Los Angeles Times–52 minutes ago
Highly Cited–USA TODAY–6 hours ago
In-Depth–CNN–1 hour ago
Live Updating–CBS News–59 minutes ago
The Kremlin knows a bargain when it sees it.
We are supposed to believe that it bought the American presidential election last year with $100,000 in Facebook ads and some other digital activity. Frankly, if American democracy can be purchased this cheap — a tiny fraction of the $7.2 million William Seward paid to buy Alaska from the Russians back in 1867 — it’s probably not worth having.
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The latest obsession in the Russian collusion story, the Kremlin’s digital activity has generated headlines and put Facebook and all of Silicon Valley on the defensive, although this looks to be one of the most overhyped stories of the year.
The Russians, as far as we know, bought more than $100,000 in Facebook ads between June 2015 and May 2017. A little more than half was spent after last November, when, obviously, Donald Trump had already won.
The scale here is singularly unimpressive. A serious House campaign might spend $100,000 on digital. In a presidential campaign, the amount is a rounding error. The Trump campaign spent around $90 million on digital in 2016. Hillary Clinton employed a considerable digital staff, and announced she was spending $30 million on digital the last month of the campaign alone.
If tens of thousands of dollars was decisive amid this tsunami of tens of millions, the Russian trolls working somewhere in St. Petersburg should strike out on their own and start a political consultancy or an internet publishing company. They are geniuses.
It doesn’t appear that much of the Russian material was explicitly advocating for Trump’s election, and some of it wasn’t even right-wing. One Russian Facebook page highlighted discrimination against Muslims. Another promoted anti-police videos for a Black Lives Matter audience. A pro-gay-rights page was called LGBT United.
Other pages were on the right and supportive of Trump. But much of the Russian Facebook activity was peddling online tripe indistinguishable from indigenous American online tripe — in fact, it was ripped off from content produced by Americans. If the Russians are going to decide our elections on social media, one assumes it will require at least a little originality.
One suspicion has been that the Trump campaign helped direct the Russian online effort. What we know about the Russian activity so far makes that doubtful. Why, if the Trump campaign was running its own digital campaign that was magnitudes larger, would it bother with a tiny Russian effort that wasn’t always focused on Trump or his message?
The Daily Beast ran a story last week with the headline “Trump Campaign Staffers Pushed Russian Propaganda Days Before the Election.” This referred to Kellyanne Conway and others associated with the Trump campaign retweeting posts from a Twitter account that masqueraded as a project of the Tennessee Republican Party, when it was really operated by Russian trolls. Conway tweeted a post from the account once, according to the story. And the report adduces no evidence that the Trump supporters knew the origin of the account.
It is outrageous that Russians meddled in our democracy at all, and if there are ways to lock them out of our social media going forward, we should do it. Let’s not pretend, though, that the Russian online activity was the key to the election. This is classic conspiracy thinking — that some small secret cabal is responsible for a world-historical outcome that had much more obvious causes (Hillary Clinton’s poor campaign, for one).
There may yet be truly damaging Russia revelations. Trump’s campaign manager during a decisive phase of the primary campaign, Paul Manafort, worked with shady characters from that part of the world. The notorious Don Trump Jr. meeting with Russians promising oppo on Clinton spoke of a willingness to cooperate with anyone who might be useful. The Trump family’s business dealings could always produce a nasty surprise.
But all the focus on Facebook serves, for now, as a substitute for a smoking gun in the absence of a real one.
Rich Lowry is editor of National Review. Twitter: @RichLowry.
(c) 2017, King Features Syndicate
Ignatius: Russia’s worrisome push to rewrite cyberspace rules
The Daily Herald
Russia’s bid to rewrite global rules through the U.N. was matched by a personal pitch on cybercooperation in July from President Vladimir Putin to President Trump at the G-20 summit in Hamburg. Putin “vehemently denied” to Trump that Russia had …
David Ignatius: Russia’s worrisome push to control cyberspaceWinston-Salem Journalall 109 news articles »
Putin and the Russian Mafia – Google News
More than 2 months after declaring an opioid crisis, Trump appears to have decided how to proceed Thursday October 26th, 2017 at 9:52 AM 1 Share Welcome to Mic’s daily read on Donald Trump’s America. Want to receive this as a daily email in your inbox? Subscribe here. Every day, we bring you a different dispatch on Trump’s … Continue reading “9:49 AM 10/26/2017 – More than 2 months after declaring an opioid crisis, Trump appears to have decided how to proceed – Mic”
Trump Investigations Report
And that’s not presidential, experts say.
Saved Stories – Trump Investigations Saved Stories – Trump Investigations Donald Trump: Stephen Colbert Imagines The Outcome Had Obama Given Press Conferences Like Trump roger stone – Google News: Trump ally Roger Stone denies collusion with Russia – TRT World Donald Trump: Seth Meyers Slams GOP For Being Engulfed In A Civil War Of Its … Continue reading “11:06 AM 10/26/2017 – The Recruitables: Why Trump’s Team Was Easy Prey for Putin – Politico”
Trump Investigations Report
Google Avoids Spotlight During Russia Investigation
Google has done its best to avoid getting involved in Congress’ ongoing investigation into Russia’s actions during the 2016 presidential election, Axios reports. Facebook and Twitter have been very public in their response to the reports that Russian …and more »
Founder of opioid maker Insys indicted for fraud, racketeering
The billionaire founder of Insys, which makes a controversial opioid-based drug, has been indicated on racketeering and fraud charges, sending shares in the group 4 per cent lower. John Kapoor, who stepped down as Insys chief executive in January, …
John Kapoor, Founder Of Insys, Indicted On Charges Of Bribing Doctors To Overprescribe OpioidsBenzingaall 11 news articles »
donald trump racketeering – Google News
On Wednesday, Wikileaks leader Julian Assange confirmed that the head of a data analytics firm working with Trump’s campaign contacted Assange last year, the Daily Beast reports. Alexander Nix, the head of Cambridge Analytica, admitted that he sent an email to Assange seeking to assist Wikileaks in finding and releasing Clinton’s 33,000 missing emails. According to unnamed sources, Assange declined the request. This connection is the closest reported between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign during a time when Trump fervently admonished Clinton and publicly requested Russia’s help to recover Clinton’s lost emails.
Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, articulated his frustration with the Trump administration on Wednesday over the administration missing its Oct. 1 deadline to implement Russia sanctions, according to Politico. Trump signed the bipartisan sanctions bill in August, but his administration has yet to penalize certain Russian entities. Sens. John McCain and Ben Cardin have also expressed concern over the sanctions delay. Corker notably did not accuse the administration of purposeful delay, but intends to “check into it.”
Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Seoul on Thursday for his annual meeting with South Korean military officials, the Washington Post reports. Dunford will discuss, among other things, improving South Korea’s ballistic missiles and upgrading their military networks. Defense Secretary James Mattis will head to Seoul next week following Dunford’s departure.
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s sentencing proceedings continued yesterday with emotional testimony from James Hatch, a former Navy SEAL whose military service dog was killed in a mission to retrieve Bergdahl, according to the Washington Post. Hatch’s testimony is part of an ongoing process to determine whether the consequences, often deadly, that followed Bergdahl’s abandonment of his post should factor into the sergeant’s punishment. Hatch, who suffered career-ending injuries during the mission, delivered the tattered harness of his deceased military dog as evidence in the sentencing proceedings.
In an interview with several U.S. publications, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi urged the U.S. and Iran not to involve Iraq in growing conflicts over the nuclear deal and U.S. sanctions, the Wall Street Journal reports. Abadi reiterated his support for U.S. forces in Iraq fighting the Islamic State group, but that any attacks on coalition forces in Iraq, including those that U.S. officials believe are Iran proxies, would be considered “an attack on Iraq, on the sovereignty of Iraq, the sovereignty of the state.”
President Donald Trump admitted that he did not authorize the mission in Niger resulting in the deaths of four U.S. special forces members, according to the Hill. Trump stated that his generals had the authority, clarifying that he “gave them authority to do what’s right so that we win.” On Monday, Gen. Dunford said that the soldiers were on a reconnaissance mission that did not require the president’s authority.
ICYMI, Yesterday on Lawfare
Ashley Deeks, Sabrina McCubbin and Cody Poplin considered what the U.S. could learn from Cold War anti-propaganda strategies.
Ian Hurd discussed why both liberal and realist theorists incorrectly interpret the international laws of war.
The Lawfare Editors flagged the next Hoover Book Soiree with Susan Landau on Nov. 1.
Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck posted this week’s National Security Law podcast.
Garrett Hinck summarized the European Commission’s privacy shield review.
Matthew Kahn posted the live stream of a House hearing on the risk that Kaspersky Labs products pose to the federal government.
Kahn also posted the Oct. 24 executive order to resume the U.S. refugee admissions program.
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
By now, it should be clear to anyone following the news that Russian intelligence made a formidable effort to approach the Trump campaign and assess the potential to manipulate its members. As a former officer of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, I can tell you that Russian security services would have been derelict not to evaluate the possibility of turning someone close to Trump. While the question of collusion remains open, it’s beyond dispute that Russia tried to get people around the president to cooperate. The June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower is indication enough, but other encounters bolster the argument.
How do you get someone to do something they should not do?
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Generally, an intelligence officer looks for a person’s vulnerabilities and explores ways to exploit them. It usually comes down to four things, which—in true government style—the CIA has encompassed in an acronym, MICE: Money, Ideology, Coercion, Ego. Want to get someone to betray his country? Figure out which of these four motivators drives the person and exploit the hell out of it.
It is important to note, too, that a person might not know he is doing something he shouldn’t do. As former CIA Director John Brennan testified in May, “Frequently, people who go along a treasonous path do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late.” Sometimes, such people make the best assets. They are so sure in their convictions that they are acting in their own best interest or in the best interest of their country that they have no idea they are being completely manipulated.
The Russians know all this, too.
From an intelligence point of view, the people surrounding Trump, and Trump himself, make easy targets for recruitment. This is not to say these people have definitely been recruited by Russian intelligence—and they’ve all denied it repeatedly—but you can be sure that Russia’s intelligence services took these factors into consideration when they approached the campaign.
So, what pressure points might Russian intelligence officers have used to get their desired outcome with Trump’s Recruitables?
Paul Manafort: Money
Anyone who has lobbied on behalf of leaders ranging from Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko to the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos to Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang likely has no set ideology or moral compass and is motivated primarily by making money. People like this make very good targets. There is no emotion involved. Getting the person to do something is a fairly straightforward transaction. For example, getting someone to buy real estate to help launder Russian funds, in return for a handsome fee, would be a pretty simple transaction. As soon as the person has done it one time, it is much easier to get them to do something else for you.
A real opportunity came when Manafort went to work on the campaign of Viktor Yanukovych for president of Ukraine. Yanukovych was close to Russian leader Vladimir Putin and was corrupt. By being willing to play in these circles, Manafort signaled his willingness to look the other way as long as the payoff was right. A ledger found in Yanukovych’s abandoned palace showed he was paid $12 million (Manafort denied taking such payments, but the AP has confirmed that two of his companies did indeed receive part of this money). Putin pal Oleg Deripaska reportedly paid him $10 million a year to push Putin’s agenda. Press reports also state he received loans of up to $60 million from Deripaska.
Was he in debt, which made him vulnerable to coercion? Or were these loans not actually loans, but payments that Manafort was never expected to pay back? Either way, money was clearly Manafort’s weakness, and Russian intelligence would have known that, given his demonstrated willingness to work for just about anyone with deep pockets.
Michael Flynn: Money, Ideology, Ego
Flynn was at the top of his game as director of intelligence at JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command. During his tenure, JSOC became a lean fighting machine, able to execute a hit on a target in a war zone and immediately process any actionable intelligence in order to hit the next target immediately, before the bad guys could move on. He moved up the intelligence ladder and landed the top spot at the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012. Here, the Peter Principle quickly set in. Castigated for his lack of vision for the agency, his inability to manage a large organization, his unconventional approach to counterterrorism, and his “Flynn facts,” it became evident in Washington circles that Flynn was over his head. President Barack Obama fired him.
Oh, how the mighty had fallen.
A top military figure, with a large ego, who felt slighted by Obama, the intelligence community and the military, Flynn was down. From the heights of JSOC to being fired—wrongly fired, no less, in his view—Flynn at this point would have made any foreign intelligence officer salivate. The man was vulnerable on several levels. His ego had taken a massive, public blow. He also firmly believed he was right, that he knew better than the president how to save the country from Islamic terrorists. Add to the mix that so many other military men had gone on to make millions in the private sector, cashing in on their military careers, their time in war zones, their connections to people both in government and in large defense companies. Flynn launched his own security consulting company and certainly might have thought: Where is mine?
This would have been a good moment for the Russians to send in a clever operative, stroke his ego, and tell Flynn how smart he was and how ridiculous Obama was for firing him. We’ve got a lot of people at RT who agree with you, the person might have added, while making it clear, “Our president agrees with you.” Payments, made through speaking fees and consulting contracts, would have helped smooth the deal.
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Does this mean Flynn was recruited as a traditional asset, fully under Russian control? No. The Russians are concerned with being able to influence people only as much as they need to. And with Flynn, who reportedly developed an obsession with collaborating with the Russians against ISIS and even defended RT as no different than CNN, had readily demonstrated his willingness to follow and promote the Kremlin’s agenda in return for a certain amount of ego stroking (which, in turn, might have helped him actually believe what he was saying).
Felix Sater: Money, Coercion, Ego
In an article in the Atlantic, titled “Why Didn’t Trump Build Anything In Russia?” Julie Ioffe painted a picture of Trump’s former real estate partner as someone who really wanted to be part of the rich Moscow club but who lacked krysha, or “roof”—the political protection, Ioffe explains, to act as insurance should a deal go wrong—to be able to do it. “He tries to create the impression of someone who is extremely well-connected and very busy,” a source who had worked with Sater told Ioffe. Sater made a few forays into Moscow business circles but could never convert and was unable to win the trust of anyone who would have mattered. As Ioffe wrote, Sater was worried about his image. So worried, in fact, he looked into hiring a PR firm to help build up his reputation. He was, in the end, an outsider who really wanted to be an insider.
Give this person the chance to say he is wheeling and dealing with Very Important People, and he will bend to your will. Russian security services could offer at least the appearance of “roof,” even if they never intended to help Sater make money. His increased cachet would have been worth it to someone so image-conscious.
Jared Kushner: Money, Coercion
Kushner had a rocky entrée into Manhattan real estate. His purchase of 666 Fifth Ave. at $1.8 billion in 2007—that is, just before the market tanked—was perhaps not the strongest display of business acumen. And now, with payments due and business going badly, he was in a pickle. Perhaps the Russians had a great way for him to get out of that pickle. So they introduced him in December 2016 to Sergey Gorkov, the head of the Russian state investment bank Vnesheconombank, or VEB, who would have made it clear that he was in a position to help.
Donald Trump Jr.: Money, Ego
Junior is a lot like dad in his need to feel important. He was certainly a target because he manages access to his father, and his arrogance makes him easy to read. There is probably quite a bit of insecurity behind the smugness. Sure, he’s done a few international deals, but it’s going to take more than that to please daddy (Junior certainly could see that his dad never really pleased his father; Junior didn’t want to repeat that). Access to deals and money would certainly be a way to manipulate him, but mostly it would be stroking the Trump ego. The most important thing for Junior was that daddy win, at any cost. The perks and business deals would be a nice bonus, but I don’t think Junior even equated those perks with aid to his father’s campaign. Why wouldn’t he accept help for his father’s campaign? He likely didn’t even realize there was anything wrong with a foreign adversary lending a hand. As he wrote when approached with derogatory information on daddy’s opponent, “I love it.”
Donald Trump: Ego
A lot has been made of the possible existence of a peepee tape that Putin could lord over Trump to make him do Putin’s bidding. (Trump denies it.) But the president has been revealed time and again as a deadbeat who does not pay his bills, a serial philanderer and a confessed sexual predator. He has bragged about walking in on women at the Miss America contest and grabbing women “by the pussy” whenever he likes. Would anyone really be surprised or shocked by such a tape? This is not to say such a tape does not exist, only that its role as kompromat is limited.
Ego is clearly the best way to get Trump to do anything. The Saudis certainly understood this, feting him with gold and orbs and displaying his enormous portrait on the side of a hotel, right next to the king’s portrait. The Saudis had this man in the palm of their hands, hence Trump’s pro-Saudi stancesince the trip, despite his campaign rhetoric shouting down the kingdom.
Trump’s ego wanted to win and, he figured, everyone else wanted him to win, too. He was under the impression that everyone loved him and appreciated his greatness. Of course everyone wanted to help him win. If he accepted help from Russia, it’s possible he didn’t realize there was anything wrong with doing so. Why wouldn’t they help him win, he might have thought, and why shouldn’t he accept that help? For an experienced chekist like Putin, manipulating his ego is almost too easy.
Alex Finley is the pen name of a former CIA officer and author of Victor in the Rubble, a satire of the CIA and the war on terror. Follow her on Twitter: @alexzfinley.
“Remember when Barack Obama would go on TV to brag about being able to read a name off a chart?”
The Recruitables: Why Trump’s Team Was Easy Prey for Putin
“He tries to create the impression of someone who is extremely well-connected and very busy,” a source who had worked with Sater told Ioffe. Sater made a few forays into Moscow business circles, but could never convert and was unable to win the trust …
felix sater – Google News
1. Trump Circles: Elections from mikenova (16 sites)
The Recruitables: Why Trump’s Team Was Easy Prey for Putin
“He tries to create the impression of someone who is extremely well-connected and very busy,” a source who had worked with Sater told Ioffe. Sater made a few forays into Moscow business circles, but could never convert and was unable to win the trust …
felix sater – Google News
More than a year after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seized on the Russia collusion narrative, the agency has still found nothing of consequence.
That’s right: Despite the liberal media fanning the flames, there is still no evidence for the oft-repeated claim that President Trump and the Russian government somehow colluded to win the 2016 election. It comes as no surprise to the nearly 63 million people who voted for the president, despite the Left’s insistence they were somehow influenced by the Kremlin. But the FBI’s lack of progress speaks volumes nonetheless.
Recent weeks have raised, however, serious questions about the FBI’s own credibility. It starts at the top, with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Look closer at Mueller’s probe and you’ll find a purely partisan witch hunt. Several members of Mueller’s team have ties to the Democratic Party. Not only did Jeannie Rhee donate to a Hillary Clinton super PAC, but she also represented the Clinton Foundation in a 2015 racketeering case and Clinton herself in a lawsuit seeking access to her emails. Andrew Weissmann donated six times to Obama-affiliated groups. James Quarles gave to more than a dozen Democratic PACs since the 1980s.
As Sidney Powell, a longtime federal prosecutor who served both political parties, recently explained: “The Mueller investigation has become an all-out assault to find crimes to pin on [the president]—and it won’t matter if there are no crimes to be found.”
Even worse, the FBI’s diminishing credibility transcends the current Trump probe. Earlier this month, government documents and interviews revealed the FBI had knowledge of Russian misconduct long before the Obama administration—and one Hillary Rodham Clinton—approved the controversial 2010 uranium deal. Before the Obama-Clinton team agreed to give Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had already gathered substantial evidence linking Russian nuclear industry officials to bribery, kickbacks, extortion, and money laundering—all in an attempt to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business on our soil.
Moreover, the FBI found out the Russian officials had routed millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation during the time then-Secretary of State Clinton signed off on the uranium deal.
And the agency still did nothing. Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years. In other words, the DOJ sat on the information for political reasons. This essentially left Congress and the American people in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil.
And we’re now trusting federal prosecutors to probe the Trump administration fairly? Mueller’s vendetta resembles anything but “justice.”
Perhaps the FBI should focus on its Las Vegas investigation, which has yielded no real insight into the shooter’s motives or the sequence of events. The agency refuses to release any information concerning the investigation of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history—which tragically claimed 58 innocent lives—even as evidence is continually released and then changed within days. The liberal media, meanwhile, has moved on from the Las Vegas shooting to undermine the Trump agenda at every turn. Coverage of the FBI’s investigation has largely subsided, even though countless Americans demand answers.
In lieu of an explanation, Robert Mueller will give them more of the same anti-Trump witch hunt. Don’t buy any of it.
Given the FBI’s history of corruption and cover-up, there’s no reason to trust Mueller or his liberal accomplices. Don’t be fooled by a crooked cop playing a good guy.
Ted Harvey is chairman of the Committee to Defend the President.
Views expressed in op-eds are not the views of The Daily Caller.
Fox News–Oct 24, 2017
Washington Examiner–Oct 24, 2017
<a href=”http://WND.com” rel=”nofollow”>WND.com</a>–Oct 25, 2017
Commentary Magazine–22 hours ago
In-Depth–Toronto Star–19 hours ago
Welcome to Mic’s daily read on Donald Trump’s America. Want to receive this as a daily email in your inbox? Subscribe here.
Every day, we bring you a different dispatch on Trump’s America. Today’s focus: Opioid deja vu.
Thursday’s Dispatch: More than two months later, action on the opioid crisis
Thursday’s presidential press conference will be a prime example of how Donald Trump runs the federal government.
More than two months after Trump declared the opioid crisis “a national emergency,” as of last week, the government had still not formally declared a national emergency. That designation would send additional federal funds to hospitals, addiction clinics and first responders dealing with the historic rate of opioid-driven drug overdoses in America.
Nearly two weeks ago, Mic asked the White House for an update on the emergency declaration. The Trump administration issued Mic the same statement that had been issued in August, saying the government was focused on opioids and already treating it like an emergency.
As with health care, tax reform and a host of other initiatives, Trump’s rhetoric on opioids has been long detached from his administration’s policy initiatives.
The president said last week that he would soon formally declare a national emergency over opioids. Now, reports indicate the president will declare the crisis a public health emergency — but stop short of the more sweeping declaration.
The public health emergency will do less than a more sweeping national emergency. It will have to be renewed every 90 days. It will not provide federal funding for addiction treatment centers with more than 16 beds, a key recommendation of Trump’s own opioid commission.
“I think our general feeling is, that’s a good step, but it’s a temporary step, and it’s a transitional step,” Jim Blumenstock, chief of health security for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers, told USA Today. Trump’s public health declaration is not expected to come with a further ask of money from Congress, which could designate funds to get more life-saving naloxone into the hands of first responders.
The cold reality: Nearly 65,000 people died of drug overdoses between February 2016 and February 2017, the most recent data available. That’s more people than were killed in car accidents last year.
Watch for Trump’s speech on the opioid crisis at 2 p.m. Eastern.
Thursday in Trump’s America:
Establishment Republicans know they’re fighting for their lives. After very public rebukes of Trump by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), the GOP is launching an assault on Steve Bannon to protect other Republican incumbents up for reelection next year, the Washington Post reported. Bannon and his wealthy allies are sensing the opportunity to pick off multiple Republican senators in a bid to drive the GOP to become more nationalist and isolationist.
The average premium increase of the most popular plans purchased on Obamacare’s individual health care exchange will be 34% next year, a new study said. That’s driven by instability in the marketplace created by Trump’s decision to end subsidies to health insurers and general anxiety surrounding the Affordable Care Act’s future.
And the bipartisan legislation that would stabilize the marketplace — which Trump opposes — would cut $3.8 billion from the deficit.
USA Today reported the new U.S. refugee admission program could block nearly half of the people seeking to come to the United States this year compared to last.
The Republican candidate running for governor in Virginia is running anti-immigrant ads as he aims to pull off an upset in the gubernatorial race. Will it work? And Mic broke down how a new Democratic super PAC is trying to win back state legislatures — starting with a data-driven prototype in next month’s Virginia election.
Why the Senate’s late-night vote on an obscure financial regulation will make it harder for you to fight for your money back.
What to know about who Donald Trump may pick at the next chair of the Federal Reserve. (Bored by monetary policy? Give this a click.)
House Republicans are barreling toward passage of a budget that would pave the way for tax reform — and $1.5 trillion in tax cuts. The Senate passed it last week.
Sometime today, the National Archives will post thousands of documents related to the John F. Kennedy murder investigation. Continually update this webpage.
Shortly after being slammed by a hurricane, Puerto Rico signed a $300 million contract with a two-person energy company based in the Montana hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Now, San Juan’s mayor said the contract should be voided — and Whitefish Energy apologized for feuding with her.
“I’m a very intelligent person.” Trump said journalists are making him out to be “more uncivil” than he actually is.
The feud that has consumed the last few weeks: Trump vs. Corker, a history. Tap or click below to watch.
A congressional committee investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election has stepped up its probe over the past month, requesting that an agency that combats financial crime turn over confidential banking information on nearly 40 individuals and businesses, including at least nine who are American, BuzzFeed News has learned.
Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network — FinCEN for short — on September 29, seeking information about any suspicious financial transactions banks may have flagged on the individuals and businesses since Jan 2015. Banks are required by law to flag such transactions for FinCEN.
The Judiciary Committee is one of three congressional committees looking into Russian interference. Its investigation only recently got off the ground after months spent negotiating the scope of its probe, two staffers told BuzzFeed News, and a rift has reportedly been developing between Grassley and Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee. Feinstein did not sign the letter.
“The Senate Judiciary Committee is conducting an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as the Department of Justice’s enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act,” Grassley’s letter says. “I am requesting a copy of any and all documents relating to Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) that have been filed regarding the following individuals or entities.” They include:
- Rinat Akhmetshin, and Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian-American lobbyist and the Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump, Jr. at Trump Tower in June 2016.
- Robert Arakelian, another lobbyist who works with Akhmetshin.
- Human Rights Accountability Global Initiative Foundation, the Washington, DC-based nonprofit headed by Veselnitskaya whose stated goal is to “restart American adoption of Russian children” but has lobbied to repeal the Magnitsky Act, the 2012 law that imposed sanctions on Russian officials.
- Glenn Simpson, Thomas Catan, Peter Fritsch and their private investigation firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the so-called “dossier” that alleged the Russian government had been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” President Donald Trump.
- Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence agent who collected the intelligence for the dossier; his business partner, Christopher Burrows; and their firm Orbis Business Intelligence.
- Perkins Coie, a law firm that reportedly retained and paid Fusion GPS on behalf of the Clinton campaign for research that ended up in the dossier.
- Prevezon Holdings, a Russian-owned company that was charged with money laundering and settled with the Department of Justice earlier this year, and eight of its related companies.
- The law firm Baker Hostetler, which was hired to defend Prevezon, and two of the firm’s attorneys, John Moscow and Mark Cymrot.
Banks, hedge funds, casinos, and other financial institutions are required under the Bank Secrecy Act to file suspicious activity reports with FinCEN when money laundering or fraud is suspected. They are also required to file SARs for certain cash or wire transactions of $10,000 or more, even if those transactions seem legitimate. SARs contain personal financial information, such as bank account numbers and a record of financial transactions. FinCEN may not have SARs on all the individuals and businesses the Committee named.
A spokesperson for Grassley, Michael Zona, did not respond to requests for comment about the committee’s investigation. Simpson, the Fusion GPS co-founder, declined to comment. Simpson’s business partners, Fritsch and Catan, did not respond to requests for comment. Burrows declined to comment on behalf of himself, Steele, and Orbis. Neither Cymrot nor a spokesperson for Baker Hostetler responded to requests for comment. Moscow, the other Baker Hostetler attorney, declined to comment. Akhmetshin, Arakelian, and Veselnitskaya also did not respond to requests for comment. Officials at Prevezon could not be reached. A spokesperson for Perkins Coie said that the firm “rigorously adheres to all laws and regulations including those that protect the integrity of our financial systems, and any suggestion that the law firm has acted inappropriately is wholly unfounded.”
Grassley’s letter set an October 13 deadline for FinCEN to turn over the financial information to his committee. But according to three sources, no suspicious activity reports have been sent to the committee.
Jason Leopold is a senior investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in LA. Recipient: IRE 2016 FOI award; Newseum Institute National Freedom of Information Hall of Fame. PGP fingerprint 46DB 0712 284B 8C6E 40FF 7A1B D3CD 5720 694B 16F0. Contact this reporter at <a href=”mailto:email@example.com”>firstname.lastname@example.org</a>
Contact Jason Leopold at email@example.com.
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Senate Committee Escalates Russia Probe, Digs Into Finances Of Nearly 40 Individuals And Businesses
A congressional committee investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential electionhas stepped up its probe over the past month, requesting that an agency that combats financial crime turn over confidential banking information on nearly 40 …and more »
Los Angeles Times
The Trump wing of the GOP is winning battles. But will it lose the war to keep the Senate in Republican hands?
Los Angeles Times
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10.26.17 Russia-NATO Council To Discuss Ukraine, Afghanistan Report: Putin’s ‘Inner Circle’ Worth Nearly $24 Billion Reagan’s Son: Donald Trump Is A ‘Danger To The World’ And Must Be Removed | HuffPost Why Clinton Camp’s Funding of the Trump Dossier Matters – Bloomberg Julian Assange Says WikiLeaks Rejected Request From Trump-Linked Firm | HuffPost Donald Trump … Continue reading “6:51 AM 10/26/2017 – Russia is pushing to control cyberspace. We should all be worried. – The Washington Post”
Trump Investigations Report
America Asleep at the Keyboard as Cyber Warfare Gets Real
In 2015, shortly after Fancy Bear was unleashed and started roaming around the DNC network, the hack was detected by the allied intelligence service monitoring Russian cyberespionage. They alerted U.S. intelligence, and the intel made its way to the …and more »
Russian Intelligence services – Google News
Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.
The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was approached by chief executive Alexander Nix of the data firm Cambridge Analytica, which carried out work for the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, Assange said yesterday, saying that he could confirm that he rejected the request from Cambridge Analytica for help. Nicholas Confessore reports at the New York Times.
Nix asked Assange about Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 missing emails and help to release them, according to sources familiar with the congressional investigations into alleged Trump-Russia connections, Betsy Woodruff reports at The Daily Beast.
The Democratic National Committee (D.N.C.) were unaware that the national party helped to fund the salacious dossier compiled by former British Intelligence officer Christopher Steele which alleged connections between the Trump campaign and Russia, current and past leaders of the D.N.C. have said, following revelations this week that the Clinton campaign and the D.N.C. partly funded the research. Jonathan Easley reports at the Hill.
A U.S. District Court judge has given the opposition research firm Fusion GPS until today to answer a subpoena issued by the House Intelligence Committee earlier this month. Fusion GPS hired Steele to compile the dossier and Republicans in the committee have been seeking information about the firm’s bank records, Mark Hosenball reports at Reuters.
Documents from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign are expected to be received by the Senate Intelligence committee next week, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The documents could provide greater detail about the Democrats’ response to Russia’s interference campaign and the Democrats’ role in funding for the Steele dossier, Ali Watkins reports at POLITICO.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has fractured into competing agendas, with Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) focusing on the Obama-era uranium deal with Russia and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) drafting legislation on foreign influence in U.S. elections. Elana Schor and Kyle Cheney report at POLITICO.
It was legal to publish apparently hacked emails from the D.N.C., lawyers from Trump’s presidential campaign argued in a court filing yesterday, saying that WikiLeaks qualifies as an online service immune from legal liability. Josh Gerstein reports at POLITICO.
The key points explaining the background of the dossier and the implications of the latest revelations about funding are set out by Kenneth P. Vogel at the New York Times.
There should be a full investigation following the revelation that the Democrats partly funded the salacious dossier alleging links between the Trump campaign and Russia, congressional investigators should focus on the role of the D.N.C., the Clinton campaign, and the possible role played by the F.B.I., and it would be wise for Mueller to resign from his role. The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes.
The F.B.I. has been “so thoroughly implicated in the Russia meddling story” and calls for special counsel Robert Mueller to recuse himself from the Russia investigation are not just “fanciful partisan grandstanding,” Holman W. Jenkins Jr. writes at the Wall Street Journal setting out the connections between the dossier, the Obama administration, the F.B.I. investigation into the Trump campaign, Mueller, the Obama-era deal to expand U.S.-Russia nuclear business, the Clinton Foundation, and the F.B.I.’s role in the nuclear business deal.
The U.S. should take “literally” North Korea’s threat to test a nuclear weapon above ground, a senior North Korean official warned in an interview yesterday, adding that Pyongyang “has always brought its words into action.” Will Ripley reports at CNN.
“China is helping us and maybe Russia’s going through the other way and hurting what we’re getting,” President Trump said in an interview with Fox Business Network yesterday, stating that Russia has undermined efforts to rein in North Korea and that the threat posed by the regime could be more easily resolved if the U.S. had a better relationship with Russia. Reuters reports.
“I solve problems,” Trump also said in the interview, lamenting the fact that the “North Korea problem” had not been resolved earlier, but saying that he would deal with the crisis. Olivia Beavers reports at the Hill.
“Well, I’d rather not say, but you’ll be surprised,” Trump said yesterday in response to a question whether he would visit the Demilitarized Zone (D.M.Z.) between North and South Korea during his 12-day tour of Asia at the beginning of next month. Jordan Fabian reports at the Hill.
The leader of South Korea’s conservative opposition party has called on the Trump administration to reintroduce tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea in the face of the threat posed by Pyongyang, the possibility of this option was also raised by South Korea’s Defense Minister Song Young-moo during a meeting with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last month. Felicia Schwartz reports at the Wall Street Journal.
North Korea’s extensive “re-education” camps have been revealed by satellite images and a report by the U.S.-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea due to be released today. Anna Fifield reports at the Washington Post.
The U.S. and Iran should not bring their “trouble” inside Iraq, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi urged yesterday, saying that he would like to work with both countries, that U.S. forces should remain in Iraq after recapturing the last of the territory in the hands of the Islamic State group, and that Iranian-backed militias would be disbanded if they did not come under the control of the Baghdad government. Yaroslav Trofimov reports at the Wall Street Journal.
“We won’t accept anything but its cancellation and the respect of the Constitution,” Abadi said in a statement today, saying that the Kurdistan region’s offer to “freeze” the result of the controversial Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum held last month was not enough to open negotiations. Reutersreports.
Iraqi federal forces and Iranian-backed Iraqi militia attacked Peshmerga positions in Nineveh province, the Kurdistan Region Security Council (K.R.S.C.) said today, also calling on the Baghdad government to accept the offers for unconditional talks and adding that the U.S. should “stop Iraq’s reckless behavior.” Reuters reporting.
The clashes between Iraqi federal forces and Kurdish Peshmerga have impeded the movement of coalition military equipment inside Iraq and Syria, thereby undermining the campaign against the Islamic State group, the spokesperson for the U.S.-led coalition Col. Ryan Dillon said today. The APreports.
The U.S. has sought to defuse tension between the Iraqi government and the Iraqi Kurds, the two U.S. allies have been involved in clashes since last month’s Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum, the Iraqi Kurds yesterday offered to suspend the results of the referendum which returned an overwhelming vote in favor of independence, however this has fallen short of Baghdad’s demand that the result be annulled. Isabel Coles, Ali A. Nabhan and Yaroslav Trofimov report at the Wall Street Journal.
Abadi is set to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani today in Tehran for talks on regional security, Ted Regencia reports at Al Jazeera.
Abadi’s approach to the Kurdistan independence referendum has won praise from even his traditional critics, and his increased popularity as a consequence of his decisive actions have seemingly cemented his reelection next year, however difficulties remain. Tamer El-Ghobashy and Mustafa Salim observe at the Washington Post.
Abadi has managed to keep Iraq unified despite the predictions of an inevitable breakup, taking a tough stance against the Iraqi Kurdistan has seemingly paid off and Abadi is in a stronger position to lead the country out of the “shadow of war” and work with regional powers. Ishaan Tharoor provides an analysis at the Washington Post.
“My generals and my military” had authorization over the U.S. mission in Niger, Trump said yesterday when asked whether he authorized the mission, making the comments after the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said earlier this week that the U.S. special forces members were on a reconnaissance mission. Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.
The confused information amid the Niger ambush on Oct. 4 led the White House to believe that several U.S. soldiers might have been missing, the White House did not receive information that three bodies had been recovered and one soldier remained missing until at least eight hours after the attack began, according to an official familiar with the matter. Greg Jaffe and Karen DeYoung report at the Washington Post.
The Trump administration has been putting in motion plans to allow lethal drone strikes in Niger, according to U.S. officials, and the plan had been under consideration long before the deadly Oct. 4 attack. Ken Dilanian, Courtney Kube, William M. Arkin and Hans Nichols report at NBC News.
Israel would “act militarily by itself” if international efforts led by Trump do not “help stop Iran attaining nuclear capabilities,” Israel’s Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said today. Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo reporting at Reuters.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has embarked on efforts to increase financial pressure on Iran and target the financing of terror in the Middle East, launching a new anti-terror finance center in Saudi Arabia yesterday. The efforts come following Trump’s refusal to certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement last month, Ian Talley and Margherita Stancati report at the Wall Street Journal.
The House of Representatives voted for new sanctions against the Iran-backed Lebanese Shi’ite Hezbollah militia group yesterday, today the House will vote on another bill calling for additional sanctions aimed at Iran’s ballistic missiles program. Al Jazeera reports.
A bipartisan plan for a tougher approach on Iran is being crafted by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) along with his Democratic counterpart Ben Cardin (Md.), Corker said yesterday. Elana Schor reporting at POLITICO.
Pro-Syrian government forces have seized an oil pumping station in the eastern Deir al-Zour province, a Hezbollah-run news service reported today, the report saying that the position constitutes a “launch pad” for an offensive on what is believed to be the last remaining Islamic State stronghold in Syria. Reuters reports.
“The outcome is not in doubt,” the U.S. commander of the international campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, said yesterday, saying that the militants were “on the run” and they cannot hold territory, but noting that the coalition would continue to pursue foreign Islamic State fighters before they can return to their home countries and there is a “real problem” that the “virtual caliphate” continues to recruit. David Zucchino reports at the New York Times.
The U.N. envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura will meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Geneva today, the AP reports.
U.S.-led airstrikes continue. U.S. and coalition forces carried out seven airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on October 24. Separately, partner forces conducted three strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]
Top Senate Republicans have vowed to press the White House on delays to imposing new sanctions on Russia and whether this has been done intentionally, the legislation for the sanctions was passed three and a half weeks ago and were in response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Kevin Liptak, Ted Barrett and Sara Murray report at CNN.
Democratic members of House Foreign Affairs Committee have also demanded answers from the Trump administration on delays to sanctions against Russia in a letter to the president yesterday. Andrew Desiderio reports at The Daily Beast.
Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday to discuss key issues, such as Ukraine, Syria, economic ties, the Iran nuclear deal and the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. The AP reports.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY
Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner is expected to take a low-profile role during Trump’s visit to China next month, with some speculating that Kushner’s diminished position has been a consequence of chief of staff John Kelly’s efforts to standardize practice at the White House. Annie Karni and Andrew Restuccia report at POLITICO.
The relationship between the most senior U.S. officials at N.A.T.O. headquarters is described by David M. Herszenhorn at POLITICO Magazine.
The challenges facing the Trump administration did not start with Trump and the White House must grapple with the “most challenging foreign-policy environment” in modern history due to threat, organizational and cognitive complexities. Amy Zegart writes at The Atlantic.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Pakistan this week shone a spotlight on the difficulty U.S.-Pakistan relationship, it is difficult to understand the U.S. position due to its inconsistent messages and Tillerson should not have lectured Pakistan without recognizing Pakistan’s “legitimate security interests.” The DAWN.com editorial board writes.
Tillerson achieved a rare diplomatic victory by bringing Saudi Arabia and Iraq closer together last weekend, marking a potentially significant development between the two countries who have been traditional adversaries. Rhys Dubin writes at Foreign Policy.
The House of Representatives held a series of hearings focused on the Trump administration’s knowledge of Kaspersky Lab anti-virus software and Russia’s ability to access U.S. National Security Agency (N.S.A.) classified information through Kaspersky Lab products. Morgan Chalfant reports at the Hill.
The U.S. and Gulf Arab allies sanctioned eleven Yemeni individuals and entities suspected of financing the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda, the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin praising the designation by Gulf Arab allies, the measure demonstrating a rare moment of coordination, especially amid the Gulf crisis which began on June 5. Aya Batrawy and Abdullah Al-Shihri report at the AP.
A former F.B.I. informant has been cleared to testify before Congress over the Obama-era nuclear business deal with Russia, a Justice Department spokesperson confirming that the informant would not be subject to a confidentiality agreement. John Solomon reports at the Hill.
The Senate Armed Services Committee has expressed confidence that it will finish work on the annual defense policy bill soon, the chairman of the committee John McCain (R-Ariz.) saying that it can be done “in the next few days.” Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.
“I haven’t seen any hard evidence on the delivery of weapons from the Russians to the Taliban,” the chairman of N.A.T.O.’s military committee Gen. Petr Pavel told reporters yesterday, making the comments amid concern from Pentagon officials that Russia has been increasingly involved in the conflict in Afghanistan. Rebecca Kheel reports at the Hill.
The position of military generals at the top of the Trump administration carries risks and “perhaps they are in over their heads.” Mark Perry writes at POLITICO Magazine.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to propose strategic dialogue between the leaders of the U.S., India and Australia to counter China’s expansionism. Reuters reports.
Chattanooga Times Free Press–7 hours ago
This much is clear: Vladimir Putin hates Bill Browder.
Browder was once the largest foreign investor in Russia and, it needs to be said, a great admirer of the Russian president. Today, he is perhaps the Putin’s regime’s fiercest critic, and Browder must derive some satisfaction in the way he grates on the Kremlin.
Browder’s change of heart came well after he was kicked out of the country in 2005. It was the death of an accountant who worked for Browder named Sergei Magnitsky that did it. Magnitsky was thrown in prison, where he was beaten and left to die in 2009 from lack of medical treatment. His crime? Magnitsky had had the temerity to expose a massive $230 million tax fraud perpetrated by Russian officials.
In response, Browder lobbied Congress to draft legislation imposing sanctions on the Russian officials responsible for Magnitsky’s death. The Magnitsky Act was signed into law by President Obama in 2012. Browder has continued his campaign in Canada, the United States, and Europe — and it has driven Russian officials bat-shit insane.
Russian legislators responded to the Magnitsky Act by banning adoption of Russian children by Americans — harming their most vulnerable citizens for what, political retaliation? A year later, in a shameful display of injustice, a Moscow court convicted Magnitsky of tax evasion in a posthumous trial. (Browder was found guilty of fraud in absentia.) The Trump campaign was drawn into a June 2016 meeting with Russians on the Magnitsky Act when the future president’s son was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.
In the latest hysterical response, now it’s Browder who is suspected of murdering Magnitsky. According to Russian prosecutors, Browder colluded with a British intelligence agent to convince Russian prison doctors to withhold care for Magnitsky. The evidence is comical: poorly written communications that were allegedly intercepted from Western spy agencies.
Russia managed to get Browder briefly banned from entry to the United States by putting him on an Interpol wanted list. His visa privileges were restored by the Trump administration on Monday after members of Congress and the press leaped to Browder’s defense.
The reason the Magnitsky Act drives the Kremlin nuts is that it hits the kleptocrats in their unprotected flank. Russian oligarchs and the kleptocrats who steal from the state store their assets in the West. And what is the point of stealing a fortune from the Russian people if you can’t buy condos in Miami or Manhattan or send your kids to exclusive British schools because of some lousy sanctions?
Browder has rightly been praised for his courage in standing up to the Putin regime. And his book, Red Notice, is an excellent read. However, the laudatory coverage Browder regularly receives from a press corps he has skillfully cultivated and his star treatment before a US Congress he lobbies require a selective reading of events.
The fact is that Browder was once one of Putin’s biggest cheerleaders, as he admitted during deposition:
Q: So in 2005, you were quite a supporter of Vladimir Putin’s, right?
Most gallingly, he defended the 2003 arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the head of Yukos, one of the world’s biggest oil producers. Stalin would have approved of the way Khodorkovsky was convicted, imprisoned in a gulag at Russia’s border with China, and then put on trial and convicted again. His company was seized and acquired by the state.
It wasn’t exactly clear what Khodorovsky had done wrong except he had criticized Russia’s corruption during a televised meeting with President Putin a few months before his arrest and funded a movement promoting the rule of law and democratic values called Open Russia.
Khodorkovsky’s arrest and the seizure of Yukos wasn’t democracy; it was Mafia tactics. But Browder hailed Khodorkovsky’s arrest as progress toward Russia’s return to greatness:
Putin, was only doing “what any leader would do to further his nation’s interests,” Browder wrote. “While there may be some things about Putin that we disagree with, we should give him the benefit of the doubt in this area and fully support him in his task of taking back control of the country from the oligarchs.”
As for Khodorkovsky, Browder said he was hiding something. “Khodorkovsky collected an enormous pile of cheap assets from the government and minority shareholders, and then embarked on an impressive charm and lobbying offensive to legitimize himself and his wealth. He has been very successful in getting people to forget his not-so-distant past,” Browder wrote.
Now, it’s Browder who has been very successful in getting people to forget his not-so-distant past. Putin’s No. 1 enemy, as he describes himself, was once Putin’s No. 1 fan.(To his credit, he did expose corruption at the companies in which he invested such as the gas giant Gazprom, and this made powerful enemies.)
Here is part of a presentation by Browder in April 2005 titled Seven Big Myths About Russia
Here’s how The Wall Street Journal described Browder in 2006 after he had been kicked out of Russia:
Browder has been one of the most outspoken supporters among foreign investors of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He argued tirelessly that the western media and critics of the Kremlin were misreading the situation and that Putin’s administration was good for investors. He was defending the Kremlin as recently as January, when Browder spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
That’s right. Browder was still defending Putin even after he was denied entry to the country.
Why such love for Putin? In deposition, Browder says the two men never met. The answer: It was just business. Investing in Russia was very profitable. His fund, Hermitage Capital Management, recorded $1 billion in profits and Browder pocketed $130 million in 2006.
When Browder was denied entry to Russia, ostensibly as a threat to national security, his Hermitage Capital Management was the country’s largest foreign investor with $4 billion in Russian equities. Like Khodorkovsky before him, Browder appeared to have made the mistake of believing that he was untouchable. Who in their right mind would ban the man who brought billions into the Russian economy?
Browder’s lobbying of US politicians and courts would sit better with me had he not given up his U.S. citizenship. In 1998, Browder obtained a passport from the more Russophilic United Kingdom. Published reports say he did this for tax reasons but gave a different explanation during deposition:
Q. So why did you give up your U.S. citizenship?
A. Personal reasons.
Q. And what are those personal reasons?
A. My family was persecuted during the McCarthy era….
Q. What kind of persecution did you face?
A. My grandmother was sick with cancer and the U.S. Government tried to deport her to Russia when she was dying. [Browder’s grandfather, Earl Browder, led the Communist Party in the United States.]
Q. What year was that?
A. In 1950 something.
Q. I see. And so 1998, this all came back as a rush of emotion and you decided to give up your U.S. citizenship?
Interestingly, Britain, Browder’s new home, has been much slower to take up the Magnitsky cause. (A bill passed the House of Commons this year and is now being considered in the House of Lords.) The Brits have a conflicted relationship with Russian rubles: They have to come to depend on them. London is where Kremlin insiders like to stash their money. It’s where they buy homes through shell companies, go shopping and send their children to posh schools. Billions of pounds have washed through Britain since the fall of the Soviet Union, although nobody knows exactly how much. A group even offers kleptocracy tours of London.
Browder has been demanding justice for Sergei Magnitsky — and rightfully so — but, at least in one instance, he literally ran away from an American court. Here is what happened when a process server tried to serve Browder with a subpoena in New York following his 2015 appearance on The Daily Show:
The case involved a Russian financier named Denis Katsyv. At the time, Katsyv was accused in federal court of laundering money that was part of the fraud that Sergei Magnitsky uncovered. The case that was based on information Browder provided to prosecutors in New York.¹ Browder eventually did have to testify and I’ve posted Browder’s Deposition.
Am I wrong in thinking that it’s grossly unfair and somewhat suspicious for Browder to demand justice for Magnitsky while fleeing a subpoena in the case he instigated? Shouldn’t he be proud to stand up for his late friend and colleague?
Please don’t mistake what I’m saying here. I’m no fan of Putin, but Browder is undermining his own cause when he selectively uses the law and the press to serve only his own interests.
1. Katsyv’s case, U.S. v Prevezon Holdings, was settled for $5.9 million before trial.
Russia’s cyber-meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has been accompanied by what U.S. and European experts describe as a worrisome Kremlin campaign to rewrite the rules for global cyberspace.
A draft of a Russian proposal for a new “United Nations Convention on Cooperation in Combating Information Crimes” was recently shown to me by a security expert who obtained a copy. The 54-page document includes 72 proposed articles, covering collection of Internet traffic by authorities, “codes of conduct” for cyberspace and “joint investigation” of malicious activity. The language sounds bureaucratic and harmless, but experts say that if adopted, it would allow Russia to squeeze cyberspace even more.
The Kremlin’s proposed convention would enhance the ability of Russia and other authoritarian nations to control communication within their countries, and to gain access to communications in other countries, according to several leading U.S. cyber experts. They described the latest draft as part of Moscow’s push over the past decade to shape the legal architecture of what Russian strategists like to call the “information space.”
The proposal was floated by the Kremlin early this year, and outlined in an April 4 article in Kommersant. The Moscow daily reported that the Russian Foreign Ministry had described the convention as an “innovative” and “universal” attempt to replace the 2001 Budapest Convention, which has been signed by the United States and 55 other countries but rejected by Russia. Kommersant said “Russian authorities saw a threat to the sovereignty of the country” in the Budapest pact.
Russia’s bid to rewrite global rules through the United Nations was matched by a personal pitch on cyber-cooperation in July from President Vladimir Putin to President Trump at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg. Putin “vehemently denied” to Trump that Russia had interfered in the U.S. election, Trump said in a tweet. Trump then floated a mystifying proposal: “Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded and safe.”
Trump’s suggestion that America join Russia in cyberdefense provoked an uproar in the United States. One Twitter commentator wrote: “This is like the FBI asking the Mafia to form an anti-crime unit together.”
The White House quickly backtracked after Trump’s tweet. Homeland security adviser Tom Bossert told reporters on July 14: “I don’t believe that the U.S. and Russia have come to that point yet in cyberspace. And until we do, we wouldn’t have the conversation about partnership.”
Many U.S. cyber experts share Bossert’s view that although any formal treaty or partnership with Moscow now is unwise, quiet confidence-building discussions might be useful. Those could include military-to-military or technical contacts to explore how to avoid catastrophic cyber-events that might cripple strategic systems or pose systemic risk.
U.S. and Russian officials had maintained such a dialogue to explore norms for the Internet, but so far it has been a dead end. The Russians were led by Andrey Krutskikh, a foreign ministry official who is Putin’s cyber adviser; and on the U.S. side, by Christopher Painter, who was White House cyber chief under President Barack Obama and then cyber coordinator at the State Department, a post he left this year.
These contacts are sensible, but they have withered as U.S.-Russia relations have deteriorated. A high-level working group stopped meeting after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. A U.N.-sponsored Group of Governmental Experts on Information Security broke up in June after failing to reach consensus on measures for improving information security. Putin’s bilateral proposal at Hamburg quickly disappeared after Trump’s premature endorsement.
The Russians, meanwhile, continue their campaign to regulate cyberspace on their terms, by mobilizing allies to support their alternative to the Budapest convention; Moscow’s biggest complaint is that the Budapest framework, in Article 32 (b), allows the owners of data to control its use, rather than governments. Moscow wants state control of information.
Russia got some global support for its effort at a September gathering in Xiamen, China, of the so-called BRICS countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. In their formal declaration, the countries “recognize the need for a universal regulatory binding instrument on combatting the criminal use of ICTs [information and communications technologies] under the UN auspices.” The countries “acknowledge the initiative” of Russia in seeking such a binding pact.
If the events of the past year have taught us anything, it’s that Russia views information as a decisive political weapon and wants to control this potential battle space. The global regulatory side of this contest gets little attention, but it could help determine whether open information flows survive in the age of the autocrats.
Read more here:
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
How do you legally spy on your political opponents?
At some point in time that question was asked in the White House, at the DNC or in the hotel suites where Hillary and her staff were staying during her speaking tours. It wasn’t exactly asked that way.
But it was asked. And now we know more of the answer.
What Hillary and Obama did wasn’t Watergate. That was amateur hour. Its sophistication is a tribute to the left’s deep knowledge and control of the workings of Washington, D.C. The men and women who planned this and carried it out understood not only government, but had an intimate familiarity with the loopholes in the laws and the networks of contacts that could realize their highly illegal plans.
The eavesdropping on Trump officials carried the ‘fingerprints’ of an administration that bypassed Congress to fund left-wing groups by blackmailing banks into huge settlements paid out to political allies in a billion dollar slush fund and sent pallets of foreign currency to Iran on unmarked planes. A complete lack of ethical norms was combined with the careful use of legal loopholes to protect the actions of the perpetrators even while they were engaging in a criminal conspiracy.
The revolutionary cell is embedded into left-wing organizing. These cells combined into networks across government, the media and the non-profit sector to pursue a collective agenda. The latest revelations about the Trump dossier give us greater insight into how Obama and Hillary’s people conspired to legally eavesdrop on political opponents by breaking up that eavesdropping into a series of legal actions carried out across different cells.
The road that led to Susan Rice and Samantha Power ‘unmasking’ Trump officials began with the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee funding a dossier pushing Trump-Russia conspiracies. The dossier was sourced through Fusion GPS which is notorious for handfeeding material to reporters.
The Clinton campaign was seeing to it that whatever Fusion GPS produced would make its way into media stories without having Hillary’s fingerprints on it. Indeed the only reason we learned that Hillary and the DNC were ultimately behind the dossier was a congressional subpoena that risked exposing other Fusion GPS clients.
But the second reason was far more devious and devastating.
Fusion GPS’ man for the job was Christopher Steele. The former British intelligence figure had connections with FBI people. Hillary Clinton wasn’t just doing “opposition research” as her former press secretary has claimed. The best way to do opposition research in an American election doesn’t involve hiring a Brit in London with contacts in Russian intelligence and the FBI.
That is however the best way to independently produce information that can be injected into an intelligence investigation. (It’s also, perhaps not coincidentally, a great way for the Russians to inject their own material into a presidential election without getting their fingerprints on it.)
Hiring Fusion GPS and then Steele created two degrees of separation between the dossier and Hillary. A London ex-intel man is a strange choice for opposition research in an American election, but a great choice to create a plausible ‘source’ that appears completely disconnected from American politics.
What would an ex-M.I.6 agent have to do with Hillary, Obama or Trump?
The official story is that Steele was a dedicated whistleblower who decided to message an FBI pal for reasons “above party politics” while the Fusion GPS boss was so dedicated that he spent his ownmoney on it after the election. Some figures in the FBI decided to take Steele’s material, offering to pay him for his work and reimbursing some of his expenses. Portions of the dossier were used to justify the FISA eavesdropping on Trump officials and were then rolled into the Mueller investigation.
That is how cells coordinate by breaking up a larger plot into a series of individual actions that just happen to produce the ideal result. Hillary and the DNC hire Fusion GPS. Fusion GPS hires Steele. Steele contacts an FBI pal. The FBI takes up the dossier. And then it’s turned into a pretext for eavesdropping.
But there isn’t supposed to be a link between the Democrats and the eavesdropping.
That’s why Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign and DNC lawyer who hired Fusion GPS, had denied it in the past. It’s why Fusion GPS fought the investigation so desperately. Opposition research isn’t a crime. A conspiracy to eavesdrop on your political opponents however is very much a criminal matter.
A forensic examination of the dirty dossier’s journey shows us that this modern Watergate was a collaborative effort between an outgoing Democrat administration and its expected Dem successor. The effort was broken up into two big pieces. The Clinton side would generate the material. The Obama side would make use of it. Steele was positioned as the interface between the two sides of the effort.
The London detour created and laundered the dossier. Moving the operation offshore tangled the connection between the Clinton side and the Obama side. This was important because what Steele produced wasn’t really opposition research, but a pretext for a government investigation.
That pretext couldn’t come directly from Hillary. But the FBI was too politically divided to generate it.
Obama Inc. needed that pretext, but it also didn’t want to generate it internally. Any investigation of the political opposition was inherently explosive. It was better if the intelligence came from outside and especially overseas. That was why Fusion GPS brought in Steele.
The first FISA request was filed in June. It was shot down by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. That was the same month we were told that Fusion GPS hired Steele. The second FISA request came through in October. That was the month, Steele did his first media interview with Mother Jones.
Two birds were being killed with one stone.
Obama’s Watergate depended on extensive compartmentalization. The process that led to the eavesdropping on Trump officials and their unmasking at the hands of his officials had to appear as ‘clean’ as possible. Susan Rice and Samantha Power could make unmasking requests to the NSA, but they couldn’t be involved in generating the investigation that led to those requests.
Seeding the media with an astroturf campaign through Fusion GPS created the appearance of an organic push to investigate Trump-Russia ties. Targeting the lefty fringe of the media, Mother Jones, The Guardian, would bake in the narrative among a demographic already prone to conspiracy theories.
The operation was vastly more sophisticated than the crude ugliness of Watergate. But it was not unique in that regard. The fusion of government loopholes, political campaigns, media operations, opposition research and covert funding had occurred more than once during the Obama era.
The most recent example of such a fusion before Trump-Russia was the Iran Deal in which members of Congress were eavesdropped on, money was moved around through non-profits to influence the media, a White House operation planted stories in the media and billions were smuggled to Iran. This mixture of influence operation, propaganda, eavesdropping and laundering has likely happened far more often in the previous administration than we know.
The IRS targeting of conservatives, shutdown theater and the Libyan War offer more examples.
Obama’s eavesdropping on Trump didn’t break the norms. They had already been thoroughly broken. The network that is being uncovered, the interfaces between media insiders, top government officials and private interests, demonstrates why Obama Inc. believed that it could get away with it.
It had gotten away with all its old abuses. There was no reason to doubt it could do so again.
America still has elections. The rule of law exists. In theory. But the network being uncovered in the dossier investigation looks very much like something that would be found in a totalitarian state.
The combination of media propaganda, government surveillance and contrived investigations of political opponents is the sort of thing you would expect to find in… Russia. The key players were wary enough that they compartmentalized their conspiracy, breaking it up across the private and public sector, the media, private firms, law enforcement figures and even another country. But that just makes it look like a cross between terrorist cells and organized crime.
And that is what we are dealing with here.
The left’s networks are becoming increasingly malignant. They executed a sophisticated attack on the political process while contriving to blame it on their victims. What the attack reveals is just how much the levers of power in our political system are embedded in the shadowy networks that operate in and around government. And what those networks are willing to do to win.
So there it is, finally, in plain sight for all to see. The collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia is no longer merely centered around secret meetings with vague agendas, happenstance too remarkable to have been coincidence, and a thousand poorly understood connections. Now we have something entirely different, and it changes everything: a confession that the Trump campaign truly was trying to coordinate with Russia on the deep, dark, gritty kind of stuff that election rigging is made of.
The head of Cambridge Analytica, the voter data analysis firm that everyone from Jared Kushner on down has publicly credited for Donald Trump’s bizarre election victory, has been caught confessing that he tried to work with WikiLeaks to steal Hillary Clinton’s emails. Don’t let the imaginary half-degree of separation fool you here: Cambridge Analytica was the Donald Trump campaign. Trump is now claiming that the company only played a minor role in his campaign, so he can paint it as having acted on its own. Bullshit. This is everything.
It’s why Trump and his allies are now putting down their few remaining chips on the hilariously phony scandal about President Obama and Hillary Clinton and Russia and Uranium. It’s a joke of a fake story, but it’s the only desperate card they have left to play. It’s why most of the Republicans in Congress, even the ones like Chuck Grassley who had been willing to go along with the Trump-Russia investigation, are now suddenly trying to sabotage that investigation from within. The GOP didn’t want to have to get its hands dirty like this, but it’s now desperate to create the kind of distraction that might prop up Trump just long enough so it can get its tax bill rammed through.
What we’re seeing now is pure panic from anyone who still cares about Donald Trump, or still needs him a bit longer. Even if it’ll take a moment for the public to figure out that the Cambridge Analytica confession is the bombshell of the Trump-Russia scandal to date, Trump’s own side has immediately grasped that this is the bottomless pit from which there is no emerging.
We now have proof that the voter data analysis arm of the Donald Trump campaign was actively seeking to collude with Russian-controlled hacker thugs and criminals. It’s just a matter of time before we see proof that these efforts did lead to collusion, and that Trump and Russia did conspire to rig the election. The dam has broken. There’s no going back. It’s why we’re suddenly seeing borderline pandemonium. It’s about to get even more crazy.
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The news that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for former U.K. spy Christopher Steele’s investigation into Donald Trump showed one thing: Rarely have two political candidates been so worthy of each other in terms of cynicism as Clinton and Donald Trump. No wonder Russian President Vladimir Putin, another world-class cynic, dealt himself in.
Democrats were indignant when it turned out that Donald Trump Jr., the candidate’s son, was willing to accept damaging information about Clinton from a Russian source. No dirt was forthcoming in that case, though: Instead, a suburban Russian lawyer fighting for the interests of her client, sanctioned under the Magnitsky Act in the U.S., came to see Trump campaign officials to lobby against the law, not to share intelligence.
In the Clinton case, Fusion GPS, the firm working on the Trump opposition research, paid Steele, a foreigner, with the campaign’s money. The U.K., of course, is a U.S. ally; Russia is an adversary. But the information Steele produced came mainly from Russian sources. Unlike lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya, who once did legal work for the FSB domestic intelligence in a minor property dispute, these sources were really well-connected, if Steele is to be believed. They included, according to the version of his dossier published by Buzzfeed, “a senior Russian Foreign ministry figure,” “a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin,” “a senior Russian financial official” and “a senior Kremlin official.”
In Moscow’s paranoid political climate, with the Kremlin seeing foreign agents everywhere and the FSB eager to earn its bread, what was the upside for these sources in sharing explosive secrets with a foreigner? The downside is clear: The standard prison sentence for espionage, handed down in recent spying cases, was 12 years — at the lower bound of the Russian criminal code’s range of 12 to 20. As a private operative, Steele couldn’t even offer his informants the thin protection that comes with working for a foreign intelligence agency, which might help a valuable agent if push came to shove.
But if the FSB and the Kremlin knew of Clinton’s interest in putting together a dossier on Trump, all these people had an excellent reason to talk, and especially to provide nonsensical information — such as that Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary, and not anyone in Russia’s intelligence community, was the keeper of a top-secret file on Trump. It was always obvious from the Steele reports that his sources were having fun spinning tall tales for him; since he wasn’t required to verify them and vouch for their accuracy — that’s the nature of raw intelligence — Steele faithfully wrote them down on Fusion GPS’s time.
Russia has never hid or denied its propaganda campaign during the U.S. election — except the elements of “active measures” it included: The rallies Kremlin trolls attempted to organize in the U.S. hinterland through Facebook ads, perhaps (but not definitely) the distribution of Democrats’ stolen emails to the media. These fit in nicely with the possible use of a Brit on Clinton’s payroll as a disinformation channel. Now that the nature of Russian activity on social networks has come to light, it’s likelier than ever that the goal of the whole exercise was to sow discord and instability in the U.S. Pushing Russian-generated kompromat on Trump to Clinton would have served that purpose brilliantly.
The Clinton campaign and the DNC reportedly started paying Fusion GPS in April, 2016, which was after the FBI warned about potential Russian hacking and several months before the DNC publicly confirmed that its network was breached by groups tied to Russian intelligence. It’s likely that, even before that announcement, the Democrats had been planning to use the Russian angle against Trump. That should prompt further investigation of Russia-related conclusions by Crowdstrike, the cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC, which was the only organization to examine the servers that had allegedly been hacked. It should also prompt the U.S. intelligence community to release more information about the sources of its conclusion that an arm of the Russian government had hacked the Democrats. Since the Steele Dossier made the same conclusion — adding that Trump’s team helped — an obvious question follows that has not been answered: Did U.S. intelligence rely at least in part on the information Steele had obtained while his employer was being funded by the Clinton campaign and the DNC?
Of course, collusion between the Trump camp and the Kremlin still cannot be ruled out. Putin’s people courted former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and campaign chairman Paul Manafort had business ties to Kremlin-friendly billionaire Oleg Deripaska (who, however, is not part of Putin’s close circle). And in any case, the Russian efforts to diligently and creatively amplify the Trump’s divisive messages gave him an advantage.
It’s looking increasingly likely, however, that the Kremlin was playing both sides against each other, giving each something it wanted. That’s a classic destabilization tactic that Russia has long employed in Ukraine, feeding the local establishment’s internal conflicts.
That it got the opportunity to do so is a problem for the U.S. Both of its main parties need candidates that aren’t so easy to ensnare in international intrigue (at best) and collusion (at worst). Until that happens, Russia — and everybody else interested in humiliating the U.S. — will keep coming back to do more harm.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
To contact the author of this story:
Leonid Bershidsky at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Mike Nizza at email@example.com
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s circle of close friends and relatives controls a combined wealth of nearly $24 billion, although Putin has kept himself “officially” clean in terms of financial assets, says a joint report by a global investigative group and an independent Russian newspaper.
The report, titled Putin And The Proxies and published on October 24, says Putin’s inner circle is formed by “a mix of family members, old friends, and friends who became family members,” and their most lucrative businesses are either connected to the largely state-controlled oil and gas sector or linked to other state companies.
The report, which includes a list of the wealthiest members of Putin’s inner circle, is the result of a joint effort by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) — an international investigative reporting platform made of scores of nonprofit centers, journalists, and news organizations and independent Russian publication Novaya Gazeta.
“The one commonality in the group members’ financial success “is their connection to the president,” the report says, adding that a smaller, “more mysterious” portion of the group, which it calls “the proxies,” provides no obvious justification for the secret fortunes the investigation has found they possess.
“They claim not to be businessmen, are not known to the public, and in some cases have little idea of the riches that are registered under their names,” the investigation says, adding, “Again, they have one common attribute: they are all family or boyhood friends of Putin.”
The report singles out three people among the proxies — Mikhail Shelomov, Sergei Roldugin, and Pyotr Kolbin. Shelomov is a distant relative of Putin’s, while Kolbin and Roldugin — a butcher and a cellist, respectively — are both Putin’s childhood friends.
All three hold enormous wealth — the investigation has found that Shelomov has amassed $573 million, Kolbin is worth $550 million, and Roldugin controls offshore firms which handled $2 billion — but appear largely unaware of the firms they control, and “are at pains to explain the origins of their wealth.” That is particularly the case with Shelomov, who the report says earns an annual salary of $8,500.
The report says that their personal connections to the president raise questions about whether their assets really belong to them — or if they are merely proxies.
“It may really be Putin’s money. But in Russia, nothing is simple,” the investigation concludes.
There was no immediate reaction from the Kremlin about the report.
The joint NATO-Russia Council is set to meet for a third time this year on October 26, with Ukraine and Afghanistan on the agenda.
NATO ambassadors and Russian envoy Aleksandr Grushko will gather at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, as relations between the West and Moscow have been seriously strained over Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in March 2014 and because of Moscow’s backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Fighting between Kyiv’s forces and the separatists who hold parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions has killed more than 10,000 people since April 2014. Several cease-fire deals announced as part of the Minsk accords — signed in September 2014 and February 2015 pacts to put an end to the conflict — have failed to hold.
Amid strained ties, there has been a series of potentially dangerous close encounters between Russian and NATO warplanes and naval vessels in recent months.
The Russia-NATO Council — a forum intended to prevent tensions from escalating — last met in July.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s office said last week that the October 26 meeting will focus on the conflicts in Ukraine and Afghanistan, as well as on ways of reducing the risk of clashes and accidents during military exercises and border surveillance.
Petr Pavel, who is chief of NATO’s Military Committee, said on October 25 that Afghanistan will be on the order of business because it is in the interest of both NATO and Russia to fight terrorism.
Russia’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said last week he would address the NATO-Russia Council to explain Russia’s assessment of the current situation in Afghanistan and its future potential, according to comments carried by the Interfax news agency.
The Western-backed government in Kabul is struggling to beat back insurgents in the wake of the exit of most NATO forces in 2014.
Asked about reports that Moscow is supplying arms to the Afghan Taliban, which U.S.-led coalition forces are fighting, Pavel said he had not seen any hard evidence of this.
However, he said he has seen reports that Russia is providing fuel to companies that in turn sell such fuel to the militants.
The commander of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, told a U.S. Senate committee in February that Russia had significantly increased its covert and overt support for the Taliban, with a goal of “undermining the United States and NATO.”
And in March, U.S. General Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, told U.S. lawmakers that he had seen evidence of increasing Russian efforts to influence the Taliban “and perhaps even to supply” the militant group.
He did not say if he meant weapons or other kinds of equipment.
Russia has rejected the allegations.
The NATO and Russian ambassadors are also expected to discuss the Zapad military exercise that Russia held with Belarus in September, which brought thousands of troops close to NATO’s eastern members and caused concerns about Moscow’s intentions given its military interference in Ukraine.
With reporting by dpa and AFP
Trolling President Donald Trump in Washington DC
An inflatable chicken with Trump-like hair is pictured outside the White House. Activist Taran Singh Brar said it was a visual statement showing that Trump is to afraid to release his tax returns, stand up to Putin and is playing a ‘game of Chicken …and more »
Trump, Putin, and the Mob – Google News
Here’s How Clinton Campaign Cash Could Have Ended Up In The Hands Of Russian Operatives
The Daily Caller
Morell, a Hillary Clinton supporter, expressed concerns about that information exchange during an interview in March. During an interview in March, Morrel said that it was impossible to judge the information in the dossier without understanding who the …
If Journalists Were Consistent They’d Claim Hillary ‘Colluded With Russians’ On The DossierMediaiteall 391 news articles »
morell on trump – Google News
Trump, Supporters Go On Offense After Report Of Clinton Tie To Dossier
Still, the president and his supporters have seized on the new details about the DNC-Clinton role to push their view that the various Russia investigations — from Capitol Hill to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller — are based on a …
Clinton campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia dossier …Washington Post
Dossier fight could be first legal test for Hill Russia probesPolitico
Senate investigators expect Clinton campaign docs this week on Trump-Russia dossierWJLA
Mother Jones –The Federalist –WND.com
all 428 news articles »
Did Trump Family, Associates Break Law With Russia? A Guide to Potential Suspects in Mueller’s Probe
It has been a big few days in the ongoing investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election and possibly collude with Donald Trump’s campaign. The president’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has appeared before multiple congressional …
Manhattan US Attorney Adds to Probes of Ex-Trump Aide Manafort: ReportsU.S. News & World Report
Former Trump campaign chairman under investigation for possible money launderingThe Independent
Federal Prosecutors Issue Subpoenas in Manafort Laundering ProbeBloombergall 34 news articles »
KSAT San Antonio
‘Putin’s Revenge’ dissects Russian leader’s motives
KSAT San Antonio
The Russian strongman — described as being “obsessed with TV” — was especially struck and alarmed by images of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi being beaten and killed by an angrymob. Meddling in … Kirk incorporates clips that provide reminders of …
‘Putin’s Revenge’: ‘Frontline’ explores ‘a lifetime of grievances’ against the USMinnPostall 4 news articles »
trump, russia and the mob – Google News
Trump campaign analytics company contacted WikiLeaks about Clinton emails
Alexander Nix, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, sent an email to several people including top Donald Trump donor Rebekah Mercer, relaying that he had emailed Assange seeking access to emails from Clinton’s private server to turn them into a …
The Trump campaign is scrambling to distance itself from Cambridge Analytica amid Assange-Hillary Clinton email flapBusiness Insider
Trump Campaign Distances Itself from Cambridge Analytica After Assange Connection SurfacesVanity Fair
Trump Campaign Downplays Cambridge Analytica RoleDaily Beast
Slate Magazine (blog) –The Independent –UPROXX –Daily Beast
all 46 news articles »
cambridge analytica – Google News
Earlier today it was revealed that the head of Cambridge Analytica, the firm used by the Donald Trump campaign for voter data analysis, had reached out to WikiLeaks cyberterrorist and Russian puppet Julian Assange during the election in an attempt at conspiring to steal Hillary Clinton’s emails. This is a smoking gun confirming that the Trump campaign was indeed trying to work with Russian hackers to sabotage the election in Trump’s favor. Now, in a panicked defensive display, Trump is throwing people under the bus.
This morning’s revelation from the Daily Beast is astounding. It finally confirms what has long been widely suspected about Cambridge Analytica: rather than being magically talented at collecting and analyzing voter data, it was willing to work with thieves and thugs in the name of cheating its way to success (link). In response, Trump’s people released a statement distancing the Trump campaign from Cambridge Analytica.
Trump and his campaign are now suddenly claiming that the Republican National Committee handled its voter data analysis, and “any claims that voter data from any other source played a key role in the victory are false.” (link). This statement, of course, is a joke. Cambridge Analytica ran the Trump campaign’s voter data analysis operation from top to bottom. It operated out of the Trump campaign’s own offices. It was previously run by Steve Bannon, who then took over the Trump campaign. The company is funded by the Mercers, the same father and daughter billionaire team who largely funded the entire Trump campaign. Jared Kushner even insisted during a Forbes interview this summer that Cambridge Analytica got Trump elected.
Yet now that Cambridge Analytica has been caught red handed, Donald Trump is suddenly insisting that the company had nothing to do with his campaign. This is similar to when former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was caught red handed taking Kremlin money, and Trump responded by claiming that Manafort had never played a meaningful role in the campaign.
The post After being caught red handed, Donald Trump throws Cambridge Analytica under Trump-Russia bus appeared first on Palmer Report.
Trump campaign appears to distance itself from data firm after Assange report
Earlier this month, Cambridge Analytica said that it had been contacted by the House IntelligenceCommittee for information in connection with its investigation into Russian interference. WikiLeaks released troves of emails from the personal account of …
Trump Campaign’s Data Firm Contacted WikiLeaks to Ask for Access to Hacked Hillary EmailsSlate Magazine (blog)
Assange: Trump-tied firm sought WikiLeaks’ help before electionPolitico
Report: Trump ally wanted Assange to help them obtain Clinton emailsMic
Raw Story –Paste Magazine –The Inquisitr
all 38 news articles »
Russian Intelligence services – Google News
David Ignatius: Russia makes plans to control cyberspace
Akron Beacon Journal
Russia’s bid to rewrite global rules through the U.N. was matched by a personal pitch on cybercooperation in July from President Vladimir Putin to President Trump at the G-20 summit in Hamburg. Putin “vehemently denied” to Trump that Russia had …
Putin and the Russian Mafia – Google News
The opinions range from:
- To answer this question, and I formulate it:
- Did foreign paid social media ads affect the outcome of elections 2016?
- Do the high quality and high power statistical study. The more or less definitive answer, within the range of probabilities, is difficult but possible. And it is vital for establishing cause-effect legal relationships in Mueller’s Investigation. M.N. – 10.25.17
- Did foreign paid social media ads affect the outcome of elections 2016? – GS:
The Nation.–Oct 23, 2017
New York Post–Oct 24, 2017
PRI–20 hours ago
Washington Times–Oct 24, 2017
Hillary Clinton Helped Fund the ‘Trump Dossier.’ Here’s What You Should Know About It
Has the Trump dossier come up in investigations? The Trump dossier has also come up amid the federal and congressional investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Investigators working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller have …
Clinton Campaign and DNC Helped Fund ‘Steele Dossier’U.S. News & World Report
Clinton campaign, DNC helped fund dossier researchCNN
Clinton campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia dossierWashington Post
BBC News –Washington Examiner
all 325 news articles »
Assange: Trump-tied firm sought WikiLeaks help before election
One of the Trump campaign’s top data firms sought to connect with Julian Assange before the2016 election, the Wikileaks founder said on Twitter on Wednesday. “I can confirm an approach by Cambridge Analytica [prior to November last year] and can …and more »
Elections 2016 Investigation – Google News
The Nation.–Oct 23, 2017
New York Post–Oct 24, 2017
PRI–20 hours ago
Washington Times–Oct 24, 2017
In-Depth–Chicago Tribune–Oct 19, 2017
Will Trump Be Impeached? Here’s What We Know About Robert Mueller’s Russia Probe so Far
September 28: Ivanka Trump and Kushner’s private email domains face investigation, as well as batches of emails from White House senior aides. The investigation, conducted by the White House, hopes to find anything relevant to Mueller’s Russia probe.
Sean Spicer questioned by Mueller’s Russia investigation teamThe Boston Globe
Sean Spicer met with Robert Mueller’s investigators handling the Russia investigationBusiness Insider
Mueller team meets with Sean Spicer as part of Russia investigationWashington Examiner
The Independent –The Conversation US –AOL –Politico
all 108 news articles »
Trump Data Guru: I Tried to Team Up With Julian Assange
Nix, who heads Cambridge Analytica, told a third party that he reached out to Assange about his firm somehow helping the Wikileaks founder release Clinton’s missing emails, according to two sources familiar with a Congressional investigation into …
cambridge analytica – Google News
GOP, industry skeptical of new rules for online political ads
Republicans and the advertising industry at a hearing Tuesday criticized proposals to expand disclosure rules on online political ads amid revelations Russian actors used social mediaplatforms to influence the 2016 election. Randall Rothenberg …
Tech companies and US lawmakers are clashing over the need for new regulations targeting political ads
Will Hurd, it’s an urgent problem that Russian agents purchased “political advertising on major American social media platforms” ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. To his Democratic colleague, Rep. Robin Kelly, federal laws must be updated …
Twitter Shows Who Pays for Ads Amid Election Meddling ProbeBloomberg
Twitter promises ‘transparency’ in ads after 2016 election miscuesWashington Examiner
Twitter will now label political ads, including who bought them and how much they are spendingCNBC
Reuters –The Spokesman-Review
all 36 news articles »
Lowry: US democracy not for sale to Russia
The Russians, as far as we know, bought more than $100,000 in Facebook ads between June 2015 and May 2017. A little more than half was spent after last November, when, obviously, Donald Trump had already won. The scale here is singularly unimpressive …
Is tone of Trump-Russia probe changing?East Oregonian
Parscale to testify Tuesday before House intelligence panelSan Antonio Express-Newsall 45 news articles »
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged links between Russia and the campaign of Donald Trump inched closer to the president’s old stomping grounds Tuesday amid calls from Fox News host Sean Hannity for Mueller to resign “immediately” from the probe.
On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office is joining Mueller’s probe, citing three source familiar with the investigation. Trump lived in Manhattan’s Trump Tower before he was sworn in as president in January.
Two of the sources told the newspaper the attorney’s office is investigating Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, for potential money laundering, alongside Mueller’s probe into his real estate deals in New York. Manafort has not been accused of (and denies) any wrongdoing.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller (right) has spearheaded Russia probe since May. Joshua Roberts/Reuters
Mueller is investigating whether the Trump campaign or its associates assisted Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election as well as the firing of former FBI director James Comey. American intelligence agencies said in January that Moscow led a misinformation campaign to tilt the election toward Trump.
On Tuesday, Hannity charged that Mueller has “conflicts of interest” in the investigation because he headed the FBI when it was investigating corruption in Russia’s state atomic energy company Rosatom, as it vied to buy up American uranium mines in Kazakhstan in 2009.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York—which specializes in white collar and organized crime, mortgage fraud, and public corruption—is just the latest high powered legal office to assist Mueller’s team of top attorneys.
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
Mueller’s team has been working with Schneiderman to investigate Manafort’s financial transactions and lobbying work for foreign governments, several people familiar with the matter told Politico in late August. Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes, so a case against Manafort from Schneiderman could be used to flip him as a witness against Trump and his campaign. Schneiderman previously won a $25 million settlement from Trump last year after he prosecuted a case of fraud against Trump University.
Mueller’s Legal Team
Mueller has drawn from some of the largest legal firms and top government lawyers to assemble his investigatory team of 17 lawyers who are expert in turning witnesses, investigating organized crime, in particular white collar crimes like money laundering.
Here are just a few that have been selected to crack the case.
U.S. Justice Department Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben
Dreeben has argued more than 100 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. As deputy solicitor general he is in charge of prosecuting the Department of Justice’s criminal cases. Dreeben is “a demigod of the legal world, respected and feared by everyone in the realm of criminal law,” a Washington attorney toldthe Daily Beast.
U.S. Justice Department appeals lawyer Scott Meisler
Meisler is an appellate attorney with the Justice Department’s criminal division. Appeals lawyers know the ins and outs of complicated federal laws so they can argue whether a conviction should be upheld or overturned in federal circuit courts or the U.S. Supreme Court.
U.S. Justice Department Chief of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section Andrew Weissmann
Weissmann joined Mueller’s team in May after taking leave from his job at the DOJ. When Mueller was director of the FBI, he worked under him as a general counsel from 2011 to 2013 and led the task force the prosecuted Enron. Recently he oversaw the probe into Volkswagen’s car emissions car fraud scheme.
U.S. Justice Department assistant solicitor general Elizabeth Prelogar
A former law clerk to Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan, Prelogar is fluent in Russian, where she studied as a Fulbright scholar. In the solicitor general’s office she worked alongside Dreeben. “Elizabeth is perhaps the best young lawyer with whom I have ever worked,” said attorney Neal Katyal, a partner Hogan Lovells, where Prelogar used to work in private practice.
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, prosecutor Andrew Goldstein
Drawn from his post at the Southern District of New York’s public corruption unit, Goldstein is an expertin white collar crime and money laundering cases. Golstein’s former office was revealed by the WSJ Tuesday to be assisting the Mueller probe. Goldstein’s former boss Preet Bharara was fired by Trump in March after he refused to resign.
Who Are The Major Players in Robert Mueller’s Russia Investigation?
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged links between Russia and the campaign of Donald Trump inched closer to the president’s old stomping grounds Tuesday amid calls from Fox News host Sean Hannity for Mueller to resign …and more »
trump criminal investigation – Google News
Who Are The Major Players in Robert Mueller’s Russia Investigation?
American intelligence agencies said in January that Moscow led a misinformation campaign to tilt the election toward Trump. On Tuesday, Hannity charged that Mueller has “conflicts of interest” in the … as it vied to buy up American uranium mines in …and more »
organized crime and intelligence – Google News
BuzzFeed News recently reported serious allegations that the Treasury Department’s Office of Intelligence Affairs (OIA) is illegally accessing and analyzing the financial records of Americans, according to unnamed officials inside the department. Treasury quickly responded to this news with a strong denial, but the department’s inspector general is reportedly looking into the matter. Though the sources are unnamed, it seems likely these are officials taking the side of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), another branch inside Treasury, who has long been in a kind of turf war with OIA.
We have grown accustomed to stories of mass data collection by federal intelligence agencies, and while being incredibly troubling, this one is ripe with bureaucratic hypocrisy and inside-the-Beltway intrigue, since FinCEN has been amassing this very same collection of data on Americans’ financial activities and distributing it to intelligence agencies and law enforcement for decades.
FinCEN and OIA have long been in a kind of turf war. The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, as modified by the USA Patriot Act of 2001, requires financial institutions (broadly defined to include banks, hedge funds, casinos, used car dealerships, and pawnshops, among others) to file two types of reports with FinCEN: Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs), required when someone withdraws or deposits more than $10,000 in cash, and Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), required when institutions identify unusual or potentially illegal activity. Almost 2 million suspicious activity reports were filed in 2016. Roughly 15 million currency transaction reports are filed each year as well. Put bluntly, FinCEN already collects the domestic financial records its officials now accuse OIA of unlawfully obtaining.
There is some merit to FinCEN’s argument that OIA should not have access to these records. FinCEN is a law enforcement agency that focuses on domestic and international money laundering, terrorism financing, and other financial crimes. Its collection of SAR and CTR data is intended to assist in its enforcement of these financial crimes. Established by the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2004, OIA is legally considered part of the “intelligence community.” Though this distinction might seem trivial, it is at the crux of this dispute. As an intelligence component, OIA is governed by a Reagan-era executive order, E.O. 12333, which strictly limits the collection of information about U.S. persons defined as both U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. E.O. 12333 (as amended by President George W. Bush) requires OIA to establish internal guidelines, approved by the attorney general – something it has neverdone – before collecting any U.S. persons information.
Reportedly, OIA has been accessing these domestic financial records for years, but it “only became controversial in 2016, when officials at FinCEN learned about it and began objecting.” Interestingly, this was around the same time that the agency overseeing OIA, Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, suggested shifting much of FinCEN’s work to OIA. This proposal would have cut FinCEN’s budget and would have transferred many of its employees over to OIA.
It was at this point that FinCEN invoked E.O. 12333 and began arguing the proposed shake-up was illegal. OIA, which was already amassing domestic financial information at the time of these disputes, countered by saying it was complying with the order because it had a draft of the internal guidelines (which, over a year later, have not been finalized).
One unnamed senior official at Treasury told BuzzFeed that OIA’s activities constitute “domestic spying.” But ironically, FinCEN accuses OIA of collecting and retaining domestic financial information from FinCEN’s own database. So, if OIA is engaging in “domestic spying,” FinCEN is too.
How problematic is this spying? Tracking withdrawals or deposits of over $10,000 in cash is a straightforward endeavor governed by objective standards. However, the Bank Secrecy Act, passed in 1970, failed to peg the CTR threshold dollar amount to inflation (adjusted for inflation, the amount today would be over $60,000), and so there has been a steady increase in the number of reports filed. SAR filing requirements, however, are decidedly less clear cut. Though FinCEN offers broad guidelines for making these determinations, specifically instructing institutions to report evidence of money laundering or transfers to foreign terrorist organizations, it acknowledges that “the decision to file a SAR is an inherently subjective judgement.” Many banks have complained these guidelines do not provide sufficient instruction on the broader requirement to report potentially illegal or suspicious-seeming activity.
The number of SAR filings has exploded since the USA Patriot Act expanded the BSA requirements in 2001. According to FinCEN reports, financial institutions submitted just over 160,000 SARs in 2000, compared to almost 2 million in 2016, more than a ten-fold increase. Federal white-collar crime prosecutions, including those for money laundering, have lagged over that same time period, suggesting that FinCEN’s SAR and CTR programs are not well-designed to identify cases of law-breaking.
They are, on the other hand, an extremely potent form of domestic surveillance. SAR reports include a tremendous amount of personal and private financial information, including an individual’s address, tax identification number, social security number, account numbers, and financial transaction history. The individual making the “suspect” transaction is not notified that a SAR has been filed. Reporting institutions are not held liable for the accuracy of information they put into a SAR, but they are held liable for neglecting to file if the Treasury Department later determines one was clearly warranted. Naturally, this leads to over-reporting. FinCEN instructs them to include “all known subject information” in SARs, and the reports are kept indefinitely in FinCEN’s database.
FinCEN shares SAR and CTR information broadly throughout the law enforcement community. The FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Secret Service, and the Internal Revenue Service can access and download SAR and CTR records in bulk for analysis. These agencies can then incorporate SAR data into existing databases, with other law enforcement data.
Though this data is widely accessible to law enforcement, it is surprisingly difficult for a person subjected to a SAR to obtain it through other means. It is exempt from discovery in civil court, and financial institutions are prohibited from revealing anything about the contents or existence of a SAR, including in cases requesting damages for their disclosures. Civil courts are not authorized to order disclosure of a SAR. FinCEN does issue annual reports with SAR filing data, including statistics on the category of activity being reported, but these reports offer limited insight into how FinCEN or other law enforcement agencies use SARs, or the information contained within them.
The overbreadth, wide distribution, and lack of independent or public oversight over the government’s use of SAR data creates high potential for abuse. A 2002 FinCEN report indicated that an unspecified number of SARs were filed because individuals “appeared to be of Middle-Eastern descent.” The report goes on to advise against reporting based on ethnicity but does not offer any incentive for institutions to do so, nor any system of accountability to protect against biased reporting based on race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, or any other protected characteristic.
To echo the unnamed Treasury official quoted by BuzzFeed: This is domestic spying. To recognize the danger posed by FinCEN’s own activities is not to diminish the threat of OIA’s lawless access to FinCEN’s databases, but rather to put it in context. Any data collection system that lacks independent oversight and due process poses a threat to Americans’ privacy and civil liberties. A system that offers no protection against reporting that can target Americans based on race, religion, and political affiliation must change. Financial institutions must be given more specific guidelines about making SAR filing decisions, so this reporting is narrowly tailored to identify criminal or terrorist activity. Equally important, due process protections need to be incorporated into the system, and there must be more effective oversight and public accountability over all domestic intelligence collection programs that impact the privacy of millions of Americans.
Image: Getty/Richard Sharrocks