FAKE RUSSIAN POTUS + PRIVATE RUSSIAN SESSIONS LIED
The New York Times reports, “Standing before reporters in February, President Trump said unequivocally that he knew of nobody from his campaign who was in contact with Russians during the election. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has told the Senate the same thing. Court documents unsealed this week cast doubt on both statements and raised the possibility that Mr. Sessions could be called back to Congress for further questioning.” Fun! The New York Times reports, “Records in that case show that George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser, had frequent discussions with Russians in 2016 and trumpeted his connections in front of Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions,” which adds, “the court documents represent the first concrete evidence that Mr. Trump was personally told about ties between a campaign adviser and Russian officials.” The New York Times notes, “At a March 31, 2016, meeting between Mr. Trump and his foreign policy team, Mr. Papadopoulos introduced himself and said ‘that he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President Putin,’ according to court records.” J.D. Gordon, an advisor at the meeting said, “He went into the pitch right away,” noting, “He said he had a friend in London, the Russian ambassador, who could help set up a meeting with Putin.” As Gordon recalled it, “Mr. Trump listened with interest. Mr. Sessions vehemently opposed the idea”. CNN adds, “Attorney General Jeff Sessions is once again under scrutiny on Capitol Hill regarding his candor about Russia and the Trump campaign amid revelations that he rejected a suggestion to convene a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump last year.”
WHERE IS MY PAGE? PRIVATE RUSSIAN SESSIONS KNEW ABOUT RUSSIA TRIP
CNN reports, “Former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page privately testified Thursday that he mentioned to Jeff Sessions he was traveling to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign — as new questions emerge about the attorney general’s comments to Congress about Russia and the Trump campaign.” According to CNN, “During more than six hours of closed-door testimony, Page said that he informed Sessions about his coming July 2016 trip to Russia, which Page told CNN was unconnected to his campaign role. Page described the conversation to CNN after he finished talking to the House intelligence committee.” Curiously, bizarrely, CNN reports, “Page reached a rare agreement to allow the committee to release a transcript of his testimony, something that will happen early next week. Some members said his testimony will help move the investigation forward, though Page told the committee that the Trump campaign made him sign a non-disclosure agreement.” That should be a bonkers, rollicking good time when that comes out, perhaps even a bit bawdy. Bloomberg reports, “A former foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign invoked the Fifth Amendment in refusing to produce documents during a private interview Thursday with the House Intelligence Committee looking into Russian involvement in the 2016 election.”
GREAT EXPECTATIONS: TO BE SO BOYISH LOOKING, SOUNDING + CRIMINAL!
CNN reports, “Jared Kushner has turned over documents in recent weeks to special counsel Robert Mueller as investigators have begun asking in witness interviews about Kushner’s role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey”. His criminal activities are surely wildly beyond even his father’s expectations. Recall, his father tried to tape his sister’s husband having sex with a prostitute in order to blackmail him, but firing the FBI Director on behalf of a puppet regime of a foreign adversary is well, well beyond. CNN reports, “Mueller’s investigators have expressed interest in Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser, as part of its probe into Russian meddling, including potential obstruction of justice in Comey’s firing”. CNN notes, “investigators have asked other witnesses about Kushner’s role in firing Comey. Investigators have also asked about how a statement was issued in the name of Donald Trump Jr. regarding a Trump Tower meeting and about the circumstances surrounding the departures of other White House aides, according to one source. Kushner attended the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower”. Delicious!
US PROSECUTORS SAY NO TO KREMLIN TRASH ENTERING OUR COUNTRY
CNN reports, “US prosecutors have objected to an entry request for Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who became known for attending the June 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower.” Recall, “Veselnitskaya, an attorney for Cyprus-based company Prevezon Holdings and its Russian owner, Denis Katsyv, asked for immigration parole, an alternative to the visa process, to attend a hearing to finalize a $5.9 million civil forfeiture settlement reached with the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York,” as CNN notes.
US PROSECUTORS CONSIDER CHARGES AGAINST SIX RUSSIA OFFICIALS
The Wall Street Journal reports, “The Justice Department has identified more than six members of the Russian government involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computers and swiping sensitive information that became public during the 2016 presidential election.” According to The Wall Street Journal, “Prosecutors and agents have assembled evidence to charge Russian officials and could bring a case next year”.
From The Wall Street Journal.
TWITTER REVEALS A BUNCH OF TROLL HANDLES
Recode reports, “As the U.S. Congress continues to investigate Russian efforts to meddle in last year’s presidential election — in favor of Donald Trump — it has released a list of 2,752 now-deactivated Twitter accounts that the company identified as being tied to Russia’s “Internet Research Agency” troll farm.” You can either view them as a 65-page PDF file or a forever scroll down on your screen.
AMBASSADOR HUNTSMAN MEETS RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER SHOIGU
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “The Russian Defense Ministry says Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman discussed bilateral relations and international security issues during a meeting on November 2. The meeting took place at the Defense Ministry in Moscow”. There were no further details.
SENATOR BEN CARDIN: RUSSIA’S ELECTION MEDDLING AN ACT OF WAR
POLITICO reports, “Russian efforts to interfere in last year’s presidential election amount to ‘an act of war,’ Sen. Ben Cardin said Wednesday, and to question otherwise plays right into Russia’s hands.” Indeed. However, if you needed Ben Cardin or Morgan Freeman to tell you, perhaps it is time to remove the bananas from your ears, as one KGB defector put it. POLITICO notes he gets it all right: “Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Russia’s efforts to interfere in last year’s presidential election matched a pattern of behavior from Moscow that has stretched from Germany to Montenegro to the United Kingdom’s 2016 vote to leave the European Union. He said that while Russia’s typical targets for such efforts are the nations that were formerly part of the Soviet Union, influencing elections in the U.S. is a ‘great prize’ for the Kremlin.”
SENATE PASSES RESOLUTION CONDEMNING CHECHEN ANTI-GAY VIOLENCE
NBC News reports, “The U.S. Senate successfully passed a bipartisan resolution on Wednesday condemning anti-LGBTQ persecution and violence in the semi-autonomous Russian region of Chechnya.” NBC News notes, “Senate Resolution 211, which was introduced by Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, and Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, is a companion resolution to a bipartisan measure the House of Representatives passed in June.”
From NBC News.
PUTIN’S DIGITAL HITLIST IS HOW HE COMPENSATES FOR LACK OF FRIENDS
The AP reports, “It wasn’t just Hillary Clinton’s emails they went after. The hackers who disrupted the U.S. presidential election last year had ambitions that stretched across the globe, targeting the emails of Ukrainian officers, Russian opposition figures, U.S. defense contractors and thousands of others of interest to the Kremlin, according to a previously unpublished digital hit list”. According to the AP, “The list provides the most detailed forensic evidence yet of the close alignment between the hackers and the Russian government, exposing an operation that went back years and tried to break into the inboxes of 4,700 Gmail users — from the pope’s representative in Kiev to the punk band Pussy Riot in Moscow. The targets were spread among 116 countries.” The AP reports its “findings draw on a database of 19,000 malicious links collected by cybersecurity firm Secureworks, dozens of rogue emails, and interviews with more than 100 hacking targets.” How is this for opsec as “Secureworks stumbled upon the data after a hacking group known as Fancy Bear accidentally exposed part of its phishing operation to the internet.” Russia might be ruthless but it is also human and therefore error-prone, something TRUMPISTAN WATCH and others have observed time and time again as digital traces and operations in a free society are not without traces. The AP adds, “Secureworks’ list covers the period between March 2015 and May 2016. Most of the identified targets were in the United States, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Syria.” The AP reports, “Fancy Bear tried to pry open at least 573 inboxes belonging to those in the top echelons of the country’s diplomatic and security services: then-Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, then-NATO Supreme Commander, U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, and one of his predecessors, U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark. The list skewed toward workers for defense contractors such as Boeing, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin or senior intelligence figures, prominent Russia watchers and — especially — Democrats. More than 130 party workers, campaign staffers and supporters of the party were targeted, including Podesta and other members of Clinton’s inner circle. The AP also found a handful of Republican targets.” John McCain probably figures high on that subset.
From the AP.
REMINDER: THIS IS WHO ASSANGE + SNOWDEN ARE ALIGNED WITH
Meduza reports, “The Internet search engines Yandex and Google have started deleting from their search results hyperlinks to websites that have been blocked by the Russian government. The website VC.ru was the first to notice the policy shift, which only affects Internet users in Russia.” Meduza notes, “In particular, Yandex and Google no longer return search results for the torrent trackers rutracker.org and nnm-club.me and the opposition political website Grani.ru. Users can reportedly circumvent Yandex’s censorship by accessing the website in ‘incognito mode,’ without logging into their Yandex accounts.” For freedom and transparency, of course!
WASHINGTON NHL PLAYER ALEX OVECHKIN FORMS PUTIN TEAM
Reuters reports, “Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is forming a public movement in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is all but certain to seek a new term in office next year.” Reuters adds, “Ovechkin said his movement would be called ‘Putin Team’, an idea derived from a cliche ‘Putin’s team’ used by Western media.” That is very clever, young man, albeit half as much as he and the Kremlin imagines, if not much, much less. Meanwhile Russian state-run TASS reports the development as one, “Russian President Vladimir Putin knows nothing about,” according to his spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
—–INDICTMENT WEEK SPECIAL: INDICTMENT ROCK CITY—–
MONEY (THAT’S WHAT I WANT)
The Daily Beast reports, “Buried deep in Robert Mueller’s indictment of Paul Manafort is a new link between Donald Trump’s former campaign and Russian organized crime. The indictment (PDF), unsealed on Monday, includes an extensive look into Paul Manafort’s byzantine financial dealings. In particular, it details how he used a company called Lucicle Consultants Limited to wire millions of dollars into the United States.” Well, The Daily Beast notes, “The Cyprus-based Lucicle Consultants Limited, in turn, reportedly received millions of dollars from a businessman and Ukrainian parliamentarian named Ivan Fursin, who is closely linked to one of Russia’s most notorious criminals: Semion Mogilevich.” Remember when this began and as it has gone on TRUMPISTAN WATCH has been very clear that the Oligarchs are not so important as who their roof is and all of Manafort’s associates in Ukraine as well as Trump’s friends in Russia share one in the godfather of godfathers, Semion Mogilevich. The Daily Beast notes Mogilevich is “Currently believed to be safe in Moscow,” and that “he is, according to the FBI, responsible for weapons trafficking, contract killings, and international prostitution.” They left out match fixing, albeit maybe because that is largely outsourced to a colleague. Rumor has it he lives rather openly in Russia and hangs out at the Ritz Moscow, site of the notorious “pee pee tape,” alongside other dossier and Trump orbit related folks like the Agalarovs. Also of note, “Fursin’s longtime business associate, Ukrainian billionaire Dmitry Firtash, has an off-again, on-again partnership with Manafort,” The Daily Beast reports. “Firtash has his own legal complications. He is currently under indictment in U.S. federal court for allegedly orchestrating an international titanium mining racket. The acting U.S. attorney in Chicago recently dubbed him an ‘organized-crime member’ and an ‘upper-echelon associat[e] of Russian organized crime,’” The Daily Beast adds. Naturally it follows that “A December 2005 report from the Austrian Federal Criminal Investigation Agency said the FBI described Fursin and Firtash as senior members of the Semion Mogilevich Organization.”
From The Daily Beast.
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
POLITICO reports, “Former Trump campaign aide Sam Clovis, who has been swept up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, has withdrawn from consideration to be the Department of Agriculture’s chief scientist, according to a letter Clovis sent on Wednesday to President Donald Trump.” C’est magnifique! POLITICO notes, “Clovis had been under criticism for months for his lack of science credentials and, in recent days, for his role supervising George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who struck a plea deal on charges he lied to FBI investigators about his communications with Russia-linked contacts.” POLITICO gets “Tom Vilsack, who was Agriculture secretary under former President Barack Obama,” on record saying, “It was only a matter of time”. Also as this is the deranged Trumpistani elite, he was also a noted bigot and racist in addition to being a climate change denier. POLITICO adds, “Clovis also made numerous racially charged allegations, including calling progressives ‘race trader’” and ‘race traitors,’ who want to keep black people ‘enslaved to the government.’ He called former Attorney General Eric Holder a ‘racist black,’ called Obama a narcissistic liar who has ‘been given a pass’ because he is black, and disparaged women who identify as Democrats.” USA Today reporter Steve Reilly also unearthed video of Clovis justifying the Russian invasion and occupation of Crimea, so all and all a real humanist. So far this is however the best reason for someone to withdraw their nomination: because he is a witness and possible defendant in a criminal prosecution. All in all, a good day when such things happen.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
DAVID IGNATIUS PRESENTS A HISTORY OF TRUMP IN RUSSIA
Venerable Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, the ears of Langley, presents a timeline of Trump’s business dealings in Russia. In keeping with the timeline format, hereto with a presentation of facts as laid out by Ignatius:
– 1986: “The flashy young tycoon met Soviet Ambassador Yuri Dubinin at a luncheon”.
– 1987: “With Dubinin’s encouragement, Trump flew to Moscow in July 1987 with his Czech-born first wife, Ivana, to check out potential sites. Trump wrote in his book: ‘It was an extraordinary experience. . . . We stayed in Lenin’s suite at the National Hotel, and I was impressed with the ambition of the Soviet officials to make a deal.’”
– 1996: “Trump explored the Russian market again in 1996, with help from his friend [Howard] Lorber, who is chief executive of Vector Group, a holding company that back then owned a Russian cigarette company and now owns Douglas Elliman Realty, one of the leading brokerage firms for super-rich Russians seeking property in the United States… The Trump-Lorber foray in Moscow began with Lorber’s business partner (and close Trump friend) Bennett LeBow, who had acquired the Liggett tobacco company in 1986. One subsidiary, called Liggett-Ducat, marketed the company’s cigarettes in Russia. And Liggett-Ducat had a 98-year lease on a prime development site in central Moscow. With his usual panache, Trump announced plans for a $250 million investment that would include a ‘Trump International’ complex on the Liggett-Ducat site at a November 1996 news conference in Moscow.”
– 1997: “Trump bragged about his plans in January 1997, when he and Lorber met visiting Russian politician Aleksandr Lebed in New York. A 1997 New Yorker profile of Trump captured their exchange and showed the breadth of Trump’s hopes for Moscow investment and business connections.” Ignatius notes, “Whatever inside track Trump thought he had with [former Moscow Mayor Yuri] Luzhkov in 1996, the deal petered out.” Eventually, “Handsome towers were built at sites called Ducat Place II and III, but not by Trump,” Ignatius notes.
– 2000s: “The Russian moneymaker for Trump in the 2000s turned out, instead, to be investment in U.S. properties bearing his name. Russians were eager to move their capital into fancy condo apartments in New York and Florida.” Lorber of Douglas Elliman Realty connection proves invaluable here and the Agalarovs are among many wealthy Russians who invest.
– 2007: “A project that had significant financing from former Soviet Union investors was Trump SoHo, a 46-story condo-hotel project in Lower Manhattan that opened in September 2007. One development partner was the Sapir Organization, founded by Tamir Sapir from Georgia. Another partner was Bayrock, founded by Tevfik Arif, a Kazakh-born businessman who brought in Sater. As has been widely reported, Sater went to prison in 1993 after stabbing a man, and later became an FBI informant.”
– 2008: Trump “sold for a handsome $95 million a Palm Beach waterfront mansion he bought at auction in 2004 for just $41.35 million — more than doubling his money at a time when much of the South Florida market was underwater. The buyer was Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev.” Additionally, Ignatius notes Donald “Uday” Trump Jr., “was a keynote speaker at the June 2008 Russian Real Estate Summit in Moscow, where he touted the Trump Organization’s plans to build condos and hotels in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sochi. At a New York real-estate conference in September 2008, Trump Jr. was frank about the tide of Russian money supporting the family business.” It was there Uday said, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. . . . We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia”. Uday also boasted “he had made a half-dozen trips to Russia during the previous 18 months.”
– 2012: Uday “continued traveling to Russia and Eastern Europe, prospecting for business. He was interviewed in May 2012 before giving a speech to a real-estate conference in Riga, Latvia.”
– 2013: Miss Universe Moscow, referred to by Ignatius as “The apex of Trump’s personal fascination with Russia”. It was in 2013 that “he brought the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow and talked, yet again, of building a ‘Trump Tower’ there. His business partner in the pageant was Aras Agalarov, president of Crocus Group, a shopping-mall developer.” Ignatius recalls, “Trump and Agalarov formed an ebullient partnership over a dinner in Las Vegas on June 15, 2013, captured on the Internet. As Trump began hyping the pageant, he even tried to draw in Russia’s president himself, tweeting on June 18, 2013: ‘Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow — if so, will he become my new best friend?’” Ignatius notes, “The Miss Universe red carpet was rolled out Nov. 9, 2013. Emin Agalarov sang a song, and Miss Venezuela was crowned the winner.” Additionally, “Agalarov hosted a dinner for Trump at the Moscow branch of Nobu, which he owned. The co-host was Herman Gref, the chief executive of Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, and a close adviser of President Vladimir Putin.”
– 2014: “The Trump-Agalarov contacts continued. Trump’s daughter Ivanka visited Moscow in February 2014 and toured Crocus City Hall. Emin Agalarov performed at a golf tournament the next month at the Trump National Doral, near the family property at Fisher Island. Like so many seemingly imminent Trump-Moscow deals over the years, the skyscraper plan stalled.”
– June 9, 2016: “Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya met with Trump’s inner circle.”
Ignatius concludes wisely, “at the core of Trump’s interaction with his Russian friends is an insight they have shared ever since Soviet days: Politics may be transitory, but real estate is forever.”
From The Washington Post.
OH MERCER, MERCER ME! WHITE NATIONALIST TIES LEADS TO RESIGNATION
BuzzFeed reports, “Robert Mercer, the hedge fund billionaire who has come under media scrutiny for his role in helping elect Donald Trump, announced today he would step down from his role as co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies. The decision, announced in a memo to Renaissance employees, followed a BuzzFeed News exposé revealing the connections of Breitbart — partially owned by Mercer — to white nationalists and neo-Nazis.” This is very exciting because it is a sign that with the rise of domestic fascism being an egregiously and secretly aligned funder of some of the greatest attention hacking far right white nationalists is still not ok. According to BuzzFeed, “Mercer’s statement specifically denounces Yiannopoulos and states that ‘I was mistaken to have supported him, and for several weeks have been in the process of severing all ties with him.’ He also announced his intention to sell his stake in Breitbart to his daughters.” All of which is to say there is nothing particularly sincere in his denunciation but its symbolic meaning is great because from a business perspective his hate and support for hateful rhetoric are untenable and incompatible with commerce in a diverse society. BuzzFeed notes, “Mercer was a major funder of Donald Trump’s presidential effort,” when in fact he and his similarly awful daughter Rebekah were the greatest funders of our really racist fake Russian president. Get them out of here!
BRIEFLY ON THURSDAY NIGHT, HUMANITY HAD A RESPITE FROM TWITLER
The Washington Post reports, “President Trump’s Twitter account was briefly deactivated Thursday night by a departing Twitter employee, the company said, raising serious questions about the security of a tool the president wields to set major policy agendas, connect with his voter base and lash out at his adversaries.” To the hero who did this, thank you. The Washington Post reports, “Trump’s account initially disappeared at around 7 p.m. ET Thursday, with visitors to the page met with the message, ‘Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!’ For about an hour, the Twitter-sphere joked about the short-lived window of history without @realDonaldTrump.”
From The Washington Post.
JAMES COMEY’S BOOK TITLE ANNOUNCED
And New York Magazine reports it subtly trolls Trump: A Higher Loyalty. Recall, “Back in January, President Trump invited James Comey, then the director of the FBI, to the White House for a one-on-one dinner. The meal, which sounds terribly uncomfortable in Comey’s retelling, reached peak awkwardness when Trump said, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.’”
From New York Magazine.
TRETYAKOV GALLERY SAYS HACKED AFTER TWEETING NAVALNY VIDEO
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny appeared to receive public support from an unexpected source this week — Moscow’s renowned State Tretyakov Gallery. The gallery’s official Twitter account on November 1 tweeted out Navalny’s latest video announcing that he plans to sue Russian President Vladimir Putin and his administration over what he calls an orchestrated nationwide effort to stymie his campaign for the March 2018 presidential election.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “The original tweet of the Navalny video was subsequently deleted, and the gallery later said on Twitter that its account had been ‘hacked.’ It said the video ‘has no relation whatsoever to the museum and its activities.’”
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