🇷🇺 Trump/Russia

This bibliography starts 7/26/2017

Russian Intelligence Services:
Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) – The Foreign Intelligence Service reports directly to the President of Russia.
GRU – Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces.
Federal Security Service (FSB) – The Federal Security Service is responsible for counter-intelligence, state security and anti-terrorist operations

Key People: Aras Agalarov, Emin Agalarov, Rinat Akhmetov, Rinat Akhmetshin, Andrii Artemenko, Arron Banks, Andrey Baronov, Leonid “Len” Blavatnik, Wm Browder, Mariia Butina, Carole Cadwalladr, Michael Caputo, Yuri Chaika, Igor Chekunov, Michael Cohen, George Cottrell, Oleg Deripaska, Kirill Dmitriev, Aleksandr Dugin, Arkady Dvorkovich, Nigel Farage, Dmitri Firtash, John Fotiadis, Gene (Evgeny) Friedman, Rob Goldstone, Sergei Gorkov, Henry Greenberg, Andrew Intrater, Eugene Kaspersky (Kaspersky Lab), Denis Katsyv, Irakly (“Ike”) Kaveladze, Konstantin Kilimnik, Sergey Kislyak, Konstantin Kosachev, Simona Mangiante, Viktor Medvedchek, Josef Mifsud, Semion Mogilevich (Don Semyon), Konstantin Molofeev, George Nader, Vyacheslav Nikonov, Isabel Oakeshoff, George Papadopoulos, Alexander Perepilichny, Dmitry Peskov, Yevgeny Prigozhin, Vladimir Putin, George Ramishvili, Dmitry Rogozin, Alexander Rovt, Giorgi Rtskhiladze, Dmitry Rybolovlev, Felix Sater, Christopher Steele, Ruslan Stoyanov, Oleg Solodukhin, Peter Strzok, Aleksandr Torshin, Yulia Tymoshenko, Viktor Vekselberg, Natalia Veselnitskaya, Vyacheslav Volodin, Curt Weldon, Andy Wigmore, Alexander Yakovenko, Viktor Yanukovych, Joel Zamel

Wikipedia: Aras Agalarov, Emin Agalarov, Rinat Akhmetov, Rinat Akhmetshin, Andrii Artemenko, Arron Banks, Andrey Baranov (Bloomberg), Leonid “Len” Blavatnik, William Browder, Mariia Butina, Carole Cadwalladr, Michael Caputo, Yuri Chaika, Igor Chekunov, Michael Cohen, George Cottrell, Oleg Deripaska, Kirill Dmitriev, Aleksandr Dugin, Arkady Dvorkovich, Nigel Farage, Dmitri Firtash, John Fotiadis (Archinect), Gene (Evgeny) Friedman, Rob Goldstone, Sergei Gorkov, Henry Greenberg (Miami Herald), Andrew Intrater, Eugene Kaspersky (Kaspersky Lab), Denis Katsyv, Irakly Kaveladze, Konstantin Kilimnik, Sergey Kislyak, Konstantin Kosachev, Konstantin Malofeev, Simona Mangiante (Papadopoulos), Viktor Medvedchek, Josef Mifsud, Semion Mogilevich (Don Semyon), Vyacheslav Nikonov, Isabel Oakeshoff, George Papadopoulos, Alexander Perepilichny, Dmitry Peskov, Yevgeny Prigozhin, Vladimir Putin, George Ramishvili (Bloomberg), Dmitry Rogozin, Alexander Rovt, Giorgi Rtskhiladze (CNBC), Dmitry Rybolovlev, Felix Sater, Christopher Steele, Ruslan Stoyanov, Oleg Solodukhin, Peter Strzok, Aleksandr Torshin, Yulia Tymoshenko, Viktor Vekselberg, Natalia Veselnitskaya, Vyacheslav Volodin, Curt Weldon, Andy Wigmore, Alexander Yakovenko, Viktor Yanukovych, Joel Zamel (Wikistrat)

Key Documents

⋙ 💙💙🔄 Moyers&Co: Interactive Timeline: Everything We Know About Russia and President Trump http://bit.ly/2uVHc9j
// continually updated

⋙ 💙💙🔄📒 DocumentCloud: Steele Dossier [pdf] http://bit.ly/2y5ZhnF 35p

⋙ 💙💙🔄≣ AP: Mueller Investigation documents http://bit.ly/2ihbK0l

⋙ 💙💙🔄≣ CNN, Marshall Cohen, Tal Yellen & Liz Stark: Tracking the Russia investigations (documents) http://cnn.it/2hVCpU5

⋙ 💙💙🔄≣ BrennanCenter: Trump-Russia Investigations http://bit.ly/2yRKcu6

⋙ 💙💙🔄≣ Politico: The people connected to the Russia probes [ Interactive ] http://politi.co/2FUDhz2 //➔ Democrats, Prosecutors, Law Enforcement/Lobbyists/Media,Team Trump, Foreign Nationals

🔄 💙💙🔄 TheMoscowProject: Trump’s Russia Cover-Up By the Numbers http://bit.ly/2ycY959
// Center for American Progress; 80+ contacts with Russia-linked operatives https://themoscowproject.org/about/ http://bit.ly/2ycY959

⋙ 💙💙🔄≣ NBCNews: Russia timeline: Key players, meetings and investigation details http://nbcnews.to/2vtR3YW

⋙ 💙💙🔄≣ DailyBeast: Democrats Release the Fusion GPS Testimony on Trump and Russia http://thebea.st/2qMmH1d w attachment [pdf]
⋙ via Dianne Feinstein http://bit.ly/2FjtlPP

⋙ 💙💙🔄≣ NYT: Justice Department Gives Congress Comey’s Memos on Trump http://nyti.ms/2HdLe2Z
// 4/19/2018 ➔ DocumentCloud: http://bit.ly/2HOGC4z

⋙ 💙💙🔄≣ DOJ: Indictment of Internet Research Agency LLC et al … [PDF] http://bit.ly/2CqdHzD 37p //➔ Mueller Investigation
// 2/16/2018

⋙ 💙💙🔄≣ Amy Siskind: The Weekly List ~ “This is How Democracy Ends” https://theweeklylist.org

⋙ 💙💙🔄≣ NYT: Mueller Has List of Questions for Trump http://nyti.ms/2rfDuqK + http://nyti.ms/2HExEKi
// 4/30/2018, Majority Relate to if Trump Obstructed Inquiry on Russia

⋙ 💙💙🔄≣ NYT: The Trump Lawyers’ Confidential Memo to Mueller, Explained [ Document ] http://nyti.ms/2kKPgq9
// 6/2/2018, NYT article about document: http://nyti.ms/2swIZSc

⋙ 💙💙🔄≣ TIME: The Arguments President Trump Has Made Against the Mueller Investigation http://ti.me/2MdeARX
// 6/8/2018

⋙ 💙💙🔄≣ TIME: Wikipedia: Links between Trump associates and Russian officials http://bit.ly/2K42VDF

⋙ 💙💙🔄≣ WaPo: Who has been charged in the Russia probe and why http://wapo.st/2toNwH2
// continually updated; WaPo Russia page

⋙ 💙💙🔄≣ ForeignAffairs Anthology: A New Cold War? Russia and America, Then and Now 1947- http://fam.ag/2KEA4dF

⋙ 💙💙🔄≣ Justice.gov: Mueller Indictment of 12 Russians in the GRU for Election Hacking [pdf] http://bit.ly/2NbphV6 29p
// 7/13/2018

⋙ 💙💙🔄≣ FactCheck.org: Timeline of Russia Investigation http://bit.ly/2KZ4qaQ
// posted 6/7/2018, updated 7/13/2018; Key moments in the FBI probe of Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election; Readable

⭕ 19 Jul 2018

FoxNews: Trump was briefed about Putin’s meddling role 2 weeks before taking office: report http://fxn.ws/2zTz0O2

🌀We know the truth https://twitter.com/NBCBlacklist/status/1019601458491207680/photo/1
// #TheBlacklist; no more lies

⭕ 18 Jul 2018

🐣 To .@ManchuCandidate, Guardian/Observer’s @CaroleCadwalladr has done yeoman’s work, exposing the #BrexitHeist almost single-handedly, including ties to #TrumpRussia. Everyone should read this and weep: NYRB, Nick Cohen: How the BBC Lost the Plot on Brexit http://bit.ly/2LmkVtP

CNBC: Mark Cuban says studying philosophy may soon be worth more than computer science—here’s why. http://cnb.cx/2Nt1zUi It has to do with A.I.

FreeBeacon: State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Wednesday that Russian requests to question former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul were “absolutely absurd.” http://bit.ly/2L7I7jm

When asked if Russian investigators would be assisted by the United States in their efforts to interview McFaul and others, Nauert said she couldn’t speak to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ earlier comments on the matter.

“Well, I can’t answer on behalf of the White House with regard to that,” Nauert said. “But what I can tell you is that the overall assertions that have come out of the Russian government are absolutely absurd. The fact that they want to question 11 American citizens and the assertions that the Russian government is making about those American citizens, we do not stand by those assertions that the Russian government makes.”

🐣 “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility–I welcome it.” – JFK, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961 http://bit.ly/2LvrgTu
I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it–and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

President John F. Kennedy’s Speech Announcing the Quarantine Against Cuba, October 22, 1962 http://bit.ly/2ux5hFq at a time of danger, maybe worth a read

🐣🔥‼️ Trying to see the big picture, I’ve got to think that the intelligence community finally after Helsinki &, realizing the GOP will not stand up, has pulled out all the stops w the NYT 🔥bombshell🔥 http://nyti.ms/2zR1IPh They believe the country is at an “hour of maximum danger”

WaPo: Putin’s push to interrogate U.S. officials Russia accuses of crimes, explained http://wapo.st/2zROPEP

WaPo: As Russians describe ‘verbal agreements’ at summit, U.S. officials scramble for clarity http://wapo.st/2NrOGcZ

Trump continued to praise his private meeting with Putin and an expanded lunch with aides as a “tremendous success” and tweeted a promise of “big results,” but State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the administration was “assessing . . . three takeaways,” which she characterized as “modest.” They were the establishment of separate working groups of business leaders and foreign policy experts, and follow-up meetings between the national security council staffs of both countries.

🐣 “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” – Robert Mueller (Actually, Mark 8:27)

🐣 The RNC was hacked, too. Page 13 at the bottom of the last Mueller indictment, if I’m not mistaken. They either did nothing with it or are holding it as Kompromat.

🐣 RT @RichardHaass It has been an awful week for the US. @realDonaldTrump did real damage to foreign relationships that have served this country well. Serious people are raising serious questions as to his motives. And too many who know better have said nothing or, worse yet, rushed to defend him.

🐣 Russia is a foreign country. Not only that, it is an adversary. It is illegal for foreign countries to meddle in US elections. There are walls other than physical ones that define sovereignty. #AmericaFirst
⋙ 🐣 Citibank can contribute to campaigns because “corporations are people” & speech is money“ acc to two recent SCOTUS decisions, Buckley v Valeo & Citizens United v FEC, both of which I hope are overturned someday; but separate from the sovereignty issue, really.

 Buzzfeed, Ali Watkins (2017): The Strange Case Of The Russian Diplomat Who Got His Head Smashed In On Election Day http://bit.ly/2Ns4vAr
// 2/15/2017, How did Sergei Krivov die? And why did the NYPD close the case?

🐣 RT @McFaul I hope the White House corrects the record and denounces in categorical terms this ridiculous request from Putin. Not doing so creates moral equivalency between a legitimacy US indictment of Russian intelligence officers and a crazy, completely fabricated story invented by Putin

WaPo, Michael McFaul (May): The smear that killed the ‘reset’: Putin needed an American enemy. He picked me. http://wapo.st/2uxEokN
// 5/11/2018

🐣 Doesn’t this mean they will indict Putin? Can they try him like they did Milošević in the International Criminal Court? That would be cool.

💙💙 NYT: From the Start, Trump Has Muddied a Clear Message: Putin Interfered http://nyti.ms/2zR1IPh
Text: https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1019770370067521536/photo/1
⋙ See under Entire Articles as: NYT Trump Knew Putin Interfered 7-18-2018

Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.

The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.

Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.

The shifting narrative underscores the degree to which Mr. Trump regularly picks and chooses intelligence to suit his political purposes. That has never been more clear than this week.
– – – – – – – – – – –
The Jan. 6, 2017, meeting, held at Trump Tower, was a prime example. He was briefed that day by John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director; James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence; and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency and the commander of United States Cyber Command.

The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, was also there; after the formal briefing, he privately told Mr. Trump about the “Steele dossier.” That report, by a former British intelligence officer, included uncorroborated salacious stories of Mr. Trump’s activities during a visit to Moscow, which he denied.

According to nearly a dozen people who either attended the meeting with the president-elect or were later briefed on it, the four primary intelligence officials described the streams of intelligence that convinced them of Mr. Putin’s role in the election interference.

They included stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee that had been seen in Russian military intelligence networks by the British, Dutch and American intelligence services. Officers of the Russian intelligence agency formerly known as the G.R.U. had plotted with groups like WikiLeaks on how to release the email stash.

And ultimately, several human sources had confirmed Mr. Putin’s own role.

Mr. Trump and his aides were also given other reasons during the briefing to believe that Russia was behind the D.N.C. hacks. … [more at separate doc and link]

🐣 Assuming we come through this nightmare intact, I swear I will never ever again take our freedoms or our civic institutions for granted. It will take a decade to fix the wreckage of Trump but we can and must do it. 🇺🇸

🐣 It IS 🧙‍♀️Witch Hunt🧙‍♀️ ~ one that’s already indicted 26 Russian Witches. And that’s not counting the Americans. @Lawrence

🐣 🕯Vigils🕯in highly visible locations are a great idea for the hot days of summer. My heart is with you all!

🐣 RT @JohnKerry The administration needs to make it unequivocally clear that in a million years this wouldn’t be under consideration, period. Full stop. Not something that should require a half second of consultation. Dangerous.

🐣 To @SecPompeo What about Ambassador @McFaul? Please ~ issue a statement immediately. This is alarming. The implications are enormous.

🐣 So Russia involved in blocking @MittRomney from @StateDept acc to @maddow wow

🐣 RT @atrupal TRUMP on MERKEL: “She allowed millions of people to come in & when they came into Germany they passed everywhere else & they went to other countries. Obviously it’s hurt Angela, I don’t want to say who is better [between her & Putin] but she’s been very badly hurt by immigration”

BuzzFeed: The Democrats Thought In Mid 2016 That Their Computers Were Free Of Russian Hackers. They Were Wrong. http://bit.ly/2zRYHOP
// Russians hacked a Democratic Party computer in September 2016, probably looking for details on likely Clinton voters.

🐣 RT @GeneralClark As former NATO Allied Commander, I know NATO’s Article 5 exists to PREVENT war. That’s why it’s only been invoked once – after 9/11. Montenegro is still sending troops to Afghanistan, for us. Worrying to hear Trump use Russian talking points with Tucker Carlson, about Montenegro.

🐣 RT @KenDelanianNBC FBI Director Wray: The Russians are continuing to exert malign influence on the American political system. #AspenSecurity

🐣 RT @SamanthaJPower Let’s recall why Putin began making outrageous, false accusations against @McFaul: Mike stood up for human rights and against Russian oppression. That terrified Putin. The fact that @realDonaldTrump won’t stand up for an American patriot is a travesty

🐣 RT @jimsciutto That’s probably even lower on our list” says FBI Director Wray of Putin request to interview former US Ambassador @McFaul which WH says Trump is considering.
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @mitchellreports .@LesterHoltNBC asks FBI Director if he could imagine accepting Putin offer to have FBI go to Moscow says wryly it’s not high on his list of investigative techniques

💙💙 ForeignAffairs, Michael McFaul: The U.S. Needs a Russia Strategy Now More Than Ever ~ The Real Lesson From the Helsinki Summit http://fam.ag/2Ly8r1W
Text: https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1019731728678735874/photo/1

Most disturbing, it appears that Trump and Putin discussed the possibility of having Mueller and his investigative team interview Russian military intelligence officers indicted for conspiracy against the United States in return for Russian legal authorities having the opportunity to interview U.S. government and former government officials (including the author) regarding alleged money laundering … To add to the craziness of this story, Putin suggested that Browder used some of these alleged laundered funds to finance the Clinton campaign in 2016.

There is no equivalency whatsoever between Russian government operatives violating U.S. sovereignty during a presidential election and the completely invented Russian allegations against Browder and U.S. government officials who supposedly helped him. Putin appears to have lied to Trump about Browder and his alleged confederates as a way to silence Putin critics. Yet at the Helsinki press conference, Trump called this outrageous Putin proposal “an interesting idea.” And who knows what other “interesting ideas” were discussed behind closed doors when the two presidents met one-on-one. Already, the Russian government is affirming its commitments to implement the security agreements negotiated in Helsinki, yet Americans have yet to learn what security agreements were discussed.

🐣 RT @JohnWDean That the White House would make such a statement, and even worse that Trump is considering it, is HORRIFYING. Congress should pass legislation stating all USA ambassadors retain their diplomatic immunity for their time in service FOREVER! They’re untouchable by other governments!
⋙ 🐣 RT @JeffZeleny An extraordinary disconnect between White House and State Department: .@PressSec says @realDonaldTrump is entertaining proposal from Putin to let Russia question former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul. State calls idea “absurd.”

VanityFair, Tina Nguyen: Putin’s “Incredible Offer” to Trump Is Even Worse Than We Feared http://bit.ly/2mr85PV
// The White House is considering handing over American diplomats to Putin for questioning.

🐣 RT @NatashaBertrand Undoing the Magnitsky Act sanctions is among Putin’s top priorities. It explains the Trump Tower meeting, the dinner where he & Trump discussed “adoptions” (sanctions) and the public remarks re: Browder. Seems like it’s all been leading up to this moment.
⋙ TheAtlantic, Natasha Bertrand: Putin’s Big Tell? http://theatln.tc/2L5WtRg
// Putin’s decision to reference William Browder at the post-summit press conference provided even more evidence that a 2016 meeting between Trump-campaign officials and a Russian lawyer was blessed by the Kremlin.
⋙ 🐣 RT @KatieTur Don’t let this question by @maggieNYT go unnoticed. Sanders says Trump will discuss allowing Russia to question American citizens:
Text: https://twitter.com/KatyTurNBC/status/1019661925850984448/photo/1

🐣 RT @waltshaub This is stunning, outrageous and very very dangerous. The thought that the president would commit to even considering turning a former US Ambassador over to Russia — in connection with his federal service, no less — is amazing even for this administration. Where is Congress?!
⋙ 🐣 RT @JohnHarwood WH press sec Sanders acknowledged that Putin talked to Trump about his interest in prosecuting financier Bill Browder and former US Michael McFaul. she declined to rule out US cooperation in that effort, saying Trump would consult his national security team

RawStory: ‘He’s going to sell out any American’: MSNBC panel rails against Trump ‘stabbing’ ambassadors ‘in the back’ http://bit.ly/2L5bz9I

💙💙 DailyBeast: U.S. Officials ‘at a Fucking Loss’ Over Latest Russia Sell Out http://thebea.st/2O1UA63
// The White House’s refusal to rule out turning over former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul to the Russians has current and former State Department officials seeing red.

🐣 RT @kylegriffin1 Trump effectively walks back his walk back.

🐣 RT @GenMhayden OMG. OMG. OMG.
⋙ 🐣 RT @BradMossEsq This literally contradicts exactly what the Director of National Intelligence just said. Point blank.
⋙⋙ RT @W7VOA Asked if #Russia is still targeting the US, @POTUS shakes his head and says “no.”

‼️🐣 RT @ryanobles NEW: During WH Cabinet meeting pooler @CeciliaVega asks POTUS “Is Russia still targeting the US?” to which the President answers “No”.

MotherJones: Trump Has Dreams of a New Energy Boom That Even the Fossil Fuel Industry Thinks Is Too Extreme http://bit.ly/2LsMP7e
//. “We’re giving away leases for pennies on the dollar.”

WaPo: Trump’s intel chiefs fight Russia’s election interference — with or without him http://wapo.st/2LiRHPA

🐣 RT @SenJohnMcCain The people of #Montenegro boldly withstood pressure from #Putin’s Russia to embrace democracy. The Senate voted 97-2 supporting its accession to #NATO. By attacking Montenegro & questioning our obligations under NATO, the President is playing right into Putin’s hands.
⇈ ⇊
🐣 RT @SenJohnMcCain #Putin will do anything to shatter the transatlantic alliance. In 2016, he nearly succeeded in overthrowing #Montenegro’s democratically elected government & murdering its prime minister in order to prevent it from joining #NATO. Read more:
⋙ USAToday, John McCain (2017): McCain flashback: Russia threat is dead serious. Montenegro coup and murder plot proves it http://usat.ly/2JzBYqq
// 6/29/2017

🐣 RT @SethAbramson The Washington Post agrees with my assessment from yesterday that Erickson is likely cooperating with federal law enforcement (and is unnamed for that reason). I don’t think anyone is fully appreciating how deep in the sh*t the NRA, GOP leadership, and Trump family are right now.

◕💙💙 Project-Syndicate, Carl Bildt: The End of NATO? http://bit.ly/2NUgJmF
// US President Donald Trump escalated his war on US alliances and multilateral institutions at NATO’s summit in Brussels and then at his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. There is now little doubt that Trump’s strange affinity for Putin represents a serious threat to European security.

More fundamentally, Trump’s complaint that the US is shouldering an unfair share of the burden for NATO’s collective defense is dubious. While the US military budget equals roughly 72% of combined defense spending by all NATO member states, roughly three-quarters of US military spending is directed toward regions other than Europe. Around half of the US defense budget is spent on maintaining a presence in the Pacific, and another quarter is spent on operations in the Middle East, strategic nuclear command and control, and other areas.

[T]he US has long used Europe as a staging ground for deploying forces elsewhere. And the early-warning and surveillance facilities that the US maintains in the United Kingdom and Norway are there to defend the continental US, not Europe.

The fact is that total European defense spending is around twice what the US spends on European security, and also roughly twice what Russia spends on defense, according to estimates produced at the US National Defense University.

… Although the US Army recently rotated heavy brigades through Europe for military exercises, its permanently stationed troops are equipped only for limited interventions.

This is why NATO must continue to improve its defense capacity in Europe. At a minimum, Europe needs more military forces, and those forces need to be equipped for rapid deployment to critical areas. The new mobility command that is being established in Germany is a promising first step.

Carl Bildt was Sweden’s foreign minister from 2006 to October 2014 and Prime Minister from 1991 to 1994, when he negotiated Sweden’s EU accession. A renowned international diplomat, he served as EU Special Envoy to the Former Yugoslavia, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, UN Special Envoy to the Balkans, and Co-Chairman of the Dayton Peace Conference. He is Chair of the Global Commission on Internet Governance and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Europe.

🐣 RT @NateSilver538 It wasn’t even like he was asked about this case specifically. Asked an open-ended question about a *single* case that he thought should be overturned, Kavanaugh named the decision that upheld the constitutionality of the independent counsel.
⋙ 🐣 RT @mkraju NEWS: Kavanaugh bluntly said he wanted to overturn SCOTUS ruling upholding constitutionality of independent counsel. There’s difference bw independent counsel and special counsel (like Mueller) – but it’s bound to spark questions about how he views Mueller

VanityFair: “This Was the Nightmare Scenario”: The West Wing Revolts After Trump Embraces Putin http://bit.ly/2Lf3hLJ
// As Trump grappled with his error, Chief of Staff John Kelly went into overdrive to get Trump to walk it back.

🐣 RT @juliadavisnews Yes. Russian Intelligence.
⋙ 🐣 CNN Headline: President Trump continues to defend his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin: “So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki”

💙💙 🔆 This❗️⋙ Bloomberg, Ramesh Ponnuru: Trump’s Russia Fixation Has a Simple Explanation http://bloom.bg/2NYeJd1 “I’ve seen Trump’s tax returns myself”
// He can’t separate the question of interference in the election from the question of his own legitimacy.

I’ve seen Trump’s tax returns myself as part of a legal action that began in 2006 when he sued me for libel for a biography I wrote, “TrumpNation.” (Trump lost the suit in 2011; a court order precludes me from discussing specifics in the returns.) As I wrote in a May 2016 column about the tax returns, I suspect that Trump is hesitant to make them public because they would reveal, among other things, sensitive information about his business activities, conflicts of interest and financial pressures that might come to bear upon him in the White House. Pressure from places like Russia, for example.

Imagine if Trump were acquiescent to Putin because financial favors were exchanged, for example, for policy reversals involving the lifting of economic sanctions on Russia or supporting Russia’s military annexation of part of Ukraine. In that context, Trump’s finances — and his tax returns — touch on national security and the public interest.

It’s time for the president to release his tax returns publicly. If he won’t, then Congress and the Republican Party — if they are truly disturbed by Trump’s Helsinki performance — should demand that he do so. 🐣 RT @AltUSPressSecy Trump is claiming he “misspoke” when he denied Russia’s cyberwar against our election systems.

Russian State Media is claiming Putin was “mistranslated” when he admitted to directing Russian officials to ensure Trump’s election.
Orwell w/o Spicer: https://twitter.com/AltUSPressSec/status/1019482869004165120/photo/1

Mediaite/Msnbc: Fmr CIA Director Panetta: The Way Trump Behaves, It’s a ‘Clear Signal That The Russians Have Something On Him’ http://bit.ly/2LrI4uM

◕ The GDP of the entire country of Russia is $1.28 trillion (World Bank). This is HALF the GDP of California (Wikipedia http://bit.ly/2uxlURb)

⭕ 17 Jul 2018

 NewYorker, David Remnick: The Unwinding of Donald Trump http://bit.ly/2O12fkJ
⇈ ⇊
🐣 RT @JohnWDean The last 48 hrs in a nutshell: “Trump’s performances in Europe, and now in Washington, clarified nothing. They only raised dark suspicions and aroused the sickening feeling that we are living in the pages of the most lurid espionage novel ever written.” Remnick, New Yorker 7/18

🐣 RT @McFaul As I discuss in detail in From Cold War to Hot Peace, Putin has been harassing me for a long time. That he now wants to arrest me, however, takes it to a new level. I expect my government to defend me and my colleagues, in public and private.

TheAtlantic, Kori Schake: There’s No Defending Trump Anymore http://theatln.tc/2L70kgE
// The spectacle in Helsinki is over. Now it’s time for Congress—and the American people—to act. http://theatln.tc/2L70kgE

CNN: US offers no details as Russia claims Trump and Putin reached military agreements http://cnn.it/2L3lvQW

RT: Russia wants to question Christopher Steele, Michael McFaul, top politicians for aiding Bill Browder http://bit.ly/2O0eNci //➔ I usually don’t post from RT, but this is for perspective on the ridiculous case Russia is making against @BillBrowder, @McFaul and Christopher Steele

Politico: What Mueller Knows About the DNC Hack—And Trump Doesn’t http://bit.ly/2L2LAQ1 The president’s bizarre obsession with “the DNC server” defies logic or even a basic understanding of what actually happened.

 ForeignPolicy: Robert Mueller Is Fighting a War http://bit.ly/2uKgQZf
// The special prosecutor’s latest indictments prove he’s waging more than just a legal battle.

NYT, William Webster: Let Robert Mueller Do His Job http://nyti.ms/2uwM0E6
// Mr. Webster is a former director of the F.B.I. and the C.I.A.; Faith in the justice system and in our intelligence agencies cannot be collateral damage in a partisan grudge match.

WaPo, Kathleen Parker: It’s time to excise the Trump cancer http://wapo.st/2NrI7Y1

NYT, Thomas Friedman: A President With No Shame and a Party With No Spine http://nyti.ms/2Jum5l7 “There is tremendous madness to Trump’s method”
// It’s become a huge source of power for Trump and trouble for the rest of us.

NYT Editorial: Time for Republicans to Grow a Spine http://nyti.ms/2L6ZwbS 10 concrete things they can do
// Some Republicans say President Trump embarrassed himself and the country in his meeting with Vladimir Putin. Here’s what they can do about it.

 ForeignPolicy: Robert Mueller Is Fighting a War http://bit.ly/2uKgQZf
// The special prosecutor’s latest indictments prove he’s waging more than just a legal battle.

NYT, Thomas Friedman: A President With No Shame and a Party With No Spine http://nyti.ms/2Jum5l7 “There is tremendous madness to Trump’s method”
// It’s become a huge source of power for Trump and trouble for the rest of us.

NYT Editorial: Time for Republicans to Grow a Spine http://nyti.ms/2L6ZwbS 10 concrete things they can do
// Some Republicans say President Trump embarrassed himself and the country in his meeting with Vladimir Putin. Here’s what they can do about it.

WaPo, Michael McFaul: The Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki was a historic event — in the worst possible way http://wapo.st/2L5X4Cc

CNN: Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook data was accessed from Russia, MP says http://cnnmon.ie/2zKi2kQ

🐣 RT @Comey This Republican Congress has proven incapable of fulfilling the Founders’ design that “Ambition must … counteract ambition.” All who believe in this country’s values must vote for Democrats this fall. Policy differences don’t matter right now. History has its eyes on us.

🐣 Paneta: “I’d be very disappointed if we don’t know what went on in that room” (ie Putin/Trump alone time). My hope too that our IC bugged room. Paneta is ex-CIA chief. On @11thHour. Thinks Putin “has something” on Trump.

💙 Axios, Jonathan Swan: Trump officials embarrassed by Putin show http://bit.ly/2Npfued
// reaction to Helsinki press conference

🐣 RT @DanaScottLO That’s like saying: “Scientists concluded that the earth is spherical, but it could be a square or a rhombus.” Trump can’t admit to the Russian attack because doing so would not only prove that he was not legitimately elected, it would also be strong evidence of collusion.
⋙ 🐣 RT @christinawilkie Trump: “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”

🐣 RT @McFaul I hope the U.S. government that I served faithfully for five years will stand up and defend us with public outrage over these ridiculous accusations. cc: @JonHuntsman @WhiteHouse @StateDept @USEmbRu
⋙ WashingtonExaminer: Helsinki update: Russia ready ‘to charge’ US officials for financial ‘crimes’ http://washex.am/2uJXXFF

… Putin’s team wants to question McFaul and at least three National Security Agency officials in connection to a case involving Bill Browder, a hedge fund manager who has led an international effort to impose sanctions on Russian officials implicated in human rights abuses.

Browder has been a gadfly for Putin’s team for years, dating back to his tenure as a high-profile investor in state-owned companies. Those clashes continued until Russian officials barred him from the country and shut down his investment company, a series of steps that culminated in Russian officials using his then-destroyed company to apply for a $230 million tax refund. One of Browder’s attorneys, Sergei Magnitsky, uncovered the fraud, only to be arrested and then to die in Russian government custody in 2009.

A year later, Russian authorities convicted Magnitsky of tax evasion in a posthumous trial, and convicted Browder in absentia. Putin revived those charges during his joint press conference with Trump.

“They never paid any taxes, neither in Russia nor in the United States, and yet the money escaped the country,” Putin said in Helsinki. “So we have a solid reason to believe that some intelligence officers accompanied and guided these transactions.”

Putin offered to allow Mueller’s team to attend a questioning, in Russia, of the Russian cyber-spies in exchange for access to those U.S. officials. President Trump seemed to look favorably on the idea.

“President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial [of election interference] today,” Trump said. “And what he did is an incredible offer; he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that’s an incredible offer.”

But the White House didn’t say if Trump would accept the Russian officials’ request.

“While the administration will continue to hold Russia accountable for its malign activities, this meeting is the beginning of a process between the United State and Russia to reduce tensions and advance areas of cooperation in our mutual interest,” a National Security Council spokesperson told the Washington Examiner. “We are reviewing the discussion between President Trump and President Putin, considering possible next steps, and have nothing further to announce at this time.”

The Russian government is determined to punish Browder. “We won’t let [Browder] sleep peacefully,” Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said in June.

Motherboard: Top Voting Machine Vendor Admits It Installed Remote-Access Software on Systems Sold to States http://bit.ly/2LqL8HD
// Remote-access software and modems on election equipment ‘is the worst decision for security short of leaving ballot boxes on a Moscow street corner.’

The nation’s top voting machine maker has admitted in a letter to a federal lawmaker that the company installed remote-access software on election-management systems it sold over a period of six years, raising questions about the security of those systems and the integrity of elections that were conducted with them.

In a letter sent to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) in April and obtained recently by Motherboard, Election Systems and Software acknowledged that it had “provided pcAnywhere remote connection software … to a small number of customers between 2000 and 2006,” which was installed on the election-management system ES&S sold them.

‼️🐣 RT @McFaul Absurd. I hope the Trump administration will push back on this nonsense, on the record.
⋙ 🐣 RT @BillBrowder BREAKING: The Russian authorities want to question former US Ambassador @McFaul along with officers of DHS and the DOJ who were investigating the Magnitsky case as part of the Putin/Trump Helsinki quid pro quo over me and the 12 Russian GRU agents
⋙⋙ Sputnik: Russian Prosecutors Want to Question US Officials, Ex-Envoy, Over Browder Case http://bit.ly/2JxPY3Y

William Browder, founder of UK-based Hermitage Capital Management investment fund, is wanted in Russia for various offenses, including tax evasion, since 2013.

The Office of Russian Attorney General is poised to send an official request to the United States’ authorities to question a number of US officials and intelligence agents, including the former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, as part of a criminal case against Hermitage Capital Management CEO William Browder.

“As part of the investigation of one of the criminal cases against William Browder and his criminal group, we’re ready to send another request to the US authorities to grant us permission to question these very employees of the US intelligence agencies, as well as a number of other US government officials and businessmen, in order to charge them for the crimes committed by Browder,” Alexander Kurennoy, spokesman for the Russia’s Office of Prosecutor General, said.

According to him, the list of people sought by Moscow for questioning includes “employees of the US National Security Agency — Todd Hyman, who signed under an oath a lawsuit filed in the US court on behalf of Browder, Svetlana Engert, who took from Russia the stolen materials from the criminal case, Alexander Shvartsman, who was Browder’s handler while he was in the US.”

Kurennoy also added that the prosecutors “have questions not only for US citizens”, and would also like to have a word with certain intelligence agents from other countries.

“For example, we would like to talk with Christopher Steele, an agent of the British MI-6. For a long time, he had contacts with a group of lobbyists of the ‘Magnitsky Act’ and, interestingly, it was through this person that the very investigation of the special prosecutor [Robert] Mueller, which everyone knows as the Trump Dossier, was initiated,” he added.

The Prosecutor General’s Office also claimed that Browder’s group employed offshore schemes to withdraw over $1.5 billion from Russia, with about $400,000 of which “were transferred to the accounts of the US Democratic Party.”

READ MORE: Hermitage Capital CEO Browder Urges Interpol to Suspend Russia’s Membership

In May 2018, Browder announced on Twitter that he was arrested by the Spanish police in Madrid on a Russian Interpol arrest warrant.

However, several hours after being detained, Browder was released after Spanish authorities announced that the warrant was invalid.

In Russia, the UK financier has been wanted for various offenses since 2013. In the most recent case in December, a Moscow court found Browder guilty of tax evasion, sentencing him in absentia to nine years in prison and charging him and his business partner Ivan Cherkasov with $72.9 million in unpaid taxes.

In February 2017, a Moscow court ruled to arrest Browder and Cherkasov in absentia. The United Kingdom has denied requests to have them extradited to Russia.

🐣 Also, Trump meant Boris Johnson WOULDN’T be a great Prime Minister. #CorrectTrump
Orwell (square): https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1019339809364611072/photo/1
“The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”
Alice in Wonderland: https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1019344547279704065/photo/1

🐣 RT @jaketapper There was no actual walk-back. The president continues to question the IC conclusion it was Russia: “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could have been other people also. Lots of other people out there”

DailyBeast, Michael Tomasky: Russia’s Plan to Buy Off the GOP Began Before the Rise of Trump http://thebea.st/2LpE6Tv “The Russia infiltration plot was not dependent on Trump. … The pre-Trump Republican Party, that is to say, was already plenty corrupt for them.”
// Republicans placed an anti-patriot in the Oval Office—just as the Russians bet they would.

There is no shortage of bombshell angles to this Maria Butina matter, announced by the Justice Department on Monday just hours after Donald Trump helped make Russia great again in Helsinki.

[I]t didn’t take Trump being a candidate for the Russians to decide to work to influence American electoral politics. They decided before Trump. The pre-Trump Republican Party, that is to say, was already plenty corrupt for them.

If this doesn’t inspire some soul-searching among Republicans, I don’t know what will. …

Well, it’s a little late now, isn’t it? You have placed an anti-patriot in the Oval Office. Exactly as the Russians bet you would. Never again browbeat us with your cheap shows of patriotism. You’re the un-Americans.

🐣 RT @HansNichols JUST IN: Rod Rosenstein was summoned to the WH today, four days after he indicted 12 Russian Intelligence Officers. He was seen leaving the WH at 11:28AM. Unclear if he met with President Trump, who is still in the residence and hasn’t showed up in the West Wing this morning.

🐣 RT @kenvogel COINCIDENCE? PUTIN’s claim about @BillBrowder’s associates funneling $400M in ill-gotten $ from Russia to @HillaryClinton was laid out in the memo that NATALIA VESELNITSKAYA brought to her June 2016 TRUMP TOWER mtg with @DonaldJTrumpJr, KUSHNER & MANAFORT.
⋙ NYT: Talking Points Brought to Trump Tower Meeting Were Shared With Kremlin http://nyti.ms/2JuN0gs
// 10/27/2018

 Rollingstone, Tom Dickinson (Apr): Inside the Decade-Long Russian Campaign to Infiltrate the NRA and Help Elect Trump http://rol.st/2LqWkEa //➔ Aleksandr Torshin, Maria Butina, John Bolton and Right To Bear Arms
// 4/2/2018, Femme fatales, lavish Moscow parties and dark money – how Russia worked the National Rifle Association

This part of the affadavit against Mariia Butina – a series of DMs between her and her handler (likely banker Aleksandr Torshin) – seems like something out of Homeland or The Blacklist.

🐣 RT @EmmaKennedy Maria Butina. In the Oval Office. (Towards the back red hair) Note “knowingly” in the indictments when it comes to the US citizens who aided her.

DailyBeast: Stephen Colbert: ‘Alarming’ Trump-Putin Summit Has ‘Shaken Me to My Core’ http://thebea.st/2JtXLja
// ‘The Late Show’ host spent his entire monologue Monday night breaking down Trump’s “disturbing” summit with Vladimir Putin.

⭕ 16 Jul 2018

DailyBeast, Betsy Woodruff: Russia-NRA Arrest: This Is as Close as It Gets to Collusion http://thebea.st/2LioJPK “In a sworn affidavit, FBI agent Kevin Helson said Maria Butina worked to set up ‘back channel’ communications between Americans and the Kremlin.”
// For all the indictments, arrests, and guilty pleas in the far-flung investigation into Russian influence, none has come close to alleging collusion. Until Maria Butina was nabbed.

In a sworn affidavit, FBI agent Kevin Helson said Maria Butina worked to set up “back channel” communications between Americans and the Kremlin.

“These lines could be used by the Russian Federation to penetrate the U.S. national decision-making apparatus to advance the agenda of the Russian Federation,” Agent Helson wrote.  

Butina’s apparent supervisor, former Russian senator Alexander Torshin, also spent years building relationships in the NRA. In 2015, he was pictured at a meeting in Moscow with a high-level delegation from the NRA and sanctioned Putin deputy Dmitry Rogozin. Rogozin, an ultra-nationalist hardliner, believes Russia should retake Alaska. Torshin faces money-laundering allegations from Spanish authorities.

Butina, who moved to Washington in 2016, has claimed multiple times to have been a conduit between the Trump campaign and Russia, as The Daily Beast reported last year.

[Trump:] “I know Putin, and I’ll tell you what, we’ll get along with Putin,” Trump replied. “I would get along very nicely with Putin, I mean, where we have the strength. I don’t think you’d need the sanctions. I think we would get along very, very well.”

On Oct. 4, 2016, according to the affidavit, U.S. Person 1 wrote an email copping to his role in Butina’s efforts.

“Unrelated to specific presidential campaigns, I’ve been involved in securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key POLITICAL PARTY 1 leaders through, of all conduits, the [GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION],” he wrote.

U.S. Person 1 appears to be Paul Erickson, a longtime Republican insider who claimed to advise the Trump transition team.

RawStory: Putin tells Russian state TV Trump gave him a ‘very interesting offer’ on Ukraine and discussed getting around sanctions http://bit.ly/2Lq5joV “We heard none of it in the press conference”

“They talked about a deal in southern Syria, which would possibly be about pushing Iranian forces out,” he explained. “That this had been pre-agreed with the Israelis. That this would increase security. But in exchange [Bashar al] Assad clearly was going to re-take the country. Putin noted he already had 90 percent of the country.” //➔ NYT story

They also evidently discussed Ukraine.

“And Putin described something as ‘a very interesting offer,’” Rojansky said. “We don’t actually know of what the offer consisted, but it’s very interesting to me that they discussed Ukraine and Putin said that there is ‘an interesting offer’ there.” //➔ Artemenko plan?

He then said that the “kicker” was that they spoke about sanctions without talking about sanctions.

“So, when asked whether Putin asked for sanctions relief, Putin, of course, as a matter of Russian pride and also, I think, a negotiating tactic, knowing Trump could hand over sanctions relief, he simply says, ‘No but we talked about the interests of our two business communities in increasing economic ties and how we might do that in the current environment.’ So, that’s code for, ‘Yeah, they talked about how to get around sanctions.’ They actually had it as surprisingly substantive conversation. We heard none of it in the press conference,” Rojansky closed.

WaPo: ‘Very much counter to the plan’: Trump defies advisers in embrace of Putin http://wapo.st/2NjTlxJ

Administration officials had hoped that maybe, just maybe, Monday’s summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin would end differently — without a freewheeling 46-minute news conference in which Trump attacked his own FBI on foreign soil and warmly praised archrival Russia.

Trump’s remarks were “very much counter to the plan,” the person said.

“Everyone around Trump” was urging him to take a firm stance with Putin, according to a second person familiar with the preparations. Before Monday’s meeting, the second person said, advisers covered matters from Russia’s annexation of Crimea to its interference in the U.S. elections, but Trump “made a game-time decision” to handle the summit his way. NYT: Trump, at Putin’s Side, Questions U.S. Intelligence on 2016 Election http://nyti.ms/2Lmva16
// staff reaction

WSJ Editorial: The Trump First Doctrine ~ Putin respects strength but Trump showed weakness. http://on.wsj.com/2Lqsa3N

Russia. Details from the private Trump-Putin talks in Helsinki will spill out in coming days, but Monday’s joint press conference was a personal and national embarrassment. On stage with the dictator whose election meddling has done so much harm to his Presidency, Mr. Trump couldn’t even bring himself to say he believed his own intelligence advisers like Dan Coats over the Russian strongman.

“I have—I have confidence in both parties,” Mr. Trump said. “So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.” Denials from liars usually are strong and powerful.

🐣 RT @JohnKerry https://twitter.com/JohnKerry/status/1018962239632658433/photo/1
// long statement

WaPo, Carl Bildt: Trump just gave Putin complete free rein http://wapo.st/2Njq4TM

It was indeed a remarkable summit. In just about four hours, if we are to believe President Trump, the relationship between the United States and Russia went from the worst it’s been in a very long time to “very, very good.”

The reasons for the deterioration in the U.S.-Russia relationship are numerous: Russian aggression against Ukraine including the illegal annexation of Crimea, the Russian intervention to shore up the Bashar al-Assad regime in Damascus, blatant and extensive interference in the U.S. presidential election — to mention just the most obvious issues.

During the press conference, on none of these issues did Trump have anything critical to say about Russian policy and behavior, and on none of these issues did Putin in any way indicate a willingness to change course.

≣💙TIME: Read a Transcript of Trump and Putin’s Joint Press Conference http://ti.me/2NVBiiv
⋙ See extended excerpts under Entire Articles

DailyBeast, Anna Nemtsova and Christopher Dickey: Trump Just Fell for ‘a Classic KGB Trick’ http://thebea.st/2ut8m9B
// Putin, former KGB case officer that he is, certainly knew that details would bore Trump, who imagined he was engaging in big-time statecraft even as he sounded petty and defensive.

Suddenly the question of collusion between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin was visible to all the world, and it was no longer a question.

Putin laid out his version of their talks. Then Trump, in a jaw-dropping moment, dissed his own intelligence services and deferred to Putin’s denials on the critical question of Russia’s ongoing cyber attacks targeting American democratic institutions.

WaPo, Dana Milbank: We are a deeply stupid country http://wapo.st/2Lby103

We brainlessly criticized Russia when it invaded Georgia and Ukraine. We idiotically protested when Russia poisoned people in Britain. Like dunces, we punished Russians for killing human rights activists. Morons that we are, we complained when Russia shot down a passenger jet. And then, revealing ourselves to be truly daft and inane, we blamed Russia for interfering in our election.

NYT Editorial: Why Won’t Donald Trump Speak for America? http://nyti.ms/2Jteh37
// The president lays himself at Vladimir Putin’s feet.

On Monday, Mr. Trump again engaged in immoral equivalence, this time during a gobsmacking news conference after his meeting in Helsinki, Finland, with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. A reporter referred to last week’s indictments of 12 Russian military officials for a coordinated cyberattack on the 2016 election and asked Mr. Trump if he held Russia responsible. “I hold both countries responsible,” Mr. Trump said.

Even in a presidency replete with self-defeating moments for the United States, Mr. Trump’s comments on Monday, which were broadcast live around the world, stand out.

The spectacle was hard to fathom: Mr. Trump, standing just inches from an autocratic thug who steals territory and has his adversaries murdered, undermined the unanimous conclusion of his own intelligence and law enforcement agencies that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 election with the goal of helping Mr. Trump win.

“My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me, and some others, they said they think it’s Russia,” Mr. Trump said at one point, speaking of his director of national intelligence. “I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.” (In a statement on Monday afternoon, Mr. Coats reiterated that, in fact, it was.)

Mr. Trump called the special counsel’s Russia investigation “a disaster for our country” and then performed a selection of his greatest solo hits: “Zero Collusion,” “Where Is the D.N.C.’s Server?” and finally the old chestnut, “I Won the Electoral College by a Lot.”

Not to worry, Mr. Trump assured us: Mr. Putin “was extremely strong and powerful in his denial.” So he must have been telling the truth.

Mr. Putin, for his part, was happy to admit that he wanted Mr. Trump to win the election: “Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.” He mocked the idea that he had compromising material on President Trump — though without denying it — perhaps because Mr. Trump’s own words were compromising enough.

Mr. Putin offered to have Russian intelligence work with its American counterpart to get to the bottom of the meddling case, on the condition that Russian authorities were allowed to question American intelligence officials as well — which Mr. Trump called “an incredible offer.” Yes, incredible.

In theory, such objectives make sense. But Mr. Trump seems to be singularly naïve, or deliberately ignorant, about why his own senior national security advisers have identified Russia as one of America’s chief geostrategic adversaries, along with China.

Despite a weak economy, corruption and other domestic problems, Mr. Putin has crushed most political opposition at home and is aggressively asserting Russian power abroad. His agents — possibly those from the same military intelligence service that interfered in the American election — have used chemical weapons that poisoned four people in Britain, one of whom died.

He is working hard to sabotage America’s ties to NATO and the European Union and to weaken American influence in the Middle East. Russia poses such a cyberthreat to the United States that Mr. Coats last week said “the warning lights are blinking red again.”

It remains a mystery why the president, unlike any of his Republican or Democratic predecessors, is unwilling to call out Russian perfidy. He has no trouble throwing his weight around when he is in the company of America’s European allies, attacking them as deadbeats and the European Union as a “foe,” or when he excoriates the news media as “enemies of the people.” Put him next to Mr. Putin and other dictators, and he turns to putty.

All that’s clear is that a president who is way out of his depth is getting America into deep trouble.

🐣 RT @BillBrowder Crazy day today as Putin wants to swap 12 Russian GRU agents who hacked the US election for me in his meeting with Trump in Helsinki. Here’s my take for @TIME on why I’ve gotten Putin so rattled and what he’s really afraid of
⋙ TIME, Bill Browder: I’m Bill Browder. Here’s the Biggest Mistake Putin Made When Trying to Get Access to Me Through Trump http://ti.me/2NnMPGd

NYT: Mariia Butina, Who Sought ‘Back Channel’ Meeting for Trump and Putin, Is Charged as Russian Agent http://nyti.ms/2LeO0KM

At the behest of a senior Russian government official, the woman, Mariia Butina, made connections through the National Rifle Association, religious organizations and the National Prayer Breakfast to try to steer the Republican Party toward more pro-Russia policies, court records show. Privately comparing herself to a Soviet Cold War propagandist, she worked to infiltrate American organizations and establish “back channel” lines of communication with American politicians.

The charges were filed under seal on Saturday, the day after 12 Russian intelligence officers were indicted on a charge of hacking Democratic computers during the 2016 campaign. Ms. Butina, 29, was arrested Sunday and appeared Monday in court. The records were unsealed hours after Mr. Trump stood beside Mr. Putin in Helsinki and said that he saw no reason the Russian leader would try to influence the presidential election.

The charges were filed by Justice Department national security prosecutors, not the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. The investigation into Ms. Butina has been proceeding for some time and was carried out parallel to Mr. Mueller’s investigation, a former official said. F.B.I. agents raided her home in April, her lawyer said.

The Justice Department said that Ms. Butina worked at the behest of an unidentified high-level Russian government official. He has been previously identified as Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Russian central bank who has been linked both to Russia’s security services and organized crime. Mr. Torshin is among the nearly two dozen Russian officials or oligarchs who were sanctioned this year for actions including trying to subvert Western democracies.

🐣 RT @GovCTW [Christie Whitman] Mr #President, you should be ashamed. To deny your own country and government in favor of a foriegn leader whose country has, for decades, tried to undermine the #UnitedStates is irrational and dangerous. Please step down, you are not fit to lead this great #nation. #TrumpPutin

🐣 RT @GovCTW [Christie Whitman] Mr #President, you should be ashamed. To deny your own country and government in favor of a foriegn leader whose country has, for decades, tried to undermine the #UnitedStates is irrational and dangerous. Please step down, you are not fit to lead this great #nation. #TrumpPutin

🐣 RT @McFaul So how many more times are we going to hear from unnamed Trump officials that they had a tough script planned for Putin, but their boss ignored them. Maybe it’s time to speak on the record — like Coats — or get out. Your country needs more from you.

≣💙💙 Maria Butina cover: Russian National Charged in Conspiracy to Act as an Agent of the Russian Federation Within the United States http://bit.ly/2uztppW 1p
Maria Butina complaint: http://bit.ly/2NmOwUs 4p
Maria Butina affadavit: http://bit.ly/2mophpp 17p

🐣 RT @TonySchwartz Just stunning to watch Fox tonight, as hosts and guests trash Trump and Putin. This could be the turning point we’ve all been waiting for these past 18 months. Trump shot his supporters on Fifth Avenue today.

🐣 RT @just_security Former senior CIA officer: “This is a time for choosing. Government officials, senior and junior alike, take an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States, not to obey any single President….”

WaPo: Freedom Caucus leaders want Rosenstein investigated for alleged threats http://wapo.st/2mmmOf5

🐣 RT @repjohnlewis I am deeply disturbed by the outcome of the Helsinki summit. The leader of this nation takes an oath before God to defend this country from all enemies both foreign and domestic, but this president is not defending the American way of life.

⚡️ Moment: “Fact Checks: Helsinki Summit”
⇈ ⇊ (reverse chrono)
“DNC server” debunked here: Politifact: Did John Podesta deny CIA & FBI access to DNC server, as Donald Trump claims? http://bit.ly/2zCN7qC FALSE “Pakistani fraudster” debunked here: Axios: “No evidence” http://bit.ly/2KF1kbZ
⇈ ⇊
 WaPo Factchecker: The facts missing from Trump and Putin’s news conference http://wapo.st/2KXYLln
⇈ ⇊
 NYT/AP: AP Fact Check: Trump Nearly Alone in Russia Meddling Doubts http://nyti.ms/2LoBiWL
⇈ ⇊
 AP Fact Check: Trump, Putin and their Hall of Mirrors http://bit.ly/2NZUBaz
⇈ ⇊
 NYT: 8 Suspect Claims From the Trump-Putin News Conference http://nyti.ms/2uug8zM
// President Trump contradicted U.S. intelligence assessments that Russia meddled in the 2016 election, and President Vladimir V. Putin said he didn’t know that Mr. Trump was in Russia in 2013. http://nyti.ms/
⇈ ⇊
 PolitiFact: Donald Trump’s ‘missing’ server comments get all of the details wrong http://bit.ly/2uF3M7s
⇈ ⇊
 PolitiFact: Fact-checking Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin in Helsinki http://bit.ly/2NqOb2O
⇈ ⇊
 FactCheck.org: Trump’s Remarks on Putin and the Russia Investigation http://bit.ly/2JuX4Gp Including “Where is the server” and “The ‘Pakistani Gentleman’”
⇈ ⇊
 NBC: Fact check: Trump promoted conspiracy theories. Here’s the truth. http://nbcnews.to/2zGX1Yg
// At a joint news conference in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump brought up the DNC and Hillary Clinton.
⇈ ⇊
 DailyBeast, Kevin Poulsen: Trump’s ‘Missing DNC Server’ Is Neither Missing Nor a Server http://thebea.st/2NRn9CS
// FactCheck; The president can spout conspiracy theories all he wants. But the DNC turned over all its key data to the FBI after it got hacked. And that info wasn’t stored on a single server.
⇈ ⇊
All the major fact-checkers plus NBC and NYT have done fackchecks on “the servers‼️” and “the Pakistani‼️” I expect there will be more. See my recent tweets. Take your pick! #HelsinkiSummit2018

🐣 RT @RichardHaass The purpose of foreign policy is not “to get along” w other countries. It is to shape the behavior of others in ways that are consistent w your interests and w international order. The measure of Helsinki is not whether Trump and Putin get along but how Russian behavior changes.

🐣 RT @tribelaw .@juliaioffe put her finger on it: Trump is convinced he won by virtue of his brilliant campaign, so why should he object that Putin helped him a bit — especially by releasing stuff, even if stolen, that made his opponent look as bad as he’s convinced she really was? Ego rules.

🐣 RT @paulbegala How many right-wingers who are offended when an athlete kneels before a football game are going to be outraged that Trump kneels before Putin?

🐣 RT @jbendery Sen. Tammy Duckworth says it’s “a very real possibility” that Putin has turned Trump “into a Russian asset.” All is normal.

Politico: Putin’s Attack on the U.S. Is Our Pearl Harbor http://bit.ly/2zMWZyg
// Make no mistake: Hacking the 2016 election was an act of war. It’s time we responded accordingly.

CNN: In rebuke to Trump, senators may vote to side with US intel community http://cnn.it/2mkhMjc

🐣 RT @SenatorBurr Vladimir Putin is not our friend and never has been. Nor does he want to be our friend. His regime’s actions prove it.

TheHill: Fox News’s John Roberts: Consensus is Trump ‘threw the US under the bus’ http://bit.ly/2NZcZQS

NYT: Putin Says Democrats Are to Blame for ‘Manipulations’ of Their Party http://nyti.ms/2uFMjvD

WaPo, Seung Min Kim: Trump’s eagerness to get along with Putin was on display in Helsinki http://wapo.st/2LoASiX

NYT: Trump Sheds All Notions of How a President Should Conduct Himself Abroad http://nyti.ms/2KZHcl1

Jill Wine-Banks on @allinwithchris “This is treason.” #inners

WaPo Editorial: Trump just colluded with Russia. Openly. http://wapo.st/2utciHb

CBSNews: Trump fist-bumped Turkish leader Erdogan, said he “does things the right way” http://cbsn.ws/2uEMveF

🐣 RT @hardball “We’ve never seen an American President do this.” @JohnKasich on the Trump/Putin summit. #Hardball

🐣 RT @brhodes After the sacrifices of World War II and the Cold War and the post-9/11 era, how does the United States have a President who can’t find a way to get along with NATO allies, and can’t bring himself to criticize anything about Putin? This is not who we are.

🐣 RT @NancyPelosi This is a sad day for America, and for all Western democracies that Putin continues to target. #TrumpPutin
⋙ Axios: Trump’s extraordinary press conference was not normal http://bit.ly/2Lofomv

🐣 RT @HillaryClinton Well, now we know.
⋙ 🐣 RT @HillaryClinton Great World Cup. Question for President Trump as he meets Putin: Do you know which team you play for?

🐣 RT @Comey This was the day an American president stood on foreign soil next to a murderous lying thug and refused to back his own country. Patriots need to stand up and reject the behavior of this president.

🐣 RT @RepAdamSchiff Mariia Butina, a Russian national, has been charged with acting as a surreptitious Russian agent and establishing a secret back channel with the GOP through the NRA. More likely to come on this; no wonder GOP members of HPSCI refused our request to bring her and others in.

🐣 Putin gave Trump a soccer ball because Trump had no balls.

🐣 RT @JohnBrennan Why did Trump meet 1 on 1 with Putin? What might he be hiding from Bolton, Pompeo, Kelly, & the American public? How will Putin use whatever Trump could be hiding to advantage Russia & hurt America? Trump’s total lack of credibility renders spurious whatever explanation he gives.

🐣 RT @SallyQYates Our President today not only chose a tyrant over his own Intel community, he chose Russia’s interests over the country he is sworn to protect. All Americans should raise their voices. Let the world know what we stand for.

PolitiFact: Vladimir Putin said @HillaryClinton got $400 million from financier Bill Browder partners. If true, that would be 70% of her total haul. http://bit.ly/2urXLvi 

🐣 RT @JuliaDavisNews #Russia’s state TV: Tatyana Parkhalina: “Amazingly, Trump’s main slogan is ‘Make America Great Again’… He doesn’t seem to understand that by undermining the transatlantic unity, Trump is undercutting one of the very foundations that make America great.”

🐣 RT @20committee Dear GOP: Remember that the “I just chatted with some Russians, I didn’t really know who they were, exactly” defense has been tried already. Specifically by Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs.
How’d that work out for them?

CNN: Trump clashes with intelligence chief over Russian threat http://cnn.it/2KZxhMj
// Dan Coates

WaPo, Max Boot: We just watched a U.S. president acting on behalf of a hostile power http://wapo.st/2zJ1nhA

🐣 RT @MichaelJMorrell POTUS’s refusal today to stand with the men and women of the Intelligence Community with regard to Putin’s interference in the 2016 election was disgraceful. By doing so, he undermined the very people who are working tirelessly to keep us safe. They deserve better. So do we all.

NYT (2016): The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S. http://nyti.ms/2uMaEjx //➔ hey, @realDonaldTrump: here’s the hacked DNC server, right next to the file cabinet the Watergate burglars broke into

“DNC server” debunked here: Politifact: Did John Podesta deny CIA & FBI access to DNC server, as Donald Trump claims? http://bit.ly/2zCN7qC FALSE “Pakistani fraudster” debunked here: Axios: “No evidence” http://bit.ly/2KF1kbZ

WaPo, Ruth Marcus: If you work for Trump, quit now http://wapo.st/2JszIkL

TheHill: McConnell: Russians are not our friends http://bit.ly/2NVNkZe

🐣 I hope @SteveSchmidtSES is on @DeadlineWH today w @NicolleDWallace. He really does have “the best words.”

🐣 Reading the indictment, Mariia Butina did not just fail to register as a lobbyist. She was a serious spy. #NRARussia

🐣 To: @real Accidents aside, the danger that Russian and US nuclear weapons pose to each country, on balance, is zip ~ MAD. The danger is terrorists or crazy countries getting them. It does not provide an excuse for @realDonaldTrump’s brown-nosing. Russia is not our peer.

🐣 What could be better than an arrest and indictment that bundles together #TrumpRussia and the @NRA? @DLoesch

🐣 Putin would have knocked B.B. off already if he didn’t know it would turbo-charge the adoption of the Magnitsky Act across the world. @AliVelshi

🐣 RT @LauraRozen GOP member of House intel Hurd and ex cia officer says he never thought he would see a US President get played by KGB.
⋙ 🐣 RT @HurdOnTheHill As a former CIA officer and a Congressman on the House Intelligence Committee, I can affirmatively say there is nothing about agreeing with a thug like Putin that puts America First.

NPR: John Bolton’s Curious Appearance In A Russian Gun Rights Video http://n.pr/2Nhjv4b

NYT, Tom Friedman: Trump and Putin vs. America http://nyti.ms/2L2wiuz

Justice.gov: Russian National Charged in Conspiracy to Act as an Agent of the Russian Federation Within the United States http://bit.ly/2uztppW
// Mariia Butina

🐣 RT @POLITICO_Steve This @SenJohnMcCain statement is extraordinary for a senator to make of any president, let alone one in his own party.

🐣 RT @edokeefe INBOX: Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman @SenatorBurr (R-N.C.) with strong words for Pres. Trump: https://twitter.com/edokeefe/status/1018924211065192449/photo/1

🐣 RT @EricGeller Statement from DNI Dan Coats, responding to, oh, nothing in particular: “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy.”

WaPo: Putin again denies Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election; Trump calls probe a ‘disaster for our country’ http://wapo.st/2zKMEmv

NYT: Trump, at Putin’s Side, Questions U.S. Intelligence on 2016 Election http://nyti.ms/2Lmva16

🐣 RT @TheRickWilson Spoiler: They don’t.
⋙ 🐣 RT @NormOrnstein If Congressional Republicans had an ounce of integrity and a scintilla of patriotic duty, they would impeach and remove this president before he does further irreparable damage to our country. He meets the Constitutional definition of treason, the highest crime and misdemeanor

🐣 RT @Evan_McMullin Many of us have said so for years and we will do so again: Trump is dangerously unfit for his office. He is not a loyal American and he should be relieved of his duties expeditiously.

🐣 RT @NatashaBertrand Putin says Trump “mentioned the issue of the so-called interference. I had to reiterate things I said several times, including that the Russian state has never interfered.” Says they should revisit the idea of a joint working group on cyber security.

🐣 RT @kylegriffin1 John Brennan: “I’m at a loss … One can only conclude that he fears Vladimir Putin and that one-on-one discussion — who knows what was discussed there — and how Mr. Putin now is the master puppeteer of Donald Trump, the person who is in our oval office. Outrageous.” @MSNBC

🐣 RT @TheRickWilson Well, now we know the line of the day. “Putin said he didn’t attack us, and I believe him. Mueller’s witch hunt must stop.”

🐣 RT @MarkSalter55 I don’t think the U.S. has had a more contemptible president. Johnson and Buchanan look like Washington and Lincoln in comparison to this childish, ignorant, stupid, lying, self-obsessed tub of overflowing insecurities, resentments and hate.

🐣 RT @EdwardTHardy Former FBI Assistant Director Frank Figliuzzi: “In 25 years of working counterintel for this government, I never thought that I’d sit here and watch a US President castigate & denigrate the US intelligence community…standing alongside the leader of an adversarial country”

🐣 RT @TheRickWilson Putin is to Donald Trump as Donald Trump is to a single-celled life form. He’s played Trump like a fiddle. This is a disaster for America.

🐣 RT @jonathanvswan NEW: Statement from Speaker Ryan on the Trump-Putin press conference— https://twitter.com/jonathanvswan/status/1018910627245580288/photo/1

🐣 RT @brhodes The complete capitulation to Putin and abandonment of our values, the separation of children from their families, a reckless tax give-away to the wealthiest, and a constant assault on the truth – these are the defining events and characteristics of this catastrophic presidency.

🐣 RT @digby56 It doesn’t matter whether he colluded during the campaign at this point. He’s colluding right now. In front of our eyes.

🐣 RT @ProgressOutlook This was one of the most shameful displays of American “leadership” in history. The so-called president completely surrendered our country to a long-standing enemy who attacked our democracy. I hope each Trump voter feels deep shame and embarrassment until his or her dying day.

🐣 RT @CharlesMBlow Ok, that’s treason! Seriously. I’m not joking. I’m calling this treason. Point. Blank. Period. TREASON.

🐣 RT @JohnWDean Wow. If you aren’t horrified by Trump’s performance at the Helsinki Putin/Trump press conference you don’t love our country. Trump is disgusting, only interested in himself not the American people. RESIGN MR. TRUMP, YOU ARE NOT AMERICA FIRST, YOU ARE TRUMP AND ONLY TRUMP!

🐣 RT @davidaxelrod And whatever happened before, what we saw TODAY was a disgraceful act of collusion.

🐣 RT @MichaelSteele “My people came to me…they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this, I don’t see any reason why it would be.” –Trump
That’s how a press conference sounds when an Asset stands next to his Handler.

🐣 RT @tonyschwartz Trump refuses to rebuke Putin on election interference or even acknowledge that it happened. We are now at a wholly new level of crisis. Trump has effectively sided with our totalitarian enemy. Most Republicans are fully complicit. Democracy in America hangs in the balance.

🐣 RT @ddale8 Here’s the transcript of Trump’s answer when he was asked whether he believes Putin or U.S. intelligence.

🐣 RT @SenWarren Once again, @realDonaldTrump takes to the international stage to embarrass America, undermine our institutions, weaken our alliances, & embrace a dictator. Russia interfered in our elections & attacked our democracy. Putin must be held accountable – not rewarded. Disgraceful.

🐣 RT @SenWarren Once again, @realDonaldTrump takes to the international stage to embarrass America, undermine our institutions, weaken our alliances, & embrace a dictator. Russia interfered in our elections & attacked our democracy. Putin must be held accountable – not rewarded. Disgraceful.

🐣 RT @JohnBrennan Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???

🐣 RT @steven_pifer [ambassador] I have watched US-Soviet/#Russia presidential press conferences for more than 30 years, sometimes in the room. Have never seen anything as bad or embarrassing as @realDonaldTrump’s just-concluded performance.
[Steven Karl Pifer is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center on the United States and Europe as well as the Director of Brookings’ Arms Control Initiative – Wikipedia]

🐣 RT @chucktodd Wow, Trump is going out of his way to praise Russia. I guess “wow” is now an understatement, but this is truly a remarkable moment in American history, 72 hours after the DoJ accused Russia of a criminal act against the democracy, POTUS essentially forgives Russia on world stage
⋙ 🐣 The word you’re looking for is “f*ck”

🐣 RT @DavidCornDC Anyone who works for Trump is assisting a man who sides with a foreign adversary against his own country and the US government. You are enabling a treacherous puppet who cares more about his relationship with Putin than American national security interests.

🐣 Nice the very last question was about the pee tape lol #TreasonSummit

🐣 RT @TheRickWison OMG Putin is trolling the pee tape.

🐣 No, the FBI relied on a third party (Crowdstrike) to analyze DNC server; it’s a big nothingburger

🐣 Browder is “not some guy”; he’s the lynchpin Putin wants to dislodge

🐣 RT @pbump THIS WAS THE PITCH in the Trump Tower meeting.
⋙ 🐣 RT @peterbakernyt Putin just raised Bill Browder without being asked, attacking him and his associates for making money illegally and contributing it to Hillary Clinton.

🐣 RT @emptywheel Putin suggests Mueller can come to Russia and question the witnesses. “Then we would expect Americans would reciprocate, they would question officials including LE and IC, whom we believe, who have something to do w/illegal activities on territory of RU.”

🐣 RT @RFERL Trump maintains “there was no collusion” and “there was no lie” regarding alleged Russian meddling in U.S. elections. “We ran a great campaign and that’s why I’m President.” Putin adds: “I trust #Trump completely.” The “collusion” in the campaign is “absurd”. #TrumpPutinSummit

🐣 RT @InvestigateRU Trump-Putin mtg=repeat of Singapore mtg w/North Koreans:
*Vague deliverables
*Mtg itself win for Putin
*Praise for Putin, harsh words for allies
*Slams democrats-politics no longer ends at waters edge
*Promises follow up mtgs for which Pompeo must create deliverable

🐣 RT @matthewamiller Three days after indictments of Russian military officers, a week after Russia murdered a British citizen on British soil, Trump says our relationship with Russia is getting stronger and criticizes Democrats and the media. Somehow even worse than expected.

🐣 RT @EvelynNFarkas If Potus makes concessions on doing business w/ Russia he risks writing a check for the GRU to cyberhack and prepare future attacks on elections and infrastructure. & any cybercooperation would just be treasonous. @craigmelvin @AriMelber @NBCNews @SangerNYT

🐣 RT @RichardEngel So Putin seems to be proposing replacing Mueller probe: says Russia /US cooperation can investigate the allegations of cyber attacks on US elections, which Putin denies

🐣 RT @DavidCornDC Putin again denies attack US. But he says he’s “ready to analyze together” any evidence. He suggests doing so in a joint cybersecurity working group. What an offer. What a guy. He’s so fine.

🐣 RT @AllMattNYT Putin, standing next to Trump says “The Russian state has never interfered, and is never going to interfere in internal American affairs, including election processes.”

🐣 RT @MichaelBirnbaum This is Putin’s long-held dream: listing off a long list of global challenges, then saying he’ll work on them one-on-one with an American president. Final restoration of Russia to the global stage.

CPI: Inside John Bolton Super PAC’s deal with Cambridge Analytica http://bit.ly/2Llnjka
// Former aide says Bolton had ‘$5 million reasons’ to work with disgraced firm

🐣 RT @NPRKelly Commotion at press conference as Secret Service enters the room, pull a credentialed journo who says he’s with The Nation out of the WH press pool, and escort him out.

🐣 RT @Evan_McMullin President Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin today is an encounter between a hostile Russian autocrat and an American head of state who he sponsors and over whom he wields significant influence. This is not a relationship that serves the American interest in any way.

WIRED, Garrett Graff: What Robert Mueller Knows—and 9 Areas He’ll Pursue Next http://bit.ly/2zKvDZI
// The special counsel has collected a mountain of evidence in the Trump-Russia investigation, but so far only a tiny amount of it has been revealed in official indictments. Here are nine areas where we should expect answers as the inquiry unfolds.

WHEN THE HISTORY books are written, Rod Rosenstein might just be the most interesting figure of the Russia investigation—the beleaguered deputy attorney general whose memo in his first days on the job was used to justify the firing of James Comey.

🐣 RT @JohnBrennan Why did Trump meet 1 on 1 with Putin? What might he be hiding from Bolton, Pompeo, Kelly, & the American public? How will Putin use whatever Trump could be hiding to advantage Russia & hurt America? Trump’s total lack of credibility renders spurious whatever explanation he gives.

HillReporter, Ed Krassenstein: Gowdy: If Trump is ‘dissatisfied with Rod Rosenstein, he can fire him with a tweet’ http://bit.ly/2LjxokS

🐣 RT @mat_johnson The biggest espionage story in American history was happening while the press was focused Podesta’s risotto recipe.

🐣 To @McFaul Artemenko plan? McClatchy (6/22): Inside the Ukraine peace plan in Mueller probe: More authors, earlier drafting than believed http://bit.ly/2usQaN4

🐣 RT @MarkWarner Again, unless POTUS holds Putin accountable for:
– 2016 election interference
– Undermining European democracies
– The UK chemical attack
– Invading Crimea
– Arming Ukrainian separatists
– Supporting Assad’s war crimes
This is just another photo-op with a dictator.

🐣 RT @RichardHaass Regardless of Helsinki 1:1, Mueller indictments signal Putin that US foreign policy and US-Russian relations are not 100% controlled by @realDonaldTrump and US govt knows a great deal about what Russian govt is up to and has options for responding to what Russia has done/might do

🐣 RT @ JuliaDavisNews Trump reportedly requested alone time with Putin to prevent leaks and also because he “doesn’t want aides, who may take a harder line on Russia, undercutting or interrupting him in his conversation with Putin.”

🐣 After the downing of MH17, someone local tweeted out photos of some of the bodies of the passengers. It was the most disturbing thing I have ever seen on Twitter. And I’ve seen a lot. #NeverForget

🐣 Autocratophilia ~ if it isn’t a thing, it should be, because the current resident of the denigrated states of America has it. bigly.

🐣 RT @Kasparov63 Putin wants: legitimacy as the ruler of Russia & stature on the global stage; Russia as power broker in Ukraine, Syria, Iran; weakening US commitment to G7, NATO & EU; lowered Western defenses against his attacks; Trump’s help in all these things.

🐣 RT @dmataconis 90 minutes alone with Putin will give Trump plenty of time to lift sanctions against Russa, promise to get Russia back into the G-7, and trade Alaska for a small bag of magic beans

🐣 RT @mitchellreports Trump tells #Putin they have great opportunities to work together, that our countries have not been getting along for the past few years, says getting along with Russia is a good thing not a bad thing. Will talk about trade nuclear, missiles & China. Doesn’t mention hacking

◕ Statistica: Countries Ranked by GDP (2017) http://bit.ly/2KZ0M0A Russia ranks 12th. So, why do they belong in the G8? https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1018819233982099456/photo/1

⭕ 15 Jul 2018

🐣💙 RT @leahmcelrath (2016) Guess who said this was their goal: “the strategic control of the USA…and the refusal to allow liberal values to dominate us.”
⋙ Alexandr Dugin is Putin’s geopolitical ideological mentor. He outlined a vision for a new Russian Empire.
// 12/11/2016 thread https://twitter.com/leahmcelrath/status/808027467617288193

🐣 RT @HowardFineman We’ve got to assume that #Putin has tons of hidden financial, political and other information on .@realDonaldTrump, ranging from the merely interesting to the explosively damaging. I’ve covered many presidents; never has one been so PERSONALLY vulnerable to another world leader.

≣ FutureToday, Jeremy Leggett: How Liberal Democracy Can Die – In Our Lifetimes http://bit.ly/2L1NNvj 30 slides

WaPo, David Ignatius: Putin must wonder what else America knows about Russia http://wapo.st/2miECrf

🐣 RT @leahmcelrath These tweets today from Trump’s account use some very specific and distinct language. (They definitely aren’t written by him.)
So…I got curious and started researching. And I’m going down a rabbit hole that is weird af. That’s all I’m going to say right now.
thread https://twitter.com/leahmcelrath/status/1018575142409179136
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @real Heading to Helsinki, Finland – looking forward to meeting with President Putin tomorrow. Unfortunately, no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia…

🐣 Um, just a small question … When Trump is meeting w his BFF Vlad, where is the “Nuclear Football”?

WarOnTheRocks, Edward Fishman and Mark Simakovsky (7/11): Playing with Fire in Helsinki: How Trump’s Summit with Putin Could Split the Transatlantic Alliance http://bit.ly/2LewBll //➔ Mueller indictments, Dan Coates speech are shot-across-the-bow to Russia not to get ideas
// 7/11/2018

🐣 NoKo nuclear tests: There were none between 2013 and 2016 //➔ then they started, a provocation to the in-coming president, to start a new Lucy-and-the-football game, which you are now in the middle of. Rinse, repeat. @realDonaldTrump

🐣 To get to the number of the US paying 80-90% of NATO, he’s mixing apples and oranges. The US ≃ 20% of shared cost of NATO (based on GDP). The 80% is the total defense budgets, something different. If he thought we spent too much on defense, why’d he push so hard to increase it?

🐣 To @McCaul The 30K emails were something specific (State Dept emails Hillary’s lawyers determined were private, so per dept policy didn’t have to be turned over*). But I doubt Trump even knew that, so I think you could be right. The Russians broke into her private office email.
// *to the Benghazi Committee

🐣 Russia is a third-rate power. ⋙ Has anyone told Trump?
Military Spending: US 36%, Russia 4.1% (SIPRI)
GDP: US 24.3%, Russia 1.8% (World Bank)

NYT: Just Sitting Down With Trump, Putin Comes Out Ahead http://nyti.ms/2zIxXAk

🐣 I hope the intelligence community got a FISA warrant on Trump and are busily bugging him (cuff links? MAGAt hat, shirt buttons?). He is clearly a threat to US national security.

SundayExpress [UK]: US has WORSE record than DICTATORSHIPS’ – Russian minister Sergey Lavrov claims ahead of Trump summit http://bit.ly/2uwjaCM
// THE US has killed more people than the dictators they have sought to depose and the West is built on double-standards, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

🐣 RT @DavidCornDC Trump was told during the campaign the Russian attack was underway. But he repeatedly claimed publicly this was a hoax and provided cover to Putin’s operation. That’s the big deal. That’s treachery.

CBSNews: “I think the European Union is a foe,” Trump says ahead of Putin meeting in Helsinki http://cbsn.ws/2mi4hQQ

🐣 Whatever Trump claims happened during his Playdate with Vlad, Polifacf tells us that 69% of it will be “Mostly False” or worse (15% 🔥Pants On Fire🔥). http://bit.ly/28NRNHJ

🐣 RT @Serion 100+ criminal counts
35 total indictments
32 people indicted
3 companies indicted
5 guilty pleas
Paul Manafort in jail
Michael Flynn guilty
Trump told Russia to hack
Trump staff met with Russians
Trump Jr. worked w/Wikileaks
This is not a witch hunt.
It’s a criminal conspiracy.

🐣 Trump is like “Why didn’t Obama keep my campaign from colluding with Russia during his administration?”

🐣 The issue isn’t what Obama did during the Obama administration but what YOU and Vlad did during the Obama administration @realDonaldTrump

◕💙 SIPRI//RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty: Report shows Russia’s defense budget last year was lower than France’s. http://bit.ly/2uyE6ta (Data from Stockholm Intl Peace Research Institute; chart by RFE/RL)
// 2017 data

💽 Frontline: The Putin Files offer an extensive oral history of Putin’s rise to power, his motivations and his relationship with the U.S. Explore: https://to.pbs.org/2uAzulY 
// (undated)

🐣 RT @McFaul Of course, the Russian attack on American soil in 2016 was not on the scale or scope as Pearl Harbor or 9-11. But it was an attack, conducted by Russian military officers. Tomorrow, Trump must treat Putin as the person who ordered that attack. Any other approach is appeasement.

⭕ 14 Jul 2018

🐣 RT @caitlinmoran The Times has now started accompanying pieces on Donald Trump with boxes pointing out where he’s been incorrect, exaggerated, or lied. Extraordinary times to be living through.
Text: https://twitter.com/caitlinmoran/status/1018100945262206976/photo/1
// predicting Brexit, US % of NATO, Russian gas; wry; paywall for The [London] Times

🐣 RT @acscowcroft Former deputy secretary general of NATO, @ARVershbow: “There are no arrears owed to the US or NATO. President Trump is under the delusion that Allies pay the US for protection, or is feigning ignorance on how NATO works.” https://buff.ly/2LgYiXB  #NATOSummit
⋙ WaPo Factchecker: Many fact checks later, President Trump is (still) botching NATO spending http://wapo.st/2mgYKKp
// 7/13/2018

🐣 RT @ditzkoff Iceberg watcher on the Titanic gets new pair of binoculars
⋙ 🐣 RT @jimrutenberg FLASH: Twitter suspended accounts of Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks today, post indictment.

TheSundayTimes [UK]: Britain is in high-level talks with Ecuador in an attempt to remove Julian Assange from its London embassy http://bit.ly/2uyyHSU
// LondonTimes

DailyBeast, David Rothkopf: The Way Trump and the GOP Deal with Russian Attacks is ‘Textbook Treason’ http://thebea.st/2NgiVni
// This is an extraordinary moment. It is without equal not only in American history but in modern history.

[Re: Mueller indictments and Coates’ warning] It is clear that the intelligence and law enforcement communities of the United States — adhering to the principles of patriotism enumerated by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein yesterday — felt that a message needed to be sent to the Russians that we were on to them.  

Typically, such a message would be delivered by the president in such a meeting but this president has proven to be the staunchest defender of Putin and the most active advocate of covering up or denying these attacks. He did it again this week even while knowing of the indictments.

Do the indictments and the Coats statement (again, both delivered by Republicans) also send a message that they do not fully trust the president to deliver that message or to press the Russians on it?  I believe they do.

This is an extraordinary moment. It is without equal not only in American history but in modern history. A hostile foreign power intervened in our election to help elect a man president who has since actively served their interests and has defended them at every turn.

Trump may deny collusion. But given that this the attack continues, denying it is collusion, distracting from it is collusion, obstructing the investigation of it is collusion — because all these things enable it to go on.

That the president is abetted in his aid for the Russians — again, in the midst of this ongoing attack — by the leadership of the Republican Party makes the situation all the more extraordinary and dangerous. As they seek to undermine the investigation, they serve Russia as directly as if they were officers of the GRU. Some now reportedly seek to impeach Rosenstein on trumped up charges. To attack one of the leaders of our national defense as we are being attacked and to do so to benefit our foreign adversary is textbook treason.

That is strong language. But consider this: If we updated our definitions of war to include cyberwar, then aiding a foreign power engaged in such a war against us would certainly meet the Constitutional definition: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

… Coats and as do the leaders of our intelligence community and as does every law enforcement and national security expert with whom I have spoken that this is, above all and most urgently, is a national security crisis for the United States.

🐣 RT @KennWhite The DNC server was forensically imaged by incident response experts, those snapshots were cryptographically signed, cataloged, and turned over to the FBI. Copies reside at Quantico, Ft Meade, and the Bureau’s DC office.
⋙ 🐣 RT @real https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1012295859072126977

🐣 RT @RepSwalwell FDR didn’t meet w/ the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. George H.W. Bush didn’t meet w/ Saddam after Iraq invaded Kuwait. And George W. Bush didn’t meet w/ Bin Laden after 9/11. So tell me, @realDonaldTrump, what does America get out of you meeting w/ Putin after he attacked us?

NYT: Trump Opens His Arms to Russia. His Administration Closes Its Fist. http://nyti.ms/2meXTdc

Snopes/AP: Charges Undermine Assange Denials About Hacked Email Origins http://bit.ly/2zF3Sl9
Text on Assange, Seth Rich: https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1018263357370052608/photo/1
// DOJ indictments suggest WikiLeaks received material from Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff and even gave Russian hackers advice on how to disseminate it.

Fox News host Sean Hannity pointed straight to the purloined emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

“Can you say to the American people, unequivocally, that you did not get this information about the DNC, John Podesta’s emails, can you tell the American people 1,000 percent you did not get it from Russia or anybody associated with Russia?”

“Yes,” Assange said. “We can say — we have said repeatedly — over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party.”

The Justice Department’s indictment Friday of 12 Russian military intelligence officers undermines those denials. And if the criminal charges are proved, it would show that WikiLeaks (referred to as “Organization 1” in the indictment) received the material from Guccifer 2.0, a persona directly controlled by Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, also known as GRU, and even gave the Russian hackers advice on how to disseminate it. …

“If you have anything hillary related we want it in the next (two) days pref(er)able because the DNC is approaching and she will solidify bernie supporters behind her after,” says a message from July 6, 2016, referring to the upcoming Democratic National Convention and Clinton’s chief party rival, Bernie Sanders.

Assange’s eagerness to get his hands on the alleged material from GRU reflected in the indictment — and prevent anyone else from beating WikiLeaks to the punch — is also revealed in leaked messages to journalist Emma Best. She, like several other reporters, also was in communication with Guccifer 2.0.

In copies of Twitter messages obtained by The Associated Press and first reported by BuzzFeed, WikiLeaks demands that Best butt out.

“Please ‘leave’ their convers(a)tion with them and us,” WikiLeaks said on August 13, 2016, arguing that the impact of material would be “very substantially reduced” if Best handled the leak.

The indictment also puts to rest a conspiracy theory, carefully nurtured by Assange and his supporters, that slain DNC staffer Seth Rich was at the origin of the leaks.

It was Assange who first floated the idea into the mainstream, bringing up Rich’s case in an interview with Dutch television the following month.

Over the next few months, WikiLeaks would continue to amplify the conspiracy theory — all while stopping short of endorsing it outright. During all this time, the indictment alleges, WikiLeaks knew full well that Guccifer 2.0 was its source, cajoling the account’s operators to hand it more data and ordering rival journalists to steer clear.

The conspiracy theory has been a source of deep pain for Rich’s family, who declined to comment on the indictment.

Lisa Lynch, an associate professor of media and communications at Drew University who has written about WikiLeaks, said the indictment highlighted the cynicism of WikiLeaks’ wink-wink support for conspiracy theories.

“We can see very well-intentioned people arguing about whether those documents should be published,” Lynch said of the DNC documents. “But the whole Seth Rich thing is incredibly venal.”

🐣 RT @real The stories you heard about the 12 Russians yesterday took place during the Obama Administration, not the Trump Administration. Why didn’t they do something about it, especially when it was reported that President Obama was informed by the FBI in September, before the Election?
⋙ 🐣 Ask Mitch McConnell

Politifact: Did John Podesta deny CIA and FBI access to DNC server, as Donald Trump claims? No http://bit.ly/2zCN7qC FALSE

💙💙 TheGuardian, Michiko Kakutani: The death of truth: how we gave up on facts and ended up with Trump http://bit.ly/2mk182V
// From post-modernism to filter bubbles, ‘truth decay’ has been spreading for decades. How can we stop alternative facts from bringing down democracy, asks Michiko Kakutani

Two of the most monstrous regimes in human history came to power in the 20th century, and both were predicated on the violation and despoiling of truth, on the knowledge that cynicism and weariness and fear can make people susceptible to the lies and false promises of leaders bent on unconditional power. As Hannah Arendt wrote in her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism, “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (ie the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (ie the standards of thought) no longer exist.”

Nationalism, tribalism, dislocation, fear of social change and the hatred of outsiders are on the rise again as people, locked in their partisan silos and filter bubbles, are losing a sense of shared reality and the ability to communicate across social and sectarian lines.

The term “truth decay” has joined the post-truth lexicon that includes such now familiar phrases as “fake news” and “alternative facts”. And it’s not just fake news either: it’s also fake science (manufactured by climate change deniers and anti-vaxxers, who oppose vaccination), fake history (promoted by Holocaust revisionists and white supremacists), fake Americans on Facebook (created by Russian trolls), and fake followers and “likes” on social media (generated by bots).

In a speech on press freedom, CNN’s chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour addressed this issue in the context of media coverage of the 2016 presidential race, saying: “It appeared much of the media got itself into knots trying to differentiate between balance, objectivity, neutrality, and crucially, truth … I learned long ago, covering the ethnic cleansing and genocide in Bosnia, never to equate victim with aggressor, never to create a false moral or factual equivalence, because then you are an accomplice to the most unspeakable crimes and consequences. I believe in being truthful, not neutral. And I believe we must stop banalising the truth.”

The US’s founding generation spoke frequently of the “common good”. George Washington reminded citizens of their “common concerns” and “common interests” and the “common cause” they had all fought for in the revolution. And Thomas Jefferson spoke in his inaugural address of the young country uniting “in common efforts for the common good”. A common purpose and a shared sense of reality mattered because they bound the disparate states and regions together, and they remain essential for conducting a national conversation. Especially today in a country where Trump and Russian and hard-right trolls are working to incite the very factionalism Washington warned us about, trying to inflame divisions between people along racial, ethnic and religious lines.

There are no easy remedies, but it’s essential that citizens defy the cynicism and resignation that autocrats and power-hungry politicians depend on to subvert resistance. Without commonly agreed-on facts – not Republican facts and Democratic facts; not the alternative facts of today’s silo-world – there can be no rational debate over policies, no substantive means of evaluating candidates for political office, and no way to hold elected officials accountable to the people. Without truth, democracy is hobbled.

⭕ Friday 13 Jul 2018

🐣 RT @KatyTurNBC Trump and his campaign tried to claim he was kidding. He was not. At that same press conference, minutes later, I asked if it gave him “pause” to ask a foreign government to hack into the emails of any American citizen. He said no and then accused me of trying to “save” Clinton.
⋙ 🐣 RT @benjysarlin . @KenDilanianNBC notes indictment alleges Russia “on or about July 27, 2016” started trying to access Clinton’s personal emails. Which is the same day Trump gave his “Russia if you’re listening, I hope your able to find the 30,000 emails…” news conference.

NYMag, Jonathan Chait: Mueller Indictment Shows Trump Colluding With Russia http://nym.ag/2upN7p1

On July 27, 2016, Donald Trump denied Russia was the likely culprit in the email hacks, but also announced, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think that you’ll be rewarded mightily by our press.”

In what is possibly an astonishing coincidence, but probably not, that very night, according to the new indictments from the Department of Justice, Russian hackers “attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office. At or about the same time, they also targeted seventy-six email addresses at the domain for the Clinton campaign.” Trump asked Russia to hack his opponent, and Russia did “[f]or the first time,” as the indictment says.

… The danger for Trump is the implication of collusion scattered throughout the indictments.

… The indictment charges that the conspirators “received a request for stolen materials from a candidate for the U.S. Congress,” and “sent the candidate stolen documents.” The Wall Street Journal reported a year ago that “Guccifer 2.0,” one of the Russian hackers, communicated with Florida-based Republican operative Aaron Nevins.

The most direct path to the Trump campaign indicated in this indictment runs through Roger Stone. The Republican dirty trickster officially left the Trump campaign in 2015, but remained in regular contact with Trump throughout the campaign.

Stone admittedly engaged in direct communication with one of the indicted Russian agents. The indictment cites Stone’s contact with Guccifer 2.0:

That certainly looks like acting as an accessory to a crime. Stone promises he will “never roll on Trump,” unlike John Dean, who fingered President Nixon for crimes during Watergate. The promise and the analogy both suggest that Stone has evidence of culpability between Trump and Russia.

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani writes, “The indictments Rod Rosenstein announced are good news for all Americans. The Russians are nailed. No Americans are involved. Time for Mueller to end this pursuit of the President and say President Trump is completely innocent.” The absurdity of this defense is so palpable that it underscores the sheer desperation of Trump’s legal defense. As Giuliani surely understands, the prosecution is building its case step by step, and the absence of formal charges against an individual in any one indictment hardly indicates they are in the clear. President Trump has been all but charged with collusion in this indictment.

Politico: Mueller indictment sheds new light on Russia’s ‘nasty’ secret election hacking units http://politi.co/2KUZ14o
// The Russia special counsel described in rich new detail how Russian military intelligence officials infiltrated Democratic servers with fearsome skill.

The operatives from two units within Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency meddled in the election through an elaborate series of coordinated high-tech influence operations, and by using a global network of anonymous servers, bitcoin purchasers and other unwitting cutouts to cover the digital tracks, according to the indictment.

“These GRU units are dedicated, well-organized and well-funded, and they’re perfectly capable of causing havoc in our electric grid as well as insecure election systems,” said Joel Brenner, a top official at the National Security Agency and Directorate of National Intelligence during the Bush and Obama administrations.

One of them, Unit 26165, meticulously hacked and stole the information, while the other, 74455, set up the elaborate infrastructure around the world that was used to disseminate the material and make it look like a series of unrelated incidents.

By capturing the keystrokes and computer activities of their victims, they also captured communications about fundraising, voter outreach projects, data about the DCCC’s finances, personal banking information and even files about Clinton’s Achilles Heel, the Benghazi investigations. They also accessed third-party cloud-computing services to obtain politically valuable data about the DNC’s analytics, the indictment said.

And both units covered their tracks so meticulously through an elaborate series of countersurveillance measures that they secretly remained inside the Democrats’ systems until October 2016, the indictment said, despite the efforts of a top U.S. cybersecurity firm to flush them out that began five months earlier. … included the GRU units’ penetration of a state election board’s website, from which they stole information related to about 500,000 voters.

[Joel] Brenner, the former NSA senior official, said the investigation must have been “amazingly thorough,” for instance, to be able to identify the GRU agents operating behind the scenes, including those who engineered the custom malware used in the DNC intrusions.

JustSecurity: Six Big Takeaways from Mueller’s Indictment of Russian Intel Officers http://bit.ly/2LgFLdH
// by Andy Wright, Alex Whiting, Ryan Goodman and Kate Brannen

1. WikiLeaks Collaboration with Russian Intelligence
2. Russian State Attribution
3. Americans’ Liability
4. Media Introspection Time
5. Mueller Investigation Vitality
6. The Level of Detail

NYT: ‘Warning Lights Are Blinking Red,’ Top Intelligence Officer Says of Russian Attacks http://nyti.ms/2uyEibO

The nation’s top intelligence officer said on Friday that the persistent danger of Russian cyberattacks today was akin to the warnings the United States had of stepped-up terror threats ahead of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“The warning lights are blinking red again,” Mr. Coats said as he cautioned of cyberthreats. “Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.”

Coming just days ahead of President Trump’s meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Mr. Coats’s comments demonstrate the persistent divisions within the administration on Russia — and on how hard a line senior administration officials should take with Moscow on its cyberspace activities.

In his remarks on Friday, Mr. Coats did not directly address Mr. Trump’s coming meeting with Mr. Putin. But Mr. Coats did say that if he was meeting the Russian president, he would deliver a sharp message that the United States knows what the Russians are doing and that Mr. Putin’s government is responsible for the cyberattacks.

Mr. Coats also expressed frustration with cyberspace strategies that emphasize only defense, and not offense as well. Evoking President Ronald Reagan’s Cold War approach to the Soviet Union, Mr. Coats suggested that if Russia continued to try to take on the United States in the cyberarena, then the administration should “throw everything we have got into it.”

The comments by Mr. Coats reflect the view by the intelligence community that Russia’s campaign remains a grave threat.

“Russia continues to be aggressive across the board,” Mr. Jones said. “Much as the Soviets did in the Cold War, the Russian active measures are much bigger than just elections.”

Mr. Coats said Russian and other actors were exploring vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure and trying to infiltrate energy, water, nuclear and manufacturing sectors.

He did not outline any details of what exactly the United States or its intelligence agencies will do to curtail the intrusions. But he did say intelligence and other government agencies will speak more publicly about the threat of cyberattacks and cyberinterference to increase public knowledge.

🔄 FactCheck.org: Timeline of Russia Investigation http://bit.ly/2KZ4qaQ
// posted 6/7/2018, updated 7/13/2018; Key moments in the FBI probe of Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election; Readable

WaPo Editorial: A timely reminder that Putin is no friend of ours http://wapo.st/2mfd321

The indictment mentions communications with a U.S. congressional candidate and someone in regular contact with senior Trump campaign officials [Stone]. It also notes that the Russians stepped up their hacking just as Mr. Trump was calling on them to obtain and release Hillary Clinton’s emails.

[Trump] could point to the indictments and say, “We know you did this, here are the sanctions you will suffer for it, and here are the additional sanctions we will impose if you do it again.”

The country — and all its leaders — must keep top of mind that the Russian government meddled in the nation’s democratic process and plans to do so again. The Russians should be punished and deterred. Ignoring or minimizing these overriding points is an abdication of responsibility.

Slate, April Glaser: What the Latest Mueller Indictment Reveals About Guccifer 2.0, the “Lone Hacker” Who Was Really a Group of Russian Agents http://slate.me/2mgpnz6
Text Block: https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1018088263079350273/photo/1

Guccifer 2.0 communicated directly with numerous reporters, including Trump confidante Roger Stone, who posted screenshots of his private Twitter exchange with the disguised Russian hacking group in March 2017. The indictment is presumably referring to Stone when it describes a person who was “in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump.”

Guccifer 2.0 didn’t hit the scene, however, until after the cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike, brought in to analyze the DNC’s data breach, published a report that found “two separate Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries present in the DNC network.” The next day, Guccifer 2.0 claimed responsibility for the hack in a WordPress blog, noting the infiltration “was easy, very easy.” The blog posted opposition research on Donald Trump stolen from the DNC. A few days later, Guccifer 2.0 started a Twitter account declaring that he wasn’t a team of Russians but rather a “lone hacker”—a claim the indictment says is false—and admitted to handing his bounty to WikiLeaks. In an interview with Motherboard, Guccifer 2.0 claimed to be Romanian, but when pressed to explain how he hacked into the DNC servers in Romanian, the person behind the account sent back only a few sentences riddled with mistakes. Still, that summer the Kremlin denied any involvement in the DNC breach.

The indictment brings previously unknown details to light about just how active Guccifer 2.0 was, including the allegation that the Kremlin hackers “received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the US. Congress,” a request they fulfilled. …

WikiLeaks, which the indictment refers to as Organization 1, allegedly conspired with the fictitious Guccifer 2.0 character in order to receive a trove of more than 20,000 private emails stolen from the DNC server, which WikiLeaks eventually made public.

Organization 1 [Wikileaks]: if you have anything hillary related we want it in the next tweo [sic] days prefable [sic] because the DNC [Democratic National Convention] is approaching and she will solidify bernie supporters behind her after.

The Russian agents: 0k … i see.

Organization I: we. think trump has only a 25% chance of winning against hillary … so conflict between bernie and hillary is interesting.

[T]he emails, which contained correspondence between high-level DNC staff criticizing Sanders and discussing ways to undermine him, undoubtedly turned many of Sanders’ staunch supporters off to the idea of supporting a Clinton presidency.

≣💙💙 DOJ: Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein Delivers Remarks Announcing the Indictment of Twelve Russian Intelligence Officers for Conspiring to Interfere in the 2016 Presidential Election Through Computer Hacking and Related Offenses http://bit.ly/2KTOhTT
Video: https://twitter.com/TheJusticeDept/status/1017823027319500800/photo/1

◕🔄💙💙 FiveThirtyEight, Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux: The Mueller Investigation Keeps Growing Fast http://53eig.ht/2uxfyk4
// chart comparing major federal investigations, Watergate, Whitewater, TrumpRussia etc

NYT Editorial: How Do You Say ‘Witch Hunt’ in Russian? http://nyti.ms/2LcZa2s
//. It sure is strange that Donald Trump is so angry at American justice for the indictment of 12 Russian military officers.

NYT: 12 Russian Agents Indicted in Mueller Investigation http://nyti.ms/2Jo8gED

🐣 RT @McFaul Those indicted Russians can now be arrested all over the world. No more trips to London or French Riviera. Their lives just changed forever.
⋙ 🐣 RT @soith_feargach I honestly don’t understand why this means anything. It’s good I suppose that he has the names, but they won’t be extradited here to stand trial, ever. This seems like a lot of noise without meaning. They need to go after the Americans who helped.

🐣 RT @krassenstein BOOM!
Apr 19, 2016 – DCLeaks domain registered by Russians
Apr 19, 2016 – Manafort Takes over as Campaign Chair
Jun 8, 2016 – DCLeaks launches
Jun 9, 2016 – Trump Tower Meeting
Jul 27, 2016 – Trump asks Russia to hack Clinton
Jul 27, 2016 – Russia Starts hacking Clinton

🐣 RT @tribelaw Even if VP’s spear-fishing into H’s emails on 7/27, hours after DJT invited just that, doesn’t lead Mueller to indict Trump, given DOJ policy, it’s likely to support an article of impeachment against T for intentionally getting a foreign adversary’s criminal help to become POTUS.

🐣 RT @tribelaw Trump asked Russia to hack Clinton’s email servers on 7/27/16. Within HOURS, Russia obliged. That’s the pair of overt acts needed to prove criminal conspiracy. All that’s missing is the express or implied agreement. That can be shown circumstantially.

🐣 RT @JoyceWhiteVance The idea of Trump meeting with Putin alone, at this moment in time, is so out of beyonds that it cannot be interpreted in a benign light if it happens.
⋙ 🐣 RT @tedlieu In light of the charges against 12 GRU officers announced by Rod Rosenstein, @realDonaldTrump should cancel his meeting with Putin, who ordered the attack on the US. @POTUS shouldn’t meet Putin until he accepts responsibility. And Trump should definitely not meet him alone.

🐣 RT @chrislhayes Keep thinking about this line: “Given all this, it seems increasingly likely that the Russians have pulled off the most consequential covert action operation since Germany put Lenin on a train back to Petrograd in 1917.”
⋙ TheIntercept (Feb), James Risen: Is Donald Trump a Traitor? http://bit.ly/2GnyBl9
// 2/16/2018

Politico: The 327 people connected to the Russia probes http://politi.co/2FUDhz2 //➔ constantly updated

🐣 RT @juliaioffe Have been out of pocket all day and have just finished reading the indictment and I can’t believe Trump is still going to meet Putin afterwards. The message to Putin is clear: I believe you, not my own judicial system.

🐣 RT @RighteousBabe4 Best Mueller Twitter Thread https://twitter.com/RighteousBabe4/status/1017826651340713984

NewYorker, Susan Glasser: Thanks to Robert Mueller, Trump and Putin Now Have a Summit Agenda http://bit.ly/2JlFOTU

🐣 People speculate that Mueller indictments were released today to head off Trump/Putin meeting. They could also have been released to protect Rosenstein:
⋙ Politico: House conservatives prep push to impeach Rosenstein http://politi.co/2zBJTng “as soon as Monday”

ABCNews: Roger Stone says he’s the ‘US person’ mentioned in Mueller indictment http://abcn.ws/2LgSHjO

🐣 RT @juliaioffe This quote from the indictment is the highest level of special. “if you have anything hillary related we want it in the next tvveo [sic] days prefable [sic] because the DNC [Democratic National Convention] is approaching and she will solidify bernie supporters behind her after.”

🐣 RT @TheRickWilson A reader notes that since this was the GRU – Russian *Military* intelligence behind this attack that it falls under article 5 in the NATO Treaty…

Reuters: U.S. intel chief warns of devastating cyber threat to U.S. infrastructure http://reut.rs/2L7YP18 “warning lights are blinking red again”

🐣 RT @keithboykin 100+ criminal counts
35 total indictments
32 people indicted
3 companies indicted
5 guilty pleas
Paul Manafort in jail
Michael Flynn guilty
Trump told Russia to hack
Trump staff met with Russians
Trump Jr. worked w/Wikileaks

This is not a witch hunt.
It’s a criminal conspiracy.

🔆 This❗️⋙ Politico: House conservatives prep push to impeach Rosenstein http://politi.co/2zBJTng
Text:https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1017897987484340224 /photo/1

House conservatives are preparing a new push to oust Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to three conservative Capitol Hill sources — putting the finishing touches on an impeachment filing even as Rosenstein announced the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for interfering in the 2016 election.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, in fact, had the impeachment document on the floor of the House at the very moment that Rosenstein spoke to reporters and TV cameras Friday.

Conservative GOP lawmakers have been plotting to remove Rosenstein for weeks, accusing him of slow-walking their probe of FBI agents they’ve accused of bias against President Donald Trump.

Democrats contend Republicans’ fixation on Rosenstein is really an effort to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller, who reports to Rosenstein and has been making inroads in his investigation of the Russian election interference plot. Mueller’s probe has entangled members of Trump’s inner circle and Trump has increasingly assailed it as a politically motivated “witch hunt” as it’s presented greater danger to him and his allies.

Conservative sources say they could file the impeachment document as soon as Monday, as Meadows and Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) look to build Republican support in the House. One source cautioned, however, that the timing was still fluid.

But House GOP leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan have clearly been uncomfortable with the notion of going after Rosenstein. It’s unlikely that will change anytime soon, especially so soon after the latest indictments. Ryan’s office was not immediately available for comment.
[ But Trump could seize on it to fire him ]

Rosenstein has clashed with House Republicans for months, with Rosenstein insisting that he’s working to comply with the GOP’s intensive demands for documents — some directly relevant to Mueller’s ongoing probe.

But Ryan and other top GOP lawmakers have accused him of stonewalling and flouting Congress’ oversight authority. Trump, too, has frequently sided with lawmakers to pressure Rosenstein to turn over more documents, an effort Democrats say is really meant to arm Trump with more insight into the Russia probe.

The House, with Ryan’s blessing, adopted a measure last month accusing Rosenstein and other DOJ officials of bucking Congress and demanding access to thousands of sensitive FBI documents by July 6. It’s unclear whether Republican leaders are satisfied with DOJ’s efforts since then or if they’re preparing a renewed push for the materials. …

In his remarks Friday, Rosenstein urged the public to be wary of leaks surrounding the Mueller probe.

“We do not try cases on television or in congressional hearings. Most anonymous leaks are not from the government officials who are actually conducting these investigations,” he said.

“We follow the rule of law, which means that we follow procedures, and we reserve judgment,” he added. “We complete our investigations, and we evaluate all of the relevant evidence before we reach any conclusion. That is how the American people expect their Department of Justice to operate, and that is how our department is going to operate.”

But House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has made clear that he doesn’t consider Rosenstein out of the woods yet.

After a daylong grilling Thursday of FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok — whom Republicans have accused of bias in the Russia probe — Goodlatte said he blamed Rosenstein for limiting Strzok’s ability to reveal details of his work.

“Rosenstein, who has oversight over the FBI and of the Mueller investigation is where the buck stops,” he said. “Congress has been blocked today from conducting its constitutional oversight duty.”

Politico: House conservatives prep push to impeach Rosenstein http://politi.co/2zBJTng

NYT: Trump Invited the Russians to Hack Clinton. Were They Listening? http://nyti.ms/2L7XwPL

WaPo, Karen Tumulty: Rod Rosenstein said just what we needed to hear http://wapo.st/2mihhWQ

WaPo, Paul Waldman: If this is a ‘witch hunt,’ it sure is finding a lot of witches http://wapo.st/2KUlIWC

WaPo: Mueller probe indicts 12 Russians with hacking Democrats in 2016 http://wapo.st/2NfrgHI

Russian Intelligence Services
Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) – The Foreign Intelligence Service reports directly to the President of Russia.
GRU – Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces.
Federal Security Service (FSB) – The Federal Security Service is responsible for counter-intelligence, state security and anti-terrorist operations

🐣 RT @davidfrum Mueller alleges that Gufficer 2.0 was a Russian GRU officer. And Roger Stone has acknowledged emailing with Guccifer

🐣 RT @McFaul I’m very impressed that Mueller was able to name the 12 GRU officers in the new indictment. Demonstrates the incredible capabilities of our intelligence community. Kremlin will take note.

🐣 RT @brianklaas This was breathtakingly stupid when Trump proposed this idea almost exactly a year ago. Today, it looks even worse.
⋙ 🐣 RT @real Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded..
// 7/9/2017

🐣 RT @anneapplebaum Mueller is suggesting Russians stole Clinton campaign election analytics. If they gave that to Trump campaign, then how is that different from Nixon’s Cuban burglars breaking into Democratic campaign offices?

📒 💙💙 Justice.gov: Mueller Indictment of 12 Russians in the GRU in Election Hacking [pdf] http://bit.ly/2NbphV6 29p

🐣 RT @carolecadwalladr Polite reminder. Trump & Brexit are not 2 different things. They are the same thing. Same companies. Same data. Same Facebook. Same Russians. Same Cambridge Analytica. Same Robert Mercer. Same Steve Bannon. Same Breitbart. Same Alexander Nix. Same Donald Trump. Same Nigel Farage.

TheHill: Mueller: Russian officers launched leaks website in June 2016 http://bit.ly/2LgKAnF

Russian intelligence officers allegedly launched a website in June 2016 to release emails stolen from Clinton campaign officials, special counsel Robert Mueller alleged in an indictment released Friday.

Mueller alleges that the Russian officers initially registered the domain for DCLeaks.com in April 2016, and launched the site “[o]n or about June 8, 2016.”

“Starting in or around June 2016 and continuing through the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the Conspirators used DCLeaks to release emails stolen from individuals affiliated with the Clinton Campaign,” the indictment reads.

Mueller’s investigation into Russian efforts to meddle in the election have focused on a number of other events in the spring and summer of 2016.

One of those events, held June 9, 2016, was the infamous Trump Tower meeting between a Russian lawyer and several top Trump campaign officials.

President Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya after British music producer Rob Goldstone told him that Veselnitskaya had damaging information on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

🐣 RT @SethAbramson 33/ The Kremlin DIRECTLY RESPONDED to Trump’s public call to try to get Clinton’s “missing” emails WITHIN HOURS of him making the request—WITHIN HOURS. Either Trump was coordinating OR he KNEW he had sufficient pull with the Russians that his words could have this sort of effect.

💥 NYT: 12 Russian Agents Indicted in Mueller Investigation 💥 http://nyti.ms/2L9FyMI

🐣 RT @woodruffbets NEW INDICTMENT
-12 Russian GRU officials
-Used Bitcoin to pay for servers etc
-targeted DCCC, DNC, and HRC
-Released emails under the names DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0

🐣 RT @Amy_Siskind Mueller is brilliant: he is setting the table by showing the American people that Russia hacked and interfered in our election. Today we know Americans were in contact with those Russians. Next shoe to drop is the role of the Trump campaign in colluding with Russia.

🐣 RT @afneil NATO facts. US does not account for 90% NATO spending (Trump). It’s 22%. NATO Europe spends $250bn/year on defence, 2nd in world after US. Contrary to Trump’s claims, NATO did not agree to his demands. Merely reaffirmed 2014 agreement to spend more.

⭕ 12 Jul 2018

USAToday, Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL): As Trump meets Putin, we’ll spotlight and resist Russian aggression http://usat.ly/2upcU0v

💙💙 NYRB, Nick Cohen: How the BBC Lost the Plot on Brexit http://bit.ly/2LmkVtP

If you only know the BBC from its slots on NPR, I doubt you will have grasped the extent of its journalistic cowardice in covering the 2016 referendum that decided to take Britain out of the European Union, and its aftermath.

Here is an incomplete list of uncomfortable truths that the British government, its supposedly left-wing opposition in the Labour party, and the 17.4 million people who voted for Britain to leave the EU do not want to hear. There is no plan, and there never was a plan. The “Leave” campaign never had the integrity to present the public with a program for withdrawal. If it had, voters might have realized that Brexit would either bring a huge dislocation as Britain tore itself out of an integrated European economy, or would turn Britain into an EU satellite state, obeying its rules but without a voice in their formulation.

Instead of honestly confronting Britain’s place in the world, the campaign offered brazen lies: Brexit would deliver £350 million ($462 million) a week to our health service; Turkey was about to join the EU and flood Britain with millions of Muslim migrants.

The chaos that has rendered Britain all but powerless as Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump tear up the international order stems from the original sin of not leveling with the public. Both the Conservative and Labour parties are being torn apart by a pressure to do the impossible: to square the promises of charlatans with the realities of Britain’s economic and strategic position. Both left and right, or at least their leaders, talk as if the European Union will allow us to retain the benefits of membership when we have left. …

“The referendum is over,” declared another Today presenter, Nick Robinson. … Real journalists should be able to see that everything is wrong with his statement. If Brexit were over, Britain would not be in a rolling crisis with no end in sight. As pertinently, journalists should never assume a subject has become off-limits, because that is what the enemies of free expression demand.

Much of contemporary politics resembles the brainwashing techniques of religious sects, which discredit sources of information that might contradict the cult’s teachings. … Their most effective technique is to take a half-truth—that all journalistic choices are ideological to some extent—and use it as a weapon to suppress the full truth.

… Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are masters of the tactic of saying that, regardless of the truth of the research or the importance of the story, the very fact of the story’s existence proves its illegitimacy. … He tells his followers that no honest person would have covered the story in the first place. Its truth and relevance are immaterial; it has no right to exist. … …

The BBC’s reporting of the scandals around the Brexit referendum is not biased or unbalanced: it barely exists. It is as though the US networks had decided the Mueller investigation was no concern of theirs. There have been three huge stories the BBC has covered with only the most perfunctory reports: the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data leak, the Brexit campaign funding scandal, and the exposure of Russian interference in British politics.

That 2018 has been the year that Western publics realized how much Facebook knew about them, and how that information could be used by hostile foreign powers and malicious plutocrats, is thanks in large part to the efforts of Carole Cadwalladr, my colleague at the London Guardian and Observer. … Cadwalladr has inspired investigations of global interest in the Brexit referendum. She did it the old-fashioned way, by banging away at the story week in, week out. The more often she appeared in the paper, the more potential whistleblowers realized they could trust and talk to her.

… No one has done more to expose how the axis of technology, demagoguery, and oligarchy operates in Britain. She is everything BBC journalists are not.

When the whistleblower Christopher Wylie brought The Observer and The New York Times details of how data Cambridge Analytica, a British company partly owned by the family of Robert Mercer (who funds numerous conservative causes), Cadwalladr and Wylie offered the BBC a share of the story. The firm was at the center of the Anglo-American alt-right. Steve Bannon was on its board. It worked for Donald Trump and, at the very least, had dealings with Leave.EU, a pro-Brexit campaign group fronted by Trump’s British ally Nigel Farage and funded with what is thought to be the largest campaign donation in British political history from one of our local oligarchs, a loudmouthed insurance tycoon named Arron Banks. When news broke that Cambridge Analytica had collected identifying personal information for some 87 million Facebook users, Facebook stock fell by $134 billion.

The BBC was given the opportunity to interview the whistleblower and have a documentary ready to go once the news was out. But like Eliot rejecting Orwell, the BBC’s investigative program Panorama backed away. There was no “smoking gun,” it said. Within days, the smoke from Facebook’s burning reputation was billowing from its Palo Alto headquarters.

Cadwalladr received copies of Arron Banks’s emails showing that he had had multiple meetings with the Russian ambassador during the referendum campaign and was offered a business deal involving six Russian goldmines. … …

In the preface to Animal Farm, George Orwell provided a line that today would be apt for the walls of the BBC headquarters: “Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban.” No doubt, if the shift of public opinion against Brexit continues, the BBC’s silence will end and, like a weather vane, it will swing with the prevailing wind. It will receive no plaudits from me. No one should praise journalists who speak out when, and only when, they are certain that public opinion is with them. Not just journalists, but anyone engaged in political life should learn from the BBC’s abject performance. Whether you are on the left or the right, there will be times when you will be frightened of saying what you believe for fear of offending your friends, breaking a taboo or going against the ephemeral consensus of the day. Allow that fear to dominate you and you will end up like the BBC: platitudinous, frightened, and irrelevant.

WaPo, Aaron Blake: 7 key moments from Peter Strzok’s wild hearing http://wapo.st/2NbYvM5

≣ Politico: Full text: FBI agent Peter Strzok’s statement before Congress http://politi.co/2zHrHsm
// transcript

In the summer of 2016, I was one of a handful of people who knew the details of Russian election interference and its possible connections with members of the Trump campaign. This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump. But the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind.

That’s what FBI agents do every single day, and it’s why I am so proud of the Bureau. And I am particularly proud of the work that I, and many others, did on the Clinton email investigation. Our charge was to investigate it competently, honestly, and independently, and that is exactly what happened.

I’m also proud of our work on the Russian interference investigation. This is an investigation into a direct attack by a foreign adversary – and it is no less so simply because it was launched against our democratic process rather than against a military base. This is something that all Americans, of all political persuasions, should be alarmed by. In the summer of 2016, we had an urgent need to protect the integrity of an American Presidential election from a hostile foreign power determined to weaken and divide the United States of America. This investigation is not politically motivated, it is not a witch hunt, it is not a hoax. …

I understand we are living in a political era in which insults and insinuation often drown out honesty and integrity. But the honest truth is that Russian interference in our elections constitutes a grave attack on our democracy. Most disturbingly, it has been wildly successful – sowing discord in our nation and shaking faith in our institutions. I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.

As someone who loves this country and cherishes its ideals, it is profoundly painful to watch and even worse to play a part in.

💙💙 HillReporter: 4 Moments From Peter Strzok’s Testimony That You Must See http://bit.ly/2ukr2YO

HuffPo: Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) uses GOP members of Congress’ own words to highlight the hypocrisy of their criticism against FBI Agent Peter Strzok.
💽 Video: https://twitter.com/HuffPostPol/status/1017555455189700608/photo/1

🐣 RT @SteveSchmidtSES That wasn’t oversight and you know it. It was harassment, conspiracy theories, wackjobbery, dishonesty and demagoguery wrapped in a blanket of venality and rot. This country needs statesmen and women. You know one well. Think about stepping it up. @NicolleDWallace @MarkSalter55
⋙ 🐣 RT @LindseyGrahamSC If Democrats and the FBI believe the bias displayed by Strzok and Page will not be subject to congressional oversight, they are kidding themselves. That’s delusional.

🐣💙💙 RT @KenDilanianNBC FBI agent Peter Stzrok: In the fall of 2016, I had info that could “derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump. But the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind….This investigation is not politically motivated, it is not a witch hunt, it is not a hoax.”

NYT: Stephen Colbert Criticizes Trump for Attacking Germany http://nyti.ms/2zxWTdR

TheHill: Fox News lands exclusive interview with Putin http://hill.cm/841KzAk 

🐣 RT @brianklaass Trump weeded out or sidelined anyone who wasn’t a feeble sycophant. The leader of the most powerful country on Earth is objectively ignorant, frequently unhinged & a serial liar — and he is also mostly unbound from the remaining advisers who have more knowledge and better traits.

Vox, Andrew Prokop: The wild Peter Strzok congressional hearing, explained http://bit.ly/2zxRALt
// The FBI agent accused of political bias defended himself in a raucous hearing.

Politico, David Herszenhorn & Jacopo Barigazzi: ‘Very stable’ Trump? European leaders beg to differ http://politi.co/2LhHlfK
// The president’s wild shifts in tone left many NATO allies concluding no hidden strategy lies behind his unpredictability.

Trump’s wildly unpredictable performance over two days in Brussels left many European leaders convinced that there is little method to the American president’s rhetorical madness, and simply no way to anticipate what he might do next.

“Nobody knows when Trump is doing international diplomacy and when he is doing election campaigning in Montana,” Danish defense minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said. “It is difficult to decode what policy the American president is promoting. There is a complete unpredictability in this, and one of the things you need in this alliance is predictability towards Russia.”

Trump upended the summit even before it started by unleashing a tirade against Germany during a breakfast meeting on Wednesday with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and created further upheaval by hijacking a meeting Thursday morning about Ukraine and Georgia during which he again demanded that allies quickly increase their national military spending and threatened that if they failed to do so, the U.S. could break with the alliance and start conducting security policy unilaterally, by going its “own way.”

Trump also committed a cardinal sin of diplomacy by conflating issues that are typically kept in silos — like military spending and trade, or energy policy, in the case of the German gas pipeline project — to reduce the chance of rupturing negotiations.

NPR: Trump Says ‘No Problem’ In NATO, Touting Allies’ Spending Pledges http://n.pr/2Nc5B3r //➔ the pledges were established in 2014
// Macron

NYT, David Leonhardt: It Just Got Harder to Fire Mueller http://nyti.ms/2LcWsHa

NYT, William Davies: Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the Rise of Radical Incompetence http://nyti.ms/2JlclcH
// Like America’s president, Brexiteers resent the very idea of governing as complex and based in facts.

NYT: With May’s Government Teetering, Trump Gives It a Shove http://nyti.ms/2L5o04p

Crooks&Liars, Karoli: Trump Gives ‘Insane, Incendiary, Insulting’ Interview To British Tabloid http://bit.ly/2L2FoqB Trump’s interview with Murdoch’s Sun is crazier than anything he’s done so far

MSN: Inflation jumps 2.9 percent in largest annual gain in 6 years http://bit.ly/2mcvRPt Meanwhile payscale index is down .9 percent

🐣💙 RT @Kris_Sacrebleu You know what I enjoyed most about the #PeterStrzokHearing ?
It was pure, man.

🐣 RT @AdamSchiffCA While the President disparages our closest allies in Europe and NATO, Putin glories in new fractures in the Western alliance. All the while, autocrats all over the world are on the rise. And still, the GOP slumbers.

TheSun [UK]: TRUMP’S BREXIT BLAST I told May how to do Brexit but she wrecked it — the US trade deal is off, says Donald Trump http://bit.ly/2KU845N
// “The” interview; text: https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1017634300785844224/photo/1

His comments, damaging to the Prime Minster, come as he delivers his most brutally honest verdict yet on Britain in which he also:

Accused EU leaders of destroying its culture and identity by allowing in millions of
● Tore into London Mayor Sadiq Khan for not standing up to terrorists
● Blamed Khan for spiralling crime in the capital
● Insisted former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson would make “a great Prime Minister”
● Denied once branding Theresa May a “bossy schoolteacher”
Maintained he would keep ties with Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin despite the
Salisbury Novichok poisonings
● Demanded Britain and other Nato countries spend more on defence
● Spoke of his sadness at feeling unwelcome in the capital by anti-Trump protesters
● Claimed millions of Brits backed his policies
● Told of his pride at taking wife Melania to meet the Queen

WaPo: Trump blasts Prime Minister Theresa May in interview published during his first official visit to Britain http://wapo.st/2uBTxAT

🔆 This❗️⋙ NYT: White House Orders Broader Access to Files About F.B.I. Informant http://nyti.ms/2L9kw0G

🐣 RT @Amy_Siskind Just a reminder: the FBI helped Trump win and Hillary lose. We voted in November 2016 not knowing the Trump campaign was under investigation for colluding with Russia. That’s how far down the rabbit hole of ridiculousness we have gone.

🐣 RT @JohnWDean This House joint committee shows how Trump has taken the GOP into the gutter w/ him as they seek to use their official power to obstruct the Mueller investigation of him. Little wonder the public holds Congress in such low esteem. Strzok had shown this circus for what it is.

💙💙 RollingStone: FBI Agent Peter Strzok’s Hearing About Trump and Russia Got Ugly http://rol.st/2JjA7po
// the good quotes; From allegations of lying under oath to dragging a personal life through the mud, it was a wild day on Capitol Hill

All that was made clear on Thursday was that the president has successfully corrupted his Republican allies to the point that lawmakers consider the FBI to be conspiring against the state, while an adversary like Russia launching a cyberwar on America is an afterthought. Trump isn’t concerned, so neither are Republicans, who now use the president’s Twitter account as a North Star for where to direct their attention and, apparently, how to behave.

“I understand we are living in a political era in which insults and insinuation often drown out honesty and integrity,” Strzok said in his opening statement. “I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.”

NYT (7/20/2016): Donald Trump Sets Conditions for Defending NATO Allies Against Attack http://nyti.ms/2uvy2kX
// 7/20/2016

WaPo, Robert Kagan: Things will not be okay http://wapo.st/2uvw7wL

WaPo Editorial: The Strzok hearing damaged our democracy http://wapo.st/2JnqGp0

Politico: Trump ‘plays Russia’s game’ with NATO attacks, former officials say http://politi.co/2mbphsB
// His threat to withdraw U.S. commitment ‘strikes at the heart’ of the alliance, says one former NATO ambassador.

WaPo: FBI agent at center of clash over Russia probe faces off with Republicans at tense hearing http://wapo.st/2mbWkN7

WaPo: Trump blasts Prime Minister Theresa May in interview published during his first official visit to Britain http://wapo.st/2NaGv4I

NYT: F.B.I. Agent Peter Strzok Defends Actions in Russia Inquiry in Contentious House Testimony http://nyti.ms/2L8R0bA

NYT: Trump Rattles Britain Hours After Unsettling NATO http://nyti.ms/2LehhC3

NYT, Susan Rice: Trump Must Not Capitulate to Putin http://nyti.ms/2uqKKSb
// There is so much to lose and so little to gain for the United States in the Trump-Putin summit next week.

💙💙 NYT, Paul Krugman: For Trump, Failure Is the Only Option http://nyti.ms/2usP2bK

WaPo: Peter Strzok just gave a hard-to-rebut defense of the objectivity of the Russia investigation’s origins http://wapo.st/2mj2YS1

TheHill: Trump says he feels ‘unwelcome’ in London due to protests http://bit.ly/2L9aDQC

🐣 Unfortunately, they ran out of Democrats. Remaining Republicans are just delivering short floor speeches pummeling Strzok, hardly even letting him speak. They planned this for primetime. They are shameless, diminishing America.

🐣 DailyBeast: Republicans Thought Peter Strzok Would Be a Punching Bag. He Just Knocked Them Out. http://thebea.st/2usFSf7
// He was supposed to be a key in the imaginary conspiracy Trump’s congressional lackeys and media fantasists have desperately tried to write as history. He was having none of it.

🐣 RT @RepAdamSchiff GOP leadership at the Strzok hearing demonstrating again that there is no water they will not carry, no character they will not assassinate, no institution they will not destroy in service of the President. Giuliani will be pleased with the additions to Trump’s legal defense team

🐣 RT @PaulBegala I didn’t see smugness from Special Agent Strzok. I saw righteous indignation over his life & career upended, and the entire FBI trashed by partisan hacks seeking to divert from the deadly serious question of whether our POTUS has been compromised by a hostile foreign power.

🐣 RT @EvanMcMullin House Republicans’ efforts today and otherwise to expose the sources of an ongoing counter-intelligence investigation of immense national importance are utterly reprehensible and dangerous. They’re abusing their authorities to protect the president at the country’s expense.

🐣 RT @MarshallCohen FBI agent Peter Strzok just testified that the Steele dossier was not the reason why the FBI opened its Trump-Russia investigation in July 2016.

Esquire: Peter Strzok’s Testimony Was a Reminder of How Dumb the ‘Deep State’ Theory Is http://bit.ly/2uv5O9Q https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1017512938708570112/photo/1
// Text block below; Which investigation did the FBI go public about again?

But the real haymaker was Strzok’s reminder that he had a ton of dirt on Trump before Election Day—potentially decisive dirt—and didn’t call a single reporter or tweet a single bit out. We didn’t see it on Wikileaks. We didn’t hear about any of it. Strzok’s grandstanding about how bias would never infect an FBI investigation doesn’t hold water, but the simple fact is that the agency had an opportunity to fire a cannonball at the U.S.S. Trump, but chose Clinton instead. That points to the bias in the FBI’s New York field office, which likely fed into Comey’s decision to go public with the Clinton probe details.

🐣 RT @selectedwisdom [Clint Watts] I’m not sure which has degraded US democratic institutions more since 2016: Russia’s Active Measures or the behavior of the House of Representatives.

🌀Time cover, White House becomes Kremlin https://twitter.com/PaladinCornelia/status/1017489651366424576/photo/1

.@RepGutierrez makes a great point. Peter Strzok knew the information that could destroy the Trump candidacy BUT DID NOT LEAK IT. Proof his personal opinions did not affect his professional activity. His texts did not lead to acts.

WaPo: At NATO, Trump claims allies make new defense spending commitments after he upends summit http://wapo.st/2ugSJSj

🐣 Harken! @RepMolester speaks!

🐣 RT @PaulaChertov Rep Connolly makes key & obscured point by the GOP campaign to taint Strzok & Mueller investigation generally: Saying negative things about Trump and not wanting him to be president was the majority view in the country—including from prominent Republicans. #Strzok was no outlier.
⋙ 🐣 “Saying negative things about Trump and not wanting him to be president was the majority view in the country”~ It still is.

🐣 RT @matthewamiller Oh Issa. He just told Strzok he is the target of a congressional investigation, which is not actually a thing.

🐣 I have known GOP surgeons and Dem surgeons. I have never known a surgeon incapable of performing surgery equally well on GOP and Dem patients. That is what a “professional” is. FBI agents are professionals. They are bound by professional ethics. @cspan #PeterStrzok

WaPo: GOP lawmakers threaten FBI agent Peter Strzok with contempt for refusing to answer question on Mueller probe http://wapo.st/2zAH2uQ

🐣 RT @DavidCicilline Republican hypocrisy is ridiculous today. GOP has until 5pm to tell me why I can’t release Peter Strzok’s closed-door transcript. If they don’t, @RepRaskin and I are going to send to DOJ to scrub for sensitive info and then release it when it’s ready.

WaPo, Max Boot: NATO is based on credibility and trust. Trump has struck a blow against both. http://wapo.st/2KQXbBv

🐣 RT @JakeTapper Strzok says re: investigation: “the information we had which was alleging a Russian offer of assistance to a member of the Trump campaign was of extraordinary significance. It was credible. It was from an extraordinarily sensitive and credible source.”

🐣 RT @tedleu This #GOP controlled hearing into the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails is stupid.
But having said that, Peter Strzok is a great witness who is obliterating conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory.

🐣 RT @matthewmiller I can’t believe how calmly and professionally Strzok is handling this. I am ready to punch a wall just from watching this travesty.

🐣 RT @selectedwisdom [ Clint Watts ] I’m not sure which has degraded US democratic institutions more since 2016: Russia’s Active Measures or the behavior of the House of Representatives.

🐣 RT @EricHolder House Republicans are irresponsibly more concerned with Strzok, Rosenstein and Clinton than they are with Putin/Russian actions. Smoke screen. Trying to delegitimize expected results of Mueller inquiry and protect people in Trump campaign and a very likely complicit President.

🐣 RT @BillKristol House Republicans are increasingly behaving like legislators from the ruling party in a banana republic. And while I remain committed to trying to save the GOP, it’s become awfully hard to make the case for saving GOP control of the House in 2018.
⋙ 🐣 RT @benjaminwittes ALERT: Rep. Goodlatte is right now threatening to hold an FBI agent in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions about a pending counterintelligence investigation when the agent has been specifically instructed by the FBI not to answer such questions.

TheGuardian: Russian mining firm puts Trump’s face on its asbestos products http://bit.ly/2uhKzsZ
// As US officials decide against banning product, producer Uralasbest puts Trump ‘seal of approval’ on pallets

🐣 I love  Peter Strzok  my new hero. @cspan @CSPANnow

Politico: What Trump Should Have Told Germany About Russian Gas http://politi.co/2KNNJ21
// The president had a point – but as usual, he got the details wrong.

🐣 They’re trying to skewer Strzok for having been anti-Trump. Like no one else ever was. Talk about a witch hunt. @cspan3

CBS: Trump blasts Germany at NATO summit over gas pipeline deal with Russia http://cbsn.ws/2NJSgAg

🐣 Strzok hearing gets 🔥FIERY🔥 @Cspan3 now

🐣 Goodlatte is wrong. He can’t force Strzok to disclose info on on-going FBI investigation. Unbelievable.

Axios: Why Trump is mad about Russia’s new pipeline to Germany http://bit.ly/2LfGSKE

HuffPo: Colbert: My Agent ‘Doesn’t Do As Much For Me As Trump Does For Russia’ http://bit.ly/2ug3q7C
// The “Late Show” host isn’t surprised at all that Donald Trump gets along with Vladimir Putin.

CNN: Merkel responds to Trump: ‘I have witnessed’ Germany under Soviet control http://cnn.it/2zzEAF0

PBS: Trump scolded Germany for buying gas from Russia. Here’s what we know http://to.pbs.org/2zxXwE7

CNN: Democrats frustrated Nunes left mid-hearing after questions about Russia probe http://cnn.it/2N8msny

TheHill: Ex-Russia ambassador: Trump has done more damage to NATO in months than Russia has in decades http://bit.ly/2NaWxf0
// @mcfaul

WaPo, Aaron Blake: Trump creates a big, self-contradictory spectacle at NATO http://wapo.st/2Jhohfr

🔆 Hearing live now on C-Span❗️⋙ Politico: FBI agent Strzok slams hearing as ‘victory notch in Putin’s belt’ http://politi.co/2mbUJXC

🔆 Live now on C-Span❗️⋙ WaPo: Embattled FBI agent to appear before Congress http://wapo.st/2L1Vd0y

WaPo: In major abortion ruling, Kavanaugh offers clues of how he might handle divisive issue on the Supreme Court http://wapo.st/2Jmf0TK

🐣 “humiliating of a person” is poor usage; better be careful. I’m sure I’m richer than you & people like me pwn your party. Oligarchs buy your votes with red meat just so they can get their tax cuts. you’ll come crawling when they crash the economy again & use it to cut SS & Mcare.

🐣 Who would have thought that a porn star would end up having more integrity than the resident of the denigrated states of America?

🐣 Peter Strzok hearing about to begin. His story was featured on @maddow last night. Though less familiar to the left, he has been demonized on the right for having *gasp!* texted anti-Trump sentiments while working on the Clinton email and #TrumpRussia cases. @cspan3

WaPo: Trump upends NATO summit, demanding immediate spending increases or he will ‘do his own thing’ http://wapo.st/2KSspbs

Vox: Controversial FBI agent Peter Strzok’s upcoming hearing, explained http://bit.ly/2L7qfEq
// The agent who sent texts about stopping Trump is about to be grilled on the Hill.

AP: BREAKING: French President Macron denies Trump claim that NATO powers agreed to increase defense spending beyond previous targets.
// no article

WaPo: Trump upends NATO summit, demanding immediate spending increases or he will ‘do his own thing’ http://wapo.st/2upZksT

⭕ 11 Jul 2018

WarOnTheRocks, Edward Fishman and Mark Simakovsky (7/11): Playing with Fire in Helsinki: How Trump’s Summit with Putin Could Split the Transatlantic Alliance http://bit.ly/2LewBll

[T]he Trump administration’s Russia policy has demonstrated the degree to which federal agencies can shape policies in absence of consistent presidential leadership. The Helsinki summit, however, seems likely to mark the beginning of a period in which Trump puts more of a personal stamp on U.S. policy toward Russia, which carries serious risks. Trump seems intent on taking back control of the relationship with Russia, congressional obstacles and the Mueller investigation be damned.

… [T]he optics of a U.S. president shaking hands and smiling with Putin will contrast greatly with the combative images that seem likely to come out of the NATO summit days prior.

… [T]here are worrying signs that the Republican party is creeping toward Trump’s position on Russia, as evidenced by the recent congressional delegation. To mitigate the harm Trump’s summit could do, America needs lawmakers to maintain unity across the aisle in support of a clearheaded Russia policy.

Since passing the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) last summer, which legally codifies most U.S. sanctions against Russia, Congress has thwarted Trump’s efforts to shape policy toward Moscow. Partly in response to congressional pressure and to compensate for a perceived “softness” against an adversary, the Trump administration levied sanctions against Russia in April, the most damaging ones since at least 2016. As long as Mueller’s investigation marches forward, however, Trump will continue to have trouble shaping a coherent, effective approach to Russia. He will also find quickly that a Putin meeting notwithstanding, his administration will remain hamstrung in its ability to promise the Kremlin any relief from sanctions.

Trump’s own advisors may also seek to counter the president’s wishes to improve ties at all costs, as Pompeo, Mattis, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats have all expressed the threat that Russia presents and the need to counter Russian aggression with real American action. It is no coincidence that Coats himself is speaking publicly in Washington three days before the U.S.-Russia summit specifically to describe Russia’s current efforts to destabilize the 2018 mid-term elections. 

🐣 RT @RonaldKlain IMPORTANT: Tonight, Trump issued an order replacing non-partisan career Administrative Judges — who decide on benefits cases & regulations — with his own political appointees. A HUGE POWER GRAB. I warned about this in a column I wrote last November:

FinancialTimes: Tower of secrets: the Russian money behind a Donald Trump skyscraper http://on.ft.com/2maWzYJ

🐣 ‘Trump threatened to go it alone unless the Europeans IMMEDIATELY begin paying two percent of their GDP for defense.’ The existing agreement is to reach two percent by 2024.
⋙ Stern: Trump droht Nato-Partnern offenbar mit Alleingang in Verteidigungsfragen http://bit.ly/2L7kLGp

NYT: Trump vs. Merkel: Blistering Salvo Meets Quiet Rejoinder http://nyti.ms/2KZ1qun
Last ¶ below: https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1017334594838949888/photo/1

Ms. Merkel has been hesitant to engage in harsh exchanges with Mr. Trump. In fact, her foreign minister, Heiko Maas, gave a much sharper response to Mr. Trump’s disparaging remarks on Wednesday, writing on Twitter, “We are no captives — neither of Russia nor of the United States.

They have called the idea of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense — which Mr. Trump has not only insisted on but now says he wants to double — ludicrous and arbitrary.

That view is shared by many Germans, which led Ms. Merkel to record a video over the weekend explaining why she believed Germany must spend more on defense, as pledged. But the more Mr. Trump attacks Germany, the less its people feel like appeasing him on military spending or with trade concessions.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline project has been opposed by the United States for many years, including under President Barack Obama, as well as by some European countries, like Poland, that warn it will give Russia too much leverage.

The Germans argue that they have been diversifying their gas supplies, that they now get only about 9 percent of their energy from Russia — not the 70 percent that Mr. Trump claimed — and that Washington is angling to sell liquid natural gas to Germany instead.

NYT: Battling Fake Accounts, Twitter to Slash Millions of Followers http://nyti.ms/2ma3Qbl

BBC FactCheck: How much of Germany’s gas comes from Russia? http://bbc.in/2NIyOUE Trump says Germany imports 60%–70% of its energy from Russia. Reality Check: Germany relies on Russia for most of its imports of natural gas. But gas makes up less than 20% of Germany’s energy…
// “… mix for power production”; may not include gas etc for cars

Politico: Trump sparks Republican rift on Russia http://politi.co/2zweJhg
// The GOP is increasingly divided as Trump undermines NATO and warms to Vladimir Putin.

NYT, Ivan Krastev: Sorry, NATO. Trump Doesn’t Believe in Allies. http://nyti.ms/2NJXWdK
// Europe has to understand that in the American president’s twisted worldview, there are only fans and enemies.

The logic of the post-Cold War world has been that the United States exercises its global influence by preserving and expanding its alliances. This logic no longer holds. The gravest risk the European Union faces is to be the guardian of a status quo that has ceased to exist.

🐣 RT @Lawrence Senate just had overwhelming bi-partisan vote against Trump’s illegal tariffs–88 to 11.

NYT, Nicholas Burns: What America Gets Out of NATO http://nyti.ms/2Na6PMD

Last week in Great Falls, Mont., he said that he had told Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, “I don’t know how much protection we get by protecting you.” Mr. Trump has been even tougher on the European Union, branding it “as bad as Nafta” and adding, “Sometimes our worst enemies are our so-called friends.”

I have visited four European countries during the last two weeks, and it has been shocking to see how far from grace the United States has fallen in the eyes of its allies. European leaders point to Mr. Trump’s support for anti-democratic populists in Hungary, Poland and Italy. They view his recent Twitter attack on Ms. Merkel as a transparent attempt to push her from office.

Many fear he may now remove American sanctions against Moscow over its occupation of Crimea after his meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in Finland next week. Confidence in Mr. Trump has plummeted so much that the German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, recently grouped “Donald Trump’s egotistic policy of America First” along with Russia and China as global concerns.

… [T]here are compelling reasons that NATO in particular will be a distinct advantage for America’s security far into the future.

First, NATO’s formidable conventional and nuclear forces are the most effective way to protect North America and Europe — the heart of the democratic world — from attack. Threats to our collective security have not vanished in the 21st century. Mr. Putin remains a determined adversary preying on Eastern Europe and American elections. NATO is a force multiplier: The United States has allies who will stand by us, while Russia has none.

The United States has relied on NATO allies to strike back against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the Islamic State in the Middle East. European troops have replaced American soldiers in peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and contribute the large majority in Kosovo.

A second reason for maintaining the trans-Atlantic alliance is America’s economic future. The European Union is our country’s largest trade partner, and its largest investor. The United States and the European Union are the world’s two largest economies, and can steer global trade to their advantage if they stick together. More than four million Americans work for European companies in the United States. Forty-five of the 50 states export more to Europe than to China.

Third, future American leaders will find Europe is our most capable and willing partner in tackling the biggest threats to global security: climate change; drugand cybercrime cartels; terrorism; pandemics and mass migration from Africa and the Middle East. And America’s NATO allies will continue to be indispensable in safeguarding democracy and freedom, under assault by Russia and China.

Mr. Trump may believe his blistering attacks on Europe’s trade policies and defense budgets are a good negotiating tactic before the summit. But in fact they have already done enormous damage. While he cannot outright kill NATO — the American public and Congress support it too strongly — he has eroded significant levels of trust and good will. As it became clear during my recent visits across Europe, a dangerous breach has opened in the trans-Atlantic alliance — by far the worst in seven decades.

Mr. Trump wants Americans to believe that their allies are simply taking advantage of them. On Sept. 11, 2001, I witnessed a far different reality as American ambassador to NATO. Canada and the European allies volunteered within hours of the attacks to invoke Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which compels all members to respond to an attack on any single member, for the first time in history. They came to our defense when we most needed them. They sent troops to fight with us in Afghanistan. They are still there with us 17 years later.

Are we now going to throw off that mutual protection, and go it alone in a dangerous 21st-century world? That would be a historic mistake.

WaPo: ‘Rubbing salt in the wounds’: Trump won’t take yes for an answer at NATO http://wapo.st/2L3Tckn

After a year of haranguing by President Trump, Western leaders had agreed to his administration’s long-sought priorities on defense spending and counterterrorism — and were prepared to let him take all the credit.

But Trump had other plans.

The U.S. president began a remarkable day of transatlantic diplomacy by attacking Germany as “captive to Russia,” later called on NATO countries to double their previous commitment to defense spending and then effectively renounced the gathering altogether.

Publicly, however, Trump bristled and bickered, interrupted and impeded — making clear to the world he is impatient and annoyed with an alliance that he says takes advantage of the United States.

“This is Trump’s strategy,” said the diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly recount the private meeting. “He raises the stakes, then he calms things down.”

As Trump unspooled his case against Merkel, his aides looked stricken and stone-faced. Trump’s broadside set the tone for a summit that the Europeans feared could be contentious and perhaps even disastrous — especially after they watched him refuse to sign onto an agreement at the Group of Seven summit in Canada last month and railed against NATO at a campaign rally last week in Montana.

“The rapid erosion of trust in Donald Trump, I’ve never seen anything like it for any of our post-World War II presidents,” said Nicholas Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO. “They’re infuriated at these persistent attacks on NATO. . . . They all listened to the Great Falls, Montana, speech and follow him on Twitter. There’s tremendous disappointment that an American leader would be so ungrateful and so mean-spirited.”

Trump has complained that such summits are largely a waste of his time, and he prefers one-on-one meetings with counterparts in which he can negotiate deals or gatherings where he is feted, such as his visits last year to China and Saudi Arabia.

Trump arrived at NATO headquarters here Wednesday later than most leaders and did not walk down the long path on which others strode and took questions. In the closed session, he listened only to some of the statements from the 29 allied leaders and left soon after he demanded in his own remarks that NATO allies double their defense spending commitments to 4 percent of their countries’ gross domestic product.

Despite their differences, the NATO leaders all signed onto a far-reaching declaration that any other U.S. administration would have touted as an unqualified success.

“On substance, this is one of the most successful NATO summits I’ve seen,” said Stefano Stefanini, a former Italian ambassador to NATO.

He cited the alliance’s new training mission in Iraq and an initiative sought by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to get more NATO battalions, ships and planes ready for combat, a plan known as 30-30-30-30.

Derek Chollet, an Obama administration official, said the concrete progress during the meeting offered a surprising contrast to Trump’s rhetoric.

“There’s a fundamental disconnect in this administration, because many of the ideas that are being agreed to are U.S. ideas,” he said. “The 30-30-30 plan is a Mattis initiative. The Iraq training mission was a U.S.-driven decision to have a bigger NATO presence in Iraq.”

“Everyone’s saying this is good, but Trump is saying it’s going badly because fundamentally he’s a contrarian,” he said.

Just after Trump was whisked out of NATO headquarters in his motorcade, he punched out a combative tweet that again singled out Germany and even questioned the value of the overall alliance.

“What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy?” Trump wrote.

WaPo: The Russian pipeline to Germany that Trump is so mad about, explained http://wapo.st/2NK7k0H
Map of Nord Stream 1&2 pipeline: https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1017157925192728577/photo/1

Germany is indeed Russia’s biggest export market in Europe for gas, with a dependency that may grow further once Nord Stream 2 is finished. The project would roughly double Russia’s export volume via the Baltic route that goes through the original Nord Stream pipeline.

Over the next few decades, Europe’s own gas resources — which accounted for more than a third of its supplies in 2016 — are expected to gradually disappear. (Britain, Norway and the Netherlands are Western and Northern Europe’s biggest producers, primarily relying on natural gas fields in the North Sea.)

As Europe’s own supplies are running out, the United States is hoping to gain access to a profitable market with growing demand. But U.S. economic interests only partially explain why the pipeline conflict is now emerging as a key point of contention.

Nations such as Poland and Ukraine also fear that Russia may be diversifying its gas routes into Europe to be able to exploit its grid for political reasons. In June 2014, amid the fallout over the Russian annexation of Crimea months earlier, Russia cut off Ukraine’s gas supplies for weeks in what Kiev said was an attempt to blackmail Ukraine.

In 2005, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s friend [Former PM Gerhard] Schroeder hastily signed the deal just as he was departing the office from which he had been voted out days earlier. Within weeks, he started to oversee the project implementation himself, leading the Nord Stream AG’s shareholder committee.

Schroeder went on to become a board member of several consortia in which Russian government-controlled energy company Gazprom is at least the majority shareholder. Most recently, he became chairman of Rosneft, which is Russia’s largest oil company and controlled by the Kremlin.

The plans were drawn up at a time when Russia appeared eager to engage with the West — and many Germans still see Russia more positively than other countries do. The Germans’ hope on that front may also be based on their long dealings with the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War, when open hostility and more low-key cooperation went hand in hand.

While gas supplies are now raising concerns over the risks they may pose to international security, they were actually seen as a way to prevent conflicts during the Cold War.

In response to Trump’s accusations that Germany was captive to Russia, Merkel — who grew up in East Germany — on Wednesday cautioned the president that she may be in a better position to judge her country’s dependence. “I’ve experienced myself a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union, and I’m very happy today that we are united in freedom,” Merkel said.

WaPo: At NATO, Trump lashes out at allies and then asks them to double their defense spending goals http://wapo.st/2L7hZkl

🐣 RT @Evan_McMullin America has allied with a growing number of other free nations for decades. Together we’ve defeated freedom’s foes and become the most prosperous peoples ever on earth. President Trump seeks to break these ties, not for our benefit, but for himself and his sponsors in Moscow.

WaPo: When Trump attacked Germany in Brussels, his aides pursed their lips and glanced away http://wapo.st/2KOgn2N

WeeklyStandard: Flake Gets His Tariff Vote https://tinyurl.com/ybdebavp

🐣 RT @SecPompeo .@NATO is the most successful alliance in history. All #NATO allies have committed to extending this success through increased defense spending, deterrence and defense, and fighting terrorism. Weakness provokes; strength and cohesion protects. This remains our bedrock belief.

🐣 RT @BillKristol Who, in this moment of abdication of American leadership by the president, will speak for America? Who will speak for American greatness?
⋙ 🐣 The Senate Resolution yesterday was a start: 97-2 – and introduced by a Democrat. A rare demonstration of bipartisanship and a stern rebuke. Just like they knew he was going to be provocative. Maybe after the mid-terms, we’ll see more such.

🐣 RT @McFaul Trump doesn’t think about “endgames” , or long term American foreign policy interests. As he told us honestly before meeting KJU, he just goes with his intuition. And so far, that approach to diplomacy has produced 0 tangible achievements for American national security.

🐣 RT @tonyschwartz Trump’s brazen gaslighting technique is not just to lie repeatedly, but also to say about others what is most true of him. He bizarrely calls Germany captive to Russia. No one is more captive to Russia and to Putin than Trump. No one.

🐣 RT @ddale8 “No YOU are” is a go-to Trump strategy. In just the past month, he’s called Democrats the real colluders and real family separators, Canada the real trade protectionist, now Germany the real Russia puppet.
⋙ 🐣 RT @davidfrum What he’s performing this AM at NATO breakfast is a repeat of his 2016 “No puppet, you’re the puppet” routine, accusing others of what is suspected of him: dependency on Russia, Putin. Does not fool anybody at the NATO table of course, but they’re not the intended audience.

🐣 This works: Sing to the melody of “Tomorrow” from “Annie”:
♫ The sun’ll go down Collusion so you got to hang on to Collusion …
Collusion, Collusion, I love ya Collusion
You’re only an indictment away! ♫
(It sorta writes itself lol)

🐣 I think he’s projecting. People say he’s controlled by Russia so he flips it and says Germany is. He also doesn’t like clean energy. Plus, oil companies back here have big plans for shipping liquified natural gas, though the tech isn’t there quite yet.

🐣 RT @KerrAvon4 My bet is: he wants to sound tough on Russia to deflect suspicion ahead of Helsinki, while using the opportunity to drive a wedge between Merkel and the rest of NATO. Trump and his team have been persecuting Merkel for months.

◕ Oil-Price.net (2017): Russian gas pipelines and hacking the elections http://bit.ly/2ztbUgT Russian gas pipelines interconnected into Europe are the crown jewel of Putin’s geopolitical arsenal. https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1016975774556057602/photo/1
// 1/17/2017, Nord Stream Pipeline ✛ Ukrainian pipelines

ForeignPolicy (6/1/2018): U.S. Close to Imposing Sanctions on European Companies in Russian Pipeline Project http://bit.ly/2up0HrR
// 6/1/2018, The decision would test already fraught relations with Germany, other allies.

CleanEnergyWire: Renewable power hits record high in Germany in 2017 http://bit.ly/2L87AVM Renewables produce record 33 percent of German electricity
// 12/20/2017

TIME: President Trump Kicks Off NATO Summit by Claiming Germany Is ‘Controlled’ by Russia http://ti.me/2NGdteg

🐣 Seven decades ago, NATO (and the EU and the U.N.) were formed to decrease the likelihood of another conflagration like WWI & WWII.
Albert Einstein: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
// chart: war deaths 1900-2000, HuffPo (7/23/2014): What the News Media Won’t Tell You About Global Violence http://bit.ly/2KNTKvG

🐣 RT @DanielBShapiro The Pentagon will not just sit there and do nothing and “The President shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided TWO THIRDS of the Senators present concur…” NATO involves Treaties.

WaPo, Ishaan Tharoor: Trump’s NATO trip shows ‘America First’ is ‘America Alone’ http://wapo.st/2m88DtZ

European observers are worried by Trump’s linkage of the two issues, a position still based on a misunderstanding of how the alliance works. “If it’s really a threat linking security to trade, that can destroy the basis of NATO,” said Stefano Stefanini, a former Italian ambassador to NATO, to my colleague Michael Birnbaum.

“The fear is not only that Mr. Trump will spoil the ‘unity’ of the summit with harangues before flying to Helsinki for a far friendlier meeting with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin,” observed The Washington Post’s editorial board. “It is that, having shrugged off the strong support for NATO among his national security team, he is bent on wrecking a multilateral organization he regards as obsolete and a means for European nations to freeload at the expense of the United States.”

Such moves have “been corrosive to relations with allies who increasingly believe that Trump — on trade, NATO and diplomacy — is undercutting the post-World War II order in pursuit of short-term, and likely illusory, wins,” my colleagues reported over the weekend.

There are also fears Trump could somehow recognize Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. “It’s such a fundamental issue,” a senior NATO diplomat told Birnbaum. “It would legitimize a whole range of actions. If you have the power, the raw conventional military power, you can do what you want.”

“Dear President Trump: America does not have and will not have a better ally than Europe. Today Europeans spend on defense many times more than Russia and as much as China,” Tusk said. He urged Trump to think more clearly about “who is your strategic friend and who is your strategic problem,” a direct nod to the coming summit with Putin.

“Dear America, appreciate your allies,” Tusk said. “After all, you don’t have that many.”

⭕ 10 Jul 2018

RawStory: Republican strategist Rick Wilson says Trump ‘eager as a schoolgirl’ to hang with Putin and destroy NATO http://bit.ly/2N6IVS4

🐣 RT @JeffFlake FINALLY, Senate will push back on the President’s abuse of Section 232 to impose tariffs. We will vote Wednesday on a “Motion to Instruct,” a first step toward reasserting Congress’s constitutional role on tariffs.

RawStory: Republican strategist Rick Wilson says Trump ‘eager as a schoolgirl’ to hang with Putin and destroy NATO http://bit.ly/2N6IVS4

CNN, By Eliot L. Engel and Anders Fogh Rasmussen: President Trump, you need NATO more than ever http://cnn.it/2uaEqii

The relative peace and stability that NATO and other postwar institutions provided the United States and Europe in the late 20th century cannot be underestimated. With American leadership, allied democracies created the conditions for unparalleled prosperity for ordinary Americans and Europeans alike — and defeated the communist threat.

Today, that world is facing renewed danger, and our common challenges are no less significant. They include the growing Russian threat, transnational terrorism, cyberwarfare, piracy on the high seas and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, among others. Just as the United States underpinned NATO’s resolve to provide collective security against the Soviet Union, an American retreat today will allow autocrats and dictators to advance.

Even with the ever-expanding list of challenges, NATO has responded. Recent and ongoing NATO missions include bolstering defenses against Russia’s aggressive posture along the alliance’s eastern border; leading the 41-country-strong stabilization operation in Afghanistan; the counter-ISIS mission in Iraq and Syria; anti-terrorist activities in the Mediterranean Sea region; anti-piracy missions to secure vital shipping routes in the Gulf of Aden off the African coast, enhancing cybersecurity measures among allies; and supporting humanitarian and peacekeeping missions, which at one time included delivery of 189 tons of relief supplies for Americans affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

If the last 70 years of peace on the European continent show us anything, it’s that the international political willpower and the joint military resources mustered by NATO are critical to global security.

… Going it alone in the world is a gravely misguided approach that risks the lives of Americans as well as Europeans and millions of others around the world.

The United States has ensured its own security, in part, by embracing the pre-eminence of American and European shared values, including democracy, freedom, human rights, market-based economies and the rule of law around the world. No other alliance in the history of the globe has provided greater wealth, peace or freedom for its citizens. It must continue to do so.

We must remember that NATO allies’ acceptance of American global leadership is not preordained. Indeed, America has gained substantially from the world order that it built and has fought to sustain for 70 years. Trump dismantles that system at America’s peril, and that of its allies and partners around the world.

WaPo: As Trump hammers NATO allies on defense spending, military planners worry about his ‘2 percent’ obsession http://wapo.st/2NG49aw

🐣 RT @SenWhitehouse We need a DOJ Criminal Division head who is independent, experienced and free from Russian connections. @SenatorDurbin & @JudiciaryDems agree Brian #Benczkowski isn’t that person.

🐣 RT @ RBReich This is a perilous moment for our democracy. The President of the United States is about to hold private meetings with a foreign power that sought to undermine our elections. Meanwhile, his enablers are working to confirm a judge with sweeping views of presidential powers.

MilitaryTimes: US Senate votes to defend NATO as Trump attacks alliance http://bit.ly/2uaQVKB

Lawmakers in Washington worked quickly Tuesday to set legislative guardrails in support of NATO as President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly bashed the alliance, arrived in Europe for a NATO summit and meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin later in the week.

Hours after Trump landed in Brussels, the Senate passed a non-binding measure, 97-2, that expresses support for NATO, its mutual self-defense clause and calls on the administration to rush its whole-of-government strategy to counter Russia’s meddling in the U.S. and other democracies.

With the established global order on shaky footing, Trump’s weeklong trip to Europe will test already strained bonds with some of America’s closest allies, then put him face to face with the leader of the country whose electoral interference was meant to help put him in office.

“I join my colleagues this afternoon in support of the motion which sends an important message to our allies, our partners, and our adversaries that the United States is unwavering in its support of Europe free from the threat of external aggression and in support of the rules-based international order that has promoted international security for decades,” Reed said.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was expected Wednesday to debate a separate measure supporting NATO. One proposed amendment to it, from panel chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., would reaffirm support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and condemn “Russia’s illegal invasion and attempted annexation of Crimea.” A second proposed amendment from Sen. Robert Menendez, the panel’s ranking member, would reaffirm support for U.S. sanctions against Russia.

Trump’s wavering on NATO has led allies to question America’s trustworthiness, Menendez, D-N.J., said in a blistering floor speech.

“In the absence of U.S. presidential leadership, I want to make clear to our allies abroad, as well as our adversaries in the Kremlin, as to where members in the United States Senate stand,” said Menendez, adding that the chamber stands for the rule of law, an international order based on democratic values and with its allies.

“President Trump’s slap-dash approach to foreign policy, borne out of heated campaign rallies, instead of thoughtful Cabinet meetings, has real implications for our national security,” Menendez said. “Such reckless behavior by President Trump has weakened the United States on the global stage and created a more dangerous world for our citizens and our troops serving abroad.”

Menendez ripped Trump for saying his meeting with Putin would be the easiest of his four-country trip, as a sign Trump “would rather deal with an autocrat than negotiate with democratically elected leaders.”

“Let’s be clear: Meeting with a thug intent on undermining American democratic values should not be easy and it should not be chummy,” he said.

Menendez’s pursuit for a vote on Russia sanctions follows Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., saying — after a trip to Russia last week — the Senate may have gone too far with mandatory sanctions against a host of Russian entities, leaving Trump with too little negotiating room on other matters.

Johnson, chairs the Foreign Relations subcommittee for Europe, told the Washington Examiner, the sanctions, “don’t seem to be having a real horrible economic effect, not in Moscow anyway.”

Speaking with reporters and on Twitter from his flight, Trump repeated his call for NATO countries to fulfill their goal of spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024. The summit is expected to be marked by disagreements over trade and military spending. …

Senior administration officials said discussions of withdrawing U.S. troops from Germany will not be included in next week’s NATO summit, despite reports that Trump has considered the move.

“I think the president should listen to his security council and his secretary of defense on anything of substance dealing with the U.S. military posture,” Shelby said of the issue. “We’ve got to be careful. We’ve got to be strong. Concede nothing.”

DailyBeast: On the Eve of the NATO Summit, Trump Has Pissed Away the Pax Americana http://thebea.st/2ulPVTq //➔ not yet: Senate rebuked by a vote of 97-2 ✛ McCain issued a powerful statement
// What Trump calls a ‘free ride’ for Europe is in fact the cost of an American empire that has guaranteed peace on the bloody European continent—and for the U.S.—for 74 years.

🐣 RT @peterbakernyt Once again, Trump has this wrong. The 2% spending target is not a current commitment but a goal set for 2024, still six years away. No one is “delinquent” or owes the US any payments.
⋙ 🐣 RT @real Many countries in NATO, which we are expected to defend, are not only short of their current commitment of 2% (which is low), but are also delinquent for many years in payments that have not been made. Will they reimburse the U.S.?

🐣 RT @BillKristol These NATO tweets seem so insistent and aggrieved that they’re hard to interpret as, “Oh, he’s just pressuring them to increase defense spending in his Trumpian way.” One has to wonder if Trump’s laying the predicate for breaking up NATO.

🐣 RT @mikecarpenter This is awful. Facebook gave private user data to Russian internet company http://Mail.ru , which is subject to Russia’s SORM-2 data collection system. That means Russia’s intelligence services now have access to all that data, legally (in Russia).
⋙ WIRED: Facebook Gave Russian Internet Giant Special Data Extension http://bit.ly/2KK1pLn

🐣 RT @jimsciutto As Trump says of Putin meeting: “Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all.” a reminder:
-Putin annexed Crimea
-Putin invaded E. Ukraine
-Putin interfered in 2016 to aid Trump
-Putin supports Assad in Syria & targets civilians to do so
-Putin used nerve agent to murder in UK

WaPo: Trump hits combative notes as he undermines May, praises Putin ahead of NATO summit http://wapo.st/2NDp0uW
// alt headline: Trump signals he’s ready for a fight at NATO summit

CNN: NATO leaders hope to ‘avert disaster’ amid concern Trump may undermine alliance http://cnn.it/2zs8LxF

🐣 Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. – Yeats

Vox (2016), Gallup Poll: What Americans Think Foreign Trade Means for the U.S. http://bit.ly/2m9er6x https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1016860143298994176/photo/1

TheGuardian: Trump picked Brett Kavanaugh as ‘barrier’ to Russia inquiry – Schumer http://bit.ly/2NFtlh6

WaPo, Asha Rangappa: No, the Trump-Russia investigation isn’t a conflict of interest for Kavanaugh http://wapo.st/2KOoV9U

◕ Pew Poll: Almost eight-in-ten Democrats approved of NATO in 2017 – a 20-point increase from the 58% who approved in 2016. In contrast, just 47% of Republicans felt the same. https://pewrsr.ch/2MXHAwL https://twitter.com/FactTank/status/1016835730201567240/photo/1
// GOP little changed from previous years. Roughly six-in-ten independents (59%) approved as of last year.

WaPo: Donald Trump Jr. said he didn’t recall talking to Emin Agalarov. Agalarov remembers it. http://wapo.st/2NKv8Sm

🐣 RT @ NySteveo2AOLcom Alan Dershowitz just claimed even if a President is impeached, the Supreme Court can overturn it. They just spelled out the final act of this ongoing coup.

🐣 RT @Hardball “I think Putin has a grand plan and it’s playing out.” @brhodes on Trump going after NATO allies. #Hardball

TheHill: Senate votes to support NATO ahead of Trump summit http://bit.ly/2Jc82jZ
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @AliABCNews As Trump arrives in Brussels for NATO summit, the Senate just passed, 97-2, a motion to “reaffirm the ironclad US commitment under Article 5 to the collective defense of the alliance,” as @SenJackReed put it earlier today
🐣 RT @SenSchumer Today, in a 97-2 vote, the Senate sent an overwhelming message to President Trump to stand by our NATO allies and to stand against President Putin.

WaPo: Giuliani works for foreign clients while serving as Trump’s attorney http://wapo.st/2L7fnTy

◕💙💙 FactCheck.org  (Dec): Trump’s Distorted NATO Funding Figure http://bit.ly/2u0QPFu  //➔ The U.S. spends a lot more on its own defense compared with other nations in the international security alliance, but its share of the commonly funded NATO budget is 22%, not 80%.
⋙ But per a 2006 agreement, NATO members are not required to outlay 2% until 2024 and most are increasing their contributions. FactCheck.org (Dec): Trump’s Distorted NATO Funding Figure http://bit.ly/2u0QPFu
⋙ No NATO members are delinquent! Per a 2006 agreement, NATO members are not required to outlay 2%‼️UNTIL 2024‼️ and most are increasing their contributions. FactCheck.org (Dec): Trump’s Distorted NATO Funding Figure http://bit.ly/2u0QPFu
⋙ The 2% goal was agreed on in 2006 to be realized BY 2024. According to the agreement, members can’t be held to that goal NOW just because Trump wants it. http://FactCheck.org  (Dec): Trump’s Distorted NATO Funding Figure

🚫 TheWeek, Matthew Walther: Liberals’ Trump-Russia fever dreams have reached parody status http://bit.ly/2JcEaE6 //➔ who has eyes, let them see

NBC: Trump’s European trip: Trade wars, Brexit chaos — and a Russia quandary http://nbcnews.to/2zrdDTS
// The president’s allegiance to allies — and his willingness to deliver a tough message to Russian President Vladimir Putin — will be put to the test.

He does so in an environment defined by his foreign policy choices to date: the rising self-created tension between the U.S. and its European partners over tit-for-tat tariffs, his increasingly laissez-faire approach toward Russia’s projection of physical and cyber power, and his explicit and implicit threats to diminish America’s role in an alliance built to protect the rest of Europe from Moscow if partner nations don’t pony up more cash.

… Trump administration officials insist that the president’s aims are to strengthen NATO by extracting more concessions from American allies, and to deliver a stern message to Putin about Russia’s meddling in U.S. elections — even as his own rhetoric and actions suggest the former claim is in question, and he doesn’t believe the latter is true.

“The major thing, the major deliverable, the major overall theme of this summit is going to be NATO’s strength and unity,” Kay Bailey Hutchison, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, said. “I would say our major areas of deterrence would be Russia and the malign activities of Russia, the efforts of Russia to divide our democratic nation, [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty violations. All of those things are now being addressed by NATO in a strengthened deterrence and defense.”

One fear in Europe — and among those in Washington’s foreign-policy establishment — is that Trump might eventually follow through on his threat to withdraw U.S. forces from Germany, where more than 30,000 American troops are stationed, and diminish that deterrent to Russian aggression.

VanityFair, Bess Levin: Is This The Secret Deal Putin Will Offer Trump? http://bit.ly/2L0aAqg
// From Russia with Love; The president is being played by nearly half a dozen foreign governments.

In less than a week, Donald Trump will fly to Helsinki to sit down with Vladimir Putin for a meeting that has experts and non-experts alike very, very worried. For one thing, contrary to his own claims, Trump is and always has been a terrible negotiator. For another, Putin is a former K.G.B. officer trained in manipulating adversaries far more intelligent than Trump. For yet another, the president of the United States has said he will meet alone with the Russian dictator, suggesting not only that he might have something to hide, but that he may make concessions in order to keep said things hidden. And now we’ve got a hint about what one of those concessions might be.

According to New Yorker reporter Adam Entous, shortly before the election, leaders from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel began to discuss a way to get Iran out of Syria. Perhaps, they mused, Russia could pressure Iran to take a hike, in exchange for the U.S. dropping its punishing economic sanctions on Moscow. Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi who initially floated the idea, knew that if Hillary Clinton won, there was an approximately zero percent change that she would essentially forgive Russia’s aggression in the Ukraine, for which the sanctions were punishment. But as luck would have it, the Queens-born real-estate developer was elected instead, and suddenly the idea didn’t seem quite so far-fetched, given how easy it is to manipulate the guy:

After Trump took office, the idea was raised again, by Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah bin Zayed, the foreign minister of the U.A.E., during a private March 2017, dinner that included several other guests. “Their message was ‘Why don’t we lift the Ukrainian sanctions on Russia in exchange for getting the Russians to push Iran out of Syria,’” an attendee recalled the foreign ministers saying. A senior U.A.E. official said that he did not recall the discussion. The dinner attendee told me, “It wasn’t a trial balloon. They were trying to socialize the idea.”

As an inducement for Putin to partner with Gulf states rather than Iran, the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia started making billions of dollars in investments in Russia and convening high-level meetings in Moscow, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, and the Seychelles.

Incidentally, special counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating, among other things, whether or not the U.A.E. helped facilitate contacts between Team Trump and Russian officials, and whether it tried to influence U.S. politics. One interaction of particular interest? The meeting that took place in the Seychelles nine days before the inauguration between Blackwater founder and Steve Bannon confidant Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund who, per The New Yorker “the Emiratis used as a go-between with Putin.” Mueller is also looking into a Trump Tower meeting that took place during the transition in which Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner reportedly discussed establishing a back channel to keep conversations between incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn and Kislyak’s “generals” off the radar of intelligence agencies. (In his July 2017 testimony before Congress, Kushner said that the idea had been Kislyak’s, and that it ultimately died on the vine.)

While Trump’s favorite Middle Eastern nations have enjoyed unprecedented influence within the White House during his tenure, experts say the deal they’re trying pushing is “unworkable” not only in light of Mueller’s investigation, but based on the fact that Congress is highly unlikely to go for it. And yet, it appears Trump is making a valiant effort to do the bidding of Israel, Saudi, and the U.A.E. by currying favor with his favorite Eastern European dictator, anyway!

On June 8, Trump called for Russia to be readmitted to the Group of Seven industrial nations. (Russia was expelled four years ago, after it annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region.) Then, during a dinner at the G7 summit in Canada, Trump reportedly said that Crimea was Russian because the people who lived there spoke Russian. Several weeks later, when asked whether reports that he would drop Washington’s long-standing opposition to the annexation of Crimea were true, Trump responded, “We’re going to have to see.

NYT: Trump Poised to Enter NATO Meeting as Wild Card Among Allies http://nyti.ms/2L5Nhbs

TheHill: ‘Air Clinton’ and the circular flight path of the Trump-Russia dossier http://bit.ly/2JbO20Q //➔ beside point if the findings of the dossier have been verified, as many have; in addition to the fact that the dossier did not trigger the investigation ~ Papadopoulos did, as even House Intel Comm agreed

WaPo, David Kramer: Putin is about to con Trump in Helsinki. Here’s how. http://wapo.st/2KQfkzK

🐣 Robert Mueller won’t save us. No one will save us. November is too late. Just post-mortem effects. All the progress in my life is being washed away. Just. Like. That.

🐣 Right. How hard is it to say, “Yes, Vlad,” “Yes, Vlad,” “Of course you’re right, Vlad”?
⋙ CBSNews: “Frankly, [Russian President] Putin may be the easiest of them all — who would think?” President Trump says on dealing with U.K. and NATO leaders during his Europe trip. https://cbsn.ws/2L3VdwW pic.twitter.com/pM5SQhM78d

🐣 If Trump is going to achieve world peace by being BFFs w Putin, Xi and Kim, what’s all the Defense 💰 for? A war with Canada?

🐣 The darkness drops again; but now I know   
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? – Yeats

🐣 RT @eucopresident [Donald Tusk] Dear @realDonaldTrump. US doesn’t have and won’t have a better ally than EU. We spend on defense much more than Russia and as much as China. I hope you have no doubt this is an investment in our security, which cannot be said with confidence about Russian & Chinese spending :-)

⭕ 9 Jul 2018

FactCheck.org: Trump Still Distorting NATO Spending http://bit.ly/2umbz9R

President Donald Trump continues to wrongly claim that the United States is paying as much as 90 percent of the cost of operating the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

In reality, the U.S. share of the commonly funded NATO budget is currently just over 22 percent, according to the most recent figures from NATO.

Trump’s complaints about NATO spending are actually based on how much the U.S. spends on its own defense compared with what other member nations spend on theirs.

Still, the U.S. share of total defense spending by all alliance members in 2017 was an estimated 67 percent, according to inflation-adjusted figures from NATO.

Trump, however, is referring to so-called indirect spending, which is the amount that the U.S. and other NATO countries willingly spend on their own defense budgets.

All together, the 29 alliance members spent an estimated $917 billion on defense in 2017, and the U.S. portion was about $618 billion.

(NATO says those figures are based on 2010 constant prices and exchange rates. In current prices and exchange rates, the U.S. share would be roughly 72 percent of total defense spending by the alliance.)

… [I]t does mean that there is an over-reliance by the Alliance as a whole on the United States for the provision of essential capabilities, including for instance, in regard to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; air-to-air refuelling; ballistic missile defence; and airborne electronic warfare.”

In 2006, NATO members agreed to try to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense spending. In 2014, they agreed again to aim to meet that standard by 2024.

There was an estimated 4.87 percent increase in total defense spending by Canada and European allies in 2017, marking the third straight year that defense spending by those countries increased, according to NATO. That was after several years of declines in spending by those countries. ECFR, Jeremy Shapiro: Trump’s meaningless NATO spending debate http://bit.ly/2NEuTIh Europeans spending more on defence will not satisfy Donald Trump. Here’s why

As in a bad marriage, the arguments of US President Donald Trump and his European partners have descended into a sort of ritual exchange. So at this week’s NATO summit, we can be confident that Trump will complain about the lack of European defence spending and threaten to leave Europe if the NATO allies don’t stump up. The Europeans will accept the premise of his argument, point to what they have recently achieved, and pledge to do more.

Rinse and repeat.

The whole affair has the structure of an Apprentice episode. We don’t know what crazy shit Trump will say during the show, but we know how it will end.

The main difference now is that Trump has an advantage in pushing Europeans to spend more relative to past US presidents. Because he doesn’t care about the transatlantic alliance, he can more credibly threaten to withdraw the US security blanket from Europe. And because Europeans still rely on US security guarantees for their defence, they feel that they simply can’t risk it and so do their best to satisfy his demands.

… But regardless, there is no satisfying Trump’s demands about European spending.

… [H]e wants to use Europeans’ collective sense of guilt over their lack of spending, as well as the European fear of American abandonment, to gain concessions on what really matters to him: reducing the American trade deficit. Indeed, at the summit, he may explicitly link a continued American security guarantee with economic concessions from Europe.

… In the end, he doesn’t believe in the idea that America should defend Europe, so why should the United States pay anything at all? He is only interested in it if it brings in a profit.

… Rather, [Europeans] should focus on creating a truly independent defence capability. That effort probably does involve more spending, but more importantly it means creating a European military capability that can stand on its own. Such a capability will allow the Europeans to negotiate with Trump, and future American presidents, from a position of equality.

The NATO alliance does not depend on equal burdens, which it has never had; it depends on solidarity. And solidarity only comes when both sides are getting what they need and feel they are being treated fairly. Effective bullying can perhaps create some wasteful defence spending, but it cannot create a new transatlantic bargain that will preserve that essential solidarity

NewYorker, Adam Entous: Israeli, Saudi, and Emirati Officials Privately Pushed for Trump to Strike a “Grand Bargain” with Putin http://bit.ly/2L4zMsy

🐣 RT @SenatorDurbin Remember Brian Benczkowski? He represented Russia’s Alfa Bank and was a top staffer to then-Senator Sessions. Senate Republicans plan to vote next week to confirm him to head the DOJ Criminal Division.
🐣 RT @SenatorDurbin Benczkowski has no prosecutorial experience. He showed poor judgment by choosing to represent Alfa Bank while he was seeking a DOJ job despite reports that Alfa was under criminal investigation. And he won’t commit to recuse himself from Russia-related matters if confirmed.

Medium: Cambridge Analytica: the Geotargeting and Emotional Data Mining Scripts http://bit.ly/2m4tqOX
// 10/13/2017; Last year, Michael Phillips, a data science intern at Cambridge Analytica, posted the following scripts to a set of “work samples” on his personal GitHub account.

NYMag, Jonathan Chait: Glenn Greenwald Tells Russians Liberals Are Blaming Them As Excuse for Clinton http://nym.ag/2N4At5V

Stars&Stripes/WaPo, Jackson Diehl: Why did Trump side with Russia on Crimea? http://bit.ly/2J8i7OX

Reuters: The issues on the table when Trump and Putin meet http://reut.rs/2L016eL

LasVegasSun, Llewellyn King: Trump sneers at Europe, winks at Russia http://bit.ly/2zql8KT

Al-Monitor, Kirill Semenov: Can Russia deliver on Trump’s hope of ousting Iran from Syria? http://bit.ly/2uiWXbu

LATimes, Noah Bierman: Trump heads to Europe amid frayed alliances, and worries about his tilt to Putin http://lat.ms/2Jb5B11

Brookings, Steven Pifer: Trump, Putin, and Crimea http://brook.gs/2KIAZJT
// When Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin meet in Helsinki on July 16, the Crimean peninsula will loom large over their summit talks. How Trump handles the issue will have implications for European security and American credibility.

Alternet/IMI, Stan Salett: Trump Is Creating a New World Order — Where China and Russia Will Be Its Leaders http://bit.ly/2zoDT15
// As Trump visits NATO and then Russia, we can’t lose sight of how the old world order has been disrupted.

ChicagoTrib, Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay: Will Trump choose Russia over NATO? http://trib.in/2Jb6oPt

WSJ, Gerald Seib: The Risks Lying Within Donald Trump’s One-on-One Meeting With Vladimir Putin http://on.wsj.com/2L3fz9X (2/2)
// GOP senator, who recently met with Russia’s leader, warns of ‘denial, hostility, blaming others’

NYT, Maxim Trudolyubov: Trump’s Retreat From the West http://nyti.ms/2NCZZA5

WaPo, Philip Bump: The market demands a broad Trump-Russia theory — but the evidence doesn’t support one http://wapo.st/2m75eLM

Politico: What Trump’s Supreme Court pick means for the Russia probe http://politi.co/2L2IOq0
// Kavanaugh could find himself weighing in on thorny legal issues related to Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, including whether a sitting president can be indicted.

Politico, John McKay, Joyce Vance and Norm Eisen: Congress Should Stop Messing With Rod Rosenstein http://politi.co/2m3K15t
// Oversight? Please. The real aim of the attacks on the Department of Justice is perfectly clear.

WaPo: Trump’s combative words on NATO put Mattis in an increasingly tough spot http://wapo.st/2zmPuOd

WaPo: Boris Johnson and ‘Brexit minister’ resign, leaving Theresa May’s government in disarray http://wapo.st/2N2lOb9

TheGuardian: May’s plan ‘sticks in the throat’, says Boris Johnson as he resigns over Brexit http://bit.ly/2NDopcU
// Senior Conservative becomes third minister to walk out over ‘common rulebook’ proposal

🐣 RT @20committee [John Schindler] That Trump has some sort of unsavory clandestine relationship with the Kremlin (agent-of-influence-like) since at least 1987 is screamingly obvious to anyone versed in FCI & RIS. Nice to see the MSM now join the party. Would have been nice if they noticed a couple years earlier.

🐣 RT @Evan_McMullin It’s time to stop treating Trump as a naive actor on the world stage, though he is that too. More so, he is an ally of tyrants and tyranny who seeks to fracture the free world and weaken its strength against the corrupt, oppressive regimes that model the despotism he prefers.

Wonkette: Chris Christie, Giuliani & Dershowitz Hit Legal Stupid Trifecta http://bit.ly/2m6CXoQ

Bloomberg: Face of Brexit Boris Johnson Resigns, Plunging May Into Crisis http://bloom.bg/2KH01ZT

⭕ 8 Jul 2018

WSJ, Jens Stoltenberg: America’s NATO Allies Are Stepping Up http://on.wsj.com/ Only three members spent 2% or more of GDP on defense in 2014. This year we expect eight will.

WaPo, Margaret Sullivan: A journalist’s conscience leads her to reveal her source to the FBI. Here’s why. http://wapo.st/2KGDjRH
// Marcy Wheeler, @emptywheel

But her dealings with him [her source] have brought her around to believing something she initially questioned: that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a very real thing, and that Trump associates played a part.

What exactly did the source do to deserve outing to the FBI, in her view? Wheeler is circumspect in describing that.

Her blog post centers on a text message she says she got from the source on Nov. 9, 2016 — about 14 hours after the polls closed — predicting that Michael Flynn, who would be Trump’s appointee for national security adviser, would be meeting with “Team Al-Assad” within 48 hours. Russia has been perhaps the Assad regime’s staunchest ally.

As she noted: “The substance of the text — that the Trump team started focusing on Syria right after the election — has been corroborated and tied to their discussions with Russia at least twice since then.”

Wheeler won’t say when she went to the FBI other than that it was in 2017. In December 2017, Flynn flipped, pleading guilty to one count of lying to the FBI about his contact with the Russian government during the presidential transition; Trump had fired him in February.

In addition to the knowledge of her source’s inside information, Wheeler said, she had reason to believe that the source was involved with efforts to compromise her website and other communications. And perhaps most important, that he was involved in cyberattacks — past and future — that had done and could do real harm to innocent people.

Wheeler, who has written blog posts about national security for almost 15 years, is clear that she wasn’t motivated to talk to the FBI because she is out to get Trump. She certainly doesn’t like him, but she is also not at all a Hillary Clinton fan.

But what motivated her recent revelation that she went to the FBI has plenty to do with politics: She is disgusted by the way House Republicans are, in her view, weaponizing their oversight responsibilities and making it all too likely that FBI informants will have their names revealed — and their safety threatened.But as a public figure, she has a measure of protection that others who have come forward don’t have.

“If something happens to me — if someone releases stolen information about me or knocks me off tomorrow — everyone will now know why and who likely did it,” she wrote.

Overly dramatic? Not really. The Russians do have a penchant for disposing of people they find threatening.

Both decisions — to talk to the FBI and to write about it — required her wrestling with three main issues; concerns about journalistic ethics, the possibility of unintended national-security consequences, and the growing certainty that her suspicions about the source were true.

And as Wheeler put it, “I believe this is one of those cases where it’s important to hold a source accountable for his actions.”

TheGuardian, Simon Tisdall: Whose side is Trump’s America on? The answer is becoming more and more obvious http://bit.ly/2KYuzFR

If Trump’s crude, nationalistic policies and uncouth persona were the only problems, the European allies might just cope. But in recent months, as he has jettisoned experienced advisers and his belief in his own infallibility has grown, Trump has moved from difficult partner to potential enemy.

The question grows ever more pressing: whose side is Trump’s America really on?

Trump’s sycophantic courting last year of the Saudi royals and China’s authoritarian president, Xi Jinping, were early indications of his preference for dictators over democrats. His recent summit with Kim Jong-un did nothing to curb North Korea’s nuclear arms buildup. But it did reveal Trump’s almost indecent love of raw power and ostentation.

As with Kim in Singapore, Trump’s big day out with Putin in Helsinki will be noisily declared, by him, to be an outstanding success contributing to global harmony. If, as is suggested, the two men agree to extend the New Start nuclear arms treaty, that will be a rare plus.

But just as likely are unilateral, Nato-busting Trump moves to ease sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, a deal to keep Bashar al-Assad in power in Syria, the “normalisation” of Putin’s regime, and other concessions undermining the post-Salisbury western consensus. WaPo, Michael Birnbaum: Ahead of NATO summit, allies wonder: Will NATO survive Trump? http://wapo.st/2KWF1xq
// European leaders worry that President Trump could set into motion NATO’s unraveling and bargain away their security in the name of better relations with the Kremlin.

[L]eaders and diplomats worry that Trump could soon go further to undermine the alliance. They are concerned he could halt U.S. participation in military exercises in eastern Europe to avoid “provoking” Russia, since he made a similar concession about joint exercises with South Korea after his meeting with Kim Jong Un. They fret he could draw down the U.S. military presence in Europe, a move that could poke holes in the U.S. security umbrella that reaches up to Russia’s border.

On paper, at least, Trump is set to condemn Russian behavior in Ukraine, endorse collective defense and sign off on a range of new plans that would expand U.S. military activity in Europe, not diminish it.

“This is a very substantive and meaty summit,” the U.S. ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, told reporters last week. “NATO is doing many of the things that the president has asked them to.”

💙💙 NYMag, Jonathan Chait: Prump/Tutin: Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler? http://nym.ag/2MZUlqN
Amazing zoom in chart: https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1016144626141540354/photo/1
// A plausible theory of mind-boggling collusion.
⋙ See under Entire Articles

NYT Editorial: Why NATO Matters http://nyti.ms/2J5oG4L
// The allies are looking with dread to this week’s summit as President Trump continues his campaign to undermine a decades-old partnership.

Mr. Trump is burning up all the credit the United States has accrued with our allies across decades by attacking the basis of this alliance, if not the very idea of any alliance — thus, deliberately or not, doing the bidding of Mr. Putin in his quest to divide the West.

“NATO can withstand four years under Trump,” one former NATO ambassador said in an interview. “I don’t think we’ll withstand eight.”

The NATO meeting is expected to approve significant new steps to contain Russia, which most of the allies, and most of Mr. Trump’s senior advisers, recognize as a threat, even if the president does not. These measures include establishing two new military commands, expanding cyberwarfare and counterterrorism efforts and approving a new plan to speed the reinforcement of troops and equipment to Poland and the Baltic States to deter Russian aggression.

Sooner rather than later, NATO is also going to have to decide what to do with Turkey and the other countries that are eroding the fabric of the alliance by repudiating democratic principles.

At this week’s gathering, the result that matters most is a firm and convincing commitment to a strong NATO, ready to contribute to stability today, and to adapt to future challenges. With no coherent vision of his own to make Americans, and democracy generally, more secure in a world without NATO, Mr. Trump would do well to make that commitment, and honor the friends we have.

NYMag, Jonathan Chait: Prump/Tutin: Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler? http://nym.ag/2MZUlqN
// A plausible theory of mind-boggling collusion.

🐣 RT @DevilIsRepublicn TRUMP screwed up the North Korea deal after giving away the store. No military exercises in S Korea.. No Iran Deal. No Paris Accord. Moved the Embassy to Jerusalem. TRUMP wants out of NATO. TRUMP’S list of screw ups is endless. #DonTheCon #VoteBlue for America.

🐣 Fact Check of Trump Mega-Tweet (links: LATimes http://lat.ms/2L1yfmW, Vox http://bit.ly/2KS5BrI, WaPo http://wapo.st/2KElQsZ, The Hill http://bit.ly/2MXMutG, Polifact http://bit.ly/2dxRGmI, … (1/2) https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1015949300008935425/photo/1
🐣 Fact Check of Trump Mega-Tweet ( … Axios http://bit.ly/2KF1kbZ, Snopes http://bit.ly/2m31lrc, Politifact http://bit.ly/2KEDE7n, Snopes http://bit.ly/2NAC8Bd (2/2) https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1015949732059992064/photo/1

“The Rigged Witch Hunt”
~ 5 guilty pleas, 17 indictments (LATimes http://lat.ms/2L1yfmW)
“Originally headed by FBI lover boy Peter S (for one year) & now”
~ DOJ OIG report: Did not affect conclusions (Vox http://bit.ly/2KS5BrI)
“13 Angry Democrats”
~ Rosenstein, Cray & Mueller are Republicans, appointed by Trump; 9 of 17 donated to Dems; so did Trump (WaPo http://wapo.st/2KElQsZ)
“Should look into the missing DNC Server”
~ Analysis done by Crowdstrike used by FBI (The Hill http://bit.ly/2MXMutG)
Crooked Hillary’s illegally deleted Emails
~ “Unprovable if not flat wrong” (Polifact http://bit.ly/2dxRGmI)
The Pakistani Fraudster
~ American citizen; “No evidence” (Axios http://bit.ly/2KF1kbZ)
Uranium One
~ “False” (Snopes http://bit.ly/2m31lrc)
~ Huh? All PolitiFact statements (You won’t like #1): (http://bit.ly/2KEDE7n) Spirit Cooking? “False” (Snopes http://bit.ly/2NAC8Bd)
& so much more
~ Google them yourself!
It’s a Democrat Con Job ~ You’re the con job!

TheGuardian: Madeleine Albright: ‘The things that are happening are genuinely, seriously bad’ http://bit.ly/2KGg2iM

⭕ 7 Jul 2018

Observer, John Schindler: No, President Trump, the KGB Is Not ‘Fine’ http://bit.ly/2u2ZZBm

WaPo: Trump lawyers call Comey ‘Machiavellian’ in note to Mueller http://wapo.st/2KIgFby
📒 Text of memo: http://bit.ly/2KVNvoH

HuffPo, SV Date: In The World According To Trump, NATO Allies Are Bad And Putin Is Good http://bit.ly/2KG2VxV
// Everybody’s nervous as the president prepares to sit down with U.S. partners and then the Russian boss.

TheAtlantic, David Frum (Mar): How to Build an Autocracy http://theatln.tc/2jNtdPV
// March issue; The preconditions are present in the U.S. today. Here’s the playbook Donald Trump could use to set the country down a path toward illiberalism.

📒💽💙💙 WaPo: Read the transcript of the conversation among GOP leaders obtained by The Post http://wapo.st/2MZIOaX
// Undated; Trump Russia collusion; The conversation provides a glimpse at the internal views of GOP leaders who now find themselves under mounting pressure over the conduct of President Trump. The exchange, which was obtained by The Washington Post, shows that the Republican leadership in the House privately discussed Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election and Trump’s relationship to Putin, but wanted to keep their concerns secret.

🐣 RT @davidcox74 Trump: “You know President Putin is KGB… Putin is fine. He’s fine. We are all fine, we’re all people” Reporters killed by Putin: https://twitter.com/davidcox74/status/1015276732511916032/photo/1

RawStory: Devin Nunes calling for a ‘task force’ to investigate officials and activists who exposed Russian election meddling http://bit.ly/2Nz93WP

🐣 RT @MatthewAMiller First new comments to the NYT, now a leak to the AP, tomorrow Rudy showing up on two Sunday shows. What explains this sudden new assault on the Mueller probe by Trump? Seems something is coming.
⋙ 🐣 RT @etuckerAP NEW: The Trump legal team blasted Jim Comey as “Machiavellian,” dishonest and “unbounded by law and regulation” on a confidential memo last year that was addressed to Mueller and was obtained by The Associated Press. @ChadSDay

🐣 I hope they do get a FISA warrant to listen in on Trump’s private discussion w Putin. Why would he want that? Seems strange and potentially treacherous, given just what we know.

💙 WaPo: ‘A little steel in the spine’: Rod Rosenstein, facing mounting criticism from Congress, is starting to fight back http://wapo.st/2u3m6Y9

On Friday, the Justice Department formally responded to the resolution, telling top lawmakers on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees that officials believed they had “substantially complied” with Congress’s requests and any leftover production of materials would be completed “expeditiously.” Just before that, some of the lawmakers most bent on holding Rosenstein responsible for the production of the documents were sounding notes of optimism about the Justice Department’s expected compliance.

So far, the strategy has paid off. The Justice Department has for months been haggling with lawmakers over requests for various materials on the Russia investigation and the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. But even as the president has raged about Rosenstein, and lawmakers have repeatedly escalated the confrontation with new subpoenas and threats, each seemingly ominous moment has passed without incident.

At least publicly, Rosenstein has not acted like a dead man walking. He was spotted at a July 4 celebration at the White House, in a VIP viewing area, according to Politico. Those who know him say Rosenstein is playing the long game. He doesn’t put too much stock in any single daily development, they say, but is mindful about what his place in history will be.

Rosenstein has opined publicly that the Justice Department cannot essentially open its files to Congress. Discussing the document spat during an event at the Newseum in May, Rosenstein said of those threatening to impeach him, “I think they should understand by now that the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.”

“There’s kind of a fatalism to it that’s good,” Trusty said. “He doesn’t overreact.”

Butler, who worked with Rosenstein when he was a Justice Department public integrity prosecutor years ago, said colleagues would jokingly refer to Rosenstein as “Opie,” a character on TV’s Andy Griffith Show, in part because of his boyish face, and in part because he was always asking questions. But Butler said Rosenstein was more shrewd and strategic than his aw-shucks mannerism leads some to believe.

Butler said that while Rosenstein has had to “make some difficult compromises,” many career prosecutors look at him “as essentially responsible for preserving the integrity of the department and by extension preserving the rule of law during the Trump administration.” On that score, Butler said, Rosenstein has had more good days than bad, and his recent congressional testimony shows he’s trying to tell Republicans: The Department of Justice is not to be played with.

“He’s already compromised that message some,” Butler said, “but there is a line with him that you can’t cross.”

⭕ 6 Jul 2018

NYT, Daniel Beer: Does Vladimir Putin Speak for the Russian People? http://nyti.ms/2NyAG2b
//➔ Review of: FROM COLD WAR TO HOT PEACE ~ An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia, by Michael McFaul

ForeignAffairs, Michael Kimmage (Jul/Aug): The People’s Authoritarian ~ How Russian Society Created Putin http://fam.ag/2lYrNlV
// Jul/Aug 2018 issue

WaPo, Anne Applebaum: Trump is hinting at concessions to Putin. So what do we get back? http://wapo.st/2J1FJEE

WSJ, Tunku Varadarajan: If America Is Divided, So Is Europe http://on.wsj.com/2zkEsco
// A Polish philosopher-politician on NATO’s future, ‘degenerate’ liberalism, and what it’s like to be a ‘dissident’ nation in the EU.

WaPo, Bill Frist: The Senate I led put country over party. This one must do the same for Robert Mueller. http://wapo.st/

It is with some trepidation that I offer thoughts on how the good people still serving in the Senate should address a current crisis, but staying silent is no longer an option. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is under assault, and that is wrong. No matter who is in the White House, we Republicans must stand up for the sanctity of our democracy and the rule of law.

I’m a Republican because I stand for small government and also, as a physician, for the dignity of every life. But I am also a Republican because I believe in the rule of law. Republicans must fight for that principle today — even if it means pushing back against a Republican administration. As a party, we can’t let the president or his allies erode the independence of the Justice Department or public trust in the vital work of law enforcement. That would be true even if the stakes were much lower, but it is overwhelmingly so when it comes to investigating foreign interference in our elections. Congress must ensure that Mueller is able to do his job without interference or intimidation.

It isn’t easy to tell a president of your own party that he is wrong. But the assault on Mueller’s investigation does not help the president or his party. When Trump talks about firing the special counsel or his power to pardon himself, he makes it seem as though he has something to hide. The president must remember that only Mueller’s exoneration can lift the cloud hanging over the White House.

The special counsel’s investigation is not about Trump. It is about our national security. Every American should be rooting for Mueller’s success in determining precisely how Russia interfered in our fundamental democratic process. I had no illusions about the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and I have none about Putin now. Mueller’s most recent court filings indicate that Putin is seeking to meddle in this year’s elections. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray — all Trump appointees confirmed by the Republican-led Senate — have also warned of foreign interference. We should heed these warnings and empower Mueller to see his important work through to its conclusion.

… I don’t worry about Robert Mueller. He is a lifelong Republican with a career of distinguished service running the Criminal Division of the Justice Department for President Ronald Reagan and serving as President George W. Bush’s FBI director, twice unanimously confirmed by the Senate. And his investigation is getting results: By any objective standard, he has moved swiftly, obtaining 23 indictments and five guilty pleas in just more than a year.

Congress must never abandon its role as an equal branch of government. In this moment, that means protecting Mueller’s investigation. We’re at our best as senators and Republicans when we defend our institutions. But more than that, it’s our best face as Americans.

People around the world admire not just the material well-being of the United States but our values, too. The rule of law is something many die trying to secure for their countries. We can’t afford to squander it at home.

WaPo, Anne Applebaum: Trump is hinting at concessions to Putin. So what do we get back? http://wapo.st/2J1FJEE

ForeignAffairs, Michael Kimmage (Jul-Aug): The People’s Authoritarian ~ How Russian Society Created Putin http://fam.ag/2lYrNlV
// Jul/Aug 2018 issue

CSIS: The U.S. and the West are currently unprepared to meet the challenge that Russia presents. http://cs.is/2n8lBe1 A CSIS report from 2017 offers a comprehensive strategy to address Russian belligerence.
// 3/30/2017
CSIS: Report: Recalibrating U.S. Strategy Toward Russia: A New Time for Choosing [pdf] http://bit.ly/2NxVLda 212p

ForeignAffairs, Joshua Busby: Warming World ~ Why Climate Change Matters More Than Anything Else http://fam.ag/2u30ew9
// Jul/Aug 2018 issue

WaPo, Dana Milbank: Eight Republicans pick the worst possible place to celebrate July 4 http://wapo.st/2u7R6Xl

So, what do we call these Red Square Republicans? My interlocutors on Twitter suggest “Moscow Mules.” Or, given the position they put themselves in before our masters in Moscow, perhaps they should be called the Prostrate Eight: Sens. Richard C. Shelby (Ala.), Steve Daines (Mont.), John Hoeven (N.D.), John Neely Kennedy (La.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), John Thune (S.D.) and Johnson, plus Rep. Kay Granger (Tex.).

Their excellent adventure included a ballet performance of “Sleeping Beauty,” and fairy-tale notions pervaded their official meetings, too. “I’m not here today to accuse Russia of this or that or so forth,” Shelby told Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin. “I’m saying that we should all strive for a better relationship.

Yes, let us strive for camaraderie with a government that attacks us with cyberwarfare, meddles in our elections, denies entry to American officials who are critical of Moscow, destabilizes Europe and the Middle East, kills critics at home and abroad, occupies its neighbors’ land and shoots down the occasional passenger jet. Or, as Shelby put it, “this, that or so forth.”

The Post’s Karoun Demirjian reports that state television in Russia mocked the meek Americans. One Russian military expert said, “We need to look down at them and say: You came because you needed to, not because we did.”

Sergey Kislyak, Russian legislator and former ambassador to Washington, dismissed the Prostrate Eight’s message as “things we’d heard before,” and said “our guests heard rather clearly and distinctly” Russia’s denial that it interfered in U.S. elections.

They hardly needed to go to Moscow for that, though, because Trump himself tweeted last week: “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!”

This came after Trump pushed for Russia to be readmitted to the Group of Seven, and in advance of the July 16 Putin-Trump meeting in Helsinki that an Esquire writer called Trump’s “annual performance review.”

DemWritePress, Kseniya Kirillova: The Propaganda Schemes of TrumpPutinism http://bit.ly/2lWL5Il
// RUSSIAN JOURNALIST KSENIYA KIRILLOVA DRAWS DIRECT COMPARISONS BETWEEN THE BEHAVIORS AND PROPAGANDA STRATEGIES OF TRUMP AND PUTIN. This piece was originally published in Euromaiden Press, and reprinted with permission of the author.
Renown Russian opposition politician and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov recently described the typical game plan that an autocratic leader follows when he gets caught “red-handed.” This is what it looks like:
Deny, lie, slander.
Claim that it was a misunderstanding.
Boast and jeer: “And what are you going to do about it?”

DailyBeast, Spencer Ackerman: Bipartisan Senate Panel Gives Middle Finger to Devin Nunes http://thebea.st/2zgt9lk
// A bipartisan report from the Senate Intelligence Committee says intelligence agencies were right to find the Russians interfered in the election to harm Clinton and elect Trump.

NYT: Shifting Strategy, Trump’s Lawyers Set New Conditions for Mueller Interview http://nyti.ms/2KNuK6J

Vox: The most important part of the Trump-Putin summit no one is talking about http://bit.ly/2MVnByV
// START Treaty; National Security Adviser John Bolton isn’t happy about it.

StateDept, Heather Nauert (Spokesperson): Eroding Press Freedom in Russia http://bit.ly/2zgFB4z re: Russian Duma taking steps to sanction “individual persons taking part in the creation of materials for media outlets … Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and Voice of America (VOA)”

The Russian government continues to stifle press freedom and media independence. We condemn the selective targeting of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and Voice of America (VOA) under Russia’s law on “foreign agent” media outlets. RFE/RL and VOA remain the only media outlets designated under this law, which exacerbates long-standing restrictions on their distribution in Russia. Moreover, on July 3 the State Duma took another step toward approving legislation that would extend the “foreign agent” designation from media outlets to individual persons taking part in the creation of materials for media outlets. This bill could provide the Russian government a new tool to target independent journalists and bloggers in retaliation for their work.

The United States again calls on the Russian government to uphold its commitments under the Helsinki Final Act and its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights to respect the exercise of fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, in Russia. AP: Another warning shot? Trump’s ex-lawyer hires Clinton ally http://bit.ly/2KUnZwU

KyivPost/Newsweek: Former US ambassador to Russia said Putin ‘obviously’ helped Trump win http://bit.ly/2ziC31H

FactCheck.org (Dec): Trump’s Distorted NATO Funding Figure http://bit.ly/2u0QPFu //➔ The U.S. spends a lot more on its own defense compared with other nations in the international security alliance, but its share of the commonly funded NATO budget is less than one quarter.
// 12/14/2017

Trump conflates two kinds of spending by NATO countries — direct and indirect – to wrongly claim that the U.S. is “paying 80% for NATO.”

As for direct costs, the U.S. currently pays about 22 percent of NATO’s “principal budgets” that are funded by all alliance members based on a cost-sharing formula that factors in the gross national income of each country. The principal budget categories include the civil budget, the military budget and the NATO Security Investment Programme.

“Direct contributions are made to finance requirements of the Alliance that serve the interests of all 29 members — and are not the responsibility of any single member — such as NATO-wide air defence or command and control systems,” NATO says. “Costs are borne collectively, often using the principle of common funding.”

Direct spending may also include other “joint funding” projects that are arranged by participating NATO countries, but that are still overseen politically and financially by NATO.

Trump, on the other hand, is referring to so-called indirect spending — that is, the amount that the U.S. willingly spends on its defense budget compared with what other NATO countries spend on theirs. …

As NATO said in the June update: “This does not mean that the United States covers 72 per cent of the costs involved in the operational running of NATO as an organisation, including its headquarters in Brussels and its subordinate military commands, but it does mean that there is an over-reliance by the Alliance as a whole on the United States for the provision of essential capabilities, including for instance, in regard to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; air-to-air refuelling; ballistic missile defence; and airborne electronic warfare.”

In 2006, NATO members agreed to try to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense spending. In 2014, they agreed again to aim to meet that standard by 2024.

As of now, though, only the U.S., Greece, Estonia, Britain, Romania and Poland meet the 2 percent target, which led Trump to argue that our allies are not paying their “fair share.”

But other countries have been spending more in recent years. The estimated 4.3 percent bump in 2017 was the third straight year that defense spending by Canada and European allies increased, according to NATO.

🐣 2017 NATO Chart by Axios: https://twitter.com/cvpayne/status/1015202534355537921
// posted on Twitter

 TheGuardian, Tim Adams (Apr): The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder review – chilling and unignorable http://bit.ly/2tYhqmE
// 4/15/2018, This persuasive book looks at Putin’s favourite Russian political philosopher and the template he set for fake news 🐣 RT @NormEisen I know it feels that way, but I have done the analysis, and just as I called Pruitt’s demise, the coming Cohen flip & much more, the evidence tells me that no one can survive all the civil and criminal cases now hurtling at Trump. Not sayin’ when or how–but I am sayin’

RawStory, Travis Gettys: Russian officials and state media mock ‘weak’ GOP senators after Moscow visit http://bit.ly/2KSkEy9

🐣 RT @McFaul Mr. President, you erroneously suggested in Montana last night that our NATO allies have never done anything for our security. Before you get the summit, check out these numbers of soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice to defend us: http://icasualties.org/oef/ 

TIME, Ian Bremmer: Trump and Putin Will Call Their Summit a Success. But Don’t Expect U.S.-Russia Relations to Improve http://ti.me/2zfnfRv

The post-summit glow won’t last long though. Trump, unlike Putin, has constraints on his power back home (see: media, fellow Republicans, Trump’s own bureaucracy), and the mounting Mueller investigation will only make it more difficult for Trump to defy American political gravity when it comes to all things Russia.

If it were not for the specifics surrounding Trump, a rapprochement between the U.S. and Russia would actually make plenty of geopolitical sense. China is a much bigger strategic problem for Russia than the U.S. is, and friendships have been built on much less. But unfortunately – and despite his best intentions — Trump may be the least likely President to be able to deliver one. TIME, Ian Bremmer: Trump and Putin Will Call Their Summit a Success. But Don’t Expect U.S.-Russia Relations to Improve http://ti.me/2zfnfRv

TheHill: The Senate’s grown-ups in the Trump-Russia probe follow facts, not politics http://bit.ly/2m0X1Ja

WashingtonExaminer, Byron York: What is Devin Nunes up to? House Trump-Russia probe expands as Intel chair focuses on informants http://washex.am/2KVsN55

Newsweek: Donald Trump Falsely Claims He ‘Won’ Lawsuit Over Russian Collusion http://bit.ly/2MVr3t0

🐣 RT @TheRickWilson This is Russian Intel 101, folks. Evan is spot-on.
⋙ 🐣 RT @Evan_McMullin While in Russia you accept enticements you ought not and learn it was all for a purpose. You feel angry and trapped at first until money begins to flow and opportunity seems greater than risk. Then with every compromising step, cords tighten around you until your will is theirs.
⋙⋙ 🐣 RT @dcexaminer Trump: “You know President Putin is KGB… Putin is fine. He’s fine. We are all fine, we’re all people”

🐣 RT @PuestoLoco Do you get it yet America? Putin & Trump have been working together for several years to merge U.S. & Russian oligarchies into similar fascistic governments based on the Putin model. The GOP is helping & European democracies are in the way.
⇈ ⇊
LATimes, Chris Megerian: As Trump plans meeting with Putin, Europeans fear further meddling by Moscow http://lat.ms/2KSyh0v

⭕ 5 Jul 2018

Bloomberg: Putin Is Preparing a Deal Trump Can Tout After Summit http://bloom.bg/2MV4KE4

Msnbc: “Today Trump normalized the KGB. [Putin] murders people, invades our allies, subverts American democracy & today [Trump] normalized [the] KGB just like the Nazis in Charlottesville. This is very dangerous for American democracy & 7 R’s go there shows the R’s have surrendered to Russia” @MalcolmNance

🐣 RT @brianklaas Confidence in American leadership from Obama to Trump:
-75% Germany
-71% South Korea
-70% France
-68% Spain
-61% Canada
-57% UK
-55% Australia
-54% Japan
+42% Russia
(Pew Research)

🐣 RT @McFaul Mr. President, Putin is not fine. He annexed Crimea, intervened in eastern Ukraine, propped up the most ruthless dictator of our time in Syria, violated our sovereignty in the 2016 presidential reelection, constructed autocracy in Russia, etc. Meet him; dont make excuses for him.

🐣 RT @ddale8 To recap: In rapid succession, Trump said Americans don’t benefit much from protecting Europe from Russia, said Americans are “schmucks” for paying for NATO, and said, “Putin is fine.”

USNews/AP: Trump-Putin Meeting an Accomplishment in Itself, US Envoy Jon Huntsman Says http://bit.ly/2NsO3Rm
// US ambassador to Russia [Jon Huntsman] says Trump’s upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin will be an achievement in itself.

NYT: Brett Kavanaugh, Supreme Court Front-Runner, Once Argued Broad Grounds for Impeachment http://nyti.ms/2KymJ6t

WaPo: Republicans on Russia trip face scorn and ridicule from critics at home http://wapo.st/2tYIlPd

RawStory: ‘Collusion by any definition’: Legal expert uncovers ‘clear pattern’ of Trump ‘criminal’ conspiracy with Russia http://bit.ly/2KM0ych
// Seth Abramson; includes entire 60-tweet Twitter thread

Seth Abramson, a professor and legal analyst, on Thursday provided what he said was “evidence of criminal collusion” between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government

In a massive Twitter thread, Abramson said that there was a “clear pattern” of actions taken by the Trump campaign before and after the election which points to a conspiracy to undermine U.S. sanctions against Russia.

🐣 RT @ AngrierWHStaff Periodic reminder: #WalkAway and #AbolishICE are both being propagated by Kremlin and right-wing trolls.

RadioFreeEurope: Huntsman: Russia’s ‘Malign Activity’ To Top Trump’s Meeting With Putin, NATO http://bit.ly/2KVkaHy

Missoulian: Daines, back from Russia, flying to Montana with Trump http://bit.ly/2KRya5t

ArcDigital, Caroline O.: Pro-Trump & Russian-Linked Twitter Accounts Are Posing As Ex-Democrats In New Astroturfed Movement http://bit.ly/2tYallP (#-WalkAway)
// #WalkAway from this deceptive propaganda campaign

Re-upping ⋙ WaPo, Michael McFaul (2016): Mr. Trump, NATO is an alliance, not a protection racket http://wapo.st/2NwWxHk
// 7/25/2016

LATimes: As Trump plans meeting with Putin, Europeans fear further meddling by Moscow http://lat.ms/2KSyh0v

TheWeek: Mueller is tapping FBI agents and federal prosecutors to help with his growing Trump-Russia investigation http://bit.ly/2KJy8j1

Vox, Andrew Prokop: Why Trump’s inauguration money is a major part of Mueller’s Russia investigation http://bit.ly/2NqCeLw
// Russia-tied donations and oligarch connections have drawn Mueller’s interest.

DailyBeast: Inside the Online Campaign to Whitewash the History of Donald Trump’s Russian Business Associates http://thebea.st/2KNTc85
// Who is paying bloggers on the other side of the globe to scrub the Internet of Trump’s Russian business ties?

⭕ 4 Jul 2018

WaPo, George F Will: Trump’s summit with Kim could foretell catastrophe with Putin http://wapo.st/2u5jEzG

As the president prepares, if this time he does prepare, for his second summit, note all that went wrong at the first. If he does as badly in his July 16 meeting with Vladimir Putin in Finland as he did with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, the consequences could be catastrophic.

An exceptionally knowledgeable student of North Korea, the American Enterprise Institute’s Nicholas Eberstadt, writing in National Review (“Kim Wins in Singapore”), says the one-day meeting was for the United States “a World Series of unforced errors.” The result was that North Korea “walked away with a joint communique that read almost as if it had been drafted by the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] ministry of foreign affairs.”

Singapore was, Eberstadt believes, probably the greatest diplomatic coup for North Korea since 1950 and a milestone on “the DPRK’s road to establishing itself as a permanent nuclear power.” And the sanctions that were the Trump administration’s strategy of “maximum pressure” will be difficult to maintain now that a “defanged” — Eberstadt’s description — Trump has declared the nuclear threat banished.

… The danger is of him lashing out in wounded vanity. Meanwhile, this innocent abroad is strutting toward a meeting with the cold-eyed Russian who is continuing to dismantle one of Europe’s largest nations, Ukraine. He is probably looking ahead to ratcheting up pressure on one of three small nations, Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia, each a member of the NATO alliance that, for the first time in its 69 years, is dealing with a U.S. president who evinces no admiration for what it has accomplished or any understanding of its revived importance as the hard man in Moscow, who can sniff softness, relishes what Singapore revealed.

CNN: Two people poisoned by same nerve agent used on ex-spy, police say http://cnn.it/2zcBTJp

🐣 I thought all Presidential discussions had to be recorded in some way for archival purposes. If not, they should be. Lord knows what they’ll cook up. Heaven help us.

PasteMag, Jacob Weindling (2017): 5 Twitter Accounts to Avoid When it Comes to Donald Trump’s Russian Connections http://bit.ly/2u7uepI //➔ note: I follow all of these (at least on my Investigators Twitter list)
// 3/29/2017

🐣 RT @OlgaNYC1011 Russia’s Duma speaker Volodin who is sanctioned by both US & Europe for his role in Crimea discussed the invitation by Republicans for a Russian delegation to come speak in Senate and House in the fall Will he be part of the visit and will sanctions be lifted to let him enter US?
Thread: https://twitter.com/olgaNYC1211/status/1014644940989718529
🐣 RT @ Vyacheslav Nikonov has been in the State Duma since 2011 and its interesting that his focus of study was the history of the Republican Party
🐣 RT @ And if their staff members posted the tweets on their accounts then why no mention prior to visit? How could they meet w Nikonov a former aide to Putin who bragged last year that American spies slept while the Russians helped elect Trump and whose grandfather worked for Stalin

Mediaite: Conservative Writer Max Boot Calls GOP ‘White-Nationalist Party’, Endorses Democratic ‘Takeover’ http://bit.ly/2zaZsCb

The GOP ‘still cuts taxes and supports conservative judges,” writes Boot. “But a vote for the GOP in November is also a vote for egregious obstruction of justice, rampant conflicts of interest, the demonization of minorities, the debasement of political discourse, the alienation of America’s allies, the end of free trade and the appeasement of dictators.”

Like postwar Germany and Japan,” he says, “the Republican Party must first be destroyed before it can be rebuilt.”

Along with Boot, Will,and Schmidt, other conservatives and newly-former Republicans have made the same argument to varying degrees, including Tom Nichols, Matt Lewis, and Mediaite’s John Ziegler, who wrote last month that the only way to save the GOP was by first tearing it down.

“As a true conservative … my primary motivation is always based on what is in the best long-term interest of my country, and my family,” he wrote. “I can’t believe it has come to this, but I am now sure that this means actively hoping that the Republican Party gets crushed in November.”

🐣 RT @JoyceWhiteVance Because, this doesn’t look suspicious at all. A man in Trump’s position, who had any choice at all in the matter, would not do this.
⋙ 🐣 RT @NatashaBertrand Trump wants to meet with Putin alone, with no other aides present on either side, in Helsinki this month. That means no note-takers, witnesses, or official record. http://cnn.it/2MMxvCU

🐣 RT @AmoneyResists Let’s make sure to never forget the names of the GOP Congressmen who are spending Independence Day groveling at Putin’s heels:
(AL) @senshelby
(MT) @stevedaines
(ND) @SenJohnHoeven
(WI) @SenRonJohnson
(LA) @SenJohnKennedy
(KS) @JerryMoran
(SD) @SenJohnThune
(TX) @RepKayGranger

From Objections and Answers Respecting the Administration, August 1792. A letter in which Hamilton calls out those who alleged that he was working to reinstitute a monarchy in the States. http://bit.ly/2MQesYr

“The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion. Tired at length of anarchy, or want of government, they may take shelter in the arms of monarchy for repose and security.

“Those then, who resist a confirmation of public order, are the true Artificers of monarchy—not that this is the intention of the generality of them. Yet it would not be difficult to lay the finger upon some of their party who may justly be suspected. When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanour—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the nonsense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”

TheWeek: 5 great non-corny songs about America http://bit.ly/2MJXf2D #1 Tie: Simon and Garfunkel, “America” (1968) / Paul Simon, “American Tune” (1973) //➔ American Tune is best

⭕ 3 Jul 2018

📒 CSIS: Counting Dollars or Measuring Value ~ Assessing NATO and Partner Burden Sharing http://bit.ly/2KNIS0H
// Report [PDF] http://bit.ly/2N6WJMp 45p

DailyBeast, David Sanger: The Brits Told Us the Russians Were Hacking Our Election http://thebea.st/2IUAEy1

WaPo: Senate report affirms intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia favored Trump over Clinton http://wapo.st/2KPuPns

🐣 RT @mitchellreports You would think GOP Senators would be embarrassed to be cozying up to FM Lavrov in Moscow the same day GOP led Senate Intel committee issues report endorsing 2017 intel assessment that Kremlin tried to tip 2016 election to Trump over Clinton. Check @Maddow take on all this.

RawStory: Peter Strzok’s lawyer nails Republicans who aren’t ‘searching for truth’ on Russia — only appeasing ‘conspiracy-minded constituents’ http://bit.ly/2u2EKi3
// on CNN

“If you have a committee that actually wants to facts, that wants to find out the truth, you might actually have an interest,” he continued. “But from our experience with the committee thus far, it is obvious that they don’t want the truth.”

Goelman went on to say that his client has listened as he’s been caricatured, disparaged “and accused by the President of treason and of being a sick loser. And on Fox News they talk about him as the center of this anti-Trump cabal that was determined to throw the election against Trump. None of this has a shred of truth.”

He also conceded that it was fair for those to scrutinize the text messages between him and Lisa Page. However, Goelman recalled sickening things the president did during the campaign, such as attacking the Gold Star family, that justified being horrified by Trump.

🐣 RT @ForeignPolicy Attorney Anne Chandler has been providing legal aid to asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexican border for years. A few months ago, she noticed things were changing. The refugees were being brought to court in shackles. Check out @SarahAWildman’s FP podcast.
⋙ ForeignPolicy: They Took the Children for a Bath and Never Brought Them Back http://bit.ly/2tTGBq9
// 6/29/2018; On our podcast: An immigration lawyer tells harrowing stories of asylum-seekers at the southern U.S. border. Photo: children in cages, chains

🐣 RT @MaddowBlog “I’m not here today to accuse Russia of this or that or so forth,” Shelby told Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin. “I’m saying that we should all strive for a better relationship.”
⋙ WaPo: Republican lawmakers come to Moscow, raising hopes there of U.S.-Russia thaw http://wapo.st/2NmrMVv

🐣 RT @JimSciutto What are Putin’s goals? 1- Undermine NATO. 2- Force West to accept Crimea annexation. 3- Undermine western democracies thru election interference. 4- Ensure survival of Assad regime & Russia bases in Syria. Trump is now aiding Putin on each one.

RT @MaggieDay55 The tangled web between the Bad Boys, Trumpworld, and Russia can be traced back to 2012, when Nigel Farage, then-leader of the anti-immigration party UKIP, met Steve Bannon, who was then still at the helm of Breitbart News.
⋙ VanityFair, Isobel Thompson: Did The Bad Boys of Brexit Break America? http://bit.ly/2MKGtAh
// Two years after Trump’s election and the Brexit referendum, a small, transatlantic faction of pinstripe-clad populists is under international scrutiny for its role in both votes—and for its shadowy ties to Russia.

The tangled web between the Bad Boys, Trumpworld, and Russia can be traced back to 2012, when Nigel Farage, then-leader of the anti-immigration party UKIP, met Steve Bannon, who was then still at the helm of Breitbart News. Bannon’s site would go on to vocally support Farage’s campaign, and as Bannon and Farage’s parallel agendas flourished, so too did an alliance between Banks, who bankrolled Farage’s Leave.EU effort after it failed to score official backing; his associate and ally Andrew Wigmore; and Russian ambassador to the U.K. Alexander Yakovenko. Banks had previously admitted to at least one meeting with Yakovenko: a “boozy six-hour lunch” at Yakovenko’s London dwelling in 2015. But pressured by reports from The Guardian’s Carole Cadwalladr, among others, Banks later admitted he met with the Russians three times. On Friday, the number of meetings rose to four, and details piled up: per the Times, Banks’s Russian contacts offered him “at least three potentially lucrative investment opportunities in Russian-owned gold or diamond mines.” One of Banks’s business partners, James Mellon, was reportedly presented with similar offers, and appears to have taken advantage of at least one:

Three weeks after the 2016 Brexit vote, the Russian government sold the Alrosa stake in a private offering to a restricted group of investors. The shares were sold at a discount to the market price at a time when the value of both the stock and diamonds were rising.

Mr. Mellon’s fund-management company, Charlemagne Capital, was among a restricted number of investors who were allowed to participate.

… Banks is alleged to be worth up to £250 million, meaning his roughly £9 million contribution to Farage’s Leave.EU campaign—thought to be the the largest political donation in British history—would’ve been hefty, but doable. But multiple reports have called Banks’s net worth into question, and OpenDemocracy has suggested the figure may be far lower, casting doubt as to whether he could’ve facilitated such a transaction on his own.

The second theory is that Banks and his Bad Boys enabled a less obvious exchange between the Trump campaign and Russia: Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told the Post he has questions about whether Banks and Co. “served as a conduit of information to and from the Russians on behalf of the Trump campaign.” (Rep. Joaquin Castro added that the documents “[open] a whole new chapter” in the Trump-Russia probe.) Not only was Banks connected to Bannon through Farage, with whom he reportedly signed a five-year lease on a Washington property nicknamed the “alternative British Embassy,“ but his ties to Yakovenko also link him to Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, who sought a meeting with the Russian ambassador in March 2016. (Papadopoulos’s efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.)

🐣 RT @sahilkapur As Trump echoes Russia’s claims that it didn’t meddle in the 2016 election, the GOP-led Senate Intel Cmte releases a bipartisan report concurring w/ U.S. intel community that Russia interfered to help Trump and Putin approved it.
↥ ↧
RawStory: Senate intel committee concludes Putin personally approved meddling to aid Donald Trump http://bit.ly/2Ku5ALk

⋙ “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S . presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the document reads.

🐣 RT @sahilkapur As Trump echoes Russia’s claims that it didn’t meddle in the 2016 election, the GOP-led Senate Intel Cmte releases a bipartisan report concurring w/ U.S. intel community that Russia interfered to help Trump and Putin approved it.
↥ ↧
📒💙💙 SenateIntelComm, Richard Burr et al: Report on Russian Interference in 2016 Elections: Initial Findings [pdf] http://bit.ly/2KHwHSg 7p
Conclusions: https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1014338294405050368/photo/1
Intentions: https://twitter.com/DrDenaGrayson/status/1014259009904365568/photo/1
Efforts to influence: https://twitter.com/DrDenaGrayson/status/1014260762855043072/photo/1
Cyber ops: https://twitter.com/DrDenaGrayson/status/1014261522217029632/photo/1
Dossier not used: https://twitter.com/DrDenaGrayson/status/1014262383085281280/photo/1
// actual doc is untitled

WaPo: Republican lawmakers come to Moscow, raising hopes there of U.S.-Russia thaw  http://wapo.st/2MJ42JS

━━━━━━━▼ Trump-Russia-Israel
WSJ: Trump Expected to Seek Putin’s Help to Curb Iran’s Military in Syria http://on.wsj.com/2z4hdmA
// 6/28/2018, U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin plan to meet in Helsinki on July 16

AlJazeera, Joe Macaron: In southern Syria, the US faces a Russia-Israel challenge http://bit.ly/2z7ybRj
// 6/20/2018, The US is being pushed to take action on Syria’s southern front.

WSJ (6/6): At Putin’s Parade, Netanyahu Seeks Understanding on Iran http://on.wsj.com/2tShvrW
// 6/6/2018, Israeli leader wants to make sure that the Russians consider his security concerns

Observer, John Schindler (6/5): Mueller Finally Starts to Target Trump’s Israel Ties http://bit.ly/2HmkM6I
// 6/5/2018

A genuine bombshell dropped yesterday, seemingly out of nowhere. It came in an interview with Simona Mangiante, the wife of George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign foreign policy advisor who pled guilty last October to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian agents—especially Joseph Mifsud, the mysterious Maltese professor with suspicious Kremlin ties—during the president’s election campaign. As expected, Mangiante explained that her husband, whom she married just three months ago, is innocent of what he admitted he did, and in no way was working for Russian intelligence.

“George had nothing to do with Russia,” she explained, seemingly in an effort to convince the White House that Papadopoulos lacks any dirt on the president’s Kremlin connections that could assist Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation of Team Trump. However, what Mangiante said next was the real shocker: her husband “pled guilty because [Mueller’s prosecutors] threatened to charge him with being an Israeli agent.”

The notion is hardly implausible. Before joining the Trump campaign in early March 2016, Papadopoulos was a self-styled energy consultant who was known for taking strongly pro-Israeli positions in print. To boot, during the 2016 campaign, he met with an Israeli settler leader and assured him that Donald Trump, if elected president, would take a favorable view of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Then there’s the backstory to Papadopoulos’ infamous May 10, 2016 meeting at an upscale London wine bar with Alexander Downer, the Australian high commissioner (i.e. ambassador) to Britain. At that hard-drinking affair, the young Trump staffer informed Downer that Russia possessed derogatory information about Hillary Clinton—a claim the Australian diplomat found so troubling that he shared it with Australian security officials, who passed it on to their American partners, thus officially beginning the FBI’s investigation of Trump’s Kremlin ties.

That fateful boozy chat was set up by an unnamed Israeli diplomat. This fact, namely that “the meeting came about through a series of connections involving an Israeli diplomat who introduced Papadopoulos to an Australian counterpart,” was reported at the end of last year, “sourced from four current and former American and foreign officials.” This revelation has not been rebutted, nor has it received the attention it deserves. Given that a high percentage of Israeli diplomats serving abroad are spies, this story needs further investigation. …

[T]here are strange Israeli footprints all over the Trump-Russia story. Quite a few of the shady figures close to the president and his business affairs are American Jews of Soviet heritage who possess connections to Israel. Felix Sater and Michael Cohen are only the best-known of this dubious crew. Those men are also connected to Chabad of Port Washington, a Jewish community center on Long Island that is part of the worldwide Chabad movement—which reportedly possesses close links to Vladimir Putin and his Kremlin. The recent BBC report that Cohen accepted at least $400,000 from the Ukrainian government to set up a substantive meeting with President Trump last year included the tantalizing detail that this dirty deal ran through attendees of Chabad of Port Washington.

Then there’s the explosive New York Times report just two weeks ago about a hush-hush meeting in Trump Tower on August 3, 2016—less than two months after the other hush-hush meeting there with Kremlin operatives—between Team Trump and George Nader, who reportedly offered Donald Trump, Jr. help with getting his father elected. According to the Times, Nader proffered unofficial (and probably illegal) foreign aid to the Republican nominee’s campaign, including from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

That day, Nader brought with him Joel Zamel, an Israeli expert in several things that were of interest to Team Trump, including social media manipulation. Zamel is known to possess a close relationship with a bunch of former Israeli intelligence officials, and Nader reportedly paid him a large sum, perhaps as much as $2 million, after Trump’s election as compensation for Zamel’s shadowy social media assistance to the president-elect’s campaign in 2016 (both men visited the White House as well).

Zamel is best known as the founder of Wikistrat, a private intelligence firm that was founded in 2010, ostensibly as a “crowdsourced” geopolitical analysis outfit. Although it’s based in Washington, D.C., as The Daily Beast recently uncovered, “Wikistrat is, for all intents and purposes, an Israeli firm; and that the company’s work was not just limited to analysis. It also engaged in intelligence collection.” For this reason, Wikistrat is under investigation by Team Mueller, whose investigators have interviewed Zamel, while FBI agents have traveled to Israel to dig deeper. Several prominent Wikistrat staffers formerly worked for Israeli intelligence—and some experienced espionage professionals in our nation’s capital wonder if they still do.

Israeli espionage against the United States is a perennially touchy subject in Washington. …

Indeed, some counterintelligence pros in Washington have a rather different take on the Mueller inquiry than most Americans do. While Moscow’s secret role in subverting our election in 2016 is plain to see and is now denied only by the willfully obtuse or congenitally dishonest, detecting a direct Kremlin hand on the Trump campaign is trickier. Trump’s links to Moscow are visible but remain somewhat obscure.

His ties to Israel, however, are much plainer to see. Based on the available evidence to date, Team Trump’s 2016 links to shadowy Israelis appear just as troubling as those to dodgy Russians—indeed, in some cases they are the very same people. As a veteran counterspy in our Intelligence Community whom I’ve known for years recently asked me with a wry smile, “What if the real secret of the Trump campaign isn’t that it’s a Kremlin operation, rather an Israeli operation masquerading as a Russian one?” …

Few of America’s friends around the world are happy with the Trump administration, given its habit of gleefully trashing our longstanding alliances and declaring trade wars on our allies. Israel stands as a significant exception, however, and it’s no wonder that Mueller and his investigators are trying to get to the bottom of what certain Israelis were doing in 2016 in secret to boost the Trump campaign. That answer may eventually prove just as important as Mueller’s inquiry into the Kremlin and its clandestine attack on our democracy two years ago.

AlJazeera, Joe Macaron: In southern Syria, the US faces a Russia-Israel challenge http://bit.ly/2z7ybRj
// 6/20/2018, The US is being pushed to take action on Syria’s southern front.

🐣 Am I getting this right? Israel considers Russia a reliable ally against Iran, may have worked w Russia in election hack. Trump and Putin will talk about leaving Assad in power if Iran pushed out of Syria. Then what? War w Iran? Educate me, please. @emptywheel @ignatiuspost

💙💙 WaPo, David Ignatius (6/28): Is Trump handing Putin a victory in Syria? http://wapo.st/2z3zwbL //➔ interesting in light of @emptywheel’s blog post on a source she believes aided the Russians http://bit.ly/2KHDcRH
Text: https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1014196520080551936/photo/1

An intriguing aspect of the possible Syria deal is that it’s driven by close cooperation between Russia and Israel. The Israeli agenda, like Trump’s, is narrowly focused on blocking Iran — and Israelis seem to have concluded that Putin is a reliable regional partner.

💙💙 Dkos: Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel): “If something happens to me …everyone will now know why and who did it” http://bit.ly/2KHDcRH

Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist (who some may remember around dKos as emptywheel), wrote an extraordinary post on her blog today. In it, she describes sharing information with the FBI about someone she had reason to believe was helping the Russians interfere with the 2016 election. 

Oh, also, she points out that Putin won on Syria.

EmptyWheel: Putting a Face (Mine) to the Risks Posed by GOP Games on Mueller Investigation http://bit.ly/2KuSfSP

Sometime last year, I went to the FBI and provided information on a person whom I had come to believe had played a significant role in the Russian election attack on the US. Since that time, a number of public events have made it clear I was correct.

I never in my life imagined I would share information with the FBI, especially not on someone I had a journalistic relationship with. I did so for many reasons. Some, but not all, of the reasons are:

● I believed he was doing serious harm to innocent people
● I believed (others agreed) that reporting the story at that time would risk doing far more harm than good
● I had concrete evidence he was lying to me and others, including but not limited to other journalists
● I had reason to believe he was testing ways to tamper with my website
● I believed that if the FBI otherwise came to understand what kind of information I had, their likely investigative steps would pose a risk to the privacy of my readers

To protect the investigation, I will not disclose this person’s true identity or the identity and/or role I believe he played in the attack. …

I always planned to disclose this when this person’s role was publicly revealed. But I’m doing so now for two reasons. First, I think the public deserves to see the text he sent me at 3:15 PM on November 9, 2016.

Text: “Off the record. You likely don’t want to hear this anymore than I did, I have it on very good intel (A 1 if you know humint ratings) that Flynn is speaking to Team Al-Assad in the next 48 hours.

“Obviously that in and of itself is very disconcerting on a number of levels. You can probably figure out [a] lot more than I can.”

[Related Tweet] https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1014120713089888256

The substance of the text — that the Trump team started focusing on Syria right after the election — has been corroborated and tied to their discussions with Russia at least twice since then. Most importantly, in his statement to Congress, Jared Kushner explained his request for a back channel with the Russians by describing an effort to cooperate on Syria.

The Ambassador [Sergei Kislyak] expressed similar sentiments about relations, and then said he especially wanted to address U.S. policy in Syria, and that he wanted to convey information from what he called his “generals.” He said he wanted to provide information that would help inform the new administration. He said the generals could not easily come to the U.S. to convey this information and he asked if there was a secure line in the transition office to conduct a conversation. General Flynn or I explained that there were no such lines. I believed developing a thoughtful approach on Syria was a very high priority given the ongoing humanitarian crisis, and I asked if they had an existing communications channel at his embassy we could use where they would be comfortable transmitting the information they wanted to relay to General Flynn.

Less credibly, in the days after Mike Flynn pled guilty, an inflammatory Brian Ross report was corrected to reveal that “shortly after the election” Trump asked Flynn personally to work with Russia on Syria (Ross left ABC yesterday but as far as I understand the corrected story stands).

Retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn has promised “full cooperation” in the special counsel’s Russia investigation and, according to a confidant, is prepared to testify that Donald Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians, initially as a way to work together to fight ISIS in Syria.


The source said Trump phoned Flynn shortly after the election to explicitly ask him to “serve as point person on Russia,” and to reach out personally to Russian officials to develop strategies to jointly combat ISIS.

The text sent to me matches both those reports — indeed, it makes it clear that “shortly after the election” means just over 14 hours after polls closed. But the text doesn’t come from anyone, like Kushner or Flynn, inside the Trump team. It comes from someone who, I believe, had already done real damage to the United States as part of the Russian attack. That person understood the cooperation with Syria in terms of the US backing Bashar al-Assad, not in terms of fighting ISIS.

I’m making this public now because a David Ignatius report Thursday maps out an imminent deal with Russia and Israel that sounds like what was described to me within hours of the election. This deal appears to be the culmination of an effort that those involved in the Russian attack worked to implement within hours after the election.

The other reason I’m disclosing this now is to put a human face to the danger in which the House Republicans are putting other people who, like me, provided information about the Russian attack on the US to the government.

My risk isn’t going to go away — indeed, going public like this will surely exacerbate it. That’s to be expected, given the players involved.

But I’m a public figure. If something happens to me — if someone releases stolen information about me or knocks me off tomorrow — everyone will now know why and who likely did it. That affords me a small bit of protection. There are undoubtedly numerous other witnesses who have taken similar risks to share information with the government who aren’t public figures. The Republicans’ ceaseless effort to find out more details about people who’ve shared information with the government puts those people in serious jeopardy. …

[M]y decision to share information with the FBI had nothing to do with my dislike for Donald Trump. It had to do with the serious damage that someone else I believed to be involved in the Russian attack — someone I had been friendly with — was doing to innocent people, almost all of those people totally uninvolved in American politics.

This investigation is not, primarily, an investigation into Donald Trump. It’s an investigation into people who attacked the United States. It’s time Republicans started acting like that matters.

🐣 RT @MarkHertlin I wish someone could help me understand why these GOP Senators are in Russia. I know what CODELs are supposed to do, and I just don’t get this. It’s a bad action and an especially bad optics. Please,someone explain this.

🐣 RT @johnson_carrie NEWS from @NPR – Scott Schools, the highest ranking career lawyer at the Justice Dept., who helps oversee the Mueller probe and other sensitive issues, is stepping down.

🐣 RT @dcpoll Mar 2006 photo of Russian intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik [1] & his associates:
2- Tad Devine, BERNIE SANDERS 2016 senior campaign strategist
3- Manafort, TRUMP 2016 campaign chair
4- Christian Ferry, LINDSEY GRAHAM 2016 campaign manager

⭕ 2 Jul 2018

WaPo: Facebook’s disclosures under scrutiny as federal agencies join probe of tech giant’s role in sharing data with Cambridge Analytica http://wapo.st/2MH9HA5

🐣 Maria Bartiromo’s interview of Trump wasn’t softball. It was WIFFLE BALL.

🐣 RT @SenBobCorner Recognizing Crimea as part of Russia would undermine the rules-based international order that was created with U.S. leadership and has caused democracy to thrive around the world and made America a safer home for our citizens.

VanityFair, Emily Jane Fox: “He Was Trying to Get Ahead of Things”: Michael Cohen, Former Trump Shield and Current Regency Prisoner, Got Sick of Being a Whipping Boy http://bit.ly/2KtZydx

NYPost, Benny Avni: It’s up to the hawks to save Donald Trump from himself http://nyp.st/2KpqhYF

🐣 RT @Billbrowder What are the odds that Putin brings up his obsession to repeal the Magnitsky Act in his one-on-one meeting with Trump (without aides present) at the US Russia summit in Helsinki?

🐣 RT @McFaul Agreed. Remember, Bolton is the National Security ADVISER. He is supposed to give expert advise on these matters to a president with no foreign policy experience at all.
⋙ 🐣 RT @RichardHaass Disconcerting that NSA John Bolton unable/unwilling to reassure that @realDonaldTrump would not recognize Russian annexation of Crimea at Helsinki summit. The unacceptability of acquiring territory by force underpins what little international order exists.

TheGuardian: Will Michael Cohen flip on Trump? The key questions answered http://bit.ly/2lSeUd4
// Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer has told an interviewer that his first loyalty is to his family. Is he about to change tack?

Newsweek: Can Donald Trump Convince Vladimir Putin to Turn Against Iran? Syria War to Be Discussed at U.S.-Russia Summit http://bit.ly/2Ni3pZ3

McClatchy: Russia investigators likely got access to NRA’s tax filings, secret donors http://bit.ly/2NjIC7l

Carnegie: Can the Trump-Putin Summit Restore Guardrails to the U.S.-Russian Relationship? http://ceip.org/2z0RU53

BuzzFeed: The Senate Intel Committee Is In Regular Contact With The Trump–Russia Dossier Author http://bzfd.it/2MJIMUt
// The committee’s chair, Richard Burr of North Carolina, told BuzzFeed News that there are weekly contacts with Christopher Steele.

Politico: Russia becomes 7th WTO member to challenge Trump tariffs http://politi.co/2IKJ2QI

Axios: Trump sends letters to NATO allies demanding more defense spending http://bit.ly/2KIlGwP

WaPo, Jennifer Rubin: John Bolton’s ‘case of the vapors’ http://wapo.st/2KGluyd

If Bolton is right about his boss’s toughness, Trump will play hardball with Putin, pushing back on Russian war crimes in Syria, its illegal occupation of Crimea, its poisoning of defectors in England, its killing of journalists and its continuing support for Iran. If he does not, and instead goes to his default position with Putin (eager subservience), Bolton should seriously consider resigning. At this point, Bolton is enabling a president who favors foes over friends and is simply too foolish to be left in the room alone with an enemy of the United States. In short, he’s become a purveyor of the foreign policy he’s spent his life decrying.

🐣 William L Shirer wondered if Hitler would have risen to power if his name had remained “Schicklgruber.” If you replaced “strong” and “a disgrace” in Trump’s vocabulary, would that help? I suggest “babydimply” and “poodlepoo.” Except it might reflect poorly on babies and poodles.

WaPo, Ben Rhodes: Obama worried with foreign leaders about Trump. The president has proved them right. http://wapo.st/2lNK4SP

NYRB, Umberto Eco: Ur-Fascism http://bit.ly/2IN4QuL
// 6/22/1995

USAToday, Norm Eisen and Andrew Wright: How Donald Trump could speed up Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation: Talk to him. http://usat.ly/2IMTdUN

NYMag, Jonathan Chait: Michael Cohen Apparently Flipping Is Extremely Bad News for Trump http://nym.ag/2Ng6dWl

NBC: Trump continues to deny Russia interfered in 2016. Here’s why that’s a problem. http://nbcnews.to/2IN5p7Z

Politico: The Trump-Russia election interference seesaw rides on http://politi.co/2z3X5Bn 🌼They did interfere 🌼They didn’t interfere 🌼They did interfere 🌼They didn’t interfere 🌼They did interfere 🌼 …

TIME: Russia Says Crimea Is Off the Table for Trump’s Meeting With Putin http://ti.me/2MGq0Nx //➔ Dmitri Peskov: The status of Crimea “can not and will never be on the agenda because it is an inseparable part of Russia”

AP: Internal records show that Konstantin Kilimnik, indicted for alleged witness tampering along with President Donald Trump’s ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, played a bigger role formulating pro-Russia strategy with Manafort than was previously understood
⋙ AP: Russian charged with Trump’s ex-campaign chief is key figure http://bit.ly/2KJJ68t
//➔ 2004 Kilimnik memo to Manafort: “Russia is ultimately going to lose if they do not learn how to play this game.”

Kilimnik — who special counsel Robert Mueller believes is currently in Russia and has ties to Russian intelligence — helped formulate Manafort’s pitches to clients in Russia and Ukraine, according to the records. Among Manafort’s clients were Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and other mega-wealthy Russians with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kilimnik began that work in secret, the records show, even while working for the International Republican Institute — a U.S. government-funded nonprofit supporting the Western-friendly democratic movements that Manafort and his patrons sought to counter.

The records do not reveal what motivated Kilimnik’s work for Manafort, though Mueller’s team has alleged in U.S. court filings that Kilimnik’s ties to Russian intelligence remained active through the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Kilimnik has denied that.

The records show Kilimnik helped conceive strategies that Manafort sold to clients, and that he served as a key liaison between Manafort and principal financial backers, including Deripaska.

Deripaska has denied hiring Manafort for any pro-Russian political work, and unsuccessfully sued the AP last year over reporting that he had paid Manafort more than $10 million to influence political decisions and news coverage in Eastern Europe and Western capitals. Manafort also denied to the AP last year that he had performed political work for Deripaska.

A new filing by the U.S. government in Manafort’s court cases showed that Manafort acknowledged that work in a 2014 FBI interview, and files seized by the FBI showed that Deripaska was the source of a $10 million loan to a Manafort-controlled company in 2010.

At least some of Kilimnik’s channels to Deripaska remained open through the 2016 presidential campaign, when Kilimnik and Manafort sought to return to the oligarch’s good graces after a falling out. Deripaska has said he never received or discussed any proposal for new Manafort business during the campaign. …

The records show that Kilimnik participated in an early Manafort plan to influence Western politicians and media outlets. Officially, the project — known as Eurasia21 — would offer news and expertise on former Soviet states. Unofficially, it would be a propaganda operation intended to target Washington and European capitals and “train a cadre of leaders who can be relied upon in future governments,” according to one memo. …

🐣 RT @McFaul And by discussing all of these incredible concessions for nothing in return, Trump reinforces the theory that he is beholden to Putin. Why is that in Trump personal interests?
⋙ 🐣 RT @McFaul In last 2 weeks Trump has invited Russia to join G7, denied Russian interference in 2016 election, hinted at recognizing Crimean annexation, pulling out of Syria & reducing US troops in Germany. In return for these monumental concessions Trump has asked Putin to do…? #Artofdeal

🔆 This❗️⋙ ABCNews, George Stephanopoulos: EXCLUSIVE: Michael Cohen says family and country, not President Trump, is his ‘first loyalty’ http://abcn.ws/2z2zBwg

⭕ 1 Jul 2018

CBS: Blumenthal says Trump’s Supreme Court pick “ought to recuse” themselves from Russia decisions http://cbsn.ws/2tYJrcZ

🔄 StandUpAmerica: Trump Crimes Watch http://bit.ly/2KF4T12
// alt link trumpcrimewatch.org; linkups for protests etc

Vulture: Alec Baldwin Is Going to Need You to Get Personally Involved in Robert Mueller’s Russia Probe http://bit.ly/2Koa9GY

WaPo: John Bolton: No one should have ‘a case of the vapors’ over Trump’s summit with Putin http://wapo.st/2KCkY7x

TheAtlantic, David Frum: The Great Russian Disinformation Campaign http://theatln.tc/2tOiMPQ
// In a new book, Timothy Snyder explains how Russia revolutionized information warfare—and presages its consequences for democracies in Europe and the United States.

TheSternFacts: Grand Old Putin Party http://bit.ly/2KyvyfM
// 5-part series

Recent Books:
Trumpocracy – Frum
How Democracies Die – Levitsky/Ziblatt
Despot’s Apprentice – Klaas
People vs. Democracy – Mounk
Future is History – Gessen
Road to Unfreedom – Snyder

SundayTimes [UK]: National Crime Agency examines Russian link to Arron Banks http://bit.ly/2MC0qt5

⭕ 30 Jun 2018

Politifact: Did Justice Kennedy quit due to family ties to Trump and Russia? http://bit.ly/2unYkFA No: FALSE

WaPo: Arron Banks: The brash British millionaire who backed Brexit, befriended the Russian ambassador and loves Trump http://wapo.st/2Kl1Uvk

TheTelegraph [UK]: Donald Trump’s aide held secret talks with Brexiteers over trade deal agreement http://bit.ly/2tGIpTs

🐣💙💙 RT @tribelaw If SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade in 2019 or 2020, I’d predict a massive backlash: Dems would win the presidency and both the House and Senate in Nov 2020, and Congress would enact a law adding 2 seats to SCOTUS in 2021 or 2022. Remember there’s no constitutional magic in nine.

🐣 RT @MalcolmNance He is in debt. Payoff is Soft ideological take over of America & Europe’s democracies & ending Sanctions & the Atlantic Alliance. This deal was made in 2013 at Nobu restaurant Moscow. Trump’s paying up.
⋙ 🐣 RT @mcfaul Trump continues to hint at concessions he might offer Putin. Appeasement (almost always a bad idea) usually occurs in response to some threat, but Putin (to the best of my knowledge!) is not preparing to invade Europe. So what is the strategy here? I just dont get it.

WaPo: U.S. judge bars evidence-sharing with ‘Putin’s chef’ in Mueller probe of Russian election interference http://wapo.st/2Km9d5F

WaPo, Max Boot: Trump wants to Finlandize the United States http://wapo.st/2KkL0g1
// “I have never believed that Trump is a Manchurian candidate — a Russian mole — but it’s hard to know how he would be acting differently if he were. If the Atlantic alliance survives his presidency in its current form, it will be a miracle.”

WaPo: ‘What would you give your life for?’: Michael Moore warns of fight to save democracy from Trump http://wapo.st/2tOlowY

NPR: The Russia Investigations: Big Implications For The New Supreme Court Justice http://n.pr/2MD1JYW

NYMag, Jonathan Chait: The Other Russia Collusion Scandal Is Breaking Wide Open http://nym.ag/2tFgqUk

🐣 RT @ jedshug Thread: A president under investigation for impeachment has never appointed a Justice. Not Nixon, not Clinton, not Andrew Johnson. Never. Democrats should make clear that if the GOP destroys this tradition, they will expand the Court to 15 in 2021 without filibuster. http://bit.ly/2Kln3pd

DailyBeast, Clive Irving: It Is Happening Here, Trump Is Already Early-Stage Mussolini http://thebea.st/2KmEqFZ
// The false threat of murderous immigrants, the draconian response, a government agency going rogue—it’s all been seen before and it’s very dangerous.

… This is not Italy in 1925. Nonetheless there is no comfort to be gained from the gap in place and time. There are too many clear similarities in the Trump administration’s language, techniques and actions.

First, there is the flashpoint issue designed to make populations feel insecure—and therefore, to justify a draconian response.

Trump has used immigration as that issue from the day of his notorious candidacy-launching “rapists and murderers” speech.

And, like Mussolini, Trump is surrounded by his own hard core of fanatics eager to use that issue to achieve their own ideological purposes.

Mussolini was greatly under the influence of Roberto Farinacci, a lawyer and one of the most unrelenting dogmatists of the fascist movement. Trump has Stephen Miller, under the nebulous title of political adviser, who has for years been in lockstep with Attorney General Jeff Sessions in whipping up fears about the browning of America (which is, in any case, already demographically inevitable).

The ultimate ghastly achievement of the Miller-Sessions axis has been the “zero tolerance” policy for those crossing the Mexican border without permission. In other words, the automatic criminalization of refugees.

All along, Miller and Sessions knew that in Trump they had an easy accomplice. The man who created the birthing smear against Obama and who thought the fascists at Charlottesville were OK was innately racist, and they exploited it.

In fact, “zero tolerance” has the same intransigent tone, the same absolutism and the same indiscriminate cruelty that Mussolini conveyed in his speeches when he used the unrest that he had himself fomented to justify seizing absolute power.

And the language used in attacking immigrants is based on lies used with the same frequency and conviction that was recommended by the original fascist dictum that if a lie is repeated often enough it becomes accepted as fact.

Immigration across the Mexican border has been continually presented as a threat to public safety. Thousands of innocents fleeing from terror in Central America are equated with terrorists. The MS-13 gangs become shorthand for a crime wave that doesn’t exist.

And Trump, as ever an empathy amputee, is still using words like “infest” and “invade” as a catch-all term for thousands of people who are refugees and asylum seekers.

Forced into stopping the separation of children from parents—albeit when it had become untenable—Trump pulled a sordid stunt by inviting to the White House a group of people who had lost loved ones to crimes committed by illegal immigrants. This sad and bewildered group found themselves suddenly complicit in sustaining the toxic fiction that nobody is safe when sharing the streets of our cities with illegal immigrants.

Where Mussolini had his militia, Trump has Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE. Created in 2003, ICE was a child of the response to 9/11, part of the Bush administration’s plan to reinforce institutions to deal more effectively with terrorism, and it fell under the Department of Homeland Security.

Probably because of the haste of that change—and the priorities given to anti-terrorist powers—ICE has suffered from weak oversight. As a result, it has a long record of abusing detainees through both the Bush and Obama administrations and now in the era of Trump it seems alarmingly unfettered.

Last December the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, belatedly responding to disturbing reports about the treatment of immigrants, confirmed widespread cases of the abuse of detainees in ICE jails across the country.

The abuse included strip searches in violation of rules, failure to provide medical care, physical abuse by guards and unsafe and unhygienic conditions. Other reports have indicated systemic sexual harassment and abuse.

Indeed, since the arrival of “Zero tolerance” ICE has shown all the signs of going rogue. It scooped up and bundled off detainees to many parts of the country in the confidence that nobody was looking—until the whole miserable farrago of family separations was suddenly exposed. It remains belligerently opaque in its methods, consistently rebuffing the attempts of lawmakers to inspect its premises.

Not even Mussolini could have imagined concentration camps for babies. But that is where we are.

Trump and the White House are, in theory, constrained by Congress, an independent judiciary, a government staffed by people who are supposed to follow the law and a free press.

Looked at in the context of Mussolini’s Italy, how well are these constraints performing?

The judiciary is yet to be fully tested, but the Supreme Court is looking worryingly complaisant after its blessing of Trump’s Muslim travel ban, shaped indelibly by his splenetic Islamophobia. In contrast, the professionals at the Department of Justice have so far, in spite of Sessions, managed to secure their integrity. …

The most obvious failure, though, is Congress. It is, at best, in denial and, at worst, calculatingly supine.

In Mitch McConnell the Senate has a majority leader who has spent years perfecting his impersonation of Uriah Heep, piously lamenting the lack of bipartisan support for any legislation, particularly on immigration, while making sure there is none. He has been typically AWOL during every stage of Trump’s moral depravities.

In the House Paul Ryan, half out the door already, was revealed as spineless long ago and now looks like a beaten man.

At least we still have the free press at the top of its form. But, at the same time, we also have Fox News, serving basically as a state propaganda machine so sycophantic and so malign that Mussolini would have found it exemplary.

Before we descend into hell let’s make sure we recognize the signs of its approach. They are all there now, in plain sight. History does not have to repeat itself.

NYT, Paul Krugman: Trump’s Potemkin Economy http://nyti.ms/2KljwHr

⭕ 29 Jun 2018

WaPo, Randall Eliason: Why are Republicans hiding Peter Strzok’s testimony? http://wapo.st/2KBJ8vM

TPM, Josh Marshall: Trump on trade, Russia and NATO http://bit.ly/2tEqTPG

TPM, Josh Marshall: Clear and Present Danger http://bit.ly/2tZqV4f

We’re far past the point where it matters whether President Trump is a ignorant and destructive fool or operates as some sort of agent of the Russian Federation. The upshot appears to be the same. The Washington Post reports that President Trump has tasked the Pentagon with analyzing withdrawing US troops from Germany. Quoting the nominal explanation the Post was given: “Trump was said to have been taken aback by the size of the U.S. presence, which includes about 35,000 active-duty troops, and complained that other countries were not contributing fairly to joint security or paying enough to NATO.”

This is in advance of the NATO summit next month which will be followed shortly after by a summit with Vladimir Putin. The German troop presence news comes after we learned that in April Trump tried to persuade President Macron of France to leave the European Union. Days ago Trump told a crowd in North Dakota that “the European Union, of course, was set up to take advantage of the United States, to attack our piggy bank.” Trump apparently ‘joked’ about pulling the US out of NATO with the Prime Minister of Sweden. More strikingly, he told G-7 members in Canada earlier this month that “NATO is as bad as NAFTA.”

What The Times of London calls a “senior EU diplomat” says of these comments and gambits, “we are more and more concerned they are not just incidents. It starts to look like a very worrying pattern” and refers to “an American doctrine in which there are no friends, only enemies” with no “rules-based order”. “It is very dangerous,” the source told the paper.

Some of this comes from Trump’s longstanding protectionist views which I would argue are rooted in his zero sum concept of deal-making. But the role of Russia, the efforts to liquidate NATO and the continuing and aggressive courtship of Putin show it is part of some broader agenda. Someone, eventually, will have to place some check on Trump’s power. For the moment, the entire cadre of political appointees in the administration and the leadership of Congress appears entirely inert and passive, if not outright supportive. It is important to remember that the President has zero constitutional authority over trade policy. That is 100% on loan from Congress. It’s remarkable that this is all happening before our eyes and no one [ends]

We’re in a lot of danger.

TheDiplomat, Aileen Torres-Bennett and Anna Gawel: Trump’s Transactional Realpolitik Alienates America’s European Allies http://bit.ly/2KB7G8d

NYT, Roger Cohen: Of Course, It Could Not Happen Here http://nyti.ms/2MzTltf
// We are all frogs in Trump’s slow-boiling pot

Politico Mag, Michael Kruse: The Lost City of Trump http://politi.co/2tFvnpn
// Jul-Aug 2018; It was supposed to be his legacy. Today it’s a mere shadow of his dream—but he declared victory anyway. How the saga of Trump City foreshadowed the president’s chaotic path to the White House.

◕ Chart: Duration and Results of Investigations https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1012836788304531457/photo/1
// Trump Russia shortest with most results

NYT/AP: Trump Says He’ll Bring Up Election Meddling With Putin http://nyti.ms/2Kk68mV

TPM, Josh Marshall: Trump on trade, Russia and NATO http://bit.ly/2tEqTPG

TheHill: Five highlights from the tense Wray-Rosenstein hearing http://bit.ly/2ICOuoo

Politico: Trump on meeting Putin: ‘I’ll talk to him about everything’ http://politi.co/2tHNQ4z oh. great.

DallasNews: Cornyn frets that Trump fails to see Putin as a thug ahead of U.S.-Russia summit in Helsinki http://bit.ly/2tVeM0a

WaPo, Anne Gearan: Trump hopes he and Putin will get along. Russia experts worry they will. http://wapo.st/2lNFtQN

ForeignPolicy: U.S. Ambassador to Estonia Resigns in Disgust After Trump Anti-Europe Rants http://bit.ly/2KvVusw
// James Melville is the latest in a string of career diplomat resignations over Trump’s comments and policies.

CNBC: Special counsel Mueller reportedly interested in Brexit boosters’ ties to Trump associates, Russia http://cnb.cx/2IBM6P2
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is interested in a British businessman and his pro-Brexit associates’ contacts with Russian diplomats and Trump campaign operatives, The Washington Post reported.
Wealthy businessman Arron Banks reportedly met the Russian ambassador to London in August 2016, the Post reported.
Less than a week later, Banks and his associates traveled to attend a fundraiser in Mississippi, where they had been invited by then-campaign chief executive Steve Bannon.

MotherJones: Trump’s Supreme Court Pick Could Have a Dicey Task: Deciding Trump-Russia Cases http://bit.ly/2N5XGW5
// The president might have a very personal interest in his next appointee.

TheIndependent [UK]: Russian TV boasts about electing Trump ahead of summit with Putin http:/ind.pn/2IzY2kh
// ‘What trouble did we cause? We just elected Trump, that’s all,’ a Russian news presenter said

NYT: ‘Shaken’ Rosenstein Felt Used by White House in Comey Firing http://nyti.ms/2yS2NGh

🐣 RT @EricHolder The unprecedented disclosure of ongoing investigative material, FISA and national security documents to the complicit and unprincipled House Republicans sets a dangerous precedent and impacts the Mueller inquiry. It must stop. Lines have to be drawn.

NYMag, Jonah Shepp: In Trump’s Russia Summit, Putin Holds All the Cards http://nym.ag/2tMQmWt

CBSNews: Some questions in Trump-Russia dossier now finding answers http://cbsn.ws/2MznUPG

⭕ 28 Jun 2018

WaPo, David Ignatius (6/28): Is Trump handing Putin a victory in Syria? http://wapo.st/2z3zwbL //➔ interesting in light of @emptywheel’s blog post on a source she believes aided the Russians (see at 7/3/2018)

An intriguing aspect of the possible Syria deal is that it’s driven by close cooperation between Russia and Israel. The Israeli agenda, like Trump’s, is narrowly focused on blocking Iran — and Israelis seem to have concluded that Putin is a reliable regional partner.

Politico: Ahead of summit, U.S. and Russia tussle to control the narrative http://politi.co/2MAlNuZ
// The Kremlin is often the first to share news with the world, leaving some to wonder whether Putin will best Trump in messaging.

🐣 RT @SteveSchmidtSES Rod Rosenstein doesn’t look like an action hero, but that is what he is. Guts, integrity and courage. Americans don’t get to see that from our high ranking public officials these days but today they did and America is strengthened because of it.

TheHill: Trump cites Russia’s denial of meddling: ‘Where is the DNC Server?’ http://bit.ly/2IF6EWY

Venture Capital Twitter Thread http://bit.ly/2KlVjAQ
🐣 RT @kelly2277 Deutsche Bank’s “Private Wealth Division” bailed out Trump w help from Commerce Sec Wilbur Ross, Vekselberg, Rybolovlev & Robert Mercer (shares of BOC bought by Renaissance Technology)- ALL major shareholders in Bank of Cyprus – BOC
⋙ Newsweek (Dec 2017): Is Donald Trump’s Dark Russian Secret Hiding in Deutsche Bank’s Vaults? http://bit.ly/2KrXYrD

Look at names, biz & orgs here. See how they ALL tie together? See why Trump appointed @SecretaryRoss for CommerceAckerman, Ross, Deutsche BOC Vekselberg, Rybolovlev- he bought Trump mansion for excessive amt. KGB Spy Strzhalkovsky, Renova Rosneft, Blavatnik, Fridman

Bank of Cyprus shareholder Rybolovlev managed to overpay Trump $40M for his Palm Beach mansion- only to quickly tear it down Rybolovlev & Mercer’s yachts were seen anchored next to each other. RenTec, Mercer’s hedge fund uses tax haven at BOC
[ Etc Etc Etc ]

🐣 RT @KaitlanCollins News — Sens. Murkowski, Collins and Heitkamp were all at the White House tonight meeting with President Trump, along with Sens. Manchin and Donnelly. Heitkamp, Manchin and Donnelly are the three Dems who voted for Gorsuch.

🐣 RT @StevenJHarper1 With respect to Mueller’s investigation, @TGowdySC told Rosenstein to “finish it the hell up.” Context:
Watergate: 4 yrs
Iran-Contra: 6 yrs
Whitewater: 7 yrs
#TrumpRussia: 1 yr; 5 guilty pleas; 17 indictments

NYT: Political War Over Replacing Kennedy on Supreme Court Is Underway http://nyti.ms/2KwfGXX

Politico: Dems tell Rosenstein, Wray not to bow to GOP pressure http://politi.co/2IyzOGV Pelosi, Schumer, Warner, Schiff

TheNewYorker, Robin Wright: Will Trump Get Played By Putin? http://bit.ly/2Kt5LFP

DailyBeast, David Litt: Robert Mueller Must Finish Investigating Before Trump Gets His Supreme Court Pick http://thebea.st/2KxA0Ii
// A profound, debilitating constitutional crisis awaits if we find out that the Senate confirmed an illegitimate president’s nominees.

WaPo/AP: Trump-Putin meeting to follow NATO gathering at tense moment http://wapo.st/2KlOyPu

NYT: In Meeting With Putin, Experts Fear Trump Will Give More Than He Gets http://nyti.ms/2IAxBef

NBC, Keith Koffler: Trump’s Russia summit is part of a broader (winning) strategy to treat allies like dirt and tyrants like friends http://nbcnews.to/2tNPOjf
// Critics accuse Trump of cuddling up to dictators instead of democrats. But there might be a method to what critics cite as his madness.

HuffPo: Democrats Tie Trump Supreme Court Pick To Russia Investigation http://bit.ly/2KvZZA7
// Some Democrats say the president shouldn’t get to pick a Supreme Court justice while he’s under criminal investigation.

 WaPo: How the ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’ forged ties with Russia and the Trump campaign — and came under investigators’ scrutiny http://wapo.st/2IAww6b

🐣 RT @tribelaw A president under active criminal investigation of whether he won legitimately and whether he has obstructed that very investigation should not be permitted by a mere Senate majority to designate the justice whose votes could prove pivotal to the fate of his presidency.

TPM, Josh Marshall: The Critical Question Facing Democrats and the Court http://bit.ly/2yRpbiP

TPM: Rosenstein: ‘We Are Not Going To Be In Contempt Of This Congress’ http://bit.ly/2KxN1os

TPM, Josh Marshall: Please Read This Through. He’s Right. http://bit.ly/2KjaH0u “Looking through my email I found this from a former federal public corruption prosecutor …”

“Consider that the Supreme Court may be called upon to decide, for example, whether the President can pardon himself or others to protect himself, whether a sitting President can be indicted, whether a sitting President can be compelled to testify before a federal grand jury, whether the appointment of the Special Counsel somehow violated the Appointments Clause (as some conservatives absurdly assert), and whether a President can ever obstruct justice. Even beyond the Mueller investigation, the Supreme Court may be called upon to decide whether the President’s acceptance of significant foreign funds through his businesses violates the Emoluments Clause. We have no idea how Justice Kennedy would have ruled on these questions (he hasn’t exactly distinguished himself in the last two days). But we have no doubt how a Trump appointee will. Never before has the selection of a Supreme Court nominee been so thoroughly compromised by the President’s profound personal interest in appointing a judge the President can count on to protect the President. This is DEFCON 1 for the rule of law in this country.”

… Democrats have a much stronger case to make: no vote should be taken until after the Special Counsel has submitted a report to Congress, or closed the investigation of the President. A President under federal criminal investigation for stealing an election should not be able to nominate the person who may decide his fate. There will be a cloud over the legitimacy of this nomination unless and until the cloud of the Mueller investigation has been lifted.

NYT: House G.O.P. Breaks Into Open Warfare With Rosenstein, Demanding Russia Files http://nyti.ms/2lD0D3M MoscowProject: Another Trump Supreme Court Pick Could Imperil the Russia Investigation. Here’s How. http://bit.ly/2lEXikJ

WaPo Editorial: Trump is kowtowing to the Kremlin again. Why? http://wapo.st/2lE8RZv

WaPo: Republicans berate Rosenstein and urge him to end Russia probe http://wapo.st/2KtCx6s

WaPo: Rod Rosenstein shuts down Jim Jordan over Fox News report http://wapo.st/2KuzZFf

WaPo: How Rosenstein and Wray’s testimony undermined GOP efforts to undermine the Russia investigation http://wapo.st/2Na4RfN

WaPo: A broad debunking of Trump’s claims about Russian interference and the Mueller investigation http://wapo.st/2KghAjs

ABCNews: Special counsel eyeing Russians granted unusual access to Trump inauguration parties http://abcn.ws/2MwG6cN

🐣 RT @MarkWarner The President can either believe the unanimous conclusion of our intelligence community, or he can believe Vladimir Putin. 📒 [pdf] http://bit.ly/2lFhEKD 25p

NYT: Ex-Aide to Roger Stone Is Subpoenaed in Russia Investigation http://nyti.ms/2N8ZLAj
// Andrew Miller

A lawyer, Paul Kamenar, said he planned to file a motion on Thursday on behalf of a client who was subpoenaed to be questioned in front of the grand jury, though he did not identify Mr. Miller. Mr. Kamenar said the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative nonprofit organization, was paying for his services.

His motion will argue that Mr. Mueller’s appointment “was unconstitutional,” he said. Peter Flaherty, the chairman of the NLPC, said, “The founders feared exactly what we see in Mueller: a runaway federal official. We hope to see Mueller’s operation disbanded, once and for all.”

Though that argument has gained prominence in conservative circles, the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, who appointed Mr. Mueller, has repeatedly said he has seen nothing untoward in his conduct.

RollCall: War Over FBI and Justice Reaches Crescendo on Hill http://bit.ly/2yR2nzV
// Divided House passes resolution demanding surveillance documents by July 6

⭕ 27 Jun 2018

Politico: Mueller reveals closer Manafort ties to Russian oligarch http://politi.co/2IBjk13
// Paul Manafort and his wife received a $10 million loan from Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with ties to Vladimir Putin.

Reuters: Manafort had $10 million loan from Russian oligarch: court filing http://reut.rs/2N3dxEN

The affidavit unsealed on Wednesday also disclosed that Deripaska had financially backed Manafort’s consulting work in Ukraine when it started in 2005-2006, citing information from a source whose name was redacted, a sign that a former Manafort associate may have cooperated with the investigation.

⭕ 26 Jun 2018

McClatchy (6/26): The winding money trail from Kazakhstan to Trump SoHo http://bit.ly/2z1vOzu

USAToday: House panel votes to direct DOJ to hand over more documents in Russia inquiry, Clinton case http://usat.ly/2tIWcIn

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, pressed Republicans on what they plan to do to Rosenstein if the House passes the resolution and he doesn’t turn over all the documents.

“The intent is to call to attention to the Department of Justice that they are not in compliance with what is requested of them,” said Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., who voted for the resolution even though he said he wasn’t sure it was necessary.

Jordan said Republicans “want the weight of the full House behind this.” If the Justice Department balks at the demands, “we will cross that bridge when we come to it,” Jordan said, adding that “every option is on the table.”

Those options include issuing more subpoenas, holding Rosenstein in contempt of Congress or trying to impeach him – a rarely used penalty that would be difficult to impose because it would be nearly impossible to pass in the closely divided Senate.

Under an amendment from Jordan, the resolution seeks documents related to the Justice Department and FBI’s inquiry into the Clinton Foundation, which was investigated in 2016 amid allegations that people who donated to the foundation got access to Clinton when she was secretary of state. No charges were filed in the case.

◕ WaPo: A poll commissioned by Bush and Biden shows Americans losing confidence in democracy http://wapo.st/2yHvm9q

“Half of Americans think the United States is in “real danger of becoming a nondemocratic, authoritarian country.” A majority, 55 percent, see democracy as “weak” — and 68 percent believe it is “getting weaker.” Eight in 10 Americans say they are either “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the condition of democracy here.”

These are among the sobering results of a major bipartisan poll published Tuesday that was commissioned by the George W. Bush Institute, the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center and Freedom House, which tracks the vitality of democracies around the world. The three groups have partnered to create the Democracy Project, with the goal of monitoring the health of the American system.

LATimes: Trump tax cuts carry a big price tag: Huge debt and risk of another financial crisis, budget office warns http://lat.ms/2txkTZ8

🐣 RT @QuinnipiacPoll: VA Voter support for allowing undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children to apply for citizenship https://bit.ly/2KnXEdn  #DACA GRAPH by partyid
// Favor: All 77%, GOP 57% (37% no), Dem 97%, Ind 75%

🐣 RT @Commonwealthfnd Poll: Survey Question: Should Affordable Health Care Be a Right?Survey Answer: 92% of working-age adults think that all Americans should have the right to affordable health care. https://buff.ly/2tl8iYZ 

WaPo, Josh Rogin: Biden: European leaders reeling from Trump’s hostile behavior http://wapo.st/2N3fqBh

Vox: Russian pop star Emin Agalarov who arranged Trump Tower meeting makes music video about colluding with Trump [ video ] http://bit.ly/2KmMouy He’s joking … right? //➔ funny :D

 RCP Investigations, Lee Smith: Seven Mysterious Preludes to the FBI’s Trump-Russia Probe http://bit.ly/2ItXX1t

TheHill, Joseph Moreno: Prepare to be disappointed with Russia investigation conclusion http://bit.ly/2yIc2J9

VanityFair: Robert Mueller Could Have an October Surprise for the G.O.P. http://bit.ly/2yMRPle
// The special counsel is expected to reach a conclusion—and produce possible indictments—right around the midterm elections this fall.

Bloomberg, Chris Strohm and Shannon Pettypiece: Mueller Poised to Zero In on Trump-Russia Collusion Allegations http://bloom.bg/2tC9ExN
⋙ See under Entire Articles

Mueller and his team of prosecutors and investigators have an eye toward producing conclusions — and possible indictments — related to collusion by fall, said the person, who asked not to be identified. He’ll be able to turn his full attention to the issue as he resolves other questions, including deciding soon whether to find that Trump sought to obstruct justice.

On three occasions, Russians offered people associated with Trump’s campaign dirt on Democrat Clinton — all before it was publicly known that Russians had hacked the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman.

Mueller has interviewed or sought information about many of the people known to have met with Russians during the campaign. But it’s not known publicly whether the barrage of Russian contacts was instigated or coordinated by the Kremlin.

⭕ 25 Jun 2018

CNN: Conservatives grumble about House GOP’s handling of investigation into FBI http://cnn.it/2K9FxbY

Several Republicans who serve on the two panels told CNN they are dissatisfied with the pace of the investigation, saying the chairmen have been slow to schedule witness interviews and have held marathon sessions with just four witnesses who have shed little light on both the Clinton investigation and the start of the FBI’s Russia probe in 2016.

“The major frustration is with a lack of tenacious spirit in getting documents and scheduling interviews with appropriate witnesses,” Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a member of the House Oversight Committee and chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, told CNN on Monday. “While the time frame may be viewed as appropriate, conservative members and the American people feel like much more could be done.”

“No,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, said when asked if he was satisfied by the investigation. “Because we haven’t been tough about getting the documents. We keep playing this game, and it’s starting to look like it’s a low-energy investigation if we don’t start holding people in contempt and beginning impeachment proceedings in the absence of compliance with congressional oversight.”

Amid the criticism, the House Judiciary Committee is stepping up its pace. On Tuesday, the panel is slated to vote on a resolution by conservative lawmakers directing the Justice Department to provide documents about surveillance on Trump associates in the 2016 elections, although the committee had to mark up the resolution or it would go straight to the House floor for a vote.

On Wednesday, the FBI agent at the center of controversy in both inquiries — Peter Strzok — will meet with the House Judiciary Committee behind closed doors for a deposition after being slapped with a subpoena by Goodlatte, even though Strzok had voluntarily agreed to be interviewed.

And on Thursday, the panel will hold a public hearing with FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about the inspector general’s report, giving the Republicans an opportunity to dress down the FBI and Justice Department leaders about their document requests.

The fight with the Justice Department over documents — which has also involved House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, a California Republican, battling over subpoenas for his investigation into the start of the FBI’s Russia investigation in 2016 — has prompted calls for the firing of Rosenstein from several of Mueller’s most vocal critics in the House

WSJ: Justice Department Tells Devin Nunes It Complied With His Requests on FBI Probe http://on.wsj.com/2tEFqdf
// Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd says department’s efforts to accommodate committee’s demands while protecting ongoing investigations were ‘consistent with the law’

Mr. Nunes has previously accused Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of obstruction and has threatened to hold him in contempt of Congress or even force him from his job if he refuses to comply. Democrats say the demands go far beyond Congress’s traditional oversight work and are an effort to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation.

“Under the guise of oversight, the president’s allies continue to seek documents in a pending investigation for the purpose of assisting the Trump legal team or, if the Justice Department refuses, using that refusal to undermine Mueller’s investigation or give the President a pretext to fire Rod Rosenstein,” Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the House intelligence committee, wrote in a statement Monday.

Mr. Trump, who has privately mulled dismissing Messrs. Rosenstein and Mueller and has frequently attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has supported Mr. Nunes’s efforts. On Monday morning, he tweeted: “I have tried to stay uninvolved with the Justice Department and FBI (although I do not legally have to), because of the now totally discredited and very expensive Witch Hunt currently going on. But you do have to ask why the DOJ & FBI aren’t giving over requested documents?”

Mr. Trump has denied any collusion between his campaign and Russia, and Moscow has denied election meddling. Mr. Mueller’s investigation has obtained guilty pleas or indictments from 20 individuals so far, on charges related to tax fraud, money laundering and lying to investigators.

TheHill (1:42pm): Nunes sets new deadline for DOJ on use of FBI informant http://bit.ly/2Kcz6F1 //➔ Deadline was 5pm tonight (Monday): he’s just itching to hold Rosenstein in contempt, isn’t he?

A small cadre of House Republicans, led by Nunes, have been wrangling for months over documents related to the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, which includes probing possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Moscow. They have accused the department of stonewalling Congress.

In a pair of letters turned over late Friday night, the FBI revealed that it had handed over thousands of new documents to lawmakers probing the origins of what is now special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

But although House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said that lawmakers were “finally getting access” to the documents they had requested — calling a Justice Department request for more time “reasonable” — Nunes on Sunday said the bureau’s latest responses “raised more questions than answers.”

“These questions include whether the FBI and Department of Justice leadership intend to obey the law and fully comply with duly authorized congressional subpoenas,” Nunes wrote.

Among the information Nunes is seeking is documentation on the use of a confidential informant in the early stages of the investigation into the campaign. The use of such sources is common in counterintelligence investigations, but the revelation of the source and his role has ignited outrage on the right. President Trump and his allies have characterized the man as a “spy” planted there by the FBI to undercut his campaign.

The Justice Department has resisted providing information on the informant to the whole of Congress, arguing that it would needlessly expose sensitive sources and methods and endanger lives. It has limited briefings to the Gang of Eight — the top Republican and Democrat in each chamber, as well as the top Republican and Democrat on each of the Intelligence committees.

Nunes on Sunday blasted that limitation as “unacceptable” and said that “the alleged referral of the ‘Committee’s request for transcripts or summaries of conversations between human source(s) and Trump campaign officials’ to the Director of National Intelligence does not relieve the FBI and DOJ from full compliance with the Committee’s subpoena.”

Trump has threatened to involve himself in the dispute over the documents related to the investigation into his own campaign — something critics have said risks a dangerous politicization of the Justice Department. Previous presidents have sought to maintain at least the appearance of an independent Justice Department. NBCNews: JUST IN: Attorneys for Michael Cohen say that they have reviewed the more than 4M files seized by the government from a search warrant and have turned over materials to the Trump organization, the president, and non-privileged material to federal investigators.

TheHill, John Solomon: How Comey intervened to kill WikiLeaks’ immunity deal http://bit.ly/2MZsMPc
// An opinion piece: lots of Investigators list people seems to question motives

NYMag, Jonathan Chait: Trump’s Latest and Most Insane New Theory for Shutting Down Mueller Probe http://nym.ag/2IpGnvC

1. The jumping-off point for their defense of Trump is the recent FBI Inspector General report, which lambasted former director James Comey for evading Bureau protocol and announcing the reopening of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails. … Comey confessed “that his election-eve decision to reopen the Clinton email investigation was motivated by a desire to protect her assumed presidency’s legitimacy.”

This finding of “bias” is the foundation for the argument. What they authors don’t acknowledge is that it was bias against Hillary Clinton. Yes, Comey was trying to safeguard the legitimacy of her presumably certain election. But what was he trying to safeguard it against? The conspiracy theories of the Republican Party, which was already ginning up a postelection campaign to discredit the election as “rigged.”

2. They proceed to argue that texts between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, expressing a wide array of centrist political views including heavy criticism of Donald Trump, reveal a fatal bias in the department …

There are two problems with this line of argument. First, the report only details the personal views of Page and Strzok, and not any other FBI agents. Why is that? Because Page and Strzok were having an affair … [Y]ou’d have to be insane to think they were the only FBI agents who had strong partisan beliefs. Lots of FBI agents had preferences in 2016, and the strongest leanings reportedly were those in favor of Trump.

Second, as the IG report states, the personal views of those agents did not affect their work.

3. Rivkin and Foley go on to assert that the investigation of Trump was opened up in order to prevent him from winning. They do not explain why the FBI kept its investigation hidden, even going so far as to disinform the public by telling the New York Times they saw no connection between Trump’s campaign and Russia. They infer this anti-Trump motive from the fact that Trump’s campaign was being investigated despite there being no evidence of anything shady going on[!] …

Rivkin and Foley don’t want to take any chances of letting Mueller produce this [possible] evidence. They propose “that the special counsel’s activity be paused.” Then of course there won’t be any evidence of collusion, and they can kill the investigation for good, and conclude that Trump was innocent.

🐣 RT @kelly2277 Remember last year When I told you Trumps Bodyguards were Felix Sater’s @fbi handler’sGuess what? They’re also friends of Rudy Giuliani & FELON Bernard KerikAre they the @NewYorkFBI Giuliani leaks @COMEY warned us about

NewYorker, Jane Mayer: A Parlor Game at Rebekah Mercer’s Has No Get Out of Jail Free Card http://bit.ly/2MXmdwp
// 7/2/2018 issue; Members of the right-wing family that helped put Trump in the White House can relive the campaign in an elaborate dinner-party game.

FoxNews: Republicans ask Rosenstein for names of everyone working on Mueller probe http://fxn.ws/2tBMtni

JustSecurity: Trump as a Russian Target – Through the Eyes of a former CIA Russian Expert http://bit.ly/2yHDOoY

RawStory: Russia expert Michael McFaul explains the extremely unusual disconnect between Trump’s policies and his friendship with Putin http://bit.ly/2K61FUw

… [A] mass mobilization, a societal mobilization against the Putin regime starting in December 2011 and lasting for about six months, where in response to a falsified parliamentary election in December 2011, you had the greatest mobilization against the regime since 1991, the year that the Soviet Union collapsed. I think the confluence of those two factors together, Putin’s return and that protest against him, led to renewed tension in U.S.-Russia relations, because Putin blamed us for that mobilization against his regime.

Do you think, and I’m going to be blunt in this question, that Donald Trump has been compromised by the Russian government?

I don’t know. I think it’s an important question. I’ll tell you what I know, and then I’ll tell you what I think we need to learn from Mr. Mueller. What I know is Vladimir Putin and his proxies did various things [referring to stealing data, spreading propaganda on social media and openly siding against Hillary Clinton]. I keep adding “proxies,” by the way because I think some people that are not familiar with that system don’t understand that he deliberately developed cutouts and third parties to do these things so that he can deny that he was involved. Nobody should be confused: You do not bring allegedly compromising material on a candidate in the U.S. presidential election unless the Russian government is sanctioning that act. It just doesn’t work any other way in that system.

So he did all those things for sure. The things that I don’t know are two things. One, I don’t know what compromising material the Russian government may have gathered on Trump when he visited in 2013. I can tell you that the Ritz-Carlton [in Moscow], where he stayed — the Russian government has tremendous capabilities to monitor people that stay there. As I write in my book, when we stayed there with President Obama, we built a submarine-like structure within one of the suites in the Ritz-Carlton to give us the opportunity to have a confidential conversation with President Obama. Those are the lengths to which we went in that facility.

So the capacity, I think, is pretty clear. Everybody understands that, but what happened there [during Trump’s visit], I don’t know. And then the second thing, and to me more important or possibly more damning in some ways, is on the financial side. And here’s what I know and here’s what I don’t know: I know that President Putin and his proxies use money to create leverage over individuals within Russia and Europe.

They provide lucrative deals and free money and assets, but in return they then have leverage on you when you accept those terms. That’s just a very common instrument of influence that the Kremlin uses today. That I know. But what I don’t know is whether they used that instrument with the Trump campaign, with the Trump family and with Trump’s associates. That’s the piece that we need Mr. Mueller to help us understand.

Q: To me, it would seem we know for a fact that Trump has extensive business connections to Russia and Ukraine. That’s beyond dispute. It would seem highly implausible that these connections would exist and that Putin wouldn’t use them, especially on someone who is a presidential candidate. Am I wrong?

I just want to wait for the facts. I think it’s plausible. Yes, absolutely. But to make such a claim, I think, requires really hard evidence, and we have anecdotal evidence, we have circumstantial evidence. We have strange meetings. You know, why is your Jared Kushner meeting with the head of your bank, Mr. Gorkov, a bank that is completely controlled by the Kremlin? That seems very odd to me. Why is he seeking to have a conversation with people in Russia through some confidential channel, and even asking to go to the Russian embassy to have that? That seems very odd to me. But in my mind, there are two explanations: One is that there was some leverage created and two, that Mr. Kushner was just extremely naïve in dealing with the Russians at that time. I think we need to wait for the investigation to complete its work.

Q: I’d like to pivot to Trump’s recent foreign policies. During interview with Fox News, you said that in many ways you’re pleased with his policies toward Russia … Yes, because the second part of my question was going to note that Trump’s rhetoric seems at odds with his own administration’s policies at times. To what do you ascribe this discrepancy?

Well, first of all, I want to say it is extremely unusual. I can’t think of another case with any president, with any bilateral relationship, where you have just this giant gap between the administration’s policy and the president himself. It’s extraordinary. Time and time again we get new evidence to underscore the fact, right, including just recently when the president suggested that Russia should join the G7. To the best of my knowledge, that was not a policy that was discussed and treated and chewed on in the White House situation room: Does that make a policy recommendation for the president.

As far as I can tell nobody had discussed that issue and then he just said it. And it’s the same with Trump’s more recent comments about how it’s legitimate that Crimea should be part of Russia. To my knowledge, unless there are secret document I haven’t seen, that is not official administration policy. How do we explain it? That’s harder. On t[he ]one hand, I think candidate Trump and President Trump just kind of doubled down on this affinity with Putin. He seems to like this alleged strongman.

I personally don’t think Vladimir Putin is a very strong leader. He has to repress people the way he does. That doesn’t, to me, exhibit strength. That exhibits weakness. But Trump talks about these kinds of leaders in a consistent pattern. He admires some of them, so maybe that’s the explanation. The other explanation is about some leverage that they have on him and, again, I just honestly don’t know if that’s true yet.

United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations: Menendez Demands Trump Admin Fully Implement Bipartisan Russia Sanctions http://bit.ly/2ttdLga

TheAtlantic, Natasha Bertrand: Under Mueller’s Scrutiny, Trump Allies Cry FBI Entrapment http://theatln.tc/2yH50UP
// The president has handed his associates a new way to characterize any suspicious interactions they may have had during the election.

Politico: Fight for Russia probe documents splits top Republicans http://politi.co/2MlNHup
// Trump allies are blasting the Justice Department for withholding documents from Congress — even as key chairmen touted progress.

◕ Medium, Wendy Siegelman: Social Media and Influence Companies Related to the Trump Russia Story http://bit.ly/2tqNNKg
// Chart and highlights of companies reportedly involved with influence campaigns supporting Trump including SCL/Cambridge Analytica, Psy-Group, Black Cube, Data Propria and others.

AP: Looming question for Mueller probe: How much to make public? http://bit.ly/2KjR5W0

NBC: Mattis is out of the loop and Trump doesn’t listen to him, say officials http://nbcnews.to/2IqBZMB
// On Iran, North Korea and other major issues, the defense secretary has been out of the loop

⭕ 24 Jun 2018

Bloomberg: Brexit’s Big Short: How Pollsters Helped Hedge Funds Beat the Crash http://bloom.bg/2lzavM0
// Private polls—and a timely ‘concession’ from the face of Leave—allowed the funds to make millions off the pound’s collapse.

Politico: Silence on Russian election meddling frustrates lawmakers http://politi.co/2K53mSd
// Top Republicans and Democrats are pressing for details about allegations that Moscow aims to interfere in the midterm

🐣 Peter Strzok’s August text “We’ll stop it” is ambiguous. Yes, it could have meant ‘We’ll do something (nefarious) to (actively) stop Trump.’ It could also have just been a statement of confidence in the investigation. (1/2)
⇈ ⇊
🐣 Had McConnell in September not squelched alerting the public http://politi.co/2tAonJw, the exposure of the investigators’ findings of #TrumpRussia ties might have indeed ‘stopped it.’ Trump would have lost. Iow, McConnell stole not only a SCOTUS seat but a presidency. (2/2)

⭕ 23 Jun 2018

Politico: Trump-Putin summit: Wing-it meets meticulous http://politi.co/2MlvxsV
// The contrast troubles Russia experts and former U.S. officials who worry the president is liable to make promises to a Russian autocrat he seems eager to please.

“Putin comes extremely well prepared for these meetings,” said Michael McFaul, a Trump critic who served as the U.S. ambassador to Russia during President Barack Obama’s second term. “He knows what he is seeking to achieve. He does psychological work ahead of time to think about the strengths and weaknesses of the people he’s talking to.”

The former KGB spy is known as an incisive negotiator who has an uncanny ability to read people. Putin likely understands that when it comes to Trump, the fourth American president since Putin’s ascension as Russia’s top leader, flattery pays off — and that Trump, as recent events show, can be persuaded to agree to things that fly in the face of his advisers’ counsel.

“The bipolar world we got used to in the second half of the 20th century did have a range of deficiencies but also secured something that was extremely important, namely stability,” Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s ambassador to the European Union, said in a recent speech in Athens. “Despite all efforts within the last 20 years, a unipolar world never fully materialized — notwithstanding the illusions of those who expected to be able to manage all geopolitical processes and came to believe in their own exclusiveness.”

Russia has long tried to suggest that it is a more natural ally of the EU than the United States, and Putin could use any meeting with Trump to highlight Russia’s continued support for the Paris climate change accords, and the Iran nuclear deal — both of which Trump has repudiated — as evidence that the U.S. is now out of step with its European allies.

Newsweek: DOJ Gives Republicans Key Information on Russia Investigation, Potentially Compromising National Security, Experts Warn http://bit.ly/2lrUOpM

The FBI gave House Republicans access to thousands of documents with information about the Special Counsel’s investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign collaborated with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Part of those records included information on why the FBI had issued a FISA warrant for former Trump associate Carter Page, a move Republicans have questioned in recent months despite the fact that Page has longstanding ties to Russia. The records also include information on the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

The FBI gave the documents to congress as House Republicans, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, and the White House pressure the DOJ to comply with subpoenas requesting classified information. Some analysts said the DOJ was trying to placate the Republicans by handing over some of the documents. On Friday, however, House Republicans said that the DOJ had failed to comply with all of their requests.

◕ CNN/SRSS Poll: Trump supporters are less with him on Russia than they are on other issues http://cnn.it/2IlcTyZ

TheAtlantic, David Graham: The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet http://theatln.tc/2yC5k7o
// 1/23/2017; bankruptcies etc (long list)

ForeignAffairs, Amy Chua: Tribal World ~ Group Identity Is All http://fam.ag/2yyCBQR
// Jul-Aug issue

Political tribalism thrives under conditions of economic insecurity and lack of opportunity. For hundreds of years, economic opportunity and upward mobility helped the United States integrate vastly different peoples more successfully than any other nation. The collapse of upward mobility in the United States should be viewed as a national emergency.

Research Paper: Psychopathy by U.S. State http://bit.ly/2tr3PUo //➔ D.C. takes the cake!
// 6/12/2018, MN 33, WI 8(!), MT 43

Politico: FBI hands House GOP thousands of documents on Russia probe http://politi.co/2lseNVc

Democrats have raised increasingly pitched concerns about the intrusiveness of GOP requests. Republicans have argued that their demands for information are part of a constitutional responsibility to oversee the FBI and Justice Department, but Democrats and some FBI defenders say their efforts appear aimed at providing fodder for Trump to defend against the ongoing investigation of his campaign’s contacts with Kremlin-linked individuals. That probe is now being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Politico: FBI hands House GOP thousands of documents on Russia probe http://politi.co/2lseNVc

⭕ 22 Jun 2018

NYT: President Trump, Deal Maker? Not So Fast http://nyti.ms/2KgiWqn
// Peter Baker; After 17 months in office, Mr. Trump has yet to seal many major deals on trade, security, health care, immigration or gun control.

His 17 months in office have in fact been an exercise in futility for the art-of-the-deal president. No deal on immigration. No deal on health care. No deal on gun control. No deal on spending cuts. No deal on Nafta. No deal on China trade. No deal on steel and aluminum imports. No deal on Middle East peace. No deal on the Qatar blockade. No deal on Syria. No deal on Russia. No deal on Iran. No deal on climate change. No deal on Pacific trade. ‼️

Even routine deals sometimes elude Mr. Trump, or he chooses to blow them up. After a Group of 7 summit meeting this month with the world’s leading economic powers, Mr. Trump, expressing pique at Canada’s prime minister, refused to sign the carefully negotiated communiqué that his own team had agreed to. It was the sort of boilerplate agreement that every previous president had made over four decades.

TheHill, Brent Budowsky: Trump is the GOP’s midterm Katrina http://bit.ly/2Mjetn8

 MotherJones: The Mystery of the American Lawyer Who Worked for a Putin-Friendly Oligarch and Julian Assange http://bit.ly/2yH20bg
// Was there a connection?

In February, Fox News published a series of text messages from early 2017 between Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and a Washington-based attorney named Adam Waldman, a registered lobbyist for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Fox News and other conservative media focused on messages in which Waldman had unsuccessfully sought to put Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, in touch with Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who wrote a series of memos during the 2016 campaign reporting alleged ties between Donald Trump and Russia. The point seemed to be to bolster the claim of Trump defenders that the Trump-Russia scandal was somehow concocted by Democratic partisans.

 WSJ: Mueller’s Fruit of the Poisonous Tree http://on.wsj.com/2IiJfKG
// It makes no difference how honorable he is. His investigation is tainted by the bias that attended its origin in 2016.

 VanityFair, Nick Bilton: “The Russians Play Hard”: Inside Russia’s Attempt to Hack 2018—And 2020 http://bit.ly/2K3aiPF
// According to various cyber-security experts, everything is on the table. And it’s already happening.

So what exactly is Russia planning for the upcoming election? The correct question, a half dozen security experts and former and current government officials have told me, is what are they not planning? These people all said that 2018 will likely be a testing ground for 2020. Many of the tactics that Russia experiments with could (and likely will) be enacted on a much larger scale two years from now. Some of these strategies and maneuvers appear grounded in reality, while others seem speculative, but all have the same sinister goal of breaking the system—by cleaving our polity, distracting us with feuds large and small—by sowing discord through technology platforms and services. “Having the U.S. at war with itself is giving Russia credit internationally,” explained Andrew Weiss, the vice president for research on Russia for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, noting that we as a country are more divided on almost every issue than at any other time in history. “[Russia is] not the creator of this problem, but they have exploited it. Just creating mistrust, and throwing a question mark over the legitimacy of our government, is a pretty big prize for Russia.”

In the coming months, these experts told me, Russian operatives will likely start creating fake Facebook groups (if they haven’t already)—some that slam to the left, others that lean as far right as humanly possible—that will argue with one another, and help us do the same; there will be accounts on social media that use Cambridge Analytica-style targeting to serve up ads, and a barrage of cleverly designed and perfectly disguised bots on Twitter. All stuff we’ve seen already, but with much more advanced algorithms and snakier and more aggressive tactics. (This time, for example, fake video and audio will start circulating through the social stratosphere, all with the intended purpose of trying to make real news seem fake, and fake news seem real.) As we’ve seen with the various e-mails posted on WikiLeaks—ranging from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the D.C.C.C. to the countless hacking attempts around the world that preceded the French national election—any modern candidate should expect that their e-mails, text messages, and personal social-media data are hacked and published. At least any candidate that Russia wants to harm.

USAToday, Jill Lawrence: Immigration, ethics, Russia: Welcome to Trump World, where all scandals are above average http://usat.ly/2KeXbdG

CNN Poll: Americans think Russia investigation is serious and should continue http://cnn.it/2MSAnz1

TheTelegraph [UK]: Poisoned Russian spy Sergei Skripal was close to consultant who was linked to the Trump dossier http://bit.ly/2Ijrhre
// 3/7/2018

NYMag, Jonathan Chait: Britain Has a Russia Collusion Scandal Now. It Looks Exactly Like Trump’s. http://nym.ag/2KbI2tw

CNN: GOP sources: Justice Department has not satisfied all House GOP document requests http://cnn.it/2McDel1 //➔ ‼️ Sheila Jackson Lee predicted at House Judiciary Comm hearing that GOP would use this to give Trump a pretext for firing Rosenstein

McClatchy: Inside the Ukraine peace plan in Mueller probe: More authors, earlier drafting than believed http://bit.ly/2tluGBs

A controversial peace plan for Ukraine and Russia that has drawn headlines and scrutiny from Special Counsel Robert Mueller was initially devised in early 2016 with significant input from an ex-congressman and a Ukrainian-American billionaire, according to a former Ukrainian legislator who promoted the proposal before Donald Trump’s election.

Ex-Ukrainian legislator Andrii Artemenko told McClatchy in several recent interviews that the peace proposal, which some analysts believe had a pro-Moscow tilt, was hatched in February 2016 during side discussions at a Ukraine-focused conference at Manor College in suburban Philadelphia. Former Republican Rep. Curt Weldon and New York real estate mogul Alexander Rovt were involved, said Artemenko, who also participated.

“It was called the Rovt-Weldon plan,” said Artemenko, noting that he had been friends with Weldon for almost a decade.

Neither the roles of Weldon and Rovt in the early framing of the plan, nor the fact that it was being devised nearly a year before it was given to a Trump associate for delivery to the administration, have been reported previously. The new names add to a roster of individuals with close ties to Trump who have been identified in connection with the proposal: Trump’s personal lawyer and “fixer,” Michael Cohen; a former sometimes-real estate partner, Felix Sater, who was also an old friend of Cohen; and the president’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the transition and is cooperating with the Mueller probe.

Some observers say the new names, timing and other details raise questions about whether and to what extent Moscow or its allies influenced the proposal. …

The proposal would have lifted sanctions on Moscow if the Kremlin withdrew Russian forces from Eastern Ukraine; it also could have permitted Russia to keep control of Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has indicated interest in interviewing Weldon …

Artemenko said Weldon “introduced me to high society in the U.S.,” including other lawmakers such as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., who is sometimes called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s best friend in Washington, GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, and Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio.

Weldon and Rovt have each had links to Russian business interests.

Weldon’s two decade career in Congress ended with the 2006 elections, weeks after the FBI raided his then-29-year-old daughter’s office and home. The Justice Department was probing his actions to support a Russian-managed oil and gas company that gave his daughter a $500,000 contract to do public relations work, Soon after the contract was signed, Weldon helped corral some 30 lawmakers for a dinner, which his daughter’s firm worked on too, to honor the chairman of the Russian company, Itera International Energy Co, and Weldon also intervened to help Itera when federal agencies canceled a contract with the company. Weldon was never charged.

Rovt made his fortune initially in the fertilizer business, with some operations in Russia, but sold most of his foreign fertilizer assets in 2007 to another Ukrainian, oligarch Dmitry Firtash, who was a chief financier of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party before Yanukovych was ousted in 2014 and fled to Moscow. That party paid millions of dollars to yet another figure in the Trump-Russia investigation, lobbyist and political consultant Paul Manafort, who was a key Yanukovych adviser …

NBC has reported that Rovt was an investor with Spruce Capital, a subsidiary of which made a $3.5 million dollar mortgage loan to a small company set up by Manafort …

Artemenko’s interviews with McClatchy provided other new details about his 2016 efforts to promote the plan in Russia and in the U.S. before Trump’s election.

Just a few weeks before the election, the Ukrainian said he started talking about the peace initiative with Sater, whom Artemenko had met earlier in 2016, during a visit to Sater’s Long Island home.

Artemenko said he also met in Russia in 2016 with two members of the Russian Duma to brief them on the plan and that they “responded positively to the ideas.” The Ukrainian said he also discussed his plan with former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and an outspoken critic of Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, said in a statement that “The fact that this proposal was being considered a year in advance of its provision to the White House raises serious questions about how far along the discussion had progressed and the extent to which Russia was involved in the planning or consideration of the proposal.” …

Similarly, some Russia experts say that the involvement of Weldon and Rovt and other new details provided by Artemenko suggest that the plan had links to Moscow.

“There remain a lot of unanswered questions about who ultimately stood behind this so-called ‘peace plan,’” said Michael Carpenter, a top Russia policy analyst in the Pentagon under President Obama. “ Given the nature of the people involved in disseminating the proposal, it seems likely that its ultimate sponsors were either Kremlin surrogates or pro-Russia forces in Ukraine.”

When the plan was first detailed in February 2017 by the New York Times the paper said it included a provision that called for a referendum to be held in Ukraine after Russian troops withdrew on whether Crimea, which Moscow had annexed, would be leased to Russia for 50 to 100 years. But Artemenko, who in 2016 was an obscure legislator allied with a right wing party in his country, and Sater told McClatchy separately that the plan included no such lease language. However, Artemenko said the plan did call for a referendum on whether Crimea should be part of Russia, Ukraine or independent.

On June 8th, Artemenko testified for several hours before a Washington, D.C., grand jury tied to the Mueller investigation. The Ukrainian, who was ousted from his country’s legislature and lost his citizenship because of fallout from the initial revelation of the plan and its perceived pro-Moscow tilt, said that Cohen was a major focus of the grand jury questions he fielded.

After his grand jury appearance, Artemenko added, he realized that Cohen “is a target” of interest to Mueller. …

The Ukraine Russian peace initiative fizzled in early 2017 after the Times disclosed its existence along with a late January meeting in New York that Artemenko and Sater had with Cohen to persuade him to pass it along to a top administration official, like Flynn. Both Artemenko and Sater told McClatchy that Cohen agreed to do so.

Artemenko “asked me if I could help introduce him to the administration,” Sater recalled in an interview, adding that Cohen promised he would “get the plan” to Flynn.

Artemenko said he never gave Cohen anything in writing about the plan. But a few days after they met, Sater phoned the Ukrainian and read him a few sentences that contained the gist of it; Artemenko signed off on the language — which Sater described as “four bullet points” — for Cohen to give to Flynn.

A few days later Artemenko said that in another call with Sater he was informed that “the package had been delivered” to Flynn.

Cohen has offered shifting and contradictory statements about what he did with the document. Initially, he told the New York Times that he delivered the plan to Flynn’s office.

But Cohen quickly changed his story, telling the Washington Post within days that he never gave it to Flynn or anyone in the White House. Then Cohen changed his account again in two subsequent interviews. He said at one point that he threw the envelope, unopened, in the trash.

These contradictory accounts by Cohen have likely spurred Mueller’s team to look more closely at the plan, say former prosecutors.

“Whenever a subject changes his story, especially multiple times, he draws a lot more interest from prosecutors, who will want to know what he’s hiding,” said former New York prosecutor Jaimie Nawaday who’s now a partner at Kelley Drye & Warren. …

⭕ 21 Jun 2018

 JustSecurity: Trump as a Russian Target – Through the Eyes of a former CIA Russian Expert http://bit.ly/2utBgFA

DailyHerald, Byron York: What Republicans suspect about the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe http://bit.ly/2InwSwG
// tags: GOP, set up, setup, set-up, frame, subpoena, dossier, FISA, oversight, Devon Nunes, Christopher Steele, Roger Stone, Carter Page, Stefan Halper, George Papadopoulos, Michael Caputo, promising dirt on Hillary Clinton

WaPo, Alexander Vershbow: Trump’s ‘grand bargain’ with Russia is an illusion http://wapo.st/2tpALN4
// author former deputy secy gen of NATO

We all would like to halt the downward spiral in U.S. relations with Moscow. But wishing for a better relationship won’t make it so. Fundamental differences cannot easily be overcome. A durable improvement cannot be achieved by sweeping those differences under the rug or by throwing sovereign countries such as Ukraine under the bus — as Trump apparently did during the recent Group of Seven summit . It is only possible if we stick to our principles and insist on changes in the Russian behavior that led to the breakdown in relations.

By illegally annexing Crimea, waging an undeclared war in Eastern Ukraine, and occupying large swaths of Georgia’s and Moldova’s territory, Putin’s Russia has torn up the international rule book and firmly established itself as a revisionist power, undermining the basis for cooperation on European security. In Syria, Putin has not been fighting the Islamic State, but propping up Bashar al-Assad’s regime and giving a strategic foothold to Iran, increasing the threat to Israel. On arms control, Putin has withdrawn from some agreements and flagrantly violated others, including the 1987 INF Treaty. He has systematically sought to interfere in Western elections and discredit our democratic institutions, along with NATO and the European Union.

🐣 RT @committee20 [John Schindler] I was the tech dir of NSA’s biggest operational division. I’m TOTALLY sure, @kylegriffin1 that you at MSNBC have on-air people who know a LOT more about this whole SIGINT thing than I do….right HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA

NYT: Trump Seeks Meeting With Putin Even as Allies Seek to Isolate Russia http://nyti.ms/2MUfOSO
// Peter Baker

🐣 RT @committee20 Wow, Kyle, cool story! ICYMI — I’ve EXCLUSIVELY reported many times since 2015 at @observer about US IC (ie NSA) SIGINT showing clear Kremlin interaction (you know: COLLUSION) with the Trump campaign & presidency. Did you miss that somehow?
⋙ 🐣 RT @kylegriffin Sen. Chris Coons tells @mitchellreports that the FBI has transcripts that may show Russian leaders colluding with the Trump campaign.

CommonDreams, Michael Winship: Trump’s Mean Boy Nation http://bit.ly/2IkOSYS
// Never forget that the president’s gang may be incompetent at a spectacular level but they’re cruel and nasty to the bone

HillReporter: Trump Had Hillary Clinton’s Stolen Emails for a Month Before WikiLeaks Published Them http://bit.ly/2lsO5Mw
// Donald Trump’s campaign had access to Hillary Clinton’s stolen emails a full month before they were published by WikiLeaks.

British magazine Spectator revealed on Thursday that Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct data-collection house that helped Donald Trump steal data from 83 million Facebook users, was in possession of Clinton’s emails.

“The US intelligence agencies believe that Russian internet ‘troll factories’ were also pushing out pro-Trump propaganda on social media: sometimes fake news, sometimes real news, such as the hacked contents of Clinton’s emails,” he adds. “The question is whether this was done in coordination with the Trump campaign,” BBC Correspondent Paul Wood reveals.

An anonymous “American lawyer” revealed the bombshell information to Wood. That information was obtained by Russian hackers who gained access to the former Secretary of State’s private email server.

The lawyer says a Cambridge Analytica employee contacted them following Trump’s election victory to explain the situation. When asked what they should do with that information, the lawyer told the employee to immediately contact the Special Counsel’s Robert Mueller.

🐣 RT @NatashaBertrand: BBC’s Paul Wood: “An American lawyer I know told me that he was approached by a Cambridge Analytica employee after the election. They had had the Clinton emails more than a month before they were published by WikiLeaks.”
⋙ TheSpectator: What does the British government know about Trump and Russia? http://bit.ly/2lpCxcL
// Many trails in the Mueller inquiry lead straight to the UK

🐣 RT @AltUSPressSec Why did a Russian government flight land at Joint Base Andrews?

CyberScoop: Adm. Mike Mullen: Cyber Command should be empowered to go on offensive http://bit.ly/2tqcG8f

🐣 RT @chrisinsilico In other words, the referendum was won with illegal money and a joint criminal enterprise. Of course the BBC won’t say what’s blatantly obvious. How can we continue with Brexit when systemic cheating occurred in the Referendum?
⋙ BBC: Watchdog expected to find Vote Leave broke rules http://bbc.in/2MOdFYr

Gizmodo: AggregateIQ Created Cambridge Analytica’s Election Software, and Here’s the Proof http://bit.ly/2IdnGLn
// 3/26/2018

A little-known Canadian data firm ensnared by an international investigation into alleged wrongdoing during the Brexit campaign created an election software platform marketed by Cambridge Analytica, according to a batch of internal files obtained exclusively by Gizmodo.

Discovered by a security researcher last week, the files confirm that AggregateIQ, a British Columbia-based data firm, developed the technology Cambridge Analytica sold to clients for millions of dollars during the 2016 US presidential election. Hundreds if not thousands of pages of code, as well as detailed notes signed by AggregateIQ staff, wholly substantiate recent reports that Cambridge Analytica’s software platform was not its own creation.

What’s more, the files reveal that AggregateIQ—also known as “AIQ”—is the developer behind campaign apps created for Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, as well as a Ukrainian steel magnate named Serhiy Taruta, head the country’s newly formed Osnova party.

Other records show the firm once pitched an app to Breitbart News, the far-right website funded by hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer—Cambridge Analytica’s principal investor—and are currently contracted by WPA Intelligence, a US-based consultancy founded by Republican pollster Chris Wilson, who was director of digital strategy for Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign.

DailyBeast, Anna Nemtsova: The World’s Beating a Path to Putin’s Door, and Not Just Because of Soccer http://thebea.st/2IaBVjW
// The fact is, Trump’s ‘insane’ America is leaving many former friends and potential allies with the feeling they’d better tighten ties to Moscow.

WaPo: Former Obama officials warn Trump not to repeat their mistakes on Russia http://wapo.st/2MI5HA6

Politico: Bolton headed to Moscow next week to broker Trump-Putin meeting http://politi.co/2MbbY6s

TheGuardian: Nato head calls for unity after Trump discord and Russia threat http://bit.ly/2lmRY5t
//. Jens Stoltenberg speech to argue strategic value of transatlantic partnership

The Nato secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, is to use a major speech in London on Thursday to express hope the alliance will hold together in spite of threats from Donald Trump.

He will acknowledge differences and disagreements between the US and other allies are real. But he will argue that Nato has been able to overcome such problems in the past and can do so again.

The Nato summit in Brussels in July is shaping up as one of the most fraught in the alliance’s history, with Trump openly at odds with Germany and Canada on trade and other issues and warning he will deal with Europeans refusing to increase their share of defence spending.

In advance excerpts of his speech, Stoltenberg will argue that maintaining the transatlantic partnership is in the strategic interest of all Nato members.

“The lesson of history is that we have been able to overcome our differences. Again and again, we unite around our common goal. We stand together. We protect each other.”

Russia has been chipping away at Nato since it annexed Crimea in 2014. It has been blamed for cyberattacks, interventions in European elections and for the nerve agent attack in Salisbury in March this year.

VanityFair, Chris Smith: The NRA Spent $30 Million to Elect Trump. Was It Russian Money? http://bit.ly/2MavPm5

The F.B.I. and special counsel Robert Mueller are investigating meetings between N.R.A. officials and powerful Russian operatives, trying to determine if those contacts had anything to do with the gun group spending $30 million to help elect Donald Trump—triple what it invested on behalf of Mitt Romney in 2012. The use of foreign money in American political campaigns is illegal. One encounter of particular interest to investigators is between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian banker at an N.R.A. dinner.

The Russian wooing of N.R.A. executives goes back to at least 2011, when that same banker and politician, Alexander Torshin, befriended David Keene, who was then president of the gun-rights organization. Torshin soon became a “life member,” attending the N.R.A.’s annual conventions and introducing comrades to other gun-group officials. In 2015, Torshin welcomed an N.R.A. delegation to Moscow that included Keene and Joe Gregory, then head of the “Ring of Freedom” program, which is reserved for top donors to the N.R.A. Among the other hosts were Dmitry Rogozin, who until last month was the deputy prime minister overseeing Russia’s defense industry, and Sergei Rudov, head of the Saint Basil the Great Charitable Foundation, one of Russia’s wealthiest philanthropies.

It’s possible that the men were merely bonding over a shared love of firearms. Mike Carpenter, a Russian specialist who worked in the Pentagon during the Obama administration, laughs at the notion.“The Russian state is run by a K.G.B. elite that wants nothing less than to have an armed citizenry,” Carpenter says. “Rogozin is a heavyweight in Russian politics. . . . Torshin has a direct line to Putin . . . and also has possible ties to organized crime. Rudov is the right-hand man of Konstantin Malofeev, who is sort of a paleo-conservative, ultra-nationalist figure who bankrolls a lot of projects involving mercenaries in Ukraine.” Carpenter sees how a dark money trail could connect the Kremlin to the gun lobby. “Those three would only meet with N.R.A. officials if there were some concerted effort by senior members of the Russian government to try and co-opt the N.R.A. politically,” he continues. “And they are all money men. They can throw tens of millions around.”

Torshin—who Spanish authorities wanted to arrest in 2013 on money-laundering allegations—made energetic efforts to ingratiate himself with the Trump campaign. (Torshin was never charged and has denied any wrongdoing in the money-laundering case.) He met Donald Trump Jr. at a private dinner during the N.R.A.’s convention in Louisville, Kentucky, in May 2016. Alan Futerfas, a lawyer for Trump Jr., has dismissed the conversation between his client and Torshin as “all gun-related small talk.”

USAToday, Bill Pascrell and Ted Lieu: If Donald Trump thwarts Russia investigation with pardons, we might never recover http://usat.ly/2te1xrw
// If Donald Trump issued pardons to his advisers, his children or himself, that would constitute perhaps the gravest abuse of power in American history.

🐣 RT @NedPrice Trump’s plan to meet Putin immediately before or after the NATO summit is a slap in the face to the alliance, whose mission centers largely around deterring Russian aggression. And that’s probably just as Trump intended.
⋙ Bloomberg: Trump Plans July Meeting With Vladimir Putin http://bloom.bg/2Kbhad2 //➔ “Trump wants Russia to be restored to international community”

⭕ 20 Jun 2018

TheObserver, Mike Albanese (6/20): People Can’t Stop Reading This Professor’s #TrumpRussia Theories http://bit.ly/2K4261K //➔ Seth Abramson
//➔ metamodernism; See under Entire Articles

FinancialTimes: Insurance losses sharpen focus on finances of Arron Banks http://fn.ft.com/2yyzpVk
// Brexit donor under scrutiny over involvement in referendum campaign

The Gibraltar-based insurance company owned by Arron Banks made a loss of £32m in 2016, raising questions about the financial health of his insurance business when UK authorities are investigating the source of millions of pounds of reported donations to a campaign for Brexit.

Southern Rock Insurance Company — the main underwriter for Eldon Insurance, another of Mr Banks’ companies — has made multimillion-pound losses on its core business of underwriting in five of seven years since 2010. …

Mr Banks attended several previously undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador in the run-up to Brexit, but has denied that Russia tried to influence the Brexit campaign.

But at a Commons select committee meeting last week, he failed to clarify the provenance of at least £9m in Leave campaign donations.

The UK electoral commission is probing if Mr Banks or his companies breached campaign finance rules and whether he is the true source of loans and other funds given to the Leave.EU campaign group. When the investigation was announced last November, Mr Banks tweeted: “Gosh I’m terrified”.

Southern Rock Insurance Company, alongside UK-based Eldon Insurance, forms the cornerstone of Mr Bank’s insurance business.

Southern Rock earlier this decade was deemed “technically insolvent” — meaning it did not have enough reserves to cover potential payouts as required by the regulator.

Mr Banks told European TV channel ARTE in 2016 that the Solvency II rules imposed by Brussels required “unnecessary” capital injections into insurance businesses.

In the past decade, Mr Banks and other shareholders were forced to pump millions of additional capital into the company including funds from the transfer to Southern Rock of shares in Webis, a gaming company owned by entrepreneur Jim Mellon, a business partner of Mr Banks.

The exact amount of donations Mr Banks and his companies made to the Brexit campaign is unclear. Mr Banks said last year he had donated a total of £8.8m, including a loan of £6m to Leave.EU, and more than £2m in donations to Grassroots Out, a related campaign group.

Andy Wigmore, Mr Banks’ spokesman, declined to comment on Mr Banks’ financial affairs or on the performance of Southern Rock Insurance Company.

🐣 RT @NormEisen An overlooked clue to the likely coming Cohen flip: his new lawyer is a former SDNY prosecutor who worked with Comey & for Preet. And every single one of his partners in his firm is an SDNY USAO veteran who either worked for &/or with Comey or Preet. They were hired to do a deal.

Esquire, Charles Pierce: Wow, It’s Strange These Russians Paid Millions in Cash for Trump Properties http://bit.ly/2K07G10
// Sometimes, they used shell corporations to hide their identities!

CNN, Marshall Cohen: False denials, misleading statements and faulty memories behind Trump-Russia meetings http://cnn.it/2K5R9J3

TheGuardian: US lobbyist for Russian oligarch visited Julian Assange nine times last year http://bit.ly/2totuwm
// It is unclear whether Adam Waldman’s 2017 visits had connection to Oleg Deripaska

🔄 JustSecurity: Timeline: Trump’s Acts of Accommodation/Engagement with Russia, Nov. 2016-June 2018 http://bit.ly/2t9NVxs

⭕ 19 Jun 2018

McClatchy: Buyers tied to Russia, former Soviet republics paid $109 million cash for Trump properties http://bit.ly/2yKHm9W

TheHill: Cohen ally says he may cooperate with investigators against Trump http://bit.ly/2tk4OVG

🐣 RT @VickerySec Holy shit. This guy, George Cottrell, was advertising money laundering services on the dark web. He was caught red-handed in a FBI sting. Guy is (was) top aide to the Brexit campaign leader, Nigel Farage. His super secret dark web username was “Banker”.

NYPost: House Republican Mark Meadows unmasks identities of anti-Trump FBI agents http://nyp.st/2taVQuL

A House Republican Tuesday unmasked two of the five FBI investigators cited in the recently released inspector general’s report for expressing anti-Trump and pro-Clinton sentiment in work-related instant messages.

The previously unnamed FBI officials — “FBI Attorney 2” and “Agent 5” — are Kevin Clinesmith and Sally Moyer, respectively, according to House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who revealed their identities over the objection of the FBI during a hearing on the IG’s findings.

TheHill: Clapper: It’s getting ‘harder and harder to believe’ Trump didn’t know about Russia contacts http://bit.ly/2t6O2dp

Politico: DOJ reviewing whether anti-Trump bias infected Russia probe launch DOJ reviewing whether anti-Trump bias infected Russia probe launch http://politi.co/2K4OIGr
// It’s the first time DOJ has specified it is examining the origin of the much-scrutinized probe into Russia’s attempts to contact the Trump campaign.

WaPo: Trump campaign manager calls for firing Sessions, ending Russia probe http://wapo.st/2tnWTXk

President Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, brashly called Tuesday for the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and ending the investigation into Russian election interference led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

It was not immediately clear whether Parscale — who shared his views in a tweet — was speaking for the president.

His tweet was sent as Michael E. Horowitz, the inspector general of the Justice Department, testified before Congress about the release of a report last week highly critical of several key FBI figures in the Hillary Clinton email probe, including former FBI director James B. Comey.

MiamiHerald: Mystery Miamian tied to Trump probe had many names, foul mouth, 2 DUI busts http://hrld.us/2tc8mtN

Lying, cheating and charming, spying and scamming his way through the world with a warm smile on his face and a gun tucked in his back pocket, Henry Greenberg — or whatever his name is; he uses at least four — was born in Russia. But the sun and the swindles brought him to South Florida, which is now the backdrop for the latest chapter in the seemingly endless controversy over who may have have ripped off whom in the 2016 presidential election.

But if it’s true, was Greenberg part of a Russian government attempt to tilt the scales of the election in Trump’s favor? Or a sinister undercover shill for the FBI, trying to lure Trump’s lieutenants into an illegal act for which they could be prosecuted? Or just a run-of-the-mill Russian con man trying to make a quick freelance score for himself?

USAToday: J.D. Gordon: I am learning what it is like to be caught up in the Russia witch hunt http://usat.ly/2JPDXM8

TPM: DOJ IG Responds To Trump Claims Of Exoneration: ‘We Don’t Address’ Russia http://bit.ly/2yqaxz4

NYT: F.B.I. Agents Gave Trump a Weapon Against Mueller. Republicans Are Wielding It. http://nyti.ms/2ljXhm8 YahooNews: Rudy Giuliani Says FBI Questioned Him On Leaks That Hurt Clinton Campaign http://yhoo.it/2taDzO6

RawStory: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee: Republicans plan on ‘firing’ Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein ‘on Friday’ http://bit.ly/2tscup5

 ForeignAffairs, Michael McFaul: Russia as It Is ~ A Grand Strategy for Confronting Putin http://fam.ag/2I2zFew

McClatchy: Buyers tied to Russia, former Soviet republics paid $109 million cash for Trump properties http://bit.ly/2I1sHGE

⭕ 18 Jun 2018

NYT: Senators Remain Split as They Question Justice Dept. Watchdog on F.B.I. Report http://nyti.ms/2I3LUYi

Republicans raised doubts about key conclusions of Mr. Horowitz’s report, saying that they believed political bias among bureau officials may have improperly shaped its decision not to recommend charges against Mrs. Clinton. Democrats insisted that whatever F.B.I. officials had intended, their actions only served to harm Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy and potentially cost her the election.

Mr. Horowitz’s 500-page report, released Thursday after a yearlong investigation, found ample evidence of personal political bias by top F.B.I. officials working on the Clinton investigative team and said it cast a cloud over the F.B.I. and its work. Mr. Horowitz’s report found that actions by James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, had likewise harmed the bureau. But Mr. Horowitz said he found no evidence that F.B.I. officials’ political views influenced prosecutorial decisions in the Clinton case that he reviewed, though he expressed deep concern about their apparent openness to the idea.

Democrats zeroed in on Mr. Comey’s earlier actions: namely, his decision to break with longstanding policy to publicly discuss the Clinton case — the decision they said might have cost Mrs. Clinton the presidency, not helped her. And though they conceded that political statements by the investigative team were inappropriate, they said Mrs. Clinton’s election loss provided proof to support Mr. Horowitz’s conclusions.

“If the F.B.I. was trying to throw the election to Hillary Clinton, it couldn’t have done a worse job,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont. “Every single misstep by the F.B.I. damaged Hillary Clinton and helped Donald Trump.”

Democrats demanded to know whether anyone at the F.B.I. had provided information during the campaign to Rudolph W. Giuliani, who appeared to hint at the time that he knew that agents had reopened the Clinton email investigation in October.

Two days after the election, Mr. Giuliani told Fox News, “I had expected this for the last — honestly, tell you the truth, I thought it was going to be about three, four weeks ago.” He added: “I did nothing to get it out. I had no role in it. Did I hear about it? You’re darn right I heard about it.”

Neither Mr. Wray nor Mr. Horowitz would comment on whether there was an investigation into whether anybody at the F.B.I. provided information to Mr. Giuliani, who is now a lawyer for Mr. Trump in the special counsel investigation.

Mr. Wray also took a swipe at Mr. Comey for previously disclosing the F.B.I. had been investigating any leaks to Mr. Giuliani. “There are a number of things I probably would have done differently,” Mr. Wray said with a wry smile and raised eyebrow.

Mr. Wray also continued to express confidence in the special counsel leading the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian election interference and Mr. Trump’s campaign, Robert S. Mueller III.

“I do not believe that Special Counsel Mueller is on a witch hunt,” he said, later adding, “I believe Special Counsel Mueller is conducting an important investigation.”

WSJ: Inspector General Disputes Trump’s Exoneration Claim http://on.wsj.com/2MFidQX “Horowitz said he ‘didn’t look into collusion questions,’ referring to the continuing special counsel investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia”
// Michael Horowitz, Justice Department’s inspector general, makes first public appearance since report’s release

💙💙 WaPo, Jennifer Rubin: Republicans continue to play clueless on the Russia investigation http://wapo.st/2LYWcvp

… On Sunday, Gowdy ludicrously claimed that the “only person in the universe” to have evidence of collusion is Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). The claim is akin to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s recent insistence that there is no collusion.

Gowdy, a lawyer and former prosecutor, knows that “collusion” is not a crime, has no agreed-upon definition in the context of the campaign and is not what Robert S. Mueller III was authorized to look for. Mueller was supposed to look for “any links/and or coordination” between Russians and Trump campaign associates. He has found it in spades, even if you count only the links and coordination that the media has discovered.

Max Bergmann, a former State Department official who heads the Moscow Project at the Center for American Progress, tells me, “The evidence of collusion is clear and obvious. The Trump campaign met with the Russians with the expressed purpose to collude. ” He continues: “The June 9th meeting [at Trump Tower] was collusion — secret cooperation for an illegal purpose. It also showed that the Trump campaign wanted to collude. They wanted Russia’s help. And then what happened? Russia helped.”

The Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 is just the tip of the iceberg. Recall that there was also Roger Stone’s meeting with Henry Greenberg, who “offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton,” as The Post reports; Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos reached out for dirt from Russia on Clinton; another foreign policy aide, Carter Page, met with the Russian ambassador and gave a pro-Putin speech in Moscow; the RNC platform was changed while Paul Manafort was running the campaign to eliminate support for arms to Ukraine to fight off Russian invaders; Alexander Torshin, a former member of the Russian parliament, cultivated the National Rifle Association (which heavily supported Trump) and met with Donald Trump Jr. on at least one occasion; and Stone “was in contact with someone calling himself ‘Guccifer 2.0,’ who was leaking information stolen from the DNC in mid-2016. The Daily Beast reported . . . that Guccifer 2.0 had accidentally revealed his connection to the GRU by failing to mask his [Internet] activity on one occasion.” We have also learned Cambridge Analytica, Trump’s data firm, reached out to Julian Assange, head of the Russia cut-out, WikiLeaks.

I could go on, because there are some 80 different contacts and at least 23 meetings between at least 24 Trump associates and Russian operatives. Moreover, the president and numerous other Trump allies repeatedly and falsely denied such contacts. Trump went so far as to draft a misleading account to explain away the Trump Tower meeting.

Is this conclusive proof that Trump personally was on the phone with the Kremlin plotting strategy? Of course not. However, to say that there is no evidence — not a speck — that the Russians were in touch with Trump’s people or that Trump figures were eager to cooperate with Russians (and met with them for that expressed purpose) is blatantly false. Mueller’s 20 indictments and five plea deals suggest that Mueller has found ample evidence of illegality at the most senior levels of Trump’s campaign. The only issue is the extent of the cooperation and whether Trump knew about it. At worst, Mueller will have unearthed enough evidence to send the president’s former campaign CEO to prison for decades, if convicted on the slew of charges brought against him.

Over and over again, Republicans repeat the “No collusion” mantra as a way of preemptively discrediting the investigation. When Mueller comes out with his report detailing a list of Russian contacts the length of his arm, many of which are already publicly known, Gowdy and other Republicans might look as though they’ve been intentionally clueless and uninterested in getting to the bottom of the Russian plot to tilt the election in Trump’s favor

CNN: Peter Strzok says he’s willing to testify before House Judiciary Committee http://cnn.it/2MBy0jL

Peter Strzok, the FBI agent removed from the Russia probe for sending anti-Trump text messages, is willing to testify before the House Judiciary Committee or any other congressional committee, his lawyer wrote in a letter to the committee on Saturday.

[The DOJ OIG’s] report was harshly critical of Strzok, who exchanged anti-Trump text messages with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, asserting they “cast a cloud” over the FBI’s actions.

But the report said there was no evidence “to connect the political views expressed in these messages to the specific investigative decisions” that were the subject of controversy, such as allowing immunity agreements or having fact witnesses sit in on others’ interviews prior to July 5, 2016.

However, the inspector general was troubled by the FBI’s month-long delay in obtaining a search warrant to review emails possibly related to the investigation on former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop in the fall of 2016. The report specifically calls out Strzok’s decision to “prioritize” the Russia investigation over following-up on the laptop issue, leading the report unable to conclude it was “free from bias.”

[Strzok’s lawyer, Aitan] Goelman called that conclusion “bizarre” and said the delay was caused by a “variety of factors and miscommunications that had nothing to do with Special Agent Strzok’s political views.” He added that “every witness asked by the (inspector general) said that Strzok’s work was never influenced by political views.”

The inspector general’s report also included newly found text messages between Strzok and Page.

In a message on August 8, 2016, Page says, Trump’s “not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”

Strzok replies: “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”

In a statement following the IG report’s release, Goelman said there was “no evidence” Strzok’s political views impacted the handling of the Clinton email investigation. Strzok himself told investigators that he didn’t want to prevent a potential Trump victory, arguing that the proof of this rested in the fact that the investigation into potential Russian collusion remained confidential.

Goelman also said Friday that Strzok “has cooperated fully with the IG investigation and intends to fully and voluntarily cooperate with any congressional investigation.”

Alleged misconduct by Justice Department officials investigating the Clinton email scandal and taking part in the Russia investigation have been the targets of the White House’s ire — with Republicans, White House officials, and the President alike taking to singling out Page and Strzok for their behavior.

CNBC: Justice Department officials challenge Trump’s claim that report about Clinton’s email probe ‘exonerates’ him http://cnb.cx/2t8smO9
● President Donald Trump claimed that a Department of Justice report last week ‘totally exonerates me’ with regard to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
● “We did not look into collusion questions,” Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz told the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday.
● “I don’t think this report speaks to the special counsel investigation,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said.

ChicagoTrib: Justice Department watchdog says probes ongoing into disclosure of Comey memos, FBI leaks http://trib.in/2tdOBkO
// Same as WaPo article

WaPo: Russia used to see itself as part of Europe. Here’s why that changed. http://wapo.st/2t8TRqD

… Putin repeatedly asserted that the post-Cold War system is unfair. You can hear it in his speech at the 2007 Munich Security Conference, when he railed against a “unipolar” international order. The United States, he argued, had “overstepped its borders in all spheres — economic, political and humanitarian — and has imposed itself on other states.” As a result, he said, Russia would “carry out an independent foreign policy.”

🔆 This❗️⋙ WaPo, Paul Waldman: There may have been an FBI conspiracy involving the 2016 election. But not the one you think. http://wapo.st/2ti4BCk

… But to this point, it has been something only the most dedicated aficionados of the story of how James B. Comey all but handed Trump the election knew anything about.

Let’s begin with the fact that during 2016, the FBI’s New York office was by numerous accounts the epicenter of an effort to undermine Clinton through leaks to the media and prominent Republicans. As one report put it just before the election, “Deep antipathy to Hillary Clinton exists within the FBI, multiple bureau sources have told the Guardian, spurring a rapid series of leaks damaging to her campaign just days before the election.” As one agent put it, “The FBI is Trumpland.” A former Justice Department official told Vanity Fair in 2017, “It was widely understood that there was a faction in [the New York] office that couldn’t stand her and was out to get her.”

Their efforts became critical when the office, in the course of its investigation of Anthony Weiner, husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, acquired Weiner’s laptop on Sept. 26, 2016, and found on it thousands of emails to and from Clinton. Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and Trump’s most slavish water carrier, said last week: “We had whistleblowers that came to us in late September of 2016 who talked to us about this laptop sitting up in New York that had additional emails on it. So good F.B.I. agents brought this to our attention.” It’s a bit curious to characterize FBI agents who rushed to tell a Republican congressman about Weiner’s laptop within just a few days of its discovery, and before they had gone through the emails to see whether there was anything problematic about them (which, it turned out, there wasn’t), as “whistleblowers.” Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said yesterday that Nunes never told him at the time.

At the same time, there were agents leaking information about investigations into the Clinton Foundation to none other than Rudy Giuliani, who would then go and air the charges on Fox News. Two days before Comey would tell Congress that the bureau had reopened the investigation into Clinton’s emails — a blockbuster announcement that may well have thrown the election to Trump — Giuliani said on Fox News, “I do think that all of these revelations about Hillary Clinton finally are beginning to have an impact. He’s got a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next two days.”

To give you one more example, just days before the election, an FBI source told Fox News’s Bret Baier that Clinton’s email had been hacked and she would soon be indicted — a false story that Baier later apologized for airing. But of course by then the damage had been done, and the picture of Clinton as an impossibly corrupt figure who would be locked up any day was firmly entrenched in the public’s mind.

To return to the question of Comey’s fateful decision to announce the reopening of the Clinton investigation, the inspector general’s report faults him, quite appropriately, for violating the bureau’s policy on not making any public statements close to an election that could affect the election’s outcome. Many have long speculated that Comey, knowing about the antipathy toward Clinton in the New York office, assumed that if he didn’t make it public, the information would be leaked and he’d look as though he was trying to conceal it. In the IG report, former attorney general Loretta Lynch describes a conversation she had with Comey:

And then I said, now, we’ve got to talk about the New York office in general. And he said yes. And I said we both work with them. We both know them. We both, you know, think highly of them. I said, but this has become a problem. And he said, and he said to me that it had become clear to him, he didn’t say over the course of what investigation or whatever, he said it’s clear to me that there is a cadre of senior people in New York who have a deep and visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton.

For the record, Comey says that his decision to announce the reopening of the Clinton investigation wasn’t because he was afraid that news of the laptop’s discovery would be leaked, and of course we can’t know everything that was in his head.

But it’s obvious that we have to ask some pointed questions about the agents in the New York office. If they acted inappropriately, who were they? How many of them were involved? Were they coordinating their activities? Now that we’ve read Strzok and Page’s personal communications, should we see theirs as well?

Republicans are certainly not going to ask those questions. But perhaps the IG will in his next report, or Democrats will if they can take back Congress. Because there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that at least some FBI agents were indeed trying to swing the outcome of the 2016 campaign, and they may well have succeeded.

WaPo, Paul Waldman: There may have been an FBI conspiracy involving the 2016 election. But not the one you think. http://wapo.st/2ti4BCk

TPM: Trump Explodes After Strzok Agrees To Testify Before Congress http://bit.ly/2JWcSmw

MotherJones: The FBI’s New York Office Really Hated Hillary Clinton http://bit.ly/2JW4i7i

There’s very little evidence that the FBI was biased in any way against Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign. The sole piece of evidence that Trump relies on for this allegation is a series of private texts between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, but there’s no evidence at all that their private views ever affected any of their actions.

Just the opposite is true for the FBI’s New York office, which obviously harbored considerable animus toward Hillary Clinton and just as obviously took concrete steps to help Trump. Here’s a short version of the evidence:

1. The Nunes Revelation

A few days ago, Rep. Devin Nunes admitted something he had never acknowledged before: In late September of 2016, New York FBI agents had told him about the existence Anthony Weiner’s laptop, which eventually led to the Comey letter of October 28.

2. The Giuliani Whisper Campaign

On October 26, Rudy Giuliani boasted to Fox News’s Martha MacCallum that Donald Trump had “a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next two days. I’m talking about some pretty big surprise.” He later backtracked, but it’s pretty clear that agents in the New York office had told Giuliani what was going on.

3. The Inspector General’s Report

The recent inspector general’s report confirms what we’ve long known: one of the reasons Comey wrote his October 28 letter was his fear that the New York office would leak about the Weiner laptop if he didn’t.

As we describe in Chapter Ten of our report, the factors considered during those discussions included…Fear that the information would leak if the FBI failed to disclose it.

Jim Baker, the FBI’s general counsel, confirmed that the possibility of a leak was widely discussed within the bureau:

Baker told us that a concern about leaks played a role in the decision to send the letter to Congress. Baker stated: “We were quite confident that…somebody is going to leak this fact. That we have all these emails. That, if we don’t put out a letter, somebody is going to leak it. That definitely was discussed.”…Baker told us that “the discussion was somebody in New York will leak this.”

4. The Dickey Conversation

On the day of the Comey letter, a fellow named Jeremy Dickey overheard an FBI agent making a telephone call on a plane.

🐣 RT @JeremyDDickey Update he now is talking about how the NY FBI office pressed to have the A. Weiner info leaked

🐣 RT @JeremyDDickey Now saying “You know how the run things out of NY office, they would have leaked the email connection with Weiner”

5. The Loretta Lynch Confirmation

The IG report also includes a conversation Comey had with Attorney General Loretta Lynch three days later. Here is Comey’s recollection of that conversation:

I said, “Look this is really bad, but the alternative is worse.” And then she said, “Yeah would they feel better if it had leaked on November 6th?” And I just said, “Exactly Loretta.”

And Lynch’s:

He said it’s clear to me that there is a cadre of senior people in New York who have a deep and visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton. And he said it is, it is deep. It’s, and he said, he said it was surprising to him or stunning to him.

This isn’t everything, just the clearest evidence we have not just that the New York office hated Hillary Clinton and were widely known leakers, but that everyone knew they hated Clinton and that a leak was inevitable once the Weiner laptop was discovered. This was, for some reason, not a topic that the inspector general highlighted much in his report. However, the more general topic of the FBI’s “culture of leaks” will apparently be the subject of a future report.

🐣 A Twitter List: Investigators ~ Intel Community; investigative journalists; bloggers & sleuths (about 380 members). Feel free to follow.

🐣 RT @MplsMe Fascism has come to America. It’s wrapped in U.S. flag and carrying a Bible. Trump administration is spouting same scripture used by Nazis to justify the separation of children from their parents at the border. #ComplicitGOP doing NOTHING to stop them.
// paraphrasing Sinclair Lewis, first 2 sentences

🐣 RT @joshtpm It is bonkers that we’re talking abt one Peter Strzok text when there’s abundant evidence, much of it buried in IG Report, that Clinton probe was driven forward by anti-Clinton agents in NYC who took repeated ACTIONS to push case, even possibly breaking the law.

⭕ 17 Jun 2018

TPM: Schiff: First We Heard About Leaks To Nunes http://bit.ly/2HXTsMr

TPM, Josh Marshall: “A Deep and Visceral Hatred”, The Timeline http://2yhKYQF

NewYorker, George Packer: Donald Trump Goes Rogue http://bit.ly/2tgEHiu
// In half a week, between Quebec and Singapore, Trump showed that the liberal order is hateful to him, and that he wants out.
// 6/25/2018 issue

When President Trump walked out early from the meeting of the Group of Seven in Charlevoix, Quebec, on June 9th, he left the group’s collective statement without an American signature. It was hardly a controversial document—the language was G-7 boilerplate, affirming “our shared values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and our commitment to promote a rules-based international order.” U.S. officials had negotiated a change in that last phrase from the definite article to an indefinite one—apparently, “the rules-based international order” threatened American sovereignty. But Trump still refused to sign. A spat with Canada over steel and aluminum tariffs had fouled his mood, and as he was leaving Canadian airspace the President insulted his host, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, calling him “dishonest” and “weak.” Air Force One flew on to Singapore, where Trump lavished time and enthusiasm on the North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un—“a very talented man” and a “funny guy” with a “great personality.

Dean Acheson, President Truman’s Secretary of State, called his autobiography “Present at the Creation.” The title referred to the task that confronted American leaders at the end of the Second World War and the start of the Cold War, which was “just a bit less formidable than that described in the first chapter of Genesis,” Acheson wrote. “That was to create a world out of chaos; ours, to create half a world, a free half, out of the same material without blowing the whole to pieces in the process.” A network of institutions and alliances—the United Nations, NATO, the international monetary system, and others—became the foundation for “the rules-based international order” that the leaders in Charlevoix saluted. It imposed restraints on the power politics that had nearly destroyed the world. It was a liberal order, based on coöperation among countries and respect for individual rights, and it was created and upheld by the world’s leading liberal democracy. America’s goals weren’t selfless, and we often failed to live up to our stated principles. Power politics didn’t disappear from the planet, but the system endured, flawed and adaptable, for seventy years. …

Trump, with his instinct for exploiting resentments and exploding norms, has sensed that many Americans are ready to abandon global leadership. The disenchantment has been a long time coming. Barack Obama saw that the American century was ending and wanted to reduce U.S. commitments, but he tried to do so within the old web of connections. In pulling back, he provided Trump with a target. Now Trump is turning retrenchment into rout.

What would it mean for the United States to abandon the liberal order? There’s no other rules-based order to replace it with, which is why the definite article in the G-7 communiqué was appropriate. The alternative to an interconnected system of security partnerships and trade treaties is a return to the old system of unfettered power politics. In resurrecting the slogan “America First” from prewar isolationists who had no quarrel with Hitler, Trump was giving his view of modern history: everything went wrong when we turned outward.

… After Quebec, the German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, placed the United States among the rogue regimes: “Donald Trump’s egotistical politics of ‘America First,’ Russia’s attacks on international law and state sovereignty, the expansion of gigantic China: the world order we were used to, it no longer exists.” Europe is rapidly pulling away from the United States, but the European Union is weak and divided. The liberal order always depended on American leadership.

Trump imagines that America unbound, shaking hands or giving the finger, depending upon short-term interests and Presidential whims, will flourish among the other rogues. After his meeting with Kim, he flew home aglow with wonder at his own dealmaking prowess, assuring Americans that they could now sleep in peace. In fact, Trump had secured nothing except the same vague commitment to dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program which the regime has offered and routinely betrayed in the past. Meanwhile, he gave up something real—joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which he called “provocative,” the language of totalitarian and aggressive North Korea. Without allies and treaties, without universal values, American foreign policy largely depends on what goes on inside Trump’s head. Kim, like Putin, already seems to have got there.

💙 TheGuardian, Nick Cohen: Why isn’t there greater outrage about Russia’s involvement in Brexit? http://bit.ly/2JWgsgq
// This scandal should cause uproar but the BBC and Labour just change the subject

The first duty of the leaders and citizens of a democracy is to defend its elections from subversion. Yet a country that boasts of giving the world free parliaments feels no obligation even to look at allegations that Russia subverted British democracy. The government and opposition are compromised and want the scandal closed down. As does an embarrassed rightwing press and a shamefully negligent BBC.

One issue remains: a campaign that purported to be for the “left behind” was organised and funded by men with links across the global network of far-right American demagogues and kleptomaniac dictators such as Putin. We know that Russia has interfered in elections in North America and Europe. Russia had a direct interest in promoting Brexit because it would destabilise a strategic rival.

For months, you’d be forgiven for thinking [The BBC’s] editors have not let its reporters cover Russia-Brexit. They can report on Trump’s links to Russia – and I suppose we should be grateful for that – but not on allegations of the subversion of the electoral process in the country whose taxes fund them.

If the BBC mentions the Brexit scandal at all, it treats it as boxing match in which the corporation occupies the lofty position of impartial referee. Andrew Marr and the Today programme have both tried to titillate their audiences with catfights between Cadwalladr and Banks and Isabel Oakeshott, who helped Banks with Bad Boys of Brexit. They would be all very well if, to date, the BBC had not failed to produce investigative journalism of its own on the subject. Real journalism is hard work and, if the job is well done, its conclusions, however impartially presented, won’t make comfortable listening for ideological factions and moneyed interests with the wealth to hire libel lawyers.

… Rather than report, it has reduced public service broadcasting to a modern version of the Roman circus: a show that stops the plebs worrying their little heads about the future of their country. I’ve defended the BBC against Scottish nationalists, Corybnistas, Remainers and the Brexit right. But how can anyone respect a news organisation that prefers staged confrontations to reporting?

… You only have to raise the possibility of a British version of the Mueller inquiry to realise why Labour and Conservatives, left and right, would hate it.

The Tories are committed to Brexit. They will not push for investigations into a Brexit campaign whose wishes they are now meeting. Psychologically, Tories and the Tory press cannot separate the Russia allegations from Brexit. They fear that, if they look too hard, the legitimacy of the referendum will dissolve before their eyes.

In the US, opposition Democrats want Trump’s every dealing with Russia exposed. But in Britain the leaders of the opposition Labour party are as anxious as Farage and May to change the subject. Never forget the far left’s soft spot for thieving autocrats. …

… In any other democracy, there would be uproar. But here, the Tory and Labour frontbenches must pretend there’s nothing to see. …

TheHill: Schiff: ‘Deeply disturbing’ that FBI gave Nunes confidential info on Clinton’s emails http://bit.ly/2K44Pr0

🐣 The Roger Stone article is nothing; perhaps a smokescreen. The two important things to get your head around are 1) The Guardian’s stories on links between #TrumpRussia and #Brexit and 2) Giuliani/Nunes’ possible role in leak about Weiner laptop to get HRC email case reopened.

TPM, Josh Marshall: Stunning Brexit/Farage/Russia Revelations http://bit.ly/2JXO3df

We know that Russian diplomats and intelligence officers were supporting the Brexit campaign in the UK in much the same way they were funding and supporting the Trump effort in the U.S. We also know that the two campaigns ended up intertwining. Once Brexit was successful in the UK, its top campaigner and its top money man, Nigel Farage and Arron Banks, literally went to the U.S. and started campaigning for Trump.

It turns out that an aide to Farage, George Cottrell, was arrested by the FBI just after attending the GOP convention in July along with Farage. He was charged with a series of crimes related to money laundering, wire fraud, bribery, blackmail and more. He was also something of a denizen of the so-called “dark web.” Cottrell had a close personal relationship with both Farage and Banks, though both sought to diminish the extent of that relationship after Cottrell’s arrest.

Cottrell later cooperated and had the charges against him dramatically reduced. But parliamentary investigators in the UK have now confirmed that roughly a month after Cottrell’s arrest, Banks’ business partner and fellow Brexit campaign leader Andy Wigmore, the spokesman for the Leave.EU campaign, forwarded a package of confidential legal documents related to Cottrell’s case to a Russian diplomat marked “Fw Cottrell docs – Eyes Only.”

Note that this is all during a period of about two months when Paul Manafort’s history of secret payments in Ukraine was getting him bounced from the campaign, when Steve Bannon was taking over the campaign, when Farage was campaigning in the U.S. with Trump and while Farage and Banks were carrying on an active dialog with Russian diplomats including the Russian Ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko.

Farage, Banks and Wigmore have long denied their contacts with Russian diplomats were anything more than scheduling social occasions. But it seems all but impossible to think up innocent explanations for why Wigmore would be sharing legal documents tied to Farage’s aide’s arrest in the US on money-laundering and blackmail with Russian diplomats.

WaPo: Trump associate Roger Stone reveals new contact with Russian national during 2016 campaign http://wapo.st/2teJtwJ

⭕ 16 Jun 2018

TheGuardian, Carole Cadwalladr: Arron Banks, Brexit and the Russia connection http://bit.ly/2JIrKc1
// An 18-month investigation leads to a trail of new evidence showing the ‘bad boys of Brexit’ had closer links to Russia and its ambassador than they have disclosed

Arron Banks – the biggest funder of Brexit, business partner of Wigmore
Carole Cadwalladr – a British journalist (the author)
Damian Collins – chair of the culture, media and sport select committee, aka “Commons” (Parliament)
George Cottrell – an aide/fundraiser to Nigel Farage, arrested by FBI on money-laundering charges (Wigmore was w him, passed legal docs re: arrest about him to Russia)
Nigel Farage – lead of UKIP party, Leave.eu campaign, Brexit (Cottrell his aide)
Sergey Fedichkin – a ‘third secretary’ at the Russian embassy, docs on Cottrell sent to him by Wigmore with note saying: “Have fun with this.”
Philip Hammond – the foreign secretary (UK)
Isabel Oakeshott – ghostwriter of The Bad Boys of Brexit which gave her access to
Arron Banks’ emails
Andy Wigmore, spokesman for the Leave.EU campaign and the business partner of Banks (Wigmore was Belize’s trade envoy to Britain), passed legal docs about Cottrell’s arrest to Russia
Alexander Yakovenko, Russian ambassador (to UK) “identified by US special counsel Robert Mueller as a high-level intermediary between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin”

On 11 March 2016, three months before the European referendum, and long before anyone had started to wonder about foreign interference in the two political cataclysms of 2016 – Brexit and Trump – the Russian embassy in London put out a press release.
[ In response to: ]
Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, had made a speech at Chatham House a few days earlier. A speech in which he noted that “the only country who would like us to leave the EU is Russia”. And the embassy had taken exception. …

The press release said it showed Russia “being dragged into the domestic debate on Brexit” as part of a “wicked Russia thesis”. Written more in the language of a slighted lover than a nation state, it claimed that “this was “unfair”, and the government needed to “explain itself”. “We wouldn’t have dwelt on it,” it said, had the British government not alluded to the Russian threat “at every opportunity”. The Leave.EU team appeared to think so, too. A message from an employee to Banks and Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU’s press spokesman and Banks’s business partner, sent on the same day – 11 March 2016 – says: “Pretty strong stuff from the Russian embassy! Risky area but this might possibly be worth using for a tile?” (A “tile” is an image that they could use in social media messaging, on Twitter or other platforms.)

Last week, the Observer published details of multiple meetings between Banks and Wigmore and the Russian embassy, the details of which they confirmed when they passed the original emails to the Sunday Times in order to try to scoop us. The documents seen by the Observer suggest Banks replies: “I think we should – let’s draft a press release in response to the Russian letter.”The documents suggest that the employee’s response included a press release he says he has drafted on “the great looming threat” of Russia, though he notes that one of the sentences is optional as it “may be seen as too overtly Russophile”.

Wigmore responds: “Suggest we send a note of support to the Ambassador.”

It’s a brief exchange between colleagues – the language is matter-of-fact, the tone workaday, the import that there’s nothing unusual here. But two years on, in the midst of the Trump-Russia investigation, against the backdrop of a tumultuous week in parliament, including a parliamentary committee hearing at which Banks and Wigmore attacked MPs and then walked out, it suggests an extraordinary relationship.

The foreign secretary of Britain had made critical remarks about a hostile foreign power. And, so these documents appear to suggest, prompted the Leave.EU team to swing into action in support of the hostile foreign power. And, astonishingly, to write a personal note of support to the country’s ambassador.

Was the “personal note of support” sent? We don’t know, but it’s a fascinating, revealing, and disturbing insight into the nature of the relationship between officials representing the Russian government and the main funder of the Leave campaign. A relationship that was, until now, partly covert and hidden. And which Banks conceded in parliament on Tuesday that he’d lied about for two years.

This was the campaign headed by Nigel Farage, whose close friend and ally, Steve Bannon, had been Trump’s campaign manager and who said, on Wednesday: “I have never received any Russian financial or political support…”

And it plunges Britain directly into the same nexus of relationships that is the focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Two years on, we are in the dark about so much. What was the exact nature of Farage’s Leave.EU campaign’s relationship to the Russian government? Why did it exist? And to what end? …

So far, all that we can say for sure is that, for the last two years, Banks and Wigmore have lied about it. And, it’s this, perhaps, that raises the most critical question of all: why?

A week and a half ago, a fellow journalist, Peter Jukes, showed me this material for the first time, and my jaw dropped. I’d left parliament where I’d heard Alexander Nix, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, give evidence to the investigation into fake news to a parliamentary inquiry over many hours. And later that night, I found myself looking at a computer screen that shone on a light on a part of the investigation that I had never expected to uncover.

This was material – obtained legitimately – from inside the Leave.EU campaign. There were names, times, dates. Meetings. Official invitations. Gold deals. And, in a starring role, Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko, a name I knew instantly from FBI documents, who had been named by Mueller as a high-level intermediary between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. [ In the Papadopoulos plea deal ]

There were references to the content of the astonishing email that Wigmore was said to have sent to his contact at the Russian embassy in August 2016. Farage had been on the campaign trail for Trump when his aide and fundraiser, George Cottrell, was arrested by the FBI on money-laundering charges. Material seen by the Observer suggests Wigmore sent confidential legal documents, including the FBI indictment, to the Russian embassy.

And then there was the possibility of the gold deal. A deal, brokered by Yakovenko, and funded by the state-owned Russian bank, Sberbank, negotiated in the months leading up to the referendum, and announced on 5 July, 12 days after the country voted to leave the EU. There is no public record of whether Banks invested or not. Twelve days later, he tweeted: “I’m buying gold at the moment and big mining stocks.”

[ Several paragraphs how the author was targeted by Yakovenko as an “unscrupulous journalist” ]

I have a different relationship to this story, to these revelations, perhaps, than most. Because I have experienced the impact of this relationship with Russia, first-hand. I have felt it and lived it – viscerally, emotionally. But it was always there, out in the open. There was nothing hidden or covert about the hundreds of social media postings and tweets that showed Leave.EU’s and Farage’s support of Russian policies and the Russian political agenda. What I hadn’t contemplated, until now, was that this may have been co-ordinated with the Russian government.

Did the deal take place? The gold deal that Yakovenko made the introduction for? Journalists and investigators will hopefully now try to find out, to unravel the complex, offshore structures through which Banks runs his businesses.

Because what we appear to see through Banks and Wigmore is a linked series of relationships between the Trump campaign – via Steve Bannon – to the public face of Leave.EU’s campaign, Nigel Farage. Through Farage to Banks and Wigmore. And through Banks and Wigmore to the Russian government. Whether it’s a channel for anything else is for other specialist investigators to figure out. Because ever since Watergate, we’ve known that you need to follow the money.

But, in this the new age of information, there are new lines to pursue. One can follow the lies, for example. The meetings Banks and Wigmore admit they lied about, a third passport – a diplomatic one from Belize – that Banks told me about last year, but which he denied to MPs on Tuesday. Wigmore is the country’s trade envoy to the UK. A legal letter they told MPs they’d sent to the Atlantic Council but which the head counsel of the Atlantic Council told the Observer, many months ago, they had never received.

In 2016, Brexit and Trump were the first fake news elections. Though by “fake news”, one means sophisticated information operations, developed out of hybrid warfare techniques – pioneered by Russia and now aped across the world. In 1972, the year of the Watergate break-in, money was the sole source of power.

Today, information is also power. This is “asymmetric warfare”. It’s how an economically struggling power – Russia – can strike a blow against the richest nation in the world. Through weaponising words. And unleashing them in ways we can’t understand or even see.

Because you can also follow the tweets. Follow the Facebook posts. Follow the memes. It’s all out there: the Leave campaign’s intimate relationship with the Russian government appears public, visible, undisguised. Just as Banks – and his ghostwriter, Isabel Oakeshott – were careful to include the approach from the Russian embassy and a nine-hour “boozy lunch” in The Bad Boys of Brexit, is this a relationship between the Russians and the Leave campaign that is hiding in plain sight?

What we know now is that this relationship is deeper and more complex than we could have imagined. And that Banks and Wigmore lied about it: to the public, to parliament. And we don’t know why.

What we don’t know, or at least I don’t know, is whether this is collusion. If the Leave campaign colluded with the Russian government. That’s a word freighted with meaning and significance. A question that Farage won’t answer.

When I rang into his LBC phone-in show on Monday, he slammed down the phone on me, in what, in the video, looks like a moment of panic.

We don’t know if there was collusion. But here’s what we do know, what these communications suggest to us: that there was co-ordination.

TheGuardian, Carole Cadwalladr and Peter Jukes: Leave. EU faces new questions over contacts with Russia http://bit.ly/2MyMsJm
// MPs say latest revelations show Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore may have misled parliament

A leader of the Leave.EU campaign suggested sending a “message of support” to the Russian ambassador after the then foreign secretary made a speech that was critical of Russia, documents seen by the Observer suggest.

The material also appears to show that Andy Wigmore, spokesman for the Leave.EU campaign and the business partner of Arron Banks, the biggest funder of Brexit, passed confidential legal documents to high-ranking officials at the Russian embassy and then denied it to parliament.

The documents related to George Cottrell, an aide to Nigel Farage who was with him on the campaign trail for Donald Trump in July 2016. Cottrell was arrested by the FBI and charged with 21 counts of money laundering, bribery and wire fraud.

Damian Collins, chair of the culture, media and sport select committee, said that Banks and Wigmore appeared to have misled parliament and “what we really need to know is why”. He added: “It makes you question whose side they are on.”
↥ ↧
HuffPo (6/12): Nothing ‘Sinister’ About Meetings With Russian Officials, Claims Leave.EU ¤ http://bit.ly/2JJf3hf //➔ Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore, key figures in #Brexit, are just as goofy as Carter Page and Roger Stone
// 6/12/2018; Arron Banks walks out of Commons committee hearing.
↥ ↧
ViceNews: Everything you need to know about the bombshell report linking Russia to Brexit http://bit.ly/2LVvJPk
// 6/11/2018 (clearer)

 BBC, Kevin Ponniah (2017): Yuri Drozdov: The man who turned Soviet spies into Americans http://bbc.in/2JTVEcK
// 6/23/2017

TPM, Josh Marshall: More Evidence of the Critical Failure of the IG Report http://bit.ly/2JWqcri //➔ Giuliani and Nunes complicit in reopening of Clinton email investigation shortly before election! 💥‼️

🐣💥‼️ RT @lauferlaw Ok folks. Just got a whisper from a contact re: Rosenstein. Elevated risk of him being fired w/n the next 3-4 weeks. If that occurs, several DOJ heavies will most likely resign in protest. Hang in there. This move by Trump was definitely anticipated. The Republic stands.

🐣 RT @PaulaReidCBS Giuliani tells me he advised POTUS not to pardon anyone before Mueller probe ends & POTUS agrees. But pardons possible *after* Mueller probe

🐣 RT @sarahkendzior My interview on #AMJoy on Trump’s authoritarian infatuation: “We are way past hypotheticals now. We know how Trump wants to govern — like a dictator.”

🔆 This❗️⋙ WaPo: ‘Prepared for war’: As Mueller moves to finalize obstruction report, Trump’s allies ready for political battle http://wapo.st/2yglSBF

President Trump’s lawyers and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III are hurtling toward a showdown over a year-long investigation into the president’s conduct, with Mueller pushing to write up his findings by summer’s end and Trump’s lawyers strategizing how to rebut a report that could spur impeachment hearings.

The confrontation is coming to a head as Trump and his allies ratchet up their attacks on the special counsel probe, seizing on a report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s inspector general that castigated FBI officials for their conduct during the 2016 Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, said that he planned to use the inspector general’s conclusions to undermine Mueller, suggesting he may ask Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to examine the current probe.

“We want to see if we can have the investigation and special counsel declared illegal and unauthorized,” Giuliani said in an interview Friday.

If the president agreed to a sit-down, the special counsel has told Trump’s lawyers that he could finish within roughly 90 days a report on whether Trump sought to obstruct a probe into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, according to two people familiar with the discussions. A separate report outlining Mueller’s broader findings on Russian attempts to bolster Trump’s candidacy is expected to take longer.

The confidential obstruction report, which would be delivered to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, is expected to contain the prosecutors’ conclusions about whether Trump engaged in any criminal wrongdoing by trying to derail the investigation into his campaign’s contact with Russians, according to the people.

The filing of the report could trigger a political firestorm over whether to make the special counsel’s findings public — just as this fall’s midterm campaign season kicks off.

At the center of that standoff would be Rosenstein, who oversees the Mueller probe. Friends and foes predict he would face intense pushback over every aspect of the report — when to release the information to Congress, whether to refer the report to Congress to consider impeachment and whether to make any aspect of the report public.

“He’s the final decision-maker,” said Giuliani, adding: “There will be pressure from all ways.”

Rosenstein, who has repeatedly sought to defuse attacks on the Justice Department by the president and his congressional allies, has indicated he will only bend so far. Last month, after House Republicans threatened to impeach him for withholding investigative documents, he warned that “the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted.”

That round of political and legal drama could be delayed until after the November elections if Mueller decides to hold back the report to avoid releasing it too close to Election Day, or if Trump refuses an interview and the special counsel tries to issue a subpoena, kicking off a lengthy court struggle.

In the meantime, anticipation for Mueller’s report has put Washington on a kind of emergency storm watch.

“What we’re going through now is a walk in the park compared to what’s coming when the report [on Trump’s conduct] comes out,” said Peter Wehner, a Trump critic who has advised several past Republican presidents. “Even if the report is a devastating indictment of Trump, the political tribalism in the country is so deep and won’t suddenly go away.”

After the Justice Department’s inspector general released his findings Thursday, Giuliani said he and fellow Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow conferred about legal options they could take to stymie Mueller — including possibly sending a letter to the Justice Department raising questions about the credibility of the special counsel investigation. They also discussed whether to ask Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to investigate the Mueller probe, based on the inspector general’s report and some FBI agents’ conduct, Giuliani said.

“We’re going to take the weekend to talk it all through, with our team and with the president,” Giuliani said.

The Mueller investigation is already facing internal scrutiny. Last month, under pressure from Trump, the Justice Department asked its inspector general to assess whether political motivation tainted the FBI investigation into ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign after revelations that a longtime FBI source secretly assisted the probe.

The attacks by the president and his advisers on the special counsel appear to be having an impact: Public support for Mueller’s investigation has been gradually eroding. A Quinnipiac University poll taken in early June found that 50 percent of registered voters say Mueller is conducting a fair investigation, a drop of 10 points since November. [But more want it to continue.” [ President Trump should not fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, voters say 70 – 13 percent. Republicans say 50 – 23 percent Trump should not fire Mueller.” – same poll ]

Doug Kmiec, a legal scholar on presidential power and a former Reagan administration Justice official who knew Mueller from his prior work at the department, said the special counsel wants — but does not need — to question the president to finish his report.

“He wants to give the president an opportunity to explain any ambiguity and any impression that he was favoring a foreign adversary,” Kmiec said. “Robert Mueller would say it would be irresponsible not to give the president a chance to explain himself.”

The regulations would allow Rosenstein to refer the report to Congress, Katyal said, and release it to the public if he decides doing so could better serve the public.

Rosenstein will have near-total control over how the probe concludes and what the public learns about the findings. It will fall to Rosenstein to decide whether Mueller’s report contains findings about Trump that warrant some remedy or punishment by Congress.

It remains to be seen how he will navigate the pressure.

At a speech in Philadelphia earlier this month, Rosenstein appeared to allude to the punches thrown so far and those perhaps coming his way, quoting the classic boxing movie “Rocky.”

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows . . . But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward,” Rosenstein said. “That advice applies in boxing, in law and in life.”

🐣 RT @JamesGunn So I guess the Deep State has been proven to be a single text message between a fired FBI agent and his lover. They got us.

CNN, Stephen Collinson: Why Donald Trump’s wild week matters. A lot. http://cnn.it/2lcSbYJ

🐣 RT @brianklass Mattis is absolutely correct. And yet his boss wants to reward Putin’s aggressive behavior by granting him renewed international legitimacy by reinstating Russia at the G7. And Trump has done more to advance Putin’s goal of splintering NATO than any other president.
⋙ 🐣 RT @ZcohenCNN Sec. Mattis: “Putin seeks to shatter NATO. He aims to diminish the appeal of the western democratic model and attempts to undermine America’s moral authority, his actions are designed not to challenge our arms at this point but to undercut and compromise our belief in our ideals”

⭕ 15 Jun 2018

CNN: Mattis slams Russia, says Putin ‘attempts to undermine America’s moral authority’ http://cnn.it/2JPZCQk

Secretary of Defense James Mattis slammed Russia on Friday, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin “attempts to undermine America’s moral authority” and “seeks to shatter NATO.”

“He aims to diminish the appeal of the western democratic model and attempts to undermine America’s moral authority, his actions are designed not to challenge our arms at this point but to undercut and compromise our belief in our ideals,” Mattis said at a graduation ceremony for the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

Mattis also alluded to Moscow’s military actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, saying Russia has “proven willing to use conventional and irregular power in violation of international norms.”

“For the first time since World War II, Russia has been the nation that has redrawn international borders by force in Georgia and Ukraine while pursuing veto authority over their neighbors’ diplomatic, economic and security decisions,” he added.

His remarks came shortly after President Donald Trump said his predecessor, President Barack Obama, was responsible for Putin’s actions in Ukraine, including Moscow’s 2014 military incursion into and annexation of Crimea.

The harsh words on Russia comes as Moscow and Washington are “exploring” the possibility of a meeting between the Trump and Putin, according to US officials and a Russian media report.

Mattis also slammed China, saying that Beijing is “harboring long-term designs to rewrite the existing global order.”

“The Ming Dynasty appears to be their model, albeit in a more muscular manner, demanding other nations become tribute states kowtowing to Beijing,” Mattis said, accusing China of militarizing artificial islands in the South China Sea and of practicing “predatory economics” via its acquiring of debts from countries in the region.

The defense secretary sounded a more optimistic note on North Korea, saying the recent summit between the US and North Korean leadership had opened “a possible new avenue to peace.”

“Certainly President Trump’s historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un proves, and I quote here, ‘the past does not have to define the future,’ end quote, but while a possible new avenue to peace now exists with North Korea, we remain vigilant regarding the pursuit of nuclear weapons anywhere in the world,” Mattis said.

ForeignAffairs, Daniel Deudney & G John Ikenberry: Liberal World ~ The Resilient Order http://fam.ag/2JPvwws
// tags: neoliberalism, decline of the west, populism, capitalism, nationalism, globalism; It is too soon to write the obituary of liberalism. Even though the United States’ relative power is waning, the international system that the country …
⋙ See under Entire Articles

WaPo: After forging new ties with North Korea, Trump administration turns to Russia http://wapo.st/2JWq6CX

Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman is arranging for a delegation of Republican senators to visit Moscow, ending a long dry spell of congressional trips to the country following the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The push for engagement with the Kremlin follows months of prodding by Trump, who has faced resistance from senior political aides and diplomats questioning the value of meeting with Putin and worry that the tête-à-tête could cast a shadow over the NATO summit in Brussels.

“From Trump’s point of view, he’s had one successful meeting with Kim Jong Un, and now he wants to do the same with Putin,” said Angela Stent, a Russia expert who worked in the George W. Bush administration. “His advisers have been skeptical from the beginning.”

Trump’s success in advancing the summit planning marks a victory over his aides, who have pushed him to embrace a number of hawkish policies toward Russia that he has later regretted. In April, the Trump administration imposed sweeping sanctions against Russian oligarchs, sending shock waves through the Russian economy. In March, Trump ordered the largest U.S. expulsion of Russian officials in history, although he later accused his aides of misleading him about the size of the purge. Last year, he approved the transfer of anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, but scolded his aides after the policy decision became public.

Now, Trump has become a strong public advocate for engagement with Russia.

On Friday, he repeated his view that Russia should be reinstated in the group of industrial economies formerly known as the Group of Eight.

“I think it’s better to have Russia in than to have Russia out. Because just like North Korea, just like somebody else, it’s much better if we get along with them,” Trump said.

Russia was expelled from the group after it annexed Crimea in 2014, a military intervention Trump blamed on President Barack Obama.

“President Obama lost Crimea because President Putin didn’t respect President Obama, didn’t respect our country and didn’t respect Ukraine,” Trump said Friday.

Most U.S. allies view the land grab as a clear breach of international law that was solely the responsibility of Putin.

WaPo, Anne Applebaum: This is how Putin buys influence in the West http://wapo.st/2t0on5V

In the old days, these things were done differently. There were KGB couriers, bags of cash, “Moscow gold,” secret subsidies for far-left printing presses: The Soviet Communist Party was seeking to undermine Western democracy, covertly. But it was all pretty small-scale. …

Modern Russia, by contrast, has a far easier task. Nowadays, when the Kremlin makes a covert effort to exert political influence and undermine democracy, it has far more tools available — big companies, rich oligarchs, both of which need to keep in with the government — and far more psychological leverage. Instead of the brotherhood of mankind and the unity of the proletariat, modern Russia can appeal to a much simpler instinct: greed. Instead of offering small bits of cash or secret bank accounts, they can now offer deals with friendly Russian businessmen. These are legal, they can be discussed openly, and they create the right atmosphere for friendly relations, even if they never happen.

That’s the background to the curious story of Russian influence unfolding in Britain over the past week, thanks to the revelation of a cache of documents, including email exchanges, published recently in both the Observer and the Sunday Times. The main character, Arron Banks, was the most important funder of the pro-Brexit UK Independence Party (UKIP) as well as Leave.EU, one of the organizations that campaigned to persuade the British to leave the European Union. Banks invested $11 million of his own money into both of those causes and raised an additional $5 million. These are big numbers in U.K. politics, where there is nothing like the spending circus so familiar to Americans.

But where did that money come from? Banks has always said it came from his insurance business, which doesn’t appear to make as much money as he says it does, as well as “diamond mines” he owns in Lesotho, a proposition that at least one scientist says is “geologically impossible.” Now it also appears that Banks, who is married to the daughter of a Russian state official, may have sought business advice further east. On at least one occasion — he and his colleagues visited the Russian Embassy multiple times — the Russian ambassador to Britain, Alexander Yakovenko, offered to help him set up an investment in some gold mines in Siberia.

Banks denies that anything came of it. But this curious revelation is interesting on a number of levels. For one, it provides yet another link in the chain of common interests that ties together the Russian government, Banks, the Brexit campaign and UKIP leader Nigel Farage — Farage being a man who has, in turn, links to Julian Assange, Stephen K. Bannon and Donald Trump. Much more interestingly, it also illustrates how the modern Kremlin political influence machine operates — legally, and without necessarily incurring any government expense. …

“Let us introduce you to some useful business contacts” was also, it seems, one of the ways in which the Russian government kept the attention of the Trump family. Even as late as fall 2015, with the presidential campaign well underway, the Russian-born businessman Felix Sater was seeking to broker the construction of Trump Tower Moscow. The goal, he told Trump’s lawyer [Michael Cohen], was both political and personal: “Help world peace and make a lot of money, I would say that’s a great lifetime goal for us to go after.” Also, he would help get Russian President Vladi­mir Putin on board with the project, see what could be done to help with the campaign: “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it.” The corrupt implications explain, presumably, why special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has subpoenaed all of the papers surrounding that deal.

Trump Tower Moscow was never built, of course, and it seems that Banks didn’t invest in the Siberian gold mines, either. But they do reveal the Russian government’s modus operandi. Contacts are offered. Connections are made. Some deals go through. Others are dangled, perhaps to keep everyone interested in ongoing relations. Maybe someone will help you win your election, maybe not. Anyway, if you play your cards right, your business will prosper — and you might even get rich like Schroeder when you leave office. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s not corrupt.

🐣 RT @page88 Just to keep eyes on the ball: Manafort’s crimes are not only financial & obstruction. The *underlying* crime is his profound complicity in the mass murder of civilians under Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine.

TPM, Josh Marshall: There’s Something Fatally Wrong in the IG Report on the FBI and DOJ http://bit.ly/2HTgrbm

… The Inspector General was troubled by the fact that the FBI was prioritizing the Russia probe in the fall of 2016 over the Clinton email probe. The key passage comes on page 329 of the report where the Inspector General writes that in light of Strzok and Page’s texts showing hostility to Donald Trump, “we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias.”

… There’s virtually no record of anyone in a comparable position to Secretary Clinton being charged with a crime over anything like this. This, as I note, is key to what the probe was so freely discussed: it was always largely political and to a great degree theater. However that may be, the matter was extensively investigated and investigators found no basis for filing charges. FBI Director James Comey still felt it was necessary to publicly chastise Clinton in order to protect himself and the FBI from claims of bias. But the decision was clear: no basis for filing charges.

… There was very little chance that anything discovered in those emails would change the decision not to charge Clinton with a crime. Indeed, the people who ran the investigation told the IG as much. …

As Priestap makes clear, even though it was important to review the emails, as a matter of completeness, he did not see it as a high priority because it was highly unlikely they would change the investigators’ view of the case. In the event, they turned out to be duplicates of emails the FBI had already examined.

… The Clinton emails had been thoroughly investigated. The purportedly new evidence had little chance of changing the verdict of the investigation in the eyes of the people who made the key decisions, as opposed to the agents in New York. What’s more, whatever you make of the emails matter, it was literally all in the past, years in the past. There were no potential crimes in motion. In the other case, the FBI had an active and expanding investigation into whether a major party presidential campaign had either been infiltrated by or was conspiring with a hostile foreign power. This was in motion and the election was six weeks away. Again, to ask which was the higher priority borders on the absurd. …

Comey claimed that fears of leaks did not play a role in his decision. Basically all his advisors said the opposite. One of the big mysteries of the IG Report is what happened to the investigation into reports of anti-Clinton bias in the FBI Field Office in New York and claims that anti-Clinton agents had leaked the news of the laptop to Rudy Giuliani in order to restart the Clinton probe. … I have heard suggestions that this part of the investigation will be addressed in a subsequent IG Report. But I’ve been able to find no concrete evidence of that. Even if that is the case, since the Inspector General looked so hard for anti-Trump bias in the FBI leadership in Washington, it seems odd to deal separately with possible anti-Clinton biases of those whose potential leaking that leadership team was apparently reacting to.

Rudy Giuliani’s name literally is not mentioned once in the report. But there is substantial evidence that he was leaked information about the Weiner laptop which he then took to Fox News. In April 2018, in expectation of this question beyond addressed in the IG Report, Reuters reported that “law enforcement officials previously told Reuters the information was leaked to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an adviser to the Trump campaign who subsequently discussed the contents on Fox News.” …

On October 21st [2016], Strzok briefed a group of retired FBI personnel in a conference call to try to calm the clamor over how the investigation was handled. Lisa Page recalled “[W]e got a ton of criticism from the formers about the, why we let her off the hook, and why she should have been prosecuted, and why if she had, if they had done this, they would have prosecuted, all those sort of criticism that you have surely heard.”

These are just a few examples from the report itself. It’s clear that lots of former special agents were very upset that Clinton hadn’t been indicted and FBI leadership was trying to explain their decision-making and calm the clamor. In this context, note that when Giuliani was pressed on how he’d known about the restarting of the Clinton investigation he claimed that he’d only been in contact with retired agents, notwithstanding Reuters law enforcement sources who said he’d been leaked the information directly.

Here’s where the new information from Thursday evening [6/14/2018] comes into play. Last night on Fox News Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) said that in late September 2016 “good FBI agents” from the New York field office told him and members of the House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI) that they’d found new Clinton emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Nunes presented these agents as “whistleblowers” and that can be the case when government employees believe they’ve uncovered wrong-doing. But the timing suggests they more or less immediately went to congressional Republicans, about six weeks before the election. The emails were discovered on September 26th. They were talking [to] Nunes in “late September.” That means they had to be “whistleblowing” in four days or less. That sounds more like politicized leaking of details of an on-going investigation than anything that could pass as whistle-blowing. If the “good FBI agents” went to Nunes and other congressional Republicans one or two days after the laptop was discovered that means they didn’t allow any reasonable amount of time to decide the top officials in DC were dragging their feet. They were clearly trying to force the matter.

Step back from the intricacies of the IG Report on the FBI and DOJ and there’s a lot of reason to believe that James Comey made what all consider a bad decision in large part because he and his advisors feared leaks and that these leaks would encourage claims of political bias against Comey and the FBI. There’s also quite a lot of evidence that fear of those leaks was driven by hostility to Clinton among agents in New York as well as members of the fraternity of retired FBI Agents. This hostility or bias toward Clinton seems like a very big driver of events in the fall of 2016. This would not absolve Comey of responsibility for his actions. But it seems impossible to understand the fullness of the situation without trying to get to the bottom of this part of the story. And yet, again, it’s largely ignored in the IG Report. No mention of Giuliani. No mention of the “good FBI agents” who went to House Republicans. I can only imagine what the texts of those “good FBI agents” might contain if scrutinized like Strzok’s and Page’s have been.

As I noted above, it’s possible that this is part of a future IG Report. There’s conflicting word on that. Even if that’s the case, presenting only one distorted side of the story in this report seems highly questionable. However that may be, we still need to get to the bottom of what happened here and why. Because the decision to send that letter on October 28th clearly had a big impact on the election of Donald Trump. And it never should have happened.
↥ ↧
TPM, Josh Marshall: Nunes: FBI Agents Leaked Clinton Info to Me http://bit.ly/2lavMeO

Note that the reference to late September 2016 makes it clear that the agents in question basically went to Nunes and other Capitol Hill Republicans immediately after they found the laptop.

💙💙 JustSecurity, Ryan Goodman: Paul Manafort = Evidence of Collusion http://bit.ly/2lbdZUD
⇈ ⇊
– – – – – – – – – – – v
🐣 RT @rgoodlaw [Ryan Goodman] 1. Manafort proposes to Putin-linked, Russian oligarch a plan to “greatly benefit Putin,” and they get to work (2005-) Original Scoop for this story is @AssociatedPress story by @JeffHorwitz @ChadSDay:
⋙ AP Exclusive: Before Trump job, Manafort worked to aid Putin http://bit.ly/2l9Bm0S
// 3/22/2017
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @rgoodlaw 2. Manafort joins Trump Campaign and stays in frequent contact with a Kiev-based operative who has active ties to Russian military intelligence (March 2016-) (WaPo got their emails @thamburger @PostRoz @CarolLeonnig @adamentous)
⋙ WaPo: Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire ‘private briefings’ on 2016 campaign http://wapo.st/
// 9/20/2017
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @rgoodlaw 3. Manafort remains an unregistered foreign agent of Kremlin-linked Ukraine political forces. To understand how deeply Manafort’s Ukrainian principals are connected with, and infiltrated by, Kremlin intelligence, read @violagienger:
⋙ JustSecurity: What’s Ukraine Got to do With It? A Sideshow or Central Inquiry in Russia Probe? http://bit.ly/2tdPdXB
// 6/14/2018
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @rgoodlaw 4. Trump Campaign is told Russia has damaging info against Clinton in form of “thousands of emails,” and Manafort and Campaign then continue to set up meeting with Campaign reps and senior Russian officials (April 2016 -) Note references to Manafort in Papadopoulos guilty plea
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @rgoodlaw 5(a). Manafort and two senior Campaign officials meet with Russian gov’t emissaries offering damaging info on Clinton (June 2016). Two members of the Russian delegation are now thought to be Russian spies.
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @rgoodlaw 5(b). One of the Russians at the June 9 meeting “apparently has ties to Russian intelligence” and “allegedly specializes in ‘active measures campaigns’” such as subversive political operations involving disinformation and propaganda. Who said that? Republican Senator Chuck Grassley:
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @rgoodlaw 5(c). Guess who else says two Russians at the June 9 Trump Tower meeting with Manafort were likely Russian spies: In testimony before House Intel Committee, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher “acknowledged that [Akhmetshin and Veselnitskaya] were probably spies” based on his own knowledge of them.
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @rgoodlaw 5(d). But did Manafort know what the meeting would be about? According to the House Intelligence Committee’s MAJORITY report, Manafort, Trump Jr., Kushner attended the meeting “where they expected to receive…derogatory information on candidate Clinton from Russian sources.”
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @rgoodlaw 6. Manafort offers “private briefings” on the campaign to Putin-linked Russian oligarch (July 2016) [Deripaska]
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @rgoodlaw 7(a). Manafort oversees Campaign when it intervenes to defeat a call for Republican Party platform to include a provision for arming Ukraine to defend itself against Russian incursions Important admissions reported by @NatashaBertrand:
⋙ BI, Bertrand: It looks like another Trump adviser has significantly changed his story about the GOP’s dramatic shift on Ukraine http://read.bi/2lcHpSf
// 3/1/2017
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @rgoodlaw 7(b). On @MeetThePress, Manafort adamantly and categorically denies that the Trump Campaign played any role in the platform discussions. The same day on @ThisWeekABC, candidate Trump essentially admits his Campaign “softened” the platform language on Ukraine.
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @rgoodlaw This is one of the biggest bombshells of all: 8(a). Russian operatives reportedly discuss (a) Russia’s efforts to coordinate with Manafort on the election and (b) Manafort’s encouraging help from the Kremlin @evanperez @PamelaBrownCNN
⋙ CNN: One year into the FBI’s Russia investigation, Mueller is on the Trump money trail http://cnn.it/2MxmDJB
// 8/4/2017
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @rgoodlaw 8(b) US intercepts of Russians in #8 are consistent with #SteeleDossier: Steele Dossier: the “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between [Trump campaign] and the Russian leadership…was managed on the TRUMP side by the Republican candidate’s campaign manager, Paul MANAFORT.”
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @rgoodlaw 9. Manafort officially resigns from the campaign, BUT reportedly continues to be involved up through the transition (August 2016-). @politicoalex @EliStokols @ShaneGoldmacher @kenvogel)
⋙ Politico: Inside Trump’s Stunning Upset Victory http://politi.co/2yg0Zqb
// 11/9/2016, ‘Jesus, can we come back from this?’ the nominee asked as his numbers tanked. Because of Clinton, he did.
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @rgoodlaw In sum, the public record on Manafort, on its own, is fairly damning on the question of alleged collusion with Russia. Now just think of what Mueller knows.Anyone who says there is no evidence of collusion is misleading you.
– – – – – – – – – – – ^

NYT: Trump, Riding a North Korea High, Unloads on the F.B.I., Comey and Obama http://nyti.ms/2JQ8tS0

… The president seized on the Justice Department inspector general report released Thursday that sharply criticized the F.B.I. and its former director James B. Comey for their handling of the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. The report, he said, exposed what he called “the scum on top” of the F.B.I. as “total thieves,” and he insisted that Peter Strzok, a senior F.B.I. agent who had spoken privately against him, should be fired.

“They were plotting against my election,” he said. When it was pointed out that the report actually found that no decisions were made out of political bias, he dismissed the conclusion. “The end result was wrong. I mean, there was total bias. I mean, when you look at Peter Strzok, and what he said about me. When you look at Comey, all his moves. You know, it was interesting, it was a pretty good report. Then I say that the I.G. blew it at the very end with that statement.” [Throughout the report indicated actions taken disadvantaged Clinton.]

Mr. Strzok was a top agent on the investigation into Mrs. Clinton in 2016, and his text messages to a colleague, Lisa Page, were cited by the inspector general for showing an unprofessional bias. When Ms. Page was alarmed in August 2016 at the prospect of Mr. Trump’s winning the election, Mr. Strzok reassured her. “We’ll stop it,” he wrote.

Mr. Trump said that proved the F.B.I. was out to get him. “Peter Strzok should have been fired a long time ago, and others should have been fired,” he said.

Mr. Strzok was removed last year from the Russia investigation led by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. But the inspector general found no evidence that the F.B.I. did anything to stop Mr. Trump or rig the investigation into Mrs. Clinton in her favor. In fact, the report’s criticisms of Mr. Comey and the bureau’s conduct focused on actions that damaged Mrs. Clinton, not Mr. Trump, and it deemed the decision not to prosecute her a reasonable one.

Mr. Trump was asked on “Fox & Friends” whether Mr. Comey should be prosecuted and put in prison. “I would never want to get involved in that,” Mr. Trump said. “Certainly he, they just seem like criminal acts to me. What he did was criminal. What he did was a terrible thing to the people. What he did was so bad in terms of our Constitution, in terms of the well-being of our country. What he did was horrible.”

Mr. Trump continued, “Should he be locked up? Let somebody make a determination.”

He added: “If you read the I.G. report, I’ve been totally exonerated.”

But the report dealt only with the handling of the investigation into Mrs. Clinton and did not address allegations against Mr. Trump and his campaign related to contacts with Russia during the election and possible obstruction of justice after he took office.

In his first extended comments on his meeting with Mr. Kim since returning to the United States, Mr. Trump hailed their agreement, enshrined in a vague 391-word statement that committed North Korea to “complete denuclearization.”

“I signed an agreement where we get everything, everything,” he said.

Although there is no concrete arrangement for how that would happen, when it would happen or who would verify that it happen, Mr. Trump dismissed such questions as details that will be worked out.

“I have solved that problem,” he told reporters. “Now, we’re getting it memorialized and all. But that problem is largely solved.”

He praised Mr. Kim, brushing aside questions about the repressive regime and gulags in North Korea. “Hey, he is the head of a country, and I mean he is the strong head,” Mr. Trump said. “Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”

He later said he was joking about that, but he defended his decision to salute back when a North Korean general he met saluted him. “I’m being respectful to the general,” he said.

Mr. Trump confirmed that he wants to meet President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia this summer. Asked about Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which has been condemned by the rest of the world as an illegal aggression, Mr. Trump blamed not Mr. Putin for ordering it but Mr. Obama for letting it happen.

“President Obama lost Crimea,” Mr. Trump said. “Because Putin didn’t respect President Obama. President Obama lost Crimea because President Putin didn’t respect President Obama. Didn’t respect our country and didn’t respect Ukraine. President Obama, not Trump — when it’s my fault, I’ll tell you.”

Likewise, he faulted Democrats in Congress for the federal authorities’ separating children from parents trying to cross the border from Mexico.

“I hate the children being taken away,” he said. “The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law.”

Both houses of Congress are run by Republicans, who control whether legislation comes to the floor, but Mr. Trump said they could not act because it would require at least nine Democratic votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster. There seems no reason to assume, however, that Democrats would filibuster a bill barring the separation of families at the border, since they have already introduced such legislation with more than 30 Democratic co-sponsors.

Indeed, Mr. Trump made clear later in the day with a Twitter message that he would not support legislation on family separation unless it includes provisions that Democrats oppose, including full financing for his proposed border wall and a complete overhaul of the system of legal immigration to end policies allowing immigrants to sponsor relatives to come into the country. …

Over the course of the Fox interview and the subsequent conversation with White House reporters, Mr. Trump also returned to other frequent topics. He mocked National Football League players for protesting racism when they are “making $15 million a year.”

He again assailed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada for rejecting new American tariffs after a summit meeting. “We’re all happy, and then he got up and started saying that he doesn’t want to be pushed around by the United States,” Mr. Trump said.

And he dismissed the importance of a misleading statement he dictated last year about a Trump Tower meeting with Russians during the 2016 campaign, a statement that his lawyer and spokeswoman at first denied he had dictated even though his legal team later admitted that he had. “It’s irrelevant,” Mr. Trump said. “That’s not a statement to a high tribunal of judges. That’s a statement to the phony New York Times.”

The Justice Department report that seemed to animate the president so much on Friday had nothing to do with the special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties with Russia. But one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said on Thursday that Mr. Mueller’s investigation should be suspended and predicted that Mr. Strzok would be in jail in the coming days.

Mr. Trump’s decision to fire Mr. Comey in May 2017 was the first in a series of steps that led to the appointment of Mr. Mueller, whose team continues to investigate possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia’s meddling in the lead-up to the 2016 election. The inquiry, which Mr. Trump regularly calls “phony” and a “witch hunt,” has ensnared some of Mr. Trump’s former aides and has been a dark cloud over his administration.

In his conversation with reporters on Friday, Mr. Trump again attacked the special counsel investigation as “13 angry Democrats,” referring to campaign donations some of the prosecutors have made, although Mr. Mueller is a lifelong Republican.

I feel bad about a lot of it because I think a lot of it is very unfair,” Mr. Trump said before the latest development. “Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign. I feel a little badly about it. They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago.” He added, “He worked for me, what, for 49 days or something [5+ months]? A very short period of time.”

Mr. Trump even suggested that his former national security adviser, Michael J. Flynn, a retired three-star general, did not actually lie to investigators even though he has pleaded guilty to doing so. …

AP: Trump 2020 working with ex-Cambridge Analytica staffers http://bit.ly2JMOow8/

🐣 RT @GenMhayden Post truth is Pre-fascism

🐣 RT @nahaltoosi I understand the desire to throw up your hands and say “LOL, nothing matters.” Who hasn’t done it?
But I can’t operate that way for long.
Everything matters.
⭕ 14 Jun 2018

WSJ: Giuliani Calls for Mueller’s Suspension, Criticizes Top Justice Department Officials http://on.wsj.com/2yfopvU
// President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer says Mueller probe is ‘phony’ after watchdog report released

🐣 RT @EdKrassen BREAKING: Rudy Giuliani just called for Rod Rosenstein to suspend Robert Mueller tomorrow and arrest Peter Stzok next week.
This guy is literally going insane! It’s funny and sad at the same time!

WaPo: Trump allies seize on DOJ report as they seek to undercut Mueller probe http://wapo.st/ 2HRDpQ3

… Republicans quickly seized on the report as a meaningful development that they believe will further bruise Mueller’s credibility with the public and bolster the president, whose administration has long been gripped by the probe. …

… [T]he furor is almost tailor-made for Trump, who throughout his career has clutched onto small details and controversy as weapons he uses to define his enemies and erode trust in institutions.

Particularly notable, from the perspective of Trump’s allies, was the searing criticism in the report reserved for the conduct of one of Trump’s most high-profile critics, former FBI director James B. Comey, as well as the revelation that lead FBI agent Peter Strzok had shown anti-Trump bias. “We’ll stop it,” Strzok wrote in a text message, referring to Trump’s presidential campaign. …

On Capitol Hill, there was an outcry. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a Trump ally, said Thursday that he would support a new federal probe of Mueller’s special counsel investigation. “You’re going to need independent eyes,” he told reporters. …

“None of this reflects on the special counsel’s work,” said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Republicans, however, sought to use the report to tarnish investigators.

Since the Strzok text message had not been previously disclosed to Congress, a number of Republicans immediately asked whether the Justice Department had purposefully hidden that missive from them.

Republican Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.) and Ron DeSantis (Fla.) — all Trump supporters — sent the Justice Department a letter Thursday demanding that the inspector general turn over all previous reports to see if “people may have changed the report in a way that obfuscates your findings.”

The coming political storm, spurred by the report, may only deepen the divide between those who see the Mueller investigation as a nonpartisan endeavor and those who argue it is the product of an anti-Trump “deep state,” a conspiratorial term the president and his Republican allies have used to describe some federal employees who they suspect could be working against Trump and his administration.

Trump-allied Republicans on Thursday put the inspector general report atop their pile of grievances, once again casting the Justice Department as biased and defending Trump’s decision to fire Comey — though the report criticized Comey for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

NYT, Peter Baker: Report Gives Trump an Opening, but Undercuts His Narrative http://nyti.ms/2MrGB8I

The report that had much of Washington buzzing on Thursday required 500 pages to outline its findings, but to President Trump, three words mattered most — “we’ll stop it.” …

But the same inspector general report also undercut Mr. Trump’s narrative. Whatever the agent, Peter Strzok, meant, the F.B.I. did not “stop” Mr. Trump, nor did the inspector general find evidence it tried. To the extent that the F.B.I. and its director at the time, James B. Comey, did anything wrong in 2016, according to the report, it was to the disadvantage of Mr. Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.

If anything, the report affirmed the complaints that Mrs. Clinton and her team have lodged against Mr. Comey — that he went too far by criticizing her conduct while declining to bring charges, and that he erred by disclosing days before the election that he was reopening the inquiry while never revealing an investigation into contacts between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia.

“A fair reading of the report shows that the F.B.I. applied a double standard to the Clinton and Trump investigations that was unfair to Clinton and helped elect Trump,” said John D. Podesta, who was Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman. “That said, he’ll use one random Strzok email to spin a deep-state conspiracy which plays to his core.”

LawFareBlog: Nine Takeaways From the Inspector General’s Report on the Clinton Email Investigation http://bit.ly/2JQZhg8

NYT, Barry Berke, Norman Eisen and Dani James: Why Trump Is Wrong on the Comey Report http://nyti.ms/2lcrjs1

WSJ: DOJ Clinton Report Blasts Comey, Agents, but Finds No Bias in Conclusion http://on.wsj.com/2sY76un
// Then-director deviated from policies and separate texts cast cloud over entire FBI investigations

A report on the FBI’s handling of the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server found missteps by then-Director James Comey but no evidence of bias affecting the conclusions.

WaPo Editorial: The key takeaways from the Justice Department inspector general’s report http://wapo.st/2HPgLb3

NYT, David Leonhardt: The Report’s Real Message: Trump Is Lying http://nyti.ms/2Mu9u4f

NYT, James Comey: This Report Says I Was Wrong. But That’s Good for the F.B.I. http://nyti.ms/2JYA1Ix

Politico: Watchdog rips Comey but says bias didn’t taint Clinton probe http://politi.co/2laEaLl
// The inspector general turned up fresh evidence of FBI officials exchanging messages critical of Trump and leaking to the media.

NYT: Comey Cited as ‘Insubordinate,’ but Report Finds No Bias in F.B.I. Decision to Clear Clinton http://nyti.ms/2lbJPR8
⋙ Read: Justice Dept. Report on the F.B.I.’s Handling of Clinton Inquiry [link]
The Justice Department’s inspector general released a report on Thursday detailing the F.B.I.’s handling of the Clinton email investigation during the 2016 presidential election.
⇈ ⇊
💙💙 ≣ DOJ/OIG: A Review of the Various Actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice in Advance of the 2016 Election [pdf] http://bit.ly/2t6DI4g 568p

CNN, Maegan Vasquez: Sessions takes responsibility for keeping Rosenstein in charge of Russia investigation http://cnn.it/2JLCJxt

Sessions said in an interview released Thursday that he was the one who made the decision to recommend to Trump that he fire Comey, not Rosenstein — and that therefore Rosenstein isn’t disqualified from his role in the Russia investigation.

“That decision … really fell to me, ultimately, on the Comey matter,” Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation, told CNN affiliate Hill.TV’s morning show “Rising.” “And that’s not a disqualifying thing.”

South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN last week that he believes Rosenstein is “conflicted” from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s work given his role in Comey’s firing — an issue of interest to the Mueller team as it determines whether the President inappropriately sought to interfere with the Russia investigation.

“If you’re looking at obstruction of justice misconduct post-presidency, the Comey firing as being a form of obstruction of justice, then Rosenstein is a key witness in that and you can’t be a witness and oversee the investigation,” Graham told CNN.

Graham also sent Rosenstein a short letter questioning whether he needs to recuse himself from the investigation

⭕ 13 Jun 2018

🐣 RT @paulkrugman I’m old enough to remember when it was considered “shrill” to suggest that the GOP had become an alliance of plutocrats and racists — policy agenda of tax cuts for rich and slashing social programs, win elections by appealing to fear and prejudice

DailyBeast, Rick Wilson: Trump’s Negotiating Style Is Pure Art of the Moron http://thebea.st/2LMAXg8
// Even by this blowhard’s YUGE standards, it’s been an exceptionally bad and destructive week of terrifying our allies and legitimizing our enemies.

DailyBeast: Trump’s Former Pentagon Deputy: His Korea ‘War Games’ Comments Play Into Russian Hands http://thebea.st/2yb9tz2
// Robert Work, the one-time deputy defense secretary, warns that Trump’s shock announcement to pause drills with South Korea is a gift to Moscow and Beijing.

⭕ 12 Jun 2018

JustSecurity, Ryan Goodman: Testimony from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Hearing on Election Interference http://bit.ly/2tbPzxT
// hearing on, “Election Interference: Ensuring Law Enforcement Is Equipped to Target Those Seeking to Do Harm.” http://bit.ly/2Mu4Y5z
// Goodman’s testimony [pdf] http://bit.ly/2ldzKDv 37p
⋙⋙ See pdf-to-pages version in Huge Reports file

NYRB, Cass Sunstein: It Can Happen Here http://bit.ly/2JKITBc
// 5/28/2018 issue; review of:
⋙ Milton Mayer: They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933–45
⋙ Konrad Jarausch: Broken Lives: How Ordinary Germans Experienced the 20th Century

TheHill: Bolton paid over $100K by group tied to Ukrainian businessman for panel talks http://bit.ly/2y8de85

⭕ 11 Jun 2018

McClatchy: Web of elite Russians met with NRA execs during 2016 campaign http://bit.ly/2sO80JE

Several prominent Russians, some in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle or high in the Russian Orthodox Church, now have been identified as having contact with National Rifle Association officials during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.

The contacts have emerged amid a deepening Justice Department investigation into whether Russian banker and lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the gun rights group to add financial firepower to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.

⭕ 10 Jun 2018

🐣 RT @67jewelCDH Trump sycophant Lindsay Graham just said on national television that if Trump doesn’t get what he wants, we must declare war against North Korea and destroy them. We are talking about potentially hundreds of thousands of human casualties here. We should be terrified.

🐣 RT @WillDonnelly When the US sends its people to Singapore, they’re not sending their best people. They’re not sending experts. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing conmen. They’re bringing Nazis. They’re bringing warmongers. And some, I assume, are morons.

TheGuardian: MPs call for police to investigate Arron Banks’ links to Russia http://bit.ly/2LElYEV

WaPo, Jennifer Rubin: The fallout from Trump’s international temper tantrum http://wapo.st/2sMTFgL

 KyivPost: Kseniya Kirillova: Russian ideology for export http://bit.ly/2Mhfq0j

 TIME: President Trump Complained About U.S. Trade With Canada. Here’s What He Got Wrong http://ti.me/2HAVphr

🐣 RT @chrisinsilico I will be providing the DCMS committee with more information about the Russian embassy’s involvement with Brexit campaigners on Tuesday. People need to know what happened and if Brexit was part of a Russian influence operation @DamianCollins @CommonsCMS

🐣 RT @RNicholasBurns According to President Trump’s own Trade Representative, the U.S. actually enjoys an $8.4 billion surplus in goods and services trade with #Canada. Facts matter.
⋙ 🐣 RT @realDT Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal. According to a Canada release, they make almost 100 Billion Dollars in Trade with U.S. (guess they were bragging and got caught!). Minimum is 17B. Tax Dairy from us at 270%. Then Justin acts hurt when called out!

TheGuardian, Will Hutton: As their cause crumbles, Brexiters turn to fantasy and bitter recriminations http://bit.ly/2MiNWqO

Similarly, Boris Johnson’s now infamous leaked dinner remarks declaring that he had no doubt that Britain would leave the EU, which would be “irreversible”. It was a sign that the Brexit cause has its back against the wall – constructing an alternative reality based on faith and ideology in the face of real world facts that refuse to accommodate themselves to Brexiter will. This is the first harbinger of political doom: if you can’t think straight, you regress to claims of irreversibility. The policy that follows will prove unworkable.

TVLine: Robert De Niro Says ‘F–k Trump’ at Tony Awards, Gets Standing Ovation http://bit.ly/2JxVtAi
Video, uncensored: https://twitter.com/dialmformovies/status/1006005583160360960

Slate: Robert De Niro, Onstage at the Tony Awards: “F— Trump!” http://slate.me/2sXNAgr

“I’m gonna say one thing: fuck Trump,” De Niro told the crowd, to gasps that quickly became cheers that then turned into a standing ovation. He raised both fists like a boxer, then added, “It’s no longer ‘Down with Trump,’ it’s ‘Fuck Trump.’ ” Both lines were bleeped on CBS, but survived in the Australian broadcast. The applause lasted for 40 solid seconds.

TheHill: France takes jab at Trump, says international cooperation can’t depend on ‘fits of anger’ http://bit.ly/2sMtgQd

The statement, which did not mention Trump by name, appeared to come down on the president for “incoherence and inconsistency” in his snub of the communique, which includes a commitment to a “rules-based international trading system” and to combating protectionism.

“We spent two days to obtain a text and commitments. We will stand by them and anyone who would depart from them, once their back was turned, shows their incoherence and inconsistency,” the statement said.

Germany, according to Reuters, also pledged to stay committed to the G-7 communique.

🐣 RT @ReliableSources .@davidfrum on grappling with “news fatigue:” “If your child is feverishly ill, it can be very fatiguing to… take care of her. But it’s what you do, because that’s duty… [And] if your country is ill, you have the same responsibility.”

DailyBeast, Nico Hines: How a Journalist Kept Russia’s Secret Links to Brexit Under Wraps http://thebea.st/2JzImyT
// A pro-Brexit journalist held back evidence of links between Russia and the Brexit campaign while playing down so-called conspiracy theories on TV.

… For much of that time, a reporter in England has been in possession of extraordinary details about Russia’s cultivation and handling of Brexit’s biggest bankroller. Arron Banks was secretly in regular contact with Russian officials from 2015 to 2017, according to a cache of emails apparently not seen in those Transatlantic investigations until they were published in Britain on Sunday.

Banks, who ran the Leave.EU campaign group, was one of the first foreign political figures to visit Donald Trump—accompanying Nigel Farage to Trump Tower—soon after the shock presidential election of 2016. Farage is reportedly a “person of interest” in the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation.

Isabel Oakeshott, a former Sunday Times journalist who ghost-wrote Banks’ book, The Bad Boys of Brexit, was granted access to his emails in the summer of 2016 in order to help draft the diaries. The book mentions one meeting at the Russian embassy which has been the focus of great interest ever since, especially amid questions about where Banks’ sourced the multi-million pound funding of Brexit. He has denied the money came from Russia.

Oakeshott says she did not discover the stunning extent of Banks’ true dealings with Russia until last year. Even then, she decided not to publish saying she wanted to wait until the publication of her next book White Flag? in August. It is unclear whether the Electoral Commission’s investigations into Banks’ financing of the Brexit campaign would have been completed by August. …

Three months ago she confronted The Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr live on the BBC after Cadwalladr’s stories uncovering the misuse of tens of millions of Facebook profiles by Cambridge Analytica, which was linked to the Trump campaign and Leave.EU.

Cadwalladr, who has spent the last two years investigating the nexus of Farage, Banks, Trump, Cambridge Analytica and Russia, raised concerns about the validity of the Brexit vote. When the presenter asked Oakeshott about her relationship with Banks, she said: “There just isn’t a conspiracy here, Carole, I just feel like you’re chasing unicorns.”

Oakeshott’s attitude apparently changed on Friday when she learned that Cadwalladr—along with Peter Jukes—was preparing another story for Sunday.

An email, seen by The Daily Beast, was sent to Banks at 11.57am on Friday by Cadwalladr advising him that The Observer had obtained copies of his emails which laid bare the scale of his interactions with Russia. They appeared to show that he and Leave.EU colleague Andy Wigmore had multiple meetings with high-ranking Russian officials, that Banks visited Moscow in February 2016, and that he had been introduced to a Russian businessman by the Russian ambassador who allegedly offered him a multibillion dollar investment opportunity in Russian goldmines. …

The Sunday Times reported that Banks admitted passing over contact details for members of the Trump transition team to Russian officials and meeting with the Russian ambassador in London just three days after their Trump Tower summit.

Their package came complete with a commentary from Oakeshott herself, in which she expressed her shock at the revelations. “I was very surprised by what I found, which conflicted with the public accounts of the relationship with the ­Russian embassy,” she wrote. “Suddenly the Russian embassy in ­London had a potential back channel to the White House.” …

WaPo, Jennifer Rubin: After Trump’s G-7 summit fiasco, be afraid http://wapo.st/2Jv11zy

After President Trump’s atrocious and irrational behavior leading up to and at the Group of Seven summit, the disintegration of the liberal world order in place since the end of World War II and the potential for a serious international crisis no longer seem hard to imagine. The president, unmoved by history, ignorant of facts and guided by sycophants, has not been forced to grapple with the real world nor to hear views that don’t coincide with his twisted worldview, in which allies are ripping us off and aggressive strongmen are to be admired and accommodated.

Trump — after departing the G-7 meeting early — reversed his earlier decision to sign on to the joint statement with other member nations. He no doubt was reacting to the public tongue-lashing from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who told the press, “I highlighted directly to the president that Canadians did not take it lightly that the United States has moved forward with significant tariffs on our steel and aluminum industry.” Trudeau continued by declaring that the Trump administration’s decision to invoke “national security” to justify tariffs was “insulting” given Canada’s alliance with the United States in multiple wars. As Trudeau put it, “Canadians, we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around.” Trump can never tolerate criticism, let alone such public and direct criticism, so he accused Trudeau of making “false statements” and reneged on the decision to sign the joint communique.

Trump demonstrated once again that he is erratic and untrustworthy — with his own allies! The contrast between his antagonistic relationship with democratic allies and his never saying a bad word about Russia defies explanation, unless one is to buy into the theory that he is indebted in some fashion to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose campaign to interfere in the U.S. elections helped land Trump in the White House. …

“We’re the piggy bank that everybody is robbing,” Trump said. “And that ends.”

I have no idea what he is talking about. Our allies are not stealing anything. It is far from clear what, if anything, would satisfy him. If — and it is a big if — Trump is serious about erecting barriers to U.S. markets, we are looking at a full-blown trade war with our closest allies and trading partners, along with the trade wars with China and Mexico. All this would redound to the benefit of exactly one country, Russia. A worldwide recession would not be hard to imagine.

Trump becomes irrational and unhinged when contradicted, and given the degree of contradiction permitted within his inner circle (none), it must be unnerving indeed to discover that our allies view him with disdain if not contempt. Arriving late and leaving early from the G-7 gathering, Trump played the petulant child, trying so very hard to say that he didn’t want to be part of their group anyway — so there! Worse still, his disturbing invitation for Russia, the United States’ most worrisome foe, to join the G-7 suggests he really cannot tell who is a friend and who is an enemy.

Trump’s Republican enablers, who ridiculed liberal Democrats for coddling dictators and ignoring allies (ah, the good old days when they groused, inaccurately, about the return of a Churchill bust!), should see what their groveling has wrought. They now back a president who does not put America or the West first. A Manchurian candidate could not show greater fealty to Russia nor more diligence in helping Russia pursue its goals. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who refuses to consider reclaiming Congress’s role in trade, will see the consequences that flow from his and his fellow Republicans’ neglect of their constitutional obligations. Republicans have rejected their obligation to restrain an unfit executive and lessen the damage by reasserting Congress’s rightful power in areas such as trade. They are now Trump’s facilitators in his apparent desire to blow up the international world order — the world order America helped created and has always led. In that sense, McConnell, too, is helping, wittingly or not, to make Russia great again. …

As Trump is poised to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, he declares he’ll know within a minute whether the meeting will be a success. Here is a man declaring his gullibility and waiting to be snookered with a few smiles, some stomach-turning flattery and many empty promises from a calculating adversary. Trump seems not to know that the first meeting between the U.S. president and the dictator of North Korea is not an amazing achievement for the United States; it’s a huge win for Pyongyang.

In the case of the Singapore summit, we really do see a zero-sum equation. Trump, for fear of failing, seems to have defined “success” down to a photo op, thereby giving a massive victory to Kim, who obtains legitimacy and reduces, if not eliminates, any real risk of military action against his regime. Kim will do what North Korea has done again and again: speak nice words, pull the United States into fruitless discussions and give up nothing of consequence. The empty gesture of formally ending a war that has been over for 65 years achieves nothing for the United States but will burnish Kim’s image.

Trump is now so desperate to show he’s “right” — a master negotiator who breaks every precedent — that it is becoming more and more likely the summit will deliver plenty of glad-handing but no concrete moves toward denuclearization. In that respect, Trump is exactly like every other American president who got pulled into a process whose end result is North Korea’s continuing status as a nuclear power. The main difference is that none of Trump’s predecessors were dim-witted enough to give the ghoulish dictator of North Korea a public-relations triumph. Oh, and they managed not to get into fights with Canada.

🐣 RT @shearm [Michael Shear] The thing is, I was at the @JustinTrudeau news conference, and he went out of his way to try to downplay tensions. He didn’t attack @realDonaldTrump in any way, other than restate Canada would retaliate for tariffs. Not sure what @larry_kudlow means re: “stabbed” US in the back

🐣 RT @JohnJHarwood it was not a “stunt press conference.” Trudeau was very measured.
there was no “bad-faith.” Trudeau’s position at G-7 was exactly the same as his publicly-stated position before G-7. this is just crazy talk.

Politico: Angela Merkel on Trump’s G7 show: It’s ‘depressing’ http://politi.co/2MgCqwb
// ‘We don’t let ourselves be taken advantage of again and again,’ chancellor says.

At the end of a long weekend of rhetorical salvos over the G7 summit’s chaotic ending, German Chancellor Angela Merkel added her voice to the chorus, saying she found Donald Trump’s actions “sobering and a bit depressing,” while calling for more civility in international exchanges.

“The situation isn’t very nice,” Merkel told German public television in a lengthy interview. “I don’t think that ratcheting up the rhetoric is going to improve things.”

While Merkel, who has been frustrated over the past year by Trump’s decision to withdraw from international agreements including the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord, said she intends to engage the president, she voiced a deepening disappointment over her failure to win him over to her point of view.

“Sometimes I get the impression that the U.S. president believes that only one side wins and the other loses,” Merkel said, adding that she believes in “win-win” situations.

Trump’s tweets triggered a bizarre string of appearances by his surrogates on American television. Top Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Trudeau “stabbed us in the back,” suggesting that the Canadian leader’s criticism of Trump’s trade policies undermined the president before his summit meeting with North Korea.

Peter Navarro, another top counselor, abandoned any semblance of decorum, suggesting “there is a special place in hell” for Trudeau.

The latter comment prompted European Council President Donald Tusk to quip “there is a special place in heaven” for Trudeau for his organization of the G7.

NYT, David Leonhardt: Trump Tries to Destroy the West http://nyti.ms/2l2D6ZW

TheAtlantic, David Frum: Trump Goes to War Against the Democracies http://theatln.tc/2Mg2ojn
// Through the G7 summit, the brittle pretense of unity held together. Then came the tweets.

TheHill: GOP strategist: Trump ‘beclowned himself’ at G7 summit http://bit.ly/2MbTjrQ
// Steve Schmidt

🐣 To @JenniferRubin Cape Breton wants people to move there. Bonus: With climate change, Canada (and Siberia) will be in the temperate zone.

🐣 Her father is the current US Ambassador to Russia. She should know!
// Abby Huntsman, daughter of Jon Huntsman, referred to Trump/Kim meeting as one between “two dictators” ~ God knows why

🐣 I hope the next large export to Canada are people, our people. I’ve advised my kids to consider moving there. Who wants to stay here and live in a fascist state?

WaPo: European leaders are indignant and defiant over Trump’s G-7 statement. But they’re not surprised. http://wapo.st/2LGOyWu //➔ Trump’s surrogates on “the shows” tried to demonize Trudeau but the critiques of Trump were widespread

“It was not a surprise,” said Norbert Röttgen, chair of the foreign affairs committee in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag. “The president acted and reacted in the childish way he could be expected to.”

The depth of exasperation showed in a Sunday afternoon statement from French President Emmanuel Macron’s office. 

“International cooperation cannot be dictated by fits of anger and throwaway remarks,” the statement said. “Let’s be serious and worthy of our people.”

Following Trump’s tweets, Trudeau’s office issued a statement saying he “said nothing he hasn’t said before — both in public, and in private conversations with the President.”

Röttgen, the Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee chairman, said they have learned to anticipate his outbursts and U-turns, and should respond to them accordingly. He criticized Merkel’s team for releasing the much-discussed photo.

“By portraying him as the naughty boy in the room, he will stick even more to his behavior and it will get worse,” said Röttgen, who is a member of Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union. “We have to ignore his behavior and concentrate on what is left of the substance of the transatlantic relationship.”

Others used the image to mock Trump: “Just tell us what Vladimir has on you,” European Parliament member Guy Verhofstadt imagined Merkel saying. “Maybe we can help.” 

The relationship between the United States and its allies could be frayed even further if the trade war escalates — a scenario that Röttgen said he expects, with the United States in his view likely to move against German carmakers.

Of all European countries, Germany has the most to lose from a trade war with the United States. The United States had a $151 billion trade deficit in goods with the European Union last year. Germany alone, with its high-end automobile and appliance exports, accounted for $64 billion of that.

“President Trump saw that he had a united front before him,” Macron said via Twitter. “To find itself isolated in a concert of nations is contrary to American history.”

… Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May preferred tact to confrontation, even after Trump allies allegedly told the Telegraph newspaper that the U.S. president had grown weary of May’s “school mistress tone.”

In much of the European press, the tendency was to underscore the historical significance of the rift between the United States and its continental allies.

Newsweek: G-7 Summit Schedule in Full http://bit.ly/2sLgKjI //➔ Trudeau did not wait until after Trump left to “stab him in the back”: Trump left early, gave his own unscheduled (rambling, incoherent, self-serving) press conference and Trudeau gave his scheduled one

TheGuardian: Why Canadian milk infuriates Donald Trump http://bit.ly/2sW150n //➔ pssst: Canada imports 5X more US dairy products as the US does from Canada [chart: US trade deficit by country]
// Trump’s latest trade war target is Canada’s protected dairy industry. But Canadians have no intention of abandoning it – because it works

MotherJones, Kevin Drum: US Trade Policy on Dairy Is Simple: We Basically Allow No Imports at All http://bit.ly/2MdrmzS

“But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late” – Bob Dylan
// All Along the Watchtower

⭕ 9 Jun 2018

TheHill: Trump says he will honor Italy’s prime minister at White House ‘shortly’ http://bit.ly/2JGRox1
// because he went along with idea of adding Russia

Politico, Strobe Talbott: Trump Just Blew Up the G7. Now What? http://politi.co/2sVlHFQ
// With his call to invite back Russia and his refusal to sign the final statement, the U.S. president showed his true colors.

… Then there is Putin’s new cold war with the West. A menacing trend, clearly authorized by the Kremlin, has been a rash of assassinations (“wet affairs”) on foreign soil, including what U.S. intelligence officials believe was the murder of a former Putin protégé in Washington, D.C., several blocks from the White House on the eve of an appointment with U.S. law enforcement agents.

The main battlefield is cyberspace, and the weapons are manipulation of social media, publicizing private emails, and new means to falsify electoral outcomes by hacking voting machines. The KGB, Putin’s professional alma mater, had some triumphs against the USSR’s enemies in Cold War I, such as stealing secrets from the Manhattan Project. But sophisticated enterprises like Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear have already scored incredible victories, perhaps putting Trump in the Oval Office. …

CNN: McCain to allies: ‘Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t’ http://cnn.it/2sUa3uT

 NYT, Paul Krugman: Debacle in Quebec http://nyti.ms/2LFyXqa

Still, there has never been a disaster like the G7 meeting that just took place. It could herald the beginning of a trade war, maybe even the collapse of the Western alliance. At the very least it will damage America’s reputation as a reliable ally for decades to come; even if Trump eventually departs the scene in disgrace, the fact that someone like him could come to power in the first place will always be in the back of everyone’s mind.

What went down in Quebec? I’m already seeing headlines to the effect that Trump took a belligerent “America first” position, demanding big concessions from our allies, which would have been bad. But the reality was much worse.

He didn’t put America first; Russia first would be a better description. And he didn’t demand drastic policy changes from our allies; he demanded that they stop doing bad things they aren’t doing. This wasn’t a tough stance on behalf of American interests, it was a declaration of ignorance and policy insanity.

Trump started with a call for readmitting Russia to the group, which makes no sense at all. The truth is that Russia, whose GDP is about the same size as Spain’s and quite a bit smaller than Brazil’s, was always a ringer in what was meant to be a group of major economies. It was brought in for strategic reasons, and kicked out when it invaded Ukraine. There is no possible justification for bringing it back, other than whatever hold Putin has on Trump personally.

Then Trump demanded that the other G7 members remove their “ridiculous and unacceptable” tariffs on U.S. goods – which would be hard for them to do, because their actual tariff rates are very low. The European Union, for example, levies an average tariff of only three percent on US goods. Who says so? The U.S. government’s own guide to exporters.

True, there are some particular sectors where each country imposes special barriers to trade. Yes, Canada imposes high tariffs on certain dairy products. But it’s hard to make the case that these special cases are any worse than, say, the 25 percent tariff the U.S. still imposes on light trucks. The overall picture is that all of the G7 members have very open markets.

So what on earth was Trump even talking about? His trade advisers have repeatedly claimed that value-added taxes, which play an important role in many countries, are a form of unfair trade protection. But this is sheer ignorance: VATs don’t convey any competitive advantage – they’re just a way of implementing a sales tax — which is why they’re legal under the WTO. And the rest of the world isn’t going to change its whole fiscal system because the U.S. president chooses to listen to advisers who don’t understand anything.

Actually, though, Trump might not even have been thinking about VATs. He may just have been ranting. After all, he goes on and on about other vast evils that don’t exist, like a huge wave of violent crime committed by illegal immigrants (who then voted in the millions for Hillary Clinton.)

Was there any strategy behind Trump’s behavior? Well, it was pretty much exactly what he would have done if he really is Putin’s puppet: yelling at friendly nations about sins they aren’t committing won’t bring back American jobs, but it’s exactly what someone who does want to break up the Western alliance would like to see.

Alternatively, maybe he was just acting out because he couldn’t stand having to spend hours with powerful people who will neither flatter him nor bribe him by throwing money at his family businesses – people who, in fact, didn’t try very hard to hide the contempt they feel for the man leading what is still, for the moment, a great power.

Whatever really happened, this was an utter, humiliating debacle. And we all know how Trump responds to humiliation. You really have to wonder what comes next. One thing’s for sure: it won’t be good.

🐣 RT @georgetakei Trump is acting so much like a Russian asset that the Kremlin has decided to start referring to him as Agent Orange.

TheGuardian: Arron Banks ‘met with Russian officials multiple times before Brexit vote’ http://bit.ly/2HzsxWM
↥ ↧
LondonTimes: Exclusive: Emails reveal Russian links of millionaire Brexit backer Arron Banks http://bit.ly2LDDuJC

Arron Banks, the millionaire businessman who helped fund Brexit, had three meetings with the Russian ambassador to Britain — raising explosive questions about attempts by Moscow to influence the referendum result.

Emails by Banks and his sidekick Andy Wigmore, shown to The Sunday Times, reveal an extensive web of links between Banks’s Leave.EU campaign and Russian officials.

They show they made repeated contact with officials to discuss business opportunities and issues of mutual interest throughout the referendum campaign and its aftermath.

In his book on the referendum, The Bad Boys of Brexit, and in another public statement, Banks claimed to have had only one meeting with Putin’s envoy Alexander Yakovenko, in September 2015.

But today The Sunday Times can reveal that the pair also had lunch with the ambassador just three days after they and Nigel Farage visited US president Donald Trump in New York in November 2016.

Last night Banks admitted that he handed over telephone numbers for members of Trump’s transition team to Russian officials.

Trump, whose campaign staff are under investigation by a special prosecutor probing whether they colluded with Moscow, stunned the world yesterday by calling for Russia to be readmitted to the G7 group of nations.

The 40,000 emails were obtained by the journalist Isabel Oakeshott, Banks’s ghostwriter on The Bad Boys of Brexit. She is now writing a book with Lord Ashcroft, a former treasurer of the Conservative Party, that covers Russian “hybrid warfare” techniques to influence western politics.

⭕ 8 Jun 2018

🐣 RT @SteveSchmidtSES It does if you consider the unthinkable. If he behaves like a Russian asset maybe it’s because he is one.
⋙ 🐣 RT @JoeBiden Putin’s Russia invaded its neighbors, violated our sovereignty by undermining elections, and attacks dissidents abroad. Yet our President wants to reward him with a seat at the table while alienating our closest democratic allies. It makes no sense.

TPM, Josh Marshall: A Crooked Pol Resurfaces as Key Player in Michael Cohen ‘Peace Plan’ Deal http://bit.ly/2Jv8db2

The “peace plan” Michael Cohen, Felix Sater and a pro-Russian Ukrainian parliamentarian Andrii Artemenko met to discuss at the Loews Regency Hotel in Manhattan in January 2017 has always been part of a much larger story. … [A] big one emerged yesterday. So I want to take a moment to explain how the different pieces fit together. …

… A decade ago, [Curt]Weldon’s corruption scandal was tied to what the DOJ and specifically the FBI believed were intensified Russian efforts to buy influence and collect information in Washington. …

The new information suggests Weldon’s stayed in the same line of work in retirement. Yesterday The Atlantic’s Natasha Bertrand reported that Weldon apparently played a role in the aforementioned “peace plan.” He has apparently known Artemenko for a decade and they seem to have been working on projects together over the course of 2016 and 2017. Remember that, according to Artemenko, he and Cohen starting discussing his “peace plan” early in 2016. There’s a lot in Bertrand’s piece. We should remember too that the “peace plan” was likely at least in part a cover for a sealed “dossier” of dirt on Ukrainian political leaders which Artemenko gave Cohen to hand deliver to the White House. But this is the crucial paragraph.

Weldon, who has known Artemenko, the Ukrainian politician, for more than a decade, was furious that The New York Times had learned about the meeting, according to a person who spoke with him at a separate gathering last March, two weeks after the story in the Times had been published. “We were so close,” Weldon complained, this source recalled. Then Weldon dropped a bombshell: “He said [he and Artemenko] had already secured funding for the promotion of the plan from Viktor Vekselberg’s fund in New York City.”

Vekselberg is a top Russian oligarch who is close to Putin and often seen as a sort of informal ambassador to the US, in the sense of someone who has tried to build influence and financial ties in this country. He is also the man whose US investment affiliate, Columbus Nova, signed Michael Cohen to a $1 million consultant contract days before the “peace plan” meeting in New York. Indeed, Vekselberg met with Cohen at least three times during this period — on January 7th, 2017, January 19th and 20th and then again in March 2017…. [Timeline:] here.

It’s not totally clear what funding the promotion of the plan would mean or how Vekselberg’s money would be involved. Perhaps it’s as simple as putting Cohen on retainer. But it probably went further than that. Weldon refused any interviews with Bertrand but told her in a LinkedIn message: “I have never met Viktor Vekselburg [sic] and am not aware of any peace plan that he would have funded.”

It’s clear we still only know the outlines of what happened here. Perhaps it’s better to say we have nine pieces of a 40-piece puzzle set out in place on the table. Earlier reporting indicated that Cohen’s brother’s father-in-law, a Ukrainian immigrant named Alex Oronov, had put the meeting together. Oronov was another emigre purchaser of Trump properties and the guy who got Cohen involved in businesses in Ukraine. … Was Oronov’s involvement a cover story? Were they both involved? I strongly suspect the latter. …

NYT/AP: Trump Attends G-7 with Defiance, Proposing to Readmit Russia http://nyti.ms/2JFkltb

President Trump aggressively confronted America’s closest allies on Friday as they convened their annual summit meeting, calling for Russia’s readmission to the Group of 7 nations and refusing to ease his assault on the global trading system.

The response from the leaders of Europe, Canada and Japan was swift and angry. Most rejected the return of Russia [except Italy], which was ousted from the diplomatic forum after President Vladimir V. Putin violated international norms by seizing parts of Ukraine in 2014. And they assailed Mr. Trump’s embrace of protectionism as illegal and insulting.

At a meeting devised for cooperation and comity, public smiles and descriptions of “cordial” conversations were undercut by what officials said was a struggle to agree on a common direction. The likelihood grew that the United States could be frozen out of a joint statement of principles by the countries that have so often followed America’s lead.

“The rules-based international order is being challenged, quite surprisingly, not by the usual suspects, but by its main architect and guarantor, the U.S.,” Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said as the summit meeting got underway in Quebec’s picturesque resort town of La Malbaie on the banks of the St. Lawrence River.

The American side objected to including the phrase “rules-based international order” …

The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, speaking with Russian journalists accompanying Mr. Putin on a trip to China, expressed indifference to the idea of Russia being readmitted to the Group of 7. “We are putting emphasis on different formats,” Mr. Peskov said.

Mr. Putin was visiting Beijing ahead of a weekend meeting in the Chinese port city of Qingdao of leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a group that includes China, Russia and Central Asian states that was set up by Beijing in 2001 as an alternative to American-dominated groups like the Group of 8.

Reuters: G7 to cooperate against malign interference in elections: draft http://reut.rs/2sRQT93 //➔ (they sure know how to pull his chain)

The Group of Seven leaders are to agree on Friday to share information between themselves and work with internet service providers and social media companies to thwart foreign meddling in elections in their countries, a draft summit commitment said.

The draft, seen by Reuters, also says the G7 – the United States, Canada, Japan, Britain, Italy, Germany and France – agreed to ensure high transparency of funding for political parties and all political advertising, especially during election campaigns.

The draft appeared to be a thinly veiled reference to allegations by the United States and the governments of some European Union countries that Russia interfered in their elections. Moscow has denied the allegations.

“Foreign actors seek to undermine our democratic societies and institutions, our electoral processes, our sovereignty and our security,” the G7 leaders said in the draft.

🐣 RT @tribelaw For invading Ukraine, annexing Crimea, attacking our democracy to elect Trump, and murdering Brits, Putin gets — of all things — Trump’s help ruining the Western Alliance and reversing Russia’s expulsion from the G-8. Treachery seems too weak a word for Trump’s conduct.

 TheNewYorker, Susan Glasser: Under Trump, “America First” Really Is Turning Out to Be America Alone http://bit.ly/2Ly3y8W
// From trade to the Iran deal to NAFTA, the President has created the highest level of tension between the U.S. and its allies in decades.

NYMag, Jonathan Chait: Trump Is Fulfilling Russia’s Dream of Splitting the Western Alliance http://nym.ag/2LzC8PP

CNBC, John Harwood: Trump is helping Putin with a key goal when he spurns US allies http://cnb.cx/2MaqvA9

Politico: Trump clashes with friends while flirting with foes http://politi.co/2y5MYvp
// After tense exchanges with allies before the G-7, the president looks forward to meeting the leaders of North Korea and Russia.

🐣 RT @MalcolmNance Only counterintelligence explains Trumps slavishness. He a witting asset of the Kremlin. Since the Nobu Resturant meeting with the Russian Oligarchs in November 2013 he has been convinced Russian is his greatest supporter. He won’t let them down. #HailHydra

JohnMcCain: Statement on Re-Admitting Russia to G-7 http://bit.ly/2xVcpzH

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement today on President Trump’s suggestion that Russia be readmitted to the Group of Seven (G-7) nations:

“Vladimir Putin chose to make Russia unworthy of membership in the G-8 by invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea. Nothing he has done since then has changed that most obvious fact. Every day, Russian-led separatist forces are killing Ukrainians in the Donbass. Every day, Putin’s forces are helping the Assad regime slaughter the Syrian people. And every day, through assassinations, cyber-attacks, and malign influence, Russia is assaulting democratic institutions all over the world. 

“The President has inexplicably shown our adversaries the deference and esteem that should be reserved for our closest allies. Those nations that share our values and have sacrificed alongside us for decades are being treated with contempt. This is the antithesis of so-called ‘principled realism’ and a sure path to diminishing America’s leadership in the world.”

Background: Senator McCain was one of the first lawmakers to call for Russia’s ejection from the G-8 following its atrocities against civilians in Chechnya. He introduced legislation in 2003 urging the president to suspend Russia’s membership until the Russian government ended its assault on democratic principles and the rule of law.

🐣 RT @SenJeffMerkley Ok, really: what does Putin have on @realDonaldTrump? Russia has attacked our election, invaded Ukraine, slaughtered innocent Syrians, and yet Trump does Russia’s bidding while alienating our allies who stand with us. Which country is the American President working for?

WaPo: Trump calls for Russia to be reinstated to G-7, threatens allies on trade http://wapo.st/2y2icDE

NYT, Susan Rice: How Trump Helps Putin http://nyti.ms/2xVcG5r

NYT: Mueller Adds Obstruction Charge on Manafort and Indicts His Right-Hand Man http://nyti.ms/2xSvsdW
// Konstantin Kilimnik

NYT: Trump Attends G-7 with Defiance, Proposing to Readmit Russia http://nyti.ms/2y2eg5Q

🐣 RT @tedlieu Dear @realDonaldTrump: Even if we ignored Russia’s bad behavior, it doesn’t deserve to be in the G-7 because it’s not even a top ten economy. Both Brazil & India have far larger economies.
↥ ↧
WaPo: Trump calls for readmitting Russia to G-7 four years after it was expelled for its role in Crimean crisis https://wapo.st/2JlVED2 

WaPo, Jennifer Rubin: Republicans deny evidence Russia meddled while Trump invites Putin to rejoin G-7 http://wapo.st/2M9E3Mf

 DailyBeast, Michael Tomasky: President Trump Is What Happens After Republicans Spend Decades Rebranding Knowledge as Elitism and Ignorance as Bliss http://thebea.st/2xRO9yo

💙💙 CNN, Chris Cillizza: Donald Trump’s 26 most astonishing comments on his way to the G7 summit http://cnn.it/2sGhre3

🐣 RT @GovHowardDean Please hire someone who knows something about foreign policy and trade policy and listen to them.
⋙ 🐣 RT @realDT Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers. The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.

RawStory: Here are the 14 most bonkers moments from Trump’s impromptu press conference http://bit.ly/2sHHdi2

Wikipedia: “The Group of Seven or G7 is a group consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These countries [are] seven of the largest advanced economies in the world.” Aside from Russia having been kicked out, it remains “a regional power” (Obama) https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1005096024237662208/photo/1
// Wikipedia: http://bit.ly/2LyZuVW

💙💙 Dkos: Trump blows up trade and treaties with closest U.S. Allies, coddles China, Russia, N.Korea – MAGA!! http://bit.ly/2HxMM7q
// 6/3/2018

As both Trudeau and the EU have correctly stated, these unilateral Trumptard tariffs are a violation of our WTO agreements, and they’re taking all reasonable measures under the accord (not breaking it as we are doing).  We’ve been a signatory since 1994, when the WTO replaced GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) to which we belonged since 1948 as a founding member.  So Trump basically just blew up 70 years of bipartisan U.S. economic and security policy.

… Veselnitskaya’s primary job for the Putin regime was as a lobbyist against the Magnitsky Act.  Both she and Trump swear up and down they never discussed it or any anti-HRC intelligence either, though Reuters reported otherwise.  And hey presto:  On Sept. 8, 2017, Trump issued a memorandum delegating authority to alter financial sanctions to the Secretary of the Treasury, which he just exercised.  Another astounding coincidence.

In July 2017, Bill Browder testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Putin “is the biggest oligarch in Russia and the richest man in the world” who built his fortune by fleecing his oligarchs for 50% of their profits:

“I estimate that he has accumulated $200 billion of ill-gotten gains from these types of operations over his 17 years in power. He keeps his money in the West and all of his money in the West is potentially exposed to asset freezes and confiscation. Therefore, he has a significant and very personal interest in finding a way to get rid of the Magnitsky sanctions.”

Blowing the Oslo Accords sky-high by moving our Embassy to Jerusalem, and walking out of the Iran Deal or JCPA, has made the Middle East far more dangerous, to the fury of our friends and partners.  And walking away from the Paris Accords certainly didn’t help our trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific alliances.  Contrast that with Trump’s relatively generous recent treatment of N. Korea.  Look at his admiration for Duterte, Erdogan, Putin, Jinping, and Kim — it’s quite obvious that on a personal, visceral level, Trump likes dictators and gets along with them better than democratic leaders like Trudeau, Merkel or Macron.  He’s ‘joked’ more than once he’d like to be President for Life like that first bunch, not funny

TheHill: Trump calls for Russia to be reinstated into G7 http://bit.ly/2xRYzOv //➔ (I swear there must be a pee tape)

🐣 RT @GovHowardDean This is truly unbelievable. This man is unbalanced.
⇈ ⇊
⋙ 🐣 RT @AP BREAKING: Trump calls for Russia, ousted from group of leading industrial nations after annexing Crimea, to be reinstated.

🐣 RT @RichardHaass Much of pres trump’s & world’s focus on Singapore, but the more significant summit may be in Quebec. NK constitutes a significant but narrow challenge, but the rupture in transatlantic ties is structural, constituting a systemic challenge to what has been a US-led world order.

⭕ 7 Jun 2018

NYT: With Mueller Closing In, Manafort’s Allies Abandon Him http://nyti.ms/2LxG5o9

NYT, Charlie Savage: How The Times Decides When to Publish Leaked News http://nyti.ms/
// In an effort to shed more light on how we work, The Times is running a series of short posts explaining some of our journalistic practices.

NYT Editorial: The Cult of Trump http://nyti.ms/2HvwdZE

🐣 RT @mkraju Schiff writes to Nunes and asks him to share witness transcripts to Mueller’s team, suggesting that “certain witnesses” may have lied to the House committee and may have to face perjury charges https://twitter.com/mkraju/status/1004849412303130624/photo/1

WaPo: Trump’s tariffs teach Europe a lesson, Putin says  http://wapo.st/2xTr3HE

TheNewYorker, Miranda Carter: What Happens When a Bad-Tempered, Distractible Doofus Runs an Empire? http://bit.ly/2xT3GOf
// Kaiser Wilhelm II

🐣 RT @brhodes For anyone who asks why Putin helped Trump get elected, take a look at this G-7 Summit.

🐣 RT @sbg1 You know all those warnings about the international order melting down? it’s pretty much happening folks… POTUS vs the entire rest of the G-7 in a Twitter feud hours before summit. To repeat: this is NOT normal

🐣 RT @Evan_McMullin Trump’s pardons are not only intended desensitize the electorate to frequent interventions on behalf of his political allies, but also to make a mockery of the federal justice system, to suggest that law enforcement and the courts are incapable and illegitimate to begin with.

🐣 RT @Evan_McMullin Authoritarians work to create a purely transactional condition in which there is no virtue and no common good, only parochial interests to satisfy with state power in exchange for the support of those who benefit. Frustrated single issue voters and groups are the most vulnerable.

FoxNews: DOJ watchdog sets date for release of long-awaited review of Hillary Clinton probe http://fxn.ws/2Jy6OUv
// scheduled for 6/14/2018 ➔ 2 days after North Korea summit

TheAtlantic, Natasha Bertrand: Senate Investigators May Have Found a Missing Piece in the Russia Probe http://theatln.tc/2sQPiAt
// An ex-congressman has alleged ties to the Trump campaign—as well as to powerful figures in Russia and Ukraine. Finding out what he knows is crucial, a top Democrat in the Senate says.

🔆 This❗️⋙ TheAtlantic, Natasha Bertrand: Senate Investigators May Have Found a Missing Piece in the Russia Probe http://theatln.tc/2sQPiAt //➔ Awesome article; Pulitzer-worthy ‼️ https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1005025123144011776/photo/1
// 6/7/2018; An ex-congressman has alleged ties to the Trump campaign—as well as to powerful figures in Russia and Ukraine. Finding out what he knows is crucial, a top Democrat in the Senate says.


● Bertrand’s source ties the $500K that Cohen got from Columbus Renova directly to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, who was present at Trump’s Inauguration

● The money was arranged by GOP ex-congressman Curt Weldon and a former member of the Ukrainian Parliament named Andrii Artemenko

● The money went to Cohen to ‘grease the skids’ in the promotion of a “peace plan” for Ukraine that Artemenko was pushing. The money was described as being “funding for the promotion of the plan”

● The peace plan (“approved by Putin”) “involved lifting sanctions on Russia in exchange for Russia’s retreat from eastern Ukraine.” [ More on this at the end ]

● Cohen met with Artemenko before the Inauguration [ a violation of the Hatch act ]

● Cohen said he would deliver it to then-National-Security adviser Michael Flynn. It’s not clear if it was successfully delivered.

● Weldon “was furious” when the story of the plan hit the NYT. Bertrand’s source quotes him: “He started saying, ‘Putin is not that bad. The U.S. is much worse in many ways.’ He was very cynical.”

● Bertrand points out a number of lies that have been told by various people, at least according to what has appeared in the press.

So, what was the money for actually? To set up a meeting? Seems a bit steep. And why would an ex-US congressman and ex-Ukrainian congressman go to a Russian oligarch for it?

The elephant-in-the-room, though, is: What was the “peace plan” – “lifting sanctions on Russia in exchange for Russia’s retreat from eastern Ukraine”? Would that mean Putin would get to keep the Crimean peninsula? If he were to cede both Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, that is all NATO currently asks. It’s not clear. Did it involve the language change in the GOP platform regarding arming Ukraine? Why didn’t they just wait until after the election and go through normal channels?


… Curt Weldon, a Republican and former Pennsylvania congressman, lost his re-election campaign more than a decade ago following an FBI probe into his ties to two Russian companies. …

… Members of Congress believe, for example, that Weldon may lead to answers about why the Trump administration sought to lift sanctions on Russia in the aftermath of the 2016 election despite a public statement by intelligence agencies that the Kremlin tried to help Trump win. Weldon may also have information about the role a Russian oligarch [Vekselberg] may have played in trying to influence the Trump administration….

… Mueller has been investigating, for example, whether Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, tried to use his position to repay old debts to a Russian oligarch [Deripaska?], and whether Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, have influenced Trump’s foreign-policy decisions based on their business interests. …

… [Weldon’s] connection to [Michael] Cohen may lie in a mutual acquaintance who has since testified before Mueller’s grand jury: a former member of the Ukrainian Parliament named Andrii Artemenko.

In January 2017, shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Artemenko met with Cohen at a New York City hotel to discuss bringing peace to Russia and Ukraine. Also present was Felix Sater, a friend of Cohen’s and a former business partner of Trump’s. All three men confirmed to me that this meeting took place. When Artemenko pitched the peace plan, which involved lifting sanctions on Russia in exchange for Russia’s retreat from eastern Ukraine. Cohen said he would deliver it to then–National-Security adviser Michael Flynn, according to The New York Times. Artemenko told the newspaper that he had received encouragement for his peace plan from top aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Artemenko also told me that he had gotten “confirmation” that the peace plan had been left on Flynn’s desk. But Cohen walked back his story after the meeting was exposed by the Times, insisting that he had thrown the plan in the garbage.

Weldon, who has known Artemenko, the Ukrainian politician, for more than a decade, was furious that The New York Times had learned about the meeting…. “We were so close,” Weldon complained, this source recalled. Then Weldon dropped a bombshell: “He said [he (Weldon) and Artemenko] had already secured funding for the promotion of the plan from Viktor Vekselberg’s fund in New York City.” [ ⋙ Ties Cohen’s “‘Stormy’ slush fund” directly to Vekselberg ]

Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch who attended Trump’s inauguration, was questioned by Mueller’s team late last year, according to The New York Times. The peace plan would have benefited Vekselberg: He has been doing business in the United States since at least 1990, when he co-founded the conglomerate Renova Group as a joint U.S.–Russian venture. …

The New York City fund Weldon was allegedly referring to was Columbus Nova, the lone U.S. investment arm of Renova, according to the source who spoke to Weldon in March. Months later, given recent developments in the Russia Probe, the detail about Columbus Nova is shocking. When this source relayed the conversation with Weldon to me earlier this year, it had not yet been reported that Columbus Nova gave more than $500,000 to Cohen’s LLC, Essential Consultants, over a seven-month period in 2017. Weldon’s alleged reference to Columbus Nova, and his comment about Vekselberg’s role in funding the plan’s promotion, renews questions about what that $500,000 was actually for.

The New York Times has reported that Cohen and Vekselberg met 11 days before Trump’s inauguration, and discussed U.S.–Russia relations. Columbus Nova acknowledged in a statement that it hired Cohen “after the inauguration” for consulting work, but insisted that Vekselberg had nothing to do with it. “Columbus Nova itself is not now, and has never been, owned by any foreign entity or person including Viktor Vekselberg or the Renova Group,”@ the statement read. Columbus Nova did not mention in the statement that its president, Andrew Intrater, is Vekselberg’s cousin. The company did acknowledge it had hired Cohen as a “business consultant.”

[ ⋙ @So, untrue! They’re trying to cover 1) that they were engaging w Cohen before the Inauguration and 2) that the source of the money was Russian ]

According to the BBC, Cohen has in the past leveraged his relationship with the president to land a lucrative deal with a foreign entity. The outlet reported last month that Ukraine paid Cohen at least $400,000 to arrange a meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in June 2017. (Poroshenko and Cohen have both denied that money was exchanged.) [ ⋙ So Cohen gets paid for arranging meetings? Talk about pay-for-play! ]

Neither Cohen nor his attorney responded to multiple requests for comment regarding the payments Cohen’s company received from Columbus Nova in 2017. They also ignored repeated questions about whether the money was connected to the proposed Russia-Ukraine peace plan. Weldon told me in a LinkedIn message: “I have never met Viktor Vekselburg [sic] and am not aware of any peace plan that he would have funded.” [ ⋙ First part may be true; if her source is right, second part is untrue] He then made a reference to his work with Ukraine’s Rada, or parliament, during his time in office. “As one of the founders of the Rada/Congress Relationship during my 29 years in Congress, I spent much time on US/Ukraine relations and tried repeatedly to strengthen the US/Ukraine relationship.”

Artemenko, the Ukrainian, told me that he and Weldon have known each other for more than 10 years, but tried to minimize the significance of their appearance together at an event, in February 2016, about “how Americans can promote peace and stability in Ukraine.” Last year, Weldon asked his colleague Tommy Allen, the founder of Allen Tactical Security Consultants, to vet Artemenko’s plan, Allen told me. “We were at a meeting in Washington, and Artemenko walked in because he was meeting with Curt [Weldon],” Allen said. “We tried to warn him off of Artemenko, because you never know who the oligarchs are behind these guys, and the players behind the players tend to stay pretty static.” Allen said he did “not recall” Weldon ever asking anyone for money. “The individuals I know of who were providing funding were all U.S. entities.” [ ⋙ Her source says Weldon and Artemenko arranged funding from Russian oligarch Vekselburg ]

Fast forward to another meeting in Washington, the one in March 2017, where Weldon told my source about Vekselberg’s role in the peace plan. Only four or five people were in the room, and the gathering “had nothing do with politics—it only had to do with Curt [Weldon]’s businesses,” this source said. Still, Weldon “couldn’t help himself” when the topic of Russia came up. “He started saying, ‘Putin is not that bad. The U.S. is much worse in many ways.’ He was very cynical.” That’s when he started complaining about the peace plan’s demise, this source said.

Felix Sater, who says he initiated the conversation between Artemenko and Cohen about the peace plan told me he didn’t remember Vekselberg’s name coming up when they gathered in New York. He also said that, as far as he knew, Columbus Nova hadn’t been involved. [ ⋙ It gave $500K to Cohen’s LLC ] He noted, however, that Cohen had been looking for new clients around that time. “It seems clear,” Sater said, “that the company was paying for access.”

[ ⋙⋙ And to think we know all of this because of Stormy Daniels! ]

⋙ What doesn’t make sense is that the “peace plan” would involve Russia pulling out of Ukraine in exchange for lifting of sanctions. That’s always been the deal! Why go outside of normal diplomatic channels? Why would Putin agree to that? My guess ~ the “plan” was more insidious.

NYT: Justice Dept. Seizes Times Reporter’s Email and Phone Records in Leak Investigation http://nyti.ms/2xRYCcP

Shortly before she began working at The Times, F.B.I. agents approached Ms. [Ali] Watkins seeking information about a previous three-year romantic relationship with James A. Wolfe, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s former director of security, saying they were investigating unauthorized leaks.

Mr. Wolfe was not a source of information for Ms. Watkins during their relationship, she said, adding that she told editors at Buzzfeed News and Politico about it and continued to cover national security, including the committee’s work. Ben Smith, the editor of Buzzfeed News, declined to comment. A Politico spokesman, Brad Dayspring, said that the situation was “managed accordingly” after Ms. Watkins disclosed the matter, and that her primary beat was national security and law enforcement, not solely the committee, which other reporters primarily covered.

Politico: Spare the Rod http://politi.co/2sE0r8k //➔ Should Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recuse himself from the Russia probe? The relevant ethics rules say no.

NYT: Former Fox News Analyst Calls Network a ‘Destructive Propaganda Machine’ http://nyti.ms/2LrY3bN
// Ralph Peters

CNN: Justice Dept. internal report expected to fault former FBI, DOJ officials http://cnn.it/2Jzi82K

Of particular focus are the events leading up to his decision to announce in July 2016, without Justice Department approval, that “no reasonable prosecutor” would recommend charges against Clinton, as well as the decision to tell lawmakers days before the November 2016 election that FBI agents had recovered additional emails possibly relevant to the investigation.

CNN reported that at the time that Comey was advised by the Justice Department that his letter to Congress would run counter to department policy to not comment publicly on investigations close to an election, but he sent it anyway.

One crucial question is the extent to which the inspector general will provide clarity on whether political bias tainted the outcome of the investigation, providing the President with further ammunition to lambaste those in law enforcement or offering a more nuanced assessment. When Horowitz announced the review in January 2017, he said it would address whether “certain underlying investigative decisions were based on improper considerations.”

Another source briefed on the report said it’s expected to criticize former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for the apparent lag between the time that agents discovered possible Clinton investigation-related emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop in late September 2016 and when the FBI obtained a search warrant in late October 2016.

As part of his review, Horowitz’s office uncovered a stockpile of private text messages exchanged between two top FBI officials who regularly mocked Trump, dreading that he would win the presidency. Given their roles at the FBI and brief stints on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, the texts have been regularly held up by Trump and his allies as the textbook example of political bias infecting the FBI — which will heighten the ultimate findings reached by the inspector general on that score.

One source familiar with the scope of the report said accusations that FBI agents in New York leaked information about the Clinton investigation to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani have been examined.

⭕ 6 Jun 2018

TIME, Molly Ball & Tessa Berenson: Donald Trump’s Campaign to Discredit the Russia Investigation May Be Working. It’s Also Damaging American Democracy http://ti.me/2M4RH3n
// King Me cover

It’s a dangerous moment for Trump. If he agrees to talk, the notoriously undisciplined President risks making a false statement, which could be a crime like the one that led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment. But if he refuses, Mueller could issue a subpoena, instigating a long, high-profile court battle over whether Trump could be forced to testify. The two legal teams–Mueller’s squad of top prosecutors and Trump’s rotating cast of advocates–are haggling over what an interrogation would look like: how long it would be, what topics would be on the table and whether the session would be recorded. Before the President talks to investigators, Trump’s team wants to see the authorization letter that established Mueller’s authority, according to Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. They are also demanding the special counsel’s report to be issued within 60 days of any interview.

Dkos: IG report says what everyone knew: Comey screwed up by being too hard on Clinton http://bit.ly/2sNhILF

But what Horowitz has uncovered is what was already clear from the beginning: Comey violated department rules in making public pronouncements about an investigation that did not lead to indictments, and massively mishandled re-opening the investigation in the last days of the campaign. The report does show that Comey was “insubordinate” to his supervisors—the supervisors appointed by President Obama, not by Trump.

Trump may be relieved that the report appears to back up the statement that Rod Rosenstein issued in providing a cover story for Comey’s firing. But the problem with the Rosenstein letter was never that it overstated the case against Comey. It was that it was completely at odds with the reasoning that Trump and Stephen Miller argued in an earlier, angry letter which admitted that Comey was being fired for his failure to interfere in the Russia investigation.

Instead, the complaints are that both Comey and McCabe acted rashly and improperly in forcing the issue into the public a week ahead of the election—an action that polling has indicated was more than sufficient to account for Trump’s margin of victory.

So Donald Trump appears to be about to get his inspector general’s report. And he may even be able to select sentences and partial sentences he can use to attack the integrity of Comey and McCabe. What he’s not getting is any evidence of some grand Clinton conspiracy. And, just as with the Rosenstein letter, Trump is left in the position of attacking Comey, for something Comey did which helped Trump.
↥ ↧
💙💙 ABCNews: DOJ watchdog finds James Comey defied authority as FBI director, sources say http://abcn.ws/2Jk9UMF https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/1004605640671711232/photo/1

The draft of Horowitz’s wide-ranging report specifically called out Comey for ignoring objections from the Justice Department when he disclosed in a letter to Congress just days before the 2016 presidential election that FBI agents had reopened the Clinton probe, according to sources. Clinton has said that letter doomed her campaign.

Before Comey sent the letter to Congress, at least one senior Justice Department official told the FBI that publicizing the bombshell move so close to an election would violate longstanding department policy, and it would ignore federal guidelines prohibiting the disclosure of information related to an ongoing investigation, ABC News was told. …

In an interview in April, ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos asked Comey: “If Attorney General Lynch had ordered you not to send the letter, would you have sent it?”

“No,” Comey responded. “I believe in the chain of command.”

But in backing Trump’s ultimate decision to fire Comey last year, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein slammed Comey’s letter to Congress and said it “was wrong” for Comey “to usurp the Attorney General’s authority” when he announced in July 2016 that the FBI would not be filing charges against Clinton or her aides. [iow Rosenstein’s critique is different from Horowitz’s at least from what we know now]

“It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement,” Rosenstein said in a letter to Trump recommending Comey be fired. “At most, the Director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors.” …

By then, Lynch had taken the unusual step of publicly declaring she would accept the FBI’s recommendations in the case, after an impromptu meeting with former president Bill Clinton sparked questions about her impartiality. … Lynch haphazardly announced that she would not recuse herself from the matter but would “fully expect to accept” whatever recommendation the FBI made. …

The inspector general’s office seemed to similarly view Lynch’s announcement as strange, with the draft report criticizing her for how she handled the impromptu tarmac meeting and its aftermath, according to sources familiar with the findings.

Nevertheless, ABC News has confirmed that Horowitz’s draft report went on to criticize senior FBI officials, including Comey and fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, for their response to the late discovery of a laptop containing evidence that may have related to the Clinton investigation. …

It took weeks for the FBI to start analyzing the laptop’s contents, and Horowitz’s draft report criticized senior FBI officials for how long the laptop languished inside the bureau, sources told ABC News.

The Associated Press first reported that the draft report criticized senior FBI officials for their handling of the laptop. …

ABC News was unable to ascertain information about another key part of the inspector general’s report: whether animus toward Trump may have influenced the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails or the subsequent probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. [re: FBI senior agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page]

[All the above points say Hillary was screwed by the FBI, not Trump.
● Comey going public and calling her “extremely careless” in public
● Delaying analysis of the Abedin/Weiner laptop
● Disclosing to Congress about new emails found on laptop
● No mention (so far) that Strzok/Page texts were material
⇈ ⇊
IG CONCLUSIONS (according to ABCNews):

● Comey should not have gone public w findings of Clinton investigation,
but submitted them internally //➔ iow no “extremely careless” tongue-lashing
● FBI should not have delayed analysis of Abedin/Weiner laptop
● Comey should not have disclosed reopening of case so soon to an election
● (As yet no word about anti-Trump bias, eg Strzok/Page texts)

IN SHORT, Hillary would have won the election.

Note: This is the gist of ABC’s reporting, We have to wait for the full IG report to
see if the reporting is correct.

TheAtlantic: The Astonishing Tale of the Man Mueller Calls ‘Person A’ http://theatln.tc/2kUpoby
// One of the most shocking revelations from the special counsel’s investigation is the suggestion that Paul Manafort’s longtime aide is a pawn of Russian intelligence.

🐣 RT @justinjm1 Fancy Bear campaign approximately began on March 19, 2016 at 4:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m. Moscow) when Podesta got spearfishing email. So Trump is claiming the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation before Russian election espionage started.
⋙ 🐣 €realDT Wow, Strzok-Page, the incompetent & corrupt FBI lovers, have texts referring to a counter-intelligence operation into the Trump Campaign dating way back to December, 2015. SPYGATE is in full force! Is the Mainstream Media interested yet? Big stuff!

🐣 RT @TheLoyalO IMPORTANT 1/2: Via @guardian, we now know that #CambridgeAnalytica, the nefarious firm closely associated w/Bannon & hired by Trump to run his digital ops, directly funneled cryptocurrency to Russian propaganda front #Wikileaks & personally met w/Assange.
⇈ ⇊
🐣 RT @The LoyalO 2/2 – If the Guardian report is true, it is direct evidence of financial/strategic cooperation between the Trump campaign & Putin. [ … ] This is collusion – legally known as conspiracy, & it’s blatantly illegal both from a campaign finance as well as a national security/treason angle.
↥ ↧
🔆 This❗️⋙ TheGuardian: Cambridge Analytica director ‘met Assange to discuss US election’ http://bit.ly/2M324o8
// Brittany Kaiser also claims to have channelled payments and donations to WikiLeaks

Buzzfeed: Ivanka Trump Was In Contact With A Russian Who Offered A Trump-Putin Meeting http://bzfd.it/2Ls0xXv
// Her contact, a Russian Olympic weightlifter, said a meeting between Trump and Putin could expedite a Trump tower in Moscow.

In November 2015, Ivanka Trump told Cohen to speak with Klokov, according to the four sources. Cohen had at least one phone conversation with the weightlifter, they said. It is not known what the men discussed over the phone, but they exchanged a string of emails that are now being examined by congressional investigators and federal agents probing Russia’s election meddling.

In one of those emails, Klokov told Cohen that he could arrange a meeting between Donald Trump and Putin to help pave the way for the tower. Later, Cohen sent an email refusing that offer and saying that the Trump Organization already had an agreement in place. He said he was cutting off future communication with Klokov. Copying Ivanka Trump, the Russian responded in a final brusque message, in which he questioned Cohen’s authority to make decisions for the Trump Organization. Frustrated by the exchange, Ivanka Trump questioned Cohen’s refusal to continue communicating with Klokov, according to one of the sources.

TheGuardian: Alexander Nix blames ‘global liberal media’ for Cambridge Analytica collapse – as it happened http://bit.ly/2M7qkpk
// Former CEO of Cambridge Analytica, at centre of Facebook data-mining scandal, appears before Commons fake news inquiry
Cambridge Analytica director ‘met Assange to discuss US election’

NYT: Alexander Nix, Ex-Chief of Cambridge Analytica, Is Defiant in British Hearing http://nyti.ms/2M6nyR8

WaPo: Cambridge Analytica’s Alexander Nix says he’s a victim of Trump haters and liberal media. British lawmakers don’t buy it. http://wapo.st/2sDebjF

WaPo: Paul Ryan splits with Trump, says ‘no evidence’ FBI spied on president’s campaign http://wapo.st/2sBLMus

⭕ 5 Jun 2018

TheObserver, John Schindler: Mueller Finally Starts to Target Trump’s Israel Ties http://bit.ly/2HmkM6I

Few of America’s friends around the world are happy with the Trump administration, given its habit of gleefully trashing our longstanding alliances and declaring trade wars on our allies. Israel stands as a significant exception, however, and it’s no wonder that Mueller and his investigators are trying to get to the bottom of what certain Israelis were doing in 2016 in secret to boost the Trump campaign. That answer may eventually prove just as important as Mueller’s inquiry into the Kremlin and its clandestine attack on our democracy two years ago.

MotherJones: Manafort’s Dumbest Move Yet: Using a Former Russian Intelligence Officer for Witness-Tampering? http://bit.ly/2LpBZ1v
// Trump’s former campaign chief once again allegedly conspired with a Russian.

NPR: What You Need To Know About The Coming Showdown Between Trump And Mueller http://n.pr/2sBmNqY

TheAtlantic, Franklin Foer: Paul Manafort Loses His Cool http://theatln.tc/2JfxytH
// Special Counsel Robert Mueller says the longtime Trump associate tried to tamper with witnesses while awaiting trial on conspiracy and money-laundering charges.

What Mueller recounted, in a new court document filed Monday night, is how Manafort attempted to contact members of the so-called Hapsburg Group earlier this year. Manafort had created the Hapsburg Group back in 2011. It comprised European politicians he’d recruited to help beautify the image of his authoritarian client Viktor Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine. It was a perilous moment for Yanukovych. He had brought his country to the brink of joining the European Union. But Yanukovych had jeopardized this momentous step by arresting his primary political opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko, in a fit of antidemocratic spite. The Hapsburg Group was sent to lobby against accusations of malfeasance.

There is another suggestive fact that Mueller posits in passing. Manafort’s witness-tampering scheme featured a co-conspirator. Mueller doesn’t name the accomplice, but his identity is not hard to discern from Mueller’s description. Manafort tried to contact his Hapsburg Group collaborators through his old Russo-Ukrainian aide, Konstantin Kilimnik.

By any rational standard, Manafort should have long ago jettisoned his relationship with Kilimnik. On two separate occasions, Mueller has described Kilimnik as having “ties to Russian intelligence.” Put differently, in the middle of a scandal featuring collusion with the Russian state, Manafort seems to have relied on an asset of Russian intelligence to abet a plot to tamper with a witness. That’s hardly the work of a strategic genius.

🐣 RT @realDT The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself…I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined…and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!
⋙ 🐣 RT @How could he know to recuse himself from an investigation that wouldn’t start until 4 months later? Also, he didn’t know you’d fire Comey. Just sayin’ …

Politico: Law professors torch Trump legal memo http://politi.co/2Jdsbeg
// letter: http://bit.ly/2sx6Ouf

A recently published letter from President Donald Trump’s attorneys claiming that the president could not have obstructed the federal investigation into ties between his campaign and Russia is deeply flawed, 14 prominent law professors and legal scholars said Monday in a pointed and blunt rebuttal sent to top lawyers at the White House.

“The Office of the President is not a get-out-of-jail free card for lawless behavior,” the professors wrote in their letter, obtained by POLITICO. “Indeed, our country’s Founders made it clear in the Declaration of Independence that they did not believe that even a king had such powers; they specifically cited King George’s obstruction of justice as among the ‘injuries and usurpations’ that justified independence. Our Founders would not have created — and did not create — a Constitution that would permit the President to use his powers to violate the laws for corrupt and self-interested reasons.”

Among the better known signers of the rebuttal: Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, former U.S. Attorneys Harry Litman and Joyce Vance and former Obama White House ethics czar Norm Eisen. The letter was coordinated by Project Democracy, a watchdog group.

⭕ 4 Jun 2018

WaPo, Eugene Robinson: His Majesty Czar Donald I claims imperium http://wapo.st/2Jhervb

NYT, Michelle Goldberg: Does the Law Apply to Donald Trump? http://nyti.ms/2LWxrAG

NYT: Mueller Accuses Paul Manafort of Attempted Witness Tampering http://nyti.ms/2sFVHhT

NYT: Trump and His Lawyers Embrace a Vision of Vast Executive Power http://nyti.ms/2M04fJa

Politico: Trump’s Travel Ban Is in Trouble at the Supreme Court http://politi.co/2xH6Q7H
// Justice Kennedy’s ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case suggests the court’s next big decision might go badly for the president.

🐣 RT @JillWineBanks Because Cohen was a fixer, not a real lawyer, only .0578% of his documents are privileged.

Esquire: Trump’s Authoritarian Movement Is Reaching an Inevitable Conclusion http://bit.ly/2LnT6AR
// The president and his allies have declared him above the law, and his power unchecked by other democratic institutions.

🐣 RT @RepSwalwell Go ahead, pardon yourself, and you will hear my voice — with millions of Americans — outside OUR @WhiteHouse. #TrumpRussia

WaPo, Ruth Marcus: Mueller has waited long enough. It’s subpoena time. http://wapo.st/2xJAxoI

WaPo: Secret memo to Mueller actually reveals weakness of Trump’s position http://wapo.st/2Jdo7a0

WaPo, Richard Cohen: A laughable letter from Trump’s lawyers http://wapo.st/2JdG9gb

WaPo, Steve Vladek: Presidents aren’t kings. Someone should tell Trump’s legal team. http://wapo.st/2sw7CiZ

WaPo: Trump says he has ‘absolute right’ to pardon himself of federal crimes but denies any wrongdoing http://wapo.st/2JbAgjw

WaPo, Jennifer Rubin: What GOP cowering has gotten us: Talk of self-pardon and absolute power http://wapo.st/2kR5ded

RawStory, Robert Reich: It’s not absurd to imagine Trump igniting a second Civil War — here’s why http://bit.ly/2M0v8Nc

⭕ 3 Jun 2018

CNN: Giuliani to HuffPost: Trump could have ‘shot James Comey’ and not be prosecuted http://cnn.it/2xB4JCi

NYT: President Trump Thinks He Is a King http://nyti.ms/2ssICZJ

WaPo, Jennifer Rubin: Word salads, contradictions and hints of authoritarian delusion http://wapo.st/2JhffQM

Democrats have been struggling with how to address the “I” word (impeachment) in the campaign. Now they have the most powerful argument imaginable in the first referendum on the president since his election: Republicans support Trump’s claim to absolute power; Democrats do not. Which party should we have control Congress?

Where does this leave us? Trump and his attorneys are prepared to argue that his power is near absolute to shut down investigations into his own conduct and that in any event he could pardon himself. That is not the system we have, but we are heading toward that constitutional face-off — especially if voters return GOP majorities ready to defend Trump’s claims to unfettered power.

Vox, Matt Yglesias: Trump’s legal memo to Robert Mueller is a recipe for tyranny http://bit.ly/2LisyRi
// A clear and present danger to the rule of law

⭕ 2 Jun 2018

Politico: Trump allies gang up on Gowdy http://politi.co/2ssfdz5
// The GOP lawmaker was once a conservative hero. Now he’s under fire on the right for balking at Trump’s ‘spygate’ theory.

ForeignPolicy (2016): 10 Ways to Tell if Your President Is a Dictator http://bit.ly/2xBAsU2
// 11/23/2016, Just because the United States is a democracy now, it doesn’t mean it will stay that way.

NYT, Teddy Wayne: Rules for WITCH HUNT!: The Board Game http://nyti.ms/2Hfyeck

ENDGAME: There are two possible conclusions: 1) You do not convince anyone that this is a WITCH HUNT! and your teammates send your token directly to jail; or 2) You do not convince anyone that this is a WITCH HUNT!, but your teammates, making a cynically calculated political bet, do not send your token directly to jail. In that case, congratulations, you have won WITCH HUNT!, defeating not only the Special Counsel, but the 325 million spectators, whom you thought of as losers all along!

CNN: Trump lawyers say he ‘dictated’ statement on Trump Tower meeting, contradicting past denials http://cnn.it/2Jc6t6q

After the initial statement came out, news outlets reported Trump was involved in preparing the statement. Some reports said he helped draft it, others said he personally “dictated” the words. Trump Jr., meanwhile, told the Senate Judiciary Committee in private testimony in September, released last month, that he didn’t speak to his father about the statement, but that the President “may have commented through Hope Hicks,” the then-White House aide, and that some of those comments might have made it into the statement.

NYMag, Jonathan Chait: The Constitutional Crisis Is Already Underway http://nym.ag/2sqfMcm

For most of Donald Trump’s presidency, the specter of a coming constitutional crisis has loomed over the Russia investigation. The newly leaked memo by Trump’s lawyers, obtained by the New York Times, suggests that such a crisis is not merely a likelihood, but that it has already begun.

The memo proposes several tendentious interpretations of the publicly available facts of Trump’s behavior, along with some legally questionable and amateurish citations of precedent. But the most important passage is its sweeping assertion of presidential authority.

“The President not only has unfettered statutory and Constitutional authority to terminate the FBI Director, he also has Constitutional authority to direct the Justice Department to open or close an investigation, and, of course, the power to pardon any person before, during, or after an investigation and/or conviction,” they write, “Put simply, the Constitution leaves no question that the President has exclusive authority over the ultimate conduct and disposition of all criminal investigations and over those executive branch officials responsible for conducting those investigations.”

Should Trump’s legal case prevail in the courts — and the legality of such broad claims remains largely untested — it would confer upon any president, but immediately Trump, the ability to open charges against anybody the president wants to charge, and prevent investigations of anybody the president wants to protect, beginning with himself. This is l’état, c’est moi rendered as a formal legal case.

Indeed, the conclusion of the memo hints a even more expansive uses for the terrifying powers Trump has claimed. “Every action that the president took was taken with full constitutional authority pursuant to Article II of the United States Constitution,” they write, “As such, these actions cannot constitute obstruction, whether viewed separately or even as a totality.” Article II of the Constitution establishes the Executive Branch, which has numerous other offices, some quite powerful. The Internal Revenue Service lies within Article II. Trump’s lawyers would seem to believe the president can direct the IRS to open or close any tax audit of any figure the president wants to subject to, or protect from, scrutiny.

Trump cannot obstruct justice, according to his official legal stance, because justice is whatever Trump says it is. Before this is over, either Trump’s sweeping claim will survive, or the rule of law will, but not both.

TheHill: Chuck Schumer: Trump lawyers’ argument that he can’t obstruct justice would be valid in a dictatorship http://bit.ly/2HfElxx

💙💙 NYT: Trump’s Lawyers, in Confidential Memo, Argue to Head Off a Historic Subpoena http://nyti.ms/2swIZSc
⋙ 📒 NYT: The Trump Lawyers’ Confidential Memo to Mueller, Explained [ Document ] http://nyti.ms/2kKPgq9
// Annotated

⭕ 1 Jun 2018

ForeignPolicy (6/1/2018): U.S. Close to Imposing Sanctions on European Companies in Russian Pipeline Project http://bit.ly/2up0HrR
// 6/1/2018, The decision would test already fraught relations with Germany, other allies.

WaPo: As Justice Dept. inspector general moves from Clinton email to Russia and Trump, he risks becoming a political weapon http://wapo.st/2sIUnut
// Michael E. Horowitz

McClatchy: New internet accounts are Russian ops designed to sway U.S. voters, experts say http://bit.ly/2ssayx7

⭕ 31 May 2018

NYT: Trump Pardons Dinesh D’Souza, Weighs Leniency for Rod Blagojevich and Martha Stewart http://nyti.ms/2soaOwV

The president was focusing on cases where he argued that the justice system had unfairly treated celebrity figures, all of whom were convicted of crimes that in some ways mirrored charges that have been made or mentioned in connection with allies of Mr. Trump in recent weeks, including campaign finance violations and lying to investigators.

Moreover, all three of the cases were tied to prosecutors who have become nemeses of the president. Mr. D’Souza was prosecuted by Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in New York who was fired by Mr. Trump last year and has been one of his fiercest critics. Ms. Stewart was prosecuted by James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director who was fired by Mr. Trump last year and has engaged in a running war of words ever since.

As for Mr. Blagojevich, he was prosecuted by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, a close friend and colleague of Mr. Comey. Mr. Trump previously pardoned I. Lewis Libby Jr., a top aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney, who was also prosecuted by Mr. Fitzgerald.

Axios: Scoop: Trump repeatedly pressured Sessions on Mueller investigation http://bit.ly/2LbH4dB

🐣 RT @chrislhayes It’s all happening right in front of our eyes, in broad daylight.

⭕ 30 May 2018

🐣 ‼️ ⋙ @realDonaldTrump [11:00p]: “The recusal of Jeff Sessions was an unforced betrayal of the President of the United States.” JOE DIGENOVA, former U.S. Attorney

🐣 ⋙ @realDonaldTrump: The soon to be released book, “The Russia Hoax, The Illicit Scheme To Clear Hillary Clinton And Frame Donald Trump,” written by Gregg Jarrett, looks like a real deal big hit. The Phony Witch Hunt will be opened up for the world to see! Out in 5 weeks.

PolitiFact: Fact-checking Donald Trump’s claims about Democrats on Robert Mueller’s team http://bit.ly/2srPXIb //➔ Half-True

Politico: Michael Cohen’s lawyers accuse Avenatti of ‘reckless and improper’ behavior http://politi.co/2LLAc7L

 Newsweek, Jeff Stein: ‘There Is No Deep State:’ Former Intelligence Directors Slam Trump’s Conspiracy Theories http://bit.ly/2LLOwxp

NYT: F.B.I. Official Wrote Secret Memo Fearing Trump Got a Cover Story for Comey Firing http://nyti.ms/2LJN3Yh

In the document, whose contents have not been previously reported, Mr. McCabe described a conversation at the Justice Department with the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, in the chaotic days last May after Mr. Comey’s abrupt firing. Mr. Rosenstein played a key role in the dismissal, writing a memo that rebuked Mr. Comey over his handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton.

But in the meeting at the Justice Department, Mr. Rosenstein added a new detail: He said the president had originally asked him to reference Russia in his memo, the people familiar with the conversation said. Mr. Rosenstein did not elaborate on what Mr. Trump had wanted him to say.

To Mr. McCabe, that seemed like possible evidence that Mr. Comey’s firing was actually related to the F.B.I.’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, and that Mr. Rosenstein helped provide a cover story by writing about the Clinton investigation.

One person who was briefed on Mr. Rosenstein’s conversation with the president said Mr. Trump had simply wanted Mr. Rosenstein to mention that he was not personally under investigation in the Russia inquiry. Mr. Rosenstein said it was unnecessary and did not include such a reference. Mr. Trump ultimately said it himself when announcing the firing. …

In conversations with prosecutors, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have cited Mr. Rosenstein’s involvement in the firing of Mr. Comey as proof that it was not an effort to obstruct justice, according to people familiar with the president’s legal strategy.

That argument has only made Mr. Rosenstein’s position even more peculiar: He oversees an investigation into the president, who points to Mr. Rosenstein’s own actions as evidence that he is innocent. And Mr. Rosenstein could have the final say on whether that argument has merit

WaPo, Jennifer Rubin: How Jeff Sessions could bring about Trump’s downfall http://wapo.st/2IWlj4W

If the [NYT] report is accurate, Mueller is looking at a possible obstruction of justice claim based on conduct over a substantial period of time — from Trump’s failed effort to extract a pledge of loyalty from former FBI director James B. Comey, to asking Comey to lay off fired national security adviser Michael Flynn, to Comey’s firing, to Trump holding a threat of imaginary “tapes” over Comey’s head, to drafting on Air Force One a phony explanation of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting. Pushing for Sessions to reverse his recusal, like any other single action, is unlikely to support an obstruction charge. However, the pattern of conduct is powerful evidence of Trump’s attempt to control and defang an investigation.

If Sessions is a central witness in the probe, one can hardly question the appropriateness of Sessions’s recusal. He cannot be both a key witness and the investigation’s supervisor. Ironically, Sessions also is the one Republican whose credibility cannot readily be called into question by Trump’s base. …

The fight over Sessions’s recusal marks another instance in which the White House has reached down into the Justice Department in ways no other administration has done. “Asking Sessions to ‘unrecuse’ himself despite his conflict of interest, in palpable violation of the Department of Justice recusal rules, can only have one purpose: the corrupt obstruction of justice,” says constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe. “The purpose of pressuring Sessions is, of course, to put the work of the Special Counsel under the supervision of someone willing to do Trump’s bidding rather than under the supervision of [Deputy Attorney General Rod J.] Rosenstein, who has been less loyal to Trump than to the truth and the rule of law.”

Trump has crossed the line time and again for the purpose of throwing suspicion on investigators, investigating political enemies, providing highly confidential information to his congressional allies and seeking to protect himself and his associates. Trump, in his attack on the democratic norms that keep our criminal-justice system free from political taint, surely has no peer.

PoliticusUSA: Smoking Gun Found As Michael Avenatti Confirms Prosecutors Have Trump Tapes http://bit.ly/2skg7gZ

It is clear now why Trump was fighting so hard to get access to the Cohen evidence. The tapes with Trump’s voice on them are the evidence that no one can deny. If the tapes are released to the public, depending on what is on them, it could mean the end of the Trump presidency. PoliticusUSA has been reporting for months that Trump and Cohen were on tape. The only difference between this detail and the original report is that Michael Cohen was dumb enough to tape Trump and now prosecutors have evidence of their crimes. While the country has been focused on Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation, it may end up being Stormy Daniels and her lawyer Michael Avenatti who destroy the Trump presidency.

🐣 Sessions was sworn in 2/9/2017. Trump fired Comey on 5/9/2017. How could Sessions have told Trump he would recuse himself? ✛ Sessions was the ONLY Senator to endorse Trump in the primaries.

⭕ 29 May 2018

NYT: Trump Asked Sessions to Retain Control of Russia Inquiry After His Recusal http://nyti.ms/2ISVrXH

By the time Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrived at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort for dinner one Saturday evening in March 2017, he had been receiving the presidential silent treatment for two days. Mr. Sessions had flown to Florida because Mr. Trump was refusing to take his calls about a pressing decision on his travel ban.

When they met, Mr. Trump was ready to talk — but not about the travel ban. His grievance was with Mr. Sessions: The president objected to his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump, who had told aides that he needed a loyalist overseeing the inquiry, berated Mr. Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision, an unusual and potentially inappropriate request.

Mr. Sessions refused.

The confrontation, which has not been previously reported, is being investigated by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as are the president’s public and private attacks on Mr. Sessions and efforts to get him to resign. Mr. Trump dwelled on the recusal for months, according to confidants and current and former administration officials who described his behavior toward the attorney general.

The special counsel’s interest demonstrates Mr. Sessions’s overlooked role as a key witness in the investigation into whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the inquiry itself. It also suggests that the obstruction investigation is broader than it is widely understood to be — encompassing not only the president’s interactions with and firing of the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, but also his relationship with Mr. Sessions.

NYT: Trump Asked Sessions to Retain Control of Russia Inquiry After His Recusal http://nyti.ms/2smsEzJ

WaPo: Giuliani says Trump won’t sit for Mueller interview unless all FBI informant documents can be reviewed http://wapo.st/2JdfdMV

⭕ 28 May 2018

NYT: With ‘Spygate,’ Trump Shows How He Uses Conspiracy Theories to Erode Trust http://nyti.ms/2xjT0b2

🔆 This❗️⋙ 💙💙 TheObserver, John R Schindler: Here’s How the FBI Investigation Into Russia and Trump Campaign Actually Started http://bit.ly/2ISGN2q
The Observer is a British newspaper published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its sister papers The Guardian and The Guardian Weekly, whose parent company Guardian Media Group Limited acquired it in 1993. It takes a social liberal or social democratic line on most issues. – Wikipedia

Although it’s now evident that in mid-2016 the FBI used one or more informants to sniff around the Trump campaign, inquiring discreetly about connections to the Kremlin—a major concern for the Bureau when people with documented and troubling ties to Russia and its spy agencies like Carter Page and Michael Flynn appeared in Trump’s orbit—there was nothing untoward or disturbing about this. This is the FBI’s standard operating procedure in counterintelligence cases. Although Trump and his defenders have frequently stated that employing informants was illegal and scandalously inappropriate, that’s just one more Trumpian falsehood.

Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, was equally blunt in his weekend comments on “Spygate,” explaining in an acid-etched interview that he has seen “no evidence” that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign. Since Rubio sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is less plagued by partisanship than its House counterpart, his comments deserve an airing. “What I have seen is evidence that they were investigating individuals with a history of links to Russia that were concerning,” Rubio explained, continuing, “It appears that there was an investigation not of the campaign, but of certain individuals who have a history that we should be suspicious of, that predate the presidential campaign of 2015, 2016. And when individuals like that are in the orbit of a major political campaign in America, the FBI, who is in charge of counterintelligence investigations, should look at people like that.”

Trump’s aggressive propaganda against any public airing of his secret Kremlin ties has taken many mendacious forms since his inauguration. In early 2017, the president claimed that he had been “wiretapped.” When that lie (which, coincidentally or not, was of Russian origin) fell apart, he tried out the accusation that members of his campaign had been improperly “unmasked” in top-secret intelligence documents. That lie likewise withered away under its own dishonesty, so now the White House insists it was “spied” on illegally by the FBI. This noxious myth is slowly dying as well outside the feverish swamps of Trump bitter-enders—as it deserves to.

… For months, the White House, including President Trump himself, insisted that a private dossier complied by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, was the real origin of the inquiry. That is simply not true. Trumpian suspicion has also fallen on a drunken conversation in June 2016 between George Papadopoulos, a campaign adviser, and the Australian ambassador to London. The FBI did indeed get wind of that boozy chat and was troubled by Papadopoulos’ claim that Moscow had dirt on Hillary Clinton from her hacked emails—but that shocking assertion wasn’t actually news to the Bureau. …

… [A] high percentage of counterintelligence inquiries begin with signals intelligence (SIGINT), in other words an electronic intercept (or several) which sparks FBI interest. Wanting to know more, Bureau agents start digging—doing research, thumbing through intelligence reports, asking judges for wiretaps, dispatching informants to get information—in other words, all the things which the FBI actually did in 2016, as it tried to understand why so many Trump associates were so chummy and chatty with Kremlin officials. It bears noting that the most successful counterintelligence operation in American history worked just like this, with bombshell SIGINT reports leading to close collaboration between the National Security Agency and the FBI to slowly, carefully unmask Kremlin spies in the United States. …

Let me put my cards on the table: The counterintelligence investigation of Donald Trump was kicked off by not one, not two, but multiple SIGINT reports which set off alarm bells inside our Intelligence Community. This has been publicly known, in a general way, for some time. A little over a year ago, the Guardian reported, based on multiple intelligence sources, that the lead was taken by Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ – Britain’s NSA), which “first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious ‘interactions’ between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the U.S. as part of a routine exchange of information.”

NSA isn’t just the world’s most powerful intelligence agency, it’s the hub of the whole Western spy system. In late 2015, based on GCHQ reports, the word went out to NSA’s close friends and partners to be on the lookout for any intercepts touching on Russian efforts to infiltrate the Trump campaign. They found plenty. As the Guardian explained, in the first half of 2016, as Trump’s presidential bid gained unexpected steam, Australia, Germany, Estonia, and Poland all had SIGINT hits that indicated a troubling relationship between Trump and Moscow. So, too, did the French and the Dutch—the latter being an especially savvy SIGINT partner of NSA’s.

As the Guardian tactfully phrased the matter, “GCHQ was at no point carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team or proactively seeking information. The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets. Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern of connections that were flagged to intelligence officials in the U.S.” In other words, Western intelligence agencies that were eavesdropping on the Kremlin and its spies—not Trump or any of his retinue—heard numerous conversations about Trump and his secret Russian connections. As I’ve told you previously, senior Kremlin officials got very chatty about Trump beginning in late 2014, on the heels of his infamous Moscow trip, and NSA knew about this.

In truth, NSA understood quite a bit about Trump’s connections to Moscow, and by mid-2016 it had increased its efforts to get to the bottom of the mystery regarding the candidate’s Russian ties. In response to urgent FBI requests for more information, NSA rose to the occasion, and by the time that Donald Trump officially accepted the Republican nomination in mid-July 2016, “We knew we had a Russian agent on our hands,” as a senior NSA official put it to me recently.

The official went on: “We had several reports in late 2015 and early 2016, mostly from Second and Third Party”—that being spy-speak for NSA’s foreign friends—“but by the spring of 2016 we had plenty of our own collection.” These reports, based on multiple intercepts, were tightly compartmented, that is, restricted to a small group of counterintelligence officials, given their obvious sensitivity, but they painted an indelible picture of a compromised GOP nominee. “The Kremlin talked about Trump like he was their boy, and their comments weren’t always flattering.” The NSA official stated that those above-top-secret reports left no doubt that the Russians were subverting our democracy in 2016—and that Team Trump was a witting participant in the Kremlin’s criminal conspiracy: “Trump and his kids knew what they were doing, and who they were doing it with,” the official explained.

This information helps explain why James Clapper, our country’s most experienced spy-boss, recently amplified his previous statement that our president was Vladimir Putin’s “asset” by explaining that he has “no doubt” that Russian spies “swung the election to a Trump win.” This weekend, Clapper stated that he was “absolutely” unaware of the FBI’s use of informants to gain information about the Trump campaign in 2016. Tellingly, Clapper said nothing about top-secret-plus intelligence which might have spurred the Bureau to rustle up some informants in this case—and, like any veteran spook with a half-century in the spy business, Clapper isn’t likely to blab about high-grade SIGINT anytime soon, particularly when it implicates the president in espionage and worse.

⭕ 27 May 2018

NBC, Berlatsky: The Trump effect: New study connects white American intolerance and support for authoritarianism http://nbcnews.to/2L1HqTU
// The research suggests that when intolerant white people fear democracy may benefit marginalized people, they abandon their commitment to democracy.

Political scientists Steven V. Miller of Clemson and Nicholas T. Davis of Texas A&M have released a working paper titled “White Outgroup Intolerance and Declining Support for American Democracy.” Their study finds a correlation between white American’s intolerance, and support for authoritarian rule. In other words, when intolerant white people fear democracy may benefit marginalized people, they abandon their commitment to democracy.

Miller and Davis used information from the World Values Survey, a research project organized by a worldwide network of social scientists which polls individuals in numerous countries on a wide range of beliefs and values. Based on surveys from the United States, the authors found that white people who did not want to have immigrants or people of different races living next door to them were more likely to be supportive of authoritarianism. For instance, people who said they did not want to live next door to immigrants or to people of another race were more supportive of the idea of military rule, or of a strongman-type leader who could ignore legislatures and election results.

The World Values Survey data used is from the period 1995 to 2011 — well before Donald Trump’s 2016 run for president. It suggests, though, that Trump’s bigotry and his authoritarianism are not separate problems, but are intertwined.

Miller and Davis’ paper quotes alt right, neo-fascist leader Richard Spencer, who in a 2013 speech declared: “We need an ethno-state so that our people can ‘come home again’… We must give up the false dreams of equality and democracy.” Ethnic cleansing is impossible as long as marginalized people have enough votes to stop it. But this roadblock disappears if you get rid of democracy. Spencer understands that white rule in the current era essentially requires totalitarianism. That’s the logic of fascism.

Blaming authoritarianism on partisanship suggests that both sides are equally to blame for the erosion of democratic norms. But greater commitment to abortion rights and free healthcare in the Democratic party isn’t a threat to the foundations of democracy. The growing concentration of intolerant white voters in the GOP, on the other hand, has created a party which appears less and less committed to the democratic project. When faced with a choice between bigotry and democracy, too many Americans are embracing the first while abandoning the second.

NYMag: Giuliani Admits ‘Spygate’ Is PR in Anticipation of Impeachment http://nym.ag/2kvqA4A

Politico: Here’s What Russia’s Propaganda Network Wants You to Read http://politi.co/2IPdM3S
// 8/23/2018, How a new system for tracking Kremlin influence operations reveals what Moscow is thinking.

One of the most prevalent themes pushed by RIOT is the promotion of conspiracy theories that muddy the waters regarding any wrongdoing by Russia or its allies, particularly the Syrian regime. This material is significantly promoted over social media, with occasional help from the attributed outlets. Examples over the past year include conspiracy theories seeking to discredit Bana al-Abed, a young girl in Syria who tweeted about the civil war with assistance from her mother, and reports of chemical attacks by the Syria regime, as well as the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, which conveniently exonerates Russian hackers from being the source of the WikiLeaks dump of Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 election.

⭕ 26 May 2018

WaPo: Trump’s war of attrition against Mueller bears fruit among Republicans http://wapo.st/2GUEwOr

NYT: Trump Versus Law Enforcement: A Confrontation with No Precedent http://nyti.ms/2J90e6E

⭕ 25 May 2018

NBC, Richard Engel: Black Cube: Inside the shadowy Israeli firm accused of trying to undermine the Iran deal http://nbcnews.to/2scYa2U
// An NBC News investigation reveals a business intelligence company with governmental contracts and a special department for politically motivated work.

PoliticusUSA, Dr. Mark Bear: The Hypocrisy And Challenge To White Evangelicals http://bit.ly/2sfDFTc
// religion

NYT: Donald Trump’s Guide to Presidential Etiquette http://nyti.ms/2ISIkSo
// by the Editorial Board; Wow! What a list!

FoxNews: White House wants briefing on Mueller probe info that was shared with lawmakers: report http://fxn.ws/2KWztQ8
// fair reporting, actually

WaPo, Ruth Marcus: No amount of capitulation will ever sate Trump http://wapo.st/2kvSWvX

The line between appeasement and deflection is inevitably blurry. It tends to be written in invisible ink, discernible only in the clarifying light of retrospect, when the damage has already been done.

This tension, and this danger, has been evident in the recent outbreak of open warfare between President Trump and his Justice Department. The president, always itching to yell “Witch Hunt,” has switched to claiming “spy” with wild assertions of improper campaign infiltration and loud demands that this pseudo-scandal be investigated.

The dispute is a subset of the broader dilemma for any political appointee in the age of Trump: Is it possible to serve both this president and the greater good? Is it better to be inside, attempting to mitigate the damage he is capable of causing? Or is that a sucker’s game, one that Trump, uncontainable, will always win, leaving subordinates stained in the process?

The temptation is to advise avoiding signing up altogether or a quick escape at the first sign of trouble. That might be best for the individual reputation but not for the public interest. And so it is with the high-wire act that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein has found himself performing, balancing presidential demands and presidential pique against the imperative of investigative independence and, all the while, teetering on the brink of being fired. …

[T]his is the thing about Trump: No amount of capitulation will suffice. He is interested only in self-preservation, no matter what the cost to the rule of law. That grim reality raises the risk of every deviation from ordinary practice — that it will set a dangerous precedent without achieving more than a temporary reprieve — even if it does not dictate where, exactly, to draw the line.

WaPo: A wolflike creature was stalking livestock in Montana. Authorities have no idea what it is. http://wapo.st/2shlaOp

🐣 Giuliani will demand a classified briefing and Rosenstein will be forced to decide. If he says no, he’s fired. If he says yes, Trump will claim the info “proves” the probe is illegitimate, demand it be closed. When he says no, he will be fired. #GetReady #Resist

🐣 It’s becoming clear that when Giuliani said the Mueller probe could wrap up in a few weeks that he wasn’t talking about it coming to a natural end. #Resist

🔆 This❗️⋙ AP: Giuliani: White House wants briefing on classified info http://bit.ly/2INfqTq //➔ “If the spying was inappropriate, that means we may have an entirely illegitimate investigation,” Giuliani said of Mueller’s probe.

WaPo: President Trump’s fog of ‘scandals’ and outrages about the Mueller investigation http://wapo.st/2Lq6y89

CNBC, John Harwood: Trump calls the special counsel’s probe a ‘witch hunt,’ but his links to Russia go back a long time http://cnb.cx/2ILdGdy

Salon: Roger Stone should be worried about Robert Mueller http://bit.ly/2xbCEBe
// Roger Stone is believed to have asked Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for dirt on Hillary Clinton in 2016

MotherJones: Democratic Senator Demands Investigation Into Whether Trump Jr. Lied to Congress http://bit.ly/2IMfze2
// A bombshell New York Times story appears to contradict testimony from Trump Jr.

TheAtlantic, Natasha Bertrand: The Chilling Effect of Trump’s War on the FBI http://theatln.tc/2ks69Wz
// As the president ramps up his attacks on the law-enforcement and intelligence communities, long-standing damage to key agencies seems inevitable.

WaPo: Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg met with Trump lawyer Michael Cohen days before the inauguration http://wapo.st/2KVlxpy

🐣 Bret Stephens on @msnbc: “When I was young, I grew up in a bipolar world. Now I live in a bipolar presidency.” lol ~ clever …

Vanity Fair, Abigail Tracy: Trump Goes Full Alex Jones as “Spygate” Falls Apart http://bit.ly/2J6lhH2
// Republicans have gone silent after getting a secret briefing on the “informant” in the Trump campaign. Democrats say they were shown “no evidence” for the allegations at all.

Almost four months ago, allies of Donald Trump found themselves consumed by a scandal so mind-boggling, they felt sure it would turn the political world on its head. “Watergate times a thousand,” Sean Hannity warned. “This is 100 times bigger [than what led to the American Revolution],” Sebastian Gorka insisted. “[This is] a component of what looks like a much larger conspiracy involving the #Obama DOJ & FBI & more,” tweeted Iowa Rep. Steve King, clearly incensed. They were referring to a memo compiled by G.O.P. Congressman Devin Nunes, which allegedly revealed abuses of surveillance power by key members of the Justice Department and F.B.I., including James Comey, his former deputy Andrew McCabe, and current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Yet when the memo itself was revealed to the public, it turned out to be such a hopeless dud that the conspiracy around it dissipated almost immediately.

It seems the cycle may repeat with the president’s newest pet theory, perhaps his most desperate attempt yet to discredit Robert Mueller: that the F.B.I. planted an illegal “spy” within his campaign for political purposes. Despite his feverish claims, which continued into Friday, that #SPYGATE “could be one of the biggest political scandals in history”—“Can anyone even imagine having Spies placed in a competing campaign, by the people and party in absolute power, for the sole purpose of political advantage and gain?” he tweeted Friday morning—a small group of lawmakers who met with F.B.I. and D.O.J. officials to be briefed on their use of an “informant” came away wholly unimpressed.

🐣 I watched 15 minutes of Tucker Carlton last night. The gist: “informant” is just an elitist, politically correct way of saying “spy.” #TrumpRussia

⭕ 24 May 2018

NBC, Michael Conway: Trump ‘Spygate’ meeting followed Nixon’s playbook. But having inside information didn’t help Nixon. http://nbcnews.to/2sbJGAv
// The president should never abuse his power in this way. But it might not do him any good anyway.

Knowing that key targets or subjects of the investigation will no doubt have learned whatever is disclosed to the White House, though, DOJ prosecutors will be vigilant to see if these individuals attempt to modify their previous public or private statements based on what they learned from the leaks. Taking it one step further, if, unexpectedly, the classified information is not publicly leaked, but the subjects of the investigation appear to be aware of the disclosures, that’s a huge problem: Possible obstruction of justice.

WaPo, Greg Sargent: James Clapper’s bombshell: Russia swung the election. What if he’s right? http://wapo.st/2J5cQeM

WaPo: After day of negotiations, Democrats and Republicans will be briefed on secret FBI source who aided Russia probe http://wapo.st/2GM7jVx

⭕ 23 May 2018

CNBC: The Trump-Russia ties hiding in plain sight http://cnb.cx/2JdaBXO
// 5/23/2018 Trump’s in-plain-sight embrace of Russia gets obscured by the Trump news avalanche. But long before running for president, Trump relied on Russian money. Trump also consistently defends Russia and attacks U.S. officials investigating Russia.

Vox: Most Americans don’t realize Robert Mueller’s investigation has uncovered crimes http://bit.ly/2LCISgI
// 17 indictments and five guilty pleas so far.

Politico: Fox hosts amplify Trump’s ‘Spygate’ line http://politi.co/2GS2slD
// An unsubstantiated allegation, tweeted incessantly by the president, has become ‘maybe the greatest scandal in modern political history,’ according to network hosts.

That effect seems to be what Trump and his new attorney, Rudy Giuliani, are hoping for in using all their rhetorical force to drive home the claim — for which they’ve produced no evidence — that the FBI had a “spy” in the Trump campaign. Trump’s and Giuliani’s efforts to link the claim to the Obama administration, as if the alleged informant were planted for political reasons, is also unconfirmed. Finally, FBI agents note that there are proper and legal procedures for the use of informants — as Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney, understands — that are neither new nor scandalous.

“It seems like he’s gone to an entirely new stage of accusations, abetted by his allies at Fox,” said Bill Grueskin, formerly a senior editor at The Wall Street Journal and now a professor at Columbia School of Journalism. “We’ve gone from saying there’s no collusion, i.e. investigators haven’t found any evidence of anything, to actually accusing the deep state of concocting a conspiracy to get the president in trouble.”

At 9 p.m., host Sean Hannity, known to speak frequently with Trump, said, “If we as a country do not get to the bottom of this and expose everything about these deep-state actors spying on an opposition party during a presidential campaign, rigging one candidate’s email investigation, lying repeatedly to FISA court judges, we will lose the country. We will destroy the rule of law. We will shred our constitution completely.”

Lawfare, Bob Bauer: Putting the Responsibility for “Crossing the Line” Where It Belongs: The President and his White House Staff http://bit.ly/2KTenCj

TheAtlantic, David Graham: Collusion Happened http://theatln.tc/2IJdw6m Despite what the president says, the question is answered.

BBC: Trump lawyer ‘paid by Ukraine’ to arrange White House talks http://bbc.in/2s5swEs

NYT: How the Mueller Investigation Could Play Out for Trump http://nyti.ms/2IIxHBm

WaPo: ‘SPYGATE’: Trump steps up attacks on FBI’s probes during campaign http://wapo.st/2x5HYWL

⭕ 22 May 2018

WaPo: Republican lawmakers will review classified information on FBI source Thursday, White House says http://wapo.st/2LjksZH

WaPo: Former intelligence chief’s argument that Putin did indeed sway the 2016 vote http://wapo.st/2IG9L5N
// “And Clapper grew up with the conviction that the very essence of intelligence work is the collection of carefully analyzed “truths,” conveyed in confidence, however unpleasant the conclusions might be for policymakers and politicians.”

WaPo: Trump admitted he attacks press to shield himself from negative coverage, Lesley Stahl says http://wapo.st/2J3eygX

WaPo: A big shoe drops in the Mueller probe, as the Taxi King flips http://wapo.st/2s230kf

NYT: Michael Cohen’s Business Partner Agrees to Cooperate as Part of Plea Deal http://nyti.ms/2kkuMUW

A significant business partner of Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer, has agreed to cooperate with the government as a potential witness, a development that could be used as leverage to pressure Mr. Cohen to work with the special counsel examining Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Under the deal reached with the New York attorney general’s office, the partner, Evgeny A. Freidman, a Russian immigrant who is known as the Taxi King, specifically agreed to assist government prosecutors in state or federal investigations, according to a person briefed on the matter.

⭕ 21 May 2018

Bloomberg: Twitter Bots Helped Trump and Brexit Win, Economic Study Says http://bloom.bg/2IMJPBn

NYT: Republican Leaders Will Be Allowed to See Some Information on Russia Investigation http://nyti.ms/2s0j2et

NYT Editorial: Trump v. the Department of Justice http://nyti.ms/2kbSPVY

This self-interested assault is doing incalculable damage to the integrity of American law enforcement. It’s up to those people who have devoted their lives to the nation and to the rule of law, like Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and the F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray — both Republicans and Trump appointees, don’t forget — to stand up to the president and defend these institutions.

One doesn’t have to agree with the particulars of every investigation to see the fundamental difference here: The members of our law enforcement and intelligence communities are trying to protect the country. Donald Trump and his supporters are simply trying to protect Donald Trump.

WaPo, Eugene Robinson: The constitutional crisis is here http://wapo.st/2rZbatO

The informant was not embedded or implanted or otherwise inserted into the campaign. He was asked to contact several campaign figures whose names had already surfaced in the FBI’s counterintelligence probe. It would have been an appalling dereliction of duty not to take a look at Trump advisers with Russia ties, such as Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, when the outlines of a Russian campaign to influence the election were emerging.

Trump claims this is the nation’s “all time biggest political scandal” because, he alleges, Justice Department officials and the FBI used a “spy” to try to “frame” him and his campaign, in an effort to boost his opponent Hillary Clinton’s chance of winning the election. This conspiracy theory has so many holes in it that it’s hard to know where to begin. But let’s start with the glaringly obvious: If the aim was to make Trump lose, why wasn’t all the known information about the Trump campaign’s Russia connections leaked before the election, when it might have had some impact?

The truth appears to be precisely the opposite of what Trump says, which is not uncommon. The record suggests that Justice and the FBI were so uncomfortable investigating a presidential campaign in the weeks and months before an election that they tiptoed around promising lines of inquiry rather than appear to be taking a side. The FBI director at the time was James B. Comey, and while we heard plenty about Clinton’s emails before the vote, we had no idea that such a mature investigation of the Trump campaign was underway.

TIME/Bloomberg: Twitter Bots May Have Boosted Donald Trump’s Votes by 3.23%, Researchers Say http://bit.ly/2rYdst2

⭕ 20 May 2018

WaPo: Justice Department calls for inquiry after Trump demands probe into whether FBI ‘infiltrated or surveilled’ his campaign http://wapo.st/2rV3Pve

Under pressure from President Trump, the Justice Department on Sunday asked its inspector general to assess whether political motivation tainted the FBI investigation into ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign — a remarkable step officials hoped might avert a larger clash between the president and federal law enforcement officials.

Trump, who spent much of Sunday railing against the year-old special counsel probe, tweeted in the afternoon that “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes — and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”

Hours later, the Justice Department responded by saying it had asked its inspector general to expand an ongoing review of the applications to monitor a former Trump campaign adviser “to include determining whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election.”

The department noted that a U.S. attorney would be consulted if evidence of criminal conduct was found.

“If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action,” Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement.

NYT: Trump Demands Inquiry Into Whether Justice Dept. ‘Infiltrated or Surveilled’ His Campaign http://nyti.ms/2s0niKh

But in ordering up a new inquiry, Mr. Trump went beyond his usual tactics of suggesting wrongdoing and political bias by those investigating him, and crossed over into applying overt presidential pressure on the Justice Department to do his bidding, an extraordinary realm where past presidents have hesitated to tread.

“I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Sunday afternoon, “and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”

Legal experts said such a presidential intervention had little precedent, and could force a clash between the sitting president and his Justice Department that would be reminiscent of the one surrounding Richard M. Nixon during Watergate, when a string of top officials resigned rather than carry out his order to fire a special prosecutor investigating him.

In response to Mr. Trump’s post, the Justice Department asked its internal watchdog, the Office of the Inspector General, to expand its current inquiry into the surveillance of a former Trump campaign official to include the questions raised by the president.

“If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action,” Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who is overseeing the Russia inquiry, said in a statement.

By handing the question to the inspector general, Mr. Rosenstein appeared to be trying to thread the needle, giving the president what he said he wanted without fully bowing to his demands.

But it was not clear whether that would satisfy Mr. Trump, who in February complained that it was “disgraceful” for the Justice Department to hand over the surveillance investigation to an inspector general who lacks prosecutorial power, saying it would “take forever” and suggesting that he was “an Obama guy.”

WaPo: Michael Cohen payments put spotlight on New York investment firm linked to Russian billionaire http://wapo.st/2wY8pxT

Slate, Daniel Politi: Trump Doubles Down on Unhinged Rant, “Hereby Demands” Probe Into Whether FBI “Infiltrated” Campaign http://slate.me/2x0TW40

With the tweet, Trump was taking to a new level his response to reports that an FBI informant talked to two of his campaign advisers that investigators believe had suspicious contacts with people tried to the Kremlin. And it came shortly after House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes fanned the outrage flames by saying that “if they ran a spy ring or an informant ring and they were paying people within the Trump campaign—if any of that is true, that is an absolute red line.” In an interview on Fox News, Nunes said he and his fellow Republicans have not been able to confirm whether there really was an informant because they haven’t received the appropriate documents from the FBI and Justice Department. But officials warn that turning over the information that Republicans are requesting would pose a serious risk to the source’s life.

The New York Times reported that the FBI used an informant to covertly approach Trump campaign associates that had suspicious contacts with people tied to Russia, and not that it had infiltrated the informant to spy on the campaign. “No evidence has emerged that the informant acted improperly when the F.B.I. asked for help in gathering information on the former campaign advisers, or that agents veered from the F.B.I.’s investigative guidelines and began a politically motivated inquiry, which would be illegal,” notes the Times.

PhillyInquirer, Will Bunch: How the Trump family sold U.S. foreign policy to the highest bidder http://bit.ly/2IVQfBj

Trump stunned his own foreign policy team — including then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis — when he tweeted [on 6/6/2017] that Qatar is a sponsor of terrorism and seemingly endorsed an economic and political blockage of the tiny, oil-rich nation organized and led by two powerful neighbors, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, or UAE.

How to make sense of a 180-degree shift in policy that seemed so counter to U.S. interests in the region? A few months later, people who suspect the worst about Trump and his minions learned a possible motive that was almost too cynical to comprehend. Not long before Team Trump switched gears on Qatar, key officials from the emirate had met with Charles Kushner — father of Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared, who’s in charge of Trump’s Middle East portfolio — to discuss a massive Qatar-funded bailout of 666 Fifth Ave., the debt-laden Manhattan skyscraper that was threatening to sink the Kushner family real estate empire. But the Qataris rejected the deal — just weeks before the policy about-face. Whatever actually happened, the appearance was simply awful.

It also seems not to have been the full story. This weekend, the New York Times published a stunning report about a plan floated by a longtime emissary for the Saudis and the UAE in early August 2016, when Trump had just grabbed the GOP nomination but faced an uphill campaign against Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump Jr., aide Stephen Miller and Erik Prince, founder of the notorious mercenary outfit once know as Blackwater, listened intently as the emissary offered Team Trump millions of dollars in assistance, including a covert social-media campaign, to help Trump win that would be run by a former Israeli spy who specializes in psychological warfare, or psywar.

“The emissary, George Nader, told Donald Trump Jr. that the princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president,” the Times reported. Some key elements — exactly who was behind the plan, and what parts, if any, were carried out — remain murky.

But like a lot of Trump scandals, the smoke from any alleged fire was clearly visible. Nader became a Trump ally who met frequently with key players like then-national security adviser (and future felon) Michael Flynn. He also, according to the Times, later made a large payment to the ex-spy Joel Zamel, as much as $2 million. After Trump was elected, Erik Prince attended a then-secret meeting in the Seychelles believed to have been brokered by UAE to cement ties with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. After Trump became president, American foreign policy has been almost unwaveringly consistent in fighting for the foreign policy goals of nations believed to have supported his 2016 election: Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE — most notably with Trump’s rejection of the Iran nuclear deal that is seriously destabilizing the Middle East. These dealings increasingly appear to have benefited the Trumps and Kushners not just politically but financially — even as they are not helpful, and even counterproductive at times, to the American people whom Trump was allegedly elected to represent.

The Times scoop on Trump’s dealings with the Saudis and UAE is the puzzle piece that finally brings the big picture into focus. As Trump’s unlikely 2016 campaign drew closer to the White House, it triggered a mad dash to sell American foreign policy to the highest bidder — and some of the world’s worst autocrats stepped up to the plate. What happened next is arguably tantamount to treason. What is beginning to take shape is the outlines of a scandal that threatens to be worse than Watergate on a massive scale, that would make Richard Nixon’s crimes truly seem like “a third-rate burglary” in comparison.

A shadowy network of computer hackers in Eastern Europe and experts in psywar techniques used illegal methods — including voter suppression aimed at African Americans — to essentially steal a U.S. presidential election decided by a mere 100,000 or so votes in a few key states. Meanwhile, the foreign countries that backed this enterprise and their billionaire allies also found myriad ways to financially support America’s new ruling junta — dangling real estate deals, hiring Trump allies, booking big parties at Trump hotels, giving millions to Trump’s inauguration that no one can now account for — in ways that have built a bonfire out of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

And here’s the worst part: The sudden trashing of long-standing American policy objectives — like the Iran deal or delaying any move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem until a true Israel-Palestinian peace deal — risks war on large scale. People could die in the name of keeping 666 Fifth Ave. and the Trump Organization afloat. Arguably, some already are.

The scope of the Trump-Kushner foreign policy auction is so vast that it would take a whole book to cover, and indeed several have been written. But it helps to break down the outlines of a conspiracy into three simple components. In each of these areas, the accumulating evidence has grown from a whisper to a scream over the last two years. …

It never should have gotten to this point. The political pundits are still busy debating whether Trump impeachment is a good fall political strategy for the Democrats or a losing hand. But things have already moved way beyond that. If we’re at the point where we can tolerate soliciting foreign governments for help in a presidential election, using stolen data, reality-bending psychological warfare and voter suppression of blacks to win, a president and his son-in-law senior adviser profiting from deals while sitting in the White House, slush funds to pay off mistresses and God knows what else, and then making life-or-death decisions based on all of these utterly corrupt things, then the United States is not a country anymore. How much worse does the worst political scandal in American history have to get before the people who actually can do something wake up and do something?

🐣 RT @JohnBrennan Senator McConnell & Speaker Ryan: If Mr. Trump continues along this disastrous path, you will bear major responsibility for the harm done to our democracy. You do a great disservice to our Nation & the Republican Party if you continue to enable Mr. Trump’s self-serving actions.
↥ ↧
💥🐣 RT @realDonaldTrump I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!

NYT: Mueller Hopes to Wrap Up Obstruction Inquiry Into Trump by Sept. 1, Giuliani Says http://nyti.ms/ 2IyE2Dz

⭕ 19 May 2018

WSJ: Mueller Probe Expands to Israeli Entrepreneur With U.A.E. Ties http://on.wsj.com/2rWM0Ll
// Investigation has sought testimony regarding work of Joel Zamel, founder of several private consulting firms http://on.wsj.com/

NYT: Trump Jr. and Other Aides Met With Gulf Emissary Offering Help to Win Election http://nyti.ms/2wYrtfg
↥ ↧
WaPo: Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel http://wapo.st/2k7Ytbw
// 4/3/2018

NYT: F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims http://nyti.ms/2rTDPAf
// “According to people familiar with Mr. Flynn’s visit to the intelligence seminar, the source was alarmed by the general’s apparent closeness with a Russian woman who was also in attendance. The concern was strong enough that it prompted another person to pass on a warning to the American authorities that Mr. Flynn could be compromised by Russian intelligence, according to two people familiar with the matter.”

⭕ 18 May 2018

WaPo: Your cheat sheet to Trump’s push to expose an FBI informant http://wapo.st/2wSWNvJ

⭕ 17 May 2018

WaPo: ‘Bigger than Watergate’: Trump joins push by allies to expose role of an FBI source http://wapo.st/2GxeK2Q

NYT: ‘Bigger Than Watergate’? Both Sides Say Yes, but for Different Reasons http://nyti.ms/2KwDlHq

⭕ 16 May 2018

 TheAtlantic: The Lingering Mysteries of a Trump-Russia Conspiracy http://theatln.tc/2IsStF4
// A year of dizzying developments have bolstered both Mueller’s critics, who say he’s on a “fishing expedition,” and his defenders, who believe he’s leaving no stone unturned.

NewYorker, Ronan Farrow: Missing Files Motivated the Leak of Michael Cohen’s Financial Records http://bit.ly/2wN0kvQ
⋙ Excerpts under Articles

Politico: Senate intelligence leaders: Russians schemed to help Trump http://politi.co/2GmN68l

It’s a powerful bipartisan endorsement of a conclusion that had been called into question by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, who have accused intelligence agencies of failing to employ proper “tradecraft” when they concluded Russia came to support Trump’s candidacy. Instead, it’s the Republicans on the House panel who find themselves isolated in their position in what has become an increasingly antagonistic relationship with the FBI and Justice Department.

The assessment, which U.S. intelligence leaders issued weeks before Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, concluded that Russian leader Vladimir Putin had ordered an “influence campaign” intended ” to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.” It added that the Russians eventually developed “a clear preference” for Trump, and in time “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”
🐣 RT @SenatorBurr Vice Chairman @MarkWarner and I released the following statements regarding today’s Senate Intelligence Committee closed hearing to complete its review of the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) on “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: https://twitter.com/SenatorBurr/status/996782613611282434/photo/1
⇈ ⇊
🐣 RT @MarkWarner CONFIRMED: After a thorough review, Senate Intel has found no evidence to dispute the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia, on orders from Putin, carried out an unprecedented election interference effort to help the Trump campaign and hurt the Clinton campaign in 2016.

🐣 RT @krassenstein This week @EdKrassen & I have been concentrating on the “brokerage of 19%” of the sale of Rosneft from the dossier. Today’s Senate release of 1,500 documents and testimony related to the June 9 Trump Tower Meeting, seems to perhaps confirm this deal was discussed! (1)
Link: https://twitter.com/krassenstein/status/996755836352548867

DailyBeast: ‘Kremlin Used’ NRA to Help Trump in 2016, Says Senate Judiciary Committee http://thebea.st/2KumLbb

The Senate Judiciary Committee said Wednesday that the Russian government apparently used the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. “The committee has obtained a number of documents that suggest the Kremlin used the National Rifle Association as a means of accessing and assisting Mr. Trump and his campaign,” according to a report on the panel’s preliminary findings on Russia and the presidential campaign. The NRA may have been used to “secretly fund Mr. Trump’s campaign,” the report states. While the report didn’t discuss the documents, it said two Russian nationals—Alexander Torshin and Maria Butina—were “involved in this effort.” Torshin, a member of Russia’s central bank, hosted an NRA delegation in Moscow in 2013. Butina, founder of a pro-gun group in Russia, boasted at a Washington, D.C. party following the election that she was “part of the Trump campaign’s communications with Russia,” The Daily Beast reported last year.

🐣 RT @brianklaas Remember: Trump publicly announced that he would be unveiling new dirt on Hillary Clinton related to Russia *three hours* after Don Jr. confirmed the meeting with the Russians who were offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of a “high-level” effort to help Trump win.
⋙ 🐣 RT @MaggieNYT What @DonaldJTrumpJr told committee re whether he spoke to his father re the statement on Russian lawyer meeting: “I chose not to because I didn’t want to bring him into some thing that he had nothing to do with.”

⭕ 15 May 2018

NYT: Tantalizing Testimony From a Top Trump Aide Sets Off a Search for Proof http://nyti.ms/2jXmm5E

⭕ 14 May 2018

Politico: Ukrainian politician behind controversial peace proposal to appear in Mueller probe http://politi.co/2jV1KuI

🐣 RT @HowardDean Finally I get why Nunes is such a toady. It’s not about Trump. He is terrified of his own fate because of his role on the transition team which might well be treasonous and land him in prison.
⋙ 🐣 RT @AshaRangappa_ December 2016. So much going on. The Kushner-Kislyak secret back channel proposal. Flynn’s secret convo with the Russians. That pesky Carter Page FISA which @DevinNunes is *terrified* of (and during which time he was on the transition team). And now this.
↥ ↧
MotherJones, Dan Friedman: Qatari Investor Accused in Bribery Plot Appears With Michael Cohen in Picture Posted by Stormy Daniels’ Lawyer http://bit.ly/
// 5/13/2018, He’s shown meeting with Cohen at Trump Tower shortly after the election.

⭕ 12 May 2018

NYT: Suspicions, Demands and Threats: Devin Nunes vs. the Justice Dept. http://nyti.ms/2jP4ry6

“The goal is not the information,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the committee. “The goal is the fight. And the ultimate objective is to undermine the Justice Department, undermine Bob Mueller and give the president a pretext to fire people.”

The requests have also sent waves of tension through the department itself. The F.B.I. is generally opposed to giving lawmakers access to any materials related to a continuing investigation. But Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who is overseeing the Russia investigation, has political considerations to weigh. To completely withhold information could be politically untenable — and potentially put the Mueller investigation at risk — given the support Mr. Nunes enjoys from Mr. Trump.

“If we were to just open our doors to allow Congress to come and rummage through the files, that would be a serious infringement on the separation of powers,” Mr. Rosenstein said at an event this month, amid reports that another House Republican had drafted articles of impeachment against him.

But Mr. Nunes’s handling of his secretive memo, released in early February, has been a source of lasting ill will. The document accused top F.B.I. and Justice Department officials, including Mr. Rosenstein, of abusing their authorities to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser suspected of being an agent of Russia. Law enforcement officials warned that the document was dangerously misleading and pointed out that Mr. Nunes had not read the underlying surveillance applications on which his four-page document was based.

⭕ 11 May 2018

WIRED: If Trump Is Laundering Russian Money, Here’s How It Works http://bit.ly/2G8Gdrr
⋙ See under Entire Articles

NBC: Former Diplomats: Trump Team Sought to Lift Sanctions on Russia http://nbcnews.to/2IcL4tq
// 7/1/2017

WIRED: Robert Mueller Likely Knows How the Trump Russia Investigation Ends http://bit.ly/2Kht41y
// 5/1/2018

⭕ 10 May 2018

🐣 Yogi Berra to @MikePenceVP: It ain’t over til it’s over. #MuellerTime

ChicagoSunTimes/AP (6:44am): Pence to Mueller: ‘Wrap it up’ http://bit.ly/2I4wrw5 (‼️)

⭕ 9 May 2018

WaPo: ‘I’m crushing it’: How Michael Cohen, touting his access to President Trump, convinced companies to pay millions http://wapo.st/2jKzE5l

WaPo: Russia-linked company that hired Michael Cohen registered alt-right websites during election http://wapo.st/2KciLMj

Politico: How Michael Cohen cashed in http://politi.co/2IzVlmC
// ‘It’s a little bit like Lucy hanging out behind her table and charging people five cents for wisdom,’ said Rich Gold, a longtime Democratic lobbyist.

🐣 I worked as a healthcare consultant for 20 years for the world’s premiere group practice (yeah, that one) to put away for my kids what Michael Cohen made in 8 months pretending to be one. Our society is seriously broken. @Morning_Joe @MorningMika @JoeNBC

Slate, Shugerman: How Michael Cohen’s Apparent Russia Payment Might Help Prove Collusion http://slate.me/2KMKrZ9
// We might have a quid. Here’s the possible pro quo.

First, Vekselberg recently increased his share to 26.5 percent in the aluminum firm Rusal. That firm was owned by Oleg Deripaska, the Russian billionaire whose ties to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort are under scrutiny by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Two of Vekselberg’s American partners, meanwhile, donated more than $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee and Vekselberg also had business ties to Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross.

Now, Congress has been legislating tougher sanctions against Putin and Russia over the past year by sweeping, close to unanimous bipartisan majorities. But the Trump administration has been softening or delaying those sanctions at every turn. Last month, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control finally implemented Congressional sanctions against Deripaska and Rusal, in addition to other Russians. The Treasury Department cited allegations that Deripaska ordered the murder of a businessman and had links to a Russian organized crime group. But on April 23, the Trump administration announced major delays on implementation, “slow-rolling” the sanctions seemingly to give Rusal time to minimize the damage and to appeal the sanctions. Treasury gave Rusal an extension to next October, and Reuters reported the department would “consider lifting [the sanctions] if United Company Rusal PLC’s major shareholder, Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska, ceded control of the company,” which he soon did. “Given the impact on our partners and allies, we are… extending the maintenance and wind-down period while we consider RUSAL’s petition,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Given the outrageous conduct of Putin and Deripaska, and given the almost unanimous votes in Congress to impose tough sanctions, these accommodations should have been considered stunning. As of Tuesday night, they stink to high heaven.

And the question must be raised: Was there a quid pro quo understanding between Vekselberg and Trump associates in January 2017? It is crucial to remember here what was happening in December 2016 and January 2017 in regards to Russia sanctions. Here’s what I summarized in an earlier Slate piece on Kushner, Qatar, and Russian money: The Steele Dossier alleged that Russians had made a deal with Trump associates for the Russians to sell Rosneft, the massive state energy company, and use the commissions to give Trump associates payments under the radar, in return for lifting or softening sanctions. The Rosneft sale went through in December 2016, a month after the election, coinciding with Jared Kushner, Michael Flynn, and Carter Page’s various alleged communications with Russians. Just eight days before this oil megadeal, Flynn and Kushner met Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower, and Kushner reportedly proposed a secret communication link with the Kremlin through the Russian embassy. Then, a few days after the Rosneft deal, Kushner met Sergey Gorkov, chair of Russia’s government-owned VE Bank (VEB) and Putin’s close confidant.

Analysts have described VEB as Putin’s “private slush fund,” a source of money independent from official Russia budgeting. VEB is under strict U.S. sanctions.

Gorkov reportedly flew to Japan to meet with Putin practically immediately. On Dec. 29, President Obama ordered new Russian sanctions for election hacking and interference—and Flynn reportedly had five calls with Kislyak. We later learned that they discussed Russian sanctions after Flynn pled guilty to lying about this fact to federal investigators. Trump tweeted about Putin the next day, calling him “very smart” for not responding to Obama’s sanctions before Trump has had a chance to transition into office.

We’ve now learned, in the very next month after the Kushner/Flynn backchannel contacts with Russia, the Vekselberg-connected payments to Cohen began. And they occurred, inexplicably enough, after the Steele Dossier was published. Again, this is all clearly now a subject of Mueller’s probe. As the New York Times first reported last week, Mueller’s agents questioned Vekselberg when he flew into New York earlier this year. CNN reported on Tuesday that they asked him about these particular payments. What might be the plausible innocent explanation for a Putin-associated Russian oligarch, to use Rudy Giuliani’s phrase, “funneling” money to Trump’s personal lawyer through a fund used to pay hush money to one or more women and as that oligarch was due to benefit from Trump’s sanction policies? Maybe they have an explanation, but it’s hard to imagine it, and it’s hard to imagine how persuasive a jury would find it.

The Avenatti document, meanwhile, suggests a road map for trying to substantiate this hypothetical. The first part of Avenatti’s summary offers more detail for the allegation that Cohen may have committed bank fraud, misrepresenting the reasons for opening his bank account. I’ve explained in an earlier piece how this is one of several federal and state crimes that Cohen is potentially facing. He is also still on the hook for possible campaign finance felonies, even if one accepts all of Giuliani’s spin about reimbursement. Furthermore, Avenatti suggests that California has jurisdiction over these possible crimes, opening up another set of state and federal prosecutors who could potentially bring charges. Which is all just to say, there is more pressure on Cohen to cooperate with Mueller and other prosecutors than ever. If he were to flip, he would presumably have to provide insight into what these payments were for.

This new information about Vekselberg potentially puts pressure on other witnesses as well. Who else in Trump’s orbit had contact with Vekselberg, and might they have more information about the communications and intent behind the payments? Rick Gates, Manafort’s former deputy who has pled guilty to conspiracy and lying to investigators, was also helping with the transition as these events were unfolding. What has Gates already told Mueller in exchange for a plea deal and what might he have to say now? Vekselberg was also at the Moscow dinner attended by Putin and Michael Flynn. What has Flynn told Mueller? One road to proving any conspiracy now clearly goes through Vekselberg, those who were in contact with him, and those who may have been paid off by him.

Finally, even if Trump denies that he knew about any of the questionable Cohen payments, he still might not be off the hook. If it can be demonstrated that he found out later about an illegal such payment but sought to cover it up, Trump might have committed one of the following felonies: a) being an accessory after the fact (18 U.S.C. 3), b) misprision of a felony (18 USC 4, especially by a public official), and c) obstruction of justice

⭕ 8 May 2018

DallasNews, Ruth May: How Putin’s oligarchs funneled millions into GOP campaigns http://bit.ly/2I6EicN
// interactive charts

VanityFair: Michael Cohen Must Be the Most Gifted Consultant in America http://bit.ly/2wrGPIN
// The four corporations that hired Cohen’s shell company claim they were paying for his “insights” into government, “health-care policy,” “real estate,” and “accounting advice.” Who knew the president’s lawyer was such a renaissance man?

⭕ 7 May 2018

WaPo (Costa): Secret intelligence source who aided Mueller probe is at center of latest clash between Nunes and Justice Dept http://wapo.st/2KPC5jg

WaPo: Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen was hired by U.S. affiliate of Russian company http://wapo.st/2wroHPh

President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen was hired last year by the U.S.-based affiliate of a Russian business magnate who attended Trump’s inauguration and was recently sanctioned by the U.S. government, the company said Tuesday.

The New York investment firm Columbus Nova said it retained Cohen as a consultant “regarding potential sources of capital and potential investments in real estate and other ventures.” Though Columbus Nova has been described in federal regulatory filings as an affiliate of the Renova Group, founded by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, the company said Vekselberg was not involved with hiring or paying Cohen.

NYT: Firm Tied to Russian Oligarch Made Payments to Michael Cohen http://nyti.ms/2FWzmkK

A shell company that Michael D. Cohen used to pay hush money to a pornographic film actress received payments totaling more than $1 million from an American company linked to a Russian oligarch and several corporations with business before the Trump administration, according to documents and interviews.

Financial records reviewed by The New York Times show that Mr. Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer and longtime fixer, used the shell company, Essential Consultants L.L.C., for an array of business activities that went far beyond what was publicly known. Transactions totaling at least $4.4 million flowed through Essential Consultants starting shortly before Mr. Trump was elected president and continuing to this January, the records show.

MotherJones: Here’s Another Trump Cabinet Pick With Close Financial Ties to Russians http://bit.ly/
// 12/19/2016, Wilbur Ross joined with a Russian oligarch and a former KGB official to run a troubled bank in Cyprus.

MotherJones: A Putin-Friendly Oligarch’s Top US Executive Donated $285,000 to Trump http://bit.ly/2rtdGHq
// 8/17/2017, The head of Viktor Vekselberg’s American subsidiary helped finance Trump’s inauguration.

WaPo: Trump pulls United States out of Iran nuclear deal, calling the pact ‘an embarrassment’ http://wapo.st/2wjYke6

NBC: Daniels’ lawyer: Cohen got $500K from Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg http://nbcnews.to/2I0QHyO
// Michael Avenatti provided no documentation for his claims, which he posted on Twitter

SeekingAlpha: 10 Reasons To Buy Comcast Near Its 52-Week Low http://bit.ly/2woK6J8

CREW, Bookbinder, Eisen et al: The Smear Campaign Against Mueller: Debunking the Nunes Memo and the Other Attacks on the Russia Investigation http://bit.ly/2wlXnCa
// 1/31/2018, link to PDF 45p

⭕ 5 May 2018

TheGuardian: Revealed: Trump team hired spy firm for ‘dirty ops’ on Iran arms deal http://bit.ly/2HXfbop
// Israeli agency told to find incriminating material on Obama diplomats who negotiated deal with Tehran

People in the Trump camp contacted private investigators in May last year to “get dirt” on Ben Rhodes, who had been one of Barack Obama’s top national security advisers, and Colin Kahl, deputy assistant to Obama, as part of an elaborate attempt to discredit the deal.

The extraordinary revelations come days before Trump’s 12 May deadline to either scrap or continue to abide by the international deal limiting Iran’s nuclear programme.

🐣 RT @tribelaw I know both @AlanDersh and Richard Painter. Alan was totally out of line in attacking @RWPUSA on MSNBC as “unAmerican.” His denunciation of Mueller shocked me. Sorry to have to say it, but this unhinged assault on Painter leaves me aghast.
↥ ↧
RawStory: MSNBC segment explodes after Dershowitz calls lawyer Richard Painter ‘un-American and a liar’ http://bit.ly/2FPeXhc

NYT: How Michael Cohen, Trump’s Fixer, Built a Shadowy Business Empire http://nyti.ms/2HVtIRu

CNN: FBI officials Lisa Page and James Baker resign http://cnn.it/2JXxNWa

Lisa Page, who served as an FBI lawyer and close adviser to former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, voluntarily resigned Friday, a source close to Page told CNN.

Page came under increasing attack after her text messages with FBI special agent Peter Strzok criticizing President Donald Trump came to light last winter. She briefly served on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team last summer before returning to her duties at the FBI.

The text messages between Strzok and her became fodder for the President and Republican lawmakers who leveled accusations that some members of the FBI working on the Russia probe are biased against Trump.

James A. Baker, the former general counsel for the FBI and one of former FBI Director James Comey’s closest advisers, also resigned Friday, according to a source familiar with Baker’s departure. A second source familiar with Baker’s thinking said his departure was unrelated to Page’s resignation and that hers came as a surprise to him.

Baker will be going to Lawfare, a national security blog affiliated with the Brookings Institution. He was tapped as the FBI’s top lawyer in January 2014, but was reassigned from his post as general counsel elsewhere in the agency last year.

Comey said in a statement on Friday, “Jim Baker represents the best of the Department of Justice and the FBI. He has protected the country and the rule of law throughout his career and leaves an inspiring legacy of service. He is what we should all hope our kids become, a person of integrity.”

⭕ 4 May 2018

NYT: Judge Questions Whether Mueller Has Overstepped His Authority on Manafort http://nyti.ms/2rmbEts

NYT: Viktor Vekselberg, Russian Billionaire, Was Questioned by Mueller’s Investigators http://nyti.ms/2HVgPai

⭕ 3 May 2018

HuffPo: Fox News Host Neil Cavuto Tells Trump He Stinks In Fiery Takedown http://bit.ly/2FHgJB4
// “I guess you’re too busy draining the swamp to ever stop and smell the stink you’re creating.”

NYT, Michele Goldberg: Does Giuliani Have a Plan, or Is This Just a Freakout? http://nyti.ms/2riZ0LL

… Rudy Giuliani, whose appointment to Trump’s legal team was announced two weeks ago, appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show and casually admitted that Trump had repaid Cohen for the money he gave to Daniels “over a period of several months.”

This was a bombshell. And in the 12 hours that followed, both Trump and Giuliani made a series of statements so seemingly self-sabotaging and undisciplined that observers began searching for some sort of hidden strategy or logic. Were they trying to get out ahead of a coming revelation? To set off a metaphorical smoke bomb that would distract from some other scandalous development? Or were they really as blundering and incompetent as they appeared?

NYT: Giuliani May Have Exposed Trump to New Legal and Political Perils http://nyti.ms/2waTwaT

WaPo: ‘I was going to get this over with’: Inside Giuliani’s explosive Stormy Daniels revelation http://wapo.st/2HMgBpG

WaPo: Analysts: Giuliani’s media blitz gives investigators new leads, new evidence http://wapo.st/2wdrg7u

⭕ 2 May 2018

NYT: Cambridge Analytica to File for Bankruptcy After Misuse of Facebook Data http://nyti.ms/2KwGQOP

NYT: Trump Assails Justice Dept., Siding With House Conservatives in Dispute http://nyti.ms/2I8i758

WaPo, Philip Bump: What is Trump threatening to do to the Justice Department, exactly? http://wapo.st/2rfhQTY

⭕ 1 May 2018

WaPo: Mueller raised possibility of presidential subpoena in meeting with Trump’s legal team http://wapo.st/2re68t5

⭕ 30 Apr 2018

💙💙 NYT, Matt Apuzzo and Michael Schmidt: The Questions Mueller Wants to Ask Trump About Obstruction, and What They Mean http://nyti.ms/2HExEKi
// The questions show the special counsel’s focus on obstruction of justice and touch on some surprising other areas.

WaPo: Trump-allied House conservatives draft articles of impeachment against Rosenstein as ‘last resort’ http://wapo.st/2r9Apcy

NYT: Mueller Has List of Questions for Trump http://nyti.ms/2rfDuqK
// Majority Relate to if Trump Obstructed Inquiry on Russia

⭕ 27 Apr 2018

NYT: Lawyer Who Was Said to Have Dirt on Clinton Had Closer Ties to Kremlin Than She Let On http://nyti.ms/2I22YzD
// Natalia V. Veselnitskaya

WaPo: House Intelligence Committee Republicans release final Russia report http://wapo.st/2r458r8

NYT: Trump Renews Attacks on Comey Before Turning to Praise of Korean Talks http://nyti.ms/2HzaL78

⭕ 26 Apr 2018

Dkos: Donald Trump was so unhinged in this call to ‘Fox & Friends,’ even they had to cut him off http://bit.ly/2I3sqET

CNN: Trump’s ‘Fox & Friends’ rant was beyond unhinged http://cnn.it/2I1zKAP

NYT: For Many, Life in Trump’s Orbit Ends in a Crash Landing http://nyti.ms/2KjzIoH

WaPo, Aaron Blake: Trump’s unwieldy ‘Fox and Friends’ interview, annotated http://wapo.st/2HTSZig

CNN: The 53 most stunning lines from Donald Trump’s ‘Fox & Friends’ interview http://cnn.it/2FiArCR

⭕ 25 Apr 2018

WSJ: Trump Lawyers Seek to Determine Whether Mueller Has ‘Open Mind’ http://on.wsj.com/2HsRrwp
// Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani met with special counsel’s team this week to discuss interview with president

WaPo: Michael Cohen to invoke Fifth Amendment right in Stormy Daniels case http://wapo.st/2qZH34Z

⭕ 24 Apr 2018

WaPo: Three Mexican film students were killed, their bodies dissolved in acid, authorities say http://wapo.st/2HrfjfJ
// The Stewmaker comes true

WaPo, David Ignatius: We know an awful lot about Manafort and Russia. Trump can’t make it disappear. http://wapo.st/2qXCvuP

WaPo, Philip Rucker: Trump keeps saying he’s innocent. So why does he keep sounding like he’s guilty? http://wapo.st/2vGxzQL

⭕ 23 Apr 2018

Politico: U.S. eases sanctions on aluminum firm tied to Russian oligarch http://politi.co/2JlYmUC
// Oleg Deripaska, RUSAL

⭕ 20 Apr 2018

WaPo: Democratic Party files lawsuit alleging Russia, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks conspired to disrupt the 2016 campaign http://wapo.st/2HPUZWv

NYT: D.N.C. Lawsuit Alleges Trump-Russia Conspiracy http://nyti.ms/2qT8lJx

NYT: Michael Cohen Has Said He Would Take a Bullet for Trump. Maybe Not Anymore. http://nyti.ms/2Jcyb2w

NYT: 6 Takeaways From the James Comey Memos http://nyti.ms/2HitfJ1

🐣 Trump needs to slap an import/excise tax on Russian hookers. “Screw American!” @Morning_Joe

🐣 RT @AvoAhVee Trump’s claim that he didn’t spend a night in Moscow is disproven by his own tweets. Let’s take a look: https://twitter.com/AviAhvee/status/987200983884320768

⭕ 19 Apr 2018

WaPo: Comey memos offer new details on his interactions with Trump as the FBI’s Russia probe intensified http://wapo.st/2F2I3Jv

NYT: Comey Memos Provide Intimate Look Into Trump Presidency http://nyti.ms/2qN2jtM

WaPo: Trump hires Giuliani, two other attorneys amid mounting legal turmoil over Russia http://wapo.st/2J9RxW4

Trump also loudly and repeatedly complained to several advisers earlier this week that former FBI director James B. Comey, former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, among others, should be charged with crimes for misdeeds alleged by Republicans, the associates said.

Although White House officials said Thursday that Trump has not called Justice Department officials or taken any formal action, the persistent grousing has made some advisers anxious, according to two people close to the president. A publicity tour by Comey to promote his book critical of Trump, “A Higher Loyalty,” has attracted particular attention from the president, who has disparaged Comey publicly and privately.

Trump also complained this week about Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, saying the judge had proved too liberal in recent cases, according to administration officials who heard about the complaints. Associates said he was incensed that Gorsuch had voted against the administration on an immigration case and said it renewed his doubts that Gorsuch would be a reliable conservative. One top Trump adviser played down the comments as unhappiness with Gorsuch’s decision rather than with Gorsuch broadly.

Giuliani is certain to come under intense scrutiny for his role. His own pre-election activities two years ago have been the subject of criticism from Democrats, especially television interviews in which he suggested he had sources providing him inside information about the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s private email server when she was secretary of state.

NYT: Justice Department Gives Congress Comey’s Memos on Trump http://nyti.ms/2HdLe2Z
//➔ DocumentCloud: http://bit.ly/2HOGC4z

WSJ: Michael Cohen Drops Defamation Suits Against BuzzFeed, Fusion GPS Over Russia Dossier http://on.wsj.com/2HeL7bJ

WaPo: Giuliani says he is joining Trump’s legal team to ‘negotiate an end’ to Mueller probe http://wapo.st/

WaPo: Republicans are actively interfering in the Mueller probe to protect Trump http://wapo.st/2JaLmRz

⭕ 18 Apr 2018

Lawfare, Benjamin Wittes: Behind James Comey’s ‘A Higher Loyalty’ http://bit.ly/2JY6VG2

WaPo, EJ Dionne: Trump can’t steer a steady course. Maybe Nikki Haley should jump ship. http://wapo.st/2HIDffr

WaPo: Trump allies press Rosenstein in private meeting in latest sign of tensions http://wapo.st/2HaNCvz

WSJ: Cohen Would Turn Against President if Charged, Counselor Warned Trump http://on.wsj.com/2J6Uy9r
// Former prosecutor Jay Goldberg says he cautioned president that his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, could be compelled to cooperate with prosecutors

NYT, Nancy Gertner: Smearing Robert Mueller http://nyti.ms/2qHC20J

⭕ 17 Apr 2018

NYT: ‘I Don’t Get Confused,’ Nikki Haley Says, Rebuffing White House in Sanctions Dispute http://nyti.ms/2HxpaE6

⭕ 16 Apr 2018

NYT: Judge Says Trump and Cohen Can’t Yet Review Materials Seized by F.B.I. http://nyti.ms/2ERU1Wz

NYT: Trump Scraps New Sanctions Against Russia, Overruling Advisers http://nyti.ms/2J1xB7K

💙💙 DailyBeast: Julian Assange Offered Hannity Impersonator ‘News’ About Top Democrat http://thebea.st/2ER1SDG
// 1/29/2018

“I can’t believe this is happening. I mean… I can. It’s crazy. Nothing can be put past people,” Gilliam, posing as Hannity, wrote to Assange. “I’m exhausted from the whole night. What about you, though? You doing ok?”

“I’m happy as long as there is a fight!” Assange responded.

Gilliam reassured Assange that she, or Hannity, was also “definitely up for a fight” and set up a call for 9:30 a.m. Eastern, about six hours later.

“You can send me messages on other channels,” said Assange, the second reference to “other channels” he made since their conversation began.

“Have some news about Warner.”

Less than 48 hours later, Warner made headlines claiming that the Senate intelligence committee received “end-of-the-year document dumps” that “opened a lot of new questions” about Trump and Russia.

When reached by The Daily Beast about the messages, Warner’s spokesperson pointed to WikiLeaks’ ties to the release of recent document drops performed by Russian entities, like Kremlin cutout Guccifer 2.0.

“Give me a break. WikiLeaks is a non-state hostile intelligence service with longstanding ties to the Russian government and Russian intelligence.”
↥ ↧
💙💙 Dkos: Hannity Might Be Partly The Reason Cohen’s Offices Were Raided. He’s Involved With Assange. http://bit.ly/2HDlDBN

🐣 RT @RVAwonk (Caroline O.) Gabriel Sherman just told @MSNBC that Sean Hannity hired Michael Cohen to defend against “left-wing groups” who were boycotting other Fox hosts. Hannity reportedly got really paranoid and even hired private investigators to look into these “left-wing groups.”

WaPo: Trump puts the brakes on new Russian sanctions, reversing Haley’s announcement http://wapo.st/2JNYey6

NYT: Sean Hannity Is Named as Michael Cohen’s Client http://nyti.ms/2EQRGuU

WaPo: Trump lawyer Michael Cohen did legal work for Fox News commentator Sean Hannity http://wapo.st/2vk7nLF

⭕ 15 Apr 2018

🐣 When Trump told Comey “There’s no way I’d let people pee on each other around me” he’s actually being more specific than the description in the dossier. Insider knowledge?

WaPo: Whom is Comey trying to convince? The third of Americans with no opinion of him. http://wapo.st/2IXA42P

WaPo: Comey says Trump ‘morally unfit to be president,’ possibly susceptible to Russian blackmail http://wapo.st/2J0h5Vr

NYT: James Comey’s Interview on ABC’s ‘20/20’: Annotated Excerpts http://nyti.ms/2vjtFwX

NYT: In Interview, Comey Calls Trump ‘Morally Unfit’ and a ‘Stain’ on All Around Him http://nyti.ms/2JLFFL7

⭕ 14 Apr 2018

Vox, Andrew Prokop: Why the question of whether Michael Cohen visited Prague is massively important for Donald Trump http://bit.ly/2quLPHw
// The Steele dossier claimed Cohen went to Prague to meet Russians. He’s said for more than a year that he didn’t.

WaPo: Michael Cohen’s visiting Prague would be a huge development in the Russia investigation http://wapo.st/2JKBnDD

[McClatchy] suggests that Cohen took over management of the relationship with Russia after campaign chairman Paul Manafort was fired from the campaign in August (because of questions about his relationship with a political party in Ukraine). Cohen is said to have met secretly with people in Prague — possibly at the Russian Center for Science and Culture — in the last week of August or the first of September. He allegedly met with representatives of the Russian government, possibly including officials of the Presidential Administration Legal Department; Oleg Solodukhin (who works with the Russian Center for Science and Culture); or Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign relations committee in the upper house of parliament. A planned meeting in Moscow, the dossier alleges, was considered too risky, given that a topic of conversation was how to divert attention from Manafort’s links to Russia and a trip to Moscow by Carter Page in July. Another topic of conversation, according to the dossier: allegedly paying off “Romanian hackers” who had been targeting the Clinton campaign.

⭕ 13 Apr 2018

💙💙 McClatchy: Sources: Mueller has evidence Cohen was in Prague in 2016, confirming part of dossier http://bit.ly/2JKJz6F

The Justice Department special counsel has evidence that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and confidant, Michael Cohen, secretly made a late-summer trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Confirmation of the trip would lend credence to a retired British spy’s report that Cohen strategized there with a powerful Kremlin figure about Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

It would also be one of the most significant developments thus far in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of whether the Trump campaign and the Kremlin worked together to help Trump win the White House. Undercutting Trump’s repeated pronouncements that “there is no evidence of collusion,” it also could ratchet up the stakes if the president tries, as he has intimated he might for months, to order Mueller’s firing.

Trump’s threats to fire Mueller or the deputy attorney general overseeing the investigation, Rod Rosenstein, grew louder this week when the FBI raided Cohen’s home, hotel room and office on Monday. The raid was unrelated to the Trump-Russia collusion probe, but instead focused on payments made to women who have said they had sexual relationships with Trump.

It’s unclear whether Mueller’s investigators also have evidence that Cohen actually met with a prominent Russian – purportedly Konstantin Kosachev, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — in the Czech capital. Kosachev, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of a body of the Russian legislature, the Federation Council, also has denied visiting Prague during 2016. Earlier this month, Kosachev was among 24 high-profile Russians hit with stiff U.S. sanctions in retaliation for Russia’s meddling.

The dossier alleges that Cohen, two Russians and several Eastern European hackers met at the Prague office of a Russian government-backed social and cultural organization, Rossotrudnichestvo. The location was selected to provide an alternative explanation in case the rendezvous was exposed, according to Steele’s Kremlin sources, cultivated during 20 years of spying on Russia. It said that Oleg Solodukhin, the deputy chief of Rossotrudnichestvo’s operation in the Czech Republic, attended the meeting, too.

Further, it alleges that Cohen, Kosachev and other attendees discussed “how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers in Europe who had worked under Kremlin direction against the Clinton campaign.”

U.S. intelligence agencies and cyber experts say Kremlin-backed hackers pirated copies of thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chief John Podesta during 2015 and 2016, some politically damaging, including messages showing that the DNC was biased toward Clinton in the party’s nomination battle pitting her against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Mueller’s investigators have sought to learn who passed the emails to WikiLeaks, a London-based transparency group, which published them in July and October, causing embarrassment to Clinton and her backers.

Citing information from an unnamed “Kremlin insider,” Steele’s dossier says the Prague meeting agenda also included discussion “in cryptic language for security reasons,” of ways to “sweep it all under the carpet and make sure no connection could be fully established or proven.” Romanians were among the hackers present, it says, and the discussion touched on using Bulgaria as a location where they could “lie low.”

It is a felony for anyone to hack email accounts. Other laws forbid foreigners from contributing cash or in-kind services to U.S. political campaigns.

If Cohen met with Russians and hackers in Prague as described in the dossier, it would provide perhaps the most compelling evidence to date that the Russians and Trump campaign aides were collaborating. Mueller’s office also has focused on two meetings in the spring of 2016 when Russians offered to provide Trump campaign aides with “dirt” on Clinton – thousands of emails in one of the offers.

If the Prague meeting actually occurred, Kosachev’s possible involvement would be especially significant given his close ties to Putin and other roles he has played in covert Moscow efforts to destabilize other countries, Russia experts said.

“While not a member of Putin’s innermost circle, (Kosachev) is one of the most influential Russian voices on foreign affairs,” said Michael Carpenter, a former senior Pentagon official. “When Kosachev speaks, everyone knows he’s speaking for the Kremlin.”

Kosachev appears to have been a booster of Trump over Clinton in early June of 2016, according to a post on his Facebook page at the time.

“Trump looks slightly more promising,” Kosachev wrote. “At least, he is capable of giving a shake to Washington. He is certainly a pragmatist and not a missionary like his main opponent [Hillary] Clinton.”

The Prague meeting would have occurred during a period when Trump advisers had become jittery about publicity swirling around the campaign’s Russian connections and seemingly friendly posture toward Moscow, according to the dossier and a source familiar with the federal investigation.

Campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigned abruptly on Aug. 19, shortly after the revelation that he had received $12.7 million in secret consulting fees over five years from the pro-Russia Party of Regions in Ukraine. Manafort was instrumental in the 2010 election of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in early 2014 and fled to Moscow.

Another flap stemmed from a secretive maneuver at the Republican National Convention in July. Party officials weakened language in the 2016 Republican platform calling for a boost in U.S. military aid to support Ukraine’s fight with Russian-backed separatists who invaded Eastern Ukraine and Crimea.

The dossier cited multiple sources as reporting that Kremlin officials also had grown edgy about the possible exposure of their secret “active measures” effort to defeat Clinton and help Trump. According to the dossier, Russian diplomat Mikhail Kalugin was brought home from Russia’s embassy in Washington last August because he had played a key role in coordinating the cyber offensive. McClatchy quoted several Russia experts on Feb. 15 as saying they suspected Kalugin was an intelligence operative. Kalugin has denied any espionage activities.

NYT: Madeleine Albright Is Worried. We Should Be, Too. http://nyti.ms/2qwmP2y

NYT: Trump Sees Inquiry Into Cohen as Greater Threat Than Mueller http://nyti.ms/2qysST8

The raids on Mr. Cohen came as part of a monthslong federal investigation based in New York, court records show, and were sweeping in their breadth. In addition to searching his home, office and hotel room, F.B.I. agents seized material from Mr. Cohen’s cellphones, tablet, laptop and safe deposit box, according to people briefed on the warrants. Prosecutors revealed in court documents that they had already secretly obtained many of Mr. Cohen’s emails.

But it is difficult to extract Mr. Cohen from his work for Mr. Trump. For more than a decade, Mr. Trump has unleashed Mr. Cohen on his foes — investigative journalists, business rivals and potential litigants. And the New York search warrant makes clear that the authorities are interested in his unofficial role in the campaign.

Prosecutors also seized recordings of conversations that Mr. Cohen had secretly made, but he told people in recent days that he did not tape his conversations with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen frequently taped conversations with adversaries and opposing lawyers, according to the two people briefed.

Federal agents seized documents that dated back years, some of which are related to payments to two women who have said they had affairs with Mr. Trump. Other documents seized included information about the role of The National Enquirer in silencing one of the women, people briefed on the investigation have said.

WaPo: U.S. launches missile strikes in Syria http://wapo.st/2EJr8Mb

WaPo: RNC deputy finance chair steps down after admitting Trump’s lawyer negotiated settlement between him and pregnant Playboy model http://wapo.st/2GYrQeB

Los Angeles-based investor Elliott Broidy, who has been a top fundraiser for Trump and the party, issued a statement Friday acknowledging that he “had a consensual relationship” with the woman, who got pregnant. He said he retained Cohen after Trump’s personal lawyer told Broidy he had been contacted by the woman’s attorney.

⭕ 12 Apr 2018

WaPo: Trump’s allies worry that federal investigators may have seized recordings made by his attorney http://wapo.st/2GVfHXD

WaPo: Trump touts Hannity’s show on ‘Deep State crime families’ led by Mueller, Comey and Clintons http://wapo.st/2HgAVia

WaPo: Bannon pitches White House on plan to cripple Mueller probe and protect Trump http://wapo.st/2qnIzO4

⭕ 10 Apr 2018

RollingStone, Seth Hettena: A Brief History of Michael Cohen’s Criminal Ties http://rol.st/2qw72Av
// From the Russian mob to money launderers, Trump’s personal attorney has long been a subject of interest to federal investigators

During Trump’s presidential run, reporters noticed a curious thing about Cohen. Questions about Trump’s business or his taxes went to his chief legal officer or another staffer, but Cohen handled questions about Russia. “One of the things that we learned that caught my interest,” Simpson testified to Congress in November 2017, “serious questions about Donald Trump’s activities in Russia and the former Soviet Union went to Michael Cohen, and that he was the only person who had information on that subject or was in a position to answer those questions.”

In the 1990s, there was an informal group of federal and local law enforcement agents investigating the Russian Mafiya in New York that called themselves “Red Star.” They shared information they learned from informants. It was well known among the members of Red Star that Cohen’s father-in-law was funneling money into Trump ventures. Several sources have told me that Cohen was one of several attorneys who helped money launderers purchase apartments in a development in Sunny Isles Beach, a seaside Florida town just north of Miami. This was an informal arrangement passed word-of-mouth: “We have heard from Russian sources that … in Florida, Cohen and other lawyers acted as a conduit for money.”

An investigation by Reuters found that at least 63 individuals with Russian passports or addresses have bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in the seven Trump-branded luxury towers. And that was a conservative estimate. At least 703 – or about one-third – of the 2044 units were owned by limited liability companies, or LLCs, which could conceal the property’s true owner. Executives from Gazprom and other Russian natural resource giants also owned units in Trump’s Sunny Isles towers. In an observation that several people I spoke with echoed, Kenneth McCallion, a former prosecutor who tracked the flows of Russian criminal money into Trump’s properties, told me, “Trump’s genius – or evil genius – was, instead of Russian criminal money being passive, incidental income, it became a central part of his business plan.” McCallion continued, “It’s not called ‘Little Moscow’ for nothing. The street signs are in Russian. But his towers there were built specifically for the Russian middle-class criminal.”

Cohen joined the Trump Organization around the time that the second Sunny Isles tower was being built. A few years earlier, he had invested $1.5 million in a short-lived Miami-based casino boat venture run by his two Ukrainian business partners, Arkady Vaygensberg and Leonid Tatarchuk. Only three months after its maiden voyage, it would become the subject of a large fraud investigation. But Cohen was saved from his bad investment by none other than Trump himself, who hired Cohen as an attorney just before his casino ship sank. A source who investigated Cohen’s connections to Russia told me, “Say you want to get money into the country and maybe you’re a bit suspect. The Trump organization used lawyers to allow people to get money into the country.” 

Residents at Sunny Isles included people like Vladimir Popovyan, who paid $1.17 million for a three-bedroom condo in 2013. Forbes Russia described Popovyan as a friend and associate of Rafael Samurgashev, a former championship wrestler who ran a criminal group in Rostov-on-Don in southeastern Russia. Peter Kiritchenko, a Ukrainian businessman arrested on fraud charges in San Francisco in 1999, and his daughter owned two units at Trump Towers in Sunny Isles Beach worth $2.56 million. (Kiritchenko testified against a corrupt former Ukrainian prime minister who was convicted in 2004 of money laundering.) Other owners of Trump condos in Sunny Isles include members of a Russian-American organized crime group that ran a sports betting ring out of Trump Tower, which catered to wealthy oligarchs from the former Soviet Union. Michael Barukhin, who was convicted in a massive scheme to defraud auto insurers with phony claims, lived out of a Trump condo that was registered to a limited liability corporation.

Selling units from the lobby of the Trump International Beach Resort in Sunny Isles was Baronoff Realty. Elena Baronoff, who died of cancer in 2015, was the exclusive sales agent for three Trump-branded towers. Glenn Simpson, who spent a year investigating Trump’s background during the campaign, testified before the House Intelligence Committee that Baronoff was a “suspected organized crime figure.”

An Uzbek immigrant who arrived in the United States as a cultural attaché in public diplomacy from the Soviet Union, Baronoff became such a well-known figure in Sunny Isles Beach that she was named the international ambassador for the community. Baronoff accompanied Trump’s children on a trip to Russia in the winter of 2007–2008, posing for a photo in Moscow with Ivanka and Eric Trump and developer Michael Dezer. Also in the photo, curiously, was a man named Michael Babel, a former senior executive of a property firm owned by Oleg Deripaska, the Russian metals tycoon Paul Manafort allegedly offered personal updates on Trump’s presidential campaign. Babel later fled Russia to evade fraud charges.

Michael Cohen’s in-laws, the Shustermans, also bought real estate in Sunny Isles. The development was paying off. Trump’s oldest son, Don Jr., would later note, “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” There is no question Trump owed his comeback in large part to wealthy Russian expatriates.

Cohen and Felix Sater have known each other for nearly 30 years. They met in Brighton Beach when Cohen started dating his future wife, Shusterman’s daughter, Laura, who Sater says he knew from the neighborhood. When Cohen joined the Trump organization, Sater had become a fixture in the office. Sater was developing Trump SoHo, a hotel-condo in lower Manhattan that later would be consumed by scandal, and had earned Trump’s trust. Trump asked him to look after his children, Ivanka and Don Jr., on a 2006 visit to Moscow. (It was during the Moscow trip that Sater used his Kremlin connections to impress Trump’s daughter. Sater would later boast: “I arranged for Ivanka to sit in Putin’s private chair at his desk and office in the Kremlin.”) When Sater’s criminal past was exposed in The New York Times, Trump suddenly looked and acted like a man with something to hide. Despite laying claim to “one of the great memories of all time,” he seemed to be having trouble recollecting who Sater was. “Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it,” Trump told The Associated Press in 2015. “I’m not that familiar with him.” Sater flatly contradicted Trump’s version of their relationship. In a little-noticed interview with a Russian publication, Snob, Sater was asked if his criminal past was a problem for Trump. “No, it was not. He makes his own decision regarding each and every individual.”

In the midst of Trump’s presidential run, Sater was shopping a deal to build a Trump World Tower Moscow. Between September 2015 and January 2016, Sater tried to broker a deal for a Moscow company called IC Expert Investment Company. (Sater worked for IC Expert’s owner, Andrei Rozov, after he left Bayrock.) Trump signed a letter of intent in October with IC Expert Investment for a Moscow hotel-condo with the option for a “Spa by Ivanka Trump.” Providing financing was VTB, a Russian bank subject to U.S. sanctions. Sater’s contact at the Trump Organization was his old friend, Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen. In mid-January, Sater urged Cohen to send an email to Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, “since the proposal would require approvals within the Russian government that had not been issued.” Cohen sent the email, got no reply, and said he abandoned the proposal two weeks later.

What Cohen called his old friend’s “colorful language” attracted attention from congressional investigators and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office: “Michael I arranged for Ivanka to sit in Putins private chair at his desk and office in the Kremlin,” Sater emailed Cohen in November 2015. “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected. We both know no one else knows how to pull this off without stupidity or greed getting in the way. I know how to play it and we will get this done. Buddy our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this.”

Sater gave an unsatisfactory answer to BuzzFeed about why he wrote this email. “If a deal can get done and I could make money and he could look like a statesman, what the fuck is the downside, right?”

Shortly after Trump took office, Sater teamed up with Cohen to submit a Ukrainian peace plan to then national security advisor Michael Flynn that would have opened the door to lifting sanctions on Russia. What happened to the plan? The lawyer at first told The New York Times that he left the plan in Flynn’s office. Then, after the story became an embarrassment, he called the Times story “fake news” and claimed he pitched the plan into the trash.

Cohen has always acted to protect Trump, and he likely believed that he could always rely on the impenetrable shield of attorney-client privilege. Arguably, no one who has worked with Trump over the past decade knows more about the president’s past business dealings in Russia and elsewhere abroad than Cohen. Now that prosecutors have him in their sights, here’s the question: Will Cohen’s shield, now broken, become a sword?

NYT Editorial: The Law Is Coming, Mr. Trump http://nyti.ms/2Jysb50

Why don’t we take a step back and contemplate what Americans, and the world, are witnessing?

Early Monday morning, F.B.I. agents raided the New York office, home and hotel room of the personal lawyer for the president of the United States. They seized evidence of possible federal crimes — including bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations related to payoffs made to women, including a porn actress, who say they had affairs with the president before he took office and were paid off and intimidated into silence.

That evening the president surrounded himself with the top American military officials and launched unbidden into a tirade against the top American law enforcement officials — officials of his own government — accusing them of “an attack on our country.”

Oh, also: The Times reported Monday evening that investigators were examining a $150,000 donation to the president’s personal foundation from a Ukrainian steel magnate, given during the American presidential campaign in exchange for a 20-minute video appearance.

Meanwhile, the president’s former campaign chairman is under indictment, and his former national security adviser has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators. His son-in-law and other associates are also under investigation.

This is your president, ladies and gentlemen. This is how Donald Trump does business, and these are the kinds of people he surrounds himself with.

Mr. Trump has spent his career in the company of developers and celebrities, and also of grifters, cons, sharks, goons and crooks. He cuts corners, he lies, he cheats, he brags about it, and for the most part, he’s gotten away with it, protected by threats of litigation, hush money and his own bravado. Those methods may be proving to have their limits when they are applied from the Oval Office. Though Republican leaders in Congress still keep a cowardly silence, Mr. Trump now has real reason to be afraid. A raid on a lawyer’s office doesn’t happen every day; it means that multiple government officials, and a federal judge, had reason to believe they’d find evidence of a crime there and that they didn’t trust the lawyer not to destroy that evidence.

On Monday, when he appeared with his national security team, Mr. Trump, whose motto could be, “The buck stops anywhere but here,” angrily blamed everyone he could think of for the “unfairness” of an investigation that has already consumed the first year of his presidency, yet is only now starting to heat up. He said Attorney General Jeff Sessions made “a very terrible mistake” by recusing himself from overseeing the investigation — the implication being that a more loyal attorney general would have obstructed justice and blocked the investigation. He complained about the “horrible things” that Hillary Clinton did “and all of the crimes that were committed.” He called the A-team of investigators from the office of the special counsel, Robert Mueller, “the most biased group of people.” As for Mr. Mueller himself, “we’ll see what happens,” Mr. Trump said. “Many people have said, ‘You should fire him.’”

In fact, the raids on the premises used by Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, were conducted by the public corruption unit of the federal attorney’s office in Manhattan, and at the request not of the special counsel’s team, but under a search warrant that investigators in New York obtained following a referral by Mr. Mueller, who first consulted with the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. To sum up, a Republican-appointed former F.B.I. director consulted with a Republican-appointed deputy attorney general, who then authorized a referral to an F.B.I. field office not known for its anti-Trump bias. Deep state, indeed.

Mr. Trump also railed against the authorities who, he said, “broke into” Mr. Cohen’s office. “Attorney-client privilege is dead!” the president tweeted early Tuesday morning, during what was presumably his executive time. He was wrong. The privilege is one of the most sacrosanct in the American legal system, but it does not protect communications in furtherance of a crime. Anyway, one might ask, if this is all a big witch hunt and Mr. Trump has nothing illegal or untoward to hide, why does he care about the privilege in the first place?

The answer, of course, is that he has a lot to hide.

This wasn’t even the first early-morning raid of a close Trump associate. That distinction goes to Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman and Russian oligarch-whisperer, who now faces a slate of federal charges long enough to land him in prison for the rest of his life. And what of Mr. Cohen? He’s already been cut loose by his law firm, and when the charges start rolling in, he’ll likely get the same treatment from Mr. Trump.

Among the grotesqueries that faded into the background of Mr. Trump’s carnival of misgovernment during the past 24 hours was that Monday’s meeting was ostensibly called to discuss a matter of global significance: a reported chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians. Mr. Trump instead made it about him, with his narcissistic and self-pitying claim that the investigation represented an attack on the country “in a true sense.”

No, Mr. Trump — a true attack on America is what happened on, say, Sept. 11, 2001. Remember that one? Thousands of people lost their lives. Your response was to point out that the fall of the twin towers meant your building was now the tallest in downtown Manhattan. Of course, that also wasn’t true.

NYT: Trump Sought to Fire Mueller in December http://nyti.ms/2JAy15S

⭕ 9 Apr 2018

WaPo: Trump attorney Cohen is being investigated for possible bank fraud, campaign finance violations http://wapo.st/2qiodog

NYT: Trump Denounces F.B.I. Raid on His Lawyer’s Office as ‘Attack on Our Country’ http://nyti.ms/2Jz7ztI

NYT: F.B.I. Raids Office of Trump’s Longtime Lawyer Michael Cohen; Trump Calls It ‘Disgraceful’ http://nyti.ms/2Hn8Zqg

WaPo, Fred Hiatt: McMaster warned against officials who ‘glamorize and apologize’ for dictators. Hmm. http://wapo.st/2GN4W5J

“The victory of free societies is not predestined,” the general warned. “There’s nothing inevitable about the course of human events and history. And there is no arc of history, there is no so-called end of history, that will ensure our success.”

⭕ 6 Apr 2018

NYT: Facebook to Require Verified Identities for Future Political Ads http://nyti.ms/2HfBLJt

NYT: Trump Administration Imposes New Sanctions on Putin Cronies http://nyti.ms/2GFJeQY

⭕ 4 Apr 2018

WaPo: H.R. McMaster delivers a parting shot to Russia as he prepares to bow out as national security adviser http://wapo.st/2IsnAQK

⭕ 3 Apr 2018

NYT, Clint Watts: For Russia, Trump Was a Vehicle, Not a Target http://nyti.ms/2Gzjg5x

In Trump and his campaign, Mr. Putin spotted a golden opportunity — an easily ingratiated celebrity motivated by fame and fortune, a foreign policy novice surrounded by unscreened opportunists open to manipulation and unaware of Russia’s long run game of subversion.

Mr. Putin has succeeded where his Soviet forefathers failed by leveraging money and cyberspace to subtly infiltrate and influence Americans while maintaining plausible deniability of their efforts. And the Kremlin’s ground game “cut outs” — intermediaries who facilitate communication between agents — conducted a more complex game.

Each Mueller indictment and investigative lead illuminates more Kremlin influence avenues into President Trump’s inner circle. Mr. Van Der Zwaan, whose father-in-law is the Russian oligarch German Khan, lied to investigators about his conversations with Mr. Gates, the Trump deputy campaign manager, and a Person A, whom the F.B.I. assessed as a Russian intelligence agent and many believe to be Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate of both Mr. Gates and Mr. Manafort, a Trump campaign manager.

Evidence of Russia’s intent to interfere in the election is overwhelming, and documentation of Trump campaign members’ collusion not only exists but is growing. The special counsel’s investigation into collusion ultimately comes down to two questions. First, did President Trump or any member of his campaign willingly coordinate their actions with Russia? And did President Trump or any member of his campaign knowingly coordinate their action with Russia?

Trump campaign members certainly colluded with Russian influence efforts, some willingly, some possibly knowingly. The president denies the Kremlin’s hand, either still unaware or in denial of being manipulated by Mr. Putin’s minions. For Mr. Putin, it’s likely everything he hoped for — America riddled with political infighting and mired in investigations, a weakened NATO alliance vulnerable to aggression and a United States president seeking his adoration, obstinate and ignorant of the great caper the Kremlin just orchestrated.

The problem for the president is that ignorance is not immunity. The problem for America is that ignorance of Russian interference is vulnerability.

WaPo: Mueller told Trump’s attorneys the president remains under investigation but is not currently a criminal target http://wapo.st/2uO43bo

⭕ 2 Apr 2018

ThinkProgress: At Chicago nightclub, George Papadopoulos allegedly makes explosive new claim about Jeff Sessions http://bit.ly/2GPXzgN
// A chance encounter with a man at the center of the Russia investigation.

… Papadopoulos, according to this new acquaintance, said that Sessions was well aware of the contact between Papadopoulos and Joseph Mifsud, an academic from Malta with high-level connections in Russia. Papadopoulos’ indictment revealed that Mifsud had told Papadopoulos that the Russians had “‘dirt’ on then-candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of ‘thousands of emails.’”

Jason Wilson, a computer engineer who lives in Chicago, told ThinkProgress that Papadopoulos said during their conversation that “Sessions encouraged me” to find out anything he could about the hacked Hillary Clinton emails that Mifsud had mentioned.

Wilson said he recognized Papadopoulos and his wife Simona Mangiante at Hydrate, a Chicago nightclub, on Thursday night at approximately 11 p.m. Wilson sat down their table and introduced himself. He said the couple, who were drinking vodka, were extremely friendly and a bit flattered that Wilson had recognized them.

After some conversation about the city and their marriage, Wilson turned the topic to the Russia investigation, asking Papadopoulos whether he thought Wilson would be disappointed when all the facts came out. Papadopoulos responded that things were “just getting started” and emphasized Sessions’ role, particularly his connection to Papadopoulos’ contacts with Mifsud.

Wilson provided ThinkProgress with a photo of Papadopoulos, Mangiante, and himself outside of Hydrate. The bar’s address is visible over Papadopoulos’ shoulder.

Simona Mangiante, in an interview with ThinkProgress on Friday night, confirmed that she was at Hydrate with George Papadopoulos on Thursday.

In an interview last December with ABC News, Mangiante said that Papadopoulos was “constantly in touch with high-level officials in the campaign.” Speaking on Friday with ThinkProgress, Mangiante said that Sessions was one of the officials in contact with Papadopoulos. “[Sessions] talked with George,” Mangiante said. She declined to provide further details. …

⭕ 29 Mar 2018

WaPo: Sessions, for now, rebuffs GOP calls for second special counsel to probe FBI actions in Clinton and Russia investigations http://wapo.st/2pTHGvl

DailyBeast: Trump and His Lawyer May Have Conspired to Obstruct Justice If They Dangled Pardons for Manafort and Flynn http://thebea.st/2GnGEyZ

⭕ 28 Mar 2018

Vox: It’s not just elections: Russia hacked the US electric grid http://bit.ly/2GDFORW
// And it may be just the first phase of a bigger attack.

WaPo: Ecuadoran Embassy in London cuts off Julian Assange’s Internet http://wapo.st/2J4kN12

WaPo: Mueller just drew his most direct line to date between the Trump campaign and Russia http://wapo.st/2utCS5l

That line is drawn in a new court filing related to the upcoming sentencing of London attorney Alex van der Zwaan. Van der Zwaan has pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with deputy Trump campaign manager Rick Gates and a person identified in the document only as “Person A.” Person A appears to be a former Ukraine-based aide to Gates and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort named Konstantin Kilimnik.

NYT: Trump’s Lawyer Raised Prospect of Pardons for Flynn and Manafort http://nyti.ms/2IdYyEX

⭕ 22 Mar 2018

DailyBeast: EXCLUSIVE: ‘Lone DNC Hacker’ Guccifer 2.0 Slipped Up and Revealed He Was a Russian Intelligence Officer http://thebea.st/2puiYCz

⭕ 20 Mar 2018

NYT: Cambridge Analytica Suspends C.E.O. Amid Facebook Data Scandal http://nyti.ms/2u2zYog

DailyBeast, Michael Tomasky: Yes, This Is Going to Be Worse Than Watergate http://thebea.st/2fe5QPM
// In 1973, there were still some independent-minded lawmakers in the Grand Old Party. Today, not so much.

WaPo: Fox News commentator exits with a searing attack on Fox News http://wapo.st/2u7v1u7
// military Ralph Peters, “He described President Trump as being “terrified” of Russian president Vladi­mir Putin”

Slate: The Real Scandal Isn’t What Cambridge Analytica Did http://slate.me/2pwGL4X
//. It’s what Facebook made possible.

WaPo, James Homan: Trump’s increasingly confrontational approach to Mueller enabled by congressional GOP timidity http://wapo.st/2psmk8m

DailyBeast, Nik Ackerman and Jonathan Alter: The Opening Argument in the Trial of Donald J. Trump http://thebea.st/2FR1sP6
⋙ This is the Best Article I’ve read so far in 2018 on where we’re at with #TrumpRussia ~ pulls all the pieces together and makes a convincing case w/o assuming things we don’t know (yet). By Nik Ackerman and Jonathan Alter //➔ #HighlyRec

⭕ 19 Mar 2018

NYT: Alex Stamos, Facebook Data Security Chief, To Leave Amid Outcry http://nyti.ms/2FYPLWn

NYT: Cambridge Analytica, Trump-Tied Political Firm, Offered to Entrap Politicians http://nyti.ms/2FKaL7r

NYT: Trump to Hire Lawyer Who Has Pushed Theory That Justice Dept. Framed the President http://nyti.ms/2u1nME1
// Joseph diGenova

Mr. diGenova has endorsed the notion that a secretive group of F.B.I. agents concocted the Russia investigation as a way to keep Mr. Trump from becoming president. “There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn’t win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime,” he said on Fox News in January. He added, “Make no mistake about it: A group of F.B.I. and D.O.J. people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime.”

Mr. diGenova is law partners with his wife, Victoria Toensing. Ms. Toensing has also represented Sam Clovis, the former Trump campaign co-chairman, and Erik Prince, the founder of the security contractor Blackwater and an informal adviser to Mr. Trump. Mr. Prince attended a meeting in January 2017 with a Russian investor in the Seychelles that the special counsel is investigating.

Axios, Mike Allen: A huge clue about Mueller’s endgame http://bit.ly/2GHIdbN

Axios has learned that special counsel Robert Mueller has focused on events since the election — not during the campaign — in his conversations with President Trump’s lawyers. The top two topics that Mueller has expressed interest in so far: the firings of FBI director James Comey and national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Why it matters: That suggests a focus on obstruction of justice while in office, rather than collusion with Russia during the campaign. But both sagas are interwoven with Russia: Trump himself has linked Comey’s firing to Russia, and Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador during the transition.

The Mueller and Trump teams are hoping to work out the specifics of a presidential interview within the next few weeks.

The big question they’re debating is whether it’ll be in person, in writing, or some combination of the two.

After a weekend of increasingly personal and vocal battles with Mueller, the White House extended an awkward olive branch on Sunday night, with White House lawyer Ty Cobb issuing this statement:

“In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”

But that’s too late. Veering from the White House legal strategy of cooperating with Mueller, Trump attacked him by name on Twitter, seeking to discredit the eventual findings with Republican supporters.

Someone familiar with the process said that was presidential frustration, and that the Trump team continues its ongoing dialogue with Mueller.

⭕ 18 Mar 2018

DailyBeast, Nik Ackerman and Jonathan Alter: The Opening Argument in the Trial of Donald J. Trump http://thebea.st/2FR1sP6
⋙ This is the Best Article I’ve read so far in 2018 on where we’re at with #TrumpRussia ~ pulls all the pieces together and makes a convincing case w/o assuming things we don’t know (yet). By Nik Ackerman and Jonathan Alter //➔ #HighlyRec

⭕ 17 Mar 2018

🐣 RT @JohnBrennan When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you.
⋙ to Trump

WSJ: Andrew McCabe Kept Notes About Conversations With Trump, Gave Them to Mueller http://on.wsj.com/2pm9uZj
//John Dowd, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, called for the Mueller probe to end ‘on the merits in light of recent revelations’

WaPo: Trump’s lawyer calls on Justice Department to immediately end Russia probe http://wapo.st/2FHamlX

⭕ 15 Mar 2018

WaPo, Max Boot: Russia’s been waging war on the West for years. We just haven’t noticed. http://wapo.st/2FYuWxH

WaPo, David Ignatius: Putin has finally gone too far http://wapo.st/2DxTQie

🐣 RT @tribelaw BREAKING NEWS: The Trump administration today announced that Russia has successfully launched a cyberattack on our nuclear power grid, has compromised the grid, and can shut it down at will. This is on top of what Russia did to our election. We are under attack by a hostile power

WaPo: New Russia sanctions are Trump’s strongest action against Moscow — but far short of what Congress wanted http://wapo.st/2FXLZQp

NYT: Mueller Subpoenas Trump Organization, Demanding Documents About Russia http://nyti.ms/2HEJq39

NYT: Cyberattacks Put Russian Fingers on the Switch at Power Plants, U.S. Says http://nyti.ms/2FMmzSF

⭕ 13 Mar 2018

LawfareBlog: Document: House Intelligence Committee Minority Russia Investigation Status Report http://bit.ly/2pcSLrd

⭕ 12 Mar 2018

Slate, Sam Berger: Mueller’s Choice of Criminal Charges: Why the Trump Team Should Be Very Worried http://slate.me/2tFfHVt

Ryan Goodman recently highlighted an important revelation contained in the memo written by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee: Not only had the Russians told the Trump campaign that they had dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails, but they had also previewed for George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser on the campaign, that they could help with disseminating them.

This revelation would suggest significant legal exposure on its own. But when viewed within the broader context of what we know about the Russia investigation, it is further evidence of an extremely troubling pattern of interactions between the Trump campaign and Russia-linked operatives, which show an intertwining of two campaigns to elect Donald Trump: one run out of Trump Tower and one run out of the Kremlin.

Goodman and the experts he spoke with identified four types of actions that could create criminal liability for the Trump team stemming from this new information: if the campaign consulted with the Russians on their plans to disseminate the emails, if the Trump campaign gave tacit assent or approval or support, if Trump officials intentionally encouraged the Russians, or if they sought to conceal the facts of a crime. Just looking at the publicly available information shows the outlines of a potential legal case against members of the Trump team along these very lines.

As campaign finance law expert Paul S. Ryan points out, campaigns cannot coordinate with foreign nationals on any expenditure that seeks to influence a U.S. election. Coordination includes cooperation, consultation, or acting in concert with, or at the request or suggestion of the candidate or his team. A key word is or—each of those actions could independently suffice to establish a violation.

The emails to set up the now infamous June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting contain a particularly incriminating piece of evidence on this score. While significant focus has been given to Donald Trump Jr.’s enthusiastic response to the offer of damaging information on Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” equal attention should be paid to the rest of his response, in which he says that such information would be helpful “especially later in the summer.” In this statement, Trump Jr. was not only communicating a willingness to collude with Russia; he was also telling them when the campaign thought the release of such information would be most politically useful. …

After Trump Jr. shared his assessment of the best timing for the release of damaging material on Clinton, WikiLeaks, which the U.S. intelligence community assessed with high confidence was provided the stolen Democratic emails by Russia, released a slew of emails later that summer right before the Democratic National Convention, exacerbating divisions within the Democratic Party and undermining the convention’s unifying message.

… Perhaps the starkest example was the timing of WikiLeaks’ release of the hacked emails of John Podesta, chairman of the Clinton campaign. His emails were made public a scant 29 minutes after the Washington Post broke the story late on a Friday afternoon of the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women. …

… Trump campaign … proved surprisingly effective at weaponizing the Clinton-linked emails released by WikiLeaks. Trump mentioned the website 164 times—an average of more than five times per day—in the final month of the campaign …

… We now know that Trump Jr. was also exchanging private messages with WikiLeaks both during and after the campaign. In one instance, Trump tweeted about the hacked emails just 15 minutes after WikiLeaks messaged Trump Jr. suggesting his father promote them. Trump Jr. wasn’t the only person talking with the people behind WikiLeaks; both Roger Stone and the head of Cambridge Analytica, a firm the Trump campaign employed to help with data analytics, were also reportedly in contact with them.

But what we do know is that the Trump team undertook a massive effort to cover up its collusion with Russia. They repeatedly denied any contacts with Russian officials, calling the claims “absurd,” “disgusting,” and even “dangerous.” But subsequent reporting, admissions, and indictments have revealed there were many, many contacts between the Trump team and Russia-linked operatives, including numerous in-person meetings. Knowledge about these contacts was widespread in the campaign: Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Jeff Sessions, Sam Clovis, and Corey Lewandowski all knew, as did many others.

Yet no one on the campaign ever revealed these contacts or told the authorities about Russia’s hacking and offers of help. In fact, they actively participated in the cover-up by lying about their contacts every step of the way. …

NYT: Britain Blames Russia for Nerve Agent Attack on Former Spy http://nyti.ms/2HpkBbi

⭕ 9 Mar 2018

 MotherJones: “Why the Hell Are We Standing Down?” http://bit.ly/2p6wsDg
// The secret story of Obama’s response to Putin’s attack on the 2016 election.

MotherJones: Trump Spoke to a Russian Activist About Ending Sanctions—Just Weeks After Launching His Campaign http://bit.ly/2Ge3sBG
// Here’s the video of their exchange.

⭕ 8 Mar 2018

CNN: Amid renewed scrutiny, Erik Prince to host fundraiser for Russia-friendly congressman http://cnn.it/2oZJuCw
// Dana Rohrabacher

RawStory: Trump partied with Russian oligarchs at Vegas nightclub shut down over ‘lewd’ acts involving women and urine: report http://bit.ly/2tvFbEv
// David Corn and Michael Isikoff book; possible source of “pee tape” legend

MotherJones: The Very Strange Case of Two Russian Gun Lovers, the NRA, and Donald Trump http://bit.ly/2oWn2eB
// Here’s what we uncovered about an odd pair from Moscow who courted the Trump campaign.

NYT: How Russian Trolls Crept Into the Trump Campaign’s Facebook Messages http://nyti.ms/2IdG5ZF

 MotherJones: What Happened in Moscow: The Inside Story of How Trump’s Obsession With Putin Began http://bit.ly/2oShFNy
// His 2013 visit paved the way for a scandal that shook the world; This is the first of two excerpts adapted from Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump (Twelve Books), by Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, and David Corn, Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones. The book will be released on March 13.

NYT: Trump Accepts Kim Jong-un’s Invitation to Meet http://nyti.ms/2p3uweK

⭕ 7 Mar 2018

WaPo: Mueller gathers evidence that 2017 Seychelles meeting was effort to establish back channel to Kremlin http://wapo.st/2FyLbRT

In January 2017, Erik Prince, the founder of the private security company Blackwater, met with a Russian official close to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and later described the meeting to congressional investigators as a chance encounter that was not a planned discussion of U.S.-Russia relations.

A witness cooperating with Mueller has told investigators the meeting was set up in advance so that a representative of the Trump transition could meet with an emissary from Moscow to discuss future relations between the countries, according to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

⭕ 6 Mar 2018

NYT: Adviser to Emirates With Ties to Trump Aides Is Cooperating With Special Counsel http://nyti.ms/2D6hEcM

Mr. Mueller appears to be examining the influence of foreign money on Mr. Trump’s political activities and has asked witnesses about the possibility that the adviser, George Nader, funneled money from the Emirates to the president’s political efforts. It is illegal for foreign entities to contribute to campaigns or for Americans to knowingly accept foreign money for political races.

Mr. Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who advises Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the effective ruler of the Emirates, also attended a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles that Mr. Mueller’s investigators have examined. The meeting, convened by the crown prince, brought together a Russian investor close to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia with Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater and an informal adviser to Mr. Trump’s team during the presidential transition, according to three people familiar with the meeting.

Mr. Nader’s cooperation in the special counsel’s investigation could prompt new legal risks for the Trump administration, and Mr. Nader’s presence at the Seychelles meeting appears to connect him to the primary focus of Mr. Mueller’s investigation: examining Russian interference during the 2016 presidential campaign.

[ UAE, US, Russia ]

Mr. Nader represented the crown prince in the three-way conversation in the Seychelles, at a hotel overlooking in the Indian Ocean, in the days before Mr. Trump took office. At the meeting, Emirati officials believed Mr. Prince was speaking for the Trump transition team, and a Russian fund manager, Kirill Dmitriev, represented Mr. Putin, according to several people familiar with the meeting. Mr. Nader, who grew close later to several advisers in the Trump White House, had once worked as a consultant to Blackwater, a private security firm now known as Academi. Mr. Nader introduced his former employer to the Russian. …

Mr. Dmitriev, a former Goldman Sachs banker with an M.B.A. from Harvard, was tapped by Mr. Putin in 2011 to manage an unusual state-run investment fund. Where other such funds seek to earn returns on sovereign wealth, Mr. Dmitriev’s Russian Direct Investment Fund seeks outside investments, often from foreign governments, for unglamorous infrastructure projects inside of Russia.

The Obama administration imposed sanctions on the fund as part of a raft of economic penalties after the Russian government sent military forces into Ukraine in 2014.

The United Arab Emirates, which Washington considers one of its closest Arab allies, has invested heavily in Mr. Dmitriev’s fund as part of an effort to build close relations to Russia as well. After Crown Prince Mohammed met with Mr. Putin in 2013 in Moscow on a state visit, two investment arms of the government in Abu Dhabi committed to invest $6 billion in the Russian Direct Investment Fund …

Mr. Dmitriev became a frequent visitor to Abu Dhabi, and Emirati officials came to see him as a key conduit to the Russian government. In a 2015 email, the Emirati ambassador to Moscow at the time described Mr. Dmitriev as a “messenger” to get information directly to Mr. Putin. The email was among a large number hacked from the account of the ambassador to Washington and published online. The now former ambassador to Moscow, Omar Saif Ghobash, did not respond to an email about the leak.

Mr. Nader was first served with search warrants and a grand jury subpoena on Jan. 17, shortly after landing at Washington Dulles International Airport, according to two people familiar with the episode. He had intended to travel on to Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Florida estate, to celebrate the president’s first year in office, but the F.B.I. had other plans, questioning him for more than two hours and seizing his electronics.

Since then, Mr. Nader has been questioned numerous times about meetings in New York during the transition, the Seychelles meeting and meetings in the White House with two of Mr. Trump’s senior advisers, Jared Kushner and Stephen K. Bannon, who has since left the administration.

The meeting in the Seychelles also took place against the backdrop of a larger pattern of secretive contacts between the Trump team and both the Russians and the Emiratis. In the weeks after the 2016 presidential election, Crown Prince Mohammed aroused the suspicions of American national security officials when they learned that he had breached protocol by visiting Trump Tower in Manhattan without notifying the Obama administration of his visit to the United States.

Mr. Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and a senior transition adviser, met at Trump Tower with Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to Washington at the time, and discussed setting up a back channel to communicate with Moscow during the transition — circumventing American diplomatic channels normally used during a presidential transition. Mr. Kushner met a few days later with a Russian banker close to Putin, Sergey N. Gorkov — whose bank was also under sanctions — in what Mr. Kushner has said was an attempt to establish a direct line of communication to Mr. Putin during the transition.

Public accounts of the Seychelles meeting have varied sharply. Questioned about it during testimony in November before the House Intelligence Committee, Mr. Prince dismissed his encounter with Mr. Dmitriev as little more than a chance run-in.

He was in the Seychelles for a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed and Emirati officials, Mr. Prince said, and after the meeting, the officials suggested he meet Mr. Dmitriev at the bar of the Four Seasons hotel.

“I remember telling him that if Franklin Roosevelt could work with Joseph Stalin to defeat Nazi fascism, then certainly Donald Trump could work with Vladimir Putin to defeat Islamic fascism,” he told lawmakers.”

Shortly after the Seychelles meeting, Mr. Dmitriev met with Anthony Scaramucci, then an informal Trump adviser, at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. In an interview afterward with TASS, a Russian news agency, Mr. Scaramucci criticized the Obama administration’s economic sanctions on Russia as ineffective and suggested that the Trump administration and Russia could find common ground on numerous issues.

“We have to make the world safer, we have to eliminate from the world the radical Islamic terrorism, and we have to figure out the ways to grow the wages for working class-families,” said Mr. Scaramucci, who later had a brief but calamitous stint as White House communications director. “Whether in Russia or in the U.S., I think there are a lot of common objectives.”

For his part, Mr. Dmitriev seemed particularly optimistic at the dawn of the Trump era. In an interview with The New York Times two days after the 2016 election, he said he was excited that Mr. Trump’s dramatic victory would “reshape the U.S.-Russia relationship.”

“When Russia is treated with respect,” he said, “we can move forward.”
↧(also this)↧
WaPo: Businessman with ties to United Arab Emirates is cooperating with Mueller probe http://wapo.st/2oVb2Jy

The UAE agreed to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russia could be persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, a Trump administration objective that would be likely to require major concessions to Moscow on U.S. sanctions, those officials said.

Prince, the founder of the former Blackwater contracting firm, had no formal role with the Trump campaign or transition. However, according to officials familiar with the meeting, he presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump to high-ranking Emiratis involved in setting up his meeting with the Russian official.

Prince has sharply disputed that account, saying he did not present himself as a representative of the incoming administration. He told congressional investigators that his meeting with Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, was a passing encounter over a drink at the bar of the Four Seasons in the Seychelles, an island nation in the Indian Ocean.

Prince said his meeting with Dmitriev came up at the last minute and at the suggestion of the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who Prince said invited him to the Seychelles — although he told congressional investigators he could not remember when or who from Zayed’s staff extended the invitation. The crown prince is widely known as MBZ.

H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials, including from the UAE, that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report. The issue of foreign officials talking about their meetings with Kushner and their perceptions of his vulnerabilities was a subject raised in McMaster’s daily intelligence briefings, according to the current and former officials.

WaPo, David Ignatius: America ignores Russia at its peril http://wapo.st/2D6H4XM

Putin’s speech was a plea for attention by a leader who sees himself avenging his nation’s humiliation after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Despite Putin’s wounded, chip-on-the-shoulder posture, this struck me as the core of his address, and worth a well-considered response.

The crux of Putin’s argument is that Russia was ignored during its years of weakness and is only taken seriously now because it looks threatening. Putin recounted that before he took power, “the military equipment of the Russian army was becoming obsolete, and the armed forces were in a sorry state.” With the collapse of the Soviet Union, he said, “the nation had lost 23.8 percent of its territory, 48.5 percent of its population, 41 percent of its gross domestic product and 44.6 percent of its military capability.

“Nobody really wanted to talk to us about the core of the problem [of the nuclear-weapons balance], and nobody wanted to listen to us. So listen now,” he demanded.

Putin is a bully, but a predictable one. He has been advertising his desire to restore Russia’s lost glory since he became president in 2000. Last month’s indictment by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III of 13 Russians and three companies for interfering in the 2016 presidential election describes an organization, the Internet Research Agency, that, according to other accounts, field-tested Putin’s Internet manipulation techniques in 2014 in Ukraine before deploying them in America. To manage these covert actions, Putin turned to a billionaire oligarch pal, Yevgeniy Prigozhin , who also helped organize Russian mercenaries in Syria.

Ukraine has been Putin’s laboratory. Oleksandr Danylyuk was, the chairman of the Center for Defense Reforms in Ukraine, warned in a 2016 paper for the Naval Postgraduate School that Russia has “been carrying out not only information operations but also other clandestine and special operations against Ukraine for more than a decade.” His conclusion: “Russia is not preparing for war with the West; the war is already being actively conducted — on Russia’s terms.” …

“In an autocracy, the traits of character are magnified; everything personal is political,” wrote Montefiore about the Romanovs. Putin is inescapable. The U.S. military will counter Putin’s death-star weapons, but in the meantime, American diplomacy needs to open better channels. Ignoring Russia may be good politics, but it is bad policy.

CNN: ‘Man of mystery’ cooperates with Mueller in Russia probe http://cnn.it/2oTwb6I
// George Nader, UAE, Seychelles

⭕ 5 Mar 2018

WaPo: Mueller is casting a wide net. We now know the target is Trump. http://wapo.st/2I51mEU

WaPo: Ex-Trump aide: Trump ‘may very well have done something during the election with the Russians’ http://wapo.st/2D2gIGF

There have been few more surreal moments in the Russia investigation — indeed, in the entire Trump era — than the one we just witnessed. …

NewYorker, Jane Mayer: Christopher Steele, the Man Behind the Trump Dossier http://bit.ly/2oSvMl8
// 3/12/2018 Issue; How the ex-spy tried to warn the world about Trump’s ties to Russia.
⋙ See under Entire Articles

⭕ 4 Mar 2018

NYT: State Dept. Was Granted $120 Million to Fight Russian Meddling. It Has Spent $0. http://nyti.ms/2H2BsAi

Axios: Scoop: Mueller’s hit list http://bit.ly/2oHICTM

🔆 This❗️⋙ DailyBeast: Mueller Subpoenas Communications With Trump and Inner Circle http://thebea.st/2FhHaO8

⭕ 2 Mar 2018

Buzzfeed: Even Italian Prosecutors Can’t Find The Professor At The Center Of The Trump-Russia Probe http://bzfd.it/2FMdx8X
// Papadopoulos contact; Records at the prosecutor’s office in Palermo, Italy, show that Joseph Mifsud is “unreachable”.

⭕ 1 Mar 2018

JustSecurity, Ryan Goodman (3/1): Russia “Previewed” Plan to Disseminate Emails with Trump Campaign http://bit.ly/2FAZQsF
// And how that’s legally significant

A significant recent revelation in the Russia investigation has been largely overlooked in the rush of several breaking news stories over the past few days. A nugget of information is contained in the memo written by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee (the so-called Schiff Memo), which was released on Saturday morning.

Prior to the memo, we knew that a Russian agent told Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos of “Moscow possessing ‘dirt’” on Hillary Clinton “in the form of ‘thousands of emails,’” according to Papadopoulos’s plea statement. The memo went a legally significant step further. As Rep. Adam Schiff recently told Chris Hayes, “our memo discloses for the first time that the Russians previewed to Papadopoulos that they could help with disseminating these stolen emails.” Rep. Schiff added, “When Donald Trump openly called on the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, they’d be richly rewarded if they released these to the press, his campaign had already been put on notice that the Russians were prepared to do just that and disseminate these stolen emails.” (The full transcript and video clip is below.)

A legally important question is what the Trump campaign did after the Russians previewed that they could help disseminate the stolen emails. If Trump campaign officials consulted with the Russians on their plans to disseminate the emails, it could involve direct violations of campaign finance laws (see the statement below from leading election law expert Paul Seamus Ryan). If Trump campaign officials gave tacit assent or approval or support, it could directly implicate them in the “conspiracy to defraud the United States” by evading the Federal Election Commission—the very conspiracy for which Mueller has already indicted thirteen Russian nationals (see the statement below by former White House official and also top election law expert Bob Bauer). If Papadopoulos intentionally encouraged the Russians and if he was instructed to do so by other campaign officials, they could be liable as accomplices (see statements below from law professors and former federal prosecutors Barbara McQuade and Alex Whiting). The Trump campaign as an organization could also be criminally liable (see statement below from McQuade). Finally, if members of the Trump campaign tried to conceal the facts of a crime (potentially including either the original DNC hack or the dissemination of the stolen emails) they could be guilty of “misprision of a felony” (see statements below by former federal prosecutors including Renato Mariotti).

REP. SCHIFF [All In]: “Well, unfortunately, I can’t go beyond what the Department of Justice has authorized us to disclose in the memo, but I think it’s the first time the public’s been able to see one of the links here. And that is we knew from the Papadopoulos plea that the Russians had told the Trump campaign very early on in April 2016 that they were in possession of these stolen emails. We now know that the Department of Justice presented to the FISA Court information that the Russians previewed what they would do with this information, their dissemination of it. So when Donald Trump openly called on the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, they’d be richly rewarded if they released these to the press, his campaign had already been put on notice that the Russians were prepared to do just that and disseminate these stolen emails.”

DailyBeast: Leaked: Secret Documents From Russia’s Election Trolls http://thebea.st/2GWcB0X
// An online auction gone awry reveals substantial new details on Kremlin-backed troll farm efforts to stir up real protests and target specific Americans to push their propaganda.

NBC: Mueller eyes charges against Russians who stole, spread Democrats’ emails http://nbcnews.to/2HXHWBG

WaPo: Putin speech adds to freeze in U.S.-Russia relations http://wapo.st/2GXo5Bk

⭕ 28 Feb 2018

WaPo: Mueller investigation examining Trump’s apparent efforts to oust Sessions in July http://wapo.st/2COFWrO

Axios: Scoop: Besieged Sessions dines with Rosenstein http://bit.ly/2F4vcHC

The symbolism was unmistakable: the three top ranking officials in the Justice Department appearing together in a show of solidarity on the same day Trump is publicly and privately raging about Sessions.

When Trump sees this photo he’ll have to absorb a concept that some of his aides have been trying to impress upon him for nearly a year, since he first began telling them he wanted to get rid of Sessions.

The concept: Fire Sessions, then what next? Are you going to fire Rosenstein too? And then what after that? 

Sources close to the situation say today feels different than Trump’s usual rages. Sessions’ allies are deeply concerned and Trump is totally fed up with his AG.

Trump has been taunting and publicly humiliating Sessions for months now, but his tweet this morning was as rough as any he’s sent:

“Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!”

NYT: Trump Calls Sessions’s Handling of Surveillance Abuse Allegations ‘Disgraceful’ http://nyti.ms/2CQaPvS

The long-simmering friction between President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions erupted into an extraordinary public face-off on Wednesday as the investigation into Russia’s election interference roiled the administration and raised new questions about the independence of law enforcement agencies.

Mr. Trump excoriated Mr. Sessions for not ordering his own investigation into the handling of the Russia inquiry during its early months, calling his attorney general “DISGRACEFUL” in a lacerating Twitter post. Mr. Sessions, who has absorbed blows from the White House since last year mostly in silence, responded with a rare statement defending his “integrity and honor.”

The back-and-forth, unthinkable in previous administrations, came during a week of unrest at the White House. As the president railed about the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, was stripped of his top-secret security clearance. One of Mr. Trump’s closest aides, Hope Hicks, announced that she will step down as communications director. And Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman was back in court pleading not guilty to new charges.

The schism between Mr. Trump and his attorney general has become a persistent subplot of his administration, an almost Shakespearean rift between a president and one of his earliest and strongest supporters. Mr. Sessions was the first senator to back Mr. Trump’s candidacy but has fallen out of favor because the president wanted an attorney general who would protect him and investigate his political enemies.

⭕ 27 Feb 2018

NBC: U.S. intel: Russia compromised seven states prior to 2016 elections http://nbcnews.to/2GPcnc0

CNN: US cyber chief says Trump hasn’t told him to confront Russian cyber threat http://cnn.it/2t00Zbf

🐣 RT @jimsciutto Explain: @NSA chief Mike Rogers told lawmakers he would need to be granted authority to “disrupt Russian cyber threats where they originate” by President or SecDef. Asked if he has been directed by President to do so, Rogers said “No, I have not.”

CNN: Mueller team asks about Trump’s Russian business dealings as he weighed a run for president http://cnn.it/2CNkH9C

⭕ 26 Feb 2018

NewYorker, Jeffrey Toobin: Trump’s Miss Universe Gambit http://bit.ly/2CMLSS9
// For years, he used his beauty pageants to boost business interests abroad. A 2013 contest, in Moscow, may also have helped give him the Presidency.

⭕ 24 Feb 2018

WaPo, Jennifer Rubin: Democratic memo discredits Nunes, tantalizes on dossier corroboration http://wapo.st/2Cj1aT4

As Democrats have said publicly, the memo from committee ranking member Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) states there was ample evidence to conduct surveillance of Carter Page entirely apart from the dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, including “contemporaneous evidence of Russia’s election interference; concerning Russian links and outreach to Trump campaign officials; Page’s history with Russian intelligence; and … Page’s suspicious activities in 2016, including in Moscow.”

Notice that the memo says the suspicious activities included not merely the trip itself but activities in Moscow. If the FBI had detailed knowledge of Page’s activities beyond his bizarre pro-Russia speech, that could provide insight into the interaction between the Trump campaign and the Russian campaign for then-candidate Donald Trump. Those activities reportedly include meeting with Igor Sechin, a close associate of Russian president Vladimir Putin, to discuss energy deals if sanctions were lifted and meeting with a senior Kremlin official who disclosed that the Russians had compromising information on Hillary Clinton and that such information might be released to the Trump campaign. 

In short, not only did the dossier play a minor role in obtaining the surveillance of Page, but Page’s own actions provide an extraordinary window into communications from and to the Russians about dirt on Clinton. Do we think Page kept all this to himself when he returned?

The Schiff memo also makes clear that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was told the dossier was funded by a political operation “likely looking for information that could be used to discredit [Trump’s] campaign,” although Steele did not know the identity of the person who funded his work. …

The memo also states that “Russian agents previewed their hack and dissemination of stolen emails.” Was this a heads-up to Roger Stone? If they were previewing the email release to anyone associated with the Trump campaign, that surely constitutes collusion by anyone’s definition.

[I]t also hints at a wealth of information not yet revealed that may substantiate ties between the Russians and the Trump campaign. The more of these ties, the more people involved and the more detailed these interactions were, the more likely, of course, is that someone, at some point told Trump or his inner circle about them. If Schiff intended to whet our appetite for more details and confirm the extent of the Trump campaign-Russia ties, he succeeded.

🐣 RT @RepAdamSchiff Wrong again, Mr. President. It confirms the FBI acted appropriately and that Russian agents approached two of your advisors, and informed your campaign that Russia was prepared to help you by disseminating stolen Clinton emails. (‼️)
⋙ Re: Trumptweet: The Democrat memo response on government surveillance abuses is a total political and legal BUST. Just confirms all of the terrible things that were done. SO ILLEGAL!

CNN: New indictment accuses Manafort of paying European politicians http://cnn.it/2GGaChm

NYT: Mueller Is Gaining Steam. Should Trump Worry? http://nyti.ms/2ESvilP

Mr. Trump’s defenders have focused on questioning the original basis for the investigation, accusing the F.B.I. of misconduct in relying on an unverified dossier assembled by a former British spy hired by investigators working for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

To the extent that Mr. Mueller is exploring whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice by firing Mr. Comey, the president’s defenders contend that under the Constitution, he has the power to dismiss executive branch officials and dictate their work. They also point to testimony by Mr. Comey and other officials who said the investigation was not impeded.

Therefore, they argue, the original order appointing Mr. Mueller was itself invalid and should be revoked.

Mr. Wittes said Mr. Mueller’s actions could be seen as building a pyramid — establishing that there was a Russian influence campaign and assembling a group of cooperating witnesses. But the special counsel has not tipped his hand yet.

“The basic contours of the puzzle is that he’s constructed his actions in a way that we don’t know where it’s leading,” he said, “and that’s on purpose.”

⭕ 23 Feb 2018

DailyBeast: Putin Sends His Stealth Jets Into Air War Over Syria http://thebea.st/2EZDP9M
// Two of Russia’s T-50s prototype stealth fighters landed at Khmeimim air base this week, potentially intensifying the risk to U.S. and allied warplanes over the war-ravaged country.

CNBC: NRA, Russia and Trump: How ‘dark money’ is poisoning American democracy http://cnb.cx/2Cf4mig

CNN: Putin’s ‘chef’ accused of trying to cover his tracks http://cnn.it/2EOlGMQ

WaPo: What we know about the shadowy Russian mercenary firm behind an attack on U.S. troops in Syria http://wapo.st/2CDbNvn

WaPo: Inside the Manafort money machine: A decade of influence-peddling, lavish spending and alleged fraud http://wapo.st/2BNju5C

WaPo: Former Trump campaign official Rick Gates plans to plead guilty to 2 charges http://wapo.st/2CEfqkQ

Rick Gates, a former top official in President Trump’s campaign, plans to plead guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI, according to court papers filed Friday by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

According to a criminal information — a document filed with the permission of the defendant which traditionally signals that person plans to plead guilty — Gates conspired to defraud the United States regarding the money he and his business partner Paul Manafort earned and lied to the FBI in a Feb. 1, 2018 interview about a 2013 meeting he’d had with Manafort and an unidentified lobbyist.

NYT: Rick Gates, Trump Campaign Aide, to Plead Guilty in Mueller Inquiry and Cooperate http://nyti.ms/2CFkvJu

⭕ 22 Feb 2018

WaPo: Putin ally said to be in touch with Kremlin, Assad before his mercenaries attacked U.S. troops http://wapo.st/2ork1Sk
⋙ 🐣 Fascinating stuff: Guy behind the Russian troll farm was also involved with attack on Americans in Syria that left dozens of Russian “mercenaries” dead: WaPo: Putin ally said to be in touch with Kremlin, Assad before his mercenaries attacked U.S. troops https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/967128458747838465/photo/1

A Russian oligarch believed to control the Russian mercenaries who attacked U.S. troops and their allies in Syria this month was in close touch with Kremlin and ­Syrian officials in the days and weeks before and after the assault, according to U.S. intelligence reports.

In intercepted communications in late January, the oligarch, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, told a senior Syrian official that he had “secured permission” from an unspecified Russian minister to move forward with a “fast and strong” initiative that would take place in early February.

Prigozhin made front-page headlines last week when he was indicted by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on charges of bankrolling and guiding a long-running Russian scheme to conduct “information warfare” during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. …

Prigozhin has made himself indispensable to the Kremlin, said Andrew S. Weiss, a Eurasia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“On the one hand, he does things that are at the pointy end of the spear, like operating a significant information operation against America,” Weiss said. “On the other, he is deeply intertwined in the activities of the Ministry of Defense and provides combat capabilities and other services.”

NYT: Mueller Files New Fraud Charges Against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates http://nyti.ms/2FqiQL9

⭕ 18 Feb 2018

TheAtlantic, Franklin Foer: Cover Story: Franklin Foer on Paul Manafort and the Fall of Washington http://theatln.tc/2CClWbU
// 1/18/2018, on Paul Manafort

NYT, Thomas Friedman: Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now http://nyti.ms/2EPNlMB

Our democracy is in serious danger.

President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy.

In sum, Trump is either hiding something so threatening to himself, or he’s criminally incompetent to be commander in chief. It is impossible yet to say which explanation for his behavior is true, but it seems highly likely that one of these scenarios explains Trump’s refusal to respond to Russia’s direct attack on our system — a quiescence that is simply unprecedented for any U.S. president in history. Russia is not our friend. It has acted in a hostile manner. And Trump keeps ignoring it all.

Up to now, Trump has been flouting the norms of the presidency. Now Trump’s behavior amounts to a refusal to carry out his oath of office — to protect and defend the Constitution. Here’s an imperfect but close analogy: It’s as if George W. Bush had said after 9/11: “No big deal. I am going golfing over the weekend in Florida and blogging about how it’s all the Democrats’ fault — no need to hold a National Security Council meeting.”

NYT: Inside the Russian Troll Factory: Zombies and a Breakneck Pace http://nyti.ms/2sFT42G

LATimes: Former Trump aide Richard Gates to plead guilty; agrees to testify against Manafort, sources say http://lat.ms/2ENF9MO

NYT: Trump’s Evolution From Relief to Fury Over the Russia Indictment http://nyti.ms/2BBrCG9

WaPo: Trump lashes out over Russia probe in angry and error-laden tweetstorm http://wapo.st/2CuKS4X

WaPo, Glenn Kessler: Fact-checking Trump’s error-filled tweetstorm about the Russia investigation http://wapo.st/2ERSYty

TheHill: Gates plans to testify against Manafort in Mueller probe: report http://bit.ly/2Fe3WHR

⭕ 17 Feb 2018

WaPo: A former Russian troll speaks: ‘It was like being in Orwell’s world’ http://wapo.st/2Ezg44V

“I arrived there, and I immediately felt like a character in the book ‘1984’ by George Orwell — a place where you have to write that white is black and black is white. Your first feeling, when you ended up there, was that you were in some kind of factory that turned lying, telling untruths, into an industrial assembly line. The volumes were colossal — there were huge numbers of people, 300 to 400, and they were all writing absolute untruths. It was like being in Orwell’s world.”

⭕ 16 Feb 2018

WaPo: Russian troll farm, 13 suspects indicted for interference in U.S. election http://wapo.st/2HohYHe

TheIntercept, James Risen: Is Donald Trump a Traitor? http://bit.ly/2GnyBl9

NYT: Meet Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian Oligarch Indicted in U.S. Election Interference http://nyti.ms/2sCHtBz

🔆 This❗️⋙ NYT: 13 Named in Russia Indictment by Special Counsel in First Charges on 2016 Election Interference http://nyti.ms/2o4iySq

⭕ 10 Feb 2018

WaPo: Trump seizes on report that Russian sold ‘phony secrets’ about him to the U.S.  http://wapo.st/2CbxmDd

⭕ 9 Feb 2018

NYT: U.S. Spies, Seeking to Retrieve Cyberweapons, Paid Russian Peddling Trump Secrets http://nyti.ms/2G484c

WaPo, Woodward and Bernstein: Nixon fired the man investigating him. Will Trump? http://wapo.st/2EhXL85
// history of Watergate ~ excerpt from “The Final Days”; Woodward and Bernstein: Are we watching the lead-up to another Saturday Night Massacre?

⭕ 7 Feb 2018
CNN: Right-wing media obsesses over FBI text message story; hours later it’s debunked http://cnnmon.ie/2BL5LNw

In the early hours of the morning, Fox News published an article on its website based on newly-released communications between senior FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The text messages were released Tuesday in a report produced by the office of Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.

In one September 2, 2016, text message, Page wrote that there was a meeting at the bureau setup because Obama wanted “to know everything we are doing.”

Johnson, in his report, said the text message raised questions about Obama’s involvement in the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server. In fact, the message more likely indicated that Obama wanted to be kept informed of an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In its story, Fox News reiterated Johnson’s claim without scrutiny. In fact, it’s not clear if Fox News even reached out to Obama’s office prior to publishing to see if there were any other explanation for what Page said in her text. The story makes no note of the reporter having sought comment. In an email to CNN, Fox News spokeswoman Carly Shanahan declined to answer whether Fox’s reporter had contacted Obama’s office. “It’s clear you’re getting your talking points from a partisan analysis by Think Progress,” Shanahan said, referring to a liberal news website.

⭕ 6 Feb 2018

WaPo: Hero or hired gun? How a British former spy became a flash point in the Russia investigation. http://wapo.st/2FSJ0Fd
// Christopher Steele dossier

⭕ 5 Feb 2018

 WIRED: Robert Mueller’s Investigation Is Larger—and Further Along—Than You Think http://bit.ly/2Bhmoz0
// rec’d by Sen Sheldon Whitehouse

NYT: Trump’s Lawyers Want Him to Refuse an Interview in Russia Inquiry http://nyti.ms/2sfcA60

⭕ 4 Feb 2018

WaPo: Devin Nunes tried to discredit the FBI. Instead, he proved it’s onto something. http://wapo.st/2BUc3WH

⭕ 3 Feb 2018

TIME: Carter Page Touted Kremlin Contacts in 2013 Letter http://ti.me/2FK2GLB

“Over the past half year, I have had the privilege to serve as an informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin in preparation for their Presidency of the G-20 Summit next month, where energy issues will be a prominent point on the agenda,” the letter reads.

Esquire, Adam Schiff: Memo to the Public: The President Wants to Make the FBI His Instrument http://bit.ly/2GKyeCh

NBC: Democratic rebuttal calls Nunes memo ‘deliberately misleading’ http://nbcnews.to/2GIZ5i3

⭕ 2 Feb 2018

Vox: The 9 biggest questions about the Nunes memo, answered http://bit.ly/2GNSTpd
// The controversial memo about the FBI and the Trump-Russia investigation, explained.

Vox: Read: the full text of the Nunes memo http://bit.ly/2nHPlfi
// transcript, The allegations aim to call the FBI and Justice Department’s professionalism into question.

CommonDreams: ‘Shit Show of Dishonesty Across the Board’: #MemoDay Sparks Wave of Critique http://bit.ly/2GIXBUS
//. Critics unleashed ire at Republicans—including Trump, Ryan, and Nunes—while offering an array of informed context regarding the memo

Esquire, Charles Pierce: ‘Nothingburger’ Doesn’t Do This Memo Justice http://bit.ly/2BTyBXD
// Devin Nunes, everybody.

WaPo, Ruth Marcus: Trump is far worse than Nixonian http://wapo.st/2BRP5iV

“Nixonian” is not the right word to use to describe the behavior of President Trump. In important ways, that characterization smears Richard Nixon.

It is hard to believe I am writing this. But it is also hard to believe it has come to this: The president is in open warfare with his Justice Department and the FBI — asserting flatly that its “top Leadership and Investigators . . . have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans — something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago.”

This was a breathtaking gut punch to the constitutional system. The release of the House Intelligence Committee memo purporting to discredit the Russia probe was predictably followed by a White House statement bemoaning “serious concerns about the integrity of decisions” by senior law enforcement officials.

Politico: GOP defies FBI, releases secret Russia memo to partisan fury http://politi.co/2GGaEXn
// ‘Congress will do whatever they’re going to do, but I think it’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country,’ the president says.

Politico: Trump escalates his war with U.S. law enforcement after memo release http://politi.co/2s4xdSi
// The president hinted openly that he might yet fire senior officials over claims of bias against him.

WSJ: Inside the FBI Life of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, as Told in Their Text Messages http://on.wsj.com/2E1jFfN

Politico: GOP defies FBI, releases secret Russia memo to partisan fury http://politi.co/2GGaEXn
// ‘Congress will do whatever they’re going to do, but I think it’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country,’ the president says.

⭕ 1 Feb 2018

Politico: How the Nunes memo became the latest political football in the Russia investigation http://politi.co/2E533Dj

WaPo, Eugene Robinson: Trump has picked a fight with the FBI. He’ll be sorry. http://wapo.st/2BO1hBj

WaPo Editorial: A process that tarnishes the House http://wapo.st/2BOrkbk

NYT Editorial: The Republican Plot Against the F.B.I. http://nyti.ms/2rWfCvE

⭕ 31 Jan 2018

WaPo, Adam Schiff: Nunes’s memo crosses a dangerous line http://wapo.st/2nyScag

On Monday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) moved to release a memo written by his staff that cherry-picks facts, ignores others and smears the FBI and the Justice Department — all while potentially revealing intelligence sources and methods. He did so even though he had not read the classified documents that the memo characterizes and refused to allow the FBI to brief the committee on the risks of publication and what it has described as “material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.” The party-line vote to release the Republican memo but not a Democratic response was a violent break from the committee’s nonpartisan tradition and the latest troubling sign that House Republicans are willing to put the president’s political dictates ahead of the national interest.

The reason for Republicans’ abrupt departure from our nonpartisan tradition is growing alarm over special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. In a matter of months, the president’s first national security adviser and a foreign policy adviser have pleaded guilty to felony offenses, while his former campaign chairman and deputy campaign manager have also been indicted. As Mueller and his team move closer to the president and his inner circle, a sense of panic is palpable on the Hill. GOP members recognize that the probe threatens not only the president but also their majorities in Congress.

In response, they have drawn on the stratagem of many criminal defense lawyers — when the evidence against a defendant is strong, put the government on trial. The Nunes memo is designed to do just that by furthering a conspiracy theory that a cabal of senior officials within the FBI and the Justice Department were so tainted by bias against President Trump that they irredeemably poisoned the investigation. If it wasn’t clear enough that this was the goal, Nunes removed all doubt when he declared that the Justice Department and the FBI themselves were under investigation at the hearing in which the memo was ordered released.

This decision to employ an obscure rule to order the release of classified information for partisan political purposes crossed a dangerous line. Doing so without even allowing the Justice Department or the FBI to vet the information for accuracy, the impact of its release on sources and methods, and other concerns was, as the Justice Department attested, “extraordinarily reckless.” But it also increases the risk of a constitutional crisis by setting the stage for subsequent actions by the White House to fire Mueller or, as now seems more likely, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, an act that would echo the 1973 Saturday Night Massacre.

⭕ 30 Jan 2018

WaPo: FBI challenges accuracy of GOP’s surveillance memo http://wapo.st/2rT3fk1

WaPo: Justice Dept. officials appealed to White House to halt release of memo alleging FBI abuses related to author of Trump dossier http://wapo.st/2E0KBvl

⭕ 29 Jan 2018

Politico: White House to Congress: Russia sanctions not needed now http://politi.co/2nq3uO9

NYT: House Republicans Vote to Release Secret Memo on Russia Probe http://nyti.ms/2EmKR5M

⭕ 28 Jan 2018

NYT, David Leonhardt: An Article of Impeachment Against Donald J. Trump http://nyti.ms/2nob9fV

NYT: Secret Memo Hints at a New Republican Target: Rod Rosenstein http://nyti.ms/2DMaID9

⭕ 27 Jan 2018

WaPo: Trump sought release of classified Russia memo, putting him at odds with Justice Department http://wapo.st/2Gra5AE

As Mueller narrows his probe — homing in on the ways Trump may have tried to impede the Russia investigation — a common thread ties many of the incidents together: a president accustomed to functioning as the executive of a private family business who does not seem to understand that his subordinates have sworn an oath to the Constitution rather than to him. 

On Wednesday, speaking briefly to reporters, Trump defended his actions in the probe as “fighting back” against unfair allegations. “Oh, well, ‘Did he fight back?’ ” Trump said. “You fight back, ‘Oh, it’s obstruction.’ ” …

Sally Q. Yates, the acting attorney general whom Trump fired early last year for failing to enforce his travel ban, said in an interview that Trump’s behavior — from his June decision to call for Mueller’s firing to other meddling throughout the year — is “beyond unusual” and “really dangerous.” 

“If you get to what’s most essential and important and, I think, really damaging to our country, beyond just the confines of this administration, it’s this attack on our democratic institutions and particularly the Department of Justice,” she said. “It is a firm tradition at the Department of Justice that the White House just has absolutely no involvement in criminal investigations or prosecutions, period.”

She added: “It seems like there are almost weekly efforts to try to get DOJ to open up a case on his former political rival. . . . The near daily attacks on the FBI — we’ve never seen anything anywhere close to this before.” 

Indeed, Trump has shown a repeated pattern of attempting to regain control of the Russia investigation and deploy the Justice Department for his own protection and personal gain — comments and actions Mueller’s team could include in the obstruction-of-justice portion of their probe.  …

A person who has interacted with Mueller’s team said the prosecutors seem to be pursuing a theory that Trump’s actions over months have followed a consistent pattern. “Their theory appears to be that he goes after people who are not loyal,” this person said. “He wants in place people who are loyal, to make sure he doesn’t get in trouble in the investigation.”

This person added that key episodes in this narrative include Trump’s order that Sessions not recuse himself from the investigation; the firing of Comey; his efforts to intervene to get the Flynn investigation dropped; and then, above all, Trump’s dictation aboard Air Force One in July of a misleading statement to be released by his son, Don Jr., about his meeting with the Russian lawyer at Trump Tower during the campaign — “the most obvious obstructive act,” this person said.

To prove obstruction of justice, Mueller would have to show that Trump didn’t just act to derail the investigation but did so with a corrupt motive, such as an effort to hide his own misdeeds. Legal experts are divided over whether the Constitution allows for the president to be indicted while in office. As a result, Mueller might seek to outline his findings about Trump’s actions in a written report rather than bring them in court through criminal charges. It would probably fall to Rosenstein to decide whether to submit the report to Congress, which has the power to open impeachment proceedings.

⭕ 26 Jan 2018

ForeignPolicy: Trump Launched Campaign to Discredit Potential FBI Witnesses http://bit.ly/2ncWPHI
// The president targeted three bureau officials who could provide key testimony in the Mueller probe.

WaPo, Aaron Blake: Trump’s handling of the Russia investigation has never looked more like a coverup http://wapo.st/2DQDG7U

⭕ 25 Jan 2018

WaPo Editorial: GOP leaders’ complicity grows as their members undermine the rule of law http://wapo.st/2BwZ1OG

Republicans have embarked on a smear campaign of the FBI that can end only in a dangerous erosion of trust in law enforcement, the subjugation of law enforcement to partisan interests or both.

[T]hey are allowing Fox News personalities, the president and loose cannons such as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (Calif.) and Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (Wis.) to turn the United States into a country where law enforcement becomes another pawn in the partisan war.

Mr. Johnson irresponsibly recycles nonsense about corruption “at the highest levels of the FBI,” offering no evidence because of course there is none. Mr. Nunes abuses his access to classified information as Intelligence Committee chairman, a title Mr. Ryan long ago should have revoked, to manufacture dark conspiracies.

“We learned today about information that in the immediate aftermath of his election, there may have been a ‘secret society’ of folks within the Department of Justice and the FBI . . . working against [Mr. Trump],” Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) says.

Then he adds: “I’m not saying that actually happened.”

No matter; the purpose is achieved. Doubts are planted, and a share of the country will discount anything federal law enforcement says about Mr. Trump.

These men are destroying something that won’t be easily recovered: faith in the idea of impartial law enforcement. It amounts to an assault on the rule of law. Mr. Trump openly wishes for an attorney general who will protect him, asks law enforcement officials whom they voted for, and fires or attempts to fire those he deems disloyal. He does not believe that FBI agents or anyone else is motivated by public-spiritedness or respect for the law, only by self-interest and personal loyalty to his or some other clan.

If Mr. Ryan, Mr. McConnell and others continue in their acquiescence, his cynical view may come closer to reality.

⭕ 24 Jan 2018

WaPo, Paul Waldman: Republicans are desperate to protect Trump from Mueller. But will their strategy work? http://wapo.st/2Bw4c14

⭕ 23 Jan 2018

WaPo: Top Democrats warn of ‘ongoing attack by the Russian government’ amid push to publish classified memo http://wapo.st/2n6azEa

⭕ 20 Jan 2018

WaPo: In the crowd at Trump’s inauguration, members of Russia’s elite anticipated a thaw between Moscow and Washington http://wapo.st/2mYEaz6

The Washington Post identified at least half a dozen politically connected Russians who were in Washington on Inauguration Day — including some whose presence has not been previously reported. Among them was Viktor Vekselberg, a tycoon who is closely aligned with Putin’s government.

Another was Natalia Veselnitskaya , the Russian lawyer whose June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr. has become a focus of the Russia investigation. She attended a black-tie inaugural party hosted by the campaign committee of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), according to an associate who accompanied her.

⭕ 16 Jan 2018

WaPo, David Ignatius: Are Republicans right about the Russia probe? http://wapo.st/2DhPDnJ

What’s true here, and what’s false? A careful look at the evidence rebuts the claim that the FBI was misused by Steele and that the bureau’s operations are in disarray. The FBI isn’t perfect, and text messages show that some officials favored Clinton (just as others supported Trump). But Republicans delude themselves in claiming that the Russia probe is a partisan concoction. Trump operatives have admitted in plea agreements that they lied to the FBI about their contacts with Russia.

What about Republican claims that Steele spawned what Trump calls a “witch hunt”? It’s true that Steele was hired by Fusion GPS, an investigative firm paid to dig up dirt on Trump, first by Republican opponents, then by Clinton supporters. But Steele went through well-established contacts, and the FBI got serious only after it obtained its own independent information. …

What does this narrative tell us? Far from a yarn concocted by Steele, the FBI probe was driven by its own independent reporting about Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty last October to lying about his Russia contacts. The bottom line: There may be something in tatters at the center of this investigation, but it isn’t the FBI.

⭕ 10 Jan 2018

USSenateForRelCom: U.S. Senator Ben Cardin Releases Report Detailing Two Decades of Putin’s Attacks on Democracy, Calling for Policy Changes to Counter Kremlin Threat Ahead of 2018, 2020 Elections | United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations http://bit.ly/2FsvEjt
// Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “Putin’s Asymmetric Assault on Democracy” [pdf] http://bit.ly/2D0bXSN

⭕ 9 Jan 2018

🐣 RT @tedlieu Fusion GPS transcript shows that what Senators Grassley & Graham did last week in publicly referring Christopher Steele for criminal investigation was, at best, a partisan publicity stunt and, at worst, intentionally designed to mislead the American people.

WaPo: Fusion GPS founder told Senate investigators the FBI had a source in Trump’s network http://wapo.st/2DfVp5S

WaPo, Glenn Kessler: What you need to know about Christopher Steele, the FBI and the Trump ‘dossier’ http://wapo.st/2mc3a4J

🔆 This❗️⋙ DailyBeast: Democrats Release the Fusion GPS Testimony on Trump and Russia http://thebea.st/2qMmH1d w attachment
⋙ via Dianne Feinstein http://bit.ly/2FjtlPP

⭕ 8 Jan 2018

WaPo: Mueller indicates he will likely seek interview with Trump http://wapo.st/2FhJx3U

⭕ 6 Jan 2018

NYT: ‘Everything I’ve Done Is 100 Percent Proper,’ Trump Says of Russia Inquiry http://nyti.ms/2F3UHJE

⭕ 5 Jan 2018

WaPo, Jennifer Rubin: Senate Republicans become Trump accomplices in manipulating the system http://wapo.st/2D2HsZ7

MotherJones, David Corn: Republican Senators Target Christopher Steele—and the Reason Is Obvious http://bit.ly/2F5xs1X
// Anything to distract from the big picture: Putin’s attack on the US and Trump-Russia contacts.

NYT: Republican Senators Raise Possible Charges Against Author of Trump Dossier http://nyti.ms/2m367FJ

⭕ 4 Jan 2018

CNN: Ryan backed Nunes in spat with Justice Dept. over Russia documents, sources say http://cnn.it/2CU7AFB

NYT: Obstruction Inquiry Shows Trump’s Struggle to Keep Grip on Russia Investigation http://nyti.ms/2AtYOeB
// Don McGahn tried to keep Sessions from recusing himself; McGahn works for taxpayers, not trump

TheGuardian: Trump Tower meeting with Russians ‘treasonous’, Bannon says in explosive book http://bit.ly/2qkT2fg

⭕ 2 Jan 2018

🔆 This❗️⋙ NYT, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch [FusionGPS]: The Republicans’ Fake Investigations http://nyti.ms/2qkEDjB
// Simpson and Fritsch, both former journalists, are the founders of the research firm Fusion GPS.

WaPo, Glen Kessler er al: In 347 days, President Trump has made 1,950 false and misleading claims http://wapo.st/2CrhUYD
// The Fact Checker’s ongoing database of the false and misleading claims made by President Trump during his first 365 days in office.

WaPo, Greg Sargent: How bad is the Republican coverup on Trump and Russia? We may soon find out. http://wapo.st/2lFAth7

⭕ 30 Dec 2017

NYT: Republican Attacks on Mueller and F.B.I. Open New Rift in G.O.P. http://nyti.ms/2zThSm3

NYT: How the Russia Inquiry Began: A Campaign Aide, Drinks and Talk of Political Dirt http://nyti.ms/2lw6V4M //➔ the jig is up!

WASHINGTON — During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.

Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role. …

⭕ 28 Dec 2017

McClatchy: Jailed Russian says he hacked DNC on Kremlin’s orders and can prove it http://bit.ly/2E8qska

NYT: Trump Says Russia Inquiry Makes U.S. ‘Look Very Bad’ http://nyti.ms/2BQSv6o

⭕ 25 Dec 2017

WaPo: Kremlin trolls burned across the Internet as Washington debated options http://wapo.st/2DQhmss
// re: “freelancer” for Counterpunch

The events surrounding the FBI’s NorthernNight investigation follow a pattern that repeated for years as the Russian threat was building: U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies saw some warning signs of Russian meddling in Europe and later in the United States but never fully grasped the breadth of the Kremlin’s ambitions. Top U.S. policymakers didn’t appreciate the dangers, then scrambled to draw up options to fight back. In the end, big plans died of internal disagreement, a fear of making matters worse or a misguided belief in the resilience of American society and its democratic institutions. …

The miscalculations and bureaucratic inertia that left the United States vulnerable to Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election trace back to decisions made at the end of the Cold War, when senior policymakers assumed Moscow would be a partner and largely pulled the United States out of information warfare. When relations soured, officials dismissed Russia as a “third-rate regional power” that would limit its meddling to the fledgling democracies on its periphery.

Senior U.S. officials didn’t think Russia would dare shift its focus to the United States. “I thought our ground was not as fertile,” said Antony J. Blinken, President Barack Obama’s deputy secretary of state. “We believed that the truth shall set you free, that the truth would prevail. That proved a bit naive.” …

[F]or U.S. officials, the real wake-up call came in early 2014 when the Russians annexed Crimea and backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. An intercepted Russian military intelligence report dated February 2014 documented how Moscow created fake personas to spread disinformation on social media to buttress its broader military campaign.

The classified Russian intelligence report, obtained by The Washington Post, offered examples of the messages the fake personas spread. “Brigades of westerners are now on their way to rob and kill us,” wrote one operative posing as a Russian-speaking Ukrainian. “Morals have been replaced by thirst for blood and hatred toward anything Russian.” …

The Obama administration had gone through an agonizing learning curve. The Russians, beginning in 2014, had hacked the State Department and the White House before targeting the Democratic National Committee and other political institutions. By the time U.S. officials came to grips with the threat, it was too late to act. Now they wanted to make sure NATO allies didn’t repeat their mistakes.

Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, gaveled the closed-door session to order, and the Americans ran through their 30-minute presentation. The Europeans had for years been journeying to Washington to warn senior U.S. officials about Russian meddling in their elections. The Americans had listened politely but didn’t seem particularly alarmed by the threat, reflecting a widely held belief inside the U.S. government that its democratic institutions and society weren’t nearly as vulnerable as those in Europe. …

When the briefers finished, the allies made clear to the Americans that little in the presentation surprised them. “This is what we’ve been telling you for some time,” the Europeans said, according to Lute, the NATO ambassador. “This is what we live with. Welcome to our lives.” …

The Russians are taking advantage of “seams between our policies, our laws and our bureaucracy,” said Austin Branch, a former Defense Department official who specialized in information operations.

⭕ 22 Dec 2017

CNN: Top FBI official grilled on Comey, Clinton in Hill testimony http://cnn.it/2Bz5kWX

⭕ 20 Dec 2017

ForeignPolicy: White House Counsel Knew in January Flynn Probably Violated the Law http://atfp.co/2DqIbTU

⭕ 4 Dec 2017

ForeignAffairs, Colin Kahl: The Evidence Is Damning: What Team Trump Knew and When We already know that the Trump campaign was aware of — and intended to profit from — Moscow’s interference in the election. http://atfp.co/2AWgqUQ

⭕ 1 Dec 2017

NYT: Documents Reveal New Details on What Trump Team Knew About Flynn’s Calls With Russia’s Ambassador http://nyti.ms/2AmHiMM

NYT: Michael Flynn’s Guilty Plea: 10 Key Takeaways http://nyti.ms/2iAUx6g

WaPo: Flynn said to have acted in consultation with Kushner, transition team on contacts with Russian ambassador http://wapo.st/2BCwM2g

New bio: “But justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” Amos 5:24 (via Former FBI Dir James Comey 12/1/2017)

🐣 RT @TheTweetOfGod You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool Robert Mueller.

⭕ 30 Nov 2017

NYT: Trump Pressed Top Republicans to End Senate Russia Inquiry http://nyti.ms/2zR5jMZ

⭕ 27 Nov 2017

NYT, Michele Goldberg: Odds Are, Russia Owns Trump http://nyti.ms/

But three months feels like three decades in Trump years, and I mostly forgot about these reports until I read Luke Harding’s new book, “Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win.” One uncanny aspect of the investigations into Trump’s Russia connections is that instead of too little evidence there’s too much. It’s impossible to keep it straight without the kind of chaotic wall charts that Carrie Mathison of “Homeland” assembled during her manic episodes. Incidents that would be major scandals in a normal administration — like the mere fact of Trump’s connection to Sater — become minor subplots in this one.

That’s why “Collusion” is so essential, and why I wish everyone who is skeptical that Russia has leverage over Trump would read it. This country — at least the parts not wholly under the sway of right-wing propaganda — needs to come to terms with substantial evidence that the president is in thrall to a foreign power.

Harding, the former Moscow bureau chief of The Guardian, has been reporting on shady characters like Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was indicted last month, long before Trump announced his candidacy. He was able to interview Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the dossier attempting to detail Trump’s relationship with the Kremlin, and who describes the conspiracy between the American president and the Russians as “massive — absolutely massive.”

⭕ 23 Nov 2017

NYT: A Split From Trump Indicates That Flynn Is Moving to Cooperate With Mueller http://nyti.ms/2zhLFFy

WaPo: Flynn’s lawyer shuts down communications with Trump’s team, a sign he may be cooperating with Mueller probe http://wapo.st/2A6Qy5I

WaPo: ‘Keep coming at me guys!!!’: Donald Trump Jr. meets Russia scrutiny with defiance http://wapo.st/2A2o6nT

⭕ 21 Nov 2017

NPR: Journalist Investigating Trump And Russia Says ‘Full Picture Is One Of Collusion’ http://and%20transcript http://n.pr/2A6iskq

WSJ: Special Counsel Mueller Probes Jared Kushner’s Contacts With Foreign Leaders http://on.wsj.com/2hYJtzx
// Investigators look into Trump senior adviser’s role in talks about U.N.’s resolution condemning Israel

⭕ 20 Nov 2017

USAToday: Russia probe: Trump’s tweets could be evidence against him, legal experts say http://bit.ly/2zYVkSz

⭕ 19 Nov 2017

Politico, Luke Harding: The Hidden History of Trump’s First Trip to Moscow http://politi.co/2zRphXf
// In 1987, a young real estate developer traveled to the Soviet Union. The KGB almost certainly made the trip happen.

⭕ 17 Nov 2017

PoliticusUSA, Jason Easly: The Truth Comes Out As Trump Made Millions Off Of Project Tied To Russian Organized Crime http://bit.ly/2zSfOws

⭕ 16 Nov 2017

NewYorker, Ryan Lizza: The GOP’s “Boil the Frog” Strategy to Save Trump http://bit.ly/2hBKyt0

TheHill: Worker describes experience in Russian troll factory http://bit.ly/2A8Vz0k

TheHill: Mueller subpoenaed Trump campaign for Russia documents: report http://bit.ly/2zc6qGK

⭕ 15 Nov 2017

MotherJones, Kevin Drum: Jared Kushner Forgets Yet Another Russian Contact http://bit.ly/2mBlMyO

TheGuardian, Luke Harding: How Trump walked into Putin’s web http://bit.ly/2A2o4gd
// The inside story of how a former British spy was hired to investigate Russia’s influence on Trump – and uncovered explosive evidence that Moscow had been cultivating Trump for years.

⭕ 13 Nov 2017

TheAtlantic: The Secret Correspondence Between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks http://theatln.tc/2yAheKE

⭕ 6 Nov 2017

WaPo, Jennifer Rubin: The Trump administration is up to its neck in Russians http://wapo.st/2zmhU7e

WaPo, Greg Sargent: What did Donald Trump Jr. ask for at that meeting? The Russian lawyer just spoke out. http://wapo.st/2zjo76x

⭕ 5 Nov 2017

WaPo: The Saudi crown prince just made a very risky power play http://wapo.st/

DailyBeast: Massive Leak Reveals New Ties Between Trump Administration and Russia, Implicating Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Jared Kushner http://thebea.st/2y6eOmA
// The so-called Paradise Papers have revealed secrets of politicians worldwide, including new links between the Trump administration and Russia.

NYT: Commerce Secretary’s Offshore Ties to Putin ‘Cronies’ http://nyti.ms/2zkuPc8
// Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, retained investments in a shipping firm with business ties to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin’s inner circle.

TheGuardian: Paradise Papers leak reveals secrets of the world elite’s hidden wealth http://bit.ly/2zkoai8

WaPo: At least nine people in Trump’s orbit had contact with Russians during campaign and transition http://wapo.st/2zeBZit ⭕ 3 Nov 2017

⭕ 3 Nov 2017

NYT: Trump Campaign Adviser Met With Russian Officials in 2016 http://nyti.ms/2lPTvE7
// Carter Page

AP, Raphael Satter: Inside story: How Russians hacked the Democrats’ emails http://bit.ly/2hCjWbS //➔ edited to make them seem worse

⭕ 2 Nov 2017

NYT: Trump and Sessions Denied Knowing About Russian Contacts. Records Suggest Otherwise. http://nyti.ms/2A4u0kC

⭕ 1 Nov 2017

Frontline: Putin’s Revenge http://to.pbs.org/2zcTSgY
// 54 mins

⭕ 30 Oct 2017 💥Face the Music💥 Day

CNN: Special counsel’s office: Papadopoulos ‘small part’ of ‘large scale investigation’ http://cnn.it/2zSTZvl

NYT: Former Trump Aides Charged as Prosecutors Reveal New Campaign Ties With Russia http://nyti.ms/2ltYXwe

🔄≣💙💙 AP: Mueller Investigation documents http://bit.ly/2ihbK0l

🐣 RT @tribelaw .@LindseyGrahamSC today: “If Trump fires Mueller, there’ll be hell to pay.”

🐣 RT @ericgarland Reminder: It’s the 17 best prosecutors in America versus guys that tried to collude with Russia using Facebook Messenger. Place your bets.

🐣 RT @tribelaw The info POPADOPOULIS has already given Mueller ever since he flipped MONTHS ago can’t be erased even if Mueller is fired. The jig is up ‼️

WSJ: Former Trump Adviser’s Guilty Plea Ties Campaign to Russian Officials http://on.wsj.com/2iPSn27
// George Papadopoulos admitted to lying to FBI about his contacts with a professor tied to the Kremlin

⭕ 29 Oct 2017

WaPo: Frustrated with the Russia investigation, Trump demands Democrats and Hillary Clinton face more scrutiny http://wapo.st/2zOLmC3

In four tweets sent over 24 minutes, Trump wrote: “Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?), the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia, ‘collusion,’ which doesn’t exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!”

⭕ 28 Oct 2017

TheGuardian, Carol Cadwallad: Trump, Assange, Bannon, Farage… bound together in an unholy alliance http://bit.ly/2iddiZh

⭕ 27 Oct 2017

WSJ: First Charges Filed in Russia Probe Led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller http://on.wsj.com/2z0vbUT
// At least one defendant is expected to be taken into custody as soon as Monday

WaPo: Trump, Republicans steer Russia probes in new directions http://wapo.st/2hijsHA

NYT, Tim Wu: How Twitter Killed the First Amendment http://nyti.ms/2yZWkHF

NYT: Conservative Website First Funded Anti-Trump Research by Firm That Later Produced Dossier http://nyti.ms/2iGn6Po

The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website funded by a major Republican donor, first hired the research firm that months later produced for Democrats the salacious dossier describing ties between Donald J. Trump and the Russian government, the website said on Friday.

The Free Beacon, funded in large part by the New York hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, hired the firm, Fusion GPS, in 2015 to unearth damaging information about several Republican presidential candidates, including Mr. Trump. But The Free Beacon told the firm to stop doing research on Mr. Trump in May 2016, as Mr. Trump was clinching the Republican nomination.

NYT: Talking Points Brought to Trump Tower Meeting Were Shared With Kremlin http://nyti.ms/2yPYMkx

⭕ 25 Oct 2017

WSJ: Democrats, Russians and the FBI ~ Did the bureau use disinformation to trigger its Trump probe? http://on.wsj.com/2lttNW2

DailyBeast, Betsy Woodruff: Trump Data Guru: I Tried to Team Up With Julian Assange http://thebea.st/2z84ZZr

⭕ 24 Oct 2017

PolitiFact: What you need to know about Hillary Clinton, Russia, and uranium http://bit.ly/2yMyI8Q

⭕ 20 Oct 2017

WaPo, Kathleen Parker: Dear Donald http:/wapo.st/2yGihJO

George W. Bush’s speech this last week at a forum hosted by his eponymous institute might as well have been titled “Dear Donald.” The 43rd president all but called out the current president by name as he lamented the tone and character of today’s political rhetoric.

“Bigotry seems emboldened,” Bush said . “Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”


Bush’s suffering on behalf of the injured and killed whom he sent into harm’s way as president is apparent in his visage, in the portraits of wounded soldiers he has painted, and in his ongoing work with troops and military families. Such actions don’t alter the pain of a deadly mistake, but they at least indicate a profound empathy that is utterly lacking in the current president.

No stranger to media criticism — crushing criticism — Bush never attacked the fourth estate. He also obviously recognizes that worse than a reporter’s or editor’s error is the undermining of public faith in a free press. Once the government succeeds in eliminating a country’s watchdogs, the government becomes the only source of information. Most people know, or should know, how that ends.

Russians are also very good at this. Recent revelations about fake Twitter accounts tied to Russia through which genuinely fake news was posted and distributed to influence the 2016 election remind us of how vulnerable we are to real fake news. Unfortunately, Trump has helped blur the line between propaganda and what is otherwise known simply as news.

The fact that members of Trump’s campaign and family retweeted some of these real-fake news items demonstrates how difficult it can be to recognize what’s real and what’s not. This may be the greatest challenge of our times. Disinformation combined with generalized antipathy toward the traditional press may be the toxic combination that poisons unity and condemns democratic principles to the hazardous-waste dump. One cannot overemphasize the importance of these developments or of the president’s contributions to the undermining of institutions created by our Constitution to monitor government power.

Recall that a president’s primary duty, in addition to defending the country, is to protect the Constitution. Yet, in just nine months in office, Trump has done more to challenge the integrity of the First Amendment than any other president in history, including expressing interest in making it easier to sue journalists for libel.

In other remarks clearly aimed at Trump, Bush addressed bullying and prejudice in public life that “sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children.” And: “We can’t wish globalization away, any more than we could wish away the agricultural revolution or the Industrial Revolution.”

One needn’t be a sleuth to infer that Bush was speaking to the man oft referred to as our bully in chief, as well as to Trump the salesman, who convinced working-class Americans that he would bring back all those jobs lost to globalization. As Bush suggested, globalization is the new age and the old one isn’t coming back.

⭕ 19 Oct 2017

NYT: Senators Demand Online Ad Disclosures as Tech Lobby Mobilizes http://nyti.ms/2yAhUQP

⭕ 18 Oct 2017

DailyBeast: Trump Campaign Staffers Pushed Russian Propaganda Days Before the Election http://thebea.st/2yAV6lI
// Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump Jr. pushed messages from an account operated from Russia’s ‘troll farm’—including allegations of voter fraud a week before Election Day.

WaPo: Michael Flynn, Nicki Minaj shared content from this Tennessee GOP account. But it wasn’t real. It was Russian. http://wapo.st/2gQPWsf

The list of prominent people who tweeted out links from the account, @Ten_GOP, which Twitter shut down in August, includes political figures such as Michael Flynn and Roger Stone, celebrities such as Nicki Minaj and James Woods, and media personalities such as Ann Coulter and Chris Hayes.

There is no evidence that any of them knew the account was run by Russians. Independent researchers had suspected the account was Russian, and their work was confirmed Wednesday by two people familiar with the investigations into the Kremlin’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

⭕ 17 Oct 2017

MotherJones: Memo Undermines Russian Lawyer’s Account of Trump Tower Meeting http://bit.ly/2xMcqQZ
// It bolsters the case that she was acting on behalf of the Kremlin.

⭕ 14 Oct 2017

NYT: Wary of Hackers, States Move to Upgrade Voting Systems http://nyti.ms/2icbtzg
// alt title: Spooked by Russia …

⭕ 11 Oct 2017

Politico: Feds won’t confirm Comey assurances to Trump on Russia probe http://politi.co/2kT5HDG

DailyBeast, Betsy Woodruff & Spencer Ackerman: Russia Probe Now Investigating Cambridge Analytica, Trump’s ‘Psychographic’ Data Gurus http://thebea.st/2zr3ZN3
DailyBeast: Russia Probe Now Investigating Cambridge Analytica, Trump’s ‘Psychographic’ Data Gurus http://thebea.st/2zr3ZN3
// They were once Steve Bannon’s favorite analytics shop. Now investigators want to know if the Kremlin had a thing for Cambridge Analytica, too.

⭕ 10 Oct 2017

NYT: How Israel Caught Russian Hackers Scouring the World for U.S. Secrets http://nyti.ms/2yYWf3V

⭕ 9 Oct 2017

NYT: How Russia Harvested American Rage to Reshape U.S. Politics http://nyti.ms/2xysA0l

TheDailyBeast: Russia Recruited YouTubers to Bash ‘Racist B*tch’ Hillary Clinton Over Rap Beats http://thebea.st/2xsks6f
// Wannabe YouTube stars and diehard Donald Trump supporters ‘Williams & Kalvin’ totally swear they’re from Atlanta. In reality, they were working for the Kremlin.

FinancialTimes: Is Facebook spinning out of control over Russian revelations? http://on.ft.com/2y7atjS
// Moscow’s weaponisation of the social network to influence last year’s US election raises grave questions

WaPo: Newly disclosed email sheds light on Trump Jr. meeting with Russian lawyer http://wapo.st/2yTmbhf

CNN: Russians’ lawyer says new documents show Trump Tower meeting not about dirt on Clinton http://cnn.it/2ybEeSl

WaPo: Google uncovers Russian-bought ads on YouTube, Gmail and other platforms http://wapo.st/2wIWFuc

The discovery by Google is also significant because the ads do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-affiliated troll farm that bought ads on Facebook — a sign that the Russian effort to spread disinformation online may be a much broader problem than Silicon Valley companies have unearthed so far.

⭕ 8 Oct 2017

NPR: Senators Say Russia Probe Is ‘Incomplete’; Trump Jr. May Return To The Hill http://n.pr/2yaHGwl

BusinessInsider: Mueller’s next move, the Steele dossier, and an NSA hack — the latest in a wild week of Trump-Russia developments http://read.bi/2hZntnI

🐣 RT @SethAbramson [ Media sitting on evidence of existence of pee tape ]
// twitter thread, dossier

⭕ 7 Oct 2017

Newsweek: Here’s What the ‘Golden Shower’ Dossier Now Being Investigated by Mueller Claims About Trump and Russia http://bit.ly/2y5IT6H

NYT: Hoping to Have Trump Cleared, Legal Team Eases Resistance to Inquiry http://nyti.ms/2y4gjVz

TheGuardian, Julian Borger: The Trump-Russia dossier: why its findings grow more significant by the day http://bit.ly/2fVFHSN
// As US officials investigate potential collusion between Trump and Moscow, the series of reports by the former UK intelligence official Christopher Steele are casting an ever darker shadow over the president

MSNBC: How does Trump dossier coincide with timeline of Russia contacts? http://on.msnbc.com/2yaN0k3
//. New reporting overlays a timeline of known contacts between Trump associates and Russian officials against a salacious (but unverified) dossier about Trump. The author, Natasha Bertrand, discusses.

TheHill: Ken Starr predicts indictments in Russia probe http://bit.ly/2y9Eem2

⭕ 6 Oct 2017

Newsweek/JustSecurity: What Exactly Does the Steele Dirty Russian Dossier on Trump Contain? http://bit.ly/2wIYs2o

TheNation, Aaron Maté: Russiagate Is More Fiction Than Fact http://bit.ly/2yaMIZP
// From accusations of Trump campaign collusion to Russian Facebook ad buys, the media has substituted hype for evidence.

DailyBeast, Betsy Woodruff: Exclusive: Senate ‘Russia Probe’ Is Not Investigating Russia http://thebea.st/2g5lFZN
// The Judiciary Committee may be issuing press releases about its ‘Russia Probe.’ But staffers say there’s no full-blown investigation, just routine oversight of the FBI.

⭕ 5 Oct 2017

CNN: Exclusive: Mueller’s team met with Russia dossier author http://cnn.it/2y4sAsD

WSJ: Russian Hackers Stole NSA Data on U.S. Cyber Defense http://on.wsj.com/2xXeUQu
// The breach, considered the most serious in years, could enable Russia to evade NSA surveillance and more easily infiltrate U.S. networks

The revelation comes as concern over Russian infiltration of American computer networks and social media platforms is growing amid a U.S. special counsel’s investigation into whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign sought or received assistance from the Russian government. Mr. Trump denies any impropriety and has called the matter a “witch hunt.”

Intelligence officials have concluded that a campaign authorized by the highest levels of the Russian government hacked into state election-board systems and the email networks of political organizations to damage the candidacy of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The Kaspersky incident is the third publicly known breach at the NSA involving a contractor’s access to a huge trove of highly classified materials. It prompted an official letter of reprimand to the agency’s director, Adm. Michael Rogers, by his superiors, people familiar with the situation said.

⭕ 4 Oct 2017

Tttthread, @SethAbramson: The single most important fact in the Trump-Russia investigation is a never-discussed one http://bit.ly/2xUVMCI
// when each person knew Russia was trying to help Trump

Reuters: ‘Trump dossier’ on Russia links now part of special counsel’s probe: sources http://reut.rs/2fNLdXJ

Two officials familiar with the investigations said that both Mueller’s team and the Senate Intelligence Committee are seeking any evidence that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort or others who had financial dealings with Russia might have helped Kremlin intelligence agencies target email hacking and social media postings undermining Trump’s election opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

NYT: Senate Intelligence Heads Warn That Russian Election Meddling Continues http://nyti.ms/2xikXQo

⭕ 3 Oct 2017

NYMag, Jonathan Chait: Did Manafort Use Trump’s Campaign to Pay Back Russia? http://nym.ag/2yTnzAx

⭕ 2 Oct 2017

WaPo: Trump’s company had more contact with Russia during campaign, according to documents turned over http://wapo.st/2xTrmQK
// to investigators

TheAtlantic, Julia Ioffe & Franklin Foer: Did Manafort Use Trump to Curry Favor With a Putin Ally? http://theatlntc/2xaU80n

⭕ 26 Sep 2017

WIRED: What We Know—and Don’t Know—About Facebook, Trump, and Russia http://bit.ly/2hycGgp

⭕ 25 Sep 2017

WaPo: Russian operatives used Facebook ads to exploit divisions over Black Lives Matter and Muslims http://wapo.st/2wPXOo7

⭕ 24 Sep 2017

Slate, Asha Rangappa: What Mueller Might Have on Manafort http://slate.me/2yAUCKc
// Two FBI surveillance orders suggest that the special counsel sees Trump’s former campaign chairman as the key to the Russia investigation.

LondonTimes: Russian link to Trump and UK ‘murder’ http://bit.ly/2fi4znr
// Tweeted by Bill Browder

A whistleblower allegedly murdered in Surrey by Russian assassins has been linked to a lawyer named in the investigation of Kremlin interference in Donald Trump’s election campaign.

Alexander Perepilichnyy was a key witness for Swiss prosecutors investigating an alleged tax fraud involving Russian officials when he died while jogging near his Weybridge mansion in 2012.

Two months before he collapsed, vomiting “greeny-yellow” liquid, information from him allowed the Swiss attorney-general to freeze the assets of Denis Katsyv, son of a former Moscow official.

Katsyv was also accused of laundering profits from the £150m tax fraud by buying properties in New York.

Katsyv hired Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer who met Donald Trump Jr and Jared Kushner, the president’s son and son-in-law, in June last year to discuss Hillary Clinton, his election rival. The US case against Katsyv was settled for $6m (£4.4m) this year and the Russian admitted no guilt.

There is no evidence that Veselnitskaya or Katsyv were involved in Perepilichnyy’s death, which Surrey police ruled was “non-suspicious”. However, it is now being investigated by an inquest at the Old Bailey.

“Perepilichnyy opened up a Pandora’s box of criminal investigations around the world,” said his associate William Browder, a US businessman who believes the Russian was killed. “He probably had no idea of the atomic bomb he was dropping on alleged Russian money launderers.”

Veselnitskaya has denied working for the Kremlin and said her meeting with Trump Jr and Kushner was to discuss lifting US sanctions on Moscow. She did not respond to requests for comment.

⭕ 23 Sep 2017

NYT, Zeynep Tufekci: Facebook’s Ad Scandal Isn’t a ‘Fail,’ It’s a Feature http://nyti.ms/2fIWVDl

The trouble is Facebook’s business model is structurally identical whether advertisers are selling shoes, politics or fake diet pills, and whether they’re going after new moms, dog lovers or neo-Nazis. The algorithms don’t know the difference, and Facebook’s customers are not its users.

Rather, as this latest incident should remind us, we are Facebook’s product. Our attention and eyeballs are sold to the highest bidders, whatever they may be peddling.

⭕ 22 Sep 2017

WSJ: GOP Funds Donald Trump’s Defense in Russia Probe With Help From a Handful of Wealthy People http://on.wsj.com/2xnxIIy
// Payment arrangement is legal, but ethics experts warn that reliance on party and campaign accounts could raise thorny political issues

MotherJones: Putin Just Held a Meeting With Manafort’s Russian Billionaire Buddy http://bit.ly/2wOk5xL
// A Kremlin gathering hosts several business figured linked to the Russia investigation.

TheHill: DHS tells 21 states they were Russia hacking targets before 2016 election http://bit.ly/2hpQ8yi

⭕ 21 Sep 2017

ForeignPolicy: How a Russian Outlet Sought to Reach American Voters on Twitter | Foreign Policy http://atfp.co/2wLedFf

◕ WaPo: Every contact between Trump’s team and Russian actors, graphed http://wapo.st/2wajC9D

NYT: Facebook to turn over thousands of Russian ads to Congress, reversing decision http://nyti.ms/2xi0P00

🐣 @robreiner please consider producing a documentary-style TV movie on #TrumpRussia. “Recount” educated tons on people – and won Emmys.

NYU: Academic Articles on Russia https://wp.nyu.edu/fas-joshuatucker/research/

⭕ 20 Sep 2017

Politico: Manafort used Trump campaign account to email Ukrainian operative http://politi.co/2fl2YRA
// Manafort sent the emails to seek repayment for previous work he did in Ukraine.

🐣 RT @SethAbramson Per THE INDEPENDENT (UK) Deripaska is “among the 2 or 3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis.” THAT’S who Manafort offered access to.

WaPo: Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire ‘private briefings’ on 2016 campaign http://wapo.st/2fcx99A

⋙ Puerto Rico, with a population of about 3.4M, is more populous than 21 individual states. Let that sink in. #Maria

WaPo: Mueller casts broad net in requesting extensive records from Trump White House http://wapo.st/2yqqaT9 incl Trump’s private talks on Comey and Flynn

⭕ 19 Sep 2017

CBS: Surveillance of Paul Manafort occurred during 2016 campaign http://cbsn.ws/2hh5K7c

⭕ 18 Sep 2017

TheHill: Clinton won’t rule out questioning legitimacy of election http://bit.ly/2xi0ZUi

NYT (Jun): U.S. Moves to Seize Diamonds, a Picasso and Hollywood Films in Malaysian Case http://nyti.ms/2w3S4CV
// 6/15/2017, also Ukraine

Politico, Renato: How to Read Bob Mueller’s Hand http://politi.co/2yaQNup
// Based on what we know so far, here’s a former federal prosecutor’s expert read on where the Russian investigation is heading.

 CNN: Exclusive: US government wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman http://cnn.it/2ylpvSH

Some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign, according to three sources familiar with the investigation. Two of these sources, however, cautioned that the evidence is not conclusive.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, which is leading the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the election, has been provided details of these communications.

A secret order authorized by the court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) began after Manafort became the subject of an FBI investigation that began in 2014. It centered on work done by a group of Washington consulting firms for Ukraine’s former ruling party, the sources told CNN.

The surveillance was discontinued at some point last year for lack of evidence, according to one of the sources.

Manafort was ousted from the campaign in August. By then the FBI had noticed what counterintelligence agents thought was a series of odd connections between Trump associates and Russia. The CIA also had developed information, including from human intelligence sources, that they believed showed Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered his intelligence services to conduct a broad operation to meddle with the US election, according to current and former US officials.

NYT: With a Picked Lock and a Threatened Indictment, Mueller’s Inquiry Sets a Tone http://nyti.ms/2xcQ8Jz

Paul J. Manafort was in bed early one morning in July when federal agents bearing a search warrant picked the lock on his front door and raided his Virginia home. They took binders stuffed with documents and copied his computer files, looking for evidence that Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, set up secret offshore bank accounts. They even photographed the expensive suits in his closet.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, then followed the house search with a warning: His prosecutors told Mr. Manafort they planned to indict him, said two people close to the investigation.

The moves against Mr. Manafort are just a glimpse of the aggressive tactics used by Mr. Mueller and his team of prosecutors in the four months since taking over the Justice Department’s investigation into Russia’s attempts to disrupt last year’s election, according to lawyers, witnesses and American officials who have described the approach.

“They are setting a tone. It’s important early on to strike terror in the hearts of people in Washington, or else you will be rolled,” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, who was deputy independent counsel in the investigation that led to the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999. “You want people saying to themselves, ‘Man, I had better tell these guys the truth.’”

The wide-ranging nature of Mr. Mueller’s investigation could put him on a collision course with Mr. Trump, who has said publicly that Mr. Mueller should keep his investigation narrowly focused on last year’s presidential campaign. In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Trump said Mr. Mueller would be overstepping his boundaries if he investigated his family’s finances unrelated to Russia.

Nonetheless, the demand for documents has provoked at least one angry confrontation between Mr. Cobb and Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, over whether certain documents should be withheld to protect the president’s right to confidentiality.
↥ ↧
NYT: Trump Lawyers Clash Over How Much to Cooperate With Russia Inquiry http://nyti.ms/2wqPbzZ

President Trump’s legal team is wrestling with how much to cooperate with the special counsel looking into Russian election interference, an internal debate that led to an angry confrontation last week between two White House lawyers and that could shape the course of the investigation.

At the heart of the clash is an issue that has challenged multiple presidents during high-stakes Washington investigations: how to handle the demands of investigators without surrendering the institutional prerogatives of the office of the presidency. Similar conflicts during the Watergate and Monica S. Lewinsky scandals resulted in court rulings that limited a president’s right to confidentiality.

Mr. Cobb has argued for turning over as many of the emails and documents requested by the special counsel as possible in hopes of quickly ending the investigation — or at least its focus on Mr. Trump.

Mr. McGahn supports cooperation, but has expressed worry about setting a precedent that would weaken the White House long after Mr. Trump’s tenure is over. He is described as particularly concerned about whether the president will invoke executive or attorney-client privilege to limit how forthcoming Mr. McGahn could be if he himself is interviewed by the special counsel as requested.

The friction escalated in recent days after Mr. Cobb was overheard by a reporter for The New York Times discussing the dispute during a lunchtime conversation at a popular Washington steakhouse. Mr. Cobb was heard talking about a White House lawyer he deemed “a McGahn spy” and saying Mr. McGahn had “a couple documents locked in a safe” that he seemed to suggest he wanted access to. He also mentioned a colleague whom he blamed for “some of these earlier leaks,” and who he said “tried to push Jared out,” meaning Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who has been a previous source of dispute for the legal team.

After The Times contacted the White House about the situation, Mr. McGahn privately erupted at Mr. Cobb, according to people informed about the confrontation who asked not to be named describing internal matters. John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, sharply reprimanded Mr. Cobb for his indiscretion, the people said.

Mr. Cobb sought to defuse the conflict in an interview over the weekend, praising Mr. McGahn as a superb lawyer. “He has been very helpful to me, and whenever we have differences of opinion, we have been able to work them out professionally and reach consensus,” Mr. Cobb said. “We have different roles. He has a much fuller plate. But we’re both devoted to this White House and getting as much done on behalf of the presidency as possible.”

🐣💙💙‼️RT @olex_scherba Russia TV yesterday: Democracy is nothing but a modern religion. Its temples stand empty now & very soon will be abandoned for good.
// https://twitter.com/olex_scherba/status/909797145926098945

WaPo, Dana Milbank: A Trump lawyer caught gabbing about Russia at lunch racks up career errors http://wapo.st/2yamZh9

Vogel heard Cobb, who is overseeing the White House response to the Russia probe, say, among other things, that one White House lawyer was a “spy” for White House counsel Don McGahn and that McGahn has “a couple documents locked in a safe” related to the Russia inquiry.

And we’re only eight months in! It won’t be long, at this rate, before Cobb tries to address a sensitive email to White House colleague Stephen Miller but accidentally sends it to Robert Mueller. Or he leaves his briefcase in a taxi and the next passenger is Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) of the House Intelligence Committee. Or he has an incriminating phone conversation with Trump while in an Uber driven by Vogel, who is moonlighting to pay off his BLT Steak tab.

⭕ 16 Sep 2017

🐣 RT @RenataMariotti THREAD: Why news that Mueller obtained a search warrant for Facebook content may be the biggest news in the case since the Manafort raid. https://twitter.com/renato_mariotti/status/909046433931841537

🐣 RT @SethAbramson This PARTIAL list of Trump-Russia news from the LAST WEEK—a LIGHT week—underscores the scandal’s scope. Please share widely! https://twitter.com/SethAbramson/status/909061434692259841/photo/1

⭕ 15 Sep 2017

Newsweek: Russia Investigation & Facebook: Why Mueller’s Counterintel Effort is Just as Important as His Criminal Probe http://bit.ly/2y523IG
Newsweek: Russia Investigation & Facebook: Why Mueller’s Counterintel Effort is Just as Important as Criminal Probe http://bit.ly/2y523IG

BusinessInsider: New details about major Russian money laundering probe raise the stakes of Trump Tower meeting http://read.bi/2wv1l6a

TheHill: Senators propose 9/11-style commission on Russian interference http://bit.ly/2ycIU8q Sens Gillibrand (D-NY) & Graham (R-SC)

SFChronicle: Mueller meets with House Judiciary chairman, top Democrat http://bit.ly/2x52Vhe

Several congressional committees are also investigating, but Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia has said his panel will defer to Mueller. Goodlatte has said the panel will exercise oversight over Mueller as appropriate, and that Mueller should not be impeded by politics.

Goodlatte has also called on the Justice Department to appoint a second special counsel to investigate “unaddressed issues” related to the 2016 election and former Obama administration officials, including Hillary Clinton.

⭕ 14 Sep 2017

TheHill: Russian-linked Facebook group asked Texas secession movement to be in anti-Clinton rallies: report http://bit.ly/2h7BSdi

Msnbc, Maddow: Clinton: Comey a reliable witness on Trump Russia case http://on.msnbc.com/2h6KCEg
// Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with Rachel Maddow about former Director of the FBI, James Comey, how he handled Clinton’s e-mail case and whether he is a reliable witness in the Trump Russia investigation.

TheAtlantic, Julia Ioffe: Why Didn’t Trump Build Anything in Russia? http://theatln.tc/2h5FzAe
// The art of the deal runs into the reality of “a really scary place.”

TheGuardian, Jake Nevis: Late-night on Trump and Russia: ‘Why can’t Don Jr pick one lie and stick to it? http://bit.ly/2xoszPT
// Comics, including Samantha Bee and Trevor Noah, weighed in on the damage caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and the latest in the Russia investigation

MotherJones, David Corn: Who’s Telling the Truth About the Russia Meeting: Kushner or Trump Jr.? http://bit.ly/2vXrJGr
// And did they actually accept an opposition research document from Moscow?

USAToday, Erin Kelly: Congress struggles to figure out which Russia investigation trumps the others http://usat.ly/2wtkOEq

 MotherJones, David Corn & Hannah Levintova: How Did an Alleged Russian Mobster End Up on Trump’s Red Carpet? http://bit.ly/2x07xaR
// And here’s a coincidence: The guy was indicted for being part of a global gambling ring run out of Trump Tower.

NYT: Trump Humiliated Jeff Sessions After Mueller Appointment http://nyti.ms/2x4c8q0

NYT: ISIS Convoy Reportedly Crosses Syria, at Russia’s Request http://nyti.ms/2y244VQ

StarTrib: Confusion hits consumer market over US ban of Kaspersky http://strib.mn/2f6MVqa

⭕ 13 Sep 2017

DailyBeast, Ben Collins & Spencer Ackerman: Exclusive: Facebook Won’t Reveal if Russia Targeted You During the Election http://thebea.st/2wsnodz
// Facebook refused to commit to releasing the Kremlin-backed propaganda it uncovered. Users may never know if they were targeted during the election—or are still being targeted now.

Bloomberg: Mueller Probe Has ‘Red-Hot’ Focus on Social Media, Officials Say http://bloom.bg/2fkqpXS

BusinessInsider, Natasha Bertrand: Facebook and Twitter are becoming a ‘red-hot’ focus of Mueller’s Russia investigation http://read.bi/2wbQ1Rb

🐣 RT @robreiner I know Mueller needs to connect the dots. But for those who have been following DT/Russia scandal,the dots have formed one big criminal blob

WaPo/AP: Prominent journalist flees Russia after arson attack on car http://wapo.st/2xlMUWi

🐣 RT @oversightdems READ: Responses from colleagues of #Flynn confirming he traveled to meet w/ leaders on scheme to build nuclear reactors in #SaudiArabia.
// multiple pages, Tweet link: https://twitter.com/OversightDems/status/907938768753250311
↥ ↧
🐣 RT @oversightdems READ IT HERE: New Letter from Top Dems on #Flynn’s Foreign Contacts That He Withheld From Security Clearance Investigators—A Potential Crime
// multiple pages, Tweet link: https://twitter.com/OversightDems/status/907931138500460544

WSJ: Flynn Promoted Nuclear-Plant Project While in White House http://on.wsj.com/2vUuhoA
// Then-Trump security adviser had his staff meet with those involved in Middle East proposal that once included Russian firms

Newsweek (Jun): Michael Flynn, Russia and a Grand Scheme to Build Nuclear Power Plants in Saudi Arabia and the Arab World http://bit.ly/2fkcOja
// 6/9/2017

🐣 Maybe Russia figures if they’re not going to get anything out if US re: sanctions etc, might as well invade another country. #Belarus

NYT: Russia’s War Games With Fake Enemies Cause Real Alarm http://nyti.ms/2h3gBoX

NBC: Mike Flynn’s Son Is Subject of Federal Russia Probe http://nbcnews.to/2h5cXdZ

Politico, Bradley Moss: The Hapless Smear Campaign Against Jim Comey http://politi.co/2wYhyFn
// The White House is making legal arguments about the former FBI director that barely pass the laugh test.

 NYT Mag, Jim Rutenburg: RT, Sputnik and Russia’s New Theory of War http://nyti.ms/2xz8S90
// How the Kremlin built one of the most powerful information weapons of the 21st century — and why it may be impossible to stop.

🐣 Yes, Comey cost Hillary the election, but so did any of a hundred other things. On 11/9, I made a list & stuck it on our refrigerator … https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/908113208946327552/photo/1

CNN: Exclusive: Rice told House investigators why she unmasked senior Trump officials http://cnn.it/2y05wrE

(CNN) Former national security adviser Susan Rice privately told House investigators that she unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York late last year, multiple sources told CNN.

The New York meeting preceded a separate effort by the UAE to facilitate a back-channel communication between Russia and the incoming Trump White House.

The crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, arrived in New York last December in the transition period before Trump was sworn into office for a meeting with several top Trump officials, including Michael Flynn, the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his top strategist Steve Bannon, sources said.

CNN: Dems to Mueller: Flynn failed to disclose trip to broker Saudi-Russian business deal http://cnn.it/2h2kbzC

⭕ 12 Sep 2017

💙💙 ReverbPress, Marc Belisle (Mar): Top Trump Financier Linked To Russian Big Data, Putin http://bit.ly/2f52grc //➔ wow. scary wow.
// 3/3/2017

During the 2016 campaign, Trump’s biggest donor was, by far, Robert Mercer, who donated over $15 million to Trump’s campaign and related PACs. An early IBM computing pioneer, Mercer is the co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies LLC, a quantitative hedge fund that uses complex algorithms to drive investment strategies, and manages $65 billion in assets. Mercer has been active in right wing fundraising for years, and in 2016, he emerged as one of the campaign’s biggest overall donors.

Mercer was also the top donor to John Bolton Super PAC, which funneled millions in donations to cutting edge data analytics contractors, who used data mining to micro-target political ads to millions of individuals based on information gleaned from their personal online habits.

The election of Trump was not even Mercer’s first multi-million dollar data mining manipulation campaign of 2016. Mercer funded a similar data mining operation in support of the United Kingdom’s Brexit campaign, and did so in a way that likely violated British campaign finance laws, according to Dealbreaker.

But Mercer did more for Trump than merely fund his campaign and new advertising technology. Mercer also recommended that Trump hire key messaging and strategy figures who are now considered central to Trump’s inner circle, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway. During the campaign it was known that Mercer was a major donor to Breitbart, the white nationalist propaganda publication that Bannon directed. But it was only on February 24th that it was discovered that Mercer is one of the owners of Breitbart, when an intrepid reporter staked out a hearing as Breitbart sought press credentials.

Mercer’s daughter Rebekah is often seen on conservative boards. She gained a spot on Trump’s 16-person transition team.

Mercer not only bankrolled Trump’s road to the White House, but his family helped prepare him to move in, and some of his top communications people are now running it.

Why did Mercer invest so heavily and risk such political exposure for both Brexit and Trump? A hint may lie in a risky investment he made in Russian telecoms that is quickly beginning to bear fruit.

In August, 2014, CNN Money reported rather quizzically that Renaissance Technologies was deepening its investments in two huge Russian telecom companies whose stocks were in rapid decline, even as international security analysts were warning investors to steer clear of investing in the region as the situation in Ukraine exploded into armed conflict. The two companies that Renaissance invested in were VimpelCom and Mobile TeleSystems, “two Russian telecommunications firms with significant operations in Russia and Ukraine, according to data from FactSet.”

Alfa Group, a holding company owned by Mikhail Fridman, a Ukrainian-born billionaire with Russian and Israeli citizenship, owns a nearly controlling share of VimpelCom. Fridman has popped up before in the investigation into Trump’s Russia connections. Fridman featured prominently in the less lewd parts of the notorious Trump-Russia dossier, compiled by a former MI6 agent. On January 11th, Forbes argued that parts of the dossier should be taken seriously,

“The dossier paints a picture of a long-standing symbiotic relationship between Alfa Group and the Russian leader. More recently, the dossier claims, Alfa owners Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven have provided Putin with valuable information through their own network of business contacts in the U.S., valued particularly because of the conflicting signals Putin was getting from his diplomats and spies regarding the success of the alleged operation.”

In October, Franklin Foer published a report in Slate about how investigators had pored over internet servers under Trump’s control to look for evidence that Trump had been hacked by Russian intelligence. Instead they found something odd. They discovered a server owned by Trump, and set up in 2009, which was set up to only allow communications from a handful of other servers.

“The irregular pattern of server lookups actually resembled the pattern of human conversation—conversations that began during office hours in New York and continued during office hours in Moscow. It dawned on the researchers that this wasn’t an attack, but a sustained relationship between a server registered to the Trump Organization and two servers registered to an entity called Alfa Bank.”

The amount of incoming information was tiny, and hardly worth the price of maintaining the server. The investigators had never seen anything like it. They discovered that 87% of the incoming communication originated from two servers controlled by Alfa Bank. Fridman co-founded Alfa Bank, and he is its chairman.

When Foer reached out to Alfa for comment about the apparent relationship between a Trump owned server and two Alfa servers, Alfa replied by denying that there had ever been any contact between Fridman and Trump, or that there was any special contact or relationship between Alfa and the Trump Organization.

In 2005, US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against Alfa Bank in a defamation case. Alfa sued the Center for Public Integrity for publishing material saying that Fridman and Alfa Bank, as well as Russian banker Petr Aven, were connected to Russian organized crime. The Court ruled that Fridman was powerful enough to be considered a public figure, and thus lacked standing. In the ruling, the judge found,

In short, Aven and Fridman have assumed an unforeseen level of prominence and influence in the economic and political affairs of their nation. Russian newspapers coined a name for the leading oligarchs (Aven and Fridman among them) and the power they wielded: “semibankirschina,” or the “reign of the seven bankers.” The Financial Times in 1996 named Aven and Fridman as among the “group of seven businessmen and bankers that, according to one of their number, is now running Russia.” As the Moscow Times put it: “When Soviet leaders were in trouble, they turned to the Politburo for help. When President Boris Yeltsin is in dire straits, he turns to his own, updated version of the Politburo — the coterie of bankers and businessmen who, by all accounts, run modern Russia.”

Fridman’s Alfa Bank may be seen as the most stable and influential of this group, since it was one of the only Russian banks that survived the 1998 Russian financial crisis relatively unscathed and able to continue issuing loans.

Renaissance Technology’s seemingly ill-advised investment in VimpelCom, which is incorporated in Bermuda, was structured under Sponsored American Depository Receipts. Sponsored ADRs are a way for a foreign company to enter into a relationship with an American bank, so that an American company can buy its stocks. The stocks continue to fall, though, under the legal control and are marketed in the currency of the foreign country. This also, incidentally, falls outside of a lot of American oversight and transparency laws.

In October, an unnamed blogger at HSquared Magazine noted that, given Mercer’s relationship with Trump, his company’s relationship with VimpelCom was potentially alarming, since the walls between large Russian companies and the Russian government are often vanishingly thin.

“…there is the more serious question of Renaissance’s larger positions in Russian telecommunication firms, and, the type of information Renaissance is afforded as an investor in Russian firms with ties to the Russian government.”

It also raises the question of what information Fridman, Alfa and their friends in the Russian government may have gained access to from Renaissance, which has funded an extraordinary amount of data mining in Britain and the US.

On Monday, VimpelCom announced that it would be reinventing itself from a telecom into a global technology company with the new brand name VEON.

“We are now on course to deliver strong free cash flow growth and to paying a meaningful dividend to our shareholders.”

Mercer’s investment in VimpelCom, which flouted conventional wisdom, is suddenly about to pay major dividends for him. It’s almost like he could clearly see something just over the horizon that no one else could see. Something like a major thaw in relations between Russia and the West–an idea that would have gotten you laughed out of an international security conference in the summer of 2014.

VimpelCom-cum-VEON already had major interests around the world. The company owns 6 brands that control a top share of the overall telecom market in Russia, Ukraine, Algeria, Italy, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. It has a reputation for creating major friction when it seeks to expand. In 2015, VimpelCom (VEON) was at the center of a massive corruption scandal that rocked several countries when the company tried to conquer the telecom industry in Uzbekistan. Bloomberg reported in June, 2015,

“The U.S. claims VimpelCom Ltd., part-owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, and Mobile TeleSystems OJSC used a web of shell companies and phony consulting contracts to funnel bribes to a close relative of Uzbekistan’s president, Islam Karimov, in exchange for access to that country’s telecommunications market.”

The financial and political windfall of Brexit and the Trump presidency for the billionaires who invested in this new data and technology business arrangement is astounding. Now, with Britain disappearing into its own navel and Trump in the White House, a potential cynical detente over the fate of Ukraine and Syria is creating the geopolitical space for a company like VimpelCom to reinvent itself. Suddenly, an investment which seemed moronic two years ago is now funding a company ready to pounce on opportunities nobody else would have banked on. VEON, which has cornered the market for landline and mobile platforms in six countries, now plans to become “a revolutionary mobile internet platform that integrates powerful data analytics and artificial intelligence.” That should position them nicely to take the kind of data mining that Mercer funded in 2016 into new markets around the world. The new world order of billionaires mining the data of hundreds of millions of people to push whole societies into their pockets is only just getting started.

Msnbc, Ari Melber: Fmr. Sputnik employee: Right wing sites spread our Russian propaganda http://on.msnbc.com/2f3Wwyh
// In his first TV appearance since his FBI interview, fmr. Sputnik employee Andrew Feinberg says the FBI is scrutinizing whether Sputnik should register under criminal laws regulating foreign agents.

On December 2, 2015, during an interview with an Associated Press reporter, Trump was asked about his relationship with a fellow named Felix Sater. Trump, who was then the front-runner in the GOP presidential nomination contest, replied, “Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it. I’m not that familiar with him.” He referred questions to his Trump Organization. One of his lawyers, Alan Garten, subsequently told the AP that Sater once prospected for real estate deals for the Trump Organization and that the arrangement lasted for six months in 2010.

What neither Trump nor Garten said was that—at that very moment—Trump was in the middle of the deal to build a Trump Tower in the Russian capital and that Sater had put together the venture. As he was running for president, Trump was hiding this project from the American public, and he was insisting he barely knew the man at the center of it. This was serious deceit.

MotherJones, David Corn: How Donald Trump Lied to Conceal His Moscow Business Partner http://bit.ly/2xwcEQD
// Perhaps this was his greatest deception of the 2016 campaign.

Buzzfeed, John Hudson: Russia Sought A Broad Reset With Trump, Secret Document Shows http://bzfd.it/2xv2fVh
// A Russian proposal obtained by BuzzFeed News reveals Moscow’s ambitious plan to break with the past and launch a major rapprochement with the United States.

⭕ 11 Sep 2017

ChicagoTrib: Lawyer says extradition of oligarch tied to Trump campaign chief imminent http://trib.in/2wW3GJ3

Reuters, Mark Hosenball: Republican attempt to deflect Trump-Russia probes could backfire: sources http://reut.rs/2wWaWFa

WaPo: How Russia quietly undercuts sanctions intended to stop North Korea’s nuclear program http://wapo.st/2jj4btD

MSN/USAToday: Exclusive: Hillary Clinton says Trump associates helped Russia meddle in the 2016 election http://bit.ly/2xsX5t5

🐣 RT @kurteichenwald By accusing Comey of perjury, @PressSec just won time under klieg lights of a grand jury. These ppl need 2 start consulting w/ real lawyers.

DailyBeast: Exclusive: Russia Used Facebook Events to Organize Anti-Immigrant Rallies on U.S. Soil http://thebea.st/2eSnTqZ
// Pushing fake news was just one component of the Russian campaign to shape American minds. Part two: organizing anti-immigrant events echoing themes from the pro-Trump press.

WSJ: Some Trump Lawyers Wanted Kushner Out http://on.wsj.com/2f0kAlE
// Aides, worried about complications arising from Russia probe, drafted statement explaining departure

TheHill: Russian pol: US intel missed ‘Russian intelligence’ stealing ‘the president of the United States’ http://bit.ly/2xWHU7E

On a Sunday panel show, a Russian politician said U.S. “intelligence missed it when Russian intelligence stole the president of the United States.”

Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the Russian parliamentary body, the Duma, made the remarks on the panel show “Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov.” 

The focus of the episode was the decline of U.S. power in the world. In that context, said University of Virginia professor Allen Lynch via email, Nikonov was less stating the extent of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, and more mocking the resulting chaos as emblematic of U.S. weakness.

“His point in making the remark was that if the U.S. can’t protect the integrity of its own electoral system, then how powerful can it really be?” wrote Lynch.

Yahoo, Michael Isikoff & Hunter Walker: Sputnik, the Russian news agency, is under investigation by the FBI http://yhoo.it/2eQwLgY

⭕ 10 Sep 2017

🐣💙 RT @realDonaldTrump 11 Nov 2013
@AgalarovAras I had a great weekend with you and your family. You have done a FANTASTIC job. TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next. EMIN was WOW!

 Politico Mag, Molly McKew: The Gerasimov Doctrine http://politi.co/2wQm9cA
// Sep/Oct issue; It’s Russia’s new chaos theory of political warfare. And it’s probably being used on you.

⭕ 9 Sep 2017

⭕ 8 Sep 2017

VanityFair: Trey Gowdy’s War on the Steele Dossier http://bit.ly/2faSyAL

 WaPo, Anne Applebaum: The case for Trump-Russia collusion: We’re getting very, very close http://wapo.st/2wXlSC5

TheNation, Bob Dreyfuss: Who Is Felix Sater, and Why Is Donald Trump So Afraid of Him? http://bit.ly/2gYfFSI
// This mob-linked operator and ex-con could be the key to the Russiagate investigation.

NYT, Siva Vaidhyanathan: Facebook Wins, Democracy Loses http://nyti.ms/2xbYoeG

Reuters: Best Buy stops sale of Russia-based Kaspersky products http://reut.rs/2xVqE3q

DailyBeast, Betsy Woodruff: Mueller Wants to Talk to Hope Hicks Over Misleading Russia Statement http://thebea.st/2xSy9ap
// “No doubt in my mind [Hope Hicks] is going to be a witness,” a source familiar with the Mueller probe told The Daily Beast.

WaPo: Mueller gives White House names of 6 aides he expects to question in Russia probe http://wapo.st/

TheHill: US pulls back surveillance on ISIS convoy at Russian request http://bit.ly/2wOI9V5

Reuters: New Russian envoy describes ‘warm’ meeting with Trump: agencies http://reut.rs/2f95arR

TheGuardian: Nato chief: world is at its most dangerous point in a generation http://bit.ly/2eMyfca
// Jens Stoltenberg warns of converging threats as Russia mobilises estimated 100,000 troops on EU’s borders

⭕ 7 Sep 2017

Medium, Casey Michel: How Russia Created the Most Popular Texas Secession Page on Facebook http://bit.ly/2wPyiyi
// When is a Texan not a Texan?

Dkos: Alpha Bank, Putin, Trump and Betsy DeVos. Why the bizarre Russian-Trump computer connections? http://bit.ly/2vJR9XM

WaPo, Margaret Sullivan: Facebook’s role in Trump’s win is clear. No matter what Mark Zuckerberg says. http://wapo.st/2wMx4nD

Would Donald Trump be president today if Facebook didn’t exist? Although there is a long list of reasons for his win, there’s increasing reason to believe the answer is no.

ThinkProgress: Donald Trump Jr.’s statement to Senate investigators is bad news for his dad http://bit.ly/2xQjNau

Eight people attended the Trump Tower meeting with the Russian lawyer: Donald Trump Jr. himself, Jared Kushner, former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, publicist Rob Goldstone, a translator, and Irakly Kaveladze — who runs the company of the Russian billionaire who set up the meeting. Many of the Russian attendees have checkered pasts, ranging from money-laundering schemes to associations with Russia’s counterintelligence service.

DailyBeast, Katie Zawadski: Russians Flock to Trump Properties to Give Birth to U.S. Citizens http://thebea.st/2f6X3vP
// While the president rails against children of undocumented immigrants, wealthy Russians rent his condos—at huge costs—so they can have American kids.

 Grist: Facebook’s Fight Against Fake News Was Undercut by Fear of Conservative Backlash http://bit.ly/2wb6a4o
// 11/14/2016

ForeignPolicy: The Robots Will Run the CIA, Too http://atfp.co/2vPi5tl

NYT: Trump Jr. Says He Wanted Russian Dirt to Determine Clinton’s ‘Fitness’ for Office http://nyti.ms/2xdQDpw

NYT, Scott Shane: The Fake Americans Russia Created to Influence the Election http://nyti.ms/2f8sV3x

Sometimes an international offensive begins with a few shots that draw little notice. So it was last year when Melvin Redick of Harrisburg, Pa., a friendly-looking American with a backward baseball cap and a young daughter, posted on Facebook a link to a brand-new website.

“These guys show hidden truth about Hillary Clinton, George Soros and other leaders of the US,” he wrote on June 8, 2016. “Visit #DCLeaks website. It’s really interesting!”

Mr. Redick turned out to be a remarkably elusive character. No Melvin Redick appears in Pennsylvania records, and his photos seem to be borrowed from an unsuspecting Brazilian. But this fictional concoction has earned a small spot in history: The Redick posts that morning were among the first public signs of an unprecedented foreign intervention in American democracy.

The DCLeaks site had gone live a few days earlier, posting the first samples of material, stolen from prominent Americans by Russian hackers, that would reverberate through the presidential election campaign and into the Trump presidency. The site’s phony promoters were in the vanguard of a cyberarmy of counterfeit Facebook and Twitter accounts, a legion of Russian-controlled impostors whose operations are still being unraveled.

The Russian information attack on the election did not stop with the hacking and leaking of Democratic emails or the fire hose of stories, true, false and in between, that battered Mrs. Clinton on Russian outlets like RT and Sputnik. Far less splashy, and far more difficult to trace, was Russia’s experimentation on Facebook and Twitter, the American companies that essentially invented the tools of social media and, in this case, did not stop them from being turned into engines of deception and propaganda.

An investigation by The New York Times, and new research from the cybersecurity firm FireEye, reveals some of the mechanisms by which suspected Russian operators used Twitter and Facebook to spread anti-Clinton messages and promote the hacked material they had leaked. On Wednesday, Facebook officials disclosed that they had shut down several hundred accounts that they believe were created by a Russian company linked to the Kremlin and used to buy $100,000 in ads pushing divisive issues during and after the American election campaign.

On Twitter, as on Facebook, Russian fingerprints are on hundreds or thousands of fake accounts that regularly posted anti-Clinton messages. Many were automated Twitter accounts, called bots, that sometimes fired off identical messages seconds apart — and in the exact alphabetical order of their made-up names, according to the FireEye researchers. On Election Day, for instance, they found that one group of Twitter bots sent out the hashtag #WarAgainstDemocrats more than 1,700 times.

The Russian efforts were sometimes crude or off-key, with a trial-and-error feel, and many of the suspect posts were not widely shared. The fakery may have added only modestly to the din of genuine American voices in the pre-election melee, but it helped fuel a fire of anger and suspicion in a polarized country.

Given the powerful role of social media in political contests, understanding the Russian efforts will be crucial in preventing or blunting similar, or more sophisticated, attacks in the 2018 congressional races and the 2020 presidential election. Multiple government agencies have investigated the Russian attack, though it remains unclear whether any agency is focused specifically on tracking foreign intervention in social media. Both Facebook and Twitter say they are studying the 2016 experience and how to defend against such meddling.

Though both companies have been slow to grapple with the problem of manipulation, they have stepped up efforts to purge fake accounts. Facebook says it takes down a million accounts a day — including some that were related to the recent French election and upcoming German voting — but struggles to keep up with the illicit activity. Still, the company says the abuse affects only a small fraction of the social network; Facebook officials estimated that of all the “civic content” posted on the site in connection with the United States election, less than one-tenth of one percent resulted from “information operations” like the Russian campaign.

Twitter, unlike Facebook, does not require the use of a real name and does not prohibit automated accounts, arguing that it seeks to be a forum for open debate. But it constantly updates a “trends” list of most-discussed topics or hashtags, and it says it tries to foil attempts to use bots to create fake trends. However, FireEye found that the suspected Russian bots sometimes managed to do just that, in one case causing the hashtag #HillaryDown to be listed as a trend.

Clinton Watts, a former F.B.I. agent who has closely tracked Russian activity online, said that Facebook and Twitter suffered from a “bot cancer eroding trust on their platforms.” But he added that while Facebook “has begun cutting out the tumors by deleting false accounts and fighting fake news,” Twitter has done little and as a result, “bots have only spread since the election.”

Asked to comment, Twitter referred to a blog post in June in which it said it was “doubling down” on efforts to prevent manipulation but could not reveal details for fear of tipping off those trying to evade the company’s measures. But it declared that Twitter’s “open and real-time nature is a powerful antidote” to falsehoods.

Leaks and Counterfeit Profiles

Russia has been quite open about playing its hacking card. In February last year, at a conference in Moscow, a top cyberintelligence adviser to President Vladimir V. Putin hinted that Russia was about to unleash a devastating information attack on the United States.

“We are living in 1948,” said the adviser, Andrey Krutskikh, referring to the eve of the first Soviet atomic bomb test, in a speech reported by The Washington Post. “I’m warning you: We are at the verge of having something in the information arena that will allow to us to talk to the Americans as equals.

Mr. Putin’s denials of Russian meddling have been coy. In June, he allowed that “free-spirited” hackers might have awakened in a good mood one day and spontaneously decided to contribute to “the fight against those who say bad things about Russia.” Speaking to NBC News, he rejected the idea that evidence pointed to Russia — while showing a striking familiarity with how cyberattackers might cover their tracks.

“IP addresses can be simply made up,” Mr. Putin said, referring to Internet protocol addresses, which can identify particular computers. “There are such IT specialists in the world today, and they can arrange anything and then blame it on whomever. This is no proof.”

Mr. Putin had a point. Especially in the social media realm, attributing fake accounts — to Russia or to any other source — is always challenging. In January, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency concluded “with high confidence” that Mr. Putin had ordered an influence operation to damage Mrs. Clinton’s campaign and eventually aid Donald J. Trump’s. In April, Facebook published a public report on information operations using fake accounts. It shied away from naming Russia as the culprit until Wednesday, when the company said it had removed 470 “inauthentic” accounts and pages that were “likely operated out of Russia.” Facebook officials fingered a St. Petersburg company with Kremlin ties called the Internet Research Agency.

Russia deliberately blurs its role in influence operations, American intelligence officials say. Even skilled investigators often cannot be sure if a particular Facebook post or Twitter bot came from Russian intelligence employees, paid “trolls” in Eastern Europe or hackers from Russia’s vast criminal underground. A Russian site called buyaccs.com (“Buy Bulk Accounts at Best Prices”) offers for sale a huge array of pre-existing social media accounts, including on Facebook and Twitter; like wine, the older accounts cost more, because their history makes chicanery harder to spot.

The trail that leads from the Russian operation to the bogus Melvin Redick, however, is fairly clear. United States intelligence concluded that DCLeaks.com was created in June 2016 by the Russian military intelligence agency G.R.U. The site began publishing an eclectic collection of hacked emails, notably from George Soros, the financier and Democratic donor, as well as a former NATO commander and some Democratic and Republican staffers. Some of the website’s language — calling Mrs. Clinton “President of the Democratic Party” and referring to her “electional staff” — seemed to belie its pose as a forum run by American activists.

DCLeaks would soon be followed by a blog called Guccifer 2.0, which would leave even more clues of its Russian origin. Those sites’ posts, however, would then be dwarfed by those from WikiLeaks, which American officials believe got thousands of Democratic emails from Russian intelligence hackers through an intermediary. At each stage, a chorus of dubious Facebook and Twitter accounts — alongside many legitimate ones — would applaud the leaks.

During its first weeks online, DCLeaks drew no media attention. But The Times found that some Facebook users somehow discovered the new site quickly and began promoting it on June 8. One was the Redick account, which posted about DCLeaks to the Facebook groups “World News Headlines” and “Breaking News — World.”

The Redick profile lists Central High School in Philadelphia and Indiana University of Pennsylvania as his alma maters; neither has any record of his attendance. In one of his photos, this purported Pennsylvania lifer is sitting in a restaurant in Brazil — and in another, his daughter’s bedroom appears to have a Brazilian-style electrical outlet. His posts were never personal, just news articles reflecting a pro-Russian worldview.

⭕ 6 Sep 2017

CNN: Schiff: Russian Facebook ad buy confirms disinformation finding http://cnn.it/2gJf1Vp

💙💙 McClatchy (Jul): Trump-Russia investigators probe Jared Kushner-run digital operation http://bit.ly/2uiiVOa
// 7/12/2017

 TIME, Massimo Calabresi (May): Inside Russia’s Social Media War on America http://ti.me/2wHRXj0
// 5/18/2017

 JustSecurity: A Second Look at the Steele Dossier—Knowing What We Know Now http://bit.ly/2wHK6BO rec’d by @SethAbramson

WIRED (Jul): Did Trump’s Data Team Help Russian Hackers? Facebook Might Have the Answer http://bit.ly/2xbQtie
// 7/15/2017

NYT: Fake Russian Facebook Accounts Bought $100,000 in Political Ads http://nyti.ms/2gMWFq3

WaPo: Facebook says it sold political ads to Russian company during 2016 election http://wapo.st/2eGDR7H

DailyBeast: Russia-Linked Hackers Breached 100 Nuclear and Power Plants Just This Year http://thebea.st/2wGELLq

PublicIntelligence[.]net: DHS Report Finds “Immeasurable Vulnerabilities and Attack Vectors” Against U.S. Critical Infrastructure http://bit.ly/2wGyijz

⭕ 2 Sep 2017

 Politico: U.S. Army unprepared to deal with Russia in Europe http://politi.co/2evvzQ4
// A self-assessment by the 173rd Airborne Brigade is called ‘a real eye-opener’ to how some critical capabilities to deter Russia have eroded.

The U.S. Army’s rapid reaction force in Europe is under-equipped, undermanned and inadequately organized to confront military aggression from Russia or its high-tech proxies, according to an internal study that some who have read it view as a wake-up call as the Trump administration seeks to deter an emboldened Vladimir Putin.

Some of the shortfalls, like the brigade’s lack of air defense and electronic warfare units and over-reliance on satellite communications and GPS navigation systems, are the direct results of the Army’s years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the enemy has no air power or other high-end equipment and technology.

🐣 RT @jedshug Pence may now be implicated w/ S. Miller in conspiracy/aiding obstruction of justice,18 USC 1512 or misprision of felony
⋙ @maggieNYT Pence was in the Oval for key meetings on May 8 as Trump read his letter draft

⭕ 1 Sep 2017

WaPo, Ruth Marcus: The deal Trump wanted with Russia http://wapo.st/2wvuWhB

RawStory: Law prof explains legal reasoning why Trump’s new memo puts Mike Pence ‘in legal jeopardy’ for impeachment http://bit.ly/2grCVVk

WaPo, James Downie: Republicans’ newest charge against James Comey is a cheap stunt http://wapo.st/2xF6eeH

NYT: Software Glitch or Russian Hackers? Election Problems Draw Little Scrutiny http://nyti.ms/2woNnpA

⭕ 31 Aug 2017

Politico, Josh Gerstein: GOP senators: Comey drafted statement clearing Clinton before her interview http://politi.co/2vOwHV4
// Grassley, Graham say evidence suggests decision not to file charges was ‘prejudged’.

BusinessInsider: Manafort’s notes from the Trump Tower Russia meeting reportedly mention ‘donations’ and the RNC http://read.bi/2vvIhsJ

MotherJones, Bill Buzenberg: All the Trump-Russia News You May Have Missed. http://bit.ly/2enj8FZ
// The scandal engulfing the White House didn’t pause for Charlottesville, North Korea, or Hurricane Harvey.

Vox, Andrew Prokop: Paul Manafort’s central role in the Trump-Russia investigation, explained http://bit.ly/2wmR8Ms

WaPo, Eugene Robinson: The bad news about ‘this Russia thing’ keeps pouring in for Trump http://wapo.st/2xBER5b

DailyBeast, Betsy Woodruff: Exclusive: Mueller Enlists the IRS for His Trump-Russia Investigation http://thebea.st/2wrzt4q

Bloomberg: Kushners’ China Deal Flop Was Part of Much Bigger Hunt for Cash http://bloom.bg/2wq0G7D

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, wakes up each morning to a growing problem that will not go away. His family’s real estate business, Kushner Cos., owes hundreds of millions of dollars on a 41-story office building on Fifth Avenue. It has failed to secure foreign investors, despite an extensive search, and its resources are more limited than generally understood. As a result, the company faces significant challenges.

Over the past two years, executives and family members have sought substantial overseas investment from previously undisclosed places: South Korea’s sovereign-wealth fund, France’s richest man, Israeli banks and insurance companies, and exploratory talks with a Saudi developer, according to former and current executives. These were in addition to previously reported attempts to raise money in China and Qatar.

⭕ 30 Aug 2017

Politico: Mueller teams up with New York attorney general in Manafort probe http://politi.co/2vu51JC
// The cooperation is the latest sign that the investigation into Trump’s former campaign chairman is intensifying.

FinancialTimes: Russian lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin testifies to Mueller grand jury http://on.ft.com/2vGH51P

PBS/AP: Kremlin confirms Trump’s lawyer reached out about deal http://to.pbs.org/2wonJj8

⭕ 29 Aug 2017

WaPo, Philip Lacovara: How the pardon power could end Trump’s presidency http://wapo.st/2wIjP7A
// Philip Allen Lacovara, a former U.S. deputy solicitor general in the Justice Department, served as counsel to Watergate special prosecutors Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski.

TheGuardian (Dec): Czechoslovakia spied on Donald and Ivana Trump, communist-era files show http://bit.ly/2x2E4wz
// 12/15/2016

CNN: Special counsel subpoenas Manafort’s former attorney and spokesman http://cnn.it/2vI1RgD

MotherJones, Russ Choma: Trump’s Moscow Partner Was Apparently Financed by a Russian Bank Under US Sanctions http://bit.ly/2vCSwYe

⭕ 28 Aug 2017

🐣 RT @brianklaas The Don Jr & Felix Sater e-mails make it undeniably clear that Trump’s associates aimed to collude with Vladimir Putin to get Trump elected.

 NYT, Odd Arne Westad: The Cold War and America’s Delusion of Victory http://nyti.ms/2xHwPa3

NBC: Mueller Team Asking If Trump Tried to Hide Purpose of Trump Tower Meeting http://nbcnews.to/2wdQtNi

WaPo: Top Trump Organization executive asked Putin aide for help on business deal http://wapo.st/2xHrhg0

NYT: Trump Associate Boasted That Moscow Business Deal ‘Will Get Donald Elected’ http://nyti.ms/2xstY5L

⭕ 27 Aug 2017k

🐣 RT @ABCPolitics Houston SWAT officer carries mother and her 13-month-old son to safety amid rising floodwaters from #Harvey http://abcn.ws/2xot4qN 
// Pulitzer class photo

WashingtonMonthly: Mitch McConnell’s Sinister Role in the Russian Hacks http://bit.ly/2ggGS2E
// 6/28/2017, With the normalization of Trump’s antics, it is unfortunately all too easy to overlook the sheer rottenness of Mitch McConnell.

WaPo: Trump’s business sought deal on a Trump Tower in Moscow while he ran for president http://wapo.st/2vBoSln https://twitter.com/ABCPolitics/status/901907098308575232/photo/1

⭕ 26 Aug 2017

⭕ 25 Aug 2017

Trump’s “Good News about Trump” finder guy also resigned today. Likely because there was no good news about Trump.

TheHill: Phoenix mayor rips Trump: Pardoning Arpaio ‘a slap in the face’ http://bit.ly/2veLTPX

Mayor Greg Stanton: “Pardoning Joe Arpaio is a slap in the face to the people of Maricopa County, especially the Latino community and those he victimized as he systematically and illegally violated their civil rights.

“Arpaio target and terrorized Latino families because of the color of their skin. He was ordered by a federal judge to stop and he refused,” Stanton continued. “He received a fair trial and a justifiable conviction, and there’s nothing the President can do to change the awful legacy and the stains he left on our community.

“Donald Trump can ignore the rule of law, but it was our voters who removed Joe Arpaio from power.”

🐣 RT @CatherineRampell If you ever doubted “law & order” was just code for encouraging police harassment of people of color, Arpaio pardon should put that to rest

WaPo: Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Texas as Category 4 storm http://wapo.st/2wP5Ufx

Senator John McCain’s statement on pardon of Joe Arpaio http://bit.ly/2wwx2Ab https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/901284229987880960/photo/1

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement today on President Trump’s pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio:

“No one is above the law and the individuals entrusted with the privilege of being sworn law officers should always seek to be beyond reproach in their commitment to fairly enforcing the laws they swore to uphold. Mr. Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for continuing to illegally profile Latinos living in Arizona based on their perceived immigration status in violation of a judge’s orders. The President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.”

NYT: Trump Pardons Sheriff Joe Arpaio http://nyti.ms/2xAyA97

TheHill: Gorka resigns from White House http://bit.ly/2xkfeWz

BerkmanKleinCenter (Harvard): Partisan Right-Wing Websites Shaped Mainstream Press Coverage Before 2016 Election, Study Finds http://bit.ly/2wwyWAQ
BerkmanKleinCenter (Harvard): Partisanship, Propaganda, & Disinformation: Online Media & the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election [pdf] http://bit.ly/2xkh0ag 140p
// separately, exec summary, introduction

WaPo, Eric Wemple: Studies agree: Media gorged on Hillary Clinton email coverage http://wapo.st/2vwMUhH

WaPo: Trump confronts unprecedented public rebuke by Gary Cohn after Charlottesville http://wapo.st/2wvQ6i4

🔆 This❗️⋙ WSJ: Special Counsel Examines Possible Role Flynn Played in Seeking Clinton Emails From Hackers http://on.wsj.com/2wFZXlE
// Mueller probe of potential link between Trump campaign and Russia follows trail of GOP operative’s correspondence

1 ⋙ U.S. officials with knowledge of the intelligence said investigators also have examined reports from intelligence agencies that describe Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from Mrs. Clinton’s server and then transmit them to Mr. Flynn via an intermediary.

It isn’t known if those hackers are ones that Mr. [Peter W.] Smith contacted.

In a document Mr. Smith used to explain his efforts and recruit assistance, he named several Trump campaign officials he said were working “in coordination” with him, including Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist for the president, and Kellyanne Conway, the former campaign manager and now White House counselor. They both said they were unaware of Mr. Smith’s work and played no role in it.

2 ⋙ The investigators have also been trying to determine whether Mr. Smith or anyone working with him paid hackers for Mrs. Clinton’s emails, the people with knowledge of the investigation said. Mr. Smith set up a limited-liability company in Delaware, called KLS Research LLC, that he intended to use to pay people assisting him with his work and to collect contributions, people with direct knowledge of Mr. Smith’s efforts said.

Mr. Smith told the Journal that he never intended to pay for any of the emails found by hackers. Ultimately, he said, he couldn’t verify that all the emails the hacker groups claimed to have found were genuine, and so he didn’t acquire them. Instead, Mr. Smith said he encouraged the hackers to give the emails to WikiLeaks.

The website released emails that intelligence officials have said were stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.

NBC: Mueller Seeks Grand Jury Testimony from PR Execs Who Worked With Manafort http://nbcnews.to/2voNu1I

Salon, Heather Digby Parton: Yeah, there’s still a Russia probe — and it looks worse for Trump all the time http://bit.ly/2wN8yCv
// Trump has hissy-fits at GOP senators while Mueller interviews “Dossier Guy.” Bipartisan consensus: Big trouble

TheHill: Five things to know about Fusion GPS, the firm behind the #TrumpRussia dossier http://bit.ly/2xyxyub

⭕ 24 Aug 2017

DailyBeast: The Curious Case of the Dying Russian Diplomats http://thebea.st/2voquzJ
// Since November, at least six have passed away. Only one is known to have been murdered.

Msnbc, Rachel Maddow: Pattern of hacking preceded attendee of Trump camp Russia meeting http://on.msnbc.com/2wEj2EZ

Vox: A GOP senator wrote a bill to protect Robert Mueller. Trump called him to try to kill it. http://bit.ly/2wEvHrE Thom Tillis (R-NC)
// The president wants to keep his option to fire Mueller open.

WaPo: At CIA, a watchful eye on Mike Pompeo, the president’s ardent ally http://wapo.st/2vv21rU

WaPo, Jennifer Rubin: Trump’s obsession: Russia, Russia, Russia http://wapo.st/2w4sEY8

CNN: Top Trump aide’s email draws new scrutiny in Russia inquiry http://cnn.it/2iwTeEB

The aide, Rick Dearborn, who is now President Donald Trump’s deputy chief of staff, sent a brief email to campaign officials last year relaying information about an individual who was seeking to connect top Trump officials with Putin, the sources said.

⭕ 23 Aug 2017

Politico: Trump clashed with multiple GOP senators over Russia http://politi.co/2xdGgyB

CNN: Russia dossier firm founder speaks with Senate judiciary investigators http://cnn.it/2wA6rme

🔆 Breaking❗️⋙ Politico: Trump clashed with multiple GOP senators over Russia http://politi.co/2xdGgyB
// The conversations are evidence of rising tensions between the president and congressional Republicans heading into a critical legislative span.

CNN: 2016 Presidential Campaign Hacking Fast Facts http://cnn.it/2g60EgY
// 8/6/2017; includes timeline

══════════ ▼ TheNation: Russian Hack
TechDirt: Stories Claiming DNC Hack Was ‘Inside Job’ Rely Heavily On A Stupid Conversion Error No ‘Forensic Expert’ Would Make http://bit.ly/2wngcUo
// 8/16/2017, from the don’t-trust-anonymous-sources-unless-you-agree-with-them dept

WaPo, Eric Wemple: The Nation is reviewing a story casting doubt on Russian hack of DNC http://wapo.st/2g4JEIf
// 8/15/2017

TheHill, Joe Uchill: Why the latest theory about the DNC not being hacked is probably wrong http://bit.ly/2voaw87
// 8/14/2017

“In short, the theory is flawed,” said FireEye’s John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis at FireEye, a firm that provides forensic analysis and other cybersecurity services. 

“The author of the report didn’t consider a number of scenarios and breezed right past others. It completely ignores all the evidence that contradicts its claims.”

The theory behind the report is that it would have been impossible for information from the DNC to have been hacked due to upload and download speeds.  

The claims have slowly trickled through the media, finding backers at the right-wing site Breitbart in early June. Last week, the left-wing magazine The Nation published a 4,500-word story on the allegations.

The claims are based on metadata from the files, which were leaked by their purported hacker, Guccifer 2.0, during the 2016 election season. 

Metadata is information recorded in a file for archiving purposes and is not displayed when a file is open. It can include the last date a file is modified and note what software and devices were involved in creating the file, among other information.

When files are copied to a new device, the metadata can record the time each file finishes being duplicated as the time it was “last modified.” 

A blogger named “The Forensicator” analyzed the “last modified” times in one set of documents released by Guccifer 2.0. Based on the size of the documents and the times they were downloaded, Forensicator calculated that a hacker was able to copy the files at a speed of more than 20 megabytes per second. 

That is faster than consumer internet services in the United States can upload documents.

As a result, Forensicator concluded that the documents could not have been copied over the internet. Instead, someone with physical access to the network must have copied them in person to a USB drive, the blogger concluded. 

“This theory assumes that the hacker downloaded the files to a computer and then leaked it from that computer,” said Rich Barger, director of security research at Splunk. 

But, said Barger and other experts, that overlooks the possibility the files were copied multiple times before being released, something that may be more probable than not in a bureaucracy like Russian intelligence. 

“A hacker might have downloaded it to one computer, then shared it by USB to an air gapped [off the internet] network for translation, then copied by a different person for analysis, then brought a new USB to an entirely different air gapped computer to determine a strategy all before it was packaged for Guccifer 2.0 to leak,” said Barger.

Every time the files were copied, depending on the method they were transmitted, there would be a new chance for the metadata to be changed. 

Hultquist said the date that Forensicator believes that the files were downloaded, based on the metadata, is almost definitely not the date the files were removed from the DNC. 

That date, July 5, 2016, was far later than the April dates when the DNC hackers registered “electionleaks.com” and “DCLeaks.com.” Hulquist noted that the DNC hackers likely had stolen files by the time they began determining their strategy to post them. 

The July date is also months after the DNC brought in FireEye competitor CrowdStrike to remove the hackers from their network and well after Crowdstrike first attributed the attack to Russia. 

With increased scrutiny on the network, it would be a high-risk way to remove files. And if an insider removed files from the DNC on July 5, it could just as likely be a second, unrelated attack to the Russian one. 

Even if there were no other scenarios that would create the same metadata, experts note that metadata is among the easiest pieces of forensic evidence to falsify. It would be far more difficult to fabricate other evidence pointing to Russia, including the malware only known to be used by the suspected Russian hackers, and internet and email addresses seen in previous attacks by that group.

Forensicator’s claim that 20 to 25 megabyte per second downloads would be impossible over the internet also raised eyebrows. 

John Bambenek, threat systems manager at the security firm Fidelis, noted that while home internet, where uploads are much slower than downloads, would not allow that speed, corporate and cloud networks could do so.

The DNC would not provide details about its upload speeds in July of 2016.

Proponents of the Forensicator theory have accused CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch of being biased against Russia, negating his firm’s analysis. 

But CrowdStrke was not the only firm to conclude Russia was behind the attack. 

Other companies independently discovered evidence that linked the attacks to the same culprit. SecureWorks found an improperly secured URL shortening account used by Fancy Bear while investigating other attacks by the group. That account contained evidence of nearly 4,000 phishing attacks Fancy Bear waged against Gmail addresses — the attack that ensnared Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email account among them. 

In the end, Fidelis, FireEye, SecureWorks, Threat Connect and other CrowdStrike competitors all confirmed Crowdstike’s results.

The intelligence community, including the CIA, FBI and NSA, also claims to have evidence the attacks were coordinated by Moscow, though they have not released their evidence to the public.

“I find it interesting that people are so eager to believe that Dmitri Alperovitch is biased, but willing to accept the forensics of an anonymous blogger, with no reputation, that no one knows anything about,” said Hultquist.

The cybersecurity industry is not shy about shaming competitors for spurious research. Companies have gone out of business after high-profile reports were disproven.

“This industry loves to eat itself up. If you get something wrong, your peers will tell you,” said Barger.

“When this many brands agree on something, come together to provide several different aspects of the attack, sometimes it’s true.”

NYMag, Brian Feldman: The Nation Article About the DNC Hack Is Too Incoherent to Even Debunk http://slct.al/2w3qI0c
// 8/10/2017

Bloomberg, Leonid Bershidsky: Why Some U.S. Ex-Spies Don’t Buy the Russia Story http://bloom.bg/2wxIvwt
↥ ↧
TheNation, Patrick Lawrence: A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year’s DNC Hack http://bit.ly/2vlm6DU
// 8/9/2017

Editor’s note: After publication, the Democratic National Committee contacted The Nation with a response, writing, “U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the Russian government hacked the DNC in an attempt to interfere in the election. Any suggestion otherwise is false and is just another conspiracy theory like those pushed by Trump and his administration. It’s unfortunate that The Nation has decided to join the conspiracy theorists to push this narrative.”
══════════ ▲

⭕ 22 Aug 2017

WaPo, Casey Michel: America’s neo-Nazis don’t look to Germany for inspiration. They look to Russia. http://wapo.st/2xseeit

FastCompany: #FireMcMaster, Not Damore: Twitter Bots Are Thriving, And They’re More Lethal Than Ever http://bit.ly/2vr2xtZ
// 8/10/2017

⭕ 21 Aug 2017

NYMag, Jonathan Chait: That Russian Guy Who Attended the Trump Tower Meeting Is Almost Definitely a Spy http://nym.ag/2vU9eoL

NYT: Lobbyist at Trump Campaign Meeting Has a Web of Russian Connections http://bit.ly/2vd6HXS Rinat Akhmetshin

He has an association with a former deputy head of a Russian spy service, the F.S.B., and a history of working for close allies of President Vladimir V. Putin. Twice, he has worked on legal battles for Russian tycoons whose opponents suffered sophisticated hacking attacks, arousing allegations of computer espionage. He helped federal prosecutors bring corruption charges against an American businessman in the former Soviet Union who turned out to be working for the C.I.A.

Mr. Akhmetshin’s meeting with Trump campaign officials is of keen interest to Mr. Mueller, who is investigating the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. Of all the visitors who attended the June 2016 session at the Trump Tower, he appears to have the most direct ties to Russian intelligence. The session was arranged by a Russian businessman close to Mr. Putin whose emissary promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

⭕ 17 Aug 2017

WaPo, David Ignatius: Russia’s election meddling backfired — big-time http://wapo.st/2uWazsm

 Salon, Heather Digby Parton: Trump, the alt-right and the Kremlin: White supremacists’ Russia links are no secret http://bit.ly/2weGSqB
// Neo-Nazis, white supremacists and Donald Trump all have deep ties to Russia — and this “conspiracy” isn’t hidden

WaPo: The story behind a retracted CNN report on the Trump campaign and Russia http://wapo.st/2weVrus

ForeignPolicy: WikiLeaks Turned Down Leaks on Russian Government During U.S. Presidential Campaign http://atfp.co/2w6ljZ1
// The leak organization ignored damaging information on the Kremlin to focus on Hillary Clinton and election-related hacks

MotherJones: A Putin-Friendly Oligarch’s Top US Executive Donated $285,000 to Trump http://bit.ly/2x7aOBt

⭕ 16 Aug 2017

TheHill: Assange meets US congressman, vows to prove Russia did not leak him documents http://bit.ly/2uVjFWd

MSNBC, Rachel Maddow: Russia still helping Trump, hacked mail story suggests http://on.msnbc.com/2uNibBb
// Rachel Maddow looks at the timeline of a Trump-promoted, hacked e-mail-driven conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton collusion with Ukraine as it made its way through the White House, a Russian web site, and Fox News on its way to Trump supporters.

BI: Trump-Russia emails suggest Moscow’s attempt to infiltrate the campaign may have gone further than we knew http://read.bi/2i9Yuhb

 🔆 This❗️⋙ NYT: In Ukraine, a Malware Expert Who Could Blow the Whistle on Russian Hacking http://nyti.ms/2x5rFEG

TheGuardian: Will 2017 be Rupert Murdoch’s summer of despair? http://bit.ly/2vGhKHJ
// Seth Rich story

NPR: The Man Behind The Scenes In Fox News’ Discredited Seth Rich Story http://n.pr/2vGh8lD Ed Butowsky

⭕ 14 Aug 2017

DailyBeast, Lachlan Markay, Spencer Ackerman: Paul Manafort Sought $850 Million Deal With Putin Ally and Alleged Gangster http://thebea.st/2w8q57Y

WaPo: Trump campaign emails show aide’s repeated efforts to set up Russia meetings http://wapo.st/2wZ0DPe

CBS: Trump adviser emails show attempts to set up Russia meeting, report says http://cbsn.ws/2uEawFy

NYT: Russia-West Balancing Act Grows Ever More Wobbly in Belarus http://nyti.ms/2vD4Jx1 joint Russian/Belarus military exercises

⭕ 13 Aug 2017

ForeignAffairs, Robert David English (Mar): Russia, Trump, and a New Détente ~ Fixing U.S.-Russian Relations fam.ag/2vASWzv
// 3/10/2017

 WIRED, Garrett Graff: A Guide to Russia’s High Tech Tool Box for Subverting US Democracy http://bit.ly/2vzLKDv

Newsweek: Trump and Russia: We Are Losing the War Against Disinformation, and It Is Our Fault http://bit.ly/2w3SdsS

Through his inaction, Tillerson is not only sending the Kremlin a message that the U.S. does not care to combat Russian disinformation. To date, the European Union has also been absent in many of the policymaking discussions surrounding fake news in Europe, as Frederica Mogherini has refused to dedicate monetary or human resources to the EU’s East Stratcom Task Force, leaving the continent’s efforts to fight disinformation disjointed and duplicative. The United States seems to be headed down a similar path. The Global Engagement Center could serve as the convener and agenda-setter for the response to disinformation both in Washington and among allies in Europe. By blocking its funding, Tillerson is once again abdicating U.S. leadership where it is needed most.

⭕ 12 Aug 2017

NYT: Mueller Is Said to Seek Interviews With West Wing in Russia Case http://nyti.ms/2wETkgu

⭕ 11 Aug 2017

NYT, Peter Baker: Combative Trump Pulls His Punches for One Man: Putin http://nyti.ms/2vuMcmn

🐣 Trump is a demagogue, not a populist. #inners

TheHill: Merkel: Escalation of rhetoric on North Korea is wrong answer http://bit.ly/2vrc9oG

Slate: Paul Manafort Is Toast. The FBI Raid Was Just the Beginning. http://slate.me/2fyy87w

RT @TeaPainUSA Mueller’s workin’ hard to make sure Manafort has unpardonable RICO charges so Trump’s pardons are useless. Manafort will take Trump down.

PoliticusUSA: Trump’s Russia Troubles Grow As Congressional Investigators Want To Question His Secretary http://bit.ly/2vYAdQz

⭕ 10 Aug 2017

 ForeignPolicy: Here’s the Memo That Blew Up the NSC http://atfp.co/2uyB4ns
// about Richard Higgins, “leftists and Islamists”; Fired White House staffer argued “deep state” attacked Trump administration because the president represents a threat to cultural Marxist memes, globalists, and bankers

Politico: Legal fight breaks out over deposition of Trump dossier author Christopher Steele http://politi.co/2wQKwTK

RawStory: Former Russian Ambassador goes on epic rant after Trump ‘disses Americans – to praise Putin’ http://bit.ly/2hPXhvd

Newsweek (Jul): Bernie Sanders Says ‘It’s No Great Secret’ Russia Was Trying to Divide Democrats Against Hillary http://bit.ly/2wzQNnq
// 7/19/2017

NPR: Russian Cyberattack Targeted Elections Vendor Tied To Voting Day Disruptions http://n.pr/2fwOgGH

Buzzfeed: Four Top Cybersecurity Officials Are Leaving US Government http://bzfd.it/2uLkNLi

 TheIndependent: Anne Frank Centre warns of ‘alarming parallels’ between Trump’s America and Hitler’s Germany http://ind.pn/2vTGoGa

NYT: Trump Offers Putin Thanks, Not Critique, for Throwing Out U.S. Diplomats http://nyti.ms/2wyUvh4

Bloomberg: With Bank Subpoenas, Mueller Turns Up the Heat on Manafort http://bloom.bg/2vrao9j
// Manafort told FBI about June 2016 meeting

Politico: Trump thanks Putin for expelling U.S. diplomats http://http://politi.co/2vr481p

 Axios, Mike Allen & Jim Vandehei: The Committee to Save America http://bit.ly/2vncBEs //➔ actually, I’ve prayed for something like this
// 4 generals, McConnell, Ryan, “New Yorkers”: Dina Powell, Steve Mnuchin

RollingStone, Bob Dreyfus: Sebastian Gorka, the West Wing’s Phony Foreign-Policy Guru http://rol.st/2fvCjRz
// Gorka’s a former Breitbart editor with Islamophobic views and ties to neo-Nazi extremists – and he has the ear of the president

… “It’s surreal and quite horrifying that someone who’s such an amateur has reached such heights,” says David Ucko, associate professor in the Department of War and Conflict Studies at National Defense University. Adds Michael S. Smith II, a veteran terrorism analyst who’s had unpleasant run-ins with Gorka, “This is not somebody who should be working anywhere near the White House.” Even more bluntly, a colleague of Smith’s, Cindy Storer, an ex-CIA terrorism analyst, said, “He’s nuts.” …

[A] former top White House official tells Rolling Stone, “His only job appears to be to go on talk radio or Fox News to defend the indefensible.” That he does constantly, spinning the administration’s confused, roller-coaster ride of a foreign policy; slamming “the fake-news industrial complex,” on CNN; supporting a Supreme Court decision as “a slap in the face” to critics of Trump’s Muslim travel ban, on talk radio; and, on MSNBC, explaining Donald Trump Jr.’s secret meeting with a team of Russians peddling dirt as “a massive nothingburger.”

Almost as soon as they entered the Trump administration, the Gorkas absorbed withering incoming fire from national-security experts and in a series of exposés in The Forward, a progressive Jewish periodical. By late April, White House sources told The New York Times and The Washington Post that Gorka was on the way out. Yet so far – likely thanks to support from Bannon – both Gorkas have defiantly stayed in place. According to one insider, Gorka’s dubious qualifications may have saved him. “The White House tried to find him a job at another agency,” says the source. But no luck: “Nobody wanted him.” 

Insisting everywhere that he be referred to as “doctor,” Gorka began his rise with a 2008 Ph.D. awarded by little-known Corvinus University of Budapest, an institution that several scholars who spoke to Rolling Stone described as having a questionable reputation. “Corvinus is pretty low-tier, maybe third- or fourth-tier,” says Daniel Nexon, a scholar at Georgetown University who has reviewed Gorka’s dissertation. “He might as well have mail-ordered his Ph.D.” Nexon ran its text through plagiarism software and found that portions of it were “repurposed.”

[T]hree people who served as endorsers of Gorka’s Ph.D., two didn’t have any academic credentials whatsoever, and a third was György Schöpflin, a right-wing Hungarian politician who, Reynolds adds, was a Gorka family friend and once suggested studding a Hungarian border fence with pig heads to send a message to Muslim refugees.

Perhaps even more worrisome, Gorka’s thesis proposed a dramatic restructuring of the national-security apparatus to create a police state. He suggests a radical reform of “internal barriers between the police force, the army and various intelligence services.” This could also be seen as the start of a Gestapo-like, all-powerful national system of repression. “That’s about as Nazi Germany- or Soviet Union-like a proposal as I’ve ever heard,” says Patrick Eddington of the conservative Cato Institute. “The net effect would be to suspend the Bill of Rights, if his proposal ever saw the light of day.”

During the decade and a half Gorka spent in Hungary, he was enmeshed in a web of ultraright, anti-Semitic and even Nazi-like parties, politicians and media outlets. For most of the 2000s, the Gorkas ran a think tank in Budapest called the Institute for Transitional Democracy and International Security (ITDIS). For funding, Gorka received at least $27,650 in U.S. federal grants, according to government records. “We worked for ourselves,” Katharine Gorka tells Rolling Stone.

In the mid-2000s, Hungary’s left-leaning government found itself besieged by right-wing street protests. Many of the protesters were affiliated with ultranationalist leader Viktor Orbán, who’s been called a “neo-fascist dictator” by Sen. John McCain, and who leads Hungary today. Gorka served as adviser to Orbán, and later wrote for an overtly anti-Semitic newspaper, Magyar Demokrata. By all accounts, Gorka’s own writing and statements at the time included no anti-Semitic comments, and neither The Forward nor other reporters who’ve investigated his background in Hungary have turned up any evidence that Gorka himself participated in anything that could be called anti-Jewish. “What you can say for sure is that he was allied with people who have very extremist views,” says Péter Krekó of the Political Capital Institute in Hungary. “He was an opportunist, and he cooperated with figures who were very marginal.”

For his part, Gorka denies any knowledge of the anti-Semitic backgrounds of his colleagues. Katharine Gorka says that all of the charges about her husband’s years in Hungary have been debunked. “He has never in any way been associated with the far right,” she says. “One of the reasons why we left Hungary was because of Sebastian’s discomfort with the far right.”

Yet these denials are hard to square with Gorka’s family background. Having fled Hungary for London after 1956, Gorka’s parents joined a raucous mix of anti-Communist, right-wing exiles, including those who belonged to the Order of Knights (Vitézi Rend), an organization with an unsavory past. Vitézi Rend was created by the Nazi-backed ruler of Hungary, and many of its members were involved in the slaughter of Jews during the Holocaust. Today, members of the Order fall under an immigration watch by the State Department on groups that have violated human rights. Gorka and his father were reported to have joined (Katharine says this is false). And in photographs, Gorka has been spotted sporting a Vitézi Rend medal that, he insisted, he wore only to honor his father.

Since this affiliation was exposed by The Forward, Gorka has been engulfed in a storm of criticism, with members of Congress writing the White House to demand that he be fired. “Our main concern is that Dr. Gorka is a member of certain anti-Semitic Nazi groups such as Vitézi Rend,” says Rep. Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat. “There’s a lot of evidence that he was a member: He swore a lifelong loyalty, he’s used the honorific initial v., he’s been photographed with some of their insignia.” So far, Nadler and his colleagues haven’t heard back from the White House.

In 2008, the Gorkas moved to the United States. They established a network of organizations in the Virginia area: the Westminster Institute, the Council on Global Security, the Threat Knowledge Group and TheGorkaBriefing.com. According to Katharine Gorka, the council was a nonprofit “doing work on extremism,” and the Threat Knowledge Group was a business “providing training to law enforcement and the military.” Katharine founded the Westminster Institute as a think tank to do research “on the rise of radical Islam.”

In his published biographies, Gorka provides a long list of places where he peddled his views, including the FBI, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, the National Counterterrorism Center, West Point and more. Gorka’s most-touted position was a two-year stint at Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia. James Joyner, a retired Army officer and associate professor of strategic studies at MCU, who saw Gorka in action, wasn’t impressed, saying that Gorka was hardly an academic: “He’s kind of the guy you see on TV. He’s bombastic.” Gorka’s views, adds Joyner, were well out of the mainstream. “To the Bush administration’s credit, one thing that they got right was, they said, ‘This is not a war against Islam.’ But Gorka is like, ‘No, these people are very dominant within the religion, their religion leads this way, and even though most Muslims aren’t terrorists, they at least lean that way.’ And that’s wrong.”

In many lectures, Gorka lumps together Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban, Iran’s clerical rulers and the Muslim Brotherhood in one box: as proponents of a world-dominating Muslim caliphate that must be crushed. Even the differences between Sunnis and Shiites don’t faze him. “Today, the Global Jihad has two brands,” he wrote for Breitbart. “It is a war of the ‘Sunni Coke’ versus the ‘Shia Pepsi.’ ” Gorka insists that everyone in Washington is wrong, and only he understands the fearsome nature of the enemy. “He is speaking the truth, and if you disagree with it,” Joyner says, “you’re an idiot.”

Mia Bloom, a widely published expert on terrorism and a professor at Georgia State University, recalls an encounter with Gorka on a terrorism panel at the Defense Intelligence Agency. “Gorka knows virtually nothing,” she says. “His views are a mixture of Islamophobia and racism. We’d been given questions in advance, we were paid for our appearance, and he just bullshitted his way through it – and he brought books to sell!” All of which is why Paul Pillar, a former national intelligence officer for the Middle East, says Gorka is too dangerous to be allowed to remain in the White House: “Gorka represents an intolerance that offends American values and is likely to gain the United States more enemies than friends.”

 Politico (Jan): Bill Perry Is Terrified. Why Aren’t You? http://politi.co/2vIixch How an 89-year-old cold warrior became America’s nuclear conscience.
// 1/6/2017

CNN: Exclusive: The chaos behind the scenes of Fox News’ now-retracted Seth Rich story http://cnnmon.ie/2fvuefQ

⭕ 9 Aug 2017

CNN, Chris Cillizza: FBI’s Manafort raid means Bob Mueller means business http://cnn.it/2vQsggV

Newsweek: Russia Plans to Annex Belarus in Military Drill, Says Georgia’s Ex-President http://bit.ly/2vPWq2Y https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/895427181047816192/photo/1

Russia’s leadership is angling to annex its closest western neighbor during upcoming military drills, according to the former leader of Georgia. Mikheil Saakashvili made the comments on the anniversary of his own country’s brief conflict with Moscow that resulted in Russian troops cordoning off Georgia’s two northern regions.

Referring to the much anticipated joint Russian-Belarusian drill in the Baltic region, the former president said: “What we are seeing in Belarus, I think that Russia is planning to take and annex Belarus.” Saakashvili, who is a longtime critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, spoke to told Baltic news agency BNS ahead of the drill, called Zapad and scheduled for September.

Lithuania, a NATO ally that borders with Russia, has expressed concern that the drill indicates a wider threat to the alliance, constituting a “simulated” attack. NATO has demanded that Russia allows for more transparency in the drill, nominally set to involve around 12,000 troops. However, Russia has previously sparked much bigger exercises to go in tandem with drills such as Zapad, upping the number of troops from the promised levels.

NYT, John McLaughlin: The Smart Way to Deal With Putin’s Russia http://nyti.ms/2wHGqx6

🐣 #TrumpRussia was off Page 1 for 24 hours. @realDonaldTrump’ mission accomplished @JoeNBC @Morning_Joe #NukeShinyObject

WaPo Factchecker: Trump, Russia and the opposition research firm run by ex-journalists Fusion GPS http://wapo.st/2vlRUHa
// Glenn Kessler; @JustinHendrix onTwitter: @GlennKesslerWP takes an indepth look at @PressSec’s claim Russia paid Fusion GPS and finds it not at all credible; Steele dossier, Magnitsky

AP: FBI agents searched former Trump campaign chair’s home http://bit.ly/2ftFvgz

Haaretz: Israel Held Secret Talks With Russia, U.S. Over Cease-fire in Southern Syria http://bit.ly/2wGVfAl objectioned pact empowers Iran
// Meetings held in Jordan and Europe days before Moscow and Washington announced the Syria deal. Jerusalem raised objections that pact empowers Iran, allies in war-torn country

⭕ 8 Aug 2017

NYMag, Jonathan Chait: The Alt-Right and Glenn Greenwald Versus H.R. McMaster http://nym.ag/2vP31LU

WaPo, David Von Drehle: Why the Trump Organization could be Trump’s undoing http://wapo.st/2vmiikg money-laundering

WSJ Editorial: McMaster and the Commander ~ The NSC adviser is the latest target of Steve Bannon’s media friends http://on.wsj.com/2fs6Ks0

WaPo, Anne Applebaum: If this were the Cold War, America would be poised to lose http://wapo.st/2vCEyJu

Back then, it took two years for “the CIA created AIDS” to spread; nowadays, conspiracy theories can be passed along by networks of bots and trolls in seconds. But even then, the nature of propaganda had to be defined, explained and framed before it could be countered. Someone in power had to decide, in other words, that disinformation was a problem and had to hire people to think about the solution.

Eventually, they did — and not just in the United States. In the 1940s, the British government created a covert research group, the Information Research Department, that put together material on the realities of Soviet life and quietly passed it on to politicians and journalists across Europe. In the 1980s, the U.S. government set up the Active Measures Working Group, a small interagency team that kept track of constantly changing Soviet narratives and came up with responses. Eventually the United States would threaten the U.S.S.R. with sanctions unless it stopped pushing the “CIA created AIDS” mythology. There were ups and downs, successes and failures. But in the end Soviet propaganda failed to win hearts and minds, in part because the United States and its allies pushed back.

WaPo: Mueller, several team members gave up million-dollar jobs to work on special counsel investigation http://wapo.st/2vCyMXX

TheHill: Trump campaign hands over documents in Russia investigation http://bit.ly/2vkhFYF

WaPo, Dana Milbank: The 144 million people who like Trump best http://wapo.st/2vjFMGN https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/895093507970486272/photo/1
// Russians

Politico (Jul): Sinclair increases ‘must-run’ Boris Epshteyn segments http://politi.co/2vAkDdT Sinclair is pro-Trump org taking over local news stations

Reuters: Moscow to cut dependence on U.S. payment systems: RIA http://reut.rs/2fo8diO

TechnologyReview: First Evidence That Social Bots Play a Major Role in Spreading Fake News http://2vJuOxu
// Automated accounts are being programmed to spread fake news, according to the first systematic study of the way online misinformation spreads

⭕ 7 Aug 2017

 Wonkette, Eva: Oh Go Fuck Yourself, Glenn Greenwald http://bit.ly/2vPixYc

Oh and he’s mad about the Deep State, because of course he is. Greenwald spends a lot of his column beating a straw man to death, claiming that all the sane people who HAAAAAATE Trump, many of them conservatives who worked tirelessly to keep him from getting elected, and who have been in “COUNTRY BEFORE PARTY, MOTHERFUCKERS” mode since Greenwald’s pals at WikiLeaks and the Russians he is SO IN LOVE WITH (he would deny that accusation, but ya know, actions speak louder than words, and also fuck him) helped Trump get elected, think Greenwald and his weirdo friends are dumb for believing there is a “Deep State.” This is a false construct. We very much know there is a Deep State, and we know it makes Greenwald and Sean Hannity shit the bed, so we make fun of them about it.

But he’s really really confused about which is worse: that Trump is in office and beating the shit out of American institutions and the Constitution, or that the so-called Deep State (normal people refer to them as “career public servants”) is trying its damnedest to protect the Republic from Trump’s damage. The horrors! It reminds us of that thing Anthony Scaramucci whined during his 120-some-odd-hour tenure as White House Communications Director, about how there are some White House staffers who “think it is their job to save America from this president.” It’s almost as if there is a wide consensus among thinking Americans that the traditions we hold dear are in danger, and that we should do something about it. (Also, to all those people, thank you!)

But Greenwald can’t abide that, because how DARE the Deep State Military-CIA-Industrial Complex act all high and mighty like they for real care about protecting America from the authoritarian dipshit in the White House, when it’s very clear that #BothSidesDoIt anyway? How could Donald Trump possibly be more evil than the United States Of America has always been since forever?

Is it really hard to imagine any group that’s hurt people more than the Bush era neocons? What kind of pathetic What-About-Ism is this, GLENN? Is it not possible to simultaneously believe that the neocons empowered by George W. Bush did a lot of really bad shit (and that America in general has some blood on its hands), AND ALSO that Russia under Putin, the Rwandan genocide, North Korea, hell, a bunch of Communist governments going way the fuck back, are WORSE? What about ISIS? The dead exploded babies his beloved Russians killed in Aleppo?

WaPo, Abby Philip: The curious case of ‘Nicole Mincey,’ the Trump fan who may actually be a Russian bot http://wapo.st/2veb57C

McClatchy: Trump hands US policy writing to shadow groups of business execs http://bit.ly/2uEm073

WaPo, Greg Sargent: As Mueller closes in, Trump prepares his base for the worst http://wapo.st/2vGRq0u

Reuters, Peter Apps: Commentary: Amid White House chaos, a rise of the generals http://reut.rs/2wBFZET

⭕ 6 Aug 2017

 Politico: When a Candidate Conspired With a Foreign Power to Win An Election http://politi.co/2wG6ngC
// It took decades to unravel Nixon’s sabotage of Vietnam peace talks. Now, the full story can be told.

⭕ 5 Aug 2017

WashingtonJrnl, Grant Stern: New Report Reveals McConnell And Ryan Took Millions From Russian Oligarch Tied To Putin http://bit.ly/2uchAog https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/894166020667166720/photo/1

A series of top Republican elected officials have just been exposed for accepting outsized donations from one of the world’s richest men,  Leonid “Len” Blavatnik. Blavatnik is a Ukrainian-born businessman whose fortune comes from owning a company purchased by Putin’s Rosneft, the state-run Russian oil company cited in the infamous Russian “pee tape” dossier.

The Dallas News just issued a stunning report based on public records recently uncovered by the Democratic Coalition, that the Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority leader McConnell have taken a Putin-connected billionaire Blavatnik’s cash:

During the 2015-2016 election season, Ukrainian-born billionaire Leonid “Len” Blavatnik contributed $6.35 million to leading Republican candidates and incumbent senators. Mitch McConnell was the top recipient of Blavatnik’s donations, collecting $2.5 million for his GOP Senate Leadership Fund under the names of two of Blavatnik’s holding companies, Access Industries and AI Altep Holdings, according to Federal Election Commission documents and OpenSecrets.org.

Len Blavatnik now owns Warner Group Music and has become a pillar of the Republican Party’s donor class, but many of his billions come from windfall profits on a Russian oil deal personally orchestrated by Vladimir Putin.

These days, Blavatnik is so close to the Trump administration that he recently announced a partnership deal with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to finance Hollywood films!

Republicans have reaped a major benefit from Russian oil money for twenty years, since the dark days of Jack Abramoff, whose lobbying scandal led to multiple felony corruption convictions and the GOP losing the House of Representatives.

Who can forget that Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Super PAC also benefitted from targeted opposition research hacked by Russians from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee?

In the last election, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) received over $8 million dollars from McConnell’s Super PAC in last year’s election. He later became part of Trump’s transition team and is now heading the Senate’s investigation into Russian election interference.

Republican mega donor Len Blavatnik moved to America for a time in the mid-1970s to obtain American citizenship and education before expatriating to become a Russian oil billionaire.

Blavatnik’s appropriately named Access Industries Inc. scored a $7 billion dollar windfall a few years ago in partnership with Alfa Bank, the Kremlin-linked bank caught communicating with Trump’s campaign using a secretive email server, and Putin’s best friend, an ex-KGB agent who happens to be Russia’s richest man.

His Access Industries partnered to win a privatization auction of a state-run oil company in 2003 with Alfa Bank’s Mikhail Fridman and Victor Vekselberg, who is coincidentally the largest shareholder in Bank of Cyprus which Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross built into a rogue’s gallery.

The three men formed AAR partners, got an insider’s deal based on their access to Putin to buy an oil company called TNK and partner with BP.

Privatization deals in Russia like these are considered a form of public corruption since they deliver great state-owned wealth to a connected few, and sometimes only take small loans back in exchange for gushers of money from oil companies.

After the Russian oil money flowed, rich dividends piled up for an entire decade until Putin ordered Blavatnik and AAR to sell their shares to Rosneft when oil was at a high price, $92 dollars a barrel 2013.

Luckily for Blavatnik and company, they sold out to Putin at the very top of the market, but the results for both Rosneft and Russia since then have been disastrous:

Sechin [Igor Ivanovich Sechin is a Russian official, considered a close ally and “de facto deputy” of Vladimir Putin. Wikipedia] and Putin’s mega-energy merger may have seemed like a “good” strategic deal for Russia, but for Fridman, Vekselberg, Blavatnik and Khan, whose combined net worth now hovers around $55 billion, cashing out of Russia’s most oil-dependent company in the spring of 2013, with West Texas Crude selling at $92 per barrel and Western banks pumping loans into Russia, may go down as the most brilliantly timed profit-taking of the decade. It also may have set off a chain of events in global financial markets that has contributed to the collapse of Russia’s currency, which plummeted 40% against the dollar in 2014. Putin’s state has been thrown into recession.

Putin was ecstatic. “This is a good big deal, which is important not only for Russia’s energy sector but for the entire Russian economy,” he said as the deal was being announced. Rosneft’s $55 billion TNK-BP purchase transformed it into the world’s biggest publicly traded oil company and cemented Sechin’s position as a global energy czar, with Putin presumably pulling the strings.

It’s important to understand that many Russian oil billionaires aren’t allowed to cash out so gracefully, and instead put on trial for bogus charges, stripped of their wealth and imprisoned like Yukos Oil’s former owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Only pro-Putin oligarchs are allowed to cash out their Russian oil fortunes and legally take the money to a foreign country.

Following the money to Republican donors is showing exactly how Vladimir Putin has used Russian oil money to edge his way past Jesus in the GOP’s hierarchy of personalities.

The ties between the GOP and Putin have grown so extremely close today, that one Congressional Republican flew to Moscow last year just to take orders from Putin’s cronies, and nobody in his caucus is doing a thing about it.

If you have any doubt whatsoever that Len Blavatnik’s money comes from Russian oil, here is a copy of the wire transfer from the Putin-controlled Rosneft Oil Company.

NYT: Trump Defends McMaster Against Calls for His Firing http://nyti.ms/2uf2djf https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/893978159212883969/photo/1

DailyBeast: White House ‘Enemies List’ Drove McMaster-Bannon Feud http://thebea.st/2va5ld6
// Two of the White House’s most senior officials are locked in a power struggle over influencing President Trump on national security—and an internal ‘enemies list’ may be to blame.

An internal White House enemies list of alleged Obama loyalists to be fired early in the Trump administration is a key contributor to a long-running feud between the National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, two senior administration officials tell The Daily Beast.

Team Trump never acted on the list, the officials said, and now those employees have finished their tenure at the National Security Council and returned to their home agencies.

But fallout over the list—and questions about loyalty to Bannon versus McMaster—led the three-star general to fire two of his top aides, an act that’s landed McMaster in the firing line of Bannon’s alt-right media allies and Russian troll bots, both calling for his ouster.

It’s the kind of personality clash and conflicting lines of authority that ret. Marine Gen. John Kelly has been brought in to quiet as chief of staff. He gave McMaster the go-ahead to remove people whose loyalty he questioned, including NSC intelligence director Ezra Cohen-Watnick and ret. Col. Derek Harvey, the NSC Mideast director. Both had meetings with Bannon throughout their tenure, described as hushed national-security related “chats,” by one senior White House official, without seeking McMaster’s permission beforehand.

Multiple administration sources confirmed to The Daily Beast that these “chats” between Bannon and Harvey and Cohen Watnick vexed Trump’s national security adviser, and contributed to McMaster’s desire to “finally make moves against” them, as one senior official recounted.

A third more junior director, Rich Higgins, disseminated his own paper to senior U.S. officials that argued globalists and leftists were trying to undermine Trump, without showing it to anyone within the NSC first. He was fired by McMaster’s deputy Rick Waddell for presenting his work as administration policy, one administration official said. But his firing added fuel to the alt-right ire against McMaster. Higgins did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

But that hasn’t satisfied supporters of the fired men from Bannon world.  Bannon was removed from his controversial post on the NSC shortly after the end of Flynn’s brief tenure and the start of the McMaster era. For months, the two have butted heads over foreign policy issues, particularly the preferred level of U.S. involvement in the war in Afghanistan—a heated disagreement that has sometimes escalated to raised voices and, as one White House adviser said, “palpably uncomfortable” meetings.

Furthermore, there is, according to multiple senior administration sources, no trust whatsoever between the two men. McMaster has long suspected Bannon of covertly engineering an aggressive leak campaign against him in an attempt to caricature him as anti-Israel and weak on terror—suspicions that persist to this day.

Bannon, for his part, is a huge fan of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser—a man who was far more sympathetic to the less restrained, right-wing nationalist elements of the Trump administration. President Trump himself has been known to express regret for the need for Flynn’s departure, and has privately expressed his hope that a resolution of the FBI’s investigation in Flynn’s favor might allow Flynn to rejoin the White House in some capacity—a scenario Trump’s closest advisers in and outside of the West Wing have stressed to him is politically untenable, as The Daily Beast previously reported.

And now, some of Flynn’s acolytes appear to be striking back, through leaks to nationalist and America-First-leaning media outlets, leading to yet another guerilla war against McMaster and his allies in recent days influential arms of pro-Trump media. Breitbart, the right-wing news outlet formerly run by Bannon, blared headlines across its homepage on Thursday accusing McMaster of being “deeply hostile” to Trump’s agenda. Gateway Pundit, another prominent pro-Trump news site, derisively dubbed McMaster an arch “globalist.”

And Mike Cernovich, the Alex Jones acolyte and Trump-boosting social media personality, is promoting a website this week devoted to attacking McMaster and trying to publish leaked info about him. (A cartoon that led the website showed McMaster and Gen. David Petraeus dancing on the ends of puppet strings held by billionaire hedge fund manager and bogeyman to the American right George Soros.)

As with any firing, the Bannon chats weren’t the sole reason either Harvey nor Cohen-Watnick were removed.

With Harvey, his dealings with the Pentagon and State Department had become fractious, two officials said. One Trump official called his personality difficult, but another said the agencies were waging some of their battles against White House through Harvey, slow-rolling his information requests.

But the original sin in McMaster’s eyes was agreeing to look over the so-called enemies list early in the Trump administration, but not informing McMaster that such a list was even being contemplated, two of the senior administration officials explained.

Harvey had been called to the meeting with Bannon to discuss the list by then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, one of the officials said. It had been compiled by campaign staffers during the transition, in part by comparing White House staff lists with their social media profiles, noting any anti-Trump posts.

Harvey managed to convince the two men not to act on it, as the staffers in question were temporarily detailed to the NSC by their agencies and would all be gone by the summer.

McMaster found out about the meeting weeks later and berated Harvey for attending what he thought was a Bannon meeting, never giving Harvey a chance to explain the chief of staff had convened it—and that he had argued against firing staff. It was a first strike against him.

Another strike, one of the officials said, was that Harvey let White House adviser Sebastian Gorka sit in on Mideast-related meetings without checking with McMaster.

A third strike occurred the Friday before Harvey was fired, when he met with Bannon again. This time, it was because McMaster had asked staff to set up a chart laying out campaign promises kept and yet to achieve for the Middle East. Bannon’s office walls were covered with those campaign promises so it seemed a logical step, one of the officials said.

Less than a week later, Harvey was fired, but McMaster did hold a farewell party for him at the NSC, and told staff “sometimes brothers disagree,” the administration official said.

Trump administration officials were less kind describing the departure of Cohen-Watnick, blaming him for a slew of poisonous leaks about other staff throughout his tenure and since his departure. Cohen-Watnick was an even more frequent visitor to the West Wing to see both Bannon and Gorka.

Days after he was dismissed, a letter from McMaster to Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice was leaked, in which he informed her that he was extending her security clearance.

Yet the only letter that was leaked after Cohen-Watnick was fired was the one to Rice, which McMaster saw as an effort to tar him with a connection to the previous Democratic administration, the source explained.

The leak is part of a pattern of disclosures that McMaster supporters believe is designed to paint him as a leading obstacle to the Bannon World/American First vision for the White House, with some of the ugliest coverage being levied at him by Bannon’s former publishing concern Breitbart.

“H.R. is under a crazy assault from social media,” one of his supporters told The Daily Beast.

It also follows a pattern of leaks from within the NSC to right-wing blogger Cernovich, in which minor NSC staffers would be called out for anti-Trump infractions like being seen talking to a former Obama official, a source close to McMaster said. It became a source of bemusement and trepidation that if one crossed Cohen-Watnick in a staff meeting, a punishing leak to Cernovich would soon follow. Cohen-Watnick could not be released for comment.

He’s ruining any chance of working in the administration again, one of the officials said.

🔄💙💙 Hamilton 68: A Dashboard for Tracking Putin’s Propaganda Push on Twitter http://dashboard.securingdemocracy.org
// formatted partial into under ⋙ Complete Articles: Hamilton 68

⭕ 4 Aug 2017

AP: Flynn details tie to data firm, transition pay http://bit.ly/2wcnjfr

Michael Flynn[,] is revealing a brief advisory role with a firm related to a controversial data analysis company that aided the Trump campaign, … Flynn entered into a consulting agreement with SCL Group, a Virginia-based company related to Cambridge Analytica, the data mining and analysis firm that worked with Trump’s campaign. … Flynn terminated his involvement shortly after Trump won the presidency.

Cambridge Analytica was heavily funded by the family of Robert Mercer, a hedge fund manager who also backed the campaign and other conservative candidates and causes. Cambridge Analytica also worked for the successful pro-Brexit campaign in 2016 to pull Britain out of the European Union. Trump administration chief strategist Steve Bannon was a vice president of Cambridge Analytica before he joined the Trump campaign.

In the filing, Flynn reports earning about $28,000 from the Trump presidential transition and more than $5,000 as a consultant to an aborted plan to build nuclear power plants across the Middle East. Flynn’s new filing also provided more details about his consulting work for NJK Holding Corporation, a firm headed by Iranian-American multi-millionaire Nasser Kazeminy. The filing shows that Flynn was paid more than $140,000 for his roles as adviser and consultant to Minneapolis-based NJK.

Flynn also served as vice chairman at GreenZone Systems, a tech firm funded by NJK and headed by Bijan Kian, who was Flynn’s business partner in Flynn Intel Group, a consulting firm that was active last year but is now defunct. Flynn Intel is now under scrutiny by federal authorities and congressional investigators for its role in research and lobbying work for a Turkish businessman tied to the government of Turkey.

In a statement to the AP, NJK said Flynn “played an advisory role to NJK Holding relative to its investment interests in security.” The firm added that in his roles with NJK and GreenZone, Flynn “provided his counsel and guidance on public sector business opportunities for secure communications technology within the U.S. Department of Defense” and with other agencies.

WaPo, Ruth Marcus: Trump is a one-man assault on the rule of law http://wapo.st/2usBIC9

Inciting supporters to equate a criminal investigation (and potential prosecution) with a usurpation of their democratic choice is the most chilling yet. What Trump decries as a witch hunt is an authorized investigation being conducted pursuant to Justice Department rules, by an experienced prosecutor, selected for this job by another experienced prosecutor, who was nominated by Trump himself. That Trump and his allies are scheming to undermine Mueller’s legitimacy underscores that their sole goal is retaining power, the law be damned.

🔆 Important❗️⋙ DallasNews, Ruth May: Tangled web connects Russian oligarch money to GOP campaigns http://bit.ly/2vAMStx

Donald Trump and the political action committees for Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich and John McCain accepted $7.35 million in contributions from a Ukrainian-born oligarch who is the business partner of two of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s favorite oligarchs and a Russian government bank.

Leonid “Len” Blavatnik contributed $6.35 million to leading Republican candidates and incumbent senators. Mitch McConnell was the top recipient of Blavatnik’s donations, collecting $2.5 million for his GOP Senate Leadership Fund under the names of two of Blavatnik’s holding companies, Access Industries and AI Altep Holdings, according to Federal Election Commission documents and OpenSecrets.org.

Blavatnik’s relationships with Russian oligarchs close to Putin, particularly Oleg Deripaska, should be worrisome for Trump and the six GOP leaders who took Blavatnik’s money during the 2016 presidential campaign. Lucky for them no one has noticed. Yet.

Oleg Deripaska is the founder and majority owner of RUSAL, the world’s second largest aluminum company, based in Russia. Len Blavatnik owns a significant stake in RUSAL and served on its Board until November 10, 2016, two days after Donald Trump was elected. Blavatnik’s resignation from RUSAL’s board was published on the company’s website with a note in all caps: “NOT FOR RELEASE, PUBLICATION OR DISTRIBUTION IN OR INTO THE UNITED STATES.”

Deripaska controls RUSAL with a 48 percent majority stake through his holding company, EN+ Group, and the Russian government owns 4.35 percent stake of EN+ Group through its second-largest state owned bank, VTB. VTB was exposed in the Panama papers in 2016 for facilitating the flow of billions of dollars to offshore companies linked to Vladimir Putin and is under sanctions by the U.S. government.

Deripaska has been closely connected to the Kremlin since he married into Boris Yeltsin’s family in 2001, which literally includes him in the Russian clan known as “The Family.” According to the Associated Press, starting in 2006, Deripaska made annual payments of $10 million to Paul Manafort through the Bank of Cyprus to advance Putin’s global agenda.

Len Blavatnik’s co-owner in RUSAL is his long-time business partner, Viktor Vekselberg, another Russian oligarch with close ties to  Putin. Blavatnik and Vekselberg hold their 15.8 percent joint stake in RUSAL in the name of Sual Partners, their offshore company in the Bahamas. Vekselberg also happens to be the largest shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus.

Another oligarch with close ties to Putin, Dmitry Rybolovlev, owns a 3.3 percent stake in the Bank of Cyprus. Rybolovlev is known as “Russia’s Fertilizer King” and has been in the spotlight for several months as the purchaser of Trump’s 60,000 square-foot mansion in Palm Beach. Rybolovlev bought the estate for $54 million more than Trump paid for the property at the bottom of the crash in the U.S. real estate market.

[T]here have been tensions between Putin and Deripaska over the years, the Kremlin came to Deripaska’s rescue in 2009 when he was on the verge of bankruptcy by providing a $4.5 billion emergency loan through state-owned Vnesheconombank (VEB), where Putin is chair of the advisory board.

VEB, known as President Putin’s “pet bank,” is now in crisis after sanctions applied by Europe and U.S. in 2014 have isolated it from the international banks that were the sources of its nearly $4 billion in hard currency loans that, according to Bloomberg, mature this year and in 2018.

Russia’s international currency reserves are near a 10-year low, which has put further pressure on the president of VEB, Sergey Gorkov, to find sources of international rescue capital. Notably, it was Gorkov who met secretly with Jared Kushner in December at Trump Tower. Kushner’s failure to report the meeting with Gorkov has drawn the attention of the Senate intelligence committee that now wants to question Kushner about the meeting.

WaPo, Christian Caryl: Why is Trump so reluctant to defend us from Russia’s lie machine? http://wapo.st/2usrAcj

If the Russians had done these things in the old-fashioned way, with real people lurking about, and if we’d caught dozens of their agents red-handed, riffling through sensitive papers or trying to steal ballots, we’d have probably treated it all as something close to an act of war. But because the operation was waged remotely, in the murky realms of the Internet, we continue to refer to it, halfheartedly, as a “hacking” …

Yet this was, in fact, an attack — a large-scale, multidimensional, coordinated attack on the foundations of our democratic system.

Today, in August 2017, we receive confirmation that the Trump administration has done exactly zero to bolster our defenses against hostile information operations. Last year, Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) co-authored a law aimed at providing the State Department with the resources to start pushing back. Even though Trump signed the bill into law, his administration has done nothing to act on its provisions. This week a report in Politico revealed that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has made zero effort to use the $80 million provided for the purpose by Congress.

Even so, the failure to respond to Moscow is particularly striking, especially since Russia is the only state to launch such a blatant attack on the very heart of our democratic system.

This all comes as Tillerson is considering eliminating the State Department’s cyber-coordinator, a crucial position in shaping our efforts to fight back against the growing power of lies.

“It’s the biggest issue going on in our politics right now, and there’s nothing,” says Clint Watts, an information warfare expert at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. When I ask him what the Trump administration has been doing to fight back against foreign influence campaigns, he groans. “No action. No plans, no execution, no willingness to do it.”

And that’s not just in the State Department — it’s government-wide. This should be priority No. 1. Yet there is only silence from the White House. What explains this startling apathy in the face of a clear threat?

Watts, a former Army officer and former FBI agent, has an interesting theory on this score. It used to be, he says, that we had a pretty clear message we could deploy against hostile propagandists. We used to talk proudly of our democratic values, our rights, our freedoms. But now, Watt says, the Trump administration is keen to de-emphasize what we once stood for — as demonstrated by Tillerson’s recent push to remove anything evoking democracy from the State Department’s job description. “The sad part,” says Watts, “is that the Trump message is pretty similar to the Russian message: anti-NATO, anti-E.U., anti-immigration, nationalist but not globalist.” He pauses. “That’s where we’re having the problem. You can’t counter what you agree with.”

And especially if the people you’re supposed to be countering helped you to get where you are today.

🐣 RT @DavidFrum Why is Trump so protective of Putin? Remember this: WikiLeaks dropped the Podesta hack w/in ONE HOUR of release of Access Hollywood tape

Politico, Ali Watkins: Hunt for Trump dossier author inflames Russia probe http://politi.co/2wrCsc5
// An overseas trip to contact a former British spy exposes friction among House, Senate investigators and special counsel Robert Mueller.

MMFA: 22 ways Sean Hannity has tried to undermine the Russia probes http://mm4a.org/2v2yloU and counting …

⭕ 3 Aug 2017

TheNation: What Did Trump and Kushner Know About Russian Money Laundering, and When Did They Know It? http://bit.ly/2u9HsoX

AP: Flynn details tie to data firm, transition pay http://bit.ly/2wcnjfr

Crooks&Liars: UPDATED: Seb Gorka Voted Off The White House Island? http://bit.ly/2wqQ0nX

 DemocracyNow: A New McCarthyism: Greenwald on Clinton Camp’s Attempts to Link Trump, Stein & WikiLeaks to Russia http://bit.ly/2febXDD
// 7/31/2016, transcript

MMFA: Hannity: Special prosecutor “has put together a Democratic hit squad” to take down Trump http://mm4a.org/2wqQD0Q

💙💙 WaPo, Marc Thiessen: Putin’s interference in our election clearly backfired http://wapo.st/2u7G0DI

First, Russia’s meddling has not helped it achieve its policy objectives. Russia wanted sanctions lifted; instead, they have been strengthened. Russia hoped that Trump would splinter the NATO alliance with his threats not to defend members who were not meeting their financial commitments. Instead, allies are increasing their defense spending by $12 billion, the Trump administration continued the deployment of NATO forces to the Baltics and sent an additional 900 troops to Poland’s border with Russia, and the president has now reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Article V of the NATO charter. None of these outcomes please Moscow.

The Trump administration is considering plans to provide Ukraine with advanced anti-tank weapons, including Javelin missiles, and possibly anti-aircraft weapons — a move that is sure to anger Putin. In Warsaw, Trump delivered one of the most anti-Russian speeches any American president has given in a generation, and proposed a natural gas deal with Poland to decrease its energy dependence on Moscow. Administration officials have also accused Moscow of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty and arming the Taliban in Afghanistan. … Relations between the United States and Russia are so bad that Putin is now expelling hundreds of American diplomats, the largest such expulsion since the Communist revolution. We are in a new Cold War.

Even if Trump wanted to pursue détente with Russia, he cannot do so, because any concessions he makes to Putin will be seen through the prism of the Russia investigation. Every step taken that benefits Moscow will cost him politically at home, while tough stances will insulate him from accusations that he is Putin’s puppet.

Russia’s election meddling has achieved something no Russian leader has previously been able to do: It has turned Democrats into modern-day Cold Warriors.

It’s ironic. During the Cold War, when the Kremlin was throwing people into the gulag and threatening the United States with nuclear annihilation, many Democrats were all for accommodating Moscow. They opposed the Reagan defense buildup, the Strategic Defense Initiative and aid to anti-Soviet freedom fighters and chafed when Reagan declared the Soviet Union an “Evil Empire.” But the Kremlin finally crossed a line when it messed with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. None of this is what Putin was hoping for when he decided to interfere in the 2016 election.

Noted: ⋙ [T]he stories that cemented these perceptions in Americans’ minds had nothing to do with Russia or WikiLeaks — and most came out many months before the first WikiLeaks emails were published. It was the New York Times that broke the story that Clinton used a private email server while secretary of state. It was The Post that revealed the Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars in donations from foreign governments during the same period. It was ABC News that revealed that the Clinton State Department gave special treatment to “FOBs” (friends of Bill Clinton) after the Haiti earthquake. None of that had anything to do with Russia.

So while Russia’s interference did not change the outcome of the 2016 election, it certainly has changed U.S. policy since. Relations with Moscow are at an all-time low, and there has not been such bipartisan unity in opposing Russia in decades. That’s actually a pretty good outcome for the United States and her allies — but not exactly what Putin had in mind when he decided to meddle in American democracy.

⭕ 2 Aug 2017

WaPo/AP: Russia vents frustration over Trump signing sanctions bill http://wapo.st/2wdCntb

“Trump’s administration has demonstrated total impotence by surrendering its executive authority to Congress in the most humiliating way,” said Medvedev, who presided during a brief period of improved relations early in Obama’s presidency.

The Kremlin had been encouraged by Trump’s campaign promises to improve the Russia-U.S. ties that had grown increasingly strained under President Barack Obama. With the White House preoccupied by congressional and FBI investigations into links between the Trump campaign and Russia, the hoped-for relationship reset has not materialized.

“Trump’s administration has demonstrated total impotence by surrendering its executive authority to Congress in the most humiliating way,” said Medvedev, who presided during a brief period of improved relations early in Obama’s presidency.

“The American establishment has won an overwhelming victory over Trump,” he added. The president wasn’t happy with the new sanctions, but he had to sign the bill. The topic of new sanctions was yet another way to put Trump in place.”

Medvedev emphasized that the stiff new sanctions amount to the declaration of an “all-out trade war against Russia,” but added that it will cope with the challenge and only get stronger.

“We will continue to work calmly to develop our economy and social sphere, deal with import substitution and solve important government tasks counting primarily on ourselves,” he said. “We have learned how to do it over the past few years.”

Without waiting for Trump to sign the bill, which was passed by Congress with overwhelming, veto-proof numbers, Russia fired back Friday. It ordered deep cuts in the number of personnel working at the U.S. embassy and consulates in Russia and the closure of a U.S. recreational retreat and warehouse facilities.

📒 CenterForAmericanProgress: Report: Russiagate: The Depth of Collusion http://bit.ly/2vqqiCY //➔ briefing book for Dem legislators
⋙ See under Complete Articles: CAP Russiagate

 TheAtlantic, Daniel Fried: Russia’s Back-to-the-80s Foreign Policy http://theatln.tc/2wb9Cxi
// Moscow has reprised Cold War tactics against the United States. It’s worth remembering that they didn’t work out well for the Soviet Union last time.

YahooNews: Reporter says bosses at Sputnik pushed him to cover Seth Rich conspiracy theory http://yhoo.it/2vkWIyY fired him when he refused

Politico: Senators blast Tillerson delay on spending funds to counter ISIS, Russia http://politi.co/2fasFUd
// Rob Portman and Chris Murphy: Lawmakers are angry he isn’t using money allocated by Congress, possibly to avoid offending Kremlin

But during the discussions, Tillerson aide R.C. Hammond also mentioned that Tillerson is trying to work through disagreements with Russia, and that the center’s work could undermine that effort, the former senior State official said.

NYT: White House Purging Michael Flynn Allies From National Security Council http://nyti.ms/2ulFoWj

💙 NYT, John Sipher and Steve Hall: Oh, Wait. Maybe It Was Collusion. http://nyti.ms/2uYa0AH

TheIntercept: White House Says Russia’s Hackers Are Too Good to Be Caught but NSA Partner Called Them “Morons” http://bit.ly/2ulDAMM

🐣 From: @MedvedevRussiaE The Trump administration has shown its total weakness by handing over executive power to Congress in the most humiliating way

💙💙 From @McFaul Hamilton 68: Tracking Putin’s Propaganda Push… To America:
SecuringDemocracy[.]org: A Dashboard for Tracking Russian Propaganda on Twitter http://bit.ly/2u0ljp6
↥ ↧
BusinessInsider: A new website named after a Founding Father is tracking Russian propaganda in real time http://read.bi/2uYcwXF

LATimes, Max Boot: Russia slaps the U.S., but Trump won’t slap back http://lat.ms/2uZevtf

NYT Editorial: Whose Message to Believe on Russia? http://nyti.ms/2wl9J8A

Politico: Tillerson spurns $80 million to counter ISIS, Russian propaganda http://politi.co/2u3Gn1V

⭕ 1 Aug 2017
HuffPo: Mueller Team Adds Lawyer With Experience In Foreign Bribery, White-Collar Crime https://tinyurl.com/y9o476zr
// Greg Andres is the 16th lawyer on the team.

WaPo (5/23): We’re Seth Rich’s parents. Stop politicizing our son’s murder https://tinyurl.com/ycuchbpk
// 5/23/2017

CNN: Lawsuit: Fox News concocted Seth Rich story with oversight from White House https://tinyurl.com/y76u8ety
// The White House worked with Fox News and a wealthy Republican donor to concoct a story about the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, according to an explosive lawsuit filed Tuesday.

WaPo: Sean Spicer claimed to be unaware of Seth Rich story after meeting with donor who pushed it https://tinyurl.com/yd9k7jbg

WaPo: You don’t have to believe everything in that Seth Rich lawsuit. What’s been confirmed is bad enough. http://wapo.st/2wjlnkk

At its most outrageous, the conspiracy theory that grew out of that initial Fox story suggested that Hillary Clinton arranged to have Rich assassinated after he betrayed the DNC by sending internal information to WikiLeaks during the campaign. All of this was based on the idea that an internal mole betrayed the DNC and that Russian hackers had nothing to do with it.

Let’s be clear: There’s no basis for that craziness and never has been. Although the killing remains unsolved, D.C. police continue to view the shooting of 27-year-old Rich as part of a botched robbery attempt.

Fox retracted the story May 23, a week after it aired, but by then, it was far too late. It was out there in the media ecosystem, seized on by the likes of Alex Jones of Infowars and even former House speaker Newt Gingrich. As Gingrich said on Fox: “It wasn’t the Russians [who hacked the committee’s emails]. It was this young guy who was disgusted by the corruption of the DNC.”

The suit claims that Fox’s report was intended to “establish that Seth Rich provided WikiLeaks with the DNC emails to shift the blame from Russia and help put to bed speculation that President Trump colluded with Russia in an attempt to influence the outcome of the Presidential election.” (Fox called that accusation “completely erroneous.”)

And once it was published, it become endless fodder for the president’s staunchest defenders: Jones, Gingrich and, more than any other person, Fox’s Sean Hannity — who stopped hammering away at it only when Rich’s parents implored him to stop trashing their son’s name.

WaPo, Callum Borchers: How to tell when Trump is hiding something? The Trump Jr. saga offers 2 clues. http://wapo.st/2vlqqUo

PolitiFact (updated 6/14): The possible ties between Trump and Russia, explained http://bit.ly/2hlXIwW
// 2/22/2017, updated 6/14/2017

PolitiFact: Fact-checking Donald Trump’s tweets about Hillary Clinton and Russia http://bit.ly/2vqephi
// 3/28/2017

Reuters: Trump administration sends conflicting signals on Russia sanctions http://reut.rs/2uWtsw5

WaPo, David Rothkopf: How Trump’s White House is making global crises even worse http://wapo.st/2hl0m6e

WaPo, Philip Bump: President Trump is now directly implicated in trying to cover up the Russia scandal http://wapo.st/2vlj4zX

WaPo, Philip Bump: A timeline of the explosive lawsuit alleging a White House link in the Seth Rich conspiracy http://wapo.st/2tWX4Is

NYMag, Jonathan Chait: Donald Trump Has Finally Erased the Line Between Conservatism and Conspiracy Theories http://nym.ag/2tXenJ4 https://twitter.com/Auriandra/status/892487877006950401/photo/1

More disturbing is the apparent seamless integration of the White House with the fever swamp. This represents a historical milestone of sorts. Trump’s administration has fully erased the boundary between legitimate conservatism and the most disreputable paranoid discourse on the far right. The allegations, contained in a lawsuit, have not been proven. But the most important fact they allege, that Fox News commentator Ed Butowsky claimed Trump himself reviewed the story in the White House and was eager to see it published, is substantiated by a screenshot of a text from Butowsky. (Butowsky now claims this statement was a joke, which is also the defense the White House offers of Trump’s urging of police to rough up suspects, Trump ordering Comey to back off investigating Michael Flynn, Trump urging Russia to hack his opponent’s emails, as well as the explanation Kevin McCarthy has put forward for his recorded suspicion that Trump was paid by Russia. It is a true age of dry wit in the Republican Party.)

NYT, Yascha Mounk: The Past Week Proves That Trump Is Destroying Our Democracy http://nyti.ms/2wj5zOu

In their first years in office, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey and Viktor Orban in Hungary claimed that they wanted to fix, rather than cripple, democratic institutions. Even as it became clear that these strongmen sought to consolidate power, most of their opponents told themselves that they were saving their courage for the right moment. By the time the full extent of the danger had become incontrovertible, it was too late to mount an effective resistance.

But in other respects the United States is already well on the way to what I have, in my academic work, called “democratic deconsolidation.” Mr. Trump is increasingly emulating the playbook of popularly elected strongmen who have done deep, lasting damage to their countries’ democratic institutions.

Congress must send a clear message that these types of violations won’t be tolerated. If Mr. Trump fires Mr. Mueller, Congress can ask him to continue his investigation under the auspices of the legislative branch. And if Mr. Trump pardons himself, disregards court rulings or blatantly oversteps the boundaries of his legitimate authority in some other way, Congress should impeach him.

No flashing light will announce that the very survival of democracy is now at stake if Mr. Mueller is fired. And since nobody can say for sure that the Constitution will become toothless if congressional Republicans let yet another infraction pass, their instinct will be to defer their patriotic duty to some more opportune moment in the future. But that moment may never come. There may never be a time when we know for sure that this decision, today, will determine whether the American republic lives or dies.

The temptation to delay opposing Mr. Trump until the right moment comes along is understandable. It’s also very dangerous. Even if congressional Republicans abdicate their duty, the Constitution may turn out to be unusually resilient. But the only sure way to save the Republic is for them to start standing up to the president’s authoritarian behavior — not next week, or next month, but today.

Politico: Lawsuit says Fox knowingly faked Seth Rich story http://politi.co/2vqLUQl
// Former Fox contributor says reporter misquoted him to imply DNC staffer was murdered for leaking to WikiLeaks.

WaPo Factchecker: The facts behind Trump’s repeated claim about Hillary Clinton’s role in the Russian uranium deal http://wapo.st/2uhqLDj
// 10/26/2016

PolitiFact Pre-Factchecked @SHSanders45 on investigating Clintons’ ties to Russia http://bit.ly/2vqephi
PolitiFact on “Clinton/Russia” ties http://bit.ly/2vqephi

Bloomberg: Trump Worked With Fox News on DNC Staffer Story, Suit Claims http://bloom.bg/2tWIO22

NPR: Behind Fox News’ Baseless Seth Rich Story: The Untold Tale http://n.pr/2u0Yvtf

Reply to @GabrielSherman I had this conspiracy theory that the Russians might have killed Seth Rich to create a counter-narrative. But – the Russians would never…(!)

WaPo, Paul Waldman: President Trump is now directly implicated in trying to cover up the Russia scandal http://wapo.st/2vko1cC

TheHill: Lawsuit claims Trump involvement in retracted Fox story on Seth Rich http://bit.ly/2hkYmuE //➔ great way to deflect from Russia

A lawsuit filed in federal court claims a Fox News report about murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was reviewed prior to publication by President Trump and manipulated at the request of the White House.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in New York by a private investigator and Fox contributor who says his quotes in the story, which was later retracted, were fabricated by Fox.

“Fox News was working with the Trump administration to disseminate fake news in order to distract the public from Russia’s alleged attempts to influence our Country’s presidential election,” states the lawsuit filed by Rod Wheeler, a former Washington, D.C., homicide detective who investigated Rich’s murder.

The complaint was filed by Douglas Wigdor on behalf of Wheeler. Wigdor serves as legal counsel for several cases alleging discrimination or harassment by Fox News executives.
Fox’s president of news, Jay Wallace, told NPR, which first reported the lawsuit, that there was no “concrete evidence” that Wheeler was misquoted. NPR said that Wallace did not address a question about the story’s allegedly partisan origins, and it said Fox News declined to allow Zimmerman to comment.

Fox News and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Wheeler, who frequently appeared as a guest on Fox News to discuss the case, said he never said quotes attributed to him that his investigation “shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and Wikileaks” and that “someone within the D.C. government, Democratic National Committee or Clinton team is blocking the investigation from going forward.”

The lawsuit states that Wheeler was the only quoted, named source in the story and that he did not make the statements.

It alleges that the statements were falsely attributed to Wheeler “because this is the way the president wanted the article.”

Wheeler has previously backtracked on claims he has made about the Rich investigation.

In a May interview with Fox 5 in Washington, he was asked by a reporter if he had sources in the FBI saying there was information to link Rich, who was shot and killed in the early hours of July 10 in Northwest D.C., to WikiLeaks.

“Absolutely. Yeah. That’s confirmed,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler then told other media outlets that he did not get this information from the FBI, according to Fox 5. He then told Fox 5 it had been a “miscommunication.”

Several conspiracy stories circulated after Rich’s death that sought to draw a link between the 27-year-old staffer’s work at the DNC and the email controversy that dominated the 2016 presidential campaign, including that Rich intended to deliver damaging emails about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Wikileaks.

No evidence has ever surfaced to back up that theory or to suggest Rich had any inside knowledge of the hacking of the DNC. The intelligence community later concluded that Russia had hacked the DNC in order to influence the outcome of the election.

Rich’s family was reportedly unhappy with Wheeler’s statements to the media that suggested a connection between Rich and WikiLeaks.

“The family has relayed their deep disappointment with Rod Wheeler’s conduct over the last 48 hours, and is exploring legal avenues to the family,” a spokesperson for Seth Rich’s family told Fox 5.

Wheeler’s lawsuit names Fox on-air guest Ed Butowsky and reporter Malia Zimmerman, saying they “fabricated two quotations and attributed them to Mr. Wheeler.”

Butowsky, a wealth manager and Trump supporter, periodically appears on the network as a guest to provide financial analysis. Zimmerman is a Fox News investigative reporter.

The lawsu