Russia

Senate Committee Wants to Question Kushner

“Senate investigators plan to question Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and a close adviser, as part of their broad inquiry into ties between Trump associates and Russian officials or others linked to the Kremlin,” the New York Times reports.

“The White House Counsel’s Office was informed this month that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, wanted to question Mr. Kushner about meetings he arranged with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak… The meetings included a previously unreported sit-down with the head of Russia’s state-owned development bank.”

Nunes Vanished Just Before He Made Surveillance Claims

“Hours before the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee announced his shocking claims about surveillance of the Trump transition team on Wednesday morning, he practically disappeared.”

“Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) was traveling with a senior committee staffer in an Uber on Tuesday evening when he received a communication on his phone, three committee officials and a former national security official with ties to the committee told the Daily Beast. After the message, Nunes left the car abruptly, leaving his own staffer in the dark about his whereabouts.”

“By the next morning, Nunes hastily announced a press conference. His own aides, up to the most senior level, did not know what their boss planned to say next. Nunes’ choice to keep senior staff out of the loop was highly unusual.”

Schiff: New Evidence Shows Trump-Russia Collusion

Rep. Adam Schiff (R-CA), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN that he has been presented with new information on collusion between associates of President Trump and Russia that would merit a grand jury investigation.

Said Schiff: “We continue to get new information that, I think, paints a more complete picture of at least what we know at the outset of our investigation.”

FBI Has Information on Trump Coordination with Russia

“The FBI has information that indicates associates of President Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” US officials told CNN.

“The FBI is now reviewing that information, which includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings… The information is raising the suspicions of FBI counterintelligence investigators that the coordination may have taken place, though officials cautioned that the information was not conclusive and that the investigation is ongoing.”

Manafort Secretly Created Plan to Benefit Putin

Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort “secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics,” the AP reports.

“The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests.”

“Manafort pitched the plans to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006… Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, according to one person familiar with the work.”

Stone Asked to Keep Records

“Roger J. Stone Jr., an informal adviser to President Trump, has been asked by the Senate Intelligence Committee to preserve any records he may have in connection to a broader inquiry into Russian attempts to interfere with United States elections. The letter sent to Mr. Stone, a copy of which was obtained by the New York Times, represents the first public indication of the scope of the committee’s inquiry, and possible connections to Mr. Trump’s campaign.”

Clinton Ally Sees No Sign of Trump-Russia Collusion

“Former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who endorsed Hillary Clinton and called Donald Trump a dupe of Russia, cast doubt Wednesday night on allegations that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia,” NBC News reports.

“Morell, who was in line to become CIA director if Clinton won, said he had seen no evidence that Trump associates cooperated with Russians. He also raised questions about the dossier written by a former British intelligence officer, which alleged a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

Yachts of Trump Backer and Russian Oligarch Meet

Palm Beach Post: “The coincidences are piling up. Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev last week disavowed any contact with President Donald Trump. But speculation again was stoked when his state-of-the-art yacht Anna sat anchored in the British Virgin Islands on Friday night and another equally resplendent luxury liner, the Sea Owl, sidled up, according to a website that tracks the movement of yachts.”

“After disavowing any contact with President Donald Trump this past week, Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev’s state-of-the-art yacht Anna sat anchored in the British Virgin Islands on Friday night when another equally resplendent luxury liner, the Sea Owl, sidled up, according to a website that tracks the movement of yachts. The owner of the dark-hulled yacht? President Donald Trump’s biggest financial supporter and Breitbart News moneyman, Robert Mercer.”

House Investigators on Trump-Russia Collision Course

“Adam Schiff says Russia’s effort to sway the election for President Donald Trump is one of the most serious issues of our time. Devin Nunes isn’t even convinced Russia tried to help Trump,” Politico reports.

“As Nunes and Schiff, the Republican chairman and top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, lead the House investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, it’s unclear how two lawmakers with diametrically-opposed approaches will handle the most politically sensitive investigation to hit Capitol Hill in decades.”

Fewer FBI Agents Investigating Russia Than Clinton Emails

“One source familiar with the Russia investigation resorted to a mathematical equation to divulge — sort of — the number of agents assigned to the matter,” CNN reports.

“It’s five to 10 fewer than were assigned to the Hillary Clinton email investigation, said the source, who is not authorized to speak publicly and did so on the condition of anonymity. There were about two dozen dedicated to that case, so that makes 15 to 20 on the Russia investigation.”

“The resources assigned to the Clinton investigation were in response to agents having to sort through a vast amount of electronic data in a finite period of time before the then-looming presidential election, the source said. With the Russia probe, there is no such time pressure and efforts are more focused on interviews with human sources.”

FBI Investigating Link Between Russian Bank and Trump

“Federal investigators and computer scientists continue to examine whether there was a computer server connection between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank,” CNN reports.

“Questions about the possible connection were widely dismissed four months ago. But the FBI’s investigation remains open, the sources said, and is in the hands of the FBI’s counterintelligence team — the same one looking into Russia’s suspected interference in the 2016 election.”

Why Was Huntsman Picked for Russia Ambassador?

James Hohmann: “Donald Trump has blocked several people who opposed him during the campaign from getting jobs in his administration. So why has he reportedly chosen Jon Huntsman to be the U.S. ambassador to Russia?”

“The 56-year-old has earned a reputation as someone who ingratiates himself with his patron of the moment but whose long-term loyalty cannot be counted on. His critics – including some who have worked with him – complain privately that he’s always thinking about how he can climb the next step up the ladder. When his name comes up around this town, one often hears words like craven and opportunistic.”

Also interesting: “Another person breathing a sigh of relief is Orrin Hatch. There’s been rampant speculation in Utah that Huntsman might challenge the 82-year-old senator for the GOP nomination next year. He won’t be able to do that from Moscow.”