9:45 AM 11/11/2017 – Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks: How to Find a Smoking Gun in the Russia Investigation – POLITICO Magazine

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11.11.17

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
How to Find a Smoking Gun in the Russia Investigation
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5:29 AM 11/11/2017 – Прошла любовь, завяли помидоры… And how about it?!
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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
How to Find a Smoking Gun in the Russia Investigation
 

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Forget what Vladimir Putin says—the case that Russia directly coordinated with the Trump campaign to affect the outcome of the 2016 election has grown an order of magnitude stronger since last November. From Jared Kushner’s efforts to establish a covert communication channel with the Kremlin immune from U.S. monitoring, to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, the headlines all tell the same story: Numerous campaign and administration officials want to conceal their extensive connections to Russia.

Despite the growing mountain of circumstantial evidence, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees investigating Russian interference recently announced they will end their work by February 2018, with no unified findings on whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Mueller is a prosecutor pursuing criminal charges against individuals, not a rapporteur tasked with uncovering a grand conspiracy. It appears that, absent a John Dean-like figure testifying to direct involvement in collusion, some in Congress will continue the refrain, “There’s no smoking gun.”

Story Continued Below

But obtaining testimony from Trump campaign officials is only half of the picture. There are other individuals deep within the Russian intelligence services and in President Putin’s inner circle who would definitively know the answers to questions of collusion. So how can we find these individuals and discover the smoking gun, should one exist? The answer involves an examination of dark days in the history of the FBI and CIA’s struggle against the Soviet Union, and raises important questions about these agencies’ ability to operate free from political pressure from the Trump White House.

***

On August 18, 1986, a payphone rang in a shopping center in Springfield, Virginia. The man answering was Alexander Fefelov, a KGB technical officer assigned to the Soviet Embassy in Washington. The caller was one of the KGB’s most valuable assets in the U.S. government. The KGB referred to him as “B” because they did not know his true identity, though he had been in contact with them since October 1985. For reasons unclear, Fefelov made a fateful decision to record the call that day.

Eight years later, the FBI arrested CIA officer Aldrich Ames, who confessed to selling secrets to the Russians beginning in 1985. Ames’ treason resulted in the deaths of numerous Russians who had cooperated with the U.S. However, both agencies quickly realized that Ames alone could not have been responsible for all of the compromises.

Desperate to find evidence that would identify the remaining mole, both the FBI and CIA agreed to a crude tactic called “cold pitching.” It involved identifying former and current Russian intelligence officers around the world and offering them $1 million to talk. Dozens of Russians were approached and declined to cooperate, but the effort finally paid off when FBI agent Mike Rochford lured a Russian officer to the United States under the guise of a business deal. After two weeks of trying, Rochford convinced the man to help find the mole in exchange for money and resettlement in the United States.

As it turned out, the Russian had access to the entire file on B, and CIA officers quickly devised a plan to smuggle it out of Russia. However, the man missed his planned rendezvous with the CIA. Rochford feared the worst, but the man surfaced in a third country, having successfully exfiltrated himself and the file out of Moscow. The file included every communication B had sent to the Russians. It contained maps of “dead drop” sites, locations where money and documents were exchanged between B and the KGB. There was no name[JW1] , but for the first time, the FBI had direct, non-circumstantial evidence that a second traitor existed.

After consulting with the Russian turncoat, Rochford was instructed to open a specific envelope. Though the KGB never knew B’s name, the envelope nevertheless contained a smoking gun: Fefelov’s 1986 recording. Two FBI employees played the tape and recognized the voice of their colleague, Robert Hanssen. FBI officials were stunned. For months, they had investigated an innocent CIA officer, never suspecting the mole was within their own ranks. They began a three-month period of physical and electronic surveillance of Hanssen, methodically building an ironclad case against him. In February 2001, FBI agents observed him placing classified documents under a footbridge in Foxstone Park in Vienna, Virginia. They arrested him on the spot. Hanssen infamously commented, “What took you so long?”

***

The effort to find a smoking gun on Hanssen consumed 14 years and significant resources. Could a similar effort be successful today? The Manafort indictment shows Mueller’s investigation is doing all it can to gain cooperation from U.S. persons. The CIA must similarly work to entice Russians with information to come forward, exactly as it has done in the past. Such an effort would be exceedingly difficult, as the circle of Russians with knowledge is certainly small and likely not allowed to travel abroad. Success would require support from senior CIA leadership.

It is difficult to imagine CIA director and Trump loyalist Mike Pompeo approving operational activity of this nature that could ultimately implicate his boss. On the contrary, he seems intent on undermining the intelligence community’s conclusions on Russian interference, as evidenced by his recent meeting with a conspiracy theorist who claims Russia didn’t hack the Democratic National Committee’s emails. It is less difficult to imagine President Trump’s infuriated response to learning of the existence of such operations. But most importantly, what Russian source could actually trust that the full weight of the U.S. government is committed to his or her safety?

This last point is worth dwelling on. Last year, shortly after the U.S. intelligence community released its findings, a high-ranking Russian cyber intelligence officer was arrested and accused of cooperating with the CIA. Whether the accusation was true not, Putin made clear the consequences of even being suspectedof talking to the CIA about election hacking. And Russian officials undoubtedly got the message.

With Pompeo’s objectivity compromised, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees play an increasingly vital oversight role to ensure our intelligence agencies are operating effectively. While it is not the role of oversight to directly propose or approve operational activity, the committees must ensure that Pompeo doesn’t stand in the way of any CIA operations, like the one that caught Hanssen, that are intended to pursue individuals with intelligence on Russia’s compromise of our election. Additionally, they must ask pointed questions about the agency’s preparedness to deal with an unexpected Russian defector who approaches the CIA with information. What would be the chain of custody for such information? How would the CIA assess the trustworthiness of the source? How would the resulting intelligence be disseminated to Congress? Would the president be briefed? The committees might even consider asking Pompeo to recuse himself from such operational decisions, due to his obvious conflicts.

These questions require answers. Our country was attacked, and there is strong circumstantial evidence that Russia had help within the United States. Neither committee should conclude its investigation until they know that no effort has been spared to find a smoking gun, or can confidently conclude that there isn’t one to find.

Joel Willett served 5 years in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, including a year on the National Security Council at the White House. Prior to the CIA, he served in the U.S. Army and lived and worked in Moscow. He has an MBA from the University of Chicago and is a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council.

The Latest: NK calls Trump old lunatic, warmonger
 

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Trump Sides With Putin Over U.S. Intelligence On Election Meddling
 

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The Huffington PostTrump Sides With Putin Over U.S. Intelligence On Election Meddling

5:29 AM 11/11/2017 – Прошла любовь, завяли помидоры… And how about it?!
 

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4:27 AM 11/11/2017 – “He listens…” Or so it seems… – Putin, Trump approve joint statement on Syria-Kremlin – Reuters | Opinion: For Putin, the optics of not meeting Trump are bad – PBS NewsHour | Trump and Putin ‘agree to defeat IS in Syria’ – BBC News worldnewsandtimes.org/2017/11/11/427

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Saved Stories – None: Trump digital operations – Google News: Right as it joined the Trump campaign, this data firm reportedly contacted WikiLeaks – The Week Magazine
Right as it joined the Trump campaign, this data firm reportedly contacted WikiLeaks
The Week Magazine
The Wall Street Journal reports that while Federal Elections Commission records show that Cambridge Analytica was not paid by the Trump campaign until July 29, the company had already sent a small team to work with Trump’s digital operationsstaff in 

 Trump digital operations – Google News
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6:27 PM 11/10/2017 – С Президентом США Дональдом Трампом. worldnewsandtimes.org/2017/11/10/627

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Public RSS-Feed of Mike Nova. Created with the PIXELMECHANICS ‘GPlusRSS-Webtool’ at http://gplusrss.com: 5:54 PM 11/10/2017 A psychiatrist says Trumps mental state is a legitimate inquiry
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5:54 PM 11/10/2017 – A psychiatrist says Trumps mental state is a legitimate inquiry5:54 PM 11/10/2017 A psychiatrist says Trumps mental state is a legitimate inquiry | The Web World Times – News and Opinions Review

Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, in a photo released by the government in August. Credit KCNA, via KNS, via Associated Press Letters: Trump, Kim and the Possibility of War A psychiatrist says Trumps mental state is a legitimate inquiry, and another reader suggests that history will judge him po…
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HOW WILBUR ROSS IS CONNECTED TO THE PARADISE PAPERS

The Paradise Papers reportedly name Donald Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for not disclosing business ties to the Kremlin. Watch the video to find out how and whether or not the Commerce Dept is responding.

In an earlier far more innocent era, my mother told me you will be judged by the friends you keep. For many Americans, this was axiomatic. However, in this cynical era, you are often judged by who you know or who knows you. In some sense, this is a Kafkaesque arrangement where judgments and the assignment of guilt are made without knowledge or forethought.
Take, for example, the stories emanating from revelations of the Paradise Papers. This massive trove of 13.4 million records was founded 100 years ago and operates in various points around the globe managing the assets of very wealthy people. Reflecting millions of loans, financial transactions and e-mails, the data reveal how wealthy individuals manage their portfolios.

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Recently a German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, unraveled the connections indicating how the wealthy sometimes avoid taxes and make business deals.
Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce, was caught in the web of these revelations. Despite divesting himself of most business interests when he joined the Trump cabinet, he kept a shipping company, Navigator Holdings, through a chain of companies in the Cayman Islands. Discussing Ross Paradise Papers file Jon Swaine of the Guardian noted that Navigator is a company operated by Russian President Vladimir Putins son-in-law an allegation that put Ross in the journalistic crosshairs.

The very mention of a transaction in which Russia is included is now branded collusion.

Navigator is paid $20 million a year to ship gas out of Russia for a Russian company named Sibur and Sibur is co-owned by Kirill Shamalov, Putins son-in-law. Commenting on this matter, Ross said there is nothing whatsoever improper about Navigator having a relationship with Sibur. He continued, The fact that it happens to be called a Russian company does not mean that theres any evil in it. That is true on several levels.
This is a third party transaction in which the investor through a holding company joined a deal worth at least $200 a year. Mr. Ross probably knew very little about the transaction and, my guess is, he was unaware of any Russian involvement.
Moreover, the deal does not violate any laws, nor is there any suspicion that is the case. It would appear as if this is a witch hunt in which any reference to Russia is a form of collusion. Clearly this falls into the category of false news. But it has even darker implications.
The very mention of a transaction in which Russia is included is now branded collusion. You might even describe this phenomenon as contemporary McCarthyism, albeit McCarthy made allegations about those who joined the Communist Party as opposed to present claims that have a gossamer thin relationship to Russian officials.
My guess is these claims arent going anywhere, certainly not into the hands of Mr. Mueller, the Special Counsel. But these violations of privacy and reputation should not be overlooked. It is precisely the frivolous investigations of this kind that discourage good people from government service.
The Paradise Papers are certainly not the Pumpkin Papers and, in time, their salacious stories will be replaced. Unfortunately, it will leave in its wake a number of unsubstantiated claims and reputations that have been unfairly besmirched.

Dr. Herb London is president of the London Center for Policy Research and is co-author with Jed Babbin of “The BDS War Against Israel.”

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Saved Stories – None: What to Make of the Latest Story About Flynn and Gulen?
The Wall Street Journal has another major story today regarding disgraced former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Reportedly, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating allegations that both Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., plotted to either kidnap and render Turkish clerk Fethullah Gulen to Turkey or to use Flynns influence as National Security Advisor to effectuate his extraditionall in exchange for up to $15 million.
Its a very big story, one that casts the larger Flynn investigation in an altogether different, and more menacing, light, and one that also potentially casts the obstruction of justice investigation of President Donald Trump in a different light. Today, we put together a Special Edition of the Lawfare Podcast on the subject, featuring Shane Harris (one of the Journal reporters who broke the story), Turkey expert Ryan Evans, editor of War on Rocks, and Lawfare contributors Steve Vladeck and Paul Rosenzweig.

In this post, we try to unpack some of the storys legal and political significance for Lawfare readers.

First, while stunning, this allegation is not entirely new. The Wall Street Journal and other outlets have previously reported on a September meeting between Flynn and Turkish officials in which they discussed possibilities for removing Flynn from the United States. Former CIA Director James Woolsey attended that meeting and was so disturbed by what he heard that he contacted then-Vice President Joe Biden through an intermediary to report the matter. Woosley has made some public statements about the episode.
The Journals latest story however adds three crucial new pieces:
  • First, that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the matter as part of his larger probe into Trump associates and Russian election interference;
  • Second, that a second meeting occurred in December, following the election and after Flynn had been named National Security Advisor designate to the Trump administration, at which planning continued; and
  • Third, that this December meeting apparently focused on a more developed plan than what was discussed in September, including discussions of the possibility of transporting Mr. Gulen by private jet to the Turkish prison island of Imrali and a proposal to pay Flynn and his son up to $15 million for successfully delivering Gulen by one means or another.
In other words, the import of the new Wall Street Journal story is the news that the special counsel is investigating whether, during the presidential transition, the incoming national security advisorwhile acting as unregistered agent of a foreign governmentwas also plotting a kidnapping on behalf of that foreign power.
What does it all mean?
There have been media reports over the past several weeks regarding possible indictments against Michael Flynn and his son. NBC recently reported that Muellers team believe it has enough evidence against the pair to seek an indictment. And sources familiar with the Flynn family have revealed that both the elder Flynn and his wife are especially worried about the possibility of their son facing serious legal jeopardy. Both the fact that a public indictment has not yet materialized and Flynns concern for his son have lead to speculation that he might choose to cooperate with Muellers investigation in exchange for a dealor, in the alternative, that the Mueller camp is busily pressuring him now to do so.
Previously, most analysts seemed to be assuming that possible indictments for Flynn would relate to his failure to disclose income and information on his security clearance forms and elsewhere as required, possible false statements to investigators, and for failure to register as a foreign agent as required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Those are all serious matters on their own. But the latest allegations open up a whole new ballpark of possibilities.
The Journal story is ambiguous as to what the plot actually was and the manner and time in which it might be executed. On the one hand, discussion of putting someone on a private jet in exchange for $15 million would indicate the Flynns were not discussing using legal processes here. There is a word in the English language lexicon for forcibly putting someone on a plane against his will outside of the legal systems that allow compulsion and seizure of persons: The word is kidnapping and it is an extremely serious offense.
The federal kidnapping statute is at 18 USC 1201 and the laws of Pennsylvaniawhere Gulen liveswould presumably have something to say about aspects of the plot (assuming the facts as reported by the Journal are true) as well. Flynn was a private individuala campaign advisorat the September meeting, and in the transition period during which the December meeting took place, he was a designated government official who had not yet assumed office. When government officials act or conspire to transfer someone, against their will and not pursuant to regular legal process, to a foreign jurisdiction, that is often described as extraordinary rendition. Prior administrations have acknowledged the use of the practice with respect to foreigners captured overseas. Even then, it is extremely controversial. As applied to a domestic person outside of traditional legal processes, it is simply criminalunder all imaginable circumstances. Plotting to do it, is a conspiracy to kidnap.
The Journal is, as we say, ambiguous about means. In some passages, it suggests a kidnapping; in others, it suggests that Flynn would use his position as national security advisor to return Gulen by legal means. The U.S. and Turkey do have an extradition treaty. The Department of Justice has so far rebuffed Turkish extradition requests related to their claims that Gulen is the mastermind behind a 2015 failed coup attempt. But perhaps Flynn only agreed that he would use his influence to mount pressure on the Justice Department to use legal methods. And perhaps Flynn might argue that he was doing the President-elects bidding, attempting to reset relations with Turkey by removing a major irritant in those relations.
That answer might get Flynn out of some legal hot water, but unless the facts in the Journal story dont pan out, there are still big problems. For one thing, theres still the allegation about money. Its no more legal to take $15 million to use your influence as national security advisor to bring about an outcome than it is to kidnap someone.
Moreover, this version of the story would actually raise troubling issues about political influence on law enforcement. While the United States and Turkey do have an extradition treaty, the extradition process is designed to insulate against politically motivated decision-making as to peoples fatesprecisely what appears to have been contemplated here. Career DOJ officials, not the national security advisor, determine whether a requesting country has satisfied the terms of the treaty and provided a sufficient evidentiary basis to proceed with the request. That is especially important in situations like this one, where there is strong suspicion that the charges against Gulen are politically-motivated and that he will not be afforded protections of due process if returned to Turkey. If Flynn planned to subvert or improperly influence the extradition process for political aims, much less for money, that is a serious problem in and of itself.
The timing of the December meeting may also raise new questions related to Flynns status as a foreign agent under FARA. As Steve Vladeck writes on Just Security:
18 U.S.C. § 219, goes one important step further [than the rest of FARA], making it a crime for any individual who is an officer or employee or person acting for or on behalf of the United States, or any department, agency, or branch of Government thereof, including the District of Columbia, in any official function, to be or to act as an agent of a foreign principal under FARA.
In other words, for a private citizen, FARAs entire impact is in requiring disclosure. But for public officials, § 219 actually prohibits such individuals from acting as foreign agents. Thus, whereas a private citizen need only apprise the Justice Department if they are receiving funds from foreign principals to influence U.S. policy, public officials may not receive such funds, periodand face felony charges if they do. (N.B.: Theres an interesting question about whether transition officials might qualify as public officials for purposes of § 219. Im skeptical, but at least in Flynns case, theres still the issue of whether he was continuing to serve as an agent of a foreign power on and after January 20, when he became the National Security Advisor.)
Flynn would be barred from continuing to act as a foreign agent after January 20, when he took office, and that offense (a felony) would not be able to be remediedas Flynn has sought to do previouslywith retroactive filings.
Finally, theres the matter of what all of this means for President Trump, who famously asked then-FBI Director James Comey to back off of the Flynn investigation in the period before he then fired Comey. This request has always represented a grave matter, particularly in the context of President Trumps larger set of interactions with law enforcement over time. It was, after all, a profound violation of the principle that the President does not direct law enforcement on investigative matters. It is, however, a far graver matter to the extent the investigation of Flynn involved potentially violent felonies. If Flynn is really suspected of involvement in a kidnapping plot, the question of what the President knew and when he knew it goes from being merely important to being acutely crucial.
The public needs to know what precisely President Trump was asking his FBI director when he said to him: I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.

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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks: As the Russiagate Investigation Builds Momentum, Trumps Allies Attack the CIA
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Carter Page, a foreign-policy adviser to Donald Trumps 2016 presidential campaign, speaks with reporters after a day of questions from the House Intelligence Committee in Washington, November 2, 2017. (AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite)
The Russiagate news has sharply accelerated over the past two weeks: the indictments of two senior Trump campaign officials, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates; the guilty plea from George Papadopoulos about his multiple campaign contacts with Russian officials and intermediaries, including those who told him they possessed dirt on Hillary Clinton, including thousands of emails, before news of the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee was made public; the rumors that next to be indicted by Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russiagate, will be General Michael Flynn, and perhaps his son, too; the avalanche of news about Russian bots and trolls using Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to exacerbate political divisions in 2016 and to support the election of Donald Trump, including the creation of numerous fake personalities; and, of course, the bob-and-weave testimony of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign policy aide, about his pattern of Russian contacts in 2016, delivered to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).
And theres a lot more to come, includingaccording to The Wall Street Journalthe likely criminal indictment of at least six Russian officials for their role in the 2016 cyberattacks. In response, Trump, Page, and Trumps CIA director Mike Pompeo are escalating their attacks on the CIA and its intelligence-community partners.
Pages testimony, all 200-plus pages of it, is popcorn-worthy entertainment, with him denying, obfuscating, and prevaricating under intense questioning from both Republicans and Democrats on the HPSCI. For instance, theres an exchange between Page and ranking Democrat Adam Schiff over Pages exasperating assertion that hes claiming his Fifth Amendment right to protect himself from self-incrimination while, at the same time, announcing that hes willing to turn over to the committee certain documents and e-mails, but not others (see pages 26-29 of the transcript). At one point, Schiff asks, Dr. Page, is it your position that you have a Fifth Amendment right to provide nonincriminating emails or documents to the committee but withhold incriminating documents from the committee and selectively comply with the subpoena?
What Page is apparently worried about is that, for years, the US intelligence community has been watching him and, no doubt, intercepting his e-mails, phone calls, and other communications, and that recorded transcripts and copies of all of those are in the HPSCIs (and Muellers) files. As early as 2013, Page came to the attention of US authorities because of his contacts with suspected Russian spies, who apparently were seeking to recruit him. In 2016, during the campaign, Page was secretly monitored by US intel over renewed contacts with Russians while he was serving on Trumps foreign-policy team. In April, The New York Times reported that the FBI obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courtordered wiretap against Page in 2016 based on evidence that he was operating as a Russian agent. Among his contacts then were a range of leading Russian officials, including top executives of Gazprom, for whom Page was both an adviser and investor. In September 2016, Harry Reid, then the Senate minority leader, wrote to then-FBI Director James Comey about Pages alleged contacts with high-ranking sanctioned [Russian] individuals, part of what Reidwhod been briefed on what the intelligence community was learningcalled evidence of significant and disturbing ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, according to Yahoo News.
No wonder, then, that Page, echoing Donald Trump, is on the warpath against the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency, and other elements of the US intelligence community. (Those three agencies concurred, in January 2017, that the Russian government, under the direct supervision of Vladimir Putin, hacked into the DNC system and released its contents to WikiLeaks and other outlets in order to tilt the election in Trumps favor.) In his rambling, often confusing testimony to the HPSCI, and in letters to the committee that he released, Page bitterly denounced his accusers, including the HPSCI, the FBI, and the media, for civil rights abuses and an ongoing witch hunt, part of what he called an intensive domestic political surveillance operation initiated on behalf of the Clinton/Obama regime.
Yet Pagewho may or may not decide to cooperate with Mueller, and in fact may already be doing soexplicitly stated the reason that hes willing to provide some documents to the House committee but not others: because, he said, hes concerned that some of the information he might be forced to turn over will in some way contradict what Mueller and the congressional intelligence committees already know, from having looked at the transcripts and copies of his phone calls, texts, and e-mails. The information that he might provide cannot be as comprehensive as the information that was already illegally collected against me, he told the HPSCI, and he said hes worried that some of it might not match up. As he put it, The National Security Agency, CIA, and FBI have infinitely greater data processing capabilities than I do.
Pages, and Trumps, attacks on the CIA et al. might be intended to provide cover, at least as far as the public is concerned, for Pages overt and covert contacts with leading Russian officials. In his testimony, Page revealed that he did, in fact, meet with Russias deputy prime ministerthough, earlier, appearing on Chris Hayess MSNBC program, Page said his contacts with Russians were limited to man in the street-type interactions. At one point in during Pages testimony, Schiff read to him the text of an e-mail that Page had sent to two Trump campaign officials on July 8, 2016. It read: Ill send you guys a readout soon regarding some incredible insights and outreach Ive received from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the presidential administration here. Yet under repeated questioning, Page stuck to his story about man-in-the-street contacts and a very brief, five second interaction with Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich.
By attacking the CIAwhich Trump once compared to Nazi Germany, during the campaignPage may be getting some help from the CIA itself, at least from its Trump-appointed director, Mike Pompeo. In a major exposé broken by The Intercept, reporters Duncan Campbell and James Risenthe latter a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter formerly with The New York Times and Los Angeles Timesrevealed that Pompeo recently met with former high-level NSA official William Binney to discuss Binneys widely discredited theory that the DNC wasnt hacked at all and that the WikiLeaks-published e-mails resulted from an internal leak. According to Binney, the meeting with Pompeo came about because Trump himself told Pompeo to meet with him. (Pompeo began the meeting by saying, The president told me I should talk to you.) This is crazy, a former CIA official told The Intercept. Youve got all these intelligence agencies saying the Russians did the hack. To deny that is like coming out with the theory that the Japanese didnt bomb Pearl Harbor. CNN, which also reported the Pompeo-Binney meeting, called Binney the purveyor of a conspiracy theory.
Unfortunately, that exact conspiracy theory was circulated via The Nation this past summer in a widely criticized story by Patrick Lawrence, who cited a memo published by Binney and some of his associates at an outfit called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. In that piece, Lawrence uncritically transmitted the VIPS memos claim that the DNC affair was an inside job by a DNC official, and not the work of the Russians. (Many Nation contributors, as well as a dissident group within VIPS itself and a fact-checker and outside security expert hired by The Nation, challenged Lawrences claims. An editors note by Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel, attached to the Lawrence article after it was published, concluded: As part of the editing process, however, we should have made certain that several of the articles conclusions were presented as possibilities, not as certainties.)
So far, Pompeo hasnt officially challenged the CIAs conclusions about the 2016 hack attack. The Director stands by, and has always stood by, the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment, a CIA spokesman told The Intercept. But Pompeo strayed off the straight and narrow at least once. A few weeks ago, he made this statement: The intelligence communitys assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election. In fact, however, the community made no such conclusion, opting in its January 2017 report not to conclude anything at all, one way or the other, about whether Russias actions affected the elections outcome. Noting that making a political calculation along those lines was beyond its scope, the Intelligence Community Assessment concluded, We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. So Pompeos statement was flat-out wrongand worrisome.
Meanwhile, a little-noticed but important story in The Wall Street Journal last week reported that the Justice Department is pretty well convinced, to say the least, that the Russians did it. Reports the Journal: The Justice Department has identified more than six members of the Russian government involved in hacking the Democratic National Committees computers and swiping sensitive information that became public during the 2016 presidential election, according to people familiar with the investigation. Prosecutors and agents have assembled evidence to charge the Russian officials and could bring a case next year, these people said.
Stay tuned. It now appears that Manafort, Gates, and Papadopoulos are not the only ones who will face charges in the Russiagate affair.

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HOW WILBUR ROSS IS CONNECTED TO THE PARADISE PAPERS

The Paradise Papers reportedly name Donald Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for not disclosing business ties to the Kremlin. Watch the video to find out how and whether or not the Commerce Dept is responding.

In an earlier far more innocent era, my mother told me you will be judged by the friends you keep. For many Americans, this was axiomatic. However, in this cynical era, you are often judged by who you know or who knows you. In some sense, this is a Kafkaesque arrangement where judgments and the assignment of guilt are made without knowledge or forethought.

Take, for example, the stories emanating from revelations of the Paradise Papers. This massive trove of 13.4 million records was founded 100 years ago and operates in various points around the globe managing the assets of very wealthy people. Reflecting millions of loans, financial transactions and e-mails, the data reveal how wealthy individuals manage their portfolios.

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Recently a German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, unraveled the connections indicating how the wealthy sometimes avoid taxes and make business deals.

Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce, was caught in the web of these revelations. Despite divesting himself of most business interests when he joined the Trump cabinet, he kept a shipping company, Navigator Holdings, through a chain of companies in the Cayman Islands. Discussing Ross’ Paradise Papers file Jon Swaine of the Guardian noted that Navigator is a company operated by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law an allegation that put Ross in the journalistic crosshairs.

The very mention of a transaction in which Russia is included is now branded “collusion.”

Navigator is paid $20 million a year to ship gas out of Russia for a Russian company named Sibur and Sibur is co-owned by Kirill Shamalov, Putin’s son-in-law. Commenting on this matter, Ross said “there is nothing whatsoever improper about Navigator having a relationship with Sibur.” He continued, “The fact that it happens to be called a Russian company does not mean that there’s any evil in it.” That is true on several levels.

This is a third party transaction in which the investor through a holding company joined a deal worth at least $200 a year. Mr. Ross probably knew very little about the transaction and, my guess is, he was unaware of any Russian involvement.

Moreover, the deal does not violate any laws, nor is there any suspicion that is the case. It would appear as if this is a witch hunt in which any reference to Russia is a form of collusion. Clearly this falls into the category of “false news.” But it has even darker implications.

The very mention of a transaction in which Russia is included is now branded “collusion.” You might even describe this phenomenon as contemporary McCarthyism, albeit McCarthy made allegations about those who joined the Communist Party as opposed to present claims that have a gossamer thin relationship to Russian officials.

My guess is these claims aren’t going anywhere, certainly not into the hands of Mr. Mueller, the Special Counsel. But these violations of privacy and reputation should not be overlooked. It is precisely the frivolous investigations of this kind that discourage good people from government service.

The Paradise Papers are certainly not the Pumpkin Papers and, in time, their salacious stories will be replaced. Unfortunately, it will leave in its wake a number of unsubstantiated claims and reputations that have been unfairly besmirched.

Dr. Herb London is president of the London Center for Policy Research and is co-author with Jed Babbin of “The BDS War Against Israel.”

As the Russiagate Investigation Builds Momentum, Trumps Allies Attack the CIA
 

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Carter Page, a foreign-policy adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, speaks with reporters after a day of questions from the House Intelligence Committee in Washington, November 2, 2017. (AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite)

The Russiagate news has sharply accelerated over the past two weeks: the indictments of two senior Trump campaign officials, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates; the guilty plea from George Papadopoulos about his multiple campaign contacts with Russian officials and intermediaries, including those who told him they possessed “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including “thousands of emails,” before news of the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee was made public; the rumors that next to be indicted by Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russiagate, will be General Michael Flynn, and perhaps his son, too; the avalanche of news about Russian bots and trolls using Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to exacerbate political divisions in 2016 and to support the election of Donald Trump, including the creation of numerous fake personalities; and, of course, the bob-and-weave testimony of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign policy aide, about his pattern of Russian contacts in 2016, delivered to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).

And there’s a lot more to come, including—according to The Wall Street Journal—the likely criminal indictment of at least six Russian officials for their role in the 2016 cyberattacks. In response, Trump, Page, and Trump’s CIA director Mike Pompeo are escalating their attacks on the CIA and its intelligence-community partners.

Page’s testimony, all 200-plus pages of it, is popcorn-worthy entertainment, with him denying, obfuscating, and prevaricating under intense questioning from both Republicans and Democrats on the HPSCI. For instance, there’s an exchange between Page and ranking Democrat Adam Schiff over Page’s exasperating assertion that he’s claiming his Fifth Amendment right to protect himself from self-incrimination while, at the same time, announcing that he’s willing to turn over to the committee certain documents and e-mails, but not others (see pages 26-29 of the transcript). At one point, Schiff asks, “Dr. Page, is it your position that you have a Fifth Amendment right to provide nonincriminating emails or documents to the committee but withhold incriminating documents from the committee and selectively comply with the subpoena?”

What Page is apparently worried about is that, for years, the US intelligence community has been watching him and, no doubt, intercepting his e-mails, phone calls, and other communications, and that recorded transcripts and copies of all of those are in the HPSCI’s (and Mueller’s) files. As early as 2013, Page came to the attention of US authorities because of his contacts with suspected Russian spies, who apparently were seeking to recruit him. In 2016, during the campaign, Page was secretly monitored by US intel over renewed contacts with Russians while he was serving on Trump’s foreign-policy team. In April, The New York Times reported that the FBI obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court–ordered wiretap against Page in 2016 “based on evidence that he was operating as a Russian agent.” Among his contacts then were a range of leading Russian officials, including top executives of Gazprom, for whom Page was both an adviser and investor. In September 2016, Harry Reid, then the Senate minority leader, wrote to then-FBI Director James Comey about Page’s alleged contacts with “high-ranking sanctioned [Russian] individuals,” part of what Reid—who’d been briefed on what the intelligence community was learning—called evidence of “significant and disturbing ties” between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, according to Yahoo News.

No wonder, then, that Page, echoing Donald Trump, is on the warpath against the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency, and other elements of the US intelligence community. (Those three agencies concurred, in January 2017, that the Russian government, under the direct supervision of Vladimir Putin, hacked into the DNC system and released its contents to WikiLeaks and other outlets in order to tilt the election in Trump’s favor.) In his rambling, often confusing testimony to the HPSCI, and in letters to the committee that he released, Page bitterly denounced his accusers, including the HPSCI, the FBI, and the media, for “civil rights abuses” and “an ongoing witch hunt,” part of what he called “an intensive domestic political surveillance operation… initiated on behalf of the Clinton/Obama regime.”

Yet Page—who may or may not decide to cooperate with Mueller, and in fact may already be doing so—explicitly stated the reason that he’s willing to provide some documents to the House committee but not others: because, he said, he’s concerned that some of the information he might be forced to turn over will in some way contradict what Mueller and the congressional intelligence committees already know, from having looked at the transcripts and copies of his phone calls, texts, and e-mails. The information that he might provide “cannot be as comprehensive as the information that was already illegally collected against me,” he told the HPSCI, and he said he’s worried that some of it might not “match up.” As he put it, “The National Security Agency, CIA, and FBI have infinitely greater data processing capabilities than I do.”

Page’s, and Trump’s, attacks on the CIA et al. might be intended to provide cover, at least as far as the public is concerned, for Page’s overt and covert contacts with leading Russian officials. In his testimony, Page revealed that he did, in fact, meet with Russia’s deputy prime minister—though, earlier, appearing on Chris Hayes’s MSNBC program, Page said his contacts with Russians were limited to “man in the street”-type interactions. At one point in during Page’s testimony, Schiff read to him the text of an e-mail that Page had sent to two Trump campaign officials on July 8, 2016. It read: “I’ll send you guys a readout soon regarding some incredible insights and outreach I’ve received from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the presidential administration here.” Yet under repeated questioning, Page stuck to his story about man-in-the-street contacts and a very brief, “five second” interaction with Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich.

By attacking the CIA—which Trump once compared to Nazi Germany, during the campaign—Page may be getting some help from the CIA itself, at least from its Trump-appointed director, Mike Pompeo. In a major exposé broken by The Intercept, reporters Duncan Campbell and James Risen—the latter a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter formerly with The New York Times and Los Angeles Times—revealed that Pompeo recently met with former high-level NSA official William Binney to discuss Binney’s widely discredited theory that the DNC wasn’t hacked at all and that the WikiLeaks-published e-mails resulted from an internal leak. According to Binney, the meeting with Pompeo came about because Trump himself told Pompeo to meet with him. (Pompeo began the meeting by saying, “The president told me I should talk to you.”) “This is crazy,” a former CIA official told The Intercept. “You’ve got all these intelligence agencies saying the Russians did the hack. To deny that is like coming out with the theory that the Japanese didn’t bomb Pearl Harbor.” CNN, which also reported the Pompeo-Binney meeting, called Binney the purveyor of a “conspiracy theory.”

Unfortunately, that exact “conspiracy theory” was circulated via The Nation this past summer in a widely criticized story by Patrick Lawrence, who cited a memo published by Binney and some of his associates at an outfit called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. In that piece, Lawrence uncritically transmitted the VIPS memo’s claim that the DNC affair was “an inside job” by a DNC official, and not the work of the Russians. (Many Nation contributors, as well as a dissident group within VIPS itself and a fact-checker and outside security expert hired by The Nation, challenged Lawrence’s claims. An editor’s note by Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel, attached to the Lawrence article after it was published, concluded: “As part of the editing process, however, we should have made certain that several of the article’s conclusions were presented as possibilities, not as certainties.”)

So far, Pompeo hasn’t officially challenged the CIA’s conclusions about the 2016 hack attack. “The Director stands by, and has always stood by, the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment,” a CIA spokesman told The Intercept. But Pompeo strayed off the straight and narrow at least once. A few weeks ago, he made this statement: “The intelligence community’s assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election.” In fact, however, the community made no such conclusion, opting in its January 2017 report not to conclude anything at all, one way or the other, about whether Russia’s actions affected the election’s outcome. Noting that making a political calculation along those lines was beyond its scope, the Intelligence Community Assessment concluded, “We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election.” So Pompeo’s statement was flat-out wrong—and worrisome.

Meanwhile, a little-noticed but important story in The Wall Street Journal last week reported that the Justice Department is pretty well convinced, to say the least, that the Russians did it. Reports the Journal: “The Justice Department has identified more than six members of the Russian government involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computers and swiping sensitive information that became public during the 2016 presidential election, according to people familiar with the investigation. Prosecutors and agents have assembled evidence to charge the Russian officials and could bring a case next year, these people said.”

Stay tuned. It now appears that Manafort, Gates, and Papadopoulos are not the only ones who will face charges in the Russiagate affair.

Putin Trump – Google News: All eyes on Trump and Putin attending Vietnam summit – USA TODAY
 

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USA TODAY
All eyes on Trump and Putin attending Vietnam summit
USA TODAY
When President Trump likely meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a summit in Vietnam, all eyes will be on how they interact and whether they can agree on contentious issues. Trump and Putin could meet Friday or Saturday in Da Nang on the …
Prospect of TrumpPutin meeting hangs over Asia-Pacific summitCNN
TrumpPutin meeting thrown in doubtNew York Post
TrumpPutin Meeting Likely at APEC Summit, but US Officials Urge CautionVoice of America
Telegraph.co.uk –Newsweek –CNBC
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As the Russiagate Investigation Builds Momentum, Trump’s Allies Attack the CIA – The Nation.
 

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As the Russiagate Investigation Builds Momentum, Trump’s Allies Attack the CIA
The Nation.
Carter Page, a foreign-policy adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, speaks with reporters after a day of questions from the House Intelligence Committee in Washington, November 2, 2017. … the special counsel investigatingRussiagate and more »
Mike Flynn – Google News: Mueller Probing Pre-Election Flynn Meeting With Pro-Russia Congressman – NBCNews.com
 

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Mueller Probing Pre-Election Flynn Meeting With Pro-Russia Congressman
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WASHINGTON Investigators for Special Counsel Robert Mueller are questioning witnesses about an alleged September 2016 meeting between Mike Flynn, who later briefly served as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, and Rep.
WSJ: Mueller probes Flynn role in plot to deliver cleric to TurkeyCNN
Special counsel’s interest in Mike Flynn comes into sharper focusMSNBC
Bob Mueller Seems to Be Closing in on Mike Flynnand the Indictments Could Be ExplosiveNew York Magazine
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Mike Flynn – Google News: First Read’s Morning Clips: Are Charges Coming Soon for Michael Flynn? – NBCNews.com
 

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First Read’s Morning Clips: Are Charges Coming Soon for Michael Flynn?
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Mueller is applying renewed pressure on Flynn following his indictment of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, three sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News. The investigators are speaking to multiple witnesses in coming days to gain …
Mueller’s Michael Flynn Investigation Is Heating UpThe Daily Caller
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Mike Flynn – Google News: Special counsel’s interest in Mike Flynn comes into sharper focus – MSNBC
 

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Special counsel’s interest in Mike Flynn comes into sharper focus
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Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating an alleged plan involving former White House National Security Adviser Mike Flynn to forcibly remove a Muslim cleric living in the U.S. and deliver him to Turkey in return for millions of dollars 
WSJ: Mueller probes Flynn role in plot to deliver cleric to TurkeyCNN
Mueller Probing Possible Deal Between Turks, Flynn During Presidential TransitionNBCNews.com
Robert Mueller investigating Mike Flynn’s possible role in plot to kidnap Turkish cleric: ReportWashington Examiner
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WSJ: Mueller probes Flynn role in plot to deliver cleric to Turkey
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Washington (CNN) Former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn and his son are alleged to have been offered as much as $15 million to forcibly remove from the US a Muslim cleric wanted by Turkey, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Journal …
Special counsel’s interest in Mike Flynn comes into sharper focusMSNBC
Mueller Probing Pre-Election Flynn Meeting with Pro-Russia CongressmanNBCNews.com
Robert Mueller investigating Mike Flynn’s possible role in plot to kidnap Turkish cleric: ReportWashington Examiner
Boing Boing –New York Magazine –NBCNews.com –Wall Street Journal
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Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: The Lawfare Podcast, Special Edition: A Person of Flynnterest
 

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The Wall Street Journal this morning broke a major story: Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating President Trump’s former national security advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, for allegedly plotting with Turkish officials to arrange the extrajudicial removal of Fethullah Gulen from the United States in exchange for a boatload of money. We put together an emergency podcast with Shane Harris, one of the reporters on the story, Ryan Evans of War on the Rocks, and Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes, Susan Hennessey, Paul Rosenzweig, and Steve Vladeck to cover all the angles. What does it mean? And where does it go from here? Warning: the audio quality is a little rough in spots, recorded conference calls being what they are.

 Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices

There’s nothing creepy about Trump and Putin in matching outfits | Metro News
 

mikenova shared this story from Comments on: Theres nothing creepy about Trump and Putin in matching outfits.

Okay so we can all agree that there’s absolutely nothing creepy about Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in matching outfits.

The two leaders met at a summit in Vietnam looking at acting like twins.

Subway workers aren’t allowed to use ‘ladies’ and ‘gentlemen’ any moreThey were spotted shaking hands and waving to the crowd, completely in sync. Amazing.

Also, can we talk about how Putin is wearing a shirt and tie under a shirt? It looks like he came late to a fancy dress party and had to throw something on from the lost property bin.

Trump’s press secretary had said the two hadn’t planned on sitting down for a formal meeting while in Asia because of scheduling conflicts on both sides.

But they bumped into each other and seemed pretty happy about it.

All eyes were on the duo because Russia has cast a huge shadow over Trump’s presidency.

Robert Mueller has a team investigating alleged Russian meddling with the US election last year.

It has already been confirmed the country targeted social media platforms and bombarded them with anti-Hillary propaganda.

Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign leader, and his associate, Rick Gates, were asked to surrender themselves to federal authorities to face charges over allegedly laundering millions of dollars for work they were doing on behalf of a pro-Kremlin political party in Ukraine.

Manafort has been charged with 12 counts including conspiracy against the United States.

Meanwhile, George Papadopoulos, a former Trump adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents.

Trump has since tried to distance himself from the news.

He wrote on Twitter recently: ‘The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manaforts lawyer said, there was “no collusion” and events mentioned took place long before he came to the campaign.

‘Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!’

12:47 PM 11/10/2017 RECENT POSTS: The Secrets Of The Black Briefcase | Question: Why do we have all these problems with the counter-terrorism and the counterintelligence? Answer: Because sometimes the “F.B.I. Supervisor Wakes to Find a Woman Stole His Gun” FBI News Review  | The World News and Times
 

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Директор Федеральной службы безопасности Александр Бортников и специальный представитель Президента по вопросам природоохранной деятельности, экологии и транспорта Сергей Иванов перед началом совещания с постоянными членами Совета Безопасности.
Директор Федеральной службы безопасности Александр Бортников и специальный представитель Президента по вопросам природоохранной деятельности, экологии и транспорта Сергей Иванов перед началом совещания с постоянными членами Совета Безопасности.

11.10.17

M.N. I guess, now we can understand why we have all these problems with the counterterrorism and the counterintelligence. It is easy to see them, and it is easy to exploit these problems, too, for the adversaries. 

Robert Mueller Is Moving Toward Donald Trump
 

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The Huffington PostRobert Mueller Is Moving Toward Donald Trump

Flynn probed in alleged plot to kidnap Turkish cleric for $15M
 

mikenova shared this story from Yaron Steinbuch New York Post.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is probing an alleged plot by former White House National Security Adviser Mike Flynn to seize a Muslim cleric living in the US and deliver him to Turkey in exchange for millions of dollars, according to a report.

Under the plan, Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., were to be paid as much as $15 million for removing Fethullah Gulen from his home in the Poconos and sending him to Turkey, sources told the Wall Street Journal.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long pressed the US government to extradite Gulen, whom he has accused of instigating a failed coup in July 2016 and wants to face trial. Gulen has denied involvement in the coup.

President Trump fired Flynn after just 24 days on the job when news reports revealed he had been in contact with then-Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak during the campaign and kept the White House in the dark about those meetings.

Flynn waited until March to retroactively register with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for the work he did for a Turkish businessman.

Last week, it was reported that Mueller has collected enough evidence to charge Flynn and his son as part of his sweeping probe into Russia interference in the 2016 presidential election and any collusion by the Trump campaign.

The FBI has been looking into claims made by former CIA Director James Woolsey that Flynn and Turkish officials discussed a plot to kick Gulen out of the United States.

According to a recent Reuters report, Woolsey pitched a $10 million contract to two Turkish businessmen to help discredit Gulen while Woolsey was an adviser to Trump’s election campaign.

Woolsey was a member of Flynn’s firm, the Flynn Intel Group, according to a Justice Department filing by the firm and an archive of the company’s website.

According to the Journal, FBI agents have asked at least four people about a meeting in mid-December at the upscale “21” Club in Manhattan where Flynn and Turkish government representatives discussed removing Gulen.

The discussions allegedly involved the possibility of flying Gulen on a private jet to the Turkish prison island of Imrali, one of the sources who has spoken to the feds told the Journal.

Flynn was offered upward of $15 million — to be paid directly or indirectly — if he could seal the deal, two sources familiar with the meeting told NBC News.

Investigators also are looking into what possible role Flynn’s son may have played in the alleged plot, the network reported. Flynn Jr. worked closely with his dad at his lobbying firm.

A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment to the Wall Street Journal.

The elder Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, did not respond to requests by NBC News for comment. The younger Flynn’s lawyer, Barry Coburn, declined comment.

Three people familiar with the probe told NBC News that authorities also are examining whether Flynn and other participants discussed a way to free a Turkish-Iranian gold trader, Reza Zarrab, who is jailed in the US.

Zarrab faces federal charges that he helped Iran avoid American sanctions.

With Post Wires

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