POLITICO reports, When President Donald Trump lashed out against Robert Mueller by name earlier this month, the president’s supporters sprang into action—treating the chief Russia investigator to political campaign-style opposition research.” POLITICO adds, “Within hours, the Drudge Report featured a story blaming Mueller, the special counsel leading the Justice Department’s Russia probe, for the FBI’s clumsy investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks when Mueller ran the bureau. The independent pro-Trump journalist Sara Carter posted a story charging that Mueller, as a federal prosecutor in Boston in the mid-1980s, had covered up the FBI’s dealings with the Mafia informant Whitey Bulger. Carter was soon discussing her findings in prime time with Fox News host Sean Hannity. Meanwhile, Trump supporters on Twitter circulated video of testimony Mueller gave to Congress ahead of the 2003 Iraq War in which he endorsed the view, later proven false, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.” POLITICO notes, “To some, the barrage looked coordinated among pro-Trump allies and media outlets, a concerted effort to tarnish Mueller’s reputation as part of a political strategy to undermine, or even eventually fire, the Russia investigator.”




Voice of America reports, “The top U.S. defense official chastised Russia for dangerous and reckless behavior, saying it was ‘pretty obvious’ Moscow was behind the use of a military-grade nerve agent against a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain.Attempted murder of a man and his daughter. How’s that for starters?’ U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters Tuesday at the Pentagon when asked to describe the incident that has since touched off a diplomatic backlash against Russia.” Voice of America adds, “U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who said he was involved in the decision-making process that led to the expulsions, placed the blame on Russia, saying Moscow’s decisions have left the West with little choice.” Meanwhile Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “NATO has joined more than two dozen governments around the world in expelling Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain.” Note: this is who answers for the West now.

From Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.



The Washington Post reports, “The FBI on Tuesday announced it was doubling the number of staffers working on preparing documents requested by the House Judiciary Committee chairman, who last week issued a subpoena to the Justice Department as part of his effort to gather more information on some of the agency’s most high-profile controversies. In a statement, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said the bureau would double, from 27 to 54, the number of staffers working on fulfilling requests from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).” The Washington Post adds, “The Judiciary Committee chairman is seeking a bevy of materials on the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the investigation into former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the role a controversial dossier played in helping the FBI obtain a warrant to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.” None of this bodes well for a free and democratic future, Trumpistan. Given what we are facing, this is quite the use of manpower but who cares? Nothing matters! Sovereignty was something for our parents and grandparents, not for us.

From The Washington Post.



Reuters reports, “The White House is investigating whether two loans totaling more than $500 million to the family real estate business of U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner violated any criminal laws or regulations, according to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.” Reuters adds, “In a letter to a congressman made public on Monday, David Apol, acting director and general counsel of the Office of Government Ethics, said, ‘I have discussed this matter with the White House Counsel’s Office in order to ensure that they have begun the process of ascertaining the facts necessary to determine whether any law or regulation has been violated.’” The loans in question are from Citigroup Inc. and private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

From Reuters.



Reuters reports, “Saudi Arabia and Russia are working on a historic long-term pact that could extend controls over world crude supplies by major exporters for many years. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Reuters that Riyadh and Moscow were considering a deal to greatly extend a short-term alliance on oil curbs that began in January 2017 after a crash in crude prices.” Reuters notes, “A long-term pact between Moscow and Riyadh would effectively co-opt Russia to the Saudi-led OPEC cartel while strengthening Russia’s hand in the Middle East where the United States has long been the dominant super-power. News of the potential oil alliance came at a time when the two have been working to cement an economic relationship despite being at odds over the conflict in Syria, where they back opposing sides.” Reuters adds, “A meeting between the Saudi crown prince and Russian president Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in China in September 2016 was instrumental in bringing Russia on board to support OPEC, non-OPEC oil curbs. Last October, Saudi King Salman became the first Saudi monarch to visit Russia”.

From Reuters.


CBS News
reports, “The National Rifle Association accepts foreign contributions, it told the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee in a recent letter, but the gun rights group insists none of it goes towards elections and is all raised and spent ‘within the bounds of the law.’” CBS News notes, “The NRA is under pressure after the Parkland shooting and its response to it. A recent McClatchy report also claimed the FBI had looked into whether a Russian banker funneled funds to the NRA to help Donald Trump’s campaign.” CBS News adds, “IRS records reviewed by CBS News show that the NRA answered ‘yes’ to the question, ‘Did the organization have aggregate revenues or expenses of more than $10,000 from grant-making, fundraising, business, investment, and program service activities outside the U.S., or aggregate foreign investments valued at $100,000 or more?’ on its 2016 forms.” CBS News adds, “The NRA also answered questions about a 2015 Moscow visit taken by several NRA associates, and any fundraising actions involving Russians. Frazer defended the visit, claiming that a NRA member on the trip, Joe Gregory, has only honorary titles within the organization, and travelled to Russia in his ‘personal capacity.’ The NRA general counsel also claimed no Russian nationals were ever members of NRA’s Golden Ring of Freedom, a designation reserved for top donors.” According to CBS News Senator “Wyden, however, did not find all those answers satisfactory,” and, “fired off a letter to Frazer on Tuesday in response.” CBS News notes, “In his letter, Wyden demanded further information on foreign NRA funding that has occurred over the last three years. Wyden also asked if any Russian national had ever been a member of any NRA donor program.”

From CBS News.



ABC News reports Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher “Wylie appeared before British parliament to discuss his role as a former employee of the data firm Cambridge Analytica. Wylie became a central figure in the scandal involving the data firm last week when he told the U.K.’s Observer newspaper and the New York Times that Cambridge Analytica allegedly used personal information of up to 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge through a third-party quiz app. Wylie, who left the company in 2014, said that he was concerned about the data’s possible misuse in the 2016 US election and that it might have been used to target specific voters with campaign ads.” Reuters adds Wylie also testified “on Tuesday that Canadian company AggregateIQ worked on software called Ripon which was used to identify Republican voters ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” The Washington Post published the Ripon brochure in full so go have a look at the once secret marketing and enjoy the sunlight. Most jarringly, however, Business Insider reports, “The whistleblower at the centre of the Cambridge Analytica scandal said he was told his predecessor was murdered in a Kenyan hotel room and that police were bribed not to investigate.” Business Insider adds, “Wylie said his predecessor, Dan Muresan, was poisoned after ‘a deal went sour.’”

From ABC News, Reuters, The Washington Post and Business Insider.



Fast Company reports, “while Facebook provided the original data, it wasn’t the only vehicle for Kogan’s app. Kogan acquired what he wanted from individual people—over 240,000 over a six-month period—recruiting them and paying them for their quiz answers and data using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk micro-work platform and Qualtrics, a survey platform.” Fast Company notes, “The two platforms are often used by companies to conduct experiments and surveys and by academic researchers to, for instance, recruit psychology subjects. Research ethics require that scientists only gather people’s data for specified uses with their explicit consent, and Amazon’s polices prohibit tasks from harvesting people’s Facebook data.” Fast Company adds, “At the time, multiple survey-takers took to a message board, Turkopticon, to report the quiz for violating of Amazon’s Terms of Service. The company eventually booted Kogan from its platform in 2015–over a year later–after learning from a Guardian article that he had passed the data to Cambridge Analytica. But Kogan’s new company, Philometrics, continues to post questionnaires to Mechanical Turk, according to Turkopticon. Kogan’s collaborator on the Cambridge Analytica project, Joe Chancellor, also still uses the platform; according to one review website, he posted a task on Mechanical Turk in February.” Fast Company notes, “in February 2014 and again in May 2014, a flurry of negative reviews reported that Kogan had violated the Amazon Turk Terms of Service.”

From Fast Company.



The New York Times reports, “As a start-up called Cambridge Analytica sought to harvest the Facebook data of tens of millions of Americans in summer 2014, the company received help from at least one employee at Palantir Technologies, a top Silicon Valley contractor to American spy agencies and the Pentagon.” The New York Times adds, “It was a Palantir employee in London, working closely with the data scientists building Cambridge’s psychological profiling technology, who suggested the scientists create their own app — a mobile-phone-based personality quiz — to gain access to Facebook users’ friend networks”. The New York Times notes, “The revelations pulled Palantir — co-founded by the wealthy libertarian Peter Thiel — into the furor surrounding Cambridge, which improperly obtained Facebook data to build analytical tools it deployed on behalf of Donald J. Trump and other Republican candidates in 2016. Mr. Thiel, a supporter of President Trump, serves on the board at Facebook.” The New York Times adds, “The Palantir employee, Alfredas Chmieliauskas, works on business development for the company, according to his LinkedIn page. In an initial statement, Palantir said it had ‘never had a relationship with Cambridge Analytica, nor have we ever worked on any Cambridge Analytica data.’ Later on Tuesday, Palantir revised its account, saying that Mr. Chmieliauskas was not acting on the company’s behalf when he advised Mr. Wylie on the Facebook data.” Additionally, “A former intern at SCL — Sophie Schmidt, the daughter of Eric Schmidt, then Google’s executive chairman — urged the company to link up with Palantir, according to Mr. Wylie’s testimony and a June 2013 email”.

From The New York Times.



Russian state-run RT reports, “Germany has issued a permit for the construction and operation of an offshore section of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Germany in the Baltic Sea.” Russian state-run RT notes, “The project has been strongly opposed by several members of the European Union, including Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Hungary, as well as Ukraine,” adding, “the US has threatened to sanction companies that cooperate with Russia to implement the project.” Oh joy! If this pipeline is built wave bye-bye to European security.

From Russian state-run RT.



The AP reports, “A court in southern Russia has ruled to uphold an injunction to block an online investigation featuring a woman who has boasted of her relationship with a Russian oligarch. The video posted in February by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny drew from the social media account of Anastasia Vashukevich, a Belarusian woman who claimed to have had an affair with billionaire tycoon Oleg Deripaska.” Vashukevich is also known by the name Nastya Rybka.

From the AP.





CNN reports, “The special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election revealed Tuesday night that prosecutors say they have connected former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates to a person with ties to a Russian intelligence service while Gates worked on the campaign. That Gates and the unnamed person, who had lived in Kiev and Moscow and worked for one of Paul Manafort’s companies, were in touch in September and October 2016 was ‘pertinent to the investigation,’ a court filing from prosecutors said Tuesday night.” CNN adds, “The acknowledgment that Gates knew the person had Russian intelligence ties is alleged in a report prosecutors filed about the coming sentencing of a Dutch attorney. That attorney, Alex van der Zwaan, who worked with Gates and Manafort previously, pleaded guilty last month to lying to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators about his interactions with Gates and the unnamed person.” Van der Zwaan is also the son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan.

From CNN.



Axios reports, “Paul Manafort’s legal team has filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, filed in Virginia, brought against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which includes three charges for tax fraud from 2010 to 2014, failing to file reports from his foreign bank accounts, and bank fraud related to various property loans in the U.S.” Axios adds, “This follows nearly identical motion to dismiss his team filed on March 14, which dealt with the charges brought against him in D.C.”

From Axios.





CNN reports, “American opinions on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election appears hardened and driven by partisanship, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS after a month rife with developments in the ongoing probe.” CNN adds, “Overall, 6 in 10 say they see the investigation as a serious matter that should be fully investigated (58% say so), while around a third (36%) say it’s mainly an effort to discredit Donald Trump’s presidency.”

From CNN.



CNBC reports, “The lawyer for adult entertainment star Stormy Daniels has filed a motion in a California court seeking to force President Donald Trump, and his lawyer Michael Cohen, to testify under oath.” CNBC adds, “Michael Avenatti, has requested a deposition of ‘no greater than two hours’ of the president. The main aim is to ask Trump if he knew about the payment.”

From CNBC.



BuzzFeed reports, “The FBI possesses a secret report asserting that Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was beaten to death by hired thugs in Washington, DC — directly contradicting the US government’s official finding that Mikhail Lesin died by accident.” The report on Lesin’s death “was written by the former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele,” also the author of the dossier on Trump. BuzzFeed notes, “The bureau received his report while it was helping the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department investigate the Russian media baron’s death.” In his report, Steele wrote, “that Lesin was bludgeoned to death by enforcers working for an oligarch close to Putin,” and, “The thugs had been instructed to beat Lesin, not kill him, but they went too far”. Additionally, “the report described the killers as Russian state security agents moonlighting for the oligarch.”

From BuzzFeed.



USA Today reports, “The Commerce Department is reinstating a citizenship question to the 2020 Census for the first time in decades, a move that some argue will lead to an undercount of minorities living in the United States.” USA Today notes, “The U.S. Census Bureau counts the total number of people in the country — not the total number of citizens — every 10 years. Though it usually doesn’t ask about a person’s citizenship status, the Justice Department asked the agency late last year to include the question. It is the first time the government has done that in 70 years.” USA Today adds, “The Census count is used to redraw congressional districts, so it can affect the makeup of Congress, and to determine where federal, state and local funds will be used to build new schools, roads, health care facilities, child-care centers and senior centers. It also forms the basis of countless government and academic studies that drive public policy decisions,” so not counting people will affect a range of social and political services. While the government is using the Voting Rights Act as an excuse to make the changes, USA Today adds, “Former attorney general Eric Holder, now with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said Tuesday morning that he would sue the administration to block the question from the Census. He said asking about citizenship has nothing to do with voting rights.” He’s right. The New York Times adds, “At least 12 states signaled Tuesday that they would sue to block the Trump administration from adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, arguing that the change would cause fewer Americans to be counted and violate the Constitution. The New York State attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, said he was leading a multistate lawsuit to stop the move, and officials in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington said they would join the effort. The State of California filed a separate lawsuit late Monday night.”

From USA Today and The New York Times.



Interfax-Ukraine reports, “U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker plans to visit Ukraine, in particular, Donbas in late April – early May.”

From Interfax-Ukraine.





The Daily Mail reports, “Megyn Kelly has waded into the Stormy Daniels-Donald Trump saga by claiming she too was threatened by the President’s people.” The Daily Mail recalls, “Appearing on 60 Minutes Sunday, former porn star Daniels said she was threatened and told to ‘leave Trump alone’ after she claimed to have had an affair with him back in 2006.” Kelly said in her book and on Twitter that the threats in her case came directly from then campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Patterns of behavior.

From The Daily Mail.



CNN reports, “The brother of Seth Rich, the slain Democratic National Committee staffer whose unsolved murder became the basis for conspiracy theories on the far-right, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against individuals and media organizations that he alleges peddled false and unfounded claims about him.” CNN adds, “The lawsuit, filed by Aaron Rich in US District Court in the District of Columbia, accuses Ed Butowsky, a wealthy Texas businessman; Matt Couch, a fringe internet activist; America First Media, Couch’s media company; and The Washington Times, a conservative newspaper, of acting ‘with reckless disregard for the truth.’” CNN recalls, “Seth Rich was fatally shot in Washington, DC, in July 2016. Police have said evidence indicates he was the victim of a botched robbery, but in the wake of his death, far-right activists and media organizations suggested something far more sinister. Without real evidence, they peddled a conspiracy theory that said Seth Rich leaked a trove of DNC emails to Wikileaks and was killed in retribution for the supposed leak. The theory was convenient for some on the right as they disputed allegations Russia hacked the DNC”. CNN notes, “The suit alleges those people and media companies pushed a conspiracy theory about Aaron Rich that used his background as a defense contractor with technical expertise to suggest he worked with his brother to leak DNC documents to Wikileaks, received money for doing so, and then worked to cover-up the crime.” CNN adds, “Aaron Rich’s lawsuit comes just weeks after the parents of Seth Rich sued Fox News and Butowsky for their role in peddling the Seth Rich conspiracy theory.”

From CNN.


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