TWO smoking guns:
Former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove says Donald Trump borrowed money from Russia during 2008 financial crisis
Richard Dearlove told Prospect Magazine that “what lingers for Trump may be what deals – on what terms – he did after the financial crisis of 2008 to borrow Russian money” when other banks and lenders would not risk the money, given Mr Trump’s history of bankruptcy.
Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” 4:31 am – 11 Jan 2017
Mr Trump also recently said US-Russia relations may be at an “all-time low” following the US air strike in Russian-allied Syria after a chemical attack in the Idlib province.
Robert Amsterdam, a lawyer at international law firm Amsterdam & Partners with considerable experience in Russian affairs, told The Independent there was “no question” that US intelligence agencies and the FBI had information about Trump’s financial dealings with Russian entities prior to the 2016 US election.
Trump-Russia investigation ‘now has concrete evidence of collusion’
“Trump’s relationship with Russia goes back many, many years. I’m sure the FBI was monitoring it,” he said.
Two parallel investigations into alleged ties between Trump associates and Russia during the 2016 presidential election as well as Russia’s alleged tampering with the election are being conducted in Congress at the moment.
Democrat Senator Mark Warner, Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee said the tactics used by the Kremlin “send a chill down anyone who believes in the democratic process“.
If the FBI and or other US intelligence agencies did know about any financial burden Mr Trump had with Russian lenders, it will raise further questions over why the information was not released earlier, especially given the FBI’s approach to Mr Trump’s opposition candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.
FBI Director James Comey infamously sent a letter on 28 October – just 11 days before Americans went to the polls – to Congress stating the agency found new, pertinent emails in its ongoing investigation into then-candidate Ms Clinton’s use of a private email server for messages containing classified information.
Mr Amsterdam said one possible explanation is “that the FBI has an informer who was once part of the Trump organization” and that information was not released in order to protect that source.
“In my view…[the FBI] had no obligation” to share the Trump investigation but “the same rules should apply to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump,” he said.
Mr Amsterdam explained that Russian authorities likely have the same, if not “better,” information about Mr Trump’s financial dealings with Russian entities.
“One of Mr Trump’s main lenders is a bank that’s been particularly close with Russians: Deutsche Bank,” said Mr Amsterdam.
It is unknown if Mr Trump is still paying off the alleged 2008 debts to Russian lenders or which part of the vast Trump organization took out the loans.
The Congressional investigations will also include interviews and possibly hearings with Mr Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
It has been confirmed that Vnesheconombank, a Russian state development bank, met with Mr Kushner in December 2016.
The bank is currently subject to western economic sanctions due to Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.
Concrete evidence of collusion between Trump team and Russia’ handed to official investigation
The official investigation into relations between Donald Trump and Russia now has “specific, concrete and corroborative evidence of collusion”, it has been reported.
New evidence proves discussions took place “between people in the Trump campaign and agents of [Russian] influence relating to the use of hacked material,” a source allegedly told the Guardian.
The developments come as it has emerged that Britain’s spy agencies were among the first to alert their American counterparts to contact between members of Mr Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives.
British and other European intelligence agencies first intercepted suspicious “interactions” between people associated with the US President and Russian officials in 2015 as part of routine surveillance of Russia, intelligence sources have confirmed to a number of different publications.
Spy agencies, including GCHQ, were not deliberately targeting members of the Trump team but rather recorded communications through “incidental collection,” CNN reports.
This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information under the “Five Eyes“ agreement, which calls for open sharing of certain types of information among member nations the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern in communications between the Republican’s inner circle and Russian operatives. For six months, until summer 2016, these interactions were repeatedly flagged to intelligence officials in the US, who sources have said were slow to act.
“It looks like the [US] agencies were asleep,” a source told the Guardian. “They [the European agencies] were saying: ‘There are contacts going on between people close to Mr Trump and people we believe are Russian intelligence agents. You should be wary of this.’
“The message was: ‘Watch out. There’s something not right here.’”
GCHQ’s involvement in the investigation is controversial, with Mr Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, having previously accused the “British spying agency” of bugging Trump Tower on behalf of Barack Obama. Mr Spicer cited an unsubstantiated report on Fox News, from which the television station later distanced itself.
At the time GCHQ diverged from its usual policy of refraining from commenting to the media, describing the allegations as “nonsense”.
“They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored,” a spokesperson for the agency said. But both US and UK intelligence sources now acknowledge that C played an early and important role in kickstarting the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, which began in late July 2016.
One source told the Guardian the British eavesdropping agency was the “principal whistleblower”.
A GCHQ spokesperson declined to comment on the revelations, saying: “It is longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters”.