—–ON THE AGENDA—–
NATO-RUSSIA COUNCIL MEETING TODAY
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “The joint NATO-Russia Council is set to meet for a third time this year on October 26, with Ukraine and Afghanistan on the agenda.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “NATO ambassadors and Russian envoy Aleksandr Grushko will gather at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels,” noting, “The Russia-NATO Council — a forum intended to prevent tensions from escalating — last met in July.”
JUDGE GIVES FUSION GPS UNTIL TODAY TO REACH DEAL WITH CONGRESS
Reuters reports, “A U.S. judge has given Fusion GPS, the research firm that hired a former British spy to investigate Donald Trump during the 2016 election campaign, until Thursday to reach an agreement with Congress over a subpoena for the firm’s bank records.” Reuters notes, “It has been widely reported that supporters of Republican Jeb Bush, one of Trump’s opponents for the party’s presidential nomination, initially paid for research that was later picked up by supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton,” as TRUMPISTAN WATCH predicted yesterday.
TRUMP DATA FIRM CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA CEO REACHED OUT TO ASSANGE
The Daily Beast reports, “Alexander Nix, who heads a controversial data-analytics firm that worked for President Donald Trump’s campaign, wrote in an email last year that he reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about Hillary Clinton’s missing 33,000 emails”. The Daily Beast adds, “On Wednesday, Assange confirmed that such an exchange took place. Nix, who heads Cambridge Analytica, told a third party that he reached out to Assange about his firm somehow helping the WikiLeaks editor release Clinton’s missing emails”. Because Assange is a raging narcissist, or his Russian mafia state handlers know their U.S. election law, “Assange told the Cambridge Analytica CEO that he didn’t want his help, and preferred to do the work on his own,” The Daily Beast notes. Recall despite all effort to deny, deflect and delude the info-sphere with lies and bullshit, it was Trump who said during the campaign, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’ll be able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” which was insane at the time and remains so to this day. The Daily Beast adds at a rally on October 10, Trump proclaimed, “I love WikiLeaks!” Cambridge Analytica is deeply tied to both the Mercer family and Steve Bannon, who “was on the company’s board before he joined the White House,” and “previously had holdings in Cambridge Analytica valued at between $1 million and $5 million,” The Daily Beast notes. As a result of The Daily Beast report, Business Insider notes, “Key members of President Donald Trump’s campaign team scrambled Wednesday to distance themselves from the data mining and analysis company Cambridge Analytica”. Business Insider adds, “the campaign paid Cambridge Analytica more than $5 million in September alone, up from $250,000 in August,” which is about when the emails began to roil the campaign.
MANAFORT MONEY LAUNDERING PROBE SUBPOENAS ISSUED
Bloomberg reports, “Federal prosecutors in New York have issued subpoenas as part of an investigation into whether former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort used New York real estate transactions to launder foreign money into the U.S. financial system”. Bloomberg notes, “The investigation was launched by the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan and subsequently handed off to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The issuance of the subpoenas in recent weeks by the Manhattan prosecutor indicates that the office has rejoined the inquiry and moved beyond the initial stage.” This is a positive development and reaffirmation that investigators, not the noise pollution of media at the present moment, are looking in the right places. Bloomberg adds, “The transactions at issue in the federal inquiry, according to other people familiar with the probe, mostly predate Manafort’s role in Trump’s presidential campaign. But any dealings between Manafort and individuals in Eastern European countries, including allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, may help explain whether there was a relationship between Russia and the campaign.” However, “Should Manafort face criminal charges as a result of the deals, Mueller’s team could use that as leverage to seek his cooperation with their probe,” Bloomberg reports.
TRUMP LAWYER MICHAEL COHEN GOT RICH FLIPPING PROPERTIES FOR CASH
McClatchy reports Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s long-time personal lawyer, was “serving as a top executive at the Trump Organization for a decade,” while also working as “a sometime New York real estate wheeler dealer whose companies appear to have netted as much as $20 million in profit by flipping properties to mysterious buyers.” Who pays cash for Manhattan real estate? Russian mafia state actors looking to launder their dirty money do so — and of course many others in similar circumstances, and probably some very fine people as well! McClatchy notes, “The facts surrounding one of Cohen’s ventures in particular raised red flags for several experts”. Oh? Go on. McClatchy reports, “In 2014, a mysterious buyer using a limited liability company that hid the purchaser’s identity paid $10 million in cash for a small apartment building on New York’s lower east side that Cohen had purchased just three years before for $2 million. The handsome appreciation came despite the fact that the assessed value of the property, at 172 Rivington St., hardly budged in these years, hovering around the price Cohen paid for it. Three other properties Cohen bought and sold in roughly the same time frame followed a similar pattern.”
SENATOR BOB CORKER VOWS TO GET AT WHY RUSSIA SANCTIONS DELAY
POLITICO reports, “The chief GOP architect,” and anti-Trumper Senator Bob Corker, “of a Russia sanctions package that Congress overwhelmingly approved earlier this year vowed Wednesday to find out why the Trump administration has delayed using its new powers to punish Moscow.” Because Trump is beholden to the Russian mafia state. Can we get that in the Congressional record?
PENTAGON SCRUBS ITS NETWORKS OF KASPERSKY SOFTWARE
Defense One reports, “The Defense Department is doing a thorough review to ensure software from the embattled Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky does not touch any military systems”. It remains remarkable enough the Pentagon ever would have even considered let alone used software designed and created by an Russian company. Defense One notes, “The move follows a September order from the Homeland Security Department directing all civilian government agencies to remove Kaspersky software from their systems within three months.” Defense One adds, “That order does not apply to the Defense Department, which is outside Homeland Security’s jurisdiction, but the Pentagon plans to ‘follow the intent of the directive’”. Defense One reports, “Intelligence officials have said Kaspersky does not run on any intelligence community systems.” Meanwhile, Business Insider reports, “Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab on Wednesday acknowledged that its security software had taken source code for a secret American hacking tool from a personal computer in the United States.” But it was all an accident, they say. Um, bullshit?
ROMANIA TO GET PATRIOT MISSILES BY THE END OF THE YEAR
EuroNews reports, “Romania has signed a deal for a new missile defence system – one of the country’s most expensive military acquisitions. It will see the Patriot missiles delivered to the south-east European country by the end of the year.” EuroNews notes, “The agreement with US defence firm Raytheon, worth 3.9 billion euros, is regarded as a necessity for Romania’s security and a strategic move that will strengthen NATO’s eastern borders.”
BELARUS CLAIMS NO RUSSIAN TROOPS IN COUNTRY AFTER ZAPAD
The Belarusian Telegraphic Agency reports, “The International Military Cooperation Department of the Belarusian Defense Ministry has refuted information about Russian troops lingering in Belarus after the Zapad 2017 army exercise,” which took place last month in Russia and Belarus and involved troops from both nations. The Belarusian Telegraphic Agency dutifully telegraphs, “According to the Belarusian Defense Ministry website, a number of sources are busy spreading information about armed forces — over 5,000 men — from Russia, who are allegedly staying in Belarus long after the Belarusian-Russian strategic army exercise Zapad 2017 ended. The sources also claim that information about the presence of the Russian troops had been confirmed as a result of inspections by representatives of OSCE member states. The International Military Cooperation Department reminded that the entire Russian contingent, which took part in the Zapad 2017 army exercise”. And the Belarusian Telegraphic Agency concludes on the super Soviet note, “The Belarusian Defense Ministry said that a number of mass media would do well to release news based on official and verified sources of information.”
KSENIA SOBCHAK SAYS CRIMEA IS UKRAINE
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “The Kremlin has criticized Russian presidential hopeful Ksenia Sobchak for saying that Crimea is legally part of Ukraine, while flamboyant nationalist lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky said she should be jailed for the remark.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, “Sobchak, a TV personality and opposition activist, caused controversy with the statement at a press conference on October 24,” when, “She said that by international law, Crimea ‘belongs to Ukraine’ and that Russia, by occupying and seizing the peninsula in 2014, violated a 1994 pledge to to [sic] protect Ukraine’s sovereignty.” For the rebuttal, “Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on October 25 that Sobchak’s comments were wrong ‘in essence and in form,’” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, noting that while “Peskov stated that ‘Crimea is an inalienable part of the Russian Federation,’” that position in fact “has little support worldwide and is rejected by dozens of countries.” Oops.
ET TU, CHUCK GRASSLEY? SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE PROBE PROBLEMS
POLITICO reports, “The Senate Judiciary Committee’s GOP chairman and top Democrat are splitting off in different directions when it comes to investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, risking a collapse of their once bipartisan probe.” POLITICO adds, “While Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) digs deeper into a uranium sale approved by Hillary Clinton’s State Department that the House GOP is also investigating, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is working on legislation that would make it illegal for Americans to accept help from foreign nationals to influence an election”. All this conjures up another obstructionist anti-hero of the Congressional Russia investigations, namely DARKNESS AT NUNES.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
HOW TO FLIP FOLKS ACCORDING TO THE CIA
POLITICO Magazine has a piece by a former CIA agent in the Directorate of Operations on how Russian intelligence may have approached Trump campaign officials as “it’s beyond dispute that Russia tried to get people around the president to cooperate.” So, “How do you get someone to do something they should not do?” Well, “the CIA has encompassed in an acronym, MICE: Money, Ideology, Coercion, Ego. Want to get someone to betray his country? Figure out which of these four motivators drives the person and exploit the hell out of it.” Of course, “The Russians know all this, too.” POLITICO Magazine notes, “From an intelligence point of view, the people surrounding Trump, and Trump himself, make easy targets for recruitment. This is not to say these people have definitely been recruited by Russian intelligence—and they’ve all denied it repeatedly—but you can be sure that Russia’s intelligence services took these factors into consideration when they approached the campaign.” What follows is a list of recruitables from the Trump campaign and how they may have been coerced.
From POLITICO Magazine.
PUTIN THE STATE IN HIS PRIVATE COFFERS
The Organized Crimes and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) reports, “the Russian leader is notorious for keeping himself ‘officially’ clean,” so “OCCRP and its long-time partner Novaya Gazeta went digging to find out more — and pieced together the assets of some of President Putin’s friends, family, and inner circle.” The OCCRP notes, “Some of these people lead or have stakes in large companies, many connected to Russia’s lucrative natural resources sector. The one commonality in their financial success is their connection to the to the president. A smaller, more mysterious group — the proxies — have no obvious explanation for the hidden wealth reporters have uncovered. They claim not to be businessmen, are not known to the public, and in some cases have little idea of the riches that are registered under their names. Again, they have one common attribute: they are all family or boyhood friends of Putin.” Additionally, “According to OCCRP’s calculations and their 2017 Forbes ratings, the total wealth of Putin’s inner circle — a mix of family members, old friends, and friends who became family members — stands at nearly $24 billion.” What follows is a whole family tree of the family in the la famiglia sense of the Russian mafia state. It’s an orgy of wealth and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
SOVIET DISINFORMATION AGAINST THE U.S.: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
The Lawfare blog looks at Soviet-style disinformation campaigns against the West and the U.S. in particular going back a century. “After World War II, the Soviets shifted their focus to the United States. Two years after the surrender of Nazi Germany, in 1947, Soviet leadership created the Committee of Information to run undercover operations to influence public opinion,” Lawfare blog reports, adding, “In the 1950s, a specialized intelligence unit was established specifically to disseminate disinformation. In the 1970s, as disinformation became a larger part of the Soviet strategy, the unit was upgraded to a full service and placed under the command of a KGB general.” As is the case today (and something U.S. media has shown a customary lack of introspection over), “One of the most popular methods of disinformation targeted legitimate news outlets. By anonymously sending forged documents—such as embassy communications or military memoranda—to credible publications, the Soviets attempted to create well-timed fake news stories that the public accepted as true.” Oh my, hello 2016! Lawfare adds, “Disinformation often highlighted unattractive aspects of American culture,” such as racism and discrimination. Hello again, 2016! As Lawfare notes, “If all of this sounds eerily familiar, it should: The goals and tactics of Putin’s Russia are not far removed from the goals of Soviet era propagandists.” Lawfare is correct, “The current Russian strategy of active measures, of which disinformation is one part, appears largely the same as that utilized during the Soviet period. However, significant changes in the media landscape have made those active measures more effective in today’s United States.” The profession has deteriorated as in “the late 1940s until the fall of the Berlin Wall, Soviet agents had difficulty utilizing active measures against Western countries; well-trained journalists and editors were generally suspicious of too-good-to-be-true claims and they thoroughly vetted stories before publication,” which is so not the case today! Put a tweet in your story is more likely how an editor might respond these days.
From Lawfare blog.
RUSSIA WANTS YOU TO KNOW IT IS WATCHING YOU WATCHING THEM
Business Insider reports, “Around 3 p.m. Tuesday, a handful of reporters who have written about Russia’s use of troll factories to crank out disinformation and junk news received a cryptic email from a self-professed ‘Russian troll’ claiming to be affiliated with a propaganda site that was recently exposed as a Russian influence operation.” Business Insider notes, “The email linked to blackmattersus.com,” which is now known to be a Russian propaganda site. Business Insider adds, “The site is still active, but its landing page has been transformed into an advertisement for a Reddit AMA with ‘Russian trolls’.” Additionally, “BuzzFeed’s Ryan Brooks noted that a cached version of the landing page featured a countdown clock and a promotional video for the AMA, which appeared to have been scheduled for October 30. An actor who was exposed by The Daily Beast as likely working for the Russians appeared in the promo,” Business Insider adds. And that’s pretty much it. Like many Russian operations, it dead-ends in trying to fuck with people. If they want to hook up with their fanboys on Reddit now with the Feds watching, we can play this watching you watching us watch you game, too!
From Business Insider.
TODAY IN LIGHT DISINFORMATION
Newsweek reports, “Russia has claimed to have taken back almost 200,000 square miles of Syrian territory from extremist groups such as the Islamic State militant group (ISIS)—but critics have pointed out that Syria is only just over 70,000 square miles in size.” Oops. According to Newsweek, the boast came from “Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu,” who told Russian state-run “RIA Novosti on Tuesday night, saying Russia had liberated ‘500,000 square kilometers’ from Islamists since its campaign in Syria began in 2015.”
SUBSCRIBE: e-mail TrumpistanWatch@gmail.com with “TRUMPISTAN WATCH” in the subject line to receive the weekday e-mail newsletter.