2016 Campaign

Donald Trump Jr. Corresponded with Wikileaks

The Atlantic has private messages between Donald Trump Jr. and Wikileaks.

“The messages… were also turned over by Trump Jr.’s lawyers to congressional investigators. They are part of a long—and largely one-sided—correspondence between Wikileaks and the president’s son that continued until at least July 2017. The messages show Wikileaks, a radical transparency organization that the American intelligence community believes was chosen by the Russian government to disseminate the information it had hacked, actively soliciting Trump Jr.’s cooperation. Wikileaks made a series of increasingly bold requests, including asking for Trump’s tax returns, urging the Trump campaign on Election Day to reject the results of the election as rigged, and requesting that the president-elect tell Australia to appoint Julian Assange ambassador to the United States…”

“Though Trump Jr. mostly ignored the frequent messages from Wikileaks, he at times appears to have acted on its requests.”

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’s Channels to Russia

Jonathan Chait: “There are several channels through which Donald Trump’s campaign apparently cooperated with Russian efforts to help him win the presidency. The first, and best known, is a Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 to pursue Russian promises of providing dirt on Hillary Clinton. A second is Roger Stone, a frequent Trump adviser who had clear advance notice of the publication of stolen emails. A third is Trump himself openly asking Russia to obtain Clinton’s State Department emails. The final channel is the efforts by Cambridge Analytica, the campaign’s data firm. This channel is less well known to the public, in part because reporting about it has been dominated by The Wall Street Journal, and its stories hidden behind a paywall. But Cambridge Analytica’s role has come into much clearer focus.”

“Two weeks ago, the Journal reported that Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to help him better organize the stolen Democratic emails his site was publishing. On Friday, the Journal found that this contact came as Cambridge Analytica was joining the Trump campaign.”

Quote of the Day

“This artificial Democratic hit job gets in the way and that’s a shame because people will die because of it. And it’s a pure hit job.”

— President Trump, quoted by Politico, suggesting people will die because of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

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.”

Russian Bots Rushed to Deflect Bad Trump News

“Disguised Russian agents on Twitter rushed to deflect scandalous news about Donald Trump just before last year’s presidential election while straining to refocus criticism on the mainstream media and Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” according to an Associated Press analysis of since-deleted accounts.

“The analysis illuminates the obvious strategy behind the Russian cyber meddling: swiftly react, distort and distract attention from any negative Mr. Trump news.”

Mueller Likely to Probe Gates’ Side Gig as Movie Producer

McClatchy: “Rick Gates, indicted last week with his former boss and mentor Paul Manafort in the special counsel investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, is best known as a political consultant and lobbyist. Less well known is his sideline as a Hollywood producer. Gates has been involved in a handful of films, including this year’s Walk of Fame, which starred Clint Eastwood’s son Scott.”

“Gates himself has not been sued or charged in connection with any movies. But given that his co-producers have been, and that film production is known for being forgiving when it comes to clouding the original source of funds invested, experts say it’s extremely unlikely that Mueller is not investigating this part of Gates’ finances.”

“Gates’s film connections also have a distinctly former Soviet flavor.”

Both Campaigns Offered Research from Dossier Firm

“The same political research firm that prepared a dossier on Trump campaign ties to Russia had unrelated information on Clinton Foundation donors that a Russian lawyer obtained and offered to President Donald Trump’s eldest son last year,” Reuters reports.

“The White House and Republican lawmakers have attacked the firm, Fusion GPS, over the dossier compiled by a former British spy… The sources told Reuters that the negative information that Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya wanted to give to Republican Trump’s campaign at a June 2016 meeting in New York had been dug up by Fusion GPS in an unrelated investigation.”

Prosecutors Seek Plea Deal with Ex-Manafort Son-in-Law

“The Justice Department is seeking to reach a plea deal in its criminal investigation of the former son-in-law of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s one-time campaign chairman,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The investigation into Jeffrey Yohai—who hasn’t been charged with any crime—by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles is separate from the Washington-based probe of his former father-in-law and others by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.”

Flynn Worried About Son’s Legal Exposure

Former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn has expressed concern about the potential legal exposure of his son, Michael Flynn Jr., who, like his father, is under scrutiny by special counsel Robert Mueller, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.

“Flynn’s concern could factor into decisions about how to respond to Mueller’s ongoing investigation. The special counsel is looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign as well as the business dealings of key campaign advisers to President Trump.”

For members: Has Michael Flynn Already Flipped?

Papadopoulos Met with British Officials

George Papadopoulos, who admitted lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts and was dismissed by the White House as a “low-level volunteer,” met a British Foreign Office official, two months before the presidential election, for a “working level” meeting, the BBC reports.

“While such meetings may be routine diplomacy, the fact that Papadopoulos was presenting himself to the government of one of the U.S.’s closest allies as a representative of the Trump campaign undercuts the White House’s recent assertion that Papadopoulos was a campaign volunteer of little importance.”

Republicans Are Going to Wish Clinton Won

Jonathan Chait: “Imagine what the political world would look like for Republicans had Hillary Clinton won the election. Clinton had dragged her dispirited base to the polls by promising a far more liberal domestic agenda than Barack Obama had delivered, but she would have had no means to enact it. As the first president in 28 years to take office without the benefit of a Congress in her own party’s hands, she’d have been staring at a dead-on-arrival legislative agenda, all the low-hanging executive orders having already been picked by her predecessor, and years of scandalmongering hearings already teed up. The morale of the Democratic base, which had barely tolerated the compromises of the Obama era and already fallen into mutual recriminations by 2016, would have disintegrated altogether. The 2018 midterms would be a Republican bloodbath, with a Senate map promising enormous gains to the Republican Party, which would go into the 2020 elections having learned the lessons of Trump’s defeat and staring at full control of government with, potentially, a filibuster-proof Senate majority.”

“Instead, Republicans under Trump are on the verge of catastrophe.”

Trump Adviser Described Private Talk with Russian Official

“Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to President Trump’s campaign whose visit to Moscow during the election has drawn scrutiny, sent an email to fellow Trump aides during his trip describing ‘a private conversation’ with a senior Russian official who spoke favorably of the Republican candidate,” the Washington Post reports.

“Page also wrote that he had been provided ‘incredible insights and outreach’ by Russian lawmakers and ‘senior members’ of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s administration during the trip.”

“The email appeared to contradict earlier statements by Page, who had said he had only exchanged brief greetings with the senior Russian official, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, after he delivered a speech at a Russian university.”