Flynn’s plea is bad for Trump. But he may never face any consequences.

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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks

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Flynn’s plea is bad for Trump. But he may never face any consequences.
Flynn’s plea is bad for Trump. But he may never face any consequences. – NBCNews.com
What Flynn’s guilty plea means for Trump and the GOP – NBCNews.com
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Flynn’s plea is bad for Trump. But he may never face any consequences.

mikenova shared this story .

Former National Security Adviser Lt. General Michael Flynn’s Friday guilty plea to making false statements to the FBI about his conversations before President Donald Trump’s inauguration— reportedly a deal in exchange for his cooperation with the investigation of retired FBI director Robert Mueller — is bad news for Trump.

It shouldn’t be surprisingly bad news: After all, Trump didn’t allegedly pressure former FBI director James Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn, nor then fire Comey when he refused because he thought that Flynn hadn’t done anything that would implicate Trump and/or his close associates.

But it shows that Mueller is leading a serious, meticulous investigation that is carefully being built from the ground up, like an organized crime investigation, which won’t be easy for Trump to derail. Flynn would not have been offered a plea on a relatively minor charge if Mueller didn’t think he had information that was valuable to his investigation.

The facts to which Flynn agreed in his plea are in themselves very damning to Trump: Most critically, Flynn has acknowledged that at least one his conversations with Kislyak took place at the direction of a “very senior” official on Trump’s transition team — reportedly,Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner — who asked Flynn to ask Kislyak to oppose or delay a United Nations Security Council resolution declaring Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal.

So not only is Kushner also now in substantial legal jeopardy, but this latest revelation brings the personal ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government not only into Trump’s closest political circles, but into his family.

Worse yet is, according to a report from ABC News, that Flynn is prepared to testify that Trump asked him to speak with representatives of the Russian government during the campaign. That would suggest significant ties between the campaign and a state that was almost certainly intervening in the election in favor of Trump.

Flynn would not have been offered a plea on a relatively minor charge if Mueller didn’t think he had information that was valuable.

Still, it’s impossible to know at this point precisely where Mueller’s investigation will lead. Flynn may well have information that is seriously damaging for senior advisers besides Kushner — like Donald Trump Jr. who, during the campaign, met with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have information from the Russian government that was damaging to Hillary Clinton.

But everyone implicated by Flynn would become someone else with incentives to provide further information. It’s entirely possible that this chain of testimony could lead all the way to the president himself; at a minimum, some of his closest advisers are very likely to be implicated

This doesn’t guarantee, of course, that Flynn or any other Trump associate will end up in jail or that Mueller’s investigation will fully play out. Trump has two formidable weapons he can still use. The first is a plenary power to pardon people for federal offenses, including preemptively. If the investigation gets too close, Trump could simply pardon Flynn, Kushner, his sons and anyone else Mueller’s investigation might implicate.

Because of the care Mueller is evidently taking with his investigation, however, Trump might not be able to escape trouble so easily.

And, should Mueller’s investigation continue to accumulate damning information, Trump could also have it shut down. If Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — who is ultimately in charge of the Mueller investigation because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself over his own meetings with Russian officials — refused to shut down Mueller’s investigation, Trump could fire him and find someone in the Justice Department who would.

Because of the care Mueller is evidently taking with his investigation, however, Trump might not be able to escape trouble so easily. Trump’s pardon power doesn’t extend to state crimes, and Mueller’s investigation may well uncover illegal activity (including money laundering) that is illegal under New York as well as federal law. Were Trump to shut down Mueller’s federal investigation, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman would likely be particularly inclined to be aggressive in investigating violations of state law by Trump and his associates — and Mueller is certainly aware of this.

Still, if Trump issues blanket pardons or terminates Mueller’s investigation, the short-term remedies at the federal level might be limited. It is clear that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will not seriously investigate Trump, let alone impeach and convict him, as long as he will advance their agenda.

Ultimately, payback for Trump’s actions may have to be at the ballot box next November, and then in 2020.

Scott Lemieux is a lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. He is the co-author of Judicial Review and Democratic Theory and contributes regularly to The Week, Reuters and the New Republic.

Flynn’s plea is bad for Trump. But he may never face any consequences. – NBCNews.com

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NBCNews.com
Flynn’s plea is bad for Trump. But he may never face any consequences.
NBCNews.com
Because of the care Mueller is evidently taking with his investigation, however, Trump might not be able to escape trouble so easily. Trump’s pardon power doesn’t extend to state crimes, and Mueller’s investigation may well uncover illegal activity 
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NBCNews.com
What Flynn’s guilty plea means for Trump and the GOP
NBCNews.com
WASHINGTON It’s going to get harder for President Donald Trump to distance himself politically from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe after Michael Flynn’s guilty plea and that could be bad news for his fellow Republicans at the polls 
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Michael Flynn Knew the FBI Had Heard His Calls with Russians. So Why Did He Lie About Them? – Daily Beast

mikenova shared this story from Russian Intelligence services – Google News.


Daily Beast
Michael Flynn Knew the FBI Had Heard His Calls with Russians. So Why Did He Lie About Them?
Daily Beast
For example, the FBI has conducted extensive physical and electronic surveillance of the defendants including the covert placement of microphone-type listening devices in certain locations; the covert placement of video cameras in public locations
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Mike Flynn – Google News: ‘Something was desperately wrong with this guy’: US Army lieutenant general who served with Mike Flynn weighs in on … – Business Insider

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Business Insider
‘Something was desperately wrong with this guy’: US Army lieutenant general who served with Mike Flynnweighs in on …
Business Insider
A retired US Army lieutenant general weighed in on Michael Flynn’s guilty plea in the ongoing Russia investigation. Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, who served with Flynn in the US Army, said he believes the former national security adviser’s downfall was the

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 Mike Flynn – Google News

The details of Michael Flynns plea deal with Robert Mueller are nothing short of brutal

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

Just how hard of a bargain does Robert Mueller drive? He handed what initially appeared to be a sweetheart deal to Michael Flynn, and in exchange Flynn agreed to provide evidence to incriminate Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, and other key players in the Trump-Russia scandal. But the details of that plea deal are now surfacing, and what’s stunning is just how little Mueller ended up giving Flynn when it comes down to it. This is nothing short of brutal.

Legal experts dissected the Flynn plea deal during Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show on Friday night, and I’ll spare you the legalese and boil it down to three points for you. First: Flynn’s deal only grants him leniency on the charge of lying to the FBI. If Mueller doesn’t end up liking what he sees going forward, he can still charge Flynn with other crimes. Second: Mueller now officially owns Flynn. He can make him wear a wire, or dress up like a chicken. The third bullet point is the most astounding one.

There is nothing in the plea deal which formally protects Michael Flynn Jr. By now we all know that Michael Flynn cut the deal in order to protect his son. But even that’s not guaranteed. If Mueller doesn’t like how things are going, he can go back and charge Junior with various crimes at any point. This motivates Flynn to work as hard as he possibly can to help take down the likes of Trump and Kushner, because his son is still far from officially being in the clear.

This deal offers the clearest insight yet into just how brutally effective Robert Mueller can be with his wheeling and dealing. It’s not that he’s trying to torture Michael Flynn. It’s that he wants to keep Flynn motivated to continue cooperating as emphatically as possible. It also means no one else in the Trump-Russia scandal is getting free lunch if they seek a plea deal of their own.

The post The details of Michael Flynn’s plea deal with Robert Mueller are nothing short of brutalappeared first on Palmer Report.

Michael Flynn may have just incriminated Tom Cotton, Donald Trumps new CIA Director pick, in Russia scandal

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

Earlier this week, just as it was becoming clear that Michael Flynn was about to cut a devastating plea deal against Donald Trump and other big fish in the Russia scandal, Trump began pushing a weird sideshow story. He suddenly wants to oust Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after months of hemming and hawing about it, as part of a series of moves that would elevate Senator Tom Cotton to CIA Director. Now that Flynn’s deal is official, it reveals that Cotton may have been part of the Trump-Russia conspiracy all along.

Let’s emphasize the word “may” here. Perhaps this is all one massive coincidence. Perhaps Trump really does just happen to be looking to give Cotton a coveted promotion, just as Michael Flynn seems to be pointing the finger at Cotton. But if this is a coincidence, it’s a remarkable one. Flynn is confessing that while he was conspiring with the Russian Ambassador to sabotage President Obama’s Russian sanctions, he was relaying that conversation to the Trump national security transition team. Guess who was on that team? Tom Cotton.

We may have to wait a bit to see whether Flynn is referring to everyone on the Trump national security transition team, or just some of its members. But if Flynn is referring to the entire team, then he’s accusing Tom Cotton of having known about the Trump-Russia conspiracy since at least December. If Cotton knew about that felony conspiracy and failed to report it, he would be guilty of a felony himself, and Trump could be offering him a promotion in the hope of buying his continued silence.

Again, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. We can’t assume Tom Cotton is guilty of anything. But if Michael Flynn really did just implicate Cotton in the Trump-Russa conspiracy, it would very conveniently explain why Donald Trump is trying to buy Cotton’s silence by giving him a promotion, However, if Cotton was looking to disappear into the recesses of the CIA before he could become a suspect in the Trump-Russia scandal, Trump may have blown it by taking this step far too late in the game. Trump should have made the move months ago. Now it may be too late.

The post Michael Flynn may have just incriminated Tom Cotton, Donald Trump’s new CIA Director pick, in Russia scandal appeared first on Palmer Report.

Tracking Trump: Flynn pleads guilty as cracks form in the ‘special relationship’

mikenova shared this story from Donald Trump | The Guardian.

In another alarmingly eventful week, the president calls out Pocahontas and retweets a far-right group all before a major development in the Russia case

It was a week in which Donald Trump dived back into the gutter over Islamophobia, alienating one of Americas key international allies, and which ended with the Russia investigation coming one crucial step closer to the president, with his former national security adviser Michael Flynn confirming he had flipped and was now working with special counsel Robert Mueller.

Continue reading…

The Orthodox Jewish communities in the U.S. and Israel and their leadership groups are deeply infiltrated by Putin’s agents. These matters are serious, and they have to be properly investigated and addressed. M.N.  12.2.17  | FBI News Review

mikenova shared this story from FBI News Review.

The Orthodox Jewish communities in the U.S. and Israel and their leadership groups are deeply infiltrated by Putin’s agents. These matters are serious, and they have to be properly investigated and addressed. 

The KGB (which always had a strong “zhidovskiy” element in it, and it always showed) extended their ugly stinking tentacles in the form and the way of the Russian Jewish emigration of the most recent waves, staring in 1990-s, to the U.S. and Israel. That was their Trojan Horse, and their revenge for the defeat, economic and ideological, in the Cold War. And they did that by latching on to the existing Jewish communities in the U.S., apparently mostly the Orthodox ones, using the religion as the pretense and the very convenient cover. The Russian Jews used to go the Communist Party meetings, and now, in America, they started to attend their synagogues dutifully and without any scruples, maybe even as the needed substitute for those Party meetings. It looks like they, the KGB,  developed the functional, mafia-like network of their agents, and, in fact, grew in and together, integrated with the Russian-Jewish (“Red”) Mafia. The Darwinian pragmatism and the survival skills honed in the USSR were their guiding lights and the only “ideology”. And the “religion – crime connection” (apparently the ancient and the deep one), worked out for the Russian Jews no worse than the  Catholicism for the Italian Cosa Nostra. 

Today we are dealing with the complications and the sick sequelae of this invisible (or unseen, or largely neglected and ignored) invasion. 

M.N. 

12.2.17 

Links 

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What’s behind the Russian president’s close relationship with an Orthodox Jewish sect?

Lying to FBI Is Illegal; How About the FBI Lying to Us? | FBI News Review

mikenova shared this story from FBI News Review.

Lying to FBI Is Illegal; How About the FBI Lying to Us?

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8:57 AM 12/2/2017 | FBI News Review

mikenova shared this story from FBI News Review.

FBI News Review: The Orthodox Jewish communities in the U.S. and Israel and their leadership groups are deeply infiltrated by Putins agents. These matters are serious, and they have to be properly investigated and addressed. M.N.  12.2.17
The Orthodox Jewish communities in the U.S. and Israel and their leadership groups are deeply infiltrated by Putin’s agents. These matters are serious, and they have to be properly investigated and addressed.  The KGB (which always had a strong “zhidovskiy” element in it, and it always showed) extended their ugly stinking tentacles in the form and … Continue reading“The Orthodox Jewish communities in the U.S. and Israel and their leadership groups are deeply infiltrated by Putin’s agents. These matters are serious, and they have to be properly investigated and addressed. – M.N. – 12.2.17 “FBI News Review
1. FBI from mikenova (15 sites): james b. comey – Google News: GUEST EDITORIAL: Rise in hate crimes is disturbing – Glens Falls Post-Star
Lying to FBI Is Illegal; How About the FBI Lying to Us?

mikenova shared this story .

While the liberal media is celebrating the announcement that former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, a bigger scandal was practically ignored.

On Thursday, Judicial Watch released 29 pages of FBI emails regarding the inexcusable June 27, 2016 meeting between former President Bill Clinton and then Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the tarmac of the Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, AZ. This meeting was not accidental, as Clinton purposely delayed the takeoff of his aircraft to arrange the supposedly impromptu encounter with the Attorney General.

According to Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, “These new FBI documents show the FBI was more concerned about a whistle-blower who told the truth about the infamous Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting than the scandalous meeting itself.”

In the midst of a FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s “extremely careless” handling of top secret email communications, Lynch held a secretive meeting with her husband. This bombshell information would have never been made public if not for the investigative work of Phoenix television anchor Christopher Sign, who received a tip about the meeting from a “trusted source.”

With an ongoing Justice Department investigation into the improper handling of email communications, it was highly improper for Lynch to agree to the meeting with Bill Clinton just days before FBI agents would interview his wife. Once confronted about the tarmac meeting, Lynch claimed they only discussed golf and grandchildren, which is a completely ludicrous explanation for the 30-minute meeting.

If the meeting was so innocent, why did the Justice Department withhold key documents for so long? After an initial July 7, 2016 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Judicial Watch for documents pertaining to the meeting, the Justice Department claimed that nothing could be located. Only after an official FOIA lawsuit did the department provide the various FBI email exchanges.

As noted by Fitton, the real focus of the emails was to try to locate the leaker who exposed the meeting. One unidentified FBI agent lamented that the meeting was disclosed to the press and claimed that “We need to find that guy” in order to get him fired or sanctioned by his supervisors. The emails show that the FBI believed the source was a Phoenix police officer and one agent expressed a desire to ban the officer from being involved in future security details.

This anger is very indicative of what is wrong with the FBI today. The source who leaked news of the meeting to the local media did a real public service and should be commended. Americans had a right to know that the Attorney General was involved in a questionable meeting while an investigation was purportedly ongoing.  Unfortunately, instead of congratulating the source, the FBI wanted to punish this individual, obviously because they wanted to protect the reputation of the Attorney General and the presidential aspirations of Hillary Clinton.

The FBI should be impartial, not be taking sides in political campaigns. The bureau was obviously politically comprised, much like the IRS during their unfair harassment of Tea Party groups.

In any vigorous and honest FBI investigation, agents should be outraged if the Attorney General held a secret meeting with the spouse of the subject being examined for wrongdoing. Instead agents showed only concern about identifying the police officer who caused the embarrassment. This nonchalant attitude was not shared by Lynch who admitted that the ill-advised meeting “cast a cloud” on the Justice Department’s investigation into Hillary Clinton.

These disclosures lead to the distressing conclusion that the Hillary Clinton investigation was a sham from the very beginning. In fact, when Clinton was finally interviewed by the FBI on July 2, 2016, she was not under oath and there was no recording of the meeting. Several weeks earlier, before the FBI had interviewed Clinton or 17 key witnesses in the investigation, then FBI Director James Comey had already begun drafting her exoneration statement.

These unusual procedures were denounced by U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) in a joint statement. According to the Senators, “Conclusion first, fact-gathering second—that’s no way to run an investigation.  The FBI should be held to a higher standard than that, especially in a matter of such great public interest and controversy.”

Of course, the Senators are right as the FBI’s handling of this matter was atrocious. A mere three days after the inadequate interview of Clinton, Comey announced that she would not be indicted despite what many legal analysts believe were her clear violations of federal law.

Evidently, the FBI, under the direction of James Comey, had no intention of ever truly investigating Hillary Clinton and bringing charges against her. If there was ever an issue that needed a Special Counsel investigation, it is not “Russian collusion,” but the Justice Department’s collusion with Hillary Clinton.

GUEST EDITORIAL: Rise in hate crimes is disturbing | Editorial

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A new FBI report on hate crimes tells a sobering story. For the second year in a row, police departments across the country reported a rise in the number of crimes motivated by bias.

In 2016, the FBI counted 6,121 reported incidents nationwide — an increase of 4.6 percent from 2015, during which 5,850 cases were reported. That number, in turn, marked a 6.8 percent increase in reported hate crimes over 2014. Roughly 58 percent of such attacks last year were motivated by racial bias, of which about half targeted African Americans. Of the 21 percent of crimes fueled by animosity toward the victim’s religion, more than half the attacks were aimed at Jews, a quarter at Muslims.

The sharp rise in crimes against Muslims and people of Arab descent is particularly troubling. Racially motivated attacks on Arabs jumped 38 percent from 2015, the first year in which the FBI requested data on such crimes. And attacks on Muslims, which spiked 67 percent in 2015, rose an additional 19 percent last year to more than 300 reported incidents. That makes 2016 the year with the highest number of hate crimes against Muslims since 2001, following the 9/11 attacks.

Meanwhile, crimes against Latinos and against white people rose 15 percent and 17 percent, respectively, from 2015. Crimes against transgender people went up 44 percent.

The FBI’s report doesn’t draw conclusions as to what might be behind this disturbing rise in hate. But it’s noteworthy that many of the groups against whom crimes rose by double digits were the focus of inflammatory rhetoric by Donald Trump over the course of his presidential campaign. Likewise, the FBI data show a sharp rise in bias-motivated incidents in the months around the 2016 election — confirming reports by the Anti-Defamation League and others of a surge of attacks on Muslims and Jews in the wake of Mr. Trump’s election.

“Hate crimes are different from other crimes,” FBI Director James B. Comey said in a 2014 speech. “They strike at the heart of one’s identity.” For this reason, it’s important that the United States be able to tackle this growing problem with the best data it can gather. The FBI’s statistics on hate crimes, while the best we have, are also incomplete — partly because it’s up to state and local police departments to decide whether to provide the federal government with their data. What’s more, a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics suggests that many hate-crime victims never report the offense.

Police departments should work to provide the federal government with more complete data. But taking this rise in hate seriously also requires that law enforcement officials cultivate trust with the communities they serve. Victims need to know they will be treated with respect if they come forward — especially in the current political environment, where many may be particularly fearful.

This editorial appeared in the Nov. 26 edition of The Washington Post.

Whats behind the Russian presidents close relationship with an Orthodox Jewish sect?

mikenova shared this story from Slate Articles.

Photo by Alexei Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images

Moscow’s Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center is an impressive place. Original artifacts, film clips, and interactive displays take visitors on a tour through centuries of Judaism’s rich but tragic history in Russia, from the Middle Ages to the czarist-era pogroms to the Holocaust to the repression of the Stalin era to the mass emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Then it just sort of ends.

There’s a panel featuring photos of Vladimir Putin with Jewish leaders, a small display on the Russian Jewish diaspora featuring Little Failure author Gary Shteyngart as an example of a “successful, integrated Russian Jew,” and that’s about it. An exhibit on post-perestroika Jewish life is planned for some time in the future, but for now, the museum gives the impression that Judaism in Russia is a subject of historical interest rather than an ongoing story.

Technically speaking, there are four “official” religions in Russia: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism. But given that almost 70 percent of Russians identify as adherents to the Russian Orthodox Church, it’s pretty apparent that one religion is more “official” than others.

The smallest of the four is Judaism. There are fewer than 200,000 self-identified Jews in Russia today—less than the number of pagans—though the number of Russians from Jewish backgrounds who no longer identify with the religion is likely much higher. They are what remains after a mass exodus that saw more than 2 million Jews leave the countries of the former Soviet Union shortly before and after its collapse, mainly for the United States and Israel. Given that most Russians with Jewish backgrounds range from casual observers to entirely indifferent to their religion, it’s a bit unexpected that their official representatives hail from one of the more doctrinaire sects of Orthodox Judaism. You may be surprised to learn, too, that those representatives are quite close with President Vladimir Putin.

Chabad members—a small fraction of a small religious community—have become the dominant force in Russian Jewish life.

Regardless, it’s quite clear that we are not at a high point of Russian Jewish culture. You could argue, though, that for the Jews who are left, things aren’t that bad. Recent years have seen a great deal of government-supported synagogue construction, and a small but growing number of Jews are attending services.

And while there were fears after the fall of the Soviet Union that rising Russian nationalism would lead to an upsurge in anti-Semitism, that never really materialized. “After the collapse of the USSR, the number of cases of anti-Semitism have been steadily dropping on an annual basis over the last 10 years,” says Yury Kanner, head of the country’s largest secular Jewish organization, the Russian Jewish Congress.

There is certainly anti-Jewish sentiment in Russia, but the country is far from an outlier in that regard. Anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise in a number of European countries, including France, Germany, and Italy. Much of this is related to tension between Jewish and Muslim communities and criticism of Israel, which isn’t a particularly salient issue in Russia. Anti-Semitic far-right parties have also made troubling election gains in countries like Greece and Hungary. Ultra-nationalism is an issue in Russia as well—a controversial far-right rally was held in Moscow on Nov. 4—but when this manifests itself as racism or xenophobia, it’s more typically directed against the predominantly Muslim migrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia, perhaps because they’re far more numerous than Jews.

Whatever his many other sins, even Vladimir Putin’s harshest critics concede that he’s not an anti-Semite. As the New Republic’s Julia Ioffe notes, a number of his closest confidants, as well as the Judo teacher who served as a mentor and surrogate father, are Jews. He has personally intervened in cases of state anti-Semitism, such as an incident last year in which a teacher was charged with corruption and the prosecution used his Jewish last name as evidence. Putin labeled that “egregious,” and the conviction was overturned soon after.

Putin’s has also generally been supportive of Jewish institutions—one Jewish institution in particular. One of the more intriguing aspects of contemporary Russian Jewish life is the close relationship between the Kremlin and Chabad, also known as Lubavitch, the Hasidic sect known in the United States for its street-corner proselytizing to fellow Jews and reverence for the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Founded in Western Russia in the 18th century, the Lubavitchers decamped to the United States in 1940, setting up their new headquarters in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood. The Orthodox Jewish movement has dispatched hundreds of emissaries throughout the world to promote the faith. Just after the fall of Communism and just prior to his own death, Schneerson sent Rabbi Berel Lazar to represent Chabad in Russia.

Today, Lazar, who was born in Italy and educated in the United States, is Russia’s chief rabbi. He appears frequently at Putin’s side at public events, and is the leader of the Federation of Jewish Communities (known by its Russian acronym FEOR), the country’s most important Jewish organization. But the title of Russia’s most important rabbi is not an uncontested one.

Adolf Shayevech, a prominent figure in the community since the late Soviet period, was considered chief rabbi until 2000, and still claims the title. Kanner’s group, the Russian Jewish Congress, also recognizes Shayevech. But since Putin came to power in 2000, he has preferred to work with FEOR. Lazar, who is sometimes referred to as “Putin’s Rabbi,” now sits on the country’s public chamber, a government-appointed oversight committee. Lazar has been nothing but appreciative, praising Putin publicly as a friend of the Jews and calling Russia “one of the safest places for Jews in Europe.”

In a story that seemed tailor-made to demonstrate the rabbi’s devotion to both his faith and his patron in the Kremlin, it was reported in June 2013 that Lazar had agreed, at Putin’s request, to attend a World War II memorial event hours away from Moscow on a Friday afternoon. When his plane was delayed and arrived back in Moscow just 10 minutes before sundown, Lazar made an eight-hour, 19-mile walk home rather than break the Sabbath. Sources close to the rabbi told the Israeli newspaper Arutz Sheva that his willingness to make the difficult journey was an “example of the special connection between Rabbi Lazar and Russia’s president.”

Government support has been good for FEOR, which has restored dozens of synagogues and built Jewish community centers throughout the country. It has also gotten funding to develop the Jewish Museum, which opened in 2012 just around the corner from the organization’s Moscow headquarters.

Chabad members—a small fraction of a small religious community—have become the dominant force in Russian Jewish life. “Eighty percent of all synagogues, the rabbis are Chabad,” Rabbi Alexander Boroda, the organization’s chief spokesman, told me in an interview. “But the people who come, many are just young people who want to come and learn something about Judaism.”

Boroda dismissed the notion that there was anything improper about his organization’s close relationship with the Kremlin. “The chief rabbi is the representative of the Jewish tradition,” he says. “It’s the Russian tradition, it’s not like America.” Indeed, a number of other Eastern European countries have chief rabbis, and in Ukraine, as in Russia, it’s a disputed position.

How exactly has Chabad reached its position of influence? For one thing, it has some influential backers. The Uzbek–Israeli billionaire diamond magnate Lev Leviev was an early and enthusiastic backer of FEOR. Roman Abramovich, the billionaire investor, governor, and owner of the Chelsea soccer team, has also been a backer, donating $5 million to build the Marina Roscha Synagogue.

Chabad, which unlike many other Jewish groups is a centrally organized hierarchical organization, also likely looks familiar to the Kremlin. Chabad “replicates in a way the structure of the Orthodox Church,” says Kanner. “There is a center that sends its ambassadors into the communities.”

David Shneer, a professor of Jewish history at the University of Denver who was studied the Lubavitchers’ role in Russia, says it also helps that Chabad is a “movement that cultivates ties with political leadership as part of a broader strategy to make a home wherever they happen to be.” He compares this to the medieval practice of shtadlanut, in which European Jews lobbied local rulers for rights.

Even though most Russian Jews aren’t Orthodox, Shneer says it shouldn’t be surprising that the Orthodox Chabad has taken on a leadership role in Russian Jewish life. “Chabad is evangelical Judaism,” he says. “They bring Judaism to people at whatever level they’re at. If they want to light candles, they’ll show them how to light candles. If they want to keep kosher, they’ll show them how to keep kosher. They know that 95 percent of people who attend Chabad events are not at all religiously observant. But their point is to bring a certain kind of Judaism to as many Jews as possible.”

FEOR’s Boroda argues that the approach has brought results. “More people have started going to synagogue,” he says. “We’re seeing a renaissance in Jewish life.”

Of course, with nationalist sentiment running high right now, there are always fears that this could once against manifest itself in hostility to Jews.

recent report from Kanner’s organization, which often works with the government to combat cases of discrimination, also noted an uptick in anti-Semitic statements from politicians and on state-run media outlets. A recent Russian television documentary about Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told viewers that “one must take into consideration his Jewish origin.” Other media hatchet jobs of foreign leaders or opposition figures have also noted their Jewish roots. There have also been a number of instances in the past year of vandalism of synagogues and cemeteries. Blatantly anti-Semitic comments from low-level politicians are fairly common. A legislator from the ruling United Russia party, for instance, remarked during a debate at the regional parliament in Kaliningrad that Jews “destroyed our country in 1917 and … destroyed our country in 1991.”

Even so, a spokesman for the Russian Jewish Congress told the news agency Interfax that “the role of anti-Semitism in modern Russia has obviously become less noticeable than in the 1990s and 2000s, when it was the principal essence of nationalistic propaganda.”

But even if life is relatively comfortable for Jews, in contrast to other minorities, that doesn’t mean the community is due for a resurgence. Right now the biggest threat to Russian Judaism may be apathy, not bigotry.

Shneer feels that Chabad’s dominance, and the lack of reform or progressive alternatives, is “terrible for the future of pluralistic Judaism in Russia.” Russia is full of people with Jewish or partially Jewish family roots, but after decades of repression and immigration, many have little connection to the religion. On one level it seems unlikely that a branch of Judaism based in part on a rejection of modern society will be the one to bring doubters back into the fold.

Kanner, though, says the relative lack of interest in reform or liberal branches of Judaism shouldn’t be surprising, and is rooted in the community’s troubled history. “In Soviet times, we were Jews based on our blood. It was a nationality not a religion,” he says. “The main principle of reformism is that you can be a Jew while also being French or German or whatever. That’s why there was no basis for reformism. In Russia, you are first a Jew, then you are anything else.”

Times may have changed and the situation may have improved, but the idea that you can at once be a Jew and a Russian will still take time to take hold.

The Happy-Go-Lucky Jewish Group That Connects Trump and Putin

mikenova shared this story .

Chabad of Port Washington, a Jewish community center on Long Island’s Manhasset Bay, sits in a squat brick edifice across from a Shell gas station and a strip mall. The center is an unexceptional building on an unexceptional street, save for one thing: Some of the shortest routes between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin run straight through it.

Two decades ago, as the Russian president set about consolidating power on one side of the world, he embarked on a project to supplant his country’s existing Jewish civil society and replace it with a parallel structure loyal to him. On the other side of the world, the brash Manhattan developer was working to get a piece of the massive flows of capital that were fleeing the former Soviet Union in search of stable assets in the West, especially real estate, and seeking partners in New York with ties to the region.

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Their respective ambitions led the two men—along with Trump’s future son-in-law, Jared Kushner—to build a set of close, overlapping relationships in a small world that intersects on Chabad, an international Hasidic movement most people have never heard of.

Starting in 1999, Putin enlisted two of his closest confidants, the oligarchs Lev Leviev and Roman Abramovich, who would go on to become Chabad’s biggest patrons worldwide, to create the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia under the leadership of Chabad rabbi Berel Lazar, who would come to be known as “Putin’s rabbi.”

A few years later, Trump would seek out Russian projects and capital by joining forces with a partnership called Bayrock-Sapir, led by Soviet emigres Tevfik Arif, Felix Sater and Tamir Sapir—who maintain close ties to Chabad. The company’s ventures would lead to multiple lawsuits alleging fraud and a criminal investigation of a condo project in Manhattan.

Meanwhile, the links between Trump and Chabad kept piling up. In 2007, Trump hosted the wedding of Sapir’s daughter and Leviev’s right-hand man at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach resort. A few months after the ceremony, Leviev met Trump to discuss potential deals in Moscow and then hosted a bris for the new couple’s first son at the holiest site in Chabad Judaism. Trump attended the bris along with Kushner, who would go on to buy a $300 million building from Leviev and marry Ivanka Trump, who would form a close relationship with Abramovich’s wife, Dasha Zhukova. Zhukova would host the power couple in Russia in 2014 and reportedly attend Trump’s inauguration as their guest.

With the help of this trans-Atlantic diaspora and some globetrotting real estate moguls, Trump Tower and Moscow’s Red Square can feel at times like part of the same tight-knit neighborhood. Now, with Trump in the Oval Office having proclaimed his desire to reorient the global order around improved U.S. relations with Putin’s government—and as the FBI probes the possibility of improper coordination between Trump associates and the Kremlin—that small world has suddenly taken on outsize importance.

Trump’s kind of Jews

Founded in Lithuania in 1775, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement today has adherents numbering in the five, or perhaps six, figures. What the movement lacks in numbers it makes up for in enthusiasm, as it is known for practicing a particularly joyous form of Judaism.

Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, recalled having this trait impressed upon him during one family wedding at which the two tables occupied by his first cousins, Chabad rabbis, put the rest of the celebrants to shame. “They were dancing up a storm, these guys. I thought they were black. Instead they’re just black-hat,” Klein said, referring to their traditional Hasidic garb.

Despite its small size, Chabad has grown to become the most sprawling Jewish institution in the world, with a presence in over 1,000 far-flung cities, including locales like Kathmandu and Hanoi with few full-time Jewish residents. The movement is known for these outposts, called Chabad houses, which function as community centers and are open to all Jews. “Take any forsaken city in the world, you have a McDonald’s and a Chabad house,” explained Ronn Torossian, a Jewish public relations executive in New York.

Chabad adherents differ from other Hasidic Jews on numerous small points of custom, including the tendency of Chabad men to wear fedoras instead of fur hats. Many adherents believe that the movement’s last living leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who died in 1994, is the messiah, and some believe he is still alive. Chabad followers are also, according to Klein, “remarkable” fundraisers.

As the closest thing the Jewish world has to evangelism—much of its work is dedicated to making Jews around the world more involved in Judaism—Chabad serves many more Jews who are not full-on adherents.

According to Schmuley Boteach, a prominent rabbi in New Jersey and a longtime friend of Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, Chabad offers Jews a third way of relating to their religious identity. “You have three choices as a Jew,” he explained. “You can assimilate and not be very affiliated. You can be religious and Orthodox, or there’s sort of a third possibility that Chabad offers for people who don’t want to go the full Orthodox route but do want to stay on the traditional spectrum.”

This third way may explain the affinity Trump has found with a number of Chabad enthusiasts—Jews who shun liberal reform Judaism in favor of traditionalism but are not strictly devout.

“It’s not a surprise that Trump-minded people are involved with Chabad,” said Torossian. “Chabad is a place that tough, strong Jews feel comfortable. Chabad is a nonjudgmental place where people that are not traditional and not by-the-book feel comfortable.”

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He summarized the Chabad attitude, which is less strict than the Orthodox one, as, “If you can’t keep all of the commandments, keep as many as you can.”

Torossian, who coincidentally said he is Sater’s friend and PR rep, also explained that this balance is particularly appealing to Jews from the former Soviet Union, who appreciate its combination of traditional trappings with a lenient attitude toward observance. “All Russian Jews go to Chabad,” he said. “Russian Jews are not comfortable in a reform synagogue.”

Putin’s kind of Jews

The Russian state’s embrace of Chabad happened, like many things in Putin’s Russia, as the result of a factional power struggle.

In 1999, soon after he became prime minister, Putin enlisted Abramovich and Leviev to create the Federation of Russian Jewish Communities. Its purpose was to undermine the existing umbrella for Russia’s Jewish civil society, the Russian Jewish Congress, led by oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky, a potential threat to Putin and President Boris Yeltsin. A year later, Gusinsky was arrested by Putin’s government and forced into exile.

At the time, Russia already had a chief rabbi as recognized by the Russian Jewish Congress, Adolf Shayevich. But Abramovich and Leviev installed Chabad rabbi Lazar at the head of their rival organization. The Kremlin removed Shayevich from its religious affairs council, and ever since it has instead recognized Lazar as Russia’s chief rabbi, leaving the country with two rival claimants to the title.

The Putin-Chabad alliance has reaped benefits for both sides. Under Putin, anti-Semitism has been officially discouraged, a break from centuries of discrimination and pogroms, and the government has come to embrace a state-sanctioned version of Jewish identity as a welcome part of the nation.

As Putin has consolidated his control of Russia, Lazar has come to be known derisively as “Putin’s rabbi.” He has escorted the Russian leader to Jerusalem’s Western Wall and attended the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics, Putin’s pet project, on the Jewish Sabbath. Putin returned that favor by arranging for Lazar to enter the stadium without submitting to security checks that would have broken the rules for observing Shabbat.

In 2013, a $50 million Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center opened in Moscow under the auspices of Chabad and with funding from Abramovich. Putin donated a month of his salary to the project, while the Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB, pitched in by offering relevant documents from its archives.

In 2014, Lazar was the only Jewish leader present at Putin’s triumphal announcement of the annexation of Crimea.

But the rabbi has paid a price for his loyalty to Putin. Since the annexation, his continued support for the Russian autocrat has caused a rift with Chabad leaders in Ukraine. And for years, the Russian government has defied an American court order to turn over a trove of Chabad texts called the “Schneerson Library” to the Chabad Lubavitch headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Shortly after the opening of the tolerance museum, Putin ordered the collection transferred there instead. The move made Lazar the custodian of a prized collection that his Brooklyn comrades believe is rightfully theirs.

If Lazar has any qualms about his role in all the intra-Chabad drama, he hasn’t let on publicly. “Challenging the government is not the Jewish way,” the rabbi said in 2015.

Trump, Bayrock, Sapir

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, as Trump looked for business and investors in the former Soviet Union during the first years of this century, he struck up an enduring relationship with a firm called Bayrock-Sapir.

Bayrock was co-led by Felix Sater, a convicted mob associate.

Sater and another Bayrock employee, Daniel Ridloff, who like Sater later went on to work directly for the Trump Organization, belong to the Port Washington Chabad house. Sater told POLITICO Magazine that in addition to serving on the board of the Port Washington Chabad house, he sits on the boards of numerous Chabad entities in the U.S. and abroad, though none in Russia.

The extent of Sater’s ties to Trump is a matter of some dispute. Working out of Trump Tower, Sater partnered with the celebrity developer on numerous Trump-branded developments and scouted deals for him in the former Soviet Union. In 2006, Sater escorted Trump’s children Ivanka and Don Jr. around Moscow to scour the city for potential projects, and he worked especially closely with Ivanka on the development of Trump SoHo, a hotel and condominium building in Manhattan whose construction was announced on “The Apprentice” in 2006.

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In 2007, Sater’s stock fraud conviction became public. The revelation did not deter Trump, who brought him on as “a senior advisor to the Trump Organization” in 2010. In 2011, a number of purchasers of Trump SoHo units sued Trump and his partners for fraud and the New York attorney general’s office opened a criminal inquiry into the building’s marketing. But the purchasers settled and agreed not to cooperate with the criminal investigation, which was subsequently scuttled, according to the New York Times. Two former executives are suing Bayrock alleging tax evasion, money laundering, racketeering, bribery, extortion and fraud.

Under oath, Sater has described a close relationship with the Trumps, while Trump has testified under oath that he barely knew Sater and would not be able to pick his face out in a crowd. Several people who worked closely with Sater during this period and who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, citing fear of retaliation from both men, scoffed at Trump’s testimony, describing frequent meetings and near-constant phone calls between the two. One person recalled numerous occasions on which Trump and Sater dined together, including at the now-defunct Kiss & Fly in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.

“Trump called Felix like every other day to his office. So the fact that he’s saying he doesn’t know him, that’s a lot of crap,” said a former Sater colleague. “They were definitely in contact always. They spoke on the phone all the time.”

In 2014, the Port Washington Chabad house named Sater its “man of the year.” At the ceremony honoring Sater, the chabad’s founder, Shalom Paltiel, recounted how Sater would spill his guts to him about his adventures working as a government cooperator on sensitive matters of national security.

“I only recently told Felix I really didn’t believe most of it. I thought perhaps he watched too many James Bond movies, read one too many Tom Clancy novels,” said Paltiel at the ceremony. “Anyone who knows Felix knows he can tell a good story. I simply did not put too much credence to them.”

But Paltiel went on to recount receiving special clearance years later to accompany Sater to a ceremony at the federal building in Manhattan. There, said Paltiel, officials from every American intelligence agency applauded Sater’s secret work and divulged “stuff that was more fantastic, and more unbelievable, than anything he had been telling me.” A video of the event honoring Sater has been removed from the Port Washington Chabad house’s website but is still available on YouTube.

When I contacted Paltiel for this article, he hung up the phone as soon as I introduced myself. I wanted to ask him about some of the connections I’d come across in the course of my reporting. In addition to his relationship with Sater, Paltiel is also close to “Putin’s rabbi” Lazar, calling Lazar “my dear friend and mentor” in a short note about running into him at Schneerson’s gravesite in Queens.

According to Boteach, this is unsurprising, because Chabad is the sort of community where everybody knows everybody else. “In the world of Chabad, we all went to Yeshiva together, we were all ordained together,” Boteach explained. “I knew Berel Lazar from yeshiva.”

The Port Washington Chabad house has another Bayrock tie. Among its top 13 benefactors, its “Chai Circle,” as listed on its website, is Sater’s partner, Bayrock founder Tevfik Arif.

Arif, a former Soviet bureaucrat turned wealthy real estate developer, owns a mansion in Port Washington, an upscale suburb, but he makes a curious patron for the town’s Chabad. A Kazakh-born citizen of Turkey with a Muslim name, Arif is not Jewish, according to people who have worked with him. In 2010, he was arrested in a raid on a yacht in Turkey that once belonged to the founder of the modern Turkish state, Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, and charged with running an international underage prostitution ring. Arif was later cleared of the charges.

Before the scandal on Ataturk’s yacht, Arif partnered closely with Trump, Ivanka Trump and Sater in the development of Trump SoHo along with the Sapir family, a New York real estate dynasty and the other half of Bayrock-Sapir.

Its patriarch, the late billionaire Tamir Sapir, was born in the Soviet state of Georgia and arrived in 1976 in New York, where he opened an electronics store in the Flatiron district that, according to the New York Timescatered largely to KGB agents.

Trump has called Sapir “a great friend.” In December 2007, he hosted the wedding of Sapir’s daughter, Zina, at Mar-a-Lago. The event featured performances by Lionel Ritchie and the Pussycat Dolls. The groom, Rotem Rosen, was the CEO of the American branch of Africa Israel, the Putin oligarch Leviev’s holding company.

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Five months later, in early June 2008, Zina Sapir and Rosen held a bris for their newborn son. Invitations to the bris described Rosen as Leviev’s “right-hand man.” By then, Leviev had become the single largest funder of Chabad worldwide, and he personally arranged for the bris to take place at Schneerson’s grave, Chabad’s most holy site.

Trump attended the bris. A month earlier, in May 2008, he and Leviev had met to discuss possible real estate projects in Moscow, according to a contemporaneous Russian news report. An undated photograph on a Pinterest account called LLD Diamond USA, the name of a firm registered to Leviev, shows Trump and Leviev shaking hands and smiling. (The photograph was first pointed out by Pacific Standard.)

That same year, Sapir, an active Chabad donor in his own right, joined Leviev in Berlin to tour Chabad institutions in the city.

Jared, Ivanka, Roman, Dasha

Also present at the Sapir-Rosen bris was Kushner, who along with his now-wife Ivanka Trump has forged his own set of ties to Putin’s Chabad allies. Kushner’s family, which is Modern Orthodox, has long been highly engaged in philanthropy across the Jewish world, including to Chabad entities, and during his undergraduate years at Harvard, Kushner was active in the university’s Chabad house. Three days before the presidential election, the couple visited Schneerson’s grave and prayed for Trump. In January, the couple purchased a home in Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood and settled on the city’s nearby Chabad synagogue, known as TheSHUL of the Nation’s Capital, as their house of worship.

In May 2015, a month before Trump officially entered the Republican presidential primary, Kushner bought a majority stake in the old New York Times building on West 43rd Street from Leviev for $295 million.

Kushner and Ivanka Trump are also close with Abramovich’s wife, Dasha Zhukova. Abramovich, an industrialist worth more than $7 billion and the owner of the British soccer club Chelsea FC, is the former governor of the Russian province of Chukotka, where he is still revered as a hero. He owes his fortune to his triumphant emergence from Russia’s post-Soviet “aluminum wars,” in which more than 100 people are estimated to have died in fighting over control of aluminum refineries. Abramovich admitted in 2008 that he amassed his assets by paying billions of dollars in bribes. In 2011, his former business partner, the late Boris Berezovsky—an oligarch who had fallen out with Putin and gone on to live in exile at the Trump International on Central Park West—accused him of threats, blackmail and intimidation in a lawsuit in the United Kingdom, which Abramovich won.

Abramovich was reportedly the first person to recommend to Yeltsin that he choose Putin as his successor. In their 2004 biography of Abramovich, the British journalists Chris Hutchins and Dominic Midgely write, “When Putin needed a shadowy force to act against his enemies behind the scenes, it was Abramovich whom he could rely on to prove a willing co-conspirator.” The biographers compare the two men’s relationship to that between a father and a son and report that Abramovich personally interviewed candidates for Putin’s first cabinet. He has reportedly gifted Putin a $30 million yacht, though Putin denies it.

Abramovich’s vast business holdings and his personal life overlap with Trump’s world in multiple ways.

According to a 2012 report from researchers at Cornell University, Evraz, a firm partly owned by Abramovich, has contracts to provide 40 percent of the steel for the Keystone XL pipeline, a project whose completion was approved by Trump in March after years of delay. And in 2006, Abramovich purchased a large stake in the Russian oil giant Rosneft, a company now being scrutinized for its possible role in alleged collusion between Trump and Russia. Both Trump and the Kremlin have dismissed as “fake news” a dossier that alleges that a recent sale of Rosneft shares was part of a scheme to ease U.S. sanctions on Russia.

Meanwhile, his wife, Zhukova, has long traveled in the same social circles as Kushner and Ivanka Trump: She is a friend and business partner of Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife Wendi Deng, one of Ivanka’s closest friends, and a friend of Karlie Kloss, the longtime girlfriend of Kushner’s brother, Josh.

Over the years, Zhukova has grown close to Jared and Ivanka themselves. In February 2014, a month before Putin illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine, Ivanka Trump posted a photo to Instagram of herself with Zhukova, Wendi Deng, a bottle of wine, and the caption, “Thank you [Zhukova] for an unforgettable four days in Russia!” Deng was recently rumored to be dating Putin, though she denied it. Other photos from the trip show Kushner was also present in Russia at the time.

Last summer, Kushner and Ivanka Trump shared a box at the U.S. Open with Zhukova and Deng. In January, Zhukova reportedly attended Trump’s inauguration as Ivanka Trump’s guest.

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On March 14, The Daily Mail spotted Josh Kushner dining with Zhukova in New York. According to the outlet, Josh Kushner “hid his face as he exited the eatery with Dasha.”

A week later, at the same time Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were vacationing in Aspen with her two brothers and their families, Abramovich’s plane flew from Moscow to Denver, according to a flight tracking service. Abramovich owns two properties in the Aspen area.

A spokesman for Abramovich declined to comment on the record about the Colorado overlap. The White House referred queries about the couples to a personal spokeswoman for Ivanka Trump. The spokeswoman, Risa Heller, initially indicated she would provide answers to questions about the Colorado overlap and recent contacts between the couples, but did not do so.

President Trump has reportedly sought security clearances for Kushner and Ivanka, who have taken on growing roles in his White House. For anyone else, a close personal relationship with the family of a top Putin confidant would present significant hurdles to obtaining security clearances, former high-ranking intelligence officials said, but political pressure to grant clearances to the president’s children would be likely to override any security concerns.

“Yes, such connections to Russia should matter for a clearance,” said Steve Hall, a former CIA Moscow station chief. “Question is, will they?”

“I don’t think the Trump family camp will have any trouble with security clearances, as long as there’s no polygraph involved,” said Milt Bearden, former chief of the CIA’s Eastern European division. “It’s absolutely crazy, but not going to be an issue.”

***

With Washington abuzz about the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Trump world’s relationship with Putin’s Kremlin, their overlapping networks remain the object of much scrutiny and fascination.

In March, the New York Times reported that Lazar had met last summer with the Trump administration’s special representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt, then a lawyer for the Trump Organization. The men characterized the meeting as a normal part of Greenblatt’s campaign outreach to Jewish leaders and said it included general discussion of Russian society and anti-Semitism. The meeting was brokered by New York PR rep Joshua Nass, and Lazar has said he did not discuss that meeting with the Russian government.

In late January, Sater met with Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to discuss a proposed Ukraine peace deal that would end U.S. sanctions on Russia, which Cohen then delivered to Trump’s then-national security adviser Michael Flynn at the White House, according to the Times. Cohen has given varying accounts of the episode.

According to one Jewish Republican who said he sees Cohen “all the time” there, Cohen himself is a regular presence at the Midtown Chabad on Fifth Avenue, a dozen blocks south of Trump Tower and a half-dozen blocks south of his current office at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Cohen disputed this, saying, “I’ve never been to a Chabad and I’ve never been to one in New York City either.” Cohen then said he last stepped foot in a Chabad over 15 years ago to attend a bris. He said the last Chabad-related event he attended was on March 16 at a hotel in Newark when he spoke at a dinner honoring Trump’s secretary of veterans affairs, David Shulkin. The dinner was hosted by the Rabbinical College of America, a Chabad organization.

To those unfamiliar with Russian politics, Trump’s world and Hasidic Judaism, all these Chabad links can appear confounding. Others simply greet them with a shrug.

“The interconnectedness of the Jewish world through Chabad is not surprising insofar as it’s one of the main Jewish players,” said Boteach. “I would assume that the world of New York real estate isn’t that huge either.”

Ben Schreckinger is a reporter for Politico.

ABC Corrects Explosive Flynn Report That Drove Down Stocks

mikenova shared this story from Donald Trump.

Flynn was asked to reach out to Russian officials during the Trump transition, not the campaign, according to a source, the network noted.

» Flynn Plea Shows Collusion With Israel? IMEMC News

mikenova shared this story from IMEMC News.

Michael Flynn’s guilty plea to lying to the FBI falls short on Russia “collusion” but points to the Trump administration acting on Israel’s behalf, says author and journalist Max Blumenthal.

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Guardian, The Independent Film Channel, The Huffington Post, <a href=”http://Salon.com” rel=”nofollow”>Salon.com</a>, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. His most recent book is Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. His other book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party, is a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller. Max is co-host of the podcast Modern Rebel.

Aaron Mate: It’s the Real News. I’m Aaron Mate. Michael Flynn, the National Security Advisor to Donald Trump until his ouster just a few months into his administration, has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators looking into alleged Trump Russia ties. Flynn is the most high level member of the White House inner circle to be indicted and he is said to be cooperating with investigators. And the news has been greeted across liberal media much like it was today on the TV program The View.

Speaker 2: Breaking news.

Joy Behar: Oh my God. Oh, breaking news. ABC news Brian Ross is reporting. Michael Flynn promised full cooperation to the Mueller team and is prepared to testify that, as a candidate, Donald Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians. Yes.

Aaron Mate: But for opponents of Donald Trump, is Flynn’s indictment really something to celebrate? Well, joining me to discuss is Max Blumenthal, Senior Editor of Alternet’s Grayzone Project. Max, your reaction to Flynn’s indictment today.

Max Blumenthal: You know, my reaction is slightly different than The View panelists, who are really expressing the sensibility, or the mentality, of the id lib, or the idiot liberal, who has been kind of indoctrinated over the past 11 months to believe that Trump had colluded with Russia and that this will lead to his impeachment. We actually saw outside the courthouse where Flynn appeared, the people not only chanting “lock him up”, which is hilarious considering that Flynn, at the Republican National Convention led the “lock her up” chants about Hillary Clinton, but there was also a sign being held by one protestor or heckler, reading “People Power versus Putin Power”, as if Putin kind of controlled Michael Flynn.I mean let’s first acknowledge that this is a confirmation, this indictment of Michael Flynn’s dishonesty, his hypocrisy and his sheer idiocy. I mean, he lied to the FBI and ordinary people who lie to the FBI go to jail. He not only did that, but he did not register as a foreign agent when he took something like half a million dollars from Erdoğan’s government, the government of Turkey, in order to stage some kind of operation to possibly kidnap the person that, the exiled cleric that Erdoğan considers to be his arch nemeses. Fethullah Gülen in Pennsylvania so you can imagine like Flynn and his buddies driving around Pennsylvania trying to kidnap some cleric. It’s like the guy who couldn’t shoot straight. It’s like something out of a Woody Allen movie.Just the level of absurdity of Flynn’s activities has reached a sublime level then you have Flynn testifying before Congress that the U.S. needed to be in the driver’s seat back in 2015 to prevent Russia from setting up nuclear facilities in Egypt and elsewhere and then two weeks later he goes to Egypt and Israel on a trip paid for by a company, one of the companies that had been possibly working with the Russian government to set up, you know, nuclear plants, Flynn did not disclose that at the time when he had a security clearance.So there’s this pattern of failing to disclose activities that he’s been involved in and, you know, he has been pretty much lying ever since 2015. So that’s real, that’s corruption. There’s no way to defend Flynn on that level. The question is, is there any evidence here of collusion with Russia? Trump’s collusion with Russia. And when you actually look at the indictment, you’ve got another dud, it’s just another dud, and these duds arrive every two to three weeks and they send the id libs into a frenzy of ecstasy about having their shambolic narrative of Russia controlling the United States and colluding with Trump to subvert our otherwise shining democracy confirmed.And this confirms nothing. What it does show is that the Israeli government, through Jared Kushner, pressured Michael Flynn to approach the Russian government through Sergey Kislyak, who was the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. at the time, to use it’s position on the U.N. Security Council to stop a resolution condemning Israeli Settlement activity, which the Obama administration was going to abstain on. Something the U.S. government hasn’t done before.Jared Kushner and his family through the Kushner Family Foundation have an extensive relationship not only with the Israeli government, but with Benjamin Netanyahu himself. Netanyahu when he’s in New York would stay with the Kushner family. He would sleep in a bedroom at their house and was almost literally in bed with Jared Kushner. Kushner Family Foundation has donated extensively to the Israeli Settlement Enterprise, to very pro-Israel groups. And so you’re looking actually at Israeli collusion. The real center of influence in Washington emanates from Israel and Kushner has basically been an agent of Israeli influence. An unregistered agent of pro-Israel influence in Washington. This element of the story, which is central, has been completely ignored. And there is another point.Flynn is accused of approaching Sergey Kislyak to discuss how the U.S. and Russia, which was one of the main parties engaged in Syria, would bring the Syrian conflict to an end and take on al Qaeda and ISIS. So that U.S. and Russia are discussing deescalating a conflict that has killed somewhere around 250,000 people. At least around 100,000 on the Syrian government side, by the way. And they have successfully done so, it’s been Russian intervention in Syria at the invitation of the Syrian government that has led to the destruction of ISIS, the defeat of al Qaeda, and the end of this conflict. And refugees are now coming back, so once, just to restate that, Flynn approached Kislyak, not the other way around, to discuss deescalating a conflict. And that’s considered a major transgression now in Washington and then there’s the third point in the indictment.Flynn approached Kislyak, not the other way around, to beg Russia not to retaliate against sanctions that the Obama administration had imposed on Russia for unproven allegations that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee’s email servers and released it to WikiLeaks. Unproven. Totally unproven, even the intelligence agencies that everyone, every Democrat worships as if they’re some kind of oracle, have just stated with high confidence that these servers were hacked by Russian intelligence agencies and none of them, not the FBI, not the NSA, none of them have examined the DNC’s email servers, none of them have demanded them. So these sanctions were imposed based on an allegation and then you have Michael Flynn, while a member of the Trump campaign, approaching the Russian Ambassador to beseech him not to retaliate.And Putin himself was actually put under pressure by the Russian Foreign Ministry at the same time to retaliate because the U.S. had kicked Russian Diplomatic personnel out of Washington, and imposed them unprecedented sanctions, Putin did not retaliate. I would say it was a fairly elegant, diplomatic move. He was gonna give a new administration a chance.In any case, Flynn lied about these communications he had with Sergey Kislyak, the communications were picked up by the NSA because Michael Flynn was in the Cayman Islands at the time and so he was abroad where the NSA has surveillance latitude and Flynn, you know, he may have been sitting on a beach after having one too many, you know, pina coladas and he engaged in really stupid activity to make this kind of call. But the nature of the call, and the content of the indictment, does not prove that there was collusion with the Russian government. It certainly doesn’t demonstrate that Russia was attempting to subvert American democracy. It does demonstrate that the Israeli government through it’s point man, Jared Kushner, was engaged in collusion, was engaged in foreign meddling, and subversion. And this, for some reason, is not the story and we know why.

Aaron Mate: Right. In terms of what it says about the actual election, which is purportedly the reason why we’re supposed to be caring about Russia and Trump. The first conversation between Flynn and Kislyak happens in December, so well after the election has happened. Let me ask you Max, it’s interesting to see that the outrage today has been over, as you mentioned, Flynn trying to negotiate or make overtures to Russia over matters that could actually deescalate tensions, which, when not viewed through a partisan lens, could be seen as positive because it’s deescalating tensions with a nuclear power, and as you said, trying to find an end to the horrific Syrian War. But, in effect, both those things were known about before. What was not known, at least to my knowledge, was the extent to which Flynn was working to subvert the U.N. Security Council vote about Israel. And it’s surprising, as you alluded to, that that’s the issue that is both new but yet has not elicited very much outrage or attention.

Max Blumenthal: Yeah, I mean, that’s just absolutely shocking that, I mean, and this has also come out through Mueller’s investigation is that Jared Kushner may have violated the Logan Act by conducting freelance diplomacy to work with the Israeli government to attempt to convince other governments to vote against the U.N. Resolution. Other governments on the Security Council. That’s how we know that Kushner was the one who was encouraging Flynn to make this call. And it’s just completely overlooked in Washington, it’s overlooked by mainstream media, not only because of the fear of that very government and it’s cut outs in Washington attacking figures in the media and attacking public figures for daring to point to Israeli influence as a nefarious and nefarious force that contravenes American interests, but because it’s a matter of American policy to allow Israel to dictate our policy with respect to the Middle East.Including in Syria and so you have elements that are deeply embedded in the national security state that have been hostile to deescalating the Syrian Civil War. These elements, you know, you could point to John Brennan from the CIA, one of his babies was the arm and equip operation to train and arm Syrian rebels who were substantially operating under the umbrella of al Qaeda, referred to as the Free Syrian Army, something that we now know was basically a mythical conglomeration of Salafi and Salafi jihadi rebels. And in 2015, when al Qaeda Syrian affiliate, Jabhat Al Nusra, took the city and the province of Idlib, in northeastern Syria, which was just a few hundred kilometers … actually I would just say, you know, a few scores of kilometers away from the Alawite Heartland. An area which al Qaeda and it’s affiliates have pledged to cleanse of non-sitting Muslims. To kill or convert the minority population of Syria.Where Christians were forced to convert or die in Idlib. Where the Jewish population in Idlib was forced to dig up their own shrines. Christians were slaughtered across Idlib. And the Syrian government panicked. You know, what Obama should have done at that point is gone to the city allies, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and said, “Stop arming these jihadist rebels who have taken Idlib, let’s put a stop to this, this is crazy, they wanna march on Lattakia, they wanna move to Damascus and this would destroy a core country in the Middle East. It’s gone too far.” He didn’t do that. The arms continued to flow.This should have been a signal moment and that is when, in fact the arms continued to flow in the form of something like 20,000 Tow Missiles produced by Raytheon which allowed al Qaeda and it’s allies to destroy entire Syrian Army Tank Divisions. This is when the Syrian government called on Russia to intervene. And it was that Russian intervention that prevented Syria from becoming what we see today in Libya, where there are open air slave markets, where there have been the slaughter of the black population of Libya and now we see sub-Saharan African migrants being sold in open air slave markets. Refugee crisis like you’ve never seen before. This is what Russia prevented in Syria. And the U.S. by 2016, after the fall of Aleppo, or the liberation of Aleppo with Russian help, the liberation from al Qaeda and it’s allies, kind of started to get wise and decided it’s time to deescalate.John Brennan was very unhappy with this scenario, his operation was being discredited. His legacy was on the line. A lot of other figures coming out of the state department were upset at this scenario but the Trump administration was determined to do this and that’s what Flynn’s phone call with Kislyak partially dealt with and it has happened. We’ve seen deescalation zones set up around the Golan Heights, all across the [crosstalk 00:15:26]

Aaron Mate: I think we gotta, Max-

Max Blumenthal: These are coming [crosstalk 00:15:29]

Aaron Mate: Max, let me cut in there because we have to wrap, but I wanna say actually, that it’s quite possible that what Trump and Flynn are being faulted for now, in terms of Syria, is exactly what the Obama administration, despite people like John Brennan, would have done anyway. Because, as you say, the war was going so bad for them that it was obvious that they were not gonna win the outcome that they pursued. But let me ask you, Max, because we only have one minute, so getting back to Flynn and this indictment, people are saying, “Well look, why would Mueller make a plea deal with Flynn unless Flynn had something to offer him that was gonna flip and point to someone higher above him like Kushner, or even Trump, that’s possible. It’s also possible that maybe this is all Flynn has and so now they’re gonna get him on lying to the FBI so I’m wondering, where you think this is gonna go and what kind of punishment you think someone like Flynn will face? I mean lying to the FBI is a serious offense but it’s nowhere near the kind of offense of treason that many people have floated throughout this whole Russia-gate “scandal”.

Max Blumenthal: Yeah. Even though the indictment contradicts the narrative of collusion in Russian subversion of our shining democracy, the narrative will continue and this gives more fumes to the narrative in the way the mainstream media, corporate media’s gonna report this will be slightly distorted. It will obfuscate the details of the indictment. I can only go based on what’s in the indictment and it seems to show that Flynn lied to the FBI, he probably pled out on part to protect his son Michael Flynn Jr. from being, you know, indicted, or called in. And to the extent that he is going to say that Trump ordered him to make this phone call, well, the question is how does that demonstrate any illicit behavior by Trump if Trump himself was urging Flynn, who was his future National Security Council Advisor, to conduct diplomacy with Russia?I mean Flynn’s mistake was to make the phone call in the Cayman Islands where the NSA could pick up the cables and listen to the phone call and his other mistake was to lie to the FBI time and time again. Just being a serial liar. So that’s it from what I can see and from the standpoint of someone trying to prove Trump Russia collusion, or the overall narrative of Russia-gate, this one is another dud.

Aaron Mate: Leave it there. Max Blumenthal is Senior Editor of Alternet’s Grayzone Project, also the current host of the podcast, Moderate Rebels. Max, thank you.

Max Blumenthal: Thanks for having me.

Aaron Mate: And thank you for joining us on the Real News.

11/27/17 The ‘Deal of the Century’ Struck between Reckless Leaders

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James Comey Waxes Biblical About Mike Flynn’s Guilty Plea – Forward

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James Comey Waxes Biblical About Mike Flynn’s Guilty Plea
Forward
Quoting the prophet Amos, Comey tweeted a link to a picture of the Great Falls of the Potomac River. It was his 28th tweet since debuting his handle @Comey in March. But justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream Amos 

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James Comey Tweets Biblical Verse About Mike Flynn The Forward

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Congressmen say Jared Kushners arrest is coming and Donald Trump will be ousted from office

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So what now? Special Counsel Robert Mueller has cut a plea deal with Michael Flynn, who is testifying that Donald Trump and Jared Kushner ordered him to be the point man for communicating and conspiring with the Russian government during the election. If Flynn has the evidence to back up those assertions, things will never be the same. Two U.S. Congressmen are weighing in on the matter, and they’re painting a particularly dire picture for Kushner and Trump both.

After the news broke that Michael Flynn was implicating Jared Kushner, and that Kushner had met with Robert Mueller just before it was revealed that Flynn had cut a deal, Congressman Ted Lieu posted this on Twitter: “My prediction? The next time agents & prosecutors for Special Counsel Mueller interview #Kushner, they will read him his Miranda rights.” Lieu is a Democrat, and he’s been publicly rooting for the demise of Kushner and Trump all year. But it needs to be pointed out that Lieu has a history as a military prosecutor in the Air Force, and he currently sits on the House Judiciary Committee (where the impeachment process begins), so this isn’t arbitrary cheerleading. Congressman Lieu knows what he’s talking about from a legal perspective.

Then there’s Congressman Jared Huffman, who saw the news about Flynn implicating Trump in the Russia conspiracy, and responded in this manner: “Let me be the first to congratulate President Pence.” Huffman is a Democrat, and the last thing he wants is to see a far-right extremist like Mike Pence in the Oval Office. However, he understands the urgency of ousting Trump, a mentally unstable traitor. He also knows that Pence is guilty as sin in the Russia scandal, and can then be ousted as well.

So there you have it. According to the Democrats in Congress, Jared Kushner is about to be arrested, and Donald Trump is going to be ousted from office. Plenty of contrarian political pundits are still insisting that neither of those things will ever happen, but those are the same pundits who told us that Paul Manafort would never be arrested and Michael Flynn would never cut a deal.

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Michael Flynn Will Keep Military Rank And Pension Despite Guilty Plea

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Flynn could commit murder today, and be convicted … and still retain his retired general status with pension, one expert said.

Psychiatrists warn Trump becoming more mentally unstable

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Psychiatrists warn Trump becoming more mentally unstable, putting US, world at ‘extreme risk’ – CNBC

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Psychiatrists warn Trump becoming more mentally unstable, putting US, world at ‘extreme risk’
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… instability in fact, a pattern of decompensation: increasing loss of touch with reality, marked signs of volatility and unpredictable behavior, and an attraction to violence as a means of coping.” “These characteristics place our country and the

Mike Flynn – Google News: Flynn pleads guilty to lying to FBI, is cooperating with Mueller – WLS-TV

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Flynn pleads guilty to lying to FBI, is cooperating with Mueller
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And, given the direct involvement of the transition team in Flynn’s calls with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the plea also raises questions about the accuracy of repeated assertions by the administration that Flynn had misled Mike Pence and other 
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to FBIWABC-TV

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Russia investigation ‘wearing’ on White House, despite spin – Lincoln Journal Star

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“I think that Russia investigation is wearing on all of us, the President most of all,” said a source close to Trump. “But I think he is more concerned about the state of his accomplishments and this presidency.” Flynn’s plea is closest special counsel 
Donald Trump Suspected for Weeks That Mike Flynn Would FlipDaily Beast
Trump’s best and worst day as presidentWashington Post
Does Donald Trump Fear Impeachment After Flynn Plea? President Was Terrified Flynn ‘Turned On Me,’ Report SaysThe Inquisitr

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