Yes, the Russians. Wake up and smell the vodka.

OK, I’ve had enough with these disingenuous demands from the likes of Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Jeremy Scahill, etc. that the CIA "show us the evidence," and the frankly absurd charges of "McCarthyism," which is simply reading the politics of this mess backwards. I know not a blessed thing about digital forensics, but all the political logic here points to Russia being behind the hacks in an intentional strategy to throw our election to Donald Trump. All these "leftists" abetting the fascist takeover of the country like this (whether cluelessly or cynically) have me pulling my damn beard out. Please follow this.

For starters… After the Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning affair, I was as enthusiastic for Wikileaks as the next guy. The first thing that woke me up to the fact that something is not right there was the revelation that one of its self-declared operatives was the notorious neo-fascist and anti-Semite Israel Shamir (the Jewish name is part of his wacky schtick), who openly boasted that he had provided intelligence from the Wikileaks cables to the dictatorship of Belarus, which was then unleashing a wave of repression.

Folks may recall that Alexander Lukashenko's regime has been in power for over 20 years now, is Putin’s closest ally in the ex-Soviet sphere, and is known as “Europe's last dictatorship”—although I would argue that Putin by this point has also established a dictatorship. After Lukashenko stole the 2010 elections, there was a popular protest movement, put down wth mass arrests. Shamir was accused of giving the regime Wikileaks intelligence on who were the key activists to round up (and boasted in Counterpunch of how Wikileaks info revealed the protests as "orchestrated" by the US). In other words, Wikileaks likely played the same role in Belarus in 2010 that the CIA played in Chile in 1973—and Julian Assange has never given us a clear accounting on the affair.
Then we fast-forward to the 2016 US elections. The political connivance between Putin and Trump first became obvious with the latter's call for the US to abandon its NATO commitments, and statements that Crimea "would rather be" with Russia. And his lavish praise of Putin as an "absolute leader" (no irony intended, apparently) in contrast to weak Obama. Now, this could have just been Trump talking out his ass like he always does. But this possibility was dispelled when the RNC platform was prepared in the prelude to the Cleveland convention, and the Trump team (notoriously lax about policy positions) specifically intervened to remove one, and only one, plank: That calling for military aid to Ukraine.

All this as Russia, having annexed Crimea and de-facto annexed eastern Ukraine, was escalating its massive military intervention in Syria, turning the tide against the rebels (who had been on the brink of toppling the genocidal Assad dictatorship when Russia first intervened last September), and preparing to reduce Aleppo to rubble to achieve this aim. (Now accomplished.) In other words, Russia is embarking on a campaign of imperial aggression not seen since Catherine the Great, let alone the Cold War, and having a compliant president in Washington is critical for this expansionist project to continue.

And then the leaks… Two of them, first of the DNC then of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Obviously partisan in intent. Not one damn syllable was released from the Trump camp. Clinton couldn't even keep the debate focused on policy (and say what you want about her, she actually is a policy wonk) because the supposed "revelations" in the leaks dominated every news cycle.

The Kremlin official state media especially hyped the "revelations"—and not always accurately. One passage about Benghazi falsely attributed to Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal in an (intentionally?) garbled Sputnik account was actually read from the stage by Trump at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., mere hours before Sputnik scrubbed it. Are we really expected to believe this was not coordinated?

And yes, it swung the election. I’m not letting Clinton off the hook for being an uninspiring mediocrity—not in the slightest. But precisely because that reality made for a close race, it was possible for the leaks to swing the election. As Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times: "Did the combination of Russian and FBI intervention swing the election? Yes. Mrs. Clinton lost three states—Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania—by less than a percentage point, and Florida by only slightly more. If she had won any three of those states, she would be president-elect. Is there any reasonable doubt that Putin/Comey made the difference?"

And mind you, these were private emails. The DNC is not a government agency. If you support the KGB (or whoever) spying on and releasing private emails, then you should reconsider treating Edward Snowden as a hero. If it's bad when the NSA does it, it's bad when the KGB does it. (Although the actual Russian agency in question is probably the GRU, like the FSB née KGB, a holdover from Soviet times.)

And now the disingenuous demands for "evidence"—as if the objective political realities delineated here do not constitute evidence! What they are really demanding is proof—and, as with the 9-11 "Truthies," it is a dishonest demand. There is no proof that would satisfy the skeptics.

CrowdStrike, the firm hired by the DNC to investigate the first hack, has apparently uncovered forensic traces indicating that the party behind it was the same as that which engaged in cybernetic sabotage against the power grid in Ukraine last December, plunging much of the country into darkness. This is unlikely to have been carried out by some 400-pound guy in pajamas, as Trump speculated about the DNC hack and as so many "leftists" are so eager to believe. This is presumably the same evidence the CIA now has, and will be revealed soon enough in the Congressional hearings. And, we may safely assume, will be dismissed by those who have everything invested in denying the obvious.

The skeptics fall into two broad categories. First, there are those who have simply not been paying close attention. This is forgivable, and I hope that I have filled in some gaps in your knowledge. Then there are those (the real loud-mouths on the question, like the inevitable Greenwald), who are consciously siding with Putin. (And, if less consciously, with Trump.)

This is not forgivable. These supposed "leftists" are objectively (and perhaps subjectively) on the side of fascism. Putin's intervention in the US election is but his most ambitious ploy. He has been avidly pouring money into the campaigns of far-right xenophobes and neo-fascists across Europe: Marine Le Pen in France, the Golden Dawn in Greece, Attack in Bulgaria, Jobbik in Hungary, etc. Certainly, Russian Cossacks (their equivalent of the KKK, if you know your history) have been joining Le Pen and her ilk in openly celebrating Trump's victory.
This is what makes the talk of "McCarthyism" so utterly, maddeningly wrong. There is nothing remotely communist about Putin. He is far closer to fascism, and he is supporting not the political left in the US but the extreme right.

Except, perhaps, those ultra-deluded sectors of the left that have revived the "Red-Brown" politics of the Hitler-Stalin Pact period, and united with fascism in a common hatred of what they think is "liberalism" (a word now so ill-defined that it should be abandoned). But that's a whole other discussion…

  1. Julian Assange shills for Trump

    Yet again. From The Hill, Jan. 2: 

    WikiLeaks founder: Obama admin trying to 'delegitimize' Trump
    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says there's an "obvious" reason the Obama administration has focused on Russia's alleged role in Democratic hacks leading up to Donald Trump's election.

    "They're trying to delegitimize the Trump administration as it goes into the White House," Assange said during an interview with Fox News's Sean Hannity airing Tuesday night, according to a transcript of excerpts from the network.

    "They are trying to say that President-elect Trump is not a legitimate president," Assange said during the interview, which was conducted at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been staying.

    "Our publications had wide uptake by the American people. They're all true," Assange continued. "But that’s not the allegation that’s being presented by the Obama White House."

    Assange reiterated the group's denial that Russia was the source of the Democratic documents released over the summer.

    "Our source is not a state party, so the answer for our interactions is no," he said.

    Uh-huh. And yet he is now openly embracing the Trump-Putin agenda. Also note the pretentious and obscurantist diction ("the answer for our interactions"), a pretty sure sign of prevarication. By which we mean lying.

    1. …while Glenn Greewald shills for Assange

      Greenwald in The Intercept meanwhile bashes The Guardian for portraying Assange's earlier pro-Trump interview in Italy's La Repubblica as "guarded praise of Trump"—which it was, despite Greenwald's transparent denails. And here's the proof of the pudding: Kremlin mouthpiece Sputnik spun it exactly the same way ("Assange: Trump Offers Chance for Change")—but approvingly! And Greenwald apparently has no problem with that!

      Making the current Red-Brown convergence even more blatant, New York Magazine notes that Greenwald appeared on Fox News with Tucker Carlson to dismiss the Russian hacking alegations as a "smear." Daily Beast notes that Assange did a telephone interview with Fox's Sean Hannity for similar purposes.

      Starting to feel a tad bit uncomfortable with your strange bedfellows yet, lefties?

      1. Greenwald praises Breitbart

        Breitbart plugs a piece in which contributor Lee Stranahan interviews Glenn Greenwald, who obligingly praises the far-right organ as having "integrity and a sort of editorial independence that I think most media outlets on both the left and the establishment right utterly lack." He adds that Breitbart is "giving voice to people who are otherwise excluded," and says the site is "very impressive in terms of the impact they’ve been able to have." All this hedged with pseudo-distancing interjections about how Breitbart contains content he "sometimes find[s] repellant" and so on.

        Feeling the cognitive dissonance yet, "leftists"? No, of course not. #Doublethink

  2. Trump-Assange lovefest: high irony

    Well, this is hilarious. Trump now takes to Twitter to crow:  "Julian Assange said 'a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta' —why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!" CNN thankfully recalls that Trump told Fox News in a 2010 interview that Assange should get the death penalty. When asked about Wikileaks and the Maning leaks, he said: "I think it's disgraceful, I think there should be like death penalty or something."

    WaPo meanwhile reports that communications intercepted by US intelligence reveal high-ranking Russian officials celebrating Trump's victory and congratulating themselves on the outcome. The evidence is reportedly in a classified document that National Intelligence Director James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan will confront Trump with at a briefing in New York today…

    1. Admin finds election was tainted, cooperates in transition

      Clapper, Brennan and Comey delivered the intelligence assesment on Russian meddling in the election to Trump, the beneficiary of that meddling. Immediatly afterwards it was released to the public. (NYT, Jan. 6) All this happened on the same day that Congress certified the Electoral College vote (with full White House complicity) and officially delivered the presidency to Trump. Utterly surreal.

  3. Strange political lines over Trump-Putin axis

    Trump's incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia's ambassador to the US the have been in frequent contact in recent weeks—including on the very day the Obama administration hit Moscow with sanctions in retaliation for election-related hacking, AP reports. After initially denying that Flynn and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak spoke Dec. 29, a Trump official said late on Jan. 13 that the transition team was aware of one call on the day Obama imposed sanctions.

    As we all know, Putin unexpectedly did not retaliate against the US for the move, a decision Trump quickly praised. It all seems very choeographed. The obvious implication is that Flynn assured Kislyak that the sanctions will be promptly lifted.

    Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who investigated Trump’s Russian connections, was so worried by what he was discovering that at the end he was working without pay, Britain's The Independent reports. Steele was working with Fusion GPS, the firm that had been hired by Republican opponents of Trump, and ultimately came up with the "perverted" claims. Steele says he produced a memo in July, which went to the FBI, stating that Trump’s campaign team had agreed to a Russian request to dilute attention on Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine. Just days later Trump stated that he would recognise Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. Steele complained of his frustration as FBI sat on the Trump Russia file for months—whiule aggressively pursuing the Clinton investigation.

    The political lines continue to be drawn strangely around all this. Russophilic darling of the left  Stephen F. Cohen spoke with Fox News' Tucker Carlson for a second time in a week Jan. 13, warning against a perceived anti-Russia hysteria. He particularly addressed prospective secretary of state Rex Tillerson's refusal to call Putin a war crminal when questioned in his confirmation hearings. Cohen said embracing that epithet "would end what president-elect Trump says he wants to do, and that's create a new policy toward Russia that we used to call detente—cooperation." (PJ Media)

    Some elements of the national security estabishment are not embracing the Russophilia, however. "My take is this is an act of war," the Seattle Times quoted Chris Jones of the University of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, speaking about Moscow's meddling in the election. MSNBC terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance charges that the Trump team may be in violation of the Espionage Act.

    1. Mysterious death of ex-KGB chief linked to Urine-gate?

      From The Telegraph, Jan. 27:

      An ex-KGB chief suspected of helping the former MI6 spy Christopher Steele to compile his dossier on Donald Trump may have been murdered by the Kremlin and his death covered up. it has been claimed.

      Oleg Erovinkin, a former general in the KGB and its successor the FSB, was found dead in the back of his car in Moscow on Boxing Day in mysterious circumstances.

      Erovinkin was a key aide to Igor Sechin, a former deputy prime minister and now head of Rosneft, the state-owned oil company, who is repeatedly named in the dossier.

      The FSB, which is investigating the matter, has seized Erovinkin's body.

      1. Another KGB head rolls in Urine-gate?

        From the New York Times, Jan. 25:

        A senior official in the Russian cyberintelligence department that American officials say oversaw last year's election hacking has been arrested in Moscow on charges of treason, a Russian newspaper reported Wednesday.

        The arrest of Sergei Mikhailov, a senior officer of the Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., the main successor agency to the K.G.B., is a rare instance of turmoil in the country’s usually shadowy cybersecurity apparatus slipping into public view.

        Mr. Mikhailov served in the F.S.B.'s Center for Information Security, the agency’s cyberintelligence branch, which has been implicated in the American election hacking. But it is not clear whether the arrest was related to those intrusions.

      2. More KGB heads roll in Urine-gate?

        Russian news agencies report that three FSB officials and one executive from the Kaspersky Labs cyber security company have been charged with treason. Two of the FSB officials have been identified as Sergei Mikhailov and Dmitry Dokuchayev. The Kaspersky Labs executive has been identified as Ruslan Stoyanov. Mikhailov is accused of being the leader of a covert hacking group called "Humpty Dumpty." All the defendants are accused of giving US intelligence services Russian state secrets. Kremlin spokesperson, Dimitry Peskov has stated that the arrests are not related to any hacking of US institutions during the recent election. (Jurist)


    2. First sanctions against Russia lifted

      The US Treasury Department on Feb. 2 eased economic sanctions on Russia, allowing some cyber-security transactions with the FSB. (USA Today) This comes simultaenous with an escalation of Russia's proxy war in Ukraine, with Moscow-backed rebels shelling the government-held town of Avdiivka, outside Donetsk. (CBC)

    3. Flynn discussed sanctions with Russians before inauguration

      That's the claim of the New York Times on Feb. 9, citing "current and former American officials." Despite White House denials, and in potential violation of the Logan Act, Flynn conveyed to the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, that the Obama administration was Moscow's adversary and that relations with Russia would change under Trump—a message that was "unambiguous and highly inappropriate."

    4. Judge dismisses defamation suit against former British spy

      A  DC superior court judge on Aug. 21 dismissed a lawsuit (PDF) brought against Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer. Steele was sued in April by three Russian business magnates for libel, a year after his dossier alleging Russia’s involvement with the Trump campaign was published.

      Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan claimed that the contents of the dossier were libelous. All three own stakes in Moscow-based Alfa Bank, which featured prominently in Steele's report. The judgment stated that Steele's analysis derived from information about the Russian billionaires' close relationship with Vladimir Putin given to him by his sources. (Jurist)

  4. Wake up and smell the vodka redux

    Well, our new Attorney General Jeff Sessions is revealed by Justice Department officials as having met with the Russian ambassador when he was a Trump surrogate last year, which means he perjured himself in his confirmation hearings—although he tries to mince the matter by saying he met with Sergey Kislyak in his capacity as a senator and not a Trump campaign operative. This is pretty disingenuous, as he distinctly said: "I did not have communications with the Russians." (CNN, WP, The Hill

    The White House has also now admitted that Mike Flynn and Jared Kushner had a previously undiclosed meeting with Kislyak during the campaign. (NYT)

    Robert Reich offers a list of seven "close Trump associates who have been accused of having undisclosed contact with Russian agents, or who have reportedly been investigated by the FBI"…  Sessions, Flynn, Kushner, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone and Carter Page.

    The Crooks & Liars website makes note of several Russian oligarchs and political operates with links to Trump (often via the men on Reich's list) suffering mysterious deaths in recent weeks. The most recent case—of Ukrainian magnate Alex Oronov, who apparently met with Michael Cohen on a "peace plan" that would recognize Russian control of Crimea—is also noted by the Independent.

    Add to which… the obvious quid pro quo of tweaking the GOP platform to remove military aid to Ukraine… the talk of abandoning NATO commitments at a time when Russia is waging multiple foreign wars and threatening more… the Tillerson-brokered Exxon-Rosneft deal that was iced by US sanctions over Crimea… All this "show me the evidence" talk is willful denialism.

    But, as Occupy Democrats notes, Trump is now taking his pointing talks from the left, accusing those who want to probe his Russian connections of "McCarthysim."

    Beyond surreal.

  5. Assange is on Team Trump. Who is he kidding?

    All the evidence you need. Now that the Trump admin is openly at war with the CIA and intelligence community, WikiLeaks releases what it says is its biggest data dump ever—of CIA documents related to surveillance capabilities. (NYT)

    Meanwhile, The Guardian recalls that despite the current widespread denials, the BBC reported back on Jan. 12 that the Justice Department did seek a FISA warrant to investigate Russian ties to the Trump campaign. However, the BBC wrote: "Neither Mr Trump nor his associates are named in the Fisa order, which would only cover foreign citizens or foreign entities – in this case the Russian banks." Whereas another piece cited bt The Guardian, on Murdoch-owned Street Heat, said the warrant also covered "US persons."

  6. No, the Russian connection is not a ‘distraction’

    "Pursuing the Russia story is a retreat from politics, only if it is framed simply as a matter of Trump having ties with Russia, and not connected to Trump's ideological agenda. But the story is organically linked with other aspects of Trump that deserve critique. Trump's mysterious ties to Russia can’t be divorced from his secrecy about his finances, his affinity for autocratic politics, and his desire to upend American foreign policy in the pursuit of an Islamophobic agenda. The Russia story is not a distraction from developing an anti-Trump politics, but central to the case against him." — Jet Heer in The New Republic, March 13

  7. Rep. Schiff connects the dots between Trump and Russia

    Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) gave a lengthy statement during the House Intelligence Committee’s hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election in which he expertly connected the dots between Trump's campaign and Russia. Required viewing for the "show me the evidence" crowd. Online at Raw Story.

  8. Blackwater link to Trump-Putin plot

    Blackwater founder Erik Prince, the mercenary brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, secretly met with an ally of Vladimir Putin in the Seychelles islands to "establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump," the Washington Post reported. (

  9. ‘Trump Team Met With Lawyer Linked to Kremlin During Campaign’

    That's the New York Times headline today. From the story:

    Two weeks after Donald J. Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination last year, his eldest son arranged a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with a Russian lawyer who has connections to the Kremlin, according to confidential government records described to The New York Times.

    The previously unreported meeting was also attended by Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, as well as the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, according to interviews and the documents, which were outlined by people familiar with them.

    While President Trump has been dogged by revelations of undisclosed meetings between his associates and Russians, this episode at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, is the first confirmed private meeting between a Russian national and members of Mr. Trump's inner circle during the campaign. It is also the first time that his son Donald Trump Jr. is known to have been involved in such a meeting…

    The Russian lawyer invited to the Trump Tower meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya, is best known for mounting a multipronged attack against the Magnitsky Act, an American law that blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. The law so enraged Mr. Putin that he retaliated by halting American adoptions of Russian children.

    1. Another mysterious death linked to Russiagate

      A Russian deputy attorney general, who is thought to have directed Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya in her efforts abroad on behalf of Russia's government, has reportedly died in a helicopter crash. (Daily Beast)

  10. ‘Trump Jr. Was Told in Email of Russian Effort to Aid Campaign’

    That's the New York Times headline today. From the story:

    WASHINGTON — 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.

    The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting. In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs. Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy.

    Mr. Goldstone's message, as described to The New York Times by the three people, indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information…

    Still waiting for "evidence"?

  11. ‘Russian Dirt on Clinton? “I Love It,” Donald Trump Jr. Said’

    That's the New York Times headline today. From the story:

    Donald Trump Jr. received an email on June 3, 2016, promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. The information was described as being part of Russia's support for his father’s presidential bid. His reply? "I love it."

    Still waiting for "evidence"? How would you like your crow prepared, all you denialists?

  12. Assange befellows get stranger

    Following the paradoxical leak of Wikileaks' private tweets to Donald Trump Jr is the claim that Jared Kushner received e-mails in September 2016 about WikiLeaks and a "Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite," and forwarded them to another campaign official. This according to a letter to his attorney from the bipartisan leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Politico, SlateIntercept) Meanwhile, Erik Prince, ex-head of Blackwater (and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos; see above) has been scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee in its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Prince has come under scrutiny since the Washington Post reported in April that he tried to set up a secret back channel between Trump and Putin just days before Trump’s inauguration. (Politico)

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Oct. 30 revealed charges against two former Trump campaign officials, and a plea agreement with a third, marking the first criminal charges to come from a probe into possible Russian influence in US political affairs. The three individuals charged were Paul Manafort, his longtime business partner Rick Gates and former Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making a false statement to FBI investigators in connection to these charges. (Jurist)

  13. Randy Credico link between Assange and Roger Stone?

    Worse and worse. My old WBAI colleague. From the Daily News:

    A New York-based comedian and radio personality who was reportedly in contact with both Trump associate Roger Stone and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is now embroiled in the Russia investigation.

    Randy Credico, who has been subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee, was the intermediary between Stone and Assange, according to CNN.

    Stone repeatedly alluded to an “October surprise” in 2016 just days before Wikileaks published Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s hacked emails, raising questions about how he appeared to have prior knowledge of the dumps.

    While Stone said he spoke to Assange in an August 2016 speech, he later clarified that he read about the hacked emails on Twitter and asked an intermediary to confirm the information, adding that he never spoke to the WikiLeaks founder directly.

    When Stone appeared before the House Intelligence Committee in September, he refused to name his link to Assange.

    Credico admits that he recently traveled to London to meet with Assange at the Ecuadoran embassy and "spent two days with him." But his attorney Martin Stolar (who also represented me when I was threatened with a federal subpoena regarding the Lynne Stewart case) dismisses the notion that Credico was the "go-between" for Stone as "absurd." Credico asserted, "I'm no Trump supporter… I didn't want him to win. I supported Jill Stein." Stolar echoed this: "I know, for a fact, he's a Jill Stein supporter. Everyone who knows Randy knows he throws up at the mention of Donald Trump." (All this from the write-up in Lower Manhattan's The Villager) Yet Stein herself repeatedly portrayed Trump as the lesser evil to Hillary. So Credico's support for Stein doesn't exactly exonerate him. In fact, a case to the contrary can be made.

    By the way, another surreal tidbit brought to light by The Villager is that Credico was definitely hanging with Stone in the 'hood, and even brought him around one night to the (now-evicted) Yippie Cafe on Bleecker Street. The next day, Stone reportedly called the Yippie Cafe asking if he could score cannabis.

    File under "You can't make this shit up."

    1. Senate Russia investigation looking into Jill Stein

      Randy Credico had his attorney Marty Stolar inform the House Intelligence Committee that he intends to "assert the protections of the 5th Amendment to the Constitution and decline to answer any questions," The Villager reports. The Intel Committee has (for the moment) folded, quickly responding by e-mail that in that case Credico need not appear on the scheduled date. The report also tells us that Stone himself in testimony to the Intel Committee named Credico as his "back channel" to Assange.

      Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s campaign to turn over documents related to her dealings with the Russians, BuzzFeed reports.

    2. Russia paid for Facebook ads promoting Jill Stein

      Russian-funded Facebook ads purchased during the 2016 presidential election promoted Green Party candidate Jill Stein as well as then-candidate Donald Trump and Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders, Politico reports. Other advertisements paid for by shadowy Russian buyers criticized Hillary Clinton and promoted Donald Trump. Some backed Bernie Sanders and his platform even after his presidential campaign had ended, according to "a person with knowledge of the ads."

      We're shocked. Shocked.

    3. Assange tried in absentia?

      From The Villager comes the startling news that Roger Stone is a social libertarian who is a member of the Cannabis Coalition, along with a photo of him onstage at the Yippie Cafe. Attorney Martin Stolar is also quoted as saying that a grand jury has tried Assange in absentia, and there is a "sealed indictment" ready to be slapped on him as soon as he exits the embassy. We're from Missouri. 

  14. Greenwald still on Team Trump

    So Trump is accusing CNN of a "vicious" assault on his presidency after they got a date wrong in a story, saying Donand Trump Jr had received an email from WiliLeaks with a key allowing access to the hacked DNC documents on Sept. 14, 2016 when it was actually Sept. 4. They were off my one digit, but in those 10 days, the documents had been made public, rendering the story less explosive. CNN promptly ran a correction. (AFP)

    Greenwald is gleefully jumping all over this just like his buddy Trump, calling this a "humiliating debacle" for CNN in The Intercept, and sneering at those who view WikiLeaks as an “arm of Russian intelligence." As if CNN getting a fact wrong (an occupational hazard of journalism) in any way means WikiLeaks isn't an “arm of Russian intelligence," which is obvious to anyone paying any attention at all.

    Putin, Trump, Assange and Greenwald are all on the same team now. If that's your team too, you better ask yourself why.

  15. Russians indicted for interfering in US election

    A federal grand jury in Washington, DC, indicted 13 Russian citizens and three Russian organizations for interfering in the 2016 US presidential election. All 16 defendants were charged with conspiracy to defraud the US. The indictment (PDF) reads:

    From in or around 2014 to the present, in the District of Columbia and elsewhere, Defendants … knowingly and intentionally conspired to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of State in administering federal requirements for disclosure of foreign involvement in certain domestic activities.

    The indictment alleges that the defendants created fake social media accounts where they pretended to be Americans, in some cases, stealing the identities of actual US citizens. The defendants posted material that supported Donald Trump while discrediting Hillary Clinton. The indictment also reads, "Some Defendants, posing as US. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities."

    Federal law prohibits foreign entities from participating in political activity within the United States without approval from the Attorney General. Foreign nationals are also prohibited making from certain financial payments to influence federal elections.

    Three defendants are also charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants are additionally charged with aggravated identity theft. (Jurist)

    1. Russian propaganda agents pushed Jill Stein

      From the indictment:

      On or about November 3, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators purchased an advertisement to promote a post on the ORGANIZATION-controlled Instagram account "Blacktivist" that read in part: "Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein. Trust me, it's not a wasted vote."

      By in or around early November 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used the ORGANIZATION-controlled "United Muslims of America" social media accounts to post anti-vote messages such as: "American Muslims [are] boycotting elections today, most of the American Muslim voters refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton because she wants to continue the war on Muslims in the middle east and voted yes for invading Iraq."

      How does it feel to be a Kremlin shill? #JustAsking

    2. Did you attend Russian-organized ‘patriotic’ anti-Hillary rally?

      More from the indictment. The "ORGANIZATION" is named as the Russia-based "Internet Research Agency"…

      In or around June and July 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used the Facebook group “Being Patriotic,” the Twitter account @March_for_Trump, and other ORGANIZATION accounts to organize two political rallies in New York. The first rally was called "March for Trump" and held on June 25, 2016. The second rally was called "Down with Hillary" and held on July 23, 2016.

  16. New indictment in Russia investigation

    US Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Feb. 16 indicted attorney Alex van der Zwaan for false statements made during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Van der Zwaan was indicted for his answers regarding communication with Richard W. Gates III, a former aide to President Trump, who has also been charged with money laundering, conspiracy, and false statements, and with an undisclosed "Person A." These communications occurred while van der Zwaan's firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, was preparing a report on the trial of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. The firm was involved in countering allegations that former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to bring corruption charges against Tymoshenko was motivated by politics and unsupported by evidence.

    Van der Zwaan allegedly falsely represented his last communication with Gates in August 2016 and with "Person A" in 2014. Van der Zwaan also maintained he did not know the reason why an email between him and "Person A" was not produced to Mueller's team. The Special Counsel determined that van der Zwaan had spoken in September 2016 with Gates and "Person A" regarding the report on the Tymoshenko trial, recording the call in secret, and deleted the requested emails including the email between him and "Person A".

    The charges for false statements will be brought under Title 18, Section 1001(a)(2) of the United States Code, which prohibits "knowingly and willfully" making "any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation." (Jurist)

  17. More indictments in Russia investigation

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed a new indictment (PDF) leveling 32 new charges against Paul Manafort and Richard Gates in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Feb. 22.

    The charges include 23 related to falsifying tax returns and not reporting foreign assets. They also include nine charges of bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy related to loans that were obtained through false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises.

    Manafort is charged with laundering and concealing $30 million that was obtained from offshore accounts, while Gates is charged with receiving and concealing $3 million from offshore accounts. Both are charged with using these funds for personal expenses, including antique rugs, clothing, and mortgages. The fraudulent loans totaled $25.9 million.

    If convicted of the bank fraud charges, Manafort and Gates would have to forfeit any property obtained from the loans. If the property can not be subject to forfeiture, then substitute assets will be subject to forfeiture.

    Manafort, who was President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, and Gates, a longtime business associate of Manafort, were originally charged with conspiracy to launder money, making false statements, conspiracy against the US, and other charges by Mueller in October. Manafort filed a lawsuit in January against the Department of Justice claiming that Mueller's investigation exceeded DoJ's legal authority. (Jurist, Feb. 23)

  18. Ex-Trump campaign official pleads guilty

    Former Trump campaign official Richard Gates pleaded guilty Feb. 23 to two counts: conspiracy against the US and making a false statement.

    The plea came as part of the case Special Counsel Robert Mueller is pursuing against Gates and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Part of the plea deal requires Gates to cooperate with the prosecution. His other charges will be dismissed.

    According to the superseding information, Gates lied to the special counsel during an investigation by saying that Manafort had told him Ukraine had not been mentioned in a March 2013 meeting between Manafort, a senior lobbyist, and a member of Congress. In reality, Gates had helped prepare a report with Manafort about the discussions concerning Ukraine. He also admitted to conspiring in money laundering. (Jurist)

  19. Manafort pleads not guilty to new Mueller charges

    Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty Feb. 28 to a revised, five-count indictment (PDF) filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. At the hearing, Judge Amy Berman Jackson set the trial date for September 17, 2018. The judge also reprimanded Manafort for making a public statement about co-defendant Richard Gates' guilty plea last week to charges of conspiracy against the US and making a false statement. Gates will cooperate with the Mueller investigation as part of the deal

    Additionally, Manafort is scheduled to enter a second plea in Alexandria at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, where he faces 18 new and modified charges. (Jurist, March 1)

  20. Roger Stone warns of ‘insurrection’

    "Try to impeach him, just try it. You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you’ve never seen," he told TMZ. "The people will not stand for impeachment. A politician that votes for it would be endangering their own life." (Yahoo)

    This is the guy Randy Credico brought to the Yippie Cafe. *cough*

  21. Credico-Putin lovefest

    Speaking to The Villager about the latest "Russiagate" revelations concerning his buddy Roger Stone, Randy Credico had this to say: "Putin is a strong, attractive leader. Putin has brought respect to Russia. Somebody has to stand up to US aggression. He's not like Yeltsin, who was paid by the CIA."

    This as the "attractive leader" is raining death down on Ghouta. You're a sick fuck, Credico.

  22. Putin: maybe the Jews did it

    Vladimir Putin says he "couldn't care less" if Russian citizens sought to interfere in US elections, suggesting that maybe Jews or Ukrainians are to blame for meddling. "So what if they're Russians?" Putin said of the recent indictment against 13 Russian citizens accusing of conspiring to influence the 2016 presidential election. Speaking to NBC, he said, "There are 146 million Russians. So what? …They do not represent the interests of the Russian state… Why have you decided the Russian authorities, myself included, gave anybody permission to do this? Maybe they are not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship, which should also be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship or a green card; maybe the US paid them for this." (Daily Beast)

  23. Ruling party exonerates itself ‚ÄĒsurprise!

    House Intelligence Committee Republicans closed their investigation of Russian election interference, declaring they found no evidence that Trump's 2016 campaign cooperated with the Kremlin, a conclusion Trump quickly celebrated—but which Democrats called premature and even misleading. Soon after the announcement, Trump triumphantly claimed vindication on Twitter: "THE HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE HAS, AFTER A 14 MONTH LONG IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION, FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION OR COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN AND RUSSIA TO INFLUENCE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION." (All caps in original.) (Politico, March 12)

  24. Chris Hedges joins Red-Brown axis

    The always annoying Chris Hedges has a piece on TruthDig (of course) entitled "The Empty Piety of the American Press," griping about how the evil liberal media are unfairly ganging up on poor oppressed Trump. You read it and tell me, honestly, if you think this characterization is in any way unfair.

  25. US imposes new sanctions on Russia

    The US Treasury Department imposed new economic sanctions March 15 on 19 Russian individuals and five entities for their interference in the 2016 US election, and a number of other destructive cyber-attacks. The Treasury highlighted continuing destabilizing activities, including the NotPetya cyber-attack, attributed to the Russian military in February. (Jurist)

  26. First sentence handed down in Mueller investigation

    In the first sentencing in the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Muller into Russian meddling, 33-year-old Dutch attorney Alex van der Zwaan was sentenced April 3 to 30 days in prison and a $200,000 fine, followed by two months of supervised release. Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty in February after being indicted on charges of lying to special counsel prosecutors and the FBI regarding his communications with former Trump advisor Rick Gates in August 2016. (Jurist)

  27. Democratic National Committee sues Trump, Russia, Assange

    The Democratic National Committee (DNC) filed a lawsuit April 20 against Donald Trump, Russia, Julian Assange, Wikileaks, and several Trump aids including Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort.

    The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges 12 causes of action, including computer crimes, trespass, fraud, conspiracy and violations of the Wiretap Act.

    The suit is in response to the alleged cyberattack on the DNC. The complaint alleges that Trump and his aids knew of and supported Russia's goal of using cyberattacks to undermine the DNC.

    According to the complaint, "Defendants undermined and distorted the DNC's ability to communicate the party's values and vision to the American electorate; sowed discord within the Democratic party at a time when party unity was essential to electoral success; and seriously compromised the DNC's internal and external communications."

    The DNC seeks damages and an injunction preventing the defendants from distributing any information gleaned from allegedly hacking their computers. (Jurist)

  28. Federal judge dismisses Manafort’s civil suit

    A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia on April 27 dismissed  a civil suit brought by Paul Manafort [BBC profile] alleging that the Department of Justice exceeded its authority in appointed the Special Counsel headed by Robert Mueller and that the Special Counsel, even if permitted to exist, exceeded its authority. Manafort's criminal trial for bank fraud and tax evasion is set for July 10. (Jurist)

  29. Russian link in Stormy Daniels flap ‚ÄĒof course

    A shell company that Michael D. Cohen used to pay hush money to a pornographic film actress received payments totaling more than $1 million from an American company linked to a Russian oligarch and several corporations with business before the Trump administration, according to documents and interviews. (NYT)

  30. Special Counsel accuses Manafort of witness tampering

    In a new motion in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on June 4, Special Counsel Robert Mueller accused Paul Manafort of using an encrypted messaging application to tamper with a witness. According to the motion, Manafort, former chairman of President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, and a longtime associate identified as "Person A" repeatedly sent these texts to Persons D1 and D2 "in an effort to secure materially false testimony concerning the activities of the Hapsburg group." (Jurist)

    Mueller has accused Manafort of violating foreign lobbying law by orchestrating the Hapsburg Group's lobbying efforts in the US without registering as a foreign agent. Mueller charges that Manafort "secretly retained" the group of European ex-politicians to lobby for Ukraine in 2012 and 2013. (Politico, Euronews)

  31. Yet more charges against Manafort

    Robert Mueller on June 8 filed new obstruction of justice charges against Paul Manafort and also brought charges against Konstantin Kilimnik—Manafort’s right-hand man whom prosecutors suspect of being linked to Russian intelligence. The new charges against the pair reportedly pertain to an attempt by Manafort and Kilimnik to convince well-known European politicians to "vouch publicly" for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was a Manafort client. This is the third indictment against Manafort since Mueller was appointed to probe into possible Russian influence in US political affairs. (uPolitics, Jurist)

  32. Cambridge Analytica chief ‘met Assange to discuss US election’

    A Cambridge Analytica director apparently visited Julian Assange in February last year and told friends it was to discuss what happened during the US election, the Guardian reports. 

    Brittany Kaiser, a director at the firm until earlier this year, also claimed to have channelled cryptocurrency payments and donations to WikiLeaks. This information has been passed to congressional and parliamentary inquiries in the UK and US.

    Cambridge Analytica and WikiLeaks are already subjects of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, but the revelations open up fresh questions about the precise nature of the organisations' relationship.

  33. Manafort to the slammer

    In the days leading up to the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, a federal judge ordered him on June 15 to be detained without bail awaiting trial, citing recent witness tampering charges. Judge Amy Berman Jackson in the US District Court for the District of Columbia said that there are no conditions that would assure Manafort would not commit a crime during a period of release. (Jurist)

  34. DoJ: Comey’s handling of Clinton email investigation OK

    The US Department of Justice (DoJ) issued a report (PDF) June 14 that reviewed various actions by the FBI and former director James Comey leading up to the 2016 election. The DoJ internal review organization found that Comey's actions before the election were not within FBI norms, but they were not motivated by bias. The report did not challenge Comey's decision to not prosecute Clinton. (Jurist)

  35. New York AG files suit against Trump Foundation

    The New York attorney general filed a petition June 15 against the Donald J. Trump Foundation and its directors Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump. The petition alleges "a pattern of persistent illegal conduct, occurring over more than a decade, that includes extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Mr. Trump's personal and business interests, and violations of basic legal obligations for non-profit foundations." Specifically, the petition alleges that Trump used money from the Foundation to pay for personal items and support his campaign for presidency (Jurist)

  36. Credico forks over computer in Russiagate feud with Roger Stone

    Well, this continues to get more and more amusing. The Villager now reports that Randy Credico is turning over his computer and cellphone to an unnamed national magazine in an effort to clear his name in the face of accuations against him by his one-time buddy Roger Stone. In angry and often expletive-filled e-mails revealed to The Villager, Stone accuses Credico of "wearing a wire for Mueller"—as in, trying to gather information that could be used against Assange. Stone also blasts Credico as a "maggot" and "drunk cokehead." At one pont he challenges:  "Let's get it on c—sucker. Prepare to die."

  37. Manafort appeals jailing order

    Lawyers for President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, filed an appeal on June 25 requesting a federal appeals court to review an order by District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the US District Court for the District of Columbia that requires Manafort to be detained in jail while he awaits trial on several felony charges.

    Additionally, Manafort is refiling a civil suit challenging Special Counsel Robert Mueller's authority that was dismissed by Jackson earlier this year.

    Jackson's order revoked Manafort's house arrest, forcing him to wait in a Virginia jail until his two trials have completed. Manafort faces three indictments arising out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into possible Russian influence in US political affairs: the first in October for conspiracy to launder money, making false statements, and conspiracy against the US; and the second in February for false individual income tax returns, failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, bank fraud, and others; and the third for trying to persuade witnesses to lie to a jury. (Jurist)

  38. Federal judge refuses to dismiss charges against Manafort

    Judge T.S. Ellis, III for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled June 26 that charges for bank fraud and tax evasion against former campaign manager for US President Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, can proceed. Manafort challenged his indictment, arguing that the Special Counsel exceeded its authority. (Jurist)

  39. DoJ indicts 12 Russia intelligence officers

    The US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced July 12 that it has indicted (PDF) 12 Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) officers for hacking the e-mails of employees and volunteers of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, including that of campaign chairman John Podesta. The indictment, approved by Special Prosecute Robert Mueller, charged the officers with conspiracy to commit an offense against the US, aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to launder money.

    The indictment says that the officers created a fake security alert e-mail from Google that instructed recipients to change their passwords on a GRU-created website, thereby giving the officers access to the recipients’ passwords as well as exploited security vulnerabilities on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic National Committee’s computer networks. (Jurist)

    1. GRU answered Trump’s challenge

      Oh, this is too cute. HuffPo notes that according to the indictment, Russian hackers "for the first time" attempted to break into e-mail accounts on July 27—literally hours after Trump made his famous public challenge: "I will tell you this, Russia: If you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing, I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press."

  40. Helsinki debacle: Putin admits it!

    Pay close attention. Politico's typical headline from the press conference at the Helsinki summit is: "Putin: I wanted Trump to win the election." This hed is misleadingly soft. The question wasn't just about whether he favored Trump, but also if he intervened in the election. The answer: "Yes, I did." You can argue about what he meant, but that is the verbaitim.

    Trump hmself, now famously said when asked about whether he thought Russia was responsible for the e-mail leak: "President Putin says it's not Russia. I don't see any reason why it would be." (BBC News) In the subsequent outrage, he's been pathetically trying to back-pedal, saying he said "would" when he meant "wouldn't." As if. (Fox)

    1. White House transcript purges Putin admission

      The Atlantic now notes that the most critical exchange in the Helsinki press conference has been purged from the official White House transcript! Here's how they describe the missing exchange:

      Understanding what Putin said depends on what you watch or where you look. If you watch the video of the news conference provided by the Russian government, or by news outlets such as PBS and the Associated Press, you will hear the Reuters reporter Jeff Mason ask a bombshell of a question: "President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?"

      Putin then responds with a bombshell of an answer, according to the English translation of his remarks that was broadcast during the press conference: "Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal."

      The account then goes on to note the ambiguity about which of the two questions Putin thought he was replying to. Ambiguity acknowledged, but removing the exchange from the transcript certainly doesn't smell very good…

  41. Another Russian operative indicted

    From the NY Times, July 16:

    WASHINGTON — A Russian woman who tried to broker a secret meeting between Donald J. Trump and the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, during the 2016 presidential campaign was charged Monday and accused of working with Americans to carry out a secret Russian effort to influence American politics.

    At the behest of a senior Russian government official, the woman, Mariia Butina, made connections through the National Rifle Association, religious organizations and the National Prayer Breakfast to try to steer the Republican Party toward more pro-Russia policies, court records show. Privately comparing herself to a Soviet Cold War propagandist, she worked to infiltrate American organizations and establish "back channel" lines of communication with American politicians.

  42. Credico to testify in ‘Russiagate’ probe

    On Aug. 9, Martin Stolar, Credico's attorney, received an e-mailed subpoena from the office of Special Counsel Mueller, saying that Credico is expected for questioning in federal district court in Washington, DC, on Sept. 7. As of now, Credico is not taking the Fifth. "I believe he plans to testify," Stolar said. As for Mueller's target in the grand-jury proceeding, Stolar said, "They have not indicated to me what the subject matter will be," but added, "It's a pretty good guess it's Roger Stone and Julian Assange." (The Villager)

    1. Credico testifies in Mueller investigation

      The Villager reports that Randy Credico traveled to Washington to testify under oath in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's "Russiagate" investigation. He reportedly had a doctor's note allowing him to have his pet "therapy dog" along, to "to help him appropriately control his anxiety." He was apparently summoned on the basis of Roger Stone's testimony to the House Intelligence Committee that Credico was his "backchannel" to Julian Assange. Credico was also summoned to appear before the House Intelligence Committee, but the summons was dropped when he announced that he would take the Fifth. While he was with the Mueller grand jury, Credico apparently received a letter from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence asking him to appear before it, and also to preserve "any written communication with or about" DCLeaks, Gucifer 2.0, WikiLeaks, Stone, Assange and others.

  43. Manafort found guilty on eight charges of fraud

    Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort was found guilty on five charges of tax fraud, two of bank fraud and one of failure to disclose a foreign bank account on Aug. 21.

    Manafort also faced another 10 charges on which the jury could not reach a verdict. Judge TS Ellis of the US District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, Va, declared a mistrial on those charges.

    The indictment (PDF) alleged that Manafort and Richard Gates, a former deputy chair of the Trump campaign and liaison to the Republican National Committee who has already pleaded guilty to charges, acted as unregistered agents of Ukraine and Victor Yanukovyk, president of Ukraine from 2010 to 2014. The two allegedly evaded taxes on the millions generated by claiming the income was a series of loans from overseas corporations. The indictment indicates that more than $75,000,000 was transferred through offshore accounts opened by the pair. (Jurist)

  44. Michael Cohen pleads guilty to fraud

    Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty on Aug. 21 to five counts of tax fraud, one count of making a false statement to a financial institution, one count of causing an unlawful corporate contribution, and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution. The maximum term of imprisonment for all eight counts is 65 years. However, the stipulated sentencing range under the plea agreement is between 46 to 63 months. In addition, Cohen may be ordered to pay a fine of between $20,000 and $1,000,000.

    Numerous reports indicate that Cohen stated he violated federal campaign laws by making a $130,000 payment to adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, “at the direction of a candidate for federal office.” Cohen was reimbursed for these payments after submitting fake invoices to the candidate’s company. Cohen also made a payment of $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Cohen acknowledged in court that both payments were made in an attempt to influence the outcome of the election. He was compensated for the payments by submitting falsified invoices to a company believed to be the Trump Organization.

    In an unprecedented move, federal agents obtained a warrant to search Cohen’s hotel room, office and home to seize over a million files on April 9. A few days later, Cohen attempted to stop the authorities from reviewing the documents by claiming attorney-client privilege. The court resolved the matter by appointing an individual to oversee the review of the documents in order to ensure that documents that properly fell within the scope of the attorney-client privilege were not reviewed. The seized records led to the charges to which Cohen pleaded guilty. (Jurist)

  45. How the ‘deep state’ paranoids are abetting Trumpism

    From Daily Beast, Aug. 24:

    On Thursday, President Donald Trump posed for an Oval Office photo with one of the leading promoters of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims that top Democrats are part of a global pedophile cult.

    YouTube conspiracy theorist Lionel Lebron was in the White House for an event on Thursday, according to a video Lebron posted online. During the visit, Lebron and his wife posed for a smiling picture with Trump in the Oval Office.

    Lebron is one of the internet's leading promoters of QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy theory based on a series of anonymous clues posted to internet forums. QAnon believers have interpreted the clues, which they claim without evidence are coming from a highly placed source in the Trump administration, to mean that Trump and the military are engaged in a high-stakes shadow war against a supposed globalist pedophile cult. The conspiracy theory has caught on with Trump supporters, who have held up QAnon-related signs and wear QAnon shirts to the president’s rallies.

    Lebron claimed to have received a "special guided tour of the White House" before posing for pictures with Trump. In a video posted Friday, Lebron said he didn’t use the brief encounter with the president to ask Trump about QAnon…

    "I think we all know he knows about it,"  Lebron said in the video, sipping from a coffee mug he claimed to have received as a gift at the White House.

  46. Guilty plea links Trump machine to Ukrainian politician

    From the Washington Post:

    An American political consultant who is cooperating with federal prosecutors admitted in court Friday that he steered $50,000 from a Ukrainian politician to Donald Trump’s inaugural committee — the first public confirmation that illegal foreign money was used to help fund the January 2017 event.

    W. Samuel Patten, 47, pleaded guilty Friday to failing to register as a foreign lobbyist while working on behalf of a Ukrainian political party. He says he was helped by a Russian national who has been linked to Russian intelligence by U.S. prosecutors and who was also an associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

    As part of his plea deal, Patten agreed to assist prosecutors, including special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 campaign…

    Patten said in court documents that he arranged for an American citizen to act as a "straw donor" to give $50,000 in exchange for four tickets to Trump's inauguration in place of a Ukrainian businessman, who as a foreigner was barred from contributing to the event…

    Prosecutors contended that Patten formed a company with a Russian national, identified only as "Foreigner A," to engage in lobbying and political consulting services.

    The company has received about $1 million since 2015 for its Ukraine consulting work, which included advising a Ukrainian party known as the Opposition Bloc, as well as some of its members, one of whom is a prominent Ukraine businessman identified only as "Foreigner B."

    Prosecutors said Patten helped the businessman get meetings to lobby members of Congress in 2015 and helped him author an op-ed in February 2017 that appears to match a U.S. News & World Report article arguing that Ukraine would do fine under President Trump.

    The description of "Foreigner A" matches Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime Manafort associate who has been charged in Washington along with Manafort with obstruction of justice and witness tampering. Prosecutors have said they believe that Kilimnik has ties to Russian intelligence. Kilimnik has denied any such ties

    The description of "Foreigner B" matches Serhiy Lovochkin, a Ukrainian businessman and politician who served as a top aide to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian politician who was Manafort's chief client.

    Patten told prosecutors that he worked with Kilimnik to help Lovochkin route the illegal donation to Trump’s inauguration. As a result of the donation, four tickets to Trump's festivities were allocated to the three men and another Ukrainian; prosecutors said Lovochkin attended the event with Patten. Prosecutors do not say whether Kilimnik attended.

    Patten also agreed that he misled the Senate Intelligence Committee when he testified before the panel in January.

    Ukraine's Opposition Bloc is apparently a sucessor organization to the now-disbanded Party of Regions, which purported to protect and advance the rights of ethnic Russians (mostly in the east)

  47. 14 days in prison for ex-Trump campaign adviser

    George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser, was sentenced on Sept. 7 to 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian intermediaries during the 2016 presidential race, becoming the first Trump adviser to be sentenced in the special counsel investigation. Most first-time offenders convicted of lying to federal authorities get probation, but Judge Randolph D. Moss said that Papadopoulos deserved a stiffer sentence because he had impeded an investigation of "grave national importance." (NYT)

  48. Manafort cops a plea

    Paul Manafort has agreed to co-operate with the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the US election as part of a plea deal. On Sept. 14, he pleaded guilty to two criminal charges in the deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The agreement avoids a second trial on money laundering and other charges. Manafort was convicted last month on eight counts of fraud, bank fraud and failing to disclose bank accounts. (BBC News)

  49. Israeli connection in Manafort Ukraine intrigues

    From Haaretz, Sept. 14:

    WASHINGTON – A mysterious Israeli connection appeared on Friday within the pages of the plea deal signed between Paul Manafort, U.S. President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, and the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

    According to the document, in 2012, while Manafort was working as a lobbyist for the pro-Russian government of Ukraine, he received help from a senior Israeli official in an attempt to tarnish the reputation of Ukraine's then-opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. Parliamentary elections were held in Ukraine on October 28, 2012.

    Manafort and the senior Israeli official, who is not named in the document, worked to jointly accuse Tymoshenko's supporters and allies of supporting anti-Semitism. Manafort bragged at the time that "Obama Jews" would put pressure on the American administration to disavow Tymoshenko and her supporters as a result of his ploy.

    'Manafort sought to undermine United States support for Tymoshenko," the document states. "He orchestrated a scheme to have, as he wrote in a contemporaneous communication, 'Obama Jews' put pressure on the [Obama] administration to disavow Tymoshenko" and support the Ukrainian government, which was his client…

    "I have someone putting it in the New York Post. Bada bing bada boom," Manafort wrote to one of his associates. He wanted to use the allegations in order to pressure the Obama administration into acting against his clients’ rivals in Ukraine. "The Jewish community will take this out on Obama on Election Day if he does nothing," Manafort said at the time.

    The proverbial house of mirrors

  50. Russian national charged with meddling in US elections

    The US Justice Department unsealed a criminal complaint Oct. 19 charging Russian national Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova for her role in a conspiracy to interfere with US elections, starting in 2014 and through the upcoming November midterms. The charges allege Khusyaynova took part in a massive Russian influence campaign, through her role as chief accountant of "Project Lakhta," managing the financing of operations directed at the US. "The Conspiracy has a strategic goal, which continues to this day, to sow division and discord in the US political system, including by creating social and political polarization, [and] undermining faith in democratic institutions," the complaint states. (Jurist)

  51. Report: sealed indictment against Assange

    Reuters is reporting that US federal prosecutors have obtained a sealed indictment against Julian Assange, although it not yet clear what the charges are. What an irony it would be if this fascist-collaborating KGB asset got locked up under Trump, whose campaign he shamelessly lubricated. No honor among thieves, punk.

    He may now regret his threat to sue his Ecuadoran hosts for "violating his fundamental rights" by ordering him to clean up after his pet cat. (NYT, Oct. 19)

  52. Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Congress

    Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty Nov. 6 to making false representations to Congress about Trump's business dealings in Russia. According to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's court filing, Cohen made several false statements in a letter to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Both committees opened investigations into Russian election interference in January 2017. Cohen’s false statements related to "The Moscow Project," an attempt by the Trump Organization to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. (Jurist)

  53. Mueller: Manafort lied about contacts with Trump administration

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller said in a court filing Dec. 7 that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort lied about his contacts with the Trump administration after President Donald Trump took office. In the heavily redacted document, Mueller also said that Manafort lied about his communications with Konstantin Kilimnik, an alleged Russian intelligence agent. Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in September and is scheduled to be sentenced in March. (Jurist)

  54. Mueller recommends no jail time for Flynn

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller recommended in a memorandum filed Dec. 4 with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia that Michael Flynn receive no jail time for lying to the FBI. In December 2017 Flynn agreed to a plea deal stemming from allegations that he violated 18 USC § 1001 (making false statements). Flynn reportedly misled FBI agents about his interactions with the Russian Ambassador, as well as Flynn Intel Group's work with Turkey. (Jurist)

    US District Judge Royce Lamberth meanwhile ordered a re-examination of the Hilary Clinton private email lawsuit. Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit related to Clinton's Benghazi talking points sent to previous UN Ambassador Susan Rice. The belief was that the separate email server was used to thwart requests from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requiring disclosure of certain government information upon request. (Jurist)

  55. Maria Butina in plea deal with feds

    Prosecutors have reached a plea deal with Maria Butina, the Russian woman who parlayed her gun rights activism and Republican Party connections into an unofficial influence campaign inside the US. Butina has agreed to plead guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to act as a Russian agent on US soil without registering as required with the Justice Department. She faces a maximum of five years in prison but could serve far less time once she is sentenced next year. (NPR)

    As part of an indictment against 13 Russian nationals and the Internet Research Agency issued by Mueller earlier this year, Moscow's operatives worked to boost the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein in an effort to damage Hillary Clinton. (USA Today) The lnks between this and Butina's plea deal are explored in depth by Rachel Maddow.

  56. Michael Cohen sentenced to three years in prison

    President Trump's former personal lawyer and "fixer" Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution by a federal judge in New York. This comes following a request from federal prosecutors for a “substantial” prison term on December 7.

    Cohen plead guilty to lying to Congress about a possible Trump business deal in Moscow and to paying women, who alleged affairs with then candidate Trump, for their silence during the 2016 presidential campaign, among other crimes. Prosecutors requested a prison term of 51 to 63 months. Cohen has been ordered to surrender on March 6.

    According to CNN's Erica Orden, "The judge agreed to recommend Otisville Federal Correctional Facility, in Upstate New York, as the prison where Cohen will spend his time. It’s less than a two hour drive from Manhattan." (Jurist)

  57. Trump Foundation agrees to dissolve amid corruption probe

    The Trump Foundation agreed by a stipulation on Dec. 19 to dissolve under judicial supervision, with review and approval by the New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, amid an investigation and lawsuit alleging the charity’s involvement in fundraising for Donald Trump’s own presidential campaign. (Jurist)

    A federal judge in Washington DC meanwhile postponed the sentencing of Michael Flynn, allowing him more time to cooperate with ongoing investigations. (Jurist)

  58. Appeals Court orders stay in emoluments case against Trump

    The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Dec. 20 delayed court proceedings and investigations related to alleged unlawful profits from the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC. This appeal is in response to a recent federal court decision that allowed the Attorneys General of both Maryland and Washington, DC to begin discovery as part of their suit.

    The issues underpinning this case are claims of violations of the Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution. The clause is generally understood to prohibit the president from personally accepting money or other incentives from foreign governments.

    There is concern that the Emoluments Clause is violated when foreign dignitaries stay at the Trump International Hotel while visiting with the president in his official capacity because Trump has not fully divested himself of interest from this property.

    In a brief statement, the court rescheduled oral arguments to March 2019. In addition to arguing about procedural issues around the petitioned appeal, the case will also examine whether emolument clauses permit lawyers representing DC and Maryland to legally demand business records from the president. (Jurist)

  59. Trump’s Afghanistan revisionism

    So the GOP has gone from Reagan to this. From CBS News:

    Trump defends Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, garbling facts in the process
    President Trump's lengthy, on-camera cabinet meeting Wednesday touched on a variety of topics, including the funding fight over a border wall, and the impending withdrawal of American troops from Syria. But in a bizarre aside, the president defended the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

    "Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan," Mr. Trump said. "The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is, it was a tough fight. And literally they went bankrupt; they went into being called Russia again, as opposed to the Soviet Union. You know, a lot of these places you're reading about now are no longer part of Russia, because of Afghanistan."

    The Soviet Union—which comprised not only Russia, but several other now-independent nations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia—invaded Afghanistan in 1979, and left in 1989. However, contrary to Mr. Trump's claims, Russia was in Afghanistan to spread communism, not fight terrorists. And in the process, Soviet forces waged a brutal campaign that often targeted civilians.

    Actually, the USSR called the Mujahedeen "bandits" rather than "terrorists," and the first and only Mujahedeen attacks on Soviet territory—and Tajikistan, not Russia—were in 1987, eight years after the Soviets invaded.

    Sounds like Trump is channeling Alexander Cockburn

  60. Russia authorities charge US citizen with espionage

    The Russian Federation formally charged US citizen Paul Whelan with espionage, according to Russian news agency Interfax. Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested Whelan on Dec. 28. Under Article 276 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, espionage is punishable by 10-20 years in prison. The family of Whelan, a retired US Marine, claim that he was in Moscow to attend a wedding. (Jurist)

  61. Russian lawyer charged with obstruction of justice

    An indictment unsealed on Jan. 8 revealed that Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya has been charged with obstruction of justice by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Though this indictment involves a separate case, Veselnitskaya has been identified as a key figure in the Special Consul's Russia probe due to her involvement in a 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr., and other officials in the Trump presidential campaign.

    The indictment concerns Veselnitskaya’s involvement in United States v. Prevezon, a money laundering and tax fraud case in which she advised the defendants. (Jurist)

  62. Roger Stone arrested

    Longtime Trump associate, Roger Stone was arrested Jan. 25 following a seven-count indictment issued by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The indictment alleges one count each of obstruction of a proceeding and witness tampering, and five counts of making false statements to House Representatives.

    The 24-page indictment lays out allegations that Stone knowingly and willfully “made materially false, fictitious, and false statements” before the US House of Representatives Committee on Intelligence tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

    The indictment references two individuals, "Person 1," identified as a a "political commentator who worked with an online media publication during the 2016 US presidential campaign" and "Person 2," who "was a radio host who had known STONE for more than a decade." * The indictment also references an organization identified as "Organization 1," ** which was responsible for releasing stolen documents from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton Campaign.

    It is alleged that “Stone had sent and received numerous emails and text messages during the 2016 [presidential] campaign in which he discussed Organization 1, its head, and its possession of hacked emails.” (Jurist)

    * Randy Credico, obviously
    ** Wikileaks, obviously

    1. More amusing details of Stone-Credico imbroglio

      From The Villager, Jan. 28:

      Stone is further accused — in a "witness tampering" charge — of trying to influence one of the purported "go-betweens," namely, comedian-turned-radio host Randy Credico, not to testify before the committee, or to testify falsely.

      For his part, Credico has maintained that he was not a "go-between" or so-called "backchannel" for Stone to WikiLeaks. Credico is not named in the indictment, which refers to him only as "Person 2."

      In a part of the indictment that the media have played up, Stone is accused of threatening, in an e-mail on April 9, 2018, to kidnap Credico’s beloved little therapy dog, Bianca.

      "You are a rat. A stoolie you backstab your friends — run your mouth…," Stone wrote, adding, he was going to "take that dog away from you." Soon after, Stone e-mailed Credico again, "I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die [expletive]."

      Yet coverage in the Dec. 20 edition of The Villager shows a 2017 photo of then-lovebirds Stone and Credico literally arm-in-arm. Utterly nauseating.

  63. More than 100 criminal counts in Russia probe

    Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime adviser to President Trump, is the sixth Trump adviser or official to be charged in the special counsel investigation. Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating possible links between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, has issued more than 100 criminal counts against dozens of people and three companies. The New York Times provides a list….

  64. Russians hacked Mueller probe?

    Evidence gathered by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, was obtained by Russians and leaked online in an attempt to discredit his inquiry into Moscow’s interference in US politics, prosecutors said Jan. 30. A court filing by Mueller's office said more than 1,000 files that it shared confidentially with attorneys for indicted Russian hackers later appeared to have been uploaded to a filesharing site and promoted by a Twitter account.

    "We've got access to the Special Counsel Mueller's probe database as we hacked Russian server with info from the Russian troll case," a tweet said. "You can view all the files Mueller had about the IRA and Russian collusion. Enjoy the reading!" (The Guardian)

  65. Federal judge revokes Manafort’s plea deal

    A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled Feb. 13 that Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairperson, lied to the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Jackson wrote, "The Office of Special Counsel is no longer bound by its obligations under the plea agreement, including its promise to support a reduction of the offense level in the calculation of the US Sentencing Guidelines for acceptance of responsibility."

    Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the US and conspiracy to obstruct justice through witness tampering on Sept. 14, 2018. As part of his plea agreement, he promised to "cooperate fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly with the Government."

    Manafort argued that any false statements were unintentional. (Jurist)

  66. House Judiciary Committee announces investigation of Trump

    Chairman of the US House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, on March 4 announced an investigation into allegations of obstruction of justice, public corruption and other abuses of power by President Donald Trump, his associates and members of his administration.

    As a first step, Nadler announced that the Committee has served 81 agencies, entities and individuals believed to have information relevant to the investigation. Those served include Trump’s sons Eric and Donald Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and the White House.

    The Committee’s investigation will focus on three main areas:

    • Obstruction of Justice, including the possibility of interference by the President and others in a number of criminal investigations and other official proceedings, as well as the alleged cover-up of violations of the law;
    • Public Corruption, including potential violations of the emoluments clauses of the U.S. Constitution, conspiracy to violate federal campaign and financial reporting laws, and other criminal misuses of official positions for personal gain; and
    • Abuses of Power, including attacks on the press, the judiciary, and law enforcement agencies; misuse of the pardon power and other presidential authorities; and attempts to misuse the power of the Office of the Presidency.

    Citing "threats to the rule of law," Nadler described the investigation as an "obligation” of Congress, in order to "provide a check on [alleged] abuses of power" from the Executive branch. In a 75-page report dated Feb. 11, the Judiciary Committee's House Democratic majority outlines their concerns over "the absence of responsible oversight by the [previous] Republican Majority" for over the past two years. The report includes summaries of hundreds of documents, ranging from letters to lawsuits and aimed at House Democrats' efforts to provide oversight under the Republican Majority. (Jurist)

  67. Manafort gets 47 months in the slammer

    Paul Manafort was sentenced to nearly four years in prison in the financial fraud case by the US District Court in Alexandria, Va. It was far less than 24 years prosecutors had sought, but he still faces two conspiracy counts in the District Court for the District of Columbia. Both cases were brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. (NYT)

  68. Michael Cohen files suit against Trump Organization

    Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, filed suit in the New York Supreme Court against the Trump Organization March 7. Cohen alleges that the Trump Organization failed to meet its obligations under the indemnification clause of their contractual agreement and should have to pay for the legal fees in connection with the work he performed for the Organization. By failing to indemnify Cohen the Trump Organization allegedly "breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealings." (Jurist)

  69. Manafort gets 47 months in the slammer

    Paul Manafort was sentenced to nearly four years in prison in the financial fraud case by the US District Court in Alexandria, Va. It was far less than 24 years prosecutors had sought, but he still faces two conspiracy counts in the District Court for the District of Columbia. Both cases were brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. (NYT)

  70. Michael Cohen files suit against Trump Organization

    Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, filed suit in the New York Supreme Court against the Trump Organization March 7. Cohen alleges that the Trump Organization failed to meet its obligations under the indemnification clause of their contractual agreement and should have to pay for the legal fees in connection with the work he performed for the Organization. By failing to indemnify Cohen the Trump Organization allegedly "breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealings." (Jurist)

  71. Manafort gets more prison time; new charges filed in New York

    Former Trump aide Paul Manafort was ordered March 13 to serve an additional three and a half years on federal conspiracy charges by US Judge Amy Berman Jackson in the District of Columbia. His total sentence between the two federal cases is now seven and a half years in prison.

    Unlike last week, Manafort did read a statement of apology and told the judge she would “not regret” showing compassion in her sentencing. Trump told reporters that he feels "very badly" for Manafort, but that he has not considered pardoning him.

    Within an hour of being sentenced, Manafort was indicted on additional charges in the state of New York for residential fraud, conspiracy and falsifying business records. Unlike federal charges, Trump would not be able to pardon New York state charges. (Jurist)

  72. Mueller report recommends no additional indictments

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his report to Attorney General William Barr on March 22, bringing his investigation to a close and finding that Trump collusion with Russia to influence the 2016 election could not be proven.

    On the same day, Barr sent a letter to both the House and Senate Committees on the Judiciary, informing them of the Special Counsel’s¬†progress. Barr then released information from Mueller’s¬†report on March 24.

    Barr’s description of the investigation notes that it was extensive, with the Special Counsel issuing “more than 2,800 subpoenas, execut[ing] nearly 500 search warrants, obtain[ing] more than 230 orders for communication records…and interview[ing] approximately 500 witnesses.”¬†Although the investigation led to the indictment and conviction of Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen, the report does not recommend additional indictments.

    Mueller’s¬†team examined whether any American associated with the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. On this point, “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

    The investigation did reveal two methods by which Russia influenced the election. The first was the dissemination of disinformation and discord through social media, a tactic of the Russia-based “Internet Research Agency.”¬†The second was the Russian government’s use of computer hacking to influence the election. This included email hacks of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party, and involved collaboration with entities such as Wikileaks. Mueller brought criminal charges against various Russian nationals and military officers related to these efforts.

    Regarding the investigation into allegations of Donald Trump’s¬†obstruction of justice, Mueller chose not to draw a conclusion. Evidence related to this discussion has not been released, and the report “does not exonerate [Trump].”

    As a result, the evaluation was left to Attorney General William Barr, who has concluded that “the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s¬†investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”¬†Barr specifically cites a lack of evidence related to corrupt intent.

    Barr is expected to be called by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler to testify about this deviation from Mueller’s¬†report about the obstruction of justice charge. (Jurist)

  73. The Mueller Report and ‘leftist’ (sic) hypocrisy

    So funny that Trump-Putin sycophants (of the “left” as well as right!) seized upon the Mueller Report unread because of its supposed “no collusion” finding‚ÄĒdespite the fact that it confirmed much that they have spent years denying. This includes that Russia did in fact plot to subvert the 2016 elections, that Wikileaks knowingly cooperated in the Kremlin design, and that Moscow’s military-intelligence agency the GRU was the source of the DNC hack. Now, a heavily redacted version of the report has been released.

    And these same fool-ass sycophants, who made so much of “transparency” when justifying the Wikileaks hacks, are mysteriously silent when it comes to the demand that the full unredacted report be released. Actually, it isn’t mysterious at all. Their preference for a fascist (Trump) over a liberal (Clinton) is clear. From their hero Assange in a 2016 private twitter chat that was, um, leaked (oh the irony): “We believe it would be much better for GOP to win.”

    The following excerpts from the report appear on the front page of today’s New York Times. I offer them here interspersed with my commentary:

    The president’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president¬†declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests. (Vol. II, p. 158)

    OK, two points. First, this is what Trump means when he whines about the “Deep State”‚ÄĒthose elements of the bureaucracy that are not yet totally corrupted and will not go along with his efforts to establish a dictatorship. So, if you use that term, you are a Trump-enabling fool. But more importantly… the report is telling us flat-out that Trump attempted to obstruct justice. So the “no obstruction of justice” thesis that Attorney General Barr is trying to sell us on really means no successful obstruction of justice.

    The investigation established multiple links between Trump campaign officials and individuals tied to the Russian government. The links included Russian offers of assistance to the campaign… Ultmately, the investigation did not establish that the campaign coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference activities. (Vol. I, p. 173)

    OK, I support keeping a high bar for the innocent-until-proven-guilty principle. That said, the “no collusion” conclusion seems to be based on a very narrow interpretation. Meetings and discussions took place. As I asked on my podcast‚ÄĒat what point does it become collusion? A question all the more relevant in light of this next quote:

    The investigation established that several individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign lied to the office [of the Special Counsel], and to Congress, about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals and related matters. These lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference. (Vol. I, p. 9)

    So, uh… Yeah, I’d say the “no obstruction” conclusion is also slicing it pretty damn thin. Or did Barr just mean that Trump was not personally guilty of it? In the same sense that Al Capone never killed anyone. Trying to pull a fast one, are we Attorney General?

    The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law. (Vol II, p. 8)

    In other words, the possibilities for impeachment have not (repeat: not) been exhausted by this report.My conclusion: Our two urgent demands now should be: 1.) Release of the full unredacted version of the report; and 2.) that impeachment proceedings be launched.

    Anyone who is not raising these demands, but rallying around the dubious “no collusion” conclusion as vindication, is objectively and perhaps consciously on the side of Trump.
  74. Mueller issues statement on investigation and closes office

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued a statement May 29 at the Department of Justice reviewing the findings of his investigation and closing down his office.

    Mueller began by reviewing the order creating his office and the grand jury indictments that allowed him to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mueller also highlighted his investigation into possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump, which arose out of actions the president undertook while the investigation was ongoing. Mueller reiterated statements from the Mueller Report that “if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.”

    He also once again stated that his office did not make a determination about whether the president had committed a crime due to longstanding Department of Justice policy asserting that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Mueller said that the same policy preventing him from indicting the president suggests an alternative constitutional remedy for holding a president accountable. The alternative remedy is heavily implied to be impeachment and the purview of Congress. Mueller ended his statement by saying that any testimony he gave to Congress would not go beyond what was already in the report as the document should speak for itself.

    Mueller thanked the various attorneys and staff who worked on the investigation and announced that he was closing the Special Counsel’s Office and resigning from the Department of Justice to return to private life.

    A number of responses have been released regarding the Special Counsel‚Äôs statement. Trump is holding firmly on the line of “No Obstruction, No Collusion”¬†with a statement released by press secretary Sarah Sanders. Several members of the House are calling for impeachment inquiries to begin, including Justin Amash (R-MI), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Several Democrats in the Senate have called for impeachment as well, including Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), each of whom is running for president in the 2020 election. House Judiciary chair Jerry Nadler held a press conference announcing intentions to hold the president accountable, stating that all options are on the table but refusing to commit to impeachment at this time. (Jurist)

  75. Final question on Mueller Report
    Did anyone happen to notice this? From NBC News, April 18:

    His report is done, but Robert Mueller’s work will live on for a while longer.

    Over the course of its sprawling 22-month investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the special counsel’s team referred 14 criminal cases to other offices, Mueller’s 448-page report revealed.

    Only two of those referrals ‚ÄĒ one involving former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, the other former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig ‚ÄĒ are public at this point.

    “Exoneration,” eh?

  76. Roger Stone barred from social media

    Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson, of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, modified Roger Stone's gag order to be an outright ban on his use of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The original order prevented Stone from discussing his case publicly

    Stone, who faces charges of obstruction of a proceeding, witness tampering, and making false statements to the US House of Representatives Committee on Intelligence in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, previously violated the original gag order back in February when he posted a photo of Jackson with crosshairs near her head. At that time, Jackson banned Stone from discussing the case publicly.

    Since then, Stone has re-posted many social media posts that discussed his case. In response, Jackson decided to modify and clarify the gag order. (Jurist)

  77. Not about the Russians, but…
    A New York judge has ruled that President Trump must pay $2 million in damages to settle claims that the Trump Foundation misused funds. The case is tied to a televised fundraiser for veterans held by Trump in Iowa when he was running for president in January 2016. Trump had said the funds raised would be distributed to charities. But according to court documents, the Trump Foundation improperly used $2.82 million it received from that fundraiser‚ÄĒdiverting it into Trump’s presidential campaign.

    According to the judgment, that money “was used for Mr. Trump’s political campaign and disbursed by Mr. Trump’s campaign staff, rather than by the Foundation,” which is unlawful. However, Justice Saliann Scarpulla says the funds did eventually reach charity organizations supporting veterans.

    Justice Saliann Scarpulla ordered Trump to pay the $2 million after the president and his children, Eric, Ivanka and Donald Jr., had reached settlement terms with the New York Attorney General to dissolve the foundation, disburse its remaining assets to various charities and allow Scarpulla to set the damages.

    The $2 million in¬†damages was announced just after Trump formally, and with great fanfare, changed his place of residence from New York to Florida. After the damages were announced, he¬†tweeted, “I am the only person I know, perhaps the only person in history, who can give major money to charity ($19M), charge no expense, and be attacked by the political hacks in New York State. No wonder we are all leaving!” (NPR, Jurist)

  78. Bannon: Stone was Trump-Wikileaks liaison
    Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former White House adviser and campaign chief executive, testified in court Nov. 8 that the campaign saw Roger Stone as intermediary with WikiLeaks. “I think it was generally believed that the access point or potential access point to WikiLeaks was Roger Stone,”¬†Bannon testified at Stone’s criminal trial. “I was led to believe he had a relationship with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange,”¬†he added. (The Hill)

  79. Roger Stone guilty
    From The Hill, Nov. 15:

    Roger Stone…was convicted on Friday of lying to Congress and witness tampering related to his efforts to feed the Trump campaign inside information about WikiLeaks in 2016. Jurors convicted Stone on all seven counts of obstruction, making false statements and witness tampering…

    The verdict marks another high-profile victory for former special counsel Robert Mueller, whose legal team alleged that Stone had tried to conceal from Congress his contacts with the Trump campaign and people he believed were feeding him inside information about WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign…

    Stone was also convicted of lying to Congress about the identity of his go-between with WikiLeaks. He told lawmakers that it was Randy Credico, a comedian and radio host who’s interviewed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but the prosecutors alleged that was a lie in order to protect the InfoWars-affiliated conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi.

    Evidence presented by prosecutors shows that Stone repeatedly pressured Credico not to cooperate with the House committee’s investigation. Credico ultimately decided to assert his Fifth Amendment rights after the panel issued him a subpoena.

    Credico said on the stand that Stone’s influence played a role in that decision. The jury saw emails and text messages between the two showing Stone hurling invective at Credico, who was urging his friend to correct his testimony.

    “You are a rat,”¬†Stone wrote to him in April 2018. “A stoolie. You backstab your friends-run your mouth my lawyers are dying Rip you to shreds.”

    “I am so ready,”¬†Stone added. “Let‚Äôs get it on. Prepare to die, c–ksucker.”

  80. Manafort tries to pull a fast one
    The Village Sun features a profile on Paul Manafort, in which he whines that he’s a victim of “double jeopardy” because of the New York State charges against him. This s empty jive.¬†It isn’t double jeopardy because the federal government and New York State are “separate sovereigns.” Well-established legal doctrine in this country. There is ZERO controversy here.

  81. Ex-Trump campaign advisor Rick Gates sentenced to 45 days

    Rick Gates III, the former deputy campaign manager for the Trump 2016 presidential campaign, was sentenced to 45 days in jail and three years probation for lying to the FBI as part of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Gates will also be required to serve 300 hours of community service and pay a $20,000 fine. (Jurist, Dec. 18)

  82. NYS charges against Manafort dismissed
    The Daily News reports that the New York State case against Manafort was indeed dismissed on double jeopardy grounds, although Manhattan DA Cy Vance says he will appeal. Although the account does not make clear, we¬†assume what is at issue here is¬†a state law barring prosecutors from bringing cases on the same basis as cases already filed by the feds. Gov. Cuomo just signed a bill overturning this law¬†(explicitly invoking the imperative to prosecute “individuals who are pardoned by a President”)‚ÄĒbut the repeal was enacted after the charges against Manafort had been brought, and it isn’t retroactive.

    How perverse that this creep got off, when (as the ACLU laments) there are many thousands in this country who have faced charges by both state and feds for the same (largely victimless) drug offenses. What a travesty of justice.

  83. Russian state TV: Trump is our ‘agent’

    From Daily Beast, Dec. 17:

    As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov returned home from his visit with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office last week, Russian state media were gloating over the spectacle. TV channel Rossiya 1 aired a segment entitled¬†“Puppet Master and ‘Agent’¬†‚ÄĒHow to Understand Lavrov’s Meeting With Trump.”

  84. Court dismisses emoluments challenge

    The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed an emoluments suit filed against President Donald Trump by Democratic lawmakers for lack of standing. (Jurist)

  85. Roger Stone sentenced to 40 months in prison

    Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Feb.  20 sentenced Roger Stone to 40 months in prison. Stone was convicted last year of witness tampering and giving false statements to Congress in relation to investigations of Russian election interference. The circumstances surrounding Stone’s sentencing have become politically eruptive, with Trump tweeting in support of Stone and prosecutors resigning in protest last week after Department of Justice higher-ups intervened to request a lighter sentence.

    Jackson had harsh words for Stone when she issued his sentence, noting the political fervor surrounding the case. She asserted that the president‚Äôs comments were “entirely inappropriate”¬†and¬†said¬†that Stone “was not prosecuted, as some have claimed, for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.”¬†

    “The dismay and disgust at the defendant’s belligerence,”¬†Jackson¬†added, “should transcend party.”

    Speaking¬†at a commencement event in Las Vegas, Trump dismissed speculation, for the time being, that he might pardon Stone, saying “I want to see it play out to its fullest, because Roger has a very good chance at exoneration.”¬†Jackson has yet to rule on Stone‚Äôs recent motion for a new trial, which the defendant filed last week asserting that one of the jurors had engaged in misconduct. (Jurist)

    More than 2,000 former US Department of Justice employees¬†signed¬†a letter on Feb. 16 calling for Attorney General William Barr’s resignation, condemning interference in the sentencing of Stone.¬†The four¬†resigned¬†last week following the dispute with Barr over these recommendations.

    “Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies,”¬†the letter states.¬†

    Barr said in an¬†ABC interview¬†on Feb. 13 he would not be “bullied or influenced by anybody,”¬†including the president, stating that Trump’s tweets make it difficult to do his job. “I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me,”¬†he said. (Jurist)

    Former California Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher meanwhile confirmed in a new interview that during a three-hour meeting at the Ecuadoran embassy in London August 2017, he told Julian Assange he would get Trump to give him a pardon if he denied that Russia had been the source of internal Democratic National Committee emails published by WikiLeaks. (Yahoo, The Guardian)

  86. DoJ moves to drop charges against Russian firms

    The US Department of Justice (DoJ) filed a motion March 16 to drop all charges against two Russian shell corporations accused of interfering with the 2016 presidential election.

    The motion states, “the government has concluded that further proceedings promote…neither the interests of justice nor the nation‚Äôs security.”¬†The DoJ explained that, “sometimes in a criminal case, the government should ‘drop the charges if it fears that litigation presents unacceptable security risks.'”¬†In this case, the DoJ fears that a trial could expose how the DoJ protects against foreign election interference.

    The firms, Concord Management and Concord Consulting, were implicated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller III in his 2018 investigation and were accused of attempting to exploit the judicial system to gain access to information that could threaten national security. The two firms were joined by 13 Russians and a “troll farm”‚ÄĒan organization dedicated to spreading misinformation and affecting public opinion through provocative comments‚ÄĒdubbed the “Internet Research Agency.”

    A grand jury indicted the Russian shells in February 2018. The firms were accused of acting under the Russian government to influence voter turnout during the 2016 presidential election.

    The government is continuing its pursuit against others cited in the indictment. (Jurist)

  87. Judge denies Roger Stone’s request for new trial

    A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia on April 16¬†denied¬†Roger Stone’s motion for a new trial due to the alleged misconduct and bias by jury foreperson Tomeka Hart.¬†The motion was prompted by the public’s discovery of the foreperson’s identity and her old social media posts in which she expressed strong opinions on Trump.¬†

    Stone contended in the motion that he is entitled to a new trial because this “newly discovered”¬†information indicates that Hart lied about being biased against Trump and, by extension, against Stone during the jury selection process. He also claimed that Hart had engaged in juror misconduct by reading and discussing news about the president and politics on social media during the trial and that she had lied during the jury selection process.

    However, Judge Amy Berman Jackson denied Stone’s request for a new trial, calling the motion “a tower of indignation [with] little of substance holding it up.”

    She ruled that there was no juror misconduct since the court did not prohibit the jurors from consuming and discussing the news in general and only prohibited jurors from reading news and publicity about the case. She also ruled that Stone’s contention that Hart could not have considered the evidence brought against him fairly because of her views about Trump was unfounded since none of Hart’s social media posts revealed that she had an opinion about Stone himself. (Jurist)

  88. DoJ to SCOTUS: block release of Mueller grand jury documents

    The US Department of Justice¬†requested¬†on May 7 that the Supreme Court block the release of grand jury documents associated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    In its application for a stay, the DoJ said that release of the documents “would irrevocably lift their secrecy and possibly frustrate the government‚Äôs ability to seek further review.”

    With the government required to release the documents on May 11, the Supreme Court is expected to provide its response quickly. (Jurist)

    The request for a stay came on the same day that the DoJ dropped charges against former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn.

  89. Manafort released from prison amid COVID-19 concerns

    Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was released from a federal prison in Pennsylvania due to the COVID-19 pandemic following a request by his attorney Kevin Downing. Manafort was convicted of five charges of tax fraud, two of bank fraud, and one of failure to disclose a foreign bank account in 2018. He was sentenced to seven and a half years and had been in prison since August of 2018. (Jurist)

  90. Michael Cohen released from prison over COVID-19 concerns

    Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney, was¬†released¬†from federal prison into home confinement on Thursday as the Justice Department seeks to halt the spread of COVID-19 among inmates.¬†

    Cohen¬†sought¬†release in March due to coronavirus concerns and was denied. Judge Pauley of the Southern District of New York¬†stated¬†that the attempt appeared to be “just another effort to inject himself into the news cycle.”

    Attorney General Barr set forth the criteria for release due to COVID-19 concerns in a March memo, offering a non-exhaustive list of factors to consider.

    The CARES Act subsequently granted Barr the authority to declare an emergency and release prisoners without judicial approval. In an April 3 memo, Barr instructed the Bureau of Prisons to maximize transfers to home confinement from COVID-19 hotspots. The Associated Press reported that Otisville Federal Correctional Facility, where Cohen was held, is not one of those hotspots.

    After his release Thursday, Cohen tweeted out his thanks. Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for lying to Congress about Trump’s dealings in Russia. (Jurist)

  91. FBI general counsel resigns under pressure

    FBI general counsel Dana Boente is resigning amid pressure from the Trump administration to remove him for his role in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He is to step down on June 30.

    Boente has served for 38 years in many positions in the Department of Justice (DoJ). Boente briefly served as the acting attorney general in 2017 and was appointed as FBI general counsel in 2018.

    In Boente replaced the previous attorney general Sally Yates who was fired by President Trump after telling DoJ lawyers to not defend the president’s executive order restricting entry of immigrants and refugees. He has faced criticism for signing¬†one of the reauthorizations to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page. An inspector general report last year investigated those reauthorization applications and found many irregularities. However, they did not find any intentional wrongdoing by Boente.

    The story was initially broken by an¬†NBC News¬†article on May 30, which alleged that the decision to dismiss Boente “came from high levels of the Justice Department rather than directly from FBI Director Christopher Wray.”¬†The report tied this request to recent criticism from Fox News of Boente’s role in the investigation of Michael Flynn,¬†and allegations that he had withheld exculpatory evidence. (Jurist)

  92. DoJ officials testify on politicization under Barr

    Two US Department of Justice officials delivered indicting congressional testimony June 24, accusing political appointees of intervening in criminal and antitrust cases to serve the personal interests of President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr.

    Assistant US Attorney Aaron Zelinsky, who previously served as a prosecutor on the Russia investigation,¬†testified¬†to the House Judiciary Committee that senior government officials had interfered in the prosecution of Trump‚Äôs personal friend Roger Stone “because of politics.”¬†Zelinsky also stated, “In the United States of America, we do not prosecute people based on politics, and we don‚Äôt cut them a break based on politics.”¬†But in the prosecution of Stone, “that wasn’t what happened here. Roger Stone was treated differently because of politics.” (Jurist)

    The testimony comes just as an appeals court has ordered the dropping of charges against Michael Flynn.

  93. Judge to Stone: go to jail

    A federal judge ordered longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone to prison on July 14 and under home confinement until then, citing Stone’s own evidence of medical issues that he used to request a delay of his June 30 surrender date to begin a 40-month term. Judge Amy Berman Jackson denied Stone’s request to delay the start of his sentence until Sept. 3, instead giving Stone just over two weeks to report to FCI-Jesup. (Politico)

  94. Trump commutes Roger Stone’s sentence

    President Donald Trump on July 10 commuted the prison sentence of his longtime friend Roger Stone, who was convicted of crimes that included lying to Congress‚ÄĒin part, prosecutors said, to protect Trump. The announcement came just days before Stone was set to report to a federal prison in Georgia. (CNN)

  95. Senate Intelligence Committee issues new report on 2016 election

    The Senate Intelligence Committee has released the most comprehensive examination to date detailing how Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, revealing new information about contacts between Moscow officials and associates of Donald Trump during and after the campaign.

    Among the key findings:

    That then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort was working with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian intelligence officer, and sought to share internal campaign information with him. The committee says it obtained “some information suggesting Kilimnik may have been connected”¬†to Russia’s 2016 hacking operation and concludes Manafort’s role on the campaign “represented a grave counterintelligence threat.”

    That Trump and senior campaign officials sought to obtain advance information on WikiLeaks’ email dumps through Roger Stone, and that Trump spoke to Stone about WikiLeaks, despite telling the special counsel in written answers he had “no recollections”¬†that they had spoken about it.

    That information offered at the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting “was part of a broader influence operation”¬†from the Russian government, though no evidence is offered that Trump campaign members knew of it. Two of the Russians who met with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Manafort had “significant connections”¬†to the Russian government, including the¬†intelligence services, and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya’s ties were “far more extensive and concerning than what had been publicly known.”

    That Russian-government actors continued through at least January 2020 to spread disinformation about Moscow’s election interference, and that Manafort and Kilimnik both sought to promote the narrative that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election.

    That Russia took advantage of the Trump transition team’s inexperience and opposition to Obama administration policies “to pursue unofficial channels.”¬†

    That the FBI may have been victim to Russian disinformation coming through intelligence sources such as the Trump dossier author Christopher Steele.

    And that campaigns, political leaders and other influential Americans must be even more diligent in the future not to fall victim to Russian interference, given the extent of Russia’s efforts and successes to reach campaign operatives in 2016.

    The report is all the more remarkable because it was prepared by then-Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia. The report provides an exhaustive, bipartisan confirmation of the contacts between Russians and Trump associates in 2016‚ÄĒand¬†was prepared by the only congressional committee that managed to avoid the partisan infighting that plagued the other congressional investigations into Russian election meddling. (CNN)

  96. More Trump sleazy Russia connections revealed

    The¬†Lawfare¬†blog provides a detailed breakdown of the Senate Intelligence Committee findings. The summary notes that the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting “was precipitated by Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov and his son, Emin Agalarov, whom Trump knew from business dealings in Russia beginning in 2013. Before the report delves into the events of the Trump Tower meeting, it first provides a great deal of detail on the Agalarovs themselves and the nature of Trump’s past dealings with them. While the report‚Äôs account of the meeting itself is consistent with Mueller’s, this information adds important texture to the interaction.”

    The report itself states that the Agalarovs, who, it writes, “have significant ties to Russian organized crime and have been closely affiliated with individuals involved in murder, prostitution, weapons trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, narcotics trafficking, money laundering and other significant criminal enterprises. Some of those activities have extended outside of Russia, including to the United States.”

  97. Roger Stone calls for ‘martial law’

    Long-time Donald Trump confidant¬†and convicted felon¬†Roger Stone said that the president should declare “martial law”¬†to seize power if he loses what Stone characterized as an already corrupt election. The results will only be legitimate if the “real winner”‚ÄĒmeaning Trump‚ÄĒtakes office, regardless of what the votes say, Stone declared in a Sept. 10 interview¬†on the InfoWars program of far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Both men talked of an ongoing “coup”¬†against Trump. (HuffPo,¬†Media Matters)

  98. Intel chief releases Russian disinfo on Hillary Clinton

    Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Sept. 29 declassified a Russian intelligence assessment that was previously rejected by Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee as having no factual basis, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

    The extraordinary disclosure, released to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), rankled Democrats, who said the move effectively put Russian disinformation into the public sphere in order to boost President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims about the government’s efforts to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election

    In an accompanying letter to Graham, Ratcliffe said a Russian intelligence analysis alleged that Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, approved a plan to create “a scandal”¬†by tying Trump to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian hacking of Democratic National Committee computers. (Politico,¬†Reuters)

  99. Russian military officers charged for worldwide cyberattacks

    The US Department of Justice indicted six military officers from the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) on Oct. 19.

    The charges against the officers include using malware to cause blackouts in Ukraine in 2015 and 2016; $1 billion in losses to three corporations in 2017; disrupting computers supporting the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics; hack-and-leak efforts against French President Emmanuel Macron’s party prior to the 2017 elections; and targeting Georgian companies and government entities in 2018. The officers are also accused of damaging computer networks in France, Georgia, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Ukraine, the UK and the US. It is likely the six officers will only see the inside of a US courtroom if they are caught in a country with an extradition treaty with the US.

    Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers¬†accused¬†Russia of weaponizing its cyber capabilities maliciously and irresponsibly, and ‚Äúwantonly causing unprecedented collateral damage to pursue small tactical advantages and to satisfy fits of spite.‚ÄĚ In support of his allegations, Demers pointed out that the attacks on the Ukrainian power grid took place during winter. (Jurist)

  100. CrowdStrike ‘bombshell’: *yawn*

    All the paradoxical pseudo-left Trump/Putin fans are jumping all over this. Their hero Aaron Mat√©¬†writes: “CrowdStrike President Shawn Henry’s admission under oath, in a recently declassified December 2017 interview before the House Intelligence Committee, raises new questions about whether Special Counsel Robert Mueller, intelligence officials and Democrats misled the public.” Oh, bosh. We learn precisely nothing new from this text.¬†

    Despite the misleading headlines (“Bombshell Report,”¬†“CrowdStrike President Under Oath: No Proof of Russia DNC Hack,” “Stop Saying Donald Trump Colluded With Russia“) the newly released text doesn’t even mention Russia. It consists of¬†such prosaic statements as: “There’s not evidence that they [the DNC e-mails] were actually exfiltrated. There’s circumstantial evidence‚ÄĒbut no evidence that they were actually exfiltrated.” This same idea is recycled in various verbatim formations throughout the released text. It is entirely consistent wth what was¬†originally reported¬†back in 2017, which we reiterate here:

    CrowdStrike, the firm hired by the DNC to investigate the first hack, has apparently uncovered forensic traces indicating that the party behind it was the same as that which engaged in cybernetic sabotage against the power grid in Ukraine last December, plunging much of the country into darkness.

    The word “indicating” is just as much an admission of a certain degree of ambiguity as “circumstantial evidence.” If there had been hard “proof,” no investigation would have been necessary. Nor, contrary to the disngenuous headlines, was the CrowdStrike finding the linchpin of the¬†Mueller investigation. It was one piece of evidence, among many documented in this thread, pointing to Trump-Putin collusion.

    We still want to know why so many people who are not (at least) outright MAGA-heads have so much invested in denying the obvious.

  101. Trump pardons two Russia inquiry figures

    From the New York Times, Dec. 22:

    In an audacious pre-Christmas round of pardons, President Trump granted clemency on Tuesday to two people convicted in the special counsel‚Äôs Russia inquiry, four Blackwater guards convicted in connection with the killing of Iraqi civilians and three corrupt former Republican members of Congress…

    Among those pardoned was George Papadopoulos, who was a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign and who pleaded guilty in 2017 to making false statements to federal officials as part of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
    Also pardoned was Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who pleaded guilty to the same charge in 2018 in connection to the special counsel‚Äôs inquiry. Both men served short prison sentences…

    Trump’s pardon list also included four former U.S. service members who were convicted on charges related to the killing of Iraqi civilians while working as contractors in 2007.

    One of them, Nicholas Slatten, had been sentenced to life in prison after the Justice Department had gone to great lengths to prosecute him. Mr. Slatten had been a contractor for the private company Blackwater and was sentenced for his role in the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square in Baghdad ‚ÄĒ a massacre that left one of the most lasting stains of the war on the United States. Among those dead were 10 men, two women and two boys, who were 8 and 11…

    The three former members of Congress pardoned by Mr. Trump were Duncan D. Hunter of California, Chris Collins of New York and Steve Stockman of Texas.

    Mr. Hunter was set to begin serving an 11-month sentence next month. He pleaded guilty in 2019 to one charge of misusing campaign funds.

    Mr. Collins, an early endorser of Mr. Trump, is serving a 26-month sentence after pleading guilty in 2019 to charges of making false statements to the F.B.I. and to conspiring to commit securities fraud.

    Mr. Stockman was convicted in 2018 on charges of fraud and money laundering and was serving a 10-year sentence.

    The president also granted full pardons to two former Border Patrol agents whose sentences for their roles in the shooting of an alleged drug trafficker had previously been commuted by President George W. Bush.

    So are all of the pseudo-left “Russiagate” skeptics going to feign outrage at the pardon of¬†Slatten, while cheering those of¬†Papadopoulos¬†and¬†van der Zwaan?

  102. Trump pardons Roger Stone, Paul Manafort

    Trump has issued several more pardons, including to former campaign chair¬†Paul Manafort, Republican operative Roger Stone, and Charles Kushner, father-in-law of Ivanka Trump. Real estate magnate¬†Charles Kushner served time in prison for tax evasion and retaliating against a federal witness‚ÄĒhis own brother-in-law. (NPR) Prosecutors charged that Kushner paid $25,000 to arrange for a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, and then had the videotape of the motel tryst sent to his sister. (

  103. Kremlin papers appear to show 2016 Putin plot to elect Trump

    Documents purporting to record a top-level Kremlin meeting show that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved an operation to help Donald Trump win the presidency in 2016, The Guardian reported.

    The documents are said to be from a Kremlin meeting on Jan. 22, 2016, a time when Trump was defeating challengers and whipping up outrage on his path to be named Republican Party presidential candidate.

    The Guardian said it took steps to verify the documents. Experts told the outlet they appeared genuine, and the contents appear to correlate with other verifiable events.

    Per the documents, Putin and top military and security officials were at the meeting. Public accounts describe the meeting as concerning events in Moldova, but the Guardian says its real subject was the US.

    According to the documents, Putin approved an audacious plan by top officials to use “all possible force” to tip the balance of the election towards a Trump victory.

    The documents contain a psychological profile of Trump, describing him as “impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex.”

    According to the papers, Russian officials believed that a Trump victory would cause internal turmoil in the US and weaken the US on the world stage.

    It outlines US vulnerabilities including “deepening political gulf between left and right”, as well as growing anti-establishment feeling under the Obama administration.

    “It is acutely necessary to use all possible force to facilitate his [Trump’s] election to the post of US president,” the paper says. (Business Insider)

  104. NYC Assange lovefest draws usual suspects

    The Village Sun reports that Theatre 80, the same East Village venue we had to protest for hosting professional Jew-hater Gilad Atzmon in 2017, just hosted a beneft for Julian Assange’s legal defense, starring all the usual suspects:¬†Randy Credico,¬†Roger Waters, Lee Camp. Sadly,¬†Cornel West was also roped in. Another star in attendance was¬†Margaret Ratner Kunstler, co-editor of¬†In Defense of Julian Assange. Interestingly,¬†Kunstler was named in the 2019 federal¬†indictment of Roger Stone as a possible conduit between the Trump operative and Assange…

  105. Trump sues Hillary Clinton, others over Russian collusion claims

    Donald Trump on March 24 brought¬†suit against Hilary R. Clinton, the Democratic National Committee, and others for conspiring “to vilify Donald J. Trump”¬†through nefarious “political stratagems,”¬†claiming damages in excess of $24,000,000.

    Trump filed suit in the US District Court Southern District of Florida. Trump‚Äôs complaint accuses Clinton and other defendants of attempting to undermine Trump’s presidential candidacy in the 2016 Presidential Election, spurring “an unfounded federal investigation,”¬†and igniting “a media frenzy.” (Putin)

  106. Durham report criticizes FBI probe of Trump-Russia ties

    Special counsel John Durham’s report on the FBI¬†investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign was released to the public May 15. Durham was appointed by former Attorney General William Barr to look into what many on the right portrayed as a politically motivated witch-hunt. The report indeed found: “Senior FBI personnel displayed a serious lack of analytical rigor towards the information that they received.” But it offered no significant new evidence to support those claims. (PBS)

  107. Political division over Durham report

    The Department of Justice this week released a report by US Special Counsel John Durham asserting that the FBI’s 2016 investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged Russia collusion, code-named “Crossfire Hurricane,” was initiated improperly and on the basis of inadequate intelligence.¬†

    Durham’s report is the culmination of a four-year inquiry into the legality of Crossfire Hurricane. He concluded that the FBI didn’t adhere to the law, violating its mission statement. Central to this was former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith’s confessed role in having falsified an e-mail that played a crucial role in securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) order. Established in 1978, FISA provides the legal framework for the US government’s physical and electronic surveillance of “foreign intelligence information”¬†between foreign powers and intelligence agents.

    The report went on to examine the FBI’s handling of the FISA application process, emphasizing a “cavalier attitude towards accuracy and completeness.”¬†It reproached the continuation of FISA surveillance in the absence of probable cause and disregard for significant exculpatory information. It also found that senior FBI personnel failed to exhibit rigorous analysis of information received, leading to the necessity of Special Counsel Robert Mueller‚Äôs subsequent inquiry into Russian meddling.

    The Durham report has proven politically divisive since its release. Charlie Savage wrote in the New York Times that it was a “dysfunctional investigation led by a Trump-era special counsel.”¬†Daniel Frum wrote in The Atlantic: “[D]on’t dismiss its significance because of its intellectual defects. The Durham report is already proving to be a huge success as a prop and support for the bitterest partisan rancor. And its fullest import may yet lie ahead: as a rationalization for abuses of power by Trump-legacy administrations of the future.”

    The Wall Street Journal¬†editorial board, on the other hand, wrote: “The Russia collusion fabrication and deceptive sale to the public is a travesty that shouldn’t be forgotten. That Washington’s establishment refuses to acknowledge its role in this deceit is one reason so many Americans don’t trust public institutions. It will take years for honest public servants to undo the damage, but the Durham accounting is a start.” (Jurist)

  108. Alabama senator calls for dictatorship

    Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville May 15 responded to the Durham report in comments¬†to Newsmax: “If people don‚Äôt go to jail for this, the American people should just stand up and say, ‚ÄėListen, enough‚Äôs enough, let’s don‚Äôt have elections anymore. I wish there was a special investigation into the voter fraud…but nobody wanted to look into it because they were afraid they were going to be called out.”¬†(