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What We Learned in the Trump-Russia Investigation: Week of March 18 – 24, 2018

Mueller Investigation

The persona who took credit for hacking the DNC and giving the stolen emails to Wikileaks, Guccifer 2.0, has been revealed to be a Russian Intelligence Officer. He exposed himself by making a crucial error – logging onto social media without turning on his VPN to mask his location. After tracking his IP address, investigators determined him to be a particular GRU officer working out of the agency’s headquarters on Grizodubovoy Street in Moscow.

  • Guccifer 2.0’s true identity has been known to the CIA, NSA, and FBI since January 2017. Mueller has taken over the probe into Guccifer and brought the agents that were tracking him onto his team.
  • Roger Stone, campaign advisor to the Trump campaign, has previously admitted to having contact with Guccifer 2.0, though he does not admit that the hacker is Russian. Stone denies having advance knowledge of the publication of the hacked emails, but he tweeted a warning about John Podesta before the public was aware of the content of the emails. Mueller can charge Stone and anyone in the Trump campaign with a crime for aiding Guccifer, if he has the evidence. We know Mueller has been asking questions about when Trump knew of the hacked emails.
  • Reminder: A GOP super PAC linked to Paul Ryan used illegally hacked material in ads against Democratic House candidates – material hacked by Guccifer 2.0, a Russian officer.

Mueller has indicated to Trump’s lawyers four main topics he wishes to discuss with the president: Trump’s role in crafting a statement abroad Air Force One about Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians in Trump Tower, the circumstances surrounding the meeting, and his firing of Comey and Flynn.

George Nader, who has been granted immunity for cooperating with Mueller, and deputy finance RNC chairman Elliott Broidy spent a year “cultivating” Trump on behalf of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. They pushed for the firing of Tillerson, backed confrontational approaches to Iran and Qatar, and attempted to get Trump to meet with privately with the leader of the UAE outside of the White House. The first two of their objectives have already been fulfilled.

  • Broidy offered to help a Moscow-based lawyer get Russian companies removed from a U.S. sanctions list, just before Trump’s inauguration.

Mueller is examining the ties between Trump and Cambridge Analytica, focusing particularly on the work of the Trump campaign’s data team overseen by Jared Kushner and Brad Parscale.

  • Christopher Wylie, a co-founder of Cambridge Analyica, blew the whistle on his former company for harvesting private information from the Facebook profiles of over 50 million users without their permission. Facebook allegedly knew about this “breach” (it wasn’t really a breach, they knew researcher Aleksandr Kogan was taking the information) in 2016, yet didn’t act until the story was about to go public. Cambridge is now suspended from Facebook.
  • Cambridge Analytica is connected to the Mercers, who fund the company, and to Steve Bannon, who was vice-president of the company and sat on its board. It was reportedly Bannon who brought the project to the Mercers for funding. Since the story broke, Bannon has claimed to be unaware of any use of Facebook data. Wylie insists he was lying.
  • Cambridge Analytica was central to Trump’s campaign strategy, as a second whistleblower has described. Brittany Kaiser was Cambridge’s business development director until two weeks ago. She has given the Guardian a 27-page presentation created by the company as a summary of their work for the Trump campaign. It is a complicated document that is hard to describe in a few words – multiple platforms were exploited including Google, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and – surprisingly – Politico.
  • Channel 4 News in the UK secretly filmed meetings with Cambridge’s CEO Alexander Nix, who has since been suspended. The video shows Nix and other top figures bragging that he had met Trump “many times” and won the election for him. They stated that the company used groups outside of Trump’s campaign, such as Super PACs, to seed attack ads against Hillary Clinton. Coordination of this sort is illegal. They also bragged about using fake news, bribes, And Ukranian hookers to influence elections.
  • The Trump campaign, the Mercers, and Nix himself were sent a memo by Rudy Giuliani’s law firm warning that foreign nationals could not play any strategic roles or take part in any final analysis of collected data to be used in making decisions related to the U.S. election. Christopher Wylie, however, says this warning was not heeded – the Cambridge teams that worked on several U.S. campaigns were “largely composed” of foreign nationals. The Federal Election Commission is in charge of enforcing this ban on foreign nationals participating in U.S. elections, but it is unclear if they intend to pursue this instance.
  • A third whistleblower revealed that Cambridge Analytica played a part in the Brexit campaign, claiming that the Vote Leave campaign violated electoral spending rules in making a 650,000 pound donation to a company associated with Cambridge. Furthermore, he alleges that Vote Leave deleted evidence.
  • Numerous Republicans and conservative groups have employed Cambridge Analytica in the past, including: John Bolton (now National Security Adviser), Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Tom Cottom, Thom Tillis, North Carolina GOP, Colorado GOP, Mimi Waters (CA), Roy Blunt (MO), Patrick McHenry (N.C.), National Rifle Association, Art Robinson (failed House candidate), and Scott Brown (failed Senate candidate). Trump also has former Cambridge employees in his administration. For example, one is now a Trump appointee at the Commerce Department and another is a top official at HUD.
  • Cambridge Analytica’s offices were raided by U.K. authorities Friday, after a 4 day long delay. The delay could have allowed the company time to destroy or hide key evidence. There were even pictures taken during the delay of large boxes being removed from that Cambridge offices. Arguably, the information officer should not have publicly announced they were seeking a warrant so early. There is speculation that this was due to U.K. government’s ties or politician’s use of Cambridge and its parent, SLC.
  • In the U.S the New York and Massachusetts attorneys general are investigating Cambridge, and some lawmakers have called on Mark Zuckerberg to testify before congress. Note, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company has an active contract with the State Department.
  • Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted down a Democratic proposal to hold a hearing with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and other tech CEOs.

John Dowd, Trump’s lead lawyer, resigned on Thursday. His decision was due to Trump not following his advice, especially when it comes to Mueller. Trump wants to sit for an interview with Mueller, while Dowd thinks it is a bad idea.

  • This comes after Dowd released a statement calling for the firing of Mueller and the end of the Russia probe. He maintains that Trump personally directed him to make that statement, despite the White House claiming otherwise.
  • It is speculated that Trump’s hiring of a new attorney might have played a role in Dowd’s resignation. On Monday, Trump hired Joseph diGenova, a talking head on Fox News who has pushed the conspiracy theory that the FBI is framing Trump by empowering Mueller’s probe. Experts believe his hiring heralds a more aggressive stance by Trump and his lawyers.
  • Sunday the 25th, news broke that Trump decided not to hire DiGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing after all, due to conflicts of interest. Together the couple runs a small law firm, and Victoria’s clients include Mark Corrallo, Sam Clovis, and Erik Prince. Corallo has spoken with Mueller and might have given information that’s damaging to Trump.

Russian Interference

Trump called Putin to congratulate him on his ‘victory’ in the Russian election (despite evidence of widespread fraud). He ignored his National Security adviser’s warnings not to congratulate him, which was written in all capital letters on his daily briefing materials. Trump also ignored instruction to condemn Putin on the nerve agent attack in the U.K. After the call was revealed by the Russian government, Trump commented on the matter, saying it was a “very good call.”

  • Reportedly, the two leaders discussed meeting in person “in light of the changes in leadership at the US Department of State,” raising the question of the Kremlin’s role in Tillerson’s firing.

The Federal Election Commission is investigating whether the NRA funneled illegal donations from Russians to the Trump campaign. The NRA contributed $30 million to Trump’s presidential campaign. This makes two investigations into the matter that we know of – Mueller and the FBI are also looking into it.

Before McMaster was fired, the National Security Council recommended to Trump expelling a group of Russian diplomats from the U.S. in retaliation for the attack on Sergei Skripal in the UK. Reportedly, Trump is considering it. But McMaster was fired less than a day after making the recommendation.

  • Update: Trump has expelled 60 Russian officials and is closing the consulate in Seattle.

John Bolton, Trump’s pick for National Security Adviser, recorded a video used by a Russian gun rights group in 2013. The group, The Right to Bear Arms, was founded by Russian politician Alexander Torshin, who has also cultivated strong ties with the NRA and is involved in the previously mentioned investigations of illegal Russian donations.

The omnibus spending bill signed by Trump on Friday includes $380 million in election security funding. “The funding would go to the Election Assistance Commission, which then must distribute the funds to states within 45 days to replace aging voting machines, implement post-election audits, and provide cybersecurity training for state and local officials, among other election security related improvements.”

The head of US forces in Afghanistan says he has seen “destabilizing activity by the Russians,” they are still supporting and arming the Afghan Taliban.


Last year, McCabe “oversaw a federal criminal investigation into whether Sessions lacked candor when testifying before Congress about contacts with Russian operatives.” For Sessions to then fire McCabe raises questions of his motivations and conflicts of interest.


The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia bragged that he has Jared Kushner “in his pocket.” Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh in October of 2017, spending a great deal of time with the prince. After the meeting, the prince allegedly told others that Kushner had revealed to him the names of Saudis who are disloyal.

  • A week after Kushner made his trip, the prince arrested & imprisoned dozens in an anti-corruption campaign. Reportedly, one of the people named by Kushner was even tortured.
  • We can speculate that Kushner could have gotten the names and information he gave the Crown Prince from the top secret intelligence he had access to (until recently). It’s been reported that Kushner requests more intel than any other White House employee who isn’t on the National Security Council, and that Kushner regularly read the Presidential Daily Briefing.

To note…

Trump has been sent a summons in a lawsuit filed by the AG’s of Maryland and D.C. alleging he is violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Trump’s lawyers must respond to the summons three weeks.

An AP investigation found that Kushner’s real estate company regularly filed false paperwork claiming it had zero rent-regulated tenants in its buildings across the city, “when, in fact, it had hundreds.”

  • After this report, the New York Attorney General announced he is meeting with tenants to discuss the issue.
  • Additionally, New York City’s building regulator is “investigating possible ‘illegal activity’ involving applications that sought permission to begin construction work at 13 of the developer’s buildings.” Curiously, after these periods of construction, there was a sharp decline in the amount of rent-regulated units. It’s possible the the low-paying, rent-regulated tenants were harassed, getting them to leave and free up units for higher-paying tenants.

Just for fun, here’s a tweet about how Russian state tv makes Trump’s skin color a deeper shade of orange when they are upset with him.