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What We Learned in the Trump-Russia Investigation: Week of June 10 – 16, 2018

Mueller Investigation

Paul Manafort was sent to jail on Friday to await trial after being caught tampering with witnesses. In response, Giuliani threatened that the Mueller probe “might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons.”

Mueller questioned Michael Caputo about a May 2016 meeting he set up between Roger Stone and a Russian man offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton. The Russian, who claimed to be Harry Greenberg but spoke with an obvious accent, asked Stone and Trump for $2 million in exchange for the information. Stone declined the offer.

    • Henry Greenberg, aka Henry Oknyansky, claimed to have work for the FBI as an informant up until 2013. Caputo has used this to argue that he and Stone were set up by the FBI. The fact remains that the Russia probe was not started until 2 months later.
    • A few weeks before Stone met with Greenberg, a London-based professor told George Papadopoulos that the Russians had dirt on Clinton. Two weeks after Stone’s meeting, the Trump Tower meeting occurred.
  • Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, responded to the news saying he “doubts” that Trump knew of the meeting and arguing that there was no collusion because Stone didn’t agree to the deal.

Roger Stone apparently lied to the House Intelligence Committee about this interaction. His statement: “To be clear, I have never represented any Russian clients, have never been to Russia, and never had any communication with any Russians or individuals fronting for Russians, in connection with the 2016 presidential election.” Now, after the story was published, Stone remembers the encounter.

McClatchy learned of additional contacts between prominent Russian nationals, including Putin’s inner circle, and NRA reps during the 2016 election.

  • Aside from Russian banker Alexander Torshin, we now know Dmitry Rogozin, deputy PM overseeing Russia’s defense, and Sergei Rudov, head of one of Russia’s largest philanthropies, met with NRA reps in Moscow.
  • Mueller is investigating if Russian money was funneled through the NRA to Trump’s campaign. Spanish prosecutor Jose Grinda met with the FBI for several hours last month, providing them with transcripts of wiretaps in which a since-convicted Russian money-launderer spoke with Torshin and called him “El Padrino” — Spanish for godfather.

In a court filing on Tuesday, Mueller stated that “uncharged individuals and entities” are still interfering in U.S. politics and elections. To protect methods and sources of the ongoing investigation, Muller asked the judge to prevent the 13 Russian nationals and 3 entities from reviewing evidence before they face trial in the U.S. courts.

Nat Sec adviser John Bolton made two appearances in the past year at events sponsored by Ukrainian Victor Pinchuk’s foundation for $115,000. Bolton reportedly “reassured the audience that President Trump would not radically change U.S. foreign policy.” Note that in 2015 Pinchuk paid Trump $150,000 for a 20-minute speech to Kiev via video.

Trump reportedly got the idea to end joint American-South Korean military exercises from Putin after speaking with him at the G20 summit. This bit of information was buried in a WSJ piece from January. It stated that Trump eventually dropped the idea, perhaps at Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s suggestion, but ordered aides to “give the exercises a low profile.” It seems Trump didn’t give up on the idea – Putin’s idea – after all.

Simona & George Papadopoulos claim they were presented with offers, which they view as attempts at entrapping them, before George’s arrest. In one of these instances, they claim that an Israeli businessman paid George $10,000 in cash “not to be a consultant, just to, let’s say, ‘keep [his] engagements.'” Simona stated that Mueller’s team asked her about this payment to “test her credibility.”

Last summer, White House counsel Don McGahn recused his entire office from working on the Russia probe because “many of his office’s lawyers played significant roles in key episodes at the center of the probe.” The majority of these interactions relate to the firings of Flynn and Comey. McGahn and at least two of his top aides have already been interviewed by Mueller’s team.

Trump’s 2020 campaign is reportedly working with at least four former Cambridge Analytica staffers. The work they’re doing is “along the lines of Cambridge Analytica’s 2016 work.” Brad Parscale has also helped the new incarnation of Cambridge Analytica find work with the RNC for the 2018 midterms.

Michael Cohen

The legal team that has represented Michael Cohen so far is reportedly not expected to continue representing him going forward. While “people familiar with the matter” have told the WSJ that Cohen is searching for a replacement law firm, sources have also said Cohen is considering cooperating with prosecutors. CNN reports that Cohen feels mistreated and betrayed by Trump and his allies.

Michael Cohen’s team was given a 10-day extension on the June 15th deadline to complete their review of 3.7 million documents seized from Cohen. The review is to determine which documents they want to claim attorney-client privilege on or claim as protected for personal information.

Federal investigators have finished piecing together 16 pages of documents from Cohen’s shredder and have retrieved 731 pages of messages and call logs from encrypted phone apps.

Andrii V. Artemenko reported that Mueller’s questions before the grand jury in part focused on his interactions with Cohen. In fact, Artemenko called Cohen “a target” of Mueller. Artemenko met with Cohen in January 2017 to propose a “back-channel peace initiative for Ukraine.”

Russia interference

After the G7 summit, Trump continued to argue for Russia’s re-admittance to the group, saying it’d be easier to ask for favors. “…if Vladimir Putin were sitting next to me at a table instead of one of the others… I could say, ‘would you do me a favor and get out of Syria? Would you do me a favor, would you get out of Ukraine?'” Trump continued, “If he were at that meeting, I could ask him to do things that are good for the world, that are good for our country that are good for him.”

  • This week we found out that at dinner with the other members of G7, Trump told world leaders that Crimea is Russian because everyone who lives there speaks Russian. Television hosts on a state-run Russian station celebrated his statement, declaring “Crimea is ours! Trump is ours!”
  • In an impromptu Friday morning press conference, Trump blamed Obama for Russia’s invasion of Crimea, saying “He allowed Russia to take Crimea.”

Trump is reportedly so determined to have a face-to-face meeting with Putin, a senior administration official has stated “there’s no stopping him.” The Trump-Putin summit is being planned, and could happen as soon as next month. “He’s going to do it. He wants to have a meeting with Putin, so he’s going to have a meeting with Putin.”


The DOJ Inspector General report found that while Comey deviated from DOJ procedure in handling the Clinton probe, “he wasn’t motivated by political bias.” In summary, he made a bad decision procedurally. The right has since seized on a newly released message between agents Page and Strzok in which they discussing putting a stop to Trump becoming president. The IG’s report found that the FBI’s investigation, including the two FBI agents, was not biased for or against any candidate.

There seems to be a massive blindspot in the IG report, however. There were many reports of anti-Clinton bias in the FBI’s New York field office, and indeed suspicion that anti-Clinton agents had leaked the news of the laptop to Rudy Giuliani in order to restart the Clinton probe. Yet the IG didn’t even acknowledge the topic or the question of “whether the fear of leaks out of that office was the driver of the October 28th Comey letter.”


The New York Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against Trump’s “charitable” foundation, alleging it acted as a personal and campaign piggy bank for Donald Trump. It is illegal for charities to be involved in politics. “The coordination between the foundation and the campaign was blatant and explicit.”

  • Alan Weisselberg, who is listed as the official Trump Foundation’s treasurer, didn’t know he was treasurer until a New York state investigator told him. Additionally, the board for the charity hasn’t met since 1999.

During the transition, Israel actively worked with Trump’s team against Obama’s policies. At the time, the U.N. was contemplating a resolution against Israel’s illegal settlements. Worried that Obama would go further, “locking in” the two-state solution in international law, Israeli officials turned to Trump’s team to try to convince other countries not to cooperate with the current administration. “The Israelis found the Trump circle easy to persuade. Trump and his closest advisers shared Netanyahu’s antipathy toward Obama.”

  • Additionally, after the inauguration Israeli officials visited Washington and shared with Trump’s White House (including Flynn) a summary of Israeli intelligence on Obama and his team.

To note…

During 2017, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner made at least $82 million in outside income. Here is some of the breakdown: $3.9 million came from Ivanka’s stake in the Trump International Hotel, $2 million from Ivanka’s severance from the Trump Org, over $5 million from Ivanka’s clothing brand, and over $5 million from Kushner’s New Jersey apartment complex.

In a bipartisan move, the Senate has voted to add an amendment to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would block Trump’s deal to save the Chinese company ZTE. If the NDAA passes the Senate and the House, with the amendment, Trump will be faced with a tough decision: veto the critical defense bill or sign it and sacrifice the ZTE deal (would China move against Trump’s business interests, in that case?).