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What We Learned in the Trump-Russia Investigation: Week of Feb 25 – March 3, 2018


Mueller’s team has been asking questions about Trump’s relations with Russia prior to his decision to run for president. The questions have included: why he ran when he did, what compromising material the Russians could have on him, details of the Moscow Miss Universe pageant, and why the deal to create a Trump Tower Moscow fell through.

  • Reportedly, a witness told Mueller that Trump was serious about running for president in 2014, which directly contradicts what Trump himself tweeted recently (that he didn’t know he was going to run in 2014).

Mueller’s team is also asking about when Trump knew of the hacked Democratic emails, trying to determine if he knew before the public and if he knew of Wikileaks’ plan to publish the emails. Another line of questioning explores Trump’s public comment, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

In investigating Trump for Obstruction of Justice, Mueller is investigating Trump’s comments and state of mind last summer when he seemed determine to fire Jeff Sessions and install a replacement who would exercise control over the Russia investigation.

  • Related: Wednesday Feb 28th Trump tweeted yet another attack on Sessions, criticizing him for not being more forceful in investigating potential FISA abuse by Obama’s administration. Later that night, Sessions had a very public dinner outing with his deputy Rod Rosenstein and the Solicitor General Noel Francisco. This is seen by some as a message of solidarity with the Justice Department.

An anonymous witness has revealed that Mueller has subpoenaed all communications regarding Trump Sr., Carter Page, Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks, Keith Schiller, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roger Stone, and Steve Bannon.

Mueller’s team is preparing a case for criminal charges against the Russians who hacked and leaked Democratic emails prior to the 2016 election. It is unclear when or if the charges will be filed, as Mueller could decide not to move forward in order to preserve intelligence methods.

Mueller is examining if Kushner made any secret deals with foreign governments or entities that may have “shaped White House policies in ways designed to either benefit or retaliate against those he spoke with.”

  • Some of the countries that may have been involved are: Qatar, Turkey, Russia, China, and the United Arab Emirates
  • Kushner’s father and head of Kushner Companies met with Qatar’s minister of finance in April 2017 to try to secure funding for Kushner’s struggling NYC real estate project. No deal could be reached, however. Then, a month later, Kushner backed Saudi Arabia and UAE in a blockade of Qatar. It’s reported he even undermined Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s attempts to bring an end to the crisis.
  • Qatar government officials have reportedly considered giving Mueller evidence that Kushner conspired with their Gulf neighbors to harm their country.

Finally, Mueller has been questioning George Nader, an adviser to the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, about whether the UAE attempted to buy political influence by donating to Trump’s presidential campaign. This focus “could also prompt an examination of how money from multiple countries has flowed through and influenced Washington during the Trump era.”

FBI counterintelligence is investigating Ivanka’s role in negotiating and financing Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, B.C.

Russian operatives compromised the state websites and voter registration systems in seven states prior to the 2016 election. Intel officials believe these seven states to be Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin (which Trump won by less than 23k votes).

  • The states were not told at the time who was behind the breaches.
  • Six of the seven states claim they were not in fact breached, as informed by their own investigations. It is unclear why this is, but it certainly does not give citizens confidence in our ability to protect our elections.
  • This story builds on one from NBC last year that reported that the election systems of 21 states were targeted by Russian hackers: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. For many states, this was the first time the federal government informed them of the attempts.
  • Wisconsin being on this list may be notable. In Wisconsin, Ms Clinton received 7 per cent fewer votes in counties that depended on electronic-voting machines compared to countries that used optical scanners and paper ballots, and consequently Ms Clinton may have lost up to 30,000 votes. She lost Wisconsin by 27,000 votes.

Internal documents from the Russian troll factory, the Internet Research Agency, was leaked online. The documents include the names of Americans who were targeted, “American-based proxies used to access Reddit and the viral meme site 9Gag; and login information for troll farm accounts.” Content from IRA-backed websites ended up subreddits like T_D and HillaryForPrison. More on reddit’s role.

A Ukrainian woman who claims to be the fiance of vanished professor Joseph Mifsud is speaking out.

  • Mifsud is the Maltese man who allegedly told George Papadopoulos that the Kremlin had thousands of emails belonging to Hillary Clinton. His fiance stated that Mifsud claimed to be close to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and would brag about having dinner together. Mifsud has disappeared since news broke about his offer to Papadopoulos.

A U.S. District Court Judge has set Manafort’s trial date for September 17th this year.

Rick Gates has canceled a scheduled trip to Boston with his family, he told a federal judge, due to threats from an online commenter that invoked the Russian mafia.


On Tuesday, Hope Hicks testified before the House Intelligence Committee for nine hours. She refused to answer questions about her time in the White House, but she did admit to telling “white lies” for Trump.

  • She insisted that she did not lie about any matters relating to Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election of Russian connections to Trump associates
  • Reportedly, Trump was enraged at her admission and “berated” her. Hicks announced her resignation from the White House the day after her testimony.

Also on Tuesday, U.S. Cyber Command chief and director of the NSA Mike Rogers testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He stated that he has not been given authorization by President Trump to stop Russian election interference at its origin.

  • When pressed on the issue, he stated: “I am not going to tell the president what he should or should not do…I’m an operational commander, not a policymaker.” He added, “that’s the challenge for me as a military commander.”
  • Rogers also said that he expects Russian cyber attacks and interference to continue, as “they have not paid a price that is sufficient to change their behavior.”

Private twitter messages obtained by the Atlantic shows that Roger Stone and Wikileaks communicated directly on October 13, 2016. This is exactly what both parties claim did not happen.

  • On March 17, 2017 Wikileaks tweeted that it had never communicated with Stone
  • When Stone testified to the House Intelligence Committee in September 2017, Stone stated that he never communicated directly with Wikileaks, claiming that it was only through an intermediary.
  • The private messages also show that Wikileaks sought to keep the line of communication open after Trump won the election. It is unclear if any further communication occurred.



Jared Kushner and over 30 other White House aides who were working with interim security clearances had their clearances downgraded.

  • Until now Kushner had been receiving the most top secret intelligence, including the Presidential Daily Briefing. His downgrading comes as a result of Chief of Staff John Kelly cracking down on security clearances after the Rob Porter scandal.

Foreign officials in at least four countries – the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico – have discussed ways they can manipulate Kushner.

  • He is vulnerable to manipulation due to his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience.
  • McMaster was surprised to learn that Kushner has had contacts with foreign officials that he never disclosed and did not coordinate with the National Security Council.

New York’s Department of Financial Services, its banking regulator, has asked Deutsche Bank, Signature Bank, and New York Community Bank to provide information on their relationship with Kushner and his companies, as well as his loans.

Last year a private equity firm, Apollo Global Management, gave Kushner’s real estate company a $184 million loan after the co-founder had several White House meetings with him. Kushner also discussed potentially giving the co-founder, Joshua Harris, a job in the White House. Additionally, Kushner met with the chief executive of Citigroup at the White House last spring, and shortly after received a $325 million loan to finance his company’s Brooklyn building project.

  • A month after Kushner met with Apollo’s co-founder, the Securities and Exchange Commission dropped its investigation into Apollo Global Management. Although there has been no evidence that Kushner or the White House played a role in this decision, the timing raises additional concerns about Kushner’s numerous conflicts of interest.


Anastasia Vashukevich, an escort from Belarus (she claims – but could be from Russia as she has a Russian passport) who was featured in a video partying with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska & Deputy PM Sergei Prikhodko, has offered information on Trump’s Russian connections in exchange for release from a Thailand jail where she is being held. She claims to have 16 hours of audio recordings that prove Russian meddling.

  • She was arrested during a “sex training” seminar in Thailand
  • She claims to have had an affair with Deripaska, who used to employ Manafort. Allegedly, Manafort told an associate to give Deripaska “private briefings” about Trump’s presidential campaign.
  • She stated in an online plea that she is “the only witness and the missing link in the connection between Russia and the U.S. elections — the long chain of Oleg Deripaska, Prikhodko, Manafort, and Trump.” However, she offered no proof of her claims.
  • You may remember Anastasia Vashukevich by her alias Nastya Rybka from the video Putin opposition-leader Aleksei Navalny made a few weeks ago. Here is an article describing Navalny’s theory and here is the video.

Obama’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough stated that the administration was prepared to issue a warning about Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election, but Mitch McConnell intervened and “watered down” the warning.

A former manager of the Russian troll factory, the Internet Research Agency, moved to Bellevue, Washington in December 2017.

  • She was able to obtain a visa as a dependent of her husband. It was initially reported that he got a job at Facebook, but it was later discovered that he came to the U.S. on a visa sponsored by his employer, Wargaming and Facebook have struck a deal wherein the former will produce on-demand video content for the latter. One of Wargaming’s subsidiaries is located in Seattle, though it is headquartered in Belarus.
  • In summary, this story now appears more innocuous than it did when first reported.