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Trump-Russia Affair

Donald J. Trump may have been compromised by the Russians, became a traitor to his country and may be a Russian spy or mole. Donald J. Trump put Putin and Russian interests above American interests and may have committed treason. Donald J. Trump, Trump Jr. and an unknown number of people from the Trump campaign may have conspired (colluded) to work with the Russians to help elect Donald J. Trump as the president of the United States of America. When Donald J. Trump called on the Russians to get him Clinton’s emails, the Russians started trying to hack Clinton’s emails the same day. Donald J. Trump returned the favor by changing the party platform to soften its rhetoric on Russia and slow walking sanctions against Russia and siding with Putin and Russia over America and our allies. Donald J. Trump Trump may be compromised or/and a mole for Russia. Which explains multiple efforts to set up a back channel with the Kremlin. Donald J. Trump disclosed classified information to the Russians. Donald J. Trump and his campaign lied about their contacts with Russians. When questioned about their contacts with the Russians they attempted to hide, lie, distract and may have destroyed evidence about contacts and connections to the Russians and what they were up to. Donald J. Trump went so far as to dictate a cover story for his son to hide to true reasons for the meeting with the Russians.  

Donald J. Trump his son and his campaign all claimed they did have not contact with any Russians turns out Trump Jr. and his several of Trump's campaign staff did have contacts with the Russians. When they were caught, Donald J. Trump proceeded to construct a cover story that it was about adoptions. Trouble is that’s not what Trump Jr.'s emails say they went there for. They went to get dirt on Hillary from the Russian government. We know Trump Jr. and other members of the Trump campaign were willing to conspire with the Russians government and others to help Trump get elected. The Russians wanted to help Trump win the 2016 election, the email Trump Jr. received offered incriminating evidence against Clinton from the Russian government. Let that sink in for a moment members of the Trump campaign willingly conspired with the Russian government to help Trump get elected President of the United States of America. Many people are saying this is disgusting and far worse than Watergate.

Donald J. Trump and his Republican allies have attacked the FBI, the justice department and our intelligence agencies in an attempt to destroy their credibly in an effort to protect Trump, his son, his campaign and Putin from prosecution. Destroying the credibly of the FBI, the justice department and our other intelligence agencies is un-American but is something Putin or one of his spy’s or moles would do. The Mueller investigation has exposed illegal schemes across international borders and produced more than 100 criminal charges. Mueller has indicted 32 people (26 are Russian nationals) and three Russian companies so far, it not a witch hunt it’s a mole hunt. If Donald J. Trump is a traitor or a mole then he is the enemy of America and the enemy of the people.

Mueller was unable to prove a criminal case because people obstructed justice, took the 5th, lied and destroy evidence. That does not mean Trump and the Russians did not conspire to help Trump win the 2016 election. People do not obstruct justice, take the 5th, lie, destroy evidence for things that are good they only do them things when they have done something bad, something to hide or to protect themselves from going to jail. Was it just a coincidence that 5 hours after trump asked the Russians to get Clintons emails the Russians started hacking the DNC. Or when the Russians started leaking DNC emails 30 min after the Trump video came out, that should make you wonder what went on with Trump and the Russians? When Trump needed help the Russians where there to help him and trump did try to remove the Russians sanction and slow walked new sanction, which may have payment for help he received from the Russians for help in the 2016 elections.

We may not find out what happen or did not happen in our lifetime however history is funny the truth always comes out. Maybe we will find out more as the Trump-Ukraine Affair unfolds. When Trump and his campaign were caught meeting with Russians to get dirt on Clinton they lied and said it was about adaption. This time when they were caught trying to get dirt on Biden they lied and said it was about corruption. The Trump-Ukraine Affair should make you rethink the Trump-Russia Affair. The fact that Donald J. Trump is seeking help from another foreign country and publicly urging China and Ukraine to investigate the Bidens should scare the hell out of every American the president of the Untied State is seeking foreign interference in our elections and using your tax dollars to do it. mericans may come to realize that Trump did the same thing during the 2016 election seeking help from a foreign government (the Russians) to win the 2016 election. Russia helped elect Trump to install a Russian friendly government in American the 2016 election may come to know as a Russia coup d'état of America. Quid pro quo from Trump for Putin’s help in the 2016 election may explain why Trump puts Russia and Putin interests ahead of American interests. The fact that Trump uses Russian talking points, sides with Russia over America should make all Americans realize Clinton was right Trump is Putin’s puppet; Trump is America's first Russian backed president. #Trump, #TrumpRussia, #Russia

Below are the receipts find out more about Trump and Russia. The more you know the better informed you will be.:

Tracking the Mueller Investigation into how the Russians infiltrated the Trump campaign and the Republican Party to help get Donald J. Trump elected president of the United States of America.

The Mueller report, with some redactions, was released on Thursday.

Donald J. Trump an American Nightmare a Russian Wet Dream
Trump is America’s first Russian backed President and the first American President to put Russian interest before American interest. Trump is Putin’s puppet in the White House. Trump is a wet dream for Putin and Russia while our founding fathers are rolling over in their graves Trump is their worst nightmare and our current nightmare. Trump has corrupted most if not all federal agencies.

Exclusive: Documents suggest Russia launched secret multi-agency effort to interfere in US democracy
Luke Harding, Julian Borger and Dan Sabbagh

Vladimir Putin personally authorised a secret spy agency operation to support a “mentally unstable” Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election during a closed session of Russia’s national security council, according to what are assessed to be leaked Kremlin documents. The key meeting took place on 22 January 2016, the papers suggest, with the Russian president, his spy chiefs and senior ministers all present.

They agreed a Trump White House would help secure Moscow’s strategic objectives, among them “social turmoil” in the US and a weakening of the American president’s negotiating position. Russia’s three spy agencies were ordered to find practical ways to support Trump, in a decree appearing to bear Putin’s signature. more...


It’s official: The Trump campaign colluded with Russia. In an explosive development, the Biden administration confirmed that a Russian government agent with close connections to Donald Trump’s top 2016 campaign official “provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and [Trump] campaign strategy.” This revelation demolishes, once and for all, Trump’s ceaseless claims that he was the victim of the “greatest witch hunt in the history of our country.” (Recall that a Trump appointee directed Robert Mueller to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.”) more...

David Smith in Washington

The KGB ‘played the game as if they were immensely impressed by his personality’, Yuri Shvets, a key source for a new book, tells the Guardian. Donald Trump was cultivated as a Russian asset over 40 years and proved so willing to parrot anti-western propaganda that there were celebrations in Moscow, a former KGB spy has told the Guardian. Yuri Shvets, posted to Washington by the Soviet Union in the 1980s, compares the former US president to “the Cambridge five”, the British spy ring that passed secrets to Moscow during the second world war and early cold war. Now 67, Shvets is a key source for American Kompromat, a new book by journalist Craig Unger, whose previous works include House of Trump, House of Putin. The book also explores the former president’s relationship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

“This is an example where people were recruited when they were just students and then they rose to important positions; something like that was happening with Trump,” Shvets said by phone on Monday from his home in Virginia. Shvets, a KGB major, had a cover job as a correspondent in Washington for the Russian news agency Tass during the 1980s. He moved to the US permanently in 1993 and gained American citizenship. He works as a corporate security investigator and was a partner of Alexander Litvinenko, who was assassinated in London in 2006. more...

Paul Waldman

Up until now, many of President Trump’s pardons — for war criminals, corrupt politicians and fraudsters of various types — have appeared mostly rooted in his deep affinity for the most despicable human beings our society has managed to produce. If you were a vocal Trump supporter, that was often enough to get you on the list, whatever your crime. But with his latest batch of pardons, particularly those of former campaign chair Paul Manafort and longtime confidante Roger Stone, something different is at play: The pardons are all about him.

The long and winding coverup of the Russia scandal is now complete. Trump and his advocates have long cited special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s failure to bring criminal charges for coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. They have insisted there was “no collusion.”

But all those meetings between Russian officials and Trump campaign officials, the way Stone kept Trump apprised of the progress of WikiLeaks’ plans to release Democratic emails that the Russians stole, Manafort’s coordination with a Russian intelligence operative — it all added up to a shocking betrayal of the United States. Which is why Trump has worked so hard to convince Americans it was no big deal, and to ensure that neither he nor his associates paid the appropriate price.

The events leading up to the Manafort pardon underscore this story. His case went through many twists and turns, including a period in which he made a deal to cooperate with prosecutors, then lied to them about various matters. But the record showed a stunning level of not only avaricious fraud, but an eagerness to do the bidding of foreign actors who did not appear to have U.S. interests in mind.

The Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee, which issued a scathing report on the scandal, documents how Manafort, as campaign chair, secretly passed confidential internal campaign polling data to his associate Konstantin Kilimnik. The report describes Kilimnik as “a Russian intelligence officer.” more...

*** Why does Trump continue to protect Putin and Russia over America? It makes you wonder if Trump is on Putin’s payroll or do the Russians have something on him.  ***

Jordan Novet

President Donald Trump suggested Saturday that China might have been behind a cyberattack affecting multiple U.S. government agencies and companies, despite Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s allegation hours earlier that Russia was likely behind the attack. The assertion adds confusion to an already complex situation, as cybersecurity workers strive to figure out a hack that came to light less than week ago. At that time Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter, that attackers were affiliated with Russia.

“Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because Lamestream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of........discussing the possibility that it may be China (it may!)” Trump wrote in a pair of tweets. A U.S. official confirmed to NBC News on Saturday that White House officials were planning to issue a statement on Friday that would say Russia was responsible for the cyberattack but were told to stand down. The Associated Press reported on the White House’s plans earlier on Saturday. Two officials told NBC News that Trump’s tweets had caught White House off guard.

“At this time the NSC is focused on investigating the circumstances surrounding this incident, and working with our interagency partners to mitigate the situation,” National Security Council spokesperson told NBC News. “There will be an appropriate response to those actors behind this conduct.” Russia has been a sensitive topic for Trump. An investigation led by Robert Mueller found that the Russian government had interfered in the 2016 election that resulted in Trump becoming president. Trump said in 2019 that he had never worked for Russia, after The New York Times reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation had begun looking into whether he had become influenced by the Kremlin. more...

More than 50 former intelligence officials signed a letter casting doubt on the provenance of a New York Post story on the former vice president's son.

More than 50 former senior intelligence officials have signed on to a letter outlining their belief that the recent disclosure of emails allegedly belonging to Joe Biden’s son “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”

The letter, signed on Monday, centers around a batch of documents released by the New York Post last week that purport to tie the Democratic nominee to his son Hunter’s business dealings. Under the banner headline “Biden Secret E-mails,” the Post reported it was given a copy of Hunter Biden’s laptop hard drive by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who said he got it from a Mac shop owner in Delaware who also alerted the FBI.

While the letter’s signatories presented no new evidence, they said their national security experience had made them “deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case” and cited several elements of the story that suggested the Kremlin’s hand at work. “If we are right,” they added, “this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election, and we believe strongly that Americans need to be aware of this.”

Nick Shapiro, a former top aide under CIA director John Brennan, provided POLITICO with the letter on Monday. He noted that “the IC leaders who have signed this letter worked for the past four presidents, including Trump. The real power here however is the number of former, working-level IC officers who want the American people to know that once again the Russians are interfering." more...

Sinéad Baker

US spies and diplomats are accusing the Trump administration of refusing to properly investigate mysterious illnesses that have affected officials in Cuba, China, and Russia, and some are suggesting a cover-up, The New York Times reported on Monday. In 2016, US and Canadian diplomats in Cuba started hearing strange sounds and reporting symptoms like nerve damage and headaches. Doctors said they were caused by mild traumatic brain injuries.

In 2018, several US officials in Guangzhou, China, also said they heard mysterious sounds and had similar symptoms. They were diagnosed with brain injuries. The Times reported on Monday that some senior CIA officers who visited foreign stations, including in Moscow, experienced similar symptoms but that the agency is not convinced an attack took place. more...

Giuliani’s dirty tricks are the scandal, not Hunter Biden’s hard drive.
By Michelle Goldberg

The Treasury Department last month imposed sanctions on four people linked to Russia for attempting to influence the presidential election, including a Ukrainian parliamentarian named Andriy Derkach, who has worked with Donald Trump’s consigliere Rudy Giuliani to smear Joe Biden. According to the Treasury, Derkach has been “an active Russian agent for over a decade, maintaining close connections with the Russian intelligence services.”

The Treasury said Derkach had worked covertly to cultivate “false and unsubstantiated narratives concerning U.S. officials in the upcoming 2020 presidential election” — an obvious reference to Biden. Derkach had released “edited audiotapes and other unsupported information” and managed to push his “unsubstantiated narratives” into Western media.

According to The Washington Post, U.S. intelligence agencies warned the White House last year that Giuliani, then searching in Ukraine for dirt about Biden and his son Hunter, was the target of a Russian influence operation. “The Russians have been cultivating Rudy Giuliani as an asset for over a year,” Chris Murphy, a Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told me. “Any information proffered by Rudy Giuliani is likely compromised.”

That, of course, did not stop The New York Post from publishing a series of breathless articles about Hunter Biden purportedly based on a hard drive that fell into Giuliani’s hands. Some of the stories — like one about Hunter’s anguished texts to his father from rehab — seem intended to wound Joe Biden by humiliating his child. Others were meant to resurrect the discredited accusation that Joe Biden pressed for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor to help Burisma, an energy company that had Hunter Biden on its board.

So far, the Hunter Biden laptop affair is a farcical retread of the Russian hack-and-leak operation that helped torpedo Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations in 2016. Now, as then, the Trump campaign appears to be hoping that the media will dribble out stolen private messages over the final weeks of the campaign, creating an illusion of scandal where none exists. And now, as then, someone in Trump’s inner circle is working directly with someone who is, at least according to the U.S. government, a Russian agent. more...

Sonam Sheth

President Donald Trump smirked when supporters at his campaign rally on Friday revived a familiar chant. "Lock him up!" they shouted as the president laughed. "Lock him up!" The chants were referring to the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, whom Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have long accused of being in bed with corrupt Ukrainian interests.

Specifically, they allege that Biden inappropriately leveraged his role as vice president to shut down a criminal investigation into the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings to protect Hunter, who was serving on Burisma's board at the time. As Business Insider has previously reported, there is no evidence that these claims hold merit, and they've been debunked by intelligence assessments, media reports, congressional investigations, and witness testimony.

Regardless, the Biden-Ukraine conspiracy theory was turbocharged this week, after The New York Post published a widely discredited story purporting to show "smoking-gun" emails between Hunter Biden and a senior Burisma executive about setting up a meeting with Joe Biden when he was vice president in 2015.

The story was written by a former producer for the Fox News show "Hannity," and Giuliani was one of its primary sources. Shortly after, it was reported that federal authorities are investigating if the emails were part of a foreign influence operation. At a rally in Iowa on Wednesday, Trump touted the "explosive documents published by a very fine newspaper, The New York Post," which he said showed "that Joe Biden has been blatantly lying about his involvement in his son's corrupt business dealings." more...

“So we’ve been interfering and interfering, but all of that was for naught?”
Julia Davis

The shocking announcement that the President of the United States Donald J. Trump has contracted the coronavirus was promptly followed by well-wishes from the Kremlin. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday sent President Trump a telegram, wishing a speedy recovery to the U.S. president and the first lady. According to a Kremlin readout of the telegram, Putin wrote: “I am sure that your inherent vitality, good spirits and optimism will help you cope with the dangerous virus.”

Overshadowed by the news of Trump’s positive test for COVID-19 was the fact that U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien met with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev in Geneva. According to Russian state media outlet Vesti, O’Brien allegedly went along with Putin’s much-ridiculed proposal that the United States and Russia enter into a pact of mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. If such an agreement was in fact entertained, Moscow will undoubtedly interpret it to encompass Russia’s relations with its neighboring countries, including but not limited to the post-Soviet space, as well as the potential relief from the U.S. sanctions for Russia’s election interference, and the Kremlin being allowed to escape any consequences for the attempted poisoning of Alexei Navalny.

Meanwhile, with respect to Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis, initial reactions in the Russian state media encompassed a full spectrum of emotions—ranging from sympathy to schadenfreude. Discussing Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, Evgeny Popov, the host of Russian state media news talk show 60 Minutes, said: “Our candidate got sick.” His co-host Olga Skabeeva reminded the viewers that Trump is in a high-risk group, due to being elderly and overweight. Referring to former Vice President Joe Biden, Popov added: “The other one may get sick too.” more...

H.R. McMaster’s warning represents perhaps his harshest public criticism of the president since he was ousted from the White House in 2018.

Former national security adviser H.R. McMaster said Thursday that President Donald Trump is “aiding and abetting” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to sow doubt about the American electoral system. The stern warning from McMaster, who Trump handpicked to lead the White House National Security Council in 2017, came in an interview on MSNBC, after he was asked whether he agreed that the president posed the greatest threat to U.S. election integrity.

“I agree that he is aiding and abetting Putin’s efforts by not being direct about this, right? By not just calling out Putin for what he’s doing,” McMaster said. “You know, Putin gets away with, I mean, literally murder or attempted murder … because people don’t call him out on it,” he added. “And so they are able to continue with this kind of fire hose of falsehood, to sow these conspiracy theories. And we just can’t be our own worst enemies.”

McMaster was referring to the president’s complaints about mail-in balloting and claims of widespread voter fraud in the closing months of the general election campaign. Trump has repeatedly said Democrats are sending millions of “unsolicited” ballots to Americans and that the outcome of the election may not be known for months, if it is ever determined.

But only nine states are automatically mailing all voters ballots this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, and five of those states regularly mail every voter a ballot. Experts acknowledge there are some slightly higher fraud risks associated with mail-in voting compared with in-person voting, but only when proper security measures are not in place. more...

Washington Post

Former FBI director James B. Comey testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of the Republican-controlled panel’s latest review of the bureau’s 2016 investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. Read more: https://wapo.st/3jj3Dyn. Video...

*** Russia is once again actively interfering in our elections to elect Donald J. Trump. Trump is Russia’s man in the White House. ***

By Zachary Cohen, Geneva Sands and Alex Marquardt, CNN

Washington (CNN) FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday that Russia has been "very active" in its efforts to influence US elections, with the primary goal being to "denigrate" Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee, Wray told lawmakers that Russia is primarily interfering through "malign foreign influence in an effort to hurt Biden's campaign" -- echoing the intelligence community's public assessment on Moscow's meddling efforts issued last month. Wray's comments come as President Donald Trump and several other top administration officials have recently attempted to play up the theory that China is meddling to get Biden elected, while downplaying well-founded reports that Russia is trying to help Trump win again, like it did in 2016.

Foreign election interference efforts differ from what was observed in 2016, when there was also an effort to target election infrastructure, Wray said. "We have not seen that second part yet this year or this cycle, but we certainly have seen very active, very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020," he added. According to Wray, Russia is using social media, proxies, state media and online journals to sow "divisiveness and discord" and "primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment." Intelligence officials have said they have uncovered evidence that Russia is currently interfering in the election to hurt Biden's campaign. Separately, some evidence has already emerged about Moscow's efforts, including Facebook's announcement earlier this month that a troll group that was part of Russia's attempt to interfere in the 2016 election is trying to target Americans again. More...

For a year and a half, U.S. intelligence warned that Andriy Derkach was suspected of election interference. Yet Derkach—and his wild beliefs—kept drawing more Trumpist adherents.
The Daily Beast
Erin Banco, Sam Brodey, Spencer Ackerman, Asawin Suebsaeng

At the end of an elegant dinner in May 2019 in downtown Kyiv, Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach handed a thick packet of papers to a former senior U.S. official he’d known for years. The packet was unremarkable in its presentation, the papers clipped on the top and crunched in the corners. The packet bore no insignia, title, or index page, and did little in the way of intriguing the former U.S. official. It wasn’t until months later that the official read through the pages. What was more remarkable was that U.S. intelligence had, for over a month, warned that Derkach was a stalking horse for the Russian security services and their attempts to interfere in American politics. It was the first in a series of reports, beginning in the spring of 2019, naming Derkach as part of a broader push to upend the U.S. election once again.

Despite the odd nature of the handoff, the dinner was one of the earliest known attempts by Derkach, current and former officials say, to pass materials to Americans in an attempt to push the debunked conspiracy theories that the former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter were complicit in the siphoning of millions of dollars from the Ukrainian people and that Ukraine, rather than Russia, interfered in the 2016 election. (The latter is “a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services,” according to President Donald Trump’s former point person for the region, Fiona Hill.) More...

Opinion by Samantha Vinograd

(CNN) Let's call a lie a lie. It gets tiresome under President Donald Trump as his inaccurate statements pile up, but it's important that Americans are made aware that the President continues to lie about almost everything. Each new falsehood is unsurprising based on his track record with the truth -- but that doesn't make them any less dangerous. They pose risks to our democracy, including the security of our election in November.

During a White House press briefing on Friday, in response to a question about the poisoning of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, President Trump said the US had no proof yet about what had happened. Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin, collapsed on a flight to Moscow on August 20 and was taken to Berlin for treatment two days later.

The German government said last Wednesday that Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent from the Novichok group -- a Soviet-era chemical weapon. The same agent was used in a March 2018 attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury. A senior German security official told The New York Times that German military scientists "were 100 percent certain that it was Novichok."

Yet during that Friday briefing, two days after the German announcement, Trump answered a question about Navalny's poisoning with a rambling response mentioning China, North Korea and Afghanistan, before turning to Navalny and saying, "We haven't had any proof yet, but I will take a look." Those statements sound like the US President is serving as a surrogate for the Kremlin -- the Russian government is saying there is no proof and that they need more information from Germany. More...


President Donald Trump has refused to condemn Russia over the poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, saying he has not seen proof. He said the case was "tragic" but urged reporters to focus instead on China, which he said was a bigger threat to the world than Russia. Nato and Germany say there is "proof beyond doubt" that Mr Navalny was attacked with a Novichok nerve agent. His team says he was poisoned on the Kremlin's orders. Russia denies this. On Saturday, the Russian foreign ministry suggested that if a Novichok-type nerve agent had indeed been used, it did not necessarily originate in Russia. Mr Navalny - an anti-corruption campaigner who has long been the most prominent face of opposition to President Vladimir Putin in Russia - is in a coma in a Berlin hospital having been airlifted there from Siberia, where he fell ill.

What did Trump say?
Speaking at a press event on Friday, he said he had yet to see evidence of poisoning in the case. "So I don't know exactly what happened. I think it's tragic, it's terrible, it shouldn't happen. We haven't had any proof yet but I will take a look," he said. He also stopped short of criticising Mr Putin and said Beijing posed a greater threat. "It is interesting that everybody's always mentioning Russia and I don't mind you mentioning Russia but I think probably China at this point is a nation that you should be talking about much more so," he said.

What is Nato's position?
Tests at a military laboratory in Germany show "beyond doubt" the presence of a Novichok nerve agent, the German government and Nato say. On Friday Nato called for Russia to disclose its Novichok nerve agent programme to international monitors. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said members were united in condemning the "horrific" attack on Mr Navalny.

As world leaders condemn Russian aggression, Trump says he and Putin 'get along'
By Barbara Starr and Jennifer Hansler, CNN

Washington (CNN)As Russian President Vladimir Putin continues his efforts to exert his personal influence around the globe and meddle in American democracy and is accused of using a nerve agent to poison one of his main political opponents, President Donald Trump broke his recent silence on Russia and the attack on Alexey Navalny, calling it "tragic" but emphasizing that he has a good relationship with the Russian leader.

"I don't know exactly what happened. I think it's tragic. It's terrible; it shouldn't happen. We haven't had any proof yet, but I will take a look," Trump said on Friday in a news conference at the White House. In response to further questions on the matter he attempted to deflect to his favorite opponent, claiming that what China is doing is "far worse." And as he had done the night before at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, he stressed, "I do get along with President Putin."

There was no reference to Russian efforts to interfere in US politics following Thursday's news that an intelligence bulletin issued by the Department of Homeland Security warned that Moscow is attempting to sow doubt about the integrity of the 2020 elections by amplifying false claims that mail-in voting resulting in widespread fraud. And the President made no mention of other provocations in recent weeks, including a collision between a Russian military convoy and a US armored vehicle that injured seven American troops.


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump campaign’s interactions with Russian intelligence services during the 2016 presidential election posed a “grave” counterintelligence threat, a Senate panel concluded Tuesday as it detailed how associates of Donald Trump had regular contact with Russians and expected to benefit from the Kremlin’s help.

The nearly 1,000-page report, the fifth and final one from the Republican-led Senate intelligence committee on the Russia investigation, details how Russia launched an aggressive effort to interfere in the election on Trump’s behalf. It says the Trump campaign chairman had regular contact with a Russian intelligence officer and that other Trump associates were eager to exploit the Kremlin’s aid, particularly by maximizing the impact of the disclosure of Democratic emails hacked by Russian intelligence officers.

The report is the culmination of a bipartisan probe that produced what the committee called “the most comprehensive description to date of Russia’s activities and the threat they posed.” The investigation spanned more than three years as the panel’s leaders said they wanted to thoroughly document the unprecedented attack on U.S. elections.

The findings, including unflinching characterizations of furtive interactions between Trump associates and Russian operatives, echo to a large degree those of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and appear to repudiate the Republican president’s claims that the FBI had no basis to investigate whether his campaign was conspiring with Russia. Trump, who has repeatedly called the Russia investigations a “hoax,” said Tuesday he “didn’t know anything about” the report, or Russia or Ukraine. He said he had “nothing” to do with Russia.

By Paul LeBlanc, CNN

Washington (CNN) The US Justice Department in 2017 took secret steps to curtail the special counsel investigation into Russian election interference and possible coordination with the Trump campaign, former law enforcement officials told The New York Times. According to the newspaper, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had ordered former special counsel Robert Mueller to examine "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government" and Trump's campaign, but former law enforcement officials said that privately, Rosenstein told Mueller to conduct only a criminal investigation.

The revelation is likely to fuel new scrutiny from Democrats who have long argued that the scope of the President's ties to Russia have yet to be fully examined without interference. Mueller had documented extensive evidence in his final report in March 2019 that Trump tried to obstruct the Russia investigation in multiple ways, and declined to make a charging decision. A Justice Department policy said that a sitting President could not be indicted. Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, who had opened the counterintelligence investigation, told The Times that Rosenstein had never told him about his decision.

"We opened this case in May 2017 because we had information that indicated a national security threat might exist, specifically a counterintelligence threat involving the President and Russia," McCabe said. "I expected that issue and issues related to it would be fully examined by the special counsel team. If a decision was made not to investigate those issues, I am surprised and disappointed. I was not aware of that." Just a criminal investigation, McCabe told the paper, was the wrong approach for the situation. "It was first and foremost a counterintelligence case," he said. "Could the President actually be the point of coordination between the campaign and the Russian government? Could the President actually be maintaining some sort of inappropriate relationship with our most significant adversary in the world?"

Joseph Menn

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Russian government-supported organizations are playing a small but increasing role amplifying conspiracy theories promoted by QAnon, raising concerns of interference in the November U.S. election. Academics who study QAnon said there were no signs Russia had a hand in the early days of the movement, which launched in 2017 with anonymous web postings amplified by YouTube videos. But as QAnon gained adherents and took on new topics, with President Donald Trump as the constant hero waging a misunderstood battle, social media accounts controlled by a key Kremlin ally joined in. In 2019 the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll factory” indicted by Robert Mueller in his election interference prosecution, sent a high volume of tweets tagged with #QAnon and the movement slogan #WWG1WGA, short for Where We Go One, We Go All, said Melanie Smith, head of analysis at social media analysis firm Graphika. The company dissects propaganda campaigns and plans to publish an analysis of QAnon this week.

More recently, Russian government-backed media RT.com and Sputnik have stepped up coverage of QAnon, which began with a false proclamation Hillary Clinton would be arrested for an undetermined reason and now includes theories about child trafficking by Hollywood elites, the novel coronavirus and more.  Academics who study QAnon said there were no signs Russia had a hand in the early days of the movement, which launched in 2017 with anonymous web postings amplified by YouTube videos. But as QAnon gained adherents and took on new topics, with President Donald Trump as the constant hero waging a misunderstood battle, social media accounts controlled by a key Kremlin ally joined in.

In 2019 the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll factory” indicted by Robert Mueller in his election interference prosecution, sent a high volume of tweets tagged with #QAnon and the movement slogan #WWG1WGA, short for Where We Go One, We Go All, said Melanie Smith, head of analysis at social media analysis firm Graphika. The company dissects propaganda campaigns and plans to publish an analysis of QAnon this week. More recently, Russian government-backed media RT.com and Sputnik have stepped up coverage of QAnon, which began with a false proclamation Hillary Clinton would be arrested for an undetermined reason and now includes theories about child trafficking by Hollywood elites, the novel coronavirus and more.

David Ignatius

As Democrats accelerate their drive to defeat President Trump in November, they have a potent new weapon in a report by a Republican-led Senate committee that chronicles the “grave counterintelligence threat” posed by the extensive contacts between Trump’s former campaign chairman and a Russian intelligence operative. The final volume of the report by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation arrives late in the game. Still, it offers the detailed accounting of how Russian spies worked with the Trump team that former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III should have given the country last year. It offers raw material for the wide-ranging impeachment inquiry that the House of Representatives should have conducted.

Here at last is hard evidence — certified by GOP committee leaders and published this week — that shreds Trump’s false claims of a Russia “hoax” or “witch hunt.” Let us never hear that glib dismissal of fact again. From now on, the simple answer to Trump is: “That’s not what Senate Republicans found.” The document is 952 pages, stuffed with obscure names and details, and few will read much of it. But as someone who has spent four years examining arcane aspects of this story, I can summarize the findings that make the report so powerful.

The most important is that Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman for much of 2016, had repeated secret contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, bluntly described in the report as a “Russian intelligence officer.” Manafort had worked with Kilimnik since 2004, and shared detailed, sensitive information with him before, during and after the campaign. We knew that Manafort had worked with Kilimnik, but the scope of their interactions, as laid out in the report, is astonishing. In page after page, the report describes how Manafort communicated secretly with Kilimnik, shared internal Trump campaign data with him, discussed plans that would advance Russia’s interests in Ukraine and took other questionable actions.

Washington Post Editorial Board

IT’S WORTH wondering what the impact might have been had the Senate Intelligence Committee’s final report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election appeared six months ago, before the report of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and the twisted account of it provided by Attorney General William P. Barr. On their own terms, the Senate’s findings, released Tuesday after a bipartisan investigation, are explosive: that then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort “formed a close and lasting relationship” with “a Russian intelligence officer,” with whom he shared inside information from the president’s campaign and collaborated to concoct a false narrative that Ukraine, and not Russia, was behind the election interference.

Further, the Senate report states that the Trump campaign “sought to maximize” the impact of leaks of Democratic documents by WikiLeaks, knowing the original source was the Russian military intelligence agency, GRU. The campaign’s intermediary was Roger Stone, whose prison sentence for lying about his involvement and tampering with witnesses was commuted last month by Mr. Trump; the president, the committee “assesses,” lied when he said he never talked to Mr. Stone about WikiLeaks.

Then there is what the Senate investigators glimpsed but could not nail down. The report cites “fragmentary” evidence that Mr. Manafort’s Russian associate Konstantin Kilimnik “may have been connected to the GRU’s hack and leak operation,” and two pieces of information linking the campaign chairman himself. The full truth is unknown in part because Mr. Manafort chose to incur an extended prison sentence rather than tell prosecutors the truth about his relationship with the Russian spy.

“Cooperation” or “collusion” or whatever. It was a plot against American democracy.
By The New York Times Editorial Board

From the start, the Trump-Russia story has been both eye-glazingly complex and extraordinarily simple. Who is Oleg Deripaska? What’s the G.R.U. again? Who owed what to whom? The sheer number of crisscrossing characters and interlocking pieces of evidence — the phone calls, the emails, the texts, the clandestine international meet-ups — has bamboozled even those who spend their days teasing it all apart. It’s no wonder average Americans tuned out long ago.

A bipartisan report released Tuesday by the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee cuts through the chaff. The simplicity of the scheme has always been staring us in the face: Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign sought and maintained close contacts with Russian government officials who were helping him get elected. The Trump campaign accepted their offers of help. The campaign secretly provided Russian officials with key polling data. The campaign coordinated the timing of the release of stolen information to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The Senate committee’s report isn’t telling this story for the first time, of course. (Was it only a year ago that Robert Mueller testified before Congress about his own damning, comprehensive investigation?) But it is the first to do so with the assent of Senate Republicans, who have mostly ignored the gravity of the Trump camp’s actions or actively worked to cast doubt about the demonstrable facts in the case.

Bipartisan intelligence panel says that Russian who worked on Trump’s 2016 bid was career spy, amid a stunning range of contacts
Luke Harding and Julian Borger

A report by the Senate intelligence committee provides a treasure trove of new details about Donald Trump’s relationship with Moscow, and says that a Russian national who worked closely with Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 was a career intelligence officer. The bipartisan report runs to nearly 1,000 pages and goes further than last year’s investigation into Russian election interference by special prosecutor Robert Mueller. It lays out a stunning web of contacts between Trump, his top election aides and Russian government officials, in the months leading up to the 2016 election. The Senate panel identifies Konstantin Kilimnik as a Russian intelligence officer employed by the GRU, the military intelligence agency behind the 2018 poisoning of the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal. It cites evidence – some of it redacted – linking Kilimnik to the GRU’s hacking and dumping of Democratic party emails.

Kilimnik worked for over a decade in Ukraine with Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager. In 2016 Manafort met with Kilimnik, discussed how Trump might beat Hillary Clinton, and gave the Russian spy internal polling data. The committee said it couldn’t “reliably determine” why Manafort handed over this information, or what exactly Kilimnik did with it. It describes Manafort’s willingness to pass on confidential material to alleged Moscow agents as a “grave counterintelligence threat”. The report dubs Kilimnik part of “a cadre of individuals ostensibly operating outside of the Russian government but who nonetheless implement Kremlin-directed influence operations”. It adds that key oligarchs including Oleg Deripaska fund these operations, together with the Kremlin.

The investigation found that Kilimnik tweets under the pseudonym Petro Baranenko (@PBaranenko). The account regularly propagates Moscow’s line on international issues, such as the conflict in Ukraine and the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. The fact that a Republican-controlled Senate panel established a direct connection between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence makes it harder for Trump and his supporters to allege that the investigation into possible collusion was a “witch-hunt” or “hoax” as the president has repeatedly claimed, in the remaining three months before the election. The Republican-controlled Senate panel said it was hampered in its search for the truth by the fact that Kilimnik and Manafort kept their communications secret. They used burner phones, encrypted chat services, and frequently changed email accounts. They also messaged via a shared email draft.

The committee is dismissive of the dossier by the ex-MI6 officer Christopher Steele, which alleged that the Kremlin had been cultivating Donald Trump for at least five years, but stops short of offering an opinion on whether the allegations within it are true. That dossier contained an allegation that Russia spied on Trump during a visit to Moscow in November 2013 and filmed him in his private suite at the Ritz-Carlton hotel with two prostitutes. Trump strenuously denies the claim. However, the Senate report offers the most compelling account yet of what went on inside the hotel. It alleges that a suspected Russian intelligence officer is stationed permanently in the building and presides over a “network” of security cameras, some of them hidden inside guest rooms. The officer’s agency is redacted, but is likely to be the FSB, the spy agency Vladimir Putin headed, in charge of counter-intelligence.

By Zachary Cohen and Marshall Cohen, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump on Sunday night retweeted Russian propaganda about former Vice President Joe Biden that the US intelligence community recently announced was part of Moscow's ongoing effort to "denigrate" the Democrat ahead of November's election. Late Sunday, Trump amplified a tweet that contained audiotapes of a 2016 conversation between Biden and then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko -- material that was released earlier this year by Andriy Derkach, a Ukrainian lawmaker named by the US intelligence community in its August 7 statement about Russia's disinformation campaign against Biden. US authorities labeled Derkach's efforts as disinformation because they are intentionally designed to spread false or misleading information about Biden. By retweeting material that the US government has already labeled as propaganda -- and doing so with the 2020 Democratic National Convention kicking off on Monday -- Trump demonstrated once again that he is willing to capitalize on foreign election meddling for his own political gain. There is no proof of wrongdoing on the tapes of Biden and Poroshenko. But Trump and his allies, as well as Kremlin-controlled media outlets, have used the tapes to foment conspiracies about Biden's dealings with Ukraine.

'A willing mouthpiece'
Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, responded to Trump's retweet Monday by calling out the President for amplifying Russian disinformation. "The President of the United States should never be a willing mouthpiece for Russian propaganda," Warner wrote in a tweet of his own. Trump's amplification of this disinformation comes as Biden is set to accept the Democratic presidential nomination this week, and it poses a significant challenge for US intelligence and national security officials tasked with protecting the 2020 election from foreign interference. A Twitter spokesman told CNN on Monday that the account Trump retweeted had been suspended "for violations of the Twitter Rules on platform manipulation and spam." The original post, which contained snippets of the Biden tapes, was no longer online as of Monday night.

The bipartisan report provides new details on Trump’s conversations with Roger Stone and the activities of the president’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
By Ken Dilanian

The Senate Intelligence Committee report released Tuesday, totaling nearly 1,000 pages, was the product of more than 200 witness interviews and nearly a million documents. It's the only bipartisan account of how the Trump campaign embraced Russia’s intelligence operation in 2016 designed to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton and help Trump. Much of the report covers old ground, albeit with more detail than ever before. But there are some important new revelations. Here are some of them:

Trump’s campaign chairman was consorting with a Russia spy
The report says — in a first — that Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate of then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, was a “Russian intelligence officer.” It also says Manafort was meeting regularly and sharing information with Kilimnik, including internal Trump campaign polling data. But because the men used encrypted communications, and because Manafort never truly cooperated with investigators, the committee was unable to determine exactly what the pair were up to. The report says there is information, blacked out in the document, suggesting both Kilimnik and Manafort may have had some link to the Russian operation to steal and leak Democratic emails. Whatever it was, it wasn’t enough for Mueller to bring charges. That fact pattern alone led the committee to label Manafort, who is serving prison time for unrelated offenses, a "grave counterintelligence threat.” Whether he actually “colluded” with the 2016 Russian intelligence operation may never be determined.

Trump almost certainly talked to Roger Stone about Wikileaks
The committee — including some key Trump allies — determined that Trump knew his campaign was communicating about Wikileaks, even though he told Mueller he didn’t recall that. Trump, in written responses to the special counsel’s office, stated: "I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with [Stone], nor do I recall being aware of Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with individuals associated with my campaign." Trump further claimed that he had "no recollection of the specifics of any conversations I had with Mr. Stone between June 1, 2016 and November 8, 2016."

CBS News

The U.S. intelligence community has assessed that Russia is actively seeking to boost President Trump's candidacy ahead of the 2020 presidential election. In an unprecedented statement outlining the candidate preferences of several foreign actors, National Counterintelligence and Security Center director Bill Evanina also said China "prefers that President Trump - whom Beijing sees as unpredictable - does not win reelection," and that Iran may try to "undermine" U.S. democratic institutions and the president, primarily through online and social media content.

Opinion by Max Boot

So Jonathan Swan of Axios did what Chris Wallace of Fox News did not do in an otherwise admirable interview with President Trump: He asked about the reports of Russia placing bounties on the heads of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. The responses were as appalling as you might expect, with the “America First” president once again turning into a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Swan began by asking whether Trump had discussed the reported bounties during his phone call with Putin on July 23. “No, that was a call to discuss other things,” Trump said, explaining that they discussed “nuclear proliferation, which is a very big problem.” Nuclear proliferation is indeed important, although it’s doubtful that Putin has either the ability or the willingness to do much about it. But Putin does have it in his power to stop the headhunting of U.S. troops — if, in fact, it has occurred. But Trump did not ask him to do so or upbraid him for reportedly having carried out such operations in the past. To listen to Trump, the threat to the soldiers under his command wasn’t important enough to bring up.

Trump again cast doubt on the extensive reports, calling them “fake news.” In fact, according to news reporting, the CIA was convinced of the veracity of the claims — especially after Navy SEALs uncovered $500,000 in cash at a Taliban outpost — while the National Security Agency was more skeptical. But the intelligence was credible enough to be widely circulated. Trump flat-out lied when he claimed: “It never reached my desk.” It was reportedly included in the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) in late February. Granted, Trump seldom reads the PDB (in spite of his laughable claim to Swan that “I read it a lot,” and “I comprehend extraordinarily well, probably better than anyone you’ve interviewed in a long time”), but that’s no excuse.

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Spurred on by President Donald Trump’s demand to pull troops out of Germany, the U.S. will bring about 6,400 forces home and shift about 5,400 to other countries in Europe, U.S. defense officials said Wednesday, detailing a Pentagon plan that will cost billions of dollars and take years to complete. The decision fulfills Trump’s announced desire to withdraw troops from Germany, at least in part due to its failure to spend enough on defense. U.S. officials said that some moves will begin in months, and would likely send air and ground forces to countries that already have an American troop presence. The plan leaves about 25,000 troops in Germany.

The announcement is closely tied to the plan to increase the U.S. troop presence in Poland, a shift long-desired by Warsaw and Polish President Andrzej Duda. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss plans not yet announced, said the moves will cost “billions” and require construction at bases in the U.S. to accommodate the additional forces. The officials said that in the future other troops would rotate in and out of Europe. Members of Trump’s own political party have criticized the troop move as a gift to Russia and a threat to U.S. national security. Twenty-two Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee fired back with a letter to Trump saying a reduced U.S. commitment to Europe’s defense would encourage Russian aggression and opportunism. It’s also unclear if the plan would survive if Trump is not reelected.

Kevin Johnson USA TODAY

Former Russia special counsel Robert Mueller pushed back against President Donald Trump on Saturday, defending the prosecution of Roger Stone and the larger investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election, saying that the flamboyant political operative was "prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes." "He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so," Mueller said in a column published Saturday in The Washington Post. Mueller's remarks, prompted by Trump's commutation of Stone's 40-month prison sentence Friday, are the first since he testified before a House committee nearly a year ago after his team brought charges against at least a half-dozen former Trump aides during his campaign and after he took office. Stone was the last person charged by the Mueller team during the nearly two-year Russia investigation. "Russia’s actions were a threat to America’s democracy," Mueller wrote. "It was critical that they be investigated and understood." Mueller said the FBI had evidence that the Russians had signaled to a Trump campaign adviser that they could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to the Democratic candidate.

The amazing thing about this scandal is how much of it happened in the full light of day.
David Frum Staff writer at The Atlantic

Roger Stone’s best trick was always his upper-class-twit wardrobe. He seemed such a farcical character, such a Klaxon-alarm-from-a-mile-away goofball—who could take him seriously? Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen: They had tradecraft. They didn’t troll people on Instagram or blab to reporters. They behaved in the way you would expect of people betraying their country: conscious of the magnitude of their acts, determined to avoid the limelight. Roger Stone’s best trick was always his upper-class-twit wardrobe. He seemed such a farcical character, such a Klaxon-alarm-from-a-mile-away goofball—who could take him seriously? Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen: They had tradecraft. They didn’t troll people on Instagram or blab to reporters. They behaved in the way you would expect of people betraying their country: conscious of the magnitude of their acts, determined to avoid the limelight. The amazing thing about the Trump-Stone story is how much of it happened in the full light of day. A (very) partial timeline:

By Caroline Kelly, CNN

(CNN) Former White House national security adviser John Bolton said Thursday that he had personally weathered President Donald Trump's anger at receiving intelligence briefings pertaining to Russia. "I think I have enough scars from bringing up things about Russia that he probably didn't want to hear, that I can say I agree with" accounts from other former officials that Trump did not want to hear negative information linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bolton told CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday. Bolton's comments follow denials from the White House that Trump was "personally briefed" on reports that Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters to kill US troops in Afghanistan. But the intelligence was included in one of Trump's daily briefings on intelligence matters sometime in the spring, according to a US official with direct knowledge of the latest information. And a source familiar with the situation told CNN the White House was provided with such intelligence in early 2019. CNN also reported Wednesday that Trump's resistance to intelligence warnings about Russia led his national security team, including those who delivered the President's Daily Brief, to brief him verbally less often on Russia-related threats to the US, according to multiple former Trump administration officials who briefed Trump, were present for briefings and who prepared documents for his intelligence briefings.
Bolton asserted Thursday that "everybody understood the nature of Russia's activities -- with the possible exception of the President."

By Jim Sciutto, Chief National Security Correspondent

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump's resistance to intelligence warnings about Russia led his national security team, including those who delivered the President's Daily Brief to brief him verbally less often on Russia-related threats to the US, multiple former Trump administration officials who briefed Trump, were present for briefings and who prepared documents for his intelligence briefings tell CNN. As the White House denies Trump was briefed about Russia placing bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan, which CNN has confirmed was included in the written PDB this spring, the question of what the President knew and when has moved to center stage. And it brings Trump's aversion to hearing negative analysis about Russia into renewed focus. Multiple former administration officials I spoke to for my upcoming book, "The Madman Theory: Trump Takes on the World," which will be published August 11 by Harper Collins, paint a picture of a President often unwilling to hear bad news about Russia. According to one former senior intelligence official, the President's briefers had one simple rule with Trump: never lead with Russia.

By Sarah K. Burris

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) revealed in her weekly press briefing that the Russian sanctions bill had sanctions that specifically targeted Russian intelligence, known as the GRU. But those sanctions were stripped out of the bill. “We passed in a bipartisan way, sanctions on Russia. The administration told us to take out the sanctions against the GRU, the intelligence as well as the defense sectors of Russia. Those should definitely be — those were there in a bipartisan way. The administration wanted them out. I don’t know why,” Pelosi said, throwing her arms in the air. She went on to say that the investigation into the Russian bounty on Americans shouldn’t distract from the fact that Russia is trying to interfere with U.S. elections, or that “all roads through this president lead to Putin.” It was reported by the New York Times this week that the money sent to the Taliban for the heads of American soldiers went from GRU accounts to the Afghani militants.

By Jim Sciutto, Chief National Security Correspondent

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump's resistance to intelligence warnings about Russia led his national security team, including those who delivered the President's Daily Brief to brief him verbally less often on Russia-related threats to the US, multiple former Trump administration officials who briefed Trump, were present for briefings and who prepared documents for his intelligence briefings tell CNN. As the White House denies Trump was briefed about Russia placing bounties on US soldiers in Afghanistan, which CNN has confirmed was included in the written PDB this spring, the question of what the President knew and when has moved to center stage. And it brings Trump's aversion to hearing negative analysis about Russia into renewed focus. Multiple former administration officials I spoke to for my upcoming book, "The Madman Theory: Trump Takes on the World," which will be published August 11 by Harper Collins, paint a picture of a President often unwilling to hear bad news about Russia. According to one former senior intelligence official, the President's briefers had one simple rule with Trump: never lead with Russia. Early in his term, Trump's briefers discovered that when his oral briefing included intelligence related to Russia's malign activities against the United States, including evidence of its interference in US politics, Trump would often blow up at them, demanding to know why they kept focusing on Russia and often questioning the intelligence itself, multiple former administration officials said. "The President has created an environment that dissuades, if not prohibits, the mentioning of any intelligence that isn't favorable to Russia," a former senior member of Trump's national security staff told me. *** Why does Trump continue to protect Putin and Russia at the expense of America and American lives? In addition, why does he get mad when he is told what Russia is up to?

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