1:45 PM 11/30/2017 – Trump Wants to Install a Reliable Mouthpiece on Russia at the CIA – Mother Jones

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Today’s Headlines and Commentary
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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Trump Wants to Install a Reliable Mouthpiece on Russia at the CIA – Mother Jones
 

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Mother Jones
Trump Wants to Install a Reliable Mouthpiece on Russia at the CIA
Mother Jones
In Cotton, who reportedly wants the CIA job, President Donald Trump would install at the intelligence agency one of the most vocal supporters of his efforts to dismiss the Trump campaign’s suspected collaboration with the Kremlin in an effort to 
Donald Trump’s aides ‘terrified’ over President’s mental health, says Art of the Deal co-authorThe Independentall 226 news articles »

Today’s Headlines and Commentary
 

mikenova shared this story from Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices.

The Trump administration plans to instate Mike Pompeo, the current director of the CIA, as secretary of state within the next few weeks, the New York Times reportsSen. Tom Cotton, a republican from Arkansas, would replace Pompeo as CIA director. The transition would conclude a contentious year for Tillerson, who has come under public scrutiny for the mass departure of State Department officials during his tenure. Cotton has been regarded as a strong supporter for President Donald Trump in the Senate on issues related to national security and immigration. His departure would open up another seat in the 2018 midterm elections.

On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council convened for an emergency meeting to address North Koreas launch of an intercontinental ballistic missileaccording to the Washington Post. Despite condemnation of Pyongyangs missile launch, permanent members of the Security Council remain divided. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., called for tougher actions against Pyongyang. China and Russia both suggested less aggressive action against North Korea, with Russia calling for the United States to halt its scheduled military drill next month in an effort to prevent the crisis from escalating.

Trump announced a plan to implement stricter sanctions against the North following a phone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Post reports. Xinhua, Chinas state media outlet, reported that Xi is committed to denuclearizing Pyongyang and establishing a peaceful settlement, though Chinas cooperation on sanctions remains unclear as the country continues to be a significant economic partner to the isolated North Korean regime.

Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III met with Jared Kushner earlier in November as part of Muellers investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, CNN reports. Sources said Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, was a focus of the conversation between Kushner and Muellers team. Reports suggest Flynn may be discussing a possible plea deal, as grand jury testimony connected to Muellers investigation has been postponed and Flynns lawyers have stopped sharing information with Trumps legal team.

Trumps retweets of anti-Muslim videos that a British nationalist group published have sparked public tension between Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May, the Post reports. Mays office stated that Trumps promotion of the videos was wrong and supported the hateful narrative of a far-right British fringe group. The Dutch government also responded to Trumps series of tweets, stating that one of the videos, which alleged to show a Muslim migrant injuring a Dutch boy on crutches, was a mischaracterization: Facts do matter. The perpetrator of the violent act in this video was born and raised in the Netherlands. He received and completed his sentence under Dutch law. Trump responded to Mays rebuke on Twitter, though he targeted the wrong Twitter account for the British prime minister.

On Thursday, an Israeli settler shot and killed a Palestinian man who the Israeli army says was throwing rocks at a group of hikers in the village of Qusrah in the West Bank, Reuters reports. The incident marks the first fatality in the West Bank in several months. The Israeli military said the shooting was in self-defense; locals said there had been no clash before the shooting.

U.S. special operations fighters will now carry freeze-dried blood plasma in their first-aid kits, according to the Associated Press. Freeze-dried plasma can be quickly used to clot blood following battlefield injuries, potentially reducing the number of casualties. The use of freeze-dried plasma was first seen in World War II, but U.S. forces stopped its use after outbreaks of hepatitis. Special operations forces are temporarily using plasma supplied by the French as Telefex, Inc., an American medical device company partnering with the Army to supply plasma, seeks Food and Drug Administration approval by 2020.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Orin Kerr and Benjamin Wittes hosted a Facebook live with initial reactions following oral argument in Carpenter v. United States.

Paul Rosenzweig defended the mosaic theory in light of Carpenter v. United States oral argument.

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh reviewed Judge David Barrons Waging War.

Cameron Kerry discussed how the Cyber Diplomacy Act of 2017 could strengthen international cybersecurity efforts.

Yishai Schwartz provided an update on military commission proceedings in United States v. al-Nashiri. 

Shannon Togawa Mercer posted the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

Sick Puppy Kim – Google Search
 

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Story image for Sick Puppy Kim from Politico

Trump: North Korea’s Kim a ‘sick puppy

Politico20 hours ago
Trump, after saying the GOP tax proposal would serve as “rocket fuel” for the American economy, took a passing shot at Kim, whom he again derided as “Lil’ Rocket Man.” “He is a sick puppy,” Trump told a cheering crowd of supporters. The remarks come on the heels of Pyongyang’s latest test of an …
Is North Korea’s Nuclear Test a Sign of Hope?
OpinionNew York Times15 hours ago
The Latest: Trump calls North Korea’s Kim ‘a sick puppy
In-Depth<a href=”http://seattlepi.com” rel=”nofollow”>seattlepi.com</a>20 hours ago

Media image for Sick Puppy Kim from The Hill (blog)

The Hill (blog)

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USA TODAY

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seattlepi.com

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Daily Mail

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Washington Examiner

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Breitbart News

Trump raises heat on Pyongyang, calls Kim ‘sick puppy

The Korea Herald9 hours ago
Trump raises heat on Pyongyang, calls Kim ‘sick puppy‘. By Choi He- … At a rally in Missouri, Trump referring to Kim as a “sick puppy,” adding a new insult to those that have been hurled from both sides. Trump has in the past referred to Kim as “Rocket Man,” and implied that he was “short and fat” in a tweet.
White House readies plan to replace Tillerson with Pompeo at State, install Cotton at CIA – The Washington Post
 

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The White House has readied a plan to oust embattled Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who has become one of the most personally loyal and politically savvy members of President Trump’s national security team, two administration officials confirmed Thursday.

The plan, hatched by White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, is expected to be set in motion over the next few weeks, and has broad support within Trump’s inner circle, the officials said. But it was unclear whether Trump had signed off on the plan yet, and the president has been known to change his mind about personnel and other matters before finalizing decisions with public announcements.

Under the plan, Pompeo would likely be replaced at the CIA by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), one of Trump’s most steadfast defenders and a confidant to some leading members of the foreign policy team, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House has not publicly announced the moves.

Why won’t Trump stand up to Putin? – Boulder Weekly
 

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Boulder Weekly
Why won’t Trump stand up to Putin?
Boulder Weekly
Yes like him! Take that strange bromance he’s got going with his presidential counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The two recently had a private tête-á-tête, after which our president said that Russia’s president had vehemently denied U.S. intelligence 
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Susan Collins: ‘No Reason To Be Concerned’ That Trump Is Unhinged
 

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But the Maine GOP senator says it’s not “helpful” that he promotes racist conspiracy theories.

Donald Trump Makes Fun Of Asian Leaders Who Hosted Him
 

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The president did his own imitation as he promoted GOP tax legislation.

Factbox: Five Facts About Tom Cotton, Trump’s Likely Pick for CIA – U.S. News & World Report
 

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U.S. News & World Report
Factbox: Five Facts About Tom Cotton, Trump’s Likely Pick for CIA
U.S. News & World Report
Cotton, 40, is a staunch Trump ally who has vigorously opposed the Iran nuclear deal. He served one term in the House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate in 2014 as part of a Republican wave. Cotton sits on the Intelligence Committee  

White House readies plan to replace Tillerson with Pompeo at State, install Cotton at CIA
 

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White House readies plan to replace Tillerson with Pompeo at State, install Cotton at CIA

The White House has readied a plan to oust embattled Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who has become one of the most personally loyal and politically savvy members of President Trump’s national security team, two administration officials confirmed Thursday. The plan, hatched by White House Chief of Staff John […]

This Is What Mueller Probably Wanted To Know From Jared Kushner About Mike Flynn
 

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s questioning of Jared Kushner earlier this month suggests that he has incriminating evidence implicating Kushner in the ongoing probe into Russian collusion in the 2016 election, experts say.

President Donald Trump’s son in law met behind closed doors with the investigative team to discuss former national security adviser Michael Flynn, sources familiar with the meeting told multiple mediaoutlets.

But the real target may be Kushner himself because Flynn has likely given up some important information about Kushner’s involvement with Russians. Flynn has likely accepted a plea deal and is cooperating with Mueller, experts say.

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“I’m sure Flynn gave them information about Kushner and they wanted to test that information before it became apparent that Flynn was cooperating, because it was less likely [Kushner] would cooperate after it became clear that Flynn was probably accepting a plea deal,” Nick Akerman, an assistant special prosecutor during the Watergate investigation, told Newsweek.

“Flynn probably gave them very specific information about Kushner’s activities. If you get information about Kushner that is incriminating the first thing you do is call his lawyer and say ‘I want to speak with your client,’” Akerman continued.

One source told CNN that Mueller’s team spoke to Kushner to see if he had information that could exonerate Flynn.

But Akerman says it’s likely the special counsel is investigating Kushner’s involvement in helping the Russians use data analytics to target voters via social media during the 2016 election. Kushner’s handling of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, which may have been presented to Kushner and the President’s son Donald Trump Jr during a meeting with a Russian lawyer in the Trump tower in June last year, could also be an issue of special interest.

Meanwhile, others suggest that the Mueller investigation might want to know why and how Flynn became involved in the Trump transition team.

“Kushner apparently had a role in bringing Flynn onto the transition after [New Jersey Governor Chris] Christie was pushed out,” Andy Wright, a former associate counsel to President Barack Obama and a professor at Savannah Law School, told Newsweek. “Part of that could be tracing Flynn’s inclusion into the inner circle and know what Flynn represented in terms of his business contacts and contacts with Russia and Turkey.”

Kushner also failed to mention meetings with foreign representatives when being screened for a security clearance, which alone is a reason to launch an investigation, Wright added.

Kushner has been a person of interest in the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling, and in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s separate investigation into the same matter. Even before Mueller took over the Russia investigation, the FBI was looking into Kushner’s roles on the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team.

Still, experts say the focus on Flynn mimics the Special Counsel’s focus on former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort before Manafort’s indictment.

And it all comes as Flynn’s legal team recently informed the president’s lawyers that they could no longer talk strategy during the investigation, an indication that Flynn is cooperating or taking a deal that could affect Trump or other officials.

Trump calls Chinese envoy to North Korea ineffectual
 

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Trump calls Chinese envoy to North Korea ineffectual

President Trump in a tweet Thursday morning said that North Korea’s recent missile launch showed that the Chinese envoy who just returned from the country seems to have had no impact on Little Rocket Man. On Wednesday, North Korea launched its third and most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile, which experts now believe could reach the […]

Donald Trump Attacks China For Having ‘No Impact On Little Rocket Man’
 

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While offering no details of his own plan for North Korea, Trump has pinned much of the responsibility on China, which experts say will do little to solve the crisis.

Israel & the South Caucasus
 

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To ordinary observers, the South Caucasus region might not appear high in Israel’s foreign policy agenda. First, the geographic distance matters as none of the three states, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia, border on Israel itself. Moreover, the region is also a hotbed of ethnic fighting with three ongoing separatist conflicts in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh further complicating political stability. However, the South Caucasus’ strategic location, which lies between Central Asia and eastern Europe, and connects Russia with the Middle East, has drawn a number of regional players to seek larger influence on the territory. Those regional players are usually Turkey, Russia and the European Union and this, by virtue of logic, would negate any potential influence Israel could have in the region.

Over the past year, Israel has intensified its foreign policy moves towards each of the South Caucasian states. Each country is interesting to Israel for specific reasons. For example, with Georgia, Israel had had extensive military contacts when the Georgian army was largely supplied with specific Israeli military technologies before 2008. However, the Russo-Georgian war in August 2008 stopped Israeli exports as Russia was particularly angry at having a small neighbor with much-advanced military capabilities.

Beyond military ties, Georgia is also interesting for Israel from the economic point of view: Israeli investments play an important role in Georgia’s economy. Moreover, due to its geopolitically important location, Georgia has several large ports on its Black Sea shore which could easily be used for commercial and military purposes.

With Armenia, Israeli’s relations have been somewhat distant over the past decade or so. This largely conditioned Israel’s rather intensive ties with Yerevan’s two biggest geopolitical rivals, Azerbaijan and Turkey. However, recently, there was a certain shift in the bilateral relations when a senior Israeli official visited Yerevan. Tsachi Hanegbi, Israel’s Minister for Regional Cooperation, visited Armenia on July 25-26 for talks with senior Armenian officials. Hanegbi has been a key figure in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party and has held various ministerial positions for the past two decades. Hanegbi said that his visit was intended as a step forward in relations to make Armenia-Israeli “friendship mutually beneficial in many fields.” What is more important it was the first visit by a senior Israeli official to Armenia since 2012.

One of the major bones of contention between Armenia and Israel has been Israeli-supplied arms to Azerbaijan. The supplies played an important role in last year’s “April war” between Armenia and Azerbaijan. After Azerbaijan took several frontline posts in a surprise attack on April 2, 2016, Armenian forces undertook a counteroffensive. But Israeli-supplied Harop suicide drones and Spike anti-tank missiles helped Azerbaijani forces thwart that counterattack.

This brings us to Israel-Azerbaijani relations. In late 2016, reports were circulated that Baku was planning to buy Israeli “Iron Dom” capabilities to better counter potential Armenian attacks. Beyond those military ties, Azerbaijan has also been important to Israel for its large natural resources and how the country could potentially, in case of need, become Israel’s major oil-supplier.

Thus, Israel’s relations with each of the three South Caucasian states depends on specific economic and military interests. Each of the states has different relations with larger neighbors such as Russia or Turkey, and the Israeli diplomacy has to navigate in this difficult political arena, where a misstep could deteriorate Israel’s ties with Turkey or Russia.

However, beyond that there could also be another incentive as to why Israel’s diplomacy has become more active over the past year or so in regards to the South Caucasus. And the reason for this is Iran.

Historically, from Achaemenids to the Sasanians and the 17th-18th centuries, Iran, under various dynasties, aspired to achieve a major role in the South Caucasus. When, after the Cold War, sanctions were placed against Tehran’s nuclear program, Iran was constrained in expanding its role in the above-mentioned region.

One might think that Iran’s recent economic and diplomatic successes with regards to Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia could have driven Israel’s quite diversified foreign policy towards each of the South Caucasus states.

Emil Avdaliani

30 November 2017 18:14

mike pompeo – Google Search
 

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Story image for mike pompeo from Vanity Fair

It’s “All but a Done Deal”: Insiders Expect CIA Director Mike Pompeo …

Vanity Fair1 hour ago
The who’s-next-at-State soap opera appears to be moving to a denouement, with Mike Pompeoeclipsing Nikki Haley as Rex Tillerson’s likely successor, multiple current and former State Department staffers tell me. Diplomats are bracing themselves for the rumored shakeup that would see the current C.I.A. …

Story image for mike pompeo from Business Insider

The White House has a plan to replace Rex Tillerson with CIA …

Business Insider1 hour ago
The Trump administration has devised a plan that would replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, The New York Times reported on Thursday. Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican and staunch Trump ally, would reportedly replace Pompeo at the CIA. White House Chief …

White House to replace Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo, officials say

Spectrum News14 minutes ago
WASHINGTON — The White House is discussing a plan to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA director Mike Pompeo. That’s according to two administration officials. They were not authorized to publicly discuss internal thinking and spoke on condition of anonymity. U.S. officials and …

Story image for mike pompeo from Politico

Pompeo emerges as favorite to succeed Tillerson

PoliticoNov 15, 2017
President Donald Trump has turned his daily intelligence briefing — a routine that in previous administrations has been a dry, formal affair — into a free-flowing conversation during which he peppers his CIA director, former House member Mike Pompeo, with questions about everything from national …
mike pompeo – Google Search
 

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Its All but a Done Deal: Insiders Expect C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo to Take Over the State Department
 

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Left, Mike Pompeo testifies on Capitol Hill in May; Right, Rex Tillerson during an event at the White House in October.

Left, from REX/Shutterstock; Right, by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg/Getty Images.

The who’s-next-at-State soap opera appears to be moving to a denouement, with Mike Pompeoeclipsing Nikki Haley as Rex Tillerson’s likely successor, multiple current and former State Department staffers tell me. Diplomats are bracing themselves for the rumored shakeup that would see the current C.I.A. director supplant the former ExxonMobil executive as early as January. According to one source, there is already a candidate chosen to assume the helm of the spy agency in Pompeo’s stead.

While Tillerson has dismissed the narrative that he has considered resigning, his controversial 10-month tenure appears to have accelerated looming changes in Foggy Bottom. Several diplomats I spoke to believe that the cake is largely baked. “The working knowledge here is that Tillerson will be leaving in late January and Pompeo will be coming in as quickly as he can following that,” a current State Department staffer told me. Diplomats believe that the C.I.A. chief is more than open to the move. “I will call it all but a done deal,” one former diplomat said, adding that according to a source familiar with the conversations involving Pompeo, the C.I.A. chief’s replacement has already been selected. Though they declined to identify them by name, this person noted the expected nominee to lead the intelligence agency is a retired military officer who has not previously worked at the C.I.A.

A State Department spokesperson referred me to previous comments dismissing widespread rumors that the secretary has imminent plans to leave. The C.I.A. did not respond to a request for comment.

Pompeo’s own tenure has not been without controversy. The former Kansas congressman has faced accusations of politicizing the traditionally nonpartisan intelligence agency and prioritizing his loyalty to Donald Trump over the findings of the intelligence community. Notably, Pompeo came under fire for comments he made about Russian interference in the 2016 election and found himself publicly at odds with his predecessor John Brennan. (Pompeo did publicly break with the president on this issue, stating that he agrees with the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community that the Kremlin sought to derail Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, but he has also entertained alternate conspiracy theories promoted by the president.)

Still, Pompeo could prove an improvement at the State Department, which Tillerson has been busy dismantling. Morale within the agency is at an all-time low: more than 100 senior diplomatic officershave left since January, and applications to the Foreign Service have fallen by more than 50 percent. Part of the hollowing-out has been at the direction of the White House, which has called for massive cuts to the State Department budget. But much of the agency’s listlessness is the result of Tillerson’s strained relationship with Trump. (Sources cited the decision not to send senior State Department officials to accompany the U.S. delegation to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India this week, led by First Daughter Ivanka Trump, as evidence of further tensions between Tillerson and the White House.) Pompeo, who is well-known on Capitol Hill and is friendly with Trump, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, might prove a more effective interlocutor and advocate.

Pompeo has also chafed at the restrictions inherent in running the C.I.A., where he has been expected to be neither seen nor heard. “I think part of it is he has signaled his frustrations with his current job, which would make the transition much easier,” the second State Department staffer said. “He is already a willing participant to move over to state, which he sees as a much easier, much better job for him in terms of what he wants to do.”

Appointing a retired military officer to serve as Pompeo’s successor at the spy agency also fits with a broader pattern of Trump tapping battle-tested officers to serve as his top advisers. As his administration has evolved, Trump has demonstrated an impulse to name individuals to his Cabinet with the appearance of being straight out of “central casting”—most notably in regards to his national security team. Kelly and Mattis are both retired four-star generals; Trump’s National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, is an active duty officer who boasts three stars; Mike Flynn, McMaster’s short-lived predecessor, was a retired three-star general, and Pompeo graduated first in his class at West Point before serving as an officer in the United States Army.

Of course, as with all rumblings of Trump administration shake-ups, this one should be taken with a grain of salt. Mere weeks ago, ambassador Haley was widely viewed as waiting in the wings to take over State. Only after a deluge of denials from Haley that she had her sights set on Tillerson’s post did Pompeo emerge as the reported front-runner for the job. And another senior State Department staffer is not yet putting too much stock in the Pompeo rumors. “The succession thing to me is just chatter at the moment,” they told me. But the source conceded that arguably any replacement would be an improvement. “I hate to say it, but I think almost anything would be better than what we have,” they added. “It is just where the bar is.”

It’s All but a Done Deal: Insiders Expect CIA Director Mike Pompeo to Take Over the State Department – Vanity Fair
 

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Vanity Fair
It’s All but a Done Deal: Insiders Expect CIA Director Mike Pompeo to Take Over the State Department
Vanity Fair
A State Department spokesperson referred me to previous comments dismissing widespread rumors that the secretary has imminent plans to leave. The C.I.A. did not respond to a request for comment. Pompeo’s own tenure has not been without controversy. The and more »

Kushner Reportedly Met With Mueller’s Team (VIDEO)
 

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Jared Kushner reportedly met with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team at some point in November.

Mueller is leading an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Sources told CNN that Mueller’s team spent the majority of the meeting asking Kushner questions about former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Flynn resigned in February after he misled Vice President Mike Pence about communications he had with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. before President Donald Trump took office.

Flynn appears to be a key part of Mueller’s investigation. The New York Times reports Mueller’s team questioned Kushner about a December 2016 meeting between him, Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Related StoryRobert Mueller's Team Has Requested Documents From The DOJRobert Mueller’s Team Has Requested Documents From The DOJ

It’s unknown how much of Mueller’s investigation — if any — is centering on Kushner. But he’s already been somewhat of a focus in other Russia investigations taking place on Capitol Hill.

He’s spoken with both the Senate and House intelligence committees, and he turned over documents from the campaign and the transition to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Kushner reportedly handed over similar documents to Mueller’s team.

Mueller’s office did not comment to media on the meeting. Kushner’s lawyer said in a statement that his client “has voluntarily cooperated with all relevant inquiries and will continue to do so.”

Kushner’s Meeting With Mueller’s Team Reportedly Focused On Flynn – Newsy
 

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Newsy
Kushner’s Meeting With Mueller’s Team Reportedly Focused On Flynn
Newsy
Share Video. 00:00. 00:00. Kushner’s Meeting With Mueller’s Team Reportedly Focused On Flynn. By Katherine Biek November 30, 2017. ShareTweetEmail · SMS. By Katherine Biek November 30, 2017. Jared Kushner reportedly met with special counsel Robert 
Jared Kushner interviewed by special counsel’s officeCBS News
Special counsel delays grand jury testimony amid signs of Flynn deal talksCNNall 114 news articles »

Trump Completely Botches New York Times Attack Over Tax Bill Tweets
 

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“The president is mistaken,” tweeted Clifford Levy, the paper’s deputy managing editor.

All-time rifle : See the iconic Kalashnikov 1948 prototype
 

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Just Security
 

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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.

NORTH KOREA

The U.S. called for the international community to suspend diplomatic ties with North Korea and further isolate the regime at an emergency U.N. Security Council session yesterday, following North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (I.C.B.M.) on Tuesday, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley also said that the council could revoke Pyongyang’s U.N. privileges and voting rights, demand that countries expel North Korean laborers and impose sanctions on its crude oil imports. Farnaz Fassihi reports at the Wall Street Journal.

“We have never sought war with North Korea, and still today we do not seek it,” Haley said yesterday, adding that if a war comes “make no mistake – the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed.” Zachary Cohen reports at CNN.

Trump spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping by phone yesterday and urged Xi to apply more pressure on Pyongyang, Trump saying in a tweet after their conversation that “additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled!” China’s state Xinhua news agency reported that Xi told Trump that China is committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Simon Denyer reports at the Washington Post.

“Little Rocket Man, he is a sick puppy,” Trump said yesterday at a public event in Missouri, referring derogatorily to the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Julian Borger reports at the Guardian.

Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. Vassily Nebenzia urged the U.S. and South Korea to refrain from holding military drills next month, saying at the Security Council session yesterday that all concerned parties should “stop this spiral of tension.” Reuters reports.

The U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called on North Korea to “desist from taking any further destabilizing steps,” in a statement issued on Tuesday by Guterres’ spokesperson, separately the top U.N. political affairs official urged all Security Council members yesterday to unite “to prevent an escalation.” The UN News Centre reports.

North Korea fired a “Hwasong-15” I.C.B.M. and its capabilities have caused alarm among missile experts, Anna Fifield explains at the Washington Post.

North Korea’s test of the Hwasong-15 I.C.B.M. appeared calibrated to avoid provoking a U.S. military response and was a demonstration of Pyongyang’s status as a nuclear armed state, analysts have said. Andrew Jeong and Jonathan Cheng explain at the Wall Street Journal.

The fact that North Korea fired the I.C.B.M. late at night suggests a broader strategy, demonstrating that it could launch a missile at any time and from anywhere with little warning, Adam Taylor observers at the Washington Post.

A U.S.-Canada hosted international meeting in January on North Korea would try to “come up with some better ideas” to deal with the threat, Canadian officials said yesterday, David Ljunggren reporting at Reuters.

President Trump is the “first president who’s been able to get the attention of the Chinese who are actually squeezing the North Koreans as we speak,” the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in an interview broadcast yesterday, praising the president for his handling of the situation and expressing hope that the U.S. could avoid a war in the region. Mallory Shelbourne reports at the Hill.

“Is it time to accept that North Korea will never give up its nuclear arms, and try to reach a deal to stop its arsenal growing further?” Mark Landler and Choe Sang-Hun explain at the New York Times that this is the question that must be addressed “sooner or later” by the U.S. and its allies following the latest missile test.

The toughest sanctions on North Korea have not yet been imposed and the latest U.N. sanctions are being slowly implemented, there is still more economic pressure that the U.S. can put on Pyongyang and China can do much more to rein in the regime. The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes.

The latest missile test could “signal a chance for a new diplomatic opening,” many have considered that North Korea would not enter into serious negotiations until the regime has achieved its nuclear ambitions, therefore now may be the chance to pursue dialogue. The New York Times editorial boardwrites.

A Cold War strategy of “mutually assured destruction” has a different dynamic when it comes to North Korea depending on what the U.S. seeks to achieve and what it prioritizes, nevertheless it has been made clear that Kim Jong-un has not been deterred by the increased pressure over the past few months and the direction of travel seems to be in favor of the U.S. accepting that North Korea would have nuclear capability. David E. Sanger writes at the New York Times.

The missile test has reiterated seven critical truths, including the fact that North Korea is a nuclear power now and probably has the ability to strike Washington D.C. and New York, Max Fisher explains at the New York Times.

The prospect of a new Korean war should be taken seriously, it is unlikely that more economic pressure would drastically change their behavior, it would be better to “try talking” to avoid a precarious situation. Nicholas Kristof writes at the New York Times.

TRUMP-RUSSIA

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner met with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team earlier this month as part of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to two sources familiar with the matter, and Mueller’s team questioned Kushner about the former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Gloria Borger, Pamela Brown, Evan Perez and Kara Scannell report at CNN.   Continue Reading »

Trump-Russia: Jared Kushner ‘questioned about Michael Flynn’ – BBC News
 

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Trump-Russia: Jared Kushner ‘questioned about Michael Flynn’
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President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been questioned by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators about former top White House aide Michael Flynn, US media reports say. The investigators reportedly wanted to know if Mr Kushner had 
Mueller’s Prosecutors Are Said to Have Interviewed Jared Kushner on Russia MeetingNew York Times
The latest TrumpRussia investigation news, explainedVox
Jared Kushner: Donald Trump’s son-in-law reportedly meets with Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation teamThe Independent
USA TODAY –The Guardian –CNN –Wall Street Journal
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Lavrov: Trump’s Russia policy similar to Obama’s – The Times of Israel
 

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Lavrov: Trump’s Russia policy similar to Obama’s
The Times of Israel
But after the US Congress approved new economic sanctions against Moscow over its alleged meddling in the 2016 USpresidential electionPutin in July ordered drastic cuts in US staff in retaliation. In August, Trump grudgingly signed what he called a and more »

US financial intelligence collects data on foreign assets of Russian elite – https://en.crimerussia.com/
 

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US financial intelligence collects data on foreign assets of Russian elite
https://en.crimerussia.com/
As The CrimeRussia previously reported, the Ministry of Finance, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence and the US Secretary of State, shoult provide an open report on the oligarchs and parastatal organizations of the Russian 

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6:32 AM 11/30/2017 – Is the “Trump-Russia affair” an elaborate Leftist plot? M.N.  | The Web World Times

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5:30 AM 11/30/2017 Is the “Trump-Russia affair” an elaborate Leftist plot? M.N.  | The Web World Times

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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
5:30 AM 11/30/2017 Is the “Trump-Russia affair” an elaborate Leftist plot? M.N.  | The Web World Times
 

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Is the “Trump-Russia affair” an elaborate Leftist plot, carried over directly from the “Obama Leftist plot”, and masquerading as the Rightist Alliance of Putin’s regime, Trump Republicans, and the European rightists? 

At the head of this plot might be the certain elements of the New Russian Left, visible and invisible, and including the various military-political circles, German (Stasi dominated) Intelligence, and the ubiquitous Chinese, practicing all kinds of deceptions against everybody, as their traditional “Art of War” is. 

A nice combination, well screwed-up little Leftist Bolt from the sky… 

M.N.  

11.30.17 

Quotes from “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu:

“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. 

_____________________________

Donald Trump tries to attack British Prime Minister Theresa May, accidentally attacks some other woman instead
 

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Donald Trump tries to attack British Prime Minister Theresa May, accidentally attacks some other woman instead

Donald Trump tries to attack British Prime Minister Theresa May, accidentally attacks some other woman instead

Trump tried to start World War III with Great Britain, and couldn’t even get it right

Is the “Trump-Russia affair” an elaborate Leftist plot – Google Search
 

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США для нового санкционного списка собирают сведения о десятках тысяч россиян
 

mikenova shared this story from Росбалт.

Российские спецслужбы зафиксировали небывалую активность финансовой разведки США в странах Европы и ряде других государств. Связано это с тем, что в начале следующего года будет оглашен новый санкционный список.

Как рассказал «Росбалту» источник, знакомый с ситуацией, российские спецслужбы узнали, что последние месяцы страны Европы буквально забросали запросами из финансовой разведки США относительно россиян. «Речь идет о работниках госкомпаний, чиновниках,  их близких и дальних родственниках и т. д. Всего о десятках тысяч россиян», — рассказал собеседник агентства. По его словам, в ходе дальнейшей работы было установлено, что такая активность финразведки напрямую связана с расследованием ФБР и подготовкой Сенатом доклада о якобы имевшем место вмешательстве России в президентские выборы в США. Предполагается, что по итогам расследования будет оглашен новый список граждан России, в отношении которых вводятся санкции.

«У нас есть данные, что этот список будет беспрецедентно большим. Некоторые горячие головы в США предлагают ввести санкции чуть ли не в отношении более чем 50 тыс. граждан России», — отметил источник агентства.

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US actively collects data on foreign assets of Russian elite after Trumps new law on sanctions against Russia
 

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A new sanctions list will be drawn up based on an open report, which will provide information on Russian oligarchs and key political figures.⁠

Russian special services hold an unprecedented activity of US financial intelligence in Europe and a number of other countries requesting data on Russians. This is due to the fact that at the beginning of next year a new sanction list will be announced, Rosbalt reports with reference to the source.

“We are talking about employees of state companies, officials, their close and distant relatives, etc. In total, about tens of thousands of Russians,” the source said. Such activity is directly related to the law on sanctions against Russia, signed by US President Donald Trump on Aug. 4, 2017, proposed by US congressmen. It deals primarily with collecting data on key political figures and oligarchs.

As The CrimeRussia previously reported, the Ministry of Finance, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence and the US Secretary of State, shoult provide an open report on the oligarchs and parastatal organizations of the Russian Federation to relevant congressional committees not later than 180 days after the adoption of the law. It should provide information on key political figures of Russia and the oligarchs, the level of their proximity to Vladimir Putin and other members of the Russian ruling elite, their fortune and sources of income; moreover, a list of their relatives, including spouses, children, parents, their assets, including investments, business interests, property that generates income should be concluded; foreign companies affiliated with these persons have been identified too.”

In fact, by January 31, 2018, the Ministry of Finance should prepare a report on all significant politicians, businessmen and officials. The open document will reflect data on their assets, including foreign ones. In the future, the report will only be supplemented with new information and names. All these names will appear in the new sanctions list, which can number up to 50.000 Russian citizens.

According to experts who have already expressed their opinion on the new law, it is possible that later foreign accounts under the jurisdiction of countries that support sanctions against Russia can be frozen. Assets can be confiscated as property that is earned on criminal or illegal way. The Spanish authorities have the same experience, for example, Spain converts property of Russian mafia, accused of money laundering.

Please, read our material about the forthcoming report and how it threatens Russia.

Mitigating the Russian challenge
 

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“It is time”, the USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev said in a 1989 speech, “to consign to oblivion the Cold War postulates when Europe was viewed as an arena of confrontation divided into ‘spheres of influence’.”

In place of old rivalries, Gorbachev laid out his vision of a “common European home”. Russia and Europe, he declared optimistically, should work together “to transform international relations in the spirit of humanism, equality and justice”.

Fast forward to 2017, and it is clear that things have not quite gone according to plan.

Gorbachev is defending Russia’s takeover of Crimea. For the first time since the Cold War, Nato is opening new command centres in Europe.

The stakes involved in the EU-Russia relationship are still high.

The EU is the most important investor in Russia, as well as its largest trading partner. Moscow, for its part, remains a crucial energy and security player for Europe.

Yet at the core of the Russia-EU confrontation lies the fundamental disagreement over values and geopolitical zones of influence. Those differences are unlikely to be bridged soon.

The EU, built on the values of interdependence and liberal norms, is willing to engage with Moscow, but with strings attached. To access the community’s perks – closer economic links, visa-free travel – the Kremlin is expected to abide by international laws and embrace liberalisation at home.

To Russia’s leadership, those conditions are unacceptable. It sees its neighbourhood as the bulwark against Nato expansion and the wave of ‘colour’ revolutions. As for domestic liberalisation, it would destroy Vladimir Putin’s regime, or, at least, seriously undermine it.

It is against this context that Russia’s attempts to stoke troubles in Europe should be considered.

Carrot vs Stick

To deter Russia, the EU global strategy recommends, member-states, above all, must “strengthen the EU and enhance the resilience of our eastern neighbours”.

The conspicuity of this observation doesn’t render it any less relevant. Russian leadership values strength and preys on weakness.

Show the Kremlin that you cannot use a stick, and it will wrestle the carrot out of your hands.

Thus, the most obvious thing the EU can do is to enhance its defensive capabilities. That means protecting eastern flunk, while also improving military mobility. Boosting cyber defence, too, is crucial, given recent attacks on Europe’s infrastructure.

Response to Russian meddling in European politics, though, is a more nuanced challenge. Concerns over Moscow’s malignant campaign – via TV, social media and financing of populist parties – are valid.

Yet it is also crucial to keep cool when confronting Russian propaganda.

The Kremlin’s aim, as the US example showed, is to sow discord within Western politics, not necessarily to achieve a concrete electoral outcome.

That is why media panic – and attaching the ‘Putin’s stooge’ label to any anti-establishment cause – only plays into Moscow’s hands.

The best way to deal with the Kremlin’s meddling, therefore, is treating it more as a security issue than a political one.

Western agencies have learned about Russia’s web campaign, so they can tackle it with considerable success in future. Reforms to increase transparency in party financing, likewise, is a useful step.

To bring Russia around to the idea of a common future on European terms requires demonstrating calm resolve. Moscow must understand that, despite its tricks, the EU’s institutions will continue to work as normal.

Making cooperation pay

But while Europe must demonstrate firmness, it is equally important to show what Moscow can gain by cooperating.

A deterrence-only approach to the Kremlin will only amplify its exuberance, leading to an endless ‘action-response’ cycle.

So, how can Russia be induced to cooperate?

Firstly, the EU should retain clear conditions for lifting economic sanctions on Russia. As the economist Vladislav Inozemtsev observed, wherever economic sanctions worked – like South Africa or Yugoslavia – they came with clear instructions of their relaxation or removal.

Heeding that, any comprehensive plan to resolve the Ukraine crisis should include the roadmap for sanctions relief.

The economic card is the strongest ace in the EU’s deck. It must play it wisely.

Secondly, there is a need to communicate with Russia in the way that brings maximum utility. Putin’s regime is here to stay. Nonetheless, it can still be affected, even if incrementally.

To facilitate change, it may be worth raising commercial and human rights concerns with Moscow on diplomatic level rather than just in the media. This approach will assure the Kremlin that Western concerns are genuine, and not an attempt to embarrass it.

Before any progress is achieved with Russia, things may get even more muddled. To succeed, Europe must demonstrate strategic patience.

Evgeny Pudovkin is a journalist writing on European politics, Russia and foreign affairs

AP source: Grand jury testimony in Flynn case put off
 

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Prosecutors working with special counsel Robert Mueller have postponed grand jury testimony related to the private business dealings of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a person familiar with the ongoing investigation into Trump campaign associates and Russian election interference told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The reason for the postponement was not immediately clear, but it comes one week after attorneys for Flynn alerted President Donald Trump’s legal team that they could no longer share information about the case. That discussion between lawyers was widely seen as a possible indication that Flynn was moving to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation or attempting to negotiate a deal for himself.

An attorney for Flynn, Robert Kelner, did not immediately respond to email and phone messages Wednesday afternoon.

The testimony that had been scheduled for the coming days related to Flynn’s firm, Flynn Intel Group, its work with a public relations firm and interactions with congressional staff, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

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Mueller and the FBI have been interested in hearing from employees at the public relations firm, SGR LLC, because of the firm’s work with Flynn Intel Group. SGR LLC, which does business as Sphere Consulting, did public relations work on a film Flynn Intel Group was working on about Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen. The film was never completed.

Mueller was appointed by the Justice Department in May to oversee an investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The investigation, which produced its first criminal charges last month against three former Trump campaign officials, incorporated an earlier FBI inquiry into Flynn’s lobbying and investigative research work on behalf of a Turkish businessman. Sphere employees have cooperated for months with the investigation, including by turning over documents requested by investigators and sitting for voluntary interviews.

The October 2016 meeting that was expected to be the subject of the grand jury testimony has been described as a bait-and-switch carried out on behalf of Flynn’s firm.

As the AP reported in March, Flynn’s business partner, Bijan Kian, invited a representative of the House Homeland Security Committee to Flynn Intel’s offices in Alexandria, Virginia, to discuss secure communications products. But after discussing the products, the session quickly turned into a lobbying pitch that mirrored Turkish government talking points. Kian and others involved were particularly interested in pushing for congressional hearings to investigate Gulen, whom the Turkish government has blamed for a botched coup and who has been living in exile in Pennsylvania. Gulen has denied any involvement.

The requests for congressional hearings went nowhere.

According to a filing with the Justice Department, an employee of Sphere consulting was present during the meeting.

CNN first reported the postponement.

Turkish-Iranian Gold Trader Testifies at US Trial | Business News
 

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In this courtroom sketch, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Denton points at defendant Mehmet Hakan Atilla, right, during opening arguments of a trial, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, in New York federal court. Denton said Atilla, deputy CEO of Halkbank, was the architect of a “massively successful” scheme to dupe U.S. banks into letting Iran move money around the world. Judge Richard Berman is seated at the bench, background left. (Elizabeth Williams via AP) The Associated Press

By TOM HAYS and LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A Turkish-Iranian gold trader testified at a New York trial Wednesday that he paid over $50 million in bribes to Turkey’s finance minister in 2012 to overcome a banker’s fears he was too popular in Turkey to launder Iranian money and evade U.S. sanctions.

Reza Zarrab, 34, calmly described his 2012 encounters with one of Turkey’s most important public officials as he began what will be several days on the witness stand at the trial of Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who is charged in a conspiracy that involved bribes and kickbacks to high-level officials.

Zarrab’s decision to cooperate with U.S. investigators — revealed Tuesday — was a surprise twist in a prosecution that seemed in jeopardy just months earlier after Zarrab tried to free himself by hiring prominent and politically connected American attorneys to try to arrange a prisoner transfer between Turkey and the United States.

Zarrab said he began cooperating after efforts by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey failed. In the spring, prosecutors seemed alarmed after learning that Giuliani and Mukasey would meet with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and top U.S. officials to try to broker a deal.

With Zarrab as a powerful addition to their arsenal of evidence, prosecutors wasted no time in getting him to name names and muddy reputations in the banking industry and in government.

Testifying with an American flag behind him, Zarrab answered questions from Assistant U.S. Attorney Sidhardha Kamaraju as the prosecutor elicited details of what the United States has said was a well-orchestrated conspiracy to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran and enable $1 billion in Iranian oil proceeds to move through international banking markets.

Zarrab said he ran into resistance from a Halkbank executive when he approached the Turkey government-owned bank in late 2011 or early 2012 to try to gain access to Iranian money through trades in gold.

The executive, he said, feared that Zarrab’s marriage to Turkish pop star and TV personality Ebru Gundes made him too popular and transparent to make gold trades.

Feeling unjustly rejected, he said he met with Zafer Caglayan, Turkey’s finance minister. He said Caglayan told him he would broker gold trades in return for half the profits.

Zarrab said he paid Caglayan over $50 million to broker the trades and that Caglayan’s involvement overcame the bank’s resistance.

Caglayan is indicted in the case. The indictment describes his alleged role in the gold-transfer scheme and in another scheme in which he and other Turkish government officials supposedly approved of and directed the movement of Iranian oil proceeds by claiming they were in connection with the sale of food and medicine to Iran from Dubai.

Erdogan has called on American authorities to “review” the decision to indict Caglayan, saying the former minister had not engaged in any wrongdoing because Turkey had not imposed sanctions on Iran, an important trade partner.

Zarrab took the stand wearing tan scrubs a month after pleading guilty to seven crimes, including conspiracy, violating U.S. sanctions, bank fraud, money laundering and paying a bribe to a prison guard to get alcohol and the use of a cellphone.

Atilla, a 47-year-old former deputy CEO of Halkbank, has pleaded not guilty. A lawyer for Atilla attacked Zarrab’s credibility Tuesday during opening statements, saying the trial is about Zarrab’s crimes.

As he testified, Zarrab described his 2016 arrest as he arrived in the U.S. for a trip to Disney World with his wife and daughter.

He said he initially lied to U.S. authorities when he was confronted with crimes.

“I did not know what I was facing and after a long trip I was shocked and I couldn’t give the right answers,” Zarrab said. “I was afraid.”

The prosecution in Manhattan has been major news in Turkey, where Erdogan has repeatedly asked the U.S. to release Zarrab.

Turkey’s deputy prime minister recently said Zarrab was a “hostage” being forced to testify against Turkey’s government.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Feinstein asks for Russia records from Trump campaign aides – The Hill
 

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The Hill
Feinstein asks for Russia records from Trump campaign aides
The Hill
Clovis came under fire in late October after documents from March revealed that he encouraged a young Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, to meet with Russian officials in an effort to help improve the relations between Moscow and the campaign …
Mueller’s TrumpRussia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to AnswersOr HandcuffsNewsweek
Dianne Feinstein wants more documents from former Trump campaign officials as part of Russia probeWashington Examiner
The TrumpRussia Story Is Coming Together. Here’s How to Make Sense of ItTruth-Out
Tribune-Review
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Rudy Giuliani – Google News: Turkish-Iranian Gold Trader Testifies at US Trial – U.S. News & World Report
 

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U.S. News & World Report
Turkish-Iranian Gold Trader Testifies at US Trial
U.S. News & World Report
Those lawyers included former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey. Kamaraju asked him if the talks, which included a meeting with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were successful. “No,” Zarrab answered 
The Odyssey of a Turkish Trader Now Spilling His Secrets in USBloombergall 42 news articles »

 Rudy Giuliani – Google News

Turkish-Iranian Gold Trader Testifies at US Trial – U.S. News & World Report
 

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U.S. News & World Report
Turkish-Iranian Gold Trader Testifies at US Trial
U.S. News & World Report
Those lawyers included former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey. Kamaraju asked him if the talks, which included a meeting with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were successful. “No,” Zarrab answered 
The Odyssey of a Turkish Trader Now Spilling His Secrets in USBloombergall 42 news articles »

Lawsuit seeks details of Trump administration’s policies on surveilling journalists – Washington Post
 

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Washington Post
Lawsuit seeks details of Trump administration’s policies on surveilling journalists
Washington Post
Two media organizations planned to sue the Trump administration on Wednesday for details of government policies on surveillance of journalists, which remain hidden despite the groups’ public records requests. The Knight First Amendment Institute at and more »

Special counsel delays grand jury testimony amid signs of Flynn deal talks
 

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Additional witnesses were expected to be questioned soon including a public relations consultant hired by Flynn’s lobbying firm who was given an early December date deadline to appear before the grand jury, according to a person at the company.

Ahead of the delay, the impression was that the testimony needed to happen soon, the source said.

“Time seems to be of the essence,” said the source at Sphere Consulting, the PR firm where the consultant worked.

The grand jury testimony was postponed, the person said, with no reason given. There could be many reasons for a delay, including scheduling issues.

close dialog

The consultant’s expected testimony comes as the investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser’s business dealings has taken a new turn.

Flynn’s attorney told Trump’s legal team last week that he would no longer share information about the investigation, a move that signals Flynn is beginning conversations with the government that could involve a plea deal or a cooperation agreement.

 ABC News reported

 that Flynn’s attorney met with special counsel’s attorneys on Monday.

Sphere’s government relations arm, SGR LLC Government Relations and Lobbying, is one of several companies Flynn Intel Group hired to work for Inovo BV, a Netherlands-based company owned by Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin, according to filing made by Flynn Intel Group under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Inovo hired Flynn to research Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Turkish cleric who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused of being behind the 2016 attempted military coup to overthrow him, the filing said.

Inovo paid Flynn’s group $530,000 for the research, which was supposed result in a video documentary but it was never finished. Sphere’s SGR was paid $40,000.

Sphere has been cooperating for months with the investigation. The inquiry was originally opened before the appointment of the special counsel, according to the source. Sphere, which was subpoenaed around June, was described as “a cooperating witness at best.” Sphere has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Interviews conducted by special counsel investigators have included questions about the

business dealings of Flynn and his son

 such as their firm’s reporting of income from work overseas, two witnesses interviewed by the team told CNN. The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires people acting as agents of foreign entities to publicly disclose their relationship with foreign countries or businesses and financial compensation for such work.

Another area of interest to Mueller’s team is Flynn’s alleged participation in discussions about the idea of removing Gulen, who has been living in exile in Pennsylvania, sources said. In the past, a spokesman for Flynn has denied that such discussions occurred. Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, has called reports of an alleged kidnapping scheme “outrageous” and “false.” Kelner could not be reached for comment.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel, declined to comment.

Flynn disclosed its work for Inovo in a lobbying disclosure form in September 2016. Months later, in March 2017, it filed a FARA disclosure form stating “because of the subject matter of the engagement, Flynn Intel Group’s work for Inovo could be construed to have principally benefitted from the Republic of Turkey.”

Sphere entered the assignment in August 2016 when it was approached by Bijan Kian, Flynn’s business partner, to publicize the proposed documentary to promote investing in Turkey, according to the Sphere source. At Flynn’s direction Sphere created a Gulen-themed Monopoly graphic, according to Flynn’s FARA disclosure. A lawyer for Kian declined to comment. No explanation was given for why the graphic was created.

Two other consultants hired by Flynn, journalists David Enders and Rudi Bakhtiar, a former CNN anchor, were brought in to work on the documentary, according to the FARA form. The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the investigation, reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation has contacted Enders and Bakhtair to set up interviews. Enders and Bakhtiar have not responded to CNN’s requests for comment.

The documentary was never completed. But Sphere did place Flynn’s election day op-ed on Gulen in The Hill newspaper, according to the source at the company and the FARA filing. Flynn’s FARA filing distances that op-ed from the work he did for Inovo acknowledging it was shared with Inovo but: “To the best of our knowledge, Inovo did not communicate with the Republic of Turkey regarding the op-ed or provide the draft op-ed to the government.”

Through Flynn and Kian, Sphere met Alptekin, the Turkish businessman, who wanted Sphere to do PR work to get Gulen extradited, according to the source at Sphere.

According to a memo sent to Flynn’s firm, Sphere told Alptekin in November, when the firm first met with him, that none of this should be done through a publicity campaign, but rather should pursued through lawsuits.

Today’s Headlines and Commentary
 

mikenova shared this story from Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices.

North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile in a test that demonstrated the Kim regimes longest potential range capability yet. The Hwasong-15 missile could reach all of the continental United States, the New York Times reported. The missiles 53-minute flight took the projectile 2,800 miles into space before landing in the Sea of Japan 600 miles east of its launch site. Experts said the test flight showed a potential range of 8,000 miles. President Donald Trump, the leaders of Japan and South Korea, and the U.N. secretary-general condemned the launch, the Washington Post reported. The United Nations Security Council will meet on Wednesday to discuss Pyongyangs latest provocation.

The Syrian government agreed to a Russian plan for a ceasefire in a rebel-held region near Damascus,the BBC reported. Syrian forces had besieged rebels in the Eastern Ghouta area, and in recent weeks Russian airstrikes and Syrian artillery fire have killed dozens of civilians. The ceasefire came as Syrian government and opposition negotiators met for U.N.-led peace talks in Geneva.

The FBI is investigating the murders of a Syrian-American journalist and her mother in Turkey, ABC News reported. Halla Barakat and her mother Orouba both reported on abuses by the Syrian regime. Their killer strangled and stabbed them to death in their apartment in Istanbul in September. Turkish prosecutors have arrested a man who says he killed them because of a dispute about money, but the prosecutors suspect the man acted on orders from the Assad regime to assassinate the women.

Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, promoted a private scheme to build nuclear reactors across the Middle East while he was in office, the Wall Street Journal reported. Flynn consulted for the companies proposing the plan during the presidential transition. After coming into office, he directed a National Security Council staffer to prepare a memo about the plan for Trump to approve. The staffer continued to promote the plan after Flynn resigned in February until his own ouster in July.

Special Counsel Robert Muellers investigation of Michael Flynn may now cover Flynns tenure as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), BuzzFeed News reported. The DIA cited ongoing law enforcement investigative activities to justify refusing a reporters three-year old request for information about Flynns two-year tenure as director from 2012 to 2014. The Obama administration forced Flynn to retire early.

A jury in Washington, D.C. convicted Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the alleged mastermind of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, on terrorism charges, the Post reported. The jury in federal district court acquitted Khatallah on murder charges for the deaths of four U.S. diplomats at Benghazi. U.S. commandos captured Khatallah in 2014 in Libya and brought him to the U.S. to face criminal prosecution. He faces a sentence of up to life in prison.

Shooting broke out in Sanaa, Yemens capital, between rival factions of the Houthi movement, Reuters reported. Forces loyal to Yemens former president Ali Abdullah Saleh fought allies of another key Houthi leader, threatening to fracture the Houthi rebel movement. A Saudi-led coalition backing Yemens internationally-recognized government is fighting the Houthis for control of the country.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson defended his redesign of the State Department, the Post reported. There is not hollowing out, Tillerson said in remarks at the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank. Dozens of senior diplomats have resigned or been fired since the beginning of the administration. Tillersons redesign plan has sparked widespread opposition in the department. Tillerson said reports of a depleted department are not accurate and that his redesign would improve the working environment for the nations diplomatic corps. The official overseeing the redesign quit on Tuesday after three months on the job, Bloomberg reported.

A Belgian court blocked the deportation of an imam at the countrys largest mosque, according to the Post. Belgian immigration and asylum officials said Abdelhadi Sewif threatened national security. The court found that officials had provided no evidence that Sewif posed a specific security risk. Belgiums investigation into the 2016 terror attacks on the Brussels airport has put pressure on Sewifs mosque for its connections to foreign backers.

A Bosnian-Croat military commander died after taking poison at the U.N. war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Reuters reported. Slobodan Praljak drank from a glass that he said contained poison as a U.N. judge upholding his 20-year prison sentence for war crimes related to plan to carry out ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Clare Duncan detailed Yemens recent history in a primer on its civil war.

Nicholas Weaver emphasized the seriousness of the danger from autonomous weapons systems such as slaughterbots.

J. Dana Stuster updated the Middle East Ticker, covering the Sinai attack, U.S.-Turkey tensions and the fallout from the Saudi power play.

Yishai Schwartz summarized the Nov. 13 military commission hearing in U.S. v. al-Nashiri.

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared the National Security Law Podcast, featuring discussion of Carpenter v. U.S. and the hearing in ACLU v. Mattis.

 

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

How Vladimir Putin sees the world
 

mikenova shared this story from Politics.

Luke Harding, journalist and author of “Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win,” explains how Vladimir Putin’s background as a KGB agent has influenced his worldview and allowed him to manipulate Donald Trump. Following is a transcript of the video.

Luke Harding: My name is Luke Harding. I’m a journalist and a writer, and my new book is called “Collusion,” and it’s about Donald Trump and Russia.

Putin saying that the collapse of the Soviet Union is the world’s greatest geopolitical catastrophe, it’s a famous quote and essentially I think it’s important because Putin is a KGB guy deep down. He sees the world in conspiratorial terms.

There’s a phrase for it that they teach you at KGB spy school which is “glavny protivnik,” “the main adversary,” and the main adversary is America, both in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, and also now in Putin’s head that he sees international politics and diplomacy as a zero sum game in which what’s bad for America is good for Russia.

And actually he’s had a pretty good run recently. He invaded Ukraine, he has staged military intervention in Syria, and obviously he hacked the US election to help Donald Trump, who I think to Putin’s surprise became president.

For Putin, lying is something he does all the time and there’s nothing shameful about it. He views lying as a kind of operational tactic, and again it’s something he learned about at spy school. You lie for strategic reasons.

But what’s astonishing is that Donald Trump seemingly believes Vladimir Putin, the KGB officer, over all 13 US intelligence agencies who unanimously say that Russia hacked the election.

Now, I’m not a psychologist, I can’t explain what’s going on in Donald Trump’s head, but clearly Putin is lying and for Trump to believe him or at least to say he believes him is an astonishing sign of where we now are.

I think he intends to carry on forever. There’s a Russian election next year in 2018, but it’s like an “election,” it’s not an election. It’s essentially decorative. I think we all know who’s going to win it, which means that he’ll have another six year term taking him until 2024.

And the logic of this kind of corrupt system in Russia means that he has to carry on forever. And so I can see Putin outlasting Trump, and I think he is going to be a kind of formidable challenge for politicians, not just now but also in the future.

How Putin’s KGB background has helped him manipulate Trump according to an investigative reporter – Business Insider
 

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Business Insider
How Putin’s KGB background has helped him manipulate Trump according to an investigative reporter
Business Insider
Luke Harding, journalist and author of “Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win,” explains how Vladimir Putin’s background as a KGB agent has influenced his worldview and allowed him to manipulate Donald …
The Left Is Losing Its Mind Over Trump, Russia and PutinNewsweek
The Far-Right Group Retweeted By Donald Trump Deleted A Bunch …BuzzFeed News
Commentary: Don’t call Putin a geniusReuters
The Guardian –Raw Story –The Moderate Voice –Reuters
all 151 news articles »
Crook Claims Rudy Giuliani and Michael Mukasey Tried to Broker US-Turkey Prisoner Swap – Daily Beast
 

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Daily Beast
Crook Claims Rudy Giuliani and Michael Mukasey Tried to Broker US-Turkey Prisoner Swap
Daily Beast
Rudy Giuliani and Michael Mukasey tried to broker a prisoner exchange between the United States and Turkey to free their Turkish client, Reza Zarrab, he testified in Manhattan federal court Wednesday. Zarrab said on the stand he hired lawyers to 
Turkish-Iranian Gold Trader Testifies at US TrialU.S. News & World Report
Gold Trader Links Turkish Banker to Plot to Dodge SanctionsBloombergall 49 news articles »

A top senator just introduced a slew of new names into the Senate’s Russia probe – Business Insider
 

mikenova shared this story from Elections 2016 Investigation videos – Google News.


Business Insider
A top senator just introduced a slew of new names into the Senate’s Russia probe
Business Insider
donald trump President Donald Trump pauses while speaking to the media before speaking with members of the armed forces via video conference at his private club, Mar-a-Lago, on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. … She asked them in separate letters for and more »

Senate Russia investigation: Dianne Feinstein requests new documents
 

mikenova shared this story from Politics.

donald trumpPresident Donald Trump pauses while speaking to the media before speaking with members of the armed forces via video conference at his private club, Mar-a-Lago, on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla. Associated Press/Alex Brandon

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat sent letters to several members of President Donald Trump’s campaign team on Wednesday.
  • The letter contained new names that may be of interest to investigators probing Russia’s election interference. 
  • Those entities had not previously been known to be of interest to the Judiciary Committee, which is also investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to undermine Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, requested new documents on Tuesday related to Russia’s election interference from several of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy advisers.

She asked them in separate letters for documentation of any contact they had with Russia-linked entities during the 2016 election, several of whom had not previously been known to be of interest to the committee.

One of them is Paul Erickson, a longtime Republican activist who told associates that he was an adviser to Trump’s transition team. He reportedly started a business — a limited liability company called Bridges, LLC — with Russian gun-rights champion Maria Butina. Erickson traveled to Moscow in August 2014 to meet with Butina’s gun-rights organization.

Butina and her associate Aleksander Torshin, a Russian politician and banker close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, are also of interest to the committee. Torshin asked the campaign through an intermediary whether Trump would meet with him on the sidelines of the NRA convention last summer, according to emails forwarded to Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner.

Feinstein, whose committee is investigating whether any Trump associates colluded with Russia to undermine Hillary Clinton, asked both campaign national co-chair Sam Clovis and campaign national security adviser JD Gordon for their communications with or concerning “the NRA, Paul Erickson, Alexander Torshin, Maria Butina,” and others associated with Torshin’s outreach.

“I’m always glad to clear up popular misconceptions, myths and blatant falsehoods surrounding all things Trump-Russia, like I’ve already done with other Congressional committees,” Gordon told Business Insider. “I look forward to a valuable exchange of information with the Senate Judiciary Committee as well.”

A new request to Carter Page

Carter PageCarter Page. AP

In her letter to Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, Feinstein asked for “all communications to, from, or copied to you with or concerning” Russian political scientist and Putin foreign policy adviser Sergey Karaganov; Randi Levinas, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the US-Russia Business Council; and Bernie Sucher, a former managing director and head of global markets for Russia at the wealth management firm Merril Lynch.

Page’s trip to Moscow last July just before the Republican National Convention has come under heightened scrutiny amid revelations that he met with a top Russian government official and at least one employee of Russia’s state-owned oil company, Rosneft.

Levinas told Business Insider on Wednesday that the US-Russia business council reached out to both campaigns during the election to figure out who was the “Russia person” on both sides “dealing with economic and business issues.”

“Page’s name had been mentioned in the press,” Levinas said. “So I reached out to Bernie Sucher to try to get in touch with him.”

Sucher and Page evidently overlapped at Merril Lynch, where Page worked between 2000 and 2008. Before joining Merrill Lynch, Sucher was the chairman of Alfa Capital — a limited liability company that is a member of Alfa Banking Group.

Feinstein also asked Page for his communications with or concerning Alfa Group, which reportedly came under scrutiny by both federal and congressional investigators after a computer server for the Russia-based Alfa Bank “repeatedly looked up the contact information for a computer server being used by the Trump Organization — far more than other companies did, representing 80% of all look-ups on the Trump server,” according to CNN.

The US-Russia business council, for its part, “wanted to have a discussion about business with respect to Russia,” Levinas said. “So I tried to set up a meeting with Page, and got a small dinner together that didn’t materialize until later.”

Levinas said she did not attend that dinner and did not know what was discussed.

‘Happy to help’

Page told Business Insider that he would be “happy to help” the committee with its “latest tranche of irrelevant Witch Hunt information.” He said he was not in touch with Karaganov, the former Putin adviser, during the campaign, adding that he hadn’t spoken to him in “about 10 years or so.”

“I’m pretty sure that was the last time we talked,” Page said on Wednesday.

Karaganov, who now serves as the dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, supported Russia’s incursion into Ukraine and has advocated for Moscow to present itself as a moral defender of ethnic Russians in order to gain political influence in the regions they inhabit.

“We want the status of being a great power,” Karaganov told Germany’s Der Spiegel last year.

“We unfortunately cannot relinquish that,” he said. “In the last 300 years, this status has become a part of our genetic makeup. … We believe that Russia is morally in the right. There won’t be any fundamental concessions coming from our side.”

Historian Of Stalin’s Crimes, On Trial On Child Pornography Charges, Seeks Release To House Arrest
 

mikenova shared this story from Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty.

A lawyer for a Russian historian who is being tried on child pornography charges his supporters say are politically motivated has asked a court to move his client from jail to house arrest.

Trump’s ‘Art of the Deal’ Ghostwriter Tony Schwartz Says ‘Putin Owns Trump’ – Newsweek
 

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CNN
Trump’s ‘Art of the Deal’ Ghostwriter Tony Schwartz Says ‘Putin Owns Trump’
Newsweek
The man who ghost-wrote President Donald Trump’s bestseller The Art of the Deal has claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin owns Trump, and said he hopes the U.S. president will be taken down by special counsel Robert Mueller. What keeps my hope 
Will the House Intelligence Committee Get the Truth From Erik Prince?Mother Jones
The Trump-Russia Story Is Coming Together. Here’s How to Make Sense of ItTruth-Outall 26 news articles »

Trump and the Russian Beauty Queen
 

mikenova shared this story from TrumP Россия.

b7ck8hm4

PART I: THE PRINCESS IN THE GILDED CAGE

Oxana Fedorova was a tall, raven-haired beauty from Pskov, a old Russian city near Estonia.  She was studying to be a police officer in St. Petersburg, Russia when she decided to try her luck in a local modeling contest. Fedorova entered the 1999 Miss St. Petersburg pageant and won. Two years later, the 23-year-old police lieutenant became Miss Russia, which awarded her a new Mercedes and a Cartier watch.

Vladimir Putin, newly installed as Russia’s president, was said to be a keen admirer of the reigning Miss Russia, a karate black belt and an excellent shot. A photo of Fedorova was on display near his office in the Kremlin. The Telegraph of London reported that the organizers of the Miss Russia pageant had crowned Fedorova “in a feudal display of loyalty to the head of state.” She was even rumored to be Putin’s secret lover. Not true, Fedorova said. “It’s just a coincidence that we are both from St. Petersburg, the work of fate. There are no links with the president.”

6db384c8ab5ceb8bf51ca02591deca8bVladimir Golubev

Fedorova’s real boyfriend wasn’t the president. He was a Russian mobster from St. Petersburg.

Vladimir Semenovich Golubev, aka “Barmeley,” got out of  in prison and became a gangster in St. Petersburg in the 1990s. Golubev was a silent partner in Adamant Holding, a real estate company founded in 1992 that today controls 29 shopping malls in St. Petersburg.  (See Russian Forbes.)

The Russian press reported that Golubev had links to the Tambov gang, a criminal syndicate that dominated St. Petersburg in the 1990s. Back then, the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, a man named Vladimir Putin, was collaborating with the Tambov gang to launder money and gain control of the gambling business. (See Karen Dawisha’s excellent book Putin’s Kleptocracy.)

According to Russian press reports, Golubev had supported Fedorova since she she had won Miss St. Petersburg as a teenager. Fedorova reportedly traveled either in his company or with guards he sent to accompany her. Officials with Miss Universe noted that money never seemed to be a problem for the beauty queen.  She was like a beautiful bird living in Golubev’s gilded cage.

PART II: MISS UNIVERSE

In 2002, Oxana Fedorova entered Miss Universe, the international beauty pageant then owned by Donald Trump.

The pageant was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Fedorova and other beauties from around the world competed for prizes that included a year’s salary and an apartment in one of Trump’s Manhattan buildings. (The apartment was more like a dormitory for Miss Universe shared it with Miss USA and Miss Teen USA.)

At the Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan, Fedorova dominated the swimsuit competition and was crowned with the diamond-studded tiara.

Trump, who was in the audience watching, allegedly rigged the contest for Fedorova, according to Seth Abramson, an author and attorney. Abramson said he spoke to a source present that night in Puerto Rico who claimed that Trump told the celebrity judges — actors, fashion designers, and NFL star Marshall Faulk —  whom to choose as winner.

Four months after she was crowned Miss Universe, Fedorova was fired. Federova had failed to show at numerous photo shoots and other high-profile functions, including a commitment to help crown Miss Teen USA. It was the first time that a winner had been forced to surrender her title.

Trump said the president of the Miss Universe organization, Paula Shugart, had asked Fedorova to resign. “When Oxana didn’t resign, Paula had no choice but to terminate her,” he said. Anonymous “insider” sources quoted by the New York Post went for Fedorova’s jugular. “An unbelievably spoiled bitch,” one called her. Another said she was overweight and pregnant, which Fedorova denied.

Over the years, Fedorova has given several reasons for her decision to give up the title of Miss Universe. She had to care for an ailing relative.  She did not want to give up her studies. (She now holds a doctoral degree.) She was upset no one had warned her before her lewd interview with radio host Howard Stern.

Asked by Russian reporters whether pressure from her gangster boyfriend Golubev led her to abandon the Miss Universe crown, Fedorova replied, “This is my personal life, and I do not want to talk about it.”

The view from Russia was that Trump had been paid off to crown Fedorova. Nikolay Kostin, the organizer of the Miss Russia contest, suggested to a reporter for the respected Russian daily Kommersantthat Trump had been bribed to hand the crown to Fedorova.

“Nikolay Kostin in response to such accusations only smiles and asks who then dared to offer a bribe to the owner of the Miss Universe contest Donald Trump, who presented the crown to Oxana Fedorova, and how much he was given.

Vitali Leiba, president of the model agency Red Stars, told the newspaper, “It is very difficult to determine the addressee of a possible bribe. We can say that Trump was given a bribe, or it is possible that the U.S., in the person of Trump, offered a bribe to Russia, encouraging her representative at the contest.”

Update: An astute reader points out that Vitali Leiba was a founding shareholder of Arigon Company Ltd., a Channel Islands company established in 1990 by the Brainy Don, Semion Mogilevich whose name keeps turning up in the Trump-Russia affair. An 1996 FBI report called Arigon “the center of the Mogilevich Organization’s financial operations.”

PART III: THE UGLINESS IN TRUMP’S BEAUTY CONTESTS

There is no proof that Trump was bribed or that he tipped the scale for Oxana Fedorova, but there were multiple claims that the pageants were rigged.

Michael Schwandt, a choreographer who worked on Miss Universe and Miss USA, told Guanabee.comthat Trump would have all the contestants line up and he would walk past like a commander reviewing his troops with an assistant taking notes. “It’s just kind of common knowledge that he picks six of the top 15 single-handedly,” Schwandt said.

The choreographer said Trump told him he exercised the “Trump rule” so because some of the most beautiful women were not chosen as finalists in the past “and he was kind of upset by that.” Schwandt disavowed his comments but here is audio  of Trump explaining the “Trump Rule” to Miss USA contestants.

Audio PlayerA contestant in 2012 Miss USA told a judge that her contest had been rigged. Sheena Monnin wrote on her Facebook page that a fellow contestant had seen a sheet of paper listing the five finalists before the contest. (She reaffirmed the claim in her delcaration.)

…. I witnessed another contestant who said she saw the Top 5 BEFORE THE SHOW EVER STARTED proceed to call out in order who the Top 5 were before they were announced on stage. Apparently the morning on June 3rd she saw a folder lying open to a page that said ‘FINAL SHOW telecast, June 3, 2012’. After the Top 16 were called and we were standing backstage she hesitantly said to me and another contestant that she knew who the Top 5 were. I said ‘who do you think they will be? She said that she didn’t ‘think’ she ‘knew’ because she saw the list that morning. She relayed whose names were on the list. Then we agreed to wait and see if that was indeed the Top 5 called that night. ….

Trump was furious. He said Monnin had “loser’s remorse,” and said that if you “looked at her and compared her to the other people who were in the top 15, you would understand why she was not in the top 15.” His  consigliere Michael Cohen called into TMZ Live and said that Monnin had 24 hours to retract her statement or that she could “bet [her] a** that [Miss Universe] will sue . . . seeking massive damages.” Consigliere Cohen was good to his word. Trump obtained a $5 million defamation award against Monnin in an uncontested arbitration proceeding, which was upheld by a federal judge.

A 2013 investigation by Jezebel found that a pageant recruiter in Trump’s Miss USA franchise allegedly demanded a blow job in exchange for magazine work that would allow a contestant to pay the $895 contest entrance fee.

Trump had acquired the Miss Universe franchise in 1996. He reportedly paid tens of millions of dollars (the exact figure was not disclosed) to buy it from ITT Corp., beating out beat two television networks and several South American media moguls. (The deal also included Miss USA and Miss Teen USA.)  Trump ran Miss Universe as a 50-50 partnership with TV networks, first with CBS, and, after 2002, with NBC.

On the surface, it looked like a good business. It cost $20 million to bring the 2013 Miss Universe pageant to Moscow. Emin Agalarov whose family owns the arena that hosted the pageant broke down the costs for Russian Forbes. A third of that $20 million went to secure rights. Another third: organizational costs. And the final third goes to the production and broadcast costs.  (Another report said overseas rights to Miss Universe were selling for $6 million in 2003.)

Very little of that money, however, was distributed to the general partners of Miss Universe. We know this because Trump had assigned his half of his interest in Miss Universe (25 percent of the company) to his publicly-traded corporation, Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc.  In 2002, the year Fedorova won in Puerto Rico, Trump Entertainment collected a mere $700,000 for it quarter share of the pageant. In 2003 and 2004, Trump Entertainment earned nothing from Miss Universe.

Where was all the money going?

Even if the business was a stinker, there was one attraction for Trump. It allowed him to indulge his Porky’s-style adolescent fantasy of seeing beautiful women naked when they were in no position to refuse.

“I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it,” Trump told Howard Stern in 2005.

Listen for yourself:

Audio PlayerAsked whether he had ever slept with a contestant, Trump declined to say. “It could be a conflict of interest. … But, you know, it’s the kind of thing you worry about later, you tend to think about the conflict a little bit later on.”

Trump sold Miss Universe in 2015 to the talent agency WME | IMG for $28 million. The value of the franchise had been damaged by Trump’s description of Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists, which led NBC and Univision to drop coverage of Miss USA.

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Will the House Intelligence Committee Get the Truth From Erik Prince? Mother Jones
 

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Susan Walsh/AP

When Erik Prince, the founder of the notorious Blackwater security firm, heads into a private meeting with staffers and members of the House intelligence committee on Thursday, the number-one topic will be a secret trip he made in January to the Seychelles islands to huddle with a Russian close to Vladimir Putin. According to the Washington Post, the rendezvous was arranged by the United Arab Emirates, where Prince moved in 2010 and formed a mercenary army for the regime, and this get-together was part of an attempt to set up a back-channel communication between Putin and Donald Trump, then the president-elect. The visit has drawn the attention of the FBI, which has been investigating contacts between Trump associates and Russia, but a Prince spokesman last April claimed the “the meeting had nothing to do with President Trump.”

There is much congressional investigators can ask Prince about. He has had a long, controversial career buckraking in the dark corners of the national security world. The brother of Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education secretary, Prince has been an avid cheerleader for Trump (donating $250,000 to help elect him), an informal post-election adviser for Trump, and a pal of Stephen Bannon. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, and Bannon recruited Prince earlier this year to draft a plan that would replace US troops in Afghanistan with for-profit mercenaries—supplied, of course, by a military contractor like Prince. (The Pentagon said no thank you.) But perhaps the most important thing for intelligence committee members and staffers to keep in mind, as they try to pry information from Prince, is this: Prince is a fabricator.

During the election, the usually media-averse ex-Navy SEAL was a regular contributor to Breitbart News, the Bannon-backed far-right outlet, defending Trump and promoting conspiratorial swill.

On October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks began posting emails stolen from John Podesta, the Clinton campaign’s chairman. Earlier that day, the US intelligence community issued a statement declaring the Russian government was behind the hack-and-dumps targeting Democrats during the election. It noted that the posting of the stolen emails by WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 [an online persona named after a real-life Romanian hacker who went by the name of Guccifer] was “consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts.” The statement also pointed a finger at Putin, asserting “only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.” Yet Prince joined Trump and his crew in denying there was any Russian connection to the hacking aimed at Democrats.

On the Breitbart radio show, he insisted the Podesta caper had nothing to do with Russian intelligence. He added, “The fact is, a Romanian hacker, Guccifer, is the guy who hacked the Clinton Foundation a few years ago. That guy is in prison. Before he went to prison, all of Sidney Blumenthal—Hillary’s adviser on Libya—all his emails were removed from Guccifer’s server, and those too have been leaking out. John Podesta’s emails, I can assure you, did not come from the Russians.” Prince was conflating a 2013 hack against a Clinton friend (Blumenthal) with the 2016 cyberattack on Podesta. Subsequent cyber-sleuthing has confirmed that Podesta was targeted and successfully spear-phished as part of a massive assault mounted by Russian military intelligence. Yet in the heat of the presidential campaign, Prince was pushing pro-Trump (and Putin-helping) disinformation.

In the same interview, Prince hyped one of the right-wing’s favorite anti-Clinton conspiracy theories. He claimed that Hillary Clinton had been complicit in “selling 20 percent of the United States’ uranium supply to a Russian state company.” And he went on: “I think the Clinton Foundation got a very nice spiff off of that, of $25 or $50 million,” meaning a pay-to-play payment. Prince was referring to what has now become the Uranium One scandal, which is not really a scandal. The transaction he referenced involved the acquisition of 20 percent of production capability, not the full supply, and there is no evidence that Clinton had any role in the US government approval process for this deal.

On an earlier Breitbart broadcast, Prince claimed that “due to a significant donation into the Clinton Foundation, the State Department ended up approving the sale of a company that owns 20 percent of the uranium in the United States, certainly a strategic fuel stock for us here, for nuclear energy production, and of course for nuclear weapons, if necessary. It’s now in the hands of a Russian state enterprise.” He was wrong here, too. The deal was approved not by the State Department, but by representatives of nine different federal agencies who sat on an interagency review board; there was no proven connection between a Clinton Foundation donation and the decision, and the uranium in question was not suitable for nuclear weapons.

During the campaign, the Clinton-gave-uranium-to-the-Russians-for-a-foundation-payoff tale was being enthusiastically peddled by Trump (who still has not let go of this faux scandal)—even though this accusation was fully debunked. And since the election, Republicans and conservatives have tried to use the Uranium One deal to deflect attention from the Trump-Russia scandal. Prince has been a loyal foot-soldier in this reality-bending, anti-Clinton propaganda effort.

Prince has gone even further in fueling the anti-Clinton fevers on the right. During a Breitbart radio appearance four days before the election, Prince, citing a “well-placed source” in the New York Police Department, said that emails discovered on the laptop of Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former congressman then separated from Huma Abedon, a top Clinton aide, included evidence of Clinton perversion and criminality: “They found State Department emails. They found a lot of other really damning criminal information, including money laundering, including the fact that Hillary went to this sex island with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Bill Clinton went there more than 20 times. Hillary Clinton went there at least six times.” He maintained these emails held proof of “of criminal activity by Hillary, by her immediate circle, and even by other Democratic members of Congress.” He claimed that Abedin had “flipped.” If Clinton were to be elected, Prince warned, there would be a “constitutional crisis.”

Prince’s unsubstantiated comments were quickly embraced by far-right extremists pushing the particularly crazy Pizzagate conspiracy theory that claimed Clinton and Podesta were part of a covert pedophilia ring operating out of the basement of a Washington pizzeria. That day, conspiracy con-man Alex Jones, citing Prince’s interview, exclaimed, “When I think about all the children Hillary Clinton has personally murdered and chopped up and raped . . . yeah, you heard me right. Hillary Clinton has personally murdered children.” And WikiLeaks tweeted, “Astounding claims from Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater on Clinton & NYPD.” (A month later, a man armed with guns entered the pizzeria to investigate Pizzagate and fired several shots, harming no one, before he was arrested.)

Prince, once mostly known for owning a company that employed private military contractors who committed a 2007 massacre in downtown Baghdad, has become a fabulist who has used his national security credentials to dress up and legitimize the most outlandish and paranoid fantasies of the far right. (He also has recently considered challenging Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming as part of Bannon’s war on so-called establishment Republicans.) No matter what Prince says when he’s sitting before the interrogators of the House intelligence committee, they ought to remember this valuable guideline: consider the source.

Will the House Intelligence Committee Get the Truth From Erik Prince? – Mother Jones
 

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Mother Jones
Will the House Intelligence Committee Get the Truth From Erik Prince?
Mother Jones
The brother of Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education secretary, Prince has been an avid cheerleader for Trump (donating $250,000 to help elect him), an informal post-election adviser for Trump, and a pal of Stephen Bannon. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law  

Russian ads placed in Maryland might have been precursor to broader campaign
 

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The simple advertisement betrayed little about its intent or origin. It pictured Freddie Gray and two other African Americans who died in encounters with police alongside the words “never forget.”

Analysts say the ad — and hundreds more aimed by Russia at Facebook users in Maryland following the Baltimore riots of 2015 — might have been a dry run for the broader, national social media campaign that followed in the 2016 presidential election campaign.

Of the 3,000 Russian-linked ads Facebook turned over to Congress this fall, more than 250 were targeted at Maryland — a blue state with little sway in the national election that nevertheless remained in the spotlight because of the unrest.

The debate over police interactions with African Americans in Baltimore, Ferguson, Mo., and elsewhere offered an easy issue for Russians to exploit, analysts say, long before Donald Trump emerged as a serious presidential candidate.

“Russians needed practice,” said James Andrew Lewis, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “They had done this a lot for domestic audiences, and they had to learn how to pull the levers of an American audience.

“This was an initial attempt.”

Facebook has said accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm, spent more than $100,000 on ads from 2015 to 2017, and that about 126 million people might have been served content from pages associated with the group. U.S. intelligence agencies said in January that the likely financier of the group is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin has denied meddling in the U.S. election.

Much of the discussion surrounding the Russian social media campaign in the United States has focused on its impact on the election. Congress and the Federal Election Commission are both considering new regulations that would require more transparency in online political ads.

Less attention has been given to ads placed in 2015 in states that were not battlegrounds in 2016. Facebook has said about 25 percent of the ads the company identified as being linked to Russia were aimed at specific cities and states. More of those targeted ads ran in 2015 than last year.

The Gray ad released this month by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence included a photo of the 25-year-old Baltimore man who died in April 2015 after suffering an injury in police custody. Also pictured: Michael Brown, the 18-year-old shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014 and Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old killed by police in Cleveland in 2014.

“Join us because we care,” the ad read. “Black Matters!”

Data released by the committee indicate that the advertisement — purchased with rubles — was initially placed in Maryland, Missouri, Virginia and Georgia beginning in mid-2015. It popped up on computer screens more than 200,000 times and attracted 12,127 clicks.

The ad was placed nationally months later and again in 2016. It received 55,761 clicks, in all.

While there is broad consensus that one of the goals of the Russian effort was to undermine confidence in American institutions — including law enforcement — there is less agreement about why so many ads were aimed at Maryland.

Russia has a long history of using “active measures” to exploit divisions, including attempts to exacerbate racial tensions. In the 1960s, the KGB authorized a plan to discredit the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., by attempting to plant that suggested he was working for the U.S. government.

More recently, the Internet Research Agency and other Russian troll farms have targeted Georgia, Estonia and Ukraine with disinformation campaigns.

The “Black Matters” ad appears to be an early attempt at using social media in the United States. Of the small sample of ads released by the House Intelligence Committee, it was the earliest to appear.

Mark R. Jacobson is a former special assistant to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.

“While the social media vectors are new, the operation to influence and persuade in support of broader political activities was refined during all these previous operations,” said Jacobson, now an associate professor at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown.

“So in that sense I think the 2015 stuff could have very well been an intermediate step between the long history of political warfare and what we saw in 2016.”

The Gray ad clicked through to a Facebook page called “Black Matters US.” That page has been removed, but an apparently related website, <a href=”http://blackmattersus.com” rel=”nofollow”>blackmattersus.com</a>, remains online.

The website, registered anonymously in late 2015, describes itself as a “nonprofit news outlet.” It features commentary about the African-American community. Items about Baltimore and Gray begin by quoting or paraphrasing coverage in The Baltimore Sun before launching into opinion.

When Baltimore prosecutors dropped criminal charges last year against officers involved in Gray’s arrest and death, the website posted an article that cited coverage in The Sun, including a quote from State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, and then opined that the decision “doesn’t come as a surprise.”

“The American criminal justice system has always been reluctant to prosecute officers, making up special circumstances surrounding the cases, in which these officers were involved,” an author identified as William Sanders wrote. “People are tired of such pretense and police being above the laws they impose on others.”

The website was also frequently and overtly critical of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. An item posted in October 2016, the month before the election, asserted that “Hillary’s deceptive plots to win the love of Black people in America just to gain power are gradually being brought to light.” Another piece was headlined “Hillary Clinton: A Candidate For the Corporate Elite.”

The most recent item posted to the site is from September. A request for information by The Sun submitted through the site’s “contact” form drew no response. An email address associated with the page did not work. Most of the social media accounts connected to the site have been taken down.

Just how much Maryland and the other states confronting racial tension were targeted by the ad campaign is unclear. Sen. Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said this month that Maryland received a notable share, particularly given that the presidential vote in the state wasn’t close.

“The three most heavily targeted states in America — Maryland, Missouri and New York — were all determined by at least 18-point margin,” the North Carolina Republican said during a committee hearing.

But in a brief interview later, Burr appeared to walk back that assertion.

“I didn’t say that they were the most targeted,” Burr said. “I used those as examples of how they were targeted at a higher level than [the battleground states] Michigan and Wisconsin.”

Burr has long contended the ads were more about dividing Americans than they were about presidential politics.

“From the standpoint of what we’ve seen in the ads and how they were designed and run, it was to create societal chaos,” Burr said. “That’s it.”

Asked about their impact, Burr pointed out that two Russian Facebook pages managed to organize dueling rallies outside a Houston mosque last year.

“When you see a picture of a rally with both sides in Texas, yeah, they were successful.”

Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, agreed that the ad placed in Maryland probably had more to do with highlighting racial tension than helping to elect Trump. Trump entered the Republican primary in June of 2015, about a month before the ad began showing up in feeds.

Many of the national ads released by the House and Senate intelligence committees from 2016 focused on the election. One touted Trump rallies in Florida. Another depicted Jesus and Satan arm wrestling and suggested Satan was on Clinton’s side.

“Press ‘like’ to help Jesus win!” the ad read.

“In 2015 they were doing their own fishing expedition, trying to see what would stick,” Cardin said. “So they came into Maryland and they tried a tactic. It wasn’t terribly effective.

“I think they may very well have gone on to a different tactic.”

That’s the conclusion of several analysts.

Clint Watts, a former FBI agent who has studied the Russian campaigns, told lawmakers in testimony this year that Russian online activities “shifted aggressively” toward the United States in late 2014 and throughout 2015. By the end of 2015, the effort “began pushing themes and messages seeking to influence the outcome” of the election.

Watts did not respond to several requests for comment.

Facebook has repeatedly declined requests from The Baltimore Sun for information about the ads placed in Maryland. The Gray ad released by the House Intelligence Committee is the only Russian ad aimed at Marylanders to have been shown to the public.

Without seeing more content, several analysts said, it’s difficult to pin down the motivations. The House Intelligence Committee has promised to make more ads public, but has not said when that will happen.

Thomas Rid is professor of strategic studies at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins.

“The 2015 targeting could have been a trial run, but we don’t know,” he said. “Soviet active measures started exploiting racial and ethnic tensions in the mid-1950s, and ripping open racial divisions has been a standard M.O. ever since.”

Unusual social media activity in Baltimore in 2015 caught the attention of a local cybersecurity firm. Days after the 2015 riots, the Federal Hill-based firm ZeroFox documented a flurry of accounts by users posing as Baltimoreans that had in fact been created in Russia, China and India.

Postings from those accounts appeared designed to deepen the divides exposed during the riots.

“I just killed a pig,” one Twitter user wrote alongside a photograph of a bloodied police officer. (It turned out the officer was from South America, not Baltimore.)

Another tweet, from an account impersonating the Baltimore Police Department, used a racial slur.

ZeroFox identified nearly 100 accounts impersonating police and city and state officials.The firm has not responded to requests for comment.

Another Facebook account known as Blacktivist promoted a rally in Baltimore last year to mark the one-year anniversary of Gray’s death. A Twitter account associated with the page reached out to journalists at The Sun and other outlets and sent a press release to reporters promoting the event.

Todd M. Rosenblum, a former principal deputy assistant secretary of defense, is a nonresident senior fellow in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.

The Russian effort “was sophisticated to the point that they identified the standing social cleavages that existed in the nation,” he said.

“They were able to accurately assess what’s dividing Americans and what messages were going to cause an emotional reaction. There were a lot of pretty sophisticated creations.”

john.fritze@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jfritze


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6:15 AM 11/30/2017 – Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks: Donald Trump tries to attack British Prime Minister Theresa May, accidentally attacks some other woman instead

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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Donald Trump tries to attack British Prime Minister Theresa May, accidentally attacks some other woman instead
Is the “Trump-Russia affair” an elaborate Leftist plot – Google Search
США для нового санкционного списка собирают сведения о десятках тысяч россиян
US actively collects data on foreign assets of Russian elite after Trumps new law on sanctions against Russia
Mitigating the Russian challenge
AP source: Grand jury testimony in Flynn case put off
Turkish-Iranian Gold Trader Testifies at US Trial | Business News
Feinstein asks for Russia records from Trump campaign aides – The Hill
Rudy Giuliani – Google News: Turkish-Iranian Gold Trader Testifies at US Trial – U.S. News & World Report
Turkish-Iranian Gold Trader Testifies at US Trial – U.S. News & World Report
Lawsuit seeks details of Trump administration’s policies on surveilling journalists – Washington Post
Special counsel delays grand jury testimony amid signs of Flynn deal talks
Today’s Headlines and Commentary
How Vladimir Putin sees the world
How Putin’s KGB background has helped him manipulate Trump according to an investigative reporter – Business Insider
Crook Claims Rudy Giuliani and Michael Mukasey Tried to Broker US-Turkey Prisoner Swap – Daily Beast
A top senator just introduced a slew of new names into the Senate’s Russia probe – Business Insider
Senate Russia investigation: Dianne Feinstein requests new documents
Historian Of Stalin’s Crimes, On Trial On Child Pornography Charges, Seeks Release To House Arrest
Trump’s ‘Art of the Deal’ Ghostwriter Tony Schwartz Says ‘Putin Owns Trump’ – Newsweek
Trump and the Russian Beauty Queen
Will the House Intelligence Committee Get the Truth From Erik Prince? Mother Jones
Will the House Intelligence Committee Get the Truth From Erik Prince? – Mother Jones
Russian ads placed in Maryland might have been precursor to broader campaign
Russian ads placed in Maryland might have been precursor to broader campaign – Baltimore Sun

 

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Donald Trump tries to attack British Prime Minister Theresa May, accidentally attacks some other woman instead
 

mikenova shared this story from FB-RSS feed for Palmer Report.

Donald Trump tries to attack British Prime Minister Theresa May, accidentally attacks some other woman instead

Donald Trump tries to attack British Prime Minister Theresa May, accidentally attacks some other woman instead

Trump tried to start World War III with Great Britain, and couldn’t even get it right

Is the “Trump-Russia affair” an elaborate Leftist plot – Google Search
 

mikenova shared this story .

Image result for Is the "Trump-Russia affair" an elaborate Leftist plot

США для нового санкционного списка собирают сведения о десятках тысяч россиян
 

mikenova shared this story from Росбалт.

Российские спецслужбы зафиксировали небывалую активность финансовой разведки США в странах Европы и ряде других государств. Связано это с тем, что в начале следующего года будет оглашен новый санкционный список.

Как рассказал «Росбалту» источник, знакомый с ситуацией, российские спецслужбы узнали, что последние месяцы страны Европы буквально забросали запросами из финансовой разведки США относительно россиян. «Речь идет о работниках госкомпаний, чиновниках,  их близких и дальних родственниках и т. д. Всего о десятках тысяч россиян», — рассказал собеседник агентства. По его словам, в ходе дальнейшей работы было установлено, что такая активность финразведки напрямую связана с расследованием ФБР и подготовкой Сенатом доклада о якобы имевшем место вмешательстве России в президентские выборы в США. Предполагается, что по итогам расследования будет оглашен новый список граждан России, в отношении которых вводятся санкции.

«У нас есть данные, что этот список будет беспрецедентно большим. Некоторые горячие головы в США предлагают ввести санкции чуть ли не в отношении более чем 50 тыс. граждан России», — отметил источник агентства.

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US actively collects data on foreign assets of Russian elite after Trumps new law on sanctions against Russia
 

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A new sanctions list will be drawn up based on an open report, which will provide information on Russian oligarchs and key political figures.⁠

Russian special services hold an unprecedented activity of US financial intelligence in Europe and a number of other countries requesting data on Russians. This is due to the fact that at the beginning of next year a new sanction list will be announced, Rosbalt reports with reference to the source.

“We are talking about employees of state companies, officials, their close and distant relatives, etc. In total, about tens of thousands of Russians,” the source said. Such activity is directly related to the law on sanctions against Russia, signed by US President Donald Trump on Aug. 4, 2017, proposed by US congressmen. It deals primarily with collecting data on key political figures and oligarchs.

As The CrimeRussia previously reported, the Ministry of Finance, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence and the US Secretary of State, shoult provide an open report on the oligarchs and parastatal organizations of the Russian Federation to relevant congressional committees not later than 180 days after the adoption of the law. It should provide information on key political figures of Russia and the oligarchs, the level of their proximity to Vladimir Putin and other members of the Russian ruling elite, their fortune and sources of income; moreover, a list of their relatives, including spouses, children, parents, their assets, including investments, business interests, property that generates income should be concluded; foreign companies affiliated with these persons have been identified too.”

In fact, by January 31, 2018, the Ministry of Finance should prepare a report on all significant politicians, businessmen and officials. The open document will reflect data on their assets, including foreign ones. In the future, the report will only be supplemented with new information and names. All these names will appear in the new sanctions list, which can number up to 50.000 Russian citizens.

According to experts who have already expressed their opinion on the new law, it is possible that later foreign accounts under the jurisdiction of countries that support sanctions against Russia can be frozen. Assets can be confiscated as property that is earned on criminal or illegal way. The Spanish authorities have the same experience, for example, Spain converts property of Russian mafia, accused of money laundering.

Please, read our material about the forthcoming report and how it threatens Russia.

Mitigating the Russian challenge
 

mikenova shared this story from News from EUobserver.

“It is time”, the USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev said in a 1989 speech, “to consign to oblivion the Cold War postulates when Europe was viewed as an arena of confrontation divided into ‘spheres of influence’.”

In place of old rivalries, Gorbachev laid out his vision of a “common European home”. Russia and Europe, he declared optimistically, should work together “to transform international relations in the spirit of humanism, equality and justice”.

Fast forward to 2017, and it is clear that things have not quite gone according to plan.

Gorbachev is defending Russia’s takeover of Crimea. For the first time since the Cold War, Nato is opening new command centres in Europe.

The stakes involved in the EU-Russia relationship are still high.

The EU is the most important investor in Russia, as well as its largest trading partner. Moscow, for its part, remains a crucial energy and security player for Europe.

Yet at the core of the Russia-EU confrontation lies the fundamental disagreement over values and geopolitical zones of influence. Those differences are unlikely to be bridged soon.

The EU, built on the values of interdependence and liberal norms, is willing to engage with Moscow, but with strings attached. To access the community’s perks – closer economic links, visa-free travel – the Kremlin is expected to abide by international laws and embrace liberalisation at home.

To Russia’s leadership, those conditions are unacceptable. It sees its neighbourhood as the bulwark against Nato expansion and the wave of ‘colour’ revolutions. As for domestic liberalisation, it would destroy Vladimir Putin’s regime, or, at least, seriously undermine it.

It is against this context that Russia’s attempts to stoke troubles in Europe should be considered.

Carrot vs Stick

To deter Russia, the EU global strategy recommends, member-states, above all, must “strengthen the EU and enhance the resilience of our eastern neighbours”.

The conspicuity of this observation doesn’t render it any less relevant. Russian leadership values strength and preys on weakness.

Show the Kremlin that you cannot use a stick, and it will wrestle the carrot out of your hands.

Thus, the most obvious thing the EU can do is to enhance its defensive capabilities. That means protecting eastern flunk, while also improving military mobility. Boosting cyber defence, too, is crucial, given recent attacks on Europe’s infrastructure.

Response to Russian meddling in European politics, though, is a more nuanced challenge. Concerns over Moscow’s malignant campaign – via TV, social media and financing of populist parties – are valid.

Yet it is also crucial to keep cool when confronting Russian propaganda.

The Kremlin’s aim, as the US example showed, is to sow discord within Western politics, not necessarily to achieve a concrete electoral outcome.

That is why media panic – and attaching the ‘Putin’s stooge’ label to any anti-establishment cause – only plays into Moscow’s hands.

The best way to deal with the Kremlin’s meddling, therefore, is treating it more as a security issue than a political one.

Western agencies have learned about Russia’s web campaign, so they can tackle it with considerable success in future. Reforms to increase transparency in party financing, likewise, is a useful step.

To bring Russia around to the idea of a common future on European terms requires demonstrating calm resolve. Moscow must understand that, despite its tricks, the EU’s institutions will continue to work as normal.

Making cooperation pay

But while Europe must demonstrate firmness, it is equally important to show what Moscow can gain by cooperating.

A deterrence-only approach to the Kremlin will only amplify its exuberance, leading to an endless ‘action-response’ cycle.

So, how can Russia be induced to cooperate?

Firstly, the EU should retain clear conditions for lifting economic sanctions on Russia. As the economist Vladislav Inozemtsev observed, wherever economic sanctions worked – like South Africa or Yugoslavia – they came with clear instructions of their relaxation or removal.

Heeding that, any comprehensive plan to resolve the Ukraine crisis should include the roadmap for sanctions relief.

The economic card is the strongest ace in the EU’s deck. It must play it wisely.

Secondly, there is a need to communicate with Russia in the way that brings maximum utility. Putin’s regime is here to stay. Nonetheless, it can still be affected, even if incrementally.

To facilitate change, it may be worth raising commercial and human rights concerns with Moscow on diplomatic level rather than just in the media. This approach will assure the Kremlin that Western concerns are genuine, and not an attempt to embarrass it.

Before any progress is achieved with Russia, things may get even more muddled. To succeed, Europe must demonstrate strategic patience.

Evgeny Pudovkin is a journalist writing on European politics, Russia and foreign affairs

AP source: Grand jury testimony in Flynn case put off
 

mikenova shared this story .

Prosecutors working with special counsel Robert Mueller have postponed grand jury testimony related to the private business dealings of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a person familiar with the ongoing investigation into Trump campaign associates and Russian election interference told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The reason for the postponement was not immediately clear, but it comes one week after attorneys for Flynn alerted President Donald Trump’s legal team that they could no longer share information about the case. That discussion between lawyers was widely seen as a possible indication that Flynn was moving to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation or attempting to negotiate a deal for himself.

An attorney for Flynn, Robert Kelner, did not immediately respond to email and phone messages Wednesday afternoon.

The testimony that had been scheduled for the coming days related to Flynn’s firm, Flynn Intel Group, its work with a public relations firm and interactions with congressional staff, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

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Mueller and the FBI have been interested in hearing from employees at the public relations firm, SGR LLC, because of the firm’s work with Flynn Intel Group. SGR LLC, which does business as Sphere Consulting, did public relations work on a film Flynn Intel Group was working on about Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen. The film was never completed.

Mueller was appointed by the Justice Department in May to oversee an investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The investigation, which produced its first criminal charges last month against three former Trump campaign officials, incorporated an earlier FBI inquiry into Flynn’s lobbying and investigative research work on behalf of a Turkish businessman. Sphere employees have cooperated for months with the investigation, including by turning over documents requested by investigators and sitting for voluntary interviews.

The October 2016 meeting that was expected to be the subject of the grand jury testimony has been described as a bait-and-switch carried out on behalf of Flynn’s firm.

As the AP reported in March, Flynn’s business partner, Bijan Kian, invited a representative of the House Homeland Security Committee to Flynn Intel’s offices in Alexandria, Virginia, to discuss secure communications products. But after discussing the products, the session quickly turned into a lobbying pitch that mirrored Turkish government talking points. Kian and others involved were particularly interested in pushing for congressional hearings to investigate Gulen, whom the Turkish government has blamed for a botched coup and who has been living in exile in Pennsylvania. Gulen has denied any involvement.

The requests for congressional hearings went nowhere.

According to a filing with the Justice Department, an employee of Sphere consulting was present during the meeting.

CNN first reported the postponement.

Turkish-Iranian Gold Trader Testifies at US Trial | Business News
 

mikenova shared this story .

In this courtroom sketch, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Denton points at defendant Mehmet Hakan Atilla, right, during opening arguments of a trial, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, in New York federal court. Denton said Atilla, deputy CEO of Halkbank, was the architect of a “massively successful” scheme to dupe U.S. banks into letting Iran move money around the world. Judge Richard Berman is seated at the bench, background left. (Elizabeth Williams via AP) The Associated Press

By TOM HAYS and LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — A Turkish-Iranian gold trader testified at a New York trial Wednesday that he paid over $50 million in bribes to Turkey’s finance minister in 2012 to overcome a banker’s fears he was too popular in Turkey to launder Iranian money and evade U.S. sanctions.

Reza Zarrab, 34, calmly described his 2012 encounters with one of Turkey’s most important public officials as he began what will be several days on the witness stand at the trial of Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who is charged in a conspiracy that involved bribes and kickbacks to high-level officials.

Zarrab’s decision to cooperate with U.S. investigators — revealed Tuesday — was a surprise twist in a prosecution that seemed in jeopardy just months earlier after Zarrab tried to free himself by hiring prominent and politically connected American attorneys to try to arrange a prisoner transfer between Turkey and the United States.

Zarrab said he began cooperating after efforts by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey failed. In the spring, prosecutors seemed alarmed after learning that Giuliani and Mukasey would meet with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and top U.S. officials to try to broker a deal.

With Zarrab as a powerful addition to their arsenal of evidence, prosecutors wasted no time in getting him to name names and muddy reputations in the banking industry and in government.

Testifying with an American flag behind him, Zarrab answered questions from Assistant U.S. Attorney Sidhardha Kamaraju as the prosecutor elicited details of what the United States has said was a well-orchestrated conspiracy to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran and enable $1 billion in Iranian oil proceeds to move through international banking markets.

Zarrab said he ran into resistance from a Halkbank executive when he approached the Turkey government-owned bank in late 2011 or early 2012 to try to gain access to Iranian money through trades in gold.

The executive, he said, feared that Zarrab’s marriage to Turkish pop star and TV personality Ebru Gundes made him too popular and transparent to make gold trades.

Feeling unjustly rejected, he said he met with Zafer Caglayan, Turkey’s finance minister. He said Caglayan told him he would broker gold trades in return for half the profits.

Zarrab said he paid Caglayan over $50 million to broker the trades and that Caglayan’s involvement overcame the bank’s resistance.

Caglayan is indicted in the case. The indictment describes his alleged role in the gold-transfer scheme and in another scheme in which he and other Turkish government officials supposedly approved of and directed the movement of Iranian oil proceeds by claiming they were in connection with the sale of food and medicine to Iran from Dubai.

Erdogan has called on American authorities to “review” the decision to indict Caglayan, saying the former minister had not engaged in any wrongdoing because Turkey had not imposed sanctions on Iran, an important trade partner.

Zarrab took the stand wearing tan scrubs a month after pleading guilty to seven crimes, including conspiracy, violating U.S. sanctions, bank fraud, money laundering and paying a bribe to a prison guard to get alcohol and the use of a cellphone.

Atilla, a 47-year-old former deputy CEO of Halkbank, has pleaded not guilty. A lawyer for Atilla attacked Zarrab’s credibility Tuesday during opening statements, saying the trial is about Zarrab’s crimes.

As he testified, Zarrab described his 2016 arrest as he arrived in the U.S. for a trip to Disney World with his wife and daughter.

He said he initially lied to U.S. authorities when he was confronted with crimes.

“I did not know what I was facing and after a long trip I was shocked and I couldn’t give the right answers,” Zarrab said. “I was afraid.”

The prosecution in Manhattan has been major news in Turkey, where Erdogan has repeatedly asked the U.S. to release Zarrab.

Turkey’s deputy prime minister recently said Zarrab was a “hostage” being forced to testify against Turkey’s government.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Feinstein asks for Russia records from Trump campaign aides – The Hill
 

mikenova shared this story from trump russian ties – Google News.


The Hill
Feinstein asks for Russia records from Trump campaign aides
The Hill
Clovis came under fire in late October after documents from March revealed that he encouraged a young Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, to meet with Russian officials in an effort to help improve the relations between Moscow and the campaign …
Mueller’s TrumpRussia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to AnswersOr HandcuffsNewsweek
Dianne Feinstein wants more documents from former Trump campaign officials as part of Russia probeWashington Examiner
The TrumpRussia Story Is Coming Together. Here’s How to Make Sense of ItTruth-Out
Tribune-Review
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Rudy Giuliani – Google News: Turkish-Iranian Gold Trader Testifies at US Trial – U.S. News & World Report
 

mikenova shared this story from 1. Trump Circles: Elections from mikenova (16 sites).


U.S. News & World Report
Turkish-Iranian Gold Trader Testifies at US Trial
U.S. News & World Report
Those lawyers included former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey. Kamaraju asked him if the talks, which included a meeting with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were successful. “No,” Zarrab answered 
The Odyssey of a Turkish Trader Now Spilling His Secrets in USBloombergall 42 news articles »

 Rudy Giuliani – Google News

Turkish-Iranian Gold Trader Testifies at US Trial – U.S. News & World Report
 

mikenova shared this story from Rudy Giuliani – Google News.


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Turkish-Iranian Gold Trader Testifies at US Trial
U.S. News & World Report
Those lawyers included former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey. Kamaraju asked him if the talks, which included a meeting with Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were successful. “No,” Zarrab answered 
The Odyssey of a Turkish Trader Now Spilling His Secrets in USBloombergall 42 news articles »

Lawsuit seeks details of Trump administration’s policies on surveilling journalists – Washington Post
 

mikenova shared this story from Trump FBI file – Google News.


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Lawsuit seeks details of Trump administration’s policies on surveilling journalists
Washington Post
Two media organizations planned to sue the Trump administration on Wednesday for details of government policies on surveillance of journalists, which remain hidden despite the groups’ public records requests. The Knight First Amendment Institute at and more »

Special counsel delays grand jury testimony amid signs of Flynn deal talks
 

mikenova shared this story .

Additional witnesses were expected to be questioned soon including a public relations consultant hired by Flynn’s lobbying firm who was given an early December date deadline to appear before the grand jury, according to a person at the company.

Ahead of the delay, the impression was that the testimony needed to happen soon, the source said.

“Time seems to be of the essence,” said the source at Sphere Consulting, the PR firm where the consultant worked.

The grand jury testimony was postponed, the person said, with no reason given. There could be many reasons for a delay, including scheduling issues.

close dialog

The consultant’s expected testimony comes as the investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser’s business dealings has taken a new turn.

Flynn’s attorney told Trump’s legal team last week that he would no longer share information about the investigation, a move that signals Flynn is beginning conversations with the government that could involve a plea deal or a cooperation agreement.

 ABC News reported

 that Flynn’s attorney met with special counsel’s attorneys on Monday.

Sphere’s government relations arm, SGR LLC Government Relations and Lobbying, is one of several companies Flynn Intel Group hired to work for Inovo BV, a Netherlands-based company owned by Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin, according to filing made by Flynn Intel Group under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Inovo hired Flynn to research Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Turkish cleric who Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused of being behind the 2016 attempted military coup to overthrow him, the filing said.

Inovo paid Flynn’s group $530,000 for the research, which was supposed result in a video documentary but it was never finished. Sphere’s SGR was paid $40,000.

Sphere has been cooperating for months with the investigation. The inquiry was originally opened before the appointment of the special counsel, according to the source. Sphere, which was subpoenaed around June, was described as “a cooperating witness at best.” Sphere has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Interviews conducted by special counsel investigators have included questions about the

business dealings of Flynn and his son

 such as their firm’s reporting of income from work overseas, two witnesses interviewed by the team told CNN. The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires people acting as agents of foreign entities to publicly disclose their relationship with foreign countries or businesses and financial compensation for such work.

Another area of interest to Mueller’s team is Flynn’s alleged participation in discussions about the idea of removing Gulen, who has been living in exile in Pennsylvania, sources said. In the past, a spokesman for Flynn has denied that such discussions occurred. Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, has called reports of an alleged kidnapping scheme “outrageous” and “false.” Kelner could not be reached for comment.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel, declined to comment.

Flynn disclosed its work for Inovo in a lobbying disclosure form in September 2016. Months later, in March 2017, it filed a FARA disclosure form stating “because of the subject matter of the engagement, Flynn Intel Group’s work for Inovo could be construed to have principally benefitted from the Republic of Turkey.”

Sphere entered the assignment in August 2016 when it was approached by Bijan Kian, Flynn’s business partner, to publicize the proposed documentary to promote investing in Turkey, according to the Sphere source. At Flynn’s direction Sphere created a Gulen-themed Monopoly graphic, according to Flynn’s FARA disclosure. A lawyer for Kian declined to comment. No explanation was given for why the graphic was created.

Two other consultants hired by Flynn, journalists David Enders and Rudi Bakhtiar, a former CNN anchor, were brought in to work on the documentary, according to the FARA form. The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the investigation, reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation has contacted Enders and Bakhtair to set up interviews. Enders and Bakhtiar have not responded to CNN’s requests for comment.

The documentary was never completed. But Sphere did place Flynn’s election day op-ed on Gulen in The Hill newspaper, according to the source at the company and the FARA filing. Flynn’s FARA filing distances that op-ed from the work he did for Inovo acknowledging it was shared with Inovo but: “To the best of our knowledge, Inovo did not communicate with the Republic of Turkey regarding the op-ed or provide the draft op-ed to the government.”

Through Flynn and Kian, Sphere met Alptekin, the Turkish businessman, who wanted Sphere to do PR work to get Gulen extradited, according to the source at Sphere.

According to a memo sent to Flynn’s firm, Sphere told Alptekin in November, when the firm first met with him, that none of this should be done through a publicity campaign, but rather should pursued through lawsuits.

Today’s Headlines and Commentary
 

mikenova shared this story from Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices.

North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile in a test that demonstrated the Kim regimes longest potential range capability yet. The Hwasong-15 missile could reach all of the continental United States, the New York Times reported. The missiles 53-minute flight took the projectile 2,800 miles into space before landing in the Sea of Japan 600 miles east of its launch site. Experts said the test flight showed a potential range of 8,000 miles. President Donald Trump, the leaders of Japan and South Korea, and the U.N. secretary-general condemned the launch, the Washington Post reported. The United Nations Security Council will meet on Wednesday to discuss Pyongyangs latest provocation.


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5:43 AM 11/30/2017 – “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

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5:30 AM 11/30/2017 – Is the “Trump-Russia affair” an elaborate Leftist plot? – M.N. 

Image result for Is the "Trump-Russia affair" an elaborate Leftist plot

Is the “Trump-Russia affair” an elaborate Leftist plot, carried over directly from the “Obama Leftist plot”, and masquerading as the Rightist Alliance of Putin’s regime, Trump Republicans, and the European rightists? 

At the head of this plot might be the certain elements of the New Russian Left, visible and invisible, and including the various military-political circles, German (Stasi dominated) Intelligence, and the ubiquitous Chinese, practicing all kinds of deceptions against everybody, as their traditional “Art of War” is. 

A nice combination, well screwed-up little Leftist Bolt from the sky… 

M.N.  

11.30.17 

Quotes from “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu:

“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. 


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4:45 AM 11/30/2017 – Sick Puppy Kim

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Image result for Sick Puppy Kim

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Donald Trump calls Kim Jong-un ‘a sick puppy’ during tax policy speech video

Donald Trump couldn’t The US president couldnt resist taking a jab at the North Korean leader during an event in St Charles, Missouri, to promote his tax cut for wealthy Americans. Americans in St Charles, Missouri, on Wednesday. After referring to the Republican tax plan as ‘rocket fuel’ rocket fuelfor the economy, the US president appeared to Trump appeared to pause and refer to Kim whom Trump has recently called ‘rocket man’ as ‘a sick puppy’, rocket man as a sick puppy, drawing hoots from the crowd.

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North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile in a test that demonstrated the Kim regimes longest potential range capability yet. The Hwasong-15 missile could reach all of the continental United States, the New York Times reported. The missiles 53-minute flight took the projectile 2,800 miles into space before landing in the Sea of Japan 600 miles east of its launch site. Experts said the test flight showed a potential range of 8,000 miles. President Donald Trump, the leaders of Japan and South Korea, and the U.N. secretary-general condemned the launch, the Washington Post reported. The United Nations Security Council will meet on Wednesday to discuss Pyongyangs latest provocation.

The Syrian government agreed to a Russian plan for a ceasefire in a rebel-held region near Damascus,the BBC reported. Syrian forces had besieged rebels in the Eastern Ghouta area, and in recent weeks Russian airstrikes and Syrian artillery fire have killed dozens of civilians. The ceasefire came as Syrian government and opposition negotiators met for U.N.-led peace talks in Geneva.

The FBI is investigating the murders of a Syrian-American journalist and her mother in Turkey, ABC News reported. Halla Barakat and her mother Orouba both reported on abuses by the Syrian regime. Their killer strangled and stabbed them to death in their apartment in Istanbul in September. Turkish prosecutors have arrested a man who says he killed them because of a dispute about money, but the prosecutors suspect the man acted on orders from the Assad regime to assassinate the women.

Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, promoted a private scheme to build nuclear reactors across the Middle East while he was in office, the Wall Street Journal reported. Flynn consulted for the companies proposing the plan during the presidential transition. After coming into office, he directed a National Security Council staffer to prepare a memo about the plan for Trump to approve. The staffer continued to promote the plan after Flynn resigned in February until his own ouster in July.

Special Counsel Robert Muellers investigation of Michael Flynn may now cover Flynns tenure as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), BuzzFeed News reported. The DIA cited ongoing law enforcement investigative activities to justify refusing a reporters three-year old request for information about Flynns two-year tenure as director from 2012 to 2014. The Obama administration forced Flynn to retire early.

A jury in Washington, D.C. convicted Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the alleged mastermind of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, on terrorism charges, the Post reported. The jury in federal district court acquitted Khatallah on murder charges for the deaths of four U.S. diplomats at Benghazi. U.S. commandos captured Khatallah in 2014 in Libya and brought him to the U.S. to face criminal prosecution. He faces a sentence of up to life in prison.

Shooting broke out in Sanaa, Yemens capital, between rival factions of the Houthi movement, Reuters reported. Forces loyal to Yemens former president Ali Abdullah Saleh fought allies of another key Houthi leader, threatening to fracture the Houthi rebel movement. A Saudi-led coalition backing Yemens internationally-recognized government is fighting the Houthis for control of the country.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson defended his redesign of the State Department, the Post reported. There is not hollowing out, Tillerson said in remarks at the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank. Dozens of senior diplomats have resigned or been fired since the beginning of the administration. Tillersons redesign plan has sparked widespread opposition in the department. Tillerson said reports of a depleted department are not accurate and that his redesign would improve the working environment for the nations diplomatic corps. The official overseeing the redesign quit on Tuesday after three months on the job, Bloomberg reported.

A Belgian court blocked the deportation of an imam at the countrys largest mosque, according to the Post. Belgian immigration and asylum officials said Abdelhadi Sewif threatened national security. The court found that officials had provided no evidence that Sewif posed a specific security risk. Belgiums investigation into the 2016 terror attacks on the Brussels airport has put pressure on Sewifs mosque for its connections to foreign backers.

A Bosnian-Croat military commander died after taking poison at the U.N. war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Reuters reported. Slobodan Praljak drank from a glass that he said contained poison as a U.N. judge upholding his 20-year prison sentence for war crimes related to plan to carry out ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Clare Duncan detailed Yemens recent history in a primer on its civil war.

Nicholas Weaver emphasized the seriousness of the danger from autonomous weapons systems such as slaughterbots.

J. Dana Stuster updated the Middle East Ticker, covering the Sinai attack, U.S.-Turkey tensions and the fallout from the Saudi power play.

Yishai Schwartz summarized the Nov. 13 military commission hearing in U.S. v. al-Nashiri.

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared the National Security Law Podcast, featuring discussion of Carpenter v. U.S. and the hearing in ACLU v. Mattis.

 

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

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