2016 Campaign

Kushner Testified He Didn’t Know of Wikileaks Contacts

“White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told congressional Russia investigators that he did not communicate with WikiLeaks and did not recall anyone on the Trump campaign who had,” CNN reports.

“But Kushner did receive and forward an email from Donald Trump Jr. about contact Trump Jr. had with WikiLeaks, according to a new report this week and a letter from the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

‘A Spectacular Accumulation of Lies’

Michael Gerson: “I spent part of my convalescence from a recent illness reading some of the comprehensive timelines of the Russia investigation… In all of this, there is a spectacular accumulation of lies. Lies on disclosure forms. Lies at confirmation hearings. Lies on Twitter. Lies in the White House briefing room. Lies to the FBI. Self-protective lies by the attorney general. Blocking and tackling lies by Vice President Pence. This is, with a few exceptions, a group of people for whom truth, political honor, ethics and integrity mean nothing.”

“What are the implications? President Trump and others in his administration are about to be hit by a legal tidal wave. We look at the Russia scandal and see lies. A skilled prosecutor sees leverage. People caught in criminal violations make more cooperative witnesses. Robert S. Mueller III and his A-team of investigators have plenty of stupidity and venality to work with. They are investigating an administration riven by internal hatreds — also the prosecutor’s friend. And Trump has already alienated many potential allies in a public contest between himself and Mueller. A number of elected Republicans, particularly in the Senate, would watch this showdown with popcorn.”

“But the implications of all this are not only legal and political. We are witnessing what happens when right-wing politics becomes untethered from morality and religion.”

Clinton Challenges Legitimacy of 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton told Mother Jones that “there are lots of questions” about the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s election due to Russian interference and widespread voter suppression efforts.

Clinton said Russian meddling in the election “was one of the major contributors to the outcome.” The Russians “weaponized false information” in “a very successful disinformation campaign” that “wasn’t just influencing voters, it was determining the outcome.”

Republican efforts to make it harder to vote, through measures such as voter ID laws, shortened early voting periods, and new obstacles to registration, likewise “contributed to the outcome.”

Christie Didn’t Tell Staff of Plans to Endorse Trump

Politico: “Before Christie flew to Dallas to endorse Donald Trump two weeks later, he didn’t tell some of his most senior aides. They learned about it from his secretary while he was in the air. Christie had assured aides after New Hampshire that he didn’t plan to endorse in the race, and they looked forward to trying to salvage his legacy in New Jersey.”

“After he learned the news, Kevin Roberts, then communications director, called his team into an emergency meeting and told them. He was met with silence.”

“‘We’re fucked,’ Roberts said, according to attendees. The decision was widely loathed in his circle. DuHaime, his top political adviser, declined to follow his lead. Maria Comella, his top aide for years, later came out with a statement endorsing Hillary Clinton.”

Papadopoulos Claimed Trump Phone Call and Larger Role

Politico: “George Papadopoulos claimed last year that Donald Trump telephoned him to discuss his new position as a foreign policy adviser to his presidential campaign and that the two had at least one personal introductory meeting that the White House has not acknowledged. Papadopoulos also claimed that he’d been given a ‘blank check’ to choose a senior Trump administration job and authorized to represent the candidate in overseas meetings with foreign leaders, and at a campaign event in New York.”

Mueller Issued Subpoena for Trump Campaign

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in mid-October issued a subpoena to President Trump’s campaign requesting Russia-related documents from more than a dozen top officials,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The subpoena, which requested documents and emails from the listed campaign officials that reference a set of Russia-related keywords, marked Mr. Mueller’s first official order for information from the campaign…The subpoena didn’t compel any officials to testify before Mr. Mueller’s grand jury.”

“The subpoena caught the campaign by surprise, the person said. The campaign had previously been voluntarily complying with the special counsel’s requests for information, and had been sharing with Mr. Mueller’s team the documents it provided to congressional committees as part of their probes of Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election.”

Trump Voters Have Buyer’s Remorse In Focus Group

“Republican women who voted for President Trump in North Carolina said during a focus group Wednesday night that they are embarrassed by and exasperated with him,” James Hohmann reports.

“Only one of the 12 participants emerged as an unapologetic defender of the president.”

“The focus group really underscored the extent to which the deep unease that propelled Trump’s victory a year ago has only gotten worse. Asked for one word to describe the state of America today, the answers were chaotic, tornado, backward, troubled, disrupted, fearful, anxious and embarrassing.”

Steele Believes Dossier Is 70% to 90% Accurate

“Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who compiled an explosive dossier of allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, believes it to 70% to 90% accurate, according to a new book on the covert Russian intervention in the 2016 US election,” the Guardian reports.

“The book, Collusion: How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win, by Guardian journalist Luke Harding, quotes Steele as telling friends that he believes his reports – based on sources cultivated over three decades of intelligence work – will be vindicated as the US special counsel investigation digs deeper into contacts between Trump, his associates and Moscow.”

Said Steele: “I’ve been dealing with this country for thirty years. Why would I invent this stuff?”

Russian Payments Included Suspicious Memo Line

BuzzFeed News: “On Aug. 3 of last year, just as the U.S. presidential election was entering its final, heated phase, the Russian foreign ministry sent nearly $30,000 to its embassy in Washington. The wire transfer, which came from a Kremlin-backed Russian bank, landed in one of the embassy’s Citibank accounts and contained a remarkable memo line: ‘to finance election campaign of 2016.'”

“That wire transfer is one of more than 60 now being scrutinized by the FBI and other federal agencies investigating Russian involvement in the U.S. election.”

Sessions Insists He Didn’t Lie About Russian Contacts

Attorney General Jeff Sessions “said that he has ‘always told the truth’ in describing his knowledge of Trump campaign contacts with Russians — though he acknowledged he now recalls an interaction with a lower-level Trump adviser who has said he told Sessions about contacts who could help arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladi­mir Putin,” the Washington Post reports.

When asked previously about whether he believed Trump surrogates had communications with the Russians, Sessions said: “I did not, and I’m not aware of anyone else that did, and I don’t believe it happened.”

“Now, Sessions said he recalled a March 2016 meeting with Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos, in pleading guilty to lying to FBI agents, has admitted he told Trump and a group of other campaign officials, including Sessions, that he had contacts who could help arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin.”

Why Trump Jr.’s Messages with WikiLeaks Are a Big Deal

First Read: “Did the Russian government use WikiLeaks to disseminate the hacked DNC and Podesta emails? If the answer is yes – and the U.S. intelligence community say it is…  then Trump Jr.’s correspondence with the organization appears to be one degree of separation from Russia.”

“Remember, the U.S. intel community said Russia intended to discredit the election results if Clinton had won – exactly what WikiLeaks was instructing Trump Jr to do.”

“Also remember that Trump mentioned ‘WikiLeaks’ 145 times during the final month of the 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.”