Russia

‘A Spectacular Accumulation of Lies’

Michael Gerson: “I spent part of my convalescence from a recent illness reading some of the comprehensive timelines of the Russia investigation… In all of this, there is a spectacular accumulation of lies. Lies on disclosure forms. Lies at confirmation hearings. Lies on Twitter. Lies in the White House briefing room. Lies to the FBI. Self-protective lies by the attorney general. Blocking and tackling lies by Vice President Pence. This is, with a few exceptions, a group of people for whom truth, political honor, ethics and integrity mean nothing.”

“What are the implications? President Trump and others in his administration are about to be hit by a legal tidal wave. We look at the Russia scandal and see lies. A skilled prosecutor sees leverage. People caught in criminal violations make more cooperative witnesses. Robert S. Mueller III and his A-team of investigators have plenty of stupidity and venality to work with. They are investigating an administration riven by internal hatreds — also the prosecutor’s friend. And Trump has already alienated many potential allies in a public contest between himself and Mueller. A number of elected Republicans, particularly in the Senate, would watch this showdown with popcorn.”

“But the implications of all this are not only legal and political. We are witnessing what happens when right-wing politics becomes untethered from morality and religion.”

Mueller Issued Subpoena for Trump Campaign

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in mid-October issued a subpoena to President Trump’s campaign requesting Russia-related documents from more than a dozen top officials,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The subpoena, which requested documents and emails from the listed campaign officials that reference a set of Russia-related keywords, marked Mr. Mueller’s first official order for information from the campaign…The subpoena didn’t compel any officials to testify before Mr. Mueller’s grand jury.”

“The subpoena caught the campaign by surprise, the person said. The campaign had previously been voluntarily complying with the special counsel’s requests for information, and had been sharing with Mr. Mueller’s team the documents it provided to congressional committees as part of their probes of Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election.”

Russian Payments Included Suspicious Memo Line

BuzzFeed News: “On Aug. 3 of last year, just as the U.S. presidential election was entering its final, heated phase, the Russian foreign ministry sent nearly $30,000 to its embassy in Washington. The wire transfer, which came from a Kremlin-backed Russian bank, landed in one of the embassy’s Citibank accounts and contained a remarkable memo line: ‘to finance election campaign of 2016.'”

“That wire transfer is one of more than 60 now being scrutinized by the FBI and other federal agencies investigating Russian involvement in the U.S. election.”

What Mueller’s Org Chart Says About Russia Investigation

“Special counsel Robert Mueller has not publicly uttered a single word about the direction of his high-stakes Russia probe. But the way he’s assigned the 17 federal prosecutors on his team — pieced together by Politico from court filings and interviews with lawyers familiar with the Russia cases —gives insight into how he’s conducting the investigation and what might be coming next.”

“His most experienced attorneys have discrete targets, such as former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and current White House aides. Mueller’s longtime chief of staff is coordinating all the lawyers, including some who cover multiple topics. Select FBI special agents have been tapped to question witnesses.”

Trump Says He Believes Putin Didn’t Interfere In Election

President Trump suggested “he’s done confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin over his country’s election meddling since it’s insulting to the Russian leader,” CNN reports.

“Trump said he took Putin at his word that Russia did not seek to interfere in the U.S. presidential election last year, despite a finding from US intelligence agencies that it did. The fraught relations between the two leaders was underscored anew when Putin’s spokesman said election meddling did not come up when they spoke, even though Trump said it did.”

Said Trump: “He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it. I think he is very insulted by it.”

Mueller Probes Flynn Meeting with Rohrabacher

“Investigators for Special Counsel Robert Mueller are questioning witnesses about an alleged September 2016 meeting between Mike Flynn, who later briefly served as President Trump’s national security adviser, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a staunch advocate of policies that would help Russia,” NBC News reports.

“The meeting allegedly took place in Washington the evening of Sept. 20, while Flynn was working as an adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign. It was arranged by his lobbying firm, the Flynn Intel Group. Also in attendance were Flynn’s business partners, Bijan Kian and Brian McCauley, and Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn.”

Russia Funded Investments Through Kushner Associate

“Two Russian state institutions with close ties to Vladimir Putin funded substantial investments in Twitter and Facebook through a business associate of Jared Kushner, leaked documents reveal,” the Guardian reports.

“The investments were made through a Russian technology magnate, Yuri Milner, who also holds a stake in a company co-owned by Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser.”

How Russians Hacked the Democrats’ Emails

“An Associated Press investigation into the digital break-ins that disrupted the U.S. presidential contest has sketched out an anatomy of the hack that led to months of damaging disclosures about the Democratic Party’s nominee. It wasn’t just a few aides that the hackers went after; it was an all-out blitz across the Democratic Party. They tried to compromise Clinton’s inner circle and more than 130 party employees, supporters and contractors.”

“The AP’s reconstruction— based on a database of 19,000 malicious links recently shared by cybersecurity firm Secureworks — shows how the hackers worked their way around the Clinton campaign’s top-of-the-line digital security to steal chairman John Podesta’s emails in March 2016.”

Russian Actors Sought to Undermine Trump After Election

“Top lawyers from Facebook and Twitter said Tuesday that Russian-linked posts and advertisements placed on the social networks after Election Day sought to sow doubt about President Trump’s victory,” Politico reports.

Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch told the Senate Judiciary Committee that content generated by a Russian troll farm after Nov. 8 centered on “fomenting discord about the validity of Trump’s election.”

“That’s a change from Russia’s pre-election activity, which was largely centered on trying to denigrate Hillary Clinton, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a January report.”

Papadopoulos Said Trump Campaign Approved Meeting

“Former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos made a significant claim in an email: Top Trump campaign officials agreed to a pre-election meeting with representatives of Russian President Vladimir Putin,” Bloomberg reports.

“The email is cited in an FBI agent’s affidavit supporting criminal charges against Papadopoulos… But it’s not included in court documents that detailed his secret guilty plea and his cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.”

Trump Doubles Down on ‘No Collusion’ Claim

President Trump lashed out on Twitter at special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling:

The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manafort’s lawyer said, there was “no collusion” and events mentioned took place long before he came to the campaign. Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!

The Russians Stole the U.S. Presidency

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Politico that no matter how much President Trump rants about the “Russia hoax,” the 2016 hacking was not only real and aimed at electing Trump but constituted a major victory for a dangerous foreign adversary.

Said Clapper: “The Russians have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations.”

He added that the investigation of whether Trump’s team colluded with Russia constitutes a “cloud not only over the president, but the office of the presidency, the administration, the government and the country” until it is resolved.