Category: Robert S. Mueller

Trump’s Russian Connections – Part 2

Trump’s Russian Connections – Part 2

Signs of Collusion – Part 2
By Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson)

It turns out 24 paragraphs detailing 24 discrete Trump-Russia ties isn’t enough to encompass how entwined Trump is with Russia, so in this thread—Part 2 in the series—I offer 23 more connections.

#1: Below is a link to Part 1 of the series, which itemizes 24 discrete Trump-Russia ties. Remember: the ties detailed here are a fraction of what Special Counsel Mueller knows; we mustn’t pretend the damning evidence we have is *all* the damning evidence.
Signs of Collusion – Part 1

#2: Trump NatSec advisor Erik Prince secretly traveled to UAE at the command of the UAE’s Royal Family so he could have a clandestine meeting *on Russia sanctions* with a top Putin ally—the Russian Direct Investment Fund manager. Prince lied to Congress about all aspects of this.

#3: Trump NatSec advisor Flynn secretly worked with Trump pal Thomas Barrack and Iran-Contra criminal Robert “Bud” McFarlane to lobby Trump to drop Russia sanctions—the better to make money off a deal to bring nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia via Russian-built nuclear reactors.

#4: In 2002, Trump tried to rig the Miss Universe pageant—by leaning illegally on judges—to award the title to Miss Russia, whose two boyfriends at the time were a) one of the top real estate developers in Saint Petersburg, a market Trump wanted access to, and b) Vladimir Putin.

#5: In 2003, Trump was saved from bankruptcy by the sudden, miraculous appearance of Russian mobster Felix Sater in his orbit. Sater found Trump new partners and tenants—often, Russians—and they helped make Trump rich again. Trump then perjured himself over whether he knew Sater.

#6: Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort was secretly contacting Putin ally Oleg Deripaska during the 2016 presidential campaign, at one point promising him special access to the Trump campaign—and to Trump’s thinking on Russia policy—via clandestine “briefings” on those topics.

#7: After it was revealed Don Jr. met Kremlin agents at Trump’s house—Trump Tower—at a time Trump was in the building and meeting with Don, Jared, and Manafort on the same topics they met the Kremlin agents to discuss, Trump witness-tampered by writing his son’s false statement.

#8: Trump’s campaign hired Bannon/Mercer-run Cambridge Analytica to target voters via “psychographics.” There’s evidence Cambridge Analytica leaked its data to the Kremlin to aid its massive propaganda campaign. Emails *from Cambridge Analytica to WikiLeaks* have been discovered.

#9: *After* it was known Trump’s NatSec team had met to talk Russia policy and receive orders from Trump on sanctions, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied—from the White House—on how many times the team met. She said once—it was three times, plus innumerable group calls and email chains.

#10: Trump National Security Advisor Flynn dined with Putin in Moscow during the presidential campaign—*while he was advising Trump*. He admits they discussed Russia policy. The chances he didn’t brief the man he was advising on what Putin said—and what Flynn said back—are *nil*.

#11: Trump selected as Secretary of State a man who didn’t want the job, wasn’t qualified, and has revealed himself to be as bad at it as anticipated. But Tillerson had one qualification—he’s not just a Putin pal, but had received the *Russian Order of Friendship Medal* from him.

#12: During the presidential campaign—while he was a Trump NatSec advisor—Trump’s future National Security Advisor Mike Flynn received tens of thousands of dollars directly from Kremlin propaganda network RT. He then lied about it on TV and failed to disclose it on federal forms.

#13: Months ago, both houses of Congress voted overwhelmingly—517 to 5—to impose new sanctions on Russia for its massive election interference campaign (correctly classified as “cyber-war”) on the United States. Trump is now protecting Putin by refusing to impose those sanctions.

14: Three of Trump’s top NatSec advisors—Schmitz, Gordon, Page—went to Budapest in 2016. Budapest is the European HQ for Russia’s FSB. It was Gordon’s sixth trip to the tiny EU nation in recent years; Page admits meeting an unnamed Russian; *no one knows* what Schmitz was doing.

#15: In 2013, the Trumps developed close business and personal ties with the Agalarovs—a Kremlin-linked family of oligarchs who’ve acted as Putin agents before (including delivering gifts to Trump from Putin). Trump stayed in touch with them throughout the presidential campaign.

#16: Alexander Torshin—a Putin-linked Russian banker and “long-time Trump acquaintance”—met Trump at an NRA conference weeks before Trump announced his run, then tried to set up a secret Putin-Trump meet in May 2016. He then tried to secretly meet Trump at an event this February.

#17: At a time it was *widely known* that the way to reach Trump was to send an email to Hope Hicks—Trump doesn’t use email—Russian intelligence did so several times, suggesting they felt Hicks and Trump would be amenable to the contacts. The FBI had to warn Hicks not to respond.

#18: In 2004, Trump bought a Miami mansion no one wanted for $40 million. After making no improvements to either the land or the property and failing to sell it for *four years*, in 2008 Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev—facing no competing offers—gave him $95 million for it.

#19: In 2014, Eric Trump told reporter James Dodson his father got “all the funding he needed” for his golf courses—a big part of his financial portfolio—from Russian banks. Dodson had no reason to lie, but Eric denied it vehemently—underscoring how dangerous that truth would be.

#20: Trump made his Campaign Manager a man who’d been out of politics for years and is known largely not just for working on behalf of Putin allies in Ukraine but having angled for years to do direct propaganda work for the Kremlin itself—outreach which has since been documented.

BONUS: Fears that the Kremlin recorded “kompromat”—blackmail—on Trump at the Ritz Moscow in November 2013 have been stoked by Trump’s repeated lies about his trip, his bodyguard’s confession it could’ve happened, and as many as eight witnesses found by the BBC and intel agencies.

BONUS: After Trump’s son Don began engaging in a back-and-forth correspondence with Russian front-operation WikiLeaks in September 2016, the Trump campaign responded to WikiLeaks’ pro-Trump overtures by inserting praise of WikiLeaks into then-candidate Trump’s daily stump speech.

BONUS: The 4 ambassadors Trump invited to the VIP event before his first foreign policy speech (Mayflower Hotel, 4/27/16)—that’d be 4 of a possible 195—all *breached diplomatic protocol to attend* and were all from nations involved in Russia’s sanctions-impacted Rosneft oil deal.

BONUS: Trump has repeatedly angled—almost *desperately*—for private meetings with Putin, including orchestrating pretenses for them. Each time they’ve met, they’ve exceeded the allotted time for such a meeting by 300% and breached protocol in how the meetings have been conducted.

Trump’s Russian Connections — Part 1

Trump’s Russian Connections — Part 1

Signs of Collusion – Part 1
By Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson)

From Russian payments to Trump advisors to failing to register as foreign agents working for Putin allies—from perjury to illegal solicitation of campaign donations from the Kremlin—here’s a non-exhaustive summary of known Trump-Russia ties.

Hope you’ll read and share.

#1: In March of 2016, Papadopoulos reveals to Trump—face-to-face—he’s a Kremlin intermediary sent to establish a Trump-Putin backchannel (he says Putin is favorably disposed to Trump’s candidacy). Trump then and there orders Gordon to coordinate a pro-Kremlin GOP platform change.

#2: In June 2016, Don Jr. knowingly attends a meeting with—and set up by—Kremlin agents. He asks the Kremlin for what he has reason to believe is illegally acquired Clinton material. Afterwards, he (allegedly) tells no one. When caught, he lies about every aspect of the meeting.

#3: In April, July and September of 2016 Sessions meets Russian Ambassador Kislyak in settings in which Russian sanctions are discussed. He holds the latter two meetings *after* it’s known Russia is cyber-attacking America. He lies about these contacts under oath before Congress.

#4: Kislyak egregiously violates longstanding diplomatic protocol to attend—as a guest of the Trump campaign—a major Trump foreign policy speech. Having been invited to the speech as a VIP, Kislyak sits in the front row as Trump promises Putin’s Russia “a good deal” on sanctions.

#5: Flynn—aided and abetted by Kushner and the full Presidential Transition Team—illegally conducts sanctions and resolution negotiations with Russia during the 2016 transition. When asked about it by the FBI, he lies. When the lies are published, no one on the PTT corrects them.

#6: Carter Page travels to Moscow under the guise of an academic conference—in fact, he meets with top Kremlin officials and top Rosneft executives, speaking with both about Russian sanctions just as the Steele Dossier alleges. When questioned about his activities, he lies on TV.

#7: Trump campaign manager Manafort and Sessions aide Gordon aggressively push to change the GOP platform to benefit Putin under direct orders from Trump. When asked about Trump’s involvement, they lie to the media; when asked about their own involvement, they lie to the media.

#8: Shortly after the inauguration, it’s revealed that Trump has been holding onto a secret plan to unilaterally drop all sanctions against Russia for months—a plan he’s never before revealed, which would *reward* Russia for cyber-attacking America during a presidential election.

#9: When Trump learns the FBI Director plans to indict his ex-National Security Advisor, he fires him—first lying about his reason for doing so, then eventually admitting he did it due to “the Russia thing.” Later—in an Oval Office conversation with Russians—he repeats the claim.

#10: In an Oval Office meeting into which no U.S. media are allowed (foreshadowing a meeting with Putin in which no U.S. translators would be allowed), Trump deliberately leaks classified Israeli intelligence to the Russians, who are allies of Israel’s (and America’s) enemy—Iran.

#11: In late 2016, Kushner and Flynn smuggle Kislyak into Trump Tower to secretly discuss the creation of a clandestine—Kremlin-controlled—Trump-Putin backchannel only a few principals would know about. The men don’t disclose the meeting or plan, which would constitute espionage.

#12: In May 2016, Trump NatSec advisor Papadopoulos makes secret trips to Athens to make contact with Kremlin allies. During the second trip, Putin’s also there—to discuss sanctions. It’s his only trip to an EU nation during the campaign. Papadopoulos meets the same men as Putin.

#13: In 2013, Trump and Putin’s developer sign a letter-of-intent to build Trump Tower Moscow—a deal requiring Putin’s blessing that only goes forward when Putin dispatches to Trump his permits man and banker. Trump and principals lie about the deal—and events at the Ritz Moscow.

#14: Just before Trump’s inauguration, Trump’s lawyer Cohen and ex-Russian mobster Sater secretly meet with a pro-Russia Ukrainian politician to help ferry a secret Kremlin-backed “peace deal” to Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor. All involved then lie about their actions.

#15: After it’s publicly revealed Russia is waging cyberwar on America, Trump publicly and in all seriousness invites the Kremlin to continue cyber-attacking America if doing so will result in the theft and release of his opponent’s private emails. He never retracts the request.

#16: Trump advisors Bannon, Prince, Flynn, Don Jr., Giuliani and Pirro are involved—to varying degrees—in leaking, sourcing, disseminating, and legitimizing a false “True Pundit” story that seeks to use fraud to blackmail the FBI into indicting Clinton. Russian bots pump it also.

#17: Trump’s top advisors—including Manafort, Sessions, Flynn, Clovis, Page, Papadopoulos, Cohen, Sater, Don Jr, Kushner, Prince, Dearborn, Gordon, Gates, Stone and others—lie about or fail to disclose Russia contacts or key conversations on Russian efforts to collude with Trump.

#18: For many months after Trump begins his run, he is secretly working under a letter-of-intent with Russian developers to build Trump Tower Moscow. The deal—brokered by Cohen and Sater—allegedly falls apart only when Putin’s top aide won’t return an email from Trump’s attorney.

#19: In 2008, Don Jr. privately tells investors that “a disproportionate percentage” of the Trump Organization’s money comes from Russia—a fact later confirmed by Eric Trump. Trump Sr. then becomes the first presidential candidate in decades to refuse to release his tax returns.

#20: Though he’s fully briefed on Russia’s cyberwar against America in August 2016, Trump publicly denies it—calling the U.S. intel community Nazis—while accepting Putin’s denials he’s done anything wrong and proposing the U.S. create a cybersecurity task force with the Kremlin.

BONUS: Though he knows by August 2016 that Russia is committing crimes against America, Trump still lets his top NatSec advisor, Sessions, negotiate sanctions with Kislyak—presumably Trump’s plan for a unilateral dropping of sanctions. This is Aiding and Abetting Computer Crimes.

BONUS: During the transition, Trump’s son-in-law Kushner secretly meets with Putin’s banker—after which discussion the two men disagree wildly as to what they discussed, suggesting that whatever the topic was, it was clandestine. Kushner won’t reveal the meeting for many months.

BONUS: Advisors to the Trump campaign, including Trump Jr. and Stone, have contacts with WikiLeaks and/or Russian hackers—the timeline of which conversations dovetails perfectly with consequential changes in behavior by one or both of the parties (including Trump’s stump speech).

BONUS: When Acting AG Yates warns Trump that Flynn—his National Security Advisor—has been compromised by Russia, Trump fires her and keeps Flynn on board for 18 days. Either he lies to Pence about what he knows on this or both Trump and Pence lie to America about their knowledge.

See more in Part 2.

Let’s be clear on what Republicans are really saying about the Mueller probe

Let’s be clear on what Republicans are really saying about the Mueller probe

The Washington Post
Opinion by Paul Waldman


From the moment a special counsel was appointed to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with that meddling, it was inevitable that it would become a target of Republican attacks. That’s just how things work: As soon as it became clear that the investigation wouldn’t simply exonerate the president, his allies in Congress and the media would try to disparage and discredit it to minimize the damage it might do to the administration.

But at this point, they have nearly lost their minds. And it’s precisely because, from all appearances, Robert S. Mueller III is going about his work methodically and professionally, and is getting closer and closer to the Oval Office. If Mueller really were some kind of partisan hack launching a witch hunt, Donald Trump and the rest of the GOP wouldn’t have all that much to fear.

That is not just the lunatic ravings of one extremist. It is fast on its way to becoming the position of many in the Republican Party — not that we should shut down the FBI, but that the Bureau has become a hopelessly corrupted outpost of anti-Trump subversion, expressed most fully in Mueller’s investigation, which not only must be shut down but which should then be targeted by another special counsel appointed to investigate Mueller.

In the end, what matters is what Robert Mueller’s investigation produces. So far, there hasn’t been a shred of evidence that it has been anything but professional. Perhaps the indictments and plea bargains he has obtained so far will be the end of the story, and he’ll conclude that there was no further wrongdoing, particularly on the president’s part. But the possibility that he’ll find a great deal more — and present it with unimpeachable evidence — is precisely what has Republicans in such a panic.

What if Mueller catches Trump — and it isn’t enough?

What if Mueller catches Trump — and it isn’t enough?

The Washington Post
By Eugene Robinson
Image courtesy of Christopher Gregory/Getty Images

We need to prepare for the eventuality that the Mueller probe catches President Trump, family members and associates red-handed — and Republicans in Congress refuse to do anything about it.

This is beginning to look like a possible or even probable outcome. With a cravenness matched only by its arrogance, the GOP is Trump’s party now. It no longer has any claim to be Lincoln’s.

Witness the cowardly about-face on the subject of Roy Moore’s candidacy for the Senate. The party initially took a position in line with its purported values: that a credibly accused child molester, who haunted the local mall seeking dates with teenage girls when he was in his 30s, is unworthy of the high office he seeks.

But then Trump endorsed Moore — given that more than a dozen women have accused the president of sexual misconduct, the phrase “birds of a feather” comes to mind — and Republicans changed their tune. The flow of money from national party coffers to Moore’s campaign, briefly interrupted, was resumed. Moore’s fitness became a matter that no longer troubled the GOP’s moral conscience, or what was left of it; only “the people of Alabama” could decide the difference between right and wrong.

Here is the distinction between our two major parties in 2017: Democratic leaders are forcing Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), both accused of harassing women, to resign. Republican leaders are trying to put Moore, accused of harassing teenagers and molesting a 14-year-old, in the Senate.

Given that context, it is naive to assume that anything special counsel Robert S. Mueller III uncovers will lead Republicans to choose principle over political advantage. Trump boasted during the campaign that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose support. As far as the GOP majorities in Congress are concerned, he may be right.

Mueller is doing his job. Ours is to elect Democrats and independents next year who will hold this appalling presidency to account.

Mueller might be the one who’s ‘draining the swamp’

The Washington Post
By Matt Zapotosky and Tom Hamburger

President Trump famously promised that, if elected president, he would “drain the swamp” — upending the culture in Washington that favors the well-connected.

It is special counsel Robert S. Mueller III whose work seems to be sending shock waves through the capital, by exposing the lucrative work lobbyists from both parties engage in on behalf of foreign interests.

The Mueller probe has already claimed its first K Street casualty: Tony Podesta. His lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, a Washington icon of power and political influence, notified its employees recently that the enterprise is shutting its doors.

Since Mueller was appointed, more people and firms have either filed or amended registrations that make public their work on behalf of foreign interests than had done so over the same time period in each of at least the past 20 years. Lobbyists, lawyers and public relations professionals who work for foreign companies and governments say Mueller’s probe has spooked K Street, and firms are likely to be more careful in their compliance with public disclosure standards.

The Podesta Group was famous for providing access to Washington power, hosting events for a roster of high-profile domestic and international clients who helped make it one of the city’s most successful lobbying firms. Revenue declined after the 2016 election, but the firm remained a powerhouse.

Tony Podesta, 74, the brother of longtime Democratic adviser and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, resigned on the day Mueller announced charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates.