Day 543


#10

WOW…

This unsealed indictment her position was sanctioned by…under Munchin’s helm.

This Russian official was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control in April 2018.


#11

Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence has been speaking loudly this week end over the Russian meddling, calling our status similar to 9-11, and "‘Warning Lights Are Blinking Red,’"


The Director of National Intelligence issued a forceful response on the subject of Russian election interference after President Donald Trump’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump sympathized with Putin on the subject of election meddling.

During a joint press conference with Putin, Trump said he didn’t see “any reason” why Russia would interfere in US elections.
“We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election,” DNI Dan Coats said in response.

The Director of National Intelligence on Monday issued a forceful response to President Donald Trump’s remarks during a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, during which Trump cast doubt on US intelligence agencies’ conclusions about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“The role of the Intelligence Community is to provide the best information and fact-based assessments possible for the President and policymakers,” said Dan Coats, the top US intelligence official. "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy."


#12

@matt already noted this one in recap…and I just noticed that. We’re all on the same mission here…!

Washington (CNN)Former US intelligence chiefs expressed astonishment and condemnation Monday in response to President Donald Trump’s comments at Monday’s news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with former CIA Director John Brennan calling the US President’s performance “nothing short of treasonous.”
Following his one-on-one meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, Trump declined to endorse the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election over Putin’s denial, saying the Russian President was “extremely strong and powerful” in his denial.

“Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous,” Brennan, a frequent critic of Trump who served as CIA chief from 2013 through January 2017, tweeted during the event.

@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???
8:52 AM - Jul 16, 2018


#13

This has been commented on extensively above, but I thought I would add the NYT article so I could add a couple observations:

  • As of now there is not one peep about this on Breitbart. They’re probably scrambling to figure out how to spin it. It would be easy to simply report the facts as all the major reputable news outlets have already done, but Breitbart won’t say thing before they can concoct some way to link this to “the deep state,” etc.

  • These charges were not filed by Mueller, but by the national security division of the Justice Department – a clear sign that the Trump-Russia investigation is expanding.

The charges were filed by Justice Department national security prosecutors, not the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, whom Mr. Trump has accused of carrying out a witch hunt.


#14

During the Nato meeting, there were some behind-the-scene interactions with Trump and Erdogan greeting him with a fist-bump, calling the European Union a ‘foe’ and acting defiantly against China, but creating high tariffs despite the fact that China may be our bigger foe.

Interview with Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group and a CBS News senior global affairs contributor this morning.

In addition to calling the European Union a “foe” of the U.S. and criticizing British Prime Minister Theresa May for her handling of Brexit, Mr. Trump slammed fellow NATO countries for not contributing more towards defense spending.

On “CBS This Morning” Monday, Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group and a CBS News senior global affairs contributor, said that backstage at the NATO meeting there were elements that were even more eyebrow-raising than reports have suggested.

“One is that emergency session where they asked the Georgian and Ukrainian presidents to leave in the middle of their presentation. Apparently Trump said, ‘OK, we’re done with you now,’” Bremmer said.

"Trump was very frustrated; he wasn’t getting commitments from other leaders to spend more. Many of them said, ‘Well, we have to ask our parliaments. We have a process; we can’t just tell you we’re going to spend more, we have a legal process.’ Trump turns around to the Turkish president, Recep Erdogan, and says, ‘Except for Erdogan over here. He does things the right way,’ and then actually fist-bumps the Turkish president."

Bremmer replied, "There are many people that do believe that, long term, the United States and Russia should have a good relationship, [and that] China is the problem. China is the emerging superpower. China is actually the true competitor undermining America, but also undermining the Russians long term. I think that was Steve Bannon’s view when he was chief strategist for the White House.

“I think it’s interesting that Trump’s clearly turning against Beijing. The $200 billion announced in tariffs that may be coming down, the unhelpfulness more recently on North Korea (from his perspective), I think he’d love talking to Putin on that.”


#15

Interesting bits of information uncovered by Axios on why the (DNC) servers were not given over to the FBI…because they will use third parties, and in this instance, DNC used Crowdstrike.

And just wondering aloud, isn’t the NY FBI office in particular, the one that Guiliani super buddies with known to be notoriously Anti-Clinton?

“Where is the server?” President Trump has repeatedly asked this question — including with Russian president Vladimir Putin today — when discussing the indictment of 12 Russians for hacking the Democratic National Committee and other targets in 2016.

Why it matters: The complaint that the DNC denied the FBI access to its hacked servers is a hallmark of the right’s response to the DNC hacking scandal. But people familiar with these kinds of investigations say withholding the server was nothing out of the ordinary.

The backstory: Rather than turn its server over to the FBI, the DNC hired a private security firm, Crowdstrike, to investigate the hacking.

Independent investigations are common: According to the law firm BakerHostetler, well over half of the organizations it advises seek out private investigators to investigate hacks. It’s increasingly common for those investigators to handle the low-level forensic work in place of the FBI.

Leo Taddeo, former special agent in charge of the cyber division of the FBI’s New York office, told The Hill: "In nine out of 10 cases, we don’t need access, we don’t ask for access, we don’t get access. That’s the normal [procedure].

I

t’s extraordinarily rare for the FBI to get access to the victim’s infrastructure because we could mess it up," he added. "We usually ask for the logs and images, and 99 out of a hundred times, that’s sufficient.”

Beyond the potential for damage, seizing a server can revictimize an organization after a hack. Losing a server can disrupt or even shut down a business or organization.

Law enforcement is often happy to let private investigators take on the initial phase of investigative work because it saves time and money.

Another problem with handing over a server: If the FBI mishandles data or, say, leaks it to the press or a political partisan, the organization places itself in jeopardy.

The server is now just a small part of the evidence: One thing clear from the most recent indictment is that the FBI has now amassed significant additional evidence beyond what Crowdstrike could have obtained in its own investigation.

Any information dealing with activities or data on other servers — including Russian-affiliated servers in the United States and social media accounts, all of the names and individual actions from specific actors — was obtained separately from the DNC server.
Even if you read dark meaning into the DNC’s use of Crowdstrike rather than the FBI, at this point, it doesn’t matter: Friday’s indictments show that the FBI has now pieced together a factual account that renders the whole argument moot.

Will Giuliani make an appearance?

Mr. Horowitz has said he is investigating whether officials improperly disclosed information about the Clinton case to journalists. But one of the most intriguing questions involves the potential leak of information to one of Mr. Trump’s key campaign surrogates, Rudolph W. Giuliani. Mr. Giuliani appeared on Fox News in October 2016 and hinted that big news was about to break:

“I mean, I’m talking about some pretty big surprises,” he said in one interview. In another, he referenced Mrs. Clinton and said he expected the surprises to surface in the coming days.

Two days later, Mr. Comey broke the news that the F.B.I. was once again investigating Mrs. Clinton and her emails. Mr. Comey has said he ordered an investigation into that disclosure but it is not clear what came of it.

Mr. Giuliani is now a lawyer for Mr. Trump, who has railed against inappropriate disclosures to reporters.


#16

Will anything be an effective pushback on T’s close alliance with Putin? We’re in uncharted waters.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer questioned Monday whether Russian President Vladimir Putin holds damaging information over President Trump, and outlined four ways the GOP-held Congress should respond to Russia’s election meddling and today’s bizarre Trump-Putin press conference.

Between the lines: Republicans are calling all of the shots when it comes to introducing legislation or subpoenaing information from the administration.

Schumer’s ask of the GOP:

1-Increase sanctions against Russia.

2-Demand that the president’s national security team that accompanied him to the Russia summit testify before Congress about what happened.

3- End all attacks on the Justice Department, the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Schumer said it’s also time for Trump to sit down for an interview with Mueller.

4-Demand that Trump insists the 12 Russians named in last week’s indictment be sent to the U.S. to stand trial.


#17

This may be shaping up as a major breakthrough in the Trump-Russia investigation. It is validating reporting from about six months ago that focused on connections between the NRA and Alexander Torshin, deputy head of the Central Bank of Russia who has been linked to the Russian mafia and money laundering operations. Maria Butina, the subject of today’s charges, is Torshin’s assistant. It’s just IMHO, but I suspect that prosecutors will be leaning on Butina in hopes she will flip on her boss and help them follow the money trail from the Central Bank of Russia to the NRA.

For those who are interested in digging into Torshin’s and Butina’s relationship with the NRA, here are some excellent investigative reports. I’ve extracted a few highlights.

This article by Michael Isikoff goes way back to April, 2017. Isikoff was one of the first to draw attention to the Torshin-NRA links – he took some flak for it at the time, but, in light of today’s charges, it turns out he was on to something (more power to investigative journalism!).

The White House abruptly canceled a scheduled meeting in February between President Trump and a high-level Russian central banker after a national security aide discovered the official had been named by Spanish police as a suspected “godfather” of an organized crime and money-laundering ring, according to an administration official and four other sources familiar with the event.

The event had been planned as a meet and greet with President Trump and Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, in a waiting room at the Washington Hilton before the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 2.

The charges do not refer specifically to the brokering of this meeting, but I imagine it’s one that prosecutors are looking at. Here is Butina’s comment to Isikoff about the canceled meeting:

“Late the night before, we were told that all meet and greets were off,” said Maria Butina, a special assistant to Torshin, in an email to Yahoo News, confirming that Torshin had expected to meet Trump at the event. “There were no specific questions or statements that Mr. Torshin had in mind during what we assumed to be a five-second handshake. We all hope for better relations between our two countries. I’m sure there will be other opportunities to express this hope.”

The next article, published by McClatchy in January of this year, took a closer look at the Russia-NRA connections:

The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.

FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.

It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.

More attempts at brokering meetings with Trump and his inner-circle are described:

Torshin was a senior member of the Russian Senate and in recent years helped set up a Moscow gun rights group called Right to Bear Arms. He not only spoke with Trump Jr. at the NRA convention, but he also tried unsuccessfully to broker a meeting between Putin and the presidential candidate in 2016, according to the Times. He further sought to meet privately with the candidate himself near the 2016 NRA convention.

As Torshin’s assistant, Butina most likely worked on setting up these meetings and this is probably the reason the Senate Judiciary Committee sought more information about her in November of last year:

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent letters in November to two senior Trump foreign policy aides, J.D. Gordon and Sam Clovis, seeking copies of any communications they had with or related to Torshin; the NRA; veteran conservative operative Paul Erickson; Maria Butina, a Torshin protege who ran the Russian pro-gun group he helped launch, and others linked to Torshin.

Erickson has raised funds for the NRA and is a friend of Butina’s. Shortly before the NRA’s May 2016 convention, he emailed Trump campaign aide Rick Dearborn about the possibility of setting up a meeting between Putin and Trump during the campaign, according to the Times.

Erickson’s email to Dearborn bore the subject line “Kremlin Connection.” In it, Erickson solicited advice from Dearborn and his boss, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a top foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign, about the best way to connect Putin and Trump.

If I were Gordon, Clovis, Erickson, or Dearborn I’d be sweating it right now. Today’s charges against Butina show that federal prosecutors are hot on their tail. Erickson may have particular cause for concern, since he set up an LLC with Butina:

Bridges LLC, a company that Erickson and Butina established in February 2016 in Erickson’s home state of South Dakota, also is expected to draw scrutiny. Public records don’t reveal any financial transactions involving Bridges. In a phone interview last year, Erickson said the firm was established in case Butina needed any monetary assistance for her graduate studies — an unusual way to use an LLC.

An LLC to fund a student’s graduate school studies? Now that’s original.

Although this article from ProPublica does not mention Butina, it makes a fascinating read as it delves deep into Torshin’s ties with money laundering and the Russian mob known as the Taganskaya.

As the Spanish police investigated the presence of a notorious Russian organized crime group on the resort island of Mallorca in 2012, they realized that a key figure described by some of the suspects as their “godfather” was a powerful Moscow politician: Alexander Torshin. . . .

As Torshin began building his political profile in the U.S., he also became the focus of a Spanish law enforcement crackdown on a wave of Russian mobsters who came to Spain in the 1990s and 2000s to escape violence at home, launder money in real estate and tourism enterprises, and extend their reach in international business.


#18

I have to hand it to Tim Mak of the Daily Beast. Back in February of 2017, he must have had a sixth sense about Maria Butina. He published this excellent feature article about her.

Butina has something in common with Trump – she just can’t help bragging and thus incriminating herself.

On Nov. 12, 2016, shortly after the election of President Donald Trump, Butina held a birthday party at Cafe Deluxe near American University, where she attends graduate school classes.

The event was a costume party attended by Trump campaign aides and Erickson, who told guests that he was on the Trump presidential transition team. She dressed as Russian Empress Alexandra while Erickson was dressed as Rasputin.

As chilled vodka flowed through an ice sculpture—a bottle imprinted with the Soviet hammer and sickle—she took some time to brag. She brazenly claimed that she had been part of the Trump campaign’s communications with Russia, two individuals who were present said. On other occasions, in one of her graduate classes, she repeated this claim.


#19

This is a huge indictment…because as you have wondefully researched and given explanations on, there are direct ties to Trump campaign (DJTjr) and by extension T.
The NRA as we well know supports an endless number of R congressional members too.
I look on Twitter a bunch…and always look for @BenjaminWittes for his BOOM (picture of a bomb taking off) and it’s usually incredibly important. This story got one too.

And there are few of us on WTFJHT who follow Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin on FB, and Twitter, she links to @leahMcElrath (who calls herself an activist, but someone who keeps up)

And determines there is a direct link to DJTjr.


#20

At this time, it’s impossible to know the reason for this delay. However, since one of the reasons could be that Manafort is working out a plea deal, that makes the new scheduled date of the hearing (next Monday) a day to circle on the calendar. It may turn out to be just a routine hearing that was delayed for a routine reason or it may turn out to be a really big deal. Time will tell!


#21

It really has become an either -or situation…Either T is for the American interests or he is not. The fact that there is an apparent fork in the road is an excrutiating reality we now face. And more so for the R’s.

Either Donald Trump is flat-out an agent of Russian interests—maybe witting, maybe unwitting, from fear of blackmail, in hope of future deals, out of manly respect for Vladimir Putin, out of gratitude for Russia’s help during the election, out of pathetic inability to see beyond his 306 electoral votes. Whatever the exact mixture of motives might be, it doesn’t really matter.

Or he is so profoundly ignorant, insecure, and narcissistic that he did not realize that, at every step, he was advancing the line that Putin hoped he would advance, and the line that the American intelligence, defense, and law-enforcement agencies most dreaded.

But never before have I seen an American president consistently, repeatedly, publicly, and shockingly advance the interests of another country over those of his own government and people.


#22

Just prior to the Helsinki meeting, Jonathan Chait (NY Magazine) wrote an article “Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler? A plausible theory of mind-boggling collusion”.

Chait is sketching out the underlying theme that was realized today in Finland, that yes, T is very beholden to Russia, and will do for them what they want because

a) Long term relationship working with them in laundering money, getting loans for buildings/golf courses (when no one would lend T any money)

b) Beholden to Russia because the Russians have dirt on him (tape?, illegal activities) and a theme that media has been promoting - Putin has Kompromat

c) And the level of T’s patriotism towards Putin, has now gotten to a treasonous level, where people in the intelligence community are letting slip

"In congressional testimony on Russian election interference last year, Brennan hinted that some Americans might have betrayed their country.

This article makes conjectures that Trump may have been deeply embedded with the Russians for a long time. It is a deep read, putting together intelligence, financial motive and the apparent contradictory behavior that T displays - part autocrat/part dummy/part narcissist/part all powerful condemning and disrupting the existing international treaties, relationships which could only be termed as doing Putin’s bididing.

We now have a national crisis on our hands. Who do we trust?..It sure looks like it can never be T, because he is betraying all that America has stood for - NATO, a nation which accepts immigrants, supports free press, free and fair elections, believes in the separation of powers, upholds the laws of the land, supporting this nation’s education system, leads in promoting human rights issues and so many other American ideals.

We have run out of plausible reasons why T acts the way he does unless Putin is in charge. Treason is the next potential indictment up.

The end of the article summaries it best

Shortly before Trump’s inauguration, according to Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman, Israeli intelligence officials gathered at CIA headquarters, where they were told something astonishing: Russia, the agency believed, had “leverages of pressure” over the incoming president. Therefore, the agency advised the Israelis to consider the possibility that Trump might pass their secrets on to Russia. The Israelis dismissed the warning as outlandish. Who could believe that the world’s most powerful country was about to hand its presidency to a Russian dupe? That the United States government had, essentially, fallen?

A few months later, Trump invited Russian diplomats into the Oval Office. He boasted to them that he had fired “nut job” James Comey. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” At the same meeting, Trump passed on to the Russians a highly sensitive intelligence secret Israel had captured from a valuable source inside ISIS. It was the precise danger Israel had been cautioned about.

Like many of the suspicious facts surrounding Trump’s relations with Russia, it was possible to construct a semi-innocent defense. Maybe he just likes to brag about what he knows. Maybe he’s just too doddering to remember what’s a secret. And as often happens, these unwieldy explanations gained general acceptance. It seemed just too crazy to consider the alternative: It was all exactly what it appeared to be.

This is a Haaretz (Israeli paper) and Reuters (US) article with a lot of quotes from Tony Schwart who was a ghostwriter on “Art of the Deal.”

Tony Schwartz, who ghost wrote Trump’s 1987 bestseller, ‘The Art of the Deal,’ says that Trump has likely been an “asset” of the Russian government for at least 30 years.


Day 722
#23

I’m not quite sure why she is testifying and not expecting any big revelations, but you never know.


#24

More tepid conservative posturing about T’s stance towards Russian election meddling, and questioning why T is deferring to Putin. This conservative newspaper does describe how dangerous T’s remarks on Monday are and are a destabilizing factor on the world stage, and for the Intelligence community and Republicans.

But Monday’s Helsinki event will go down as more than Donald being Donald, and protecting his electoral win. It represents a lot more.

Posting this WSJ article in full because there is a paywall.

WSJ Politics Capital Journal

Trump Leaves GOP, Intelligence Community and Allies in the Hot Seat
President didn’t challenge Putin on interference in the 2016 presidential election, the annexation of Crimea or other contentious issues

By Gerald F. Seib
July 16, 2018 4:18 p.m. ET

It was possible that Vladimir Putin would be the man in a tough spot after his summit meeting Monday with President Donald Trump.

Instead, most of the squirming is being done not by the Russian leader, but by Republicans in Congress, by the American intelligence community and by overseas allies.

All of them were left in limbo by Mr. Trump’s decision not to challenge Mr. Putin publicly about any of the toughest issues between Washington and Moscow: Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its interference in eastern Ukraine, the poisoning of Russian exiles in London or Russian meddling in the 2016 election.


At least at the postsummit press conference, Mr. Putin escaped the meeting in Helsinki with the U.S. president appearing to accept his denials of official Russian interference in American politics, and without having been called out by his counterpart on any of those other deeds.

In one indicator of how that went down back in Russia, as Mr. Putin flew home a headline on the website of RT, the Russian television network, blared: “I wanted Trump to win—Putin.”

But for Mr. Trump’s potential friends, the equation was different. Most Republicans want a tougher line on Russia than the president offered. The intelligence community has said repeatedly—including in a statement issued just hours after the close of the summit—that it believes Russia meddled in the 2016 election, while the nation’s top intelligence official, Trump appointee Dan Coats, said just last week the Russians are preparing to do so again.

Allies such as Angela Merkel of Germany and Emmanuel Macron of France having been publicly skewered by Mr. Trump, now doubtless will wonder why Mr. Putin got no such rebuke—and whether the president will have their back as they seek to continue economic sanctions and otherwise confront Mr. Putin over Russia’s interference in Ukraine.

There are, of course, others who will find no problem in how Mr. Trump chose to handle the summit and the public presentation of it. Though Trump voters are only marginally more favorable toward Mr. Putin and Russia than are other Americans—just 19% of Trump voters told Wall Street Journal/NBC News pollsters this spring they saw Russia as an ally, compared with 16% of Americans generally—Trump voters also have shown consistently that they are inclined to trust the president’s handling of Russia. “

Republicans should defend the president,” said John Feehery, a former top Republican staffer in the House. “I watched the press conference and I found it to be about what I expected it to be, typical Trump. It wasn’t treasonous. It wasn’t embarrassing.”

More Republicans expressed open disagreement with the president’s approach, though. The most vociferous, not surprisingly, was Sen. John McCain, the most outspoken of GOP critics, who issued a blistering statement that called Mr. Trump’s press conference “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” Mr. Trump, he added, had “abased himself…before a tyrant.”

Former House Speaker and Trump supporter Newt Gingrich called the president’s handling of the day “the most serious mistake of his presidency.”

Others in the GOP were more measured. House Speaker Paul Ryan, as is his wont, disagreed with what the president said without being confrontational. Whereas Mr. Trump said he didn’t see “any reason” Russia would have interfered in the election, Mr. Ryan said in his statement: “There is no question that Russia interfered in our election…”

It’s hard to know exactly why Mr. Trump chooses to take such a sharply different tack. It is clear that he thinks any talk of Russian intervention to damage Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign has the effect of undermining the legitimacy of his victory. He also wants Russia’s help on denuclearizing North Korea and shrinking Iran’s presence in Syria. It also may be that he’s simply fond of the Russian leader.

In any case, it’s similarly unclear whether either fellow Republicans or those in the intelligence and law-enforcement communities will do anything after the summit to respond to Mr. Trump’s approach on Russia.

As a political matter, it seems likely the fire from other Republicans will be limited in scope and duration. Doug Heye, a longtime GOP congressional and campaign operative, predicts “hand-wringing statements, but nothing serious or widespread.”

The primary-season defeat of South Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Sanford, who had broken with Mr. Trump, in particular “shows that making criticism of Trump personal in nature will backfire electorally,” Mr. Heye said.


Mr. Heye does think, though, that Republican senators such as Florida’s Marco Rubio and Nebraska’s Ben Sasse have shown that it is possible to push back on Mr. Trump on substantive matters rather than on personal terms. That raises the question of whether there may be moves in Congress to force Mr. Trump into a tougher position—or at least to ensure he keeps in place economic sanctions on Moscow.

As for the intelligence community, the question is whether more dissent, or even resignations, are possible after the rift exposed on Monday.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-leaves-gop-intelligence-community-and-allies-in-the-hot-seat-1531772328


#25

Last night’s Washington Post article, links and names GOP Operative/Consultant Paul Erickson with members of this group.

sought to organize a meeting between then-candidate Donald Trump and Alexander Torshin, Butina’s Russian colleague and a former Russian senator, at a May 2016 NRA convention.

Butina is accused of trying to cultivate relationships with American politicians to establish “back channel” lines of communication and seeking to infiltrate U.S. political groups, including an unnamed “gun rights organization,” to advance Russia’s agenda. Descriptions in court papers match published reports about Butina’s interactions with the NRA.

The case, which is not part of the special counsel investigation into Russian interference, lays out the strongest allegations to date of American involvement in Russia’s influence operations.

Butina was allegedly assisted in her efforts by a U.S. political operative who helped introduce her to influential political figures. That person was not charged and is not named in court papers, but the description matches that of Paul Erickson, a GOP consultant who sought to organize a meeting between then-candidate Donald Trump and Alexander Torshin, Butina’s Russian colleague and a former Russian senator, at a May 2016 NRA convention.

NYT Dec 2017 article

Casey Michel @cjchichel (ThinkProgress)


#26

What I found most shocking was that Putin referred to both Russia and the U.S. as “democracies” in the same answer and not only did Trump not respond, I haven’t seen any one in the press discussing it either. This is Putin’s end game, to make the U.S. and Russia appear to be the same and, perhaps, actually getting us to that point. Undermining our trust in elections, in our institutions, encouraging the kind of oligarchy and corruption that they have there to spread here.


#27

Born in Eastern Europe, George Soros has been a proponent for a liberal democratic society and someone that the Conservatives despise. As a very successful businessman, he has supported Liberal candidates and causes.

But here’s an eye-opening reveal about his inner most thoughts about the state of liberal democracies and the changing political changes - namely more autocracy.

It is an embattled cause these days. Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has reverted to autocracy, and Poland and Hungary are moving in the same direction. With the rise of Donald Trump in the United States, where Soros is a major donor to Democratic candidates and progressive groups, and the growing strength of right-wing populist parties in Western Europe, Soros’s vision of liberal democracy is under threat in its longtime strongholds. Nationalism and tribalism are resurgent, barriers are being raised and borders reinforced and Soros is confronting the possibility that the goal to which he has devoted most of his wealth and the last chapter of his life will end in failure. Not only that: He also finds himself in the unsettling position of being the designated villain of this anti-globalization backlash, his Judaism and career in finance rendering him a made-to-order phantasm for reactionaries worldwide. “I’m standing for principles whether I win or lose,” Soros told me this spring. But, he went on, “unfortunately, I’m losing too much in too many places right now.”

He said that he had been “very afraid” that Trump would “blow up the world rather than suffer a setback to his narcissism” but was pleased that the president’s ego had instead led him to reach out to North Korea. “I think the danger of nuclear war has been greatly reduced, and that’s a big relief.” In his annual state-of-the-world speech in Davos this year, Soros said Trump “would like to establish a mafia state, but he can’t, because the Constitution, other institutions and a vibrant civil society won’t allow it.” He also characterized Trump as a “purely temporary phenomenon that will disappear in 2020, or even sooner,” and predicted a Democratic landslide in the 2018 midterm elections. Five months on, he was sticking by those predictions. “For every Trump follower who follows Trump through thick and thin, there is more than one Trump enemy who will be more intent, more determined,” Soros told me. He is doing his part to shorten the Trump era: In advance of the midterm elections, Soros has so far contributed at least $15 million to support Democratic candidates and causes.


(jo) #28

Trump is just making his on the record statements that he was pushed to make because of the amount of blow back that came from what he said. He ALREADY showed everyone that his words mean nothing- unless you are his base and you like his words or they reinforce the deep hatred his base has for the left and anything remotely liberal. What this entire fiasco has shown us is that conservative media has been weaponized over decades (thanks to their hero Reagan who changed laws that allow people like Hannity to be part of a “news” station) and that conservatives would rather elect and be ruled by a dictator then “suffer through” another liberal. Its mind bending when you consider how perfect this storm was/is.


(Matt Kiser) #29

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