Who needs the “false”, pretended, “make believe” improvement, rather than the real one? The Russians have the incorrigible historical affliction with the “Potyomkin villages”, which the American side does not share, wisely and luckily. 

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M.N.: The improvement in the US – Russia relations is needed (it looks like they cannot descend any lower) and is desirable, but: 

Who needs the “false”, pretended, “make believe” improvement, rather than the real one? The Russians have the incorrigible historical affliction with the “Potyomkin villages”, which the American side does not share, wisely and luckily. 

Address the real issues and problems, formulate and resolve the bones of contention, share honestly and fully all the information (and I mean all the information) on the present crisis, clear the mess honestly, in good faith, in-depth. And only after that, you can start rebuilding. 

The key quote: “It just ignores everything that caused the relationship to deteriorate and pretends that the election interference and the Ukraine crisis never happened,” Angela Stent, a former national intelligence officer on Russia during the Bush administration (who reviewed the document) told BuzzFeed.

“CIA Director Mike Pompeo traveled to Moscow in May for talks with Russian intelligence officials, but an agency spokesman declined to discuss the nature of the meeting.”

“Russia confirmed that it sought to reset relations with the Trump administration but was not met with “reciprocity,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said yesterday in response to reports that Russia sent a document to the U.S. in March setting out various initiatives. Thomas Grove reports at the Wall Street Journal.”

See also:

How did these 650,000 emails get into the Abedin -Weiner laptop? | Lawyers: Teen girl Weiner sexted wanted to affect election | EXCLUSIVE: HOW TRUMP BACKERS WEAPONIZED ANTHONY WEINER TO DEFEAT CLINTON

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION – 9.14.17

The son of Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn has been a subject of the Russia investigation, according to current and former government officials, the probe into Michael G. Flynn has been focused at least partly on his work with his father’s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group. Carol E. Lee, Julia Ainsley and Ken Dilanian report at NBC News.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation includes a “red-hot” focus on Russian activities on social media, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter, Mueller’s team has also been seeking additional information from companies like Facebook and Twitter. Chris Strohm reports at Bloomberg.

The representatives of social media companies should appear before the House Intelligence Committee as part of the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 electionRep. Adam Schiff (D-Califf.) said yesterday, Max Greenwood reporting at the Hill.

Facebook cannot “speculate” whether users will be told that they were targeted by Russian propaganda, a Facebook representative said yesterday, stating that the social media company’s focus is to cooperate with the Russia investigations. Ben Collins and Spencer Ackerman report at The Daily Beast.

Allies of former F.B.I. Director James Comey have hit back at the White House for comments made by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders this week suggesting that Comey should be investigated for criminal activity, Comey’s defenders arguing that the allegations are a political attempt to discredit the original investigator into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. Niall Stanage reports at the Hill.

The White House smears against Comey have been riddled with flaws and have sometimes offered ridiculous legal arguments that have undermined the credibility of the Trump’s team, and they need “far better legal arguments” if they want to continue the campaign against Comey. Bradley P. Moss writes at POLITICO Magazine.

The revelations connecting the Trump campaign and Russia are likely to continue throughout Trump’s presidency and, as a frenzied summer full of major political stories draws to a close, “let’s not lose sight of the Kremlingate scandal.” Max Boot writes at Foreign Policy, giving an overview of the evidence of collusion that emerged over the summer.

RUSSIA-BELARUS MILITARY EXERCISES

The Russia-Belarus joint “Zapad” military exercises starting today have caused alarm in Western nations concerned that the large-scale war games could be used as a cover for Moscow to establish a permanent military presence on the border with N.A.T.O. countries, with the Secretary General of N.A.T.O. Jens Stoltenberg stating that the “lack of transparency increases the risk of misunderstanding, miscalculations, accidents and incidents that can become dangerous.” Andrew Higgins reports at the New York Times.

The exercises simulate a separatist incursion into Belarus by three imaginary countries and will be overseen by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, demonstrating the importance that Putin attaches to the drills who has promised to prevent “color revolutions” in the former Soviet regions. David Filipov reports at the Washington Post.

Sweden has launched its largest military exercise in two decades amid the “Zapad” exercises, the neutral, non-N.A.T.O. country simulating an attack from the east on a Swedish Baltic island. Johan Ahlander reports at Reuters.

The fears about “Zapad” have been unduly heightened as there is no current political crisis on Russia’s northwestern border that Moscow could take advantage of; instead the West should see the exercise as an opportunity to understand the capabilities of the Russian military. Keir Giles writes at POLITICO.

The large-scale “Zapad” exercises have increased tensions and caused concerns, Ishaan Tharoor explains the key points about the military drills at the Washington Post.

RUSSIA-U.S. RELATIONS

Russia confirmed that it sought to reset relations with the Trump administration but was not met with “reciprocity,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said yesterday in response to reports that Russia sent a document to the U.S. in March setting out various initiatives. Thomas Grove reports at the Wall Street Journal.

The Trump administration’s decision to stop using products from the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab moves back the “prospects of bilateral ties recovery,” the Russian embassy in the U.S. said in a statement yesterday, also calling for the U.S. to consider a Russian proposal to form a joint group to address cyber security issues. Reuters reports.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Damascus for a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad yesterday, Shoigu handing Assad a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulating him on lifting the Islamic State group’s siege on the eastern city of Deir al-Zour, the meeting also taking place ahead of a new round of peace talks at the Kazakh capital of Astana due to take place today and tomorrow. Al Jazeera reports.

IRAQ

The Iraqi Kurdistan region “should be aware that there will almost certainly be a price to pay for insisting on its approach for a referendum,” a statement from Turkey’s Foreign ministry said today, the APreports.

The decision to hold a referendum on Sept. 25 “is a historic mistake,” Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said today, welcoming the Iraqi parliament’s vote to reject the referendum. Reuters reports.

The impending defeat of the Islamic State group in Mosul carries risks for the future of the city, opening up the possibility of reemerging sectarian divides, posing challenges in terms of rebuilding and has also been complicated by the upcoming referendum for an independent Iraqi Kurdistan. Liz Sly and Aaso Ameen Schwan explain at the Washington Post.

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION – 9.13.17

The Department of Justice should “look at” prosecuting former F.B.I. Director James Comey, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday, emphasizing that the President was “100 percent right” in firing Comey because of his “improper” actions that “likely could have been illegal.” Anne Gearan reports at the Washington Post.

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn refused to comply with a new request to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee, a congressional source said yesterday, Jim Sciutto reporting at CNN.

RUSSIA

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed the full normalization of relations with the U.S. in an effort that began in April, according to a document obtained by BuzzFeed News, which called for a reset of diplomatic, military and intelligence interactions to the position before Russia’s interventions in Ukraine and Syria. John Hudson reports at BuzzFeed News.

Two Russian government-backed news outlets have come under the scrutiny of the Justice Department, which is seeking to establish whether they are operating in the U.S. as foreign agents. Byron Tau reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Turkish President Reçep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed concerns raised by N.A.T.O. allies over a deal to purchase Russian air missile defense systems, adding that Turkey would “continue to take precautions when it comes to our security and we’ll fend for ourselves,” the AP reports.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY

Trump is likely to visit China in November during his first official visit to Asia where he is scheduled to attend three summits, a U.S. official said yesterday, Reuters reports.

Russia Sought A Broad Reset With Trump, Secret Document Shows

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A Russian proposal obtained by BuzzFeed News reveals Moscow’s ambitious plan to break with the past and launch a major rapprochement with the United States.

Originally posted on
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us russia relations – Google Search

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Story image for us russia relations from Axios

Putin proposed a full reset on USRussia relations

AxiosSep 12, 2017
Despite Trump’s public comments on Russia (“I would love to be able to get along with Russia“), engagement between the U.S. and Russia has …

‘Probably bigger than Watergate’: Hillary Clinton frets over Russian influence in 2016 election – Business Insider

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Business Insider
‘Probably bigger than Watergate’: Hillary Clinton frets over Russian influence in 2016 election
Business Insider
While promoting her new memoir on the contentious 2016 US presidential election, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday offered her thoughts on the assessment that Russia had interfered in theelection and potentially colluded with the Trump campaign. “This is a …and more »

 


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7:54 AM 9/13/2017 – RT, Sputnik and Russia’s New Theory of War – from The New York Times, and other stories

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Trump Investigations Report – Latest Posts

The World Web TimesNews | Photos | Audio and Video | Politics | Trump | Security | Reviews | Analysis | Current Topics | Opinions | Links | PostsLocal | Guides | Classifieds | News reading lists, review of media reports, digests, reviews, summaries, editors selected important articles

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Trump – from Huffington Post from mikenova (1 sites)
Donald Trump: Sean Spicer Wants A Slice Of Melissa McCarthy’s ‘SNL’ Emmy

“I think we should share,” joked the former White House press secretary.Donald Trump

Trump News Review

1. Trump from mikenova (194 sites)
Donald Trump | The Guardian: Can the Senate’s only black Republican help Trump with his race problem?
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michael flynn – Google News: Boss Michael Flynn praises goal hero Padraig Amond after ‘solid’ Newport County AFC display – South Wales Argus
FBI politicization – Google News: Axios AM – Axios
Rudy Giuliani – Google News: Isolated, Trump embraces New York friends — and instincts – CNN
1. Trump Circles: Elections from mikenova (16 sites): Rudy Giuliani – Google News: Isolated, Trump embraces New York friends — and instincts – CNN
Donald Trump: Sean Spicer Wants A Slice Of Melissa McCarthy’s ‘SNL’ Emmy
psychoanalysis of Donald Trump – Google News: Hillary in My Head – Slate Magazine
psychoanalysis of Donald Trump – Google News: Hillary in My Head – Slate Magazine
organized crime and Russian intelligence – Google News: These Cigarette Smugglers Are On The Frontlines Of Russia’s Spy Wars – BuzzFeed News
Donald Trump – Google News: Twitter Co-Founder: Media More to Blame for Trump Than Twitter Was – Fortune
Donald Trump – Google News: Twitter Co-Founder: Media More to Blame for Trump Than Twitter Was – Fortune
1. Trump Circles: Elections from mikenova (16 sites): Donald Trump – Google News: Twitter Co-Founder: Media More to Blame for Trump Than Twitter Was – Fortune
organized crime and terrorism – Google News: India Reinforces Massive Assistance to Afghanistan’s Fight Against Terror – Sputnik International
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Saved Stories – 1. Trump
Decline and Fall of the Trumpian Empire – Cascadia Weekly
These Cigarette Smugglers Are On The Frontlines Of Russia’s Spy Wars – BuzzFeed News
‘Islamic State’: Will it survive a post-caliphate future? – Deutsche Welle
Isolated, Trump embraces New York friends — and instincts – CNN
Flynn could face new pressure in Russia probe as Dems allege he concealed contacts – ABC News
Michael Flynn ‘promoted US-Russian nuclear project from White House’
Trump’s Voter Fraud Panel Unlikely to Recommend Reforms – Voice of America
Michael Flynn reportedly rejects new request to testify in Russia investigation – Business Insider
Congress To Trump: Denounce Hate Groups
China, Russia assure support to Pakistan after Donald Trump criticism, says report – The Indian Express
White House Insists DOJ ‘Should Look Into’ Prosecuting Former FBI Chief James Comey – Newsweek
Donald Trump – Google News: Donald Trump Reportedly Loved The Disturbing Steve Bannon ’60 Minutes’ Interview – The National Memo (blog)

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Sputnik investigation | Firtash could be extradited: The FBI recently questioned a former White House correspondent for Sputnik | Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash could be extradited “within weeks,” his lawyer said Monday

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Day in Photos – Voice of America: September 11, 2017 

M.N.:

  • Stop the immigration from Russia and the former USSR! 
  • Stop the abuse of green card lottery by Russian Intelligence and Russian Mob! 
  • Send all the Russian agents back to Russia (after flipping them)! 
  • Revive and reanimate the US government media outlets, such as RL-RFE and VOA, supply them with the new set of steel teeth! 
  • Investigate thoroughly the foreign interference (Russian, Chinese, Iranian, and others) in the previous US elections, especially of 2012, which were the antecedents of the present crisis, learn from it and prevent it with the unsurmountable firewalls! 
  • Turn all the influence devices, that the US opponents used, back onto them, magnify them ten fold, and fight them with their own weapons! 

Wake up, already! 

The Cold War is not over, it just has started! 

______________________________

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

Some of Trump’s lawyers advised the president this summer that Jared Kushner should step down as a senior White House adviser due to his dealings with Russian officials and businesspeople, arguing that Kushner’s position would create legal complications for the president in relation to the Russia investigation. Carol D. Leonnig reports at the Washington Post.

The connections between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin could ultimately lead to the undoing of both of their presidencies, creating domestic difficulties for the respective leaders and causing foreign policy tensions. Gideon Rachman argues at the Financial Times.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Attorney General Jeff Session and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats urged Republicans and Democrats yesterday to permanently renew a wide-ranging surveillance law authorized by section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Services Act. Katie Bo Williams reports at the Hill.

A U.S. citizen will stand trial in Brooklyn today on charges of conspiring to support al-Qaeda and helping to prepare a 2009 car bomb on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan. Brendan Pierson reports at Reuters.

_________________________________________

SputnikNewsSputnik investigation – News 

“This is incredibly significant,” said Asha Rangappa, a former FBI counterintelligence agent and now an associate dean of Yale Law School, about the bureau’s questioning of the former Sputnik reporter. “The FBI has since the 1970s taken pains not to be perceived in any way as infringing on First Amendment activity. But this tells me they have good information and intelligence that these organizations have been acting on behalf of the Kremlin and that there’s a direct line between them and the [Russian influence operations] that are a significant threat to our democracy…

In his letter to Justice, Fionda  said he was employed by RIA Global LLC, a media company associated with Sputnik, from Sept. 5 to Oct. 19, 2015. During that time, Fionda wrote, Sputnik conducted “a perception management information warfare program” about Russia’s military involvement in Syria. He said the news organization falsely described Russia’s targets in that country as “terrorists” affiliated with the jihadist group ISIS when, he asserted, the Russian forces were actually bombing other anti-Assad rebel groups.

In another instance, Fionda said, an article he wrote in September 2015 about President Obama’s repatriation of Guantánamo detainees to a number of countries was “censored” to omit any reference to the fact that six of the detainees were being sent back to Russia, where they were later imprisoned… 

Fionda said his last straw with Sputnik came on Oct. 19, 2015, after excerpts of private emails from then-CIA Director John Brennan were published by a hacker on Twitter. He claimed Gavasheli, Sputnik’s U.S. editor in chief, asked him to “obtain the CIA Director’s stolen emails” from the hacker.

“I refused because I believed this was a solicitation to espionage,” Fionda wrote.

When he refused the order, Fionda wrote that Gavasheli told him to “get the f— out of my office” and then fired him. Gavasheli, in his interview with Yahoo News, denied this and said Fionda was fired after falsely claiming his father was ill in order to take time off from work… 

The probe into Sputnik also comes shortly after the Russian news agency announced a significant expansion in the U.S. capital: It took over a popular Washington FM radio station dedicated to playing bluegrass music and replaced it with an all-talk format with hosts who regularly criticize U.S. policies — as well as one co-host who is a former Breitbart News reporter and Trump supporter. “I’m sure you heard a lot about us,” Gavasheli was quoted as saying by the Washington Post. “Now you can actually listen to us.” 

Russian operatives created events on Facebook to organize political protests in the U.S., 

including an August 2016 anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rally in Idaho. Ben Collins, Kevin Poulsen and Spencer Ackerman reveal at The Daily Beast.

Russian propaganda in 2016 elections – News

Image result for sputnik is GRU's fellow traveler

Sputnik is GRU’s fellow traveler News

Story image for sputnik is GRU's fellow traveler from Daily Beast

Inside Russia’s Fake News Playbook

Daily BeastApr 27, 2017
Content created by white outlets (RT and Sputnik News) promoting the … “FellowTravelers” – In some cases, Russia has curried the favor of “Fellow … such as those GRU [Russia’s foreign intelligence agency] leaders and …

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Dmytro Firtash – News | Dmytro Firtash extradition – News 

Story image for Dmytro Firtash extradition from Chicago Tribune

Lawyer says extradition of oligarch tied to Trump campaign chief …

Chicago Tribune12 hours ago
Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash could be extradited “within weeks,” his lawyer said Monday. (GEORGES SCHNEIDER/AFP/Getty Images).

___________________________

sputnik investigation – Google Search

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Story image for sputnik investigation from HuffPost

Sputnik, The Russian News Agency, Is Under Investigation By The FBI

HuffPost17 hours ago
WASHINGTON — The FBI recently questioned a former White House correspondent for Sputnik, the Russian-government-funded news agency …
US Probes Russia’s Sputnik News Agency for Foreign Agent Law …
InternationalThe Moscow Times11 hours ago
FBI Questions Former Sputnik Correspondent In Election-Meddling …
In-DepthRadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty15 hours ago

Lawyer says extradition of oligarch tied to Trump campaign chief … – Chicago Tribune

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Chicago Tribune
Lawyer says extradition of oligarch tied to Trump campaign chief …
Chicago Tribune
Prosecutors say wiretapped conversations link Ukrainian to Chicago, argue he will flee to Russia.and more »

Russian news agency that pushed DNC conspiracy reportedly under FBI investigation – Business Insider Nordic

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Russian news agency that pushed DNC conspiracy reportedly under FBI investigation
Business Insider Nordic
The FBI is investigating whether Russia’s state-owned Sputnik News is a propaganda arm of the Kremlin and therefore operating in the United States in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), Yahoo News reported Sunday. Sputnik’s former …and more »

FBI probes Russian news agency over election propaganda – New York Post

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New York Post
FBI probes Russian news agency over election propaganda
New York Post
The FBI is investigating a Russian government-backed news agency to see if it spread Kremlin propaganda during the 2016 presidential election, according to a report on Monday. Federal agents have obtained a thumb drive that contains thousands of …and more »

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin could destroy each other – Financial Times

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Financial Times
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin could destroy each other
Financial Times
If Vladimir Putin did help to put Donald Trump in the White House, it would be the ultimate intelligence coup. Yet, it might also prove to be the ultimate own goal. An operation designed to ease the pressure on Mr Putin’s government by installing a 
Putin on Trump: He’s not my bride, and I’m not his groomNewburgh Gazette
Putin’s peacekeepers: Beware of Russians bearing giftsEuropean Council on Foreign Relations
Not in love: Putin declares Trump is not his brideHi-tech Beacon
The Nation. –HiTechFacts
all 50 news articles »

Story image for Dmytro Firtash extradition from Chicago Tribune

Lawyer says extradition of oligarch tied to Trump campaign chief …

Chicago Tribune12 hours ago
Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash could be extradited “within weeks,” his lawyer said Monday. (GEORGES SCHNEIDER/AFP/Getty Images).

Story image for Dmytro Firtash extradition from RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

Austrian Court Rejects Spanish Extradition Request For Ukrainian …

RadioFreeEurope/RadioLibertyAug 30, 2017
A court in Austria has rejected a Spanish extradition request for Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash. The move paves the way for the …

Story image for Dmytro Firtash extradition from Chicago Tribune

Extradition of Ukrainian oligarch with links to Trump campaign …

Chicago TribuneAug 31, 2017
Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash arrives for the start of his trial at the courts of justice in Vienna, Austria on Feb. 21, 2017. Firtash was arrested …

Russian thread runs through Chicago extradition case

WLS-TVSep 8, 2017
Firtash is weeks or months away from extradition to stand trial here because Austria has already made a final decision that extradition is …
_____________________________________

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin could destroy each other

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If Vladimir Putin did help to put Donald Trump in the White House, it would be the ultimate intelligence coup. Yet, it might also prove to be the ultimate own goal. An operation designed to ease the pressure on Mr Putin’s government by installing a friendly face in the White House has instead led to a tightening of sanctions on Russia, and a dangerous increase in the domestic political pressure on the Russian president.

As for Mr Trump, his campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia may have aided his electoral victory at the risk of destroying his presidency. It would be a strange irony if the intimacy of the Putin and Trump camps ultimately ended both presidents’ political careers.

Of course, the Russian government and Mr Trump’s diehard defenders still deny that any such collusion took place. But the US intelligence services are certain that Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic party emails.

It seems likely that the hack influenced the course of a tight election. I was in Philadelphia on the eve of the Democratic convention in July 2016 when the first leaked emails were released. The revelation that Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the co-chair of the Democratic National Committee, had been privately disparaging the Bernie Sanders campaign forced her resignation, and ensured that the convention got off to a chaotic start.

Mr Sanders’ supporters were convinced that their man had been robbed. And Sanders voters who switched to the Republicans, were crucial to Mr Trump’s victories in the vital states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. We now also know that Russian operators used Facebook and Twitter to spread anti-Clinton messages.

Throughout the campaign, Mr Trump was consistently sympathetic to the Kremlin. Whether he was motivated by ideology, investment or some embarrassing secret has yet to emerge.

But the Russian connection set off the chain of events that may ultimately unravel his presidency. Alarmed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe into his Russian contacts, Mr Trump sacked James Comey, the head of the FBI.

The backlash against the Comey sacking led to the appointment of Robert Mueller, a former head of the Bureau, as a special prosecutor to look into the Trump-Russia connection. And the remorseless progress of the Mueller inquiry is likely to spark indictments and resignations. That, in turn, could lead to the impeachment of Mr Trump — and the destruction of his presidency.

As for Mr Putin, the moment it became clear that his gamble might backfire was when Mr Trump was forced to sack General Michael Flynn, his first national security adviser, for not disclosing contacts with the Russian government. From that point on, it became politically impossible for Mr Trump to help Russia by easing sanctions. On the contrary, the backlash against Russian interference in the US election has led to the intensification of sanctions, with a distrustful Congress ensuring that Mr Trump cannot lift these measures unilaterally.

Indeed, for the Republican Congress getting tough on Russia seems to have become a surrogate for getting tough on Mr Trump. The sanctions added over the summer were aimed specifically at the Russian mining and oil industries, In response, Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, accused the US of “a declaration of full-fledged economic warfare on Russia”.

So far from improving under Mr Trump, US-Russian relations are now as bitter as at any time since the height of the cold war. Realising that the Trump administration will not be able to lift sanctions, the Kremlin resorted to a mass expulsion of US diplomats in response to an earlier expulsion of Russians by the Obama administration. The prospect that the US might supply arms to Ukraine has become much more real. And Russia is about to embark on some major military exercises in eastern Europe, which will heighten US fears.

The irony for Mr Putin is that, if he had simply let events take their course, sanctions on Russia could have been eased in the natural run of events — even with Hillary Clinton in the White House. Mrs Clinton had already tried one “reset” with Russia as secretary of state, and might have been prepared to try another. Many in Europe were also tiring of sanctions on Russia.

When the Mueller inquiry reports, there is likely to be a renewed spike in American outrage towards Russia. The most obvious threat is posed to Mr Trump. But the Mueller inquiry also poses an indirect threat to Mr Putin. He will contest a presidential election in March and faces a re-energised opposition, led by the popular and daring Alexei Navalny, and a deteriorating economy that has hit Russian consumers hard. Even though very few people expect Mr Putin to lose the election, the pro-Putin euphoria of a couple of years ago is clearly fading. Articles about the post-Putin era have begun to appear in the Russian media.

Above all, the most powerful economic interests in Russia now know that there is no longer any light at the end of the sanctions tunnel. In fact, things are likely to get worse. Something radical will have to change to get sanctions lifted. And that change might be the removal of Mr Putin from the Kremlin. Indeed, it is only when Mr Trump and Mr Putin both go that it may truly be possible to reset US-Russian relations.

gideon.rachman@ft.com

If you are a subscriber, add Gideon to myFT in order to receive alerts when his articles are published. To do so, just click the button “add to myFT” which appears on his author page

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Why Robert Mueller May Have to Give Donald Trump Immunity

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The Trump-Russia Investigation has accelerated. Armed with more evidence, and assisted by many of the most talented prosecutors and investigators in the country, special counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., to investigate whether President Trump and his associates colluded with Russian operatives to win the White House.


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TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION – Update – 9:22 AM 9/11/2017: Why Robert Mueller May Have to Give Donald Trump Immunity – By BENNETT GERSHMAN

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TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expected to question key West Wing aides and Trump campaign officials, including figures such as former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, interim communications director Hope Hicks, former press secretary Sean Spicer and chief counsel Don McGahn, Josh Dawsey reports at POLITICO.

President Trump’s firing of former F.B.I. Director James Comey was the biggest mistake in “modern political history,” the former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon said in an interview said yesterday, adding that the firing would not have led to the wider-ranging investigation into links between Trump campaign and Russian election interference by Robert Mueller and his team. Fred Barbash reports at the Washington Post.

The congressional investigations into Russian electoral interference last week have revealed some key information, Morgan Chalfant sets out five major details at the Hill.

President Trump is likely to be subpoenaed by the federal grand jury impaneled by Mueller and it is “conceivable that the prosecutors will grant him immunity and thereby compel him to testify,” Bennett Gershman writes at The Daily Beast.

Why Robert Mueller May Have to Give Donald Trump Immunity

By BENNETT GERSHMAN

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The Trump-Russia Investigation has accelerated. Armed with more evidence, and assisted by many of the most talented prosecutors and investigators in the country, special counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., to investigate whether President Trump and his associates colluded with Russian operatives to win the White House.

The fact that a federal grand jury has been impaneled is a significant development by itself; prosecutors don’t ordinarily convene grand juries unless there is a compelling reason to do so. The grand jury probe has expanded to include whether Trump obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey. And it is also reasonable to believe that Mueller’s team is presenting evidence to the grand jury relating to financial connections between Trump, the Trump Organization, and Trump’s business associates with Russia and Russian interests.

We have a fairly good picture of where the grand jury investigation will go. Although it is not known who all has been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury, many of them have already made statements, and we can reasonably assume that many of them already have been interrogated by federal investigators. We do not know whether any of these individuals has sought immunity from prosecution, been granted immunity, and has given testimony. Also, the fact that investigators obtained a search warrant to search Paul Manafort’s home in July is quite significant. Manafort was Trump’s campaign manager and had the most far-reaching financial ties with the Ukraine and Russia. Prosecutors in order to obtain a warrant must demonstrate probable cause to believe that Manafort committed federal crimes.

But clearly the most critical witness of all, and a likely target of the investigation, is Trump himself. As the grand jury investigation accelerates, and it focuses on Trump’s role, he will almost certainly be subpoenaed, and his testimony demanded. When that happens, what follows is unclear. Given Trump’s almost pathological contempt for the rule of law and for Mueller’s investigation, which Trump has repeatedly disparaged as a “witch hunt,” it is reasonably predictable that Trump’s lawyers will flout the grand jury’s investigation, mock Mueller, and refuse to testify. Will Trump succeed in spurning the process?

It should be emphasized that Trump has no legal privilege to avoid testifying before the grand jury. A grand jury, the most formidable investigative body in the United States, has the power to compel testimony from anyone, even a president, as Bill Clinton was compelled to do for the first time in U.S. history in the 1998 investigation by independent counsel Kenneth Starr into whether he lied about having an inappropriate relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. And the Supreme Court has consistently reaffirmed the awesome powers of the grand jury, stating that “the public has a right to every man’s evidence,” including the president.

Although Trump’s lawyers most likely will advise him to resist testifying, probably claiming, as did former President Richard Nixon, some type of executive privilege, they will almost certainly lose. The Supreme Court decisively rejected that claim when Nixon refused to comply with a grand jury subpoena for records of conversations with White House associates.

When Trump is summoned, and presumably despite his resistance if ordered by a court to testify, will he comply? If not, will he be held in contempt? If Trump and the prosecutors try to negotiate some compromise, it is conceivable that the prosecutors will grant him immunity and thereby compel him to testify. As long as the prosecutors are careful, giving Trump immunity will not necessarily have any significant legal impact on the investigation, or the ability of prosecutors to charge Trump with crimes.

Immunity prevents the prosecutors from using Trump’s testimony against him, and from using any evidentiary leads gained from his testimony. But assuming that proof of Trump’s criminal offenses has already been discovered—such as proof of his obstruction of justice in seeking to halt the Flynn investigation or firing Comey—then despite giving him immunity, that proof can legally be used to prosecute him. And despite immunity, Trump can be prosecuted for perjury for giving false testimony.

Based on information that already is known, and reasonable inferences from other information that has likely been discovered (such as Trump’s financial records and testimony from other witnesses), these are some of the general areas that Trump likely would be questioned about. It is important to note that each of these areas is a relatively core subject, and would likely be the foundation to develop peripheral questions:

– Did Trump know when he was running for president and hired Paul Manafort as his campaign manager that Manafort had extensive financial dealings and lobbying work with Ukrainian and pro-Russian officials? Did he discuss Manafort’s connections with anyone?

– What was the basis for Trump’s decision to fire Comey? With whom did he discuss the firing? Did he discuss the firing with Attorney General Jeff Sessions?

– Did Trump know that his son Donald Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Paul Manfort met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign and allegedly obtained damaging information about Hillary Clinton? When did he learn about the meeting? From whom? What was his response?

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– Did Trump alter Don Jr.’s initial statement about the Russia meeting, in which Don Jr. stated that he met to discuss Russian adoption but then changed this fabricated story to a new explanation that he wanted to judge Clinton’s “fitness.”

– Did Trump know that during his campaign his company was seeking to develop a real estate project in Moscow? What was he told? By whom?

– Did Trump have any financial dealings, projects, loans, and any other financial or other interests with Russia, Russian officials, and Russian business interests?

– Did Trump know of any contacts between persons involved in his campaign and Russian intelligence operatives? Who were these persons? Did he have any conversations with them?

As with so many other grand jury investigations, it is possible that the substantive offenses that the grand jury is investigating—here the principal focus is collusion between the Trump team and Russian officials to undermine the presidential election—may not be able to be proved conclusively. Nevertheless, when confronted with specific questions about their knowledge of certain facts, their previous statements, previous meetings, and numerous other relevant albeit peripheral details about subjects that reasonably should be memorable to the witness, it is not uncommon for the witness either to claim lack of memory, or lie.

And if Trump becomes a grand jury witness, and given his abundantly documented penchant for lying, brazenly, and almost reflexively, it is very likely that the prosecutors will be able to pose clear, specific, and non-ambiguous questions to Trump of which he might claim an inability to remember, but which he also might answer falsely and thereby commit a felony. Indeed, that is exactly how Independent Counsel Starr was able to lay the foundation for the impeachment of President Clinton by in effect trapping Clinton into lying about his conduct with intern Lewinsky.

Whether Trump will be indicted, for what, and the legal consequences, are not clear or predictable. Indeed, the question of whether a sitting president can be prosecuted at all has been hotly debated. Whether Trump is able to claim some type of presidential immunity from prosecution may ultimately have to be ruled on by the Supreme Court, as was the case with Nixon. The court did hold in the Paula Jones civil lawsuit that Clinton enjoyed no immunity from civil liability for unofficial acts committed before he became president. The lesson in that case is that

no person is above the law, even a president. Whether that lesson applies to Trump may likely be decided soon.

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· · · · ·

First Read’s Morning Clips: Remembering 9/11

RUSSIA

Western security officials are closely monitoring Russia as it prepares for large-scale joint “Zapad” military exercises with Belarus starting Thursday, David Filipov and Michael Birnbaum explain at the Washington Post.

German officials have been mystified by the lack of Russian interference in September’s upcoming election, having expected a series of revelations following the suspected hacking by Russians into the German Parliament in 2015. Griff Witte reports at the Washington Post.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions proposed giving polygraph tests to National Security Council staff to establish who has been leaking information, according to a source familiar with the matter. Kaitlan Collins reports at CNN.

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