Russia

More Trump Aides Caught Up In Russia Probe

Bloomberg: “Four months as a communications adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign have turned Michael Caputo’s life upside down. Since congressional investigators decided they wanted to interview Caputo as part of an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, he’s drained his children’s college fund to pay more than $30,000 in legal fees, he said. He bought guns for his home and office after receiving death threats. He worries about the stress on his wife and daughters.”

“Outside the spotlight, a large cast of peripheral characters are finding themselves drawn into the probe, incurring legal fees that can run up to $1,000 an hour and infecting the West Wing and Trump’s orbit with a deep paranoia.”

Key Trump Adviser Will Testify to Senate

“Michael Cohen, one of President Trump’s closest business advisers, said on Sunday he would testify on Tuesday to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, as the panel investigates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election,” Reuters reports.

CNN: “Cohen is not expected to be under oath during the appearance, but all witnesses appearing before congressional committees are required to tell the truth or potentially face criminal charges.”

Facebook Discloses Details of Russia Ads to Mueller

“Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team are now in possession of Russian-linked ads run on Facebook during the presidential election, after they obtained a search warrant for the information,” CNN reports.

“Facebook gave Mueller and his team copies of ads and related information it discovered on its site linked to a Russian troll farm, as well as detailed information about the accounts that bought the ads and the way the ads were targeted at American Facebook users.”

“The disclosure, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, may give Mueller’s office a fuller picture of who was behind the ad buys and how the ads may have influenced voter sentiment during the 2016 election.”

Russia Removes Parking Spaces for U.S. Diplomats

“Russia has withdrawn parking privileges for U.S. diplomats, an apparent continuation of a diplomatic tit-for-tat between Washington and Moscow,” the AP reports.

“State-owned television channel Rossiya 24 reported on Wednesday that parking spaces outside the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg had been painted over with a pedestrian crossing, and special parking signs had been removed outside the U.S. consulate in Yekaterinburg, near the Ural Mountains.”

Clinton Says McConnell Suppressed Russian Hacking

New Yorker: “When the C.I.A. first told Obama, in August, that the Russians had been meddling in the Presidential race, the agency shared the information with the Gang of Eight—the congressional leadership and the chairs and the ranking members of the intelligence committees. The Administration asked for a bipartisan statement of warning. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, adamantly refused, muffling for weeks any sense of national alarm.”

Said Clinton: “McConnell, in what I think of as a not only unpatriotic but despicable act of partisan politics, made it clear that if the Obama Administration spoke publicly about what they knew, he would accuse them of partisan politics, of trying to tip the balance toward me… McConnell basically threatened the White House.”

Mueller Probe Has ‘Red-Hot’ Focus on Social Media

“Russia’s effort to influence U.S. voters through Facebook and other social media is a ‘red-hot’ focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election and possible links to President Trump’s associates,” Bloomberg reports.

“Mueller’s team of prosecutors and FBI agents is zeroing in on how Russia spread fake and damaging information through social media and is seeking additional evidence from companies like Facebook and Twitter about what happened on their networks.”

“The ability of foreign nations to use social media to manipulate and influence elections and policy is increasingly seen as the soft underbelly of international espionage… because it doesn’t involve the theft of state secrets and the U.S. doesn’t have a ready defense to prevent such attacks.”

Russia Sought Broad Reset with Trump

“The proposal, spelled out in a detailed document obtained by BuzzFeed News, called for the wholesale restoration of diplomatic, military and intelligence channels severed between the two countries after Russia’s military interventions in Ukraine and Syria.”

“The broad scope of the Kremlin’s reset plan came with an ambitious launch date: immediately.”

“Besides offering a snapshot of where the Kremlin wanted to move the bilateral relationship, the proposal reveals one of Moscow’s unspoken assumptions – that Trump wouldn’t share the lingering US anger over Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 election and might accept a lightning fast rapprochement.”

Russian Politician Admits Russia ‘Stole’ U.S. Election

Vyacheslav Nikonov,  a member of the Russian parliamentary body, said on Russian television that U.S. intelligence “missed it when Russian intelligence stole the president of the United States,” The Hill reports.

Nikonov was making the point about the superiority of Russia’s intelligence services over U.S. regarding knowledge of North Korea, Afghanistan and Syria.

Putin Says Tillerson Has ‘Fallen Into Bad Company’

Russian President Vladimir Putin joked that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had veered off the path of cooperation and “fallen into bad company,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“In recent weeks, Washington and Moscow have been engaged in a diplomatic tit-for-tat. Russia has ordered the culling of 755 staff members from the U.S. State Department’s Mission in Russia. Last week, the U.S. ordered the closure of Russia’s San Francisco consulate, a move Putin said this week he would instruct his foreign ministry to take up with the U.S. legal system.”

Said Putin: “I hope that the wind of cooperation, friendship and interaction will bring him to the right course in the end.”

Trump Jr. Explains Why He Wanted Russian Dirt

“Donald Trump Jr. told Senate investigators that he set up a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer because he was intrigued that she might have damaging information about Hillary Clinton, saying it was important to learn about Mrs. Clinton’s ‘fitness’ to be president,” the New York Times reports.

“But nothing came of the Trump Tower meeting, he said, and he was adamant that he never colluded with the Russian government’s campaign to disrupt last year’s presidential election.”

Facebook Sold Ads to Russian Company During Election

Facebook told congressional investigators that it has discovered it sold ads during the U.S. presidential election to a shadowy Russian company seeking to target voters, the Washington Post reports.

“A small portion of the ads, which began in the summer of 2015, directly named Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, the people said. Most of the ads focused on pumping politically divisive issues such as gun rights and immigration fears, as well as gay rights and racial discrimination.”

In July, a Facebook spokesperson told CNN that “We have seen no evidence that Russian actors bought ads on Facebook in connection with the election.”

Inside the Russian Kleptocracy

“Russia is widely thought of as an oligarchy run by President Vladimir Putin and a handful of billionaire cronies whose main accomplishment is looking out for their own financial interests. In a new paper, three economists say forensic evidence bears that out,” according to Axios.

“Economists Thomas Piketty, Filip Novokmet, and Gabriel Zucman found that income inequality is as great in Russia as the United States, with the top 1% of earners garnering upwards of 25% of national income, well above China and other former communist countries like the Czech Republic.”

Russian Politician Wants Info Released on Trump

A Russian politician has threatened to “hit Donald Trump with our Kompromat” on state television, the Independent reports.

“Speaking on Russia-24, Nikita Isaev, leader of the far-right New Russia Movement, said the compromising material should be released in retaliation over the closure of several Russian diplomatic compounds across the US.”

When asked whether Russia has such material, Mr Isaev replied: “Of course we have it!”