Category Archives: War

Latest on the Trump-Putin campaign investigation (updated)

While the White House has sought to distance itself from campaign staff with ties to Russia this past week by suggesting those under scrutiny were fringe players — including Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort — the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon connections tightened this morning with the New York Times reporting that the Senate Intelligence Committee wants to question Trump son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner as part of their broad inquiry into ties between Trump associates and Russian officials or others linked to the Kremlin. Senate Committee to Question Jared Kushner Over Meetings With Russians:

The White House Counsel’s Office was informed this month that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, wanted to question Mr. Kushner about meetings he arranged with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, according to the government officials. The meetings included a previously unreported sit-down with the head of Russia’s state-owned development bank.

Until now, the White House had acknowledged only an early December meeting between Mr. Kislyak and Mr. Kushner, which occurred at Trump Tower and was also attended by Michael T. Flynn, who would briefly serve as the national security adviser.

Later that month, though, Mr. Kislyak requested a second meeting, which Mr. Kushner asked a deputy to attend in his stead, officials said. At Mr. Kislyak’s request, Mr. Kushner later met with Sergey N. Gorkov, the chief of Vnesheconombank, which drew sanctions from the Obama administration after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia annexed Crimea and began meddling in Ukraine.

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House Intelligence Committee chairman has undermined the credibility of the committee

On Thursday, House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes Apologized to Intel. Committee Members—But Won’t Explain His Stunt:

On Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chair of the House intelligence committee, blew up the congressional intelligence oversight process. On Thursday morning, at a private committee meeting, he apologized to his colleagues. But, according to a committee source, Nunes would not say what he thought he had done wrong or explain his actions.

Without consulting with the members of his committee—Republicans and Democrats—Nunes on Wednesday held two press conferences, during which he claimed he had been given information indicating that members of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team, including possibly Trump, were picked up during lawfully authorized intelligence surveillance of other targets and that their identities were disclosed in intelligence reporting based on these intercepts. Nunes also rushed to the White House to share this information with Trump.

Note: House Intelligence chair partially backs off claim about surveillance of Trump transition team: “The head of the House Intelligence Committee partially backed away from his dramatic claim [on Wednesday] that officials in President Trump’s transition team had been subjects of surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies, with an aide saying that Chairman Devin Nunes did not know “for sure.” “Until Nunes sees the actual documents, he does not know whether any of the transition officials were actually part of the surveilled conversations or were just talked about by others, spokesman Jack Langer said Thursday.” “He’ll have to get all the documents he requested from the [intelligence community] about this before he knows for sure,” Langer said.

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‘All the president’s men’: following the Russian money and the Foreign Agents Registration Act

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Paul Manafort is gone, but his business associate remains a key part of Trump’s operation:

The White House on Wednesday sought to again distance itself from President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who is under increasing scrutiny over his connections to Russian business interests.

But even as Trump officials downplay Manafort’s role, his ­decade-long business associate Rick Gates remains entrenched in the president’s operation. Gates is one of four people leading a Trump-blessed group that defends the president’s agenda. As recently as last week, he was at the White House to meet with officials as part of that work.

Through Manafort, Gates is tied to many of the same business titans from Ukraine and Russia, including Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with strong ties to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that Manafort had a multimillion-dollar contract with Deripaska between at least 2005 and 2009 that was aimed at helping the political interests of Putin.

Manafort has acknowledged the contract with Deripaska but denied that it, or any other of their dealings, had anything to do with the Russian government. In a brief interview, Gates described his work as being focused on “supporting the private equity fund started by the firm and democracy building and party building in Ukraine.”

Gates also acknowledged a role in at least two recent, controversial deals involving separate Putin-connected oligarchs, including one other with Deripaska. Both led to lawsuits in which Gates was listed as a partner to Manafort, though Gates said he holds no equity interest in the firm.

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Latest on the Trump-Putin campaign investigation

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, on Wednesday evening said that he has seen evidence that is “more than circumstantial” of collusion between associates of President Donald Trump and Russia. Schiff: Evidence Of Trump Camp Russia Collusion ‘More Than Circumstantial:

“I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now,” Schiff said on MSNBC after host Chuck Todd noted the congressman’s comment on Sunday that there is “circumstantial evidence of collusion.”

“You have seen direct evidence of collusion?” Todd then asked Schiff.

“I don’t want to go into specifics, but I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial, and is very much worthy of investigation. So that is what we ought to do,” Schiff replied.

CNN reported later on Wednesday night that the FBI has evidence that may show that Trump associates communicated with Russian officials about Hillary Clinton’s campaign, citing unnamed U.S. officials. US officials: Info suggests Trump associates may have coordinated with Russians:

The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, US officials told CNN.

This is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, according to one source.

The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings, according to those U.S. officials. The information is raising the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place, though officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive and that the investigation is ongoing.

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AP: Paul Manafort secretly worked for a Russian billionaire with a plan to ‘greatly benefit the Putin Government’

An AP exclusive report today reveals Before Trump job, Manafort worked to aid Putin:

Before signing up with Donald Trump, former campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly worked for a Russian billionaire with a plan to “greatly benefit the Putin Government,” The Associated Press has learned. The White House attempted to brush the report aside Wednesday, but it quickly raised fresh alarms in Congress about Russian links to Trump associates.

Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and former Soviet republics to benefit President Vladimir Putin’s government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse.

Manafort pitched the plans to aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006, according to interviews with several people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP. Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, according to one person familiar with the work.

“We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort wrote in the 2005 memo to Deripaska. The effort, Manafort wrote, “will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.”

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House Intelligence Committee chair demonstrates the need for a bipartisan commission and/or special prosecutor to investigate Russian interference in the U.S. election

I have said before that House Intelligence Committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), is the reason why we need to have a bipartisan commission and/or special prosecutor to investigate Russian interference in the U.S. election as part of its information war against the U.S.  This Trump transition team member just made my point today.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes revealed Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s personal communications may have been picked up by investigators through “incidental collection” pursuant to a legal FISA warrant investigation of foreign nationals.

Remember how Nunes was pushing the GOP conspiracy du jour during the House Intelligence Committee on Monday that Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn may have been improperly “unmasked” by intelligence agencies through “incidental collection” pursuant to a legal FISA warrant investigation of foreign individuals and his identity leaked to the press?

Nunes just abused the power of his position — and may have violated the law if he disclosed classified information, which includes the existence of a FISA Court warrant — for a partisan political motive by suggesting, as the White House immediately latched onto after his disclosure, that the “incidental collection” information is the equivalent of “surveillance” of the Donald Trump campaign (it is not) to give the White House cover for Trump’s false tweets that President Obama “wire tapped” Trump Tower.

Nunes’ clear implication is that FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Michael Rogers were not fully forthcoming when they testified that there is no evidence to substantiate Trump’s false tweets that President Obama “wire tapped” Trump Tower.

Nunes’ intentionally vague statements today were intended to provide grist to the propagandists of the conservative media entertainment complex. He has called into question the credibility of his chairmanship and the House Intelligence Committee investigation.

Nunes should be removed as chair of the House Intelligence Committee and referred to the FBI for investigation if he leaked classified information, including the existence of a FISA Court warrant, for a partisan political motive. If so, he should be forced to resign from Congress.

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