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By Seth B. Waxman(CNN) Recent revelations in memoranda filed by the government against Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort describe even more widespread and troubling contacts with the Russians. However, since the inception of the Mueller investigation, President Donald Trump, his lawyers, legal pundits on both sides of the aisle, and everyone in between has either claimed or conceded that "collusion" is not a crime. President Trump has tweeted, "Collusion is not a crime. ..." Rudy Giuliani told Fox News, "I have been sitting here looking in the federal code trying to find collusion as a crime. ... Collusion is not a crime." Jay Sekulow told The New Yorker, "For something to be a crime, there has to be a statute that you claim is being violated. ... There is not a statute that refers to criminal collusion. There is no crime of collusion." Having worked as a federal prosecutor for 13 years in the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, I can report that the President and his lawyers are wrong. Collusion is a crime. The federal criminal code says so. The federal bribery statute -- 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2)(B) -- makes it a federal crime for a public official to "collude" in a fraud on the United States. More specifically, the federal bribery statute expressly states that a crime is committed when a public official "directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value ... in return for ... being influenced to ... collude in ... any fraud ... on the United States." Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines collusion as a "secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose," exactly the focus of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Committing fraud on the United States means to impair or obstruct the lawful functions of a government agency. The Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice are responsible for disclosing to the American people any foreign influence in the American political system and US elections. What does this mean for President Trump? The answer has three steps: (1) if Trump sought, received or accepted from the Russians "dirt" on Hillary Clinton, a promise to assist in building Trump Tower Moscow, or anything else of value; (2) in return for being influenced to engage in a secret agreement with the Russians to influence the 2016 US presidential election without the FEC, DOJ, and American people knowing; (3) then Trump and anyone who knowingly and intentionally participated in those acts is guilty of illegally colluding under federal bribery law -- a crime that carries a 15-year maximum prison term. Mueller has already lodged similar charges -- conspiracy to defraud the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 -- against Paul Manafort, the Russian nationals accused of hacking the Democratic Party organizations, and the Russian companies accused of using social media to wage information warfare in the run-up to the 2016 election. Unfortunately, those conspiracy charges only carry a five-year maximum prison term, not nearly the type of hammer prosecutors typically use to go after and flip senior members of a conspiracy.
On January 6, 2017, the U.S. intelligence community issued a report that showed there were two campaigns to elect Donald Trump: one run by Trump and one run by the Russian government. Trump and many of his senior advisors and close associates have repeatedly denied any connections between the two campaigns, despite the fact that they were working towards the same goal, at the same time, and utilizing the same tactics. Yet over the past year, we’ve learned about a series of meetings and contacts between individuals linked to the Russian government and Trump’s campaign and transition team. In total, we have learned of 101 contacts between Trump’s team and Russia linked operatives, including at least 28 meetings. And we know that at least 28 high-ranking campaign officials and Trump advisors were aware of contacts with Russia-linked operatives during the campaign and transition. None of these contacts were ever reported to the proper authorities. Instead, the Trump team tried to cover up every single one of them. Why were there so many meetings? What was discussed in them? More importantly, why did Trump and his camp lie about them, including to federal law enforcement? What are they hiding? The American people deserve answers. Below is a comprehensive chronological list of the contacts that have been discovered to date and the lies Trump’s campaign, transition, and White House told to hide them. The Trump campaign issued at least 15 blanket denials of contacts with Russia, all of which have been proven false.
The special counsel’s latest indictment is rich with details about the coordination with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. The indictment of Roger Stone, who was arrested Friday by the FBI and charged with lying to Congress, provides the first detailed evidence that Stone was a go-between for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign with WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. In 2016, WikiLeaks had and released a large numbers of emails that had been stolen by Russian intelligence from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Stone’s coordination between the campaign and WikiLeaks is substantive, from what the court filings show. Stone, a Republican political operative and confidant of Trump, got advance notice of WikiLeaks document releases that he passed on to the Trump campaign. That included information about an “October surprise,” which turned out to be the leaking of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails. Stone also allegedly sent messages back to Assange, through intermediaries, specifying the precise content of Clinton emails he would like to see leaked. All this appears, according to the indictment, to be supported by documentary evidence in the form of emails. If accurate, it proves a degree of coordination between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks — which was getting its leak material from Russian intelligence. The circle of collusion therefore runs from Russian intelligence to Assange to Stone to the Trump campaign, and back again at least as far as Assange. We already knew that special counsel Robert Mueller was investigating Stone’s contacts with Assange through right-wing journalist Jerome Corsi and radio personality Randy Credico, who are identified in Stone’s indictment as Person 1 and Person 2, respectively.
Greg Miller on the president keeping notes from meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin to himself.
By Anthony ZurcherInvestigations into Donald Trump's election-eve hush money payments and any possible ties between his presidential campaign and Russia have been dominating headlines. But there are other legal woes too. In New York and Washington, the list of inquiries into the Trump world is expanding - any of which could produce serious headaches for the president. Here's a look at the latest collection of eyeballs scrutinising the president - and what it all could mean.
By Emma ReynoldsDonald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has made a series of bizarre statements about the President’s relationship with Russia, muddying the waters even further. US President Donald Trump’s Russia problem is not going anywhere and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani spent the weekend making new bizarre revelations about the relationship. The former New York mayor said Mr Trump was involved in discussions about building a Trump Tower Moscow throughout his 2016 presidential campaign. “It’s our understanding that they went on throughout 2016 — there weren’t a lot of them, but there were conversations,” Mr Giuliani told NBC’s Meet The Press. He told The New York TimesMr Trump had said negotiations to build a hotel in Russia were “going on from the day I announced to the day I won”. That’s a major step forward from previous claims by the President’s associates that he was minimally involved in talks of a deal and that it was cancelled far earlier. It would mean Mr Trump was still involved in a Russian deal when he called for an end to economic sanctions against the nation imposed by Barack Obama, gave interviews questioning the legitimacy of NATO, and called on Russia to release hacked Democratic emails.
By Andrew DesiderioThe House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to block the Trump administration from lifting sanctions on a Russian oligarch with deep ties to Vladimir Putin. The effort, a joint resolution of disapproval, would overturn the Treasury Department’s December decision to ease sanctions on companies tied to Oleg Deripaska, who was sanctioned last year as part of a broader congressional push to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 presidential election. A similar Senate effort failed Wednesday, ensuring that the resolution will not advance to President Donald Trump’s desk. But the 362-53 House vote on Thursday represented yet another bipartisan rebuke of the Trump administration’s policies toward the Kremlin and further exposed GOP discontent with the president’s foreign policy goals. Because we cannot be sure that we have removed the heavy hand of this Russian oligarch, I cannot support the delisting of these sanctioned entities at this point in time,” said Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
By Jordain CarneyA Russian oligarch with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin along with his allies will maintain a majority ownership in an energy company under a Treasury Department plan to lift sanctions against the business, according to The New York Times. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in a letter to Congress last month, said that the agreement to lift the sanctions will reduce Oleg Deripaska's "direct and indirect shareholding stake in those entities"— Rusal, EN+ and EuroSibEnergo—"to below 50 percent." But, according to documents obtained by the Times, Deripaska and his allies would own approximately 57 percent of EN+ under the Treasury Department plan. Under the Treasury Department agreement, Deripaska will also be freed from debt he owes to VTB, a Russian government-owned bank, in exchange for transferring shares worth roughly $800 million to the financial institution. The Treasury Department, in a statement to The New York Times, stressed that Deripaska's control over the three companies is "severed by this delisting" and that the deal prevents him from using the companies "to carry out illicit activities on behalf of the Kremlin." The administration is expected to lift sanctions against EN+, as well as Rusal and EuroSibEnergo, after Congress failed to block the administration from moving forward with its plan. More than 130 Republicans broke with Trump to back the measure in the House, marking a significant rebuke of the administration's plan. But Senate Republicans were able to defeat the measure, where it fell three votes short of the 60 needed to defeat a filibuster.
By Chris Cillizza, CNN(CNN) If you know anything about the White House's reaction to the ongoing special counsel probe into Russia interference in the 2016 election, it's these two words: "No collusion." Trump, as well as his top aides -- everyone from senior counselor Kellyanne Conway to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders -- has insisted since the start of Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation in spring 2017 that no one in the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to help his candidacy and hurt that of Hillary Clinton. In a single answer to a question about the Mueller probe last January, for example, Trump unleashed an epic seven(!) "no collusion" assertions. Here's just a piece of that (bolding mine): "Well, again John, there has been no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians or Trump and Russians. No collusion. When I watch you interviewing all the people leaving their committees, I mean, the Democrats are all running for office, trying to say this that -- but bottom line, they all say there's no collusion. And there is no collusion." Trump's Twitter feed, too, is choked with "no collusion" talk. According to the indispensable Trump Twitter Archive, Trump has tweeted the words "no collusion" 60 separate times, with the first coming on May 12, 2017 and the most recent happening on January 6. All of which brings me to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani's interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Wednesday night. And these lines from Giuliani, in particular: "I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or people in the campaign. I said the President of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the President of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here, conspiring with the Russians to hack the DNC." Here's the thing: Giuliani -- as Cuomo pointed out in the moment -- is 100% wrong about, well, all of it.
Trump gave Putin the 'gift of the century' in plain sight while the FBI probed him as a Russian agentBy Alex LockiePresident Donald Trump spent the first two years of his presidency doing something Russian leaders have attempted since 1949: pushing NATO to the brink of irrelevance. Now it's come out that the FBI reportedly investigated Trump as a possible Russian asset as he publicly and privately talked about withdrawing from the alliance. Trump has succeeded where decades of Russian nuclear saber rattling, spying, assassinations, and information warfare have failed to fray the alliance. According to experts, Russian President Vladimir Putin is loving Trump's attacks on NATO, and a former NATO supreme commander called Trump's talk the "gift of the century" for the Russian leader. President Donald Trump spent the first two years of his presidency doing something Russian leaders have attempted since 1949: pushing NATO to the brink of irrelevance. And Trump reportedly did so while under investigation by the FBI as a possible Russian agent all along. A trio of bombshell reports gave depth to years of reporting and public spectacles that indicate Trump has an openly antagonistic, skeptical view of the military alliance that's expanded American power and deterred a great war in Europe for 70 years. First, the New York Times reported that the FBI began investigating the possibility that Trump could be Russian asset after he fired FBI Director James Comey. Trump has twice made it clear that Comey's dismissal was at least in part owed to his refusal to drop the Russia probe. It's publicly known that Trump is under an obstruction-of-justice investigation tied to his firing of Comey.
Mueller Draft Report Says Trump 'Helped Putin Destabilize the United States', Watergate Journalist SaysBy Jason LemonLegendary journalist Carl Bernstein has said that he’s been told that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report will show how President Donald Trump helped Russia “destabilize the United States.” Bernstein, who is renowned for his coverage of the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of former President Richard Nixon, appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday to discuss two bombshell reports released this weekend, one from The New York Times and one from The Washington Post, which revealed new details about whether or not Trump and his aides have colluded with Russia. The Post reported that Trump has gone to “extraordinary lengths” to conceal direct conversations he has had with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Times article revealed that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into Trump after he fired former bureau director James Comey in 2017, suspecting the president could be working on behalf of Russia. Trump has angrily denied allegations that he worked with Russia and has regularly attacked the media for reporting on the investigation. But Bernstein slammed Trump’s dismissal of the probe. “This is about the most serious counterintelligence people we have in the U.S. government saying, ‘Oh, my God, the president’s words and actions lead us to conclude that somehow he has become a witting, unwitting, or half-witting pawn, certainly in some regards, to Vladimir Putin,'” Bernstein explained during his appearance on Reliable Sources.
By Julian E. Barnes and Helene CooperThere are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years. Last year, President Trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States. Senior administration officials told The New York Times that several times over the course of 2018, Mr. Trump privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Current and former officials who support the alliance said they feared Mr. Trump could return to his threat as allied military spending continued to lag behind the goals the president had set. In the days around a tumultuous NATO summit meeting last summer, they said, Mr. Trump told his top national security officials that he did not see the point of the military alliance, which he presented as a drain on the United States. At the time, Mr. Trump’s national security team, including Jim Mattis, then the defense secretary, and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, scrambled to keep American strategy on track without mention of a withdrawal that would drastically reduce Washington’s influence in Europe and could embolden Russia for decades. Now, the president’s repeatedly stated desire to withdraw from NATO is raising new worries among national security officials amid growing concern about Mr. Trump’s efforts to keep his meetings with Mr. Putin secret from even his own aides, and an F.B.I. investigation into the administration’s Russia ties.
By Jeremy Herb, Pamela Brown and Laura Jarrett(CNN) In the chaotic aftermath at the FBI following Director James Comey's firing, a half-dozen senior FBI officials huddled to set in motion the momentous move to open an investigation into President Donald Trump that included trying to understand why he was acting in ways that seemed to benefit Russia. They debated a range of possibilities, according to portions of transcripts of two FBI officials' closed-door congressional interviews obtained by CNN. On one end was the idea that Trump fired Comey at the behest of Russia. On the other was the possibility that Trump didn't have an improper relationship with the Kremlin and was acting within the bounds of his executive authority, the transcripts show. James Baker, then-FBI general counsel, said the FBI officials were contemplating with regard to Russia whether Trump was "acting at the behest of and somehow following directions, somehow executing their will." "That was one extreme. The other extreme is that the President is completely innocent, and we discussed that too," Baker told House investigators last year. "There's a range of things this could possibly be. We need to investigate, because we don't know whether, you know, the worst-case scenario is possibly true or the President is totally innocent and we need to get this thing over with — and so he can move forward with his agenda."
By Andrew ProkopIn May 2017, the FBI opened an investigation into whether President Trump was working on Russia’s behalf. The FBI officially opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether President Donald Trump was compromised by Russia in May 2017, according to a new report from the New York Times. Per the Times, this investigation was meant to determine whether the president himself was either “working on behalf of Russia against American interests” or “had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence” in a way that placed national security at risk. We’ve known for some time that the FBI launched a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia links in July 2016, and that they began investigating the president himself for obstruction of justice in May 2017. But this is the first outright confirmation that at a certain moment, the FBI explicitly began investigating Donald Trump’s Russia ties — including whether, as president, he was acting on Russia’s behalf.
By Jonathan ChaitFriday night, the New York Times published a bombshell report that the FBI has been investigating whether President Trump “had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.” The story reframes the focus and purpose of the investigation now headed by Robert Mueller. The probe is not just about Russian election interference, or about Trump’s obstruction of the probe — it is about the secret relationship between Trump and Russia that appears to be causing both these things to happen. The first question to ask yourself when absorbing this story is, what does it mean for a president to be working for Russia, and against the United States? Trump frequently says the United States would be better off if it got along better with Russia — and that position, right or wrong, is certainly not criminally suspect. Presidents obviously have the right to change American foreign policy, and to forge friendships with countries that had been previously hostile. Nixon’s overtures to China, or Obama’s opening of relations with Cuba, did not set off criminal investigations. The FBI would not investigate a president simply for harboring friendly views of a rival state. The potential that Trump is working on behalf of Russia, therefore, by definition posits some kind of corrupt secret relationship. That is to say, it’s an investigation into whether Trump is a Russian asset.
By Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt and Nicholas FandosIn the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation. The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence. The investigation the F.B.I. opened into Mr. Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has long been publicly known: whether his firing of Mr. Comey constituted obstruction of justice. Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude. But the president’s activities before and after Mr. Comey’s firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which Mr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry, the people said.
By Dominique MosbergenThese contacts included at least 28 meetings, both in person and over Skype, and involved several prominent members of Trump’s inner circle. Members of President Donald Trump’s campaign and transition team had more than 100 contacts with Russia-linked operatives between September 2015 and January 2017, according to an updated report by the Center for American Progress’ Moscow Project. These contacts reportedly included at least 28 meetings, both in person and over Skype, and involved several prominent members of Trump’s inner circle including the president’s children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.; his former attorney Michael Cohen; and his former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank based in D.C., said Wednesday that it had raised the number of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia-linked operatives to 101 following reports this week that Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort shared polling data on the 2016 election with a Russian consultant who had links to Moscow’s intelligence agencies. “This wasn’t just one email or call, or one this or that,” Talia Dessel, a research analyst for CAP, told USA Today of the organization’s findings. “Over 100 contacts is really significant because you don’t just have 100 contacts with a foreign power if there’s nothing going on there.” The 101 figure, Dessel added, was a “conservative” number.
It's more gripping than any box set we can get our hands on right now. The investigations into Russian interference in the US election, and whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin, continue to deliver daily developments and drama worthy of anything seen in House of Cards. Thirty-three people have now been charged by Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Here is a guide to the main characters in the first four seasons of the only political drama that matters.
by Marshall Cohen and Jeremy Herb, CNNIt's a document that became so famous — or infamous — in the two years since its existence was reported that it's now known by a simple two-word phrase: the dossier. The controversial 35 pages of intelligence memos compiled by retired British spy Christopher Steele paint a picture of widespread conspiracy of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. To Democrats and President Donald Trump's critics, the documents tell a story that could amount to treason. To Trump and some of his loudest defenders, the dossier was flawed from its inception, abused by the FBI to pursue an investigation into Trump's team that preceded the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump has said the memos are "phony" and full of lies, and has pointed out that the project was funded by his political opponents, including Hillary Clinton's campaign. It was two years ago, January 6, 2017, that then-FBI Director James Comey briefed President-elect Trump about some details from the dossier. Days later, CNN broke the story of that briefing and reported that the FBI was investigating the accuracy of the allegations. CNN did not publish the dossier, because of its unverified status, but BuzzFeed soon posted all the memos online "so that Americans can make up their own minds." The most salacious claims in the dossier remain unproven two years after it first burst into the public conversation, but many of the allegations that form the bulk of the intelligence memos have held up over time, or have proven to be at least partially true.
Rachel Maddow reviews instances when Donald Trump parroted Russian narratives on international affairs in a way that seems oddly out of character from Trump's typical presentation of how he understands the world.
By Matt Apuzzo, Katie Benner and Sharon LaFraniereA Russian woman who tried to broker a secret meeting between Donald J. Trump and the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, during the 2016 presidential campaign was charged Monday and accused of working with Americans to carry out a secret Russian effort to influence American politics. At the behest of a senior Russian government official, the woman, Mariia Butina, made connections through the National Rifle Association, religious organizations and the National Prayer Breakfast to try to steer the Republican Party toward more pro-Russia policies, court records show. Privately comparing herself to a Soviet Cold War propagandist, she worked to infiltrate American organizations and establish “back channel” lines of communication with American politicians. “These lines could be used by the Russian Federation to penetrate the U.S. national decision-making apparatus to advance the agenda of the Russian Federation,” an F.B.I. agent wrote in court documents.WSJ editorial shreds Trump's Afghanistan claims - By CAITLIN OPRYSKOA Wall Street Journal editorial published Friday ripped into President Donald Trump for comments he made about the Soviet Union's decadelong war in Afghanistan, blasting his “reprehensible” recollection of the conflict and his “slander” of U.S. allies. The editorial referred to comments made by Trump during a meandering 90-minute meeting of his Cabinet on Wednesday, where Trump belittled the role of U.S. allies in the Middle East, accusing them of sending minimal resources to back up U.S. troops in comparison with the American presence there.
If Moscow was happy about the Syria pullout, it’s ecstatic about Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ resignation. The Kremlin is awash with Christmas gifts from Washington, D.C. and every move by the Trump administration seems to add to that perception. On Wednesday, appearing on the Russian state TV show “The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev,” Director of the Moscow-based Center for Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies Semyon Bagdasarov said that the U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis is “struggling to keep up” with the flurry of unexpected decisions by the U.S. President Donald Trump. The news that Mattis decided to step down sent shock waves across the world, being interpreted as “a dangerous signal” by America’s allies.
Trump Administration to Lift Sanctions on Putin-linked Oligarch’s Companies and the Bank Linked to Trump Tower Moscow Project Will BenefitAfter eight months of lobbying to be taken off the U.S. sanctions list, companies tied to the Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska got their wish on Wednesday. The Treasury Department notified Congress on Wednesday that it plans to remove three companies belonging to Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, from the sanctions list on the condition that Deripaska relinquishes control over his companies.
The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it intends to lift sanctions against the business empire of Oleg V. Deripaska, one of Russia’s most influential oligarchs, after an aggressive lobbying campaign by Mr. Deripaska’s companies. The decision by the Treasury Department, which had been postponed for months, was both politically and economically sensitive, and drew criticism from some Democrats and foreign policy analysts that the administration was sending the wrong signal to Moscow about its conduct toward its neighbors and the United States. The companies are among the biggest in the aluminum industry, and questions about their fate had roiled global metals markets. And Mr. Deripaska’s stature in Russia made any decision seen to be in his favor tricky for the administration at a time when President Trump is under investigation by the special counsel in connection with Russian interference in the 2016 election. - Paul Manafort worked for Oleg V. Deripaska is this payback for Russia help in the election.
Journalist Craig Unger talks Russia, Trump, and “one of the greatest intelligence operations in history.” On November 9, 2016, just a few minutes after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, a man named Vyacheslav Nikonov approached a microphone in the Russian State Duma (their equivalent of the US House of Representatives) and made a very unusual statement. “Dear friends, respected colleagues!” Nikonov said. “Three minutes ago, Hillary Clinton admitted her defeat in US presidential elections, and a second ago Trump started his speech as an elected president of the United States of America, and I congratulate you on this.” Nikonov is a leader in the pro-Putin United Russia Party and, incidentally, the grandson of Vyacheslav Molotov — after whom the “Molotov cocktail” was named. His announcement that day was a clear signal that Trump’s victory was, in fact, a victory for Putin’s Russia. Longtime journalist Craig Unger opens his new book, House of Trump, House of Putin, with this anecdote. The book is an impressive attempt to gather up all the evidence we have of Trump’s numerous connections to the Russian mafia and government and lay it all out in a clear, comprehensive narrative. The book claims to unpack an “untold story,” but it’s not entirely clear how much of it is new. One of the hardest things to accept about the Trump-Russia saga is how transparent it is. So much of the evidence is hiding in plain sight, and somehow that has made it harder to accept.
For nearly two years the Trump-Russia affair has dominated front pages and mired the president's administration in conflict and controversy. But what is it exactly? How did it begin? And where is it going? The inquiry is being led by Robert Mueller, a widely respected former director of the FBI. Holed up in an unremarkable office in Washington DC, Mr Mueller's team is quietly going about one of the most high-profile political inquiries in US history. Five people connected with Donald Trump's campaign and presidency have been charged with criminal offences. One of them, his former lawyer Michael Cohen, could be jailed on Wednesday on several charges, making him the first member of the president's inner circle to be imprisoned in relation to the inquiry. President Trump denies any wrongdoing and says the charges against his former staff are "peanuts". We've put together a straightforward guide to what we know, what we don't know, and what Mr Mueller may know that we don't.
The Russian ambassador. A deputy prime minister. A pop star, a weightlifter, a lawyer, a Soviet army veteran with alleged intelligence ties. Again and again and again, over the course of Donald Trump’s 18-month campaign for the presidency, Russian citizens made contact with his closest family and friends, as well as figures on the periphery of his orbit. Some offered to help his campaign and his real estate business. Some offered dirt on his Democratic opponent. Repeatedly, Russian nationals suggested Trump should hold a peacemaking sit-down with Vladimir Putin — and offered to broker such a summit. In all, Russians interacted with at least 14 Trump associates during the campaign and presidential transition, public records and interviews show. “It is extremely unusual,” said Michael McFaul, who served as ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama. “Both the number of contacts and the nature of the contacts are extraordinary.”
Putin’s Man in the White House? Real Trump Russia Scandal Is Not Mere Collusion, U.S. Counterspies SayLast May, a top White House national security official met in Washington with senior Russian officials and handed over details of a secret operation Israel had shared with its U.S. counterparts. The meeting shocked veteran U.S. counterspies. The American official was not arrested, and he continues to work in the White House today, albeit under close scrutiny. That official, of course, was Donald Trump. The president’s Oval Office meeting with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and its then-ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak—which only Russian photographers were permitted to record—sparked a media brushfire that was quickly overtaken by more revelations of secret contacts between Trump associates and Kremlin agents. But the incident was not forgotten by American and Israeli security officials, or by longtime foreign intelligence allies of the U.S., who now wonder if the president can be trusted to protect their most guarded secrets.
A team of computer scientists sifted through records of unusual Web traffic in search of answers. In June, 2016, after news broke that the Democratic National Committee had been hacked, a group of prominent computer scientists went on alert. Reports said that the infiltrators were probably Russian, which suggested to most members of the group that one of the country’s intelligence agencies had been involved. They speculated that if the Russians were hacking the Democrats they must be hacking the Republicans, too. “We thought there was no way in the world the Russians would just attack the Democrats,” one of the computer scientists, who asked to be identified only as Max, told me.
A top Trump campaign official requested proposals in 2016 from an Israeli company to create fake online identities, to use social media manipulation and to gather intelligence to help defeat Republican primary race opponents and Hillary Clinton, according to interviews and copies of the proposals. The Trump campaign’s interest in the work began as Russians were escalating their effort to aid Donald J. Trump. Though the Israeli company’s pitches were narrower than Moscow’s interference campaign and appear unconnected, the documents show that a senior Trump aide saw the promise of a disruption effort to swing voters in Mr. Trump’s favor. The campaign official, Rick Gates, sought one proposal to use bogus personas to target and sway 5,000 delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention by attacking Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Mr. Trump’s main opponent at the time. Another proposal describes opposition research and “complementary intelligence activities” about Mrs. Clinton and people close to her, according to copies of the proposals obtained by The New York Times and interviews with four people involved in creating the documents.
The Plot to Subvert an Election Unraveling the Russia Story So Far - For two years, Americans have tried to absorb the details of the 2016 attack — hacked emails, social media fraud, suspected spies — and President Trump’s claims that it’s all a hoax. The Times explores what we know and what it means.
Trump Tower, Collusion and the Law - “Don’t be fooled by word games,” Victoria Nourse, a professor at Georgetown Law, told us via email. “There is no legal term ‘collusion.’ The legal term for collusion is the crime of conspiracy. If you agree to kill someone and take a step toward that (hired the killer, or encouraged the killer, met with the killer) you are guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.
Trump admits son met Russian for information on opponent - US President Donald Trump has admitted his son met a Russian lawyer in June 2016 "to get information on an opponent", but argues it was legal.
Former Trump campaign aide was in alleged Russian agent's social network - A former Trump campaign aide who once socialized with alleged Russian agent Maria Butina tells ABC News the visiting grad student “networked so extensively” there is likely a broad swath of mid-level and senior leaders she encountered at some point during her time in Washington. “I wonder which prominent Republican political figures she hasn't come across,” said J.D. Gordon, who said he worked on the campaign until August 2016, a month before he met Butina, but had a "nominal" role through the transition.
Trump to Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Stop Mueller probe 'right now' - Trump calls on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end Robert Mueller's Russia probe immediately, escalating his attacks on the inquiry. Whatever Donald J. Trump must be really bad once again Trump is attempting to obstruct justice.
Trump’s 2016 call for the Russians to hack Clinton’s email should worry his lawyer more.
It’s reported that Donald Trump knew Russia interfered in the 2016 election two weeks before his inauguration.
Russians went after Hillary emails the same day Trump called for hack - The indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking Democrats’ and Hillary Clinton’s emails said they began going after the former first lady’s personal emails “on or about July 27, 2016” — the same day Donald Trump called on Russia to find her missing emails. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said, looking directly into TV cameras, at a press conference in Florida that day in which he also cast doubt that Russia was behind the hacking.
The documents appear to discount claims made by some Republicans that the FBI failed to properly disclose sources of information used to seek it.
To date, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has swept up four members of Trump’s campaign, including three who have agreed to work with Mueller’s team as part of a plea deal. Numerous Trump associates had contacts with Russian government officials or business people during the campaign and presidential transition.
Despite Russia’s harmful national interests against the U.S., and its human rights violations around the world, President Trump and his team are directly and indirectly tied to Russia. Throughout the 2016 presidential election, President Trump not only refused to criticize.
Femme fatales, lavish Moscow parties and dark money – how Russia worked the National Rifle Association
Vladimir Putin has cultivated a mix of overt and covert influence with a wide array of right-wing politicians throughout the West.
All of Donald Trump's Ties to Russia and Putin, in 7 Charts These charts illustrate dozens of those links, including meetings between Russian officials and members of Trump’s campaign and administration
Mueller just drew his most direct line to date between the Trump campaign and Russia Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation just drew what appears to be its most direct line to date between President Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia.
Trump’s lies about the Russia probe devolve into absurdity This morning, President Trump floated a series of big lies about the Russia investigation. They aren’t normal or conventional lies. They are profoundly absurd exercises in up-is-downism — that is, enormous, preposterously audacious falsehoods that run directly contrary to facts that are widely known and ascertainable with great ease.
Trump Russia ties America survived the Nixon and Clinton investigations, but this one is different
How Ex-Spy Christopher Steele Compiled His Explosive Trump-Russia Dossier. The man behind the infamous dossier that raises the possibility that Donald Trump may be vulnerable to Kremlin blackmail is Russia expert Christopher Steele, formerly of M.I.6. Here’s the story of his investigation.
Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler? What If Trump Has Been a Russian Asset Since 1987? In 2015, Western European intelligence agencies began picking up evidence of communications between the Russian government and people in Donald Trump’s orbit. In April 2016, one of the Baltic states shared with then–CIA director John Brennan an audio recording of Russians discussing funneling money to the Trump campaign.
Morning Joe takes a deep dive into the Trump-Russia timeline, starting in September 2015, with discussions about a Trump tower project in Moscow.
Donald Trump Jr emails show Russia communication, Emails show he was offered "sensitive" information on Hillary Clinton and replied "I love it".
If Trump didn't collude with Russia, why all the secret meetings? - Jennifer RubinJared Kushner allegedly tried to arrange a secret back-channel with Russia that would have cut out U.S. intelligence and relied on Russian communications. It was one of many Russian contacts that he and other members of the Trump team failed to list on security clearance forms. That meeting is not to be confused with the eight-person confab in June 2016 involving Kushner, then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and a flock of Russians, including a former counter-intelligence operative, a suspected money-launderer and a Russian legal insider. That meeting was also "forgotten" — before Trump Jr. came clean, sort of, with a series of story-changing admissions. Now we learn that the president also failed to disclose a one-on-one meeting this month with Russian President Vladimir Putin at which only a Russian translator was present. No one in the Trump delegation sought to disclose this in all the press briefings and interviews. The incident came to light only because European leaders agitated by the president's private chat decided to spill the beans. The Washington Post reports: "At some point during the meal, [President] Trump left his own seat to occupy a chair next to Putin. Trump approached alone, and Putin was attended only by his official interpreter. "In a statement issued Tuesday night after published reports of the conversation, the White House said that 'there was no "second meeting" between President Trump and President Putin, just a briefconversation at the end of a dinner. The insinuation that the White House has tried to "hide" a second meeting,' it said, 'is false, malicious and absurd.'
By Ken Dilanian, Julia Ainsley and Carol E. LeeWASHINGTON — In the weeks after he became the Republican nominee on July 19, 2016, Donald Trump was warned that foreign adversaries, including Russia, would probably try to spy on and infiltrate his campaign, according to multiple government officials familiar with the matter. The warning came in the form of a high-level counterintelligence briefing by senior FBI officials, the officials said. A similar briefing was given to Hillary Clinton, they added. They said the briefings, which are commonly provided to presidential nominees, were designed to educate the candidates and their top aides about potential threats from foreign spies. The candidates were urged to alert the FBI about any suspicious overtures to their campaigns, the officials said. The Clinton campaign didn't respond to a request for comment. The briefings were led by counterintelligence specialists from the FBI, the sources said. They were timed to occur around the period when the candidates began receiving classified intelligence, the officials said, which put them at greater risk for being targeted by foreign spies. Trump's first intelligence briefing as Republican nominee was Aug. 17, 2016, sources told NBC News at the time. Trump was "briefed and warned" at the session about potential espionage threats from Russia, two former law enforcement officials familiar with the sessions told NBC News. A source close to the White House said their position is that Trump was unaware of the contacts between his campaign and Russians. "That the Republican and Democrat nominee for president received a standardized briefing on counterintelligence is hardly a news story," said Raj Shah, a White House spokesman. "That NBC News hears about the contents of this classified conversation due to an inappropriate leak is a news story." It's unclear whether the warning about Russia was passed on to other campaign officials. Still, the revelation that the Trump campaign was warned about spying threats from Russia and other adversaries, which has not been previously reported, casts a new light on the Trump campaign's dealings with Russians in the months before the November election.
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