Tag Archives: Department of Justice

Democratic institutions are under assault from Trumpism

Donald Trump is hollowing out the federal government and undermining our democratic institutions with his authoritarianism and the cult of Trumpism.

In the past several days, Trump has repeated this statement about the U.S. intelligence agencies assessment of Russian cyber attacks:

“As to whether I believe it or not, I’m with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with their leadership,” Mr. Trump said  … “I believe in our agencies. I’ve worked with them very strongly.”

What Trump is referring to is his appointment for CIA Director, former congressman Mike Pompeo, who is politicizing the intelligence agency on behalf of Trump.  Trump’s CIA director keeps doing controversial — and suspiciously pro-Trump — things:

The Intercept just broke a pretty big story: CIA Director Mike Pompeo reportedly met with the purveyor of a disputed theory about the internal Democratic National Committee emails that were released last year — a theory that runs counter to the intelligence community’s own long-standing conclusions about the matter.

It’s not the first example of Pompeo doing something that has been put under microscope. But there is a common thread running through just about every example: Pompeo doing and saying questionable things involving Russia — and those questionable things tend to lean in a pro-Trump direction.

The most recent example is Pompeo’s meeting with William Binney, a former intelligence official who argues that the DNC hack wasn’t a hack at all, but rather a leak from within.

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Wikileaks is at the center of Trump-Putin campaign investigation

Wikileaks is a non-state actor intelligence agency hostile to the United States. Wikileaks founder Julin Assange has a program on Russian Television International, a Russian propaganda network. Assange frequently attacks the United States while pulling punches for Vladimir Putin’s autocratic kleptocracy in Russia.

WikiLeaks was the conduit the Russians used to disseminate the DNC, DCCC and John Podesta emails. This is the unanimous assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Martin Longman at the Political Animal blog summarized, Did Nigel Farage Serve as Roger Stone’s Intermediary?:

The Smoking Gun wrote up an extensive article on their contacts with Guccifer 2.0, the “online persona that U.S. officials say was created by Russian government officials to distribute and publicize material stolen during hacks of the DNC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Gmail accounts used by Clinton staffers like John Podesta, the campaign’s chairman.”

The main focus of their article was Roger Stone, however, who had significant online contacts with the Guccifer 2.0 persona, called him a hero, and defended him extensively against accusations that he wasn’t who or what he claimed to be. It’s a fascinating article, and it just became much more urgently interesting this morning after BuzzFeed News reported that they essentially busted Nigel Farage coming out of a meeting with Julian Assange today in Ecuador’s London embassy.

Longtime Trump confidant and GOP ratfucker Roger Stone admitted to having a “back channel” to Julian Assange during the campaign. Roger Stone claims he has ‘perfectly legal back channel’ to Julian Assange. And Stone admitted to speaking privately with Guccifer 2.0, an alleged Russian cyberspy.

Today The Atlantic reports that Donald Trump’s son, Donald Jr., also had a back channel to Julian Assange. The Secret Correspondence Between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks:

Just before the stroke of midnight on September 20, 2016, at the height of last year’s presidential election, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent a private direct message to Donald Trump Jr., the Republican nominee’s oldest son and campaign surrogate.

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The next morning, about 12 hours later, Trump Jr. responded to WikiLeaks. “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around,” he wrote on September 21, 2016. “Thanks.”

The messages, obtained by The Atlantic, were also turned over by Trump Jr.’s lawyers to congressional investigators. They are part of a long—and largely one-sided—correspondence between WikiLeaks and the president’s son that continued until at least July 2017. The messages show WikiLeaks, a radical transparency organization that the American intelligence community believes was chosen by the Russian government to disseminate the information it had hacked, actively soliciting Trump Jr.’s cooperation. WikiLeaks made a series of increasingly bold requests, including asking for Trump’s tax returns, urging the Trump campaign on Election Day to reject the results of the election as rigged, and requesting that the president-elect tell Australia to appoint Julian Assange ambassador to the United States.

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Putin puppet Donald Trump goes ‘Danang Don’ in Vietnam

Vietnam War draft dodger Donald Trump finally made it to Vietnam. He went to Danang for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting, where he met on the sidelines with his Russian puppet master, Vladimir Putin. “Danang Don” pulled his own “Hanoi Jane” in a press conference. Trump Says Putin ‘Means It’ About Not Meddling:

President Trump said on Saturday that he believed President Vladimir V. Putin was sincere in his denials of interference in the 2016 presidential elections, calling questions about Moscow’s meddling a politically motivated “hit job” that was hindering cooperation with Russia on life-or-death issues.

Speaking after meeting privately with Mr. Putin on the sideline of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Danang, Vietnam, Mr. Trump said that he had again asked whether Russia had meddled in the contest, but that the continued focus on the issue was insulting to Mr. Putin.

Mr. Trump said it was time to move past the issue so that the United States and Russia could cooperate on confronting the nuclear threat from North Korea, solving the Syrian civil war and working together on Ukraine.

“He said he didn’t meddle — I asked him again,” Mr. Trump told reporters traveling with him aboard Air Force One as he flew to Hanoi for more meetings. “You can only ask so many times. I just asked him again. He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did.”

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Latest developments in the Trump-Putin campaign investigation

With each new revelation, Donald Trump and his campaign move the goalposts in the Russia investigation. At first there was the flat denial that anyone in the campaign had contacts with the Russians. Then the campaign had to concede, OK there were contacts with the Russians, but we did not discuss collusion. Then it was revealed that the Trump campaign did attempt to collude with the Russians to “get dirt” on Hillary Clinton, but the campaign was unsuccessful in obtaining that information, so “we’re good.”

Trump and his apologists appear to be unaware of “inchoate” crimes—attempts, conspiracy, and solicitation—actions that fall short of the final act of commission, but may still be a prosecutable crime.

George Papadapolous has already plead guilty for lying to the FBI about his multiple contacts with the Russians to “get dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Papadapolous reported on his activities to several senior Trump campaign officials: his supervisor Sam Clovis, then campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, subsequent campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates, and foreign policy adviser Walid Phares. Who’s who in the George Papadopoulos court documents (there are additional persons not identified).

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Trump-Putin campaign investigation developments

While you were distracted by the end of summer Labor Day weekend, a couple of new important developments in the Trump-Putin campaign investigation occurred.

First, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has enlisted an elite investigative unit of the IRS in his investigation. Exclusive: Mueller Enlists the IRS for His Trump-Russia Investigation:

Special counsel Bob Mueller has teamed up with the IRS. According to sources familiar with his investigation into alleged Russian election interference, his probe has enlisted the help of agents from the IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit.

This unit—known as CI—is one of the federal government’s most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities. Its 2,500 agents focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. A former colleague of Mueller’s said he always liked working with IRS’ special agents, especially when he was a U.S. Attorney.

And it goes without saying that the IRS has access to Trump’s tax returns—documents that the president has long resisted releasing to the public.

Potential financial crimes are a central part of Mueller’s probe. One of his top deputies, Andy Weissmann, formerly helmed the Justice Department’s Enron probe and has extensive experience working with investigative agents from the IRS.

Martin Sheil, a retired IRS Criminal Investigations agent, said “When CI brings a case to a U.S. Attorney, it is done. It’s wrapped up with a ribbon and a bow. It’s just comprehensive.”

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Key Russian witness testifies before Mueller grand jury (and more)

On  August 21, the New York Times published a report on Rinat Akhmetshin, one of the Russians who met with senior Trump campaign officials in June of last year. Akhmetshin is not just a Russian lobbyist. Lobbyist at Trump Campaign Meeting Has a Web of Russian Connections:

[I]nterviews with his associates and documents reviewed by The New York Times indicate that Mr. Akhmetshin, who is under scrutiny by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, has much deeper ties to the Russian government and Kremlin-backed oligarchs than previously known.

He has an association with a former deputy head of a Russian spy service, the F.S.B., and a history of working for close allies of President Vladimir V. Putin. Twice, he has worked on legal battles for Russian tycoons whose opponents suffered sophisticated hacking attacks, arousing allegations of computer espionage. He helped federal prosecutors bring corruption charges against an American businessman in the former Soviet Union who turned out to be working for the C.I.A.

He also helped expose possible corruption in government contracting that complicated American efforts to keep troops at an air base in Kyrgyzstan — an American presence that the Russians fiercely opposed.

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Mr. Akhmetshin’s meeting with Trump campaign officials is of keen interest to Mr. Mueller, who is investigating the Kremlin’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. Of all the visitors who attended the June 2016 session at the Trump Tower, he appears to have the most direct ties to Russian intelligence. The session was arranged by a Russian businessman close to Mr. Putin whose emissary promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

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