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The filings were part of Fusion GPS’s efforts to quash a subpoena issued in late August by Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian tech executive whom the dossier accused of targeting Democratic Party leadership with malware and “botnets.” Gubarev is now suing both BuzzFeed and the dossier’s author, Christopher Steele.
Steele, a former British spy who spent decades on MI6’s Moscow desk, was hired by Fusion to research Trump’s purported ties to Russia.
In their initial attempt to quash Gubarev’s subpoena, Fusion said it would be willing to provide any “pre-publication communications” it had with BuzzFeed about the dossier prior to its publication.
Court documents filed on Tuesday, however, included a September 12 email from a lawyer with the firm representing Fusion informing Gubarev’s attorney that “we have found no pre-publication communications” between the firm and BuzzFeed.
A composite photo of Paul Manafort, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman (right), and Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.
WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort was looking for an investor, and Oleg Deripaska was his man.
It was 2008, and a famed Manhattan building known as the Drake Hotel was being eyed by the American lobbyist and political adviser Manafort for purchase and development. On June 30, Manafort met with Deripaska, a Russian who had earned his fortune and reputation as a hard-knuckled, take-no-prisoners businessman in the 1990s consolidating control over Russia’s metals industry.
According to a memo generated by Manafort’s then-partner Rick Gates to two Deripaska associates, the Russian billionaire was definitely interested in investing, telling Manafort “to lock the other financing elements and then come back to him for the final piece of investment.”
“Based on the interest in this opportunity expressed by Mr. D during his meeting with Paul, we would like to discuss the parameters of this deal with you further and as soon as possible,” said the memo, which was submitted as evidence in a lawsuit filed in U.S. federal court on an unrelated dispute.
The Drake deal, which ultimately fell through, is one of many illustrating Manafort’s dealings with Deripaska, whom U.S. officials consider to be a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller (file photo)
Those and other dealings are now under the glaring scrutiny of Robert Mueller, the U.S. special counsel investigating alleged Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and contacts between Russian officials and associates of U.S. President Donald Trump. Three different congressional committees are also investigating.
In e-mails handed over to U.S. investigators, Manafort sought through “an overseas intermediary” of Deripaska to initiate “private briefings” in 2016, when Manafort was Trump’s campaign chairman, The Washington Post reported on September 20.
U.S. media reports noted that there is no evidence that Deripaska took Manafort up on the alleged offer.
A spokesman for Manafort, Jason Maloni, said on September 21 that the investigations into Manafort’s actions are “entirely politically motivated.”
An official with Deripaska’s press office denied any interactions between the businessman and Manafort for years prior to 2016.
“Mr. Deripaska had no communications, meetings, briefings, or other interactions with Mr. Manafort during, after, or in the run-up to the 2016 Presidential Election. And in fact, Mr. Deripaska had not communicated with Mr. Manafort for years prior to 2016. Thus, any publication suggesting or implying that Mr. Deripaska directly or indirectly communicated with Mr. Manafort in 2016 would be a false statement of fact,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told RFE/RL.
Deripaska has routinely figured on Kremlin invite lists for years, most recently at a gathering of key business leaders announced on September 21 that Russian media suggests was aimed at gauging the economic climate ahead of a presidential election in 2018.
Deripaska’s net worth has been estimated at $5.3 billion by Forbes magazine, a fortune he built largely in the 1990s during a period some Russian media have dubbed the “aluminum wars.”
Now 49, Deripaska was trained in physics at Moscow State University and later in economics at the Plekhanov Academy of Economics. Amid the often-haphazard mass privatization of state enterprises undertaken by then-President Boris Yeltsin, he founded a metals-trading operation, and in 1994 took control of a Siberian aluminum smelter. That was the seed for a company that became Basic Element, Deripaska’s main investment vehicle.
The Moscow offices of United Company Rusal, one of the world’s largest aluminum producers. (file photo)
In 2000, he became director general of Russian Aluminum, which later became United Company Rusal, one of the world’s largest aluminum manufacturers. United Company Rusal and Basic Element oversee businesses ranging from aviation to agriculture, as well as metals smelters.
Deripaska has been dogged for years by reports of connections to suspected organized crime groups, including Semyon Mogilevich, a Russian businessman formerly on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List. Mogilevich was among those named in a lawsuit filed by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in which Manafort and Deripaska’s possible business venture was detailed. Deripaska has repeatedly denied any criminal ties.
But, beginning in 2006, the State Department denied Deripaska a visa to enter the United States. The visa difficulties reportedly led him to enlist the lobbying influence of former Republican presidential candidate and Senate leader Bob Dole and, later, the work of one of Washington’s well-known lobbying firms, BGR, run by a former chairman of the Republican Party.
Deripaska reportedly traveled to the United States in 2009 under what The Wall Street Journal said was a secret arrangement with the FBI.
In fact, one U.S. government official and court documents filed in another U.S. lawsuit assert that Deripaska managed to travel to the United States more than a half dozen times between 2011 and 2014 using a Russian government-issued diplomatic passport, underscoring Deripaska’s political connections.
Sometime in the mid-2000s, Deripaska connected with a Russian named Konstantin Kilimnik, whose education at Russia’s Military University for Foreign Languages has led to speculation that he is employed by intelligence agencies, something he has denied.
Kilimnik began working for Manafort in 2005, when Manafort was representing Rinat Akhmetov, a Ukrainian oligarch who was said to be a financier of the Party of Regions of Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s president from 2010 until mass unrest forced him from office in February 2014.
Reports from a “black ledger” in Ukraine indicating millions of dollars in payments were directed from Yanukovych’s party to Manafort contributed to his exit from the Trump election campaign in August 2016.
Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (left) and oligarch Rinat Akhmetov (file photo)
The Associated Press (AP) reported that Manafort proposed a plan in June 2005 to Deripaska that was aimed at influencing politics, business dealings, and news coverage across the United States, Europe, and the former Soviet Union in ways that would favor Putin. The AP report, published in March, said Manafort eventually signed a contract worth $10 million with Deripaska. He had a business relationship with him until at least 2009.
Deripaska, who denied the report, later said he would sue AP for libel.
After Yanukovych’s election in 2010, Kilimnik told RFE/RL that he spent 90 percent of his time inside the presidential administration, where he assisted Manafort.
In an interview earlier this year, Kilimnik told RFE/RL that, during the 2016 U.S. election campaign, he briefed Manafort on Ukraine issues. But he said he had been on Manafort’s payroll since 2014.
The Washington Post said Manafort’s offers to Deripaska were made via e-mails sent to Kilimnik. “If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” the July 7, 2016, e-mail, portions of which were read to the Post along with other Manafort correspondence, reportedly said.
Asked about his conversations with Manafort, Kilimnik told RFE/RL on September 21 that they discussed the U.S. election campaign, but he declined to describe the e-mail in detail or to say whether there was an effort to reach out to Deripaska.
“There were millions of emails. […] we worked for 11 years. And we discussed a lot of issues, from Putin to women,” Kilimnik said via text message.
“Of course we discussed trump and everything,” he said in another message. “A lot of things. Our clients owe us money. Is there any violation of the law or proof of my work for KGB or whoever in those discussions?”
“On the political side there is no case that can be made about my involvement in the US elections,” Kilimnik wrote in another September 21 message. “They are tough investigators and probably will get manafort for some financial crap. With that many years of international clients no one can be 100% clean.”
CMZ And Pericles
Sometime around late 2006 or early 2007, Manafort and Rick Davis established a Cayman Islands-based private-equity fund called Pericles into which, according to U.S. court papers, Deripaska later invested $56 million as part of the abortive effort to buy the Drake Hotel. One of Manafort’s business associates in New York was Brad Zackson, who worked in the 1990s as an exclusive broker for Donald Trump’s now-deceased father, Fred.
Pericles, along with the Deripaska investment, also played a part in a bid to purchase a Ukrainian cable and Internet company. That effort later collapsed, and a lawsuit filed in a U.S. court in Virginia in 2015 by Deripaska’s lawyers accused Manafort of a failure to pay Deripaska $19 million related to the failed investment.
The Drake Hotel real estate is not the only investment Manafort has undertaken that has come under scrutiny. Several townhouses and condominiums in New York and elsewhere are reportedly being examined by U.S. investigators and New York Attorney General’s offices, including the loans that Manafort used to buy the properties.
With contributions by RFE/RL correspondent Christopher Miller in Kyiv
Oleg Deripaska, Russian billionaire and then the chief executive of the aluminum giant Rusal, in St. Petersburg in 2013. (Andrey Rudakov/BLOOMBERG)
MOSCOW — An aluminum magnate who survived the gangster capitalism of the 1990s and the financial crisis of 2008, Oleg Deripaska is a shrewd self-made billionaire who has managed to stay on the right side of power, whether by marrying into “the family” of Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin, or by making himself indispensable to its current one, Vladimir Putin.
As my Washington-based colleagues reported this week, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort allegedly offered to provide Deripaska, 49, with personal briefings about the 2016 presidential election less than two weeks before Trump accepted the Republican nomination. The emailed offer, said to have been sent to a Russian colleague of Manafort’s, is among tens of thousands of documents that have been turned over to investigators looking into possible collusion between Trump associates and Russia as part of an effort by the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.
It is unclear whether such an offer reached Deripaska, and a spokesman for the businessman denied that it did. But Manafort’s apparent readiness to share information with an oligarch known to be part of a trusted circle of businessmen near Putin is one of the most concrete revelations to emerge from the probe into Trump’s Russia links.
Deripaska’s relationship with Manafort began in the mid-2000s, when Manafort was a consultant for a Ukraine-based oligarch, Rinat Akhmetov, an associate of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych. The Associated Press reported in March that Manafort signed a $10 million annual contract with Deripaska in 2005, a report that Deripaska denied and later contested in a lawsuit against the AP. In 2008, Rick Gates, a partner of Manafort’s, wrote in a memo that Deripaska was considering partnering with the two men to buy the Drake Hotel in Manhattan. But the relationship later soured. By 2014, Deripaska had filed a petition in a Cayman Islands court accusing Manafort and Gates of taking $19 million intended for investment then failing to account for the funds or return them.
Deripaska, now worth about $6.5 billion, according to Forbes, has always stayed close to power. He married the daughter of Yeltsin’s chief of staff, part of “the family,” the coterie of influential advisers around Yeltsin. Under Putin, he survived near-bankruptcy to later invest more than $1 billion in Putin’s pet project, the 2014 Sochi Olympics. A Russian state bank helped Deripaska with billions in loans, Russia’s foreign minister has lobbied to help him get a U.S. visa, and a 2006 U.S. diplomatic cable disclosed by WikiLeaks said he was “among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis” and “a more-or-less permanent fixture on Putin’s trips abroad.”
After graduating from Moscow State University with a degree in nuclear physics, Deripaska began his career as a metals trader in the mid-1990s before buying a stake in a Siberian aluminum smelter, which eventually grew into the Sibirsky Aluminium Group. The group, now called Basic Element, owns a 47 percent stake in Rusal, one of the largest aluminum-producing companies in the world, along with the hydroelectric power producer EuroSibEnergo, the GAZ automotive group, infrastructure, construction companies and the Russian insurance company Ingosstrakh.
The metals business in 1990s Russia, where the legacy of Soviet industry was up for grabs, was notoriously rough-and-tumble. In a 2008 lawsuit heard in a London court, a man named Michael Cherney claimed that he was a former business partner of Deripaska’s and was owed compensation for a 13.2 percent, or more than $1 billion, stake in Rusal. Deripaska said in court that the two had not been partners, but that he had been pressured by violent criminal groups in the 1990s into a “krysha,” or protection, arrangement with Cherney. The two settled out of court in 2012. Deripaska alleged that Cherney was in league with another man, Anton Malevsky, who died mysteriously in a parachuting accident in South Africa.
The business also made Deripaska fantastically wealthy. In 2008, Forbes listed him as the richest man in Russia and the ninth-richest man in the world, with a net worth of $28 billion. By this time Deripaska was meeting with a string of high-profile Western politicians, including Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). Deripaska helped spark a scandal in British politics in 2008 when it was revealed that he had hosted the Conservative Party’s chief spokesman on finance, George Osborne, on his $150 million yacht in the Mediterranean.
In 2005, the U.S. State Department revoked a visa issued to Deripaska, possibly because of alleged ties to organized crime, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal. But The Washington Post has reported that Deripaska’s connections to Putin, or at least the Russian government, have been sufficiently close that as recently as 2016, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had lobbied on behalf of Deripaska for the United States to admit him.
Deripaska’s business was blindsided by the financial crisis and collapse in commodity prices of 2008, and he was forced to refinance loans, according to some reports, with support from the Kremlin. In a $50 billion bailout, the state-run Vnesheconombank, or VEB, gave Deripaska one of the largest loans, $4.5 billion, to pay off foreign banks and avoid surrendering stakes in companies he had put up as collateral. When a Financial Times reporter asked him in 2010 how close he had come to going out of business, he replied, “Very close.”
What’s most important from where the world meets Washington
That also brought political trouble. In 2009, workers in the town of Pikalevo (population 22,000) began protesting after Deripaska’s alumina refinery there halted production, triggering layoffs and pay cuts. The protests attracted the attention of Putin, who flew out personally to show that he was engaged in solving an economic crisis that was repeating itself across the country. In a dressing-down of the factory owners later broadcast nationwide, Putin berated Deripaska and forced him to sign a contract restarting the plant. As Deripaska walked away, Putin said: “And give me back my pen.”
Yet Deripaska rebounded, surviving the financial crisis in large part thanks to generous government loans that were extended months after the Pikalevo incident. By 2014, he was investing more than $1 billion in the Sochi Olympics, including building the Olympic Village, a 26-mile road around the Olympic venues and an expansion of the city’s airport. According to Russia’s Vedomosti newspaper, Deripaska received an award from Putin for his investments in the Olympics.
Deripaska was seeking millions of dollars in recompense from Manafort and Gates as recently as August 2015, according to court records from the Cayman Islands, and at one point hired a private investigator to track the two men down. For now, Manafort’s motives for suggesting that briefings be provided to Deripaska remain unclear.
BILD analyzed the hashtag “election fraud”. He is most closely related to the terms “AfD”, “Islamization”, “election observer” and “btw17”. Outside Germany it is mainly pushed by. The USA ranked first, the UK in second place and Russia in third place.
Röpcke and Bild.de could have just as good (and actually even better) titles: “ Altered Ami attack on our choice” . But instead:
For Röpcke and his colleagues it has been clear for many months that today’s Bundestag election is being strongly influenced by Russian forces, more precisely by Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. However, they had predicted completely different caliber than only some Bots from Russia, which now continually retreat AfD-Hashtags. Together with his colleague Karina Mößbauer, Röpcke published this dossier on Putin’s colorful propaganda bouquet in December last year:
Attack on our Bundestagswahl! It is a hybrid major attack on the perception of the Germans. And he has several concrete goals.
Experts agree: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (64) wants to shatter the confidence of the population in the German state, the authorities, and in particular Angela Merkel (62, CDU), and drive people into the hands of left and right extremists ,
Some points of this “secret war” dossier are a bit funny, for example, those with the “deliberately scattered fake news”. The only known “Fake News” that made it into a big German medium this year was spread by the “Bild” -zeitung and concerned a supposed refugee “Sex-Mob”, which on New Year’s Eve through Frankfurt am Main “beobt” should be. The Frankish “Bild” -reaction was thereby a lie of a AfD-sympathizer.
The article by Mößbauer and Röpcke really has all the ingredients that a ninth-grader would choose if he were to invent a creative conspiracy theory in a homework: Putin, refugees, Syrian intelligence, Iraqi intelligence, mafia, dead, sex mob. Because “beyond disinformation”, says Mössbauer and Röpcke, “it could get worse!”
In security crises it is already being discussed how Russia could try to force a radical rethinking of the population with disturbances – possibly even with lethal force. (…)
A previously unknown component is the close cooperation between Russian, Syrian and other intelligence services as well as Russian mafia, says Russian expert Gustav Gressel (European Council on Foreign Relations).
“A part of the refugees from Iraq and Syria, if only a very small part, had connections with Assad or Saddam Hussein’s secret services.”
These people could be specifically targeted by secretaries or mafia trips and are instrumentalized for disturbances, warns Gressel.
“What would happen, for example, if a similar event were repeated at a summer festival before the election, as in the Silvesternacht in Cologne? How would Merkel stand? What would be the consequence for the Bundestag election? Of course, this is an extreme example, but it is within reach, “says Gressel.
We have waited until shortly before the end of the Bundestag election. Nowhere did a Putin-Assad-Saddam-Mafia refugee sex mob appear. At no “summer festival” and also nowhere else in Germany. Already at the publication in December 2016 the questions of Gustav Gressel sounded absurdly enough, in order to regard them as highly questionable. But instead of questioning them, Röpcke, Mößbauer and “picture” adopt the conspiracy theory of their experts already in the headline.
Julian Röpcke writes today to the retweeting Twitter accounts from Russia:
It is unclear whether the campaign is more than mere propaganda.
You’re Donald Trump. You’re less popular than head lice. Your escalating scandals may land you in prison. People are openly questioning your mental health. You try to appease what’s left of your racist base by attacking black athletes. You take it too far. Within a twenty-four hour period you’ve been condemned by everyone from the biggest star in the NBA to the commissioner of the NFL. Donald, you’re having a day from Hell – and it’s just getting started.
Trump’s hellish twenty-four hour cycle began when he referred to NFL quarterback Colin Karpernick a “son of a bitch” at a rally tonight. He thought he could get away with it, because Kaepernick’s kneel-downs are seen as controversial by a number of moderate white Americans. But it turned out he’d taken things too far, even by his low standards. By today, after NFL stars like Lesean McCoy were calling Trump an “asshole” and worse, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement condemning Trump’s remarks. The owners of the New York Giants did the same. But that was just the half of it.
After NBA star Steph Curry hinted that he would decline to visit the White House, Donald Trump tweeted that Curry and his entire Golden State Warriors were no longer invited. This prompted LeBron James, the only NBA star with even more clout than Curry, to respond by calling Trump a “bum.” Kobe Bryant and others piled on. NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement in support of his players.
Donald Trump has been pushing an openly racist agenda for years, and it’s defined his entire time in politics. But these past twenty-four hours feel like a shift has taken place. Trump has taken his racist attacks so far that even moderate white Americans, who would generally prefer to not to get involved in social issues one way or the other, seem to be finally scratching their heads today at just how dementedly racist Trump is. If so, this will indeed go down as Trump’s ultimate day from Hell. Contribute to Palmer Report
If you were paying attention on election night, you’re aware that the vote totals in key swing states lined up for Donald Trump in statistically suspicious fashion. Trump winning would have been a shock; Trump winning along those particular numbers was all but mathematically impossible. If you’ve been paying attention since, you’ve figured out that Russian hackers almost certainly found a way to alter the actual vote totals. Now the U.S. government is inching closer to finally admitting it.
Russia’s fake news stories and fake Facebook ads were enough to con some Americans into voting under mistaken pretenses. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. As Palmer Report has been documenting since November, the actual vote totals were absurd (link). The national polls ended up being accurate within the margin of error, as Hillary Clinton won by three million votes nationwide. But those same polls said Hillary would win the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida, and they should logically have also been accurate in those states. Instead Trump won all four of them, by the same one percent margin (link) – just large enough to avoid automatic recounts without being large enough raise eyebrows.
Other things stood out as having been just plain wrong about the vote totals in those four states. Exit polls for early voting in Florida, which accounted for the bulk of the vote, gave Hillary Clinton such a huge lead that Donald Trump shouldn’t have been able to overcome it on election day (link). Across the board in these four states, the numbers simply did not add up in the way that numbers are supposed to add up. There were other eyebrow raising issues. Voting equipment broke in suspiciously large numbers in Michigan on election – but it all happened in Detroit, which would have been the most favorable to Hillary (link). Any one of the above issues would be curious on its own. Combined, they’re suspicious as hell.
So this news blip from the Associated Press matters greatly: “US government tells election officials in 21 states that hackers targeted their systems in 2016, but most not breached” (link). Keep two things in mind here. The first is that the Trump administration has been doing everything it could to prevent the federal government from acknowledging that Russia meddled in the election. The only reason for it to put out a statement like this is because it knows it’s all going to come out anyway. The second thing to keep in mind there is the phrase “most not breached.” That’s an acknowledgment that some state voting systems were breached. This story is just getting started.
Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman is in the special counsel’s crosshairs. Facebook and Twitter are under the interrogation lights. Here’s a look back at the past week in the Russia imbroglio. Source: The Russia Investigations: Paul Manafort Has A Bad Week; Twitter, Facebook In The Hot Seat : NPRThe World Web Times
Social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter played a larger role than first thought in Russia’s influence campaign against the 2016 U.S. presidential race and Congress wants answers. Source: The Next Big Focus In The Russia Investigations: Social Media : NPRThe World Web Times