Russia

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!”

Why Pardons Might Not End Russia Prosecutions

NBC News: “While presidential pardons can halt the federal case, local prosecutors could then pursue any Americans suspected of aiding Russia’s election meddling. In fact, legal experts say presidential pardons could make that prospect more likely.”

“According to a new MSNBC legal analysis, federal pardons could open the door to local criminal investigations in several states… According to a source with knowledge of one state attorney general’s preparations, the office is already studying its potential state jurisdiction for Russia-related crimes. The source told MSNBC that state investigators typically defer to federal inquiries, but there is a perception the Russia inquiry may not turn out to be a typical situation.”

CIA Russia Probe Unit Reports Directly to Pompeo

“As CIA director, Mike Pompeo has taken a special interest in an agency unit that is closely tied to the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, requiring the Counterintelligence Mission Center to report directly to him,” the Washington Post reports.

“Officials at the center have, in turn, kept a watchful eye on Pompeo, who has repeatedly played down Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and demonstrated a willingness to engage in political skirmishes for President Trump.”

Email Suggests Attempt to Arrange Putin Meeting

“Congressional investigators have unearthed an email from a top Trump aide that referenced a previously unreported effort to arrange a meeting last year between Trump campaign officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin,” CNN reports.

“The aide, Rick Dearborn, who is now President Trump’s deputy chief of staff, sent a brief email to campaign officials last year relaying information about an individual who was seeking to connect top Trump officials with Putin.”

“The person was only identified in the email as being from ‘WV,’ which one source said was a reference to West Virginia. It’s unclear who the individual is, what he or she was seeking, or whether Dearborn even acted on the request.”

Trump Clashed with Multiple Senators Over Russia

President Trump “privately vented his frustration over Russia-related matters with at least two other Republican senators this month, according to people familiar with the conversations — in addition to the president’s public admonishments of Mitch McConnell, John McCain, and Jeff Flake,” Politico reports.

“Trump expressed frustration over a bipartisan bill sanctioning Russia and tried to convince Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) that it wasn’t good policy… Trump argued that the legislation was unconstitutional and said it would damage his presidency. Corker was unrelenting, these people said, and told Trump the bill was going to pass both houses with bipartisan support.”

Pressure Grows on Paul Manafort

“Two sources familiar with the inquiry tell McClatchy that investigators are working to confirm information indicating that Manafort and the consulting firms he led earned between $80 million and $100 million over a decade from pro-Moscow Ukrainian and Russian clients.”

“Mueller’s expanded focus on Manafort’s complicated financial picture is zeroing in on whether he may have evaded taxes or engaged in any money laundering schemes, the sources say, and the hunt for his financial records through a labyrinth of offshore bank and business accounts has become an important prong of the investigation.”

Key takeaway: “Manafort, who chaired the Trump campaign for three months in mid-2016 and earlier spent two months coordinating the search for pro-Trump delegates, is a prime target as investigators attempt to win the cooperation of key members of the campaign’s inner circle.”

Trump Aide Repeatedly Tried to Set Up Russia Meetings

Just after Donald Trump named his campaign foreign policy team in March 2016, new adviser George Papadopoulos offered to set up “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump,” telling them his Russian contacts “welcomed the opportunity,” according to internal campaign emails read to the Washington Post.

“The proposal sent a ripple of concern through campaign headquarters in Trump Tower… But Papadopoulos, a campaign volunteer with scant foreign policy experience, persisted. Between March and September, the self-described energy consultant sent at least a half-dozen requests for Trump, as he turned from primary candidate to party nominee, or for members of his team to meet with Russian officials.”

“Papadopoulos emerges from the sample of emails as a new and puzzling figure in the examination of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian officials and their proxies during the 2016 election, now the subject of a special-counsel investigation.”

Manafort Switches Legal Team

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort “is changing his attorneys as a federal investigation heats up into his financial transactions,” Politico reports.

Manafort’s case will now be handled by Miller and Chevalier, a boutique firm in Washington that specializes in complicated financial crimes among other issues… Manafort is cutting ties with WilmerHale, the firm that has represented him in the matter so far. His former lawyer there, Reg Brown, led the congressional investigations practice.”

Trump Says It Was ‘Tough Stuff’ to Raid Manafort Home

President Trump said he was “surprised” by the fact that the FBI conducted an early morning raid of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s home last month, CNN reports.

Said Trump: “You know, they do that very seldom, so I was surprised to see it. I was very, very surprised to see it. I thought it was a very, very strong signal, or whatever.”

He added: “But to do that early in the morning, whether or not it was appropriate you’d have to ask them. I’ve always found Paul Manafort to be a very decent man. He’s like a lot of other people — probably makes consultant fees from all over the place. Who knows? I don’t know, but I thought it was pretty tough stuff to wake him up, perhaps his family was there. I think that’s pretty tough stuff.”