Trump Jr coordinated with Kremlin-linked “known hostile non-state actor” oops!

Donald Trump Jr. seems to think that the direct messages he exchanged with WikiLeaks aren’t particularly incriminating. On Monday night, Trump Jr. tweeted out what he claims were his “entire chain of messages” with WikiLeaks, and he dismissively wrote that his messages consisted of a “whopping 3 responses.”

According to those direct messages, Trump Jr.’s last message to Wikileaks was sent on October 3, 2016 — four days before the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security released a joint statement publicly accusing WikiLeaks of being a Kremlin front.

“The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts,” the statement said. “These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process… We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”

While Trump Jr. could argue he stopped sending messages to WikiLeaks as soon as U.S. intelligence agencies publicly accused it of being a Kremlin front, his willingness to collaborate with WikiLeaks seems to have extended past the statement’s release on October 7.

On October 12, WikiLeaks sent Trump Jr. a message lauding Trump Sr. for “talking about our publications” during campaign rallies, and suggested, “your dad tweets this link if he mentions us.”

Fifteen minutes later, Trump Sr. posted a tweet complaining that there was “Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged system!”

Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged system! 5:46 AM – Oct 12, 2016 · United States

And two days later, Trump Jr. tweeted out the very link WikiLeaks suggested.

Donald Trump Jr. ✔@DonaldJTrumpJr For those who have the time to read about all the corruption and hypocrisy all the @wikileaks emails are right here: http://wlsearch.tk/ 5:34 AM – Oct 14, 2016

During the last month of the campaign, Trump Sr. mentioned WikiLeaks 164 times, with many of them occurring after the intelligence agencies released their joint statement. Despite the fact that stolen emails published by WikiLeaks were a central part of his closing message, Trump later insisted that WikiLeaks had “absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.”

On Tuesday morning, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski went on CNN and tried to rewrite history in a manner favorable to the Trumps.

Asked how Trump Jr. could have thought it was a good idea to communicate with Kremlin-linked “known hostile non-state actor,” Lewandowski suggested Trump Jr. might not have known “what WikiLeaks was about” in October of last year.

“I don’t know if we knew back in October that WikiLeaks had that same type of notion behind them,” Lewandowski said. “Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that looking back a year ago that we would have known what WikiLeaks was about.”

Lewandowski did not mention the intelligence community statement that was released early that month and received significant media attention.

During another part of the interview, Lewandowski tried to distance the president from his eldest son, saying that “Don Jr. is a private citizen, he can tweet or retweet anything he wants to, and it doesn’t have a material effect on the outcome of the campaign.”

Tuesday night wasn’t the first time Trump Jr. has published incriminating private correspondence under duress. Last July, Trump Jr. tweeted out emails showing that the Trump campaign was eager to collude with individuals connected to the Russian government in an effort to bring down Clinton.

https://thinkprogress.org/the-big-problem-with-donald-trump-jr-s-excuse-for-collaborating-with-wikileaks-f2ee3759c73d/

 

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Trump is being seriously worked by Russian President Vladimir Putin; “no, you’re the puppet”

Two top former U.S. intelligence officials said Sunday that President Trump is being “played” by President Vladimir Putin on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and accused him of being susceptible to foreign leaders who stroke his ego.

“By not confronting the issue directly and not acknowledging to Putin that we know you’re responsible for this, I think he’s giving Putin a pass,” former CIA director John Brennan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint.”

Appearing on the same program, former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said he agrees with that assessment.

“He seems very susceptible to rolling out the red carpet and honor guards and all the trappings and pomp and circumstance that come with the office, and I think that appeals to him, and I think it plays to his insecurities,” Clapper said.

Trump told reporters traveling with him in Asia that Putin had assured him at a conference in Danang, Vietnam, on Saturday that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, and he indicated that he believed Putin was sincere.

Later, in a news conference Sunday in Hanoi with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, Trump appeared to be trying to parse his earlier remarks, saying, “What I said is that I believe [Putin] believes that.”

In his earlier remarks to reporters, Trump also referred to Brennan and Clapper as “political hacks.” Brennan said Sunday that he considers Trump’s characterization “a badge of honor.”

Both men were highly critical of Trump for not saying more definitively that Putin was behind the Russian interference in the U.S. election, a conclusion strongly endorsed by the U.S. intelligence community.

“I don’t know why the ambiguity about this,” Brennan said. “Putin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy and our whole process. And to try paint it in any other way is, I think, astounding, and, in fact, poses a peril to this country.”

Clapper said, “It’s very clear that the Russians interfered in the election, and it’s still puzzling as to why Mr. Trump does not acknowledge that and embrace it and also push hard against Mr. Putin.”

Appearing later on CNN, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin came to Trump’s defense, brushing aside the comments of Brennan and Clapper.

“Those were the most ridiculous statements,” Mnuchin said. “President Trump is not getting played by anybody.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/11/12/former-u-s-intelligence-officials-trump-being-played-by-putin/

From CNN:

In polling, Americans increasingly see the Russian meddling as a grave issue. In a CNN survey conducted this month, about two-thirds (64%) now say the investigation into Russian efforts to influence the US presidential election in 2016 is a serious matter that should be fully investigated, while just 32% see it as an effort to discredit Trump’s presidency.

The percentage who say it’s a “crisis” for the United States if the Russian government did attempt to influence the outcome of the presidential election now stands at 22%.

Trump’s willingness to confront Putin will be tested in the coming months. Trump is required to impose new sanctions on Russian entities by January 29 under a law passed by Congress over the summer. The same law required the administration to identify targets for the sanctions by the beginning of last month; the roster of targets arrived three weeks late.

New Trump talking point: Russian investigation insults Putin and may cost “millions of lives”

Trump believes Putin on Russia meddling and says Mueller may cost lives

Trump with his “bestie” at APEC

Donald Trump said on Saturday he believes Vladmir Putin’s denials of Russian involvement in the manipulation of the 2016 presidential election.

After a brief meeting with the Russian leader on the margins of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Vietnam, Trump launched a tirade against special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and the Kremlin.

The investigation could cost “millions and millions of lives”, Trump claimed, by hindering agreement with Moscow over conflicts in Syria and Ukraine and a looming confrontation with North Korea.

The president’s remarks, made to reporters as Air Force One flew to Hanoi from Da Nang, represented his open disregard for the views of US intelligence agencies. They have concluded that Russia did interfere in multiple ways in the 2016 election, with the aim of helping Trump’s candidacy.

The president suggested he put more faith in Putin’s word.

“Every time he sees me he says ‘I didn’t do that’ and I really believe that when he tells me that,” Trump said. “He really seems to be insulted by it and he says he didn’t do it. He is very, very strong in the fact that he didn’t do it. You have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he has nothing to do with that.”

The president described the investigation led by Mueller, a former FBI director appointed by Trump’s own justice department, as “Democrat-inspired” and a “hit job”.

Trump also claimed the investigation was preventing a normalisation of relations with Putin and therefore could cost countless lives around the world. He suggested Russia was not helping more to persuade Pyongyang to disarm “because of the lack of the relationship that we have with Russia, because of this artificial thing that’s happening with this Democratic-inspired thing”.

“I think [Putin] is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country. Because again, if we had a relationship with Russia, North Korea which is our single biggest problem right now, it would help a lot,” he said.

“You know you are talking about millions and millions of lives,” Trump said, adding that good relations with Moscow were also vital to resolving other conflicts.

“When we can save many, many, many lives by making a deal with Russia having to do with Syria, and then ultimately getting Syria solved, and getting Ukraine solved, and doing other things, having a good relationship with Russia is a great, great thing. And this artificial Democratic hit job gets in the way. It gets in the way. And that’s a shame. Because people will die because of it, and it’s a pure hit job, and it’s artificially induced and that’s shame.”

After Trump’s comments, Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and NSA, posted a tweet saying current CIA leadership agreed with the general intelligence community assessment about Russian interference in the election.

“CIA just told me: the [director] stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment entitled: Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections,” he wrote. “The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed.

Trump met Putin briefly on three occasions at Da Nang, having scheduled no formal meetings with him during the summit. The two exchanged a jovial handshake at the gala dinner on Friday and stood next to one another in a “family photo” of leaders on Saturday.

The US press pool including photographers were blocked from covering the day’s events, including the Trump-Putin meetings. Only Fox News and the official White House photographer were granted access.

Putin dismissed accusations Moscow meddled in the US election as “fantasies” intended to undermine Trump. “Everything about the so-called Russian dossier in the US is a manifestation of continuing domestic political struggle,” he said.

Putin was asked if he had followed the mounting investigation into alleged contacts between Trump’s campaign team and Russians, including a woman who claimed to be Putin’s niece.

“Regarding some sort of connections of my relatives with members of the administration or some officials,” he said, “I only found out about that yesterday from [his spokesman Dmitry] Peskov.”

He also said: “I don’t know anything about [the investigation]. I think these are some sort of fantasies.”

The two leaders produced a joint statement on Syria, restating their determination to defeat Islamic State and their desire for a United Nations-brokered solution.

“It’s going to save tremendous numbers of lives and we did it very quickly, we agreed very quickly,” Trump said.

The statement lists longstanding areas of agreement between the US and Russia on the importance of reviving mostly dormant UN-mediated negotiations known as the Geneva process, which envisages constitutional reform and free elections. In the past, Washington has disagreed with Moscow on how the process should be carried out and what role Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad would play.

Assad’s forces, with Russian and Iranian support, have been gaining ground. The Syrian president has consequently shown little real interest in a peace deal. Asked if Russia would be able to bring Assad to the table, a state department official, quoted on CNN, said: “We’re going to be testing that, we’re going to find out.”

Trump renewed his assault on the Mueller investigation at a time when it is making significant advances, each time a step closer to the president. His former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and a senior fundraiser have been indicted for money laundering and conspiring to defraud the authorities.

Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, is under investigation. His lawyer on Friday denied a report that he had negotiations with Turkish representatives about kidnapping a dissident cleric living in the US.

A former foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, has pleaded guilty to perjury about his contacts with Russian surrogates and officials. Although he personally announced Papadopoulos’s hiring in March 2016, describing him as “an excellent guy”, since the guilty plea was made public the president has said he was a “young, low-level volunteer” who “few people knew”.

However, court papers show Papadopoulos was in frequent contact with senior campaign staff, mostly about plans to bring Trump and Putin together. He met a UK foreign office minister, Tobias Ellwood, at the UN in September 2016. The New York Times reported on Saturday that Papadopoulos helped edit a major foreign policy speech in April of that year, and that one of the officials he was in touch with was Stephen Miller, still one of Trump’s closest advisers.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/11/putin-and-trump-want-political-solution-to-syria-conflict-kremlin-says

Russians here and Russians there, more confirmation of the Steele dossier

Carter Page’s bizarre testimony before the House Intelligence Committee supported some key elements of the infamous dossier compiled by a former British spy.

The former foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign told lawmakers last week about his visits to Russia before and after the election, when he met with government and business leaders, reported Business Insider.

Page confirmed he had emailed campaign adviser J.D. Gordon July 8, 2016, from Moscow — on a trip approved by former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski — to say he had gotten “incredible insights and outreach from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the presidential administration here.”

That seems to confirm findings by former British spy Christopher Steele, who reported in his dossier that “official close to Presidential Administration Head, S. Ivanov, confided in a compatriot that a senior colleague in the Internal Political Department of the PA, Divyekin (nfd) also had met secretly with Page on his recent visit.”

According to Steele’s source, Diveykin told Page the Kremlin had damaging information on Hillary Clinton that they wanted to turn over to the Trump campaign.

Page denied meeting with Diveykin and told the committee that “senior members of the presidential administration,” as described in his email, was actually just a brief chat with deputy Prime Minister Arkadiy Dvorkovich.

He also claimed his reference to legislators meant only a few people shaking his hands in passing during the trip.

Page also confirmed that he “possibly” had contacted the head of investor relations at the Russian oil company Rosneft in advance of his July 2016 visit.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the committee’s ranking Democrat, pointed out that Rosneft’s CEO, Igor Sechin, was under U.S. sanctions as part of the Magnitsky Act.

A U.S. intelligence source claimed in September 2016 that Page met with Sechin, who raised the issue of lifting those sanctions after the election.

A Russian source told Steele that Sechin and Page held a secret meeting to discuss “the issues of future bilateral energy cooperation and prospects for an associated move to lift Ukraine-related western sanctions against Russia.”

Steele alleged that Sechin offered Page the brokerage of a 19 percent stake in Rosneft in exchange for getting U.S. sanctions lifted against oligarchs close to Russian president Vladmir Putin.

Page denied “directly” expressing support for lifting sanctions, but he admitted

that Andrey Baranov, the head of investor relations, “may have briefly mentioned” the sale of a significant percentage of Rosneft in July.

A 19.5 percent stake in Rosneft changed hands in December under mysterious circumstances, and Page returned to Moscow the day after the deal was signed to meet with “some top managers” at the company.

He has denied meeting with Sechin while there, but agrees it would have been “a great honor.”

also

J.D. Gordon Quote from NBC news “ I discouraged Carter from taking the trip to Moscow in the first place because it was a bad idea. Since I refused to forward his speech request form for approval, he eventually went around me directly to campaign leadership

That unregulated reservoir of money we call Russia almost certainly elected Trump

Russia almost certainly made Donald Trump president — and here’s how we know

Many Americans are unhappy about President Donald Trump’s decisions, but defenders of his administration dismiss these criticisms as irrelevant. Elections have consequences, they argue. Trump promised to change Washington when he was on the campaign trail. Voters liked what he said, and now the President is delivering on those promises. Get over it, critics. Trump won. Clinton lost.

This argument in defense of Trump’s leadership sounded more compelling immediately after the election than it does now. New evidence has surfaced in recent months that suggests Trump may not have won the 2016 race primarily because he offered voters a more appealing message than the Democratic candidate. The Kremlin backed numerous communications on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube that boosted Donald Trump’s campaign with words and images that damaged Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. Russian agents appreciated a condition of modern-day electioneering that many politicians, journalists, and citizens in the United States fail to recognize adequately when assessing the results of presidential elections. Russia’s meddlers understood that voters are not simply influenced by the good works a candidate promises to perform. Voters’ decisions are influenced to a considerable degree by strongly negative impressions they have about an opposing candidate’s personality, behavior, and ideas.

In the light of newly released details about Russia’s manipulation of the Internet, pundits who seek “lessons” from the 2016 presidential election should question some of their favored interpretations. When trying to explain why Trump won a very close election, they typically cite the Republican candidate’s promises to “Make America Great Again” and create “good jobs,” his nostalgic references to America’s past, his image as a successful businessman and Washington outsider, and his appeals to ordinary Americans, including white men. They point out, as well, that Hillary Clinton was not an ideal candidate. She lacked the political charisma of her husband. Mrs. Clinton also failed to heed the message that James Carville emphasized during her husband’s successful 1992 campaign – Americans care about “the economy, stupid.”

Trump’s messaging and Clinton’s shortcomings were factors in the outcome, of course. Nevertheless, Mrs. Clinton attracted almost three million more votes than Trump, and her loss can be traced largely to Trump’s victories in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin by a combined total of less than 80,000 votes. Absent Russia’s abundant messages spreading across the Internet, Hillary Clinton would likely be handling the nation’s affairs now in the Oval Office.

The reach of that foreign-based propaganda was impressive. The Internet Research Agency, an organization linked to the Kremlin, reached 126 million users of Facebook. Many of its communications aimed to undermine confidence in Hillary Clinton. Russian agents published more than 1.4 million election-related tweets. Those messages received 288 million views. Russia’s intervention resulted in the publication of more than 120,000 images on Instagram, the photo-sharing platform, and it produced more than 1000 ads on YouTube. Americans who liked these messages passed them on to friends. Agents associated with the Kremlin exploited Internet freedom brilliantly during America’s 2016 election campaign. The Internet remained a free-wheeling, largely unregulated communications network. It did not require sponsors of political messages to identify themselves, as television advertising required.

We should not be surprised that Russians sought to boost Trump’s chances principally by circulating negative impressions of Hillary Clinton rather than positive judgments about Donald Trump. In recent decades, American campaign advertising has accentuated the negative rather than the positive. Strategists recognized that efforts to demonize the opposition can pay off handsomely. The negative approach has been especially evident since the 1988 presidential race. This was not a new trend, of course. The 1800 presidential campaigns involving Thomas Jefferson and John Adams featured plenty of nasty personal attacks, and similar practices affected later presidential contests. Since 1988, though, both major parties put this strategy on steroids.

Republican leaders were nervous in late May of 1988. Democrat Michael Dukakis was far ahead of the President George H. W. Bush in the polls. GOP strategists decided to respond with hard-hitting attack ads against the Democratic candidate. They branded Dukakis as a Massachusetts “liberal” and portrayed him as weak on national defense. “Willie Horton” ads also wrecked Dukakis’s image. They drew attention to a Massachusetts furlough program that allowed the temporary release of state prisoners. Horton, an African American and convicted murderer, committed assault, armed robbery and rape at the time of his furlough. Michael Dukakis made numerous mistakes, but the GOP’s powerful assault on his character and leadership hurt even more. George H. W. Bush overcame Dukakis’s initial advantages, winning the electoral college by a whopping count of 426 to 111. President Bush’s turnaround in the 1988 contest delivered a poignant message. Efforts to promote frightening characterizations of the opposing candidate can make an impact on voters’ opinions.

Negative advertising helped Republicans in the close presidential contest of 2004. Democrats seemed to have a good chance for victory when they nominated John Kerry, an articulate, rugged-looking, war veteran who received a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with Combat V and Three Purple Hearts for military service in Vietnam. But Kerry went down to defeat, in large part because of the way Republican strategists portrayed him – as a tax-raising, flip-flopping wimp. An attack group finished off the wounded Kerry by claiming that he lied about his achievements in Vietnam.

Democrats gained leverage in 1992 and 2012 by employing attack strategies. In 1992, Bill Clinton’s campaign suggested President George H. W. Bush was out of touch with ordinary people. Democrats blamed President Bush for the hard times Americans experienced during a recession. In 2012 Barack Obama’s team quickly defined the character of Mitt Romney for voters before Romney had a chance to make his case. Democrats portrayed Romney as an aloof millionaire who did not truly care about average people. Romney viewed corporations as “people,” Democrats stressed, and they drew attention to Romney’s video-recorded claim that 47% of American voters “are dependent on the government” and “believe the government has a responsibility to care for them.”

It is difficult for political analysts and citizens to revise their familiar narrative about lessons drawn from political campaigns, including their conclusions about the 2016 election. When discussing the reasons for victory or defeat, they give primary weight to the appeal of individual personalities and the candidates’ promises to improve voters’ lives. Commentators stress the importance of a candidate’s likeability and communication skills. But the latest evidence of extensive meddling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube suggests that analysts need to think differently when assessing election results in the years to come. The winning candidate’s personality and message do not always establish the winning margin. Quite often, negative characterizations serve as keys to victory.

Debates about the reasons for Trump’s win and Clinton’s loss will continue to animate conversations for a long time, but new evidence supports an astonishing judgment. Hillary Clinton probably would have won – in fact, she might have won handily and benefited the candidacy of Democrats for the House and Senate – if Russian interference had not created strong doubts about her character and competence.

Russia almost certainly made Donald Trump president — and here’s how we know

Robert Brent Toplin is Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. Toplin was also professor at Denison University and recently has taught occasional courses at the University of Virginia. He is the author of several books about film, history, and politics and has commented on history in several nationally broadcast radio and television programs. Contact: Rt2b@virginia.edu.
This article was originally published at History News Network

The Dossier, Uranium, Russia, Trump and Hillary Clinton; let’s break it down

 

Let’s get the facts straight: 

As a service to readers of the Washington Post bound to be confused by an increasingly tangled story, here’s a brief guide to the latest developments in the tangled allegations involving Russia, President Trump and Hillary Clinton.

The Dossier

Background: The “dossier” is a collection of 17 memos concerning President Trump and Russia written by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, between June 20 and Dec. 13, 2016. Steele produced his memos under a contract with Fusion GPS, a strategic intelligence firm run by former journalists.

The memos are written as raw intelligence, based on interviews Steele had with unidentified Russian sources (identified, for instance, as “Kremlin insider”), some of whom he paid for information. Raw intelligence is essentially high-grade gossip, without the expectation it would be made public unless it is further verified.

The memos, among other things, allege the Russian government had been seeking to split the Western alliance by cultivating and supporting Trump and also gathering compromising information — “kompromat” — on him in an effort to blackmail him. The memos, among other allegations, claim the Russian government fed the Trump campaign “valuable intelligence” on Clinton.

Why It’s Important: The dossier mirrors a separate conclusion by U.S. intelligence agencies that the Russian government intervened in the U.S. election in an effort to bolster Trump and harm Clinton, such as through hacking the Democratic National Committee and distributing materials to WikiLeaks to publish at key moments. As the official declassified report stated:

“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin intensely disliked Clinton because he was convinced that when she was secretary of state she had promoted anti-Putin, pro-democracy efforts in his country. The FBI considered the information gathered by Steele to be of sufficient importance that it considered paying him for his research, although it later dropped the idea.

What’s New: The DNC and Clinton campaign were revealed as the “Democratic donors” who paid Fusion GPS for Steele’s research. (Technically, Perkins Coie, the law firm of Marc Elias, an attorney representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, funded the research.)

Separately, a “Republican donor” who had earlier hired Fusion GPS for information on Trump was revealed to be the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website. But that earlier effort is unrelated to the Democratic-funded research that yielded the dossier.

We should note that, in another assignment, Fusion had been hired by a U.S. law firm in early 2014 to assist on the defense against a civil action filed by the U.S. government alleging fraud by Prevezon Holdings. Prevezon is owned by Denis Katsyv, the son of a senior Russian government official.

Why is that relevant? Natalia Veselnitskaya, who was also working for the law firm on the Prevezon case, met with Trump campaign officials at the Trump Tower in June 2016, including Donald Trump Jr., campaign manager Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, the husband of Ivanka Trump. Donald Trump Jr. agreed to meet with Veselnitskaya after an intermediary promised dirt on Clinton. She arrived with a memo containing talking points that had been previously shared by Yuri Chaika, Russia’s prosecutor general who is known as a master of kompromat.

What’s controversial: The Trump White House has tried to use the connection between the dossier and Clinton to claim that this shows that rather than Trump colluding with Russia, Clinton colluded with Russia. (The theory appears to be that because Steele was getting information from Russian officials in part with funds provided by the Clinton campaign, the Russians were helping Clinton.)

But that ignores the fact that DNC emails — as well as the email account of the Clinton campaign chairman — were hacked and then published by WikiLeaks as part of the pro-Trump Russian operation identified by U.S. intelligence agencies. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal reported that a prominent Trump donor and the chief executive of a data-analytics firm working for Trump’s presidential campaign in August 2016 discussed how to better organize the Clinton-related emails being released by Wikileaks in order to leverage their impact.

Steele started producing his memos in June 2016, about the same time that intelligence agencies began investigating possible ties between Russia and people close to Trump. The connection between Steele’s research and official government investigations is murky, but for some Republicans, it raises questions about whether the official probe begun in the Obama administration was influenced by information gathered by someone being paid by Democrats.

CNN, for instance, reported that the FBI used information in the Steele memos to obtain approval from the secret court that oversees the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to monitor the communications of Carter Page, who Trump had said was a key adviser on national security issues. Presumably, the FBI had verified the information before it could cite it in court. Steele had quoted an “ethnic Russian close associate” of Trump as saying Page was an intermediary in “a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation” between the Trump campaign and the Russian leadership. Page has adamantly denied any wrongdoing.

Steele, during the campaign, at Fusion’s direction also briefed reporters from some U.S. news organizations, including The Washington Post, on his findings, according to court filings. Only one publication, Mother Jones, published information based on the briefing before the election.

The Uranium deal

Background: In 2010, Rosatom, the Russian nuclear energy agency, acquired a controlling stake in Uranium One, a Canadian-based company that had mining licenses for about 20 percent of U.S. uranium extraction capacity. The agreement was approved by the Obama administration when Clinton was secretary of state.

Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining financier and a major contributor to the Clinton Foundation, had sold a company, UrAsia, to Uranium One in 2007. Individuals related to Uranium One and UrAsia, including Giustra, donated to the Clinton Foundation, totaling about $145 million. Meanwhile, in 2010, Bill Clinton received $500,000 from a Russian bank to give a speech at a conference in Moscow.

Trump, during the campaign, tossed all of these separate facts together to falsely claim that Clinton “gave 20 percent of our uranium — gave Russia for a big payment.” But numerous fact checks have found no evidence for this claim. The original suggestion of wrongdoing was first raised in a book underwritten by an organization headed by Stephen K. Bannon, a key adviser to Trump.

Why It’s Important: Whenever news about the Russia investigation heats up, the Trump White House cites the uranium deal in an effort to muddy the waters and suggest that Russia had gained something from Clinton in exchange for money. Trump himself has claimed the case is “Watergate, modern age.”

But there is no evidence Clinton even was informed about this deal. The Treasury Department was the key agency that headed the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States which approved the investment; Clinton did not participate in the CFIUS decision. The deal was also approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Ultimately, only the president could have blocked or suspended the arrangement.

Moreover, no uranium produced at U.S. mines may be exported, except for some uranium yellowcake which is extracted and processed in Canada before being returned to the United States for use in nuclear power plants.

What’s New: The Hill newspaper on Oct. 22 reported the FBI had gathered evidence at the time of the sale that a Russian Rosatom official had conducted a massive bribery scheme, compromising an American trucking company that shipped uranium for Russia. The official eventually was convicted in 2015, but Republicans have said the case should have raised alarms about the Rosatom investment in Uranium One and possibly blocked the deal. But there is no evidence that U.S. officials weighing the transaction knew about the FBI investigation.

The reporting prompted House Republicans to announce they would launch an investigation. With the apparent urging of President Trump, the Justice Department gave a former FBI informant in the case approval to testify before Congress. The informant’s lawyer claimed he would discuss his work “uncovering the Russian nuclear bribery case and the efforts he witnessed by Moscow to gain influence with [former president Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton] in hopes of winning favorable uranium decisions from the Obama administration.”

What’s controversial: Any suggestion that Russian money was directed to influence Clinton’s decisions would be explosive. But the fatal flaw in this allegation is Hillary Clinton, by all accounts, did not participate in any discussions regarding the Uranium One sale which — as we noted — does not actually result in the removal of uranium from the United States.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/10/29/the-dossier-and-the-uranium-deal-a-guide-to-the-latest-allegations/?utm_term=.c2619200bcff&wpisrc=al_trending_now__alert-politics–alert-national&wpmk=1

 

Fresh red meat for Nunes’- Gowdy and the Republican diversion sideshow 

Former DNC chair and dirty-trickster Schultz

Schultz’s DNC and the Clinton campaign have played right into the hands of the Republican hysteria machine, again. In another boneheaded move from Wasserman Schultz’s DNC and the Clinton campaign, they never came forward to take credit for helping to fund the “Steele Dossier”.  So even though it was originally funded by one or more Republicans that fact will most likely be forgotten has hysterical Republicans like Devin Nunes, Peter King and Trey Gowdy now have fresh red meat to chew on.

The fact is it does matter who funded the research, if it’s true then it’s true.

Republicans on House’s Trump-Russia Probe Not That Interested in Trump or Russia

Only three of the 13 House intel committee Republicans regularly show up to grill Russia-related witnesses. Meanwhile, GOP staffers are chasing the trail of the pee tape dossier.

In front of cable news cameras and on Twitter, the tensions between Republicans and Democrats on the House intelligence committee’s Trump-Russia investigation are pointed and more than occasionally nasty.

But inside the Secure Compartmented Information Facility while members of the intel committee grill Obama administration alums and Trump allies, things can get even messier. Rep. Devin Nunes, who has ostensibly stepped back from the probe, still controls its subpoena power—and significant aspects of its agenda. Nunes’ staffers are tracking down leads. Just not those about Trump.

People familiar with the probe say it’s becoming increasingly clear where the committee’s Republican staffers are focusing their energy—and it’s not on the possible collusion between the Kremlin and Trump Tower.

Three knowledgeable sources told The Daily Beast that usually just three of the 13 Republican congressmen on the committee are regulars when witnesses are grilled behind closed doors. A few additional members sometimes attend parts of the probe’s interviews.

Rep. Trey Gowdy asks the most questions of any Republican there, according to a source in the room during the talks. He often asks the same things of every witness: whether he or she knows of any “collusion, cooperation, or conspiracy.” Rep. Tom Rooney is the only other Republican to ask a significant number of questions. Rep. Mike Conaway, the chair of the probe, is present but doesn’t ask as much.

“Just listening to those guys, it’s not like they’ve been prepared exquisitely by staff,” said the source who’s been in the room during questioning.

The questions tend to get more pointed and more direct when the witnesses are Obama administration alums. Republicans had particularly detailed questions for Samantha Power and Susan Rice, two former Obama administration officials who Republicans lambaste for allegedly lawless unmasking, according to the source in the room.

Other Republicans sometimes make occasional appearances; Rep. Elise Stefanik has attended part of more than half of the interview sessions, per our source, and Reps. Frank LoBiondo, Brad Wenstrup, and Chris Stewart have all also made appearances. A spokesman for Rep. Peter King said he attends “virtually every interview,” though a source disputed that. On Tuesday, when former Trump digital guru Brad Parscale and longtime lawyer Michael Cohen appeared for back-to-back grilling sessions, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen also attended.

This all points to a larger, fundamental tension: For all practical purposes, the House intel committee is running two investigations, not one.

‘Nunes’ Torquemada’

There’s the work going on in the SCIF in the Capitol basement—hour after hour of interviews with key players, as well as efforts to gather documents from social media companies and emails from key White House players.

But simultaneously, the committee’s chairman, Devin Nunes, appears to be freelancing, helming his own investigation into three passion projects: discrediting the Fusion GPS “pee tape” dossier, criticizing Obama administration officials for looking at the names of U.S. citizens in intelligence intercepts—a process known as “unmasking”—and digging in on allegations that the Russians bribed Hillary Clinton to sell off America’s uranium stores. Sources say he subpoenaed Fusion GPS’ bank without telling the committee’s minority members, which may violate committee rules. Fusion GPS has taken the intel committee to court to try to quash that subpoena.

All those projects have the effect of blocking and tackling for Trump, even after Nunes indicated in April that he would step back from the probe because of criticism that he was trying to run interference for the White House.

Speaking of subpoenas, only Nunes can issue them—even though he announced on April 6 that he would have Conaway, Rooney, and Gowdy “temporarily take charge” of the probe. Multiple sources confirmed to The Daily Beast that Nunes has not delegated his subpoena power to any of those three Republicans. One source said Conaway has been requesting subpoenas, and that Nunes has the final sign-off.

And sources said the real power behind the Team Nunes’ efforts lies with two staffers—namely, Kash Patel and Doug Presley, the duo who went to London in July, in hopes of meeting with the author of the “pee tape” dossier. (On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that research was funded in part by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.)

The staffers’ appearance at the lawyer’s office caused a commotion. At the time, Sens. Mark Warner and Richard Burr—who are running the Senate intelligence committee’s Trump/Russia probe—were negotiating with the lawyer to try to set up an interview. Patel and Presley’s surprise appearance made his lawyer extremely skittish, according to a source familiar.

That source described Patel as “Nunes’ Torquemada” and said he is the driving force behind Nunes’ investigative efforts.

The source also told The Daily Beast that Conaway, whom Nunes delegated to run the probe, only found about the Nunes staffers’ London expedition when Rep. Adam Schiff—Nunes’ Democratic counterpart on the committee—called Conaway to express consternation and incredulity about their journey.

Spokespersons for Conaway and Schiff did comment on that. Earlier on Tuesday, Schiff released a statement saying Nunes’ efforts—especially his latest, to dig in on the uranium situation—were “designed to distract attention” from the committee’s real work.

That is not the only marginal issue Nunes has moved to center stage. Nunes is also devoting committee resources to investigating Obama administration officials’ alleged “unmasking” of Trump-affiliated names, even though there is no evidence that any of those officials improperly or illegally disclosed those names.

“Sideshows like unmasking keep coming up, and no one has found any wrongdoing,” said one aide to a committee member.

While many Democrats on the committee have dismissed Nunes as unserious, his efforts are positioned to have a real effect on members’ ability to do effective oversight of the sprawling intelligence community. One aide to a committee member wondered aloud to The Daily Beast whether it will ever return to its traditional cooperative productivity.

It is likely, as The New York Times first reported and The Daily Beast can corroborate, that the two partisan factions on the committee will issue their separate reports at the conclusion of the Russia probe. The lack of a consensus report, both sides expect, ensure the Russia collusion questions remain open. Some Democrats believe the Republicans and the White House can live with any outcome short of affirming collusion, even though Trump would prefer outright exoneration.

Even as the probe enters what may be a terminal phase, Nunes’ focus is on Russia-related matters—albeit ones that he thinks impact, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Joined by fellow Republicans Ron DeSantis—who isn’t a member of the House intelligence committee—and King, Nunes announced a new Russia-focused probe, this one about an Obama-era uranium deal. King specifically said the investigation, a joint endeavor of the intelligence committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is “totally separate from the election issue.” In short, it’s not about Trump.

The news will surely delight the president—and only fuel the acrimony inside the House.

The Daily Beast BETSY WOODRUFF & SPENCER ACKERMAN

https://www.thedailybeast.com/republicans-on-houses-trump-russia-probe-not-that-interested-in-trump-or-russia