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...

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.

...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?

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

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...

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

Uh-huh.

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)

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."

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)

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.

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."

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

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.

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. (Souciant.com)

'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.

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)

'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"?

'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?

The Nation eats a little crow...

WaPo reports that The Nation has now issued an "edtor's note" concerning an Aug. 9 article, "A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year's DNC Hack" by Patrick Lawrence, acknowledging sloppy journalistic and editorial work. The "report" was issued by the right-wing conspiranoids at Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

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)

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."

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.

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.

Jill Stein does Fox

So Jill Stein appears on Fox News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight" to complain about being probed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mediaite notes. Is anyone surprised?

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. 

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.

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)

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

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.

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)

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)

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)

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)

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*

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.

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)

Ruling party exonerates itself —surprise!

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)

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 unfari.

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)

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)

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)

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)

Russian link in Stormy Daniels flap —of 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)

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)

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)

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.

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)

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)

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)

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."

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)

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)

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)

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."

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)

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...

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.

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)

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.

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)

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)

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.

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)

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)

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)

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...

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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.

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)