2016 Campaign

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.'”

Ex-Trump Adviser Refuses to Testify

“Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, informed the Senate Intelligence Committee that he will not be cooperating with any requests to appear before the panel for its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and would plead the Fifth,” Politico reports.

“A former naval-officer-turned-energy consultant, Page came under fire last year after reports emerged that he had met with high-level associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in 2016. While Page denied those meetings occurred, the Trump campaign distanced itself from the adviser not long after.”

Bannon Privately Slammed Pence Pick

“Steve Bannon privately slammed the selection of Mike Pence as Donald Trump’s running mate a month before taking over the Trump campaign,” according to emails obtained by BuzzFeed News.

“The email exchange during Bannon’s first stint as executive chairman of Breitbart is of new relevance as Bannon — two months removed from his role as President Trump’s chief strategist — rolls out his plan for a wide-ranging attack against establishment Republicans in 2018. And it reveals that Bannon regarded the Pence pick as something of a deal with the devil necessary to bolster Trump’s standing in the GOP.”

Maybe Clinton Wasn’t to Blame for Trump’s Victory

Steve Kornacki: “The narrow lens sees Clinton as a uniquely vulnerable candidate, one whose liabilities — whether deserved or undeserved — enabled Trump to win an election he had no business winning…”

“Then there’s the broader lens, through which Clinton becomes far from the only Democrat who could lose an election to Trump. In this view, Trump has pushed politics away from an ideological battleground and onto a cultural one, creating a new level of polarization that fortifies him in ways that traditional measures don’t fully capture.”

“Trump’s presidency dominates not only the news but all of popular culture, and the effect is tribalizing, a constant invitation to every American to choose camps. He antagonizes giant swaths of the country, but at the same time provokes heated reactions from his opponents that can have their own alienating effect. It’s a combination that practically ensures he has all the right enemies. Even if they have a low opinion of him, how many voters are ultimately with Trump because at least he’s fighting — the news media, Hollywood stars, activist athletes, elite culture?”

“This interpretation of Trump’s rise poses difficult questions for Democrats. It would mean that almost any candidate they run against him would be at risk of suffering Clinton’s fate.”

What Steve Bannon Was Thinking One Year Ago

From Devil’s Bargain by Joshua Green:

Privately, even Bannon had moments of doubt. In the depths of Trump’s worst scandal, after the Washington Post broke news of an Access Hollywood tape that captured his lewd comments about women and how he liked to “grab them by the pussy,” Bannon admitted to an associate that Trump might be done for. Yet he wasn’t despondent, not did he seem to view the possibility as a fatal setback to the broader movement. “Our back up strategy,” he said of Clinton, “is to fuck her up so bad she can’t govern.” Psyching himself up to the task, he added, “My goal is that by November eighth, when you hear her name, you’re going to throw up.”

The Trump-Russia Dossier Grows In Significance

The Guardian: “Nine months after its first appearance, the set of intelligence reports known as the Steele dossier, one of the most explosive documents in modern political history, is still hanging over Washington, casting a shadow over the Trump administration that has only grown darker as time has gone by.”

“The fact that Steele’s reports are being taken seriously after lengthy scrutiny by federal and congressional investigators has far-reaching implications.”

How Facebook Helped Elect Trump

Trump campaign operative Brad Parscale told CBS News that Facebook was the crucial tool that helped elect Donald Trump: “Twitter is how Trump talked to the people, Facebook was going to be how he won.”

“Parscale says the campaign would average 50-60,000 different ad versions every day, some days peaking at 100,000 separate iterations – changing design, colors, backgrounds and words – all in an effort to refine ads and engage users.”

Also interesting: “Parscale received help utilizing Facebook’s technology from Facebook employees provided by the company who showed up for work to his office multiple days a week.”

Mueller’s Team Met with Dossier Author

“Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators met this past summer with the former British spy whose dossier on alleged Russian efforts to aid the Trump campaign spawned months of investigations that have hobbled the Trump administration,” CNN reports.

“Information from Christopher Steele, a former MI-6 officer, could help investigators determine whether contacts between people associated with the Trump campaign and suspected Russian operatives broke any laws.”

Burr Says Issue of Collusion with Russia Still Open

The Senate Intelligence Committee has reached no conclusion on whether anyone around President Trump was part of a Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election, the New York Times reports.

Said Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC): “The issue of collusion is still open.”

“Mr. Burr had expressed a desire this summer to conclude the probe by the year’s end. But on Wednesday, he all but conceded that with so many avenues of investigation still open that would not be possible.”

Bloomberg reports the panel “has hit a wall” in its investigation of an unverified “dossier” purporting to have compromising information on Trump because former British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the report, hasn’t agreed to be interviewed.