9:02 AM 11/25/2017 – Turkey’s Torrid Love Affair With Michael Flynn – Politico

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Turkey’s Torrid Love Affair With Michael Flynn – Politico

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Palmer Report: After Michael Flynn sells him out, Donald Trump panics under the pressure
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Flynn may be moving to cooperate with Mueller’s Russia probe – Concord Monitor
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Turkey’s Torrid Love Affair With Michael Flynn – Politico


Politico
Turkey’s Torrid Love Affair With Michael Flynn
Politico
According to the Wall Street Journal, Flynn also met in September and December last year with senior Turkish officialsincluding energy minister Berat Albayrak, Erdogan’s son-in-lawto discuss kidnapping Gülen and delivering him to Turkey, an 

How one woman exposed Russia’s fake news campaign – Brisbane Times


Brisbane Times
How one woman exposed Russia’s fake news campaign
Brisbane Times
The Kremlin has denied any role in the spread of fake news through US social media, or the use of online advertising to influence the 2016 US presidential election. Photo: AP. But the company acknowledged to Congress that more than 150 million users of 

Palmer Report: After Michael Flynn sells him out, Donald Trump panics under the pressure

There’s no possible way of overstating the importance of what just transpired: Michael Flynn has sold out Donald Trump. Flynn has chosen his loyalty to his son over his loyalty to Trump, and he’s now negotiating a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller which will definitely destroy Trump’s presidency and likely destroy Trump’s life. Accordingly, Trump is panicking under the pressure.

No, Trump hasn’t thrown an unhinged Twitter tantrum aimed at Michael Flynn, the media, or a random black athlete. That’s coming soon enough. Instead, Trump is telegraphing that he’s panicking as he tries to figure out how to figure out how to minimize what’s just happened to him. First he immediately called up the leader of Turkey, who had Flynn on his payroll during the election. Then he advertised that phone call on Twitter, seemingly threatening Flynn’s safety in the process (link). From there, Trump’s moves became outright skittish.

After a deadly terrorist attack in Egypt, Trump posted a tweet expressing support for the victims. This marks the first instance in memory in which Trump has ever spoken up about a terror attack in which Muslims were the victims. Trump is so desperate for a distraction, he’s tweeting about the kind of terrorism that his own racist base doesn’t want to hear about. Then Trump tweeted that he was “quickly” playing a round of golf with Tiger Woods. He couldn’t resist bragging about it, but for the first time ever, he suddenly seems worried about how the public views his frequent golfing habit.

Some of these things may come off as subtle. But they’re notable because they’re a sign that Donald Trump is suddenly worried about even the little things. It’s the kind of behavior often seen from guilty people who realize they’ve finally been nailed for their biggest crimes. Suddenly they’re toeing the line and trying to look as straight-and-narrow as possible. But for Trump, it’s far too late.

The post After Michael Flynn sells him out, Donald Trump panics under the pressure appeared first on Palmer Report.

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David Ignatius: A beleaguered Tillerson is still at the table
STLtoday.com
The message was that the administration is still pursuing the Sino-American diplomatic track, along with sanctions and military options. Trump and Tillerson also share the unpopular but … U.S. allies control big swaths of Syrian territory, and they 

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KENNY: Here’s what the new RCMP boss must tackle
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Flynn Cooperating With Prosecutors Could Be Dangerous for Trump
Bloomberg
Attorneys for Flynn, who served as a senior Trump campaign adviser prior to his stint inside the administration, advised the White House of the decision shortly before Thanksgiving, the two people said. The move has been anticipated by the president’s …
‘Serious legal jeopardy for the president’: CNBC reporter says Flynn bombshell should make Trump sweatRaw Story

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former FBI agents power influence – Google News: Mueller might be the one who’s ‘draining the swamp’ – Washington Post


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Mueller might be the one who’s ‘draining the swamp’
Washington Post
The Mueller probe has already claimed its first K Street casualty: Tony Podesta. His lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, a Washington icon of power and political influence, notified its employees recently that the enterprise is shutting its doors. Since 
AP: Flynn breaks with Trump team on Mueller probeKOIN.com

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Jared Kushner, Not Michael Flynn, Could Be Russia Probe’s Next Big Target, Obama Ally Says – Newsweek


Newsweek
Jared Kushner, Not Michael Flynn, Could Be Russia Probe’s Next Big Target, Obama Ally Says
Newsweek
Norman Eisen tweeted Friday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller could be leaning on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in hopes that Flynn will cooperate and squeal on Jared Kushner, who’s married to Trump’s daughter. Kushner, who serves as  
Week 27: Did Flynn Flip and Did Trump Flip Out?Politico
Why Trump should be nervous, but not panicking, after Michael Flynn’s lawyers cut off communicationWashington Post
 
A Split From Trump Indicates That Flynn Is Moving to Cooperate With MuellerNew York Times

Mueller May Have Flipped Michael FlynnNew York Magazine 
Split With Trump Legal Team Indicates Flynn is Cooperating or Negotiating with Mueller

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Charlotte Observer
Exclusive: Manafort flight records show deeper Kremlin ties than previously known
Charlotte Observer
Political guru Paul Manafort took at least 18 trips to Moscow and was in frequent contact with Vladimir Putin’s allies for nearly a decade as a consultant in Russia and Ukraine for oligarchs and pro-Kremlin parties. Even after the February 2014 fall of 
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Palmer Report: Michael Flynns deal with Robert Mueller is about to destroy these seven key Trump-Russia players

Michael Flynn signaled last night that he’s negotiating a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal. So now what? Flynn is arguably the most crucial cooperating witness that Mueller could ever hope to land, because he’s in position to implicate numerous high ranking people in the Russia scandal. Here are the seven key players who are about to see their lives destroyed.

Donald Trump: Let’s start with the obvious. Michael Flynn was coordinating with the Russian Ambassador during the election and the transition period. He surely wasn’t acting alone. He can point the finger to who else knew and by incriminating those people, he’ll be putting them in position where they have to flip as well. Sooner or later, it’ll lead back to Trump being implicated in the Russia scandal. However, he’s far from the only one.

Jared Kushner: Flynn will have an easy time of implicating Kushner by revealing the true nature of Kushner’s own meetings with the Russian Ambassador and the head of a Russian bank.

Ivanka Trump: We don’t know why Ivanka Trump wandered into a transition period meeting and offered Michael Flynn any job in the administration he wanted. Was she being complicit, or just stupid? Even if Flynn can’t implicate her for any crimes, he’s about to take down Ivanka’s father and husband. Either way, Ivanka’s life will be destroyed.

Jeff Sessions: Flynn was so close to the Russian Ambassador, he almost certainly knows why the Ambassador kept meeting with Jeff Sessions during the election.

Donald Trump Jr: Flynn surely also knows the incriminating details of why Trump’s son kept coordinating with various Kremlin players throughout the election.

Paul Manafort: There’s nothing to suggest that Flynn can implicate Manafort. However, by cutting a deal, Flynn has made Manafort superfluous. That means that by the time Manafort caves and asks for a deal of his own, he’ll end up with a far less favorable deal than he could have gotten before Flynn flipped.

Mike Pence: For reasons known only to him, Pence made a point of trying to protect Flynn from his Russia crimes, to the point of obstructing justice. Pence will end up in a world of hurt.

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michael flynn – Google News: Dem senator: ‘Michael Flynn is in deep trouble’ over multiple potential charges including perjury and tax violation – Raw Story


Raw Story
Dem senator: ‘Michael Flynn is in deep trouble’ over multiple potential charges including perjury and tax violation
Raw Story
Acosta asked the senator. Based on what I’ve seen, Blumenthal responded, Michael Flynn is in deep trouble. He then listed off the potential charges the former general may soon be slapped with: perjury for lying to the FBI and Vice President Mike 

 michael flynn – Google News

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The Hill
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The Hill
Three members of Maine’s four-member congressional delegation said Friday that they oppose efforts led by FederalCommunications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to undo net neutrality rules put in place under the Obama administration. Maine Sens.
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“The FBI was getting criticized for not releasing a whole lot of information and not ruling out the possibility of an accident, but then you don’t really rule out any options. You start going … “All of that is under an environment that’s very 

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trump under federal investigation – Google News: Flynn could prove to be key asset in Mueller’s US campaign probe, sources say – Reuters


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Flynn could prove to be key asset in Mueller’s US campaign probe, sources say
Reuters
Flynn, a retired Army general, is a central figure in a federal investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into whetherTrump aides colluded with alleged Russian efforts to boost his 2016 presidential campaign. It was not clear whether Kelner 
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Newsy
Michael Flynn Breaks Up With Trump’s Lawyers
Newsy
Lawyers for former national security adviser Michael Flynn have reportedly stopped sharing information with President Donald Trump’s legal team about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. So
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Egypt, Michael Flynn, Argentina: Your Evening Briefing
New York Times
(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.) Good evening. Here’s the latest. Photo. Credit European Pressphoto Agency. 1. Egypt suffered one of the worst civilian massacres in its modern history. Islamist militants detonated bombs and 

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Trump tells Turkish president US will stop arming Kurds in Syria
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The Parasites Feeding on North Koreans
New York Times
… at the National Assembly in Seoul, President Trump highlighted the tragic tale of the two Koreas one free, just and peaceful, the other tyrannical, oppressive and dangerous. This contrast is at the root of America’s most urgent national 

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Congressional inquiries on Russia unlikely to end soon – The Boston Globe

Congressional inquiries on Russia unlikely to end soon
The Boston Globe
WASHINGTON Some Republicans are hoping lawmakers will soon wrap up investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election that have dragged on for most of the year. But with new details in the inquiry emerging almost daily, that seems unlikely.

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Palmer Report: Insider: look for Robert Mueller to pull off surprise arrests of two Donald Trump family members

Special Counsel Robert Mueller now has the cooperation of Michael Flynn, whose attorneys last night took definitive steps which reveal that Flynn is negotiating a plea deal. So what comes next? Flynn will have to give up everything he knows on everyone in order to get his deal to stick. One legal insider, who has worked with and against Mueller in the past, is offering some startling insight into what’s about to happen.

Last night Norm Eisen, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, posted this tweet just as the Michael Flynn news was breaking: “I negotiated a cooperation deal for a target with Mueller’s office when he was US Atty and lemme tell ya, he’s not gonna give one to Flynn unless he implicates someone up the ladder. That means Kushner, Don Jr., or Big Daddy. They are all having indigestion tonight.” This morning he added more insight, based on when he was later working with Mueller.

Eisen added “One more thing I learned about Mueller. When I was at State & he was at FBI we worked together on an investigation, & he loves surprises. Kushner, Donnie Jr. and the rest of the Trump crime family better keep their overnight bags handy. Pack shoes with no laces guys.” In other words, the minute Robert Mueller gets the evidence and testimony he needs from Michael Flynn, he’s likely to make a point of pulling off surprise high-profile arrests in order to push things into motion.

It’s worth pointing out that when Robert Mueller concluded over the summer that he needed to quickly arrest Trump adviser George Papadopoulos, he didn’t even wait for an indictment or warrant. He simply had his people catch Papadopoulos by surprise at the airport, arresting him based on probable cause. Then he sorted out the legal details in court. So it’s entirely feasible that Mueller could arrest the likes of Jared Kushner or Donald Trump Jr without waiting for a grand jury first.

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 Palmer Report

US backtracks on decision to close Palestinian office in Washington – Washington Post


Arutz Sheva
US backtracks on decision to close Palestinian office in Washington
Washington Post
The White House, in an effort led by Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, has been preparing a comprehensive peace plan to present to both sides in the coming months. We therefore are optimistic that at the end of this 90-day period, the
US may not close Palestinians’ DC mission after allNBCNews.com
Erekat: Abbas respects KushnerArutz Sheva

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Flynn may be moving to cooperate with Mueller’s Russia probe – Concord Monitor


Concord Monitor
Flynn may be moving to cooperate with Mueller’s Russia probe
Concord Monitor
… a Justice Department investigation over his foreign business dealings even before Mueller was appointed as special counsel in May to investigate potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Michael Flynn’s Lawyers Reportedly End Communications With President Trump’s TeamTIME
Flynn, Trump lawyers no longer sharing information on Mueller probeUSA TODAY 
A Split From Trump Indicates That Flynn Is Moving to Cooperate With Mueller
 
Flynn’s lawyer cuts ties with Trump’s team, a sign Flynn may be cooperating with Mueller’s Russia probeChicago Tribune
 New York Times

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Palmer Report: Preet Bharara gets last laugh after Michael Flynn sells out Donald Trump

Donald Trump fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in an attempt at sabotaging the investigation into his own various scandals. Since that time, former Trump adviser Michael Flynn has come to face major legal troubles due to his relationship with the government of Turkey. Not coincidentally, Turkey has announced a phony investigation into Bharara. Now that Flynn is selling out Trump and cutting a deal, Bharara is making a point of getting the last laugh.

After the news broke that Flynn was in the process of negotiating a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Thursday night, Preet Bharara tweeted “If you’re dead to rights, flipping on others and cooperating with the prosecution is the only sane and rational move. Also, prosecutors accept cooperation only if you can provide “substantial assistance.” Higher up in the food chain. Stay tuned.” When someone pointed out that the Turkey based plea deal had ruined Trump’s Thanksgiving, Bharara tweeted “Pass the stuffing.”

On Friday morning, Donald Trump tweeted that he had spoken with the leader of Turkey by phone. We believe it was a thinly veiled threat aimed at Michael Flynn (link), but at the least, it’s fairly obvious that the call had something to do with the Flynn situation. After the Associated Press tweeted “Trump, Turkish leader, in phone conversation, discuss Syrian crisis,” Bharara sarcastically added “Anything else…?”

At this point Donald Trump has fired Preet Bharara, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, FBI Director James Comey, and several other individuals in the hope of derailing the investigation into his Russia scandal. That all ended up backfiring when Rod Rosenstein, the last man standing at the Department of Justice, appointed Robert Mueller to take over the investigation. Mueller has now arrested Trump’s campaign chairman and is negotiating a deal with Trump’s former National Security Adviser. Those who stood up to Trump are getting closer to getting the last laugh for good.

The post Preet Bharara gets last laugh after Michael Flynn sells out Donald Trump appeared first on Palmer Report.

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Palmer Report: How Robert Mueller blocked Donald Trump from pardoning Michael Flynn

Now that Michael Flynn has signaled he’s negotiating a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, two big questions have emerged. First, why didn’t Donald Trump preemptively pardon Flynn in order to prevent him from cutting a deal? Second, why didn’t Flynn hold out longer for a pardon, rather than negotiating a deal behind Trump’s back? Now a former federal prosecutor is explaining how Mueller effectively blocked Trump from being able to pardon Flynn.

Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor who is now running for Attorney General of Illinois, has explained in detail how these kinds of situations work. He points out that “Flynn does not expect Trump to pardon him or his son, or he believes that him or his son could be convicted of unpardonable state offenses.” So why did Trump decide not to pardon Flynn, and why did Flynn conclude that the pardon wasn’t coming? Mariotti explains that “a pardon of Flynn could be used by Mueller as evidence of Trump’s ‘corrupt intent’ to prove obstruction, because it could indicate Trump’s strong desire to relieve Flynn of criminal liability. A Manafort pardon wouldn’t impact an obstruction case.” (link).

In other words, if Trump did pardon Flynn, it would serve to greatly increase the odds that Mueller can ultimately nail Trump for obstruction of justice. Thus Trump faced a no-win situation. By not pardoning Flynn, Trump is now vulnerable to whatever testimony and evidence Flynn serves up against him. But if he had pardoned Flynn, he would have been legally vulnerable in a different way.

All along, Robert Mueller has been setting up no-win situations for the various players in the Trump-Russia scandal. He pursued state level charges against Paul Manafort that Donald Trump couldn’t pardon. He targeted Michael Flynn’s son in order to get Flynn to decide to flip. And now he’s backed Trump into a corner where he ultimately couldn’t get away with pardoning Flynn either.

The post How Robert Mueller blocked Donald Trump from pardoning Michael Flynn appeared first on Palmer Report.

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Economic Times
India balances ties with US; Russia: As Ivanka visits Hyderabad, top Indian ministers visit Russia
Economic Times
While Hyderabad is all set to host US presidential envoy Ivanka Trump for the GES that will be jointly inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the visitor on November 28, home minister Rajnath Singh and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj will be in …

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7:33 AM 11/25/2017 – Lori Andrade Flynn, the daughter of a large local Portuguese family…

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Former national security adviser Michael Flynn is seen at the White House in Washington in February. He was fired later that month for lying to the U.S. vice-president about a meeting he had with the Russian ambassador.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn is seen at the White House in Washington in February. He was fired later that month for lying to the U.S. vice-president about a meeting he had with the Russian ambassador. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Lori Andrade Flynn, the daughter of a large local Portuguese family, met Flynn in high school and her ties to the community run just as deep as her husband’s. 

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

USA TODAYOct 31, 2017
Michael Flynn is one of the most vulnerable figures in special … (Lori Andrade Flynn, the daughter of a large local Portuguese family, met Flynn …

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Lori Flynn, Michael’s Wife: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

<a href=”http://Heavy.com” rel=”nofollow”>Heavy.com</a>Nov 5, 2017
Lori Flynn, Michael’s Wife: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know … Flynn and Andrade met when they both attended Middletown High School in …

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Lori Flynn: 3 Facts to Know about Michael Flynn’s Wife

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But through it all, his biggest supporter is still his wife, Lori Flynn. … He attended high school there and that’s where he met Lori Andrade.

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Part Three: ‘A soldier’s soldier,’ Michael Flynn excelled in the military

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Michael Flynn after a commissioning ceremony. ….. second lieutenant in Army Military Intelligence, he married Lori Andrade, his girlfriend since …
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For the residents of Middletown, Rhode Island, General Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor is still their hometown hero, politics aside. USA TODAY

Michael Flynn, then National Security Adviser to President Trump, attends a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the East Room of the White House on Feb 10, 2017.(Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo, European Pressphoto Agency)

MIDDLETOWN, R.I. — They show up unannounced, with cash and checks to drop off at William Flynn’s accounting firm on busy Aquidneck Avenue. “I was shocked and a little embarrassed,” he said. “Some don’t even know my brother, but they…wanted to do something for the family.”

And at a local wedding celebration earlier this month, a guest sought out Jack Flynn for a private moment. “I don’t have a lot of money,” the wedding guest told him. “But I want you to know that I wrote a check for $100 to help your brother.”

Michael Flynn is one of the most vulnerable figures in special counsel Robert Mueller’s widening inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. That investigation took a dramatic step forward this week, when former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and aide Rick Gates were charged with money laundering and conspiracy for activities that took place before they joined the campaign.

Another Trump campaign aide, George Papadopolous, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts – Mueller’s first public allegation that an aide to President Trump’s campaign sought to work with Russian officials to gather “dirt” on the Democratic nominee.

Unlike Manafort – whom prosecutors allege spent more than $1 million from offshore accounts on clothes alone – and many other Trump associates caught in the investigation’s grip, Flynn and his family are not wealthy. As he struggles with legal costs verging on seven figures, residents of the small community Flynn calls home are rallying to his side, even though this New England town hardly qualifies as Trump Country – it’s a deep blue stronghold where even some of his own family have long identified as Democrats.

Mike Flynn’s childhood home in Middletown, RI. (Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY)

The Flynns never occupied any of the ostentatious Newport mansions that overlook the most privileged coastline in Rhode Island. But the sprawling family, which has produced two Army generals, is akin to royalty in nearby Middletown – a working class beach town where by now, most everybody knows the daunting legal peril facing its most decorated son.

After all, they watched Mike Flynn, the sixth of nine children, rise from high school football champion to venerated military officer and Trump’s national security adviser.

They also watched his highly public and dramatic fall. Since he resigned in February for misleading Vice President Pence about his contacts with Russian officials after the election, two federal grand juries are still examining Flynn’s activities – both as Trump’s national security adviser and in a brief lobbying career before that. Flynn has made no secret of his desire for a deal to testify in exchange for immunity from possible prosecution. And earlier this year he asserted his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination when he refused to turn over documents sought by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Seven months after his unceremonious departure from the White House, trouble seemingly shadows virtually every corner of Flynn’s life – except here. At the urging of his family and oldest friends, the former national security adviser and his family have sought extended refuge in what feels like a galaxy away from Washington – where Flynn’s head-long descent into the political and legal unknown prompts flashes of anger, even contempt.

Jack Flynn, the fifth child in the family, described his brother’s ordeal as “a political assassination — a bunch of bulls—t.”

“I think that everybody is worried about what’s happening in Washington, D.C., but this is home,” added William Flynn, the eldest brother. “We grew up here, we know a lot of people and they know the family– like any other family– has problems. Most of them just happen to feel that Michael is a solid citizen.” In the 16,000-person community that lies between iconic Newport and Portsmouth, the former head of military intelligence who earned four Bronze Stars and was twice recognized with the Legion of Merit remains remarkably unsullied.

It is not surprising that family and friends have rallied to the general’s side. What is most striking is how the support here, a longtime Democratic stronghold where a Kennedy represented part of the state in Congress for 16 years, has transcended the nation’s deep political divide. Flynn’s own mother, Helen, was a well-known state Democratic activist.

“It’s not about being a Democrat, Republican or Independent,” said Middletown Council President Robert Sylvia, also a Democrat. “It’s about Michael Flynn.”

‘Out of the spotlight’

In this August 1972 photo provided by the Newport Daily News, Michael Flynn, 13, of Middletown, R.I., right, shakes hands with Middletown Councilman Francis LaPointe, left, as he is presented with a commendation and town title, in Middletown. Flynn was honored for pulling one small girl from the path of rolling car, and directing a friend to save another girl.  (Photo: The Newport Daily News, AP)

As soon as he learned of Flynn’s firing, Tom Heaney dashed off a letter to his old friend that contained a simple message: “Come on home.”

Heaney’s friendship with Flynn goes back nearly 50 years, when both were Middletown Little Leaguers and later, high school football teammates who captured the 1976 Rhode Island state championship.

“I thought it would be a good idea to spend time together, prop them up and let them know we are here for them,” said Heaney, a retired Army colonel. “There is a pretty strong nucleus of friends who go back years. And a lot of us are still here. We’re trying the best we can to keep Mike and Lori out of the spotlight.” (Lori Andrade Flynn, the daughter of a large local Portuguese family, met Flynn in high school and her ties to the community run just as deep as her husband’s.)

As the investigation crests in Washington, the criticism offered by cable television analysts or lobbed anonymously over the Internet is biting. “To hear people suggest that he is a traitor or should be shot, and to think that’s not stressful—you’re talking about somebody with more than 30 years of military service,” Jack Flynn said. “That means something.”

At home, Michael Flynn can lean on his support network. His parents, since taking up residence in the low-slung cottage on Tuckerman Avenue more than a half-century ago, have been a mainstay of the town. Helen and Charlie Flynn, a retired Army master sergeant, squeezed their nine children into the three-bedroom, one-bath home just steps from the surf.

There was so little room in the house, Jack Flynn said the kids spent most of the time outdoors. The family’s close proximity to the ocean turned 57 Tuckerman into a kind of community clubhouse, where friends stacked surfboards outside and wet-suits were slung on the fence-line to dry in the ocean breeze.

In recent months, Michael and Lori Flynn have returned to their local haunts. You can find them with Flynn’s brothers and their friends playing rounds of golf at nearby Montaup Country Club or taking in an occasional dinner at 22 Bowen’s, a steakhouse on the wharf in Newport.

‘It’s a black hole right now’

Tom Heaney, left, and Robert ‘Rocky’ Kempenaar, two of Mik Flynn’s friends in Rhode Island, have two major worries — that the entire clan will go broke paying the former National Security advisor’s legal bills and that the Russia scandal will overshadow his storied military career. (Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY)

But it’s not exactly a vacation.

Heaney and Robert “Rocky” Kempenaar, a local real estate executive who played football with Flynn say the weight of the investigations has exacted an enormous toll on their friend.

Flynn’s prior consulting work, which also is being examined by investigators, has been virtually shuttered.With multiple investigations shadowing him, there is little demand for him on the speakers’ circuit where in 2015 he earned $33,000 for a now-controversial speech in Moscow. About a year after leaving the military, the retired general spoke to the Kremlin-backed television network Russia Today – and a photo of him at a related formal dinner seated next to Russian President Vladimir Putin sparked tremendous controversy as the probe into possible collusion between Trump associates and Russia intensifies.

Now, with his legal fees mounting, Flynn has hired a team of attorneys led by Robert Kelner, a partner at the prominent firm of Covington & Burling, to respond to a flurry of requests for documents and other materials from investigators. Every inquiry, including from the media, pushes the costs ever higher.

Flynn’s family, acknowledging the “tremendous financial burden,” last month set up a legal defense fund to alleviate the costs. “The enormous expense of attorneys’ fees and other related expenses far exceed their ability to pay,” brother, Joe Flynn, and sister, Barbara Redgate, said in a statement creating the fund.

Although the solicitation asked for contributions from “supporters, veterans and all people of goodwill,” the fund says it is not accepting donations from foreign nationals, the Trump Campaign or the president’s family business, the Trump Organization.

Flynn’s financial resources pale in comparison to other subjects of the investigation, including Trump himself. Trump has been tapping his campaign fund and the Republican National Committee to pay for his growing legal obligations. Earlier this month, the campaign reported that it spent more than $1 million on Trump and his son’s legal fees during the previous three months. (Nearly $238,000 went to the firm defending Donald Trump Jr.)

More: Trump campaign spends more than $1 million on legal fees in last quarter

For a family that prizes independence and self-sufficiency, the decision to seek the help of others was “huge,” William Flynn said.

Michael Flynn has a military pension, which pays about $160,000 per year. But the family maintains that the legal costs are increasingly stripping away the family’s resources.

“You got all of these things going against you,” William Flynn said. “And the government has unlimited resources. You’ve got a special prosecutor (Mueller), the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department, the FBI.

“It’s a black hole right now,” he said. “My biggest concern is that this never ends.”

Meanwhile, in Washington

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn speaks about American exceptionalism during the 2016 Republican National Convention. (Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY)

Some 400 miles away, the retired general features prominently in some of the most troubling revelations so far involving the Trump administration and Russia.

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates has recounted in extraordinary detail how she rushed to the White House in January to alert officials that Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians – and even face possible criminal charges – after misleading Pence about his contacts with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador.

Pence publicly announced that Flynn assured him the subject of sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Russia were not raised in his conversations with Kislyak after the election. But those conversations had been secretly monitored by federal authorities – as are most communications involving foreign diplomats. Authorities knew that was not the case. “Compromise was the No. 1 concern,” Yates told a Senate panel in May. Russian officials, aware that Flynn had misled the White House, could have threatened to expose the nature of the communications.

More: Sally Yates warned White House that Michael Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail

More: Pentagon opens probe of Michael Flynn, fired national security adviser

More: James Comey testimony: Trump pressed me to shut down Michael Flynn investigation

What’s more, authorities viewed Flynn’s contacts with Russian diplomats as improper while the Obama administration was still in office – and a possible sign the Trump administration may have been trying to roll back sanctions imposed for Russia’s campaign of cyberattacks and fake news to influence the election.

The day after his Feb. 13 resignation, Flynn emerged as a central figure in yet another episode in the White House-Russia scandal. Former FBI Director James Comey has testified that Trump urged him at a private dinner to drop the investigation into Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak. Trump has denied making such a request.

In this Jan. 28, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump accompanied by, from second from left, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, White House press secretary Sean Spicer and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn speaks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. Flynn resigned as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. (Photo: Andrew Harnik, AP)

Flynn’s private business dealings also have drawn investigators’ interest, including $530,000 in earnings from a Dutch firm with ties to the Turkish government, and payment for his 2015 Moscow speech.

Flynn had not registered as a foreign agent – a legal requirement – when he accepted money from the Dutch company and only disclosed the payments after registering retroactively amid news reports of the failing. Flynn’s attorney, has maintained that his client had “fully” informed the Defense Department of his trip to Russia. He registered with the Justice Department after he was ousted from the Trump administration.

Flynn, through his attorney, declined to comment for this article.

Even the activities of Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr., who served as an aide to his father in the family’s consulting business have raised questions. Last year, he was dismissed from President Trump’s transition team for his promotion of a baseless conspiracy theory that a popular Washington, D.C., pizza parlor had become a front for a sex trafficking ring linked to the Clintons.

Yet Flynn’s brothers quickly dismiss the idea that Flynn had thrown his allegiance to an adversary or sought to shield business dealings with foreign governments. “The idea that he would do something underhanded drives me crazy,” William Flynn said. The scope of his brother’s business dealings, Jack Flynn says, represented “measly chump change” and could not have benefited an adversary like Russia.

At the same time, they are clear-eyed about their brother’s predicament. “The best case: this all goes away and Michael comes out unscathed,” William Flynn said. “The worst case: he gets convicted of something like perjury.” While the eldest Flynn is careful to say that he is not aware of anything that would warrant such a charge, he notes that bad recall of dates and times can turn into something much worse. “Sometimes, we’re just sloppy,” he said.

‘An island mentality’

In this photo, date unknown, provided by Joe Flynn, Michael Flynn, left, sits with his mother Helen Flynn, right, near a football field, in Middletown, R.I. (Photo: Charlie Flynn, AP)

Kempenaar, Flynn’s old friend, is not a Trump supporter. In fact, he said, Flynn’s support for then-candidate Trump took some locals by surprise. Flynn was a fiery surrogate for Trump on the campaign trail, famously encouraging the audience at the Republican National Convention to chant “Lock her up!” – referencing Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.

Yet none of this appeared to phase his friends back home. “I’ll put it this way,” Kempenaar said, “I could sleep at night knowing that Mike was there (at the White House). “I knew Mike had our best interests at heart.”

Jon Zins, managing editor of the Newport Daily News which has chronicled the family’s adventures over the years, believes that Flynn’s generational roots have “superseded” any real political backlash in Democratic area.  “There is an island mentality to it, too,” Zins said. “There is a real sense of pride in being from here.”

But that pride is not blind, even here. Those closest to Flynn are concerned about how all of this ends. “I don’t think Mike has to come out squeaky clean,” William Flynn said. “I just want him to come out of it okay.”

Mueller leaves after briefing members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election on Capitol Hill on June 21, 2017.  Michael Reynolds, European Pressphoto Agency

Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 21, 2017.  J. Scott Applewhite, AP

Mueller arrives for a court hearing at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco on April 21, 2016. He had been overseeing settlement talks with Volkswagen, the U.S. government and private lawyers for the automaker to buy back some of the nearly 600,000 diesel cars that cheat on emissions tests.  Jeff Chiu, AP

James Comey talks with Mueller before he was officially sworn in as FBI director on Sept. 4, 2013.  Susan Walsh, AP

Mueller jokes with CIA Director John Brennan during his farewell ceremony at the Department of Justice on Aug. 1, 2013, in Washington.  Evan Vucci, AP

President Barack Obama, followed by Mueller, right, and his choice for Mueller’s successor, Comey, left, walks toward the podium in the Rose Garden on June 21, 2013.  Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP

Mueller testifies during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 19, 2013, where he confirmed that the FBI uses drones for domestic surveillance.  Alex Wong, Getty Images

Mueller is sworn in on Capitol Hill on June 13, 2013, prior to testifying before the House Judiciary Committee.  J. Scott Applewhite, AP

Mueller and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper listen to statements at a Senate Intelligence Committee open hearing on worldwide threats on Jan. 31, 2012.  H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Mueller and National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen testify on Capitol Hill on Sept. 13, 2011, before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the terror threat to the U.S.  Evan Vucci, AP

Clapper speaks with Mueller during the launch of the strategy to combat transnational organized crime at the White House on July 25, 2011.  Nicholas Kamm, AFP/Getty Images

Mueller speaks at a conference on domestic terrorism on Oct. 6, 2010.  Jacquelyn Martin, AP

Obama speaks with Mueller during a meeting at FBI headquarters in Washington on April 28, 2009.  Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images

Mueller is welcomed on Capitol Hill on March 25, 2009, by Sen. Arlen Specter, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, prior to testifying before the committee’s oversight hearing regarding the FBI.  J. Scott Applewhite, AP

Mueller and Sen. Patrick Leahy chat ahead of Mueller’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 17, 2008, on Capitol Hill.  Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images

Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill on Feb. 5, 2008, before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on world threats.  Kevin Wolf, AP

Mueller prepares to testify on Capitol Hill on March 27, 2007, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the FBI.  Susan Walsh, AP

Mueller answers questions from the media in Charlotte, N.C., on April 24, 2006.  Chuck Burton, AP

CIA Director Porter Goss, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Mueller testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on April 27, 2005.  Tim Dillon, USA TODAY

Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft exit a press briefing at the Department of Justice on Oct. 29, 2001.  Stephen Jaffe, AFP

Mueller is sworn in at the start of his testimony during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on July 30, 2001.  Dennis Cook, AP

President George W. Bush names Mueller the new director of the FBI at a Rose Garden ceremony on July 5, 2001.  Mike Theiler, AFP

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5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
 

mikenova shared this story from Heavy.com.

FacebookMichael Flynn and his wife, Lori.

According to various media reports, Michael Flynn, who served and resigned as President Donald Trump‘s National Security Advisor after 24 days, is facing federal charges. NBC News reported November 1 that federal investigators have enough evidence to bring charges on Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr. The report hasn’t been verified by officials, but they would come as part of a special investigation by Robert Mueller regarding possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Flynn is the sixth of nine children in a military family and has been married to Lori Andrade for over 30 years.

Here’s what you need to know about the couple:


1. They Met in High School & Have Been Married for Over 30 Years

FacebookMichael and Lori Flynn

Flynn and Andrade met when they both attended Middletown High School in Rhode Island. A story in the Providence Journal says that they started seeing each other as sophomores and were officially dating by their senior year. The article said that Lori was “a pretty girl who played intramural and powder puff sports” and Flynn was a football player.

The couple got married and, according to a feature story on the University of Rhode Island website, have been together for over 30 years.


2. They Have 2 Sons Together

Michael and Lori Flynn at an event. Michael Flynn is the author of a book on “radical Islam.” He argues the government has downplayed the nature of the threat to the American people. (Facebook/Lori Flynn)

The Flynns have two grown sons together: Michael Flynn Jr. and Matt Flynn. Michael Flynn Jr. has also been under scrutiny in the Mueller investigation, and served as the chief of staff of the Flynn Intel Group, a company he ran with his father. He’s been very active on Twitter and commented on the reports of a possible indictment November 5.

Michael told the University of Rhode Island’s alumni newsletter that Lori has been a huge influence on many through the years.

“Lori has been a steady presence in the lives of thousands of soldiers and their families during my numerous deployments and has played the role of not only mom, but dad, coach, teacher, and at times, taxi driver for our two sons, Michael and Matt, as well as for hundreds of other children,” he told the publication. “She’s always willing to volunteer her time for others.”


3. Their Ties to Rhode Island Run Deep

Michael and Lori Flynn.

A recent story in the USA Todaysays that Flynn and Andrade are well known in their Rhode Island community, and a friend of the couple, retired Army Col. Tom Heaney, said they are active in the community and frequently are out and about.

“There is a pretty strong nucleus of friends who go back years,” Heaney told the newspaper. “And a lot of us are still here. We’re trying the best we can to keep Mike and Lori out of the spotlight.”

Andrade grew up in Middletown, Rhode Island and is the daughter of a large Portuguese family who are from Aquidneck Island.


4. Flynn’s Sister Said She Deserves Credit for Being a Strong Military Wife

The Flynns at a sporting event. Michael Flynn has Tweeted his support for the New England Patriots. He also likes the Boston Red Sox. (Facebook/Lori Flynn)

Lori has always been there during Flynn’s decorated military service. Flynn’s sister told The Newport Daily News that Lori deserves a great deal of praise for her patience and willpower.

“I give her a lot of credit because he has been at work for so many years,” Clare Flynn Eckert said. “He is one of the strongest military wives, with Michael all the way.”


5. The Flynns Have Tried to Keep a Low Profile Since His Resignation

Michael and Lori Flynn

Flynn announced his resignation from his position February 13 as controversy continued to mount. Reports surfaced about his communications with the Russian ambassador, and he stepped down just 24 days after he was hired.

In the months that followed, the Flynns returned to their hometown to get out of the spotlight, USA Today reported.

“In recent months, Michael and Lori Flynn have returned to their local haunts,” the newspaper article said. “You can find them with Flynn’s brothers and their friends playing rounds of golf at nearby Montaup Country Club or taking in an occasional dinner at 22 Bowen’s, a steakhouse on the wharf in Newport.”

The Providence Journal attempted to speak to Flynn following his resignation, and Lori answered the door at their Middletown house. She refused to comment.

“Not interested, thank you very much,” she said before shutting the door.


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5:43 AM 11/25/2017 – M.N.: Is there any connection between this Trump – Erdogan phone call, the end of the military assistance to Kurds, Russian-Turkish-Iranian policies in the region (see recent activities), and the current state of the Mueller’s Investigation, specifically around Flynn? White House, publish the entire transcript of this phone call! I could not find any reference to this phone call on the White House site. 

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С Президентом Ирана Хасаном Рухани (слева) и Президентом Турции Реджепом Тайипом Эрдоганом. Фото ТАСС

С Президентом Ирана Хасаном Рухани (слева) и Президентом Турции Реджепом Тайипом Эрдоганом. Фото ТАСС

M.N.: Is there any connection between this Trump – Erdogan phone call, the end of the military assistance to Kurds, Russian-Turkish-Iranian policies in the region (see recent activities), and the current state of the Mueller’s Investigation, specifically around Flynn? 

Did Trump promise any favorable terms to Erdogan at Kurds’ expense to get Turkey’s favorable terms in handling, managing, and releasing or not releasing the information on Flynn? 

Does Trump use the Foreign Policy positions and strategies as the bargaining chips, to obtain the personal benefits with regard to investigations of his and Flynn’s connections with Russia and Turkey? 

White House, publish the entire transcript of this phone call! 

I could not find any reference to this phone call on the White House site

_______________________________

The move could help ease strained tensions between the U.S. and Turkey, two NATO allies that have been sharply at odds about how best to wage the fight against IS. Turkey considers the Kurdish Syrian fighters, known by the initials YPG, to be terrorists because of their affiliation to outlawed Kurdish rebels that have waged a three decade-long insurgency in Turkey. Yet the U.S. chose to partner with the YPG in Syria anyway, arguing that the battle-hardened Kurds were the most effective fighting force available.

Cavusoglu, who said he was in the room with Erdogan during Trump’s call, quoted the U.S. president as saying he had given instructions to U.S. generals and to national security adviser H.R. McMaster that “no weapons would be issued.”

“Of course, we were very happy with this,” Cavusoglu said.

Yet for the Kurds, it was the latest demoralizing blow to their hopes for greater recognition in the region. Last month, the Kurds in neighboring Iraq saw their recent territorial gains erased by the Iraqi military, which seized the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and other disputed areas from the Kurdish regional government in retaliation for a Kurdish independence referendum that the U.S. ardently opposed.

Trump’s decision appeared to catch both the Pentagon and the U.S. State Department off guard. Officials at both agencies, who would normally be informed of changes in U.S. policy toward arming the Syrian Kurds, said they were unaware of any changes. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

It was unclear whether the Trump administration notified the Kurds of the move before telling the Turks. Nor was it how much significance the change would have on the ground, considering the fight against IS is almost over.

The United States has been arming the Kurds in their fight against IS through an umbrella group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, which is comprised of Kurdish as well as Arab fighters.

But the retreat of IS, which has lost nearly all its territory in Syria, has altered the dynamics in the region and a U.S. defense official said he was unaware of any additional arms scheduled to be transferred to the Kurds, even before the Turkish announcement.

Last week, Col. Ryan Dillon, the chief spokesman for the U.S. coalition that is fighting IS in Iraq and Syria, said there has yet to be any reduction in the number of U.S. advisers working with the SDF. His comments appeared to suggest the possibility that changes in the level and type of U.S. military support for the Syrian Kurds could be coming.

As the fight against IS has waned in recent months, the U.S. has pledged to carefully monitor the weapons it provides the Kurds, notably ensuring that they don’t wind up in the hands of Kurdish insurgents in Turkey known as the PKK.

Both Turkey and the U.S. consider the PKK a terrorist group. But the United States has tried to draw a distinction between the PKK and the Syrian Kurds across the border, while Turkey insists they’re essentially the same.

_________________________

Trump and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan “underscored the need to end the humanitarian crisis, allow displaced Syrians to return home, and ensure the stability of a unified Syria free of malign intervention and terrorist safe havens,” the White House said in a statement.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara that Trump said that in the call the U.S. would no longer supply arms to Syrian Kurdish fighters that Erdogan regards as terrorists.

The White House statement did not specifically refer to the Kurds, saying only that Trump informed Erdogan “of pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria, now that the battle of Raqqa is complete” and Islamic State militants are on the run.

_____________________________

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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Did Donald Trump just publicly threaten Michael Flynns safety?
 

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

Last night multiple major news outlets confirmed that Michael Flynn is making moves to negotiate a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in what amounts to the worst case scenario for Donald Trump. Flynn will give up many of Trump’s Russia secrets, taking Trump down in the process. Rather than ranting about it this morning, Trump made a statement which if you put it within the proper context sure sounds like a threat against the safety of Flynn and his son.

Flynn is accused of having illegally been on the payroll of the government of Turkey, and of having participated in a conspiracy to kidnap a Turkish cleric in Pennsylvania. Here’s what Trump tweeted this morning, just hours after Flynn’s deal was revealed: “Will be speaking to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey this morning about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East. I will get it all done, but what a mistake, in lives and dollars (6 trillion), to be there in the first place!” There’s more to this than initially appears.

At first it sounded like Trump was merely calling up Erdogan in a panicked attempt at figuring out how to respond to Flynn’s decision to cut a deal. But the more I think about it, this sounds like something more. If this were just about Trump talking strategy with Erdogan, Trump and his handlers would have tried to keep the phone call secret, or at least as low-key as possible. Instead Trump promptly advertised on Twitter that the phone call had taken place, even though it meant making the entire thing look even more suspicious in the eyes of the public. That’s because the tweet about the Turkey phone call wasn’t intended for the general public. It was aimed at an audience of one.

This phone call, and in particular the tweet announcing it, were intended to send a message to Michael Flynn. But legally speaking, at this point there is nothing that Trump or Turkey can do to Flynn. It sure sounds like Trump is hinting to Flynn that Turkey’s lawless regime might put his safety at risk if he goes through with the deal. Keep in mind that Flynn is flipping to protect his son from criminal prosecution. Is this a threat against Flynn’s son’s safety? If that sounds like it might be a stretch, keep in mind that just a week ago, Trump bizarrely insisted “people will die” if the Trump-Russia investigation continues.

The post Did Donald Trump just publicly threaten Michael Flynn’s safety? appeared first on Palmer Report.

Trump speaks with Erdogan about ‘mess’ in Middle East
 

mikenova shared this story .

 

  • Trump, Turkish leader discuss Syrian crisis in phone call

    Trump, Turkish leader discuss Syrian crisis in phone call

  • Trump, Turkish leader discuss Syrian crisis in phone call

Trump, Turkish leader discuss Syrian crisis in phone call 

Trump, Turkish leader discuss Syrian crisis in phone call

President Donald Trump spoke Friday with Turkey’s president “about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East” before hitting the links with Tiger Woods and pro golfer Dustin Johnson.

Yahoo

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President Donald Trump speaks to members of the U.S. Coast Guard at the Lake Worth Inlet Station, on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017, in Riviera Beach, Fla.(Photo: Alex Brandon, AP)

President Trump discussed the path forward in Syria in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, including what the Turks described as a plan to stop U.S. from going to Kurdish fighters inside the war-torn country.

Trump and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan “underscored the need to end the humanitarian crisis, allow displaced Syrians to return home, and ensure the stability of a unified Syria free of malign intervention and terrorist safe havens,” the White House said in a statement.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara that Trump said that in the call the U.S. would no longer supply arms to Syrian Kurdish fighters that Erdogan regards as terrorists.

The White House statement did not specifically refer to the Kurds, saying only that Trump informed Erdogan “of pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria, now that the battle of Raqqa is complete” and Islamic State militants are on the run.

Erdogan has long protested U.S. aid to Kurdish fighters in Syria, claiming they are an extension of militant groups that have waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. The Turkish government has also expressed concern about Kurdish desires to set up an independent state within Iraq, a new country that would border Turkey.

The Kurds say Turkey has been trying to suppress them.

The Trump-Erdogan call came as Turkey, Russia, and Iran work on a plan to reach a political settlement to the civil war in Syria. Trump spoke last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin before he left for his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., where he spent Thanksgiving.

More: President Trump, Vladimir Putin hold phone call on North Korea, Syria, other security issues

In announcing his plan to speak with Erdogan earlier Friday, Trump also took shots at his presidential predecessors.

“Will be speaking to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey this morning about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East,” Trump said. “I will get it all done, but what a mistake, in lives and dollars (6 trillion), to be there in the first place!”

Trump has used the $6 trillion figure before to describe the costs of U.S. involvement in Middle East conflicts, but has never specified how he arrives at that amount.

In September, Trump praised Erdogan as a “friend” during a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, despite global criticism of his increasingly authoritarian rule in Turkey. Just before that meeting, the U.S. protested a physical attack on protestors at the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C.

The Trump-Erdogan phone call also comes after reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his son’s alleged plan to forcibly remove a Muslim cleric from the United States and deliver him to Turkey.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Flynn and his son Michael Flynn Jr. were allegedly were involved in a plan to deliver Fethullah Gulen to the Turkish government, which views Gulen as a political enemy and has pressed the U.S. for his extradition.

More: Report: Mueller probes Michael Flynn’s role in alleged plot to hand over Fethullah Gulen to Turkey

Flynn — who was forced out of his White House job this year after revelations that he had misled officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador — reportedly discussed the plan with Turkish government representatives last December. The meeting caught the attention of FBI, who have questioned at least four people about it, according to the Journal.

Flynn’s lawyers have denied the allegations, but extraditing Gulen is a major priority for Erdogan. Earlier this year, Erdogan pressed Trump to send back the religious leader his government blames for an attempted coup last year and now lives in exile in Pennsylvania.

The Turkish government alleges Gulen and his followers are using a network of publicly funded charter schools to support revolution that would put his supporters in power in Turkey.

Documents Flynn filed earlier this year with the Justice Department raised fresh questions about his other ties to the Turkish government, even as he was serving as top adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign – including including $530,000 in earnings from a Dutch firm with ties to the Turkish government.

In another tweet on Friday, the president said he would follow up the Turkey phone call by visiting Trump National Golf Club – “quickly” – for a round with pro golf stars Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods. “Then back to Mar-a-Lago for talks on bringing even more jobs and companies back to the USA!”

Trump’s pledge to play a “quick” game comes as Trump’s critics mock him for the amount of time he spends on the golf course, just as Trump took aim at predecessor Barack Obama for his golf game.

Contributing: Jessica Estepa 

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trump investigation, flynn, turkey, kurds – Google Search
 

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Trump speaks with Turkey’s leader about ‘bringing peace to the …

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Trump and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan “underscored the need to … Erdogan has long protested U.S. aid to Kurdish fighters in Syria, … is investigating Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and …

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Michael Flynn and the Turkish Connection

The New York Review of BooksNov 20, 2017
Flynn was an integral part of the Trump campaign and briefly served the … Flynn’s work for the Turkishgovernment is also under investigation. …. jihadis, official corruption, the killing of Kurds, and the systematic arrest of …
Trump tells Turkey’s leader: US to stop arming Syrian Kurds
 

mikenova shared this story .

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with U.S President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House, May 16, 2017.    (Reuters)

ANKARA, Turkey –  The United States will cut off its supply of arms to Kurdish fighters in Syria, President Donald Trump told the Turkish president on Friday, in a move sure to please Turkey but further alienate Syrian Kurds who bore much of the fight against the Islamic State group.

In a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump said he’d “given clear instructions” that the Kurds will receive no more weapons — “and that this nonsense should have ended a long time ago,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

The White House confirmed the move in a cryptic statement about the phone call that said Trump had informed the Turk of “pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria.”

The White House called the move “consistent with our previous policy” and noted the recent fall of Raqqa, once the Islamic State group’s self-declared capital but recently liberated by a largely Kurdish force. The Trump administration announced in May it would start arming the Kurds in anticipation of the fight to retake Raqqa.

“We are progressing into a stabilization phase to ensure that ISIS cannot return,” the White House said, using an acronym for the extremist group.

The move could help ease strained tensions between the U.S. and Turkey, two NATO allies that have been sharply at odds about how best to wage the fight against IS. Turkey considers the Kurdish Syrian fighters, known by the initials YPG, to be terrorists because of their affiliation to outlawed Kurdish rebels that have waged a three decade-long insurgency in Turkey. Yet the U.S. chose to partner with the YPG in Syria anyway, arguing that the battle-hardened Kurds were the most effective fighting force available.

Cavusoglu, who said he was in the room with Erdogan during Trump’s call, quoted the U.S. president as saying he had given instructions to U.S. generals and to national security adviser H.R. McMaster that “no weapons would be issued.”

“Of course, we were very happy with this,” Cavusoglu said.

Yet for the Kurds, it was the latest demoralizing blow to their hopes for greater recognition in the region. Last month, the Kurds in neighboring Iraq saw their recent territorial gains erased by the Iraqi military, which seized the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and other disputed areas from the Kurdish regional government in retaliation for a Kurdish independence referendum that the U.S. ardently opposed.

Trump’s decision appeared to catch both the Pentagon and the U.S. State Department off guard. Officials at both agencies, who would normally be informed of changes in U.S. policy toward arming the Syrian Kurds, said they were unaware of any changes. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

It was unclear whether the Trump administration notified the Kurds of the move before telling the Turks. Nor was it how much significance the change would have on the ground, considering the fight against IS is almost over.

The United States has been arming the Kurds in their fight against IS through an umbrella group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, which is comprised of Kurdish as well as Arab fighters.

But the retreat of IS, which has lost nearly all its territory in Syria, has altered the dynamics in the region and a U.S. defense official said he was unaware of any additional arms scheduled to be transferred to the Kurds, even before the Turkish announcement.

Last week, Col. Ryan Dillon, the chief spokesman for the U.S. coalition that is fighting IS in Iraq and Syria, said there has yet to be any reduction in the number of U.S. advisers working with the SDF. His comments appeared to suggest the possibility that changes in the level and type of U.S. military support for the Syrian Kurds could be coming.

As the fight against IS has waned in recent months, the U.S. has pledged to carefully monitor the weapons it provides the Kurds, notably ensuring that they don’t wind up in the hands of Kurdish insurgents in Turkey known as the PKK.

Both Turkey and the U.S. consider the PKK a terrorist group. But the United States has tried to draw a distinction between the PKK and the Syrian Kurds across the border, while Turkey insists they’re essentially the same.

In both Syria and Iraq, the U.S. relied on Kurdish fighters to do much of the fighting against IS, but those efforts have yet to lead to a realization of the Kurds’ broader aspirations, most notably an independent state.

Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurds, in particular, has been a major thorn in U.S.-Turkish relations for several years, given Turkey’s concerns about the Kurds’ territorial aspirations. In particular, Turkey has feared the establishment of a contiguous, Kurdish-held canton in northern Syria that runs along the Turkish border.

Relations between NATO allies Turkey and the United States have also soured recently over a number of other issues, including Turkey’s crackdown on dissent following a failed coup attempt last year.

Ankara has also demanded that the U.S. extradite a Pennsylvania-based cleric that it blames for fomenting the coup, but the U.S. says Turkey lacks sufficient proof.

Lederman reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.

Donald Trump didn’t know what hit him
 

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

Now that Michael Flynn has begun negotiating a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, one of the more curious questions has become what Donald Trump knew and when he knew it. Flynn is now going to take Trump down, no matter how the two men got to this point. But the details may help shed some light on how Trump can be counted on to respond going forward. As it turns out, Trump didn’t know what hit him.

Here’s how it usually works with these storylines: a major media outlet gets wind of what’s going on and begins putting together a story. Along the way, that media outlet contacts the White House and asks Donald Trump for advance comment on the story. This at least partially tips Trump off about the story that’s about to come out, and he tends to go on a Twitter tirade out of frustration and a desire to distract from the story that’s about to get published. As it turns out, precisely none of that happened this time around.

After the New York Times first broke the story on Thursday evening that Flynn was negotiating a deal, the Washington Post followed up with more detail (link). As it turns out, Flynn’s attorney notified Trump’s attorney about the situation on Wednesday evening. This means that, as Rachel Maddow was reporting live on-air on Wednesday night about the defense fund Trump was setting up for his advisers, and Trump’s attorney followed up with a statement making clear that Flynn would not be included, it was because he had just gotten word from Flynn’s attorney that Flynn was going to flip.

So now we know that, while Donald Trump may or may not have instinctively had some sense of what was inevitably coming, he had no real advance warning that Michael Flynn was going to cut him off on Wednesday night and begin negotiating a deal. If Trump is acting shellshocked and increasingly unsure of himself, it’s because he didn’t know what hit him when the stunning blow landed.

 

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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report

Tuomioja – Google Search
 

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Finnish Historians: Former Finnish Foreign Minister An Operative of …

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ja ulkoasiainvaliokunnan jäsen Erkki Tuomioja (sdp) vaativat Suomea tekemään samanlaisen selvityksen Afganistan-operaatioista kuin Ruotsi, …

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Erkki Tuomioja: Jussi Niinistö ei piittaa eduskunnan linjauksista

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Finnish Historians: Former Finnish Foreign Minister An Operative of Russian intelligence
 

mikenova shared this story from UpNorth.

Professor and former ambassador, Alpo Rusi and the former party secretary of The Finnish Centre Party, author Jarmo Korhonen have published a new book titled “The Kremlin’s Footsteps – Finlandization and Background of the Spying Scandal in 2002” (Kremlin jalanjälet – suomettuminen ja vuoden 2002 vakoilukohun tausta (Docendo 2017)). The book is available only in Finnish, but it cover issues of high international relevance.

“Tuomioja can be considered as an operative of Russian intelligence after the Zavidovo leak for his positions and openly stated Mareyev-connection,” Rusi and Korhonen write in their book.

The name of the book refers to the “footprints” of Kremlin – two subjects investigated more closely are finlandization and the background of the spying scandal in 2002. The strong connections between both issues are closely examined inside the book.
Alpo Rusi – who is currently a professor at Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania – became the focus of a Finnish spying scandal after leaving his post as an advisor to Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari (1994-2000). Alpo Rusi’s brother, Jukka, had been in contact with the East German STASI during the Cold War and documents concerning Jukka Rusi – in which Alpo Rusi was marked as a possible future contact – were used to label him as a spy.

Book author, Alpo Rusi

The spying claims concerning Alpo Rusi were completely false, but the investigation process revealed many gaps in Finnish society and challenges of Finnish “Vergangenheitsbewältigung” [process of historical reconciliation] in general. What happened to Rusi and President Ahtisaari is almost a prototype of Russian-style active measures. While the investigation itself was kafkaesque, the details of contained inside the broader background can be found inside the byzantine politics which was created in the era of finlandization.

RETURN TO ZAVIDOVO

The book begins by explaining the so-called “Zavidovo Leak”, which took place in the autumn of 1972. Finland was about to enter into an Association Agreement with the European Economic Community (similar to the Ukraine-EU agreement Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign), which many Finnish left-wing politicians openly opposed. Some considered the agreement as a “back-door” to NATO, despite the fact that the provisions concentrated strictly on trade issues and Finland had signed a similar, earlier agreement with the Eastern Bloc countries.

In 1972, President Urho Kekkonen discussed an association agreement with the Soviets in Zavidovo. Leonid Brezhnev expressed his suspicions, but Kekkonen tried his best to convince him that the policy of “neutrality” (which was actually quite heavily Soviet-leaning in the case of Finland) would remain.

Kekkonen wrote a memorandum about his meeting with Brezhnev, and Soviet objections Finland’s EEC Association Agreement. The status of the memo was top secret, but somehow Erkki Tuomioja, then an MP representing the left-wing faction of the Social Democrats, managed to obtain information about the memo and leaked it to Tor Högnäs, a Swedish-speaking journalist usually seen politically as pro-Kekkonen and anti-social democrat. The publication of the high level Soviet opposition to the Finnish-EEC agreement was very likely meant to destroy the entire EEC-process and even Kekkonen’s presidency.

According to Suomen Kuvalehti, the selection of Högnäs to publish the leak, was a great cover operation for Tuomioja and his left-wing comrades, who were able to make Kekkonen believe that foreign minister Ahti Karjalainen was resposible for it. According to the authors of the book, the unofficial working group responsible for the selection of Högnäs consisted of Antero Jyränki, Bo Ahlfors, Erkki Tuomioja, Jaakko Kalela and Jaakko Blomberg.

Kalela and Blomberg belonged to the authors’ collective called Y. Y. Antonen, by which name a column arguing for the necessity of the leak was published in Ydin magazine. The founder of the collective, Kari Tapiola, worked as a secretary for Kalevi Sorsa (a left-wing social democrat with close KGB-connection) whom the memorandum was delivered to in the first place because of his post as minister. Tapiola was able to see all the secret information by Sorsa’s permission.

Kalela and Blomberg made impressive careers as civil servants – Blomberg in the Foreing Ministery and Kalela in the Office of the President. During Tarja Halonen’s presidency, both acted as Ambassadors to Estonia. Kari Tapiola further built his career in the service of international labour organizations. His son, Pirkka Tapiola advises the European External Action Service leadership on Eastern Europe, and more broadly on issues related to democracy and transition.

In his book “Kukkaisvallasta kekkosvaltaan” (Tammi 1993) Tuomioja admitted that he committed the leak but didn’t reveal his own source(s). He probably believed that criminal responsibility won’t reach him anymore for it and that it couldn’t be considered as aggravated treason. However, he did not reveal where he got them information from.

However, presuming that Soviet intelligence – which was closely connected to the anti-EEC social democrats – knew who the leaker was all along, it leaves little room for speculation whether Tuomioja was under the threat of potential blackmail.

Maybe because of his personal animosity towards Kalevi Sorsa, Tuomioja supported Ahtisaari’s presidency in the 1994 election. He even acted as a chairman of Ahtisaari’s support group. In September of 1993 Tuomioja wrote in his diary that his former “home Russian” (personal KGB-officer) Valery Mareyev invited him for a lunch, which shows that contact with the Russian embassy continued.

Rusi shows in his book that like former president Mauno Koivisto, Tuomioja was also reluctant to stand up against Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic.

Tuomioja was named as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2000. Rusi shows in his book that like former president Mauno Koivisto, Tuomioja was also reluctant to stand up against Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic. When the negotiation process for the Lisbon Treaty took place, Tuomioja’s role in downplaying the security guarantee based on EU membership was significant. “Not a specially meritious stateman’s act”, historian Jukka Tarkka has stated.

When The European Union made  decision to place sanctions against Russia in 2014, Tuomioja expressed his dissenting opinion in the governmental committee. He hoped that Finland would leave an option to oppose the sanctions if a ceasefire held, no matter how other EU countries acted.

After leaving his post as Foreign Minister, Tuomioja has paid private visits to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and chaired a network called Historians Without Borders.

“Tuomioja can be considered as an operative of Russian intelligence after the Zavidovo leak for his positions and openly stated Mareyev-connection”, Rusi and Korhonen write in their book.

A recent UpNorth article analyzed some of the correspondence and relationship between Tuomioja and pro-Russian adjunct professor Johan Bäckman.

Historial connecitons between the KGB and Finnish Political LeadershipHistorial connecitons between the KGB and Finnish Political Leadership

FSB, SUPO AND THEIR NETWORKS

The Finnish Security Police, SUPO, was penetrated by the KGB during the Cold War. According to Vasily Mitrokhin’s archives, its chief Arvo Pentti was recruited as an agent by the code name “Mauri” and rewarded by 150 000 Finnish marks.

His successor Seppo Tiitinen held the post 1978-1990. In 1992 he was named Secretary General in the Finnish parliament from which post he retired in 2015. According to the authors of the book, British intelligence warned that Russian intelligence could blackmail Mr. Tiitinen.

According to Rusi and Korhonen, not only the influential Western intelligence community, but Estonia’s Internal Security, KAPO had also delivered warnings about the KGB’s and its successors’ influence on SUPO.

SUPO seems to have ignored this even in the most obvious spying cases (for example in the case of Jaakko Laakso and President Tarja Halonen’s strategist Riitta Juntunen, who was recruited as a STASI agent), which raises many questions. When the latter case was raised publicly, SUPO was led by Seppo Nevala, Kalevi Sorsa’s former secretary (as then President Tarja Halonen and Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen were).

Last year, Suomen Sotilas published a memorandum concerning Nevala’s nomination as the deputy chief of SUPO which took place when Tiitinen (with his Center Party background) was nominated as the chief. The memorandum includes detailed information about how Nevala used alcohol in an inappropriate way and has some challenging personality traits. It’s also mentioned that Nevala is formally unqualified for the position, but whether these facts have enough correlation with the other nomination – probably referring to Tiitinen – the writer of the memo doesn’t believe Nevala’s nomination will be cancelled either.

It looks like two Finnish Presidents actively worked to keep the list that included 18 people associated with the STASI, secret. This Tiitinen/Hassinen list (Raino Hassinen worked in Ahtisaari’s office as an advisor) was ignored by both Mauno Koivisto (1990) and Martti Ahtisaari (1999). According to Rusi and Korhonen, Kalevi Sorsa and many top officials of the Finnish Foreign Ministery were on the list. When the list was evaluated in Ahtisaari’s office, the President himself, Chief of Staff Jaakko Kalela and Hassinen were present.

Although Ahtisaari was in principle pro-western and relatively independent from party politics, he was elected to his post as a candidate of the Social Democrats. Also his career in the Foreign Ministry begun by Sorsa’s recommendation. The “spying scandal” constructed around Alpo Rusi – who was independent from the Social Democratic background forces – was needed to cover the real Eastern intelligence influence in Finland.

The distrust between the President and his advisor was also provoked with rumours about the latter having inappropriate contact with the Russians during the Balkan peace process. It’s commonly known that the erosion of trust and confidence between politicians and their closest advisors – and people in general – is one of the basic tactics of the KGB and its successors. Many of of those who acted behind the scenes during the Zavidovo leak – such as Kalela and Tuomioja – were now active inside or near the President’s office.

However, the President of the United States Bill Clinton expressed his special thanks to Rusi after peace was achieved and Ahtisaari’s advisor was responsible for organizing the summit of Sarajevo in 1999.

It is likely that Ahtisaari himself – later rewarded with Nobel Peace Prize – felt somehow threatened. Jussi Lähde, who had worked as communications manager of the President, has said that he received a call from London in summer 1999. The caller offered a significant amount of money in exchange for compromising information about Ahtisaari.

 WHAT HAPPENED TO  RENÉ NYBERG?

Paavo Lipponen, the long-serving prime minister who started his political career as Kalevi Sorsa’s secretary and international secretary of the Social Democrats, strongly opposed publication of the so-called Tiitinen’s list and the opening of the archives concerning the STASI’s activities in Finland. In his famous column, he imagined how a guillotine would be constructed in central Helsinki and “hippies” marched to kick the bodies after the heads had been removed. In Lipponen’s vision, Alpo Rusi would sign the doors and graves of the suspects.

Rusi’s book “Vasemmalta ohi – kamppailu Suomen ulkopoliittisesta johtajuudesta rautaesiripun varjossa 1945-1990” (Gummerus) was published in the same year. In that book, he revealed many details about the STASI contacts with Finnish politicians – ‘especially Social Democrats’.

In 2008, Lipponen announced that he signed an agreement with Nord Stream AG for consulting services. This job has paid him many hundreds of thousands euros. Also his former secretary Antton Rönnholm – now acting as party secretary of the Social Democrats – and many other associates have worked for Russian gas interests. Nord Stream AG is led by former STASI agent Matthias Warnig.

Already in 1998, then prime minister Lipponen’s advisor Timo Pesonen spread rumours that “SUPO is following Rusi and Nyberg”. Somehow, the information was widely spread although Rusi himself was not made aware of it.

We now know that Rusi withstood the scandal and has since been proven innocent. But what was the case with Nyberg?
After his diplomatic career in Moscow and Berlin, René Nyberg (whom Pesonen likely referred to) founded a consulting company called East Office. The company claims to specialize in building Finnish companies’ relations with Russia. Its board is led by former Center Party Prime Minister Esko Aho, who was also invited to join the board of the Kremlin owned Sberbank last year.

When Nyberg published his book “Viimeinen juna Moskovaan” (Siltala 2014) Lipponen praised it.
Recently, a retired ambassador Hannu Himanen recommended Nato-membership for Finland in his book Länttä vai itää – Suomi ja geopolitiikan paluu (Docendo 2017). Nyberg soon claimed in Helsingin Sanomat that Himanen’s book was unethical.

WILL ANYTHING CHANGE?

The  new book by Rusi and Korhonen includes some very important historical puzzle pieces about recent Finnish history and Eastern intelligence operations here. At the same time, it provides another example of the methods the Kremlin and its operatives are willing to use to achieve their geopolitical goals and discredit those who may threaten their impelialistc goals of securing “spheres of influence”.

During the last few month,s we have seen a flow of new – or at least recently organized – information regarding these issues. Historian Juho Ovaskainen has demonstrated in his book “Mauno Koiviston idänkortti” (Otava 2017) how Urho Kekkonen’s successor used The Soviet Union to achieve his career goals. It is known that he was good friend of Viktor Vladimirov, a Soviet diplomat in Helsinki, who used to lead KGB’s assasination department.

While the revelations may uncover further revelations, the old network is taking what it can. It is likely that when these old Soviet-based networks of influence lose their influence and importance, Russia may start to provide more support to the Western European style anti-establishment movements.

Recently, the Kremlin has given archival access to Kimmo Rentola, Timo Vihavainen, Ohto Manninen and Sergey Zhuravljov for historical research. Their book “Varjo Suomen yllä – Stalinin salaiset kansio”t (Docendo 2017) gives perspective to policies of the Soviet Union in relation to Finland under Stalin’s regime.

In 2014, professor Vihavainen received an Order of Friendship from Russian president Vladimir Putin. In 1990 he became known for his criticism toward finlandization, but now he is known as a strongly conservative “traditionalist”. In June 2014 he said the Ukrainian Euromaidan was started by “a violent mob” and compared those protestors to the terrorist separatists in Eastern Ukraine. He has also attacked the idea of lustration in Finland, which has gained more vocal support lately (the youth arm of the National Coalition (Conservative) Party adopted publication of Tiitinen’s list in its policy platform of 2017).

Professor Kimmo Rentola is a historian and former communist. He is the author of “Ratakatu 12” (WSOY 2009), a history book concerning and ordered by SUPO, then lead by Seppo Nevala. In 2016 he was elected to the board of Historians without Borders, organization founded by Erkki Tuomioja.

PERSONAL PRONOUNS

When asked about finlandization in 2009, Finnish-Estonian author Sofi Oksanen stated that if it was so normal, why can’t we talk about it openly? She also recommended to start using personal pronouns in such evaluation.

When it comes to Russian intelligence activities in Finland (yet not equal to the term finlandization), Rusi and Korhonen have opened the Pandora’s box. It will not be closed any time soon.

As he investigates Trump’s aides, special counsel’s record shows surprising flaws
 

mikenova shared this story .

When he was named special counsel in May, Robert S. Mueller III was hailed as the ideal lawman — deeply experienced, strait-laced and nonpartisan — to investigate whether President Trump’s campaign had helped with Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The accolades squared with Mueller’s valor as a Marine rifle platoon commander in Vietnam and his integrity as a federal prosecutor, a senior Justice Department official and FBI director from 2001 to 2013, the longest tenure since J. Edgar Hoover. He was praised by former courtroom allies and opponents, and by Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

But at 73, Mueller’s record also shows a man of fallible judgment who can be slow to alter his chosen course. At times, he has intimidated or provoked resentment among subordinates. And his tenacious yet linear approach to evaluating evidence led him to fumble the biggest U.S. terrorism investigation since 9/11.

Now, as he leads a sprawling investigation aimed at the White House, Mueller’s prosecutorial discretion looms over the Trump presidency.

On what terms would Mueller offer immunity from prosecution to investigative targets? How broadly will he interpret his mandate to probe not only the 2016 campaign but also matters that “may arise directly from the investigation”?

Will he target Trump’s sprawling family business and financial empire and the years before the developer ran for the White House?

::

Robert Swan Mueller III began life on an elite footing.

Raised in affluent suburbs west of Philadelphia, he attended the St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire (classmates included future Secretary of State John F. Kerry), before majoring in politics at Princeton. He joined the Marines after graduation and was awarded Navy and Marine Corps medals in Vietnam, where he was shot in the thigh. He graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1973.

Bored by a stint at a white-shoe San Francisco law firm, the jut-jawed Mueller switched to the U.S. attorney’s office there in 1976. Colleagues say he typically arrived by 6:30 a.m., at times in his Marine-issue green raincoat. He played on the office softball team but was careful not to let down his guard while socializing.

“He’d join us, have one — and it was only one — and then his wife would arrive to pick him up,” recalled a colleague.


Editor’s Note

This article is based, in part, on interviews with more than two dozen lawyers and investigators who have worked with Mueller. Citing the sensitivity of the Russia investigation and potential repercussions, most spoke on the condition of anonymity. Mueller declined, through a spokesman, to comment.


Mueller also is remembered for a headline-grabbing case that ended in failure.

In 1979, the government lodged then-novel racketeering charges against 33 members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club. The indictments alleged bombings and murders as well as the manufacture and sale of illegal drugs. The defendants and their supporters were so feared that bulletproof glass was installed in court to shield the judge.

The first trial, of 18 defendants, ended with only five convictions. All were overturned on appeal.

Mueller, who led the U.S. attorney’s special prosecutions unit, then took over the case. He dropped many of the charges, including against Ralph “Sonny” Barger, leader of the club’s Oakland chapter, whose charismatic testimony had dominated the first trial.

Mueller led a team of four prosecutors in court when the second trial, with 11 defendants, began in October 1980. But after four months, the jury said it was deadlocked, and the judge declared a mistrial. Mueller decided not to ask for a retrial.

Richard B. Mazer, a defense lawyer at both trials, said the government was unable to prove the Hells Angels was a racketeering enterprise. Key prosecution witnesses, he said, seemed unreliable — especially those granted immunity to testify despite having committed violent crimes themselves.

“They made a mess of it,” Mazer recalled. “It was an entirely snitch case. It depended entirely on the quality of snitches.”

But Mazer and Alan Caplan, another defense lawyer, praised Mueller’s straightforward handling of the case.

“We fought hard, but I can’t conceivably say anything negative about him,” Caplan said.

About a year after the case collapsed, a new U.S. attorney in San Francisco chose a prosecutor with more trial experience to head the office’s criminal division, a post that Mueller had held for a year.

Mueller responded by transferring to the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston. He prosecuted financial fraud, terrorism and public corruption cases for six years, and served as acting U.S. attorney from 1986 to 1987.

One case — involving a Soviet-bloc spy — gave Mueller an early window into U.S.-Russia intrigues.

At the direction of the Justice Department’s internal security division, Mueller negotiated a plea agreement with an East German physicist named Alfred Zehle and his lawyer. In February 1985, Zehle admitted in court that he had conspired to deliver U.S. defense information to East German intelligence authorities.

Under the agreement, the judge sentenced Zehle only to the time he had served in jail after he was arrested at a scientific conference in Boston. Zehle, in turn, became a bargaining chip for a major spy swap.

“We ultimately got 25 of our people out, including their families,” in a trade for Zehle and several other Soviet-bloc spies, recalled a U.S. official who was involved with the negotiations.

The successful June 1985 exchange helped pave the way, the official said, for a more significant exchange by Washington and Moscow.

In February 1986, officials again faced off for a trade on the so-called Bridge of Spies between East and West Germany. Among those escorted to freedom was Natan Sharansky, the celebrated Russian human rights activist who had served nine years in Soviet prisons.

As the Cold War ended, Mueller moved to “main Justice” in Washington. He easily won his first Senateconfirmation after President George H.W. Bush appointed him assistant U.S. attorney general, responsible for the criminal division.

Mueller oversaw investigations of Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and Gambino crime family boss John Gotti, among other high-profile cases. But his tendency to command, rather than inspire, again came into sharp relief.

“He doesn’t invite disagreement,” said a former prosecutor who served under Mueller. “He’s an order-giver.”

He could be harsh on subordinates — sparking resentment when he referred privately to reassigning career lawyers as “moving the furniture.”

::

In 1993, at age 50, Mueller decided to try private practice again, joining Hale and Dorr as a partner in Washington, representing corporate clients.

The money was better, but Muller was unfulfilled. After two years, he returned to government service — signing on as a homicide prosecutor in the District of Columbia. It was a time of mayhem in the nation’s capital, made worse by the scourge of crack cocaine.

Mueller began working with a “cold case” squad, comprised of Metropolitan Police detectives and FBI agents, that sought to bring murderers to justice.

The squad sent applications for search warrants and subpoenas for Mueller’s review before seeking a judge’s approval. Unlike some prosecutors, Mueller “wouldn’t automatically give a signature,” recalled one of the investigators.

“He would ask, ‘Have you done your work? Do you have your facts?’ … He knew what he was asking was the way to make sure everything stood up” in court.

Building cases often entailed forging trust with victims, witnesses and suspects. Relating to both the sympathetic and the unsavory did not play to Mueller’s strengths.

“He was a gruff guy, and a lot of times, there wasn’t much warmth or ability to really build a bond or connect with a victim-witness,” said the same investigator. “There’s times when you’ve got to bond with the suspect to get what you need. His personality wasn’t necessarily the best for that.”

Nor was Mueller an easy fit with juries in Washington, especially in the freewheeling local Superior Court, where decorum is typically below what judges demand in U.S. District Court.

“In D.C. Superior Court, it’s a bit like meatball surgery. It’s a bit like a M.A.S.H. unit — it’s the unexpected,” said one of Mueller’s former colleagues. “His strength was not as a M.A.S.H. unit trial lawyer.”

Mueller, a registered Republican, moved back to San Francisco in 1998 after President Clinton appointed him U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California. In July 2001, President George W. Bush nominated him as FBI director, and he won unanimous Senate confirmation. Mueller asked the White House for a delay, however, so he could undergo treatment for prostate cancer.

His first day on the job was Sept. 4, 2001 — a week before hijacked airliners slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania in the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.

At 7 a.m. Sept. 12, Mueller, then-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and other officials arrived for an emergency briefing at the FBI’s operations center. The senior agent had been given an hour to prepare while investigators were still combing airline manifests and scouring crash sites.

When Mueller asked a rapid-fire series of questions, the agent replied that accurate information was not yet “established.”

“ ‘I want answers, goddamn it!’ ” Mueller exploded, an official who was present recalled.

Mueller already was coming under siege from critics who questioned why the FBI had not prevented the 9/11 attacks. Fear spread of a “second wave” terrorist strike.

Mueller countered by announcing plans to reshape the FBI. Its first priority would be to prevent another terrorist attack — not conventional law enforcement.

The enormity of the FBI’s challenge emerged within weeks.

A handful of letters, laced with powdered anthrax, killed five people and sickened 17 others. The government closed congressional office buildings, the Supreme Court and postal facilities as the country braced for further biological terrorism.

But Mueller’s FBI struggled for nearly seven years to determine who was responsible — even as he personally managed the case from headquarters.

“The director was always the leader of the anthrax investigation, period,” said Michael Mason, former head of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

The FBI focused on Steven Hatfill, a virologist at the U.S. Army’s laboratories at Ft. Detrick, Md. In January 2003, Mueller assured Congressional leaders in a closed-door briefing that bloodhounds had traced anthrax from the attacks to Hatfill.

But Hatfill had no experience handling anthrax. Nor did he have access to anthrax stored at Ft. Detrick or elsewhere. Years later, the FBI would reject the bloodhound evidence as unreliable.

After media leaks fingered Hatfill, he sued the FBI and the Justice Department on privacy grounds. In June 2008, the government agreed to pay Hatfill about $5.8 million.

Two months later, on Aug. 6, Mueller summoned senior investigators and prosecutors on the anthrax case to his seventh-floor office. The FBI would hold a news conference that afternoon, and he wanted to recap the case’s stunning denouement.

Bruce E. Ivins, an Army microbiologist at Ft. Detrick who specialized in handling anthrax, had committed suicide after his lawyers informed him he was about to be charged with murder for the letter attacks.

Evidence showed Ivins had created and held custody of a batch of anthrax traced by DNA to each of the killings. Ivins had spent hours alone in specially equipped labs just before each batch of letters was mailed.

Mueller let others hold the news conference. Some aides who met Mueller that day think he was reluctant to publicly address the missteps with Hatfill, the bloodhounds and the long delay in focusing on Ivins.

“I think he was personally embarrassed,” said one. “I would assess him as someone that can’t accept the fact that he screwed up.”

::

At FBI headquarters, protecting the director from embarrassment was ingrained.

A case in point unfolded in 2011 — just as the Senate was considering President Obama’s request to extend Mueller’s expiring term as FBI director by two years.

The FBI’s Inspection Division, a unit that scrutinizes bureau operations, conducted a three-week examination of the Directorate of Intelligence, a unit that Mueller created to carry out the shift in preventing terrorism.

“They inspected it, and they wrote the inspection report and it said the whole thing’s broken — set it on fire and start from scratch,” said a former official familiar with the report. Another ex-official confirmed the account.

Mueller’s top aides saw peril in following normal procedure — forwarding the report to the Justice Department’s inspector general for possible follow-up action.

“It was, ‘The director will get skewered. We’ve got to protect him, and we can’t issue this,’ ” the former official recalled.

The aides kept the report in-house, the former official said, by tweaking its language.

“Anywhere it said, ‘inspection,’ they changed it to ‘review.’ And said this was a review, not an inspection, and therefore they didn’t have to issue it to … the inspector general.”

Two years later, Mueller — without citing the inspection — informed Congress that he had restructured the Directorate of Intelligence “to maximize organizational collaboration, identify and address emerging threats and more effectively integrate intelligence and operations within the FBI.”

During his final months as FBI director, Mueller was again enlisted to help with a thorny matter in U.S.-Russia relations.

In the summer of 2013, the White House asked Mueller to negotiate the release from Russia of Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who stole volumes of classified material on U.S. surveillance operations at home and abroad. Snowden had fled to Moscow after leaking the data to journalists.

Unlike the Cold War spy cases, the U.S. did not offer a trade. The Obama administration wanted Moscow to return Snowden as part of a diplomatic “reset,” an ultimately unsuccessful effort to improve relations with Russia.

Lisa Monaco, the White House’s Homeland Security advisor, tasked Mueller to talk to Alexander Bortnikov, head of Russia’s internal security and counter-intelligence service, the FSB.

For at least a week, Mueller called Bortnikov’s office, starting at 3 a.m. in Washington. Each time, the FBI director was turned aside without getting Bortnikov on the line.

“Mueller just kept calling over there, like begging to talk to the guy,” said a former official. Instead, Snowden was granted asylum in Russia.

The unsuccessful outreach offered Mueller insight into Russian intelligence, who U.S. officials say helped hack and leak Democratic Party emails last year in an effort to undermine U.S. democracy and to help Trump’s campaign.

Investigators and lawyers who have worked with Mueller say that his legacy as special counsel will depend, ultimately, on his resolve, his integrity and especially his judgment.

“If he believes somebody has committed a crime, he’s going to do whatever he can to hold them accountable,” said a former FBI colleague. “Trump’s name or brand is not going to back down Mueller.”

david.willman@latimes.com

Finnish Historians: Former Finnish Foreign Minister An Operative of Russian intelligence – UpNorth
 

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UpNorth
Finnish Historians: Former Finnish Foreign Minister An Operative of Russian intelligence
UpNorth
Professor and former ambassador, Alpo Rusi and the former party secretary of The Finnish Centre Party, author Jarmo Korhonen have published a new book titled The Kremlin’s Footsteps Finlandization and Background of the Spying Scandal in 2002 …
Yevgeny Nikulin – Google Search
 

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Czech Court Rules Russian Hacking Suspect Can Be Extradited to US

RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty8 hours ago
A prison guard walks outside a courtroom during an appeal by Yevgeny Nikulin, who faces charges of hacking computers of American …
Supreme Court in Prague approves extradition of Russian hacker …
<a href=”https://en.crimerussia.com/” rel=”nofollow”>https://en.crimerussia.com/</a>7 hours ago

Story image for Yevgeny Nikulin from https://en.crimerussia.com/

Detained in Czech Republic Russian hacker released from …

<a href=”https://en.crimerussia.com/” rel=”nofollow”>https://en.crimerussia.com/</a>Nov 23, 2017
Detained in Prague at the request of the US Russian hacker Yevgeny Nikulin is accused of hacking servers of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Robert Mueller nabs Trump-Russia hacker at the worst possible time for Donald Trump
 

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

If Donald Trump was thinking that his Thanksgiving holiday weekend couldn’t get any worse after Michael Flynn revealed he’s cutting a Trump-Russia deal, things have indeed found a way to get even worse. An infamous Russian hacker, believed to be near the center of the Trump-Russia election hacking scandal, is being extradited to the United States so that the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller can have their way with him.

The Czech Republic has ruled that Russian hacker Yevgeny Nikulin will be extradited to the United States, and not returned to Russia, according to a new report from Radio Free Europe (link). Nikulin’s attorney has revealed that the FBI believes Nikulin was involved in Trump-Russia election hacking. Mueller has jurisdiction over the FBI in all matters relating to the Trump-Russia scandal, which means that Nikulin is now all his.

So now, even as Robert Mueller is gaining Michael Flynn as a cooperating witness with valuable information about the Trump campaign’s sign of Trump-Russia collusion, he’s also gaining a hacker with insider information on the Russian side of the collusion. There is no guarantee that Nikulin will cut a deal once he arrives in the United States. But assuming he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life rotting in an American prison, it’s likely that he’ll work something out with Mueller and spill his guts.

To give you an idea of how much value the United States government places on the cooperation of Yevgeny Nikulin, it had him arrested on an Interpol warrant more than a year ago before election day and has been trying to get him extradited ever since. The timing of this extradition ruling appears to be coincidental to Michael Flynn’s decision to cut a deal. It simply means that Donald Trump’s luck and his future prospects are growing dimmer by the hour.

The post Robert Mueller nabs Trump-Russia hacker at the worst possible time for Donald Trumpappeared first on Palmer Report.

Cambridge Analytica endangers global democracy, and it must be stopped
 

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John Raines, 84, Who Evaded Capture in an F.B.I. Break-in, Dies
 

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Dr. Raines and his wife were among the antiwar protesters who broke into a field office in 1971 and stole hundreds of files, which they gave to journalists.

Michael Flynn may cooperate with Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation – PBS NewsHour
 

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Michael Flynn may cooperate with Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation
PBS NewsHour
Flynn was facing a Justice Department investigation over his foreign business dealings even before Mueller was appointed as special counsel in May to investigate potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 …
A Split From Trump Indicates That Flynn Is Moving to Cooperate With MuellerNew York Times
Michael Flynn, Trump’s ex-National Security Adviser, focus of Russia investigation: What to knowFox News
Flynn may be moving to cooperate with Mueller’s Russia probeABC News
HuffPost –Newsweek
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Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017 – Google Search
 

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Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017 – Google Search
 

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Story image for Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017 from Aljazeera.com

The death of the Russian far right

<a href=”http://Aljazeera.com” rel=”nofollow”>Aljazeera.com</a>Nov 23, 2017
Participants carry a banner during a Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017. The banner reads: “To …

Story image for Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017 from RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Police Detain Nationalists As Russians Mark National Unity Day

RadioFreeEurope/RadioLibertyNov 4, 2017
Police Detain Nationalists As Russians Mark National Unity Day … Police detained dozens of nationalistdemonstrators in Moscow on November 4 at an antigovernment … Organizers of the Russian March said more than 70 demonstrators were … Maltsev (right) at a Russian opposition rally on May 6, 2017.

Story image for Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017 from The Jamestown Foundation

Russian March 2017: Smaller Than in Years Past, but More Likely to …

The Jamestown FoundationNov 6, 2017
The annual “Russian March” on November 4 (National Unity Day) has become a rallying point for the nationalist opposition to the regime. … seemed to promise parades in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Vologda and …

Story image for Russian nationalist march on National Unity Day in Moscow on November 4, 2017 from Channel NewsAsia

Police detain dozens in Moscow amid fear of anti-government attacks

Channel NewsAsiaNov 5, 2017
Russian anti-riot policemen detain a demonstrator taking part in a nationalist march during the National Unity Day in Moscow on Nov 04, 2017.
The death of the Russian far right | Far Right
 

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On November 4, a few hundred people gathered for the annual ultranationalist “Russian march” in Moscow. With chants like “Glory to Russia” and “Freedom for political prisoners”, the demonstrators tried to march through the Lyublino neighbourhood of Moscow, before the police dispersed the crowd, arresting dozens.

But this year’s march was a far cry from what it used to be in the late 2000s and early 2010s when thousands of people would join well-organised columns replete with banners, flags and drummers.

Today, most of the leaders of the ultranationalist groups that used to organise the march are either in jail or in self-imposed exile. Their supporters consider them to be politically persecuted and complain about increasing state repression.

Although the Kremlin has been accused of supporting conservative and far-right political groups in Europe, at home it seems to be becoming increasingly intolerant towards groups that propagate ideas similar to their Western counterparts.

In the past few years, and especially since the conflict in Ukraine erupted in 2014, the Russian authorities have cracked down on nationalist groups under the guise of criminal investigations or accusations of extremism under the infamous “anti-extremism” Law 282.

‘Controlled nationalism’

In the early 2000s, Russian President Vladimir Putin was finishing his first presidential term when two colour revolutions struck nearby – the first in Georgia in 2013 and the second in Ukraine in 2014. Large crowds in Tbilisi and Kiev demanded democratic change and major political reforms. The possibility of a colour revolution erupting in Russia seemed too real.

It was then that the Kremlin looked to the right. Russian observers would later identify this strategy of employing nationalist forces as “controlled nationalism”.

“Controlled nationalism is about using nationalists in some [political] games. In some cases, [the authorities] would support nationalists in order to keep the regime alive, to fight the threat of a colour revolution,” says Anton Shekhovstov, visiting fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Austria.

“They thought that if they supported those ultranationalist movements, they would decrease the opportunity of nationalists becoming a force that would destabilise the regime,” he explains.

In early 2005, in response to the colour revolutions, the International Eurasian movement, headed by Alexander Dugin, a right-wing political scientist and ideologue (whom Western journalists eventually nicknamed “Putin’s Rasputin”) createda youth wing, the Eurasian Youth Union (ESM). Its aim was to whip up nationalist sentiment and mobilise young people against anti-government attitudes.

That same year, the Russian authorities decided to finally do away with the November 7 official holiday celebrating the October Revolution. They moved the allocated day off to November 4 – the day Moscow was liberated from the Poles in 1612, an official holiday in tsarist Russia until 1917.

The authorities named the new holiday “National Unity Day”, but there wasn’t much public enthusiasm for it and most Russians didn’t even know its history. So when the ESM requested to hold a right-wing march on that day, the local authorities readily obliged.

Other ultranationalist organisations and skinhead groups joined the ESM and the turnout that year surprised many: Some 3,000 people marched, chanting “Glory to Russia” and “Russians forward”, as young men made Nazi salutes in front of TV cameras.

In the years that followed, the ESM was pushed out of the organising committee of the march for being too pro-Kremlin and two other groups took the lead: the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) and the Slavic Union (SS). The DPNI was led by Alexander Potkin, who changed his name to Belov (“bely” in Russian means white) and the SS was headed by Dmitry Dyomushkin. Both men are now in jail.

“Belov was my assistant in the Duma. He became an opportunist and has ended up in jail,” says Andrei Savelev, founder and leader of the “Great Russia” nationalist movement, who was elected to the Duma in 2003. At around the same time, Dyomushkin was an assistant to another member of the Duma during that period, Nikolay Kuryanovich from the pro-Kremlin ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.

“Аll these years Dyomushkin was surprisingly untouchable. He was doing things for which others would go to jail. For four to five years, the justice system did not touch him,” says Savelev.

According to him, Dyomushkin and Belov were coopted by the Russian authorities. He says this was why he withdrew his organisation from the Russian march.

Ivan Beletsky, a close associate of Dyomushkin who took over organising the march in 2016, rejects the idea of cooptation and claims that “Great Russia” is a pro-government group. He says that the authorities tried but failed to take control of the Russian march in the late 2000s and were compelled to permit it in order to “cool down popular agitation”.

“The Russian march is a protest march: against the government, against corruption, and for a change of power,” he says, speaking to Al Jazeera via Skype from a location outside of Russia that he refused to disclose.

In July 2011, Dyomushkin and Belov caused a stir within the ultranationalist movement for going to Chechnya and meeting with its president, Ramazan Kadyrov, a Kremlin loyalist, despite their anti-Chechen and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Dyomushkin subsequently went to Grozny a number of times.

In August 2011, DPNI was banned by the Russian government (the SS had been banned a year earlier). Nevertheless, the government allowed the Russian march to take place. On November 4, more than 10,000 nationalists, joined by opposition politicians like Alexei Navalny, marched in Lyublino with banners reading “Stop feeding Caucasus”. Over the years, the central government has been perceived as being quite generous in its budget allocation to the Chechen Republic in the North Caucasus and has been criticised by both nationalists and liberals for it.

In 2012, ultranationalist organisations participating in the Russian march backed anti-government protests. The merger between regular opposition and nationalists worried the government and the Federal Security Service (FSB) considered it a potentially “revolutionary situation”, says Beletsky.

Schism in the far right and crackdown

The events of 2014 in Ukraine caught the ultranationalist groups in Russia by surprise. On one hand, the Kremlin was employing strong nationalist rhetoric claiming Crimea was “rightfully” Russian and that ethnic Russians living in Ukraine had to be protected; on the other, fellow Ukrainian far-right groups were supporting the Maidan and opposing the annexation.

“In 2014, the Kremlin demanded full loyalty from all Russian nationalists,” says Shekhovtsov. “Some of them declined to become loyal to the Kremlin.”

The result was a “schism” in the nationalist movement with one camp supporting the annexation of Crimea and the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, and the other opposing both and supporting the Ukrainian central government.

“We right-wing nationalists – we consider [the breakaway regions in Eastern Ukraine] Putin’s machinations. We stood up against this and we suffered fierce repressions,” says Beletsky.

On November 4, 2014, there were two events in Moscow that claimed to be the Russian march – one supporting the annexation of Crimea and the other rejecting it. In the following months, one by one leaders of ultranationalist groups supporting the latter were arrested on various charges.

In 2015, Belov was arrested and a year later convicted on charges of money laundering related to a Kazakh bank and spreading extremism among Russian-speaking Kazakh citizens. He was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail.

In 2016, Dyomushkin was arrested for posting a photo of a previous Russian march in which a banner saying “Russian power in Russia” was visible. He was accused of spreading “extremism” and handed two and a half years in prison. A previous court case against him on similar charges dating from 2011 ended in early 2014 without a sentence due to an expiration of the statute of limitations.

According to his lawyer, Dmitry Baharev, who also used to be a member of the SS, the case against him is politically motivated.

“Usually for pictures, they give suspended sentences, but Dyomushkin got prison,” he says. “In my opinion, this is connected with the events in Ukraine.”

Another close associate of Dyomushkin and Belov and a frequent Russian march attendee, Georgy Borovikov, а leader of the banned National Patriotic Front “Memory” was arrested and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison in 2014 for robbery and torture.

Other far-right leaders managed to escape before being arrested. Beletsky says he fled the country fearing arrest as he was questioned multiple times and briefly detained this year after organising nationalists to join Navalny for an anti-government protest in March.

Yury Gorsky, also an organiser of the Russian march and former member of various ultranationalist groups, was charged with spreading extremism and is currently in Lithuania. Igor Artyomov, the former leader of the banned Russian All-National Union, which also used to participate in the march, received political asylum in the US.

Prominent ultranationalist vlogger Vyacheslav Maltsev, who at some point was associated with “Great Russia” and also attended Russian marches, fled from Russia after being briefly detained and is currently in hiding in a European country. Maltsev called for a “revolution” on November 5. Many of his supporters had previously been or were subsequently arrested.

Human rights groups have been divided over whether or not to consider the detention and imprisonment of ultranationalists to be political prosecution. Human rights organisation “Memorial” considers that in the case of Belov, there are “signs of political motivation”.

“All of these big nationalist leaders are guilty, not necessarily of what they accuse them of, but there is a lot of other things they did. The authorities have not undertaken to sort out these things because it is too difficult or long, so they stuck on them whatever they could,” says Natalya Yudina, a researcher at “Sova Centre” which focuses on extremism and violations of human rights in Russia. She says that the centre does not consider Belov a political prisoner and that members of the organisations which he and Dyomushkin led committed violent attacks in the past.

Promoting destabilisation abroad, preempting it at home

While the Kremlin was cracking down on the far right at home, in the West, it was seeking its support.

According to Shekhovtsov, the Kremlin launched efforts to establish relations with ultranationalist groups in Europe as early as 2008.

“[In 2008,] many in the Russian elite circles believed that Russia may have won the war with Georgia in military terms but it failed to win the information war and convince the West or the international community that Russia’s actions were justified,” he says.

Russian national and international media sought to feature Western commentators sympathetic to Russia’s actions in Georgia, but could not find any in the mainstream; the ones that would openly express support were mostly on the far right, explains Shekhovtsov.

In the following years, the Kremlin invested a lot of effort into nourishing ties with far-right groups and parties in the West. The Russian authorities would organise ultranationalist conferences, back media initiatives, and establish formal agreements with far-right parties.

Currently, the ruling United Russia party has established cooperation agreements with the Northern League in Italy and the Freedom Party in Austria. In 2014, the National Front in France borrowed nearly $13m in Russian bank loans.

Various other ultranationalist groups in the EU are said to have ties to Russia: from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) to Ataka Party in Bulgaria.

Shekhovtsov, who wrote a book on the subject, points out that Russian efforts to court Europe’s far right have not rendered major victories, such as the suspension of sanctions against Moscow in place since the annexation of Crimea. But the growing strength of far-right groups has had a destabilising effect across Europe.

In Germany, the AfD, which hardly managed to clear the five percent threshold in the 2013 elections, this year won 12.6 percent and is the third-largest party in the Bundestag after the September elections. Some commentators have attributed that success to Russian backing.

At home, the Kremlin preempted such a scenario.

“[Today] the anti-Putin far-right movement is extremely small. You cannot compare this to any other period of time in Russia [since 1991] where you would have such a weak [ultranationalist] movement,” says Shekhovtsov.

According to him, some ultranationalist groups have already changed strategy to accommodate the regime. At the same time, since 2014, a number of “patriotic” and ultra-Orthodox organisations have emerged which have also been accused of attacks, but not on minorities or migrants; their victims have mostly been opposition activists, like Navalny, and liberals.

“The classical Russian nationalism, in its ethnic form, is a thing of the past. There are new movements that are appearing now, which are connected with the Kremlin ideologically,” says Yudina. “The main thing for them is patriotism, the praise of our state, and adopting conservative, Orthodox values.”

Yudina says that in recent years hate attacks on minorities and migrants have decreased tenfold – from a few hundred in the late 2000s to a few dozen in 2016. Yet attacks on the LGBT community have persisted, as the new “patriotic” and ultra-Orthodox groups consider them “freaks”.

“All this scares me. This it seems to me will be the future. Aggressive Orthodox organisations will be getting stronger,” she says.

Follow Mariya Petkova on Twitter: @mkpetkova

The Trump-Russia Story Is Coming Together. Here’s How to Make Sense of It | By Bill Moyers, Steven Harper
 

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Совещание с постоянными членами Совета Безопасности
 

mikenova shared this story from Сайт Президента России: Все материалы.

Владимир Путин провёл совещание с постоянными членами Совета Безопасности.

Совещание с постоянными членами Совета Безопасности.Состоялся обстоятельный обмен мнениями в контексте прошедших на этой неделе международных контактов Президента, включая визиты зарубежных гостей и телефонные переговоры. Основное внимание уделено вопросам сирийского урегулирования с учётом итогов работы сочинской «тройки».

Затрагивались также текущие вопросы внутрироссийской социально-экономической повестки дня.

В совещании приняли участие Председатель Правительства Дмитрий Медведев, Председатель Совета Федерации Валентина Матвиенко, Председатель Государственной Думы Вячеслав Володин, Руководитель Администрации Президента Антон Вайно, секретарь Совета Безопасности Николай Патрушев, Министр внутренних дел Владимир Колокольцев, директор Федеральной службы безопасности Александр Бортников.

Flynn’s lawyers end communication with Trump team, signaling cooperation with Mueller: NY Times – Reuters
 

mikenova shared this story from US elections and russia – Google News.


The Guardian
Flynn’s lawyers end communication with Trump team, signaling cooperation with Mueller: NY Times
Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lawyers for Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, have told Trump’s legal team they can no longer discuss a probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. election, indicating Flynn may be cooperating …
Michael Flynn breaks ties with Trump lawyers over Russia investigation reportsThe Guardian
Michael Flynn May Be Cooperating With Robert Mueller’s Russia Probe: ReportHuffPost
Ex-Trump aide Flynn moves to cooperate with Russia probe reportThe Times of Israel
CBC.ca
all 142 news articles »
Russian Fancy Bear hackers’ UK link revealed
 

mikenova shared this story from BBC News – Home.

When Russia’s most notorious hackers hired servers from a UK-registered company, they left a trove of clues behind, the BBC has discovered.

The hackers used the computers to attack the German parliament, hijack traffic meant for a Nigerian government website and target Apple devices.

The company, Crookservers, had claimed to be based in Oldham for a time.

It says it acted swiftly to eject the hacking team – dubbed Fancy Bear – as soon as it learned of the problem.

Technical and financial records from Crookservers seen by the BBC suggest Fancy Bear had access to significant funds and made use of online financial services, some of which were later closed in anti-money laundering operations.

Fancy Bear – also known as APT28, Sofacy, Iron Twilight and Pawn Storm – has been linked to Russian intelligence.

The group played a key role in 2016’s attack on the US’s Democratic National Committee (DNC), according to security experts.

Indeed an internet protocol (IP) address that once belonged to a dedicated server hired via Crookservers was discovered in malicious code used in the breach

The spies who came in for milk

Early in 2012, Crookservers claimed to be based at the same address as a newsagent’s on an unassuming terraced road in Oldham, according to historical website registration records.

But after a short period, the listing switched to Pakistan. The BBC has seen no evidence the shop or its employees knew how the address was being used or that Crookservers had any real connection to the newsagent’s.

Crookservers was what is known as a server reseller. It was an entirely online business. The computers it effectively sublet were owned by another company based in France and Canada.

The BBC identified Crookservers’s operator as Usman Ashraf.

Social media and other online accounts suggest he was present in the Oldham area between 2010 and mid-2014. He now seems to be based in Pakistan.

Mr Ashraf declined to record an interview, but provided detailed answers to questions via email.

Despite his company’s name, he denied knowing he had had hackers as customers.

“We never know how a client is using the server,” he wrote.

When in 2015 he had been alerted to the hackers, he said, he had acted swiftly to close their accounts.

He said he had also carried out a “verification” process, culling 60-70% of the company’s accounts he had suspected of being misused.

“There is 0% compromise on abusive usage,” he said.

Joining the dots

Over three years, Fancy Bear rented computers through Crookservers, covering its tracks using bogus identities, virtual private networks and hard-to-trace payment systems.

Researchers at cyber-threat intelligence company Secureworks, who analysed information from Crookservers for the BBC, said it had helped them connect several Fancy Bear operations.

Senior security researcher Mike McLellan said the hackers had exhibited poor “tradecraft”.

One communication shows one hacker, using the pseudonym Roman Brecesku, had complained that his server had been “cracked”.

Crookservers was previously linked to an attack on the German parliament.

The server used to control the malware was hired through Crookservers by a hacker using the pseudonym Nikolay Mladenov who paid using Bitcoin and Perfect Money, according to records seen by the BBC.

The hacker used the server until June 2015, when it was deleted at Crookservers’s request following media reports of the attack.

This server’s IP address also appears in malware used to target some attendees at the Farnborough air show in 2014.

Fancy Bear malware used to attack a UK TV station and the DNC also contained this IP address, although the server was no longer in Fancy Bear’s control when these attacks occurred.

A financial account used by Mladenov was also used by another hacker, operating under the pseudonym Klaus Werner, to hire more computers through Crookservers.

One server hired by Werner received “redirected” traffic from a legitimate Nigerian government website, according to Secureworks analysis.

Apple attack

The financial account used by Mladenov and Werner was used by Fancy Bear hackers – including two using the names Bruno Labrousse and Roman Brecesku – to hire other servers from Crookservers.

One server and the email address used to hire it seem to have links to “advanced espionage” malware used to target iOS devices.

The malware was capable of turning on voice recording and stealing text messages.

Another email used to hire servers can be linked to an attack against Bulgaria’s State Agency for National Security.

But there are eight dedicated servers tied to the same financial information, whose use is unknown – suggesting there may be other Fancy Bear attacks that have not been publicly disclosed.

Follow the money

Fancy Bear spent at least $6,000 (£4,534) with Crookservers via a variety of services that offered an extra level of anonymity.

They included Bitcoin, Liberty Reserve and Perfect Money. Liberty Reserve was later closed after an international money laundering investigation.

The BBC asked a UK company called Elliptic, which specialises in identifying Bitcoin-related “illicit activity”, to analyse Fancy Bear’s Bitcoin payments.

Lead investigator Tom Robinson said his team had identified the wallet that had been the source of these funds. He said the bitcoins it contained were “worth around $100,000”.

Elliptic traced the source of some of the funds in that wallet to the digital currency exchange BTC-e.

In July, BTC-e was closed by the US authorities and its Russian alleged founder arrested in Greece accused of money laundering.

Although BTC-e is alleged to have been popular with Russian cyber-criminals, the BBC has no evidence its management was aware its clients included Fancy Bear.

Continuing operation

The financial and technical records link together several attacks previously tied to Fancy Bear.

And it is possible that following the financial trail further may yield additional revelations.

Crookservers closed on 10 October. Fancy Bear’s operations, however, have not.

The Dark Side of Allen Dulles: The Greatest Untold Story of American Power – U.S. History (2015) – YouTube
 

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1:33 PM 11/24/2017 – How Paul Manafort is connected to the Trump, Russia investigation – Fox News

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Russian propaganda on social media – Google News: How Russia Polices Yandex, Its Most Popular Search Engine – Motherboard
trump electorate – Google News: Democrats Won’t Beat Trump By Racing to the Left – Newsweek
Flynn may be moving to cooperate with Mueller’s Russia probe – Kansas City Star
organized crime and intelligence – Google News: Is collusion the future of global politics? – The Hill
Russian Intelligence services and international organized crime – Google News: Is collusion the future of global politics? – The Hill
Mueller May Have Flipped Michael Flynn – New York Magazine
morell on trump – Google News: Allies Wary of Sharing Intelligence Since Trump Betrayed Israeli Source – Atlantic Sentinel
Trump personality profile – Google News: Bob Woodward Talks Watergate, Restraint, Final Exam for Democracy at the U – Daily Utah Chronicle
Palmer Report: Hours after Michael Flynn reveals hes cutting a deal, Donald Trump makes suspicious phone call
Donald Trump | The Guardian: Trump reveals plan to address Middle East, play golf ‘quickly’, and restore jobs
Donald Trump – Google News: Donald Trump wants welfare reform, says ‘people are taking advantage of the system’ – PBS NewsHour
Putin and the Russian Mafia – Google News: New US sanctions to be directed at Putin personally, Piontkovsky says – The Ukrainian Weekly (press release)
putin won US 2016 election – Google News: Putin’s meddling in US elections backfiring at home and in United States, analyst observes – The Ukrainian Weekly (press release)
Palmer Report: Michael Flynn just ruined Mike Pences life
Elections 2016 Investigation – Google News: How Paul Manafort is connected to the Trump, Russia investigation – Fox News
Column: Collusion or not, Russian meddled in our election – The Island Now (blog)
Trump and the Russia investigation: What to know – Fox News
US elections and russia – Google News: Prague appeals court allows Russian hacker extradition to US – ABC News
social media in trump campaign – Google News: Trump, Turkish leader discuss Syrian crisis in phone call – WPXI Pittsburgh
crime and terror – Google News: At least 235 killed, 130 wounded in terror attack in northern Sinai – The Times of Israel
Facebook’s New Tool to Check Impact of Russia Ads on Users – Zacks.com
Saudi Crown Prince Is Beating Trump, Putin And Taylor Swift In Time’s Person Of The Year Poll – Newsweek
Abedin – Google News: It’s Pretty Clear that Russia’s Meddling Went a Long Way to get Donald Trump Elected – ChicagoNow (blog)
Trump – Google News: Congress has handed Trump a historic presidential victory – CNBC

 

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Russian propaganda on social media – Google News: How Russia Polices Yandex, Its Most Popular Search Engine – Motherboard


Motherboard
How Russia Polices Yandex, Its Most Popular Search Engine
Motherboard
We will receive an answer and understand what to do next, he wrote. It is obvious that we will defend our mediaRussia is mad Google wants to keep propaganda off Google News, but it has ensured for nearly a decade that state media stays on Yandex.

 Russian propaganda on social media – Google News

How Paul Manafort is connected to the Trump, Russia investigation – Fox News


Fox News
How Paul Manafort is connected to the Trump, Russia investigation
Fox News
After months of investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, a federal grand jury indicted Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, and his business associate Rick Gates on 12 counts in connection with Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s …
Why Trump should be nervous, but not panicking, after Michael Flynn’s lawyers cut off communicationWashington Post
Former Trump Advisor Michael Flynn May Have Started Cooperating With Robert MuellerReportsFortune
Michael Flynn cuts ties with Trump legal team, signaling cooperation with special prosecutor Robert MuellerNew York Daily News
NBCNews.com –Daily Mail
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trump electorate – Google News: Democrats Won’t Beat Trump By Racing to the Left – Newsweek


Newsweek
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In his classic examination of the 1970s electorate, The Real Majority , Ben Wattenberg warned Democrats about the dangers of losing Middle America. By dispensing with Middle America, Wattenberg rightly predicted the McGovern coalition had doomed itself …

 trump electorate – Google News

Flynn may be moving to cooperate with Mueller’s Russia probe – Kansas City Star


Fox News
Flynn may be moving to cooperate with Mueller’s Russia probe
Kansas City Star
… a Justice Department investigation over his foreign business dealings even before Mueller was appointed as special counsel in May to investigate potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Michael Flynn’s Lawyers Reportedly End Communications With President Trump’s TeamTIME
How Paul Manafort is connected to the Trump, Russia investigationFox News
Flynn, Trump lawyers no longer sharing information on Mueller probeUSA TODAY
Washington Post –New York Times
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organized crime and intelligence – Google News: Is collusion the future of global politics? – The Hill


The Hill
Is collusion the future of global politics?
The Hill
Automation and artificial intelligence may also create new vulnerabilities that states will struggle to address, as large numbers of people especially youth may be left searching for livelihoods and survival strategies. Accordingly, organized 

 organized crime and intelligence – Google News

Russian Intelligence services and international organized crime – Google News: Is collusion the future of global politics? – The Hill


The Hill
Is collusion the future of global politics?
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Recent allegations of collusion between Russian organized crime and American politicians are surprising. But perhaps … The 2011 White House Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime foresaw these risks, asserting that criminal networks 

 Russian Intelligence services and international organized crime – Google News

Mueller May Have Flipped Michael Flynn – New York Magazine


New York Magazine
Mueller May Have Flipped Michael Flynn
New York Magazine
The special counsel is also eyeing Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., for offenses far more severe. Last December, the Flynns allegedly took a meeting with agents of the Turkish government, where they discussed arranging the extrajudicial rendition 
Michael Flynn Has Something on Trump if He Is Cooperating with Mueller, Say LawyersNewsweek
A Split From Trump Indicates That Flynn Is Moving to Cooperate With MuellerNew York Times
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morell on trump – Google News: Allies Wary of Sharing Intelligence Since Trump Betrayed Israeli Source – Atlantic Sentinel

Allies Wary of Sharing Intelligence Since Trump Betrayed Israeli Source
Atlantic Sentinel
Allies have become wary of sharing intelligence with the United States since President Donald Trump gave sensitive information about an Israeli covert operation to the Russians in May, reports Howard Blum for Vanity Fair . The president boasted to 

 morell on trump – Google News

Trump personality profile – Google News: Bob Woodward Talks Watergate, Restraint, Final Exam for Democracy at the U – Daily Utah Chronicle

Bob Woodward Talks Watergate, Restraint, Final Exam for Democracy at the U
Daily Utah Chronicle
Woodward called that one of the keys to Trump’s personality, saying Trump’s wielding of fear as a motivator and former President Barack Obama’s method of using power are extreme opposites of one another. Giving another example of a time he was wrong 

 Trump personality profile – Google News

Palmer Report: Hours after Michael Flynn reveals hes cutting a deal, Donald Trump makes suspicious phone call

Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn signaled last night that he’s cutting a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller (link), in a move which will certainly end up costing Trump his presidency, and may end up costing Trump his freedom. Instead of staging an unhinged Twitter meltdown this morning in response, Trump has made a highly suspicious move which appears to have been a response to Flynn’s reveal.

Here’s what Trump tweeted this morning: “Will be speaking to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey this morning about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East. I will get it all done, but what a mistake, in lives and dollars (6 trillion), to be there in the first place!” The timing here cannot be overlooked. Michael Flynn was on the payroll of the government of Turkey during the campaign and the transition period. One of the crimes he’s accused of is conspiring with Turkey to kidnap a cleric in Pennsylvania and ship him overseas. Now, just hours after Flynn decided to negotiate a plea deal against Trump, Trump is suddenly on the phone with the leader of Turkey. It gets stranger.

Last week Reza Zarrab, who is in U.S. federal prison and accused of conspiring with the government of Turkey to commit crimes against the United States, disappeared just as his trial was getting underway (link). It’s widely suspected that Robert Mueller has been using Zarrab as a cooperating witness in the grand jury proceedings against Michael Flynn. The government of Turkey keeps stating that it wants Zarrab back. Trump’s close ally Rudy Giuliani is facing legal trouble of his own for having tried to sabotage the Zarrab trial on Turkey’s behalf. Last week Giuliani mysteriously turned up in Ukraine (link), where he was spotted meeting with an ally of Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is currently under house arrest and awaiting trial for crimes against the United States.

So no one really knows what’s going on here, except for Robert Mueller, and maybe Michael Flynn. But now that Flynn is negotiating a deal with Mueller, Donald Trump is suddenly eager for an excuse to jump on the phone with the leader of Turkey, who is accused of having tried to hire Flynn to kidnap a guy. The plot continues to thicken but once Flynn starts spilling his guts to Mueller, it’ll all become much simpler going forward.

The post Hours after Michael Flynn reveals he’s cutting a deal, Donald Trump makes suspicious phone call appeared first on Palmer Report.

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Donald Trump | The Guardian: Trump reveals plan to address Middle East, play golf ‘quickly’, and restore jobs

Breaking with White House custom, president acknowledges he will find time for golf with Tiger Woods after phone call with Turkish president

Donald Trump broke with White House custom on Friday by admitting he was playing golf. He would fit in a quick round with Tiger Woods, he said, after seeking peace in the Middle East.

Related: Trump touts busy day of meetings then appears to play golf

Related: Trump hails ‘invisible’ plane in remarks to coast guard: ‘The enemy cannot see it’

Continue reading…

 Donald Trump | The Guardian

Donald Trump – Google News: Donald Trump wants welfare reform, says ‘people are taking advantage of the system’ – PBS NewsHour


PBS NewsHour
Donald Trump wants welfare reform, says ‘people are taking advantage of the system’
PBS NewsHour
Now, President Donald Trump wants to put his stamp on the welfare system, apparently in favor of a more restrictive policy. He says people are taking advantage of the system. Trump, who has been signaling interest in the issue for some time, said 
President Trump and accusations of sexual misconduct: The complete listWashington Post
It’s time to investigate the sexual assault charges against Donald TrumpSalon

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Putin and the Russian Mafia – Google News: New US sanctions to be directed at Putin personally, Piontkovsky says – The Ukrainian Weekly (press release)

New US sanctions to be directed at Putin personally, Piontkovsky says
The Ukrainian Weekly (press release)
It is a mistake to over-personalize things in the Russian case, he suggests. Mr. Putin may leave office but the essence of thismafia system will not change as a result by that alone. But seizing the assets of Mr. Putin and other Russians held abroad 

and more »

 Putin and the Russian Mafia – Google News

putin won US 2016 election – Google News: Putin’s meddling in US elections backfiring at home and in United States, analyst observes – The Ukrainian Weekly (press release)

Putin’s meddling in US elections backfiring at home and in United States, analyst observes
The Ukrainian Weekly (press release)
The Kremlin’s effort to affect the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections has provoked one consequence Moscow has long wanted the demoralization of the American elite but it is having other less welcome ones on both that elite and the 

and more »

 putin won US 2016 election – Google News

Palmer Report: Michael Flynn just ruined Mike Pences life

Michael Flynn just signaled that he’s negotiating a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which will all but certainly seal the fate of Donald Trump. Flynn knows most or all of Trump’s secrets when it comes to Russia, and he’ll have to cough up every last one of those secrets as part of his plea deal. But Trump isn’t the only one who is suddenly seeing his political life flashing before him.

We still don’t know for sure why he did it, but Vice President Mike Pence has been covering for Michael Flynn for at least the past year. Congress notified Pence in November that Flynn was criminally on the take from the government of Turkey, yet Pence did nothing to prevent Flynn from being appointed National Security Adviser. Pence then went on national television and lied about knowing of Flynn’s foreign entanglements.

Was Mike Pence trying to protect himself because he was also a part of the Trump-Russia-Turkey conspiracy, or was Pence merely protecting Michael Flynn in order to keep his administration from falling apart? Now that Flynn is squealing, we’re about to find out the answer. Even if Pence wasn’t in on the original criminal conspiracy, he appears to have committed obstruction of justice by trying to cover it up after the fact. That alone will be enough to make it difficult for Pence to inherit the presidency once Trump is ousted. Even if Pence does manage to assume the office, his presidency will be instantly awash in scandal, and it’ll be solely defined by that scandal for as long as it lasts.

So even as most of the headlines right now are justifiably focused on how Michael Flynn’s deal will impact Donald Trump, let’s keep one eye on the details of Flynn’s confession as it’ll seal Mike Pence’s fate as well.

The post Michael Flynn just ruined Mike Pence’s life appeared first on Palmer Report.

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Elections 2016 Investigation – Google News: How Paul Manafort is connected to the Trump, Russia investigation – Fox News


Fox News
How Paul Manafort is connected to the Trump, Russia investigation
Fox News
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, one focus of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, hides behind a car visor as he leaves his home in Alexandria, Va., after being …
Michael Flynn may cooperate with Robert Mueller’s Russia investigationPBS NewsHour
Trump-Russia investigation: Michael Flynn’s lawyers ‘split from Trump’BBC News
Flynn may be moving to cooperate with Mueller’s Russia probeABC News
Bloomberg –Chicago Tribune
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 Elections 2016 Investigation – Google News

Column: Collusion or not, Russian meddled in our election – The Island Now (blog)

Column: Collusion or not, Russian meddled in our election
The Island Now (blog)
If some obscure outside group pays for its ads with Russian rubles isn’t that a hint that someone out there was trying to poison the election process and divide us into two bitter camps? If I place an advertisement on social media accusing a politician 

and more »

Trump and the Russia investigation: What to know – Fox News


Fox News
Trump and the Russia investigation: What to know
Fox News
Before he handed over the White House to Trump, former President Barack Obama sanctioned Russia for its alleged involvement in the election a move that would eventually come back to dismantle one of Trump’s senior aides. Trump’s eldest son, Donald …
Michael Flynn breaks ties with Trump lawyers over Russia investigation reportsThe Guardian
Michael Flynn
 
may cooperate with Robert Mueller’s Russia investigationPBS NewsHour
A Split From Trump Indicates That Flynn Is Moving to Cooperate With MuellerNew York Times 
Chicago Tribune
 
Michael Flynn cuts ties with Trump legal team, signaling cooperation with special prosecutor Robert Mueller
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Chicago TribuneDaily Mail
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US elections and russia – Google News: Prague appeals court allows Russian hacker extradition to US – ABC News


RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
Prague appeals court allows Russian hacker extradition to US
ABC News
The U.S. has accused Russia of coordinating the theft and disclosure of emails from the Democratic National Committee and other institutions and individuals in the U.S. to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential electionRussia has vigorously
Czech Court Rules Russian Hacking Suspect Can Be Extradited to USRadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

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 US elections and russia – Google News

social media in trump campaign – Google News: Trump, Turkish leader discuss Syrian crisis in phone call – WPXI Pittsburgh


WPXI Pittsburgh
Trump, Turkish leader discuss Syrian crisis in phone call
WPXI Pittsburgh
Trump railed during his campaign about the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq but has boasted about progress under his watch in recent months. Trump has … Trump’s tweet was in response to one from his social media chief, Dan Scavino. Scavino …

and more »

 social media in trump campaign – Google News

crime and terror – Google News: At least 235 killed, 130 wounded in terror attack in northern Sinai – The Times of Israel


The Times of Israel
At least 235 killed, 130 wounded in terror attack in northern Sinai
The Times of Israel
Ahmed Abul Gheit, head of the Arab League which is based in Cairo, condemned the terrifying crime, his spokesman said in a statement. The Islamic State group’s Egypt branch has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers, and also civilians accused of …
Egypt mosque terror attack kills dozens after ‘terrorists detonate explosives and shoot victims with machine guns’Birmingham Mail
Jordan denounces terror attack on Egyptian mosquePetra News Agency
The Latest: Israel sends condolences to Egypt after attackTorrington Register Citizen

all 300 news articles »

 crime and terror – Google News

Facebook’s New Tool to Check Impact of Russia Ads on Users – Zacks.com


Zacks.com
Facebook’s New Tool to Check Impact of Russia Ads on Users
Zacks.com
In a blog post, the social media giant said, It is important that people understand how foreign actors tried to sow division and mistrust using Facebook before and after the 2016 US election. That’s why as we have discovered information, we have 

and more »

Saudi Crown Prince Is Beating Trump, Putin And Taylor Swift In Time’s Person Of The Year Poll – Newsweek


Newsweek
Saudi Crown Prince Is Beating Trump, Putin And Taylor Swift In Time’s Person Of The Year Poll
Newsweek
Saudi Arabia’s maverick Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, looks set to beat President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and a bevy of other high-profile figures in Time Magazine’s Person of the Year reader poll. With only two weeks to the …

and more »

Abedin – Google News: It’s Pretty Clear that Russia’s Meddling Went a Long Way to get Donald Trump Elected – ChicagoNow (blog)


ChicagoNow (blog)
It’s Pretty Clear that Russia’s Meddling Went a Long Way to get Donald Trump Elected
ChicagoNow (blog)
He announced that some emails from Hillary Clinton to her close confidante and aid, Huma Abedin were forwarded toAbedin’s husband, Anthony Weiner. There could not have been a better timed or more salacious revelation for TrumpRussia. Weiner, in …

and more »

 Abedin – Google News

Trump – Google News: Congress has handed Trump a historic presidential victory – CNBC


CNBC
Congress has handed Trump a historic presidential victory
CNBC
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is giving President Trump yet another major victory on judicial nominations. None of this would have been possible without Harry Reid’s decision to kill the filibuster. The result is Trump will get to 

and more »

 Trump – Google News


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6:29 AM 11/24/2017 – Flynn’s lawyers end communication with Trump team, signaling cooperation with Mueller: NY Times – Reuters

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Robert Muellers persistence pays off as he finally gets his man
Flynn Lawyers Are Said to Stop Cooperation With Trump Legal Team – Bloomberg
‘Keep coming at me guys!!!’: Donald Trump Jr. meets Russia scrutiny with defiance – Chicago Tribune

Flynn’s lawyers end communication with Trump team, signaling cooperation with Mueller: NY Times – Reuters

Michael Flynn may now be cooperating with Russia investigation – CBS News
Here comes Donald Trumps ultimate meltdown
Michael Flynn breaks ties with Trump lawyers over Russia investigation reports
Michael Flynn breaks ties with Trump lawyers over Russia investigation reports – The Guardian
Here comes Donald Trumps ultimate meltdown
Leaders gather for EU Eastern Partnership summit – Digital Journal
Republicans are repeating a reckless cycle – Washington Post
Congress must investigate Trump’s alleged sexual misconduct – Washington Post
Former Trump Advisor Flynn May Be Cooperating With FBI on Russia Probe, NYT Reports – Haaretz
Rudy Giuliani – Google News: Former city schools boss says he would be open to top CUNY post – New York Daily News
Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr, and Jared Kushner are all now completely screwed
Rudy Giuliani – Google News: US trial of gold trader sparks concern, anger in Turkey – Digital Journal
US trial of gold trader sparks concern, anger in Turkey – Digital Journal
Michael Flynn’s Lawyers Reportedly End Communications With President Trump’s Team – TIME
Leaders gather for EU Eastern Partnership summit – Channel NewsAsia
South Korea looks to break down North’s information blockade – Financial Times
Michael Flynn’s Lawyers Reportedly End Communications With President Trump’s Team – TIME
“*Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr, and Jared Kushner are all now completely screwed
Flynn legal team no longer discussing special counsel Russia probe with Trump lawyers – ABC News
This is the part where Jared Kushner squeals like a pig and Donald Trump goes down
Donald Trump Jr. keeps up jabs at ‘liberal imperialists’ as Russian investigation gets hotter – Press Herald

 

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Robert Muellers persistence pays off as he finally gets his man

Three weeks ago, Special Counsel Robert Mueller began his first high profile arrests in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal. Since that time he hasn’t arrested anyone, at least that we know of, leading to questions of whether he had hit a wall. In reality, the details have given away that he’s been consistently plugging away behind the scenes and as of tonight, he’s finally getting his man.Attorneys for Michael Flynn have taken steps to formally separate themselves from attorneys for Donald Trump, according to the New York Times (link) which means that Flynn is cutting a deal. This essentially confirms what we’ve come to suspect about Mueller: he arrested the uncooperative Paul Manafort in order to make an example out of him, and scare the other Trump-Russia players into cutting deals before they became the next to face house arrest or worse. As far as cooperating witnesses go, Flynn is arguably the biggest catch Mueller could land.

Robert Mueller went the extra mile to get to Michael Flynn. Two weeks ago, stories surfaced in major outlets confirming that Mueller had enough evidence to arrest Flynn and his son on various severe charges. But simply arresting Flynn was never Mueller’s goal. Instead, Mueller was attempting to prove to Flynn that his life (and his son’s life) were over unless he cut a deal. It’s why Mueller circled back on the newly uncovered claim that Turkey offered Flynn a $15 million bribe as part of a kidnapping plot. It’s why Mueller interfered with the trial of Reza Zarrab this week, presumably in order to use Zarrab to prove to Flynn that he had no way out of this.

Michael Flynn can now give up the biggest secrets of the Trump campaign, including the Trump-Russia collusion meetings he participated in during the election cycle. He can directly incriminate Donald Trump himself in crimes against the United States. Robert Mueller’s persistence has paid off, and now he’s finally getting his man. Contribute to Palmer Report

The post Robert Mueller’s persistence pays off as he finally gets his man appeared first on Palmer Report.

Flynn Lawyers Are Said to Stop Cooperation With Trump Legal Team – Bloomberg
 


Bloomberg
Flynn Lawyers Are Said to Stop Cooperation With Trump Legal Team
Bloomberg 
Flynn initially drew scrutiny for a secret meeting that he and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, had with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak of Russia last December in Trump Tower. Agents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation later asked 
 
Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who was a top adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign, was forced to resign from his position as White House national security adviser just weeks into the presidency. Administration officials said Flynn
 …
Mike Flynn business partner Bijan Kian now subject of Mueller probeNBCNews.com 
Michael Flynn’s Lawyers Reportedly End Communications With President Trump’s TeamTIME
AP source: Flynn breaks with Trump team on Mueller probeWRAL.com
CBS News
all 155 
Trump won’t pay for Mike Flynn’s legal bills: OfficialCBS News
Mueller is zeroing in on Michael Flynn – AOL News – AOL.comAOL
Business InsiderWashington Examiner
all 62
 news articles »
‘Keep coming at me guys!!!’: Donald Trump Jr. meets Russia scrutiny with defiance – Chicago Tribune
 


Chicago Tribune
‘Keep coming at me guys!!!’: Donald Trump Jr. meets Russia scrutiny with defiance
Chicago Tribune 
Donald Trump Jr. had just posted a batch of private messages he exchanged with WikiLeaks during last year’s campaign, confirming reports that he communicated with the website that published stolen Democratic emails obtained by Russianmilitary …
What does your conspiracy chart say about you?Vox
UraniumGate “Secret Witness” Comes Forward; Clinton Says Trump Behind InvestigationThe New Americanall 85 news articles »

 
The Russia-related controversies have heightened Trump Jr.’s rising profile. Once a supporting character on his father’s reality show, the vice president of the family business is now an in-demand figure on the paid speaking circuit and a political and more »

Flynn’s lawyers end communication with Trump team, signaling cooperation with Mueller: NY Times – Reuters
 


The Guardian
Flynn’s lawyers end communication with Trump team, signaling cooperation with Mueller: NY Times
Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lawyers for Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, have told Trump’s legal team they can no longer discuss a probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. election, indicating Flynn may be cooperating … 
Flynn’s lawyers end communication with Trump team, signalling cooperation with Mueller – NY TimesReuters UK

Michael Flynn breaks ties with Trump lawyers over Russia investigation reportsThe Guardian 
Michael Flynn May Be Cooperating With Robert Mueller’s Russia Probe: ReportHuffPost
Ex-Trump aide Flynn moves to cooperate with Russia probe reportThe Times of Israel
CBC.ca
all 142 all 63

 news articles »

Michael Flynn may now be cooperating with Russia investigation – CBS News
 


CBS News
Michael Flynn may now be cooperating with Russia investigation
CBS News
Michael Flynn’s legal team recently informed President Trump’s lawyers that they can no longer discuss special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation– a move that indicates Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, may now be cooperating and more »

Here comes Donald Trumps ultimate meltdown

So it finally happened tonight. One of Donald Trump’s top former advisers revealed that he’s negotiating a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, meaning that what’s left of Trump’s house of cards is about to be torn to pieces. It explains why Trump has been overly eager to distract us for the past few days by randomly attacking everyone he could think of. It also means we’re about to see Trump’s ultimate meltdown any minute now.The New York Times is reporting on Thursday evening that Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser and key campaign adviser Michael Flynn is in the process of cutting a deal against Trump. It’s likely that the NY Times tipped off Trump a few days in advance by asking his White House advance comment on the story. This would explain why Trump has attacked basketball father LaVar Ball, GOP Senator Jeff Flake, football star Marshawn Lynch, and LaVar Ball again over the past few days.

The news has left Trump angry and vengeful, and he’s been trying to distract the public from the real story he’s known was coming. But now the story is officially in the wind. Not only is Michael Flynn about to sell out all of their shared dirty Trump-Russia secrets, it’s also about to set off a feeding frenzy. Various others in the Trump campaign and Trump administration are fully aware that Flynn can take them all down, and they’ll hurry up and try to cut their own deals before Flynn’s testimony results in their arrests.

Now that the story has officially surfaced and it’s every bit as ugly as he had feared, it’s about to become all too real for Donald Trump. He knows he’s screwed, he knows it’s a matter of time before he’s taken down, and we’re about to see his most unhinged meltdown yet.

The post Here comes Donald Trump’s ultimate meltdown appeared first on Palmer Report.

Michael Flynn breaks ties with Trump lawyers over Russia investigation reports

Move suggests former national security adviser could be seeking a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller over election interferenceA lawyer for former national security adviser Michael Flynn has told President Donald Trumps legal team that they are no longer communicating with them about the special counsel Robert Muellers investigation into Russian election interference.

The decision could be a sign that Flynn is moving to cooperate with Muellers investigation or to negotiate a deal for himself.

How serious are the allegations?

Related: How Trump walked into Putins web

Continue reading…

Michael Flynn breaks ties with Trump lawyers over Russia investigation reports – The Guardian
 


The Guardian
Here comes Donald Trumps ultimate meltdown

Here comes Donald Trumps ultimate meltdownHere comes Donald Trumps ultimate meltdown

Donald Trump just got the worst news possible
Leaders gather for EU Eastern Partnership summit – Digital Journal
 


Deutsche Welle
Leaders gather for EU Eastern Partnership summit
Digital Journal
… subjects like Russian influence and the war in Ukraine are off the agenda. The set-piece will focus on 20 “deliverables” — plans to help Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus tackle corruption, improve the rule of law and 
Don’t mention the war: Ukraine off the agenda at EU summitYahoo Singapore Newsall 21 news articles »

Republicans are repeating a reckless cycle – Washington Post
 


Washington Post
Republicans are repeating a reckless cycle
Washington Post
And yet most Americans oppose the big, beautiful tax cuts President Trump and his GOP Congress are pushing through the Senate. Perhaps that’s because this is not the middle-class tax cut that Republicans say it is. The Tax Policy Center’s analysis of 
Republicans push hard on GOP tax plan, but voters just aren’t that into itLos Angeles Times
Tax Reform | IGM ForumIGM Forumall 153 news articles »

Congress must investigate Trump’s alleged sexual misconduct – Washington Post
 


Washington Post
Congress must investigate Trump’s alleged sexual misconduct
Washington Post
By contrast, dozens of women have accused Weinstein of vile assaults, and New York police have reportedly launched acriminal investigation. In Trump’s case, there is a pattern. He described it himself on the tape, and the accusers corroborate his …and more »

Former Trump Advisor Flynn May Be Cooperating With FBI on Russia Probe, NYT Reports – Haaretz
 


Haaretz
Former Trump Advisor Flynn May Be Cooperating With FBI on Russia Probe, NYT Reports
Haaretz 
Lawyers for Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump‘s former national security adviser, have told Trump’s legal team they can no longer discuss a probe into Russian meddling
 
Russia has denied interfering
 in the U.S. election, indicating Flynn may be cooperating with the investigation election andTrump has said there was no collusion. The Times reported that Flynn’s lawyers had been sharing information with Trump’slegal team about the Mueller investigation. Citing four unnamed people 
Mueller is zeroing in on Michael FlynnBusiness Insiderall 150 142 news articles »

Rudy Giuliani – Google News: Former city schools boss says he would be open to top CUNY post – New York Daily News
 


New York Daily News
Former city schools boss says he would be open to top CUNY post
New York Daily News
Crew’s got a lengthy resume in education he helmed the city’s massive K-12 public school system from 1995 to 1999, under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. He is credited with creating the chancellor’s district concept that allowed his office to sink money  

 Rudy Giuliani – Google News

Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr, and Jared Kushner are all now completely screwed

On Thursday evening the New York Times reported that Michael Flynn has begun formally cutting a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Trump-Russia scandal. This explains why Flynn hasn’t yet been arrested, and it explains some curious behind the scenes moves by Mueller in recent weeks. More importantly, it means certain people in the scandal are now completely screwed. One respected legal expert, who has negotiated with Mueller before, is pointing to three names and they’re the biggest fish of all.The NYT reported that Michael Flynn’s attorneys have notified Donald Trump’s attorneys that they can no longer communicate with each other, which only happens when one client is cutting a deal against the other. This led Norm Eisen, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a CNN legal commentator, to share his experiences and insight into the development.

Eisen didn’t mince words. He started by tweeting “BAD NEWS FOR TRUMP. Flynn may or may not have dirt on the Prez, but he surely will roll over on Kush, who will flip like a pancake on daddy-in-law’s obstrution. They are gonna have to start frisking Jared for a wire in the Oval. Today is Cursegiving not Thanksgiving for POTUS.” He then added “I negotiated a cooperation deal for a target with Mueller’s office when he was US Atty and lemme tell ya, he’s not gonna give one to Flynn unless he implicates someone up the ladder. That means Kushner, Don Jr., or Big Daddy. They are all having indigestion tonight.”

In other words, Michael Flynn cutting a deal is every bit as bad news for Donald Trump and his family as one might expect. Flynn is either going to give up Trump, or he’s going to give up a family member who’s going to give up Trump. That means it’s all over for Trump, and it’s just a matter of time as the inevitable moves play out.

The post Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr, and Jared Kushner are all now completely screwed appeared first on Palmer Report.

Rudy Giuliani – Google News: US trial of gold trader sparks concern, anger in Turkey – Digital Journal
 


Digital Journal
US trial of gold trader sparks concern, anger in Turkey
Digital Journal
A court case in the United States against a leading gold trader and a top Turkish banking executive has sparked anger and anxiety in Ankara, with both US-Turkey ties and the economy at risk of damage. Turkish officials have condemned as a “plot” the … 
The
 Zarrab case: Time to re-strategize Turkey’s interests
Hurriyet Daily Newsall 5 4 news articles »

 Rudy Giuliani – Google News

US trial of gold trader sparks concern, anger in Turkey – Digital Journal
 


Digital Journal
US trial of gold trader sparks concern, anger in Turkey
Digital Journal
A court case in the United States against a leading gold trader and a top Turkish banking executive has sparked anger and anxiety in Ankara, with both US-Turkey ties and the economy at risk of damage. Turkish officials have condemned as a “plot” the … 
The
 Zarrab case: Time to re-strategize Turkey’s interests
Hurriyet Daily Newsall 5 4 news articles »

Michael Flynn’s Lawyers Reportedly End Communications With President Trump’s Team – TIME
 


TIME
Michael Flynn’s Lawyers Reportedly End Communications With President Trump’s Team
TIME
… told President Donald Trump’s legal team that they are no longer communicating with them about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference. The decision could be a sign that Flynn is moving to cooperate with
AP source: Flynn lawyers make a break with Trump teamABC News
A Split From Trump Indicates That Flynn Is Moving to Cooperate With MuellerNew York Times
Michael Flynn breaks ties with Trump lawyers over Russia investigation reportsThe Guardian
The Daily Caller
all 152 news articles »
Leaders gather for EU Eastern Partnership summit – Channel NewsAsia
 


Channel NewsAsia
Leaders gather for EU Eastern Partnership summit
Channel NewsAsia
BRUSSELS: Leaders from the European Union and six former Soviet states meet in Brussels on Friday (Nov 24) for the latest summit aimed at deepening ties, but thorny subjects like Russian influence and the war in Ukraine are off the agenda. The set 
In the East, the EU is leaving its partners behindPOLITICO.eu
Don’t mention the war: Ukraine off the agenda at EU summitYahoo Singapore Newsall 38 23 news articles »

South Korea looks to break down North’s information blockade – Financial Times
 


Financial Times
South Korea looks to break down North’s information blockade
Financial Times
US President Donald Trump has embarked on a strategy of maximum pressure, leaving all options on the table. North Korea, however, is demonstrating resilience to comprehensive international sanctions, while the estimated death toll of any military and more »

Michael Flynn’s Lawyers Reportedly End Communications With President Trump’s Team – TIME
 


TIME
“*Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr, and Jared Kushner are all now completely screwed

“*Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr, and Jared Kushner are all now completely screwedDonald Trump, Donald Trump Jr, and Jared Kushner are all now completely screwed

Turn out the lights…
Flynn legal team no longer discussing special counsel Russia probe with Trump lawyers – ABC News
 


ABC News
Flynn legal team no longer discussing special counsel Russia probe with Trump lawyers
ABC News
Lawyers for former national security adviser Michael Flynn have told President Trump’s legal team that they will no longer share information regarding special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, ABC News has …and more »

This is the part where Jared Kushner squeals like a pig and Donald Trump goes down

For the past week, we’ve seen it coming. Donald Trump’s allies leaked to the media that they were scapegoating Jared Kushner for the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Kushner fired back by leaking that Trump had told him and Ivanka to move back to New York. Trump’s legal team tipped off that it believed Michael Flynn had cut a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Now the New York Times is confirming that Flynn is in fact negotiating a deal.Michael Flynn is going to take everyone down in Donald Trump’s inner political circle who has ever committed a whiff of a crime. Flynn knows every dirty Trump-Russa deed that took place during the campaign. He knows what was really going on during the transition. Mueller wouldn’t be willing to give Flynn a deal unless Flynn is offering dirt on someone more important than himself. Flynn has enough dirt to ruin Jared Kushner’s life.

That means Jared Kushner will be the next to cut a deal of his own. In turn, Mueller will only give Kushner a deal if he gives up someone even more important and that would have to be Donald Trump himself. So now that Flynn is cutting a deal, it’s easy to draw a fairly straight line to Trump’s demise. That doesn’t it’ll be immediate. In fact, unless Trump decides he’s had enough and preemptively resigns, his ouster won’t be immediate. These things still take time, even once the biggest fish begin cooperating. But today marks the point of no return, and everyone involved knows it.

It shouldn’t take Jared Kushner long to realize that Michael Flynn’s deal means he’s screwed, and to begin working on a deal of his own. Once the Kushner deal is in place, it’ll be all popcorn and fireworks toward the finish line.

The post This is the part where Jared Kushner squeals like a pig and Donald Trump goes down appeared first on Palmer Report.

Donald Trump Jr. keeps up jabs at ‘liberal imperialists’ as Russian investigation gets hotter – Press Herald
 


Press Herald
Donald Trump Jr. keeps up jabs at ‘liberal imperialists’ as Russian investigation gets hotter
Press Herald
Donald Trump Jr. keeps up jabs at ‘liberal imperialists’ as Russian investigation gets hotter. His rising profile has … Over the course of the week, Trump Jr. went on to tweet or retweet criticism of his father’s 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton; actor and more »


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12:19 PM 11/23/2017 – Trump, Putin, Mogilevich

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Mogilevich may even have a working relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a published conversation between Leonid Derkach, the former chief of the Ukrainian security service, and former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma.

“He’s [Mogilevich] on good terms with Putin,” Derkach reportedly said. “He and Putin have been in contact since Putin was still in Leningrad.”

_______________________________

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
The Curious World of Donald Trumps Private Russian Connections
Trump mogilevich and putin – Google Search
mogilevich and putin – Google Search
The Strange Ties between Semion Mogilevich and Vladimir Putin
Semion Mogilevich – Wikipedia
Mogilevich and Putin
manafort – Google Search
Crime lord from FBIs Ten Most Wanted list seen at funeral of Russian mafia leader
mogilevich – Google Search
firtash – Google Search
Manafort took 18 trips to Moscow while working for Putin allies.
Russias Lies Are Aimed at Undermining European Democracies
Exclusive: Manafort flight records show deeper Kremlin ties than previously known – News & Observer
harding collusion – Google Search
harding collusion – Google Search
Alt-America and English Uprising review Trump, Brexit and the far right
trump and far right – Google Search
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Trump, Brexit and the far right – Google Search
Ynetnews News – Classified Israeli intel Trump disclosed to Russia revealed
Revealed: The highly sensitive Israeli intelligence on Isis that Donald Trump gave away to Russia – The Independent
Who is Bijan Kian? Feds Probe Ex-Flynn Associate for Payments From Companies With Russian and Turkish Ties
Bijan Kian – Google Search
Will Mueller Indict Kushner? Trump’s Son-in-Law Natural Target For Russia Probe, Legal Experts Say
Mueller Probing Pre-Election Flynn Meeting With Pro-Russia Congressman

 

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
The Curious World of Donald Trumps Private Russian Connections

mikenova shared this story from The American Interest.

“Tell me who you walk with and I’ll tell you who you are.”

—Cervantes

“I’ve always been blessed with a kind of intuition about people that allows me to sense who the sleazy guys are, and I stay far away.”

—Donald Trump, Surviving at the Top

Even before the November 8 election, many leading Democrats were vociferously demanding that the FBI disclose the fruits of its investigations into Putin-backed Russian hackers. Instead FBI Director Comey decided to temporarily revive his zombie-like investigation of Hillary’s emails. That decision may well have had an important impact on the election, but it did nothing to resolve the allegations about Putin. Even now, after the CIA has disclosed an abstract of its own still-secret investigation, it is fair to say that we still lack the cyberspace equivalent of a smoking gun.

Fortunately, however, for those of us who are curious about Trump’s Russian connections, there is another readily accessible body of material that has so far received surprisingly little attention. This suggests that whatever the nature of President-elect Donald Trump’s relationship with President Putin, he has certainly managed to accumulate direct and indirect connections with a far-flung privateRussian/FSU network of outright mobsters, oligarchs, fraudsters, and kleptocrats.

Any one of these connections might have occurred at random. But the overall pattern is a veritable Star Wars bar scene of unsavory characters, with Donald Trump seated right in the middle. The analytical challenge is to map this network—a task that most journalists and law enforcement agencies, focused on individual cases, have failed to do.

Of course, to label this network “private” may be a stretch, given that in Putin’s Russia, even the toughest mobsters learn the hard way to maintain a respectful relationship with the “New Tsar.” But here the central question pertains to our new Tsar. Did the American people really know they were putting such a “well-connected” guy in the White House?

The Big Picture: Kleptocracy and Capital Flight

A few of Donald Trump’s connections to oligarchs and assorted thugs have already received sporadic press attention—for example, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s reported relationship with exiled Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash. But no one has pulled the connections together, used them to identify still more relationships, and developed an image of the overall patterns.

Nor has anyone related these cases to one of the most central facts about modern Russia: its emergence since the 1990s as a world-class kleptocracy, second only to China as a source of illicit capital and criminal loot, with more than $1.3 trillion of net offshore “flight wealth” as of 2016.1

This tidal wave of illicit capital is hardly just Putin’s doing. It is in fact a symptom of one of the most epic failures in modern political economy—one for which the West bears a great deal of responsibility. This is the failure, in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse in the late 1980s, to ensure that Russia acquires the kind of strong, middle-class-centric economic and political base that is required for democratic capitalism, the rule of law, and stable, peaceful relationships with its neighbors.

CapFlight-1Instead, from 1992 to the Russian debt crisis of August 1998, the West in general—and the U.S. Treasury, USAID, the State Department, the IMF/World Bank, the EBRD, and many leading economists in particular—actively promoted and, indeed, helped to finance one of the most massive transfers of public wealth into private hands that the world has ever seen.

For example, Russia’s 1992 “voucher privatization” program permitted a tiny elite of former state-owned company managers and party apparatchiks to acquire control over a vast number of public enterprises, often with the help of outright mobsters. A majority of Gazprom, the state energy company that controlled a third of the world’s gas reserves, was sold for $230 million; Russia’s entire national electric grid was privatized for $630 million; ZIL, Russia’s largest auto company, went for about $4 million; ports, ships, oil, iron and steel, aluminum, much of the high-tech arms and airlines industries, the world’s largest diamond mines, and most of Russia’s banking system also went for a song.

In 1994–96, under the infamous “loans-for-shares” program, Russia privatized 150 state-owned companies for just $12 billion, most of which was loaned to a handful of well-connected buyers by the state—and indirectly by the World Bank and the IMF. The principal beneficiaries of this “privatization”—actually, cartelization—were initially just 25 or so budding oligarchs with the insider connections to buy these properties and the muscle to hold them.2 The happy few who made personal fortunes from this feeding frenzy—in a sense, the very first of the new kleptocrats—not only included numerous Russian officials, but also leading gringo investors/advisers, Harvard professors, USAID advisers, and bankers at Credit Suisse First Boston and other Wall Street investment banks. As the renowned development economist Alex Gerschenkron, an authority on Russian development, once said, “If we were in Vienna, we would have said, ‘We wish we could play it on the piano!’”

For the vast majority of ordinary Russian citizens, this extreme re-concentration of wealth coincided with nothing less than a full-scale 1930s-type depression, a “shock therapy”-induced rise in domestic price levels that wiped out the private savings of millions, rampant lawlessness, a public health crisis, and a sharp decline in life expectancy and birth rates.

Sadly, this neoliberal “market reform” policy package that was introduced at a Stalin-like pace from 1992 to late 1998 was not only condoned but partly designed and financed by senior Clinton Administration officials, neoliberal economists, and innumerable USAID, World Bank, and IMF officials. The few dissenting voices included some of the West’s best economic brains—Nobel laureates like James Tobin, Kenneth Arrow, Lawrence Klein, and Joseph Stiglitz. They also included Moscow University’s Sergei Glaziev, who now serves as President Putin’s chief economic advisor.3 Unfortunately, they were no match for the folks with the cash.

There was also an important intervention in Russian politics. In January 1996 a secret team of professional U.S. political consultants arrived in Moscow to discover that, as CNN put it back then, “The only thing voters like less than Boris Yeltsin is the prospect of upheaval.” The experts’ solution was one of earliest “Our brand is crisis” campaign strategies, in which Yeltsin was “spun” as the only alternative to “chaos.” To support him, in March 1996 the IMF also pitched in with $10.1 billion of new loans, on top of $17.3 billion of IMF/World Bank loans that had already been made.

With all this outside help, plus ample contributions from Russia’s new elite, Yeltsin went from just 8 percent approval in the January 1996 polls to a 54-41 percent victory over the Communist Party candidate, Gennady Zyuganov, in the second round of the July 1996 election. At the time, mainstream media like Time and the New York Times were delighted. Very few outside Russia questioned the wisdom of this blatant intervention in post-Soviet Russia’s first democratic election, or the West’s right to do it in order to protect itself.

By the late 1990s the actual chaos that resulted from Yeltsin’s warped policies had laid the foundations for a strong counterrevolution, including the rise of ex-KGB officer Putin and a massive outpouring of oligarchic flight capital that has continued virtually up to the present. For ordinary Russians, as noted, this was disastrous. But for many banks, private bankers, hedge funds, law firms, and accounting firms, for leading oil companies like ExxonMobil and BP, as well as for needy borrowers like the Trump Organization, the opportunity to feed on post-Soviet spoils was a godsend. This was vulture capitalism at its worst.

The nine-lived Trump, in particular, had just suffered a string of six successive bankruptcies. So the massive illicit outflows from Russia and oil-rich FSU members like Kazahkstan and Azerbaijan from the mid-1990s provided precisely the kind of undiscriminating investors that he needed. These outflows arrived at just the right time to fund several of Trump’s post-2000 high-risk real estate and casino ventures—most of which failed. As Donald Trump, Jr., executive vice president of development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization, told the “Bridging U.S. and Emerging Markets Real Estate” conference in Manhattan in September 2008 (on the basis, he said, of his own “half dozen trips to Russia in 18 months”):

[I]n terms of high-end product influx into the United States, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.

All this helps to explain one of the most intriguing puzzles about Donald Trump’s long, turbulent business career: how he managed to keep financing it, despite a dismal track record of failed projects.4

According to the “official story,” this was simply due to a combination of brilliant deal-making, Trump’s gold-plated brand, and raw animal spirits—with $916 million of creative tax dodging as a kicker. But this official story is hokum. The truth is that, since the late 1990s, Trump was also greatly assisted by these abundant new sources of global finance, especially from “submerging markets” like Russia

This suggests that neither Trump nor Putin is an “uncaused cause.” They are not evil twins, exactly, but they are both byproducts of the same neoliberal policy scams that were peddled to Russia’s struggling new democracy.

A Guided Tour of Trump’s Russian/FSU Connections

The following roundup of Trump’s Russo-Soviet business connections is based on published sources, interviews with former law enforcement staff and other experts in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Iceland, searches of online corporate registries,5 and a detailed analysis of offshore company data from the Panama Papers.6 Given the sheer scope of Trump’s activities, there are undoubtedly other worthy cases, but our interest is in overall patterns.

Note that none of the activities and business connections related here necessarily involved criminal conduct. While several key players do have criminal records, few of their prolific business dealings have been thoroughly investigated, and of course they all deserve the presumption of innocence. Furthermore, several of these players reside in countries where activities like bribery, tax dodging, and other financial chicanery are either not illegal or are rarely prosecuted. As former British Chancellor of the Exchequer Denis Healey once said, the difference between “legal” and “illegal” is often just “the width of a prison wall.”

So why spend time collecting and reviewing material that either doesn’t point to anything illegal or in some cases may even be impossible to verify? Because, we submit, the mere fact that such assertions are widely made is of legitimate public interest in its own right. In other words, when it comes to evaluating the probity of senior public officials, the public has the right to know about any material allegations—true, false, or, most commonly, unprovable—about their business partners and associates, so long as this information is clearly labeled as unverified.

Furthermore, the individual case-based approach to investigations employed by most investigative journalists and law enforcement often misses the big picture: the global networks of influence and finance, licit and illicit, that exist among business people, investors, kleptocrats, organized criminals, and politicians, as well as the “enablers”—banks, accounting firms, law firms, and havens. Any particular component of these networks might easily disappear without making any difference. But the networks live on. It is these shadowy transnational networks that really deserve scrutiny.

Bayrock Group LLC—Kazakhstan and Tevfik Arif

We’ll begin our tour of Trump’s Russian/FSU connections with several business relationships that evolved out of the curious case of Bayrock Group LLC, a spectacularly unsuccessful New York real estate development company that surfaced in the early 2000s and, by 2014, had all but disappeared except for a few lawsuits. As of 2007, Bayrock and its partners reportedly had more than $2 billion of Trump-branded deals in the works. But most of these either never materialized or were miserable failures, for reasons that will soon become obvious.

Bayrock’s “white elephants” included the 46-story Trump SoHo condo-hotel on Spring Street in New York City, for which the principle developer was a partnership formed by Bayrock and FL Group, an Icelandic investment company. Completed in 2010, the SoHo soon became the subject of prolonged civil litigation by disgruntled condo buyers. The building was foreclosed by creditors and resold in 2014 after more than $3 million of customer down payments had to be refunded. Similarly, Bayrock’s Trump International Hotel & Tower in Fort Lauderdale was foreclosed and resold in 2012, while at least three other Trump-branded properties in the United States, plus many other “project concepts” that Bayrock had contemplated, from Istanbul and Kiev to Moscow and Warsaw, also never happened.

Carelessness about due diligence with respect to potential partners and associates is one of Donald Trump’s more predictable qualities. Acting on the seat of the pants, he had hooked up with Bayrock rather quickly in 2005, becoming an 18 percent minority equity partner in the Trump SoHo, and agreeing to license his brand and manage the building.7

Exhibit A in the panoply of former Trump business partners is Bayrock’s former Chairman, Tevfik Arif (aka Arifov), an émigré from Kazakhstan who reportedly took up residence in Brooklyn in the 1990s. Trump also had extensive contacts with another key Bayrock Russian-American from Brooklyn, Felix Sater (aka Satter), discussed below.8 Trump has lately had some difficulty recalling very much about either Arif or Sater. But this is hardly surprising, given what we now know about them. Trump described his introduction to Bayrock in a 2013 deposition for a lawsuit that was brought by investors in the Fort Lauderdale project, one of Trump’s first with Bayrock: “Well, we had a tenant in … Trump Tower called Bayrock, and Bayrock was interested in getting us into deals.”9

According to several reports, Tevfik Arif was originally from Kazakhstan, a Soviet republic until 1992. Born in 1950, Arif worked for 17 years in the Soviet Ministry of Commerce and Trade, serving as Deputy Director of Hotel Management by the time of the Soviet Union’s collapse.10 In the early 1990s he relocated to Turkey, where he reportedly helped to develop properties for the Rixos Hotel chain. Not long thereafter he relocated to Brooklyn, founded Bayrock, opened an office in the Trump Tower, and started to pursue projects with Trump and other investors.11

Tevfik Arif was not Bayrock’s only connection to Kazakhstan. A 2007 Bayrock investor presentationrefers to Alexander Mashevich’s “Eurasia Group” as a strategic partner for Bayrock’s equity finance. Together with two other prominent Kazakh billionaires, Patokh Chodiev (aka “Shodiyev”) and Alijan Ibragimov, Mashkevich reportedly ran the “Eurasian Natural Resources Cooperation.” In Kazakhstan these three are sometimes referred to as “the Trio.”12

The Trio has apparently worked together ever since Gorbachev’s late 1980s perestroika in metals and other natural resources. It was during this period that they first acquired a significant degree of control over Kazakhstan’s vast mineral and gas reserves. Naturally they found it useful to become friends with Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s long-time ruler. Indeed, State Department cables leaked by Wikileaks in November 2010 describe a close relationship between “the Trio” and the seemingly-perpetual Nazarbayev kleptocracy.

In any case, the Trio has recently attracted the attention of many other investigators and news outlets, including the September 11 Commission Report, the GuardianForbes, and the Wall Street Journal. In addition to resource grabbing, the litany of the Trio’s alleged activities include money laundering,bribery, and racketeering.13 In 2005, according to U.S. State Department cables released by Wikileaks, Chodiev (referred to in a State Department cable as “Fatokh Shodiyev”) was recorded on video attending the birthday of reputed Uzbek mob boss Salim Abduvaliyeva and presenting him with a $10,000 “gift” or “tribute.”

According to the Belgian newspaper Le Soir, Chodiev and Mashkevich also became close associates of a curious Russian-Canadian businessman, Boris J. Birshtein. who happens to have been the father-in-law of another key Russian-Canadian business associate of Donald Trump in Toronto. We will return to Birshtein below.

The Trio also turn up in the April 2016 Panama Papers database as the apparent beneficial owners of a Cook Islands company, “International Financial Limited.”14 The Belgian newspapers Het Laatste Nieuws,Le Soir, and La Libre Belgique have reported that Chodiev paid €23 million to obtain a “Class B” banking license for this same company, permitting it to make international currency trades. In the words of a leading Belgian financial regulator, that would “make all money laundering undetectable.”

The Panama Papers also indicate that some of Arif’s connections at the Rixos Hotel Group may have ties to Kazakhstan. For example, one offshore company listed in the Panama Papers database, “Group Rixos Hotel,” reportedly acts as an intermediary for four BVI offshore companies.15 Rixos Hotel’s CEO, Fettah Tamince, is listed as having been a shareholder for two of these companies, while a shareholder in another—“Hazara Asset Management”—had the same name as the son of a recent Kazakhstan Minister for Sports and Tourism. As of 2012, this Kazakh official was described as the third-most influential deputy in the country’s Mazhilis (the lower house of Parliament), in a Forbes-Kazakhstan article.

According to a 2015 lawsuit against Bayrock by Jody Kriss, one of its former employees, Bayrock started to receive millions of dollars in equity contributions in 2004, supposedly by way of Arif’s brother in Russia, who allegedly “had access to cash accounts at a chromium refinery in Kazakhstan.”

This as-yet unproven allegation might well just be an attempt by the plaintiff to extract a more attractive settlement from Bayrock and its original principals. But it is also consistent with fact that chromium is indeed one of the Kazakh natural resources that is reportedly controlled by the Trio.

As for Arif, his most recent visible brush with the law came in 2010, when he and other members of Bayrock’s Eurasian Trio were arrested together in Turkey during a police raid on a suspected prostitution ring, according to the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot.

At the time, Turkish investigators reportedly asserted that Arif might be the head of a criminal organization that was trafficking in Russian and Ukrainian escorts, allegedly including some as young as 13.16 According to these assertions, big-ticket clients were making their selections by way of a modeling agency website, with Arif allegedly handling the logistics. Especially galling to Turkish authorities, the preferred venue was reportedly a yacht that had once belonged to the widely-revered Turkish leader Atatürk. It was also alleged that Arif may have also provided lodging for young women at Rixos Group hotels.17

According to Russian media, two senior Kazakh officials were also arrested during this incident, although the Turkish Foreign Ministry quickly dismissed this allegation as “groundless.” In the end, all the charges against Arif resulting from this incident were dismissed in 2012 by Turkish courts, and his spokespeople have subsequently denied all involvement.

Finally, despite Bayrock’s demise and these other legal entanglements, Arif has apparently remained active. For example, Bloomberg reports that, as of 2013, he, his son, and Rixos Hotels’ CEO Fettah Tamince had partnered to pursue the rather controversial business of advancing funds to cash-strapped high-profile soccer players in exchange for a share of their future marketing revenues and team transfer fees. In the case of Arif and his partners, this new-wave form of indentured servitude was reportedly implemented by way of a UK- and Malta-based hedge fund, Doyen Capital LLP. Because this practice is subject to innumerable potential abuses, including the possibility of subjecting athletes or clubs to undue pressure to sign over valuable rights and fees, UEFA, Europe’s governing soccer body, wants to ban it. But FIFA, the notorious global football regulator, has been customarily slow to act. To date, Doyen Capital LLP has reportedly taken financial gambles on several well-known players, including the Brazilian star Neymar.

The Case of Bayrock LLC—Felix Sater

Our second exhibit is Felix Sater, the senior Bayrock executive introduced earlier. This is the fellow who worked at Bayrock from 2002 to 2008 and negotiated several important deals with the Trump Organization and other investors. When Trump was asked who at Bayrock had brought him the Fort Lauderdale project in the 2013 deposition cited above, he replied: “It could have been Felix Sater, it could have been—I really don’t know who it might have been, but somebody from Bayrock.”18

SaterBizCardAlthough Sater left Bayrock in 2008, by 2010 he was reportedly back in Trump Tower as a “senior advisor” to the Trump Organization—at least on his business card—with his own office in the building.

Sater has also testified under oath that he had escorted Donald Trump, Jr. and Ivanka Trump around Moscow in 2006, had met frequently with Donald over several years, and had once flown with him to Colorado. And although this might easily have been staged, he is also reported to have visited Trump Tower in July 2016 and made a personal $5,400 contribution to Trump’s campaign.

Whatever Felix Sater has been up to recently, the key point is that by 2002, at the latest,19 Tevfik Arif decided to hire him as Bayrock’s COO and managing director. This was despite the fact that by then Felix had already compiled an astonishing track record as a professional criminal, with multiple felony pleas and convictions, extensive connections to organized crime, and—the ultimate prize—a virtual “get out of jail free card,” based on an informant relationship with the FBI and the CIA that is vaguely reminiscent of Whitey Bulger.20

Sater, a Brooklyn resident like Arif, was born in Russia in 1966. He reportedly emigrated with his family to the United States in the mid-1970s and settled in “Little Odessa.” It seems that his father, Mikhael Sheferovsky (aka Michael Sater), may have been engaged in Russian mob activity before he arrived in the United States. According to a certified U.S. Supreme Court petition, Felix Sater’s FBI handler stated that he “was well familiar with the crimes of Sater and his (Sater’s) father, a (Semion) Mogilevich crime syndicate boss.”21 A 1998 FBI report reportedly said Mogilevich’s organization had “approximately 250 members,” and was involved in trafficking nuclear materials, weapons, and more, as well as money laundering. (See below.)

But Michael Sater may have been less ambitious than his son. His only reported U.S. criminal convictioncame in 2000, when he pled guilty to two felony counts for extorting Brooklyn restaurants, grocery stores, and clinics. He was released with three years’ probation. Interestingly, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York who handled that case at the time was Loretta Lynch, who succeeded Eric Holder as U.S. Attorney General in 2014. Back in 2000, she was also overseeing a budding informant relationship and a plea bargain with Michael’s son Felix, which may help to explain the father’s sentence.

By then young Felix Sater was already well on his way to a career as a prototypical Russian-American mobster. In 1991 he stabbed a commodity trader in the face with a margarita glass stem in a Manhattan bar, severing a nerve. He was convicted of a felony and sent to prison. As Trump tells it, Sater simply “got into a barroom fight, which a lot of people do.” The sentence for this felony conviction could not have been very long, because, by 1993, 27-year-old Felix was already a trader in a brand new Brooklyn-based commodity firm called “White Rock Partners,” an innovative joint venture among four New York crime families and the Russian mob aimed at bringing state-of-the art financial fraud to Wall Street.

Five years later, in 1998, Felix Sater pled guilty to stock racketeering, as one of 19 U.S.-and Russian mob-connected traders who participated in a $40 million “pump and dump” securities fraud scheme. Facing twenty years in Federal prison, Sater and Gennady Klotsman, a fellow Russian-American who’d been with him on the night of the Manhattan bar fight, turned “snitch” and helped the Department of Justice prosecute their co-conspirators.22 Reportedly, so did Salvatore Lauria, another “trader” involved in the scheme. According to the Jody Kriss lawsuit, Lauria later joined Bayrock as an off-the-books paid “consultant.” Initially their cooperation, which lasted from 1998 until at least late 2001, was kept secret, until it was inadvertently revealed in a March 2000 press release by U.S. Attorney Lynch.

Unfortunately for Sater, about the same time the NYPD also reportedly discovered that he had been running a money-laundering scheme and illicit gun sales out of a Manhattan storage locker. He and Klotsman fled to Russia. However, according to the New York Times, which cited Klotsman and Lauria, soon after the events of September 11, 2001, the ever-creative Sater succeeded in brokering information about the black market for Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to the CIA and the FBI. According to Klotsman, this strategy “bought Felix his freedom,” allowing him to return to Brooklyn. It is still not clear precisely what information Sater actually provided, but in 2015 U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch publicly commended him for sharing information that she described as “crucial to national security.”

Meanwhile, Sater’s sentence for his financial crimes continued to be deferred even after his official cooperation in that case ceased in late 2001. His files remained sealed, and he managed to avoid any sentencing for those crimes at all until October 23, 2009. When he finally appeared before the Eastern District’s Judge I. Leo Glasser, Felix received a $25,000 fine, no jail time, and no probation in a quiet proceeding that attracted no press attention. Some compared this sentence to Judge Glasser’s earlier sentence of Mafia hit man “Sammy the Bull” Gravano to 4.5 years for 19 murders, in exchange for “cooperating against John Gotti.”

In any case, between 2002 and 2008, when Felix Sater finally left Bayrock LLC, and well beyond, his ability to avoid jail and conceal his criminal roots enabled him to enjoy a lucrative new career as Bayrock’s chief operating officer. In that position, he was in charge of negotiating aggressive property deals all over the planet, even while—according to lawsuits by former Bayrock investors—engaging in still more financial fraud. The only apparent difference was that he changed his name from “Sater” to “Satter.”23

In the 2013 deposition cited earlier, Trump went on to say “I don’t see Felix as being a member of the Mafia.” Asked if he had any evidence for this claim, Trump conceded “I have none.”24

As for Sater’s pal Klotsman, the past few years have not been kind. As of December 2016 he is in a Russian penal colony, working off a ten-year sentence for a failed $2.8 million Moscow diamond heist in August 2010. In 2016 Klotsman was reportedly placed on a “top-ten list” of Americans that the Russians were willing to exchange for high-value Russian prisoners in U.S. custody, like the infamous arms dealer Viktor Bout. So far there have been no takers. But with Donald Trump as President, who knows?

The Case of Iceland’s FL Group

One of the most serious frauds alleged in the recent Bayrock lawsuit involves FL Group, an Icelandic private investment fund that is really a saga all its own.

Iceland is not usually thought of as a major offshore financial center. It is a small snowy island in the North Atlantic, closer to Greenland than to the UK or Europe, with only 330,000 citizens and a total GDP of just $17 billion. Twenty years ago, its main exports were cod and aluminum—with the imported bauxite smelted there to take advantage of the island’s low electricity costs.

But in the 1990s Iceland’s tiny neoliberal political elite had what they all told themselves was a brilliant idea: “Let’s privatize our state-owned banks, deregulate capital markets, and turn them loose on the world!” By the time all three of the resulting privatized banks, as well as FL Group, failed in 2008, the combined bank loan portfolio amounted to more than 12.5 times Iceland’s GDP—the highest country debt ratio in the entire world.

For purposes of our story, the most interesting thing about Iceland is that, long before this crisis hit and utterly bankrupted FL Group, our two key Russian/FSU/Brooklyn mobster-mavens, Arif and Sater, had somehow stumbled on this obscure Iceland fund. Indeed, in early 2007 they persuaded FL Group to invest $50 million in a project to build the Trump SoHo in mid-town Manhattan.

According to the Kriss lawsuit, at the same time, FL Group and Bayrock’s Felix Sater also agreed in principle to pursue up to an additional $2 billion in other Trump-related deals. The Kriss lawsuit further alleges that FL Group (FLG) also agreed to work with Bayrock to facilitate outright tax fraud on more than $250 million of potential earnings. In particular, it alleges that FLG agreed to provide the $50 million in exchange for a 62 percent stake in the four Bayrock Trump projects, but Bayrock would structure the contract as a “loan.” This meant that Bayrock would not have to pay taxes on the initial proceeds, while FLG’s anticipated $250 million of dividends would be channeled through a Delaware company and characterized as “interest payments,” allowing Bayrock to avoid up to $100 million in taxes. For tax purposes, Bayrock would pretend that their actual partner was a Delaware partnership that it had formed with FLG, “FLG Property I LLC,” rather than FLG itself.

The Trump Organization has denied any involvement with FLG. However, as an equity partner in the Trump SoHo, with a significant 18 percent equity stake in this one deal alone, Donald Trump himself had to sign off on the Bayrock-FLG deal.

This raises many questions. Most of these will have to await the outcome of the Kriss litigation, which might well take years, especially now that Trump is President. But several of these questions just leap off the page.

First, how much did President-elect Trump know about the partners and the inner workings of this deal? After all, he had a significant equity stake in it, unlike many of his “brand-name only” deals, and it was also supposed to finance several of his most important East Coast properties.

Second, how did the FL Group and Bayrock come together to do this dodgy deal in the first place? One former FL Group manager alleges that the deal arrived by accident, a “relatively small deal” was nothing special on either side.25 The Kriss lawsuit, on the other hand, alleges that FLG was a well-known source of easy money from dodgy sources like Kazakhstan and Russia, and that other Bayrock players with criminal histories—like Salvatore Lauria, for example—were involved in making the introductions.

At this stage the evidence with respect to this second question is incomplete. But there are already some interesting indications that FL Group’s willingness to generously finance Bayrock’s peculiar Russian/FSU/Brooklyn team, its rather poorly-conceived Trump projects, and its purported tax dodging were not simply due to Icelandic backwardness. There is much more for us to know about Iceland’s “special” relationship with Russian finance. In this regard, there are several puzzles to be resolved.

First, it turns out that FL Group, Iceland’s largest private investment fund until it crashed in 2008, had several owners/investors with deep Russian business connections, including several key investors in all three top Iceland banks.

Second, it turns out that FL Group had constructed an incredible maze of cross-shareholding, lending, and cross-derivatives relationships with all these major banks, as illustrated by the following snapshot of cross-shareholding among Iceland’s financial institutions and companies as of 2008.26

Cross-shareholding Relationships, FLG and Other Leading Icelandic Financial Institutions, 2008Cross-shareholding Relationships, FLG and Other Leading Icelandic Financial Institutions, 2008

This thicket of cross-dealing made it almost impossible to regulate “control fraud,” where insiders at leading financial institutions went on a self-serving binge, borrowing and lending to finance risky investments of all kinds. It became difficult to determine which institutions were net borrowers or investors, as the concentration of ownership and self-dealing in the financial system just soared.

Third, FL Group make a variety of peculiar loans to Russian-connected oligarchs as well as to Bayrock. For example, as discussed below, Alex Shnaider, the Russian-Canadian billionaire who later became Donald Trump’s Toronto business partner, secured a €45.8 million loan to buy a yacht from Kaupthing Bank during the same period, while a company belonging to another Russian billionaire who reportedly owns an important vodka franchise got an even larger loan.27

Fourth, Iceland’s largest banks also made a series of extraordinary loans to Russian interests during the run-up to the 2008 crisis. For example, one of Russia’s wealthiest oligarchs, a close friend of President Putin, nearly managed to secure at least €400 million (or, some say, up to four times that much) from Kaupthing, Iceland’s largest bank, in late September 2008, just as the financial crisis was breaking wide open. This bank also had important direct and indirect investments in FL Group. Indeed, until December 2006, it is reported to have employed the FL Group private equity manager who allegedly negotiated Felix Sater’s $50 million deal in early 2007.28

Fifth, there are unconfirmed accounts of a secret U.S. Federal Reserve report that unnamed Iceland banks were being used for Russian money laundering.29 Furthermore, Kaupthing Bank’s repeated requests to open a New York branch in 2007-08 were rejected by the Fed. Similar unconfirmed rumors repeatedly appeared in Danish and German publications, as did allegations about the supposed Kazakh origins of FLG’s cash to be “laundered” in the Kriss lawsuit.

Sixth, there is the peculiar fact that, when Iceland’s banks went belly-up in October 2008, their private banking subsidiaries in Luxembourg, which were managing at least €8 billion of private assets, were suddenly seized by Luxembourg banking authorities and transferred to a new bank, Banque Havilland. This happened so fast that Iceland’s Central Bank was prevented from learning anything about the identities or portfolio sizes of the Iceland banks’ private offshore clients. But again, there were rumors of some important Russian names.

Finally, there is the rather odd phone call that Russia’s Ambassador to Iceland made to Iceland’s Prime Minister at 6:45 a.m. on October 7, 2008, the day after the financial crisis hit Iceland. According to the PM’s own account, the Russian Ambassador informed him that then-Prime Minister Putin was willing to consider offering Iceland a €4 billion Russian bailout.

Of course this alleged Putin offer was modified not long thereafter into a willingness to entertain an Icelandic negotiating team in Moscow. By the time the Iceland team got to Moscow later that year, Russia’s desire to lend had cooled, and Iceland ended up accepting a $2.1 billion IMF “stabilization package” instead. But according to a member of the negotiating team, the reasons for the reversal are still a mystery. Perhaps Putin had reconsidered because he simply decided that Russia had to worry about its own considerable financial problems. Or perhaps he had discovered that Iceland’s banks had indeed been very generous to Russian interests on the lending side, while—given Luxembourg’s actions—any Russian private wealth invested in Icelandic banks was already safe.

On the other hand, there may be a simpler explanation for Iceland’s peculiar generosity to sketchy partners like Bayrock. After all, right up to the last minute before the October 2008 meltdown, the whole world had awarded Iceland AAA ratings: Depositors queued up in London to open high-yield Iceland bank accounts, its bank stocks were booming, and the compensation paid to its financiers was off the charts. So why would anyone worry about making a few more dubious deals?

Overall, therefore, with respect to these odd “Russia-Iceland” connections, the proverbial jury is still out. But all these Icelandic puzzles are intriguing and bear further investigation.

The Case of the Trump Toronto Tower and Hotel—Alex Shnaider

Our fourth case study of Trump’s business associates concerns the 48-year-old Russian-Canadian billionaire Alex Shnaider, who co-financed the seventy-story Trump Tower and Hotel, Canada’s tallest building. It opened in Toronto in 2012. Unfortunately, like so many of Trump’s other Russia/FSU-financed projects, this massive Toronto condo-hotel project went belly-up this November and has now entered foreclosure.

According to an online profile of Shnaider by a Ukrainian news agency, Alex Shnaider was born in Leningrad in 1968, the son of “Евсей Шнайдер,” or “Evsei Shnaider” in Russian.30 A recent Forbesarticle says that he and his family emigrated to Israel from Russia when he was four and then relocated to Toronto when he was 13-14. The Ukrainian news agency says that Alex’s familly soon established “one of the most successful stories in Toronto’s Russian quarter, “ and that young Alex, with “an entrepreneurial streak,” “helped his father Evsei Shnaider in the business, placing goods on the shelves and wiping floors.”

Eventually that proved to be a great decision—Shnaider prospered in the New World. Much of this was no doubt due to raw talent. But it also appears that for a time he got significant helping hand from his (now reportedly ex-) father-in-law, another colorful Russian-Canadian, Boris J. Birshtein.

Originally from Lithuania, Birshtein, now about 69, has been a Canadian citizen since at least 1982.31 He resided in Zurich for a time in the early 1990s, but then returned to Toronto and New York.32 One of his key companies was called Seabeco SA, a “trading” company that was registered in Zurich in December 1982.33 By the early 1990s Birshtein and his partners had started many other Seabeco-related companies in a wide variety of locations, inclding Antwerp,34 Toronto,35 Winnipeg,36 Moscow, Delaware,37Panama,38 and Zurich.39 Several of these are still active.40 He often staffed them with directors and officers from a far-flung network of Russians, emissaries from other FSU countries like Kyrgyzstan and Moldova, and recent Russia/FSU emigres to Canada.41

According to the Financial Times and the FBI, in addition to running Seabeco, Birshtein was a close business associate of Sergei Mikhaylov, the reputed head of Solntsevskaya Bratva, the Russian mob’s largest branch, and the world’s highest-grossing organized crime group as of 2014, according to Fortune.42 A 1996 FBI intelligence report cited by the FT claims that Birshtein hosted a meeting in his Tel Aviv office for Mikhaylov, the Ukrainian-born Semion Mogilevich, and several other leaders of the Russo/FSU mafia, in order to discuss “sharing interests in Ukraine.”43 A subsequent 1998 FBI Intelligence report on the “Semion Mogilevich Organization” repeated the same charge,44 and described Mogilevich’s successful attempts at gaining control over Ukraine privatization assets. The FT article also described how Birshtein and his associates had acquired extraordinary influence with key Ukraine officials, including President Leonid Kuchma, with the help of up to $5 million of payoffs.45 Citing Swiss and Belgian investigators, the FT also claimed that Birshtein and Mikhaylov jointly controlled a Belgian company called MAB International in the early 1990s.46 During that period, those same investigators reportedly observed transfers worth millions of dollars between accounts held by Mikhaylov, Birshtein, and Alexander Volkov, Seabeco’s representative in Ukraine.

In 1993, the Yeltsin government reportedly accused Birshtein of illegally exporting seven million tons of Russian oil and laundering the proceeds.47 Dmytro Iakoubovski, a former associate of Birshtein’s who had also moved to Toronto, was said to be cooperating with the Russian investigation. One night a gunman fired three shots into Iakoubovski’s home, leaving a note warning him to cease his cooperation, according to a New York Times article published that year. As noted above, according to the Belgian newspaper Le Soirtwo members of Bayrock’s Eurasian Trio were also involved in Seabeco during this period as well—Patokh Chodiev and Alexander Mashkevich. Chodiev reportedly first met Birshtein through the Soviet Foreign Ministry, and then went on to run Seabeco’s Moscow office before joining its Belgium office in 1991. Le Soir further claims that Mashkevich worked for Seabeco too, and that this was actually how he and Chodiev had first met.

All this is fascinating, but what about the connections between Birshtein and Trump’s Toronto business associate, Alex Shnaider? Again, the leads we have are tantalizing.The Toronto Globe and Mail reportedthat in 1991, while enrolled in law school, young Alex Shnaider started working for Birshtein at Seabeco’s Zurich headquarters, where he was reportedly introduced to steel trading. Evidently this was much more than just a job; the Zurich company registry lists “Alex Shnaider” as a director of “Seabeco Metals AG” from March 1993 to January 1994.48

In 1994, according to this account, he reportedly left Seabeco in January 1994 to start his own trading company in Antwerp, in partnership with a Belgian trader-partner. Curiously, Le Soir also says that Mikhaylov and Birshtein co-founded MAB International in Antwerp in January 1994. Is it far-fetched to suspect that Alex Shnaider and mob boss Mikhaylov might have crossed paths, since they were both in the same city and they were both close to Shnaider’s father-in-law?

According to Forbes, soon after Shnaider moved to Antwerp, he started visiting the factories of his steel trading partners in Ukraine.49 His favorite client was the Zaporizhstal steel mill, Ukraine’s fourth largest. At the Zaporizhstal mill he reportedly met Eduard Shifrin (aka Shyfrin), a metals trader with a doctorate in metallurgical engineering. Together they founded Midland Resource Holdings Ltd. in 1994.50

As the Forbes piece argues, with privatization sweeping Eastern Europe, private investors were jockeying to buy up the government’s shares in Zaprozhstal. But most traders lacked the financial backing and political connectons to accumulate large risky positions. Shnaider and Shifrin, in contrast, started buying up shares without limit, as if their pockets and connections were very deep. By 2001 they had purchased 93 percent of the plant for about $70 million, a stake that would be worth much more just five years later, when Shnaider reportedly turned down a $1.2 billion offer.

Today, Midland Resources Holdings Ltd. reportedly generates more than $4 billion a year of revenue and has numerous subsidiaries all across Eastern Europe.51 Shnaider also reportedly owns Talon International Development, the firm that oversaw construction of the Trump hotel-tower in Toronto. All this wealth apparently helped Iceland’s FL Group decide that it could afford to extend a €45.8 million loan to Alex Shnaider in 2008 to buy a yacht.52

As of December 2016, a search of the Panama Papers database found no fewer than 28 offshore companies that have been associated with “Midland Resources Holding Limited.”53 According to the database, “Midland Resources Holding Limited” was a shareholder in at least two of these companies, alongside an individual named “Oleg Sheykhametov.”54 The two companies, Olave Equities Limited and Colley International Marketing SA, were both registered and active in the British Virgin Islands from 2007–10.55 A Russian restaurateur by that same name reportedly runs a business owned by two other alleged Solntsevskaya mob associates, Lev Kvetnoy and Andrei Skoch, both of whom appear with Sergei Mikhaylov. Of course mere inclusion in such a group photo is not evidence of wrongdoing. (See the photo here.) According to ForbesKvetnoy is the 55th richest person in Russia and Skoch, now a deputy in the Russian Duma, is the 18th.56

Finally, it is also intriguing to note that Boris Birshtein is also listed as the President of “ME Moldova Enterprises AG,” a Zurich-based company” that was founded in November 1992, transferred to the canton of Schwyz in September 1994, and liquidated and cancelled in January 1999.57 Birshstein was a member of the company’s board of directors from November 1992 to January 1994, when he became its President. At that point he was succeeded as President in June 1994 by one “Evsei Shnaider, Canadian citizen, resident in Zurich,” who was also listed as director of the company in September 1994.58 “Evsei Schnaider” is also listed in the Panama registry as a Treasurer and Director of “The Seabeco Group Inc.,” formed on December 6, 1991,59 and as treasurer and director of Seabeco Security International Inc.,” formed on December 10, 1991. As of December 2016, both companies are still in existence.60 Boris Birshtein is listed as president and director of both companies.61

The Case of Paul Manafort’s Ukrainian Oligarchs

Our fifth Trump associate profile concerns the Russo/Ukrainian connections of Paul Manafort, the former Washington lobbyist who served as Donald Trump’s national campaign director from April 2016 to August 2016. Manafort’s partner, Rick Davis, also served as national campaign manager for Senator John McCain in 2008, so this may not just be a Trump association.

One of Manafort’s biggest clients was the dubious pro-Russian Ukrainian billionaire Dmytro Firtash. By his own admission, Firtash maintains strong ties with a recurrent figure on this scene, the reputed Ukrainian/Russian mob boss Semion Mogilevich. His most important other links are almost certainly to Putin. Otherwise it is difficult to explain how this former used-car salesman could gain a lock on trading goods for gas in Turkmenistan and also become a lynchpin investor in the Swiss company RosUrEnergo, which controls Gazprom’s gas sales to Europe.62

In 2008, Manafort teamed up with a former manager of the Trump Organization to purchase the Drake Hotel in New York for up to $850 million, with Firtash agreeing to invest $112 million. According to a lawsuit brought against Manafort and Firtash, the key point of the deal was not to make a carefully-planned investment in real estate, but to simply launder part of the huge profits that Firtash had skimmed while brokering dodgy natural gas deals between Russia and Ukraine, with Mogilevich acting as a “silent partner.”

Ultimately Firtash pulled out of this Drake Hotel deal. The reasons are unclear—it has been suggested that he needed to focus on the 2015 collapse and nationalization of his Group DF’s Bank Nadra back home in Ukraine.63 But it certainly doesn’t appear to have changed his behavior. Since 2014 there has been a spate of other Firtash-related prosecutions, with the United States trying to extradict from Austria in order to stand trial on allegations that his vast spidernet “Group DF” had bribed Indian officials to secure mining licenses. The Austrian court has required him to put up a record-busting €125 million bail while he awaits a decision.64 And just last month, Spain has also tried to extradite Firtash on a separate money laundering case, involving the laundering of €10 million through Spanish property investments.

After Firtash pulled out of the deal, Manafort reportedly turned to Trump, but he declined to engage.Manafort stepped down as Trump’s campaign manager in August of 2016 in response to press investigations into his ties not only to Firtash, but to Ukraine’s previous pro-Russian Yanukovych government, which had been deposed by a uprising in 2014. However, following the November 8 election, Manafort reportedly returned to advise Trump on staffing his new administration. He got an assist from Putin—on November 30 a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry accused Ukraine of leaking stories about Manafort in an effort to hurt Trump.

The Case of “Well-Connected” Russia/FSU Mobsters

Finally, several other interesting Russian/FSU connections have a more residential flavor, but they are a source of very important leads about the Trump network.

Indeed, partly because it has no prying co-op board, Trump Tower in New York has received press attention for including among its many honest residents tax-dodgers, bribers, arms dealers, convicted cocaine traffickers, and corrupt former FIFA officials.65

One typical example involves the alleged Russian mobster Anatoly Golubchik, who went to prison in 2014 for running an illegal gambling ring out of Trump Tower—not only the headquarters of the Trump Organization but also the former headquarters of Bayrock Group LLC. This operation reportedly took up the entire 51st floor. Also reportedly involved in it was the alleged mobster Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov,66who has the distinction of making the Forbes 2008 list of the World’s Ten Most Wanted Criminals, and whose organization the FBI believes to be tied to Mogilevich’s. Even as this gambling ring was still operating in Trump Tower, Tokhtakhounov reportedly travelled to Moscow to attend Donald Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe contest as a special VIP.

In the Panama Papers database we do find the name “Anatoly Golubchik.” Interestingly, his particular offshore company, “Lytton Ventures Inc.,”67 shares a corporate director, Stanley Williams, with a company that may well be connected to our old friend Semion Mogilevich, the Russian mafia’s alleged “Boss of Bosses” who appeared so frequently in the story above. Thus Lytton Ventures Inc. shares this particular director with another company that is held under the name of “Galina Telesh.”68 According to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, multiple offshore companies belonging to Semion Mogilevich have been registered under this same name—which just happens to be that of Mogilevich’s first wife.

A 2003 indictment of Mogilevich also mentions two offshore companies that he is said to have owned, with names that include the terms “Arbat” and “Arigon.” The same corporate director shared by Golubchik and Telesh also happens to be a director of a company called Westix Ltd.,69 which shares its Moscow address with “Arigon Overseas” and “Arbat Capital.”70 And another company with that same director appears to belong to Dariga Nazarbayeva, the eldest daughter of Nursultan Nazarbayev, the long-lived President of Kazakhstan. Dariga is expected to take his place if he ever decides to leave office or proves to be mortal.

Lastly, Dmytro Firtash—the Mogilevich pal and Manafort client that we met earlier—also turns up in the Panama Papers database as part of Galina Telesh’s network neighborhood. A director of Telesh’s “Barlow Investing,” Vasliki Andreou, was also a nominee director of a Cyprus company called “Toromont Ltd.,” while another Toromont Ltd. nominee director, Annex Holdings Ltd., a St. Kitts company, is also listed as a shareholder in Firtash’s Group DF Ltd., along with Firtash himself.71 And Group DF’s CEO, who allegedly worked with Manafort to channel Firtash’s funding into the Drake Hotel venture, is also listed in the Panama Papers database as a Group DF shareholder. Moreover, a 2006Financial Times investigation identified three other offshore companies that are linked to both Firtash and Telesh.72

Anatoly Golubchiks Panama Papers Network NeighborhoodAnatoly Golubchik’s Panama Papers Network Neighborhood

Of course, all of these curious relationships may just be meaningless coincidences. After all, the director shared by Telesh and Golubchik is also listed in the same role for more than 200 other companies, and more than a thousand companies besides Arbat Capital and Arigon Overseas share Westix’s corporate address. In the burgeoning land of offshore havens and shell-game corporate citizenship, there is no such thing as overcrowding. The appropriate way to view all this evidence is to regard it as “Socratic:” raising important unanswered questions, not providing definite answers.

In any case, returning to Trump’s relationships through Trump Tower, another odd one involves the 1990s-vintage fraudulent company YBM Magnex International. YBM, ostensibly a world-class manufacturer of industrial magnets, was founded indirectly in Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 1995 by the “boss of bosses,” Semion Mogilevich, Moscow’s “brainy Don.”

This is a fellow with an incredible history, even if only half of what has been written about him is true.73Unfortunately, we have to focus here only on the bits that are most relevant. Born in Kiev, and now a citizen of Israel as well as Ukraine and Russia, Semion, now seventy, is a lifelong criminal. But he boasts an undergraduate economics degree from Lviv University, and is reported to take special pride in designing sophisticated, virtually undetectable financial frauds that take years to put in place. To pull them off, he often relies on the human frailties of top bankers, stock brokers, accountants, business magnates, and key politicians.74

In YBM’s case, for a mere $2.4 million in bribes, Semion and his henchmen spent years in the 1990s launching a product-free, fictitious company on the still-badly under-regulated Toronto Stock Exchange. Along the way they succeeded in securing the support of several leading Toronto business people and a former Ontario Province Premier to win a seat on YBM’s board. They also paid the “Big Four” accounting firm Deloitte Touche very handsomely in exchange for glowing audits. By mid-1998, YBM’s stock price had gone from less than $0.10 to $20, and Semion cashed out at least $18 million—a relatively big fraud for its day—before the FBI raid its YBM’s corporate headquarters. When it did so, it found piles of bogus invoices for magnets, but no magnets.75

In 2003, Mogilevich was indicted in Philadelphia on 45 felony counts for this $150 million stock fraud. But there is no extradition treaty between the United States and Russia, and no chance that Russia will ever extradite Semion voluntarily; he is arguably a national treasure, especially now. Acknowledging these realities, or perhaps for other reasons, the FBI quietly removed Mogilevich from its Top Ten Most Wanted list in 2015, where he had resided for the previous six years.76

For our purposes, one of the most interesting things to note about this YBM Magnex case is that its CEO was a Russian-American named Jacob Bogatin, who was also indicted in the Philadelphia case. His brother David had served in the Soviet Army in a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft unit, helping to shoot down American pilots like Senator John McCain. Since the early 1990s, David Bogatin was considered by the FBI to be one of the key members of Semion Mogilevich’s Russian organized crime family in the United States, with a long string of convictions for big-ticket Mogilevich-type offenses like financial fraud and tax dodging.

At one point, David Bogatin owned five separate condos in Trump Tower that Donald Trump had reportedly sold to him personally.77 And Vyacheslav Ivankov, another key Mogilevich lieutenant in the United States during the 1990s, also resided for a time at Trump Tower, and reportedly had in his personal phone book the private telephone and fax numbers for the Trump Organization’s office in that building.78

So what have we learned from this deep dive into the network of Donald Trump’s Russian/FSU connections?

First, the President-elect really is very “well-connected,” with an extensive network of unsavory global underground connections that may well be unprecedented in White House history. In choosing his associates, evidently Donald Trump only pays cursory attention to questions of background, character, and integrity.

Second, Donald Trump has also literally spent decades cultivating senior relationships of all kinds with Russia and the FSU. And public and private senior Russian figures of all kinds have likewise spent decades cultivating him, not only as a business partner, but as a “useful idiot.”

After all, on September 1, 1987 (!), Trump was already willing to spend a $94,801 on full-page ads in the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, and the New York Times calling for the United States to stop spending money to defend Japan, Europe, and the Persian Gulf, “an area of only marginal significance to the U.S. for its oil supplies, but one upon which Japan and others are almost totally dependent.”79

This is one key reason why just this week, Robert Gates—a registered Republican who served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents Bush and Obama, as well as former Director and Deputy Director of the CIA—criticized the response of Congress and the White House to the alleged Putin-backed hacking as far too “laid back.”80

Third, even beyond questions of illegality, the public clearly has a right to know much more than it already does about the nature of such global connections. As the opening quote from Cervantes suggests, these relationships are probably a pretty good leading indicator of how Presidents will behave once in office.

Unfortunately, for many reasons, this year American voters never really got the chance to decide whether such low connections and entanglements belong at the world’s high peak of official power. In the waning days of the Obama Administration, with the Electoral College about to ratify Trump’s election and Congress in recess, it is too late to establish the kind of bipartisan, 9/11-type commission that would be needed to explore these connections in detail.

Finally, the long-run consequence of careless interventions in other countries is that they often come back to haunt us. In Russia’s case, it just has.

1Author’s estimates; see globalhavenindustry.com for more details.

2For an overview and critical discussion, see here.

3See Lawrence Klein and Marshall Pomer, Russia’s Economic Transition Gone Awry (Stanford University Press, 2002); see also James S. Henry and Marshall Pomer, “A Pile of Ruble,” New Republic, September 7, 1998.

4See this Washington Post report, which counts just six bankruptcies to the Trump Organization’s credit, but excludes failed projects like the Trump SoHo, the Toronto condo-hotel, the Fort Lauderdale condo-hotel, and many others Trump was a minority investor or had simply licensed his brand.

5For example, the Swiss federal and cantonal corporate registries, available here.

6For ICIJ’s April 2016 “Panama Papers” database of offshore companies, see here.

7Trump’s minority equity deal with Bayrock was unlike many others, where he simply licensed his name. See this March 2008 New York Magazine piece.

8“I dealt mostly with Tevfik,” he said in 2007.

9Case 1:09-cv-21406-KMW Document 408-1. Entered on FLSD Docket 11/26/2013. p. 15.

10Source.

11Bayrock reported its co-ownership of six Rixos hotels in a 2007 press release.

12See also Salihovic, Elnur, Major Players in the Muslim Business World, p.107, and this Telegraph piece.

13See also Zambia, Mining, and Neo-LiberalismBrussels Times; and Le Soir.

14According to the Panama Papers database, “International Financial Limited” was registered on April 3, 1998, but is no longer active today, although no precise deregistration date is available. Source.

15According to the Panama Papers, “Group Rixos Hotel” is still active company, while three of the four companies it serves were struck off in 2007 and the fourth, Hazara Asset Management, in 2013.

16Source.

17See also TurizmGüncel.com and Le Grand Soir.

18Case 1:09-cv-21406-KMW Document 408-1. Entered on FLSD Docket 11/26/2013. p. 16.

19The exact date that Sater joined Bayrock is unclear. A New York Times article says 2003, but this appears to be too late. Sater says 1999, but this is much too early. A certified petition filed with the U.S. Supreme Court places the time around 2002, which is more consistent with Sater’s other activities during this period, including his cooperation with the Department of Justice on the Coppa case in 1998–2001, and his foreign travel.

20See Financial TimesNew York Times, and Washington Post. Note that previous accounts of Sater’s activities have overlooked the role that this very permissive relationship with federal law enforcement, especially the FBI, may have played in encouraging Sater’s subsequent risk-taking and financial crimes. See here.

21See here, p. 13.

22Sater’s 1998 case, never formally sealed, was U.S. v. Sater, 98-CR-1101 (E.D.N.Y.) The case in which Sater secretly informed was U.S. v. Coppa, 00-CR-196 (E.D.N.Y.). See also this piece in the Daily Beast.

23Source. Sater also may have taken other steps to conceal his criminal past. According to the 2015 lawsuit filed by x Bayrocker Jody Kriss, Arif agreed to pay Sater his $1 million salary under the table, allowing Sater to pretend that he lacked resources to compensate any victims of his prior financial frauds. See Kriss v. Bayrock, pp. 2, 18. The lawsuit also alleges that Sater may have held a majority of Bayrock’s ownership, but that Arif, Sater and other Bayrock officers may have conspired to hide this by listing Arif as the sole owner on offering documents.

24See here, p. 155.

25Author’s interview with Sigrun Davidsdottir, Iceland journalist, London, August 2016.

26See “Report of the Special Investigation Commission on the 2008 Financial Crisis” (April 12, 2010).

27These loans are disclosed in the Kaupthing Bank’s “Corporate Credit – Disclosure of Large Exposures > €40 mm.” loan book, September 15, 2008. This document was disclosed by Wikileaks in 2009. See thisTelegraph piecehttps://file.wikileaks.info/leak/kaupthing-bank-before-crash-2008.pdf, p.145 (€79.5mm construction yacht loan to Russian vodka magnate Yuri Shefler’s Serena Equity Ltd.); p. 208 (€45.8 mm yacht construction loan to Canadian-Russian billionaire Alex Shnaider’s Filbert Pacific Ltd.).

28Kriss lawsuit, op. cit.; author’s analysis of Kaupthing/ FL G employees published career histories.

29Author’s interview with an “Iceland economist,” Reykjavik, July 2016.

30Source. The passage in Russian, with the father’s name underlined, is as follows: “Родители Алекса Шнайдера владели одним из первых успешных русских магазинов в русском квартале Торонто. Алекс помогал в бизнесе отцу—Евсею Шнайдеру, расставляя на полках товар и протирая полы. С юных лет в Алексе зрела предпринимательская жилка. Живя с родителями, он стал занимать деньги у их друзей и торговать тканями и электроникой с разваливающимися в конце 80-х годов советскими предприятиями.” “Евсею Шнайдеру” is the dative case of “Евсей Шнайдер,” or “Evsei Shnaider,” the father’s name in Russian.

31The Zurich company registry reports that “Seabeco SA” (CHE-104.863.207) was initially registered on December 16, 1982, with “Boris Joseph Birshtein, Canadian citizen, resident in Toronto” as its President. It entered liquidation on May 5, 1999, in Arth, handled by the Swiss trustee Paul Barth. The Zurich company registry listed “Boris Joseph Birshtein, Canadian citizen, resident in Toronto,” as the President of Seabeco Kirgizstan AG in 1992, while “Boris Joseph Birshtein, Canadian citizen, resident in Zurich,” was listed as the company’s President in 1993. “Boris Birshtein” is also listed as the President and director of a 1991 Panama company, The Seabeco Group, Inc. as of December 6 1991. See below.

32Source.

33The Zurich company registry reports that “Seabeco SA” (CHE-104.863.207) was initially registered on December 16, 1982, with “Boris Joseph Birshtein, Canadian citizen, resident in Toronto” as its President. According to the registry, it entered liquidation on May 5, 1999. See also this. The liquidation was handled by the Swiss trustee Paul Barth, in Arth.

34For Seabeco’s Antwerp subsidiary, see here.

35“Royal HTM Group, Inc.” of Toronto, (Canadian Federal Corporation # 624476-9), owned 50-50 by Birshtein and his nephew. Source.

36Birshtein was a director of Seabeco Capital Inc. (Canadian Federal Incorporatio # 248194-4,) a Winnipeg company created June 2, 1989, and dissolved December 22, 1992.

37Since 1998, Boris Birshtein (Toronto) has also served as Chairman, CEO, and a principle shareholder of “Trimol Group Inc.,” a publicly-traded Delaware company that trades over the counter. (Symbol: TMOL). Its product line is supposedly “computerized photo identification and database management system utilized in the production of variety of secure essential government identification documents.” See Bloomberg. However, according to Trimol’s July 2015 10-K, the company has only had one customer, the former FSU member Moldova, with which Trimol’s wholly owned subsidiary Intercomsoft concluded a contract in 1996 for the producton of a National Passport and Population Registration system. That contract was not renewed in 2006, and the subsidiary and Trimol have had no revenues since then. Accordingly, as of 2016 Trimol has only two part time employees, its two principal shareholders, Birshtein and his nephew, who, directly and indirectly account for 79 percent of Trimol’s shares outstanding. According to the July 2015 10-K, Birshtein, in particular, owned 54 percent of TMOL’s outstanding 78.3 million shares, including 3.9 million by way of “Magnum Associates, Inc.,” which the 10-K says only has Birshtein as a shareholder, and 34.7 million by way of yet another Canadian company, “Royal HTM Group, Inc.” of Ontario (Canadian Federal Corporation # 624476-9), which is owned 50-50 by Birshtein and a nephew. It is interesting to note according to the Panama Papers database, a Panama company called “Magnum Associates Inc. was incorporated on December 10, 1987, and struck off on March 10, 1989. Source. As of December 2016, TMOL’s stock price was zero.

38See the case of Trimol Group Inc above. The Seabeco Group, Inc., a Panama company that was formed in December 1991, apparently still exists. Boris J. Birshtein is listed as this company’s Director and President. See “The Seabeco Group Inc.” registered in Panama by Morgan Y Morgan, 1991-12.06, with “Numero de Ficha” 254192; source here and here.

39As of December 2016, the Zurich company registry listed a Zurich company called “Conim Investment AG” (CH-020.3.002.334-7) was originally formed in May 1992, and in January 1995 was transferred to Arth, in the Canton of Schwyz, where it is still in existence. (CHE-102.029.498). This is confirmed by the Schwyz Canton registry. According to these registries, Conim Investment AG is the successor company to two other Zurich campanies, “Seabeco Kirgizstan AG,” formed in 1992, and “KD Kirgizstan Development AG,” its direct successor. Source. The Swiss federal company registry also reports the following Swiss companies in which Boris J.Birshtein has been an officer and or director, all of which are now in liquidation: (1) Seabeco Trade and Finance AG (CH-020.3.002.179-4, 4/3/92-11/30/98 ), ; (2) Seabeco SA (CHE-104.863.207,12/16/82-5/9/99) ; (3) Seabeco Metals AG (4/3/92-6/11/96); (4) BNB Trading AG (CH-020.3.002.181-9, 1/10/92-11/19/98 ); and (5) ME Moldova Enterprises AG (CH-020.3.003.104-1, 11/10/92-9/16/94). All of these liquidations were handled by the same trustee, Paul Barth in Arth.

40As of December 2016, active Birshtein companies include “Conim Investment AG” (CH-020.3.002.334-7) in the Swiss Canton of Schwyz and he Seabeco Group, Inc. in Panama.

41For example, the Zurich and Schwyz company registries indicates that the following have been board members of Birshtein companies: (1) Seabeco Trade and Finance AG: Iouri Orlov (citizen of Russia, resident of Moscow), Alexander Griaznov (citizen of Russia, resident of Basserdorf Switzerland), and Igor Filippov (citizen of Russia, resident of Basel). (2) ME Moldova Enterprises: Andrei Keptein (citizen of FSU/ Moldova; Evsei Shnaider (Russian émigré to Canada); (3) Seabeco Kirigizstan/ Conim Investment AG: Sanjarbek Almatov (citizen of Bishkek, FSU/ Kirgizstan), Toursounbek Tchynguychev (citizen of Bishkek, FSU/Kirgizstan), Evsei Shnaider (Russian émigré to Canada); (4) BNB Trading AG: Yuri Spivak (Russian émigré to Canada; (5) Seabeco Metals AG: Alex Shnaider (Russian émigré to Canada).

42Charles Clover, “Ukraine: Questions over Kuchma’s adviser cast shadows,” Financial Times, October 30, 1999, available here. See also Misha Glenny, 2009. McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld (Vintage Books), pp. 63–5.

43Clover, “Ukraine: Questions over Kuchma’s adviser cast shadows.”

44See FBI, Organizational Intelligence Unit (August 1998), “Semion Mogilevich Organization: Eurasian Organized Crime,” available here.

45Clover, “Ukraine: Questions over Kuchma’s adviser cast shadows.”

46Clover, “Ukraine: Questions over Kuchma’s adviser cast shadows.”

47Boris knows everyone,” Toronto Star, August 28, 1993.

48See Zurich corporate registry for “Seabeco Metals AG” (CH-020.3.002.181-9), formed 4/3/92 and liquidated 6/11/96.

49Source.

50Source.

51Source.

52See Kaupthing Bank, “Loan Book, September 2008,” Wikileaks.

53The Panama Papers database provides an address for “Midland Resources Holding Limited” that exactly matches the company’s corporate address in Guernsey, as noted by Bloomberg’s corporate data base. Here are the 28 companies that are associated with Midland in database: Aligory Business Ltd.; Anglesey Business Ltd.; Blue Industrial Skies Inc.; Cl 850 Aviation Holdings Ltd.; Cl 850 Aircraft Investments Ltd.; Caray Business Inc.; Challenger Aircraft Company LimitedColley International Marketing S.A.; East International Realty Ltd.; Filbert Pacific LimitedGorlane Business Inc.; Jabar IncorporatedJervois Holdings Inc.; Kerryhill Investments Corp.; Leaterby International Investments Corp.; Maddocks Equities Ltd.; Maverfin Holding Inc.; Midland Maritime Holding Ltd.; Midland River-Sea Holding Ltd.; Midland Drybulk Holding Ltd.; Midland Fundco Ltd.; Norson Investments Corp.; Olave Equities LimitedOrlion Business IncorporatedPerseus Global Inc.; Sellana Investments Global Corp.; Stogan Assets IncorporatedToomish Asset Ltd.

54With the address “11 First Tverskaya-Yamskaya Street; apt. 42; Moscow; Russia.”: herehere, and here.

55As for the Midland-related offshore vehicles still listed as active, one shareholder in two of them—Stogan Assets Incorporated and Blue Sky Industries Inc.—happens to have the same name as Russia’s Deputy Culture Minister Gregory Pirumov, reportedly arrested in March 2016 on embezzlement charges. The “Gregory Pirumov” in the Panama Papers has a registered address in Moscow (4 Beregkovskaia Quay; 121059), as do the reported agent of these two companies: “Global Secretary Services Ltd. Mal. Tolmachevskiy pereulok 10 Office No.3 Moscow, Russia 119017 Attention: Katya Skupova).” See here. A “Georgy Pirumov” is also listed separately in the Panama Papers as having been a shareholder in the same two companies. For what it is worth, in September 2016, one “Georgy Pirumov” was convicted in Moscow of “illegally taking over a building in Gogolevsky Boulevard,” and sentenced to 20 months in a minimum-security correctional facility. See The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, Sept 15, 2016. At this point, however, we need to emphasize that there is still plenty that needs to be investigated—we cannot yet confirm whether “Georgy” and “Gregory” are the same person, whether they are related, how they might be related to Shnaider’s Mineral Resources, or whether they are the same people named in the articles just noted above about criminal prosecutions.

56Source.

57See Schwyz canton corporate registry, “ME Moldova Enterprises AG,” CH-130.0.007.159-5.

58See Zurich corporate registry, “ME Moldova Enterprises AG,” CH-020.3.003.104-1 (11/10/92-9/16/94).

59See “Seabeco Group Inc.,” Panama Corporate Registry # 254192, formed 12-6-1991.

60See “Seabeco Security Intl Inc.” Panama Corporate Registry #254206, formed 12-10-1991.”

61See footnotes 58 and 59.

62Source.

63See Unian Information Agency.

64Source.

65See Transparency International Russia.

66A.K.A. “Tochtachunov.” See FBI, Organizational Intelligence Unit (August 1998), “Semion Mogilevich Organization: Eurasian Organized Crime.”

67According to the Panama Papers, as of December 2016, Lytton Ventures Inc., incorporated in 2006, was still an active company but its registration jurisdiction was listed as “unknown.”

68For Telesh’s company the director’s name is given as “Stanley Williams,” as compared with “Stanley Edward Williams” in Golubchik’s, but they have the same address. See here. Telesh’s company, Barlow Investing, was incorporated in 2004. In the PP database, as of December 2016 its status was “Transferred Out,” although its de-registration date and registration jurisdiction are unknown.

69Westix Ltd., registered in 2005, is still active, according to the Panama Papers.

70In the Panama Papers, Telesh’s company and Golubchik’s reportedly have the same director, one Stanley Williams. Williams is also reportedly a director of Westix, which shares its address with two other offshore companies that use corporate names that Mogilevich has reportedly used at least twice each in the past. Arbat Capital, registered in 2003, was still active as of December 2016, as was Arigon Overseas, registered in 2007.

71See the diagram below.

72These three offshore companies are not in the Panama Papers database. Firtash acknowledged these connections to Telesh but still told FT reporters that he didn’t know her. The three companies identified in the report are (1) Highrock Holdings, which Firtash and Telesh each reportedly owned 1/3rd of, and where Firtash served as director beginning in 2001; (2) Agatheas Holdings, where Firtash apparently replaced Telesh as director in 2003; and (3) Elmstad Trading, a Cyprus company owned by Firtash which in 2002 transferred the shares of a Russian company named Rinvey to Telesh and two other people: one of them Firtash’s lawyer and the other the wife of a reputed Mogilevich business partner. See also here.

73On Mogilevich, see, for example, this.

74See also FBI, Organizational Intelligence Unit (August 1998), “Semion Mogilevich Organization; Eurasian Organized Crime,” available here.

75Source.

76See FBI archives and Slate.

77David Cay Johnston, interview with the author, November 2016. Wayne Barrett, Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention (Regan Arts, 2016).

78Johnston, interview; see also here. In another interesting coincidence, the President of YBM Magnex was also reportedly a financial director of Highrock in the late 1990s, before Manafort-client Dmytro Firtash joined the company as a director in 2001. See note 151. Source.

79Source.

80Source.

James S. Henry, Esq. is an investigative economist and lawyer who has written widely about offshore and onshore tax havens, kleptocracy, and pirate banking. He is the author of The Blood Bankers (Basic Books, 2003,2005), a classic investigation of where the money went that was loaned to key debtor countries in the 1970s-1990s. He is a senior fellow at the Columbia University’s Center on Sustainable Investment, a Global Justice Fellow at Yale, a senior advisor at the Tax Justice Network, and a member of the New York Bar. He has pursued frontline investigations of odious debt, flight capital, and corruption in more than fifty developing countries, including Russia, China, South Africa, Brazil, the Philippines, Argentina, Venezuela, and Panama.

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The Trump administration is up to its neck in Russians

Chicago TribuneNov 6, 2017
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Ivanka Trump, senior adviser Jared Kushner and Vice President Mike Pence listen during a news conference with … really has their best interests at heart — and that he hasn’t prioritized his own personal profits or those of Vladimir Putin or his Russian business partners.”.
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Former Trump Aides Charged as Prosecutors Reveal New …

New York TimesOct 30, 2017
The United States has concluded that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia tried to tip the outcome of the 2016 election in favor of Mr. Trump. As part of that effort, Russian operatives hacked Democratic accounts and released a trove of embarrassing emails related to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. Mr. Mueller …
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The 30-year-old former member of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy advisory panel claimed he was in touch, according to the Mueller indictment, with a “female Russian national” whom he believed was President Vladimir Putin’s niece and could arrange a meeting between Trump officials and top …
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An excerpt from ‘Collusion’

MSNBCNov 16, 2017
Putin had missed perestroika and glasnost, Gorbachev’s reformist ideas, and had returned from provincial East Germany and Dresden. Putin was now carving …. One of Simpson’s subjects was Semion Mogilevich, a Ukrainian-Russian mafia don and one of the FBI’s ten most wanted individuals. Mogilevich …
Story image for mogilevich and putin from Chicago Tribune

The Trump administration is up to its neck in Russians

Chicago TribuneNov 6, 2017
Two of its key owners are Kirill Shamalov, who is married to Putin’s youngest daughter, and Gennady Timchenko, the sanctioned oligarch whose … from a businessman and Ukrainian parliamentarian named Ivan Fursin, who is closely linked to one of Russia’s most notorious criminals: Semion Mogilevich.
Story image for mogilevich and putin from New York Times

Former Trump Aides Charged as Prosecutors Reveal New …

New York TimesOct 30, 2017
The United States has concluded that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia tried to tip the outcome of the 2016 election in favor of Mr. Trump. As part of that effort, Russian operatives hacked Democratic accounts and released a trove of embarrassing emails related to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. Mr. Mueller …
Story image for mogilevich and putin from Newsweek

Trump-Russia Probe: Are Paul Manafort and Rick Gates Crooks or …

NewsweekNov 3, 2017
But anyone with basic knowledge of Russia—or access to Google—is aware that Putin is an only child (his two older brothers died before he was born) and … for businessman and Ukrainian parliamentarian Ivan Fursin, who is closely linked to one of Russia’s most notorious mobsters, Semion Mogilevich.
Roundtable: About the Mueller investigation
Galesburg Register-MailNov 3, 2017

Story image for mogilevich and putin from WhoWhatWhy / RealNewsProject (blog)

Why FBI Can’t Tell All on Trump, Russia

WhoWhatWhy / RealNewsProject (blog)Mar 27, 2017
The Trump-Sater-MogilevichPutin saga, with its intertwining domestic and international threads, is almost certainly a battleground for powerful elements in the US intelligence complex. Even unravelling one thread — the FBI’s “running” of Felix Sater as an informant — is a challenge at every level. The FBI …
The Strange Ties between Semion Mogilevich and Vladimir Putin

mikenova shared this story from Jamestown.

On March 23, 2009 the Moscow City Court ruled that Semion Mogilevich, also known as Sergiy Shneider, will remain in prison until May 23 while investigators continue to examine his case. (Kommersant Daily,March 24). This is the third extension of his detention the court has ordered since Mogilevich was arrested on January 23, 2008 and charged with abetting in a tax evasion scheme. What makes this case highly sensitive is that Mogilevich has been suspected of having close links to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the opaque gas trade between Gazprom and Ukraine and RosUkrEnergo.

Mogilevich is a former Ukrainian citizen, now residing in a prison cell in Moscow. He is wanted by the FBI on major fraud charges for his role in what is known as the “YBM Magnex Scam.” Numerous police sources claim that he is one of the leaders of the Russian mafia, a charge he denied in an interview with the BBC in 1999 when he was still at liberty living in an exclusive neighborhood in Moscow (BBC, June 12, 1999).

Mogilevich is alleged to be a secret billionaire linked to Vladimir Putin and is reputed to be a hidden business partner of Dmytro Firtash, the 50 percent owner of RosUkrEnergo, the Swiss-based gas trader, 50 percent owned by Gazprom. Firtash has consistently denied any criminal links to Mogilevich, yet he admits knowing him (Vedomosti, 27 June, 2006). Mogilevich has also been described by Leonid Derkach, the former head of the Ukrainian security service, the SBU, as a close friend of Vladimir Putin’s during a conversation with former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma.

The questions surrounding the Putin-Mogilevich relationship – if indeed there is one – are not simply theoretical; the answers touch on the nature of power in the Kremlin; how it functions and which players serve its purposes. Part of the answer can be found in the Kuchma-Derkach dialogue held in Kuchma’s office on February 8, 2000. According to a recording of the conversation made by a member of Kuchma’s security detail, Mykola Melnychenko:

Kuchma: “Have you found Mogilevich?”

Derkach: “I found him.”

Kuchma: “So, are you two working now?”

Derkach: “We’re working. We have another meeting tomorrow. He arrives incognito.

Later in the discussion Derkach revealed a few details about Mogilevich.

Derkach: “He’s on good terms with Putin. He and Putin have been in contact since Putin was still in Leningrad.”

Kuchma: “I hope we won’t have any problems because of this.”

Derkach: “They have their own affairs” (The transcript appears in the forthcoming book by J.V. Koshiw, The Politics of Kuchma – the Melnychenko Recordings August 1999 to September 2000).

A second key to the puzzle lies in the alleged relationship between Firtash and Mogilevich in the Eural Trans Gas and RosUkrEnergo, companies involved in the strategically important transit of natural gas from Central Asia to Ukraine which worked closely with Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas company apparently controlled by Putin.

In December 2005, a confidential Austrian police report noted that:

In August 2005 the FBI gave their Austrian counterparts a confidential report on frauds committed by the SMO (Semion Mogilevich Organization) in connection with gas deliveries from Turkmenistan to the Ukraine and the illegal kickback payments to [a] member of the organization… According to the FBI the actual control of ETG and RUE is held by Ivan Fursin and Oleg Palchikov. Hungarian police reported about an April 2005 meeting in Vienna between Ivan Fursin, Oleg Palchikov and Dmitri Firtash The FBI described Ivan Fursin, Oleg Palchikov and Dmitri Firtash as senior members of the SMO (Austrian Federal Criminal Investigation Agency Report on the Semion Mogilevich Criminal Organization, December 1, 2005).

Another document linking Mogilevich to Andras Knopf, the executive director of Eural Trans Gas, the Hungarian gas intermediary company created by Firtash to act as the middleman in the transit of Turkmen gas to Ukraine, is a letter allegedly written by MVD Major-General Alexander Mordovets on November 14, 1998 to the former first Deputy Head of the Department for the Struggle Against Organized Crime of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, in which Mordovets described the close criminal relationship between Knopf and Mogilevich. However, on September 16, 2004, six years after this letter surfaced, Mordovets suddenly recanted. In an affidavit sent to Mark J. MacDougall, a lawyer working for the law firm Akin Gump in Washington, DC., Mordovets claimed that he never wrote this letter implying that it was a forgery.

Mogilevich was arrested in late January 2008 on charges of abetting a tax evasion scheme by Vladimir Nekrasov, the owner of “Arbat Prestige,” a chain of Russian cosmetic stores and has remained in jail while the investigation continues to this day. The Russian police insisted that they had been unable to find and arrest Mogilevich in Moscow earlier – yet his photograph, attending services in a Moscow Synagogue appeared on the front page of Izvestia on December 7, 2004.

The official Kremlin version of Mogilevich’s role in tax evasion is difficult to believe and it could well turn out to be that Mogilevich was arrested as part of a cover up operation by the Kremlin designed to distance Putin from Firtash and Mogilevich. Putin has remained silent on his links to Firtash and Mogilevich and this might prove to be an opportune moment for western intelligence agencies to shed some light on this murky and far reaching affair.

Semion Mogilevich – Wikipedia

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Semion Yudkovich Mogilevich[1] (Ukrainian: Семен Ю́дкович Могиле́вич, tr: Semen Yudkovych Mohylevych[sɛmˈɛn ˈjudkɔwɪt͡ʃ mɔɦɪˈlɛwɪt͡ʃ]; born June 30, 1946) is a Ukrainian-born, alleged Russian organized crime boss, believed by European and United States federal law enforcement agencies to be the “boss of bosses” of most Russian Mafia syndicates in the world.[2] Mogilevich is believed to direct a vast criminal empire and is described by the FBI as “the most dangerous mobster in the world.”[3][4] He has been accused by the FBI of “weapons trafficking, contract murders, extortion, drug trafficking, and prostitution on an international scale.”[5]

Mogilevich’s nicknames include “Don Semyon” and “The Brainy Don” (because of his business acumen).[6] According to US diplomatic cables, he is said to control RosUkrEnergo, a company actively involved in Russia–Ukraine gas disputes, and a partner of Raiffeisen Bank.[7]

He lives freely in Moscow, and has three children. He is most closely associated with the Solntsevskaya Bratva crime group. Political figures he has close alliances with include Yury Luzhkov, the former Mayor of Moscow, Dmytro Firtash and Leonid Derkach, former head of the Security Service of Ukraine.[8][9]Oleksandr Turchynov, who was designated as acting President of Ukraine in February 2014, appeared in court in 2010 for allegedly destroying files pertaining to Mogilevich.[10] Alexander Litvinenko, shortly before his assassination, claimed that Mogilevich has allegedly had a “good relationship” with Vladimir Putin since the 1990s.[11]

Mogilevich and Putin

mikenova shared this story from TrumP Россия.

after-el-chapo-the-worlds-10-most-wanted-drug-lords-body-image-1453494879

Semion Mogilevich remains a subject of fascination in the Trump-Russia story.

I’ve written before about Mogilevich’s ties to Trump Tower and how the man called the most powerful Mobster in the world may be a subject of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

I thought it would be worthwhile to take a deeper dive into Mogilevich to understand who he is and what it means for Trump to be connected to him. If you want cut to the chase, here you go: Having a relationship with Mogilevich was in some ways like having a relationship with Putin himself.

Semion Mogilevich and Donald Trump both were born in June of 1946, only two weeks apart, in vastly different circumstances. Trump, as we know, was the son of a wealthy New York developer. Mogilevich was born to a Jewish family in Kiev and before he began his life of crime he earned an economics degree.

Calling Mogilevich a Mobster is a bit misleading. He is a Mobster, but he’s much more than a Russian version of Tony Soprano.

Mogilevich is better described as a secret billionaire who made his fortune in the murky gas trade between Russia and Ukraine. US Attorney Michael Mukasey said in 2008 that Mogilevich “exerts influence over large portions of the natural gas industry in parts of what used to be the Soviet Union.”

The man called “the Brainy Don” also ran a publicly-traded company that defrauded investors in the United States and Canada out of $150 million. He sells weapons and drugs, arranges contract killings, runs prostitutes — all on an international scale. He has connections and influence at the very top of the Russian oligarchy. But the biggest sign of his power and influence is that he today lives free in Russia.

How is this possible? How can an international criminal live openly in Moscow?

To understand this, consider this secretly recorded conversation between then Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Ihor Smeshko, who was then head of Ukraine’s military intelligence:

Smeshko:  “So, this is why [the American FBI]  thinks that Mogilevich’s organization, it is working completely under the cover of SBU [Ukraine’s secret service.] This is why there is this kind of cooperation there!”

Kuchma: “He [Mogilevich] has bought a dacha in Moscow, he keeps coming.

Smeshko: “He has received a passport already. By the way, the passport in Moscow is in a different name. And what is level in Moscow is … Korzhakov [the head of Boris Yeltsin’s personal security] sent two colonels to Mogilevich in Budapest in order to receive damaging information on a person … He himself did not meet them. His organization’s lieutenant, [Igor] Korol, met these colonels and gave them the documents relating to ‘Nordex’. Mogilevich has the most powerful analytical intelligence service. But Mogilevich himself is an extremely valuable agent of KGB, PGU … When they wanted to … Mogilevich … When the Soviet Union collapsed UKGB ‘K’ command did not exist yet. When one colonel wanted to he is retired, he lives there when he tried to arrest him, he got his pennyworth, they told him ‘Stop meddling! This is PGU [SVR, Russian foreign intelligence service] elite’. He has connections with [Russian businessman and former Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly] Chubais.”

This conversation, which was secretly recorded by a Kuchma bodyguard, is difficult to follow, but it gives you a sense of Mogilevich’s power and reach. First, he ran his own powerful intelligence service that was useful to a  Russian president. He was an agent of the KGB in the days of the Soviet Union and remains a source to modern Russian intelligence. And he is protected by powerful interests in Russia.

These tapes were of great interest to Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian FSB officer who was poisoned in a London hotel in 2006 with radioactive Polonium-210. Litvinenko, who hated Putin, had a role in transcribing them and publicizing them.

The British inquiry into his death went into considerable detail of the conversations on these tapes and his writings, which contain a few other fascinating bits of information on Mogilevich. In an email, Litvinenko revealed that Mogilevich had sold arms to al Qaida:

“I know beyond the doubt that Mogilevich is FSB’s long-standing agent and all his actions including the contact with al Qaida are controlled by FSB — the Russian special services. For this very reason, the FSB is hiding Mogilevich from the FBI.”

In Russia, criminals and intelligence services aren’t adversaries. They are birds of a feather. They share information. The Mob helps the state, and in return, Russian criminals like Mogilevich get to share in the riches and remain free.

As Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian history and security issues, writes,

“The Russian state is highly criminalized, and the interpenetration of the criminal underworld and the political upperworld has led the regime to use criminals from time to time as instruments of its rule.”

Mogilevich’s ties to the Russian political “upperworld” go deep. Very deep.

 

In another  secretly recorded conversation in 2000, Ukrainian PM Kuchma discusses Mogilevich with  Leonid Derkach, the former head of the Ukrainian security services.

Kuchma: “Have you found Mogilevich?”

Derkach: “I found him.”

Kuchma: “So, are you two working now?”

Derkach: “Were working. We have another meeting tomorrow. He arrives incognito.

Later in the discussion Derkach revealed a few details about Mogilevich.

Derkach: “Hes on good terms with Putin. He and Putin have been in contact since Putin was still in Leningrad.”

Kuchma: “I hope we wont have any problems because of this.”

Derkach: “They have their own affairs”

According to Litvinenko, the poisoned ex-FSB agent, Putin was Mogilevich’s “krishna” or protector in Russian underworld slang.

And this was a relationship that dated back to the early 1990s when the future Russian president was a deputy mayor in St. Petersburg.

Mogilevich have good relationship with Putin since 1994 or 1993, Litvinenko says in broken English on a tape made before his death.

Back in 1993 and 1994, Putin was deputy mayor of St. Petersburg. He was known in St. Petersburg as the man who could get things done. His approach to the criminal world  was a practical one, Karen Dawisha writes in Putin’s Kleptocracy.

The mafia and the KGB had always had points of intersection and conflict — the 1990s were no different, and the mafia had its uses. It was global, it could move money, it could hide money, and in any case, some of the money would come back to St. Petersburg for investment.  So how did Putin operate? First and foremost, he made illegal activity legal.

Most countries, even corrupt ones, go after their biggest criminals. But in Russia,  criminals have their uses.

One of these points where the interests of Mogilevich and Putin merge is in the natural gas trade. RosUkrEngero (RUE), a murky Swiss company that acts as an intermediary in gas sales between Russia and Ukraine is seen as a joint venture of sorts between the two men.

RUE is half owned by Gazprom, the Russian gas giant that is run by Putin’s cronies. The other half is nominally owned by two Ukrainian businessmen: Dmitry Firtash and a minority partner. But the U.S. government suspects that Mogilevich (see here) is the man behind the curtain at RUE.

The world was closely watching in 2008 when Russian police arrested Mogilevich on a tax evasion scheme. He posted bail and was released a year later.  Charges were dropped in 2011.

Mogilevich is part of the story, the tragedy really, of modern Russia.

Russia is a country rich in natural resources. It has great wealth below the ground. Above ground the wealth is shared by a small number of individuals who were close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin allowed this select few to enrich themselves by siphoning billions out of the country’s natural gas and oil fields, its steel and nickel mills, its fertilizer plants, the state railroads, and many more industries. In return for unimaginable wealth, these oligarchs pledged absolute fealty to Putin.

This is an operation that Mogilevich knew very well. Enriching yourself and your friends in exchange for loyalty — that’s the job of a Mafia Don. Which is exactly what Putin is.

As Sen. John McCain told late night host Seth Meyers, Russia is a “a gas station run by a mafia that is masquerading as a country.

Filed under: RussiaSemion MogilevichVladimir Putin

manafort – Google Search

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Story image for manafort from CNN

Amid legal challenges, Gates, Manafort get OK to spend …

CNNNov 21, 2017
(CNN) Former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates will be able to spend Thanksgiving with their families and leave their …
Crime lord from FBIs Ten Most Wanted list seen at funeral of Russian mafia leader

mikenova shared this story .

Officials, businessmen, and prominent figures of the Russian criminal world have come to bid final farewell to an alleged founder of the Solntsevskie OCG, Avera-mladshy (Avera-Junior).

Hundreds of people who came to see Aleksandr Averin (Avera-Mladshy, deceased on October 11) on his way included known businessmen, officials, and major figures of the Russian criminal world.

Eyewitnesses of the funeral service counted at least ten representative cars with AMR series state numbers. According to Pyaty Kanal (Channel 5), even President of the Russian Wrestling Federation, Mikhail Mamiashvili, and unnamed high-ranking employees of Prosecutor’s Office came to say goodbye to the deceased.

dsad_14152823_m.jpg

As reported by the Telegram channel Oper Slil, which regularly publishes insider information of law enforcement agencies, apart from the alleged leader of the Solntsevskie OCG (Sergey Mikhaylov aka Mikhas’), Averin’s funeral was also attended by Semion Mogilevich, who was included in the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list up to 2015.

To recall, the Russian-Ukrainian businessman linked to the Solntsevskie OCG – Semion Mogilevich – is an odious character in the West.

Law enforcement bodies of a number of countries consider Mogilevich (also known under the surnames Telesh, Schneider, Palagnyuk, Saiman, and Suvorov), who has multiple citizenships, one of the largest criminals of the world scale. In 1999, Mogilevich was declared wanted for financial crimes in the UK, and in 2003, the FBI also put him on the wanted list. In the state of Pennsylvania, Mogilevich and several of his accomplices were charged in absentia with 45 items in the case of $150-million embezzlement from the shareholders of YBM Magnex. In addition, he was suspected of money-laundering via Bank of New York. Mogilevich’s aggregate penalty in the United States amounted up to 400 years in prison. Moreover, it was previously reported about the police of Israel and Hungary (the states of which Mogilevich is also a national) having a number of questions to his business activities.

mogil.jpeg

Picture from FBI website

In Russia, where Semion Mogilevich has resided continuously for the past few years, he was detained in the case of tax evasion by Arbat-Prestige trading network along with the network’s co-owner Vladimir Nekrasov in January 2008. After a year and a half spent in a pre-trial detention center, Mogilevich was released on his own recognizance; in April 2011, the criminal case against him and Nekrasov was terminated for lack of evidence constituting an offense. It was when it became known that Semion Mogilevich under the surname Schneider had been excluded from the list of persons wanted by Interpol back in 2005. However, the Russian Interpol National Central Bureau has not given the reason for Mogilevich’s exclusion from the list.

In December 2015, the FBI also excluded Semion Mogilevich from its search register, as it became known that he resided in Russia, with which the United States did not have an agreement on extradition.

mogilevich – Google Search

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Story image for mogilevich from Daily Beast

Mueller Reveals New Manafort Link to Organized Crime

Daily BeastNov 2, 2017
Mogilevich is frequently described as “the most dangerous mobster in the world.” Currently believed to be safe in Moscow, he is, according to …
Story image for mogilevich from MSNBC

An excerpt from ‘Collusion’

MSNBCNov 16, 2017
One of Simpson’s subjects was Semion Mogilevich, a Ukrainian-Russian mafia don and one of the FBI’s ten most wanted individuals.
Story image for mogilevich from https://en.crimerussia.com/

Crime lord from FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list seen at funeral of …

<a href=”https://en.crimerussia.com/” rel=”nofollow”>https://en.crimerussia.com/</a>Oct 14, 2017
To recall, the Russian-Ukrainian businessman linked to the Solntsevskie OCG – Semion Mogilevich – is an odious character in the West.
Story image for mogilevich from Reason (blog)

Yulia Tymoshenko Warned Us About Paul Manafort Years Ago

Reason (blog)Oct 31, 2017
Tymoshenko, who served as prime minster from 2007 through 2010, was not just an enemy of Tanukovych’s but also of Firtash and Mogilevich.
firtash – Google Search

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Donald Trump’s Russia Ties: How Is Paul Manafort’s Work in …

NewsweekNov 8, 2017
RUE—the entity run by Firtash—was the conduit through which gas came from Central Asia through Gazprom’s pipes to Ukraine. The suit …
Story image for firtash from TIME

How Paul Manafort Helped Elect Russia’s Man in Ukraine

TIMEOct 31, 2017
“I can tell you he’s a real specialist,” says Manafort’s friend Dmitry Firtash, the Ukrainian billionaire and former partner to the Kremlin in the …
Story image for firtash from Kyiv Post

Diane Francis: Ukraine’s next revolution won’t be on the streets

Kyiv PostOct 27, 2017
Firtash has worked closely with the Kremlin. “There is a serious criminal investigation (into Firtash) by the general prosecutor. And (Firtash) …
Kremlin Still Labors to Destabilize Ukraine
InternationalUkraine Business JournalOct 27, 2017
Story image for firtash from HuffPost

Russia Playbook against Democratic World Forged in Ukraine

HuffPostOct 25, 2017
Firtash made billions for himself, and for Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs and officials, by controlling the sales of Russian energy through …
Story image for firtash from Breitbart News

Breitbart News

Exclusive: Manafort flight records show deeper Kremlin ties than …

Sacramento Bee1 hour ago
Ukrainian oligarch Firtash had been arrested there the prior month on U.S. charges that he helped orchestrate an $18.5 million bribery scheme …
Story image for firtash from Chicago Tribune

Feds claim ‘thousands of intercepts’ in the case of Ukrainian …

Chicago TribuneSep 15, 2017
Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash arrives for the start of his trial at the courts of justice in Vienna, Austria on Feb. 21, 2017. Firtash was arrested …
Story image for firtash from Chicago Tribune

Extradition of Ukrainian oligarch with links to Trump campaign …

Chicago TribuneAug 31, 2017
Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash arrives for the start of his trial at the courts of justice in Vienna, Austria on Feb. 21, 2017. Firtash was arrested …
Manafort took 18 trips to Moscow while working for Putin allies.

mikenova shared this story .

Political guru Paul Manafort took at least 18 trips to Moscow and was in frequent contact with Vladimir Putin’s allies for nearly a decade as a consultant in Russia and Ukraine for oligarchs and pro-Kremlin parties.

Even after the February 2014 fall of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, who won office with the help of a Manafort-engineered image makeover, the American consultant flew to Kiev another 19 times over the next 20 months while working for the smaller, pro-Russian Opposition Bloc party. Manafort went so far as to suggest the party take an anti-NATO stance, an Oppo Bloc architect has said. A key ally of that party leader, oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, was identified by an earlier Ukrainian president as a former Russian intelligence agent, “100 percent.”

It was this background that Manafort brought to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, which he joined in early 2016 and soon led. His web of connections to Russia-loyal potentates is now a focus of federal investigators.

Manafort’s flight records in and out of Ukraine, which McClatchy obtained from a government source in Kiev, and interviews with more than a dozen people familiar with his activities, including current and former government officials, suggest the links between Trump’s former campaign manager and Russia sympathizers run deeper than previously thought.

What’s now known leads some Russia experts to suspect that the Kremlin’s emissaries at times turned Manafort into an asset acting on Russia’s behalf. “You can make a case that all along he …was either working principally for Moscow, or he was trying to play both sides against each other just to maximize his profits,” said Daniel Fried, a former assistant secretary of state who communicated with Manafort during Yanukovych’s reign in President George W. Bush’s second term.

“He’s at best got a conflict of interest and at worst is really doing Putin’s bidding,” said Fried, now a fellow with the Atlantic Council.

A central question for Justice Department Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and several congressional committees is whether Manafort, in trying to boost Trump’s underdog campaign, in any way collaborated with Russia’s cyber meddling aimed at improving Trump’s electoral prospects.

His lucrative consulting relationships have already led a grand jury convened by Mueller to charge him and an associate with conspiracy, money laundering and other felonies – charges that legal experts say are likely meant to pressure them to cooperate with the wider probe into possible collusion.

Government investigators are examining information they’ve received regarding “talks between Russians about using Manafort as part of their broad influence operations during the elections,” a source familiar with the inquiry told McClatchy.

Suspicions about Manafort have been fueled by a former British spy’s opposition research on Trump. In a now-famous dossier, former MI6 officer Christopher Steele quoted an ethnic Russian close to Trump as saying that Manafort had managed “a well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the campaign and the Kremlin.

You can make a case that he …was either working principally for Moscow, or he was trying to play both sides against each other just to maximize his profits.

Daniel Fried, an assistant secretary of state in the Bush administration

Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, called that allegation “false,” saying that Manafort “never – ever – worked for the Russian government.” He also denied that Manafort ever recommended Ukrainian opposition to NATO, saying he “was a strong advocate” of closer relations with the western military alliance while advising political parties there.

“Paul Manafort did not collude with the Russian government to undermine the 2016 election,” Maloni said. “No amount of wishing and hoping by his political opponents will make this spurious allegation true.”

Maloni declined to say whether, while in Moscow, Manafort met with any Russian government officials.

Land of the oligarchs

The trail of Manafort’s decade of dealings 5,000 miles from America’s capital is murky. But the previously unreported flight records, spanning from late 2004 through 2015, reflect a man seemingly always on the move. Over those years, Manafort visited Ukraine at least 138 times. His trips between Ukraine and Moscow all occurred between 2005 and 2011 and were mostly in 2005 and 2006.

Prosecutors have charged that Manafort and associate Rick Gates funneled through a maze of foreign accounts at least $75 million in consulting fees from an array of Kremlin-leaning clients: Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who secretly paid them $10 million annually for several years; a second Ukrainian oligarch; and the ruling Party of Regions, which supported Yanukovych until corruption allegations and bloody protests led to his overthrow in February 2014.

Maloni said Manafort’s trips to Russia were “related to his work on behalf of Oleg Deripaska’s commercial interests.”

The further unmasking of Manafort’s relationship with Deripaska in recent months, however, has heightened suspicions about Manafort.

In July 2016, weeks after he was named Trump’s campaign chairman, Manafort crafted an unusual, eyebrow-raising proposal for Deripaska, a member of Putin’s inner circle. In emails first reported by the Washington Post, Manafort offered in seemingly coded language to provide “private briefings” on the U.S. presidential race for the Russian aluminum magnate. Manafort directed a trusted associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, to relay his message to Deripaska, remarking that it could be a way to make himself “whole” — possibly an allusion to a multimillion-dollar legal action Deripaska had filed against Manafort. Kilimnik, a Ukrainian citizen, once attended a Russian military academy known for training spies.

Deripaska, who did not respond to a request for comment, has denied seeing Manafort’s proposal and says it went nowhere. Kilimnik did not respond to emailed questions, but he has denied in published reports having any connection to Russian intelligence services.

Paul Manafort did not collude with the Russian government to undermine the 2016 election. No amount of wishing and hoping by his political opponents will make this spurious allegation true.

Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee’s inquiry, told McClatchy: “It certainly looks like Mr. Manafort viewed his position on the campaign as a way of further profiting personally from the work that he was doing on behalf of Russian interests.”

Manafort’s proposal to Deripaska “shows a certain willingness to trade information in the hope of obtaining financial rewards from pro-Russian interests,” Schiff said in a phone interview. “If accurate, that’s a dangerous quality to have in a campaign chairman for a presidential campaign.”

Two former U.S. government officials with knowledge of the way Putin operates said three of the oligarchs with whom Manafort had contacts – Deripaska, Dmitry Firtash, who helped finance the party behind Yanukovych, and Medvedchuk – were potential conduits with the Kremlin.

“All three of those guys are able to pass messages directly to Putin, as well as to his subordinates and aides within the Russian presidential administration,” said one of the ex-officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. “So they all have access and Manafort knew all three or their close associates fairly well.”

No evidence has surfaced that Manafort used any of them to pass messages between the campaign and the Kremlin.

During Manafort’s five-month tenure with the campaign, Russian emissaries made at least two behind-the-scenes offers to deliver “dirt” about Clinton to Trump’s campaign, including at a June 9, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower three weeks after Manafort was promoted to campaign chairman; he attended the meeting along with Donald Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and a Russian lawyer. Trump’s aides say nothing came of that discussion, or a similar offer conveyed in April 2016 to foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos; Manafort was copied on an email relaying that offer, which said the Russians had “thousands” of emails from Democrats.

In July, days before the Democratic National Convention, the British transparency group WikiLeaks began publishing thousands of embarrassing emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia was behind the hacking, and also was responsible for the social media dissemination of a blizzard of fake and harshly critical news about Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Schiff, emphasizing he could only discuss what’s on the public record, said “these are some of the communications and interactions that are of deep interest to us, because obviously the timing is highly suggestive. It’s one of the reasons why Manafort is such a key figure in all of this.”

He certainly brought a pro-Russian proclivity to a campaign that already seemed to have one. Whether he was attracted to the trump campaign or the campaign was attracted to him on the basis of his Russian contacts … he did bring those Russian contacts and pro-Russian prejudices with him to the campaign and apparently found a welcome environment there.

California Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee

Globe-trotting consultant

Manafort first began to establish connections in Ukraine – ground zero in the geopolitical struggle between Putin’s Russia and the West – in late 2004. His reputation as a masterful political strategist and fixer was earned over decades hopping planes to the Congo, Philippines and elsewhere to advise authoritarian rulers friendly with the United States.

By the end of that year, the former Soviet republic of Ukraine was paralyzed by widespread protests amid allegations that Yanukovych, the prime minister in a government rife with corruption, had won the presidency in a rigged election. What became the Orange Revolution persisted until another, internationally monitored vote was held and rival Victor Yushchenko was declared the winner.

Manafort and a partner formed Davis Manafort Partners Inc. in early 2005 and opened offices in Kiev.

EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM

Manafort’s first client in Ukraine was Rinat Akhmetov, the country’s richest man and a key funder of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. Deripaska introduced Manafort to Akhmetov, who hailed from Russia-leaning Eastern Ukraine. In the summer of 2005, Akhmetov tapped Manafort to help Yanukovych and his party in the 2006 elections, according to an American consultant based in Kiev, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid damaging relationships.

The multimillion-dollar political consulting deal was sealed at a meeting in an elite Moscow hotel attended by Manafort, Akhmetov and a half dozen other wealthy Ukrainians.

Manafort spent the next several years advising Deripaska, Akhmetov and other Ukrainian oligarchs and giving the gruff-talking Yanukovych a makeover down to his hair style and attire. Yanukovych won the presidency in 2010.

EDITORS: END OPTIONAL TRIM

In 2014, however, Manafort’s business took a hit when Yanukovych fled to Russia, days before Kremlin-backed forces invaded Eastern Ukraine. He was quickly hired by the Opposition Bloc, which leaned even more toward Moscow.

His work drew rave reviews from one Oppo Bloc leader, Nestor Shufrych, whom multiple people in positions to know described as a close ally of Medvedchuk. Shufrych told a Ukrainian publication that Manafort urged the new party to take an anti-NATO stance and be the “voice of Russians in (Ukraine’s) East.”

Calling Manafort “a genius,” Shufrych said the party had paid him about $1 million, and the investment “paid off.”

Philip Griffin, a former associate of Manafort’s who consults in Kiev, said he could not imagine Manafort opposing NATO. “Paul Manafort is a Reagan Republican,” Griffin said. “He would never betray that legacy by doing Russia’s bidding.”

Maloni said Manafort argued strongly that “Ukraine was better served by having closer relations with the West and NATO.”

He also said Manafort succeeded in pushing “a number of major initiatives that were strongly supported by the U.S. government and opposed by Russia,” including the denuclearization of Ukraine and the expansion of NATO exercises in the region.

138 The number of trips Paul Manafort took to Ukraine between 2004 and 2015 while consulting for Russian and pro-Russian oligarchs.

Some former U.S. government officials, though, are skeptical.

Despite Ukraine’s popular uprising against Yanukovych that led to at least 75 deaths, “Paul Manafort maintained ties to the Opposition Bloc party and Viktor Yanukovych’s former cronies, thus choosing to associate himself with crooks and kleptocrats rather than Ukraine’s pro-Western reformers,” said Mike Carpenter, who focused on Russia matters as a top Pentagon and National Security Council official during the Obama administration. “This speaks volumes about his character and lack of respect for democratic values.”

One of Shufrych’s and Oppo Bloc’s behind-the-scenes allies was Medvedchuk, who is so close to Putin that the Russian president is the godfather of his daughter.

Partial transcripts from tape recordings of then-Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, published in 2002, show Kumcha saying: “Well, we know about it, that he was a KGB agent, 100 percent.”

Details of Manafort’s contacts with Medvedchuk could not be learned. But Medvedchuk, who is under U.S. sanctions, has acknowledged meeting Manafort once in 2014.

Flights of interest

Several of the trips in Manafort’s flight records could draw investigators’ interest.

In April 2014, for instance, Manafort traveled to Vienna. Ukrainian oligarch Firtash had been arrested there the prior month on U.S. charges that he helped orchestrate an $18.5 million bribery scheme involving the government of India, a U.S. firm and a Firtash company in the Virgin Islands. A former U.S. government official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Manafort met with Firtash in Vienna, where he is awaiting extradition to the United States.

Another Manafort trip that could interest investigators took place in July 2013 when Manafort and Kilimnik flew to Frankfurt on a private plane owned by Andrey Artemenko, a pro-Moscow Ukrainian legislator.

American experts on Russia said privately they suspect the trip was a prelude to a broader Russian influence effort to dissuade Yanukovych’s government from signing an agreement to associate with the European Union. That decision, experts say, opened the door to Russia’s 2014 invasion of eastern Ukraine. This year, Artemenko was expelled from the Ukrainian legislature and his citizenship was revoked after disclosures he and a Trump attorney had pitched a “peace plan” for Ukraine and Russia widely seen as favoring Moscow.

Pro-Russia stances

Some of Trump’s most remarked-upon statements about foreign policy that directly or indirectly implicated Russia occurred on Manafort’s watch in the 2016 campaign. For example, Trump launched broadsides against NATO allies for not contributing enough money and suggested the United States might rethink its commitment to the European mutual defense alliance credited with deterring Russian military ambitions.

Trump also raised doubts about whether he would stand behind U.S. sanctions that President Barack Obama imposed in December 2014 in retaliation for the Crimean invasion.

As the GOP platform committee drew up party positions a week before the Republican National Convention, a plank calling for the United States to provide “lethal weapons” for Ukraine’s defense wasaltered in a controversial and mysterious move. The American consultant in Ukraine said that Manafort aide Kilimnik had boasted he played a role in easing the language to recommend only “appropriate assistance” to Ukraine’s military.

EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM

Charlie Black, a onetime partner of Manafort’s, says he remains baffled by the change.

“It was inexplicable to me that a majority of platform members would have taken a pro-Russian position on Ukraine,” he said. “They must not have known this was a pro-Russia provision.”

EDITORS: END OPTIONAL TRIM

In late July after FBI Director James Comey said he would not back prosecution of Clinton over her use of a private email server to conduct State Department business, Trump took a bizarre step. He publicly beseeched Russia to help unearth 30,000 emails that Clinton said she had deleted because they dealt with personal matters.

Paul Manafort maintained ties to the Opposition Bloc party and Viktor Yanukovych’s former cronies, thus choosing to associate himself with crooks and kleptocrats rather than Ukraine’s pro-Western reformers.

Mike Carpenter, senior Pentagon and White House official who specialized in Russia during the Obama administration.

During the summer, a U.S. group supporting Ukraine asked both presidential candidates for a letter recognizing the country’s 25th year of independence since the fall of the Soviet Union. Clinton obliged. But the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America was unable to wrest a letter from the Trump campaign, said a person familiar with the matter. The group’s president did not respond to phone messages.

Manafort resigned from the campaign on Aug. 19, 2016 after The New York Times disclosed a secret Ukrainian ledger indicating he was to receive more than $12 million in off-the-books payments from Yanukovych’s party from 2007 to 2012.

Schiff said he found an intriguing symmetry between Trump’s Russia stances and Manafort’s work in Kiev that might explain their mutual attraction.

“Whether he was attracted to the Trump campaign or the campaign was attracted to him on the basis of his Russian contacts,” Schiff said, “the fact of the matter is, he did bring those Russian contacts and pro-Russian prejudices with him to the campaign and apparently found a welcome home there.”

Kevin G. Hall, James Whitlow and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project contributed to this story. Peter Stone is a McClatchy special correspondent.

Russias Lies Are Aimed at Undermining European Democracies

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Exclusive: Manafort flight records show deeper Kremlin ties than previously known – News & Observer

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Exclusive: Manafort flight records show deeper Kremlin ties than previously known
News & Observer
A key ally of that party leader, oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, was identified by an earlier Ukrainian president as a formerRussian intelligence agent, 100 percent. It was this background that Manafort brought to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign 

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Journalist Investigating Trump And Russia Says ‘Full Picture Is One …

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Vanity FairNov 16, 2017
“Check their values against the money Trump secured via loans,” the former spy said, according to a conversation detailed in Harding’s new book, Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. “The difference is what’s important.” According to his book, Steele did not …
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POLITICO MagazineNov 19, 2017
It was 1984 and General Vladimir Alexandrovich Kryuchkov had a problem. The general occupied one of the KGB’s most exalted posts. He was head of the First Chief Directorate, the prestigious KGB arm responsible for gathering foreign intelligence. Kryuchkov had begun his career with five years at the …
Alt-America and English Uprising review Trump, Brexit and the far right

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Both David Neiwerts book on the US radical right and Paul Stockers on Brexit argue that economic factors take second place in explaining populismDonald Trump is US president because just under 80,000 people in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin flipped those states his way. Many of his extra voters were working-class white men who had voted for Obama in 2012 and switched because of Trumps pledge to bring jobs back to the rust belt. They may not have liked Obamas liberal policies on gay people and guns, but for them the big issue remained the economy.

But Trump would not have won without the support of three other groups: his gains in suburban and rural counties outweighed Hillary Clintons success in the big cities; despite the reservations of the Republican establishment about his candidacy, Trump retained the partys base, particularly among religious voters (the three times married pussy-grabber won more than 80% of white evangelicals); and he energised a movement of supporters that gained him the Republican nomination, without which he wouldnt have got any votes at all.

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Washington PostNov 9, 2017
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Ynetnews News – Classified Israeli intel Trump disclosed to Russia revealed

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New information on the classified Israeli intelligence US President Donald Trump revealed to Russia has been uncovered, detailing a special operations mission by the IDF special commando unit Sayeret Matkal and the Mossad deep inside Syrian territory, it was reported in the US magazine Vanity Fair.

It was revealed in June that Israeli cyber operators were able to penetrate a small cell of extremist bomb makers in Syria who were working to make explosives resembling laptop batteries capable of bypassing X-ray machines unnoticed.

According to Vanity Fair’s report, the operation—which took place in February—aimed to acquire information on new explosive technology being developed by Ibrahim al-Asiri, an al-Qaeda’s chief bombmaker.

The meeting. R to L: Kislyak, Trump, Lavrov (Photo: EPA)The meeting. R to L: Kislyak, Trump, Lavrov (Photo: EPA)

Intelligence for the classified mission, according to an ABC report from American sources, was provided by an Israeli spy who was planted deep within ISIS territory. His life was reportedly put in danger due to Trump’s disclosure.

According to Israeli and American intelligence sources, a Sayeret Matkal commando unit and Mossad tech agents flew two Yasur helicopters over Jordanian territory into Syrian territory.

The helicopters landed a few kilometers from the target, unloaded two jeeps bearing Syrian army insignia, which the Mossad and Sayeret Matkal personnel drove into enemy territory. The details of their operation are scarce, and specifics on how they managed to gather the information is contradictory at times. According to one source, the forces installed a microphone in the room where the ISIS terror cell was to meet, but a second source claimed that the forces had retooled a telephone booth in the meeting area to pick up and transmit surrounding sounds to the IDF Intelligence Corps Unit 8200, which is responsible for collecting signal intelligence and deciphering codes.After a few days of Unit 8200 crews listening at their base in the Golan Heights to the terror cell, there was concern that Israel had been misled by their sources in the field.

Eventually, the unit picked up the voice of an ISIS soldier who described how to turn a laptop into a bomb that can be transferred to airport airfields and board a passenger plane.

When the information reached the Mossad headquarters, officials in the organization decided to share the information with their American counterparts. According to an Israeli military source, the decision to share was also due to professional arrogance stemming from a desire to impress their partners in Washington by the tasks they were able to perform.

IDF soldier repelling from a Yasur helicopter (Photo: Herzel Yosef)IDF soldier repelling from a Yasur helicopter (Photo: Herzel Yosef)

According to the magazine, the American espionage community considered the Israeli mission to be a “casebook example” of intelligence gathering of valued information being put to good use.As a result of this information, US officials, followed by the United Kingdom, have banned people from bringing laptops and electronic devices larger than a mobile phone on flights from several Muslim-majority countries.

Only four months later, after the airports adopted the new and tougher US safety regulations, the ban was gradually lifted.

The achievement was then overshadowed when, on May 10, Trump boasted to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak in a White House meeting about the his access to classified information.”I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” Trump reportedly bragged in the White House meeting, going on to brief the two on “code-word information” the US received from Israel which compromised Israel’s sources in enemy territory.

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters that Trump’s disclosure was “wholly appropriate.” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tweeted that the allies will continue to have a “deep, meaningful and unprecedented” security relationship.

President Trump himself defended his decision by saying he had an “absolute right” to share information with Moscow.

During a press conference at the White House with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump said that his meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak was “very successful and will contribute to the war on terrorism.”

Revealed: The highly sensitive Israeli intelligence on Isis that Donald Trump gave away to Russia – The Independent

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Revealed: The highly sensitive Israeli intelligence on Isis that Donald Trump gave away to Russia
The Independent
Details have emerged of the highly-classified Israeli intelligence revealed by Donald Trump to Russian officials earlier this year. The US President’s decision to spill the information during a meeting with foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was described 
Report: Trump Revealed Israeli Commando and Mossad Operation in Syria to RussiansHaaretz
Trump divulged to Russia details of a daring Israeli raid in Syria reportThe Times of Israel
Report: Trump told Russian officials of Israeli operation in Syria in MayThe Jerusalem Post
Ynetnews
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Who is Bijan Kian? Feds Probe Ex-Flynn Associate for Payments From Companies With Russian and Turkish Ties

mikenova shared this story from Newsweek.

Federal investigators probing the lobbying work of ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn are focused in part on the role of Bijan Kian, Flynn’s former business partner, according to a person interviewed by the FBI.

Investigators are also looking at whether payments from foreign clients to Flynn and his company, the now-inactive Flynn Intel Group, were lawful, according to two separate sources with knowledge of the broad inquiry into Flynn’s business activities. That includes payments by three Russian companies and Inovo, a Netherlands-based company controlled by Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin, they said.

The FBI’s interest in Kian had not been previously reported. Kian played a central role in securing and overseeing the Inovo contract, two people with knowledge of that project said.

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It is not clear whether Kian is a target of the criminal investigation or whether investigators are trying to build a fuller understanding of how Flynn’s company operated.

A person recently interviewed by the FBI in connection with the Flynn investigation said agents from the bureau’s criminal division had asked as much about Kian and his work on the project with Alptekin as they had about Flynn.

Kian did not respond to repeated requests for comment, nor did the lawyer he recently hired, Robert Trout. The FBI declined to comment.

Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, did not respond to requests for comment. Alptekin declined to comment for this story but last month told Reuters that he was satisfied with the work done by Flynn Intel Group and denied any wrongdoing.

The FBI has been investigating whether Flynn’s consulting firm lobbied on behalf of Turkey—after being paid $530,000 by Inovo—without making the proper disclosure, Reuters reported earlier this month.

The federal investigation is being run by special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller has a mandate to investigate contacts between Russia and Trump’s 2016 election campaign team and any related matters. Flynn was fired by the Trump administration in February after officials said he mischaracterized a series of phone calls with Russia’s ambassador last December.

The top Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which has separately been looking into whether Flynn made false statements in applying for security clearance, said he was also scrutinizing Kian.

“I have an interest in Bijan Kian and his interactions with General Flynn based on specific documents already obtained by the committee,” Elijah Cummings told Reuters in an email.

Kelner has sought immunity for Flynn in exchange for his testimony, saying his client “certainly has a story to tell.”

Failed Coup Opens Door

In private conversations with potential clients, Kian portrayed himself as a rainmaker for Flynn, tapping into connections cultivated during a five-year tenure as a director at the U.S. Export-Import Bank, according to one person who worked with the firm.

Alptekin told Reuters in May that his firm hired Flynn Intel Group to research Fethullah Gulen’s activities in the United States, which he suspected were “poisoning” relations between the United States and Turkey. Like Turkey President Tayyip Erdogan, Alptekin blamed the coup on followers of Gulen.

Gulen has denied any role in the coup and dismisses Turkey’s allegations that he heads a terrorist organization.

Kian oversaw key elements of the project that emerged, including a still-unfinished documentary on Gulen, according to two people involved in the project.

Inovo paid Flynn Intel Group a total of $530,000, starting in September, according to a Justice Department filing by the company in March. Flynn Intel Group paid $80,000 to Inovo in “consultancy fees,” according to the filing, which does not provide more detail on why payments were made in both directions.

On September 19, 2016, Kian and Flynn met in New York with Turkey’s foreign minister and energy minister, who is Erdogan’s son-in-law, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting.

In late October Kian invited staff of the House Homeland Security Committee to Flynn Intel Group’s headquarters in Virginia. The meeting was called to show off new mobile-phone security technology, but Kian also used the opportunity to try to get a congressional hearing on Gulen, according to a person at the meeting.

At that point, the Flynn Intel Group had only disclosed its work for Alptekin’s Inovo in a filing with Congress. It had not mentioned Inovo’s ties to Turkey.

When Justice Department officials became aware months later that Kian and other Flynn Intel Group officials had met with Turkish officials, they insisted on a fuller disclosure, people involved in those discussions said.

The Flynn Intel Group made the more detailed disclosure in its March filing with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act that said the work that Flynn and Kian did for Inovo “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.”

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Mike Flynn business partner Bijan Kian now subject of Mueller probe

<a href=”http://NBCNews.com” rel=”nofollow”>NBCNews.com</a>14 hours ago
Federal investigators are zeroing in on Bijan Kian, an Iranian-American who was a partner at the now-dissolved Flynn Intel Group, and have …
Mueller is zeroing in on Michael Flynn
Business Insider11 hours ago
Media image for Bijan Kian from Daily Beast

Daily Beast

Media image for Bijan Kian from Business Insider

Will Mueller Indict Kushner? Trump’s Son-in-Law Natural Target For Russia Probe, Legal Experts Say

mikenova shared this story from Newsweek.

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner’s failure to properly list foreign contacts on his national security clearance forms and his vast financial holdings make him a “natural” target for special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, legal experts told Newsweek.

Indeed, while there are no official indications that Kushner is a target of Mueller’s probe, he figures prominently in several exchanges that are known to be of interest to the special counsel’s team.

Kushner had contact with foreign officials during last year’s transition to the White House, at the behest of then President-elect Donald Trump. He also directly worked with data company Cambridge Analytica, whose CEO reportedly reached out to WikiLeaks to help organize the damaging Democratic emails the site published. Kushner’s also a member of Trump’s family, had glaring omissions on his security clearance forms, and his potential influence in former FBI Director James Comey’s dismissal makes him an integral player in the ongoing Trump-Russia saga that’s cast a shadow over the administration’s first year in office.

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“In the broader context here, one of the main lines of inquiry about Jared Kushner is about the omissions from his national security forms,” Savannah Law School associate professor and former White House associate counsel Andrew Wright told Newsweek Wednesday. “To the extent that he had to revise his S-86 forms…to add foreign contacts that he hadn’t done, that’s going to be a natural source of investigative interest.

“That’s going to then lead the special counsel folks to start looking into that, to all the different contacts he’s had,” added Wright, who worked in the Obama administration.

Kushner and his foreign contacts during the transition have reportedly been the focus of questions by Mueller’s team, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Trump and his administration, including Kushner, have resoundingly denied any collusion with Russia to win the election last year. Trump himself has called Mueller’s probe the greatest “political witch hunt” in the country’s history.

The special counsel’s wide-ranging probe is specifically curious about Kushner’s contacts while a United Nations resolution pertaining to Israel’s occupied settlements was before the General Assembly in December 2016, during the heart of the transition. The resolution passed 14-0, as the Obama administration opted not to use its veto power despite lobbying by the incoming Trump administration and Israel.

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner waits for President Donald Trump and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to speak at a joint statement at the White House on October 23. Kushner is now reportedly the focus of questions by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in the Trump-Russia probe.REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

To Wright’s point, Kushner’s “multiple attempts” to wrap up his security clearance forms was labeled as unprecedented by the head of the government agency charged with reviewing the forms, Newsweekreported last month.

“I have never seen that level of mistakes,” the director of the National Background Investigations Bureau, Charles Phalen, told a House subcommittee during a hearing.

Kushner has since submitted the security clearance forms three times and added an addendum with more than 100 interactions or meetings with foreign contacts, including Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, The New York Times reported in July. She was the Kremlin-linked attorney whom Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort met with at Manhattan’s Trump Tower in June 2016 to possibly obtain political opposition research on Hillary Clinton.

Kushner dismissed the meeting, but the possibility of creating a diplomatic back channel between Trump and Moscow in order to evade detection by U.S. intelligence services—as reported by The Washington Postonly brings extra scrutiny to the omissions on his clearance forms.

“I’m not sure the questions themselves signal an imminent indictment or anything, but I think they are a natural progression when you start looking at someone’s foreign contacts in total,” Wright said.

Mueller’s 12-count indictment of Manafort, which included charges of laundering $75 million through offshore accounts, was written in a way that could be applied to others within Trump’s world.

“I think a number of the counts or theories that you see in the Manafort indictment are translatable to other people within the Trump orbit, and Kushner’s one of them,” Pace Law School associate professor David Dorfman told Newsweek. “The use of real estate transactions to hide money, and possible money laundering, I think is definitely a possibility.”

While drawing similarities in how Kushner and Trump each rose in the real estate world and took over their family’s business, Dorfman noted that the potential for Kushner to lose a prized 666 Fifth Avenue property in New York and his $285 million loan with German financial titan Deutsche Bank makes him potentially vulnerable to Mueller and the Russia probe.

“Supposedly the jurisdiction of the Mueller investigation is collusion with Russians,” Dorfman said. “He’s going get there by first finding and proving substantial financial crimes and failures to report…and put the clamps on these people. And then hopefully, in his mind, someone will crack and say, ‘OK, if you give me leniency on this I’ll tell you the real story about what’s going on between people in the Trump Organization, and Trump himself maybe, and the Russians.’”

Mueller Probing Pre-Election Flynn Meeting With Pro-Russia Congressman

mikenova shared this story .

WASHINGTON — Investigators for Special Counsel Robert Mueller are questioning witnesses about an alleged September 2016 meeting between Mike Flynn, who later briefly served as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a staunch advocate of policies that would help Russia, two sources with knowledge of the investigation told NBC News.

The meeting allegedly took place in Washington the evening of Sept. 20, while Flynn was working as an adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign. It was arranged by his lobbying firm, the Flynn Intel Group. Also in attendance were Flynn’s business partners, Bijan Kian and Brian McCauley, and Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, who worked closely with his father, the sources said.

Mueller is reviewing emails sent from Flynn Intel Group to Rohrabacher’s congressional staff thanking them for the meeting, according to one of the sources, as part of his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Image: Republican U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher speaks at a news conference in Moscow, Russia on June 2, 2013.Rohrabacher, a California Republican, has pushed for better relations with Russia, traveled to Moscow to meet with officials and advocated to overturn the Magnitsky Act, the 2012 bill that froze assets of Russian investigators and prosecutors. The sources could not confirm whether Rohrabacher and Flynn discussed U.S. policy towards Russia in the alleged meeting.

The Washington Post reported in May that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, also a California Republican, was secretly recorded telling other party members, in what seemed to be a joke, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”

In September, the Wall Street Journal reported that Rohrabacher offered Trump a deal that to protect Julian Assange, creator of WikiLeaks, which released emails damaging to Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 election, from legal peril. In return for not prosecuting him for his group’s 2010 leak of State Department emails, Assange would allegedly provide proof that Russia was not the source of the hacked Democratic emails. The intelligence community has pointed to Russia as the secret provider of the email trove to WikiLeaks.

Rohrabacher’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mueller’s interest in the nature of Flynn and Rohrabacher’s discussion marks the first known time a member of Congress could be wrapped into the investigation.

Most of what has been reported about Mueller’s questioning of Flynn’s lobbying work has concerned his efforts on behalf of Turkey. Less is known about his lobbying ties to Russia, though he was paid $45,000 plus expenses for attending a gala in Moscow in December 2015 and being interviewed by RT, the Kremlin-financed cable TV news channel.

Image: Mike FlynnFlynn was fired after just 24 days as Trump’s national security adviser over misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.

Multiple sources have told NBC News that Mueller has gathered enough evidence to lead to an indictment in the investigation into Flynn and his son.

Federal investigators have been probing Flynn’s lobbying efforts on behalf of Turkey, including an alleged meeting with senior Turkish officials in December 2016 where he was offered millions of dollars to secure the return of the Turkish president’s chief rival to Turkey and see that a U.S. case against a Turkish national was dismissed.

In a statement, Flynn’s lawyers, led by Robert Kelner, said that “out of respect for the process of the various investigations” regarding the 2016 campaign, they have avoided responding to every “rumor or allegation” in the media. “But today’s news cycle has brought allegations about General Flynn, ranging from kidnapping to bribery, that are so outrageous and prejudicial that we are making an exception to our usual rule: they are false.”

A grand jury impaneled by Mueller is continuing to interview witnesses with knowledge of Flynn’s business activities over the next week, the two sources said.


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10:53 AM 11/23/2017 – “In December 2015, the FBI also excluded Semion Mogilevich from its search register…”

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mogil.jpeg

“In December 2015, the FBI also excluded Semion Mogilevich from its search register, as it became known that he resided in Russia, with which the United States did not have an agreement on extradition.”

One of Simpson’s subjects was Semion Mogilevich, a Ukrainian-Russian mafia don and one of the FBI’s ten most wanted individuals. Mogilevich, it was alleged, was behind a mysterious intermediary company, RosUkrEnergo (RUE), that imported Siberian natural gas into Ukraine. The profits were measured in billions of dollars.

Mogilevich wasn’t someone a reporter might meet; he was more myth than man. He lived in Moscow—or was it Budapest? Seemingly, the Russian state and FSB harbored him. Simpson talked to U.S. investigators. Over years, he built up a portfolio of contacts in Hungary, Israel, Cyprus. At home he knew individuals inside the Department of Justice—in particular its Organized Crime and Racketeering Section—the U.S. Treasury, and elsewhere.

By 2009 Simpson decided to quit journalism, at a time when the media industry was in all sorts of financial trouble. He cofounded his own commercial research and political intelligence firm, based in Washington, D.C. Its name was Fusion GPS. Its website gave little away. It didn’t even list an address or the downtown loft from where a team of analysts worked.

Fusion’s research would be similar to what he had done before. That meant investigating difficult corruption cases or the business activities of post-Soviet figures. There would still be a public interest dimension, only this time private clients would pay. Fusion was very good at what it did and—Simpson admitted—expensive.

______________________________

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3:54 PM 11/22/2017 Felix Sater Google News: Trump Organization Will Walk Away From Its Struggling SoHo Hotel in New York New York Times
Felix Sater – Google News: Trump Organization Will Walk Away From Its Struggling SoHo Hotel in New York – New York Times
Арест Керимова удар по Путину

 

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Crime lord from FBIs Ten Most Wanted list seen at funeral of Russian mafia leader
 

mikenova shared this story .

Officials, businessmen, and prominent figures of the Russian criminal world have come to bid final farewell to an alleged founder of the Solntsevskie OCG, Avera-mladshy (Avera-Junior).

Hundreds of people who came to see Aleksandr Averin (Avera-Mladshy, deceased on October 11) on his way included known businessmen, officials, and major figures of the Russian criminal world.

Eyewitnesses of the funeral service counted at least ten representative cars with AMR series state numbers. According to Pyaty Kanal (Channel 5), even President of the Russian Wrestling Federation, Mikhail Mamiashvili, and unnamed high-ranking employees of Prosecutor’s Office came to say goodbye to the deceased.

dsad_14152823_m.jpg

As reported by the Telegram channel Oper Slil, which regularly publishes insider information of law enforcement agencies, apart from the alleged leader of the Solntsevskie OCG (Sergey Mikhaylov aka Mikhas’), Averin’s funeral was also attended by Semion Mogilevich, who was included in the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list up to 2015.

To recall, the Russian-Ukrainian businessman linked to the Solntsevskie OCG – Semion Mogilevich – is an odious character in the West.

Law enforcement bodies of a number of countries consider Mogilevich (also known under the surnames Telesh, Schneider, Palagnyuk, Saiman, and Suvorov), who has multiple citizenships, one of the largest criminals of the world scale. In 1999, Mogilevich was declared wanted for financial crimes in the UK, and in 2003, the FBI also put him on the wanted list. In the state of Pennsylvania, Mogilevich and several of his accomplices were charged in absentia with 45 items in the case of $150-million embezzlement from the shareholders of YBM Magnex. In addition, he was suspected of money-laundering via Bank of New York. Mogilevich’s aggregate penalty in the United States amounted up to 400 years in prison. Moreover, it was previously reported about the police of Israel and Hungary (the states of which Mogilevich is also a national) having a number of questions to his business activities.

mogil.jpeg

Picture from FBI website

In Russia, where Semion Mogilevich has resided continuously for the past few years, he was detained in the case of tax evasion by Arbat-Prestige trading network along with the network’s co-owner Vladimir Nekrasov in January 2008. After a year and a half spent in a pre-trial detention center, Mogilevich was released on his own recognizance; in April 2011, the criminal case against him and Nekrasov was terminated for lack of evidence constituting an offense. It was when it became known that Semion Mogilevich under the surname Schneider had been excluded from the list of persons wanted by Interpol back in 2005. However, the Russian Interpol National Central Bureau has not given the reason for Mogilevich’s exclusion from the list.

In December 2015, the FBI also excluded Semion Mogilevich from its search register, as it became known that he resided in Russia, with which the United States did not have an agreement on extradition.

mogilevich – Google Search
 

mikenova shared this story from mogilevich – Google News.

Story image for mogilevich from Daily Beast

Mueller Reveals New Manafort Link to Organized Crime

Daily BeastNov 2, 2017
Mogilevich is frequently described as “the most dangerous mobster in the world.” Currently believed to be safe in Moscow, he is, according to …

Story image for mogilevich from MSNBC

An excerpt from ‘Collusion’

MSNBCNov 16, 2017
One of Simpson’s subjects was Semion Mogilevich, a Ukrainian-Russian mafia don and one of the FBI’s ten most wanted individuals.

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Crime lord from FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list seen at funeral of …

<a href=”https://en.crimerussia.com/” rel=”nofollow”>https://en.crimerussia.com/</a>Oct 14, 2017
To recall, the Russian-Ukrainian businessman linked to the Solntsevskie OCG – Semion Mogilevich – is an odious character in the West.

Story image for mogilevich from Reason (blog)

Yulia Tymoshenko Warned Us About Paul Manafort Years Ago

Reason (blog)Oct 31, 2017
Tymoshenko, who served as prime minster from 2007 through 2010, was not just an enemy of Tanukovych’s but also of Firtash and Mogilevich.
firtash – Google Search
 

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Donald Trump’s Russia Ties: How Is Paul Manafort’s Work in …

NewsweekNov 8, 2017
RUE—the entity run by Firtash—was the conduit through which gas came from Central Asia through Gazprom’s pipes to Ukraine. The suit …

Story image for firtash from TIME

How Paul Manafort Helped Elect Russia’s Man in Ukraine

TIMEOct 31, 2017
“I can tell you he’s a real specialist,” says Manafort’s friend Dmitry Firtash, the Ukrainian billionaire and former partner to the Kremlin in the …

Story image for firtash from Kyiv Post

Diane Francis: Ukraine’s next revolution won’t be on the streets

Kyiv PostOct 27, 2017
Firtash has worked closely with the Kremlin. “There is a serious criminal investigation (into Firtash) by the general prosecutor. And (Firtash) …
Kremlin Still Labors to Destabilize Ukraine
InternationalUkraine Business JournalOct 27, 2017

Story image for firtash from HuffPost

Russia Playbook against Democratic World Forged in Ukraine

HuffPostOct 25, 2017
Firtash made billions for himself, and for Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs and officials, by controlling the sales of Russian energy through …

Story image for firtash from Breitbart News

Breitbart News

Exclusive: Manafort flight records show deeper Kremlin ties than …

Sacramento Bee1 hour ago
Ukrainian oligarch Firtash had been arrested there the prior month on U.S. charges that he helped orchestrate an $18.5 million bribery scheme …

Story image for firtash from Chicago Tribune

Feds claim ‘thousands of intercepts’ in the case of Ukrainian …

Chicago TribuneSep 15, 2017
Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash arrives for the start of his trial at the courts of justice in Vienna, Austria on Feb. 21, 2017. Firtash was arrested …

Story image for firtash from Chicago Tribune

Extradition of Ukrainian oligarch with links to Trump campaign …

Chicago TribuneAug 31, 2017
Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash arrives for the start of his trial at the courts of justice in Vienna, Austria on Feb. 21, 2017. Firtash was arrested …
Manafort took 18 trips to Moscow while working for Putin allies.
 

mikenova shared this story .

Political guru Paul Manafort took at least 18 trips to Moscow and was in frequent contact with Vladimir Putin’s allies for nearly a decade as a consultant in Russia and Ukraine for oligarchs and pro-Kremlin parties.

Even after the February 2014 fall of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, who won office with the help of a Manafort-engineered image makeover, the American consultant flew to Kiev another 19 times over the next 20 months while working for the smaller, pro-Russian Opposition Bloc party. Manafort went so far as to suggest the party take an anti-NATO stance, an Oppo Bloc architect has said. A key ally of that party leader, oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, was identified by an earlier Ukrainian president as a former Russian intelligence agent, “100 percent.”

It was this background that Manafort brought to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, which he joined in early 2016 and soon led. His web of connections to Russia-loyal potentates is now a focus of federal investigators.

Manafort’s flight records in and out of Ukraine, which McClatchy obtained from a government source in Kiev, and interviews with more than a dozen people familiar with his activities, including current and former government officials, suggest the links between Trump’s former campaign manager and Russia sympathizers run deeper than previously thought.

What’s now known leads some Russia experts to suspect that the Kremlin’s emissaries at times turned Manafort into an asset acting on Russia’s behalf. “You can make a case that all along he …was either working principally for Moscow, or he was trying to play both sides against each other just to maximize his profits,” said Daniel Fried, a former assistant secretary of state who communicated with Manafort during Yanukovych’s reign in President George W. Bush’s second term.

“He’s at best got a conflict of interest and at worst is really doing Putin’s bidding,” said Fried, now a fellow with the Atlantic Council.

A central question for Justice Department Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and several congressional committees is whether Manafort, in trying to boost Trump’s underdog campaign, in any way collaborated with Russia’s cyber meddling aimed at improving Trump’s electoral prospects.

His lucrative consulting relationships have already led a grand jury convened by Mueller to charge him and an associate with conspiracy, money laundering and other felonies – charges that legal experts say are likely meant to pressure them to cooperate with the wider probe into possible collusion.

Government investigators are examining information they’ve received regarding “talks between Russians about using Manafort as part of their broad influence operations during the elections,” a source familiar with the inquiry told McClatchy.

Suspicions about Manafort have been fueled by a former British spy’s opposition research on Trump. In a now-famous dossier, former MI6 officer Christopher Steele quoted an ethnic Russian close to Trump as saying that Manafort had managed “a well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the campaign and the Kremlin.

You can make a case that he …was either working principally for Moscow, or he was trying to play both sides against each other just to maximize his profits.

Daniel Fried, an assistant secretary of state in the Bush administration

Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, called that allegation “false,” saying that Manafort “never – ever – worked for the Russian government.” He also denied that Manafort ever recommended Ukrainian opposition to NATO, saying he “was a strong advocate” of closer relations with the western military alliance while advising political parties there.

“Paul Manafort did not collude with the Russian government to undermine the 2016 election,” Maloni said. “No amount of wishing and hoping by his political opponents will make this spurious allegation true.”

Maloni declined to say whether, while in Moscow, Manafort met with any Russian government officials.

Land of the oligarchs

The trail of Manafort’s decade of dealings 5,000 miles from America’s capital is murky. But the previously unreported flight records, spanning from late 2004 through 2015, reflect a man seemingly always on the move. Over those years, Manafort visited Ukraine at least 138 times. His trips between Ukraine and Moscow all occurred between 2005 and 2011 and were mostly in 2005 and 2006.

Prosecutors have charged that Manafort and associate Rick Gates funneled through a maze of foreign accounts at least $75 million in consulting fees from an array of Kremlin-leaning clients: Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who secretly paid them $10 million annually for several years; a second Ukrainian oligarch; and the ruling Party of Regions, which supported Yanukovych until corruption allegations and bloody protests led to his overthrow in February 2014.

Maloni said Manafort’s trips to Russia were “related to his work on behalf of Oleg Deripaska’s commercial interests.”

The further unmasking of Manafort’s relationship with Deripaska in recent months, however, has heightened suspicions about Manafort.

In July 2016, weeks after he was named Trump’s campaign chairman, Manafort crafted an unusual, eyebrow-raising proposal for Deripaska, a member of Putin’s inner circle. In emails first reported by the Washington Post, Manafort offered in seemingly coded language to provide “private briefings” on the U.S. presidential race for the Russian aluminum magnate. Manafort directed a trusted associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, to relay his message to Deripaska, remarking that it could be a way to make himself “whole” — possibly an allusion to a multimillion-dollar legal action Deripaska had filed against Manafort. Kilimnik, a Ukrainian citizen, once attended a Russian military academy known for training spies.

Deripaska, who did not respond to a request for comment, has denied seeing Manafort’s proposal and says it went nowhere. Kilimnik did not respond to emailed questions, but he has denied in published reports having any connection to Russian intelligence services.

Paul Manafort did not collude with the Russian government to undermine the 2016 election. No amount of wishing and hoping by his political opponents will make this spurious allegation true.

Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee’s inquiry, told McClatchy: “It certainly looks like Mr. Manafort viewed his position on the campaign as a way of further profiting personally from the work that he was doing on behalf of Russian interests.”

Manafort’s proposal to Deripaska “shows a certain willingness to trade information in the hope of obtaining financial rewards from pro-Russian interests,” Schiff said in a phone interview. “If accurate, that’s a dangerous quality to have in a campaign chairman for a presidential campaign.”

Two former U.S. government officials with knowledge of the way Putin operates said three of the oligarchs with whom Manafort had contacts – Deripaska, Dmitry Firtash, who helped finance the party behind Yanukovych, and Medvedchuk – were potential conduits with the Kremlin.

“All three of those guys are able to pass messages directly to Putin, as well as to his subordinates and aides within the Russian presidential administration,” said one of the ex-officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. “So they all have access and Manafort knew all three or their close associates fairly well.”

No evidence has surfaced that Manafort used any of them to pass messages between the campaign and the Kremlin.

During Manafort’s five-month tenure with the campaign, Russian emissaries made at least two behind-the-scenes offers to deliver “dirt” about Clinton to Trump’s campaign, including at a June 9, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower three weeks after Manafort was promoted to campaign chairman; he attended the meeting along with Donald Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and a Russian lawyer. Trump’s aides say nothing came of that discussion, or a similar offer conveyed in April 2016 to foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos; Manafort was copied on an email relaying that offer, which said the Russians had “thousands” of emails from Democrats.

In July, days before the Democratic National Convention, the British transparency group WikiLeaks began publishing thousands of embarrassing emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia was behind the hacking, and also was responsible for the social media dissemination of a blizzard of fake and harshly critical news about Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Schiff, emphasizing he could only discuss what’s on the public record, said “these are some of the communications and interactions that are of deep interest to us, because obviously the timing is highly suggestive. It’s one of the reasons why Manafort is such a key figure in all of this.”

He certainly brought a pro-Russian proclivity to a campaign that already seemed to have one. Whether he was attracted to the trump campaign or the campaign was attracted to him on the basis of his Russian contacts … he did bring those Russian contacts and pro-Russian prejudices with him to the campaign and apparently found a welcome environment there.

California Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee

Globe-trotting consultant

Manafort first began to establish connections in Ukraine – ground zero in the geopolitical struggle between Putin’s Russia and the West – in late 2004. His reputation as a masterful political strategist and fixer was earned over decades hopping planes to the Congo, Philippines and elsewhere to advise authoritarian rulers friendly with the United States.

By the end of that year, the former Soviet republic of Ukraine was paralyzed by widespread protests amid allegations that Yanukovych, the prime minister in a government rife with corruption, had won the presidency in a rigged election. What became the Orange Revolution persisted until another, internationally monitored vote was held and rival Victor Yushchenko was declared the winner.

Manafort and a partner formed Davis Manafort Partners Inc. in early 2005 and opened offices in Kiev.

EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM

Manafort’s first client in Ukraine was Rinat Akhmetov, the country’s richest man and a key funder of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. Deripaska introduced Manafort to Akhmetov, who hailed from Russia-leaning Eastern Ukraine. In the summer of 2005, Akhmetov tapped Manafort to help Yanukovych and his party in the 2006 elections, according to an American consultant based in Kiev, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid damaging relationships.

The multimillion-dollar political consulting deal was sealed at a meeting in an elite Moscow hotel attended by Manafort, Akhmetov and a half dozen other wealthy Ukrainians.

Manafort spent the next several years advising Deripaska, Akhmetov and other Ukrainian oligarchs and giving the gruff-talking Yanukovych a makeover down to his hair style and attire. Yanukovych won the presidency in 2010.

EDITORS: END OPTIONAL TRIM

In 2014, however, Manafort’s business took a hit when Yanukovych fled to Russia, days before Kremlin-backed forces invaded Eastern Ukraine. He was quickly hired by the Opposition Bloc, which leaned even more toward Moscow.

His work drew rave reviews from one Oppo Bloc leader, Nestor Shufrych, whom multiple people in positions to know described as a close ally of Medvedchuk. Shufrych told a Ukrainian publication that Manafort urged the new party to take an anti-NATO stance and be the “voice of Russians in (Ukraine’s) East.”

Calling Manafort “a genius,” Shufrych said the party had paid him about $1 million, and the investment “paid off.”

Philip Griffin, a former associate of Manafort’s who consults in Kiev, said he could not imagine Manafort opposing NATO. “Paul Manafort is a Reagan Republican,” Griffin said. “He would never betray that legacy by doing Russia’s bidding.”

Maloni said Manafort argued strongly that “Ukraine was better served by having closer relations with the West and NATO.”

He also said Manafort succeeded in pushing “a number of major initiatives that were strongly supported by the U.S. government and opposed by Russia,” including the denuclearization of Ukraine and the expansion of NATO exercises in the region.

138 The number of trips Paul Manafort took to Ukraine between 2004 and 2015 while consulting for Russian and pro-Russian oligarchs.

Some former U.S. government officials, though, are skeptical.

Despite Ukraine’s popular uprising against Yanukovych that led to at least 75 deaths, “Paul Manafort maintained ties to the Opposition Bloc party and Viktor Yanukovych’s former cronies, thus choosing to associate himself with crooks and kleptocrats rather than Ukraine’s pro-Western reformers,” said Mike Carpenter, who focused on Russia matters as a top Pentagon and National Security Council official during the Obama administration. “This speaks volumes about his character and lack of respect for democratic values.”

One of Shufrych’s and Oppo Bloc’s behind-the-scenes allies was Medvedchuk, who is so close to Putin that the Russian president is the godfather of his daughter.

Partial transcripts from tape recordings of then-Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, published in 2002, show Kumcha saying: “Well, we know about it, that he was a KGB agent, 100 percent.”

Details of Manafort’s contacts with Medvedchuk could not be learned. But Medvedchuk, who is under U.S. sanctions, has acknowledged meeting Manafort once in 2014.

Flights of interest

Several of the trips in Manafort’s flight records could draw investigators’ interest.

In April 2014, for instance, Manafort traveled to Vienna. Ukrainian oligarch Firtash had been arrested there the prior month on U.S. charges that he helped orchestrate an $18.5 million bribery scheme involving the government of India, a U.S. firm and a Firtash company in the Virgin Islands. A former U.S. government official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Manafort met with Firtash in Vienna, where he is awaiting extradition to the United States.

Another Manafort trip that could interest investigators took place in July 2013 when Manafort and Kilimnik flew to Frankfurt on a private plane owned by Andrey Artemenko, a pro-Moscow Ukrainian legislator.

American experts on Russia said privately they suspect the trip was a prelude to a broader Russian influence effort to dissuade Yanukovych’s government from signing an agreement to associate with the European Union. That decision, experts say, opened the door to Russia’s 2014 invasion of eastern Ukraine. This year, Artemenko was expelled from the Ukrainian legislature and his citizenship was revoked after disclosures he and a Trump attorney had pitched a “peace plan” for Ukraine and Russia widely seen as favoring Moscow.

Pro-Russia stances

Some of Trump’s most remarked-upon statements about foreign policy that directly or indirectly implicated Russia occurred on Manafort’s watch in the 2016 campaign. For example, Trump launched broadsides against NATO allies for not contributing enough money and suggested the United States might rethink its commitment to the European mutual defense alliance credited with deterring Russian military ambitions.

Trump also raised doubts about whether he would stand behind U.S. sanctions that President Barack Obama imposed in December 2014 in retaliation for the Crimean invasion.

As the GOP platform committee drew up party positions a week before the Republican National Convention, a plank calling for the United States to provide “lethal weapons” for Ukraine’s defense wasaltered in a controversial and mysterious move. The American consultant in Ukraine said that Manafort aide Kilimnik had boasted he played a role in easing the language to recommend only “appropriate assistance” to Ukraine’s military.

EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM

Charlie Black, a onetime partner of Manafort’s, says he remains baffled by the change.

“It was inexplicable to me that a majority of platform members would have taken a pro-Russian position on Ukraine,” he said. “They must not have known this was a pro-Russia provision.”

EDITORS: END OPTIONAL TRIM

In late July after FBI Director James Comey said he would not back prosecution of Clinton over her use of a private email server to conduct State Department business, Trump took a bizarre step. He publicly beseeched Russia to help unearth 30,000 emails that Clinton said she had deleted because they dealt with personal matters.

Paul Manafort maintained ties to the Opposition Bloc party and Viktor Yanukovych’s former cronies, thus choosing to associate himself with crooks and kleptocrats rather than Ukraine’s pro-Western reformers.

Mike Carpenter, senior Pentagon and White House official who specialized in Russia during the Obama administration.

During the summer, a U.S. group supporting Ukraine asked both presidential candidates for a letter recognizing the country’s 25th year of independence since the fall of the Soviet Union. Clinton obliged. But the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America was unable to wrest a letter from the Trump campaign, said a person familiar with the matter. The group’s president did not respond to phone messages.

Manafort resigned from the campaign on Aug. 19, 2016 after The New York Times disclosed a secret Ukrainian ledger indicating he was to receive more than $12 million in off-the-books payments from Yanukovych’s party from 2007 to 2012.

Schiff said he found an intriguing symmetry between Trump’s Russia stances and Manafort’s work in Kiev that might explain their mutual attraction.

“Whether he was attracted to the Trump campaign or the campaign was attracted to him on the basis of his Russian contacts,” Schiff said, “the fact of the matter is, he did bring those Russian contacts and pro-Russian prejudices with him to the campaign and apparently found a welcome home there.”

Kevin G. Hall, James Whitlow and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project contributed to this story. Peter Stone is a McClatchy special correspondent.

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