2016 Campaign

Russian Oligarch Ties Kushner to Kremlin Bankers

A prominent exiled Russian oligarch told NBC News that he is “nearly certain” Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to collaborate with the Trump campaign, and that he believes a top Russian banker was not “acting on his own behalf” when he held a controversial meeting with Jared Kushner last December.

Longtime Putin rival Mikhail Khodorkovsky says he believes the likelihood that Putin “personally” tried to cooperate with the Trump campaign to affect the election is a “9 out of 10.”

GOP Lawmakers’ Posh Hideaway Bankrolled by Secret Cash

Several major corporations and trade groups secretly bankrolled a plush hideaway for lawmakers at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last year, according to records obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

The groups funded a limited liability company called “Friends of the House 2016 LLC” which in turn, paid for the design and outfitting of an exclusive office, lounge and gathering space for Republican lawmakers and controlled access to the so-called “cloakroom.”

“The limited liability company effectively hid the corporations’ contributions from public view at a time when activist groups were pressuring companies to scale back giving to the Republican convention, and a few of the companies had publicly minimized their participation.”

Russian Trolls Were Told to Watch ‘House of Cards’

Yahoo News: “The Russians who worked for a notorious St. Petersburg ‘troll factory’ that was part of Vladimir Putin’s campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election were required to watch the House of Cards television series to help them craft messages to ‘set up the Americans against their own government,’ according to an interview broadcast Sunday (in Russian) with a former member of the troll factory’s elite English language department.”

Subpoena Orders Trump To Turn Over Documents

A high-stakes legal showdown is brewing for President Trump, as a woman who said he groped her has subpoenaed all documents from his campaign pertaining to “any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately,” BuzzFeed News reports.

“Summer Zervos, a former contestant on the Trump’s reality TV show ‘The Apprentice’, accused Trump of kissing and grabbing her when she went to his bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2007 to discuss a possible job at the Trump Organization. After Zervos made the accusation last October, just weeks before the election, Trump denied her accusation and called it a lie.”

“She responded by suing him for defamation. As part of that suit, her lawyers served a subpoena on his campaign, asking that it preserve all documents it had about her.”

Trump Accusers Frustrated As Weinstein Falls

BuzzFeed News: “For all the women who have cheered as accusations against the producer Harvey Weinstein force a public conversation about sexual misconduct, one small group of women has watched with frustration. They are some of the dozen women who publicly accused Donald Trump of groping or kissing them — accusations that Trump has denied.”

“In a sharp contrast to the women who accused Weinstein, Trump’s accusers did not see the public turn against him, the board of his company fire him, or the police launch an investigation. Instead, these women watched the man they say humiliated and abused them get elected president of the United States.”

Flynn Ally Sought Help from the ‘Dark Web’

“A close associate of Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn arranged a covert investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state, and through intermediaries turned to a person with knowledge of the ‘dark web’ for help,” the Guardian reports.

“Flynn is personally and ideologically linked to Barbara Ledeen, a longtime conservative activist who works for the Republican senator Chuck Grassley on the Senate judiciary committee – which is now investigating alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

“Ledeen’s name was redacted on the FBI documents describing the investigation, which were released last year in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. But a person who reviewed the unredacted documents confirmed to the Guardian that Barbara Ledeen was the subject. Her involvement was also confirmed by the Senate judiciary committee in response to the Guardian’s questions.”

Manafort Had $60M Relationship with Russian Oligarch

“Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, has much stronger financial ties to a Russian oligarch than have been previously reported,” NBC News reports.

“An NBC News investigation reveals that $26 million changed hands in the form of loan between a company linked to Manafort and the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin. The loan brings the total of their known business dealings to around $60 million over the past decade, according to financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.”

When Trump Felt Humiliated

Maggie Haberman recounted at a New York Times event that when the “Access Hollywood” tape came out it was “the only time in my memory when Donald Trump was humiliated. And he really was humiliated.”

Said Haberman: “He does not experience these things the way most people do, but he was then.”

She added: “When he came downstairs at Trump Tower that day, the day after the tape dropped. He came downstairs and there had been an impromptu rally in front of Trump Tower. And Trump walked out the glass doors unannounced and he did a power salute and people were pawing… It was really scary because I felt like anything could happen at that moment because he clearly was undone. And the next night was when he brought Bill Clinton’s accusers to the debate.”

What Facebook Did to American Democracy

Alexis Madrigal: “When I was editor in chief of Fusion, we set about trying to track the ‘digital campaign’ with several dedicated people. What we quickly realized was that there was both too much data—the noisiness of all the different posts by the various candidates and their associates—as well as too little. Targeting made tracking the actual messaging that the campaigns were paying for impossible to track. On Facebook, the campaigns could show ads only to the people they targeted. We couldn’t actually see the messages that were actually reaching people in battleground areas. From the outside, it was a technical impossibility to know what ads were running on Facebook, one that the company had fought to keep intact.”

Twitter Deleted Data Crucial to Russia Probe

Politico: “Twitter has deleted tweets and other user data of potentially irreplaceable value to investigators probing Russia’s suspected manipulation of the social media platform during the 2016 election… Federal investigators now believe Twitter was one of Russia’s most potent weapons in its efforts to promote Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.”

“By creating and deploying armies of automated bots, fake users, catchy hashtags and bogus ad campaigns, unidentified operatives launched recurring waves of pro-Trump and anti-Clinton story lines via Twitter that were either false or greatly exaggerated.”

Russia Probe Turns to Cambridge Analytica

“A data firm backed by some of Donald Trump’s closest allies is now facing scrutiny as part of an investigation into possible collusion between the president’s team and Russian operatives,” the Daily Beast reports.

“The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) is looking at Cambridge Analytica’s work for President Trump’s campaign as part of its investigation into Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 race… The company is in the process of turning over documents to HPSCI… Another source close to the investigation said that the probe’s focus on Cambridge Analytica is ‘fruitful.'”