Tag Archives: CIA

Why was Jared Kushner meeting with Vnesheconombank (VEB), ‘Putin’s slush fund’ bank?

We finally have some follow-up reporting to an earlier New York Times report about Jared Kushner discussing some sweet Russian oligarch money to finance the Princeling’s troubled “Kushner Tower” during the transition back in December. Jared Kushner had a previously undisclosed meeting with the CEO of ‘the bank that financed Vladimir Putin’s grandest ambitions’:

Kushner’s meeting with Gorkov, the struggling bank’s CEO, came as Kushner was trying to find investors for a Fifth Avenue office building in Manhattan that is set to be heavily financed by Anbang Insurance Group, a firm with ties to the Chinese government.

White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks told The Times on Monday that the “Kushner Tower” project wasn’t discussed during his meeting with Gorkov, and a White House official said in a statement that Kushner took the meetings as part of his role as “the official primary point of contact with foreign governments and officials.

“White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks told The Times on Monday that the “The meeting did not appear to break any rules, and Hicks said it was “not much of a conversation” so didn’t warrant a disclosure to the rest of the Trump transition team.

So said Hope Hicks, who is no better than “Baghdad Sean” Spicer with the truth.

The Washington Post now reports, Explanations for Kushner’s meeting with head of Kremlin-linked bank don’t match up:

The White House and a Russian state-owned bank have very different explanations for why the bank’s chief executive and Jared Kushner held a secret meeting during the presidential transition in December.

The bank maintained this week that the session was held as part of a new business strategy and was conducted with Kushner in his role as the head of his family’s real estate business.

The White House says the meeting was unrelated to business and was one of many diplomatic encounters the soon-to-be presidential adviser was holding ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration.

The contradiction is deepening confusion over Kushner’s interactions with the Russians as the president’s son-in-law emerges as a key figure in the FBI’s investigation into potential coordination between Moscow and the Trump team.

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Early moves by the Trump administration to lift U.S. sanctions on Russia

It appears now that the Trump administration’s moves to return Russian compounds in Maryland and New York is a consolation prize.

Michael Isikoff at Yahoo News has evidence that there was a quid pro quo for Russian interference in the U.S. election — the lifting of U.S. sanctions on Russia — but it got derailed by the Michael Flynn scandal. How the Trump administration’s secret efforts to ease Russia sanctions fell short:

In the early weeks of the Trump administration, former Obama administration officials and State Department staffers fought an intense, behind-the-scenes battle to head off efforts by incoming officials to normalize relations with Russia, according to multiple sources familiar with the events.

Unknown to the public at the time, top Trump administration officials, almost as soon as they took office, tasked State Department staffers with developing proposals for the lifting of economic sanctions, the return of diplomatic compounds and other steps to relieve tensions with Moscow.

These efforts to relax or remove punitive measures imposed by President Obama in retaliation for Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and meddling in the 2016 election alarmed some State Department officials, who immediately began lobbying congressional leaders to quickly pass legislation to block the move, the sources said.

There was serious consideration by the White House to unilaterally rescind the sanctions,” said Dan Fried, a veteran State Department official who served as chief U.S. coordinator for sanctions policy until he retired in late February. He said in the first few weeks of the administration, he received several “panicky” calls from U.S. government officials who told him they had been directed to develop a sanctions-lifting package and imploring him, “Please, my God, can’t you stop this?”

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Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is in trouble again

Our Confederate Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is in trouble again.

CNN reported Wednesday, Sources: Congress investigating another possible Sessions-Kislyak meeting:

Congressional investigators are examining whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions had an additional private meeting with Russia’s ambassador during the presidential campaign, according to Republican and Democratic Hill sources and intelligence officials briefed on the investigation.

Investigators on the Hill are requesting additional information, including schedules from Sessions, a source with knowledge tells CNN. They are focusing on whether such a meeting took place April 27, 2016, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, where then-candidate Donald Trump was delivering his first major foreign policy address. Prior to the speech, then-Sen. Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak attended a small VIP reception with organizers, diplomats and others.

In addition to congressional investigators, the FBI is seeking to determine the extent of interactions the Trump campaign team may have had with Russia’s ambassador during the event as part of its broader counterintelligence investigation of Russian interference in the election.

The FBI is looking into whether there was an additional private meeting at the Mayflower the same day, sources said. Neither Hill nor FBI investigators have yet concluded whether a private meeting took place — and acknowledge that it is possible any additional meeting was incidental.

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Trump to reward Russia with first lifting of U.S. sanctions

These guys are so blatant they don’t even care about the optics of what they are doing any longer. The Trump administration is essentally telling the Russians, “That Obama dude is gone now. We’re cool with you and what you guys did to help us out. Thanks!

The Washington Post reports, Trump administration moves to return Russian compounds in Maryland and New York:

The Trump administration is moving toward handing back to Russia two diplomatic compounds, near New York City and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, that its officials were ejected from in late December as punishment for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

President Barack Obama said Dec. 29 that the compounds were being “used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes” and gave Russia 24 hours to vacate them. Separately, Obama expelled from the United States what he said were 35 Russian “intelligence operatives.”

Early last month, the Trump administration told the Russians that it would consider turning the properties back over to them if Moscow would lift its freeze, imposed in 2014 in retaliation for U.S. sanctions related to Ukraine, on construction of a new U.S. consulate on a certain parcel of land in St. Petersburg.

Two days later, the U.S. position changed. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a meeting in Washington that the United States had dropped any linkage between the compounds and the consulate, according to several people with knowledge of the exchanges.

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Congress now wants to talk to Trump’s personal lawyer (updated)

The Hill reports that the congressional investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election now includes Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen:

Cohen told ABC News on Tuesday that he was asked by House and Senate investigators “to provide information and testimony” regarding communication he has had with people connected to the Russian government.

“I declined the invitation to participate as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered,” Cohen said in an email.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall has a good background post on Cohen at Talking Points Memo. Investigators Are Right To Be Looking at Michael Cohen. He’s not just “Trump’s bully lawyer who makes legal threats and mouths off on TV. He is a much, much more significant player.”

ABC News noted that after Cohen declined to cooperate, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee voted last Thursday to give the panel’s chairman and ranking Democrat the power to issue subpoenas when they think it’s necessary.

NBC News reported on Tuesday that the request letters sent to Cohen were the same ones sent to former Trump aides Carter Page, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.

Last month, Cohen defended the president’s relationship with Russia, saying in an interview that Trump is reducing tensions between the United States and Moscow.

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The social media ‘coordination’ thread of the Trump-Putin campaign investigation

CNN reports that the FBI’s criminal probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election is increasingly touching on the multiple roles of senior White House adviser Jared Kushner on both the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team.

Points of focus that pertain to Kushner include the Trump campaign’s 2016 data analytics operation. FBI Russia investigation looking at Kushner role:

The FBI has collected data on computer bots, programs that perform repetitive functions like searches, allegedly linked to Russia that helped target and push negative information on Hillary Clinton and positive information on Donald Trump through Facebook and other social media, the officials say.

Federal investigators have been taking a closer look at the Trump campaign’s data analytics operation, which was supervised by Kushner, officials say, and are examining whether Russian operatives used people associated with the campaign — wittingly or unwittingly — to try to help Russia’s own data targeting.

We now know that this did, in fact, occur. GOP operative colluded with Guccifer 2.0 – Russian stolen info was used by the GOP.

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