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What We Learned in the Trump-Russia Investigation: Week of Jan 14 – 20, 2018

At least half a dozen politically connected Russians were in Washington on Trump’s Inauguration Day, including the Russian lawyer from the Trump Tower meeting. She was at a party hosted by the campaign committee of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. The FBI noticed the increased presence of key Russian nationals, but it is not reported what steps they took to monitor events or individuals. source

Mueller is looking into numerous Russian payments and transactions the occurred around the 2016 election, including a transaction by former ambassador Kislyak 10 days after the election and a blocked $150,000 cash withdrawal five days after the inauguration. source

  • To refresh your memory, Kislyak has had suspicious contact with Kusher, Sessions, and Flynn

The FBI is investigating is Russians used the NRA to funnel money to Donald Trump around the time of the 2016 election. The key name to know is Alexander Torshin, deputy governor of the Kremlin’s central bank. He hosted a NRA delegation in Moscow and met with Don Jr. in 2016 at an NRA convention. source

Kushner conducted suspicious transactions through Deutsche Bank. Those records have been forwarded to regulators and will be sent to Mueller. source

Mueller subpoenaed Steve Bannon to testify before the Grand Jury, but Bannon managed to reach a deal in which he will be allowed to simply be interviewed by the prosecutors on Mueller’s team. It’s reported he will answer all questions. source


  • Bannon also appeared before the House Intelligence Committee, but refused to answer any questions about his time in the White House or during the transition, prompting the committee to issue a subpoena. Reportedly receiving instructions from the White House (at Trump’s direction) during his testimony, Bannon implied invoking “executive privilege” in continuing to ignore the subpoena. After 10 hours, the testimony was ended. Bannon’s lawyer represents WH counsel McGahn in Mueller’s investigation, leading some to believe McGahn was giving the orders on what questions to answer. source 1 and source 2
  • Bannon did admit that he’d had conversations with Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer and legal spokesman Mark Corallo about Don Junior’s infamous meeting with the Russians in Trump Tower. This will be something Mueller will ask about. source
  • Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, also testified before the House Intelligence Committee. He refused to answer questions about events during the transition or relating to conversations with Trump, claiming he wasn’t prepared and could come back at a later date. Rep. Schiff expressed frustration that the committee did not use its powers to compel testimony from Lewandowski. source

Fusion GPS House testimony transcripts were released (PDF). The overall discussion revolved around abundant evidence of Trump money laundering:

  • There was a Russian gangster, or his associates, living in Trump Tower, where he also ran a high-stakes gambling ring. This Russian gangster was in the VIP section of Trump’s Miss Universe pageant, sitting with Trump and other Kremlin “biggies”
  • Simpson stated that the Russian government has power over the Trump family, and could be blackmailing them, due to Eric Trump bragging about having unlimited Russian money to fund Trump golf courses. This stems from the belief that the money came from the Russian mafia.
  • Simpson explained how Trump committed fraud to secure financing for his larger building projects, after banks refused to give him credit. For example, he states that Trump used fake Russian buyers to convince banks that he already had units sold.
  • For a longer discussion of the testimony, see this great article.

Omarosa may have recorded conversations in the White House, and expects to be contacted by Mueller soon. Disclaimer: keep in the mind the original reporting for this story was the New York Daily News, and is probably better described as a rumor. source

The hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo was artificially driven by Russian-linked accounts. The “memo” in question was cooked up by Nunes and other Trump-allies, and claims to prove that the Obama administration abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Wikileaks has offered a reward to anyone who will leak the memo. This is a hype campaign, as it is a GOP-created document and nothing is stopping them from releasing it. source

More than 677,000 Twitter users liked, retweeted, or followed an account linked to the Russian-linked Internet Research Agency (IRA) during the 2016 election. source

Trump has accused Russia of helping North Korea evade sanctions. source

Of note: In early 2017, FBI officials warned Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump that their friendship with Chinese-American businesswoman Wendi Deng Murdoch was at risk of being used to further the interests of China’s government (source). We also learned that Kushner has been one of as many as 14 people who received the President’s Daily Brief – a daily digest of the most sensitive and top-secret information. These details can give insight into Kushner’s role in dealings with Russia, as well. He has access to the most top secret info, despite not having been approved for permanent security clearance, and he is known to pursue personal business interests in his official capacity as White House adviser. source

The State Department’s most experienced sanctions negotiator has quit due to a growing disillusionment with the Trump administration. My personal hypothesis: This is all part of the plan to weaken American institutions. To date, 60% of top-ranking career diplomats have left the State Department. source