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What We Learned in the Trump-Russia Investigation: Week of March 25 – 31, 2018

Mueller Investigation

In a new court filing in the sentencing of attorney, and son of a Russian oligarch, Alex van der Zwaan, Mueller revealed the most direct connection between Trump and the Russians that we know of so far.

  • Van der Zwaan lied about his knowledge of direct communications between Rick Gates (cooperating with Mueller now) and a person identified as “Person A,” who is most likely Konstantin Kilimnik. Kilimnik was an aide to Gates and Manafort in Ukraine, and is allegedly a former Russian Intelligence Officer with GRU. Gates apparently described Kilimnik as such, according to van der Zwaan. Mueller further states in the documents that Gates and Kilimnik continued to converse in 2016, meaning Gates (and Manafort) had contact with someone they knew to be a Russian intelligence officer during the Trump campaign and/or transition.
  • Remember, a GRU officer is also thought to be responsible for hacking the DNC, Guccifer 2.0.
  • We know Manafort had been in contact with Kilimnik during the 2016 campaign. He met with “him at least twice and [asked] him to provide private briefings” about the election to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with close ties to Putin.
  • Here’s a simplified web of connections between Trump and Putin that includes Kilimnik that might help you visualize the relationships.

The FBI has in their possession a second report written by Christopher Steele that alleges Putin has sanctioned killings of Russians on U.S. soil.

  • RT founder and “Putin’s media czar” Mikhail Lesin’s body was found on Nov. 5, 2015 in his Washington, DC, hotel room. The official coroner’s report “determined that he had died from blunt force injuries to the head and had also sustained blunt force injuries to his neck, torso, upper extremities, and lower extremities.” A federal investigator stated his death was an accident; Lesin died alone in his room due to a series of drunken falls “after days of excessive consumption of alcohol.”
  • The next day, Lesin was scheduled to meet with US Justice Department officials to talk about the inner workings of Russian state media.
  • Steele’s report states that Lesin was bludgeoned to death by enforcers working for an oligarch close to Putin. The were not supposed to kill him, but reportedly they went too far.
  • Three other independent sources have confirmed Steele’s reports to the FBI.

There are two other suspicious Russian deaths on U.S. soil (plus over a dozen on U.K. soil) that I know of. I’m sure there are more. Here are the ones that occurred in the states:

  • Sergei Krivov: Russian diplomat. Found just before 7 a.m. on Election Day 2016, lying dead on the floor of the Russian Consulate on the Upper East Side with head injury. Initial reports said he plunged from the roof of the consulate. Consular officials quickly changed their story, saying he’d suffered a heart attack in the security office, and died. The New York Medical Examiner concluded he died of internal bleeding due to a tumor.
  • Vitaly Churkin: Russian ambassador to the UN. Died at work in New York in 2017, by what Russian officials called a heart attack. The Medical Examiner said further study was needed, but was silenced by the US State Department.

Mueller is probing Russia contacts at that occurred at the Republican National Convention in 2016. His team has specifically asked about an event attended by both Russia’s U.S. ambassador and Jeff Sessions and any discussions the two had at the Mayflower Hotel. They have also been asking about how and why “Republican Party platform language hostile to Russia was deleted from a section of the document related to Ukraine.”

In attempting to obtain cooperation from Rick Gates, Mueller has reportedly been pushing him for information on Trump’s contacts with Russia rather than information on Manafort. This indicates that (1) Trump remains a central target of the investigation, and (2) Mueller doesn’t need any help in putting Manafort away.

Infowars contributor & Trump campaign associate Ted Malloch was detained by the FBI as he arrived at the Boston airport from London. He was questioned about about Roger Stone and Julian Assange, and was subpoenaed to testify before Mueller’s D.C. grand jury on April 13th.

  • “Malloch said the federal agents who stopped him and separated him from his wife “seemed to know everything about me” and warned him that lying to the FBI was a felony.”

Kirill Dmitriev, the Russian financier Erik Prince met with in the Seychelles in January 2017, has closer ties to Putin than previously known. Six sources “say Dmitriev’s wife, Natalia Popova, is close friends with Putin’s younger daughter, Yekaterina Tikhonova, and also serves as the deputy director of her Innopraktika foundation.” This information renews concerns that the meeting was organized to set up a secret Kremlin backchannel with the Trump administration.

European counterintelligence officials have revealed that Papadopoulos had meetings with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who is close to Putin, both before and after the election. They state that these meetings should concern the U.S.

  • Kammenos has also been photographed at events with Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon. A month before Bannon met with Kammenos, Papadopoulos sent an email to Bannon and Flynn describing his contacts with the Greek Defense Minister.
  • Allowing Papadopoulos to meet with Kammenos, “At a minimum, they said, it showed the Trump campaign was naive in allowing a representative to meet with him.” A European counterintelligence official stated: “Either they knew officials were meeting with a [Ministry of Defense] in Athens that has a big black mark next to it due to Russian infiltration, or they didn’t know what meetings were being taken.”

George Nader, a political adviser to the UAE and now a cooperating witness, paid Trump fundraiser and former RNC chairman Elliott Broidy $2.5 million last April. Broidy then made large donations to U.S. lawmakers considering legislation targeting Qatar, UAE’s rival.

  • Sources say this was an effort to persuade the U.S. to take a hard line against Qatar. It seems at least some of the donations paid off, as a month later GOP Rep. Ed Royce introduced legislation that would brand Qatar as a terrorist-supporting state.
  • The blockade of Qatar began in June of 2017, 3 months after Broidy received the payments.
  • “In October, Broidy also raised the issue of Qatar at the White House in meetings with Trump and senior aides.”

John Dowd, Trump’s former lawyer, reportedly spoke to Flynn and Manafort about Trump pardoning them for their crimes. This could have been an attempt to influence their decision on whether to cooperate or not at a time when Mueller was offering leniency in exchange for information, suggesting that Trump and his lawyers were concerned about what the two men might reveal. Dowd has denied these discussions took place.

Manafort is reportedly betting on receiving a presidential pardon, not planning on cooperating with Mueller.

The jet of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch and Putin ally, arrived in the US (in New Jersey) within hours of a meeting between Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the former Russian military intelligence officer Konstantin Kilimnik. This occurred just weeks after Manafort offered “private briefings” about the Trump campaign to Deripaska.

Russian interference

CNN’s Jim Acosta reported on Twitter that NSC spokesman Michael Anton confirmed the administration has still not enforced any sanctions against Russian oligarchs, contradicting Raj Shah’s statement at Monday’s press briefing. There is already criticism that the announced sanctions do not touch Putin’s oligarchs or government officials.

In response to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and daughter in the U.K., the Trump administration has expelled 60 Russian diplomats/spies and ordered a Seattle Russian diplomatic compound to close. However, the State Department has confirmed original reporting by Julia Davis that the expelled diplomats/spies can be replaced by others, in a loophole that greatly reduces the impact of Trump’s actions.

A former Russian double agent has reported that he found out he was on a Kremlin hit list with Skripal, just weeks before Skripal was poisoned. Also on the list were several other ex-KGB agents, Bill Browder, and Christopher Steele.

After months of trying to convince Trump to sign off on a plan to supply new U.S. weapons to Ukraine, National Security advisers finally got him to approve the plan. However, Trump told his aides not to publicly tout his decision because he didn’t want to anger Putin.

The $380 million included in the omnibus spending bill for election security is likely not going to end up fixing key election security issues in all states. The reason: the money is “going to be allocated based on the same population-based formula laid out in the 2002 Help America Vote Act.” This means that only 2 of the 13 states that use machines that lack an auditable paper trail (Arkansas and Delaware) could receive enough money to fully replace them. Most states won’t get more than 60% of the money required to to fully replace paperless systems.


Mark Zuckerberg has decided that he will testify before Congress, but is sending representatives to testify before the U.K. Parliament. He is going to be asked questions about Facebook’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica, a company that harvested the data of 50 million users without their knowledge.

House Dems have called for the FBI to investigate claims that Kushner leaked classified information to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Reportedly, the prince has said that Kushner revealed Saudi leaders who were disloyal to him, resulting in their arrest and perhaps torture.


In 2015, the FBI looked into Trump plans in 2010 to build a hotel in Latvia with Putin supporter Igor Krutoy. The plans were abandoned after Krutoy and an associate were questioned by Latvian authorities as part of a major criminal inquiry there. The Guardian states that, “ Latvian investigators also examined secret recordings in which Trump was mentioned by a suspect.”

  • Krutoy attended the 2013 Moscow Miss Universe pageant and has written music for Emin Agalarov, whose father hosted the contest. The Agalarovs were involved in setting up the 2016 Trump Tower meeting.

Kushner has called newly-named National Security Adviser John Bolton on numerous occasions for advice and to brief him on key national security issues.

To note…

Ecuador has cut off Julian Assange’s internet connection at the embassy in London, “after his recent activity on social media decrying the arrest of a Catalan separatist politician.”

Stormy Daniels’ 60 Minutes interview aired last Sunday. The only new piece of information we learned is that Stormy and her daughter were threatened about Trump in a parking lot in 2011.

  • Trump’s employees have a habit of threatening people who cross him. A lawyer representing investors in Trump’s casino after it went bankrupt in 2009 got a phone call saying “we’re going to your house for your wife and kids” if he didn’t stop “fucking with Mr. Trump.” The lawyer speculated the man on the other end of the phone was Trump’s bodyguard (not clear if this would have been Keith Schiller, but the man identified himself as “Carmine”…other people have suggested it was Trump himself). The FBI investigated and found that the call came from a pay phone across the street from the theater David Letterman films in, where Trump was appearing only 2 hours later.

Trump has lost arbitration to win back control of the former Trump International Tower & Hotel in Panama. The owners of the hotel evicted the Trump Organization earlier this month over allegations of “horrific” mismanagement.