Tag Archives: CIA

Jared Kushner a ‘person of interest’ in the Russian digital operation

McClatchy News continues its investigative reporting into the Russian cyber war against the U.S. during the 2016 election. Previous post McClatchy News: Russia uses ‘bots’ and trolls for information war against U.S.

Today McClatchy News reports Trump-Russia investigators probe Jared Kushner-run digital operation:

Investigators at the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation – overseen by Jared Kushner – helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Congressional and Justice Department investigators are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states – areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton, according to several people familiar with the parallel inquiries.

Also under scrutiny is the question of whether Trump associates or campaign aides had any role in assisting the Russians in publicly releasing thousands of emails, hacked from the accounts of top Democrats, at turning points in the presidential race, mainly through the London-based transparency web site WikiLeaks.

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Attempted collusion confirmed: ‘We are past the point of innocent explanations on Trump and Russia’

(Permanent musical accompaniment to this post, Whoomp! There It Is)

With the New York Times report Trump’s Son Met With Russian Lawyer After Being Promised Damaging Information on Clinton, we have the first direct public admission against interest that the Trump campaign attempted to collude with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer in an effort to obtain damaging information against Hillary Clinton.

The most interesting point of the Times story is that it is sourced to five advisors inside the White House, after Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner updated his national security clearance forms to reveal yet another meeting that he “forgot” to disclose on his initial form. The Sunday Afternoon of the Long Knives.

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Donald Trump Jr. has recanted his earlier denials about any such meetings, saying that he did agree to the meeting to see what dirt the Russians had on Clinton, but that they didn’t deliver anything useful–instead using it as a pretext to lobby for changes to the Magnitsky Act (sanctions against Russia). When the Kremlin Says ‘Adoptions,’ It Means ‘Sanctions’.

This was not just any Russian lawyer. As Martin Longman explains in detail at the Political Animal blog, Trump’s Inner Circle Met With No Ordinary Russian Lawyer. Natalia Veselnitskaya is the lawyer for the Russian mafia:

More than that, though, she should have been seen as an attorney for murderous Russian mobsters with high-level connections to the Russian Ministry of the Interior. Simple prudence should have prevented them [Trump campaign] from getting entangled with such a person, and not just for political reasons. The potential for blackmail or violence were too high to be acceptable to a rational person.

The New York Times followed up with a third installment in its Donny Jr. series on Monday evening. Trump Jr. Was Told in Email of Russian Effort to Aid Campaign:

Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

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Update: The ‘Flynn factor’ to Trump-Putin campaign collusion

The Wall Street Journal followed up its reporting on Friday night with another installment. GOP Activist Who Sought Clinton Emails Cited Trump Campaign Officials (sorry, pay wall article).

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo provides the details and some further analysis from a source for the story. This Is Big:

As you may have heard, this evening The Wall Street Journal published a major follow-up to its story from Thursday which described the work of a GOP money man and oppo research guy, the late Peter W. Smith, who was trying to get hacked emails from Russia and held himself out to be in contact with disgraced Trump advisor Michael Flynn. On its face, the big new break in this follow-up story is a new document from Smith. The document is from what is described as a package of recruiting materials Smith was using to enlist cybersecurity talent in his operation. The document listed key officials in the Trump campaign. These were apparently people Smith claimed he was in touch with or working with, though precisely how or why they were mentioned is not entirely clear.

Here’s the key passage from the Journal article

Officials identified in the document include Steve Bannon, now chief strategist for President Donald Trump; Kellyanne Conway, former campaign manager and now White House counselor; Sam Clovis, a policy adviser to the Trump campaign and now a senior adviser at the Agriculture Department; and retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, who was a campaign adviser and briefly was national security adviser in the Trump administration.

A few caveats are in order.

From the Journal reporting at least it is not totally clear what Smith intended by listing these people. It’s also possible that Smith was freelancing. There are lots of people in the orbit of major campaigns puffing up their connections to top players. The Journal article has Bannon denying any knowledge of Smith. Conway says she knew Smith from GOP politics over the years but was never in contact with him about this.

That’s the story as presented in the Journal.

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The ‘Flynn factor’ to Trump-Putin campaign collusion

Michael Flynn is at the center of the Trump-Putin campaign investigations by the FBI, the Special Counsel, and congressional committees.

Earlier this year his lawyer publicly asked for an immunity deal for Flynn to “tell his story,” and there has been widespread speculation that Michael Flynn has turned on Donald Trump and is now cooperating with the FBI on Russia investigation. This has not yet been confirmed.

Keep this possibility in mind, however, with the Wall Street Journal’s breaking news story on the first direct evidence of collusion between Russian hackers and Michael Flynn, a senior advisor to the Trump campaign, through a GOP intermediary. GOP Operative Sought Clinton Emails From Hackers, Implied a Connection to Flynn (sorry, pay wall article).

Steve Benen provides the details from the WSJ report. Collusion questions grow louder in Trump, Russia scandal:

As Donald Trump’s Russia scandal has evolved, one of the key questions is whether the Republican presidential campaign cooperated in some way with our adversary’s attack on the American election. It is, of course, a matter of ongoing investigation . . . this line of inquiry took an important turn with this Wall Street Journal article.

Before the 2016 presidential election, a longtime Republican opposition researcher mounted an independent campaign to obtain emails he believed were stolen from Hillary Clinton’s private server, likely by Russian hackers.

In conversations with members of his circle and with others he tried to recruit to help him, the GOP operative, Peter W. Smith, implied he was working with retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, at the time a senior adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump.

So, what we have here is a Republican operative, Peter Smith, who assembled a team in the hopes of obtaining Hillary Clinton’s emails. Smith and his team reached out to people they believed to be Russian hackers, affiliated with Russia’s government, because Smith and his cohorts thought these hackers may have stolen the materials.

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Russian cyber war, Trump appeasement

TIME magazine continues its excellent reporting on the Russian hacking of the U.S. election in 2016. Election Hackers Altered Voter Rolls, Stole Private Data, Officials Say:

The hacking of state and local election databases in 2016 was more extensive than previously reported, including at least one successful attempt to alter voter information, and the theft of thousands of voter records that contain private information like partial Social Security numbers, current and former officials tell TIME.

In one case, investigators found there had been a manipulation of voter data in a county database but the alterations were discovered and rectified, two sources familiar with the matter tell TIME. Investigators have not identified whether the hackers in that case were Russian agents.

The fact that private data was stolen from states is separately providing investigators a previously unreported line of inquiry in the probes into Russian attempts to influence the election. In Illinois, more than 90% of the nearly 90,000 records stolen by Russian state actors contained drivers license numbers, and a quarter contained the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers, according to Ken Menzel, the General Counsel of the State Board of Elections.

Congressional investigators are probing whether any of this stolen private information made its way to the Trump campaign, two sources familiar with the investigations tell TIME.

“If any campaign, Trump or otherwise, used inappropriate data the questions are, How did they get it? From whom? And with what level of knowledge?” the former top Democratic staffer on the House Intelligence Committee, Michael Bahar, tells TIME. “That is a crux of the investigation.”

Spokesmen for the House and Senate Intelligence committees declined to comment on the search for stolen data.

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Latest on the Trump-Putin campaign investigation

You’re shocked, I’m sure. America’s liar-in-chief Donald Trump: “I did not make recordings of Comey,” after teasing the possibility he did for weeks. What a drama queen. So Trump’s good with a charge of witness intimidation then. Good to know.

There’s also more evidence for the obstruction of justice charge. Intel chiefs tell investigators Trump suggested they refute collusion with Russians:

Two of the nation’s top intelligence officials told Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team and Senate investigators, in separate meetings last week, that President Donald Trump suggested they say publicly there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians, according to multiple sources.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers described their interactions with the President about the Russia investigation as odd and uncomfortable, but said they did not believe the President gave them orders to interfere, according to multiple sources familiar with their accounts.

Their “beliefs” or “feelings” are irrelevant. They confirmed the attempt to obstruct was made.

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