The Washington Post reports, “Investigators are focusing on a series of meetings held by Jared Kushner,” focusing on “meetings in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow,” Sergey Gorkov, the CEO of the sanctioned Vnesheconombank, better known by its initials VEB. While the FBI investigation also focuses on former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his ousted National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn, The Washington Post notes, “Kushner is the only current White House official known to be considered a key person in the probe.” One of Kushner’s attorneys, Jamie Gorelick said, “Mr. Kushner previously volunteered to share with Congress what he knows about these meetings. He will do the same if he is contacted in connection with any other inquiry”. “In addition to possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election, investigators are also looking broadly into possible financial crimes,” The Washington Post reports.

From The Washington Post.



Talking Points Memo writes, cribbing from a Wall Street Journal report Thursday, that “A Republican political operative in Florida asked the alleged Russian hacker,” Guccifer 2.0, “who broke into Democratic Party organizations’ servers at the height of the 2016 campaign to pass him stolen documents”. Talking Points Memo notes, “In return, that operative received valuable Democratic voter-turnout analyses”. The Wall Street Journal “found at least one GOP campaign consultant took advantage of the information,” Aaron Nevins, and “The hacker went on to flag that same data to Roger Stone”. According to Talking Points Memo, “The Wall Street Journal’s report presents the clearest allegations to date of collusion between people connected to Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.” Ultimately, “Guccifer 2.0 ended up passing Nevins 2.5 gigabytes of stolen documents, including information about Democrats’ get-out-the-vote strategy in Florida and other swing states, the Journal reported.” In turn, “Nevins then posted the documents on his blog, HelloFLA.com, under a pseudonym.” Meanwhile, “Stone told the Journal that while he did receive a link to Nevins’ blog from Guccifer 2.0, he didn’t share the stolen data published on the blog with anyone.”

From The Wall Street Journal via Talking Points Memo.



Former POLITICO White House correspondent Mike Allen’s Axios reports, “West Wing officials are prepping for a years-long war with investigators and the bureaucracy, with plans to beef up legal, surrogate, communications and rapid-response teams as part of a ‘new normal’ for President Trump”. An official close to Trump anticipates the myriad investigations into his Russia ties are “going to last as long as Donald Trump is president,” and said, “We’re getting street fighters ready to go.” Knowing Trump, that is not a metaphor for a communications team but may actually involve some organization akin to brown shirts, which to be clear is not included in the Axios report. According to Axios, “Proposed war-room org charts have been prepared, and final decisions on the structure will be made after Trump returns this weekend.” Axios reports, “Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon broke off from the trip and returned early, in part to quarterback planning.”

From Axios.



POLITICO reports, “U.S. President Donald Trump capped his first official visit to Brussels with a commanding — and meandering — speech at NATO’s new headquarters, in which he berated allies for not spending enough on defense, insisted that even NATO’s goal of increasing annual military expenditures to 2 percent of GDP was insufficient and provocatively declared that some allies ‘owed’ arrears for years of lagging contributions,” even though NATO is not a fund and does not quite work like that. Trump also “did not explicitly endorse NATO’s common defense principle,” namely Article V, which states, “that an attack on one is an attack on all.” As CNN reports, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO and current head of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Ivo Daalder said, “this was a perfectly scripted event to deliver a very simple message that every president of the United States has delivered at the first possible opportunity, which is that the United States stands firmly behind its commitment to the defense of NATO. We signed a treaty, we uphold it. It was really easy,” yet “the fact that he didn’t do it was disturbing and will take a long time to overcome in Europe.” The Washington Post called Trump’s performance “a national embarrassment” in a headline, when in fact it was so much worse, a disgrace, utterly shameful. Among the lectures, scolding and lack of reassurances, Trump also pushed the leader of NATO’s newest member, Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic to get to the head of the pack for a photo op and called Germans “very evil” or “very bad,” depending on one’s translation, for no reason in particular other than they sell cars in our country, which are also made in our country. Putin could not have asked for more. And our European allies should no longer have delusions that the American president is Putin’s man and the number one threat to all of our security. It is ok to be afraid, but do not be paralyzed in the direction of inaction. Prepare yourselves for slaughter – or to prevent one.

From POLITICO, CNN, The Washington Post and Vanity Fair.



POLITICO reports Israel has changed its intelligence sharing rules, “with the U.S., Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Wednesday.” This is a consequence of Trump’s loose lips during his meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov where Trump is said to have disclosed intelligence gleaned from Israel about ISIS. Liberman told Army Radio in Israel, “We discussed the issue with our friends in America and said “said officials ‘did a spot repair.’”




POLITICO reports, “Republican Greg Gianforte won Montana’s special House election Thursday night, beating Democrat Rob Quist a day after Gianforte was charged with assault for allegedly attacking a reporter covering his campaign.” Now that Republicans know that violence will not deter victory, including and especially brutality against reporters, whom Trump has called “enemies of the American people,” especially those that have reported on ties to Russia, we can expect more of it. Montana voters have validated one candidate charged with assault, so now permission has been given to politicians to use violence against the media. We are headed down a dark tunnel especially as most of those who encourage and promote violence have unlikely never been in a fight and never been targeted by violence, so the consequences, well known on the European continent, are largely unknown to Americans who so often operate in a vacuum void of historical knowledge. POLITICO notes, “Republicans including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Montana Sen. Steve Daines called on Gianforte to apologize Thursday, which Gianforte did in a victory speech late Thursday night before supporters in Bozeman, Mont.” According to POLITICO, Gianforte said, “When you make a mistake, you have to own up to it. That’s the Montana way,” but was it a mistake or has it been validated as how you get across the finish line and emerge the victor? Time will tell but all trends in America since Trump announced his candidacy by needlessly calling Mexicans rapists in the summer of 2015 suggest we are headed for a slaughter. Muzzling the press through violence is an important step in that direction. His victory and financial ties to Russia give another seat to Republicans in the House and suggests we are also no closer toward reversing course.






USA Today reports, “As multiple congressional committees widen their Russia investigations, former FBI director Robert Mueller is emerging as the gatekeeper,” and notes “Congress is wary,” in the headline. “Senate and House committee leaders already are engaged in a delicate dance with Mueller to secure documents and public testimony from James Comey,” USA Today reports. Already, “Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was forced to cancel a hearing where he sought Comey’s public testimony, saying that the former director needed to consult with Mueller first”.

From USA Today.



CNN reports, “The Department of Justice declined for now to provide documents to House oversight committee chairman Jason Chaffetz related to former FBI Director James Comey’s communications with President Donald Trump.” According to CNN, Chaffetz responded by issuing a new deadline of June 8.

From CNN.





POLITICO reports, “When German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited President Donald Trump at the White House in March, she brought a visual aid to help Trump understand the menace posed by his would-be friend, Russian President Vladimir Putin,” a 1980s map of the former Soviet Union. Yes, Americans are geographically challenged and Trump, who thinks Israel is not in the Middle East, is certainly confirmation of that stereotype. According to POLITICO, “The German leader’s point was that Putin laments the Soviet Union’s demise and, left unchecked, would happily restore its former borders,” something that after yesterday’s NATO meeting is clearly not Trump’s primary concern. As POLITICO notes, “Merkel left Washington unconvinced that Trump had gotten the message”.




The Washington Post reports on how Russia-linked nutter Carter Page ingratiated himself into the Trump campaign last year. Page came through “a referral from the son-in-law of Richard Nixon, New York state Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox,” according to Cox and confirmed by Page. Another “top Trump adviser, Sam Clovis, then employed what campaign aides now acknowledge was their go-to vetting process — a quick Google search”. Yes, Google. According to former campaign officials, Page “seemed to have the right qualifications,” as the “head of an energy investment firm,” with a “business degree from New York University, doctorate from the University of London.” In late March 2016, Page “joined a new Trump campaign national security advisory group,” and Trump “pointed to Page, among others, as evidence of a foreign policy team with gravitas.” As The Washington Post notes, “what the Google search had not shown was that Page had been on the FBI’s radar since at least 2013” as “Russian officials allegedly tried to use him to get information about the energy business.” The Washington Post reports, “By the summer of 2016, Page, who had been recently named as a Trump adviser, was under surveillance by FBI agents who suspected that he may have been acting as an agent of the Kremlin.” For months, Page “declined to answer questions about how he joined the Trump team and who invited him aboard, calling the matter ‘irrelevant’ in an email exchange with The Washington Post.” Sam “Clovis, who assembled and vetted the list of national security advisers that included Page, declined to comment. Now a top official at the Agriculture Department, Clovis had worked on Russia-related issues at the Pentagon in the 1980s and, as a candidate for U.S. Senate in Iowa in 2014, had questioned the effectiveness of sanctions imposed after Russia’s incursion into Ukraine,” The Washington Post notes. Of course “A thorough vetting of Page might have revealed several red flags. Page had spent three years working in Moscow, for instance, and he held stock in the Russian company Gazprom”. Also “Page had previously drawn the attention of the FBI after he had conversations in 2013 with a man posing as an executive with the New York branch of the Russian development bank Vneshecon­ombank. The man was later convicted of being a Russian spy, and FBI recordings included discussions among Russian operatives about their attempts to recruit Page.”

From The Washington Post.





The Washington Post reports on a Citizen Lab report, “Researchers have discovered an extensive international hacking campaign that steals documents from its targets, carefully modifies them and repackages them as disinformation aimed at undermining civil society and democratic institutions”. Citizen Lab, part of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, “investigators say the campaign shows clear signs of a Russian link.” While the effort “does not demonstrate a direct tie to the Kremlin, it suggests that the attackers are aiming to discredit the Kremlin’s opponents.” Citizen Lab’s “report also demonstrates overlap with cyberattacks used in the U.S. and French presidential elections,” according to The Washington Post, which notes “The campaign has targeted more than 200 government officials, military leaders and diplomats from 39 countries, as well as journalists, activists, a former Russian prime minister and a prominent critic of President Vladi­mir Putin”. What happens is “The attackers seek to hack into email accounts using phishing techniques, steal documents and slightly alter them while retaining the appearance of authenticity. These forgeries, which the researchers have dubbed ‘tainted leaks,’ are then released along with unaltered documents and publicized as legitimate leaks.” House intelligence committee co-chair Rep. Adam Schiff has spent months warning of precisely this technique being deployed in the future, so expect much of it in next year’s mid-term elections.

From The Washington Post.





Earlier this week, TRUMPISTAN WATCH carried an item about neo-Nazi Richard Spencer being confronted at his gym by Georgetown Security Studies Professor C. Christine Fair (disclosure: TRUMPISTAN WATCH is a graduate of the program but never had Fair as a professor, albeit we met once at the beginning of the program). After the confrontation at the Alexandria, Virginia gym, Spencer, who coined the term “alt-right,” to refashion the reputation of the far right and neo-Nazis, was kicked out of the gym. Yesterday’s Washington Post carries an op-ed by Fair about the confrontation, which has led to her receiving all manner of hateful garbage insults online and on her voice mail spanning the spectrum of misogyny and anti-Semitism. The final two paragraphs of Fair’s op-ed bear reprinting in their entirety: “The stakes for our country could not be higher. I imagine Germans sitting around their tables in December 1932 lamenting the eroding civil society and expansion of hateful, nationalist rhetoric between bites of Wiener schnitzel and sips of beer. They see what’s coming but they are too uncomfortable to do anything. Maybe they even believed that in some way the coming months would augur change for the better or at least desired change. This is our December 1932We have a choice. Good people can acquiesce to the purported demands of polite society and concede that Spencer’s right to lift weights in peace is more important that the rights of men like [U.S. Army Second Lieutenant Richard] Collins [III, who was black and murdered last weekend by Seth Urbanksi, who “has been involved in an online Facebook group that posts racist material”] to live full and productive lives, that being a white supremacist is not a 9-to-5 job, and that as long as he doesn’t bring his torch into an establishment, Spencer and his associates should be treated as any other civilized person. Or we can refuse to treat this hateful, dangerous ideology as just another way of being, and fight it in every space we occupy. I’ve made my choice. You need to make yours.” Thank you for those words, Christine Fair. Sadly, however TRUMPISTAN WATCH believes last year was 1933 and now 1937 and the slaughter is fast approaching.

From The Washington Post.


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