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What We Learned in the Trump-Russia Investigation: Week of June 17 – 23, 2018

Mueller Investigation

Roger Stone’s ‘frenemy’ Randy Credico told reporters that Mueller has reached out to him for a voluntary interview, but he doesn’t plan on talking unless he gets subpoenaed. Credico told the Daily Beast, “The last thing that I would like to be known as is a rat.” Credico is a person of interest because Stone told the House Intelligence Committee that Credico was a backchannel between him [Stone] and Assange. Credico denies facilitating any such communication.

Paul Wood, a BBC journalist, says an American lawyer told Wood that he was approached by a Cambridge Analytica employee after the election. The employee told the lawyer that the company had the Clinton emails more than a month before they were published by WikiLeaks. The employee then asked the lawyer what he should do, to which the lawyer replied he should take the information to Mueller.

Adam Waldman, a longtime US lobbyist for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, visited Julian Assange nine times in 2017. It is not known what was discussed at the meetings. The dates of some of Waldman’s visits are interesting, specifically three visits that occurred directly before and after Trump’s inauguration.

  • Waldman was last in the news for text messages he sent to Sen. Mark Warner, offering to broker a deal between Assange and the DOJ.
  • Deripaska is tied up in Mueller’s probe through his connections with Manafort. Manafort worked for Deripaska for many years and offered the oligarch a confidential briefing during the 2016 election. Further, Deripaska was recorded speaking about the US election with Russia’s deputy PM on a luxury yacht. A woman who was on the yacht with the two men is sitting in a Thai jail, but has offered the FBI to trade her freedom for damning information on Russia’s involvement in the US election.

McClatchy revealed more evidence suggesting Donald Trump was involved in, or assisted others in, money laundering. Buyers from Russia or former Soviet republics “made 86 all-cash sales — totaling nearly $109 million — at 10 Trump-branded properties in South Florida and New York City.”

  • Aleksandr Burman: A Ukrainian healthcare executive sentenced to 10 years in prison for a $26 million fraud scheme in New York paid $725,000 in cash for a Trump Tower condo in Florida in 2009.
  • Leonid Zeldovich: A man who did “extensive business” in Russian-annexed Crimea paid over $4.35 million for four Trump units, three of which are in New York City, between 2007-2010.
  • Igor Romashov: A Chairman of the board of a Russian oil transport company under U.S. sanctions paid $620,000 upfront for a unit in Florida in 2010.
  • Many buyers appeared to pay more than the market value for Trump properties, another sign of money laundering. For example, Natalia Sivokozova paid $1.3 million for a Trump unit that was only assessed at $923,803.
  • Several buyers also had criminal backgrounds. For example, a man found guilty of “operating a sports betting ring for a Russian-American organized crime group” bought a Trump unit for $830,000 in Florida in 2010. The daughter of a Ukrainian businessman accused of laundering tens of millions of dollars paid $1.25 million for a Florida unit in 2013.

Roger Stone has once again told the media that it’s possible he’ll be indicted. He added that Mueller’s investigation has made it difficult for him to talk to Trump.

Rudy Giuliani revealed that earlier this year FBI agents questioned him about his “2016 remarks predicting a “surprise” in the closing days of the presidential race that would benefit then-Republican nominee Donald Trump.” There has been persistent worry about anti-Clinton forces in the New York FBI field office, which Giuliani has connections to from his time as former US attorney for SDNY. Unfortunately, the recent IG report failed to investigate this aspect of the FBI’s role in the 2016 election.

Michael Cohen

Today, Monday, Stormy Daniels was scheduled to meet with prosecutors in SDNY’s investigation of Michael Cohen, but the attorney’s office canceled due to the meeting having been leaked, and fear the details of what occurs may likewise be leaked.

Michael Cohen resigned from the deputy finance chair of the RNC’s Finance Committee, citing Mueller’s probe as one reason but also criticizing Trump’s family separation policy.

Cohen hired a new lawyer, Guy Petrillo, on Tuesday. Petrillo spent two years in the Southern District of New York US Attorney’s office, the same agency that is investigating Cohen. According to his website, Petrillo specializes in cases involving money laundering and fraud.

Tom Arnold tweeted a photo of himself and Michael Cohen “hanging out,” and later went on various TV shows to claim that the two are teaming up to take down Trump. Arnold again implied he has damaging tapes of Donald Trump. After this, however, Cohen took to Twitter to deny discussing anything related to Trump.

  • (Personally, I feel that this was simply a convenient photo op for both of their purposes. Arnold has a special coming out on Vice about the search for the Trump tapes. He’s gotten more media coverage from the Cohen photo than he’s gotten in many years; what a great way to hype a new project. Cohen, on the other hand, gets to put out another message to Trump: pay me, because I have the means to ruin you. It’s a threat, essentially.)

The South Korean aerospace company (KAI) that paid Cohen $150,000 for “accounting advice” failed to disclose that it was the subject of a corruption investigation, yet was awarded a $48 million contract from the U.S. military. Last year, the former CEO and eight other executives were indicted in Seoul on charges of bribery, embezzlement, and defrauding the South Korean government.

  • Cohen time as a consultant for the company began before the CEO was arrested and ended after KAI won the contract. KAI is now considered a front-runner to win an $18 billion contract with the U.S. military; it’s unclear how KAI’s failure to disclose the corruption charges may affect their bid.

Other Russia Connections

A group of American senators will travel to Russia at the end of the month and celebrate Independence Day in Moscow. Reportedly the group includes Richard Shelby of Alabama, John Neely Kennedy of Louisiana and North Dakota’s John Hoeven.

John Bolton is traveling to Moscow and will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. His visit is expected to be prep for a meeting between Trump and Putin that will occur sometime in July. Two times of the month have been mentioned: either before July 11th or after July 13th.

Wilbur Ross failed to truly divest his holdings/interests in foreign companies, including Navigator, a shipping firm tied to Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, multiple companies co-owned by the Chinese government, and a Cypriot bank Mueller is investigating. When Ross found out the Paradise Papers (which included this news) was about to be published, he opened a short position against the Russian company, meaning he’d profit if the shares dropped. Predictably, the stock went down and Ross cashed out with a profit.

  • The companies Ross is involved with are connected in a tangled web to other players in the Russia probe. For example, the largest shareholder in the Cypriot bank is a company connected to Viktor Vekselberg, “whom Ross once hosted in his office around 2014.” Vekselberg’s firm paid Michael Cohen’s shell company $500,000 for “consulting.” Earlier this year Mueller stopped Vekselberg at an airport, questioning him and searching his electronics. Note, Vekselberg also attended Trump’s inauguration and was at the 2015 RT gala in Moscow with Michael Flynn and Jill Stein.
  • Forbes mentions that, like his boss, Ross lies about his wealth. Despite claiming a personal worth in the billions, his “financial disclosure report revealed less than $700 million in assets. When pressed about the discrepancy, Ross calmly cited more than $2 billion in undisclosed assets.”

Rick Perry is going to host Russia’s energy minister, Alexander Novak, for a meeting in Washington DC this week. One has to wonder if Perry will bring up Russia’s attacks on our energy grid…


Obama’s ‘cybersecurity czar’ Michael Daniel testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday. The committee reached a bipartisan conclusion that the Obama administration did not do enough to stop the Russians from interfering in the 2016 election. Daniel had ordered his team to begin developing aggressive countermeasures to deter the Kremlin’s efforts in the early summer of 2016, but none were actually put into action. In August 2016 Daniel’s team was told to “stand down” because some officials did not want to be seen to be favoring Clinton in the election.

  • Sen. Mark Warner said that while Obama officials could have done more, “the Trump campaign and its allies cravenly painted any attempt to call out Russia for its attacks as a political effort to help Clinton and to steal an election.”

Also before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Daniel testified that Russian hackers likely scanned all 50 states for vulnerabilities in 2016, not just the 21 states previously confirmed as targets.

Dems on the House Intelligence Committee released the names of about 1,100 Russian Twitter accounts, many of which were active as recently as last month. Their tweets commented on Roseanne Barr’s firing and Don Jr.’s divorce, but not all were the MAGA accounts we are used to seeing from the Kremlin’s Internet Research Agency.

  • In a testament to their goal of creating dissent and conflict in America, some of the accounts had starkly pro-Resistance messages. For example, KaniJJackson used Resistance hashtags like “impeach45,” “GunReformNow,” and “Resist,” while also shaming Roseanne for her racist tweet. Another, wokelisa, with more than 55k followers used to “TakeAKnee” hashtag to argue that kneeling during the anthem is in fact patriotic.

Sen. James Lankford, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, stated Wednesday that Russian bots are “using the current family separation and immigration debate to sow discord among Americans.”

State election officials say they haven’t received as much federal funding as they need to secure their election systems. Minnesota and Vermont asked lawmakers for more to upgrade equipment and cybersecurity. This year, 41 states are using voting systems that are at least a decade old.


A 100 member delegation from Cyprus and Cypriot organizations paid to hold a conference at Trump’s D.C. hotel to explicitly look “into ways of exerting influence on Trump,” one of which was surely bringing business to the hotel. Adding to the conflicts of interest, U.S. government officials “addressed paying guests from behind a Trump Hotels-branded lectern,” further blurring the line between Trump’s private companies and the presidency.

  • As if that wasn’t enough intrigue, Cyprus is involved in Mueller’s probe. Mueller is reportedly investigating “flows of money into the Cyprus bank account of a company that specialized in social-media manipulation and whose founder reportedly met with Donald Trump Jr.” One has to wonder if this connection played a part in the low price conference members paid for their rooms. In 2017, the average cost of a room at Trump hotel was $652.98 a night. However, the Cypriot attendees paid only $325 per night.
  • What other foreign countries have had delegations stay at Trump’s D.C. hotel? The U.S. embassies of Azerbaijan, Bahrain, and Kuwait; Malaysia’s prime minister; Romania’s president; Saudi Arabian lobbyists; and the Turkey–U.S. Business Council. A couple of weeks ago, the Philippines’ embassy stayed there to celebrate its country’s independence, and later this month a Vietnamese private company is holding a seminar at the hotel to drum up Americans investment in its country.

To note…

An organizer of last year’s Unite the Right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville has received initial approval to hold a rally across from the White House on August 12th, the anniversary of last year’s event.

Taxpayers have paid $20 million for extra Coast Guard patrols to protect Trump during his trips to Mar-A-Lago, which have numbered 16 so far. Note: This data does not include the cost of Trump’s weeklong stay at his estate with Japanese PM Abe, which conceivably could have cost more than average. When taking other costs into account, the Government Accountability Office estimates each trip To Florida costs taxpayers $3 million overall.