7:41 AM 11/19/2017 – Mueller investigation team lean, organized, smart – Mark Osler

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John Raines – Google Search
John Raines – Google Search
John Raines, accomplice in 1971 burglary that revealed FBI abuses, dies at 84
U.S. Government Arrests 200 MS-13 Gang Members in Central America and At Home
What Russia Did to Control the American Mind and Put Trump in the White House
Head of Puerto Rico’s electric utility resigns amid questions about slow repairs in hurricane’s wake – Washington Post
4:01 AM 11/18/2017 Top Russian Official Tried to Broker Backdoor Meeting Between Trump and Putin New York Times
4:33 AM 11/18/2017 Have I got a bridge in Brooklyn just for you! Or: The Kazakh soap opera with Trump ties
Manafort didn’t just consult for Russian-backed politicians in Ukraine he also helped them form a new party – Business Insider
russian organized crime in us – Google News: Kushner failed to disclose outreach from Putin ally to Trump campaign – NBCNews.com
trump investigated by the fbi – Google News: Kushner received emails from Sergei Millian an alleged dossier source who was in touch with George Papadopoulos – Business Insider
Russia influence in Eastern Europe – Google News: Putin’s game plan to seize European territory by DISTRACTING world, ex KGB spy claims – Express.co.uk
Donald Trump | The Guardian: Trump’s Panama tower used for money-laundering by condo owners, reports say
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Roberts: Have I got a bridge in Brooklyn just for you! | Opinion
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Jared Kushner Keeps Failing To Disclose Connections With Russians – HuffPost
Jared Kushner still waiting on permanent security clearance | New … – New York Post
Jared Kushner Still Doesn’t Have White House Security Clearance After Ten Months

 

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Mark Osler, Board of Contributors: Mueller investigation team lean, organized, smart | Board Of Contributors

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There is a lot we don’t know about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election. Most importantly, we don’t know who will be implicated and charged beyond the three men already indicted (Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopolous). We don’t know how broad the investigation has become. And we certainly don’t know if President Trump will be implicated at all.

That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to observe, and what I see is the outline of a remarkable organization at work. The Mueller team is like a clock: it offers simple information to the public, but a lot of whirring gears and intricate machinery is hidden from view. While we don’t know much about these inner workings, there is much to consider from what we can see on the outside.

First, there is broad consensus that Mueller hired a remarkable team. He cherry-picked from the ranks of the Department of Justice and private firms to get people with singular experience and remarkable talent. For example, I have long told people that Michael Dreeben — a veteran DOJ hand who has argued more than 100 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court — is the best appellate lawyer I have ever seen. He was opposing counsel (working for the George W. Bush administration) in a series of sentencing cases I was involved in, and his talents were prodigious. When Mueller pulled him in, I knew he was hiring for talent rather than partisanship.

Moreover, Mueller has kept the team relatively lean. According to Politico, he now has 17 lawyers on board. Contrast that with Ken Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton, which peaked at a staff of 225 including employees from the DOJ, people detailed from other agencies and outside consultant and advisers. The lean staffing has probably helped prevent leaks, too. The discipline shown by the Mueller team stands in sharp contrast to Trump’s squad, which has sometimes been fractious and even was caught loudly discussing strategy at an outside table at a DC restaurant adjacent to the New York Times office.

Second, the Mueller team seems to be playing chess three moves ahead. One aspect of that strategic thinking became clear in the last few months: They are working around the president’s pardon power by constructing their investigation in such a way that it cannot be foiled by clemency. For example, consider the way that they handled Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos. He was arrested this past July for lying to the FBI and immediately began cooperating with Mueller. Rather than trumpeting this catch, they kept it very quiet; they bled him dry of information before giving him his deal and only recently unsealed the documents that revealed his plea. Pardoning him wasn’t even on the radar till it was too late. The investigators already had nearly everything of value that he might have to offer.

Similarly, the indictment of Paul Manafort reveals Mueller’s strategy. While the indictment lays out facts that would seem to support charges of tax fraud and tax evasion, those were not among the actual charges. That allows a way to foil a Trump presidential pardon: Mueller could, post-pardon, either go after those new charges or work with state authorities to bring them in state court, where they are unreachable by presidential clemency (which only applies to federal charges). When I was a federal prosecutor in Detroit, we used a similar technique against serial bank robbers. We (the feds) would take half the robberies to the grand jury and pursue the case to conviction (the sentence would usually be about the same as if we included all of the robberies). If something went wrong, we still had another shot with the remaining half, which could be pursued in federal court or sent to the state for prosecution.

Finally, the Mueller team seems to have one of the most essential prosecutorial virtues of all: patience. Often, there is public or political pressure to charge a lot of people quickly, but that can lead to weak cases and mistrials or acquittals. Patience allows the prosecution team to gradually build up cases and sequentially “flip” witnesses, assuring that there is plenty of evidence on each element of a crime before the public fight begins. Certainly, Mueller could have charged a broad group of defendants at once, perhaps even with cookie-cutter charges. That he declined to do so is a sign of experience and wisdom.

Most outcomes of the special counsel’s work are yet to be revealed. What is evident already, however, is the work of a skilled lawyer expertly using the tools of his trade. It is important to remember that such work often results in not charging people who are under public suspicion — and that can be justice, too.

A former federal prosecutor, Mark Osler is the Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. He has advocated for sentencing and clemency policies rooted in principles of human dignity. He formerly served on the Baylor Law School faculty.

John Raines – Google Search

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John Raines, accomplice in 1971 burglary that revealed FBI abuses …

The Boston Globe2 hours ago
WASHINGTON — For 43 years, John Raines, a Temple University religion professor and ordained Methodist minister, lived with an explosive …
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John Raines, 84, Who Evaded Capture in an FBI Break-in, Dies

New York TimesNov 17, 2017
One day in May 1971, John C. Raines, a religion professor at Temple University, had just returned to his home in Germantown, Pa., from …
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John Raines, 84, civil rights activist, cleric, and Temple prof

<a href=”http://Philly.com” rel=”nofollow”>Philly.com</a>Nov 13, 2017
John Raines, a teacher and cleric who believed the FBI had illegally spied on civil rights leaders and antiwar protesters, drove the getaway car.
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Philly’s John Raines was an American hero. Today we need a lot …

<a href=”http://Philly.com” rel=”nofollow”>Philly.com</a>Nov 16, 2017
As the sun set on March 8, 1971, two central figures in the burglary plot — John Raines, a tall and distinguished looking religion professor at …
Story image for John Raines from Bend Bulletin

Professor helped shine light on FBI abuses

Bend Bulletin17 hours ago
John Raines with his wife, Bonnie, and their grandchildren at home in Media, Pa., Jan. 2, 2014. Raines, a Temple University religion professor …
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Former religion professor, activist John Raines dies at 84

Temple NewsNov 14, 2017
John Raines, a professor emeritus of religion, died in his Philadelphia home on Sunday from congestive heart failure, the Inquirer reported.
John Raines, accomplice in 1971 burglary that revealed FBI abuses, dies at 84

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WASHINGTON — For 43 years, John Raines, a Temple University religion professor and ordained Methodist minister, lived with an explosive secret. On March 8, 1971, he and his wife, Bonnie Raines, then the parents of three young children, had joined six other conspirators in burglarizing an FBI office in suburban Philadelphia.

The cache of documents they stole revealed a sweeping campaign of intimidation by the FBI, then led by J. Edgar Hoover, against civil rights and antiwar activists, communists, and other dissenters. One now-infamous document told agents to ramp up interviews with perceived subversives ‘‘to get the point across there is an FBI agent behind every mailbox.’’

Calling themselves the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI, the burglars anonymously distributed the stolen documents to newspapers including the Washington Post. On March 24, 1971, over the objections of Attorney General John Mitchell, the Post became the first publication to report on the FBI surveillance. Other news accounts followed, along with public outrage, and eventually the formation of a committee led by US Senator Frank Church, an Idaho Democrat, that uncovered widespread abuses in the US intelligence agencies.

Hundreds of FBI agents investigated the break-in but failed to identify the burglars, who, if apprehended, would have faced years in prison. Only years after the fact — long after the statute of limitations had expired — did Dr. Raines revealed his identity to Betty Medsger, the Post journalist who had broken the news of the stolen documents.

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In 2014, Medsger published a book-length account of the story, ‘‘The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI.’’ In an interview, she described the actions of Dr. Raines and his wife as ‘‘one of the most powerful acts of resistance in the history of the country.’’

Her account helped make Dr. Raines, by then in the final years of his life, a hero to civil libertarians. He died Nov. 12 at his home in Philadelphia at 84. The cause was congestive heart failure, according to his wife.

Dr. Raines credited his wife with drawing him into their activism. ‘‘I was dragged along by her enthusiasm,’’ he once told the Los Angeles Times — an account she seemed to confirm, quipping that ‘‘he had more sleepless nights’’ than she did. But Dr. Raines also had a long history of civil rights work.

He had participated in the Freedom Rides to challenge segregation in interstate transit and marched in Selma, Ala., in 1965, when state troopers assaulted protesters with clubs and tear gas. He was angered by Hoover’s antagonism to the movement, and to the untouchable status the FBI director maintained.

‘‘Nobody in Washington was going to hold him accountable,’’ Dr. Raines told NPR in 2014. ‘‘It was his FBI, nobody else’s.’’

With his wife, Dr. Raines had broken into draft board offices to disrupt the Vietnam War draft. But no act of civil disobedience was as daring as the break-in at the FBI office in Media, Pa.

The Raineses were recruited by a Haverford College physics professor, William Davidon, who knew of their protest activities. ‘‘After the chin came off the floor and we started talking about it, it seemed more and more plausible,’’ Dr. Raines recalled.

The conspirators plotted the break-in from the Raineses’ attic. Bonnie Raines, who ran a day care, managed to gain entry and survey the FBI office in advance by posing as a college student seeking information about employment opportunities. In the event of their arrest and imprisonment, the couple arranged for Dr. Raines’s brother to care for their children.

The group scheduled the break-in to coincide with a boxing match in which Joe Frazier would defeat Muhammad Ali — astutely predicting that the momentous sporting event would distract neighbors of the FBI office as well as police. Without much trouble, they used a crowbar to break in, then carried out more than 1,000 files in suitcases. Dr. Raines drove the getaway car to a Quaker farm, where they donned gloves and began combing through the documents.

‘‘Within an hour, we knew we hit the jackpot,’’ Raines recalled.

The documents contained early evidence of COINTELPRO, short for Counterintelligence Program, which, the FBI later acknowledged, was ‘‘rightfully criticized by Congress and the American people for abridging First Amendment rights.’’

Among other revelations, the materials showed that the FBI had systematically surveilled and harassed African-Americans, particularly civil rights activists.

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U.S. Government Arrests 200 MS-13 Gang Members in Central America and At Home

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A major crackdown led to the arrest of more than 200 alleged members and associates of the international street gang, MS-13, officials announced Wednesday.

“Today I am pleased to announce the arrest of 267 MS-13 gang members and associates in conjunction of ICE’s most recent targeted anti-gang effort known as ‘Operation Raging Bull,’” Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said, NBC News reports.

The Mara Salvatrucha gang, or MS-13, began in the 1980s in Los Angeles. Since then, the FBI said its spread to 46 states, according to the BBC. Its members—which Trump has referred to as “animals”—have also spread to Canada, Mexico, and Central America.

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Suspected members of the gang MS-13 remain handcuffed under custody at Isidro Menendez Justice Court in San Salvador, on September 12, 2017. Security forces in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala on Monday and Tuesday arrested more than 1,000 suspected gang members and seized 35 properties, after discovering the gangs were using small businesses they extorted to also launder money. Marvin Reckons/AFP/Getty Images

Trump–who hopes to “destroy” the violent gang–came one step closer, as authorities announced the conclusion of the second phase of “Operation Raging Bull.” The first part of the operation involved an 18-month investigation, which led to the arrest of 53 individuals in El Salvador.

The second phase was conducted across the United States from Oct. 8 to Nov. 11. It resulted in 214 arrests—including 16 U.S. citizens and 198 foreign nationals— with alleged MS-13 ties, Reuters reports. Among the foreign nationals, 5 were legal residents. Criminal charges against them include murder, aggravated robbery, racketeering, narcotics trafficking, firearms offenses and assault, the Los Angeles Times reports.

On Friday, President Donald Trump tweeted about the federal crackdown: “Together, we’re going to restore safety to our streets and peace to our communities, and we’re going to destroy the vile criminal cartel, #MS13, and many other gangs…” he wrote, accompanied by a link to an article, as well as, a news conference video clip.

A few weeks ago, Attorney General Jeff Sessions deemed the MS-13 a priority for the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF).

“Now they will go after MS-13 with a renewed vigor and a sharpened focus. I am announcing that I have authorized them to use every lawful tool to investigate MS-13—not just our drug laws, but everything from RICO to our tax laws to our firearms laws,” Sessions said to the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Philadelphia on Oct. 23.

Despite the hundreds of arrests, there’s still more work to be done.

“This is a great operation, but we are not done,” Homan said, NBC News reports. “And we will not be done until we totally dismantle this organization. The President of the United States has made this a priority and ICE joins him in this.”

What Russia Did to Control the American Mind and Put Trump in the White House

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Fake news tweets and social media posts that flooded the internet leading up to the 2016 presidential election came from a Russian troll factory that works around the clock like any IT facility—except lies were pumping out to control the American mind and put Donald Trump in the White House.

The Internet Research Agency, which works on behalf of Russia inside a guarded, concrete building in St. Petersburg, has day and night shifts and hundreds of former journalists and bloggers creating thousands of posts with false and controversial information to reach certain quotas.

It was “a merry-go-round of lies,” Vitaly Bespalov, 26, who worked at the agency, told NBC News. “When you get on the carousel, you do not know who is behind you and neither you are aware of who is in front of you—but all of you are running around within the same circle.”

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Early this month, Twitter testified before Congress and provided the Senate Intelligence Committee with more than 2,700 accounts tied to the agency, while Facebook identified more than 80,000 pieces of content linked to the agency. Meanwhile, Google found about $4,700 worth of search-and-display ads with dubious Russian ties.

The U.S. intelligence community has said that a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin with ties to the country’s intelligence is likely financing the agency.

Bespalov, who was tasked primarily with discrediting Ukraine, said he believes the agency is linked to the Kremlin.

In his role, Bespalov said he was told to create fake social media accounts and that those of girls got more views.

“We would put name, surname, city … any photo of an attractive girl that I would have managed to find on the internet and then links … all sorts of links,” he said. “Then the girls would get blocked eventually and you would start afresh.”

Some of the agency’s fake accounts pushing pro-Russia sentiment became pro-Trump as early as December 2015, according to the U.S. intelligence community. Trump went on to beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Trolls were grouped by tasks—such as blogging, commenting on posts and publishing content on social media—and separated accordingly across the floors, and had no contact with each other. Employees in the department targeting the U.S. earned between $1,300 and $2,000 per month, more than entry-level trolls who received about $1,000 per month plus bonuses.

“These troll farms can produce such a volume of content with hashtags and topics that it distorts what is normal organic conversation,” Clint Watts, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told NBC News.

Twitter users in swing states in the U.S. received more fake news than real stories in the days leading up to the 2016 presidential election, and the misinformation helped Trump win become president, according to an Oxford University study.

Head of Puerto Rico’s electric utility resigns amid questions about slow repairs in hurricane’s wake – Washington Post

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Head of Puerto Rico’s electric utility resigns amid questions about slow repairs in hurricane’s wake
Washington Post
The executive director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority resigned Friday amid questions about the slow repairs more than eight weeks after Hurricane Maria destroyed much of the electrical grid. PREPA head Ricardo Ramos Rodríguez had come …
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4:01 AM 11/18/2017 Top Russian Official Tried to Broker Backdoor Meeting Between Trump and Putin New York Times

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Saved Stories Saved Stories – None Trump, Putin, and the Mob – Google News: Top Russian Official Tried to Broker ‘Backdoor’ Meeting Between Trump and Putin – New York Times Trump – Google News: Trump Names Supreme Court Candidates for a Nonexistent Vacancy – New York Times Kushner told Congress he did not recall campaign … Continue reading“4:01 AM 11/18/2017 – Top Russian Official Tried to Broker ‘Backdoor’ Meeting Between Trump and Putin – New York Times”

4:33 AM 11/18/2017 Have I got a bridge in Brooklyn just for you! Or: The Kazakh soap opera with Trump ties

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Saved Stories Saved Stories – None Putin and American political process – Google News: Roberts: Have I got a bridge in Brooklyn just for you! – Danville Commercial News trump russia treason – Google News: The new Democratic spin cycle launders money, gets out sleaze – Youngstown Vindicator Lambro: Russian investigation manages to jog Jeff … Continue reading“4:33 AM 11/18/2017 – Have I got a bridge in Brooklyn just for you! Or: The Kazakh soap opera with Trump ties”

Manafort didn’t just consult for Russian-backed politicians in Ukraine he also helped them form a new party – Business Insider

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Business Insider
Manafort didn’t just consult for Russian-backed politicians in Ukraine he also helped them form a new party
Business Insider
The indictment special counsel Robert Mueller handed down earlier this month highlighted President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s lobbying work on behalf of Russian-backed former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
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russian organized crime in us – Google News: Kushner failed to disclose outreach from Putin ally to Trump campaign – NBCNews.com

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CBS News
Kushner failed to disclose outreach from Putin ally to Trump campaign
NBCNews.com
WASHINGTON President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, failed to disclose what lawmakers called a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite” involving a banker who has been accused of links to Russian organized crime, three 
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 russian organized crime in us – Google News

trump investigated by the fbi – Google News: Kushner received emails from Sergei Millian an alleged dossier source who was in touch with George Papadopoulos – Business Insider

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The Nation.
Kushner received emails from Sergei Millian an alleged dossier source who was in touch with George Papadopoulos
Business Insider
ABC reported in January that “while the published [Trump-Russia] dossier never names Millian, a version provided to the FBIincluded Millian’s name as a source.” The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal reported later that Millian was either 
Was the Trump Campaign Working With WikiLeaks and the Russians to Undermine the Clinton Campaign?The Nation.

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Russia influence in Eastern Europe – Google News: Putin’s game plan to seize European territory by DISTRACTING world, ex KGB spy claims – Express.co.uk

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Express.co.uk
Putin’s game plan to seize European territory by DISTRACTING world, ex KGB spy claims
Express.co.uk
… similar way to annexation of the Crimea in 2014, according to a former KGB spy. Jack Barsky, who spied on the US during the 1980s, told Express.co.uk the country’s successors to the KGB were still using the old tactics of active measures in an 

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 Russia influence in Eastern Europe – Google News

Donald Trump | The Guardian: Trump’s Panama tower used for money-laundering by condo owners, reports say

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Trump Ocean Club drew people accused of corruption and future president benefited from laundered funds, reports say

The Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower soars over Panama City bay, a 70-storey skyscraper shaped like a sail. Donald Trumps first international hotel venture, it opened in 2011, a mix of condominiums, hotel rooms and a casino.

As one of the tallest structures in Latin America, it was a bold and lucrative expression of the Trump brand, earning him as much as $13.9m in management fees and royalties in the last three years.

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 Donald Trump | The Guardian

Putin and American political process – Google News: Roberts: Have I got a bridge in Brooklyn just for you! – Danville Commercial News

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Roberts: Have I got a bridge in Brooklyn just for you!
Danville Commercial News
Even worse, his attempts at denial are profoundly un-American, rejecting the consensus view of his own intelligence agencies while swallowing the disinformation spread by the Russian ruler, a tyrant who has repeatedly demonstrated his disdain for 

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Roberts: Have I got a bridge in Brooklyn just for you! | Opinion

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“Dear Donald: If you really believe me, if you think us Russians didn’t try to tilt the election in your favor, then I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. It’s in Brooklyn. Yours faithfully, Vlad.”

That note could well have been waiting for President Trump as he returned from his lengthy trip to Asia, where he continued to pursue his deranged and dangerous attempts to deny Russian involvement in last year’s election. His statements reveal a man deeply committed to a post-truth world — a place where facts and fact-finders don’t matter, and he alone, the Twitter King, gets to define reality.

Even worse, his attempts at denial are profoundly un-American, rejecting the consensus view of his own intelligence agencies while swallowing the disinformation spread by the Russian ruler, a tyrant who has repeatedly demonstrated his disdain for democratic values and exceeds even Trump in assaulting his media and political critics.

Putin lies. Trump believes. And the world laughs. On what planet does this Make America Great Again?

As Sen. John McCain said: “There’s nothing ‘America First’ about taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence community. … Vladimir Putin does not have America’s interests at heart. To believe otherwise is not only naive but also places our national security at risk.”

Last January, America’s intelligence agencies issued a joint report concluding that Moscow had tried to influence the U.S. election. Special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to probe those influences more deeply.

“The president was given clear and indisputable evidence” of Russia’s role, says James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, and yet Trump continues to reject that evidence, fearing it could undermine the legitimacy of his election. He fired FBI director James Comey in a failed attempt to sidetrack ongoing investigations, and during his Asia trip, returned yet again to a topic that clearly burns him to the core.

That “clear and indisputable evidence” is really an “artificial Democratic hit job,” he told reporters, adding that the intelligence chiefs who produced the report are “political hacks.” His critics are all “haters and fools” who don’t understand the importance of refurbishing relations with Russia. Putin vehemently denies any knowledge of election meddling, and Trump believes his denials.

The reaction was so negative that Trump backtracked slightly, saying he accepted the findings of the intelligence agencies, but he clearly doesn’t. His ego is so huge and so fragile that he denies any fact that contradicts his worldview.

Putin knows and exploits this character flaw. The former KGB officer is a “trained liar and manipulator,” said former deputy CIA director Michael Morell to the Washington Post, and Trump is swallowing his propaganda “hook, line and sinker.”

Trump knows Putin helped him and is grateful for the boost in defeating “crooked Hillary.” But because Putin denies the help, and Trump gratefully accepts the denial — bolstering the argument he won on his own — the president is even further in Putin’s debt. A brilliant KGB double play. And that’s what has intelligence experts so worried.

“I think Mr. Putin is very clever in terms of playing to Mr. Trump’s interest in being flattered,” former CIA director John Brennan told CNN. “And I also think Mr. Trump is, for whatever reason, either intimidated by Mr. Putin, afraid of what he could do or what might come out as a result of these investigations.”

The president’s refusal to confront Putin, while eagerly embracing the Russian leader’s lies, “demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and to try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint,” says Brennan.

In Trump’s view, the “artificial Democratic hit job” is hindering his ability to forge a new relationship with Russia and solve a range of problems, including North Korea’s nuclear threat. “It’s a shame because people will die because of it,” he complained.

And normally, improving relationships with Moscow would certainly advance America’s interests. But these are not normal times. Putin has proven, over and over again, from Ukraine to Syria, that he is no friend to America or to democratic values.

“I don’t know why the ambiguity about this,” said Brennan. “Putin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy and our whole process. And to try to paint it in any other way is, I think is astounding, and in fact, poses a peril to this country.”

So Donald, about that bridge …

Steve and Cokie Roberts can be contacted by email at stevecokie@gmail.com.

russian organized crime in us – Google News: Civil suit becomes Kazakh soap opera with Trump ties – Miami Herald

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Civil suit becomes Kazakh soap opera with Trump ties
Miami Herald
A series of investigative stories by McClatchy and its reporting partners Dutch broadcaster Zembla and the Organized Crimeand Corruption Reporting Project revealed in recent months that Khrapunov and former Trump Organization employees Felix

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Kushner got emails about WikiLeaks, Russia in 2016, lawmakers say

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Lawmakers asked Jared Kushner to turn over all responsive documents by Nov. 27. | Thomas Peter/Getty Images

By KYLE CHENEY

Updated

2017-11-16T05:16-0500

Jared Kushner received emails in September 2016 about WikiLeaks and about a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite” and forwarded them to another campaign official, according to a letter to his attorney from the bipartisan leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Kushner failed to turn over the relevant documents when they asked for them last month.

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“We appreciate your voluntary cooperation with the Committee’s investigation, but the production appears to have been incomplete,” the pair wrote in a letter dated Thursday to Kushner’s attorney, Abbe Lowell.

Lowell said in a statement that he and Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser, had been responsive to the requests.

“We provided the Judiciary Committee with all relevant documents that had to do with Mr. Kushner’s calls, contacts or meetings with Russians during the campaign and transition, which was the request,” Lowell said, adding that he and Kushner had also told the committee they would be open to additional requests for information.

In a section of the letter titled “Missing documents,” Grassley and Feinstein said Kushner had handed over some materials but omitted communications that mentioned some of the people connected to the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“If, as you suggest, Mr. Kushner was unaware of, for example, any attempts at Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, then presumably there would be few communications concerning many of the persons identified,” the lawmakers wrote.

Grassley and Feinstein also alluded to documents they received from other witnesses on which Kushner was copied.

“Other parties have produced September 2016 email communications to Mr. Kushner concerning WikiLeaks, which Mr. Kushner then forwarded to another campaign official,” they wrote. “Such documents should have been produced…but were not.

“Likewise,” the letter continued, “other parties have produced documents concerning a ‘Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite’ which Mr. Kushner also forwarded. And still others have produced communications with Sergei Millian, copied to Mr. Kushner. Again, these do not appear in Mr. Kushner’s production despite being responsive to the second request. You also have not produced any phone records that we presume exist and would relate to Mr. Kushner’s communications regarding several requests.”

They asked Kushner to turn over all responsive documents by Nov. 27.

According to the lawmakers, Kushner’s attorney suggested providing some documents might “implicate the president’s Executive Privilege.” In their letter, they asked Lowell to resolve those issues and produce the documents or create a “privilege log” to detail over which documents the president is asserting executive privilege.

Grassley and Feinstein also said Kushner declined to produce documents connected to his security clearance application, citing their confidentiality. The lawmakers said they intend to take Lowell up on a separate request to visit his office to review the documents in person, but they said the committee would not waive its request to obtain its own copies.

The committee is also seeking another broad group of documents about Kushner’s contacts with former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Grassley and Feinstein said they’d like all communications between Kushner and Flynn since Election Day 2016, as well as any communications that reference email hacking, Russia, the Magnitsky Act and other people or entities that have been implicated in the Russian interference scheme.

The lawmakers said they have yet to receive access to Kushner’s lengthy interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee and are seeking a copy of it from Lowell to determine “whether the transcript satisfies the needs of our investigation.”

Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Russia blocked the extension of the U.N. investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the Washington Post reported. Russias representative to the Security Council vetoed a resolution that the U.S. introduced to prolong the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), the U.N. probe created to find the responsible parties for chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Russia had criticized the JIMs latest report for blaming the Syrian government for the April sarin gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun. The investigations term expired on Thursday.

China reiterated its position that the U.S. and South Korea should stop conducting joint military exercises in exchange for a freeze in North Korean nuclear testing, the Post reported. The White House said President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed to disagree about the proposed approach. Earlier this week, Trump said Xi had told him the freeze-for-freeze proposal would not work. In response, China insisted it still supported the proposal. Separately, North Koreas envoy to the U.N. said it would not begin negotiations about its nuclear program unless the U.S. and South Korea end their military exercises, according to Reuters. He also said he expected the U.S. to impose more sanctions in the coming months.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed the Trump campaign to obtain Russia-related documents from several top officials, the Wall Street Journal reported. Despite the Trump campaigns insistence that it is cooperating with the special counsel inquiry, in mid-October Muellers team issued an order requesting documents from at least a dozen senior campaign aides for documents and emails containing Russia-related keywords. Separately, the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Jared Kushner received emails in September 2016 about Wikileaks and about a Russian overture, Politico reported. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein requested the emails in a letter they sent to Kushners attorney on Thursday.

George Papadopoulos bragged to Greek journalists last year about a phone call with Donald Trump relating to his role in the Trump campaign, Politico reported. The claims would contradict assertions from senior Trump campaign leaders, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions that Papadopoulos was not an important part of the campaign. Papadopoulos also told journalists in Greece that he was authorized to represent the campaign to foreign leaders.

Sergei Kislyak, Russias former ambassador to the United States, said he could not name all the Trump campaign officials he has met or spoken with, CNBC reported. In an interview with a Russian news channel, Kislyak said naming all Trump officials he had interactions with would take over twenty minutes. Kisylaks undisclosed meeting with Jeff Sessions prompted Sessions to recuse himself from the Russia investigation last March.

A suicide bombing in Kabul killed twelve people in a blast near a meeting for one of the countrys leading political parties, the Post reported. The Islamic State issued an unsubstantiated claim of responsibility for the bombing while the Taliban denied involvement.

Saad Hariri, the recently-resigned former Lebanese prime minister, accepted an invitation to make an official visit to France, the Post reported. After meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Riyadh, Hariri said he would visit Paris soon. Lebanons president has accused Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri hostage. On Wednesday, Hariri said he would return to Lebanon within two days, a deadline that has now expired. Frances president, Emmanuel Macron, emphasized that the French invitation was not an offer of political exile.

The Pentagon is developing plans for a ballistic missile that would violate the terms of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the Journal reported. U.S. officials said the proposed design is not intended for production but rather to showcase to Russia how the U.S. would respond if Russia continues to violate the INF Treaty. Top Defense Department officials have said that the Russian-deployed cruise missile is in breach of the treatys terms. For its part, Russia says U.S. missile defense systems in Europe are in violation of the agreement.

Cambodias Supreme Court dissolved the leading opposition party, consolidating power for Prime Minister Hun Sen, according to the Journal. The Prime Ministers government had sued the Cambodian National Rescue Party after accusing its leader of treason in connection with an alleged plot for a U.S.-backed coup. The Supreme Courts action makes Cambodia a one-party state; the high courts judges are widely viewed as allies of the prime minister, says the Journal. A European Union spokesperson said the move made Cambodias upcoming election process illegitimate.

A Human Rights Watch report said Myanmars military systematically raped Rohingya Muslim women and girls, the New York Times reported. The report, based on interviews with 52 Rohingya women and girls, said uniformed military personnel raped hundreds of people before and during attacks on Rohingya villages. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently called on Myanmar to investigate reports of atrocities committed by its security forces. A Times report from last month details, with graphic images and witness accounts, the atrocities that the military has perpetrated against the Rohingya. The U.N. has called the atrocities ethnic cleansing.

The Senate passed the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018, according to Reuters. The $700 billion defense spending bill will now go to the White House for the presidents signature or veto. Trump is expected to sign the bill.

Russias justice ministry warned U.S. media outlets they might have to register as foreign agents under the terms of a bill that will soon go to the upper house of Russias parliament, the BBC reported. The ministry warned outlets associated with Voice of America and Radio Free Europe that they could face restrictions on their operations if they fail to register under and abide by new regulations. The proposed law is in retaliation for the U.S. Department of Justices enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act on Russia-backed RT and Sputnik.

The State Department said the U.S. would consider removing Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, according to the Times. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said Sudans removal from the list was conditional on it making further progress in cooperation with the U.S. against terrorism and on human rights issues.

The New York Times Magazines Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal wrote about the uncounted civilian toll of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Karen Young argued that the Saudi anti-corruption purge has overshadowed the slow progress in Saudi Arabias economic reform agenda.

Robert Chesney and Steve Vladeck shared the National Security Law Podcast, covering among other issues, an en banc FISC decision and the NDAA.

Daniel Byman, Sarah Tate Chambers, Zann Isacson and Chris Mirasole set the stage for their upcoming series on regulating terrorist content on the Internet.

Benjamin Wittes shared the DMs on the DL edition of Rational Security.

Jimmy Chalk updated Water Wars, covering Trumps Asia trip.

 

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

 Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices

The Russia probe has entered Phase 2

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We have now entered the second phase of the Russia probe. In the first, special counsel Robert Muellerand his team, starting from scratch, gathered sufficient evidence to file felony charges against Paul ManafortRick Gates and George Papadopoulos.

Phase 1 has given Mueller leverage against higher-level targets, who must be wondering how much the special counsel already knows, and how much he’s about to learn. Careful work may, eventually, enable him to secure evidence against the greatest target of them all: the president. In this second round, Mueller is holding all the cards and has the latitude to play them when and as he chooses.

The initial charges sent a message to the White House and former Trump campaign officials, who had tried to whistle their way past the graveyard, portraying the probe as lacking in substance and likely to be short-lived. The Oct. 30 flurry demonstrated that 1) people will be going to jail for a long time and 2) the probe is unlikely to stop short of the Oval Office. No more talk of fake news.

The sophisticated charges against Manafort and Gates, in particular, also revealed to veteran observers the meticulous professionalism and industry of Mueller’s squad, which is among the most formidable prosecutorial teams ever assembled. Further bad news for Team Trump.

From the public reports of potential criminal activity, it looks as though Mueller has set his immediate sights on no fewer than nine characters in Trump’s orbit: Michael Flynn (father), Michael Flynn (son), Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Carter Page, Corey Lewandowski, Stephen Miller, Keith Schiller and Sam Clovis. And of course there are possible wild cards that have not come into general public view. (No one anticipated the Papadopoulos indictment.)

Which of these men will next be charged? That depends not only on ease of proof, but also who can be used to induce cooperation among other campaign and administration insiders. My guess is that the Flynns are next on the chopping block.

It is a safe bet, moreover, that already discussions are taking place between Mueller’s team and multiple defense attorneys over terms of possible cooperation.

For these targets, Mueller can credibly warn that if they don’t talk first, others will, and their opportunity to receive a sharply reduced sentence will disappear. They are in effect playing an excruciating game of musical chairs in which the last defendants standing will be stuck with nothing but mammoth legal fees and lifelong disrepute.

Consider, for example, Manafort’s position should Mueller next bring charges against Flynn. He and Flynn have overlapping information. Now the two are locked in something like a classic prisoner’s dilemma: If one of them agrees to cooperate, it could sharply reduce the value, and thus the reward, for cooperation by the other. That means Manafort needs to make a decision promptly about whether to talk. And he has to do so knowing that his prospects for an acquittal are slim.

The charges against Flynn, should Mueller bring them, will likely be extensive, including false statements, conspiracy, money laundering and violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, all growing out of his illicit and highly profitable dealings with the Turkish government.

Flynn the elder is effectively ruined at this point. He has no professional prospects and the only upside for him would be to stay out of jail. Not so for Flynn the younger, who reputation is not yet fully tarnished. A conviction would be devastating. If Mueller charges the son, that will put immense pressure on the father — a controversial and arguably mean-spirited maneuver, but one that’s absolutely in the playbook. The most recent prominent example was the decision to charge the wife of Andrew Fastow in the Enron investigation. The man behind that decision, by the way, was Andrew Weissman, Mueller’s No. 2.

A similar dynamic arises with Donald Trump Jr., whose stumblebum flirtations with WikiLeaks and with Russian figures he believed could provide dirt on Hillary Clinton could give rise to a series of criminal charges. True, Trump Sr. appears to be hermetically self-centered, but he is in his 70s and facing, at best, a failing presidency. What will he do if he knows that his son and namesake could go to prison, forever soiling the Trump brand?

There will be future rounds of the probe in which Mueller’s path will be less smooth. In particular, his team will one day face in the courts a battery of legal and evidentiary arguments crafted by some of the country’s most sophisticated (and expensive) defense lawyers. But for now, Mueller rules.

Harry Litman, a former United States attorney and deputy assistant attorney general, teaches at UCLA Law School and practices law at Constantine Cannon.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion or Facebook

The Russia probe has entered Phase 2 – Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles Times
The Russia probe has entered Phase 2
Los Angeles Times
From the public reports of potential criminal activity, it looks as though Mueller has set his immediate sights on no fewer than nine characters in Trump’s orbit: Michael Flynn (father), Michael Flynn (son), Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Carter Page
Mueller Investigation Into Trump Russia Collusion Is ‘Fair’ According To VotersThe Inquisitr

all 60 news articles »

Ivanka Trump and the fugitive from Panama

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PANAMA CITY/TORONTO – In the spring of 2007, a succession of foreigners, many from Russia, arrived at Panama City airport to be greeted by a chauffeur who whisked them off in a white Cadillac with a Donald Trump logo on the side.

The limousine belonged to a business run by a Brazilian former car salesman named Alexandre Ventura Nogueira, who was offering the visitors a chance to invest in Trump’s latest project – a 70-floor tower called the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower. It was the future U.S. president’s first international hotel venture, a complex including residential apartments and a casino in a waterfront building shaped like a sail.

“Mr Nogueira was an outgoing and lively young man,” remembered Justine Pasek, who was crowned Miss Universe by Donald Trump in 2002 and was acting in 2007 as a spokesperson for Nogueira’s company, Homes Real Estate Investment & Services. “Everybody was so impressed with Homes as they seemed to be riding the top of the real estate boom at the time,” she said.

One of those Nogueira set out to impress was Ivanka, Trump’s daughter. In an interview with Reuters, Nogueira said he met and spoke with Ivanka “many times” when she was handling the Trump Organization’s involvement in the Panama development. “She would remember me,” he said.

Ivanka was so taken with his sales skills, Nogueira said, that she helped him become a leading broker for the development and he appeared in a video with her promoting the project.

A Reuters investigation into the financing of the Trump Ocean Club, in conjunction with the American broadcaster NBC News, found Nogueira was responsible for between one-third and one-half of advance sales for the project. It also found he did business with a Colombian who was later convicted of money laundering and is now in detention in the United States; a Russian investor in the Trump project who was jailed in Israel in the 1990s for kidnap and threats to kill; and a Ukrainian investor who was arrested for alleged people-smuggling while working with Nogueira and later convicted by a Kiev court.

Three years after getting involved in the Trump Ocean Club, Nogueira was arrested by Panamanian authorities on charges of fraud and forgery, unrelated to the Trump project. Released on $1.4 million bail, he later fled the country.

He left behind a trail of people who claim he cheated them, including over apartments in the Trump project, resulting in at least four criminal cases that eight years later have still to be judged.

Nogueira, 43, denies the charges and told Reuters in an email: “I am no Angel but not Devil either.”

Ivanka Trump declined to comment on her dealings with Nogueira. A White House spokesman referred questions to the Trump Organization. Alan Garten, the organization’s chief legal officer, said: “No one at the Trump Organization, including the Trump family, has any recollection of ever meeting or speaking with this individual.”

Trump put his name to the development and stood to make up to $75 million from it, according to a bond prospectus for the project. He did not exert management control over the construction and was under no direct legal obligation to conduct due diligence on other people involved.

“I am no Angel but not Devil either.”

Still, some legal experts say the episode raises questions about the steps Trump took to check the source of any income from there. Arthur Middlemiss, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan and a former head of JPMorgan’s global anti-corruption program, said that since Panama was “perceived to be highly corrupt,” anyone engaged in business there should conduct due diligence on others involved in their ventures. If they did not, he said, there was a potential risk in U.S. law of being liable for turning a blind eye to wrongdoing.

Jimmy Gurule, a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and a former under-secretary for enforcement at the U.S. Treasury Department, agreed. He also said any businessman should avoid working with “anyone with a potential link to criminality” simply as a matter of good ethics.

Reuters could not determine what due diligence Trump carried out in relation to the Ocean Club project.

The White House referred Reuters questions about the Ocean Club development to the Trump Organization. Garten said the Trump Organization’s role in the project “was at all times limited to licensing its brand and providing management services. As the company was not the owner or developer, it had no involvement in the sale of any units at the property.”

He said the Trump Organization “never had any contractual relationship or significant dealings” with Nogueira.

Nine former business partners or employees of Nogueira interviewed by Reuters accused him of cheating them and his clients. Two of the nine have taken legal action against Nogueira. The cases have yet to be judged.

When first approached by Reuters, Nogueira declined to answer questions. Writing on October 4, he said in an email: “Anything I would say could also damage a lot of important and powerful people. I am not sure I should do that.”

Later, Nogueira agreed to meet. In a lengthy interview, he described his contacts with the Trump family and his role in the Ocean Club project. He said he only learned after the Ocean Club project was almost complete that some of his partners and investors in the Trump project were criminals, including some with what he described as connections to the “Russian mafia.” He said he had not knowingly laundered any illicit money through the Trump project, although he did say he had laundered cash later in other schemes for corrupt Panamanian officials.

It was not his job to check the source of money that investors used to buy units in the Trump Ocean Club, Nogueira said. “I didn’t know the money was coming from anything illegal. As long as they were doing wire transfers and not cash, I wasn’t worried about the source of it.”

Nogueira said that no one asked him about the source of funds. “Nobody ever asked me. The banks didn’t ask. The developers didn’t ask. The Trump Organization didn’t ask me. Nobody asked me: ‘Who are the customers? Where did the money come from?’”

It is unclear how much, if any, laundered money went into the Trump project.

Global Witness, an anti-corruption watchdog, says in an independently-produced report out today, that Panama in the 2000s presented particular challenges for property developers because of its then reputation for corruption.

The ultimate sources of cash for other Trump real estate projects where Trump has licensed his name have drawn scrutiny this year. In March, a Reuters review found that at least 63 individuals with Russian passports or addresses had bought $98.4 million worth of property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida.

The buyers included politically-connected businessmen and people from the second and third tiers of Russian power. Responding to that story, Garten, the Trump Organization’s counsel, said the scrutiny of Trump’s business ties with Russia was misplaced and that the story was “overblown.”

HIGH LIVING

Donald Trump’s involvement in the Ocean Club began in 2005, when local developer Roger Khafif travelled to Trump Tower in New York to pitch the idea of a Trump project in Panama. Khafif said he told the American tycoon that Trump would need only to license his name and provide hotel management. This way of doing business freed Trump from the burden of taking a stake or making a personal guarantee.

In an interview with Reuters, Khafif recalled that Trump wanted to use the Panama project as a “baby” for his daughter Ivanka, who had just joined the Trump Organization, to gain experience in the property business.

The plan was for Newland International Properties Corp, where Khafif was president and which owned the development, to finance construction with a bond underwritten by Bear Stearns, the U.S. investment bank. The bank, which collapsed in 2008, was acquired by JPMorgan, which declined to comment.

To sell the bond, the developer needed to prove it could sell the apartments. This was where Nogueira came in. The Brazilian had arrived in Panama in the mid-2000s from Spain, where he had worked as a car salesman.

He had already had a brush with the law. In September 2005, in an official notice posted on the internet, the Spanish economy ministry said it had opened proceedings to fine Nogueira for an alleged “serious violation” of the country’s money-laundering laws. The proceedings were terminated about nine months later after officials could not determine Nogueira’s whereabouts. The ministry declined to comment. Nogueira said it was a trivial incident, caused by him taking too much of his own cash through an airport.

Once in Panama, Nogueira became renowned for his friendships with politicians, his love of Aston Martin sports cars and expensive watches and, as one former associate recalled, for “never wearing the same shoes – no matter how expensive – for more than three months.”

He said he first got involved with the Trump Ocean Club project at an early sales meeting in 2006 in Panama arranged by Khafif, whom he knew already. Ivanka Trump and other real estate brokers were there, he said. He remembered listening as a minimum price of $120,000 for condominiums was discussed.

Nogueira said he stood up and said the price was at the level charged in ordinary developments. “Here, it is Trump selling. You have to give a value to that name. Make it $220,000!”

He said Ivanka replied: “Can you sell it?”

Nogueira said he asked for a week to prove himself. And within a week he managed to collect deposits on over 100 apartments, and after that Khafif made him a leading broker, working on a 5 percent commission of gross sales, he said.

Asked about Nogueira’s account of this meeting, Khafif said that “most of what he said was true.” Khafif said he remembered Nogueira meeting Ivanka “a couple of times.”

Nogueira said that in the months that followed he discussed promotion and sales with Ivanka in Panama, Miami and New York. He said he also joined a group that travelled with Ivanka on a private chartered jet to look at a potential site for another Trump project in Cartagena, Colombia.

While Donald Trump was not the owner of the Panama project, the Trump Organization participated in many details down to “choosing the furniture and fittings,” said Nogueira. Day-to-day the project was assigned to Ivanka, he said, adding: “I spoke to her a lot of times, a lot of times.” He also met Donald Jr. and Eric Trump.

Ivanka Trump did not respond to requests for comment about Nogueira. Garten, the Trump Organization’s counsel, described contact between Nogueira and the Trumps as “meaningless.” He said such meetings and events “may have been memorable” for Nogueira, but for Ivanka and the rest of the Trump family it would have been “just one of literally hundreds of public appearances they were asked to make that year.”

Ivanka and Trump’s sons appeared in public at launch events for the tower, made promotional videos for the project and managed the Trump involvement.

Nogueira said that one video was commissioned by him. Ivanka helped arrange access to Trump Tower in New York for some sequences. “In this video we made, I was talking and she was talking.”

When the Spanish-language TV channel Univision, in an article published in 2011, first noted Nogueira’s role in the Trump project, Eric Trump responded that Nogueira had been an unaffiliated salesman. “I looked and I’ve never heard the name, nor does it appear in our database. What I found out was [Nogueira] owns a real estate agency in Panama that sells apartments in our building as a third party,” he told the channel.

Asked this month about Eric Trump’s statement in response to the Univision report, the Trump Organization said the company never had any ties to Nogueira or awareness of him.

Despite being a third party, Nogueira and his partners played a major part in the Trump project’s success, according to interviews with former key staff at Homes, developers, investors and lawyers, and an analysis of Panama corporate records and other public documents.

Homes accounted for up to half of the 666 apartment sales in advance of the bond prospectus, people involved in the project told Reuters.

Eleanora Michailov, a Russian who settled in Canada, was Nogueira’s international sales director. She recalled that Nogueira handled the sale of a third of the building, about 200 apartments. Another Homes sales agent, Jenny Levy, a relative by marriage to the developer, Khafif, said she alone sold 30 apartments.

“We sold half the building, baby! Homes sold half,” Levy said in a phone interview. Nogueira said that he and his agents across the world sold between 350 to 400 apartment and hotel units.

Khafif, president and co-owner of the developer, Newland, said he was unsure of the exact number, but Nogueira had probably sold up to 300 units. “Everybody was lining up to work with him … During those days he was the hottest real estate agency in town,” he said.

Homes found a ready market in Russia. “Russians like to show off,” said Khafif, who went on several sales trips to Moscow. “For them, Trump was the Bentley” of real estate brands.

Michailov said investors in the Ocean Club were asked to pay 10 percent up front for one of the apartments; she said the average price was about $350,000. Buyers had to pay a total of 30 percent within a year, according to the bond prospectus, and Homes organized the investment by setting up Panamanian companies for customers to enter pre-sales agreements with Khafif’s company, Newland.

In 2006 and 2007, Panama corporate records show, at least 131 holding companies with various combinations of the words “Trump” and “Ocean” in their name – for example, the Trump Ocean 1806 Investment Corp – were registered in Panama for pre-sales deals, and mostly by the Homes group.

In many cases the identity of the buyers was not clear. Nogueira and other Homes staff involved said Panamanian law at that time imposed no obligation to verify the identity of owners.

But listed as director of four Trump Ocean investment companies was Igor Anopolskiy, who in 2007 was Homes Real Estate’s representative in Kiev. Police records state he was arrested in March of that year for suspected people trafficking. Released a year later on bail, he was re-arrested in 2013, and in 2014 a Ukraine court handed Anopolskiy a five-year suspended jail sentence with three years probation for offenses including people smuggling and forgery, unrelated to the Trump project.

Interviewed in Kiev, Anopolskiy blamed the case on police corruption and denied committing any crime.

It was a Colombian businessman named David Murcia Guzman who triggered Nogueira’s downfall. Murcia was indicted in November 2008 for money laundering, first in Colombia and then in the United States. Murcia was sentenced to nine years in prison in the United States for conspiracy to launder drug money. After serving six years, he is expected to be deported to Colombia, his attorney, Robert Abreu, said. Colombia’s government said Murcia will serve a 22-year prison term upon his return for offenses including money laundering.

Murcia did not get permission from U.S. authorities to respond to Reuters’ questions.

Within days of Murcia’s indictment, the spotlight turned to Nogueira. Roniel Ortiz, a former lawyer for both Nogueira and Murcia, said Nogueira had offered to wash Murcia’s money by buying apartments on his behalf. Murcia “could not take his money to a bank,” Ortiz said, so Nogueira “offered to see how he could help.”

Ortiz said he did not know how much, if any, of Murcia’s money was used in the Trump project. Nogueira said Murcia gave him $1 million to invest in Panamanian property, which Nogueira used to pay the deposit on up to ten Trump apartments among other investments. Nogueira added: “He was not a bad guy. I don’t believe everything in those charges was true.”

In 2013 Nogueira, in conversations secretly recorded by a former business partner, said he had performed money laundering as a service, moving tens of millions of dollars mainly through contacts in Miami and the Bahamas. “More important than the money from real estate was being able to launder the drug money – there were much larger amounts involved,” he said in the recording. “When I was in Panama I was regularly laundering money for more than a dozen companies.”

The recordings were heard by Reuters and authenticated by five people who know Nogueira.

Speaking to Reuters, Nogueira said he could not recall making such claims and denied laundering cash through the Trump project or handling drugs money. He said that later, after his real estate business had collapsed in 2009, he had been involved in handling cash from corrupt officials and politicians, and was involved in corrupt schemes to sell Panamanian visas.

THE RUSSIAN CONNECTION

In the story of Panama’s Trump Ocean Club, a high point for many of those involved was a warm, cloudless night in early 2007.

The setting was Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club in Florida. Spilling out of Lamborghinis and Porsches onto the welcoming carpet were the sales people, clients and potential clients whose acumen and cash would make it possible – within a month – to break ground on the project’s building site in Panama City.

Entertained with drinks, music and jokes from American TV celebrity Regis Philbin, the guests got to meet and greet Trump and his children, Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka. The event was organized to celebrate a successful sales campaign – and to solicit more sales.

The Trump Organization did not comment about the party. Philbin told Reuters he couldn’t recall the event because it was 10 years ago. “I used to be with him [Trump] a lot,” Philbin said. “I was good friends with him.”

Nogueira said he was at the party and there met Donald Trump for “the first and only time.” He recalled: “They introduced me and said, ‘That’s the guy selling Panama,’ and he thanked me. We just talked for two or three minutes.”

Besides Nogueira, the guests included people involved with the project as investors or salesmen, some of Russian or former Soviet Union origin. Among them, in the delegation from Homes and wearing a dark suit, was Alexander Altshoul, born in Belarus. “Russians like their brand names,” Altshoul told Reuters, explaining why investors were attracted to Trump. “The moment was right, they were speculating. Many people hoped to get profits.”

Altshoul, who holds Canadian citizenship, was listed on the Homes company website in 2007 as a “partner” and an “owner” of the firm. He became involved in Homes after moving to Panama from Toronto and investing with family and friends in the Trump project, paying deposits on 10 apartments and one hotel unit.

Among his partners in that investment, according to Altshoul and Panamanian corporate records, was a Muscovite named Arkady Vodovosov, a relative of Altshoul. In 1998, Vodovosov was sentenced to five years in prison in Israel for kidnap and threats to kill and torture, court records state.

Contacted by telephone, Vodovosov said inquiries about his involvement with the Trump project were nonsense. “We were in Panama for a very short time, and got out of there a long time ago,” he said, declining to answer further questions.

Altshoul attended the Mar-a-Lago party with another Homes partner, Stanislau Kavalenka, recalled people who were there. Kavalenka was also a Canadian émigré from the former Soviet Union.

At different times, Altshoul and Kavalenka each faced accusations of having connections to organized crime, but the charges were dropped. In Altshoul’s case, police in Toronto filed charges in April 2007, at the time he was promoting the Trump project. He was accused of involvement in a mortgage fraud scheme, unrelated to the Panama project, that involved sending funds through Latvia. The criminal case was dropped a year later.

In a statement, the Canadian government said it was “duty bound to withdraw charges where there is no reasonable prospect of conviction or if it is not in the public interest to proceed.” It did not elaborate further on the case. Altshoul said the decision showed he was innocent.

In 2004, Canadian prosecutors had accused Kavalenka of pimping and kidnapping Russian prostitutes. That case was dropped in 2005 after the alleged prostitutes, who were the main witnesses, did not show up in court. Kavalenka’s whereabouts are unknown. He did not respond to questions about his role in the Trump project sent to him through his family in Canada.

Nogueira said Altshoul and Kavalenka had joined Homes together, first as customers and later as partners. Altshoul told him he had had some difficulties “but they were solved, and it wasn’t my problem,” Nogueira said. Nogueira also said that after he read of Kavalenka’s Toronto case on Google, Kavalenka told him: “I was running some girls. That’s how I made money. But I was cleared.”

SOLD “LIKE HOT CAKES”

In the months after the Mar-a-Lago party, the prospects for everyone involved in the Trump Ocean Club looked rosy. In the midst of a global property boom and a successful pitch, sales had exceeded all expectations.

A bond prospectus was issued in November 2007, enabling the raising of construction funds. By the end of June that year, the prospectus declared, the project had “pre-sold approximately 64 percent of the building’s condominium and commercial units,” guaranteeing receipts on completion of the project of at least $278.7 million.

Trump said later, in a promotional video ahead of the 2011 opening, that the project sold “like hot cakes.”

But not all the money collected in the pre-sales campaign would go on to fund the project. Nine former business partners or employees of Nogueira interviewed by Reuters alleged that, at the Ocean Club and at other developments, Nogueira either failed to pass on all the deposits he collected to the project’s developers, or sometimes sold the same apartment to more than one client, with the result that, on completion of the project, some clients had no clear claim on a property.

Exactly how many apartments were double-sold is unknown. Michailov said up to 10 out of 80 apartments in the Trump tower that she had sold were also sold by Nogueira to others. Lawsuits in Panama and separate written complaints seen by Reuters record at least six instances of alleged fraud by Nogueira, in the Trump project and in other Panama construction projects. Two of the complaints seen by Reuters were in the “Panama Papers,” documents from a local law firm that were leaked to the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Ortiz, the former lawyer for Murcia and Nogueira, said of the Trump-branded project: “When the building was completed and people arrived to seek out their apartments, they ran into each other – two, three people who were fighting for the same apartment.”

Complaints against Nogueira, including allegations of fraud in Trump Ocean Club sales, resulted in four criminal cases against him in Panama and culminated in his arrest on fraud charges in May 2009.

Nogueira said double-sales occurred because of changes in the building specifications or clerical error. He said he never deliberately sold an apartment twice. He said that not everyone lost money from their investments, and most who did lost out because of poor or unlucky investment decisions. “If you are looking to make easy money from speculation then you have to accept there is a risk,” he said.

Released on bail for $1.4 million, he continued to live in Panama until 2012 when, despite a ban on leaving the country, he fled to his native country, Brazil, before moving on again. Karen Kahn, a federal prosecutor based in Sao Paulo, said Nogueira is under a federal investigation for international money laundering, an inquiry triggered by several large bank transfers that arrived in his accounts from Panama.

Declining to disclose where he is living now, Nogueira agreed to meet Reuters and NBC News on November 13 at a neutral location, on condition it would not be revealed. Nogueira said an arrest warrant was outstanding against him in Panama. “Of course right now, I can be considered by the justice system to be fugitive. But there are two sides to everything.”

It wasn’t only alleged fraud that cost investors. After the global property crash of 2008, any chance of quick profit on the Trump Panama venture vanished.

By the time the Trump Ocean Club project was complete in 2011, many investors had withdrawn and lost their deposits rather than stump up the 70 percent balance. Bond holders lost, too, after Khafif’s company, Newland, defaulted on payments and the bond was restructured.

There was one person who still profited: Donald Trump.

Whatever the losses investors might suffer, under Trump’s licensing deal, detailed originally in the bond prospectus, the future U.S. president was guaranteed to receive payment. Court records from Newland’s bankruptcy in 2013 indicate Trump agreed to reduce his fee, but that he still earned between $30 million and $50 million from lending his name to the project.

The Trump Ocean Club

Reported by Ned Parker and Nathan Layne in New York and Toronto; Stefanie Eschenbacher, Christine Murray and Elida Moreno in Panama City; Stephen Grey and Tom Bergin in London; Brad Brooks in Americana, Brazil; Angus Berwick in Madrid; and Denis Dyomkin and Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto. This story was reported in partnership with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Network (OCCRP), a non-profit journalism group: Roman Anin in Moscow and Tel Aviv, and Anna Babinets and Elena Loginova in Kiev.

Photo editing: Simon Newman

Data: Christine Murray

Design: Catherine Tai

Edited by Richard Woods and Janet McBride

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Jared Kushner Keeps Failing To Disclose Connections With Russians – HuffPost

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Jared Kushner Keeps Failing To Disclose Connections With Russians
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The money flowed through investment vehicles controlled by Milner, who also invested in a startup in New York that Kushnerco-owns with his brother. Kushner initially failed to disclose his own holding in the startup, Cadre, when he joined Trump’s 
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Jared Kushner still waiting on permanent security clearance | New … – New York Post

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New York Post
Jared Kushner Still Doesn’t Have White House Security Clearance After Ten Months

mikenova shared this story from Newsweek.

Experts are baffled as to why Jared Kushner, who has been tasked with forging peace in the Middle East and is one of President Donald Trump’s top advisors, still does not have White House security clearance nearly a year after he was appointed.

Politico cited sources Thursday who said Kushner’s clearance to handle America’s most sensitive information is still under review.

Susan Hennessey, a national security fellow at the Brookings Institution, who specializes in congressional oversight of the intelligence community, said on Twitter: “The White House claim that it is ‘completely normal’ for it to take over 10 months to clear an extremely senior WH official is insane.”

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White House Senior adviser Jared Kushner attends bilateral meetings held by U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. Thomas Peter/Reuters

Kushner, who is also Trump’s son-in-law, was one of the president’s first appointees after he won the election a year ago. The White House told Politico that the delay is “completely normal” and that it can take more than 300 days, in some cases, to grant full security clearance. At present, Kushner has interim clearance.

Usually the most senior White House staff who will work closely with the president are prioritized with the goal of getting them clearance within 90 days, Leslie McAdoo Gordon, a security clearance lawyer, added. “Some of them get resolved in 90 days, but many of them don’t. It can take months. It can occasionally take years. You just have to work the system,” she said.

Kushner’s application has been complicated by the fact that he initially left more than 100 names off his list of foreign contacts on the security clearance application—a chargeable offense.

Some of the contacts left off Kushner’s application included meetings last December with then Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak and Sergey Gorkov, president of the state-run Russian bank VEB.

Read more: Jared Kushner doesn’t read and gets tired of talking about the Middle East, Joe Scarborough says

Other experts said the length of time it has taken to get clearance for Kushner, a first time applicant with a complex business and financial background, is normal. Kushner was CEO of his family’s real estate firm Kushner Companies.

“As a general rule, with respect to clearances, when you have people who have never had one before and they have massive financial and foreign connection and a staggering amount of business interests, like some of the people accompanying Trump, it wouldn’t be unheard of,” said Mark Zaid, another security clearance lawyer.

Trump has given Kushner the responsibility of brokering peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and restructuring the federal government. If his security clearance is revoked, he wouldn’t be able to carry out his job.

On Thursday the Senate Judiciary Committee confronted Kushner in a letter for not turning over documents—including some about his security clearance—that it has requested from him as part of its investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and whether it offered any assistance in the Kremlin’s election meddling efforts.

Kushner, the committee wrote, hasn’t turned over emails from September 2016 about WikiLeaks and a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite.” They said Kushner forwarded these to another campaign official. Kushner’s attorney Abbe Lowell said they are open to disclosing the documents.

Key American intelligence officials produced a report early this year that found Wikileaks released thousands of emails that were stolen by Russian intelligence from the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party. Early this week The Atlantic revealed that Wikileaks was in contact with Donald Trump Jr. and pushed him to spread the email disclosures.

The committee said it believes Kushner hasn’t turned over all communication about a select list of people they have picked out as part of the investigation.

“I’m thinking that asking why Jared Kushner still has a security clearance may not capture all his misconduct,” wrote Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California on Twitter. “We really should be asking: Why is #Kushner still in the White House?”


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10:27 AM 9/29/2017 – Lisa Page, who was an attorney with the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel, returned to the FBI in mid-July, and other selected stories

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Special counsel attorney departs for FBI

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Last Updated Sep 29, 2017 9:13 AM EDT

Lisa Page, an attorney who was part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, has left, the special counsel’s office confirmed.

Page, who was an attorney with the FBI’s Office of the General Counsel, returned to the FBI in mid-July, special counsel spokesman Peter Carr confirmed to CBS News’ Andres Triay.

The news of Page’s depature was first reported by ABC News.

Page was one of nearly two dozen high-profile attorneys and investigators who Mueller assembled.

Prior to her position with the FBI, Page worked as a trial attorney in the Organized Crime and Gang Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. Page has prosecuted a number cases involving eastern European organized crime. In one case, she partnered with an FBI task force in Budapest that investigated a money-laundering case against Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort’s one-time business partner, Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch.

age is the second person to depart the team so far. Peter Strzok, who was chief of the FBI counterespionage unit that was involved in overseeing the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server last year, departed the team in August. It’s unclear why Strzok left.

The scope of Mueller’s investigation, individuals familiar with the matter have told CBS News, includes Russian interference in the election, Russian hacking, any other Russian influence and possible financial wrongdoing.

CBS News reported in August that Mueller is using a grand jury in the probe, which is an indication the probe is intensifying. The impaneling of a grand jury means Mueller’s team has the ability to seek indictments and subpoena records, although the special counsel already had broad investigative authority when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced he was naming Mueller special counsel. Shortly before the appointment, Mr. Trump abruptly fired then-FBI Director James Comey. And Rosenstein was given oversight of the investigation after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation.

Mueller’s team recently obtained records from Facebook regarding $100,000 in ad buys Russians made during and immediately after the 2016 presidential election. Between June 2015 and May of this year, about 3,000 ads connected with 470 “inauthentic accounts” were posted on Facebook, according to the social media giant.

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Special counsel attorney departs for FBI – CBS News

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Special counsel attorney departs for FBI
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Page has prosecuted a number cases involving eastern European organized crime. In one case, she partnered with an FBI task force in Budapest that investigated a money-laundering case … The scope of Mueller’s investigation, individuals familiar with and more »

The ‘White Rat’ – The Weekly Standard

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The ‘White Rat’
The Weekly Standard
Landesman had been aided by the late Craig L. Dotlo, an influential figure in the Society ofFormer Special Agents of the FBI. The society’s cooperation is not easy to come by because it carefully vets requests from authors and filmmakers, and it was and more »

Senator Slams Twitter’s Disclosure On Russian Meddling As ‘Inadequate On Every Level’ – Forbes

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Senator Slams Twitter’s Disclosure On Russian Meddling As ‘Inadequate On Every Level’
Forbes
Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia said in a tweet Thursday. Warner is vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and had just finished a closed-door hearing where Twitter revealed information about Russian meddling in the election on its and more »

White House to Review Trump Aides’ Use of Private Email – Bloomberg

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White House to Review Trump Aides’ Use of Private Email
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The review is intended to ensure that any information in private emails responsive to congressional probes of Russia’s interference in the election is turned over to appropriate committees, the person said, adding that it should not be considered a 
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Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s Private Email Domains Under Investigation: Report – Newsweek

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Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s Private Email Domains Under Investigation: Report
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After reports that Jared Kushner and other senior members have used private accounts to carry out government business, the investigation pays special attention to Kushner and Ivanka Trump’sprivate email domain since they still work in the White House, …
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Trump administration lawyers demand Facebook account info of anti-Trump activists – New York Post

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Trump administration lawyers demand Facebook account info of anti-Trump activists
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The Trump administration has reportedly obtained search warrants that would allow them access the Facebook pages of thousands of anti-Trump protesters. The requested data — which targets all the information in three accounts — would include …and more »

Racism … Nazism … Trumpism … the Historical Role of Myths – City Watch

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CORRUPTION WATCH-As one of my favorite actors-celebrities, the former Marky Mark, says, “Food, water, Internet, we need it to live.” Ah, yes, the Internet. In addition to streaming porn, it constantly feeds us our national myths. Indeed, man does not 

Trump’s Tax Plan Is An Act Of Political Domination By The Rich

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But at least we don’t have to pretend it isn’t.

North Korean companies ordered to close in China – Financial Times

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North Korean companies ordered to close in China
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One Chinese businessman who runs a joint venture in Pyongyang told the Financial Times he would wait out the 120 days to see what the “specific situation” was before restructuring his company, hoping for a “glimmer of light”. 60 per cent of China-North and more »

US election: Twitter blasted for inaction over Russia-linked accounts – FRANCE 24

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US election: Twitter blasted for inaction over Russia-linked accounts
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The company said in a blog post that it found 22 accounts corresponding to about 450 Facebook accounts that were likely operated out of Russia and pushed divisive social and political issues during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Facebook has said …
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‘Blacktivist’ social media accounts linked to Russian efforts to sow divisions in US – New York Daily News

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‘Blacktivist’ social media accounts linked to Russian efforts to sow divisions in US
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The Russian government was linked to a “Blacktivist” account on both Twitter and Facebook that was intended to stoke racial tensions in the U.S. during the presidential elections. Fake accounts and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of social media 
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Trump Lies About Taxes, Health Care Amid Cabinet Scandals: A Closer Look

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Trump White House feels heat on Puerto Rico

CNN2 hours ago
Washington (CNN) Puerto Rico and Washington seem farther than 1,500 miles apart right now — in fact they’re experiencing a different version of reality.

The Trump White House is a really, really strange place

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But after eight months in office, that pledge has become a favorite punchline on the web. Rather than a home to efficient, skilled operators, the Trump White House has been marked by an eccentric swirl of office politics run amok and off-hours fits of pique.

Here’s a quick skip through the profound — and very real — weirdness that has colored much of the current administration.

close dialog

No one hides from the press (or the President) better than Trump’s people.

First there was former FBI director James Comey. Trump initially decided to keep Comey on in his job and, during a post-inaugural reception at the White House, singled him out for a handshake and slap on the back. But as Comey confidante Ben Wittes

told it on the Lawfare blog

, the lanky lawman tried to avoid the awkward interaction by blending in with the drapes, which matched his blazer.

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“So he stood in the back, right in front of the drapes,” Wittes wrote, “hoping Trump wouldn’t notice him camouflaged against the wall.”

Alas, the President caught a glimpse. “Oh, and there’s Jim,” Trump said. “He’s become more famous than me!”

That relationship would sour a bit, and on the occasion of Comey’s firing, in early May, Trump communications staffers tried to steer clear of the media. Most notable was Sean Spicer, the dissembling former press secretary, who hid in —

correction: among 

— some bushes on the White House grounds rather than confront a hungry pack of reporters.

Former chief of staff Reince Priebus’s departure from his job, ditched on the tarmac after a ride on Air Force One, was an uncomfortable affair. Perhaps it would have been less so if there was a large trash can there to obscure reporters’ view.

And then there is the curious case of Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and their vacation schedule. The couple and their children

often seem to be away

 when the President starts lighting fires. Is it a coincidence? Are they keeping a lid on Oval Office shenanigans — only to see it pop off when they leave?

Or is it — as the critics have increasingly suggested — that they are actively trying to stay out of the less flattering headlines?

Starman Trump

To Trump, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is the

“Rocket Man.”

 That song, by Elton John, is from 1972. Another famous tune, from the same year, could be applied to Trump: David Bowie’s

“Starman.”

Trump has repeatedly found himself in odd situations with the biggest star of all: the sun.

He most recently took on a solar eclipse — training the presidential retinas directly on it.

According to the press pool on hand that afternoon, “White House aides standing beneath the Blue Room Balcony shouted ‘don’t look'” as Trump, well, looked.

President Donald Trump looks up toward the Solar Eclipse while joined by his wife first lady Melania Trump on the Truman Balcony at the White House on August 21, 2017.

President Donald Trump looks up toward the Solar Eclipse while joined by his wife first lady Melania Trump on the Truman Balcony at the White House on August 21, 2017.

Before that, there was the famous “orb.” During his first visit to the Gulf as President, Trump gathered with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to paw an odd-looking, glowing sphere.

As it turns out, this was less a star than some kind of incandescent globe, meant to signify, as noted in the Saudi embassy tweet, some kind of new joint effort to combat terrorism.

But Trump’s

most studied

 grappling with solar power came during a pair of visits to Europe earlier this year, when he repeatedly engaged in prolonged handshakes with French President Emmanuel Macron. The young leader has an appreciation for both clean energy and

the power exercised by the Sun King, Louis XIV

.

Does it please the President?

If we know one thing about Trump, it’s that he prizes loyalty —

to Trump

. He tells us constantly. His subordinates know it and have, on occasion, gone to outsize lengths to prove their own.

One memorable example: Before his own wings were clipped,

The Washington Post reported

, Priebus was called on to ground a fly that infiltrated an Oval Office meeting. It had been buzzing, and annoying Trump, who duly “summoned his chief of staff and tasked him with killing the insect.”

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Doing Trump’s bidding, however ridiculous, is a core competency in this White House. Spicer’s thirst for the job was tested on his first weekend, when he declared the audience for the previous day’s festivities the largest “to ever witness an inauguration, period.”

Spicer’s rant was a signal of things to come. The next day. Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway went on NBC to defend her colleague’s assertions, up to a point.

“You’re saying it’s a falsehood,” she told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd. “And they’re giving — Sean Spicer, our press secretary — gave alternative facts.”

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But there was no alternative, only love, when Trump formally introduced his Cabinet in June. As the group went up and down a long conference table, they hand-bathed the President in praise.

Here’s a taste:

  • Vice President Mike Pence: “Greatest privilege of my life to serve as your vice president.”
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “We are receiving, as you know — I’m not sure the rest of you fully understand — the support of law enforcement all over America.”
  • Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta: “I want to thank you for keeping your commitment to the American workers.”
  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry: My hat’s off to you for taking that stand (on the Paris climate deal), for sending a clear message around the world that America is gonna continue to lead in the area of energy.
  • UN envoy Nikki Haley: “It’s a new day at the United Nations. We now have a very strong voice. People know what the US is for, they know what we’re against, and they see us leading across the board.
  • White House budget director Mick Mulvaney: “With your direction we were able to also focus on the forgotten man and woman who are the folks who are paying those taxes, so I appreciate your support and your direction in pulling that budget together.”
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price: “I can’t thank you enough for the privilege that you’ve given me and the leadership that you’ve shown.”
  • Transportation secretary Elaine Chao: “I want to thank you for getting this country moving again and also working again.”
  • Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue: “I want to congratulate you on the men and women you’ve placed around this table. The holistic team of working for America is making results in each and every area.”

And then came Priebus for the topper:

“On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people.”

Business dinners

Do a deal. Have a meal.

Trump has brought with him to the presidency some of the vestiges of the New York City real estate life. Among them, a desire to combine food with business.

Earlier this month, that meant dinner with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi included Chinese food, but no Republicans. They walked out of the meeting with some conflicting reviews, though not of the cuisine. The questions centered on whether Trump had agreed to a deal that would protect DACA recipients in exchange for a bump in border security (but no money for the wall).

That last bit is still a mystery. What’s not is the President’s preference for a chocolate dessert. At the Pelosi-Schumer get-together, it was pie. But back in April, there was a different order. Two of them, actually. First for cake, then for airstrikes on Syria.

How do we know — and why do we care — what Trump had for dessert before making the decision? Because he told us. In an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo, the President turned his recollection of the strikes into an advertisement for his Mar-a-Lago resort.

“We had finished dinner,” he said of himself and visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping. “We’re now having dessert — and we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen, and President Xi was enjoying it — and I was given the message from the generals that the ships are locked and loaded.”

And then?

“We made a determination to do it, so the missiles were on the way.”

It wasn’t the first time the President put on a show for the paying customers at Mar-a-Lago. In February, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were tucking into iceberg wedge salads when word came down that North Koreans had launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile.

The leaders got down to business in full view of gawking guests. Some aides even

illuminated potentially sensitive briefing papers

 with the flashlights on their phones, which might or might not have been secure. (Spicer later told reporters the leaders had been “reviewing the logistics for the press conference,” not scouring classified documents.)

Waiters stayed on the scene too, swapping out the salads for a main course. But Trump and Abe soon moved to another room. It’s unclear if they ever made it to dessert.

Loose lips sink…

The Trump administration is still short of the quarter pole and it’s already staked a claim to being the leakiest in American history.

How bad is it? Well, when national security adviser H.R. McMaster authored a memo warning against the “unauthorized disclosure of classified information or controlled unclassified United States Government information,” it was promptly

shared with Buzzfeed

.

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And while it’s not usually considered a leak when it comes from the President’s mouth, The Washington Post in May reported that Trump shared highly classified information with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during an Oval Office meeting.

The list goes on. Short-lived communications director Anthony Scaramucci sealed his own fate when, in his zest for pursuing leakers, he called up the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza to chat — on the record — about his colleagues. Warning,

this link

 contains lots of graphic language.

And then there is new Trump lawyer Ty Cobb. He recently

gave The New York Times 

a look at the inner workings of a White House increasingly at odds with itself over how to manage special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

How so? By conducting the conversation, with a colleague, over lunch at a popular Washington steakhouse in the immediate vicinity of both the White House and the Times’ DC bureau.

How did the reporter spot him? Well, here’s a picture of Cobb.

Ty Cobb, the Trump lawyer and flamboyant mustache wearer.

Ty Cobb, the Trump lawyer and flamboyant mustache wearer.

And here’s what he looked like on that afternoon, dining and prattling on about all manner of internal intrigue.

Read the whole story
· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

Trump’s Deadly Narcissism – The New York Times

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So have we seen the kind of full-court, all-out relief effort such a catastrophe demands? No.

Admittedly, it’s hard to quantify the federal response. But none of the extraordinary measures you’d expect to see have materialized.

The deployment of military resources seems to have been smaller and slower than it was in Texas after Harvey or Florida after Irma, even though Puerto Rico’s condition is far more dire. Until Thursday the Trump administration had refused to lift restrictions on foreign shipping to Puerto Rico, even though it had waived those rules for Texas and Florida.

Why? According to the president, “people who work in the shipping industry” don’t like the idea.

Furthermore, although it’s more than a week since Maria made landfall, the Trump administration has yet to submit a request for aid to Congress.

And where’s the leadership? There’s a reason we expect visible focus by the president on major national disasters, including a visit to the affected area as soon as possible (Trump doesn’t plan to visit Puerto Rico until next week). It’s not just theater; it’s a signal about urgent priorities to the rest of the government, and to some extent to the nation at large.

But Trump spent days after Maria’s strike tweeting about football players. When he finally got around to saying something about Puerto Rico, it was to blame the territory for its own problems.

The impression one gets is of a massively self-centered individual who can’t bring himself to focus on other people’s needs, even when that’s the core of his job.

And then there’s health care.

Obamacare repeal has failed again, for the simple reason that Graham-Cassidy, like all the other G.O.P. proposals, was a piece of meanspirited junk. But while the Affordable Care Act survives, the Trump administration is openly trying to sabotage the law’s functioning.

This sabotage is taking place on multiple levels. The administration has refused to confirm whether it will pay crucial subsidies to insurers that cover low-income customers. It has refused to clarify whether the requirement that healthy people buy insurance will be enforced. It has canceled or suspended outreach designed to get more people to sign up.

These actions translate directly into much higher premiums: Insurers don’t know if they’ll be compensated for major costs, and they have every reason to expect a smaller, sicker risk pool than before. And it’s too late to reverse the damage: Insurers are finalizing their 2018 rates as you read this.

Why are the Trumpists doing this? Is it a cynical calculation — make the A.C.A. fail, then claim that it was already doomed? I doubt it. For one thing, we’re not talking about people known for deep strategic calculations. For another, the A.C.A. won’t actually collapse; it will just become a program more focused on sicker, poorer Americans — and the political opposition to repeal won’t go away. Finally, when the bad news comes in, everyone will know whom to blame.

No, A.C.A. sabotage is best seen not as a strategy, but as a tantrum. We can’t repeal Obamacare? Well, then, we’ll screw it up. It’s not about achieving any clear goal, but about salving the president’s damaged self-esteem.

In short, Trump truly is unfit for this or any high office. And the damage caused by his unfitness will just keep growing.

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Trump’s Deadly Narcissism – New York Times

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New York Times
Trump’s Deadly Narcissism
New York Times
According to a new Quinnipiac poll, a majority of Americans believe that Donald Trump is unfit to be president. That’s pretty remarkable. But you have to wonder how much higher the number would be if people really knew what’s going on. For the trouble and more »
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Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation team loses 2nd FBI veteran, Lisa Page, after losing Peter Strzok earlier 

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peter strzok – Google Search Thursday September 28th, 2017 at 7:53 PM Peter Strzok – Google News 1 Share Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation team loses 2nd FBI veteran ABC News–1 hour ago Peter Strzok had been tapped by Mueller just weeks earlier to help lead … It’s unclear why Strzok stepped away from Mueller’s team of nearly … Special … Continue reading “Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation team loses 2nd FBI veteran, Lisa Page, after losing Peter Strzok earlier”

Justice Department, FBI resist lawmaker demands for ‘Trump dossier’ files: officials – Reuters

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Justice Department, FBI resist lawmaker demands for ‘Trump dossier’ files: officials
Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department and the FBI are resisting demands from a Republican lawmaker to hand over documents about a former British spy’s dossier on purported Russian support for Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, because 

The Republican Casualties of Trumpism – The New Yorker

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The New Yorker
The Republican Casualties of Trumpism
The New Yorker
Why is Trump so hostile to the leaders of his own party? Ryan Lizza joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have become among the most reviled figures in Washington, and what the war on the Republican establishment …

Rudy Giuliani – Google News: I’m a Female Pornographer and I’m Sad Hugh Hefner Is Dead – VICE en_us

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VICE en_us
I’m a Female Pornographer and I’m Sad Hugh Hefner Is Dead
VICE en_us
After Mayor Rudy Giuliani dug up the ancient decree in the 90s to coincide with his “Broken Windows” policing, some clubs were so scared that bouncers would walk over and stop patrons from breaking into any motion that resembled dancing. I was blown …and more »

 Rudy Giuliani – Google News

Jared Kushner’s Lawyer Forwarded An Email From The Senate Intelligence Committee To An Internet Prankster – BuzzFeed News

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BuzzFeed News
Jared Kushner’s Lawyer Forwarded An Email From The Senate Intelligence Committee To An Internet Prankster
BuzzFeed News
Jared Kushner’s lawyer Abbe Lowell appears to have inadvertently sent a letter from the Senate Intelligence Committee meant for his client to a fake email account set up by a prankster who tricked Lowell earlier this week. CNN first reported that 
Trump aides’ email details soughtArkansas Online
GOP faces charges of hypocrisy with Kushner emailsThe Hill
Jared Kushner, Inveterate Rule-Breaker, Is Treating the West Wing “Like an Extension of theTrump Organization”Vanity Fair
GQ Magazine
all 222 news articles »

Is This The Man The World Wants Solving Middle East Peace?

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He accidentally listed himself as a woman on his voter registration form.

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The Trump-Russia Probe Made Things A Bit Awkward As The FBI Welcomed The New Boss

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FBI Director Christopher Wray, who replaced fired former Director James Comey, said the bureau must embrace change.

The Trump-Russia Probe Made Things A Bit Awkward As The FBI Welcomed The New Boss – HuffPost

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HuffPost
The Trump-Russia Probe Made Things A Bit Awkward As The FBI Welcomed The New Boss
HuffPost
President Donald Trump unceremoniously fired Comey in May, about two months after the former FBI chief confirmed that the bureau was investigating ties between Russia and the Trumpcampaign, and a few days after Comey said the idea he swayed the …
Report: Trump skipping ceremony for FBI director amid Russia probeThe Hill (blog)
Trump skips ceremony for FBI director amid Russia investigationPolitico
Tainted Trump First President in History to Skip FBI Director Swearing-InIndependent Journal Reviewall 81 news articles »

Senate approves Huntsman as Russia ambassador – The Hill (blog)

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The Hill (blog)
Senate approves Huntsman as Russia ambassador
The Hill (blog)
Huntsman, a former presidential candidate, also won praise from Democrats, including Sen. Ben Cardin · Benjamin (Ben) Louis CardinTrump officials brief lawmakers on North Korea Blackwater founder calls for … Moscow expelled more than 700 diplomats 
Senate confirms Jon Huntsman as Russia ambassadorWashington Post
Senate confirms Huntsman to be ambassador to RussiaPoliticoall 21 news articles »

Clapper: When I briefed Trump, he accepted DNC hacker wasn’t 400-pound man – The Hill

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The Hill
Clapper: When I briefed Trump, he accepted DNC hacker wasn’t 400-pound man
The Hill
Clapper was referring to comments about election hacking made by Trump during a July press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda. “I think it very well could be Russia, but I think it could very well have been other countries,” Trump said of 

Twitter finds 201 accounts linked to Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election – Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles Times
Twitter finds 201 accounts linked to Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election
Los Angeles Times
Like Facebook, Twitter has given its information to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is leading a criminal investigation into whether any of Trump’s aides coordinated with Russian authorities during or after the campaign. Trump has denied any …and more »

Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation team loses 2nd FBI veteran – ABC News

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Politico
Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation team loses 2nd FBI veteran
ABC News
Special counsel Robert Mueller has now lost a second official that he brought in from the FBI to help investigate Russia’s alleged meddling in last year’s presidential election, ABC News has learned. The latest FBI veteran to leave, Lisa Page, was 
Pence sent lawyer to meet with Mueller over the summerPoliticoall 3 news articles »
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6:41 PM 9/28/2017 – Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks: Twitter briefs US congressional investigators probing alleged Russia role in election – Reuters | Wray installed as FBI director, replaces fired Comey – Akron Beacon Journal 

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Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks Twitter briefs US congressional investigators probing alleged Russia role in election – Reuters Wray installed as FBI director, replaces fired Comey – Akron Beacon Journal Twitter briefs US congressional investigators probing alleged Russia role in election – Reuters Today’s Headlines and Commentary Our System Is Rigged – HuffPost Wray installed as … Continue reading“6:41 PM 9/28/2017 – Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks: Twitter briefs US congressional investigators probing alleged Russia role in election – Reuters | Wray installed as FBI director, replaces fired Comey – Akron Beacon Journal”

Senator Berates Twitter Over ‘Inadequate’ Inquiry Into Russian Meddling – New York Times

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New York Times
Senator Berates Twitter Over ‘Inadequate’ Inquiry Into Russian Meddling
New York Times
WASHINGTON — A key senator investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election sharply criticized Twitter on Thursday for failing to aggressively investigate the Russian misuse of its platform after the company said it had largely limited its own 
What We Know—and Don’t Know—About Facebook, Trump, and RussiaWIRED
A clear picture is emerging of how Russia used Facebook to sway the election — here’s what we know so farBusiness Insider
Russia-Linked Social Media Stoked US Culture Wars Through the Election Up to National Anthem DebateSlate Magazine (blog)all 549 news articles »

Twitter suspends Russia-linked accounts, but US senator says response inadequate – Reuters

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Phys.Org
Twitter suspends Russia-linked accounts, but US senator says response inadequate
Reuters
WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Twitter (TWTR.N) said on Thursday it had suspended about 200 Russian-linked accounts as it probes online efforts to meddle with the 2016U.S. election, but an influential Democratic senator slammed its steps as …
Russian group spent $274000 on Twitter ads during US electionPhys.Org
Twitter: Russia spent $US274,100 on ads during 2016 US electionThe Sydney Morning Herald
Twitter finds 201 accounts linked to Russian efforts to influence the 2016 electionLos Angeles Times
BBC News –Channel NewsAsia –Fox Business
all 564 news articles »

Intelligence Experts Say Cyber-Thieves, Nation-State Hackers Teaming Up – eWeek

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eWeek
Intelligence Experts Say Cyber-Thieves, Nation-State Hackers Teaming Up
eWeek
“Now what we look at in terms of organized crime, anonymity, completely changes the landscape.” Fortunately, there are things organizations can do to help protect themselves against today’s more sophisticated hackers and first on the list is encryption and more »

Looking for quick end to Russia investigations? Not likely, attorneys say – USA TODAY

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USA TODAY
Looking for quick end to Russia investigations? Not likely, attorneys say
USA TODAY
The special counsel, the Senate and House Intelligence committees and the Senate Judiciary Committee are all investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

From Alabama to Gush Etzion, Trump and Netanyahu Are Married to the Mob – Haaretz

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Haaretz
From Alabama to Gush Etzion, Trump and Netanyahu Are Married to the Mob
Haaretz
Roy Moore seems like a man after Donald Trump’s heart. He was twice suspended from his role as Alabama’s chief justice for refusing to comply with Supreme Court decisions on removing the Ten Commandments from his courtroom and recognizing gay …and more »
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Why Trump Hate and Russian Ads Are Good for Facebook – New York Magazine

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New York Magazine
Why Trump Hate and Russian Ads Are Good for Facebook
New York Magazine
Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.” Facebook has been under a particularly intense spotlight over the last few weeks, after admitting that 
Russian-funded Facebook ads backed Stein, Sanders and TrumpPolitico
What We Know—and Don’t Know—About Facebook, Trump, and RussiaWIRED
Twitter says it suspends hundreds of Russia-linked accounts, briefs US congressional aidesReuters
The Guardian –Washington Post –Voice of America –Washington Post
all 553 news articles »

The crazy fake Russian ‘Miners for Trump’ rally in Philly – and why it matters | Will Bunch – Philly.com

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Philly.com
The crazy fake Russian ‘Miners for Trump’ rally in Philly – and why it matters | Will Bunch
Philly.com
The organizers of the “Miners for Trump” rally, the news site reported, were part of a Russiapropaganda campaign. During last year’s presidential race, Being Patriotic amassed an astonishing 200,000 followers — who apparently hated Hillary Clinton 

News Roundup for September 28, 2017

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This stuff is important. Get informed. 1. After the Graham-Cassidy health care bill was killed, Trump signaled he might sign

Judiciary Committee Approves Trump Pick for DOJ Crime Chief – Courthouse News Service

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Judiciary Committee Approves Trump Pick for DOJ Crime Chief
Courthouse News Service
I., said Thursday that he was concerned that Benczkowski, a former Republican Judiciary Committee staffer, joining the criminal division could compromise the wall between Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and more »

Officials praise large gang roundups in US, Central America – Bryan-College Station Eagle

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Officials praise large gang roundups in US, Central America
Bryan-College Station Eagle
FILE – In this Sept. 5, 2017, file photo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at the Justice Department in Washington. Authorities are touting the arrests of thousands of gang members in the U.S. and Central America as a sign that teamwork and the 

Terror in Antioch, Tennessee: A Politically Inconvenient Crime – Townhall

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Townhall
Terror in Antioch, Tennessee: A Politically Inconvenient Crime
Townhall
While media talking heads and representatives of the NFL are busy prattling on about the “oppression” that blacks supposedly face on a daily basis in America 2017, there has scarcely been a peep about something that occurred just days ago in a little and more »

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Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation team loses 2nd FBI veteran, Lisa Page, after losing Peter Strzok earlier

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peter strzok – Google Search

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Story image for peter strzok from ABC News

Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation team loses 2nd FBI veteran

ABC News1 hour ago
Peter Strzok had been tapped by Mueller just weeks earlier to help lead … It’s unclear why Strzok stepped away from Mueller’s team of nearly …

Story image for peter strzok from CNN

Special counsel brings on FBI official who oversaw Clinton email …

CNNJul 13, 2017
(CNN) Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller has brought on Peter Strzok, a senior FBI official who oversaw the Hillary Clinton …

Story image for peter strzok from ABC News

Special counsel’s Russia probe loses top FBI investigator

ABC NewsAug 16, 2017
The recent departure of the FBI veteran, Peter Strzok, is the first known hitch in a secretive probe that, by all public accounts, is charging full …
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lisa page attorney mueller – Google Search

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Story image for lisa page attorney mueller from ABC News

Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation team loses 2nd FBI veteran

ABC News1 hour ago
The latest FBI veteran to leave, Lisa Page, was described by media accounts in June as a trial attorneywith “deep experience [in] money …

Story image for lisa page attorney mueller from CBS News

These are the lawyers on Robert Mueller’s special counsel team

CBS NewsSep 20, 2017
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has surrounded himself with over a …. Lisa Page has been an attorneywith the FBI’s Office of the General …

Story image for lisa page attorney mueller from Politico

Another prosecutor joins Trump-Russia probe

PoliticoSep 15, 2017
Attorney Kyle Freeny was among the prosecutors on hand Friday as … who was on Mueller’s staff shortly after his May appointment, Lisa Page, …
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Twitter briefs US congressional investigators probing alleged Russia role in election – Reuters

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Twitter briefs US congressional investigators probing alleged Russia role in election
Reuters
WASHINGTON, Sept 28 (Reuters) – Twitter officials on Thursday briefed U.S. congressional investigators probing how Russian-backed internet trolls, bots and targeted ads may have been used on the microblogging site to influence last year’s election

Wray installed as FBI director, replaces fired Comey – Akron Beacon Journal

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Wray installed as FBI director, replaces fired Comey
Akron Beacon Journal
He replaces James Comey, who was fired in May by President Donald Trump after fewer than four years on the job. The ceremony at FBI headquarters on Thursday was notable because neither Comey nor Robert Mueller, who preceded him as FBI director, … 

Twitter briefs US congressional investigators probing alleged Russia role in election – Reuters

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RT
Twitter briefs US congressional investigators probing alleged Russia role in election
Reuters
N) officials on Thursday briefed U.S. congressional investigators probing how Russian-backed internet trolls, bots and targeted ads may have been used on the microblogging site to influence last year’s election. Colin Crowell, Twitter’s vice president 
Reddit may be probed over its role in alleged Russian meddling into 2016 US elections – reportRT
Twitter: Russia spent $US274,100 on ads during 2016 US electionThe Sydney Morning Herald
Russian group spent $274000 on Twitter ads during US electionPhys.Org
CNNMoney –Business Insider –Firstpost –Washington Post
all 476 news articles »

Today’s Headlines and Commentary 


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Why was Peter Strzok removed from Mueller’s Investigative Team?  It is very unclear why…

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See also:


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