Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Trump’s Big Mouth Makes It Harder To Fight Terrorism

May 25, 2017

When Donald Trump blabbed highly classified intelligence information to the Russian Foreign Minister last week, he made it more difficult for the U.S. to fight foreign terrorist threats. Vox explains.

Update:

“Trump Tells Murderous Dictator Location of U.S. Nuclear Subs,” NotionsCapital

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The Trump Campaign Contacted Russia at Least 18 Times

May 18, 2017

The Trump Campaign Contacted Russia at Least 18 Times

“Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters.

The previously undisclosed interactions form part of the record now being reviewed by FBI and congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Six of the previously undisclosed contacts described to Reuters were phone calls between Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, and Trump advisers, including Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, three current and former officials said.

Conversations between Flynn and Kislyak accelerated after the Nov. 8 vote as the two discussed establishing a back channel for communication between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that could bypass the U.S. national security bureaucracy, which both sides considered hostile to improved relations, four current U.S. officials said.”

— “Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians: sources,” Ned Parker, Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel, Reuters

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DOJ Names Special Counsel for Trump-Russia Investigation

May 18, 2017

DOJ Names Special Counsel for Trump-Russia Investigation
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed Robert Mueller as Special Counsel for the investigation of links between Russia and the Trump Campaign. Mr. Mueller served many years as a U.S. Attorney, and prosecutions he led included those of Manuel Noriega, crime boss John Gotti, and the Lockerbie Pan Am bombing case. He was FBI Director from 2001 to 2013. The current investigation encompasses President Trump’s abrupt firing of James Comey, Mr. Mueller’s successor.

More:

“Deputy attorney general appoints special counsel to oversee probe of Russian interference in election,” Devlin Barrett, Sari Horwitz and Matt Zapotosky, Washington Post

“What the Special Counsel Appointment Means,” Matt Ford, The Atlantic 

“Robert Mueller, New Special Counsel, Is Known for Independence,” Michael D. Shear, New York Times

“How presidents normally greet special investigators vs. how Trump does,” Jeff Stein, Vox

“Trump: Special Counsel Part of Biggest ‘Witch Hunt’ in U.S. History,” John T. Bennett, Roll Call

“How a Special Counsel Alters the Russia Investigation,” Charlie Savage, New York Times

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Telephone. Telegraph. Tell Trump.

May 15, 2017

Telephone. Telegraph. Tell Trump.
President Donald Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador (and friend of the Trump Campaign) Sergey Kislyak at the White House last week and managed to reveal classified information to them. The Washington Post, with a better sense of discretion, didn’t print particulars, but it seems the loose presidential lips burned a source of Syrian conflict intelligence on ISIS.

More:

“Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador,” Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe, Washington Post

“Republicans Display a Mix of Defense and Alarm on Trump Allegations,” Clare Foran, The Atlantic

UPDATE:

After sending National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster into the fray to issue a sort-of denial of the Trump leak, the president himself admitted he’d done it and said, essentially, “Yeah, so what?” Mr. Trump is saying he did it because he can. Many in the U.S. are asking (a few months too late) if he is too incompetent to be president, and the foreign leaders he will meet with this week must ask themselves if the U.S. president can be trusted with sensitive information.

Further reports on the Leaker-in-Chief:

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FBI Director Comey Seeking New Opportunities

May 10, 2017

FBI Director Comey Seeking New Opportunities

In a stunning act of ingratitude towards the man who made him President, Donald Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey. Maybe it’s a reflex Mr. Trump developed during his reality TV career.

Hey, this couldn’t have anything to do with the ongoing FBI investigation of the Trump Campaign’s Russian ties, could it?

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Mike Flynn’s Russian Headslapper

April 26, 2017

Mike Flynn's Russian Headslapper
           General Mike Flynn: “D’oh!”

President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, failed to seek permission or inform the U.S. government about accepting tens of thousands of dollars from Russian organizations after a trip there in 2015. There are also questions about $530,000 in consulting work his company performed for a businessman tied to Turkey’s government.

“Personally, I see no data to support the notion that Gen. Flynn complied with the law,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R, UT-3), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee. Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D, MD-7 ) added that failure to file information on such payments is a felony. The Oversight Committee’s request for Gen. Flynn’s files was rejected by the White House.

Before Donald Trump hired Mike Flynn as his National Security Advisor and then ousted him, Gen. Flynn was known for shouting “Lock her up!” at Trump campaign rallies.

More:

“Flynn probably broke the law by failing to disclose foreign payments, House Oversight leaders say,” Karoun Demirjian, Washington Post

“What Law Is Michael Flynn Accused of Violating?” Brendan Morrow, Heavy

Updates:

“Flynn was warned not to accept foreign government payments,” Chad Day and Stephen Braun, Associated Press

“Top Pentagon watchdog launches investigation into money that Michael Flynn received from foreign groups,” By Dan Lamothe, Washington Post

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Trump’s Mercenary Back-Channel to Russia

April 3, 2017

Trump's Mercenary Backchannel to Russia

Nine days before Donald Trump’s inauguration, the United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a contact close to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, according to the Washington Post. The January 11th meetup, an attempt to open a back-channel line of communication between Putin and Trump, took place in the Seychelles islands. Erik Prince, who donated $250,000 to the Trump election effort, is still in the army-for-hire business, providing private security services for the UAE, and lives part-time in Abu Dhabi. His sister, Betsy DeVos, is currently Secretary of Education.

More:

“Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel,” Adam Entous, Greg Miller, Kevin Sieff and Karen DeYoung, Washington Post

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Never Fear, Jared’s Here

April 3, 2017

President Trump, has appointed son-in-law Jared Kushner to run his new Office of American Innovation. And what could be more innovative than giving your daughter’s husband a job? The goal of this new biz exec “SWAT team” is to run the federal government “like a great American company.” Would that be like the four companies Donald Trump bankrupted, or the one that landed Jared Kushner’s daddy in prison?

Trump in-law Kushner may have little time to spearhead SWAT raids. He’ll be talking to the Senate Intelligence Committee about his meeting with Sergey Gorkov, head of the Russian state development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB), sanctioned by the U.S.in 2014 after Russia seized the Ukraine. The meeting was in December, while Mr. Kushner still ran the family business, the multibillion-dollar Kushner Companies. He still owns some Kushner Company assets.

The Intelligence Committee inquiry isn’t a fishing expedition. Last year a New York VEB employee, Evgeny Buryakov, admitted he was actually a Russian SVR spy. Mr. Buryakov is serving two and a half years in a US prison.

More:

“America’s government can’t be run like a business. That’s a feature, not a bug.” Jeff Spross, The Week

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The 3 Trump-Russia scandals. That we know about.

March 1, 2017

A timeline of the 3 Trump-Russia scandals that we know about. At this point in time.

UPDATES: 

Scandal #4

“Sessions met with Russian envoy twice last year, encounters he later did not disclose,”  Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller, Washington Post

Scandal #5

“Jared Kushner met with Russian ambassador during transition, White House official says,” AP via Los Angeles Times

Scandal #6

“Trump Jr. likely paid $50K for event hosted by Russian allies,” Mark Hensch, The Hill

Scandal #7

“In a reversal, former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page now says he did have contact with Russia,” Joshua Barajas, PBS NewsHour

“Two more former Trump aides spoke with Russian ambassador,” Max Greenwood, The Hill

Javier Zarracina @Vox has a handy graphic

Related:

“White House staff told to preserve Russia-related materials,” Julie Pace and Vivian Salama, Associated Press

“Bush ethics lawyer: Trump’s Russia scandal so far is ‘much worse’ than the early stages of Watergate,” Tara Golshan, Vox

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War & Cheese

November 12, 2016

War & Cheese, directed and edited by Ben Garfield (2016).

“‘I heard destiny calling… I was going to be a cheesemaker.’ When Oleg Sirota discovered his native Russia was banning all Western cheese imports, he quit his IT job in Moscow, sold his house and cars, took out a $100k loan and set about building a cheese factory in the snowy wilderness. ‘Russian Parmesan’ was born.”

More:

“Please pass the Russian Parmesan: Cheesemakers celebrate sanctions, and hope they continue,” Andrew Roth, Washington Post

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