see information you may have gathered wind up in the media, do you think that there’s any issue with how that information is reported on? Is it standard practice for journalists to say that this was provided by a campaign as opposition research? Are there any sort of standards of transparency?

Huffman: There are no established standards. It really falls on the journalist to be responsible for the source of their information. Whether or not the person who shared that information with the journalist explains how it came about, I think most journalists would know that this is clearly the result of somebody doing oppo. But to the journalist it’s a question of: Does it matter if it’s a partisan document as long as it’s also true? The whole point is to get the truth out there, so yes, it may be questionable who has what agenda. But if it’s public record, you just saved them some time. If I was a reporter and something got leaked to me, I would say, “Yeah this was leaked to me.” But you may have an agreement that you’re not going to say who.

One thing that sort of came out and that kind of gave me pause when thinking about this dossier story is the whole issue of buying information, which is sort of antithetical to us and to journalists. If somebody came to us and said, “We will sell you this,” we would automatically be suspicious and skeptical.

Krieger: Should journalists be more up-front about where they’re getting this information?

Huffman: If there’s any issue about it, about how you came to possess this information and if it came from someone who had been involved in [gathering] it somehow, I think a reporter should definitely be up-front about it and not pretend that this all just magically fell into place. And I think that one of the problems now in journalism is there’s not nearly as much focus on documentation as there once was.

Those are the bigger problems, and I hate to sound like a broken record, but it just all goes back to documentation. If you don’t have it, then you don’t have anything. Unfortunately, that’s our view, and it’s not necessarily the way it works. I mean, look at Trump. He’ll say anything, and he gets the media coverage and he creates this whole weather system that is based on nothing. And so somehow the idea of having documented facts begins to feel a little quaint. But that’s what we traffic in, for better or worse.

Krieger: We were talking about the dossier and how that was compiled. What about Cambridge Analytica reaching out to WikiLeaks for information?

Huffman: We would never deal with a Russian operative because they’re basically an enemy of the state and we’re Americans. And I would be very wary about anything that had been stolen. I would look at [the emails] for sure. I would read them and I would see what I could find that could guide my questions when I interview someone and ultimately lead to some proof of what happened. But the provenance of the documents is important.

Krieger: Putting the WikiLeaks example in the context of the norms of how these things work, does it seem like a really different scale of magnitude, or is it just sort of the next step in getting what information you can?

Huffman: It is kind of the next step. For better or worse, I think because there is such a craving for information, people are going to take it wherever they find it. And, unfortunately, [they may take it] even if it’s not clearly true. There’s no guidebook for doing opposition research and, politics being so volatile, to me the whole [WikiLeaks] thing is a little bit more cautionary than the dossier.

Krieger: Why is the WikiLeaks incident more troubling to you than the dossier?

Huffman: It [the dossier] doesn’t seem like an illegitimate way to find things out. Now, there are aspects of it that I’m curious about and that seem a little strange. But I don’t think it’s as unusual as, say, accepting a big document dump from WikiLeaks that may have been obtained in an illegal way.

russian infiltration of both republican and democratic campaigns in elections 2016 – Google Search

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Story image for russian infiltration of both republican and democratic campaigns in elections 2016 from WIRED

What Congress Should Ask Tech Executives About Russia

WIRED3 hours ago
On the offchance that our elected representatives actually want to learn … But organic posts are far more vulnerable to infiltration. … linked Russia to the hack of the Democratic National Committee as early as June 2016. … more flexible in their definition of what is and isn’t a Russian influence campaign.
Story image for russian infiltration of both republican and democratic campaigns in elections 2016 from WNPR News

Russia Tried To Infiltrate Trump Campaign, Mueller Documents …

WNPR News3 hours ago
Russia Tried To Infiltrate Trump Campaign, Mueller Documents Confirm … probe into the 2016 race and Russia’s attempted interference in the election. … A trove of hacked Democratic emails was released by WikiLeaks three months … Singer, who was a Trump skeptic and backed Florida Republican Sen.
The Early Edition: October 31, 2017

mikenova shared this story from Just Security.

Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.

TRUMP-RUSSIA

Charges against Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and campaign advisers Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos were announced by special counsel Robert Mueller yesterday, the charges were made as part of Muller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Manafort and Gates surrendered to the F.B.I. yesterday and Papadopoulos secretly pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. weeks ago and has been cooperating with investigators for months. Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt and Matthew Rosenberg report at the New York Times.

Papadopoulos’s plea describes extensive efforts to establish links between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, in a January 2017 interview with the F.B.I. Papadopoulos said that a London-based professor claimed he had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including “thousands of emails.” Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger report at the Washington Post, revealing how much Trump campaign officials knew about Papadopoulos’s attempts to broker relationships.

Papadopoulos’s guilty plea is a “small part” of a “large-scale ongoing investigation,” a spokesperson for Mueller’s office, Aaron Zelinsky, said yesterday, Katelyn Polantz reporting at CNN.

The charges against former Trump campaign officials “has nothing to do with the president,” the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday in a daily briefing, adding that the indictments do not change the fact there has been no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion and played down Papadopoulos’s role in the campaign. Jordan Fabian reports at the Hill.

The indictments demonstrate the wide scope of the Mueller investigation, the charges against Manafort and Gates relate to tax and money-laundering while they were working in Ukraine, and the Papadopoulos guilty plea shows that Mueller has the ability to “flip” people without it being leaked. Joe Palazzalo and Jacob Gershman report at the Wall Street Journal.

Republican senators said yesterday that legislation protecting Mueller is not necessary because they do not believe Trump would fire the special counsel, Jordain Carney reports at the Hill.

The prominent Washington lobbyist Tony Podesta has stepped down from his lobbying group as Mueller’s team investigate his connections to Manafort, a source familiar with the matter said yesterday. Mark Honseball and Ginger Gibson report at Reuters.

Trump was “seething” when he found out about the indictments, according to a Republican source close to the White House and the President hit out at the Mueller investigation in a series of tweets yesterday. Jeff Zeleny and Kevin Liptak report at CNN.

Republicans have tried to avoid discussing the Mueller indictments and sought to distance themselves when probed, Karoun Demirjian and Sean Sullivan report at the Washington Post.

The indictments could upset the congressional investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, neither of the intelligence committees have met with Papadopoulos and it is unclear whether Manafort and Gates can engage with Congress. Elana Schor, Kyle Cheney and Ali Watkins report at POLITICO.

Who is George Papadopoulos? Alex Johnson explains at NBC News.

The key questions raised by Papadopoulos’s cooperation with the F.B.I. and what we know already are set out by Aaron Blake at the Washington Post.

The campaign officials described in the Papadopoulos plea are explained by Rosalind S. Helderman at the Washington Post.

The unexpected Papadopoulos guilty plea may have significant implications as it relates directly to allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and the plea revealed plenty of new information. Just Security Editors Kate Brennan and Ryan Goodman set out the key takeaways at Just Security.

A timeline of Manafort’s relationship with Trump and the Trump campaign is set out by Joanna Walters at the Guardian.

The charges against Manafort are very likely to relate to Russian intelligence operations through his work for Ukraine’s government and his work with the Russia-friendly Ukrainian Party of Regions. Just Security editor John Reed writes at Just Security.

Gates was a former business associate of Manafort and remained part of the Trump campaign after Manafort was kicked out, taking a central role in Trump’s inaugural committee and a lobbying group created to advance the president’s agenda. Eileen Sullivan provides a background to the campaign adviser at the New York Times.

The views of legal experts on the indictments are set out by Joe Palazzalo and Jacob Gershman at the Wall Street Journal.

What will be the focus of Mueller’s investigation following the indictments? POLITICO Magazine sets out the views of eleven legal experts.

The White House should be concerned about the indictments, Trump’s links to the unscrupulous Manafort and the Papadopoulos plea indicating that more of Trump’s associates should be “afraid of being ensnared in Mr. Mueller’s spreading net.” The New York Times editorial board writes.

Trump should be worried as Mueller has shown he is willing to use his mandate widely, Betsy Woodruff writes at The Daily Beast.

The Manafort indictment does not involve the 2016 election campaign and relates to his work for Ukraine; Mueller has provided no evidence to back up the claims made in Papadopoulos’ plea that the Trump campaign worked with Russian operatives and Congress members should push for the whole story, including the Democrats’ role in the Fusion GPS-commissioned dossier on alleged Trump-Russia connections. The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes.

The real investigation on Russia’s role in the 2016 election is being carried out by the House Intelligence Committee and its chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), particularly its efforts to uncover the truth behind the dossier alleging Trump-Russia connections, which was compiled by former British Intelligence officer Christopher Steele. William McGurn writes at the Wall Street Journal.

Around 126 million people saw Russia-propagated content on Facebook before and after the 2016 U.S. election, according to sources familiar with the matter, prepared testimony ahead of today’s hearing before congressional investigators and a statement by the social media company. Google and Twitter also disclosed further information about Russia propaganda efforts on their platforms, Deepa Seetharaman and Georgia Wells report at the Wall Street Journal.

Russian-backed Facebook accounts organized directly with U.S. activists on divisive issues to sow discord and, according to a review by the Wall Street Journal, this included at least 60 rallies, protests and marches publicized or financed by eight Russia-backed accounts. Deepa Seetharaman reports at the Wall Street Journal.

The Ukraine warned Facebook and U.S. officials in 2015 about Russia’s “aggressive behavior” in spreading disinformation on social media, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential administration said today. Hannah Kuchler and Roman Olearchyk report at the Financial Times.

“Without a single piece of proof, we are as you know being accused of meddling not only in the U.S. election, but also in those in European states,” the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency today. Reuters reporting.

NORTH KOREA

A dispute between China and South Korea over the U.S. T.H.A.A.D. antimissile defense system installed in South Korea has been resolved, with both countries releasing a statement today, the repaired relations likely coming as relief to the U.S. as it attempts to deal with the threat posed by North Korea and the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. Jonathan Cheng reports at the Wall Street Journal.

South Korea and China will move to normalize their relationship motivated by a joint desire to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, according to South Korea’s Foreign Ministry. Adam Taylor reports at the Washington Post.

Japan and N.A.T.O. “condemn in the strongest terms North Korea’s nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches,” the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and N.A.T.O. Secretary General said in a joint statement yesterday following a meeting to discuss security cooperation, also calling on U.N. member states to apply Security Council resolutions “fully and transparently.” The AP reports.

North Korean hackers likely stole South Korean warship blueprints by hacking into the Daewoo Shipbuilding Company’s database, a lawmaker in South Korea’s main opposition party said today. Haeijin Choi reports at Reuters.

AUTHORIZATION FOR THE USE OF MILITARY FORCE

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday on the authorization for the use of military force (A.U.M.F.) yesterday, saying that a new A.U.M.F. should not have time or geographic constraints, that the 2001 A.U.M.F. – which provides the legal justification for most of U.S. military actions abroad – should not be repealed until a replacement has been put in place, and Mattis emphasizing that the 2001 and 2002 A.U.M.F. “remain a sound basis for ongoing U.S. military options.” Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.

Tillerson and Mattis declined to explain what an “imminent threat” would constitute, but said that the president would not have authority to use military power in North Korea outside of an imminent threat to the United States. Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.

 “The next step most logically is to attempt to move to a mark up,” the Chairman of the committee Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said yesterday, saying that legislation for a new A.U.M.F. would come “fairly soon.” Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.

IRAN

The U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has called on Washington’s allies in the Middle East to step up sanctions against Iran, Mnuchin said in an interview yesterday, adding that the focus of sanctions would be on activities outside the scope of the 2015 nuclear deal. Ian Talley reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Any future negotiations with the U.S. are unlikely without a “fundamental change” in American behavior, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Bahram Ghasemi said yesterday, the AP reporting.

SYRIA

Russia expects “all” terrorists in Syria to be defeated by the end of the year, Russia’s head of the upper house of parliament’s defense and security committee was quoted as saying yesterday, adding that enough Russian troops would be kept in the country once this has been achieved “to avert a possible repeat of this terrorism.” Reuters reporting.

A U.N. aid convey has reached Syrians in eastern Ghouta near the Syrian capital of Damascus, the U.N. said yesterday, the Syrian government has shelled the region which is one of the last remaining rebel-held territories in the country. Philip Issa reports at the AP.

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out five airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on October 29. Separately, partner forces conducted three strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

IRAQ

The deputy head of the Iran-backed and state-sanctioned Popular Mobilization Forces (P.M.F.) militia has rebuffed calls from the U.S. for it to disband, saying that the “future of the [P.M.F.] is to defend Iraq.” Susannah George reports at the AP.

Who are the P.M.F.? Farah Najjar explains at Al Jazeera.

AFGHANISTAN

The U.S. condemned the Taliban for holding a seriously ill U.S. citizen hostage in such dire circumstances, referring to Professor Kevin King who has been held since August 2016 and the Taliban called on the U.S. yesterday to meet the conditions for his release in light of his deteriorating condition. Craig Nelson and Habib Khan Totakhil report at the Wall Street Journal.

Key details about the Afghan security forces have been kept secret by the U.S. military in a report by the government’s Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, Thomas Gibbons-Neff reports at the New York Times.

ISRAEL-PALESTINE

The Israeli army destroyed a tunnel from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip to Israeli territory yesterday, killing at least seven militants and wounding more than a dozen, Rory Jones reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Officials from the Islamic Jihad militant and political movement vowed to retaliateAl Jazeerareports.

LIBYA

U.S. forces captured Mustafa al-Imam who is accused of being involved in the attack on the U.S. compound in the Libyan city of Benghazi in 2012, President Trump said yesterday. Barbara Starr and Zachary Cohen report at CNN.

Airstrikes on the eastern Libyan town of Derna have killed at least 15 people, according to local media, no one claiming responsibility for the attack. The AP reports.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The U.S. yesterday pledged $60m to a U.N.-backed antiterrorism force in Africa’s Sahel region, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying that “these funds will play a key role” in combating extremist groups in the area. Rick Gladstone reports at the New York Times.

The Trump administration’s ban on transgender troops serving in the military was temporarily blocked by a ruling by a federal judge yesterday, the judge saying that the claim that the transgender people would have any negative effect on the military had “absolutely no support.” Dave Philipps reports at the New York Times.

Trump’s comments on the case of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl may impact his sentence, the military judge Col. Jeffrey R. Nance said yesterday, Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion and endangering troops when he walked off his army base in Afghanistan in 2009. Richard A. Oppel Jr. reports at the New York Times.

The U.S. and Qatar agreed yesterday to “substantially increasing the sharing of information on terrorist financiers,” the comments coming amid the Gulf crisis which began on June 5 when Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Egypt and Bahrain diplomatically isolated Qatar due to its alleged support for terrorism and its close ties to Iran. Reuters reports.

Prosecutors in the U.S.S. Cole case have asked for a hearing to find the three civilians defense lawyers who left the case to be held in contempt of court, the civilian lawyers walked away over a classified ethical conflict and they refused an order by the military judge to return to the war court at Guantánamo Bay. Carol Rosenberg reports at the Miami Herald.

The claim that Russia obtained “20 percent” of the U.S.’s uranium supply in an Obama administration deal is false. Glenn Kessler fact checks the claims at the Washington Post.

Russias outreach to George Papadopoulos went just how spies would have done it – The Washington Post

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The vital questions on Trump and Russia
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Whatever else it may be, the story of Donald Trump and Russia comes down to this: a sitting president or his campaign is suspected of having coordinated with a foreign country to manipulate a US election. He strongly denies all wrongdoing and calls the …
Trump tweets ‘NO COLLUSION’ after arrests of top aides in Russian probeChicago Tribune
Trump says any Manafort misdeeds occurred ‘years ago’ABC News
Trump rages on Twitter at Clinton and Russia inquiry ‘witch hunt’BBC News
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Slate Magazine (blog)
The Painstaking Detail of the Manafort-Gates Indictment Shows What a Solid Job Robert Mueller Has Done
Slate Magazine (blog)
Before that hack, Donald Trump Jr. arranged for Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner to meet with an attorney who was offering help directly from Russia. (Trump Jr. famously responded to the offer of dirt on Clinton by saying, [I]f it’s what 

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Robert Muellers indictment of Paul Manafort and Robert Gates is a painstaking catalog of alleged crimes.

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Palmer Report: Paul Manafort has been arrested, and it sounds like Michael Flynn has cut a deal against Donald Trump

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Here’s the thing about Donald Trump: he’ll throw anyone under the bus. Moments after his campaign chairman Paul Manafort was arrested this morning, Trump dismissively tweeted that Manafort was arrested for crimes that took place before he joined the campaign. When Trump announced last month that he would be helping his associates with Trump-Russia legal fees, he made clear that none of the money would be going to his loyal former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Now we may know why.

Manafort was arrested this morning on a dozen different charges. One of them is “Conspiracy against the United States” which is every bit as ugly as it sounds. He was also charged with failure to register as a foreign agent. That’s the exact same crime Michael Flynn admitted to when he retroactively registered as a foreign agent after he’d gotten caught. We know Special Counsel Robert Mueller has had a grand jury against Flynn for some time in Virginia. Mueller is intentionally making an example of Manafort, making sure his arrest is plastered all over the TV news in the most humiliating way possible. So where is Flynn’s big spectacle of an arrest? Why isn’t he being made an example of as well?

It’s entirely possible that Michael Flynn will be arrested before the day is over, as the dual arrests of Manafort and Rick Gates along with today’s reveal of the George Papadopoulos plea deal have made clear that Mueller is going all-in today. But even if Flynn does quietly get arrested today, he’ll have been spared the humiliation of having been the prominent first arrest out of the gate. There’s really only one reason for Mueller to give Flynn that kind of courtesy.

If Michael Flynn has cut a deal to flip on Donald Trump, he’ll still be indicted, charged, arrested, and required to plead guilty, as part of the carrying out of that deal. It’s notable that on this day, one of Donald Trump’s two key foreign agents got popped before the cameras for all to see, while the other one seems to be getting the kid gloves. Throw in Trump’s decision not to help Flynn with his legal fees, and it sounds like even the ever-oblivious Trump knows Flynn has cut a deal against him. Why would the ever-defiant Flynn cut a deal? Simple: to keep his son Michael Flynn Jr out of prison.

Keep in mind that Robert Mueller arrested Trump adviser George Papadopoulos months ago, and formally cut a deal with him weeks ago, and none of us are learning about it until today (link). So it’s entirely possible that Michael Flynn has already secretly cut a deal as well. For that matter it’s possible Flynn already surrendered himself awhile ago which would also explain why he wasn’t popped this morning. Stay tuned.

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A federal grand jury issued an indictment Friday against President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s longtime associate Rick Gates. Interested in Russia Investigation? Add Russia Investigation as an interest to stay 

Manafort lived the high life off millions allegedly hidden in offshore accounts – New York Post

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Manafort lived the high life off millions allegedly hidden in offshore accounts
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Paul Manafort raked in tens of millions of dollars by secretly working for the Ukrainian government and blew more than $12 million on shopping sprees, antiques, Range Rovers and housekeeping, according to court documents.

What Did Ex-Trump Aide Paul Manafort Really Do in Ukraine?

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A former Trump aide now under federal investigation as part of the Russia probe earned millions working for a corrupt pro-Russian political party that repeatedly disparaged America’s most important military alliance.

Paul Manafort, who was Trump’s campaign chief from May to August 2016, spent nearly a decade as a consultant to Ukraine’s Party of Regions and its standardbearer, Viktor Yanukovych.

Backed by Russian-leaning oligarchs, the party opposed NATO membership and spouted anti-Western rhetoric that once helped fuel violence against American marines. Its reign ended when Yanukovych fled to Russia after bloody street protests against his personal corruption and pro-Moscow actions.

Image: Paul Manafort speaks during a primary night eventManafort has always said he tried to Westernize the party and steer it towards a democratic model, and denies any part in anti-NATO messaging, but Ukrainian critics and U.S. diplomats who served in Kiev aren’t so sure.

Related: Donald Trump Aide Paul Manafort Scrutinized for Russian Business Ties

Manafort also earned millions doing private business deals with some of the oligarchs who backed the party.

As NBC News previously reported, federal officials say that the money Manafort earned from both the party and the oligarchs — and what he did with it — are part of what has drawn the attention of investigators. New details keep emerging as U.S. and Ukrainian officials piece together Manafort’s contacts and payments in Ukraine from 2004 to 2014.

Manafort Goes to Ukraine

Manafort, the son of a wealthy Connecticut builder, had worked as a lobbyist and as an aide for Republican presidents before his stint in Ukraine. He had built a reputation for repackaging controversial foreign leaders for U.S. consumption. Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Angolan guerilla leader Jonas Savimbi, and Zairian strongman Mobutu Sese Seko were among his clients.

In 2004, Manafort was hired by clients in Ukraine who needed a similar image overhaul.

Image: Viktor Yanukovych in Feb. 2014Viktor Yanukovych had been governor of Donetsk, a Russian-speaking region close to the Russian border, and then the prime minister of Ukraine. He and his faction, the Party of Regions, were thought by many Western observers to have links to organized crime. As a young man, Yanukovych had been convicted of robbery and assault.

John Herbst, who was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2004 to 2006, said the motivations of the oligarchs who ran the party seemed uncomplicated. “My impression of Yanukovych and the others — and I knew most of the senior folks — it was all about getting rich or richer, and maintaining power.”

Aided by high-priced Russian political consultants, Yanukovych ran for president of Ukraine in 2004, and seemed to have won.

Related: Flynn, Manafort Are Key Figures in Russia Probe Mueller Will Lead

But the election was tainted by charges of fraud and corruption — most against Yanukovych and the Party of Regions — and an attempted assassination. A month prior to balloting, someone poisoned Yanukovych’s main rival, pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko, and nearly killed him. On Election Day, Yanukovych, who had trailed in polls by double digits, won by three points, sparking accusations of voter fraud.

The government voided the election results and scheduled a do-over.

Richard Engel: Yanukovych is in Russia 0:49

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Weeks before the December 2004 presidential “re”-election, a pro-Russian Ukrainian billionaire and major Party of Regions donor named Rinat Akhmetov asked Manafort to help with Yanukovych’s troubled campaign.

Yanukovych lost the do-over election to Yushchenko, but Manafort won a job he would keep for a decade.

Manafort was hired to prepare the Party of Regions for the parliamentary elections of 2006, in which Yanukovych would try to reclaim the office of prime minister.

By 2006, Manafort and his team were “the principal political consultants in the Party of Regions,” said Taras Chornovil, a former Ukrainian Parliament deputy who was a member of the party from 2004 to 2007.

A leaked U.S. State Department cable from 2006 said that Manafort’s job was to give the Party of Regions an “extreme makeover” and “change its image from … a haven for mobsters into that of a legitimate political party.”

Related: FBI Making Inquiries Into Ex-Trump Campaign Manager’s Foreign Ties

Manafort allegedly came up with the POR’s slogan for the 2006 election, “A Better Life Today.” Though Manafort couldn’t speak Russian or Ukrainian, he taught Yankovych how to give a speech and how to stay on message.

Image:  Taras ChornovilAccording to Chornovil, Manafort’s campaign tactics that year also included mandating that Yanukovych surrogates wear make-up and Hugo Boss suits during TV interviews. After their TV appearances, they had to return the rented suits to party headquarters, Chornovil said.

When Chornovil complained about Manafort to a close associate of Yanukovych, Chornovil said the man told him Manafort was untouchable — “a big cheese here, in charge of everything.”

Manafort was also trying to help Yanukovych expand his base of support.

Ukraine has a sharp political and geographic divide between its pro-Western, Ukrainian-speaking majority and a large Russian minority that looks East.

While other American consultants, both Democratic and Republican, were working on the campaigns of Ukraine’s pro-Western “Orange” parties, Manafort was working for a party whose base was in Russian-speaking Eastern Ukraine. Manafort’s new bosses were oligarchs friendly to Moscow, and hostile to America’s principal military alliance, NATO.

Image: Taras BerezovetsSaid Herbst, “They were pro-Russian because that’s where their voters were politically and culturally. So they would not have gotten them if they were arguing for NATO — let’s join NATO — policies.”

Skepticism about NATO had the virtue of appealing to many Ukrainian speakers as well. Nationwide, more than half of the public opposed joining the military alliance.

He could attract pro-Western Ukrainians, meanwhile, by broadcasting his support for European Union membership. Some oligarchs behind the party were eager to do business with Europe anyway.

Bill Taylor, who was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009, said Manafort would contact the U.S. embassy and tell them he was urging his client to look West. “[He said] he’d tell Yanukovych, ‘You’ll do better in Western Ukraine if you orient more toward Europe,” recalled Taylor. “‘To broaden your base, you should orient toward the EU.'”

For the next eight years, Yanukovych would adjust his positions on NATO and the EU as needed, tacking East or West depending on the electoral winds and his audience.

Sometimes his party’s public actions and Yanukovych’s private assurances to Western officials were at odds.

“[Yanukovych] was willing to allow all kinds of cooperation with NATO,” which the Russians did not like, said Amb. Herbst, “but it’s true that [Yanukovych] was organizing rallies against NATO exercises.”

Ukrainian parliament votes to have president tried 0:28

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State Department cables show that soon after the Party of Regions helped stoke anti-NATO proteststhat spurred an attack on U.S. marines in Crimea, Yanukovych told the U.S. ambassador he wanted Ukraine to join the military alliance.

Through a spokesman, Manafort says his role with Yanukovych and the POR was “strategist and consultant.” Manafort recommended “strategy and messaging,” he said, “especially as it related to the campaign and fulfillment of campaign promises.” The party’s political campaigns, said the spokesman, were “built on a foundation of economic recovery and building a relationship with the West that supported and focused on Ukraine being a part of the European Union.”

Critics of Manafort, however, insist his gameplan for the 2006 election was to drive a wedge into the electorate. Chornovil, Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker and former investigative journalist, and Taras Berezovets, who advised one of Yanukovych’s main political foes, all say Manafort’s strategy was based on polarizing the voting public. They say he wanted to set Russian speakers against Ukrainian speakers, and supporters of Moscow against supporters of NATO.

According to Berezovets, “His idea was to [use] the matter of language to divide the electorate. The whole idea, it really worked.”

Image: Inna BohoslovskaAlong with advocacy of making Russian the second, official state language, Manafort pushed “anti-NATO propaganda,” said Chornovil.

Berezovets called anti-NATO rhetoric “one of the key ideas of Paul Manafort.”

A former U.S. diplomat in the region said he doubted using wedge issues like NATO was Manafort’s idea, but said, “Manafort was not above telling Yanukovych to exploit wedge issues.” He also acknowledged it could seem odd for a U.S. citizen to be advising an anti-NATO candidate: “I think he probably distinguishes his personal values from his political advice.”

Through his spokesman, Manafort said he never had anything to do with any anti-NATO rhetoric. “Mr. Manafort encouraged the POR to move towards the West and NATO.”

The Party of Regions won the parliamentary elections in 2006, making Yanukovych prime minister again.

‘I Am Trying to Play a Constructive Role’

Yanukovych had to run for prime minister again in 2007. Accusations of corruption and links to the Putin regime were damaging his client’s prospects, so Manafort went back to work grooming his image.

Responding to criticism that he was simply repackaging a flawed candidate, Manafort told the New York Times at the time, “I am not here just for the election…I am trying to play a constructive role in developing a democracy. I am helping to build a political party.”

Manafort hired the American public relations firm Edelman to boost Yanukovych’s public image in Europe and the U.S. for a monthly retainer of $35,000.

Yanukovych, meanwhile, traveled to Germany as part of a bid for European Union membership. “In public and private statements both at home and abroad,” said another leaked cable, “Yanukovych consistently reiterates his government’s commitment to Europe.”

Yanukovych lost the 2007 race. After the loss, both he and his party tacked East with overt anti-NATO rhetoric, a response to Yushchenko’s push for Ukraine to join NATO.

Image: Ukrainian Parliament speaker Arseniy YatFrom January through April 2008, the Party of Regions mounted a slick, well-coordinated campaign against Ukraine’s NATO membership. The “NATO No” slogan appeared on giant television screens and mass-produced blue signs at rallies where Yanukovych spoke. The same slogan was emblazoned on blue and yellow signs carried by the party’s members of Parliament onto the floor of the Parliament in February.

Provided with examples of the messaging, Manafort’s spokesman declined to comment.

In 2010, Yanukovych ran for president again, and Manafort again worked for him. This time, Yanukovych pledged to end Ukraine’s NATO bid. Ukraine should not be a member of any military bloc, he said, because “this is the view of the Ukrainian people.” During a meeting with the U.S. ambassador, he said he wanted to “improve cooperation with the U.S. and NATO, but was also interested in “restoring” relations with Russia.

He was elected president, and this time turned East for good.

“Either Manafort was wrong about his guy, or he just didn’t care,” said Dan Fried, a former assistant secretary of state for the region under George W. Bush and Obama. “I think Manafort would’ve preferred his guy be the guy he said he was, but he was okay if he wasn’t. He was doing a job for a client. That’s it.”

A year into Yanukovych’s presidency, his administration prosecuted his chief political rival, former “Orange” Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, for allegedly abusing her position during her time in office. She was sentenced to seven years in prison. Many international observers condemned the prosecution as politically motivated.

Image: Yulia TymoshenkoManafort again looked to the U.S. to burnish his client’s image, and dispel charges that Yanukovych was a corrupt, pro-Putin autocrat. He arranged for Yanukovych’s administration to hire the law firm Skadden Arps to do a legal review of the prosecution. The resulting brief pointed out some serious procedural flaws, but was largely approving of the Ukrainian court.

Around the same time, however, the Yanukovych administration began to strengthen its ties to the Putin regime and to further Russify the Party of Regions.

According to Inna Bohoslovska, who was a Party of Regions-aligned member of parliament at the time, starting in 2012, “[Ethnically] Russian candidates were placed in all the strong positions. Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Security Service.”

Yanukovych then reversed his position on integrating Ukraine with Europe. Ukraine was about to sign an EU association agreement, making its turn away from Russia and towards the West official, when Yanukovych backed out a week before an official signing ceremony.

Image: TOPSHOTS 2014-UKRAINE-RUSSIA-EU-UNREST-POLITICSSaid Fried, “[Yanukovych] broke more than a campaign promise, he broke his compact with the Ukrainian people.”

Yanukovych’s popularity plummeted. His EU decision ignited massive demonstrations in the streets of Kiev, with some crowds as big as 1 million. Ukrainian police cracked down on protestors, and both police and protestors were killed in street violence that took at least 100 lives.

After three months of demonstrations, Yanukovych was ousted as president in February 2014. He fled to Russia. Activists broke into Mezhyhirya, his ornate presidential palace, and were outraged by its gold-plated opulence. “[Manafort] knew that the president’s salary was not enough for the luxury of the Mezhyhirya, so he should have been aware that it was anything but legal money,” said a top Ukrainian anti-corruption investigator.

Russian troops invaded Crimea shortly afterwards, citing Ukrainian unrest and Yanukovych’s ouster as justifications. Russia has now annexed Crimea.

Manafort’s allies have said that Yanukovych stopped listening to Manafort after he became president in 2010, and that Manafort warned him of the consequences of actions like prosecuting Tymoshenko. Manafort’s spokesman said Manafort “was not involved in any of the actions taken in the street riots and opposed the use of force.”

Image: People walk on the territory of Ukrainian President Yanukovych's countryside-residence“If you’re going to work for someone like Yanukovych,” said Fried, “there’s a time to jump ship, and that’s when he starts shooting people.”

Manafort returned to Ukraine after Yanukovych fled the country. He tried, with limited success, to help remnants of the Party of Regions regain power in the October 2014 parliamentary elections.

Yanukovych remains in Russia. He has been sanctioned by the EU and the U.S. for the Crimea invasion, and is wanted by Ukraine for a long list of charges that have included corruption and murder.

“Yanukovych was so awful,” said Fried. “That’s not Manafort’s fault, but the fact that Manafort helped Yanukovych win an election didn’t do Ukraine any good.”

Who Paid The Bills?

Manafort says the 2014 election was his last in Ukraine, and he is done with Ukrainian politics.

But he is now facing questions from Congress and federal investigators about how he was paid for his political work, what he did with the money he earned, and what other business relationships he developed while in Ukraine.

A Party of Regions accounting book, dubbed the “black ledger” and obtained in August by Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), allegedly shows that Manafort was paid $12.7 million in cash by the party between Nov. 2007 and Oct. 2012.

The ledger records what Ukrainian investigators say were off-the-books payments by the Party of Regions to election officials, party functionaries, and members of parliament. Manafort appears as an intended recipient in the ledger 22 times from 2007 until 2012, according to the NABU. The Bureau notes that the entries are not themselves proof that the payments were made.

In March, journalist Serhiy Leshchenko made waves when he said he had obtained an invoice on Manafort company letterhead detailing how Manafort received money from a shell company in Belize for the alleged sale of 500 computers.

UKRAINE-US-VOTE-CORRUPTIONThe date on the invoice and the amount of money match an entry in the black ledger marked “Manafort.” Manafort’s spokesman dismissed the invoice and letterhead as fabricated. The shell company, Neocom Systems Ltd., was registered with Belize’s International Business Company Registry, but the principal of the firm that registered the shell company told NBC News he had only dealt with its lawyers, and couldn’t provide any information about its owners. It was struck from the registry in 2011 and dissolved in 2014, according to the Belizean registry.

Manafort has described the ledger as a forgery. He says any payments he received from Ukraine were legitimate compensation for his work as a consultant, and the payments were lawfully wired to him.

Manafort’s spokesman told NBC News that Manafort “has no knowledge of any payment ledger. Mr. Manafort was only paid via wire — not cash — through U.S. institutions, typically using clients’ preferred financial institutions and instructions.”

The spokesman said Manafort declined to answer whether he had reported to the U.S. government all money and income received from Ukraine.

Ukrainian investigators told NBC News they are now looking into Manafort’s role in the Skadden deal, but say Manafort is not a suspect in any of their investigations.

Manafort also did business with several Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs.

In 2008, Manafort and his real estate partners courted a Ukrainian oligarch named Dmytro Firtash, a major Party of Regions backer, in an $850 million plan to redevelop a famous New York hotel, the Drake. The plan never bore fruit.

Fugitive Ukrainian president vows to fight 6:08

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Firtash, who acknowledged to the U.S. ambassador that he got his start in business with the permission of a Russian crime lord, according to a leaked cable, is under federal indictment in the Northern District of Illinois for bribery. He is under arrest in Austria pending his extradition to the U.S.

In 2007, Manafort went into business with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska to invest in Ukrainian and European assets. Manafort’s partner Rick Gates “regularly visited” the Moscow offices of Deripaska’s representatives to discuss the investments, according to a later lawsuit.

In 2007 and 2008, companies controlled by Deripaska paid $26.25 million in investment capital and management fees to Manafort and his partners for a deal to buy a cable television company in Ukraine, according to a U.S. court filing. According to Manafort’s spokesman, all the capital was paid to the seller of the company, but Deripaska’s legal representatives alleged the investment was never actually made.

By 2014, Manafort and Deripaska had fallen out over the cable deal, which never materialized.

What did Manafort do with his Ukrainian millions?

He was associated with at least 15 bank accounts and 10 companies on Cyprus, dating back to 2007, according to two banking sources with direct knowledge.

Related: Manafort-Linked Accounts on Cyprus Raised Red Flags

The sources told NBC News’ Richard Engel that after certain transactions raised concern, the bank began investigating the accounts for possible money-laundering. Manafort closed some of the accounts in 2012.

A spokesman for Manafort told NBC News that all the accounts were set up at the direction of clients in Cyprus, a common banking center for Russians and Ukrainians, “for a legitimate business purpose.”

As NBC News and others previously reported, Manafort also bought four properties in New York City between 2006 and 2013, apparently for cash, and then took out more than $15 million in loans on them between 2015 and 2017.

Related: Ex-Trump Aide Manafort Bought New York Homes With Cash

A source familiar with the matter said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is taking “a preliminary look” at Manafort’s real estate transactions.

Putin on Ukraine: ‘This is an Unconstitutional Coup’ 2:39

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Manafort said his transactions were “executed in a transparent fashion and my identity was disclosed — in fact my name is right there on the documents.”

In September 2016, NBC News has reported Manafort took out a mortgage on his home in Bridgehampton, New York, but no mortgage notice was ever filed and no mortgage tax paid, according to Suffolk County records. His name did not appear on any publicly available documents.

Related: Feds Subpoena Records for $3.5 Million Mystery Mortgage on Manafort Home

A spokesperson for Manafort said the mortgage was a bridge loan and was paid off by December. Manafort’s lawyer said the mortgage paperwork was rejected because of an error and was never refiled.

Federal investigators have now subpoenaed records related to that loan.

Янукович избил Медведева и дважды ударил Путина по лицу

mikenova shared this story from Гордон.

Сегодня ночью в Сочи во время встречи экс-президента Украины Виктора Януковича с президентом России Владимиром Путиным и премьер-министром РФ Дмитрием Медведевым произошла ссора.

Об этом изданию “ГОРДОН” сообщил собственный источник.

В результате ссоры Янукович “избил Медведева и дважды ударил по лицу Путина”. После этого подоспевшие охранники ранили экс-президента Украины в ноги.

Причина ссоры неизвестна. По данным источника, во время встречи в Сочи Янукович был “сильно выпивший”.

Янукович был избран президентом Украины в 2010 году. 22 февраля 2014 года, после трех месяцев протестов на Майдане, Верховная Рада признала его самоустранившимся от должности и не выполняющим свои обязанности, после чего были объявлены новые президентские выборы. В том же месяце Янукович покинул Украину, сейчас с семьей проживает в России.

В Украине против него открыто несколько уголовных производств. Его обвиняют в массовых убийствах граждан, завладении государственным имуществом, захвате власти неконституционным путем, действиях, направленных на свержение конституционного строя. В отношении экс-президента применяется процедура заочного осуждения.

Дорогие читатели! Любые совпадения с фамилиями реальных людей случайны. С 1 апреля:)!

The Podesta Group stands at the center of Putin lobbying and Democratic fundraising

mikenova shared this story .

Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group, his powerful Washington firm, are now caught up in a federal criminal investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. They may have violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act by failing to properly disclose work completed on behalf of a pro-Vladimir Putin Ukrainian think tank to the Justice Department.

By filing a retroactive FARA disclosure this April, the firm admitted those lobbying efforts, which took place between 2012 and 2014 on behalf of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, may have principally benefitted that country’s government. The investigation of Podesta grew out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Paul Manafort, according to NBC News, which broke the story on Monday. Manafort and associate Rick Gates introduced the Podesta Group and another lobbying firm, Mercury LLC, to the ECMU, per Gates’ account.

The Podesta Group’s involvement with the ECMU was first reported in an Associated Press story on Manafort, then-Trump campaign chairman, in August of 2016. The firm maintained it did not have reason to believe its work on behalf of the ECMU warranted a FARA disclosure in 2012, but nevertheless filed a belated disclosure this spring after exposure in the press.

Speaking to news outlets over the past 14 months, several sources have cast doubt on the Podesta Group’s insistence that it was unaware the nature of its work warranted disclosure to the DOJ.

In the AP’s initial report, a former Podesta employee “said Gates described the nonprofit’s role in an April 2012 meeting as supplying a source of money that could not be traced to the Ukrainian politicians who were paying him and Manafort.” Three other current and former Podesta employees told the AP disagreements broke out between staff over its decision to take on the work, which one of those sources considered to be “obviously illegal.”

After the Podesta Group filed retroactively in April, CNN spoke to people who had been lobbied by the firm over the course of its work for the ECMU. Dan Harsha, who was lobbied in 2013 while serving as communications director for Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN “It seemed pretty clear [the center] was just a front” for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. A former State Department employee who met with the Podesta group around the time of Ukraine’s “bellwether” parliamentary elections in 2012 said, “They were pretty open about their purpose being to give a positive perspective on the upcoming election.”

CNN reported that seven sources said the Podesta Group “left a clear impression that they were representing Ukraine’s government” as lobbyists held meetings around Washington.

In that case, the firm’s decision not to file with the DOJ until after its work for the ECMU leaked into the press, and then after the 2016 presidential election, looks highly suspect. As the AP put it, “Lobbyists in general prefer not to register under the foreign agents law because its requirements are so much more demanding, making their activities more open to public scrutiny.”

In addition to his brother John Podesta’s position at the helm of the campaign, it’s well worth noting, as most outlets have failed to do, that Tony Podesta was a prominent fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 bid for the White House.

The Podesta Group’s efforts on behalf of the ECMU, per its belated disclosures, show the firm made contact with Clinton’s State Department, the National Security Council, and the office of former Vice President Joe Biden over the course of its lobbying campaign to soften the Obama administration’s position towards Ukraine’s then-pro-Russian government.

In his investigation, Mueller will likely probe what Podesta and his firm knew about the ECMU’s connections to the Ukrainian government when deciding how to disclose its lobbying efforts on their behalf.

Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

Germany, Yanukovych, Manafort – Google Search

mikenova shared this story from Germany, Yanukovych, Manafort – Google News.

Story image for Germany, Yanukovych, Manafort from New York Times

Schooled in Scandal: What Makes Ukraine a Hotbed of Intrigue

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POLTAVA, Ukraine — After four years of investigation by the German police, the F.B.I. … Mr. Manafort’sactivities in Ukraine predate Ukraine’s 2014 … and former Manafort client — Viktor F. Yanukovych, who fled to Russia in …
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Mueller Now Investigating Democratic Lobbyist Tony Podesta

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Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (R) looks on as German Foreign … Manafort, whose Alexandria, Virginia, apartment was raided by FBI …
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41 NBC News

What Did Ex-Trump Aide Paul Manafort Really Do in Ukraine?

<a href=”http://NBCNews.com” rel=”nofollow”>NBCNews.com</a>Jun 27, 2017
Yanukovych lost the do-over election to Yushchenko, but Manafort won a …. Yanukovych, meanwhile, traveled to Germany as part of a bid for …
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Paul Manafort faces fresh accusations in Ukraine after document find

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Anti-corruption investigators in Ukraine have alleged Yanukovych and … trail — Neocom lists its bank accounts in Kyrgyzstan and Germany.
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Paul Manafort’s Lucrative Ukraine Years Are Central to the Russia …

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Manafort, 68, had claimed Yanukovych was the one Ukrainian who could …. picturing him beside Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
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The Ukraine Payments That Link Manafort to Putin

NewsweekMar 28, 2017
Paul Manafort, a former senior adviser and campaign manager to Donald Trump, at Trump … The report said, “Yanukovych assured Putin that there was no … pertaining to his daughter’s education at the German school Salem.

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