“Жопа С Ручкой” – “The Asshole With The Handle” – “Operation Trump” as the Abwehr 2 Design – M.N. – 12.17.18

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“Жопа С Ручкой

“The Asshole With The Handle”

“Operation Trump” is the Abwehr 2 Design: it blackens Israel and Russia as attempting to blatantly interfere in U.S. Elections 2016 and uses Red (Russian-Jewish) Mafia and the GRU as the Abwehr’s  fronts and covers, to direct the rage at these main contemporary Abwehr’s rivals for the world domination. 

Hostility to Israel and Russia, and hidden, masked but very important for the correct conceptual understanding, the hostility to the democratic institutions, traditions and principles of governing in the U.S., IS OBVIOUS, and it points to the major, leading involvement of this particular historical entity, in my humble Hermeneutic (Interpretative) opinion, namely the Abwehr 2, or the “New Abwehr”. 

The unprecedented, the attack and “revanche-like” enhancements of the German geopolitical standing on the world stage and “celebrations” of the historical events related to the WW1 and WW2 (“the Helsinki-Versailles Halls of Mirrors”), also point to this direction. The European (in fact, the Global!) Terror – Crime Nexus, exemplified most recently by the Strasbourg attack, is also an indication of Abwehr 2 strategies of using the Underworld and the other (closely related and the thoroughly penetrated Intelligence Services, such as, probably, the GRU) proxies as their favorite and the time-tested tools. 

Germany is the only party which benefited from all those events, and it benefited hugely. The Brexit is from the same opera. 

Putin recruited Mogilevich (after his arrest on the pretext Arbat Prestige tax evasion charges) to bring Ukraine back to the fold. Mogievich recruited Sergei Skripal as the head and leading force of the GRU – Russian-Jewish Mafia Alliance, and recommended him to spend some time in “Zone”, the Russian concentration camps for the criminals, to win their trust and to establish the long term stable relationships with them, which Skripal promptly and comfortably did, utilizing the GRU’s nostalgic, traditional, leftist leanings. That’ how the plan was hatched to conquer America “from above”, by installing the US President as the Russian and the Russian Jewish Mafia’s puppet. 

In fact, it was the Abwehr 2 plan, and all these players are just the Abwehr’s actors and tools, big and small, and mostly unwitting. 

At this point, it becomes evident that the hypothetical “ручка (GRU-Russia-Skripal-Abwehr-Mafia-Mogilevich)” от “жопы (Trump and his circles)” отваливается, as the result of the closer attention to all these matters and the reach of the Mueller Investigations. 

However! “Do not despair!”, proclaims the ever resourceful and optimistic Russian Jewish Mafia. 

“А если укрепить стразами?” 

Via Strasbourg, “wo alle straßen enden“? 

Michael Novakhov

10:27 AM 12/17/2018

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks 

Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠ 
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Israel demanded Germany cut funding to Jewish Museum in Berlin, report says – Europe
Monday December 17th, 2018 at 8:14 AM

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Israel asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel to stop funding the Jewish Museum in Berlin, among other institutions, the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung reported on Thursday.

The reason behind the demand was the museum’s exhibition on Jerusalem, which “presents a Muslim-Palestinian perspective of the city,” the report said.

In the letter sent directly to the chancellor’s bureau and not through the Israeli embassy, Merkel was asked to defund other organizations that it claimed were anti-Israeli.

These included the Berlin International Film Festival, pro-Palestinian Christian organizations, and the Israeli site +972 Magazine, which receives funding from the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

>> Budapest Holocaust museum: Orban’s grand gesture or a whitewashing of Hungarian history?

While Die Tageszeitung did not have clear evidence that the letter was sent by Israeli officials, the German government confirmed that there were discussions between the two countries regarding funding of certain organizations, in line with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s ongoing policy.

In a response given to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth on Sunday, the Prime Minister’s Office did not deny the request. “The prime minister raised the issue of defunding Palestinian and Israeli groups and non-governmental organizations that depict Israel Defense Forces as war criminals, support Palestinian terrorism and call for boycott of the State of Israel. Israel will continue fighting these organizations,” read the statement. 

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German Abwehr puppet Erdogan and Israel – Google SearchMonday December 17th, 2018 at 8:10 AM

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Erdogan again likens Israel to Nazi Germany, says it commits ‘cultural genocide’Monday December 17th, 2018 at 8:08 AM

The Times Of Israel1 Share

PARIS, France (AFP) — Groups of defiant “yellow vest” demonstrators faced off with tens of thousands of police around France on Saturday, but the protest movement appeared to have lost momentum on a fifth and decisive weekend.

President Emmanuel Macron, facing the biggest crisis of his presidency, announced a series of concessions on Monday to defuse the explosive “yellow vest” crisis, which swelled up from rural and small-town France last month.

The package of tax and minimum wage measures for low-income workers, coupled with bitter winter weather this weekend, appeared to have helped bring calm to the country after more than a month of clashes and disruption.

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France was also hit by a fresh deadly terror attack on Tuesday night when a gunman opened fire at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, leading the government to urge people to stay at home to spare the stretched security forces.

“It’s a bit of a failure because the state is stopping us from being able to demonstrate properly,” Marie, a 35-year-old domestic helper, told AFP in Paris after travelling from her home around 50 kilometers south of the capital.

An estimated 66,000 people took to the streets across France, according to figures from the interior ministry at 6:00 p.m. (1700 GMT), half the level of a week ago.

“It’s a bit disappointing. We expected there to be more people, but the movement won’t end,” Francis Nicolas, a 49-year-old laborer, told AFP from a small crowd who gathered in the southeastern city of Lyon.

In Paris, the more than 8,000 police on duty easily outnumbered the 2,200 protesters who were counted on the streets of the capital by local authorities in the early afternoon.

There had been 168 arrests by 6:00 p.m., far down on the roughly 1,000 of last Saturday.

Protesters wearing yellow vests clash with French riot police during a demonstration against rising costs of living they blame on high taxes on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, on December 15, 2018. (Sameer Al-Doumy / AFP)

Tear gas was occasionally fired, but a fraction of the amount was used compared with the weekends of December 8 or December 1 when graffiti was daubed on the Arc de Triomphe in scenes that shocked France.

“The turnout was lower, which was necessary from my point of view,” parliament speaker Richard Ferrand, a close ally of Macron, told the Cnews channel on Saturday evening. “It’s not a time for combat, but debate,” he added.

Minor clashes in the cities of Toulouse, Nantes, and Bordeaux were reported, while protesters snarled traffic on motorways in the south of the country and on the A16 near the port of Calais in the north.

Until this week, a clear majority of French people had backed the protests, which sprung up initially over high taxes before snowballing into a wider opposition to Macron’s pro-business agenda and style of governing.

But two polls published on Tuesday — in the wake of Macron’s concessions — suggested the country was now broadly 50-50 on whether the protests should continue.

In a bid to end the standoff, a visibly contrite Macron announced a package of measures on Monday in a televised address, estimated by economists to cost up to 15 billion euros ($17 billion).

The 40-year-old former investment banker acknowledged widespread animosity towards him and came close to apologizing for a series of verbal gaffes seen as dismissive of the poor or jobless.

He cancelled planned fuel tax hikes for 2019, offered a rise in the minimum wage of 100 euros a month next year, as well as tax relief for many pensioners and tax-free overtime.

Protesters wearing yellow vests stand amid tear gas during a demonstration against rising costs of living they blame on high taxes on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, on December 15, 2018. (Abdul ABEISSA / AFP)

Some senior figures in the “yellow vest” movement, which has no official leaders and dozens of separate demands, had urged protesters to continue to press home their advantage.

“It’s really the time to keep going,” one of them, Eric Drouet, said in a video posted on Facebook. “What Macron did on Monday was a call to carry on because he has started to give ground, which is unusual for him.”

Many protesters appeared to have switched their focus from the core issue of the protests so far — taxes and spending power — to other demands such as the greater use of referendums to decide government policy.

“Last time, we were here for taxes,” a 28-year-old “yellow vest” called Jeremy told AFP as he arrived on the Champs-Elysees in the freezing cold on Saturday morning.

“This is for the institutions: We want more direct democracy,” he said, adding that people needed to “shout to make themselves heard.”

Authorities reported the seventh death linked to the demonstrations in a fatal road accident Friday evening near the France-Belgium border caused by a blockade.

A protester dressed as Santa Claus wears a yellow vest during a demonstration against rising costs of living they blame on high taxes on the Champs-Elysees avenue near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, on December 15, 2018. (Abdul ABEISSA / AFP)

More than 1,400 people have been injured since the protests began on November 17.

Around 69,000 security forces were mobilized across France, down from 89,000 last Saturday when 2,000 people were detained.

On Thursday, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux had called on protesters to stay at home on what is normally a busy shopping weekend ahead of Christmas.

He was speaking in the wake of the attack on Tuesday in the eastern city of Strasbourg, which left four dead and 12 wounded.Read the whole story · · · · · · ·

Mueller filing: Flynn got in trouble over Israel UN vote and became asset for Russia probe – HaaretzMonday December 17th, 2018 at 8:02 AM

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  1. Mueller filing: Flynn got in trouble over Israel UN vote and became asset for Russia probe  Haaretz
  2. Legal clouds over Trump grow as Mueller probe circles ‘Individual-1’  The Times of Israel
  3. Mueller filing on Flynn cooperation cites U.N. resolutions against Israel  The Jerusalem Post – Israel News
  4. Mueller’s Flynn Memo Should Worry Kushner and Trump  Bloomberg
  5. Jared Kushner Faces New Scrutiny On Israel After Mueller Lets Flynn Off Easy  Forward
  6. View full coverage on Google News

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Israel Urges Germany To End Funding To Critics – The ForwardMonday December 17th, 2018 at 7:57 AM

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Getty Images

RBG on Capitol Hill.

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The ceremony was cozy formal: Yes there was a color guard and a military band, but the Supreme Court justice brought along her personal trainer, and one of the speakers introduced Ruth Bader Ginsburg as “The Notorious RBG.”

The Department of Homeland Security randomly selected 31 Washington, D.C.-area residents to be sworn in Friday at the National Archives rotunda  in a chamber that houses some of the nation’s founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence.

DHS and the Archives didn’t exactly keep it a secret that Ginsburg was the person swearing them into citizenship — media were invited, after all — but many of the residents, from 26 nations, including Israel, gasped in surprise and delight when they found out who would be presiding.

Opening the session by declaring the Archives to be a court for the duration of the proceedings was Bryant Johnson, a District Court staffer who in his spare time is Ginsburg’s trainer. He’s helping her build up strength after she fell and broke three ribs.

It was David Ferriero, the archivist, who welcomed Ginsburg with the “Notorious” sobriquet — one happily embraced by the tough-minded liberal justice. At 85, she has sworn to stick out President Donald Trump’s first term.

Her very appearance may be seen as the mildest of rebukes to an administration that has placed unprecedented strictures on immigration. Ginsburg in a 10-minute speech after the swearing-in told the new Americans that her grandparents and father were immigrants.

She spoke of the United States as just starting its journey to the “perfect union” the founders envisioned, recounting the blights of slavery, bigotry and sex discrimination, but also emphasized the country’s promise.

“What is the difference between a bookkeeper in New York’s garment district and a Supreme Court justice?” she asked. “One generation.”

Above all, Ginsburg urged her fellow Americans, vote.

“You could play a vital part, first and foremost, voting in elections,” she said.Read the whole story · ·

Get Ready for Mueller’s Phase Two: The Middle East Connection – The Daily BeastMonday December 17th, 2018 at 7:51 AM

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Get Ready for Mueller’s Phase Two: The Middle East Connection  The Daily Beast

The ‘Russia investigation’ is set to go global. In court filings due to drop in 2019, prosecutors will unveil Middle Eastern countries’ attempts to influence U.S. …

Mueller Investigation of Russian Oligarch Sinks Israeli Predictive Analytics Company – CTechMonday December 17th, 2018 at 7:50 AM

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Mueller Investigation of Russian Oligarch Sinks Israeli Predictive Analytics Company  CTech

Russian Oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, once a benefactor of the recently defunct predictive analytics company Fifth Dimension Holdings Ltd., has become a burden …

Mueller Investigation and Middle East – Google SearchMonday December 17th, 2018 at 7:44 AM

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Mueller Investigation part 2 – Middle East, Red Mafia, and Abwehr 2 Connections – Google SearchMonday December 17th, 2018 at 7:31 AM

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Mueller Investigation part 2 – Middle East, Red Mafia, and Abwehr 2 Connections – Google SearchMonday December 17th, 2018 at 7:30 AM

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Get Ready for Mueller’s Phase Two: The Middle East ConnectionMonday December 17th, 2018 at 7:15 AM

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Hussein Ibish, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute, said it is unclear if Mueller’s team will unveil nefarious foreign activity beyond what normally occurs in Washington.

“Many of these characters involved are somewhat unsavory,” he added. “But governments deal with all kinds of people all the time. It might be possible to question the wisdom of some of these connections, but not really possible to impugn the right of a government to deal with shadowy dealers in influence and access.”

Still, the Special Counsel’s Office has taken a keen interest this year in practices that were once considered business-as-usual in Washington. Republican operative Sam Patten pleaded guilty to the rarer-than-rare charge of “causing foreign money to be paid to the 2016-17 Presidential Inaugural Committee.” Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Flynn were both charged with not disclosing parts of their businesses under the Foreign Agents Registration Act—the first indictments of this nature in more than half a century.   

It’s unclear exactly how, if at all, this side of Mueller’s probe overlaps with his mandate from the Department of Justice to investigate links and coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign.

Mueller also has the jurisdiction to “investigate and prosecute federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, the special counsel’s investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses,” according to the code.

“For something like this to happen, Mueller would have needed to get approval from [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein for this,” Litman said. “It’s not really in the original grant of jurisdiction and it appears then that he made his case to Rosenstein some time ago and that Rosenstein agreed.”

Mueller’s office has been investigating several meetings attended by George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman and emissary to the UAE. Nader helped arrange the now-infamous meeting between Trump associate and Blackwater founder Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev, the head of one of Russia’s sovereign wealth funds—and he also acted somewhat as a go-between with representatives from Gulf state governments, at least one well-connected Israeli, and the Trump team.  

Although Nader has been cooperating with the Special Counsel’s Office since March, it is still unclear what evidence he has offered prosecutors during interviews.

In one August 2016 meeting, first reported by The New York Times and later confirmed by The Daily Beast, Nader told the room that the crown princes of both Saudi Arabia and the UAE were eager to help Trump win the election. Also ready to lend his services was Joel Zamel, a self-styled Mark Zuckerberg of the national-security world with deep ties to Israeli intelligence. Zamel had already been in close contact with the Trump team because one of his companies, Psy Group, had drawn up a plan to use social-media manipulation to help Trump clinch the Republican nomination. The company sent former senior campaign aide Rick Gates that proposal.

But the connections between Trumpworld and Psy Group in 2016 were more extensive than previously reported, as The Daily Beast noted in November. Former employees said there were at least two other individuals who reached out to the firm during the campaign, both representing themselves as members of Trump’s inner circle.

Over the past year, Mueller’s team has interviewed a host of employees from Psy Group because of its connection to the Trump camp. Several former employees said the firm never went forward with its plan to help Trump, but others disputed that claim.

Zamel, through his lawyer, has also said publicly that he cooperated with the Special Counsel’s Office. His lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this story. The Special Counsel’s Office declined to comment. Nader’s lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Zamel remained close to the Trump team throughout the election and into the transition. Part of the reason? He had an easy in. He had been introduced to Nader years earlier by John Hannah, a former aide to Dick Cheney who now works as a senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a right-leaning think tank. Hannah has also been in the sights of the Special Counsel’s Office.  

Zamel popped back into the mix in the transition period after the election and further offered services, this time for crafting a plan for regime change in Iran. The Daily Beast was the first to report the meeting, which included Nader, Flynn, and a Saudi general, Ahmed al-Assiri. During this time, Nader was also promoting a plan to carry out economic sabotage against Tehran. The meeting appears to be part of Saudi and Emirati efforts to lobby the incoming Trump administration against Qatar and Iran, their top regional competitors. The New York Times reported this year that Nader worked with Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy to urge the White House to take an aggressive stance against the two countries.

Mueller has also probed Nader’s role in the January 2017 Seychelles meeting between Prince and Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. In his House testimony, Prince said the meeting was a chance encounter and the two met to talk about trade and mineral wealth. But prosecutors this year received evidence that showed the meeting was premeditated. Communications reviewed by The Daily Beast reflect that narrative.

A memo shows the two spoke about a range of topics, including peace between Ukraine and Russia, military operations in Syria, investment in the Midwest, and nuclear weapons. Although RDIF is under U.S. sanctions, it was and is still legal for U.S. individuals to meet with Dmitriev, and, in some circumstances, do business with the fund.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are hoping to take another shot at questioning Prince next year—part of the new Congress’ effort to investigate the Trump administration. Prince told The Daily Beast this summer that he was cooperating with the Special Counsel’s Office, but it is not clear to what extent. His previous lawyer, Victoria Toensing, is no longer representing him.

Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast here.Read the whole story · · · ·

Mueller Dropping Russia Probe, Says Trump Working For Israel And Saudis – IranianMonday December 17th, 2018 at 6:43 AM

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Mueller Dropping Russia Probe, Says Trump Working For Israel And Saudis  Iranian

The Mueller Russia probe, according to mainstream media sources, Daily Beast, BBC, Vanity Fair, UK Independent, Mother Jones, al Jazeera, the UK Guardian …

Mueller Investigation and Israel – Google SearchMonday December 17th, 2018 at 6:39 AM

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Mueller Investigation of Russian Oligarch Sinks Israeli Predictive Analytics CompanyMonday December 17th, 2018 at 6:16 AM

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Russian Oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, once a benefactor of the recently defunct predictive analytics company Fifth Dimension Holdings Ltd., has become a burden. So much so, that Vekselberg’s run-ins with the U.S. government had brought on the top brass-clad company’s eventual shutdown. The Tel Aviv-based company, chaired by the Israeli military’s former Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, has recently let all its employees go, selling off its technology to stops losses from accumulating.

For daily updates, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here.  Vekselberg is a businessman and the owner of Moscow-based asset management company Renova Group. His personal wealth is valued at $14 billion. Through his U.S.-based investment fund, CNTP, Vekselberg had invested in Fifth Dimension, leading a $12 million funding round in the company in 2015.In early 2018, Vekselberg was investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team, as part of an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Vekselberg’s involvement in the ongoing investigation has affected Fifth Dimension by deterring customers and other investors, one person familiar with the company’s affairs said in an interview with Calcalist, speaking on terms of anonymity. In April, the U.S. Department of the Treasury listed Vekslberg among a group of Russian oligarchs, senior government officials, and companies which it accused of supporting “malign activity around the globe,” perpetrated by the Russian government. The designation included sanctions that prohibit Americans and U.S. entities from dealing with the people and companies in question. With Vekselberg as a backer, these sanctions made it difficult for Fifth Dimension to finalize deals and raise further investment, that person said.

Founded in 2014, Fifth Dimension developed predictive policing and threat assessment technologies for governments and financial institutions. The company, which employed over 100 people at its peak, has raised a few tens of millions of dollars since it was founded. Gantz joined the company in 2015, to be followed by the former deputy head of the Mossad Ram Ben-Barak, the company’s president for the last two years.On Saturday, Ben-Barak told Calcalist that the company was pivoting. “We sold our products, and we did let all employees go, but everything was done in an orderly fashion and without drama,” he said. “We had problems with investors and decided to change direction.”

In the months following Vekselberg’s investigation by Mueller’s team, Fifth Dimension negotiated the sale of its IP with several companies, the company said in a statement Saturday. In July, the company let go dozens of employees “as part of a reorganization process.” In November, Calcalist reported that Fifth Dimension is in early-stage talks regarding an acquisition by Israeli spyware firm NSO Group. The deal eventually fell through, the person familiar with the matter said.

Related stories:Gantz did not respond to repeated requests for comment. 

As a former chief of staff of the Israeli military, Gantz is considered a potential political force in Israel. A poll released Sunday by the Israeli Midgam polling agency showed that Gantz is steadily gaining popularity among the Israeli public, with those surveyed awarding him 16 seats in the parliament, the second highest number after current ruling party Likud, which receives 28. A June survey gave Gantz 13 seats. Gantz has of yet refrained from announcing concrete plans to run in Israel’s upcomng elections.

Fifth Dimension is not the first Israeli company with ties to the investigation carried out by Mueller and his team. Several employees of now-defunct Israeli intelligence firm Psy-Group, registered as Invop Ltd., had been questioned by Mueller’s team. According to documents filed in Israeli and Canadian courts, the company allegedly operated fake social avatars that it created to engage with, and influence, its targeted audiences, and attempted to put into circulation news stories that would benefit its customers. In February, Psy-Group laid off all of its employees citing “two critical business ventures that proved unsuccessful” that left the company strapped for cash.Read the whole story · · ·

Ex-FBI Assistant Director: Comey is a shame to the FBI, will not reply key questions on Clinton e mail scandalSunday December 16th, 2018 at 7:50 AM

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The appearance of fired and disgraced FBI Director James Comey before two congressional committees Friday is a reminder of his brief but profoundly disappointing tenure leading the FBI – the outstanding law enforcement agency where I served for 24 years.

Unfortunately, members of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee were unable to get satisfactory answers from Comey regarding his illegal actions and violations of longstanding FBI and Justice Department regulations and procedures.

The chairmen of the two committees released a 235-page transcript Saturday of their interview with Comey.

According to a statement issued by the office of Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., Comey said “I don’t remember” 71 times, “I don’t know” 166 times, and “I don’t recall” eight times during his interview.

Comey flat-out refused to answer some questions dealing with the investigation now led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“To the extent, I recall facts developed during our investigation of Russian interference and the potential connection of Americans, I think that’s a question that the FBI doesn’t want me answering,” Comey said in response to a question.

Comey’s record of lawbreaking and violations dealt with prosecution judgments, media leaks, the theft of government records and the conduct of objective investigations.

It’s a tragedy in that Comey and his former inner circle – the now infamous troika of fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, fired FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page – have attempted to cloak themselves in the FBI’s rich tradition of fidelity, bravery, and integrity.

In reality, these four former FBI officials have done more to hinder the daily work of the 35,000 selfless and hardworking men and women of the FBI than anyone in the storied agency’s history.

As a proud veteran of the FBI, it pains me to hear from friends, associates and colleagues who now question the FBI’s impartiality and motives in conducting sensitive investigations.

Unfortunately, no one can blame people for being skeptical of the FBI in light of the excruciating, Trump-hating texts during the 2016 presidential election campaign between Strzok and Page (who were engaged in an extramarital affair at the time), and following Comey’s well-publicized anti-Trump comments.

The former FBI director has written a book, given numerous media interviews, and used social media to bash President Trump, and urged Americans to “vote Democrat” before the midterm elections in November.

On top of this, there have been stark revelations in the Justice Department inspector general’s reports concerning former Deputy Director McCabe’s lies and leaks under the direct tutelage of Comey, who tried to make his own lies and leaks seem virtuous.

When FBI agents hit the street to conduct an investigation – and especially when trying to persuade people to provide needed information – their greatest asset is the respect and credibility of the FBI as an institution and the reputation of FBI agents for fairness and impartiality.

Juries that base their verdicts on FBI evidence and testimony trust that the scales were not tipped by the personal biases or political considerations of FBI agents and officials.

Unfortunately, the actions of Comey and his inner circle caused too many Americans to question the core values of the FBI as an institution.

It is out of total respect for the finest law enforcement and intelligence organization in the world and outstanding professionals that many former FBI executives – including me – have broken tradition and publicly criticized Comey and his troika for their misconduct, which can’t be disputed.

First, as the Justice Department inspector general found, Comey was insubordinate and violated department rules in playing the role of investigator, prosecutor, and judge in publicly exonerating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her email scandal.

Clinton – who used a private email account and server rather than the State Department email system she was required to use – was the subject of one of the most sensitive FBI investigations in history when she was running for president.

It is fundamental to our justice system that investigators do not also play the role of prosecutor. Yet instead of reporting the findings of the FBI investigation of Clinton to then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch so Lynch could decide what action to take, Comey staged a news conference to announce that he had concluded Clinton should not be prosecuted.

If I had pulled the same stunt when I was head of FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division under then-Deputy Attorney General Comey, I would have – and should have – been suspended and fired. So much for the value of fidelity.

Second, Comey illegally removed his notes and memos describing details of his meetings with President Trump that were conducted as part of his official duties as FBI director. These records belonged to the FBI – not Comey.

Comey then indirectly leaked his memos and notes to the media by laundering them through a university professor. If the FBI director acts as if he is not subject to the well-established rules of the Justice Department and is above the law, it is easy to understand why his deputy director felt justified in doing the same.

In fact, leaking stolen FBI documents is illegal – regardless of how virtuous you view your actions. Scratch the integrity core value.

Third, the extensive personal and political bias that prevailed within Comey’s inner circle is beyond unacceptable. Strozk and Page’s texts denouncing then-presidential candidate Trump speak for themselves.

It is amazing that neither Comey nor McCabe saw any problems with McCabe personally initiating and supervising the investigation of whether the Trump campaign and Russia worked together to get Trump elected president.

McCabe should have recused himself from any involvement in the “Russia collusion” investigation because his wife was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the state Senate in Virginia when she accepted over $1 million in political campaign donations. The donations were bundled together by Clinton loyalist and then-Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

McCabe was also known to freely and openly express his disdain for Trump in meetings with other FBI executives.

Fourth, under Comey’s leadership, his inner circle used an unreliable opposition research “dossier” financed in part by Hillary Clinton’s campaign when she was running for president against Trump in 2016. The dossier was used to support a series of electronic surveillance warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to intercept communications of Trump campaign operatives.

Had the FISA judge been informed of the true origins of the information it is highly unlikely that the judge would have issued the requisite orders. The Justice Department inspector general is investigating this alleged abuse of FISA and his findings will be far more credible that any partisan congressional committee.

Fourth, Comey’s courage failed him when it was most needed. When Attorney General Lynch instructed him to refer to the Clinton investigation as a “matter” and severely restricted the scope of the Clinton email and Clinton Foundation investigations, Comey went along.

When President Trump allegedly demanded Comey’s loyalty and asked for leniency for former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Comey scurried back to the office and prepared memos. Clearly, Comey placed his job security over pushing back forcefully on the use of the FBI to achieve political ends. Scratch the bravery element.

Finally, anyone who questions the appointment of Special Counsel Mueller to conduct an independent investigation of the Russia case can thank Comey and McCabe.

In the words of ex-FBI Assistant Director Kevin Brock, my former colleague: “Comey personally fast-tracked McCabe’s career into the deputy director position. McCabe was not happy that the president fired his boss and that (Deputy Attorney General Rod) Rosenstein provided the ammo.”

Rosenstein was faced with a tough decision. He could leave the Russia investigation in the hands of the angry and hopelessly biased team of Acting FBI Director McCabe, Deputy Assistant Director Strzok and attorney Page. Or, he could appoint a special counsel with integrity and a reputation for impartiality. He wisely chose the latter, appointing Mueller.

From the cradle of the FBI Academy, FBI agents are taught to always maintain the confidentiality of investigations, sources and methods. Keeping a low profile goes with the job, so it’s unusual to see former FBI agents criticize FBI leadership.

Those of us who are speaking out now believe deeply that the agency where we served honorably should never become a tool to promote political agendas.

This separation of law enforcement from politics is what separates America from Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Nor should operatives of the nation’s primary law enforcement and intelligence agency allow themselves to succumb to a temptation to impose their notions of morality on the electorate. That is the slipperiest of slopes.

The American public deserves to know the full scope and extent of the actions and roles of the Comey inner circle in order to prevent future abuses. Let’s hope the ongoing Justice Department inspector general’s investigation will ultimately hold the right people accountable.

It is obvious that toothless and bloviating congressional committees will never get to the truth.

A thousand congressional hearings will never get Comey to admit what we all suspect: his personal hubris and feelings of moral superiority allowed him to believe the normal rules established by the American people through duly enacted laws, regulations and procedures did not apply to him.

We need to draw a clear distinction between the FBI as an institution of 35,000 dedicated professionals and Comey – a brief aberration in the bureau’s distinguished 110-year history.

Comey’s name should be forever removed from the roster of FBI employees who have embraced the core values of the FBI and who have wielded the enormous power of the justice system with impartiality and integrity.​​​​​

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Trump Wanted to Order Justice Dept. to Prosecute Comey and ClintonSunday December 16th, 2018 at 6:47 AM

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“When the facts and evidence show a criminal violation has been committed, the individuals involved should not dictate whether the case is prosecuted,” Mr. Whitaker wrote in an op-ed in USA Today in July 2016.

Two weeks after his surprise victory, Mr. Trump backed off. “I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with The Times. “She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways, and I am not looking to hurt them at all. The campaign was vicious.”

Nonetheless, he revisited the idea both publicly and privately after taking office. Some of his more vocal supporters stirred his anger, including the Fox News commentator Jeanine Pirro, who has railed repeatedly on her weekly show that the president is being ill served by the Justice Department.

Ms. Pirro told Mr. Trump in the Oval Office last November that the Justice Department should appoint a special counsel to investigate the Uranium One deal, two people briefed on the discussion have said. During that meeting, the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, told Ms. Pirro she was inflaming an already vexed president, the people said.

Shortly after, Mr. Sessions wrote to lawmakers, partly at the urging of the president’s allies in the House, to inform them that federal prosecutors in Utah were examining whether to appoint a special counsel to investigate Mrs. Clinton. A spokeswoman for the United States attorney for Utah declined to comment on Tuesday on the status of the investigation.

Mr. Trump once called his distance from law enforcement one of the “saddest” parts of being president.

“I look at what’s happening with the Justice Department,” he said in a radio interview a year ago. “Well, why aren’t they going after Hillary Clinton and her emails and with her, the dossier?” He added: “I am not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing. And I am very frustrated.”Next Page of StoriesLoading…Page 4

CNN’s Toobin: Authoritarian Trump’s Attempt to Prosecute Clinton, Comey ‘Worse’ than WatergateSunday December 16th, 2018 at 6:46 AM

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Tuesday on CNN’s “The Situation Room” network legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin reacted to The New York Times’ report that President Donald Trump wanted his 2016 presidential election rival Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey prosecuted.

Toobin said, “This is what happens in authoritarian countries. The president orders, the leader orders the investigation and prosecution of his political enemies.”

On Trump reportedly calling FBI Director Christopher Wray “weak,” Toobin said, “This is his view of any government official, whether it’s in the FBI or the Justice Department, who doesn’t do his personal bidding. He has absolutely no understanding that the FBI, the Justice Department, the entire U.S. government, works for the taxpayers, works for defending the Constitution. He thinks they are all his personal servants. When they don’t do something he wants to be done, even if there is no legal basis for it, even if it’s a violation of all of our traditions in the legal community, he gets angry.”

He added, “This is so similar to what Richard Nixon was investigated and ultimately articles of impeachment were voted on in the House Judiciary Committee. You know, Richard Nixon used the IRS to investigate his enemies. Richard Nixon used the Federal Trade Commission—I forget, maybe it was federal—whichever regulates television—to investigate The Washington Post, because The Washington Post also owned television stations. I mean, the abuse of governmental authority to investigate and harass political enemies was at the core of the general scandals known as Watergate. What Don McGahn and his colleagues knew is this is worse. Nixon didn’t try to actually prosecute George McGovern or his political enemies. He didn’t use the most powerful force that the Justice Department has, which is criminal investigation and prosecution. If this had gone forward, this would have been worse than what Nixon did during Watergate. But it’s in the same category.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

Amazon.com: Vintage photo of John F Kennedy, John Edgar Hoover and Robert Kennedy: Entertainment CollectiblesSunday December 16th, 2018 at 6:08 AM

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Collectibles Shopping GuaranteeBuy with confidence as the condition of this item and its timely delivery are guaranteed under theAmazon A-to-z Guarantee

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FBI agent hospitalized after taking pictures in BrooklynSunday December 16th, 2018 at 5:59 AM

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An unidentified FBI agent was hospitalized after a shooting in Brooklyn, the bureau’s office in New York said.

Details were not provided by the FBI in a post on Twitter on Saturday.

“Earlier today, one of our agents was wounded by gunfire in Brooklyn and transported to a local hospital,” the FBI tweeted.

The New York Fire Department received a call at 3:22 and responded to a report of “gunshot wounds” in Brooklyn, Michael Parrella, an FDNY spokesman said to CNN.

ABC reported FBI agents were conducting surveillance in a car in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn when people in another car drove by and shot at them. The agent, who was in plainclothes, was shot in the shoulder, according to ABC.

One suspect was apprehended while attempting to get his car repaired and another showed up at Kingsbrook Hospital, the New York Daily News reported.

The agent was taken to Kings County Hospital and another person, believed to be in the car with the agent, was taken to Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center with unknown injuries, the newspaper reported.

“There are no outstanding suspects at this time,” Terence Monahan, chief of the department of the New York Police Department tweeted Saturday night. “Expect a large police presence in the area of 92nd Street & Avenue N in #Brooklyn as the investigation continues. Wishing the agent a speedy recovery.”

Read More

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Mounting legal threats surround Trump as nearly every organization he has led is under investigationby David A. FahrentholdSaturday December 15th, 2018 at 4:25 PM

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The cascade of inquiries threaten to dominate his third year in the White House.

Read the whole story · · ·

Let’s Talk About ImpeachmentSaturday December 15th, 2018 at 4:25 PM

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And why Democrats would be wise to wait.

Mueller’s rush to sentence Trump associates – an unusual way to treat cooperating witnesses – suggests Russia investigation is ending – The IndependentSaturday December 15th, 2018 at 4:20 PM

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Mueller’s rush to sentence Trump associates – an unusual way to treat cooperating witnesses – suggests Russia investigation is ending  The Independent

Amid the whirlwind of hearings, guilty pleas and sentencing memos that has been Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe in the last few weeks, an …Next Page of StoriesLoading…Page 5

Mounting legal threats surround Trump as nearly every organization he has led is under investigationSaturday December 15th, 2018 at 2:56 PM

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His worst nightmare: Trump’s life under a legal microscope – CNNSaturday December 15th, 2018 at 2:42 PM

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  1. His worst nightmare: Trump’s life under a legal microscope  CNN
  2. Mounting legal threats surround Trump as nearly every organization he has led is under investigation  The Washington Post
  3. Michael Cohen speaks out after his sentencing: ‘I have my freedom back’  ABC News
  4. Michael Cohen found his inner Nancy Pelosi. Will other Trump loyalists follow?  Los Angeles Times
  5. Cohen lacks ‘specifics’ and credibility on Trump hush-money allegations: Mollie Hemingway  Fox News
  6. View full coverage on Google News

Donald Trump’s worst nightmare: his life under a legal microscopeSaturday December 15th, 2018 at 2:41 PM

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Days of court filings, flipped witnesses, damaging disclosures and sentencing hearings over the last month have delivered blows that appear to expose Trump and key associates to deep legal and political jeopardy.

But the head-spinning volume of material being churned out by special counsel Robert Mueller and other jurisdictions often also blurs the bigger picture of a presidency beset by a span of scandal that is staggering in its breadth.

Then there is a civil lawsuit brought by Democratic-led states rooted in claims that Trump’s refusal to fully disengage from his businesses means he is using his position to profit from deals in his hotel chain 

that contravene the Constitution.

Many of those who chose to align themselves with Trump have meanwhile fallen foul of the law, sometimes for offenses unrelated to the President but which have offered prosecutors a window into his own conduct.

Questions continue to swirl around Trump’s longtime political adviser Roger Stone among other things about what he knew when about Wikileaks email dumps.

And people even closer to Trump, such as his son Don Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner, cannot be sure they are in the clear although all, including the President, profess innocence and downplay Mueller’s investigation.

Yet Mueller’s success in securing plea deals from the likes of Flynn, Gates and Cohen is adding to the President’s apparent legal peril.

In one of the more surreal twists of the Trump presidency, there is a conversation going in Washington about how Trump might have to win re-election to outrun a statute of limitations on campaign finance allegations.

This trail of dishonesty and deceit is evident even before Mueller has delivered what could ultimately be his most explosive findings — whether he has found evidence that the President’s campaign cooperated with Russia and whether he obstructed justice in the firing of former FBI chief James Comey and a bid to thwart Mueller.

A scandal-ridden presidency

A full assessment of the depth of Trump’s political and legal predicament may only become clear next year. But the President has already expressed concern

, according to CNN reporting, that he could be impeached.

But even if all the investigations stopped now and he was cleared of all wrongdoing, Trump would still be remembered for presiding over one of the most scandal-ridden presidencies of modern history.

Trump and his supporters maintain that there is no smoking gun and that the President’s problems all stem from rogue prosecutors from the “deep state” that has always hated Trump. The President’s cheerleaders on conservative channels meanwhile take up his cry that the democratic will of voters is at risk of being besmirched by a “fake news” media that is hostile towards him.

“Nobody but for me would be looked at like this. Nobody,” Trump said in a Fox News interview this week, referring to claims he told Cohen to pay off women who claimed affairs with him to avoid hurting his campaign.

Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway insisted to CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Thursday that Trump’s presumed foes in the media were willfully ignoring his arguments that he did not break the law.

“It’s important and credible to the rest of the country, except for the people so blinded by their hatred toward him or their wishful thinking that he won’t be President if they just close their eyes and click their heels three times,” she said. “Get over it.”

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani is offering the defense that Cohen should not be believed because he is a convicted liar.

Yet, the growing pile of evidence from Mueller and other prosecutors is rendering the denials of culpability from Trump and his supporters less credible.

As more damaging details emerge, Trump is indulging in his habitual practice of abandoning a position that has become untenable and constructing a new reality that better suits him.

“As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me!” Trump tweeted on Thursday.

But the narrative that Cohen is a liar so Trump is in the clear ignores crucial details of Mueller’s filings.

Corroboration

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The special counsel has made clear in court documents that he has corroboration for claims by his cooperating witness Cohen. The President’s fixer also said as much on Friday.

“There is a substantial amount of information that they possessed that corroborates the fact that I am telling the truth,” Cohen said in an interview with ABC News.

Trump’s repeated mantra of “no collusion” with the Russians is also looking increasingly threadbare. There were multiple contacts between Trump’s associates and Russians during the campaign and transition — at least 16 according to CNN’s r

eporting.

And many of those associates have since lied about the interactions, giving the impression that they are trying to cover something up.

And Mueller is clearly probing whether there is a nexus between Trump’s business ventures and Russia’s election interference.

In a sentencing memo earlier this month, he wrote that the Trump Tower project “occurred at a time of sustained efforts by the Russian government to interfere with the US presidential election.”

It is, of course, possible that all of these Trump associates were operating outside the knowledge of the President. Statements in documents filed by Mueller and other jurisdictions are prosecutorial in nature and may not reveal mitigating circumstances that Trump could use in his defense

It is unclear at this point whether the US attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York would be able to prove that Trump knowingly asked Cohen to break campaign finance laws.

But the idea that Trump knew nothing — about Russia attempts to infiltrate his campaign, about hush payments or other key aspects of cases in which is involved — appears unlikely, given his omnipotent role in his inner circle.

And he has already proven to have lied, if Mueller is to be believed, about key aspects of the Russia investigation and his interaction with Cohen.

Still, many legal experts believe that if wrongdoing is found, the President is immune from prosecution owing to his unique constitutional position.

If his only transgression does turn out to be on campaign finance, it seems unlikely that Democrats in the House will risk an impeachment process based on charges that may fall short of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

So far, Trump’s firewall of Republican support in the Senate, where any subsequent impeachment trial would take place is standing firm.

Whether that would start crumbling should Mueller produce a damning report that causes a fracturing of Trump’s political power base as an election approaches in 2020 remains untested.

While much has been learned about the President’s legal exposure in recent days, the true extent of his liability remains to be seen.

For now, however, it’s clear: the President’s legal and political position is far more perilous than it was weeks ago and he has reason to be worried about a flurry of investigations that are digging deep into his private, personal, business and political life.Read the whole story · · · · · · ·

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Turley: Comey’s Recent Trump Remarks ‘The Epitaph of His Time as FBI Director’Saturday December 15th, 2018 at 11:35 AM

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The True Story of Collusion [Infographic]Saturday December 15th, 2018 at 8:09 AM

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How America’s most powerful agencies were weaponized against President Donald Trump

News AnalysisClick on the infographic to enlarge.

Although the details remain complex, the structure underlying Spygate—the creation of the false narrative that candidate Donald Trump colluded with Russia, and the spying on his presidential campaign—remains surprisingly simple:

1. CIA Director John Brennan, with some assistance from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, gathered foreign intelligence and fed it throughout our domestic Intelligence Community.

2. The FBI became the handler of Brennan’s intelligence and engaged in the more practical elements of surveillance.

3. The Department of Justice facilitated investigations by the FBI and legal maneuverings, while providing a crucial shield of nondisclosure.

4. The Department of State became a mechanism of information dissemination and leaks.

5. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee provided funding, support, and media collusion.

6. Obama administration officials were complicit, and engaged in unmasking and intelligence gathering and dissemination.

7. The media was the most corrosive element in many respects. None of these events could have transpired without their willing participation. Stories were pushed, facts were ignored, and narratives were promoted.

Let’s start with a simple premise: The candidacy of Trump presented both an opportunity and a threat.

Initially not viewed with any real seriousness, Trump’s campaign was seen as an opportunistic wedge in the election process. At the same time, and particularly as the viability of his candidacy increased, Trump was seen as an existential threat to the established political system.

The sudden legitimacy of Trump’s candidacy was not welcomed by the U.S. political establishment. Here was a true political outsider who held no traditional allegiances. He was brash and boastful, he ignored political correctness, he couldn’t be bought, and he didn’t care what others thought of him—he trusted himself.

Governing bodies in Britain and the European Union were also worried. Candidate Trump was openly challenging monetary policy, regulations, and the power of special interests. He challenged Congress. He challenged the United Nations and the European Union. He questioned everything.CIA Director John Brennan on March 13, 2015. Brennan played a crucial role in the creation of the Russia-collusion narrative and the spying on the Trump campaign. (Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

Brennan became the point man in the operation to stop a potential Trump presidency. It remains unclear whether his role was self-appointed or came from above. To embark on such a mission without direct presidential authority seems both a stretch of the imagination and particularly foolhardy.

Brennan took unofficial foreign intelligence compiled by contacts, colleagues, and associates—primarily from the UK, but also from other Five Eyes members, such as Australia.

Individuals in official positions in UK intelligence, such as Robert Hannigan—head of the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ, Britain’s equivalent of the National Security Agency)—partnered with former UK foreign intelligence members. Former MI6 head Sir RichardDearlove, former Ambassador Sir Andrew Wood, and private UK intelligence firm Hakluyt all played a role.

In the summer of 2016, Hannigan traveled to Washington to meet with Brennan regarding alleged communications between the Trump campaign and Moscow. On Jan. 23, 2017—three days after Trump’s inauguration—Hannigan abruptly announced his retirement. The Guardian openly speculatedthat Hannigan’s resignation was directly related to the sharing of UK intelligence.

One method used to help establish evidence of collusion was the employment of “spy traps.” Prominent among these were ones set for Trump campaign advisers George Papadopoulos and Carter Page. The intent was to provide or establish connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. The content and context mattered little as long as a connection could be established that could then be publicized. The June 2016 Trump Tower meeting was another such attempt.

Western intelligence assets were used to initiate and establish these connections, particularly in the cases of Papadopoulos and Page.

Ultimately, Brennan formed an inter-agency task force comprising an estimated six agencies and/or government departments. The FBI, Treasury, and DOJ handled the domestic inquiry into Trump and possible Russia connections. The CIA, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the National Security Agency (NSA) handled foreign and intelligence aspects.

Brennan’s inter-agency task force is not to be confused with the July 2016 FBI counterintelligence investigation, which was formed later at Brennan’s urging.

During this time, Brennan also employed the use of reverse targeting, which relates to the targeting of a foreign individual with the intent of capturing data on a U.S. citizen. This effort was uncovered andmade public by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) in a March 2017 press conference:

“I have seen intelligence reports that clearly show the president-elect and his team were monitored and disseminated out in intelligence-reporting channels. Details about persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little apparent foreign-intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting.

“From what I know right now, it looks like incidental collection. We don’t know exactly how that was picked up but we’re trying to get to the bottom of it.”

As this foreign intelligence—unofficial in nature and outside of any traditional channels—was gathered, Brennan began a process of feeding his gathered intelligence to the FBI. Repeated transfers of foreign intelligence from the CIA director pushed the FBI toward the establishment of a formal counterintelligence investigation. Brennan repeatedly noted this during a May 23, 2017, congressional testimony:

“I made sure that anything that was involving U.S. persons, including anything involving the individuals involved in the Trump campaign, was shared with the [FBI].”

Brennan also admitted that his intelligence helped establish the FBI investigation:

“I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians, either in a witting or unwitting fashion, and it served as the basis for the FBI investigation to determine whether such collusion [or] cooperation occurred.”

This admission is important, as no official intelligence was used to open the FBI’s investigation.

Once the FBI began its counterintelligence investigation on July 31, 2016, Brennan shifted his focus. Through a series of meetings in August and September 2016, Brennan informed the congressional Gang of Eight regarding intelligence and information he had gathered. Notably, each Gang of Eight member was briefed separately, calling into question whether each of the members received the same information. Efforts to block the release of the transcripts from each meeting remain ongoing.

The last major segment of Brennan’s efforts involved a series of three reports and greater participation from Clapper. The first report, the “Joint Statement from the Department Of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security,” was released on Oct. 7, 2016. The second report, “GRIZZLY STEPPE —Russian Malicious Cyber Activity,” was released on Dec. 29, 2016. The third report, “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections”—also known as the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA)—was released on Jan. 6, 2017.

This final report was used to continue pushing the Russia-collusion narrative following the election of President Donald Trump. Notably, Admiral Mike Rogers of the NSA publicly dissented from the findings of the ICA, assigning only a moderate confidence level.

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Although the FBI is technically part of the DOJ, it is best for the purposes of this article that the FBI and DOJ be viewed as separate entities, each with its own related ties.

The FBI itself was comprised of various factions, with a particularly active element that has come to be known as the “insurance policy group.” It appears that this faction was led by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and comprised other notable names such as FBI agent Peter Strzok, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, and FBI general counsel James Baker.

The FBI established the counterintelligence investigation into alleged Russia collusion with the Trump campaign on July 31, 2016. Comey initially refused to say whether the FBI was investigating possible connections between members of the Trump campaign and Russia. He would continue to refuse to provide answers until March 20, 2017, when he disclosed the existence of the FBI investigation duringcongressional testimony.

Comey also testified that he did not provide notification to the Gang of Eight until early March 2017—less than one month earlier. This admission was in stark contrast to actions taken by Brennan, who had notified members of the Gang of Eight individually during August and September 2016. It’s likely that Brennan never informed Comey that he had briefed the Gang of Eight in 2016. Comey did note that the DOJ “had been aware” of the investigation all along.Former FBI Director James Comey on June 8, 2017. Comey opened the counterintelligence investigation into Trump on the urging of CIA Director John Brennan. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Following Comey’s firing on May 9, 2017, the FBI’s investigation was transferred to special counsel Robert Mueller. The Mueller investigation remains ongoing.

The FBI’s formal involvement with the Steele dossier began on July 5, 2016, when Mike Gaeta, an FBI agent and assistant legal attaché at the US Embassy in Rome, was dispatched to visit former MI6 spy Christopher Steele in London. Gaeta would return from this meeting with a copy of Steele’s first memo. This memo was given to Victoria Nuland at the State Department, who passed it along to the FBI.

Gaeta, who also headed the FBI’s Eurasian Organized Crime unit, had known Steele since at least 2010, when Steele had provided assistance to the FBI’s investigation into the FIFA corruption scandal.

Prior to the London meeting, Gaeta may also have met on a less formal basis with Steele several weeks earlier. “In June, Steele flew to Rome to brief the FBI contact with whom he had cooperated over FIFA,” The Guardian reported. “His information started to reach the bureau in Washington.”

It’s worth noting that there was no “dossier” until it was fully compiled in December 2016. There was only a sequence of documents from Steele—documents that were passed on individually—as they were created. Therefore, from the FBI’s legal perspective, they didn’t use the dossier. They used individual documents.

For the next month and a half, there appeared to be little contact between Steele and the FBI. However, the FBI’s interest in the dossier suddenly accelerated in late August 2016, when the bureauasked Steele “for all information in his possession and for him to explain how the material had been gathered and to identify his sources.”

In September 2016, Steele traveled back to Rome to meet with the FBI’s Eurasian squad once again. It’s likely that the meeting included several other FBI officials as well. According to a House Intelligence Committee minority memo, Steele’s reporting reached the FBI counterintelligence team in mid-September 2016—the same time as Steele’s September trip to Rome.

The reason for the FBI’s renewed interest had to do with an adviser to the Trump campaign—Carter Page—who had been in contact with Stefan Halper, a CIA and FBI source, since July 2016. Halper arranged to meet with Page for the first time on July 11, 2016, at a Cambridge symposium, just three days after Page took a trip to Moscow. Speakers at the symposium included Madeleine Albright, Vin Webber, and Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6.

Page was now the FBI’s chosen target for a FISA warrant that would be obtained on Oct. 21, 2016. The Steele dossier would be the primary evidence used in obtaining the FISA warrant, which would be renewed three separate times, including after Trump took office, finally expiring in September 2017.Former volunteer Trump campaign adviser Carter Page on Nov. 2, 2017. The FBI obtained a retroactive FISA spy warrant on Page. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

After being in contact with Page for 14 months, Halper stopped contact exactly as the final FISA warrant on Page expired. Page, who has steadfastly maintained his innocence, was never charged with any crime by the FBI. Efforts for the declassification of the Page FISA application are currently ongoing through the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General.

Peter Strzok and Lisa Page

Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were two prominent members of the FBI’s “insurance policy” group. Strzok, a senior FBI agent, was the deputy assistant director of FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer, served as special counsel to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Strzok was in charge of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for government business. He helped FBI Director James Comey draft the statement exonerating Clinton and was personally responsible for changing specific wording within that statement that reduced Clinton’s legal liability. Specifically, Strzok changed the words “grossly negligent,” which could be a criminal offense, to “extremely careless.”

Strzok also personally led the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the alleged Trump–Russia collusion and signed the documents that opened the investigation on July 31, 2016. He was one of the FBI agents who interviewed Trump’s national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn. Strzok met multiple times with DOJ official Bruce Ohr and received information from Steele at those meetings.

Following the firing of FBI Director James Comey, Strzok would join the team of special counsel Robert Mueller. Two months later, he was removed from that team after the DOJ inspector general discovered a lengthy series of texts between Strzok and Page that contained politically charged messages. Strzok would be fired from the FBI in August 2018.Then-FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok on July 12, 2018. Strzok oversaw both the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the counterintelligence investigation into Donald Trump’s campaign. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Both Strzok and Page engaged in strategic leaking to the press. Page did so at the direction of McCabe, who directly authorized Page to share information with Wall Street Journal reporter Devlin Barrett. That information was used in an Oct. 30, 2016, article headlined “FBI in Internal Feud Over Hillary Clinton Probe.” Page leaked to Barrett thinking she had been granted legal and official authorization to do so.

McCabe would later initially deny providing such authorization to the Office of Inspector General. Page, when confronted with McCabe’s denials, produced texts refuting his statement. It was these texts that led to the inspector general uncovering the texts between Strzok and Page.

The two exchanged thousands of texts, some of them indicating surveillance activities, over a two-year period. Texts sent between Aug. 21, 2015, and June 25, 2017, have been made public. The series comes to an end with a final text by Page telling Strzok, “Don’t ever text me again.”

On Aug. 8, 2016, Stzrok wrote that they would prevent candidate Trump from becoming president:

Page: ”[Trump is] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”

Strzok: ”No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”

On Aug. 15, 2016, Strzok sent a text referring to an “insurance policy”:

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office—that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. … It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

The “insurance policy” appears to have been the effort to legitimize the Trump–Russia collusion narrative so that an FBI investigation, led by McCabe, could continue unhindered.

Department of Justice

The Department of Justice, which comprises 60 agencies, was transformed during the Obama years. The department is forbidden by federal law from hiring employees based on political affiliation.

However, a series of investigative articles by PJ Media published during Eric Holder’s tenure as attorney general revealed an unsettling pattern of ideological conformity among new hires at the DOJ: Only lawyers from the progressive left were hired. Not one single moderate or conservative lawyer made the cut. This is significant as the DOJ enjoys significant latitude in determining who will be subject to prosecution.

The DOJ’s job in Spygate was to facilitate the legal side of surveillance while providing a protective layer of cover for all those involved. The department became a repository of information and provided a protective wall between the investigative efforts of the FBI and the legislative branch. Importantly, it also served as the firewall within the executive branch, serving as the insulating barrier between the FBI and Obama officials. The department had become legendary for its stonewalling tactics with Congress.DOJ Official Bruce Ohr on Aug. 28, 2018. Ohr passed on information from Christopher Steele to the FBI. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

The DOJ, which was fully aware of the actions being taken by James Comey and the FBI, also became an active element acting against members of the Trump campaign. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, along with Mary McCord, the head of the DOJ’s National Security Division, was actively involvedin efforts to remove Gen. Michael Flynn from his position as national security adviser to President Trump.

To this day, it remains unknown which individual was responsible for making public Flynn’s call with the Russian ambassador. Flynn ultimately pleaded guilty to a process crime: lying to the FBI. There have been questions raised in Congress regarding the possible alteration of FD-302s, the written notes of Flynn’s FBI interviews. Special counsel Robert Mueller has repeatedly deferred Flynn’s sentencing hearing.

David Laufman, deputy assistant attorney general in charge of counterintelligence at the DOJ’s National Security Division, played a key role in both the Clinton email server and Russia hacking investigations. Laufman is currently the attorney for Monica McLean, the long-time friend of Christine Blasey Ford, who recently accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her while in high school. McLean was also employed by the FBI for 24 years.

Bruce Ohr was a significant DOJ official who played a key role in Spygate. Ohr held two important positions at the DOJ: associate deputy attorney general, and director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. As associate deputy attorney general, Ohr was just four offices away from then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and he reported directly to her. As director of the task force, he was in charge of a program described as “the centerpiece of the attorney general’s drug strategy.”

Ohr, one of the highest-ranking officials in the DOJ, was communicating on an ongoing basis with Steele, whom he had known since at least 2006, well into mid-2017. He is also married to Nellie Ohr,an expert on Russia and Eurasia who began working for Fusion GPS sometime in late 2015. Nellie Ohr likely played a significant role in the construction of the dossier.

According to testimony from FBI agent Peter Strzok, he and Ohr met at least five times during 2016 and 2017. Strzok was working directly with then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

Additionally, Ohr met with the FBI at least 12 times between late November 2016 and May 2017 for a series of interviews. These meetings could have been used to transmit information from Steele to the FBI. This came after the FBI had formally severed contact with Steele in late October or early November 2016.

John Carlin is another notable figure with the DOJ. Carlin was an assistant attorney general and the head of the DOJ’s National Security Division until October 2016. His role will be discussed below in the section on FISA abuse.

The Battle Between Rosenstein and McCabe

Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe held a pivotal role in what has become known as “Spygate.” He directed the activities of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page and was involved in all aspects of the Russia investigation. He was also mentioned in the infamous “insurance policy” text message.

McCabe was a major component of the insurance policy.

On April 26, 2017, Rosenstein found himself appointed as the new deputy attorney general. He was placed into a somewhat chaotic situation, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from the ongoing Russia investigation a little less than two months earlier, on March 2, 2017. This effectively meant that no one in the Trump administration had any oversight of the ongoing investigation being conducted by the FBI and the DOJ.

Additionally, the leadership of then-FBI Director James Comey was coming under increased scrutiny as the result of actions taken leading up to and following the election, particularly Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.

On May 9, 2017, Rosenstein wrote a memorandum recommending that Comey be fired. The subject of the memo was “Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI.” Comey was fired that day.

McCabe was now the acting director of the FBI and was immediately under consideration for the permanent position.

On the same day Comey was fired, McCabe would lie during an interview with agents from the FBI’s Inspection Division (INSD) regarding apparent leaks that were used in an Oct. 30, 2016, Wall Street Journal article, “FBI in Internal Feud Over Hillary Clinton Probe” by Devlin Barrett. This would later be disclosed in the inspector general report, “A Report of Investigation of Certain Allegations Relating to Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.”

At the time, nobody, including the INSD agents, knew that McCabe had lied, nor were the darker aspects of McCabe’s role in Spygate fully known.

In late April or early May 2016, McCabe opened a federal criminal investigation on Sessions, regarding potential lack of candor before Congress in relation to Sessions’s contacts with Russians. Sessions was unaware of the investigation.

Sessions would later be cleared of any wrongdoing by special counsel Robert Mueller.

On the morning of May 16, 2017, Rosenstein reportedly suggested to McCabe that he secretly record President Trump. This remark was reported in a New York Times article that was sourced from memos from the now-fired McCabe, along with testimony taken from former FBI general counsel James Baker, who relayed a conversation he had with McCabe about the occurrence. Rosenstein issued a statement denying the accusations.

The alleged comments by Rosenstein occurred at a meeting where McCabe was “pushing for the Justice Department to open an investigation into the president.”

An unnamed participant at the meeting, in comments to The Washington Post, framed the conversation somewhat differently, noting Rosenstein responded sarcastically to McCabe, saying, “What do you want to do, Andy, wire the president?”

Later, on the same day that Rosenstein had his meetings with McCabe, President Trump met with Mueller, reportedly as an interview for the FBI director job.

On May 17, 2017, the day after President Trump’s meeting with Mueller—and the day after Rosenstein’s encounters with McCabe—Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel.

The May 17 appointment of Mueller in effect shifted control of the Russia investigation from the FBI and McCabe to Mueller. Rosenstein would retain ultimate authority for the probe and any expansion of Mueller’s investigation required authorization from Rosenstein.

Interestingly, without Comey’s memo leaks, a special counsel might not have been appointed—the FBI, and possibly McCabe, would have remained in charge of the Russia investigation. McCabe was probably not going to become the permanent FBI director, but he was reportedly under consideration. Regardless, without Comey’s leak, McCabe would have retained direct involvement and the FBI would have retained control.

On July 28, 2017, McCabe lied to Inspector General Michael Horowitz while under oath regarding authorization of the leaking to The Wall Street Journal. At this point, Horowitz knew McCabe was lying, but did not yet know of the May 9 INSD interview with McCabe.

On Aug. 2, 2017, Rosenstein secretly issued Mueller a revised memo on “the scope of investigation and definition of authority” that remains heavily redacted. The full purpose of this memo remains unknown. On this same day, Christopher Wray was named as the new FBI director.

Two days later, on Aug. 4, 2017, Sessions announced that the FBI had created a new leaks investigation unit. Rosenstein and Wray were tasked with overseeing all leak investigations.

That Aug. 2 memo from Rosenstein to Mueller may have been specifically designed to remove any residual FBI influence—specifically that of McCabe—from the Russia investigation. The appointment of Wray as FBI director helped cement this. McCabe was finally completely neutralized.

On March 16, 2018, McCabe was fired for lying under oath at least three different times and is currently the subject of a grand jury investigation.

State Department

The State Department, with its many contacts within foreign governments, became a conduit for the flow of information. The transfer of Christopher Steele’s first dossier memo was personally facilitated by Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. Nuland gave approval for FBI agent Michael Gaeta to travel to London to obtain the memo from Steele. The memo may have passed directly from her to FBI leadership. Secretary of State John Kerry was also given a copy.

Steele was already well-known within the State Department. Following Steele’s involvement in the FIFA scandal investigation, he began to provide reports informally to the State Department. The reports were written for a “private client” but were “shared widely within the U.S. State Department, and sent up to Secretary of State John Kerry and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who was in charge of the U.S. response to Putin’s annexation of Crimea and covert invasion of eastern Ukraine,” the Guardian reported.State Department official Victoria Nuland on Nov. 4, 2015. Nuland passed on parts of the Steele dossier to the FBI. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

In July 2016, when the FBI wanted to send Gaeta to visit Steele in London, the bureau sought permission from the office of Nuland, who provided this version of events during a Feb. 4, 2018, appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation”:

“In the middle of July, when [Steele] was doing this other work and became concerned, he passed two to four pages of short points of what he was finding and our immediate reaction to that was, this is not in our purview. This needs to go to the FBI if there is any concern here that one candidate or the election as a whole might be influenced by the Russian Federation. That’s something for the FBI to investigate.”

Steele also met with Jonathan Winer, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement and former special envoy for Libya. Steele and Winer had known each other since at least 2010. In an opinion article in The Washington Post, Winer wrote the following:

“In September 2016, Steele and I met in Washington and discussed the information now known as the ‘dossier.’ Steele’s sources suggested that the Kremlin not only had been behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign but also had compromised Trump and developed ties with his associates and campaign.”

In a strange turn of events, Winer also received a separate dossier, very similar to Steele’s, from long-time Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal. This “second dossier” had been compiled by another longtime Clinton operative, former journalist Cody Shearer, and echoed claims made in the Steele dossier. Winer then met with Steele in late September 2016 and gave Steele a copy of the “second dossier.” Steele went on to share this second dossier with the FBI, which may have used it to corroborate his dossier.State Department official Jonathan Winer. Winer passed on memos from Christopher Steele to Victoria Nuland. (State Department)

Other foreign officials also used conduits into the State Department. Alexander Downer, Australia’s high commissioner to the UK, reportedly funneled his conversation with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos—later used as a reason to open the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation—directly to the U.S. Embassy in London.

“The Downer details landed with the embassy’s then-chargé d’affaires, Elizabeth Dibble, who previously served as a principal deputy assistant secretary in Mrs. Clinton’s State Department,” The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel wrote in a May 31, 2018, article.

If true, this would mean that neither Australian intelligence nor the Australian government alerted the FBI to the Papadopoulos information. What happened with the Downer details, and to whom they were ultimately relayed, remains unknown.

Curiously, details surprisingly similar to the Papadopoulos–Downer conversation show up in the first memo written by Steele on June 20, 2016:

“A dossier of compromising information on Hillary Clinton has been collated by the Russian Intelligence Services over many years and mainly comprises bugged conversations she had on various visits to Russia and intercepted phone calls. … It has not yet been distributed abroad, including to Trump.”

Clinton Campaign and the DNC

The Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee both occupied a unique position. They had the most to gain but they also had the most to lose. And they stood willing and ready to do whatever was necessary to win. Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, is credited with being the first to raise the specter of candidate Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia.

The entire Clinton campaign willfully promoted the narrative of Russia–Trump collusion despite the uncomfortable fact that they were the ones who had engaged the services of Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele through their law firm Perkins Coie. Information flowed from the campaign—sometimes through Perkins Coie, other times through affiliates—ultimately making its way into the media and sometimes to the FBI. Information from the Clinton campaign may also have ended up in the Steele dossier.

Jennifer Palmieri, the communications director for the Clinton campaign, in tandem with Jake Sullivan, the senior policy adviser to the campaign, took the lead in briefing the press on the Trump–Russia collusion story.Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, on Oct. 28, 2016. Palmieri helped promote the Russia-collusion narrative. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Another example of this behavior can be seen from an instance when Perkins Coie lawyer Michael Sussmann leaked information from Steele and Fusion GPS to Franklin Foer of Slate magazine. This event is described in the House Intelligence Committee’s final report on Russian active measures, in footnote 43 on page 57. Foer then published the article “Was a Trump Server Communicating With Russia?” on Oct. 31, 2016. The article concerns allegations regarding a server in the Trump Tower.

The Slate article managed to attract the immediate attention of Clinton, who posted a tweet on the same day the article was published:

“Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank.”

Attached to her tweet was a statement from Sullivan:

“This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow. Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank.

“This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Russia. It certainly seems the Trump Organization felt it had something to hide, given that it apparently took steps to conceal the link when it was discovered by journalists.”

These statements, which were later proven to be incorrect, are all the more disturbing with the hindsight knowledge that it was a senior Clinton/DNC lawyer who helped plant the story. And given the prepared statement by Sullivan, the Clinton campaign knew this.

This type of behavior would be engaged in repeatedly—damning leaks leading to media stories, followed by ready attacks from the Clinton campaign.

Alexandra Chalupa is a Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee. Chalupa met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, Paul Manafort, and Russia. Chalupa began investigating Manafort in 2014. In late 2015, Chalupa expanded her opposition research on Manafort to include Trump’s ties to Russia. In January 2016, Chalupa shared her information with a senior DNC official.

Chalupa’s meetings with DNC and Ukrainian officials would continue. On April 26, 2016, investigative reporter Michael Isikoff published a story on Yahoo News about Manafort’s business dealings with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. It was later learned from a DNC email leaked by Wikileaks that Chalupa had been working with Isikoff—the same journalist Christopher Steele leaked to in September 2016. Manafort would later be indicted for Foreign Agents Registration Act violations that occurred during the Obama administration.

Perkins Coie

International law firm Perkins Coie served as the legal arm for both the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Ties to Perkins Coie extended beyond the DNC into the Obama White House.

Bob Bauer, a partner at the law firm and founder of its political law practice, served as White House counsel to President Barack Obama throughout 2010 and 2011. Bauer was also general counsel to Obama’s campaign organization, Obama for America, in 2008 and 2012.

Perkins Coie partners Marc Elias and Michael Sussmann each played critical roles and were the ones who hired Fusion GPS and Steele. Sussmann personally handled the alleged hack of the DNC server. He also transmitted information, likely from Steele and Fusion GPS, to James Baker, then-chief counsel at the FBI, and to several members of the press.Perkins Coie partner Michael Sussmann. Sussmann transmitted information to FBI chief counsel James Baker and several journalists. (Courtesy Perkins Coie)

According to a letter dated Oct. 24, 2017, written by Matthew Gehringer, general counsel at Perkins Coie, the firm was approached by Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson in early March 2016 regarding the possibility of hiring Fusion GPS to continue opposition research into the Trump campaign. Simpson’s overtures were successful, and in April 2016, Perkins Coie hired Fusion GPS on behalf of the DNC.

Sometime in April or May 2016, Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele. During this same period, Fusion also reportedly hired Nellie Ohr, the wife of Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr. Steele would complete his first memo on June 20, 2016, and send it to Fusion via enciphered mail.

Perkins Coie appears to have also been acting as a conduit between the DNC and the FBI. Documentssuggest that Sussmann was feeding information to FBI general counsel James Baker and at least one journalist ahead of the FBI’s application for a FISA warrant on the Trump campaign.

The information provided by Sussmann may have been used by the FBI as “corroborating information.”

Obama Administration

The Obama administration provided a simultaneous layer of protection and facilitation for the entire effort. One example is provided by Section 2.3 of Executive Order 12333, also known as Obama’sdata-sharing order. With the passage of the order, agencies and individuals were able to ask the NSA for access to specific surveillance simply by claiming the intercepts contained relevant information that was useful to a particular mission.

Section 2.3 had been expected to be finalized by early to mid-2016. Instead, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper didn’t sign off on Section 2.3 until Dec. 15, 2016. The order was finalized when Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed it on Jan. 3, 2017.

The reason for the delay could relate to the fact that while the executive order made it easier to share intelligence between agencies, it also limited certain types of information from going to the White House.

An example of this was provided by Evelyn Farkas during a March 2, 2017, MSNBC interview, where she detailed how the Obama administration gathered and disseminated intelligence on the Trump team:

“I was urging my former colleagues and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill … ‘Get as much information as you can. Get as much intelligence as you can before President Obama leaves the administration.’

“The Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about the Trump staff’s dealing with Russians, [they] would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence. … That’s why you have the leaking.”

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia Evelyn Farkas on May 6, 2014. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Many of the Obama administration’s efforts appear to have been structural in nature, such as establishing new procedures or creating impediments to oversight that enabled much of the surveillance abuse to occur.

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz was appointed by Obama in 2011. From the very start, he found his duties throttled by the attorney general’s office. According to congressional testimony by Horowitz:

“We got access to information up to 2010 in all of these categories. No law changed in 2010. No policy changed. … It was simply a decision by the General Counsel’s Office in 2010 that they viewed, now, the law differently. And as a result, they weren’t going to give us that information.”

These new restrictions were put in place by Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole.

On Aug. 5, 2014, Horowitz and other inspectors general sent a letter to Congress asking for unimpeded access to all records. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates responded on July 20, 2015, with a 58-page memorandum. The memo specifically denied the inspector general access to any information collected under Title III—including intercepted communications and national security letters.

The New York Times recently disclosed that national security letters were used in the surveillance of the Trump campaign.

At other times, the Obama administration’s efforts were more direct. The Intelligence Community assessment was released internally on Jan. 5, 2017. On this same day, Obama held an undisclosed White House meeting to discuss the dossier with national security adviser Susan Rice, FBI Director James Comey, and Yates. Rice would later send herself an email documenting the meeting.

The following day, Brennan, Clapper, and Comey attached a written summary of the Steele dossier to the classified briefing they gave Obama. Comey then met with President-elect Trump to inform him of the dossier. This meeting took place just hours after Comey, Brennan, and Clapper formally briefed Obama on both the Intelligence Community assessment and the Steele dossier.

Comey would only inform Trump of the “salacious” details contained within the dossier. He laterexplained on CNN in an April 2018 interview why:

“Because that was the part that the leaders of the Intelligence Community agreed he needed to be told about.”

Shortly after Comey’s meeting with Trump, both the Trump–Comey meeting and the existence of the dossier were leaked to CNN. The significance of the meeting was material, as Comey noted in a Jan. 7 memo he wrote:

“Media like CNN had them and were looking for a news hook. I said it was important that we not give them the excuse to write that the FBI has the material.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Nov. 17, 2016. Clapper leaked information to CNN, after which he publicly condemned the leaks. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The media had widely dismissed the dossier as unsubstantiated and, therefore, unreportable. It was only after learning that Comey briefed Trump that CNN reported on the dossier. It was later revealedthat DNI James Clapper personally leaked Comey’s meeting with Trump to CNN.

The Obama administration also directly participated in a series of intelligence unmaskings, the process whereby a U.S. citizen’s identity is revealed from collected surveillance. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power reportedly engaged in hundreds of unmasking requests. Rice has admitted to doing the same.

The Obama administration engaged in the ultimately successful effort to oust Trump’s newly appointed national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn. Yates, along with Mary McCord, head of the DOJ’s National Security Division, led that effort.

Executive Order 13762

President Barack Obama issued a last-minute executive order on Jan. 13, 2017, that altered the line of succession within the DOJ. The action was not done in consultation with the incoming Trump administration.

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired on Jan. 30, 2017, by a newly inaugurated President Trump for refusing to uphold the president’s executive order limiting travel from certain terror-prone countries. Yates was initially supposed to serve in her position until Jeff Sessions was confirmed as attorney general.

Obama’s executive order placed the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia next in line behind the department’s senior leadership. The attorney at the time was Channing Phillips.

Phillips was first hired by former Attorney General Eric Holder in 1994 for a position in the D.C. U.S. attorney’s office. Phillips, after serving as a senior adviser to Holder, stayed on after he was replaced by Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

It appears the Obama administration was hoping the Russia investigation would default to Channing in the event Sessions was forced to recuse himself from the investigation. Sessions, whose confirmation hearings began three days before the order, was already coming under intense scrutiny.

The implementation of the order may also tie into Yates’s efforts to remove Gen. Michael Flynn over his call with the Russian ambassador.

Trump ignored the succession order, as he is legally allowed to do, and instead appointed Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general on Jan. 30, 2017, the same day Yates was fired.

Trump issued a new executive order on Feb. 9, 2017, the same day Sessions was sworn in, reversing Obama’s prior order.

On March 10, 2017, Trump fired 46 Obama-era U.S. attorneys, including Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan. These firings appear to have been unexpected.

Media

In some respects, the media has played the most disingenuous of roles. Areas of investigation that historically would have proven irresistible to reporters of the past have been steadfastly ignored. False narratives have been all-too-willingly promoted and facts ignored. Fusion GPS personally made aseries of payments to several as-of-yet-unnamed reporters.

The majority of the mainstream media has represented positions of the DNC and the Clinton campaign.

Steele met with members of certain media with relative frequency. In September 2016, he met with a number of U.S. journalists for “The New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo! News, the New Yorker and CNN,” according to The Guardian. It was during this period that Steele met with Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News.

In mid-October 2016, Steele returned to New York and met with reporters again. Toward the end of October, Steele spoke via Skype with Mother Jones reporter David Corn.

Leaking, including felony leaking of classified information, has been widespread. The Carter Page FISA warrant—likely the unredacted version—has been in the possession of The Washington Post and The New York Times since March 2017. Traditionally, the intelligence community leaked to The Washington Post while the DOJ leaked to sources within The New York Times. This was a historical pattern that stood until this election. The leaking became so widespread, even this tradition was broken.

On April 3, 2017, BuzzFeed reporter Ali Watkins wrote the article “A Former Trump Adviser Met With a Russian Spy.” In the article, she identified “Male-1,” referred to in court documents relating to the case of Russian spy Evgeny Buryakov, as Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, who had provided the FBI with assistance in the case. Just over a week later, on April 11, 2017, a Washington Post article, “FBI Obtained FISA Warrant to Monitor Former Trump Adviser Carter Page,” confirmed the existence of the October 2016 Page FISA warrant.

The information contained within both articles likely came via felony leaks from James Wolfe, former director of security for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who was arrested on June 7, 2018, and charged with one count of lying to the FBI. Wolfe’s indictment alleges that he was leaking classified information to multiple reporters over an extended period of time.Reporter Ali Watkins likely received the undredacted FISA application on Carter Page from James Wolfe.

It appears probable that Wolfe leaked unredacted copies of the Page FISA application.

According to the indictment, Wolfe exchanged 82 text messages with Watkins on March 17, 2017. That same evening they engaged in a 28-minute phone call.

The original Page FISA application is 83 pages long, including one final signatory page.

In the public version of the application, there are 37 fully redacted pages. In addition to that, several other pages have redactions for all but the header. There are only two pages in the entire document that contain no redactions.

Why would Wolfe bother to send 37 pages of complete redactions? It seems more than plausible that Wolfe took pictures of the original unredacted FISA application and sent them by text to Watkins.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has repeatedly stated that evidence within the FISA application shows the counterintelligence agencies were abused by the Obama administration. Most of the mainstream media has known this.

Despite this, most major news organizations for over two years have promoted the Russia-collusion narrative. Despite ample evidence having come out to the contrary, they have not admitted they were wrong, likely because doing so would mean they would have to admit their complicity.

Foreign Intelligence

UK and Australian intelligence agencies also played meaningful roles during the 2016 presidential election.

Britain’s GCHQ was involved in collecting information regarding then-candidate Trump and transmitting it to the United States. In the summer of 2016, Robert Hannigan, the head of GCHQ, flew from London to meet personally with then-CIA Director John Brennan, The Guardian reported.Former GCHQ head Robert Hannigan in this file photo. Hannigan transmitted information regarding Donald Trump to John Brennan in the summer of 2016. (Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)

Hannigan’s meeting was noteworthy because Brennan wasn’t Hannigan’s counterpart. That position belonged to NSA Director Mike Rogers. In the following year, Hannigan abruptly announced his retirement on Jan. 23, 2017—three days after Trump’s inauguration.

As GCHQ was gathering intelligence, low-level Trump campaign foreign-policy adviser George Papadopoulos appears to have been targeted after a series of highly coincidental meetings. Maltese professor Josef Mifsud, Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, FBI informant Stefan Halper, and officials from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) all crossed paths with Papadopoulos—some repeatedly so.

Christopher Steele, who authored the dossier on Trump, was an MI6 agent while the agency was headed by Sir Richard Dearlove. Steele retains close ties with Dearlove.

Dearlove has ties to most of the parties mentioned. It was he who advised Steele and his business partner, Chris Burrows, to work with a top British government official to pass along information to the FBI in the fall of 2016. He also was a speaker at the July 2016 Cambridge symposium that Halper invited Carter Page to attend.

Dearlove knows Halper through their mutual association at the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar. Dearlove also knows Sir Iain Lobban, a former head of GCHQ, who is an advisory board member at British strategic intelligence and advisory firm Hakluyt, which was founded by former MI6 members and retains close ties to UK intelligence services.

Halper has historical connections to Hakluyt through Jonathan Clarke, with whom he has co-authoredtwo books.

Downer, who met Papadopoulos in a May 2016 meeting established through a chain of two intermediaries, served on the advisory board of Hakluyt from 2008 to 2014. He reportedly still maintains contact with Hakluyt officials. Information from his meeting with Papadopoulos was later used by the FBI to establish the bureau’s counterintelligence investigation into Trump–Russia collusion. Downer has changed his version of events multiple times.

The Steele dossier was fed into U.S. channels through several different sources. One such source was Sir Andrew Wood, the former British ambassador to Russia, who had been briefed about the dossier by Steele. Wood later relayed information regarding the dossier to Sen. John McCain, who dispatched David Kramer, a fellow at the McCain Institute, to London to meet with Steele in November 2016. McCain would later admit in a Jan. 11, 2017, statement that he had personally passed on the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey.

Trump, after issuing an order for the declassification of documents and text messages related to the Russia-collusion investigations—including parts of the Carter Page FISA warrant application—received phone calls from two U.S. allies saying, “Please, can we talk.” Those “allies” were almost certainly the UK and Australia.

In a Twitter post, Trump wrote that the “key Allies called to ask not to release” the documents.

Questions to be asked are why is it that two of our allies would find themselves so opposed to the release of these classified documents that a coordinated plea would be made directly to the president? And why would these same allies have even the slightest idea of what was contained in these classified U.S. documents?

Britain and Australia appear to know full well what those documents contain, and their attempt to prevent their public release appears to be because they don’t want their role in events surrounding the 2016 presidential election to be made public.

Fusion GPS/Orbis/Christopher Steele

Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, is co-founder of Fusion GPS, along with Peter Fritsch and Tom Catan. Fusion was hired by the DNC and the Clinton campaign through law firm Perkins Coie to produce and disseminate the Steele dossier used against Trump. The dossier would later be the primary evidence used to obtain a FISA warrant on Carter Page on Oct. 21, 2016.Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS. The company was hired by the Clinton campaign and the DNC–through law firm Perkins Coie–to produce the dossier on Trump.

Christopher Steele, who retains close ties to UK intelligence, worked for MI6 from 1987 until his retirement in 2009, when he and his partner, Chris Burrows, founded Orbis Intelligence. Steelemaintains contact with British intelligence, Sir Richard Dearlove, and UK intelligence firm Hakluyt.

Steele appears to have been represented by lawyer Adam Waldman, who also represented Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. We know this from texts sent by Waldman. On April 10, 2017, Waldman sent this to Sen. Mark Warner:

“Hi. Steele: would like to get a bi partisan letter from the committee; Assange: I convinced him to make serious and important concessions and am discussing those w DOJ; Deripaska: willing to testify to congress but interested in state of play w Manafort. I will be with him next tuesday for a week.”

Steele also appears to have lobbied on behalf of Deripaska, who was discussed in emails between Bruce Ohr and Steele that were recently disclosed by the Washington Examiner:

“Steele said he was ‘circulating some recent sensitive Orbis reporting’ on Deripaska that suggested Deripaska was not a ‘tool’ of the Kremlin. Steele said he would send the reporting to a name that is redacted in the email.”

Fusion GPS was also employed by Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in a previous case. Veselnitskaya was involved in litigation pitting Russian firm Prevezon Holdings against British-American financier William Browder. Veselnitskaya hired U.S. law firm BakerHostetler, who, in turn, hired Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Browder. Veselnitskaya was one of the participants at the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, at which she discussed the Magnitsky Act.

Fox News reported on Nov. 9, 2017, that Simpson met with Veselnitskaya immediately before and after the Trump Tower meeting.

A declassified top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court report released on April 26, 2017, revealed that government agencies, including the FBI, CIA, and NSA, had improperly accessed Americans’ communications. The FBI specifically provided outside contractors with access to raw surveillance data on American citizens without proper oversight.

Communications and other data of members of the Trump campaign may have been accessed in this way.
Nellie Ohr, the wife of high-ranking DOJ official Bruce Ohr, was hired by Fusion GPS to work on the dossier on Trump.

Bruce and Nellie Ohr have known Simpson since at least 2010 and have known Steele since at least 2006. The Ohrs and Simpson worked together on a DOJ report in 2010. In that report, Nellie Ohr’s biography lists her as working for Open Source Works, which is part of the CIA. Simpson met with Bruce Ohr before and after the 2016 election.

Bruce Ohr had been in contact repeatedly with Steele during the 2016 presidential campaign—while Steele was constructing his dossier. Ohr later actively shared information he received from Steele with the FBI, after the agency had terminated Steele as a source. Interactions between Ohr and Steele stretched for months into the first year of Trump’s presidency and were documented in a number of FD-302s—memos that summarize interviews with him by the FBI.

Spy Traps

In an effort to put forth evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, it appears that several different spy traps were set, with varying degrees of success. Many of these efforts appear to center around Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and involve London-based professor Joseph Mifsud, who has ties to Western intelligence, particularly in the UK.

Papadopoulos and Mifsud both worked at the London Centre of International Law Practice (LCILP). Mifsud appears to have joined LCILP around November 2015. Papadopoulos reportedly joined LCILP sometime in late February 2016 after leaving Ben Carson’s presidential campaign. However, somereports indicate Papadopoulos joined LCILP in November or December of 2015. Mifsud and Papadopoulos reportedly never crossed paths until March 14, 2016, in Italy.

Mifsud introduced Papadopoulos to several Russians, including Olga Polonskaya, whom Mifsud introduced as “Putin’s niece,” and Ivan Timofeev, an official at a state-sponsored think tank called the Russian International Affairs Council. Both Papadopoulos and Mifsud were interviewed by the FBI. Papadopoulos was ultimately charged with a process crime and was recently sentenced to 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI. Mifsud was never charged by the FBI.

Throughout this period, Papadopoulos continuously pushed for meetings between Trump campaign officials and Russian contacts but was ultimately unsuccessful in establishing any meetings.

Papadopoulos met with Australian diplomat Alexander Downer on May 10, 2016. The Papadopoulos–Downer meeting has been portrayed as a chance encounter in a bar. That does not appear to be the case.

Papadopoulos was introduced to Downer through a chain of two intermediaries who said Downer wanted to meet with Papadopoulos. Another individual happened to be in London at exactly the same time: the FBI’s head of counterintelligence, Bill Priestap. The purpose of Priestap’s visit remains unknown.

The Papadopoulos–Downer meeting was later used to establish the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Trump–Russia collusion. It was repeatedly reported that Papadopoulos told Downer that Russia had Hillary Clinton’s emails. This is incorrect.Foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign was approached by several individuals with ties to UK and U.S. intelligence agencies. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

According to Downer, Papadopoulos at some point mentioned the Russians had damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

“During that conversation, he [Papadopoulos] mentioned the Russians might use material that they have on Hillary Clinton in the lead-up to the election, which may be damaging,’’ Downer told The Australian about the Papadopoulos meeting in an April 2018 article. “He didn’t say dirt, he said material that could be damaging to her. No, he said it would be damaging. He didn’t say what it was.”

Downer, while serving as Australia’s foreign minister, was responsible for one of the largest foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation: $25 million from the Australian government.

Unconfirmed media reports, including a Jan. 12, 2017, BBC article, have suggested that the FBI attempted to obtain two FISA warrants in June and July 2016 that were denied by the FISA court. It’s likely that Papadopoulos was an intended target of these failed FISAs.

Interestingly, there is no mention of Papadopoulos in the Steele dossier. Paul Manafort, Carter Page, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, Gen. Michael Flynn, and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski are all listed in the Steele dossier.

Papadopoulos may have started out assisting the FBI or CIA and later discovered that he was being set up for surveillance himself.

After failing to obtain a spy warrant on the Trump campaign using Papadopoulos, the FBI set its sights on campaign volunteer Carter Page. By this time, the counterintelligence investigation was in the process of being established, and we know now that it was formalized with no official intelligence. The FBI needed some sort of legal cover. They needed a retroactive warrant. And they got one on Oct. 21, 2016. The Page FISA warrant would be renewed three times and remain in force until September 2017.

Stefan Halper met with Page for the first time on July 11, 2016, at a Cambridge symposium, just three days after Page’s July 2016 Moscow trip. As noted previously, former MI6 head Sir Richard Dearlove was a speaker at the symposium. Halper and Dearlove have known each other for years and maintain several mutual associations.

Page was already known to the FBI. The Page FISA warrant application references the Buryakov spy case and an FBI interview with Page. Current information suggests there was only one meetingbetween Page and the FBI in 2016. It happened on March 2, 2016. It was in relation to Victor Podobnyy, who was named in the Buryakov case.

Page, who cooperated with the FBI on the case, almost certainly was providing testimony or details against Podobnyy. Page had been contacted by Podobnyy in 2013 and had previously provided information to the FBI. Buryakov pleaded guilty on March 11, 2016—nine days after Page met with the FBI on the case—and was sentenced to 30 months in prison on May 25, 2016. On April 5, 2017, Buryakov was granted early release and was deported to Russia.FBI informant Stefan Halper approached Trump campaign advisers George Papadopoulos and Carter Page.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said in August that exculpatory evidence on Page exists that wasn’t included by the DOJ and the FBI in the FISA application and subsequent renewals. The exculpatory evidence likely relates specifically to Page’s role in the Buryakov case.

If the FBI failed to disclose Page’s cooperation with the bureau or materially misrepresented his involvement in its application to the FISA Court, it means that the FBI’s Woods procedures, which govern FISA applications, were violated.

Page has not been arrested or charged with any crime related to the investigation.

FISA Abuse

Admiral Mike Rogers, while director of the NSA, was personally responsible for uncovering an unprecedented level of FISA abuse that would later be documented in a 99-page unsealed FISA court ruling. As the FISA court noted in the April 26, 2017, ruling, the abuses had been occurring since at least November 2015:

“The FBI had disclosed raw FISA information, including but not limited to Section 702-acquired information, … to private contractors.

“Private contractors had access to raw FISA information on FBI storage systems.

“Contractors had access to raw FISA information that went well beyond what was necessary to respond to the FBI’s requests.”

The FISA Court report is particularly focused on the FBI:

“The Court is concerned about the FBI’s apparent disregard of minimization rules and whether the FBI may be engaging in similar disclosures of raw Section 702 information that have not been reported.”

The FISA Court disclosed that illegal NSA database searches were endemic. Private contractors, employed by the FBI, were given full access to the NSA database. Once in the contractors’ possession, the data couldn’t be traced.

In April 2016, after Rogers became aware of improper contractor access to raw FISA data on March 9, 2016, he directed the NSA’s Office of Compliance to conduct a “fundamental baseline review of compliance associated with 702.”

On April 18, 2016, Rogers shut down all outside contractor access to raw FISA information—specifically outside contractors working for the FBI.Then-NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers on May 23, 2017. Rogers uncovered widespread abuse of FISA data by the FBI. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

DOJ National Security Division (NSD) head John Carlin filed the government’s proposed 2016 Section 702 certifications on Sept. 26, 2016. Carlin knew the general status of compliance review by Rogers. The NSD was part of the review. Carlin failed to disclose a critical Jan. 7, 2016, report by the Office of the Inspector General and associated FISA abuse to the FISA Court in his 2016 certification. Carlin also failed to disclose Rogers’s ongoing Section 702 compliance review.

The following day, on Sept. 27, 2016, Carlin announced his resignation, effective Oct. 15, 2016.

After receiving a briefing by the NSA compliance officer on Oct. 20, 2016, detailing numerous “about query” violations from the 702 NSA compliance audit, Rogers shut down all “about query” activity the next day and reported his findings to the DOJ. “About queries” are searches based on communications containing a reference “about” a surveillance target but that are not “to” or “from” the target.

On Oct. 21, 2016, the DOJ and the FBI sought and received a Title I FISA probable-cause order authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISA Court.

At this point, the FISA Court was still unaware of the Section 702 violations.

On Oct. 24, 2016, Rogers verbally informed the FISA Court of his findings. On Oct. 26, 2016, Rogers appeared formally before the FISA Court and presented the written findings of his audit.

The FISA Court had been unaware of the query violations until they were presented to the court by Rogers.

Carlin didn’t disclose his knowledge of FISA abuse in the annual Section 702 certifications in order to avoid raising suspicions at the FISA Court ahead of receiving the Page FISA warrant.

The FBI and the NSD were literally racing against Rogers’s investigation in order to obtain a FISA warrant on Carter Page.

While all this was transpiring, DNI James Clapper and Defense Secretary Ash Carter submitted arecommendation that Rogers be removed from his post as NSA director.

The move to fire Rogers, which ultimately failed, originated sometime in mid-October 2016—exactly when Rogers was preparing to present his findings to the FISA Court.

The Insurance Policy

Ever since the release of FBI text messages revealing the existence of an “insurance policy,” the term has been the subject of wide speculation.

Some observers have suggested that the insurance policy was the FISA spy warrant used to monitor Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and, by extension, other members of the Trump campaign. This interpretation is too narrow and fails to capture the underlying meaning of the text.

The insurance policy was the actual process of establishing the Trump–Russia collusion narrative.

It encompassed actions undertaken in late 2016 and early 2017, including the leaking of the Steele dossier and James Clapper’s leaks of James Comey’s briefing to President Trump. The intent behind these actions was simple. The legitimization of the investigation into the Trump campaign.

The strategy involved the recusal of Trump officials with the intent that Andrew McCabe would end up running the investigation.

The Steele dossier, which was paid for by the Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee, served as the foundation for the Russia narrative.

The intelligence community, led by CIA Director John Brennan and DNI James Clapper, used the dossier as a launching pad for creating their Intelligence Community assessment.

This report, which was presented to Obama in December 2016, despite NSA Director Mike Rogers having only moderate confidence in its assessment, became one of the core pieces of the narrative that Russia interfered with the 2016 elections.

Through intelligence community leaks, and in collusion with willing media outlets, the narrative that Russia helped Trump win the elections was aggressively pushed throughout 2017.

Spygate

Spygate represents the biggest political scandal in our nation’s history. A sitting administration actively colluded with a political campaign to affect the outcome of a U.S. presidential election. Government agencies were weaponized and a complicit media spread intelligence community leaks as facts.

But a larger question remains: How long has the United States been subject to interference from the intelligence community and our political agencies? Was the 2016 presidential election a one-time aberration, or is this episode symptomatic of a larger pattern extending back decades?

The intensity, scale, and coordination suggest something greater than overzealous actions taken during a single election. They represent a unified reaction of the establishment to a threat posed by a true outsider—a reaction that has come to be known as Spygate.Read the whole story· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·Next Page of StoriesLoading…Page 6

Obama’s FBI as the major bastion of treachery – Google SearchSaturday December 15th, 2018 at 6:59 AM

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Mueller Rejects Flynn’s Attempt to Portray Himself as Victim of the F.B.I. – The New York TimesSaturday December 15th, 2018 at 3:55 AM

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Mueller Rejects Flynn’s Attempt to Portray Himself as Victim of the F.B.I.  The New York Times

Michael Flynn had cooperated with the special counsel but in asking for leniency, he stoked an unfounded theory about potential evidence he did not lie to …View full coverage on Google News

Robert Mueller Investigation Filings Show the Facts | TimeSaturday December 15th, 2018 at 3:20 AM

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Video Player is loading.Current Time 0:00/Duration 3:52Loaded: 0%0:00Progress: 0%Stream Type LIVERemaining Time -3:52 1x

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This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Current Time 0:02/Duration 0:30Loaded: 0%0:100:02Progress: 0%Stream Type LIVERemaining Time -0:28 1xYou Might LikeMichael Cohen Talks Payments Made to Help Trump Win 2016 ElectionNew Court Filings in the Mueller InvestigationEx-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Asks to Be Spared From Prison in Russia Probe Case×By Ryan Teague BeckwithUpdated: December 14, 2018 10:17 PM ET

When Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel in 2017, he was given several subjects to investigate: Russian meddling in the election, any coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign and any other crimes arising from the investigation.

So far, he has delivered a lot of detail about the first and the last, but has not said much about any Trump coordination.

To Trump and his supporters, that has provided a vindication of sorts. Trump has repeatedly arguedthat guilty pleas and successful prosecutions from Mueller’s team actually show that there was “no collusion.” The special counsel’s office has regularly declined to comment on its findings, but some of the details provided so far provide hints that there may be more to the story.

Still, understanding all of the findings in light of the dizzying array of charges and countercharges can be difficult. So we’ve pulled all of the most relevant legal findings together in one place.

Overall, they sketch a suggestive picture. According to the legal documents, Russia began a massive project to sow political discord in the United States, eventually deciding to support Trump and disparage Clinton in the 2016 election. As part of that project, the documents show, Russian nationals made repeated efforts to reach out to members of the Trump campaign which were met with interest, in part because Trump was pursuing a real estate deal in Moscow until the eve of the Republican convention.

On more minor notes, the court filings also show that Trump’s longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, worked with the National Enquirer to keep two sex scandals out of the news; National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had an interesting discussion with the then-Russian ambassador about sanctions related to election meddling; and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort kept in touch with the Trump Administration even as he was being investigated.Paid Content

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The legal filings have also revealed a lot of other damning information, including unlawful personal dealings by Cohen, Flynn and Manafort and times in which various individuals under investigation lied to FBI agents or Congress. We have left these out of the story in order to make it easier to follow and focus on what appear to be the more central questions. At this point, who knows where Mueller is ultimately headed.

We have replaced some legal terms from the filings, such as “defendants,” by people’s actual names in brackets for clarity’s sake. Several of the filings refer to “Individual-1,” who is widely understood to be Trump, so we have replaced it with his name there too.

Russia’s project to sow discord

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an awards ceremony for Russian team members at the Winter Paralympic games in Sochi, Russia on March 17, 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an awards ceremony for Russian team members at the Winter Paralympic games in Sochi, Russia on March 17, 2014.Sasha Mordovets—Getty Images

The Internet Research Agency started in Russia in 2013

Source: Charging documents against Internet Research Agency et al, Feb. 16, 2018

The agency used social media to influence U.S. politics

Source: Charging documents against Internet Research Agency et al, Feb. 16, 2018

The goal was to make U.S. politics more divisive

Source: Charging documents against Internet Research Agency et al, Feb. 16, 2018

Staffers attacked Rubio, Cruz and Clinton, but supported Sanders and Trump

Source: Charging documents against Internet Research Agency et al, Feb. 16, 2018

They reached out to Trump campaign officials as ‘Matt Skiber’ and ‘Josh Milton’

Source: Charging documents against Internet Research Agency et al, Feb. 16, 2018

George Papadopoulos’ Russian connections

George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents

George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents@realdonaldtrump/twitter/reuters

George Papadopoulos was a Trump foreign policy advisor

Charging documents against George Papadopoulos, Oct. 5, 2017

Papadopoulos met with a professor with Russian connections

Charging documents against George Papadopoulos, Oct. 5, 2017

The professor introduced Papadopoulos to a supposed Putin niece

Charging documents against George Papadopoulos, Oct. 5, 2017

Papadopoulos tried to arrange a Trump-Putin meeting

Charging documents against George Papadopoulos, Oct. 5, 2017

The professor told Papadopoulos the Russians had ‘dirt’ on Clinton

Charging documents against George Papadopoulos, Oct. 5, 2017

Donald Trump’s Moscow tower development

Michael Cohen, personal lawyer for President-elect Donald Trump, gets into an elevator at Trump Tower, Dec. 12, 2016 in New York City.

Michael Cohen, personal lawyer for President-elect Donald Trump, gets into an elevator at Trump Tower, Dec. 12, 2016 in New York City.Drew Angerer—Getty Images

Michael Cohen became Trump’s lawyer in 2007

Source: Southern District of New York sentencing memo for Michael Cohen, Dec. 7, 2018

The Trump Organization pursued a real estate project in Moscow in 2015 and 2016

Source: Mueller sentencing memo for Michael Cohen, Dec. 7, 2018

A Russian reached out about setting up a meeting with Putin

Source: Mueller sentencing memo for Michael Cohen, Dec. 7, 2018

But Cohen already had a Russian contact

Source: Mueller sentencing memo for Michael Cohen, Dec. 7, 2018

Cohen talked with top Russian officials about the project

Source: Southern District of New York sentencing memo for Michael Cohen, Dec. 7, 2018

The Moscow project continued through June of 2016

Source: Southern District of New York sentencing memo for Michael Cohen, Dec. 7, 2018

Cohen looked into having Trump travel to Russia

Source: Southern District of New York sentencing memo for Michael Cohen, Dec. 7, 2018

Michael Cohen’s work on sex scandals

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, on Apr. 13, 2018 in New York City

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, on Apr. 13, 2018 in New York CityYana Paskova—Getty Images

Cohen began working for the Trump campaign in 2015

Source: Southern District of New York sentencing memo for Michael Cohen, Dec. 7, 2018.

He met with the National Enquirer about keeping sex scandals quiet

Source: Southern District of New York cooperation agreement, Sept. 20, 2018

Cohen kept Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal stories out of the news

Source: Southern District of New York sentencing memo for Michael Cohen, Dec. 7, 2018

He promised to reimburse the Enquirer on the McDougal story

Source: Southern District of New York cooperation agreement, Sept. 20, 2018

Michael Flynn’s Russian contacts

Michael Flynn in Feb. 2017.

Michael Flynn in Feb. 2017.Carolyn Kaster—AP

After the election, President Obama sanctioned Russia over meddling

Source: Mueller charging document for Michael Flynn, Dec. 1, 2017

Flynn talked with the Russian ambassador about sanctions

Source: Mueller charging document for Michael Flynn, Dec. 1, 2017

Paul Manafort’s contacts with the Trump Administration

In this July 19, 2016 file photo, Paul Manafort is seen at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

In this July 19, 2016 file photo, Paul Manafort is seen at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

Manafort kept in touch with the Trump Administration

Source: Mueller request to find Manafort in breach of plea agreement, Dec. 7, 2018Read the whole story · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

“Trump Investigations” – Google News: Here’s What Robert Mueller Has Uncovered So Far, In His Own Words – TIMEby mikenovaSaturday December 15th, 2018 at 3:17 AM

Trump Investigations Report1 Share

Here’s What Robert Mueller Has Uncovered So Far, In His Own Words  TIME

When Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel in 2017, he was given several subjects to investigate: Russian meddling in the election, any coordination …

 “Trump Investigations” – Google News

Donald Trump: Robert Mueller Is Pressing To Interview Trump After President’s Written Answers: CNNSaturday December 15th, 2018 at 3:03 AM

1. Trump From Michael_Novakhov (198 Sites)1 Share

“The reality is everybody knows Trump can’t talk without lying,” says Van Jones on CNN.

 Donald Trump

Robert Mueller Is Pressing To Interview Trump After President’s Written Answers: CNNSaturday December 15th, 2018 at 3:02 AM

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10:19 AM 8/10/2018 – M.N., in my humble opinion: This is the expansion and the follow-up of the German Intelligence on their previous antisemitic, and in the same vein (“Juden are the hypocritical lecherous goats”), operation “Spitzer”. Isn’t it, our dear FBI? | ‘Manhattan Madam’ linked to Trump… – Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks

M.N.: In my humble opinion:

This is the expansion and the follow-up of the German Intelligence on their previous antisemitic, and in the same vein (“Juden are the hypocritical lecherous goats“), operation “Spitzer”. Isn’t it, our dear FBI? 

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mikenova shared this story from mueller does not have much on trump – Google News.

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Paul Manafort trial Day 9: Judge seals discussion of Rick Gates …

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Paul Manafort, President Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, is on trial in federal … 9:21 a.m.: Is Rick Gates providing further cooperation to the Mueller investigation? … Gates might have told the special counsel about his time on the Trump campaign, … Calk himself, though, is not expected to be called by prosecutors.

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The Daily 202: Trump loses more battles in his war on immigration

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THE BIG IDEA: Donald Trump is the do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do president. … Bigger blows have come recently in courts of law: A federal judge here in …. She plans to start a much lower profile and less important job in public affairs at the ….. there are two major topics that Trump’s lawyers want Mueller to take off the table in an …

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An entirely innocent suspect may get something wrong given that memories are … Even worse, if Trump doesn’t want to explain his actions to Mueller’s team, … And that’s pretty much the choice Trump’sdefense team is wrestling with right now.

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‘Manhattan Madam’ to testify before grand jury in Muellerinvestigation

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But investigators have been very interested in Roger Stone, with whom Davis … Davis was not involved in the specific prostitution service Spitzer used that led … back-and-forth in negotiations with the Muellerteam over whether Trump will sit …

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Rudy’s Shot Across Mueller’s Bow

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President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has fired a clear warning shot … we may soon have a better picture of what’s been going on in the Mueller “probe. … Ohr was “not assigned to the Russia investigation and he was not in the …. Anything you could do to accelerate the process would be muchappreciated.

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Trump Will Fold if Mueller Calls His Bluff. Giuliani Is the Tell.

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There is no grand jury or stenographer, and the witness is not placed under oath. … That seems unlikely, given that Mueller has been working to get Trump to the … As much as he has become a cartoonish buffoon, Giuliani still must have a …

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The local TV consolidation race is here

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Radio does not have a broadcast cap, but a consumer trend towards … Meanwhile, the GOP planned to make the Trump tax cut the centerpiece of the fall. … A football game, that fans are paying soooo muchmoney to watch and enjoy, is no …. marks the first case that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has brought to court as a …

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Mystery surrounds former sex-ring operator’s Mueller probe role

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Whether or not that’s true, Stone is clearly under Mueller’s spotlight. The special counsel’s team of prosecutors have already interviewed longtime … against Trump, he did crack the door open Wednesday to cooperating with Mueller’s probe.

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Enough is enough, it’s time for Mueller to bring out the big guns

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Trump’s intransigence raises the prospect that Mueller will need to submit his report to Deputy … Mueller’s mission is not just to investigate and charge crimes.
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Robbers unleash terror on Edo, kill 12 in bank raid
 

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   …attack police division, burn area commander’s car

  • Policeman, detained suspects die in attack

A policeman and about 11 others were shot dead while several others sustained gunshot injuries yesterday when armed robbers invaded Igarra town, the headquarters of Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State. The robbers unleashed terror in the town as they attempted to rob two commercial banks – Unity Bank and Keystone Bank.

The evening attack sent hordes of residents scampering for safety. Also killed were two detained suspects at the Divisional Police Station, who were arrested yesterday morning for minor offences. One of the dead detained suspects was said to have been arrested by the police for incomplete vehicle particulars. At press time, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Chidi Nwabuzor, said information about the attack was still sketchy, but promised to release more details later. It was learnt that the gunmen swooped on the police station, which is about 1.2 kilometres from the banks, apparently to demobilise the policemen.

They also burnt the official vehicle of the newlyposted Area Commander. Three other persons near the police station were also killed. At least four other persons were killed within the premises of the two banks. It was learnt that the robbers could not gain access to the vaults of the banks. An indigene of the community, Ofei Obende, said residents mobilised themselves and tried to resist the robbers, but they were overpowered by the invaders’ firepower. He said that policemen attached to the banks had engaged the bandits in exchange of gunfire, which was responsible for the death of the three unidentified bodies. Palace Secretary to the Otaru of Igarra, the paramount ruler of the community, Elder Folorunsho Dania, confirmed the incident yesterday on the phone. He said: “This is a serious case. Armed robbers have besieged Igarra. So many lives were lost; 10 bodies have been counted.

The police station was set ablaze, while the Area Commander’s new car was torched. Also, close to the police station, three people were killed. In the banks – Keystone Bank and Unity Bank – many persons were killed. In all, 10 lives have gone.

“They could not access the strong rooms of the banks. The people that were killed in the bank were outside the bank premises. Four persons were killed on the bank premises. A policeman was killed in the police station. Also, a stone throw from the police station, three persons were killed. Igarra is in a war scene; I am right at the police station.”

Six persons were killed in a similar raid in November 2015 when robbers invaded the community. Meanwhile, the Nigerian Navy has arrested four suspected members of a notorious cult group, Debam, said to have been robbing sea travellers of their valuables. Cdr. Ikenna Okoloagu, the Base Operation Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder (NNS), Port Harcourt, paraded the four suspected cultists to newsmen on yesterday. He said the suspects were arrested by a naval patrol team deployed to end killings and other criminal activities in its host community of Rumuolumeni. “This decision to heighten our security patrol follows the recent reported spate of killings in Rumuolumeni community and other forms of criminality in the state.

“The patrol team was tasked with the responsibility to ensure a safe, secure and peaceful atmosphere within the state. “So, in the course of the patrols, on August 8, about 0845 hours, the base patrol element arrested four suspected sea robbers and members of the dreaded Debam cult group,” he said. The officer said that the suspects were apprehended at their hideout at Iwofe waterfront with a locally made pistol and four live cartridges found in their possession. “Additionally, controlled and banned substances such as cannabis (Indian hemp) and tramadol were found in their possession.

“The suspects were immediately brought in for questioning and they later confessed to being members of the Debam cult group,” he said. Okoloagu said the hand over to the police was done in line with the Harmonised Standard Operating Procedures that spelled out roles for security agencies in combating illegalities in the oil and gas sector. One of the suspects, who admitted to the crime and pleaded for leniency, said that he was recruited into Debam cult by a friend when he was 19 years old. “I joined the group when I was in my Senior Secondary Three level at Community Secondary School, Rumuolumeni, in 2015.

“Immediately I joined Debam, I started saving money and later bought the gun (locally made pistol) for N15,000 for my protection. “The gun is mine, but I have not shot or killed anybody with it,” the 22-year-old said. Lekum claimed they worked for an unnamed chairman of the National Union of Iwofe who directed them to collect levies from those engaging in illegal oil bunkering in the area. Also, a Daura Road Chief Magistrates’ Court in Kaduna, Kaduna State, on Thursday ordered the remand of three men for alleged armed robbery.

The defendants – Rabiu Abdullahi, Ibrahim Dahiru and Anas Mohammed – are standing trial on a twocount charge of criminal conspiracy and armed robbery. The prosecutor, Insp. Akinga Akila, had told the court that the matter was transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) for further investigation.

Akila said that on July 6, at 2p.m., the defendants robbed some passengers of their property on Ishaku Road, Ungwan Rimi in Kaduna, when they boarded a tricycle. The prosecutor said that the passengers were robbed of their phones and wallets, containing a school’s identity card and voter’s card, before the defendants were caught. He said that the defendants confessed to committing the crime during police investigation, adding that the offences contravened Sections 59 and 283 of the Penal Code. Magistrate Abdulkadir Musa declined to take the plea of the defendants because the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the matter. Musa ordered the police to forward the case file to the State Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for legal advice and adjourned the case until September 5.

 

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Robbers unleash terror on Edo, kill 12 in bank raid – New Telegraph Newspaper
 

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New Telegraph Newspaper
Robbers unleash terror on Edo, kill 12 in bank raid
New Telegraph Newspaper
One of the suspects, who admitted to the crime and pleaded for leniency, said that he was recruited into Debam cult by a friend when he was 19 years old. “I joined the group when I was in my Senior Secondary Three level at Community Secondary School, …and more »

New book claims Trump was compromised by Russian spies in 1987
 

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Donald Trump was likely to have been compromised by Russian intelligence agents on a trip to Moscow 31 years ago, a new book claims.

Trump had been officially invited to Russia by a senior diplomat to discuss possible property developments.

However, during his stay, Trump would have been filmed in 1987 with Russian prostitutes sent to him as a “honey trap”, even though he travelled with then-wife Ivana, making him vulnerable to blackmail by the Kremlin, its then top spy told the book’s author.

The material would have been carefully conserved by spies since then, according to the Daily Mail.

Oleg Kalugin, the former head of counterintelligence for the KGB, told author Craig Unger that Trump would have had “many young ladies at his disposal” – and Russia would have been watching.

Kalugin claimed that Trump probably even knows about the existence of the files about him containing material the Russians call “kompromat”.

The extraordinary claim is in House of Trump, House of Putin; the Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia, a forensic look at Trump’s long ties to Russia, which is out next week, and written by Unger.

The author, a Vanity Fair journalist, previously targeted the Bush family over alleged links to the Saudis, and was heavily quoted in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 movie.

The book, a copy of which has been obtained by <a href=”http://DailyMail.com” rel=”nofollow”>DailyMail.com</a>, claims that Trump is a “Russian asset” whose greed made him “easy prey” to Soviet intelligence officers decades ago.

It has no direct evidence of the existence of such tapes, however.

House of Trump also details how two Trump associates who in 2013 went to a party held by a notorious Russian criminal overlord and talked about “getting together with Vova” – meaning Vladimir Putin.

Speculation about Trump’s ties to Russia and possible collusion with the Kremlin in the 2016 election that saw him elected US President has reached fever pitch as the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into meddling in the vote gathers steam.

While Mueller has already indicted 32 people and three Russian companies, the Russia involvement all relates to hacking, which US intelligence agencies have concluded definitely did take place.

Despite this, Trump has been soft on Russia, Unger says, and at his summit with Putin in Helsinki last month shocked the world by saying that the Kremlin did not conduct any meddling.

In a devastating opening chapter to his book, author Unger says that the reason is simple: with Trump, Russia “implanted either a willfully ignorant or an inexplicably unaware Russian asset in the White House”.

Unger calls Trump “Vladimir Putin’s man in the White House” and claims that Trump’s real estate business, The Trump Organization, has likely laundered billions for organised crime in Russia.

The White House directed <a href=”http://DailyMail.com” rel=”nofollow”>DailyMail.com</a> to the president’s personal attorneys.

A lawyer for the president was not immediately available to comment on Trump’s alleged conduct, as detailed in Unger’s book.

House of Trump says that Trump’s associations with shady Russians dates back to the 1970s in Brighton Beach, a working-class neighbourhood in Brooklyn where his father Fred owned dozens of properties.

Among them were Semon Kislin and Tamir Sapir, Russian emigres who supposedly had ties to Russian crime families and started an electronics store which was used by KGB agents to buy their supplies.

Another was David Bogatin, a Russian-born Soviet Army veteran turned US citizen who later pleaded guilty to running a gasoline bootlegging scheme with Russian mobsters.

Trump had no problem with Bogatin buying five luxury condos in Trump Tower, his brand new apartment block on Fifth Avenue in New York, in the mid-1980s for US$6 million.

Although that is the equivalent of US$14.5m today when adjusted for inflation, property prices in New York have far outstripped regular inflation, making the equivalent price today far higher than that.

In fact, Trump Tower was one of only two buildings in New York at the time that allowed people to buy condos using shell companies which disguised who the buyer was.

House of Trump says that whether Trump knew it or not, when he closed the deal with Bogatin he had “just helped launder money for the Russian mafia”.

Trump had ambitions beyond New York and when he began to take control of the family business he looked abroad – and found willing partners in what is now Russia.

In January 1987, two years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, he was invited by the Soviet ambassador to the United Nations, Yuri Dubinin, to visit Moscow to talk about opening a new hotel there.

Trump flew with his first wife Ivana and two unnamed associates to what was then Soviet Russia.

He stayed at the National Hotel in Moscow and during his entire trip was almost certainly under 24-hour surveillance by the KGB.

Kalugin, who headed the KGB’s branch of the First Chief Directorate, which was responsible for foreign operations and intelligence gathering, said that it was widespread practice at the time to use prostitutes to entrap foreign businessmen.

“In your world, many times, you ask your young men to stand up and proudly serve their country,” Kalugin once told a reporter. “In Russia, sometimes we ask our women just to lie down.”

In an interview for House of Trump Kalugin – who was one of the KGB’s most senior officers at a time that Putin was a more junior officer – said that Trump would probably have “had many young ladies at his disposal”.

He said: “I would not be surprised if the Russians have, and Trump knows about them, files on him during his trip to Russia and his involvement with meeting young ladies that were controlled [by Soviet intelligence].”

The trip was long before Trump’s 2013 visit to Moscow to attend the Miss Universe pageant. It was that visit which led to allegations that he was filmed watching prostitutes urinate on a bed once used by Barack and Michelle Obama – claims he has denied as false and “fake news”, but which have led to the notorious “golden showers” dossier.

The claim was first made in the dossier prepared for former British spy Christopher Steele, who was commissioned during Trump’s election campaign by Fusion GPS, a Washington “research firm” to look into his Russian ties.

Fusion GPS was commissioned in turn, first by the conservative-leaning Washington Beacon and then by lawyers for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, to dig up dirt on the Republican candidate. The Free Beacon says Steele was not commissioned by them and that he was used by Fusion GPS after the Free Beacon’s involvement had ended.

Trump’s ties to Russia deepened in the 1990s after his casinos in Atlantic City began to go bankrupt and his companies went into US$3.4 billion of debt.

Unable to get cash from banks in the US Trump went to Russians to get what is known as “alternative financing”, Unger writes.

As Propublica have reported, this involved Trump using money from wealthy Russians to buy half of the new condos in his new apartment blocks so that he could get financing for the rest.

During the late 1990s around 20 per cent of Trump branded condos, or 1300 luxury properties, were sold to anonymous shell companies, the equivalent of US$1.5b in value.

Around this time Bayrock Group LLC entered Trump’s world courtesy of Tamir Sapir, the Russian emigre who knew Trump from his Brighton Beach days and by now had become a billionaire.

Bayrock was a real estate company that Unger describes as “largely staffed, owned and financed by emigres from Russia and the former Soviet Union”.

Bayrock’s leadership were even more dubious and were a “cozy family of billionaire oligarchs from the former Soviet Union”.

Trump apparently had no problem with this and Bayrock moved into Trump Tower and set up office on the 24th floor. Trump’s office was on the 26th.

Unger says that it is “murky” where it got its funding but with Bayrock’s help – and his appearance on the The Apprentice – Trump was back.

Trump signed deals to license his name to an 813-unit development called Trump Towers in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida and a 35-story tower in White Plains, New York, among other projects.

Bayrock was involved in Trump SoHo,

But “House of Trump” suggests that Bayrock had an ulterior motive and was little more than a modern day version of the old KGB trick of creating a shell company that would launder Russian money and gather intelligence on Western targets.

In Trump’s case, the future president was “indirectly providing Putin with a regular flow of intelligence on what the oligarchs were doing with their money in the US”, Unger writes.

He quotes federal prosecutor Kenneth McCallion who previously pursued Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and notorious Russian mobster Semion Mogilevich.

McCallion said: “I believe that Christopher Steele was right.

“Initially, Trump wasn’t that important to Putin. But now that Trump was getting investments from the Russians, Putin could keep track of where their money went because Bayrock kept a ledger that Moscow likely had access to.

“It was not just about buying condos, which was the tail wagging the dog. It was direct capital investment into Trump projects.

“Putin didn’t stop the expatriation of billions of dollars because he benefited from it, but it was a serious problem for the Russian economy. Billions of dollars were going out and he really wanted to keep track of it for a variety of reasons, to see what the financial strength was of the oligarchs.”

“House of Trump” says that In February 2013 two Trump associates turned up at the 55th birthday of Sergei Mikhailov, who is thought to be the leader of the Russian Solntsevo crime gang.

The event took place at the Radisson Royal in Moscow and to celebrate Mogilevich, the crime overlord, had taken over an entire floor.

The two associates of Trump claimed they were there to talk about putative Trump Towers in Moscow and Kazakhstan, possibly with Solntsevo as a partner.

A source said that the Americans talked about a meeting they had with Ivanka Trump, Trump’s daughter. They also talked about “getting together with Vova”, meaning meeting up with Putin.

Unger writes: “The Americans, the source said, were not introduced to everyone by name.

“One of them, however, was described as being five foot eight or nine, heavyset, with curly hair and a receding hairline, ‘definitely not slim, and having a California smile.”

“Later, the source thought that he was likely Felix Sater, ‘because (he) saw his pictures”.

Sater is a Soviet-born former adviser to Trump, a convicted felon and onetime stock scammer who is at the center of the Trump Russia nexis – he was also managing director of Bayrock.

During the 2010s Trump’s connections to Russia and his reliance on Russian money appeared to deepen.

In a 2104 interview with Trump’s son Eric, who was by then helping to run The Trump Organization, golf writer James Dodson claimed that he admitted this was the case.

Dodson said that Eric Trump told him: “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia”.

Dodson replied: ‘Really?’ and Eric Trump said: “Oh, yeah. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.”

Eric Trump also supposedly said that they had “access to US$100 million” for their newest golf course in North Carolina.

Eric Trump denied the conversation had taken place and said in 2017: “This story is completely fabricated and just another example of why there is such a deep distrust of the media in our country #FakeNews.” Dodson, however, stands by his account.

Before, during and after the 2016 election Trump has furiously denied that he worked with Russia to get elected and in dozens of tweets has said there is “No Collusion!”

The President sees it as an affront to his ego that the Russians could have helped him beat Hillary Clinton and is unable to separate the Kremlin’s meddling from his victory, the book says.

The most serious of Trump’s campaign troubles has become the notorious meeting at Trump Tower in 2016 in which Russians with ties to the Kremlin offered him ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton.

The meeting was attended by Trump Jr, the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer.

Trump long denied that he knew about the meeting in advance but in a recent Tweet he admitted its true purpose.

The President wrote: “This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!”

Trump has now reportedly been told to stop tweeting about the meeting by his lawyers who feel it is harming him and adding oxygen to the interest in what took place.

Another link to Russia is that the Robert Mueller Special Counsel’s investigation was begun after Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from leading it, saying it was because of his involvement in the Trump campaign.

Unger accuses him of actually stepping back because he lied to Congress about his meetings with the Russian ambassador to the US – although Sessions denies that charge.

And then there is Manafort who made US$60 million from political consultancy work for pro-Putin politicians in Ukraine, and who is currently on trial charged with bank and tax fraud.

When that trial is over he will stand a second trial in which the charges will include conspiracy against the United States.

‘House of Trump, House of Putin; the Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia’ is available for pre-order on Amazon.

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M.N.: My Opinion: Putin’s Chef” Cannot Cook! | 5:54 AM 2/17/2018 – “There’s no way to know what the impact was.” – Clint Watts

M.N.: “Putin’s Chef” cannot cook!

Too much salt, pepper, and exotic spices; and no common sense and no good taste. Just what they feed the Russian children for their school lunches, produced by his companies. Fire the scoundrel and exile him to Siberia, to cater for the rich Chukchis and Eskimos (frozen fish in good old Soviet sweet and sour source)! Putin, get a new cook! Henry Kissinger can recommend a really good one, with the impeccable Republican credentials. Go for it! Let him cook something new and exciting, something like “The Sanctions Borscht Special for the Kremlin elites”. They will love it and will give Prigozhin The Big KGB Golden Star and Medal if he did not get them by now already. 

FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 20, 2010 file photo, businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, left, shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, around his factory which produces school meals, outside St. Petersburg, Russia. Indicted for alleged U.S. election interference, Prigozhin is a wealthy Russian entrepreneur from St. Petersburg who&squot;s been dubbed "Putin&squot;s chef" by Russian media, with his catering businesses that have hosted the Kremlin leader&squot;s dinners with foreign dignitaries. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File) Photo: Alexei Druzhinin, AP / POOL SPUTNIK KREMLIN

Yevgeny Prigozhin – GS

“Though the indictment does not allege that the Russian activities altered the outcome of the election, it doesn’t foreclose that possibility. Given how close the election was in several key states, proving whether any particular activity might have changed the outcome is all but impossible.

“There’s no way to know what the impact was.

We really don’t know the scale, we really don’t know whose minds were changed,” said Clint Watts, a former FBI agent and researcher on cyber-influence campaigns…

The details in the indictment show that the Russian campaign was far more sophisticated and serious than previously known, Watts said. The ways in which the Russians concealed their identities and made their operation look “authentically American” in order to trick Americans into helping them provided evidence of a sophisticated operation with ties to Russian intelligence, he added.

“This is not what just any goofball could do,” he said. “They got real Americans to do influence for them, unwittingly. That’s next-level.”

The Russians created fake social media accounts, posing as Americans and in some cases using stolen identities of real Americans, to post messages about divisive issues such as guns and immigration.”

Special counsel Mueller indicts 13 Russians, alleging 2016 election interference
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WASHINGTON — Special Counsel Robert Mueller 3rd indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies Friday, accusing them of using stolen identities, fake campaign events and hundreds of social media accounts while spending millions of rubles to 

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  • FILE - In this file photo taken on Sunday, April 19, 2015, a women enters the four-storey building known as the "troll factory" in St. Petersburg, Russia. The U.S. government allege the Internet Research Agency started interfering as early as 2014 in U.S. politics, extending to the 2016 presidential election, saying the agency was funded by a St. Petersburg businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin. Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky, AP / Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
  • window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: ‘thumbnails-c’, container: ‘taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-3’, placement: ‘Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 3’, target_type: ‘mix’ }); _taboola.push({flush: true});
  • FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 20, 2010 file photo, businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, left, shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, around his factory which produces school meals, outside St. Petersburg, Russia. Indicted for alleged U.S. election interference, Prigozhin is a wealthy Russian entrepreneur from St. Petersburg who&squot;s been dubbed "Putin&squot;s chef" by Russian media, with his catering businesses that have hosted the Kremlin leader&squot;s dinners with foreign dignitaries. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)
  • FILE - In this file photo taken on Sunday, April 19, 2015, a women enters the four-storey building known as the "troll factory" in St. Petersburg, Russia. The U.S. government allege the Internet Research Agency started interfering as early as 2014 in U.S. politics, extending to the 2016 presidential election, saying the agency was funded by a St. Petersburg businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Photo: Alexei Druzhinin, AP

FILE – In this Monday, Sept. 20, 2010 file photo, businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, left, shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, around his factory which produces school meals, outside St. Petersburg, Russia. Indicted for alleged U.S. election interference, Prigozhin is a wealthy Russian entrepreneur from St. Petersburg who’s been dubbed “Putin’s chef” by Russian media, with his catering businesses that have hosted the Kremlin leader’s dinners with foreign dignitaries. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

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FILE – In this Monday, Sept. 20, 2010 file photo, businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, left, shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, around his factory which produces school meals, outside St. Petersburg, Russia.

 … more

Photo: Alexei Druzhinin, AP

FILE – In this file photo taken on Sunday, April 19, 2015, a women enters the four-storey building known as the “troll factory” in St. Petersburg, Russia. The U.S. government allege the Internet Research Agency started interfering as early as 2014 in U.S. politics, extending to the 2016 presidential election, saying the agency was funded by a St. Petersburg businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin.

 less

FILE – In this file photo taken on Sunday, April 19, 2015, a women enters the four-storey building known as the “troll factory” in St. Petersburg, Russia. The U.S. government allege the Internet Research

 … more

Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky, AP

Key players in the Trump-Russia probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — A look at some of the key players in the Trump-Russia probe after a federal indictment charged 13 Russians in a plot to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election:

PUTIN’S CHEF

One of the key figures indicted with plotting to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential is a Russian restaurateur believed to have ties to President Vladimir Putin.

An entrepreneur from St. Petersburg, Yevgeny Prigozhin has been dubbed “Putin’s chef” by Russian media because his restaurants and catering businesses have hosted the Kremlin leader’s dinners with foreign dignitaries. In the more than 10 years since establishing a relationship with Putin, Prigozhin’s business has expanded to services for the military.

Trump authorises release of classified memo alleging misconduct by FBI

Donald Trump has authorised the release of a secret memo which alleges misconduct by FBI officials that are investigating his 2016 presidential campaign. The release ramps up the Trump administration’s fight to delegitimize claims that the billionaire’s campaign team conspired with the Russians to win the election. The House Intelligence Committee made the memo public despite opposition from intelligence and law enforcement officials. The memo alleges that government officials favoured Democrats over Republicans and federal law enforcement abused their authority when they requested permission to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. “I think it’s terrible. It’s a disgrace what’s going on in this country,” Trump told reporters on Friday. “When you look at that, and you see that, a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves and much worse than that.” Earlier today, Trump took to Twitter to argue that senior officials in the FBI and Justice Department were biased. Both the FBI and Justice Department have denied wrongdoing and opposed the public release of the memo. Republican senator John McCain said the memo’s release served only to distract Americans from the threat of Russian president Vladimir Putin. “The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests — no party’s no president’s, only Putin’s,” McCain said. “The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why special counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. “Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the lens of politics and manufacturing political sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.” Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been leading the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections since May 2017. He is also thought to be examining if President Donald Trump’s interference with the Russia probe constitutes an obstruction of justice.

Now Playing: Trump authorises release of classified memo alleging misconduct by FBI

Donald Trump has authorised the release of a secret memo which alleges misconduct by FBI officials that are investigating his 2016 presidential campaign. The release ramps up the Trump administration’s fight to delegitimize claims that the billionaire’s campaign team conspired with the Russians to win the election. The House Intelligence Committee made the memo public despite opposition from intelligence and law enforcement officials. The memo alleges that government officials favoured Democrats over Republicans and federal law enforcement abused their authority when they requested permission to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. “I think it’s terrible. It’s a disgrace what’s going on in this country,” Trump told reporters on Friday. “When you look at that, and you see that, a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves and much worse than that.” Earlier today, Trump took to Twitter to argue that senior officials in the FBI and Justice Department were biased. Both the FBI and Justice Department have denied wrongdoing and opposed the public release of the memo. Republican senator John McCain said the memo’s release served only to distract Americans from the threat of Russian president Vladimir Putin. “The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests — no party’s no president’s, only Putin’s,” McCain said. “The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why special counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. “Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the lens of politics and manufacturing political sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.” Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been leading the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections since May 2017. He is also thought to be examining if President Donald Trump’s interference with the Russia probe constitutes an obstruction of justice.

Media: Euronews

Prigozhin’s assets also include an oil trading firm that reportedly has been sending private Russian fighters to Syria. Prigozhin is on the list of those sanctioned by the U.S.

In comments to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, Prigozhin dismissed the indictment.

“Americans are very impressionable people,” he was quoted as saying. “They see what they want to see.”

THE TROLL FACTORY

Based in St. Petersburg, Putin’s hometown, the Russian Internet Research Agency employs bloggers and online commentators to influence public opinion in Russia and abroad.

The indictment says that the company was funded by Prigzhin and that it purchased internet advertisements in the names of Americans whose identities they had stolen, staged political rallies while posing as American political activists and paid people in the U.S. to promote or disparage candidates. They started out by posting pro-Russian or controversial comments on social media and popular web sites and then developed more sophisticated tactics.

Analysts and journalists found that some of the accounts — such as the now-deleted and rabidly pro-Trump @TEN_GOP — accrued national followings and were retweeted by a range of figures as well as several members of Trump’s team, including ex-National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and one of Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr.

Soon enough, they were also organizing flesh-and-blood protests on American soil and being promoted by some of the most senior politicians in the land.

‘UNWITTING’ INDIVIDUALS

Some Trump campaign officials also helped the Russian meddling — unknowingly, the indictment says. Some of the defendants posed as Americans and communicated with “unwitting individuals” associated with the Trump election team in order to coordinate activities, according to the document. Sometimes the Russians used fake U.S. personas co communicate with Trump officials doing local outreach and those officials would then distribute their materials via social media. There was no immediate comment from the White House on this matter.

HOW ONE RUSSIAN OPERATED

The FBI’s indictment carries new tidbits about how its operatives stole Americans’ Social Security numbers and drivers’ licenses to help pull off their fakery.

It appears that the FBI had access to the group’s internal communications. In the case of agency worker Irina Kaverzina, for example, the FBI cites an email she wrote to her family saying: “We had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity (not a joke). So, I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with the colleagues.” Later, Kaverzina goes on: “I created all these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed it was their people.”

THE CHIEF OF THE INVESTIGATION

Robert Mueller was appointed FBI director shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and stayed on in the position for the next 12 years, transforming the bureau into a national intelligence agency. He retired from government in 2013 and joined a private law firm where he conducted high-profile investigations. He was appointed special counsel on May 17, 2017, by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

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Special counsel Mueller indicts 13 Russians, alleging 2016 election interference | Mcclatchy
 

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WASHINGTON — Special Counsel Robert Mueller 3rd indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies Friday, accusing them of using stolen identities, fake campaign events and hundreds of social media accounts while spending millions of rubles to interfere in the 2016 presidential election in a secret effort to aid the Trump campaign.

The 37-page indictment, the first charges by Mueller’s office accusing Moscow of illegal meddling in the election, says that the Internet Research Agency, a Russian firm known for using troll accounts to post on news sites, orchestrated the interference campaign and that its operatives tried to communicate with at least three unnamed Trump campaign officials using fake identities.

“By early to mid-2016, Defendants’ operation included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump … and disparaging Hillary Clinton,” says the indictment.

Although the indictment alleges that the Russians contacted unnamed people in the Trump campaign, it does not allege that any Trump campaign officials knowingly cooperated with the effort.

“There is no allegation that any American was a willing participant” in the Russian plan, and there is no allegation that it altered the outcome of the election, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said in a brief news conference discussing the indictment.

Nonetheless, the indictment seriously undermines President Trump’s repeated contention that the entire Russia investigation is a “hoax” or “witch hunt.” It details specific activities the Russians took, initially focused on creating general discord in the U.S., but eventually focused specifically on boosting Trump’s campaign.

At least some of the indicted people have previously been identified as having close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump had been briefed on the indictment.

A few hours later, Trump responded with a tweet, suggesting that the indictment resolved questions about whether his campaign collaborated with Moscow.

“Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong — no collusion!” he said.

The indictment, apparently quoting internal Russian documents, says the operation began with a “strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system” in general before focusing on backing Trump.

At various times during the campaign, the Russians undertook activities disparaging Trump’s Republican rivals, including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida.

The Russians also worked to help Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont, in his effort to defeat Clinton in the Democratic primaries, and Jill Stein, whose Green Party campaign reduced Clinton’s votes in the general election in some states.

Though the indictment does not allege that the Russian activities altered the outcome of the election, it doesn’t foreclose that possibility. Given how close the election was in several key states, proving whether any particular activity might have changed the outcome is all but impossible.

“There’s no way to know what the impact was. We really don’t know the scale, we really don’t know whose minds were changed,” said Clint Watts, a former FBI agent and researcher on cyber-influence campaigns.

One key element of the campaign, however, clearly might have worsened a Clinton vulnerability. The Russians aimed a significant part of their effort toward alienating minority voters, with an eye toward getting them to stay home rather than vote. Low minority turnout was one element of Clinton’s loss in some major states, such as Michigan.

The details in the indictment show that the Russian campaign was far more sophisticated and serious than previously known, Watts said. The ways in which the Russians concealed their identities and made their operation look “authentically American” in order to trick Americans into helping them provided evidence of a sophisticated operation with ties to Russian intelligence, he added.

“This is not what just any goofball could do,” he said. “They got real Americans to do influence for them, unwittingly. That’s next-level.”

The indictment accuses the 13 Russians and three businesses of “impairing, obstructing and defeating the lawful functions of the government through fraud and deceit for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.”

Rosenstein said the Justice Department had not yet had contact with Russian officials about extraditing any of the accused.

One of those charged was Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a wealthy Russian businessman and caterer who has been publicly identified as a close associate of Putin’s.

A company controlled by Prigozhin, Concord Management and Consulting, funded and directed the interference campaign in the U.S. and other countries, employing the Internet Research Agency, a shadowy internet troll factory that operated from St. Petersburg in Russia, according to the indictment, which refers to the agency as “the organization.”

“Concord was the organization’s primary source of funding for its interference operations,” the indictment says. “Concord controlled funding, recommended personnel and oversaw organization activities.”

In 2014, the organization created a special department focused on using YouTube, Facebook and other social media platforms to influence the U.S. presidential election.

More than 80 employees were assigned to the project and by 2016, its monthly budget exceeded $1.2 million, the charging documents say.

The Russians created fake social media accounts, posing as Americans and in some cases using stolen identities of real Americans, to post messages about divisive issues such as guns and immigration.

The attempts to sow division continued after the election, Rosenstein said, noting that the Russians staged rallies in New York to support and oppose Trump on the same day.

Democrats said the indictment vindicated Mueller’s investigation.

”For all of those who have been asking, ‘Where is the evidence of a crime?’ — this is it. This is the criminal conspiracy,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the senior Democrat on the House Oversight Committee.

”This is what President Trump and his allies have repeatedly called a ‘hoax’ and ‘fake news.’ This is what they tried to cover up,” Cummings said. “This is what we might never have known if President Trump had been successful in shutting down this investigation.”

The indictment suggests that Mueller’s investigators have obtained internal documents from the Internet Research Agency that shed light on its internal operations. The charging documents also quote from personal emails of Russians involved in the interference, indicating that Mueller has gotten access to sensitive U.S. intelligence communications intercepts.

”We had a slight crisis at work, the FBI busted our activity (not a joke),” one of the Russians, who was working in the U.S., wrote in September to family members back home.

The apparent FBI raid came after Facebook and other social media platforms began cooperating with Mueller’s investigation, supplying information about Russian-controlled accounts.

According to the indictment, the Russian operatives bought credit card and bank account numbers online to evade the security checks at PayPal.

On Friday, Mueller’s office revealed that one of those who sold account numbers, Richard Pinedo, 28, of Santa Paula, Calif., had pleaded guilty to one count of identity fraud.

The criminal charge against Pinedo says he knowingly dealt with people outside the U.S., both in buying and selling account numbers, but a law enforcement official said there is no evidence that he knew he was dealing with a Russian intelligence operation.

The indictment describes how several defendants in 2014 “traveled to the United States under false pretenses for the purpose of collecting intelligence to inform the organization’s operations,” making stops in California, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Louisiana, Texas, New York and Georgia.

The visit was conducted with many of the trappings of an intelligence operation, complete with drop phones, evacuation scenarios and a virtual private network to allow the Russians to conceal the origin of their social media posts.

Concealment of their identities was key to the Russian effort, Rosenstein said. “The nature of the scheme was, the defendants took extraordinary steps to make it appear that that they were ordinary American political activists,” he said.

U.S. charges Russians with 2016 U.S. election tampering to boost Trump
 

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Russian Internet agency oversaw a criminal and espionage conspiracy to tamper in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign to support Donald Trump and disparage Hillary Clinton, said an indictment released on Friday that revealed more details than previously known about Moscow’s purported effort to interfere.

The office of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians and three Russian companies. The court document said those accused “had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

(Indictment: tmsnrt.rs/2EvtgMh)

The indictment said Russians adopted false online personas to push divisive messages; traveled to the United States to collect intelligence; and staged political rallies while posing as Americans. In one case, it said, the Russians paid an unidentified person to build a cage aboard a flatbed truck and another to wear a costume “portraying Clinton in a prison uniform.”

The surprise 37-page indictment could alter the divisive U.S. domestic debate over Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, undercutting some Republicans who, along with Trump, have attacked Mueller’s probe.

“These Russians engaged in a sinister and systematic attack on our political system. It was a conspiracy to subvert the process, and take aim at democracy itself,” said Paul Ryan, Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The indictment is silent on the question of whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin, which Mueller is investigating.

In a Tweet on Friday, Trump said: “Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”

INVESTIGATION CONTINUES

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller’s work, told reporters in announcing the charges that the investigation was not finished. The special counsel’s office last year charged four other people.

The indictment broadly echoes the conclusions of a January 2017 U.S. intelligence assessment, which found that Russia had meddled in the election, and that its goals eventually included aiding Trump. In November 2016, Trump won a surprise victory over Democratic Party candidate Clinton.

Mueller’s indictment did not tie the meddling effort to the Russian government. But the earlier U.S. intelligence assessment said Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to influence the U.S. election.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the allegations that Russian nationals interfered in U.S. elections absurd.

Trump has never unequivocally accepted the U.S. intelligence report and has denounced Mueller’s probe into whether his campaign colluded with the Kremlin as a “witch hunt.”

Some of those charged, posing as Americans, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign, the indictment said. Last year, two former Trump campaign aides pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI – charges brought by Mueller’s office.

The indictment of the Russians, coupled with the FBI disclosure that it failed to heed a warning about the Florida high school shooter, were blows to the White House, still reeling from the fallout of a scandal involving a former aide accused of domestic abuse by two ex-wives.

Trump, who had hoped to focus the entire week on his infrastructure proposal, was closeted in the Oval Office as the reports rolled in, and his communications team was slow to respond to the ever-growing list of queries.

‘CONSPIRATORS’

Rosenstein told a press conference: “The defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.”

The indictment describes a sophisticated, multi-year and well-funded operation, dubbed “Project Lakhta,” by Russian entities to influence the election, beginning as early as May 2014.

Russians unlawfully used stolen social security numbers and birth dates of Americans to open accounts on the PayPal digital payment platform and to post on social media using those fake identities, the indictment said.

Mueller also on Friday reached an agreement with an American named Richard Pinedo, who pled guilty to aiding and abetting interstate and foreign identity fraud by creating, buying and stealing hundreds of bank account numbers that he sold to individuals to use with large digital payment companies.

According to a source familiar with the indictments, Pinedo is the person cited in the document as helping the Russian conspirators launder money, as well as purchase Facebook ads and pay for rally supplies, through PayPal Holdings Inc..

Pinedo’s attorney, Jeremy I. Lessem, said in a statement that “Mr. Pinedo had absolutely no knowledge of the identities and motivations of any of the purchasers of the information he provided.”

The Russians sought to measure the impact of their online social media operations, tracking the size of U.S. audiences reached through posts and other types of engagement, such as likes, comments and reposts, according to the indictment.

Facebook and Twitter, the social media companies whose platforms were used, both declined to comment on the indictment.

The Internet Research Agency was registered with the Russian government as a corporate entity in July 2013 and the St. Petersburg location “became one of the organization’s operational hubs,” for the project, the indictment said.

The organization employed hundreds of people, ranging from creators of fictitious person to technical experts, and by September 2016, its budget was in excess of $1.2 million, the court document said.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that he had already seen evidence Russia was targeting U.S. elections in November, when Republican control of the House of Representatives and Senate are at stake, plus a host of positions in state governments.

The indictment said the Russians it charged tried to destroy evidence of their crimes.

For example, in September 2017, one of the defendants wrote an email to a family member stating: “We had a slight crisis at work: the FBI busted our activity (not a joke). So, I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with colleagues.”

The email continued: “I created all these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed that it was written by their people.”

Reporting by Warren Strobel, Dustin Volz, Jonathan Landay; additional reporting by Lisa Lambert, Mark Hosenball, David Shepardson, David Alexander, Steve Holland and David Ingram; Jack Stubbs and Christian Lowe in Moscow; editing by Mary Milliken and Grant McCool

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Russia’s Internet Research Agency had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the indictment states. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told reporters in announcing the chargesand more »

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Echoing Trump’s rhetoric, stats compiled by Gun Violence Archive, show that mass killings are mostly an American phenomenon. Nearly a third of the world’s mass shootings take place in the United States. Put another way: While the United States has 
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FBI Contradicts White House on Investigation of Former Trump Aide – Wheeling Intelligencer
Donald Trumps handpicked CIA Director is looking guiltier than ever in the Trump-Russia scandal
US forces reportedly killed more than 100 Russian mercenaries inside Syria – Vox
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The FBI just made the Rob Porter scandal even worse for Donald Trump
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Russia’s system of power defies any rational explanation – Financial Times
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The Arts Of Hybrid Wars

The Arts Of Hybrid Wars

6:41 AM 12/18/2017

“The real issue is moral capitulation.” – NYT – Bret Stephens

M.N.: Is this the truth?!

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NYT – Bret Stephens:

“There’s no need to obsess about electoral collusion when the real issue is moral capitulation.” 

M.N.: Is this the truth?! 

To the list of Bret Stephen’s “explanations” of “Russia scandal” I would add one more, maybe the main one, and maybe the most troubling one: the suspicion of Trump’s personal financial interest in his pro-Russian policies and stances. In other words and in plainer English, that he was bought by Russia in some ways or fashion, as the contemporary Russian habit is in dealing with their problems: to bribe or to kill. Here they appear to do both, with the killing of the “moral” kind: undermining the trust in the American democratic values and institutions, killing America “softly”. Very much in line with the modern trends of the Psycho-Geo-Politics.

Such a comfy, cuddly, furry, (Panda cum Russian Bear, “Happy Family”, hybrid-like), Obamanite – Russian – Chinese – Putinesque – Merkelized geo-“softness”, which in plain language is called “hypocrisy”, and in most recent terms, the arts of the “hybrid wars”, and more exactly, the intelligence wars, which Putin made his main occupation and preoccupation.  

It also reminds me again the prediction made in 2011 by Ariel Cohen and Donald Jensen about  the Russian “moral black hole” and the dangers of contamination from it:

A Moral Black Hole.

The roots of the Russian elite’s discontent lie in imperial nostalgia, phantom pains of autocracy, and questionable morality. The end of communism resulted in a moral black hole—a deep spiritual and identity crisis among the elites. Corruption, alcoholism, and blurred lines between organized crime and authority reflect general alienation, recklessness, and fatalism.

Nations fail, St. Augustine argued, because peoples fail. A healthy society can correct a deficient state, but even the best-designed states will founder if they are based upon a deficient civil society.

This degradation bears directly on Russia’s conduct of its foreign policy. Those who keep calling for an engagement that will eventually transform Russia cannot see that it is the West, not Russia, that is being transformed by this contact.”

And now Bret Stephens says that the West, and America specifically, “morally capitulated”.

Is this the truth or just the journalistic hyperbole, exaggeration, or warning? 

I do not know, at what stage this infection is, but it certainly is the ongoing process. How to deal with it, is another complex matter. 

I do not think that The West (Culture, the way of life, modes of governing, etc.) “morally capitulated” (yet), but it is obvious that this rather entertaining subject did become an issue and the issue, in its various interpretations, and Stephen’s article is just one of these proposed interpretations. 

“In many ways, we vacated a lot of competitive space in recent years and created opportunities for these revisionist powers,” McMaster said, referring to China and Russia, according to this recent report. 

See the article: New US Security Strategy To Focus On Countering China, Russia – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Essentially, I see this conflict as The West (Liberal Democracies) vs. World Organised  Crime in alliance with leftist, “centrist” and rightist geo-political opportunists and their intelligence services of all the various and convenient stripes. Some of them have been already named above. And as such, if this conflict is formulated here by me correctly, it is of the prime and overwhelming concern and the interest to the FBI. 

Michael Novakhov 

12.18.17

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Trump denies he plans to fire Mueller
The Spiraling Diaspora From Puerto Rico
Image of Cooperation Between White House and Mueller Starts to Fracture
Image of Cooperation Between White House and Mueller Starts to Fracture – New York Times
Trump shouldn’t trust Putin on Syria — or anything else
Anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok had eye-popping influence at Justice Dept.
Trump says he is not planning to fire Mueller as Republican attacks increase – The Guardian
Donald Trump and his goons have their new DOJ scapegoat, and its not Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller also has Donald Trump teams laptops and cellphones. Heres what that means.
Trump and allies are trying to destroy Mueller – WTHITV.com
FBI and Justice Dept. officials might be investigated for Trump bias – Raw Story
Former FBI Asst. Dir. Jim Kallstrom: ‘Strong Obstruction of Justice Case Against Strzok and Many Others’ – PJ Media
Putin thanks Trump for CIA intel – New York Post
Ben Jennings on Donald Trump’s performance as US president cartoon | Opinion | The Guardian
Ben Jennings on Donald Trump’s performance as US president cartoon | Opinion
Robert Mueller takes warning shot at Donald Trump and his criminal advisers
Trump Gave a Racist and Anti-Immigrant Speech to Cops at the FBI and They Loved It
Putin phoned Trump to thank him for CIA intel that foiled a planned terrorist attack in Russia, the Kremlin says
Gregg Jarrett: FBI Has Become “America’s Secret Police,” Mueller Using FBI As “Political Weapon” – RealClearPolitics
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FBI: American Gestapo – Family Security Matters
10:40 AM 12/16/2017 What is good for the FBI and its employees is not necessarily good for America!
WSJ: There’s Mounting Evidence of 2016 Election Meddling Coming From the FBI – Townhall
President Trump claims the FBI is tainted and its reputation in tatters. This graph shows he’s wrong. – Washington Post

 

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Trump denies he plans to fire Mueller
 

mikenova shared this story from Euronews’s YouTube Videos.

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As the Russia investigation heats up, US President Donald Trump denies he plans to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
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The Real Russia Scandal – The New York Times
 

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Lest there be any doubt as to where the future national security adviser stood, Flynn went on to stress that Vladimir Putin “has done a lot for the Khamenei regime”; that Russia and Iran were “the two most active and powerful members of the enemy alliance”; and that the Russian president’s deep intention was to “pursue the war against us.”

All this was true. Yet by the end of the year, Flynn would be courting Russia’s ambassador to Washington and hinting at swift relief from sanctions. What gave?

What gave, it seems, was some combination of financial motives — at least $65,000 in payments by Russian-linked companies — and political ones — a new master in the person of Donald Trump, who took precisely the same gauzy view of Russia that Flynn had rejected in his book.

What about Trump’s motives? In The Washington Post on Thursday, reporters Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Philip Rucker offer a stunning description of the president’s curious incuriousness when it comes to the question of Russian interference in our elections. That’s followed by a catalog of all the many ways in which the American president sought to appease the Russian dictator.

Cases in point: The president still does not fully accept the verdict of his intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the election. He told Bill O’Reilly that America’s behavior was no better than Putin’s. His attorney general admitted to Congress that the administration had “probably not” taken sufficient measures to prevent future Russian meddling in elections. He explored ways to return two Russian diplomatic compounds in the United States long used for spying until they were seized by the Obama administration.

It continues: He spent the first five months in office resisting efforts to get him to publicly avow NATO’s mutual-defense commitments. He sought an “impenetrable cybersecurity unit” with Moscow until Lindsey Graham dismissed it as “pretty close” to “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.” He fiercely resisted congressional efforts to impose additional sanctions on Russia; was “apoplectic” when they passed; and would have vetoed the legislation if it weren’t certain he’d be overridden. He ended American support for anti-regime moderates in Syria, paving the way for the Assad regime — and thus its Russian helpers — to consolidate their grip.

Presented with this list, the president’s craven apologists insist he’s right to try to find common ground with Russia. These are the same people who until recently were in full throat against Barack Obama for his overtures to Putin. More measured apologists say he’s merely naïve, just as Obama and Bush were at the beginning of their terms. Yet the alleged naïveté never quits: Just this week, he asked for Putin’s help on North Korea.

The better explanations are: (a) the president is infatuated with authoritarians, at least those who flatter him; (b) he’s neurotically neuralgic when it comes to the subject of his election; (c) he’s ideologically sympathetic to Putinism, with its combination of economic corporatism, foreign-policy cynicism, and violent hostility to critics; (d) he’s stupid; or (e) he’s vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

Each explanation is compatible with all the others. For my part, I choose all of the above — the first four points being demonstrable while the last is logical. But let’s have that conversation at another time. There’s no need to obsess about electoral collusion when the real issue is moral capitulation. ☐

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The Spiraling Diaspora From Puerto Rico
 

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It’s been 12 weeks and counting, and Puerto Rico still flounders in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, left to beg for federal help. The politics and indifference underlying the island’s desperation recall the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim 60 years ago in “West Side Story”:

Nobody knows in America
Puerto Rico’s in America!

The plot of that Broadway musical was rooted in the great migration in the 1950s as Puerto Ricans — American citizens in good standing — fled hardship on their beloved commonwealth island for fresh opportunity and better government benefits in mainland states. A similar diaspora occurred during the recent recession, when 400,000 migrated. And now, thousands upon thousands more have been leaving each week as the island staggers. Florida alone has received more than 230,000 Puerto Ricans since the Sept. 20 hurricane, and experts predict that the outflow to places like New York and Pennsylvania could increase by more than 300,000 in the next two years unless a radical rebuilding takes place for Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents.

The Trump recovery imprint has been far clearer in Gulf Coast states hit by hurricanes this year than on an island that has so little political clout. A double standard in the law was quickly clear after the storm when a federal cap on Puerto Rico’s food stamps limited the amount of emergency food aid. Texas and Florida had no such restraints after their hurricanes.

As of last week, only about 60 percent of Puerto Rico’s power had been restored. Power remains the key to ever regaining normalcy in business, education and home life. But the island is suffering the longest blackout in United States history. An estimated 700 temporary generators are providing emergency power, with officials hoping for something more permanent no earlier than next summer.

The island was reeling under $74 billion in debt even before the hurricane hit, and its news tends to get worse, not better. Its government counted a death toll of 64 in the first 42 days after the storm, but a detailed survey by The Times found that 1,052 more people than usual had died. More lives are at risk now, with older residents and those with chronic health conditions particularly threatened as the on-again-off-again power grid affects vital medical machinery.

Nearly half of Puerto Rico’s residents rely on Medicaid, which is not as well funded federally on the island as it is in the states. The problems are compounded by a looming financial crisis that experts say could leave a quarter of the island’s residents without medical care early next year unless Congress and the Trump administration extend special help.

Washington caps the island’s Medicaid assistance. This means that while federal revenue covers 75 percent of the Medicaid bill for low-income states like Mississippi, Puerto Rico gets only about 15 to 20 percent coverage. So it resorts to local budgeting and more debt, thereby worsening the bankruptcy spiral.

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Image of Cooperation Between White House and Mueller Starts to Fracture
 

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Legal experts said there was no indication that Mr. Mueller, who has wide power to obtain documents through written requests, subpoenas and search warrants, improperly obtained the transition emails. But amid the barrage of criticism, Mr. Mueller’s office issued a rare statement on Sunday defending how the information had been obtained during the inquiry into Russian election meddling.

“When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process,” said Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office.

A lawyer for Mr. Trump said in a letter to Congress on Saturday that the General Services Administration, the government agency that had the transition team’s emails, had handed them over to Mr. Mueller’s investigators in August without allowing transition team lawyers to review them. The documents, the lawyer argued, should have been shielded by various privileges, like attorney-client privilege.

The materials, said the lawyer, Kory Langhofer, were the property of the transition team, and therefore it should have had the chance to decide what was given to investigators.

The letter came days after the Justice Department took the unusual step of releasing to the news media anti-Trump text messages that an agent overseeing the investigation had sent to a colleague. Although Mr. Mueller had moved quickly this past summer to remove the agent from the inquiry, Republicans seized on the disclosure to criticize Mr. Mueller and the F.B.I.

One Trump adviser, Kellyanne Conway, said it was evidence that “the fix was in against Donald Trump from the beginning.”

White House officials sought to play down the significance of the letter about the transition emails, insisting it was an issue for the transition team, not the West Wing. They said the president had not changed his approach to cooperating with the special counsel, and that he had not discussed dismissing Mr. Mueller.

“We have been cooperative and transparent with the special counsel’s office and will continue to be — we look forward to an expeditious conclusion to this matter,” said Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Mr. Trump.

Still, the letter to Congress from Mr. Langhofer sounded a discordant note. His assertion that the emails were privileged and should have been shielded stood in contrast to the stance of White House officials, who said that Mr. Trump’s lawyers had not invoked any such privilege on any White House documents that Mr. Mueller had requested.

Among the materials obtained from the transition team by Mr. Mueller were emails, laptops and cellphones for nine members who worked on national security and policy matters, according to the letter. Mr. Mueller’s investigators have used the documents during interviews with transition team officials when questioning them about calls between Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, and the Russian ambassador in which they discussed American sanctions.

One of the emails shows that several transition officials were aware that Mr. Flynn was going to be speaking with the ambassador on Dec. 29 after the Obama administration had imposed new sanctions on Russia for its election meddling. Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty this month to lying to the F.B.I. about his interactions with the Russian official.

“The materials produced by the G.S.A. to the special counsel’s office therefore included materials protected by the attorney-client privilege, the deliberative process privilege, and the presidential communications privilege,” Mr. Langhofer, the counsel to Trump for America, said in his letter, which was sent to the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate and House oversight committees.

Over the summer, Mr. Trump publicly dangled the possibility of firing Mr. Mueller, stoking concerns among some of his advisers who believed that Mr. Trump would further imperil his presidency if he did so.

But two people who have spoken to the president recently said that he was far more frustrated with the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, than Mr. Mueller. Mr. Trump has said that Mr. Wray has not moved quickly enough to rid the bureau of senior officials who were biased against Mr. Trump and had worked for James B. Comey, the director whom Mr. Trump fired in May.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers assured the president throughout the fall that Mr. Mueller’s investigation would be over by the end of the year. But on Dec. 1, Mr. Flynn entered his guilty plea and agreed to cooperate with Mr. Mueller’s investigation, an indication that the inquiry will not soon close.

Two weeks ago, The New York Times reported that Mr. Mueller had removed one of the top agents working on the investigation, Peter Strzok, after the discovery of text messages between him and a colleague in which they described the possibility of an election victory by Mr. Trump as “terrifying” and said that Hillary Clinton “just has to win.”

Republicans have seized on Mr. Strzok’s text messages, saying that they were the clearest evidence that the F.B.I. had been out to get Mr. Trump and that Mr. Mueller’s investigation was filled with partisans. Along with attacking Mr. Strzok, Republicans have said that one of Mr. Mueller’s top prosecutors, Andrew Weissmann, may also be biased against Mr. Trump because he commended the acting attorney general in a January email for not enforcing Mr. Trump’s travel ban.

Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, praised Mr. Mueller in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday for removing Mr. Strzok but said “there are others” whom Mr. Mueller needs to examine.

“There are plenty of F.B.I. agents and prosecutors who have not been politically involved on behalf of Democrats or overtly critical of the president that can serve in this important investigation,” Mr. Cornyn said.

He added: “So I have confidence in Director Mueller. I would just think he would be concerned about the appearance of conflicts of interest that would undermine the integrity of the investigation.”

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Image of Cooperation Between White House and Mueller Starts to Fracture – New York Times
 

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New York Times
Image of Cooperation Between White House and Mueller Starts to Fracture
New York Times
But two people who have spoken to the president recently said that he was far more frustrated with the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, than Mr. Mueller. Mr. Trump has said that Mr. Wray has not moved 
Trump: ‘No, I’m not’ firing Mueller, as allies step up attacks on special counsel probeLos Angeles Times
Cooperation Fraying Between White House and Special CounselWRAL.comall 347 news articles »
Trump shouldn’t trust Putin on Syria — or anything else
 

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Vladimir Putin is a master at manipulating people by telling them what they want to hear. He’s just done it again by announcing a “withdrawal” from Syria while simply resetting his forces there and promoting Russian-led “peace talks” between Bashar al-Assad and regime-tolerated Syrian rebel groups.

Putin has no intention of going anywhere. He has established strong military positions in Syria—an airbase near Latakia and a naval port at Tartus—with 49-year leases.  But the most dangerous aspect of the illusion he fosters is that he could split from Iran in Syria in a way that helps the U.S. contain Russia’s partner in propping up the Assad dictatorship.

This is a pipe dream with growing appeal to U.S. policymakers, who sidelined themselves in Syria, apart from the fight against ISIS, starting with the Obama Administration. The fact is that if the U.S. wants to contain Iran’s growing Syrian footprint, counting on Putin isn’t the way to do it.

It’s going to be hard to get the Iranians out: they are entrenching themselves in Damascus (where Iran has been buying property for years), southern Syria, Aleppo, and elsewhereIran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its auxiliaries are spread all over the country.

The Obama Administration did nothing to block the Russian military presence in Syria, and the Trump Administration followed suit.  But the Trump White House has repeatedly refused—at least rhetorically– to accept a permanent Iranian military presence there.  With good reason: allowing Iran to keep bases in Syria would make a recently-released U.S. containment strategy for Iran nearly meaningless.

The U.S. has negotiated “de-escalation zones” in Syria with Russia, which theoretically require Iranian forces to withdraw. For the most part, they haven’t.

The U.S. has negotiated “de-escalation zones” in Syria with Russia, which theoretically require Iranian forces to withdraw. For the most part, they haven’t. U.S. officials have offered no indication they actually plan to do anything substantive to reduce Tehran’s presence.

The idea is now growing that Russia and Iran could “split” in Syria after the declared “defeat” of ISIS, and that Putin could then help contain Tehran’s aggressive activity. But how, concretely, could Putin do that?

One idea, especially in the wake of Putin’s “retrenchment,” is that he could withhold air support to Iranian forces in Syria to cause a pullback. Indeed, Putin may be withholding Russian military support for Iranian operations in Syria’s northerly Idlib Province right now.

Tehran, however, has a much stronger hand to play in threatening to withhold military assistance than Putin does— the Iranian coalition defends Russia’s bases at Tartus and Latakia.  If he makes Iran his enemy in Syria he will lose everything he’s fought for there.

In fact, Iranian military force, not Russian, is dominant in Syria.  Moscow’s military contingent consists of a few thousand personnel devoted to securing bases and supporting air operations, along with a very limited number of special forces (SPETSNAZ) and military police, as well as some private contractors.  Russia has developed some of its own Syrian proxy forces, but their numbers are small.

Iran, by contrast, commands a coalition of many tens of thousands of fighters—its own Revolutionary Guards, Qods Force, and Basij fighters; Lebanese Hezbollah; Iraqi Shi’a militias (now pouring into Syria after the recapture of Mosul); and thousands of Afghans and Pakistanis it has recruited, trained, and brought into the Levant.

That coalition force is by far the most powerful single military organization in Syria.  It can and will dictate realities on the ground in matters of any great importance to Tehran.

As things stand, Putin now tolerates Israeli attacks on Iranian positions in Syria that his air defenses and air force could have resisted and possibly deterred.  Some  analysts argue that this divergence opens the door for Israel to contain Iran in Syria with tacit Russian permission.

But Israeli strikes have so far been pin-pricks aimed mainly at installations reportedly involved in chemical weapons, missile systems, and other advanced Iranian technologies, rather than changing the Iranian footprint in Syria overall.  To change Iran’s posture, Israel would have to undertake a large-scale air campaign and probably a ground campaign into Syria as well—something akin to a full-scale war with Iran and its proxies.

Israel is not interested in such a war, which would quickly escalate to include massive Hezbollah attacks on Israel, Israeli engagement in Lebanon, and Iranian retaliation against the U.S. around the region, since Tehran blames the U.S. for anything the Israelis do.

An even bigger challenge is that any Israeli expulsion of the IRGC and most of its proxies from Iran would lead to the collapse of the Assad regime, which cannot survive without their help.  The Israelis have shown no interest in collapsing the regime, and for Putin, that result would undo everything he has achieved so far.

Any Russo-Israeli entente, therefore, will be limited to moderating Iranian military presence in Syria at a level well above what the Trump administration’s regional Iran strategy, and American interests, require.

Policymakers can argue endlessly about Putin’s intentions, concerns, or feelings toward Iran, his willingness to cooperate with the U.S., and his objectives in Syria. But it is almost impossible to point to real evidence that any of those things support the idea that Putin would ever want to help us there with Iran.

What we could do in Syria without Putin is an even more difficult discussion, but that is the conversation we should actually be having instead.

Frederick W. Kagan is the Christopher DeMuth Scholar and the director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute.

Anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok had eye-popping influence at Justice Dept.
 

mikenova shared this story .

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Over the past two weeks it has been revealed that Justice Department official Peter Strzok is facing an inquiry from the DOJ’s Inspector General over what appears to be highly inappropriate conduct while he was engaged in several high-profile, politically charged investigations over the past two years.

Strzok, a former deputy to the assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI who also weaseled his way onto Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia Collusion investigation until he was removed in July, has been in the headlines lately over text messages showing his utter disdain for then-candidate Donald Trump and his attempt to plan a mysterious “insurance policy” incase the billionaire real estate and media mogul won the highest office in the land.

So what did Strzok actually accomplish at the Justice Department up until his reassignment to an “supervisory job in the bureau’s human resources department” over the summer?

Remarkably, (and some would say disturbingly) quite a lot.

1: Strzok was able to modify FBI Director James Comey’s initial finding that Hillary Clinton had been “grossly negligent” in her handling of sensitive and classified government documents with the use of her private email server. Strzok’s Svengali-like manipulation of Comey (a man who’s credibility can not and should not ever be questioned because Joe Scarborough has told us he’s impeccable…  although it’s kind of strange to hear how this partisan underling manipulated Comey in such a blatant and perverse way) successfully changed the FBI’s findings on the Clinton email debacle to “extremely careless” thereby keeping the outrageous behavior free from criminal referral. Score one for the Thesauras!  Hillary saved by the synonym machine!

2. Strzok participated in the interview of Hillary Clinton over her private email server. The interview, conducted days before Comey released his controversial findings in July 2016, was conducted without the benefit of any recording devices or a sworn oath.

3. Strzok also convinced Comey (a pillar of virtue and a man who’s competence and effectiveness you really shouldn’t ever question, I mean, just look at the great job he did) to soften the language in his findings over the likelihood Clinton’s private and unauthorized email server had been hacked by a foreign entity.

“In an early draft, Comey said it was “reasonably likely” that “hostile actors” gained access to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email account. That was changed later to say the scenario was merely ‘possible.’” Fox News reported this week.

4. Strzok also oversaw the questioning of then-National Security Director Michael Flynn over his contacts with Russian officials during the post-election transition process. Flynn’s answers to Strzok’s questions were later found to rise to the level of criminal deception leading Flynn to a guilty plea agreement with the Mueller investigation.

5. We’ve also learned that Strzok was a “key figure” with regard to the acceptance of and possible dissemination of the infamous Russian Dossier, a collection of unverified tales about Donald Trump that was paid for by the Clinton campaign. Strzok reportedly briefed the House Intelligence Committee on the dossier in December of 2016, just one month after the presidential election and in the middle of the transition process.

6. Fox News has also reported that Strzok has been accused of “obstructing” the House Intel Committee’s investigation.  “Investigators were contacted by an informant suggesting that there was “documentary evidence” that Strzok was purportedly obstructing the House probe into the dossier,” James Osen and Jake Gibson earlier this month.

7. As a highly placed member of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation team, Strzok rubbed elbows and cooperated with other intelligence agency heads including John Brennan at CIA and Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. Both Brennan and Clapper have shown themselves to be as virulently anti-Trump and partisan as Strzok displayed in his text messages. And let’s not forget, Clapper’s report on Russian involvement with the DNC hack and WikiLeak’s was the foundation of the fake “Seventeen Intelligence Agencies have concluded Russian hacking on behalf of Trump” talking point that emanated from the Obama Administration, was parroted by the Clinton campaign and became a montra of the New York Times, AP, CNN and most mainstream media outlets until they corrected their own record earlier this year.

That’s the list as of now… but we expect it to keep growing.

It is unclear whether Strzok was involved with the FISA warrant that ultimately led to a wiretap on former Trump campaign director Paul Manafort who has been indicted as a result of the Mueller investigation. But given his alleged involvement in the FBI’s handling of the dossier and the infamous “insurance policy” texts suggesting an attempt to undermine the Trump campaign or a potential Trumppresidency, many observers are connecting those dots and reaching reasonable conclusions.

Strzok is the quintessential swamp creature and it is remarkable to look at how many highly politically charged pies he had his fingers in over the past two years. Remarkable until you recognize exactly what has sadly become the reality here on the ground in Washington DC. There was a time when “Career Justice Department Official” was a badge of honor and something that suggested that the individual attached was one of extreme integrity and beyond political influence or corruption. Now, sadly, it appears the exact opposite applies.

Where are the “Career Justice Department Officials” who don’t appear to be more loyal to the swamp, the system and their chosen political allies rather than the rule of law?

Trump says he is not planning to fire Mueller as Republican attacks increase – The Guardian
 

mikenova shared this story from Donald Trump – Google News.


The Guardian
Trump says he is not planning to fire Mueller as Republican attacks increase
The Guardian
So far, other than issuing characteristic attacks on Twitter, the president has fought something of a proxy war. After it was reported this month that Mueller removed from his team an FBI agent who sent text messages critical of Trump, Republicans in 
Donald Trump allies say special counsel ‘unlawfully’ obtained thousands of emailsDeutsche Welle
Trump transition lawyer claims special counsel illegally obtained emailsABC News
Trump Could Fire Mueller Next Week Before Christmas When Congress Is Gone, Rep SaysNewsweek
PBS NewsHour –CBS News –CNN
all 325 news articles »
Donald Trump and his goons have their new DOJ scapegoat, and its not Robert Mueller
 

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

Donald Trump’s advisers, surrogates, family members, and Republican allies in Congress have spent the past week frantically trying to smear the reputation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. They’re panicking at the idea that Mueller is moving closer to exposing Trump’s wide array of serious crimes. But thus far there is no basis for believing that Trump is actually gearing up to try to fire Mueller, which he can’t directly do anyway. Instead, Trump and his people are firmly targeting a different key figure at the Department of Justice.

The clues have been in plain sight for days. Congressman Trey Gowdy, who was on the Trump transition team and is likely panicking over the transition emails that Mueller has his hands on, has spent the week making up phony scandals about Mueller. But when it came down to it, Gowdy arrogantly bragged that he actually believes Trump is going to fire Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. He’s far from the only one who thinks McCabe is about to take the fall.

Over the past few days Donald Trump Jr has tweeted or retweeted several false and disparaging claims about McCabe. These people have no poker face at all, because they’re telegraphing that Donald Trump is gearing up to fire McCabe. How did he become the scapegoat? Trump has spent months tweeting phony claims about McCabe being some kind of paid Hillary Clinton shill, which he presumably heard about from Fox News or another propaganda source.

Donald Trump would surely like to fire Robert Mueller. But he knows that firing James Comey was what led to Mueller’s appointment to begin with, and he presumably has some understanding that firing Mueller would be likely to backfire in similar fashion. He might also have to fire half the DOJ in order find someone there who is willing to fire Mueller. So it appears his handlers are steering him toward firing McCabe instead, which will let him fulfill his desire for blood.

The post Donald Trump and his goons have their new DOJ scapegoat, and its not Robert Muellerappeared first on Palmer Report.

Robert Mueller also has Donald Trump teams laptops and cellphones. Heres what that means.
 

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

Over the past twelve hours, the Trump-Russia scandal has taken a series of twists and turns, largely focused on the revelation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has had the Trump transition team’s emails all along. These emails likely incriminate quite a number of Trump’s current and former people. But an overlooked detail in the story may prove to be the most crucial of all: Mueller also has the Trump team’s laptops and cellphones.

Here’s the relevant passage from Reuters, which we’ll quote here for the purpose of dissecting what’s really going on here: “The FBI had requested the materials from GSA staff on Aug. 23, asking for copies of the emails, laptops, cell phones and other materials associated with nine members of the Trump transition team responsible for national security and policy matters.” (link). So what are we looking at? First, it means Mueller has copies of all the data and history on the laptops and cellphones used by the Trump transition team. This provides far broader avenues for evidence gathering than mere emails.

If Trump’s people were their usual sloppy selves, it’s unlikely that they wiped (or sufficiently wiped) the devices they had been using. This means Mueller would have access to every word processing document they typed, and perhaps access to personal email accounts that were being used on those laptops. The cellphones would not provide recordings of transition team phone conversations, but would have call histories, and potentially copies of voicemails. This is just the beginning.

Reuters says that Robert Mueller was targeting nine people on the Trump transition team in particular. Who are they? “National security and policy matters” could be interpreted in a few different ways. While this is not an indicator of guilt, here is a partial list of some Trump transition team members whose official titles could fit the above description: Michael Flynn, Mike Pence, Rudy Giuliani, Reince Priebus, and Jeff Sessions. Flynn has already cut a plea deal.

The post Robert Mueller also has Donald Trump team’s laptops and cellphones. Here’s what that means.appeared first on Palmer Report.

Trump and allies are trying to destroy Mueller – WTHITV.com
 

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Trump and allies are trying to destroy Mueller
WTHITV.com
Peter Carr, a Mueller spokesman, made a statement soon after the allegation emerged: “When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process and more »
FBI and Justice Dept. officials might be investigated for Trump bias – Raw Story
 

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Raw Story
FBI and Justice Dept. officials might be investigated for Trump bias
Raw Story
Top officials at the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department might be subpoenaed as part of a House investigation into alleged agency bias against President Donald Trump. A Republican on the House Judiciary Committee said Saturday that the panel’s chairman 
Former FBI Asst. Dir. Jim Kallstrom: ‘Strong Obstruction of Justice Case Against Strzok and Many Others’ – PJ Media
 

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PJ Media
Former FBI Asst. Dir. Jim Kallstrom: ‘Strong Obstruction of Justice Case Against Strzok and Many Others’
PJ Media
Former FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom says a strong case can be made for an obstruction of justice charge against demoted FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and many others at the FBI and Department of Justice. Strzok, the former
Putin thanks Trump for CIA intel – New York Post
 

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New York Post
Putin thanks Trump for CIA intel
New York Post
WASHINGTON Russian President Vladimir Putin called President Trump to offer thanks for sharing an intelligence tip that thwarted a major terror plot, the White House confirmed Sunday. It was the second phone call between the world leaders sinceand more »
Ben Jennings on Donald Trump’s performance as US president cartoon | Opinion | The Guardian
 

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Ben Jennings on Donald Trump’s performance as US president cartoon | Opinion
 

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Robert Mueller takes warning shot at Donald Trump and his criminal advisers
 

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

So much for Robert Mueller pulling his punches. After a week of media hype about the possibility that Donald Trump might try to fire him, Mueller ended the week with a bang. He leaked that he’s been sitting on fifty thousand emails which incriminate any number of Trump’s advisers. When Trump’s attorneys complained about the manner in which Mueller acquired the emails, he fired back, making a point of using the word “criminal” twice.

The emails in question, which are from the Trump transition team, likely incriminate half a dozen or more of Trump’s people, up to and perhaps including Mike Pence. The implication was clear enough: if Trump tries to fire Mueller, then Mueller will use these emails to arrest Trump’s own people before Trump can complete the multi-step process of getting him fired. That was enough to prompt Trump’s White House to quickly issue a statement confirming that Trump won’t be firing Mueller, but it wasn’t enough to silence Trump’s attorneys so Mueller took another shot.

Trump’s legal team made the baseless claim that Mueller improperly acquired the emails by getting them from the General Services Administration, because some of the emails were supposedly privileged. However, legal experts wasted no time pointing out the invalid nature of that argument. Mueller made the unusual move of putting out a statement through his spokesman. Not only did Mueller defend the legality of his actions, he also took a pointed warning shot at Trump’s people, reminding them what he has on them.

Robert Mueller’s spokesman said “When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owners consent or appropriate criminal process” (link). There are only two sentences that truly matter in that sentence, and they’re both “criminal.” Mueller is reminding Trump’s people that if they can’t stop Trump from trying to fire him, he’s holding more evidence against them than they know.

The post Robert Mueller takes warning shot at Donald Trump and his “criminal” advisers appeared first on Palmer Report.

Trump Gave a Racist and Anti-Immigrant Speech to Cops at the FBI and They Loved It
 

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Putin phoned Trump to thank him for CIA intel that foiled a planned terrorist attack in Russia, the Kremlin says
 

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Gregg Jarrett: FBI Has Become “America’s Secret Police,” Mueller Using FBI As “Political Weapon” – RealClearPolitics
 

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RealClearPolitics
Gregg Jarrett: FBI Has Become “America’s Secret Police,” Mueller Using FBI As “Political Weapon”
RealClearPolitics
FOX News’ Gregg Jarrett on Wednesday night said the Federal Bureau of Investigation has become “America’s secret police” and that special counsel Robert Mueller is using the government entity as a “political weapon.” “The FBI is a shadow government now 
Fox legal analyst Jarrett: Mueller investigation ‘illegitimate and corrupt’The Hill
Fox News’s Gregg Jarrett Goes Full-Conspiracist on Mueller: ‘KGB That Comes For You in the Dark of Night’Mediaite
Top Fox News analyst goes off in wild segment about Russia, calls the FBI America’s ‘secret police’ and like ‘the Business Insiderall 5 news articles »
Family Security Matters
 

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FBI: American Gestapo

by LAWRENCE SELLIN, PHDDecember 16, 2017Any government agency with law enforcement and surveillance authority that uses those powers for political purposes is the definition of a secret police, no better than the Nazi Gestapo or the Soviet KGB.

There is indeed probable cause to conclude, meaning indictable offenses, that employees of the Department of Justice and/or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), sympathetic to the Democrat Party, used the power of their offices and with the assistance of foreign nationals to influence the 2016 election in favor of Hillary Clinton, first to exonerate her and then obtain information to prevent the election of Donald Trump or to provide a basis for his impeachment should he win.

It is also abundantly clear from the Congressional investigations involving the Department of Justice and the FBI that those institutions of government are protecting themselves at the expense of transparency and accountability to the American people.

In other words, the government employees involved consider the survival of the Deep State more important than the survival of the Constitution. That is the definition of tyranny.

Here is a summary of the apparent sequence of events based on the revelations so far. There may be more damning evidence yet to be disclosed.

–        The Democrats hired Fusion GPS to find dirt on Donald Trump.

–        Fusion GPS hired former British MI6 agent in Moscow, Christopher Steele, to canvass and very likely pay his Russian contacts, some of whom may be present or former members of Russian intelligence, for negative information about Trump.

–        Steele creates the “Trump dossier” and distributes it either directly or indirectly to media outlets and to politicians like Senator John McCain (R-AZ).

–        The FBI obtains the “Trump dossier,” but inexplicably or perhaps intentionally does not check the veracity of any of Steele’s assertions.

–        The FBI uses the “Trump dossier” to apply to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to obtain warrantless authorization to conduct surveillance on Trump and his associates.

–        It now appears that Christopher Steele might have been, at some point, on the FBI payroll, and, by extension, the Russians.

The use of an un-vetted document from dubious Russian sources as a basis for unwarranted surveillance of American citizens, ultimately for political purposes, renders the entire Mueller investigation a farce and could provide exculpatory evidence to vacate the guilty plea of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. It is a verdict many believe was based on improperly-obtained information as part of an overall effort by politically-motivated federal employees to manipulate the results of the 2016 election.

The conditions that led to the election of Donald Trump as President remain. They bear repeating.

The federal government and the media are, as institutions, hopelessly corrupt and, although we have elections, we no longer have representative government.

There is a Cold Civil War underway in the United States to determine who should control the federal government. It is not a contest between the Democrat and Republican policies, but a battle between the entrenched power of the bipartisan political establishment, the Deep State, versus the freedom and well-being of the American people. It is a conflict between those who want to adhere to the Constitution and the rule of law and a ruling elite, who wish to continue the practices of political expediency and crony capitalism for the purposes of personal power and profit.

Americans now believe that we are no longer citizens of a republic, but subjects of an elected aristocracy, composed of a self-absorbed and self-perpetuating permanent political class, which serves its own interests and those of its international financiers, not those of the American people.

Three years before the start of the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said a government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free – that a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Likewise, a government separated from the people cannot stand.

The American Revolution, a war to free ourselves from foreign tyranny, lasted eight years.

The Second American Revolution, a battle to root out the corruption and despotism of the Deep State will take longer, but equally necessary.

Enjoying your FSM article? The Family Security Foundation is a non-profit and we keep bringing you articles because of donors’ generous contributions. Your year-end tax-free contribution allows <a href=”http://FamilySecurityMatters.org” rel=”nofollow”>FamilySecurityMatters.org</a> to continue to be your go to site for National Security issues!  Ready to support FSM? Click here.

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FBI: American Gestapo – Family Security Matters
 

mikenova shared this story from former FBI agents power influence – Google News.

FBI: American Gestapo
Family Security Matters
There is indeed probable cause to conclude, meaning indictable offenses, that employees of the Department of Justice and/or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), sympathetic to the Democrat Party, used the power of their offices and with the 
10:40 AM 12/16/2017 What is good for the FBI and its employees is not necessarily good for America!
 

mikenova shared this story from FBI News Review.

M.N.: This graph below, from the cited article, is meaningless and misleading, just as the article itself: the overall “ideological orientation” (rated as the “conservative” for the FBI, with the score of about +1,5 on the -2 to +2 scale), in no way can be the predictor or correlate of the behaviors and actions, including … Continue reading“10:40 AM 12/16/2017 – What is good for the FBI and its employees is not necessarily good for America! “

WSJ: There’s Mounting Evidence of 2016 Election Meddling Coming From the FBI – Townhall
 

mikenova shared this story from fbi – Google News.


Townhall
WSJ: There’s Mounting Evidence of 2016 Election Meddling Coming From the FBI
Townhall
There is something rotten at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I mean all of this is just absurd. We have two FBI agents texting one another, one of which is having an extramarital affair with the other, cryptically talking about insurance against and more »
President Trump claims the FBI is tainted and its reputation in tatters. This graph shows he’s wrong. – Washington Post
 

mikenova shared this story from james b. comey – Google News.


Washington Post
President Trump claims the FBI is tainted and its reputation in tatters. This graph shows he’s wrong.
Washington Post
The former FBI director James BComey and current FBI director Christopher A. Wray have both previously donated to Republicans. All agencies this size include employees who donate to Democrats and others who donate to Republicans donations that are 
President Trump’s speech at the FBI Academy was recklessThe Hill
White House: FBI records show ‘extreme bias’ against TrumpWashington Times
Andrew C. McCarthy: Mueller needs to make a changeWinston-Salem Journal
Week Facts –Fox News
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2:10 PM 12/16/2017 – M.N.: Strzok and Page were removed from the Mueller’s investigation and they or their positions cannot taint it. What is more important, is the media hysteria around them.

M.N.: Strzok and Page were removed from the Mueller’s investigation, and they or their positions cannot taint it. What is more important, is the media hysteria around them. It reminds me the situation with Mrs. Clinton’s emails, which, I think, was used as a diversion maneuver, to deflect attention from Trump and his issues. Now Strzok-Page affair is used to fan the flames of the mythical “anti-Trump” conspiracy within the FBI. This is the “turning the tables on your opponent” device: the real FBI conspiracy or the infamous “FBI cabal” was pro-Trump and was represented and conducted, and quite efficiently, by Giuliani, Kallstrom, and others. To turn the tables in this fashion is one of the favorite instruments in Putin’s toolbox, among many other politicians and manipulators, of course. 

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WSJ: There’s Mounting Evidence of 2016 Election Meddling Coming From the FBI – Townhall

Sessions distances himself from Trump’s criticism of the FBI – PBS NewsHour
Republican Trey Gowdy suggests deputy FBI director will be ousted by next week – Business Insider
Oh my: FBI deputy chief Andrew McCabe headed for the exit? – Hot Air
4:54 AM 12/16/2017 Foxs Lou Dobbs: We have the most corrupt FBI and DOJ in our countrys history investigating Trump Media Matters for America
President Trump claims the FBI is tainted and its reputation in tatters. This graph shows he’s wrong. – Washington Post
Must-See Moments: Text Messages Prove Bias and Corruption in FBI – Daily Signal
Week 30: Republicans Put a New Special Counsel (or Two) on Their Wish Lists – Politico
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Do men look good in a string bikini? (1977)
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Former FBI official: Comey let politics creep into process
Former agent agrees with Trump that FBI is in ‘tatters’
Trump Reasserts No Collusion with Russia
Trump Says Russia ‘Not Helping’ On North Korea; Russia Fires Back – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
Fox’s Lou Dobbs: We have the most corrupt FBI and DOJ in our country’s history investigating Trump – Media Matters for America
America’s chaotic, crazy, challenging, great, tumultuous, horrible, disappointing year – Allentown Morning Call
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Trump to accuse China of ‘economic aggression’ – Financial Times
The Real Russia Scandal – New York Times
How we know Donald Trump is going down
A healthy Republican Party can only be built atop the ruins – Kansas City Star (blog)
Roger Stone beats defamation case brought by political foe – New York Post

 

Saved Stories – None
WSJ: There’s Mounting Evidence of 2016 Election Meddling Coming From the FBI – Townhall
 


Townhall
WSJ: There’s Mounting Evidence of 2016 Election Meddling Coming From the FBI
Townhall
There is something rotten at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I mean all of this is just absurd. We have two FBI agents texting one another, one of which is having an extramarital affair with the other, cryptically talking about insurance against and more »
Sessions distances himself from Trump’s criticism of the FBI – PBS NewsHour
 


PBS NewsHour
Sessions distances himself from Trump’s criticism of the FBI
PBS NewsHour
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is distancing himself from President Donald Trump’s criticism of the FBI. Sessions says he does not share the view that the FBI is not functioning at a high level all over the country. Sessions, speaking Friday at a 
Sessions Says Bias Concerns About FBI Are Being Taken SeriouslyBloomberg 
Sessions says FBI ‘functioning at a high level’ after Trump criticismFox News

Jeff Sessions addresses Trump’s claim that the FBI’s reputation is in “tatters”CBS News 
The HillReutersWashington Times
all 27 
Sessions after Trump criticism: FBI ‘fulfilling a fabulously important role’The Hill
TPMReuters
all 24
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Republican Trey Gowdy suggests deputy FBI director will be ousted by next week – Business Insider
 


Fox News

Hot Air
Republican Trey Gowdy suggests deputy FBI director will be ousted by next week
Business Insider
Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, suggested in a Friday interview that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe will be forced out at the top law enforcement agency as soon as next week. Gowdy argued that newly released  
Republicans turn focus to FBI’s McCabe over texts on ‘insurance’ against TrumpFox News

Oh my: FBI deputy chief Andrew McCabe headed for the exit?Hot Air 
Republicans turn focus to FBI’s McCabe over texts on ‘insurance …Fox News

FBI’s McCabe To Face House Panel Next Week, Where He’ll Be Grilled Over Strzok’s Cryptic TextsThe Daily Caller
CNNRealClearPolitics 
all 767
 
Townhall
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Oh my: FBI deputy chief Andrew McCabe headed for the exit? – Hot Air
 


Hot Air
Oh my: FBI deputy chief Andrew McCabe headed for the exit?
Hot Air
McCabe has spent the past year popping up in the news for all the wrong reasons. In February 2016 he was promoted to deputy director and assumed oversight of the Hillary Emailgate investigation after his wife had received nearly $700,000 from
Republicans turn focus to FBI’s McCabe over texts on ‘insurance’ against TrumpFox News
FBI’s McCabe To Face House Panel Next Week, Where He’ll Be Grilled Over Strzok’s Cryptic TextsThe Daily Caller
Republican Trey Gowdy suggests deputy FBI director will be ousted by next weekBusiness Insider
CNN –RealClearPolitics –legal Insurrection (blog)
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4:54 AM 12/16/2017 Foxs Lou Dobbs: We have the most corrupt FBI and DOJ in our countrys history investigating Trump Media Matters for America

Saved Stories Saved Stories – None Trump Says Russia ‘Not Helping’ On North Korea; Russia Fires Back – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty Fox’s Lou Dobbs: We have the most corrupt FBI and DOJ in our country’s history investigating Trump – Media Matters for America America’s chaotic, crazy, challenging, great, tumultuous, horrible, disappointing year – Allentown Morning Call How … Continue reading“4:54 AM 12/16/2017 – Fox’s Lou Dobbs: We have the most corrupt FBI and DOJ in our country’s history investigating Trump – Media Matters for America”
President Trump claims the FBI is tainted and its reputation in tatters. This graph shows he’s wrong. – Washington Post
 


Washington Post
President Trump claims the FBI is tainted and its reputation in tatters. This graph shows he’s wrong.
Washington Post
The former FBI director James BComey and current FBI director Christopher A. Wray have both previously donated to Republicans. All agencies this size include employees who donate to Democrats and others who donate to Republicans donations that are 
President Trump’s speech at the FBI Academy was recklessThe Hill
White House: FBI records show ‘extreme bias’ against TrumpWashington Times
Andrew C. McCarthy: Mueller needs to make a changeWinston-Salem Journal
Week Facts –Fox News
all 593 news articles »
Must-See Moments: Text Messages Prove Bias and Corruption in FBI – Daily Signal
 


Daily Signal
Must-See Moments: Text Messages Prove Bias and Corruption in FBI
Daily Signal
The Daily Signal’s Facebook Live show Top 10 features the top news stories of the weekmany of which have gone either misreported or underreported by the mainstream media. This week, text messages revealed that FBI investigators who were part of 
Week 30: Republicans Put a New Special Counsel (or Two) on Their Wish Lists – Politico
 


Politico
Week 30: Republicans Put a New Special Counsel (or Two) on Their Wish Lists
Politico
Mueller’s critics aren’t ticked off by what he has accomplishedthe guilty pleas (George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn) or the criminal charges (Paul Manafort and Rick Gates). Those cases seem rock solid. Nor did many of his current critics find and more »
Woman arrested for laundering money to ISIS through Bitcoin
 

From: FoxNewsChannel
Duration: 02:57

Feds: Woman laundered money to people in China, Pakistan and Turkey, then planned to travel to Syria.

Trump declares support for law enforcement at FBI graduation
 

From: FoxNewsChannel
Duration: 03:46

The president reiterated his backing despite slamming the agency for apparent bias in the Clinton email investigation and ongoing Russia probe; Kevin Corke has more for ‘Special Report.’

News Wrap: Sessions defends FBI after Trump criticism
 

From: PBSNewsHour
Duration: 05:17

In our news wrap Friday, President Trump launched fresh criticism at the FBI, saying, “we’re going to rebuild” the agency, before speaking to its training academy graduates and striking a different tone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he didnt hold the presidents view. Also, a federal judge will release former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort from house arrest once he meets conditions.

Do men look good in a string bikini? (1977)
 

From: NewsOnABC
Duration: 03:44

From This Day Tonight aired on October 12th, 1977, reporter Sue Faulkner asks beachgoers and fashion experts their opinion on the racy new style of beachwear for men, the male string bikini. Is it too much or too little?

PBS NewsHour full episode December 15, 2017
 

From: PBSNewsHour
Duration: 54:07

Friday on the NewsHour, Republicans on the verge of a tax cut agreement make final deals in an aggressive push to get it done before the holidays. How will it affect national debt? Also: What U.S. officials are signaling to North Korea, Shields and Brooks analyze the news, reviewing some of the best movies of 2017 and using poetry as a gateway to reading.

Former FBI official: Comey let politics creep into process
 

From: FoxNewsChannel
Duration: 05:24

Former FBI deputy assistant director Danny Coulson speaks out about allegations of bias within the FBI on ‘The Story.’

Former agent agrees with Trump that FBI is in ‘tatters’
 

From: FoxNewsChannel
Duration: 06:08

Former FBI official Kevin Brock weighs in on ‘Fox News @ Night.’

Trump Reasserts No Collusion with Russia
 

From: VOAvideo
Duration: 02:08

President Donald Trump on Friday again attacked the investigations looking into alleged collusion between his election campaign and Russia. This comes as some of his allies, including Republicans in Congress, would like to see a special counsel appointed to look into what they allege is political bias by federal investigators. VOA White House Bureau Chief Steve Herman reports.
Originally published at – https://www.voanews.com/a/trump-reasserts-no-collusion-with-russia/4166014.html

Trump Says Russia ‘Not Helping’ On North Korea; Russia Fires Back – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
 


RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
Trump Says Russia ‘Not Helping’ On North Korea; Russia Fires Back
RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
U.S. President Donald Trump said he has sought Russia’s help in resolving the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program but he is not satisfied with Russia’s efforts. Shortly after Trump made his remarks to reporters at the White House on
Trump says Russia not helping with North KoreaNK News
Trump
 : Russia not helping on North Korea
Guardian (blog)
Trump dodges question on talks with N. KoreaThe Korea Heraldall 162 128 news articles »
Fox’s Lou Dobbs: We have the most corrupt FBI and DOJ in our country’s history investigating Trump – Media Matters for America
 


Media Matters for America
Fox’s Lou Dobbs: We have the most corrupt FBI and DOJ in our country’s history investigating Trump
Media Matters for America
Louie, some things you might have either missed or simply ignored in your false claim that the “FBI and DOJ are corrupt.” An agent and a lawyer were exchanging text messages which expressed their political opinions – that is not a crime. They are stilland more »
America’s chaotic, crazy, challenging, great, tumultuous, horrible, disappointing year – Allentown Morning Call
 


Allentown Morning Call
America’s chaotic, crazy, challenging, great, tumultuous, horrible, disappointing year
Allentown Morning Call
Americans reacted to intelligence reports about Russia’s attempted election meddling and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation with steady concern and sharp criticism of Trump and his campaign associates, all colored heavily by partisanship. A and more »
How we know Donald Trump is going down

If you listen to nearly anyone in the media this week, on the left or right, you’ll get the impression that Donald Trump is about to magically fire Robert Mueller (even though he can’t do that), and as a result Trump will magically be off the hook for his criminal antics (even though it doesn’t work that way). But here in the real world, it’s never been more clear that Trump is going down. In fact it’s Trump himself who’s showing us why he’ll go down.Just today, Trump tepidly floated the idea that maybe he’ll consider pardoning Michael Flynn at some point. This might have been a smart move on his part, six months ago. By now Flynn has already legally committed himself to a plea deal, and he’s turned over incriminating evidence against Trump and other big fish. Because Trump is hesitant and indecisive by nature, he blew the opportunity to save himself with a Flynn pardon a long time ago. This is part of a larger pattern.This fall, Trump had the opportunity to try to get Robert Mueller fired back before any arrests got underway. It would have been a convoluted process, and there’s a strong chance it would have backfired on him, but he did have a window of opportunity. However now that four of his own people have been arrested and two of them have cut a deal, he doesn’t have a fraction of the political muscle required to get away with it. As we’ve previously explained, the Republican Party is only making noise about Mueller so it can make the case to Trump’s base that it tried to stop Mueller.

Once the public figures out that Donald Trump isn’t about to fire Robert Mueller, the media will move on to claiming that Trump is about to start a war as a distraction from his scandal. But again, it’s far too late for Trump to get away with starting a needless war; that window closed months ago. Trump is hesitant and tepid by nature, and he’s not a man of action until it’s far too late to matter. It’s how we know he’s going down.

The post How we know Donald Trump is going down appeared first on Palmer Report.

Trump to accuse China of ‘economic aggression’ – Financial Times
 


Financial Times
Trump to accuse China of ‘economic aggression’
Financial Times
Donald Trump will accuse China of engaging in economic aggression when he unveils his national security strategy on Monday, in a strong sign that he has become frustrated at his inability to use his bond with China’s President Xi Jinping to convince 
The Real Russia Scandal – New York Times
 


New York Times
The Real Russia Scandal
New York Times
In November 2006 I wrote a column for The Wall Street Journal under the headline Russia: The Enemy. It was then a controversial view. At the time, Moscow had bombed Chechnya into submission. But it hadn’t yet invaded Georgia and Ukraine. The and more »
How we know Donald Trump is going down

How we know Donald Trump is going downHow we know Donald Trump is going down

It’s more of a sure thing than ever
A healthy Republican Party can only be built atop the ruins – Kansas City Star (blog)
 


Kansas City Star (blog)
A healthy Republican Party can only be built atop the ruins
Kansas City Star (blog)
In the end, the restoration of the Republican Party will require Republicans to lose elections. It will require Republican voters as in Alabama and (to some extent) Virginia to sit out, write in or even vote Democratic in races involving pro 
The Secret Post-Alabama Fantasy of the Anti-Trump GOP EstablishmentThe New Yorker
Alabama delivers a wake-up call to Trump’s Republican PartyMSNBC
ANALYSIS: Alabama result more about the GOP and Trump than AlabamaABC News
New York TimesWashington Post Wall Street Journal
all 7,974 Shreveport Times
all 7,899
 
news articles »
Roger Stone beats defamation case brought by political foe – New York Post
 


New York Post
Roger Stone beats defamation case brought by political foe | New … 
New York Post
Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone on Friday beat a defamation case by a political rival who claimed the self-described Dirty Trickster falsely portrayed him as a child molester. Five of six Manhattan Supreme Court jurors found that former New York 
Longtime
 portrayed… 
Trump associate Roger Stone cleared of defamation allegations  New York Daily News
Roger Stone wins lawsuit and is cleared of defamation chargesWashington Examinerall 3 news articles »
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2:03 PM 12/5/2017 – The Method In His Madness

Saved Stories

Saved Stories – None

The Method In His Madness

Donald Trump Tells Palestinian President He Plans to Move US Embassy to Jerusalem Despite Opposition – TIME
Deutsche Bank sends Trump financial details to Mueller investigation – Financial Times
Why can’t Donald Trump keep his story straight? – Chicago Tribune
Cross-border cash movements: Tightening up anti-terror and crime checks – Modern Diplomacy
Enraged crowd swarms police, frees former Georgian president Saakashvili – CBC.ca
Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia inquiry cost $3.2m in first four months
What’s The Matter With Eastern Europe? Welcome To The Birthplace Of Trumpism – HuffPost
Whats The Matter With Eastern Europe? Welcome To The Birthplace Of Trumpism
Trump risks backlash as he prepares to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
Abbas urges Putin, Pope to intervene ahead of Trump decision – The Jerusalem Post
Trump’s revamped fight against the FBI is a distillation of his approach to the presidency – Washington Post
Trump bank records subpoenaed in Russia probe – ABC News
Mueller investigation cost $6.7 million within first five months – Washington Post
Whenever America is in crisis, Russia is its whipping boy – Washington Post
Today’s Headlines and Commentary
Trump Said Probing His Finances Would Be A ‘Red Line.’ That’s Exactly What Robert Mueller Is Now Doing.
Subpoena For Deutsche Bank May Put Mueller On Collision Course With Trump – NPR
Trump Tells Palestinian President He Intends To Move U.S. Embassy In Israel To Jerusalem
GOP Brings Back Support for Roy Moore
“Get Me Roger Stone: Documentary on GOP mastermind of dirty tricks – People’s World
Donald Trump Is Just the Front Man for a Massive Heist – The Nation.
What’s the Matter with Eastern Europe? – Common Dreams
Why weren’t Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills charged when they lied to Peter Strzok and the FBI? – Hot Air
Abbas warns Trump against moving embassy to Jerusalem – Financial Times

 

Saved Stories – None
The Method In His Madness

Dont expect the outbursts, the Islamophobic tweets or any of it to end soon. It rallies the base. It works and he knows it.

Donald Trump Tells Palestinian President He Plans to Move US Embassy to Jerusalem Despite Opposition – TIME


TIME
Donald Trump Tells Palestinian President He Plans to Move US Embassy to Jerusalem Despite Opposition
TIME
(JERUSALEM) Vociferous Arab and Muslim opposition was building Tuesday to any possible U.S. recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as European leaders expressed concern about harm to fragile Mideast peace efforts. PresidentDonald 
Turkey joins US allies in warning Trump not to recognize JerusalemCNN
Jerusalem: Turkey warns Trump against crossing ‘red line’BBC News
Donald Trump tells Palestinian president he intends to move US embassy to JerusalemThe Independent
The Guardian –Sky News
all 1,603 news articles »
Deutsche Bank sends Trump financial details to Mueller investigation – Financial Times


Financial Times
Deutsche Bank sends Trump financial details to Mueller investigation
Financial Times
A person with direct knowledge of the German bank’s actions told the Financial Times that the production of Trump-related documents had begun several weeks ago. Deutsche could not hand over client information without a subpoena, said a second person 
Mueller Demands Trump’s Deutsche Bank Account Details, Where President Owes Millions: ReportNewsweek
Mueller Subpoenas Deutsche Bank, Friendly to the Trumps, Mercers, and RussiansDaily Beast
Subpoena For Deutsche Bank May Put Mueller On Collision Course With TrumpNPR
Vox –New York Magazine –Reuters
all 150 news articles »
Why can’t Donald Trump keep his story straight? – Chicago Tribune


Chicago Tribune
Why can’t Donald Trump keep his story straight?
Chicago Tribune
Taking a step back, one has to believe Trump and his top aides were acting suspiciously and lying about something that was not a problem or, instead, that they were deathly afraid something else about the Trump-Russia relationship was going to come out 
Robert Mueller’s Investigation Has Transformed the White House Into a Paranoid HellscapeGQ Magazine
The madness of King DonaldThe Japan Times
White House paranoid: ‘Everyone thinks they’re being recorded’Politico

all 583 news articles »

Cross-border cash movements: Tightening up anti-terror and crime checks – Modern Diplomacy

Cross-border cash movements: Tightening up anti-terror and crime checks
Modern Diplomacy
Mady Delvaux (S&D, LU), co-rapporteur, said: Large sums of cash, be it banknotes or gold bullion, are often used for criminalactivities such as money laundering or terrorist financing. With this legislation, we give our authorities the tools they 

Enraged crowd swarms police, frees former Georgian president Saakashvili – CBC.ca


CBC.ca
Enraged crowd swarms police, frees former Georgian president Saakashvili
CBC.ca
Police put him in the back of van, but Saakashvili’s enraged partisans were having none of it. They battled through tear gas and pepper spray to spring him (watch the video). After his liberation, Saakashvili led a march to the Ukrainian parliament 

and more »

Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia inquiry cost $3.2m in first four months

  • Cost of investigation reaches $6.7m when other expenses taken into account
  • Office of special counsel releases details of costs between May and September

Robert Muellers investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Kremlin to try to sway the 2016 presidential election has cost taxpayers $3.2m over its first four months.

That is roughly the same estimated cost as a single presidential golfing trip to Mar-a-Lago.

Related: Trump’s personal banking information handed over to Robert Mueller

Related: Was Michael Flynn asked to wear a wire in Mueller hunt for evidence on Russia?

Continue reading…

What’s The Matter With Eastern Europe? Welcome To The Birthplace Of Trumpism – HuffPost

What’s The Matter With Eastern Europe? Welcome To The Birthplace Of Trumpism
HuffPost
He was a rich businessman, an outspoken outsider with a love of conspiracy theories. And he was a populist running for president. In 1990, when Donald Trump was still beyond the furthest outskirts of American politics, Stanislaw Tyminski was trying to 

Whats The Matter With Eastern Europe? Welcome To The Birthplace Of Trumpism

When it comes to Trump’s version of populism, Eastern Europe led the way.

Trump risks backlash as he prepares to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

  • President calls Abbas to announce break with decades of US diplomacy
  • Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as capital of future state

Donald Trump appeared on the verge of formally recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in a move that would upend decades of US presidential diplomacy and could trigger unrest across the Middle East.

The suggestion came ahead of a key speech on the issue on Wednesday, as Trump called the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and other Arab leaders, to tell them that he plans to move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Related: Why would moving the US embassy to Jerusalem be so contentious?

Related: Why would moving the US embassy to Jerusalem be so contentious?

Continue reading…

Abbas urges Putin, Pope to intervene ahead of Trump decision – The Jerusalem Post


The Jerusalem Post
Abbas urges Putin, Pope to intervene ahead of Trump decision
The Jerusalem Post
While Trump signed a six-month waiver in June, he failed to sign a new waiver earlier this week. Later on Tuesday, Trumpalso spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Sisi warned Trump of taking measures that would undermine the chances of 
Russia’s Putin tells Palestinians’ Abbas he supports talks on Jerusalem – KremlinReuters

all 1,597 news articles »

Trump’s revamped fight against the FBI is a distillation of his approach to the presidency – Washington Post


Washington Post
Trump’s revamped fight against the FBI is a distillation of his approach to the presidency
Washington Post
According to automated transcripts from TVEyes, the two hosts and their guests mentioned the FBI nearly 80 times over the course of the two hours. The word Trump was said 62 times and the word Hillary 60 times. The next two most commonly 
Trump: Fired National Security Adviser Treated UnfairlyVoice of America
Can Presidents Obstruct Justice? The Latest Trump Fight, ExplainedNew York Times
Prosecutor: No evidence Trump knew Flynn lied to FBIWND.com
POLITICO Magazine –LifeZette
all 3,709 news articles »
Trump bank records subpoenaed in Russia probe – ABC News


CBS News
Trump bank records subpoenaed in Russia probe
ABC News
Later this week, members of the House Intelligence Committee will be interviewing Felix Sater, a one-time Trump business partner who helped develop the Trump SoHo project. Mueller is investigating Russian attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. election 
Robert Mueller is targeting Trump family’s money, ties to bankThe Grio

all 133 news articles »

Mueller investigation cost $6.7 million within first five months – Washington Post


Washington Post
Mueller investigation cost $6.7 million within first five months
Washington Post
Mueller was appointed special counsel in May, after President Trump fired FBI director James B. Comey. The Justice Department’s report covered the period from May 17 to Sept. 30. Though Mueller’s investigation is not yet a year old, his team of 
Mueller Subpoenas Trump Deutsche Bank RecordsBloomberg
Mueller’s Trump-Russia Probe Cost Nearly $7M So FarNewsmax

all 132 news articles »

Whenever America is in crisis, Russia is its whipping boy – Washington Post


Washington Post
Whenever America is in crisis, Russia is its whipping boy
Washington Post
Ivan Kurilla is a professor of history and international relations at the European University at St. Petersburg. ST. PETERSBURG Russians are watching the unfolding scandal of their country’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. election with a mixture of 
Top Vladimir Putin Critic Pays Visit To SCFITSNews
Trump has been torture for foreign correspondents in RussiaBusiness Insider
Who’s an Oligarch? Rich Russians Fret Over US Sanctions LabelBloomberg
Financial Times
all 50 news articles »
Today’s Headlines and Commentary

The Supreme Court permitted the administration to fully enforce the Sept. 24 revised travel ban order pending litigation in federal appellate courts, the Washington Post reported. In orders issued Monday, the justices lifted injunctions from the Fourth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals that exempted individuals with bona fide relationships with family members or organizations in the U.S. from the ban. Challenges to the banwhich restricts travel from eight countries, including six Muslim-majority nationswill proceed in the coming weeks in the Fourth and Ninth circuit courts.

The U.N. dispatched its top diplomat to North Korea for talks about its nuclear program, the Wall Street Journal reported. Jeffrey Feltman, the U.N. undersecretary general for political affairs, will meet North Koreas foreign minister and other senior officials in a three-day trip to Pyongyang.

The chief U.N. human rights official said Myanmars security forces may have committed genocide against Rohingya Muslims, Reuters reported. Zeid Raad al-Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said that the burning of villages, murders of civilians, widespread rape and indiscriminate shootings of Rohingya people by Myanmars military forces could amount to genocide. Zeid called for the establishment of an international inquiry into crimes committed in Myanmar. Myanmar denies that its forces carried out atrocities against the Rohingya, a group whose very existence it contests.

Prosecutors from the special counsel investigation withdrew their support for a bail deal with Paul Manafort, saying Manafort was writing an editorial defending his political activities in Ukraine to be published under the name of a third party, the Post reported. In a court filing, the prosecutors said Manafort violated a court order to limit his public statements by ghostwriting an editorial about his activities in Ukraine as recently as Nov. 30. They also said Manafort was working with a partner assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service.

The special counsel subpoenaed President Donald Trumps financial records from Deutsche Bank, the Journal reported. The subpoena requested records related to Trumps business dealings with the bank, which the Journal described as Trumps primary lender in recent years.. Deutsche Bank has provided over $300 million in financing to Trump and entities affiliated with him.

Emails between KT McFarland, the former deputy national security adviser, and transition officials raised questions about the accuracy of McFarlands testimony to senators this summer about her knowledge of Michael Flynns contacts with Russian officials, the New York Times reported. Emails showed McFarland knew at the time about a phone call between Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. In July, McFarland testified that she was not aware of contacts between Flynn and Kislyak. On Friday, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the nature of his discussions with Kislyak.

The U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israels capital, a move that Middle Eastern leaders have strongly condemned, the Times reported. President Trump informed Palestinian and Israeli leaders of the decision in phone calls on Tuesday. Trump told Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas he plans to eventually move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, a decision Abbas told him could undermine the Israel-Palestine peace process. However, Trump is expected to sign a waiver on Wednesday that would keep the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv for the next six months.

The son of the recently killed Yemeni ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh said he would fight against Houthi rebels to avenge his fathers death, the Times reported. Ahmed Ali Saleh, speaking from his exile in the United Arab Emirates, vowed to push the Houthi rebels that killed his father out of Yemen. Saleh was a top military commander under his fathers government. Fighting between rival rebel factions in Sanaa, Yemens capital, has ceased, leaving more than a hundred people dead, according to Reuters. Airstrikes from the Saudi-led coalition hit the city in retaliation for Salehs death.

Protesters freed former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili after Ukrainian police took him into custody, the Post reported. It is was unclear why police attempted to detain him. Saakashvili called for protests against Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, a former ally. Saakashvili has gained popularity in Ukraine for his strong anti-Russia stance, but the Ukrainian government has taken steps to constrain his political rise, including revoking his passport.

The Kremlin denied that information from Michael Flynn influenced Vladimir Putin to modulate the Russian response to U.S. sanctions enacted last year, NBC News reported. A Kremlin spokesperson said Flynns request for Russia to hold off responding to sanctions designed to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 election played no role in Putins decision to not retaliate.

The Times published an interactive feature examining whether Saudi missile defense systems actually intercepted a missile from Yemen aimed at the Riyadh airport.

Politicos Ali Watkins detailed how a top terrorist interrogation team has struggled to find bureaucratic backing in the national security establishment.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Robert Chesney argued that the government’s arguments in ACLU v. Mattis raise troubling questions about the governments ability to block the exercise of the writ of habeas corpus.

Bob Bauer discussed how the lies from Trump associates will affect the special counsel investigations focus on collusion.

Eliot Kim updated Water Wars, covering the ASEAN summit and Japan-China maritime talks.

Stewart Baker defended expanding protections against unmasking and the leaking of intelligence information.

Vanessa Sauter posted the criminal information and plea agreement from the case against an NSA employee who took classified documents to his home.

Benjamin Wittes listed five questions for Alan Dershowitz to answer about his argument that the Russia investigation is the criminalization of political differences.

Matthew Kahn posted the Supreme Court orders staying the partial injunctions against the revised travel ban.

Peter Margulies detailed the context for the Supreme Courts travel ban orders.

Josh Blackman argued that the Supreme Court order suggests the government will prevail against the challenges to the travel ban.

 

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

Trump Said Probing His Finances Would Be A ‘Red Line.’ That’s Exactly What Robert Mueller Is Now Doing.

Mueller has asked Deutsche Bank for data on Trump’s finances for his Russia investigation.

Subpoena For Deutsche Bank May Put Mueller On Collision Course With Trump – NPR


NPR
Subpoena For Deutsche Bank May Put Mueller On Collision Course With Trump
NPR
Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly subpoenaed Trump family financial records from the German financial giant Deutsche Bank, a move that could signal a major new direction for his inquiry. Deutsche Bank has so far not 
Trump-Russia probe: Mueller ‘demands Deutsche Bank data’BBC News
Trump bank records subpoenaed in Russia probeABC News
Deutsche Bank receives subpoena from Mueller on Trump accounts: SourceCNBC
Reuters –CBS News –Bloomberg
all 133 news articles »
Trump Tells Palestinian President He Intends To Move U.S. Embassy In Israel To Jerusalem

The move would endorse Israel’s claim to all of Jerusalem as its capital, breaking with decades of U.S. policy.

GOP Brings Back Support for Roy Moore

The Republican National Committee has restarted funding Roy Moores Alabama Senate campaign. It had stopped giving cash to Moore after multiple allegations of child molestation were leveled against him.

“Get Me Roger Stone: Documentary on GOP mastermind of dirty tricks – People’s World

Get Me Roger Stone: Documentary on GOP mastermind of dirty tricks
People’s World
A new Netflix original documentary created by filmmakers Dylan Bank, Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme traces the life and scandalous career of right-wing political operative Roger Stone, who’s been an influential member of Team Trump for decades. With 

Donald Trump Is Just the Front Man for a Massive Heist – The Nation.


The Nation.
Donald Trump Is Just the Front Man for a Massive Heist
The Nation.
Trump’s major contribution has been to push for measureselimination of the estate tax, elimination of the alternative minimum tax, lower taxes on pass through incomethat will fill his own pockets. The tax bill Republicans are trying to ramrod 
Wall Street sets record highs after passage of Donald Trump’s tax cutsThe Guardian
Would Donald Trump’s tax plan really help ordinary working Americans and boost US growth?The Independent

all 1,362 news articles »

What’s the Matter with Eastern Europe? – Common Dreams


Common Dreams
What’s the Matter with Eastern Europe?
Common Dreams
They’d suffered the early consequences of the shock therapy economic reforms that would soon be introduced across much ofEastern Europe and, after 1991, Russia. Although the Polish economy had finally stabilized, unemployment had, by the end of 1990 

and more »

Why weren’t Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills charged when they lied to Peter Strzok and the FBI? – Hot Air


Hot Air
Why weren’t Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills charged when they lied to Peter Strzok and the FBI?
Hot Air
Comey was asked about Abedin’s and Mills’s lies during congressional testimony last year and spun his decision not to recommend charges by claiming that, hey, sometimes people misremember things and sometimes those things aren’t essential to a case 

Abbas warns Trump against moving embassy to Jerusalem – Financial Times


Financial Times
Abbas warns Trump against moving embassy to Jerusalem
Financial Times
Mahmoud Abbas warned Donald Trump of the dangerous consequences of transferring the American embassy to Jerusalem after the US president informed the Palestinian leader he planned to move the mission, a Palestinian spokesman said. Nabil Abu Rdainah 

and more »

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8:10 AM 12/1/2017 – Sen. Cotton or Dir. Silk, you still gotta serve somebody; or: “Six years ago, he was a kid looking for a job and running for a House seat.”

Bob Dylan – Gotta Serve Somebody

“My luck to wear cotton, my luck to wear silk”

________________________________

4.15.17 - FBI Reportedly Has 'Concrete and Corroborative Evidence' of Trump/Russia Collusion

8:10 AM 12/1/2017 – Is Sen. Cotton one of the “Russian dolls”? This is a very reasonable question to ask. Who will provide THE DEFINITIVE ANSWER?!

Another good question is: Will Sen. Cotton be able to be transformed into a “Director Silk”? “Not to be seen and not to be heard” from, just about, and strictly on as needed basis. I guess, it all depends on taste and comfort level: some like to wear silk, some – cotton, and still some – leather or furs. But never polyester. Never fakes. However, before “you shall know the truth”, it can make you very free, and in many different respects.  

By the way, Sen. Burr (probably, among the many puzzled others), is long in the thrall of Sen. Cotton’s likings for beards. Is this like some kind of a “smell test”?

(See the videotapes with his jokes on this subject at one of the Trump – Russia Investigation Senate Hearings.) 

In my humble opinion, the times and the circumstances would be more congruent with, and the interests of the country would probably be better served if the head of the CIA is a non-partisan or bi-partisan, well-respected person without any formal career concerns or considerations, and of high visibility and stature, and possibly from the military or the national security circles. The continuing tightenings of controls by these strata appear to be the most logical and beneficial response of the wounded or infected government organism, including the current Presidential Administration itself. 

Michael Novakhov

12.1.17

Quotes: 

“Cotton’s appointment would cement his meteoric rise [this type of the propulsion is always somewhat suspect – M.N.] in Republican politics, the result of qualities that have taken him, in a matter of years, from freshman congressman to the youngest serving U.S. senator to, potentially, the youngest CIA director in American history: loyalty, brains and raw ambition.

He also embodies one of the GOP’s responses to Trump. Having already shared some of the president’s populist leanings, he has worked to co-opt and shape the president rather than rail against him.

Within the intelligence community, Cotton is viewed as a political grandstander who might lack the experience to lead a workforce largely older and more experienced than he is. It’s also a post, some said, that has left many of its occupants politically bruised no matter how much experience they have brought to Langley.

Among Cotton allies, views on his possible elevation to the Trump Cabinet are mixed. Some cheer it as a promotion that offers a natural jumping off point for a man whose presidential ambitions are a poorly kept secret.

“The Senate is a horrible place, who would want to spend their life there?” said one Cotton ally.

“Six years ago, he was a kid looking for a job and running for a House seat.

People who are head of the CIA have a history of being vice-presidential nominees and going on to serve as presidents.”

__________________________________

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Sen. Cotton – Google Search
Alex Younger – Google Search
MI6 lays bare the growing Russian threat – The Times – Google Search
MI6 lays bare the growing Russian threat | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times
MI6 lays bare the growing Russian threat – The Times
Cotton cements his rise under Trump – Politico
“It Was Just the Two of Them: Could Obama Be Questioned About Trump and Flynn? – Vanity Fair
Tillerson’s fall could turn State into a hawk’s nest – Washington Post
Mexican man found not guilty of murder in San Francisco case Trump condemned
Trump Pressed Top Republicans to End Senate Russia Inquiry – New York Times
Trump’s behavior raises questions of competency – CNN
White House Plans Tillerson Ouster From State Dept., to Be Replaced by Pompeo, Within Weeks – New York Times
White House has plan to oust Tillerson, replace with Pompeo
Michael Flynn, Trump’s ex-National Security Adviser, focus of Russia investigation: What to know
Michael Flynn, Trump’s ex-National Security Adviser, focus of Russia investigation: What to know – Fox News
Trump Wants to Install a Reliable Mouthpiece on Russia at the CIA Mother Jones
Trump Wants to Install a Reliable Mouthpiece on Russia at the CIA – Mother Jones
Today’s Headlines and Commentary
Sick Puppy Kim – Google Search
White House readies plan to replace Tillerson with Pompeo at State, install Cotton at CIA – The Washington Post
Why won’t Trump stand up to Putin? – Boulder Weekly
Susan Collins: ‘No Reason To Be Concerned’ That Trump Is Unhinged
Donald Trump Makes Fun Of Asian Leaders Who Hosted Him
Factbox: Five Facts About Tom Cotton, Trump’s Likely Pick for CIA – U.S. News & World Report
White House readies plan to replace Tillerson with Pompeo at State, install Cotton at CIA

 

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Sen. Cotton – Google Search
 

mikenova shared this story from Sen. Cotton – Google News.

Story image for Sen. Cotton from Arkansas Online

Seat in Senate in play if Cotton goes to CIA

Arkansas Online3 hours ago
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is weighing whether to make U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, The New York Times and The Washington Post reported Thursday. Both stories relied on statements from unnamed administration officials. In Arkansas …
New York Times Report: Senator Tom Cotton Could Be Named CIA …
<a href=”http://5newsonline.com” rel=”nofollow”>5newsonline.com</a>20 hours ago
White House Plans Tillerson Ouster From State Dept., to Be …
Highly CitedNew York Times11 hours ago
Who is Tom Cotton?
Featured4029tv19 hours ago
Do Not Let Tom Cotton Anywhere Near the CIA
In-DepthSlate Magazine15 hours ago

Media image for Sen. Cotton from 5newsonline.com

5newsonline.com

Media image for Sen. Cotton from Washington Post

Washington Post

Media image for Sen. Cotton from Newsweek

Newsweek

Media image for Sen. Cotton from Slate Magazine

Slate Magazine

Media image for Sen. Cotton from Business Insider

Business Insider

Media image for Sen. Cotton from Power Line (blog)

Power Line (blog)
Alex Younger – Google Search
 

mikenova shared this story from Alex Younger – Google News.

MI6 lays bare the growing Russian threat

The Times12 hours ago
This speaker — recognised by many in the audience as Alex Younger, the head of MI6 — told Nato ambassadors that the Kremlin “exemplified” the modern threats faced by this country and its allies. Russia’s aim was to divide the West, sowing uncertainty and ambiguity. Familiar boundaries had become …
MI6 lays bare the growing Russian threat – The Times – Google Search
 

mikenova shared this story from MI6 lays bare the growing Russian threat – The Times – Google News.

MI6 lays bare the growing Russian threat

The Times12 hours ago
This speaker — recognised by many in the audience as Alex Younger, the head of MI6 — told Nato ambassadors that the Kremlin “exemplified” the modern threats faced by this country and its allies. Russia’s aim was to divide the West, sowing uncertainty and ambiguity. Familiar boundaries had become …
MI6 lays bare the growing Russian threat | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times
 

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MI6 lays bare the growing Russian threat – The Times
 

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

MI6 lays bare the growing Russian threat
The Times
As Victor Madeira, a specialist in Russian spookdom, told parliament last year, the combined strength of all Britain’s defence attachés, the Intelligence and Royal Signals Corps, plus all other army, navy and air force intelligence, surveillance and 
Cotton cements his rise under Trump – Politico
 

mikenova shared this story from Trump – Google News.


Politico
Cotton cements his rise under Trump
Politico
He also embodies one of the GOP’s responses to Trump. Having already shared some of the president’s populist leanings, he has worked to co-opt and shape the president rather than rail against him. An ideological conservative from the American heartland 
Trump’s national security shake-up will make the world a much more dangerous placeWashington Post
Interrogators Blast Trump’s ‘Clueless’ CIA Pick Tom CottonDaily Beastall 10 news articles »
“It Was Just the Two of Them: Could Obama Be Questioned About Trump and Flynn? – Vanity Fair
 

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


Christian Science Monitor
It Was Just the Two of Them: Could Obama Be Questioned About Trump and Flynn?
Vanity Fair
On November 10, 2016, two days after his stunning election victory, Donald Trump met with President Barack Obama, alone, in the Oval Office, for 90 minutes. They covered plenty of important ground, including the nuclear threat from North Korea and the 
This Is What Mueller Probably Wanted to Know From Jared Kushner About Mike FlynnNewsweek
Kushner questioned by Mueller investigation teamChristian Science Monitor
Jared Kushner’s ties to the White House, link to the Russia investigationFox News
Torrington Register Citizen –NPR
all 170 news articles »
Tillerson’s fall could turn State into a hawk’s nest – Washington Post
 

mikenova shared this story from trump as danger to National Security – Google News.


Washington Post
Tillerson’s fall could turn State into a hawk’s nest
Washington Post
The bad marriage of President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seems to be nearing an end, probably to the relief of both. The question is how the new national security team that appears to be coming will change American policy. Tillerson for and more »
Mexican man found not guilty of murder in San Francisco case Trump condemned
 

mikenova shared this story from Donald Trump | The Guardian.

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate said death of Kate Steinle was accidental in case that fueled debate over immigration and sanctuary cities

A jury on Thursday found a Mexican man not guilty of murder in the killing of a woman on a San Francisco pier that touched off a national immigration debate two years ago.

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate had been deported five times and was wanted for a sixth deportation when Kate Steinle was fatally shot in the back while walking with her father on the pier.

Continue reading…

Trump Pressed Top Republicans to End Senate Russia Inquiry – New York Times
 

mikenova shared this story from Trump – Google News.


New York Times
Trump Pressed Top Republicans to End Senate Russia Inquiry
New York Times
WASHINGTON President Trump over the summer repeatedly urged senior Senate Republicans, including the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to end the panel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, according to a half 
Top Intel Dem: Sessions refused to say whether Trump asked him to hinder Russia probeThe Hillall 118 news articles »
Trump’s behavior raises questions of competency – CNN
 

mikenova shared this story from Top Stories – Google News.


CNN
Trump’s behavior raises questions of competency
CNN
Washington (CNN) Donald Trump potentially has millions of lives in his hands as the threat of a devastating war with North Korea swiftly escalates. Yet the President of the United States is raising new questions about his temperament, his judgment and 
McConnell: Trump doing ‘a great job’ handling North KoreaThe Hill
Trump’s War of Words With North Korea Helped This Hedge Fund Gain 48%Bloomberg
Sen. Graham Warns North Korea to Take Trump’s Threats SeriouslyThe Epoch Times
PRI
all 64 news articles »
White House Plans Tillerson Ouster From State Dept., to Be Replaced by Pompeo, Within Weeks – New York Times
 

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New York Times
White House Plans Tillerson Ouster From State Dept., to Be Replaced by Pompeo, Within Weeks
New York Times
WASHINGTON The White House has developed a plan to force out Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, whose relationship with President Trump has been strained, and replace him with Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, perhaps within the next several weeks 
White House considering replacing Tillerson with PompeoCNN
White House readies plan to replace Tillerson with Pompeo, install Cotton at CIAWashington Post
Trump may replace Tillerson with Pompeo: reportThe Hill
Business Insider –BBC News –CBS News –CNBC
all 124 news articles »
White House has plan to oust Tillerson, replace with Pompeo
 

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From: Washington Post
Duration: 02:48

The White House has a plan to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, after months of rockiness between Tillerson and President Trump. Subscribe to The Washington Post on YouTube: http://bit.ly/2qiJ4dy

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Michael Flynn, Trump’s ex-National Security Adviser, focus of Russia investigation: What to know
 

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Michael Flynn was a topic of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team’s recent questioning of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

The Associated Press reported that the questioning was aimed in establishing if Kushner had any information on Flynn that could be exculpatory.

The confirmation of Kushner’s interview came as prosecutors working for Mueller postponed grand jury testimony related to Flynn’s private business dealings.

Flynn’s lawyers also said they will no longer communicate with the White House legal team – a move that could signal his cooperation with the special counsel’s investigation or negotiate a deal for himself.

Here’s a look at how Flynn – who was one of the more polarizing characters in Trump’s administration – is involved in the Russian investigation.

Why did Flynn leave the White House?

Flynn resigned as Trump’s national security adviser in February over revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his communications with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.

How is he connected to the Russia investigation?

Despite earlier statements to the contrary, Flynn discussed sanctions former President Barack Obama imposed on Russia with Kislyak, Sally Yates, then the deputy attorney general, said in January. She said that put Flynn in a compromising position.

Flynn remains under multiple investigations by congressional committees and the Pentagon’s inspector general. He’s included in Mueller’s probe, as well.

Mueller’s investigation includes looking into whether Flynn attempted to obtain former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails.

What do we know about Flynn’s businesses? 

Aside from Russia, Mueller has also been investigating Flynn’s lobbying work – particularly for a Turkish businessman.

Flynn Intel Group, Inc., carried out $530,000 worth of lobbying and research work for several months, including during the end of the 2016 campaign.

The lobbying campaign sought to gather derogatory information on Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric and green-card holder living in Pennsylvania. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Gulen of being behind a botched coup and has sought his extradition. Gulen has denied the allegations, and U.S. officials have rebuffed Turkey’s extradition demands, citing a lack of evidence.

Mueller is also investigating a meeting where Flynn allegedly discussed a plan that would pay him and his son up to $15 million to kidnap the U.S.-based cleric for the Turkish government.

Flynn filed as a foreign agent with the Department of Justice in March and acknowledged that the work he did could have benefited the Turkish government.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Michael Flynn, Trump’s ex-National Security Adviser, focus of Russia investigation: What to know – Fox News
 

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Fox News
Michael Flynn, Trump’s ex-National Security Adviser, focus of Russia investigation: What to know
Fox News
Flynn resigned as Trump’s national security adviser in February over revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his communications with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. How is he connected to the Russiainvestigation 
Jared Kushner: Donald Trump’s son-in-law reportedly meets with Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation teamThe Independent
History shows that special counsels almost inevitably overstep their mandates.National Review
Mueller’s Prosecutors Are Said to Have Interviewed Jared Kushner on Russia MeetingNew York Times
Wall Street Journal –ABC News –CNN –CNN
all 139 news articles »
Trump Wants to Install a Reliable Mouthpiece on Russia at the CIA Mother Jones
 

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America – United States President President J. Donald Trump makes an announcement with Senator Tom Cotton on August 2, 2017.Zach Gibson/CNP via Zuma Wire

The White House is considering replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo and giving Pompeo’s job to Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, theNew York Times reports. In Cotton, who reportedly wants the CIA job, President Donald Trump would install at the intelligence agency one of the most vocal supporters of his efforts to dismiss the Trump campaign’s suspected collaboration with the Kremlin in an effort to interfere in the 2016 election.

Trump has frequently clashed with the intelligence community, which concluded that Russia was behind various efforts to meddle in the election. The president has dismissed these findings and continually cast doubt on Russian involvement. Cotton has repeatedly leapt to defend Trump administration officials over their contacts with Russians.

After the Washington Post reported in March that Attorney General Sessions had made false statements under oath in testifying that he had had no contacts with Russian officials during the presidential campaign, Cotton took aim at Democrats who criticized Sessions. He pretended that Democrats had faulted Sessions for holding the meetings rather than for offering inaccurate testimony. “There’s no scandal in a senator meeting an ambassador, which happens all the time,” Cotton said. “I’m disappointed the Democrats are distorting the facts to impugn Attorney General Sessions’s character.”

When news emerged that Trump’s son-in-law and senior aide Jared Kushner had met secretly with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition and attempted to set up a backchannel to communicate with the Kremlin, Cotton defended Kushner. “That is a very normal activity during any kind of transition,” Cotton told CNN in April, ignoring Kushner’s failure to disclose the meeting and other contacts with Russian officials in his application for a security clearance. “Ambassadors and foreign ministers and heads of states from across the world, of course, are reaching out to try to a contact a president-elect and his close advisers.”

Cotton broadened his defense to cover undisclosed meetings involving other Trump aides, such as former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired for lying about his contacts with Kislyak. “The simple fact that Trump advisers were meeting with foreign officials during the transition does not to me raise any concern whatsoever, whether they’re Russian or Chinese or from any other country,” Cotton said.

Russians emissaries who communicated with the Trump campaign and transition officials consistently advocated for the repeal of sanctions imposed by President Barack Obama. Trump has unsuccessfullypushed to roll back those sanctions on Russia and has frequently called for improving relations with Moscow.

But Cotton has pushed the notion that Trump is tougher on Russia than Obama was. “President Trump has appointed members to his Cabinet, and they’ve made deliberate statements that have been tougher on Russia than anything President Obama ever did,” Cotton said in March on Fox News. Cotton argued that Obama’s efforts to curtail growth in defense spending, his nuclear deal with Iran, and his administration’s regulation of oil and gas development amounted to a “pro-Russia” policy. “That’s not Donald Trump’s policy,” Cotton said.

In the same interview, Cotton disputed a New York Times report that Trump associates were being investigated for repeated and extensive contacts with Russian intelligence officials. “You should not trust media sources or media reports based on anonymous sources,” Cotton said. The Times report has been largely validated by subsequent developments, including the guilty plea of Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, congressional testimony of campaign adviser Carter Page, and revelations that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had maintained communications with a Russian oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Cotton has also disputed evidence of Trump’s efforts to derail the FBI’s investigation into his aides. Cotton dismissed memos by fired FBI Director James Comey, which described Trump’s pressure on Comey to stop investigating Flynn, as unreliable. “The accounts of these memos he allegedly wrote would be at least triple hearsay: what Donald Trump said, according to Jim Comey, according to someone who saw the memo, according to the New York Times reporter who had it read to him, didn’t even read it,” Cotton said on the Hugh Hewitt Show.

Cotton has even suggested that the so-called Steele dossier, a set of memos by a former British intelligence agent detailing Russian efforts to obtain influence over Trump and his associates, couldhave been funded by “Russian intelligence.” Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Steele to research Trump’s Russia ties, was paid by a conservative publication and later by Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the research. The company had previously worked for a law firm that represented a holding company owned by a Russian billionaire. Cotton’s conflation of the firm’s clients was part of an effort by Trump backers to confuse the origin of Steele’s findings, which the FBI and former Obama administration officials reportedly found mostly credible.

Rejection of the intelligence community’s conclusions might be standard operating procedure for Trump partisans. It would take on a different significance coming from the head of the CIA.

Trump Wants to Install a Reliable Mouthpiece on Russia at the CIA – Mother Jones
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sick Puppy Kim – Google Search
 

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Story image for Sick Puppy Kim from Politico

Trump: North Korea’s Kim a ‘sick puppy

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

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

The Hill (blog)

Media image for Sick Puppy Kim from USA TODAY

USA TODAY

Media image for Sick Puppy Kim from seattlepi.com

seattlepi.com

Media image for Sick Puppy Kim from Daily Mail

Daily Mail

Media image for Sick Puppy Kim from Washington Examiner

Washington Examiner

Media image for Sick Puppy Kim from Breitbart News

Breitbart News

Trump raises heat on Pyongyang, calls Kim ‘sick puppy

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

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

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

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

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

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Boulder Weekly
Why won’t Trump stand up to Putin?
Boulder Weekly
Yes like him! Take that strange bromance he’s got going with his presidential counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The two recently had a private tête-á-tête, after which our president said that Russia’s president had vehemently denied U.S. intelligence 
We’re All Part of Trump’s ShowNew York Times
For some Russian oligarchs, sanctions risk makes Putin awkward to knowReuters
Moscow mulls next move in escalating media spat with USABC Newsall 34 news articles »
Susan Collins: ‘No Reason To Be Concerned’ That Trump Is Unhinged
 

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

Donald Trump Makes Fun Of Asian Leaders Who Hosted Him
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M.N.  

11.30.17 

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

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

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

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

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6:58 AM 11/29/2017 – Is Trump Truly Delusional?! M.N.: My answer: No, not at all. Or: we do not know yet. Or: do not rush with your primitive pseudo-psychiatric labels, save them for yourselves.

Image result for Trump Delusional

6:58 AM 11/29/2017 – Is Trump Truly Delusional?! M.N.: My answer: No, not at all. Or: we do not know yet. Or: do not rush with your primitive pseudo-psychiatric labels, save them for yourselves. The political demagoguery that he successfully employs is not the delusion, this is his style, his tool, and his weapon. 

Trump Delusional – GS

View image on Twitter

Saw this at a student art show. Titled “The New Nightmare”

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks

Trump Not a Liar, Is Truly Delusional

New Reports Suggest Trump Might Not Be a Liar at All, But Truly Delusional – New York Magazine

Threat From North Korea No Longer Hypothetical, Arms Experts Warn
6 Months In, No End In Sight: Who’s Who In The Vast Russia Imbroglio – NPR
Race and Class and What Happened in 2016 – New York Times
The Odyssey of a Turkish Trader Now Spilling His Secrets in U.S.
Should Trump Cooperate With Putin Over the Future of Syria? – Newsweek
The US Has Hit Rock Bottom With Russia. This Isnt Going to End Well
The real reason the Russian oligarchs are looking at ousting Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump both
Putin’s Daughter Is Linked To Wilbur Ross Another Trump-Russia Connection? – Newsweek
The Left Is Losing Its Mind Over Trump, Russia and Putin
Dem. rep seeks answers on FBI’s failure to notify Russian hacking victims | TheHill
trump turkey flynn kurds – Google Search
Reza Zarrab – Google Search
U.S.-Turkish political stew: Kurds, Flynn and even Bharara
What Flynns Flip Flop on Turkey Tells Us
trump turkey flynn – Google Search
Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn?
Turkish gold trader linked to Flynn and Giuliani could start testifying for feds as soon as today – Raw Story
Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn? – Daily Beast
Russian jet makes ‘unsafe’ intercept of US Navy aircraft – CNN
Russian Jet Makes ‘Unsafe’ Interception Of US Navy P8-Poseidon Over Black Sea – International Business Times
6:33 AM 11/28/2017 FBI gave heads-up to fraction of Russian hackers US targets Washington Post
9:17 AM 11/28/2017 M.N. This observation is consistent with the previous ones, made by many observers: excessive, demonstrative loudness Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump NYT
Muellers Trump-Russia Probe May Be Only One That Leads to Answers-Or Handcuffs

 

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Trump Not a Liar, Is Truly Delusional
 

mikenova shared this story from di.

The prevailing interpretation of Donald Trump, shared by all his enemies and many of his allies, is that he is a con man. It is a theory that explains both his career in business and politics, and has carried through his many reversals of position and acts of fraud against customers and contractors. It remains quite plausible. But new reporting has opened up a second possibility: The president has lost all touch with reality.

The Washington Post and New York Times have accounts from insiders suggesting Trump habitually insists upon the impossible in private. He does not merely tell lies in order to gull the public, or to manipulate allies. He tells lies in private that he has no reason to tell. He still questions the authenticity of Barack Obama’s birth, despite the birth certificate. He insists voter fraud may have denied him a popular vote triumph. He tells people Robert Mueller will wrap up his investigation, with a total vindication of the president, by the end of the year.

He questions whether the Access Hollywood tape, on which he was recorded boasting of sexual assault, is even him. (Both the Post and the Times describe Trump repeatedly denying the validity of the tape in private, “stunning his advisers,” as the Times puts it.)

It is of course entirely possible that Trump is lying to everybody, including his own staff. But the lies in these articles do not always fit into any pattern of rational self-aggrandizement. Trump tells senators or his aides the Access Hollywood tape is not him, but they don’t believe him. He has no reason to bring up the birther fabrication in private.

His apparent belief that Mueller will complete his sprawling investigation by the end of the year is not only pointless but self-defeating – rather than prepare allies for a long defense, he is preparing them for a fantastical scenario. (It is also further evidence that, when Mueller fails to vindicate him by the new year, Trump will lash out wildly, firing him, Jeff Sessions, or others.)

If Trump actually has the ability to convince himself of his own lies, it would suggest a possibility far more dangerous than even his critics have previously assumed. He might be in the grip of a mental health issue, or at least one more serious than mere sociopathy. And the mutterings that he might need to be removed from office through the 25th Amendment could grow more serious than many of us expected.

New Reports Suggest Trump Might Not Be a Liar at All, But Truly Delusional – New York Magazine
 

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New York Magazine
New Reports Suggest Trump Might Not Be a Liar at All, But Truly Delusional
New York Magazine
The prevailing interpretation of Donald Trump, shared by all his enemies and many of his allies, is that he is a con man. It is a theory that explains both his career in business and politics, and has carried through his many reversals of position and 
Will Trump ever have to answer to the women who say he harassed and assaulted them?Los Angeles Times
Does Trump Think The ‘Access Hollywood’ Tape Is Fake? Here’s Every Single Thing He’s Said About ItBustle
Donald Trump Reportedly Claims Access Hollywood Tape Wasn’t Authentic411mania.com
New York Times
all 174 news articles »
Threat From North Korea No Longer Hypothetical, Arms Experts Warn
 

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Its the next logical step that we were expecting.”

6 Months In, No End In Sight: Who’s Who In The Vast Russia Imbroglio – NPR
 

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NPR
6 Months In, No End In Sight: Who’s Who In The Vast Russia Imbroglio
NPR
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference has passed the six-month mark, and President Trump’s staff is painting a picture of a process nearing its end. “We still expect this to conclude soon,” White Houseand more »
Race and Class and What Happened in 2016 – New York Times
 

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New York Times
Race and Class and What Happened in 2016
New York Times
But we will never escape from purgatory until these points are treated as complements to the role that other forces played inTrump’s success, not as substitutes that somehow make the economic anxiety or anti-establishment analyses of Trumpism into …
The Odyssey of a Turkish Trader Now Spilling His Secrets in U.S.
 

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Turkish customs agents set off a half decade of intrigue when they boarded a plane that landed unexpectedly at Istanbul’s international airport. They found in the hold, undeclared, a ton and a half of gold.

Authorities subsequently determined that the shipment was part of a giant money-laundering operation to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to Iran for oil and gas, skirting international sanctions intended to curb the country’s nuclear work. The scheme, they said, was overseen by a young Iranian-Turk named Reza Zarrab who greased the palms of top Turkish officials with watches, a piano and cash-stuffed boxes.

Photographer: Sebnem Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It’s been quite a ride since then for Zarrab. Sprung from Turkish prison in early 2014, he was actually hailed by the country’s now president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He and his pop-star wife resumed their perch on Turkey’s society pages. Until, that is, he was arrested last year in Florida on his way to a Disney vacation and charged by federal prosecutors in a sweeping laundering and sanctions violations case. After 18 months in U.S. lockup, the onetime playboy with mansions and James Bond-style accessories — a jet, a personal submarine, a gold-plated pistol — is now cooperating with American prosecutors.

His evolution from a central character in a 2013 Turkish political battle to a key U.S. witness is expected to take center stage later today in a federal court in Manhattan where an executive of a prominent Turkish bank is accused in the scheme. Prosecutors say Zarrab, 34, will provide the inside story of a conspiracy that spanned a decade — all part of his guilty plea agreement.

That has the potential to send shock waves through Turkish politics and international relations. Prosecutors accused Zarrab of making bribes to then-senior ministers under Erdogan as part of his laundering scheme. As they have added more charges against more defendants in a case full of twists and turns, Turkish stock and currency markets have heaved.

Read more: A Q&A on how the trial is wreaking havoc on Turkish markets

Erdogan has demanded Zarrab’s return. The U.S.’s refusal has contributed to deteriorating Turkish-U.S. relations, now the most strained in decades. The case could spill over to U.S. politics, too, given the Trump administration’s efforts in its early days to strengthen its alliance with Turkey.

It could even brush up against a separate probe of Russian influence in the presidential election. The U.S. special counsel has delved into work done on behalf of Turkey by Michael Flynn, who was fired after a brief run as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser. Trump ally Rudy Giuliani was hired by Zarrab and met earlier this year with Erdogan in hopes of resolving the matter diplomatically, outside the courts.

Zarrab Family Vacation

It was a curious decision, in late March 2016, for Zarrab to gather his family for an American vacation. He no longer faced any charges in Turkey, but prosecutors there had made public a raft of documents marking him as a possible money launderer and a violator of U.S. sanctions.

Zarrab may have had an even bigger worry than U.S. arrest, though. Prosecutors in Iran had accused one of its wealthiest men, Babak Zanjani, of diverting $2.7 billion in oil proceeds from official coffers. An influential Iranian lawmaker said that if anyone knew where Zanjani put the money, it was Zarrab. (U.S. lawyers for Zarrab have denied the men were partners and Zanjani’s lawyers have called the case politically motivated.)

In early March 2016, Iran sentenced Zanjani to death. Two weeks later, Zarrab arrived in Florida, saying he was going to Disney. He was promptly arrested.

Though Zarrab may not have known it at the time, he was also the subject of a counter-intelligence investigation that the U.S. had started three years earlier, prosecutors said in court on Tuesday.

The money-laundering scheme by Zarrab — reconstructed from hundreds of Turkish and U.S. court filings including documents and phone transcripts — was built around complicated cross-border transactions and his personal connections in Turkey and Iran.

His father, a wealthy steel baron from Iran named Hossein Zarrab, moved the family to Turkey when Reza was still a toddler. At least one company used later by the son was founded in his name when he was 12 or 13. When Reza moved to Dubai with his family at the age of 16, he opened a tea-trading business with three employees. Three years later, back in Istanbul on his own, he started a gold brokerage and currency exchange and, later, shipbuilding and construction firms.

Meanwhile, his father kept a hand in Iranian trade. Hossein was among a team of people that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assembled, after he was elected Iran’s president in 2005, to help work around U.S. sanctions, according to the Turkish paper Hurriyet.

Still in his early 20s, Reza began his Turkish ascent. He became a Turkish citizen in 2005, adopting the local variation of his name, Riza Sarraf.

At his older brother’s wedding, he met a Turkish singer, Ebru Gundes. Reza, smitten, wrote two songs for her that were delivered by mutual friends. She agreed to meet him.

The two were married in 2010 and became a fixture on Turkey’s society pages — the glamorous Ebru and the boyish and stocky Reza, with a black beard and a mop of black hair coiffed up from his forehead. Turkish papers featured their mansions on the Bosphorus and Aegean, and showed them on the town, here with a Rolls Royce, there a Range Rover or an Aston Martin.

Chance Discovery

The possible source of Zarrab’s wealth began to emerge after Turkish customs officials made their chance discovery on New Year’s Eve 2012. An Airbus A330, flying from Ghana to United Arab Emirates, had been scheduled to refuel at a nearby regional airport when fog forced it to Ataturk. Customs agents impounded its gold cargo.

Earlier: 2014 article traces Zarrab’s journey from society pages to an Istanbul jail cell

Zarrab pressed into action. He called the country’s economy minister, Zafer Caglayan, among others. Caglayan was paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes to keep the scheme running and conceal transactions from the U.S., according to federal prosecutors. Less than three weeks after the plane was detained, it took back off, resuming its journey to Dubai.

Turkish prosecutors, armed with wiretaps of Zarrab’s conversations, arrested Caglayan’s son in late 2013 on charges of facilitating bribery. As a minister and member of parliament, Caglayan the father had immunity, and he denied taking bribes. Like Zarrab, he was ultimately cleared in Turkey. He’s now charged in the U.S. case but remains outside the country.

The gold shipments to Dubai, the Turkish prosecutors said, were but one link in a chain that turned Iranian oil and gas into hard currency for Tehran. Turkey’s national oil company bought Iranian gas. It then deposited funds into special accounts at Turkey’s Halkbank. Using shell companies, Zarrab took the proceeds to buy gold that was shipped to Dubai, prosecutors say.

The gold was then sold for dollars and euros, running through international banks, which were unwitting participants, according to U.S. prosecutors, and were told the transactions were for food or humanitarian aid, according to Turkish and U.S. court documents. In a 10-month span, Zarrab helped move $900 million in Iranian funds through U.S. banks, U.S. prosecutors say.

Dubai Wheat

Millions of dollars in bribes were used to keep the scheme going. Once, according to U.S. filings, Zarrab discussed moving 150,000 tons of humanitarian supplies to Iran on a 5,000-ton vessel, a logistical impossibility. He said another payment was for wheat exports from Dubai, which neither grows nor exports wheat. Surveillance in Turkey showed that Zarrab also tried to head off bad press, allegedly paying about $4 million to two politicians to help squelch negative coverage of him.

His contacts included the country’s ministers of the interior and EU affairs (who are not accused of wrongdoing by the U.S.). At an April 2013 wedding in Ankara, Zarrab cut a deal with Caglayan, then economy minister, to support his scheme, Turkish prosecutors said. U.S. prosecutors more recently hinted of a bigger grab for influence: Zarrab later boasted in a conversation caught on tape that he had also talked to Erdogan at the wedding, seeking support to buy a bank that could be a conduit for Iran transactions.

When Turkish prosecutors laid out their allegations, the three ministers resigned. Zarrab was detained.

But then the tables turned. Erdogan, prime minister at the time, portrayed Zarrab as a philanthropist whose businesses were a service to the country. The Turkish prosecutors’ case against Zarrab, Erdogan said, was part of a plot put into motion by Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who runs an influential worldwide movement from his compound in Pennsylvania, to smear his government. Turkey’s parliament cleared all the ministers of wrongdoing. Prosecutors and police involved in the case were reassigned, dismissed or jailed by the thousands.

Zarrab was freed. A pro-government news channel placed him before a Turkish flag and interviewed him. In July 2015, Hurriyet published photographs of a notably slimmer Zarrab yachting on the Aegean. A few yards off the fantail of a large black yacht, he could be seen above the blue sea, held aloft by jets of water on a personal hovercraft.

Erdogan Enraged

Zarrab’s arrest the following year in the U.S. enraged Erdogan, who asked the Obama White House to send him home. Instead, Zarrab transited through a series of U.S. detention centers — in Tallahassee, Atlanta and Oklahoma City — before arriving in New York. Many of the details supporting the charges, brought by then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, were similar to those originally revealed in Turkey.

Even after Zarrab’s testimony, which U.S. prosecutors say will reach the highest levels of Turkey’s government, the mystery may continue about whether he is helping the U.S. government in other ways and how much he knows about Iran, for example. The man who recently bribed a U.S. prison guard for a cell phone may finally be ready to spill his secrets.

— With assistance by Yalman Onaran

Should Trump Cooperate With Putin Over the Future of Syria? – Newsweek
 

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Should Trump Cooperate With Putin Over the Future of Syria?
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Yet he also senses that the Trump administration, like its predecessor, is, as they say in Texas, all hat and no cattle: that when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says there is no future for the mass-murdering Bashar al-Assad in Syria, it has the 
Declaring Victory in Syria, Putin Stands to Lose the Elusive PeaceThe Jamestown Foundation
The Guardian view on Syria: Putin tests the westThe Guardian
The United States cannot allow Russia to take the lead in SyriaThe Hill
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The US Has Hit Rock Bottom With Russia. This Isnt Going to End Well
 

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This article first appeared on the Wilson Center site.

I am an American expert on Russia. It is my job to pay close attention to the ups and downs of the U.S.-Russia relationship, with the goal of helping U.S. policymakers, the press, and the wider public understand what is going on.

Under normal circumstances, such understanding would be useful for crafting better policy, and for more effectively managing both the challenges and the opportunities we face with Russia.

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But these are anything but normal circumstances, and there is little point in saying anything about policy unless we first acknowledge why our circumstances are what they are.

The U.S. has never had a more dysfunctional or less effective relationship with post-Soviet Russia than it does today. While it is more than fair to blame that dysfunction on Putin—and on Trump, Medvedev, Obama, and other heads of state past and present—I am afraid it now has far deeper causes than just state policies.

On the Russian side, the dysfunction builds on insecurities and grievances fanned by widely embraced conspiracy theories and historical narratives, all of which amount to branding the United States as public enemy number one.

It also draws on ordinary Russians’ tolerance of consolidated authoritarianism, from the Kremlin at the very top of the “power vertical” to corrupt and unchecked bullies at the bottom.

Donald Trump shakes hands with Vladimir Putin at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit leaders gala dinner in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on November 10, 2017. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty

On the American side, the dysfunction is different but arguably just as deep. It begins from a national mood that combines Cold War style paranoia about the Russian bogeyman with a zero-sum, “us versus them” view of everything from taxes to public safety.

These disturbing trends find welcome resonance in a media, political and civic culture in which any sense that there are rules of decency has been long since trampled.

We should have no illusions. Vladimir Putin is a huge problem for the United States, just as he is for his neighbors and for his own people.

He has crushed every bud of liberal democracy in Russia, has invaded Ukraine to seize its sovereign territory by force, at the cost of well over 10,000 lives, and he has backed the dictator Bashar Assad in Syria, with the blood of hundreds of thousands on his hands.

The evidence is quickly mounting of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and of its ongoing operations, apparently aimed at eroding democratic politics, social cohesion and security alliances from Europe to Latin America. These are grave threats and they should be met with clarity, strength and resolve.

Yet not a single one of these threats posed by Russia has a military solution. We can hit the Russians as hard as we want, to “punish” them for bad behavior, but as long as they have the ability to hit back, they will do so, and the cycle will continue.

Such escalation carries unacceptable risks.

As Ronald Reagan said, a U.S.-Russian nuclear war cannot be won, and so must never be fought. That means that Americans will have to make difficult choices about which tools of our national power to use to manage relations with Russia.

The good news is we have an impressive arsenal, if we can bring it to bear intelligently.

Aside from our military, which is by any measure the world’s strongest, the U.S. economy is still the largest, and it far exceeds even a fast-growing China as a hub for investment and innovation for the entire world. America’s greatest asset has been its incomparable soft power—the attractive force of our culture, our values, our readiness to lead and, when necessary, to sacrifice.

These strengths can see us through to victory over the Russian threat—and any other—in the long term.

But in the meantime, our vital national interests, including our security, prosperity and our very identity, are at risk from the dysfunction gripping our national life.

This problem is far bigger than U.S.-Russia relations, but it comes to a head in the contest between Washington and Moscow.

Consider the treatment of Russia today in much of our national debate. It is somehow both a great menace—apparently capable of stealing all our secrets, manipulating our leaders, brainwashing our electorate—and yet is also the butt of jokes, not deserving of even the grudging respect a wise warrior accords his adversary.

In the rush to unearth and expunge nefarious Russian influence in our country, Americans have embraced a logic of conspiracy theories and strictly zero-sum thinking that is, if anything, familiar to Russians from decades of Soviet and post-Soviet life.

In this climate, efforts to understand and explain Russian conduct as something more than earthly expressions of evil are condemned as victories for Russian propaganda and calls for diplomatic engagement are dismissed as hopelessly naïve.

When it comes to Russia, there simply is no longer room for the pragmatism that has been at the very core of our American worldview, and that ensured our survival and success despite half a century of Cold War.

This is not who we are as Americans. This is not how the good guys behave. And, most importantly, this cannot end well.

Matthew Rojansky is Director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

The real reason the Russian oligarchs are looking at ousting Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump both
 

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Earlier this month, the Russian oligarchs fired a thinly veiled warning shot at Russian President Vladimir Putin when they planted simultaneous stories in multiple major European newspapers claiming that Putin was considering quitting. Putin has no such plans, but it was the Russian billionaires’ way of reminding him that they control his fate and they’re unhappy about the costly sanctions corner he’s backed them into. Now the real reason for their impatience is coming to light, and it’s even uglier than previously known.

The new sanctions law passed by the United States in August will financially harm the Russian oligarchs far more severely than previously believed, according to a new profile from The Economist (link). These increased sanctions will serve to blacklist the oligarchs as if they were terrorists, preventing them from carrying various kinds of business deals, and devastating them in the wallet.

It’s not widely understood, but Putin’s primary motivation for rigging the U.S. election in Trump’s favor was to get existing U.S. sanctions against Russia lifted. Those sanctions have personally cost Putin billions of dollars over the past few years, and they’ve cost his oligarchs even more. Instead, because Putin rigged the election in such a brazen way and got caught, and because Trump has been such a disaster, it’s prompted the U.S. to crack down with even harsher sanctions.

At this point the Russian oligarchs may only have one path for getting sanctions lifted and getting back on the good side of the United States: by ousting Vladimir Putin from within, and by taking down Donald Trump in the process. It’s why the oligarchs planted those stories about Putin’s supposed retirement in the media. This has been all about money, and lots of it, from the start. Putin helped make the oligarchs wealthy to begin with, but now he’s costing them money and they won’t tolerate it for much longer.

The post The real reason the Russian oligarchs are looking at ousting Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump both appeared first on Palmer Report.

Putin’s Daughter Is Linked To Wilbur Ross Another Trump-Russia Connection? – Newsweek
 

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Putin’s Daughter Is Linked To Wilbur Ross Another Trump-Russia Connection?
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In 2014, Ross led a takeover of the Bank of Cyprus, whose biggest shareholder at the time was the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. Some years earlier, Rybolovlev had purchased a Florida mansion from Trump for $95 million. The buying price was …and more »
The Left Is Losing Its Mind Over Trump, Russia and Putin
 

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This year, after nearly three decade abroad, I returned to the United States, and it has taken a while to adjust to the political climate. I keep going to press conferences, receptions and dinner parties and hearing politicians and political operatives fulminating about “the Russians.”

The refrain is pretty similar: They used to be known as the Soviets, but they never really changed. The damned KGB always ran the country, and it still does. And, you know, they stole the election last year. They colluded with our opponent! There’s a red in damned near every bed these days.

What’s a little discombobulating about this line is it’s mostly coming from Democrats and journalists in the mainstream press. A friend in New York—a Canadian, and thus not a participant in the ongoing drama in American politics—was recently at a dinner party hosted by a major Democratic donor and his wife. In passing, he said he was about to travel to see the refurbished Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and then enjoy a performance at the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.

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The others in attendance looked at him, my friend told me, as if he were nuts. “You know,” the host informed him, “that’s pretty much like going to Berlin in 1938.” My friend changed the subject.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has had political opponents killed and destabilized two of Russia’s neighboring countries, but he isn’t Hitler. Even for the foot-stomping, tantrum-throwing Democrats in 2017, that comparison is ludicrous. But other lefties fall back on World War II for a different comparison: The Russian meddling in our democracy was “the equivalent of Pearl Harbor,” as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman put it. That makes the Russian president the equivalent of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto and the imperial Japanese.

Related: Robert Mueller is a hothead who can’t own up to his mistakes, former aides say 

U.S. President Barack Obama extends his hand to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

As someone who grew up during the Cold War, spent much of the ’90s covering Eastern and Central Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and then Russia (including Putin’s ascent) later in the decade, this line of thinking seems bizarre. Democrats, it seems, have willfully tossed their past positions on Russia down the Orwellian memory hole.

In 1972, George McGovern won the Democratic nomination for president, and with that came the end of serious Soviet skepticism in the party. He had vanquished Henry “Scoop” Jackson, a senator from Washington and the party’s leading anti-Soviet hawk. Jackson tried again in 1976, only to lose to Jimmy Carter, who chided his political opponents for their “inordinate fear” of Communism. (To Carter’s credit, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, he admitted that the “scales” had fallen from his eyes.)

But unlike Carter, a lot of others on the left failed to sober up. When Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, the mainstream Democratic Party became consumed by nuclear hysteria—we were all gonna die!—and that fear infected the producers of pop culture. In 1983, ABC broadcast a propaganda film entitled The Day After, which was what life would be like after a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. Then, there was On the Eighth Day, a 1984 documentary about what would happen after a nuclear war. And around the same time period, Carl Sagan, a popular astronomer with a television series on public broadcasting, penned a widely read article on the same subject: “We have placed our civilization and our species in jeopardy,” he wrote. “Fortunately, it is not yet too late. We can safeguard the planetary civilization and the human family if we so choose. There is no more important or more urgent issue.”

The tenor of this and other doomsday nuclear narratives was that if the worst happened, it was going to Reagan’s fault. This fear sparked the nuclear freeze movement, as hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Europe to protest the planned installation of intermediate-range nuclear weapons on the western part of the continent.

In those days, “colluding” with Moscow wasn’t a big deal. The Soviets tried to help the nuclear freeze movement, which they saw as in their interests. KGB agents occasionally funneled cash to so-called “peace groups” in the West, and some left-leaning arms-control groups acknowledged that Soviet agents would turn up at conferences to help with propaganda. Yet many Democrats thought the nuclear freeze movement had been a great success. Why? Because the anti-nuclear uprising “had a substantial impact upon mainstream politics, especially the Democratic Party,” wrote Lawrence Wittner, a professor of history at the State University of New York at Albany. “After the movement’s successes in 1982, the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination met with peace movement leaders, pledging their support for a nuclear freeze and other nuclear arms control measures. The Democrats pushed a freeze resolution through the House of Representatives in the spring of 1983 and made the freeze a part of the party’s campaign platform in 1984.” Never mind that Reagan, the man the left derided as a warmonger nuclear cowboy, won the 1984 election in a historic landslide.

Sixteen years later, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Putin replaced a drunken and ailing Boris Yeltsin, who, however briefly, had brought democracy to Russia. At a New Year’s reception in 2000, President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Russia, Jim Collins, acknowledged the main reaction to Putin’s ascension in the U.S. government was one of “relief,” because Russia was so chaotic in those days. Secretary of State Madeline Albright would later call the former KGB man a “reformer.”

Putin for years was able to dupe U.S. presidents into thinking he was their friend—from George W. Bush to Barack Obama. In a 2012 presidential debate, Republican nominee Mitt Romney cited Putin’s Russia as the U.S.’s foremost foreign policy challenge, and Obama sarcastically said the “1980s are calling, and they want their foreign policy back.” The Democrats cheered. And Obama appeared to believe he could work with the Russian strongman. He famously asked Putin stooge Dmitry Medvedev to “tell Vladimir” that after the election he (Obama) would have more “flexibility’’ to work on arms control deals.

But the moment that really captured the credulity of the Democratic Party when it came to Russia and Putin had come earlier. In 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, with a “reset” button, which meant the administration would replace the bad, anti-Russian policies of the past with new ones. The problem, however, is the word “reset” was misspelled on the button. Those who controlled Obama’s foreign policy evidently couldn’t find a Russian speaker competent enough to tell them that the button presented to Lavrov said “overcharged” in Russia. Clinton laughed at the mistake. Lavrov laughed at her.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during an interview with Mariella Frostrup at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in Cheltenham, England, on October 15. Reuters

Now, Democratic representatives all over Washington can’t stop ranting about Moscow. I asked David Satter, a Washington-based journalist—and the only Western reporter to be banned by Putin from entering Russia since the end of the Cold War—what I should make of all this. Are these people serious about their anti-Russian venom?

“Oh God, no,” he said, as we sat in a Russian restaurant called Mari Vanna in Manhattan. “This is all just politics, and hypocrisy is the mother’s milk of politics.”

I think he’s right. I’m agnostic on the question of whether President Donald Trump or his associates actually “colluded’’ with Putin to win the election. If they did, they should be strung up.

As for Putin, he’s undoubtedly an authoritarian thug. At home, he has eliminated many of the briefly won freedoms of the Yeltsin era, and abroad, he seems determined to again dominate Russia’s neighbors. But it would be hard to find many liberals in Washington who actually cared about any of this before Trump beat Clinton.

If the outcome had been reversed, Congress might still be working to figure out how exactly Russia meddled in the election—just as the Soviets had done in 1968 and 1976. But we most certainly wouldn’t have this anti-Russian circus going on in the nation’s capital—a show that will likely continue for quite some time.

Dem. rep seeks answers on FBI’s failure to notify Russian hacking victims | TheHill
 

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trump turkey flynn kurds – Google Search
 

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US-Turkish political stew: KurdsFlynn — and even Bharara

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President Donald Trump’s shows of political coziness with Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan always add an extra layer of intrigue to …

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Turkey ‘very happy’ as US stops arming Kurds in Syria

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ANKARA, Turkey — The United States seems set to cut off its supply of arms … Trump that is sure to please Turkey but further alienate Syrian Kurds who …. of Trump’s inauguration about a potential quid pro quo in which Flynn …

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Reza Zarrab – Google Search
 

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Zarrab to Testify for Prosecution in Iran-Sanctions Case

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Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader at the center of an international corruption case, is set to tell a New York jury the “inside story” of a …
Reza Zarrab, Turkish gold trader tied to Erdogan, avoids trial
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The Talk of Turkey? A Politically Charged Trial in New York
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U.S.-Turkish political stew: Kurds, Flynn and even Bharara
 

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Eyes are on Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,

Eyes are on Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seen here in Ankara on Nov. 21, 2017. Photo Credit: AP / Burhan Ozbilici

President Donald Trump’s shows of political coziness with Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan always add an extra layer of intrigue to foreign-policy news.

On Friday, the two leaders were due to speak by phone, with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort for the long holiday weekend. Subjects were to include Syria and conflicts in the region.

Turkey’s foreign minister, who said he was with Erdogan during the call, said afterward that Trump gave assurances his administration would stop supplying arms to Syrian Kurdish fighters, who have been U.S. allies.

After all, Kurdish separatists are a thorn in Erdogan’s side.

Such policy choices aside, the discussion of Turkish ties to Washington turns quickly and naturally to Trump’s short-tenured national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has his eyes on the retired lieutenant general, who failed to disclose a payment of $530,000 from Inovo BV, a Dutch consulting firm owned by a Turkish businessman closely tied to Erdogan.

Flynn’s lawyer said back in March that the work for the firm “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey,” which is why he belatedly filed it under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Flynn has been a campaign and White House adviser with close links to a president who rode to election proclaiming “America First.”

Late Thursday, it was reported that Flynn’s lawyer informed Trump’s legal team that he can no longer discuss the Mueller probe with him. That stirred speculation about Flynn’s cooperation with investigators and where it could lead.

This comes after reports that Erdogan’s men may have discussed with Flynn last year a paid mission that involved grabbing a Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania — whom Erdogan blames for a coup attempt — and returning him to Turkey.

The intrigue seems to leach further into the American justice system than just the probe of Flynn.

There is also the long-lived case of Reza Zarrab — the Turkish-Iranian gold trader charged in Manhattan federal court with conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Erdogan calls the case a plot against his republic. Over the weekend he purportedly launched an investigation of his own into former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who brought the case against Zarrab, an ally of Erdogan.

Bharara was fired by Trump after the president asked him to stay in the job. Responding to Erdogan, Bharara’s interim successor Joon Kim and Judge Richard Berman issued a rare reply to the Turkish government.

On Tuesday, Kim said: “Needless to say, it’s our view that those claims are ridiculous on their face. It displays a fundamental misunderstanding or lack of understanding of how our system of justice works and, frankly, the rule of law works.”

Diplomatically, Berman said that if Turkish officials wish to help Zarrab, they could do so by “producing in court any Turkish evidence or witnesses that they may be aware of who could assist the defense in presenting their case.”

Trump doesn’t seem inclined to complain about the Erdogan regime’s conduct in this or any other controversy.

In fact, on the defense side of the case, the president finds two political allies — Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor, and Michael Mukasey, the former attorney general.

By most accounts their job has been to try to get the case resolved through meetings away from courtroom arguments. Recent buzz has been about the prospect of a cooperation deal, but the matter is still apparently pending.

These are the shadowy complications of the moment in Turkish-American politics.

Melville.

By Dan JanisonDan Janison has been a columnist at Newsday since 2007.

What Flynns Flip Flop on Turkey Tells Us
 

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This article first appeared on Just Security.

Many commentators anticipate that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will likely indict retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn in part for the former National Security Advisor’s previously undisclosed work as a foreign agent of Turkey.

Mueller’s team has reportedly obtained enough evidence to indict Flynn and his son, according to an NBC News report earlier this month.

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There is no way to tell, based on current reporting, whether that body of indictable evidence includes the two alleged meetings in Sept. and Dec. 2016 where Flynn may have discussed a plot to forcibly remove U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, or initiate legal proceedings against him, in exchange for $15 million.

But in considering Flynn’s case, it is important to keep track of how he changed from a relatively hardline position against the government of Turkey to public positions in favor of Ankara.

Former National Security Advisor Michael Fllynn in the East Room of the White House on February 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

Important questions for legal liability and moral responsibility include whether Flynn’s conflict of interest and efforts in favor of Turkey continued past the election and into his time in office.

Engaging in pro-Turkish government dealings was a major change in Flynn’s position on Turkey. In July 2016, Flynn gave a speech supporting the military coup against the Turkish government, specifically citing the country’s “move toward Islamism” under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the military’s secular orientation.

And previously, while serving as DIA Director under the Obama administration, Flynn says he alerted White House officials to Turkey’s indifference toward ISIS’ growth in Syria.

What explains why Flynn changed his position on Turkey and why did he persist in pro-Turkish positions after his firm’s contract to work on behalf of the Turkish government purportedly ended?

I. Flynn’s initial anti-Erdoğan, anti-Islamist public positions, and his later The Hill Op-Ed Reversal

  1. War Against “Cunning Radical Islamists” Tweet (Nov. 16, 2015)

Flynn has publicly spoken against what he views as a global threat of radical Islamism, which, according to his view, also implicated Erdoğan’s pro-Islamist government at one point. He tweeted in November 2015:

We are facing violent, but very serious and cunning radical Islamists. We can be war weary when we win. If we lose, we have nothing.

2. Flynn Expresses Concerns on Turkey’s Indifference to ISIS to Sy Hersh (January 2016)

Flynn seemed to view Turkey’s pro-Islamist attitudes as leading to the country’s indifference to ISIS growing next door. In January 2016, he told Seymour Hersh in a New Yorker interview:

If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic…We understood Isis’s long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria.

He added that the Obama administration gave “enormous pushback” with respect to the DIA’s reporting on ISIS’s growth in Syria, including Turkey’s alleged indifference: “I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.”

3. Flynn Tweets that Fear of Muslims is Rational (Feb. 27. 2016)

In line with his prior statements, Flynn tweeted in Feb. 2016 that fear of Muslims was “rational:”

Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL: please forward this to others: the truth fears no questions… http://youtu.be/tJnW8HRHLLw

4. Flynn Lauds the Anti-Erdogan Coup at ACT! For America Speech (July 15, 2016)

On July 15, 2016, Flynn gave a speech at the Cleveland meeting of ACT! For America. The organization is an advocacy group that opposes what it calls “Islamofascism,” which Brigitte Gabriel, the group’s founder, believes comes from “one source: The Koran.” Flynn began his remarks by expressing support for the military-led coup d’état in Turkey:

[The Turkish military] has been just excised for many years by what, what really became a secular country, meaning a sort of, regular sort of nation-state, and then began to move toward Islamism. This is Turkey under Erdoğan, who is actually very close to President Obama.

So, I’m going to be very fascinated to see what happens, because if they, the military succeeds, then one of the things that came out of the military tonight, they’re about plus eight hours from here, so it’s probably about I don’t know, three-four o’clock in the morning there.

One of the things the military immediately said is: “We recognize our responsibilities with NATO, we recognize our responsibilities with the United Nations, we want to make sure that the world knows, we are, we want to be seen as a secular nation. This is the military.

[Applause]

So, yeah, I think that is worth clapping for.

5. New York Times Notes Flynn and Trump Share Islamophobic Outlook and Flynn’s Influence on the Campaign (November 2016)

The New York Times’s post-election profile of Flynn noted his anti-Islamist credentials throughout the campaign:

[Trump and Flynn] have both at times crossed the line into outright Islamophobia.

[Trump and Flynn] both exhibit a loose relationship with facts: General Flynn, for instance, has said that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading in the United States (it is not).

As an adviser, General Flynn has already proved to be a powerful influence on Mr. Trump, convincing the president-elect that the United States is in a “world war” with Islamist militants and must work with any willing allies in the fight, including President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

6. Flynn Supports Erdoğan Government’s Goals in the Hill Op-Ed (Nov. 08, 2016)

On Election Day 2016, The Hill published an op-ed by Flynn titled, “Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support.”

The op-ed criticized the Obama administration for not being friendly enough toward Erdoğan’s government and portrayed Gülen as a cleric who “portrays himself as a moderate, but he is in fact a radical Islamist.”

It compares Gülen to the founders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and labels him Turkey’s equivalent of Bin Laden:

To professionals in the intelligence community, the stamp of terror is all over Mullah Gülen’s statements in the tradition of Qutb and al Bana. Gülen’s vast global network has all the right markings to fit the description of a dangerous sleeper terror network. From Turkey’s point of view, Washington is harboring Turkey’s Osama bin Laden.

It also ties Gülen to the Clinton Foundation:

[F]unding seems to be no problem for Gülen’s network. Hired attorneys work to keep the lucrative government source of income for Gülen and his network going. Influential charities such as Cosmos Foundation continue their support for Gülen’s charter schools.

Incidentally, Cosmos Foundation is a major donor to Clinton Foundation. No wonder Bill Clinton calls Mullah Gülen “his friend.”

And concludes:

We need to adjust our foreign policy to recognize Turkey as a priority. We need to see the world from Turkey’s perspective. What would we have done if right after 9/11 we heard the news that Osama bin Laden lives in a nice villa at a Turkish resort while running 160 charter schools funded by the Turkish taxpayers?

The forces of radical Islam derive their ideology from radical clerics like Gülen, who is running a scam. We should not provide him safe haven. In this crisis, it is imperative that we remember who our real friends are.

When Flynn’s op-ed came out, Ekim Alptekin, the Turkish businessman who hired Flynn’s firm, told the New York Times : “This is not a guy who would be influenced by a contract. He wrote what he believes.”

Al Monitor ’s Turkey columnist Mustafa Akyol also told the paper of the warm reception Flynn’s op-ed had inside the government of Turkey: “You would expect to see [an Islamophobia] concern here, but quite the contrary: Flynn is quite a respected figure now in government circles, just because he wrote that Gülen should be extradited to Turkey.”

He added: “[Flynn’s op-ed] was greeted with great happiness here,” adding that Erdoğan supporters thought: “Finally, somebody in America who understands us.”

In late Nov., Alptekin denied that either Erdoğan or the Turkish government paid for Flynn’s op-ed, telling The Independent that the idea was “preposterous,” noting that the op-ed also criticized the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that Erdogan had sometimes supported.

He contended that Inovo’s contract with Flynn Intel Group was “not about representing the position of the Turkish government,” and Alptekin said that he was not affiliated with the Turkish government.

Flynn has a strong anti-Islamist streak, and yet he went from criticizing Turkey’s relatively pro-Islamist government and supporting the coup against Erdoğan, to publicly advocating for Gülen’s removal to face justice for the coup in Turkey. What changed between these two events—the coup and the op-ed—to cause Flynn to switch positions on Turkey?

II. A likely motive: lucrative lobbying contracts, and how Flynn’s private business activities may have affected his public positions

  1. Flynn Intel Group Signs Contract with Inovo BV (Aug. 2016)

In early August 2016, Flynn Intel Group was approached by Alptekin, the chairman of the Turkish-American Business Council, a Turkish economic relations board run by an appointee of Prs Erdoğan.

Alptekin proposed that Flynn work on a project repairing Turkey’s image in the United States with Alptekin’s Netherlands-based firm Inovo BV—work to be performed by Flynn’s firm over 90 days in exchange for $600,000. Flynn agreed.

Though Flynn later conceded in his belated filing that the Inovo work “could be construed to have principally helped the Republic of Turkey,” Flynn opted not to file this work with the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) database until strongly encouraged to do so by the Justice Department.

FARA requires lobbyists whose work directly or indirectly benefits a foreign government to file as agents of a foreign power. The Flynn firm would likely assert that because the Inovo work benefitted a business and not a foreign nation, the firm could instead file with Congress under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, and it did so in Sept. 2016.

2. Flynn Meets with Turkish Ministers Alongside Woolsey in New York (Sept. 21, 2016)

On September 21, Flynn met in New York with the Turkish foreign minister and energy ministers (the latter is also Erdoğan’s son-in-law), alongside former CIA Director James Woolsey and a former FBI agent, according to Woolsey’s account of the deliberations.

Woolsey later told the Wall Street Journal that the meeting discussed a plot to remove Turkish cleric Gülen from the United States and take him to Turkey.

According to a report by the Daily Caller, one month after the Sept. 2016 meeting between Flynn and Turkish ministers in New York, Flynn attended an event with Halil Mutlu, former director of the Turken Foundation, a U.S. charity focused on Turkish issues, and President Erdoğan’s cousin. (Readers should note: The Daily Caller generally has a far-right ideological lens, and has been criticized for having a white nationalist problem in recent months.)

3. Flynn Intel Group Lobbies Congress on Inovo’s Behalf (Sept.–Oct. 2016)

After signing the contract with Inovo BV, Flynn’s Intel Group began lobbying Congress on Inovo’s behalf, though Flynn himself did not participate in the lobbying. Flynn’s Sept. 2016 Lobbying Disclosure Act forms reveal that Robert Kelley, Flynn’s lawyer and a former Chief Counsel to a House subcommittee, managed the lobbying portion of the Inovo contract.

According to the FARA registration, in Oct. 2016, VP Bijan R. Kian met twice with Miles Taylor, National Security Advisor to the House Homeland Security Committee, to discuss Flynn Intel Group’s work for Inovo and research related to Turkey and Gülen.

According to a Daily Caller source, at the second meeting, Kian and Inovo representatives discussed Gülen with Taylor, and what they called his “shady” Gülen Movement Schools.

The source added that House committee staff were not receptive to Kian’s approach, and that Flynn was not present for the meeting. Beyond this Congressional outreach, the FARA registration also notes that Flynn’s firm  oversaw a PR firm SGR LLC’s outreach to an Arkansas state government official with respect to the Inovo work.

The AP reported that as part of the Taylor meeting, Flynn Intel Group staff suggested that Congress hold hearings about Gülen.

At the time of the filing, Alptekin told the AP : “I disagree with the filing…It would be different if I was working for the government of Turkey, but I am not taking directions from anyone in the government.” He said the filings were a response to “political pressure.”

4. Flynn Group’s VP Meets Alptekin Prior to The Hill Op-Ed (Nov. 2, 2016)

According to an in-depth profile of Flynn by The New Yorker ’s Nicholas Schmidle, on November 2, 2016, Alptekin privately met Flynn Intel Group VP Bijan R. Kian and other corporate officers at the firm’s offices in Alexandria, Va. Alptekin, believing that Trump was likely to lose the election, emphasized that, “We have to generate something to show Turkey how successful we can be…What success can we show them now?”

As Schmidle points out, Flynn’s op-ed in The Hill was published a week later.

5. Flynn and Alptekin Statement to the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 17, 2016)

Flynn told the Wall Street Journal in a Nov. 17 statement that he would end his relationship with his firm if offered to serve in the Trump administration. He said: “If I return to government service, my relationship with my company will be severed in accordance with the policy announced by President-elect Trump.”

Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin tells the Journal that he hired Flynn to advise him on the U.S.-Turkish security relationship, and more generally, to improve U.S.-Turkish relations.

6. WH Cabinet Secretary’s Post-Election Investigation into Flynn’s The Hill Op-Ed (Nov. 19, 2016)

On Nov. 19, the day after Trump appointed Flynn as his National Security Adviser, lawyer Bill McGinley, who later became White House Cabinet Secretary, called Kian and others to investigate the Flynn op-ed. A source told The New Yorker:

Some people seemed skeptical as to whether Flynn had really woken up the day before the election and felt compelled to write an op-ed defending Erdoğan…McGinley wanted to know if Turkish government dollars touched that op-ed.

Kian reportedly told McGinley that Flynn wrote the op-ed entirely on his own, and that it was unrelated to his work for Alptekin.

However, the Flynn group’s FARA filing noted that in October and early November, Flynn developed the op-ed based partly based on research done for the Inovo work, and that a draft was shared with Inovo before publication. Further, SGR LLC, a public relations firm Flynn Intel Group hired as part of the Inovo contract, helped Flynn place The Hill op-ed.

7. Second Meeting with Turkish officials on Alleged Gülen Plot in New York (Dec. 2016)

Mueller’s investigation is reportedly looking into whether, during a second alleged meeting between Flynn and Turkish government representatives in mid-Dec. 2016, participants discussed a plan for Flynn and Flynn Jr. to remove Gülen in exchange for up to $15 million dollars.

It is also reportedly looking into whether they discussed a separate plan to free Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab. The Wall Street Journal reported that the alleged meeting took place in mid-December at the 21 Club in New York, and the discussion considered forcibly removing Mr. Gülen from the U.S. on a private jet to the Turkish prison island of Imrali.

If the December meeting were to be confirmed, even if the more sensational allegations about the content of the meeting were not established, it could contradict Flynn Intel Group’s filing statements, which state that the Flynn firm’s contract with Inovo terminated in November 2016, and that is when Flynn’s paid work that benefited the Turkish government ended. Intentional false statements on a FARA form are a felony.

8. Flynn Tells Susan Rice “We’ll Take it From Here” on Raqqa Campaign (Jan. 10, 2017)

On Jan. 10, outgoing National Security Adviser Susan Rice presented Flynn a plan to imminently take over the Islamic State’s capital in Raqqa, Syria, according to the Washington Post. The plan involved arming Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in northern Syria, and Obama administration officials believed they had little time left to move forward with the operation.

The Post noted that Turkey’s Erdoğan had resisted their overtures to fight the Islamic State more robustly, leading in part to the U.S. plan to rely on the Kurds:

In contrast to Obama, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not see the Islamic State as his country’s No. 1 threat. In private meetings with senior U.S. officials in 2014, Erdoğan said the Kurds were his top concern and that removing Assad ranked second, according to U.S. and Turkish officials.

Erdoğan has long been upset by the U.S. support for Syrian Kurds, which he considers part of a terrorist group that threatens Turkey’s national security.

According to the Post , Flynn responded to Rice:

Don’t approve it…We’ll make the decision.

McClatchy reported that it is not known if Flynn consulted other administration officials before telling Rice to hold off on the decision, or whether Flynn’s decision was approved by a higher-ranking official such as Secretary of Defense nominee James Mattis.

Raqqa Plan is “Dead on Arrival” When Presented to Trump Officials (Jan. 17, 2017)

When the plan was turned over to the Trump administration on Jan. 17, per Flynn’s request, the Postreported that it “was dead on arrival.” According to McClatchy, “Some members of Congress, in private conversations, have even used the word ‘treason’ to describe Flynn’s intervention” with Rice.

And while there is no reporting whether Flynn advised Trump to hold off on the Raqqa assault, media outlets have noted that Trump only approved the plan weeks after he had fired Flynn.

10. Flynn, Turkish FM Meet over Breakfast at Trump Hotel (Jan. 18, 2017)

McClatchy reported that Flynn met Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu over breakfast on Jan. 18 to discuss U.S.-Turkish interests. It was later reported by Business Insider that Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was also present at the closed-door meeting at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Pro-government Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported at the time of the breakfast that the meeting was “a first direct reachout between the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan administration and the incoming Donald Trump administration.”

An aide to Cavusoglu told the paper that that “Çavuşoğlu was the only foreign leader at the breakfast and the topics on the U.S.-Turkish agenda were discussed by the attendees.” Cavusoglu would later attend Trump’s inauguration.

Met w/General Flynn,who will assume the position of National Security Advisor, and other officials at a working breakfast in Washington D.C.

11. President Trump’s Call with Erdogan (Feb. 7, 2017)

On Trump’s first call with Erdoğan, the pair agreed to engage in joint action against ISIS positions in Syria, according to two sources in Erdoğan’s office, Reuters reported.

They added that Erdoğan urged Trump not to support the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. Al-Monitorreported based that a senior Turkish official said that Erdoğan “drew attention to the close ties between the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers Party,” the Turkish-based Kurdish group. Likewise, Reuters added that CIA Director Mike Pompeo would be in Turkey on Feb. 9 to discuss security issues with Turkish officials.

Considering the nature of Flynn’s pre- and alleged post-election work on behalf of the Turkish government, it appears that the money paid to him as part of the Inovo contract may have played a decisive role in changing his position on Turkey.

The extent of his reversal would have negatively implicated U.S. national security interests if it figured into his response to Susan Rice on the operation to retake Raqqa, the Islamic State’s so-called capital.

But why would Flynn remain motivated by pecuniary interests once he was named to be national security advisor and then served in the administration?

Perhaps it was not a financial interest at that point. Perhaps it was a case of a person’s judgment being clouded, convincing themselves that they believe in a new policy outlook to reduce the cognitive dissonance that would otherwise persist.

Another explanation is a more illicit one. If Flynn and his son were still interested in mid-December in being personally paid $15 million by Turkey, there’s reason to think Flynn would not have dropped such interests going forward on other policies favorable to Turkey.

The allegations reported in the Wall Street Journal and NBC News involving the mid-December meeting certainly raise this specter. The available information in the public domain does not provide a sufficient basis to reach any firm conclusion.

It will be up to Mueller’s investigation and others to tell.

Artin Afkhami Associate Editor at Just Security.

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