Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

GOP: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

December 19, 2018

GOP: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

Former American University grad student Maria Butina pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy against the United States, acting as an unregistered agent of the Russian Federation, and seeking to influence U.S. conservative politicians through the National Rifle Association. It’s a salacious spy story of sex, guns, money, and the National Prayer Breakfast, and it’s packed with oligarchs, Republicans, lobbyists, Treasury officials and Kremlin connections, a saga spanning the globe from Siberia to South Dakota.

Ms. Butina, deemed a flight risk, has been imprisoned since her indictment in July. We hope she’s been able to continue with her Tai Chi in jail. There are indications she will be testifying before a federal grand jury sometime soon.

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Top image (“Maria ‘Natasha Fatale’ Butina, after Jay Ward and Alex Anderson“) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Missile Crisis: Trump Warns Russia, Russia Warns Trump

December 6, 2018

Back in October, mustachioed National Security Advisor and Cold War reenactor John Bolton first warned Vladimir Putin that President Trump is just itching to pull the U.S. out of the Reagan-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo now says this will happen in 60 days. President Putin offers to respond by ramping up Russia’s missile development. This would be a good time to refurnish your fallout shelter.

More:

“Trump Hits Replay on the End of the Cold War,” Mark Gongloff, Bloomberg

Related:

“Nuclear War Experts: ‘John Bolton Is an Asshole,'” Matthew Gault, Motherboard

Song: “Russia, Russia (Lay That Missile Down),”  written by Tom Paxton, recorded by Prescott Reed (we don’t know if he’s the balalaika player). 1958.

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Firehose of Falsehood

November 15, 2018

Obvious lies make great propaganda. Carlos Maza explains. A Vox video.

More:

“The Russian ‘Firehose of Falsehood’ Propaganda Model,” Christopher Paul, Miriam Matthews, RAND Corporation

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Mad for Vlad, Trump Invites Putin To Washington

July 23, 2018

Mad for Vlad, Trump Invites Putin To Washington
President Donald Trump so enjoyed his successful Helsinki meeting with Vladimir Putin that he’s sent a message to the Russian strongman inviting him to the White House this fall. Great, another damn sequel. Perhaps Russian oligarchs could use the occasion to hold a GOP fundraiser in DC — it wouldn’t be the first for some of them.

Mr. Putin may be welcome at the White House and the Trump Hotel, but he can forget about addressing a joint session of Congress. Maybe he can pop across the Potomac to visit his fans at the NRA instead.

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Putin Wants the North Pole

March 26, 2018

Putin Wants the North Pole

Santa Claus and Vladimir Putin have something in common: They both live in Russia. That’s what Russia says, anyway.

Russia submitted a formal bid to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) claiming more than 463,000 square miles of Arctic Ocean seabed, including the North Pole. Russia says that the underwater Lomonosov and Mendeleev Ridges under the Arctic are extensions of the country’s continental shelf. Russia made a symbolic stunt claiming the Pole in 2007, putting a titanium flag on the sea floor under the ice cap.

Why would anyone want the Arctic seafloor, anyway? Oil and gas. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates there are reserves of 90 billion barrels of oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas there, 22 percent of the world’s unrecovered oil and natural gas, and with Global Warming it’s becoming more accessible.

Another nation with interests in the Arctic is ineligible to file a UN claim, since it’s not a signatory of the Convention on the Law of the Sea: The United States of America.

More:

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Trump Tried to Buy Property in Russia While Running For President

August 29, 2017

Trump Tried to Buy Property in Russia While Running For President
“While Donald Trump was running for president in late 2015 and early 2016, his company was pursuing a plan to develop a massive Trump Tower in Moscow, according to several people familiar with the proposal and new records reviewed by Trump Organization lawyers.

” … the details of the deal … provide evidence that Trump’s business was actively pursuing significant commercial interests in Russia at the same time he was campaigning to be president — and in a position to determine U.S.-Russia relations. The new details from the emails, which are scheduled to be turned over to congressional investigators soon, also point to the likelihood of additional contacts between Russia-connected individuals and Trump associates during his presidential bid.”

“Trump denied having any business connections to Russia in July 2016, tweeting, ‘for the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia’ and then insisting at a news conference the following day, ‘I have nothing to do with Russia.’”

— “Trump’s business sought deal on a Trump Tower in Moscow while he ran for president,” Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman, Washington Post

“A top executive from Donald Trump’s real estate company emailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s personal spokesman during the U.S. presidential campaign last year to ask for help advancing a stalled Trump Tower development project in Moscow, according to documents submitted to Congress on Monday.”

— “Top Trump Organization executive asked Putin aide for help on business deal,” Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger, Washington Post

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Report: Sessions Talked Policy With Russian Diplomat

July 25, 2017

Report: Sessions Talked About Campaign With Russian Diplomat

The Russian ambassador to the U.S. told his superiors that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to Mr. Session’s public assertions and sworn testimony, reports the Washington Post:

“Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he had no recollection of an April encounter — has provided ‘misleading’ statements that are ‘contradicted by other evidence.’ A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had ‘substantive’ discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

Sessions has said repeatedly that he never discussed campaign-related issues with Russian officials and that it was only in his capacity as a U.S. senator that he met with Kislyak.

‘I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign,’ Sessions said in March when he announced that he would recuse himself from matters relating to the FBI probe of Russian interference in the election and any connections to the Trump campaign.”

— “Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show,” Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller, Washington Post

President Trump is hinting that he will fire Mr. Sessions and attacking him, but not for campaign collusion or for lying about it. Mr. Trump is upset that Mr. Sessions recused himself on the Russia investigation and isn’t persecuting his former political opponent, like they do in, say, Russia.

More:

“Sessions Discussed Campaign Matters With Russian Ambassador,” Aria Bendix and Adam Serwer, The Atlantic

“Sessions hires his own lawyer,” Rebecca Savransky, The Hill

Related:

“Ex-Bush ethics lawyer: Trump calling for Clinton to be prosecuted is an ‘impeachable offense,'” Aida Chavez, The Hill

“Russian envoy, at heart of U.S. investigations, ends tenure in Washington,” David Shepardson, Reuters

“Kislyak Leaves His Post With Russiagate in His Wake,” Griffin Connolly, Roll Call

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Summer Intern Speaks Outside White House

July 24, 2017

New Jersey youngster Jared Kushner spoke to White House reporters Monday, claiming credit towards his Citizenship Merit Badge. He’s a good boy, say his counselors.

Every summer well-connected, rich white American youths who can afford to work without pay descend upon the Nation’s Capital. They serve a vital function, staffing federal government offices while our elected officials are playing golf at their private clubs. Inevitably, the inexperienced and unsupervised young folks get into trouble. Everybody just shrugs.

More:

“Kushner’s damning account: At the very least, he’s in over his head,” Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

“Jared Kushner’s explanations on Russia reveal a man wholly unsuited to his job,” Ed Pilkington, The Guardian

“CNN analyst rips Kushner’s statement to shreds: He’s going to solve the Middle East but can’t fill out forms,” Eric W, Dolan, Raw Story

“Jared Kushner Blames Basically Everyone — Donny, His Assistant, His Tough Job — For the Russia Headache,” Emily Jane Fox, Vanity Fair

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Donald Trump Jr., Cover Boy

July 17, 2017

“How bad is it?” asks David Von Drehle in Time magazine, the new issue with Donald Trump Jr. on the cover. Maybe Trump Sr. will put this cover on the walls of his golf course clubhouses.

Donny Junior’s Russian meeting is certainly a front page story, and as more information emerges, it just gets worse. Possible federal election law violation, conspiracy,  and obstruction of justice. That means full employment for Washington’s lawyers for the foreseeable future.

More:

“How Donald Trump Jr.’s Emails Have Cranked Up the Heat on His Family,” David Von Drehle, TIME

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Donald Trump Jr.’s Cartoonish Campaign Conspiracy

July 13, 2017

Donald Trump Jr.'s Cartoonish Campaign Conspiracy
So this Ivy-League-educated New York millionaire frat boy gets an email from a British music promoter and professional fat guy he met at a Moscow beauty pageant, who tells him a Russian government attorney he knows through a Russian pop singer client has dirt on the political opponent of the millionaire’s daddy that she got from the Russian chief federal prosecutor. “I love it,” responds the millionaire New Yorker, and forwards the email to his brother-in-law and his poppa’s campaign manager, and they all meet with the Russian lawyer at Trump Tower, in violation of federal campaign law, and they don’t tell anyone until after they win the election. The Big Apple frat boy then incriminates himself via twitter and hires a trombone-playing mob lawyer to defend him.

Natasha Fatale: “What do you think?”
Boris Badenov: “I think he is as dumb as a sack of hammers.”

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Image (“Boris Badanov gets Donald Trump Jr.’s email” after Jay Ward and Alex Anderson), by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.