2016 Campaign

Trump Didn’t Dismiss Idea of Meeting Putin

Donald Trump “did not dismiss the idea of arranging a meeting with Russia’s president when it was suggested in a meeting with his campaign foreign policy advisers last year, according to a person in the room,” CNN reports.

“The idea was raised by George Papadopoulos as he introduced himself at a March 2016 meeting of the Republican candidate’s foreign policy advisers.”

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.”

Mueller Interviewed Clovis Last Week

“Sam Clovis, the former top Trump campaign official who supervised a man now cooperating with the FBI’s Russia investigation, was questioned last week by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team and testified before the investigating grand jury,” NBC News reports.

“George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in July and began cooperating with agents… The court documents unsealed Monday describe emails between Papadopoulos and an unnamed ‘campaign supervisor.’ The supervisor responded ‘Great work’ after Papadopoulos discussed his interactions with Russians who wanted to arrange a meeting with Trump and Russian leaders.”

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!

Page May Have Discussed Russia with Papadopoulos

“Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, said he might have exchanged emails about Russia with a fellow adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the president’s campaign and possible collusion with the Russian government,” Politico reports.

“As he has in the past, Page repeatedly declined to provide direct answer to questions about his role on Trump’s campaign.”

Trump Pollster Says Sanders Would Have Won

Trump campaign pollster Tony Fabrizio said that Sen. Bernie Sanders could have prevailed where Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did not, The Hill reports.

Said Fabrizio: “There’s no question that if it had been anybody other than Clinton or anybody other than Trump, that race would not have been as close as it was either way. It would not have been.”

When asked what would happen during a Sanders-Trump match-up, Fabrizio replied, “I think Sanders beats Trump.”

Trump Campaign Knew Russia Had Democrats’ Emails

New York Times: “The guilty plea of a 30-year-old campaign aide — so green that he listed Model United Nations in his qualifications — shifted the narrative on Monday of the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia: Court documents revealed that Russian officials alerted the campaign, through an intermediary in April 2016, that they possessed thousands of Democratic emails and other “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.”

“That was two months before the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee was publicly revealed and the stolen emails began to appear online. The new court filings provided the first clear evidence that Trump campaign aides had early knowledge that Russia had stolen confidential documents on Mrs. Clinton and the committee, a tempting trove in a close presidential contest.”

Russian Posts Were Seen by 126 Million People

Washington Post: “Facebook plans to tell lawmakers on Tuesday that 126 million of its users may have seen content produced and circulated by Russian operatives, many times more than what the company previously disclosed about the reach of the disinformation campaign during the 2016 presidential election.”

“Previously, Facebook had focused its disclosures on Russian ads. The company has said that 470 accounts and pages run by a Russian troll farm had purchased roughly 3,000 ads, which the company said reached an estimated 10 million users. But the troll farm, known as the Internet Research Agency, also published free content. Researchers estimated that the spread of free content was far greater than that of ads and that Facebook has been under pressure to share more about those posts.”

Mueller Puts Down a Marker

Financial Times: “The allegations in the federal indictment of Paul Manafort and Richard Gates — even considered in isolation — are enough to frighten any friend of America. If they are true, Donald Trump’s campaign manager from March to August 2016 — a period encompassing his nomination by the Republican party — was a criminal. Not a criminal in some abstract or technical sense: Mr Manafort is accused of laundering millions of dollars, evading taxes, and concealing his role as a lobbyist for a foreign government.”

“The latter point is the most alarming. It raises the possibility that a foreign power, without knowledge of the electorate, influenced the policy of the party that ultimately won the presidency.”

Two Takeaways from Mueller’s Indictments

Lawfare: The first big takeaway from this morning’s flurry of charging and plea documents with respect to Paul Manafort Jr., Richard Gates III, and George Papadopoulos is this: The President of the United States had as his campaign chairman a man who had allegedly served for years as an unregistered foreign agent for a puppet government of Vladimir Putin, a man who was allegedly laundering remarkable sums of money even while running the now-president’s campaign, a man who allegedly lied about all of this to the FBI and the Justice Department.”

“The second big takeaway is even starker: A member of President Trump’s campaign team now admits that he was working with people he knew to be tied to the Russian government to ‘arrange a meeting between the Campaign and the Russian government officials’ and to obtain ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of hacked emails—and that he lied about these activities to the FBI. He briefed President Trump on at least some them.”

“And here’s the rub: This is only Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s opening salvo. As opening salvos go, it’s a doozy.”