The Washington Post reports, “John Bolton, a noted hawk on Russia and Iran, begins work as Trump’s national security adviser on Monday.” God help us all. As you prepare for the apocalypse, remember we have entropy and unforeseen events on our side, the survivor’s mantra that in order for things to get better they must get worse first (helpful for seeing you through the darkest days) and of course, do not be afraid, fear is a most useless of emotion if not igniting thrills. Remember the country we had and the one you want to live in.

From The Washington Post.



The Washington Post reports, “France called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday to discuss the weekend attack, and eight other nations joined in the request, including the United States and Britain.” The Washington Post adds, “In reference to a warning by President Emmanuel Macron last month that France would strike unilaterally if Syria used chemical weapons again, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that the nation would assume its responsibilities.” (Much more below in “BREAKING”.)

From The Washington Post.



Reuters reports, “Facebook Inc Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg will hold meetings with some U.S. lawmakers on Monday, a day before he is due to appear at Congressional hearings over a political consultancy’s use of customer data, two congressional aides said on Sunday.” Reuters adds, “The planned meetings at Capitol Hill are expected to continue through Monday afternoon and include some lawmakers from committees before whom Zuckerberg is due to testify, said the aides,” noting, “Facebook declined to comment.” Reuters notes, “On Friday, Facebook backed proposed legislation requiring social media sites to disclose the identities of buyers of online political campaign ads and introduced a new verification process for people buying ‘issue’ ads.”

From Reuters.





The Hill reports, “President Trump on Sunday had strong words for Russian President Vladimir Putin following what he called a ‘mindless chemical attack in Syria.’” ‘Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world,’ Trump tweeted.” He even name checked his owner personally, “President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!Thank god he at least looked at the pictures and saw horror not something to be attempted on Chicago next week. TRUMPISTAN WATCH is aware of how low the threshold is for this fake Russian president, but yes, suffice to say the possibility of slaughter in these lands is not totally removed from the equation now either. ABC News adds, “Russia is warning the U.S. against any ‘military intervention’ in Syria over the government’s alleged chemical attack against civilians this weekend, saying any such response would be ‘unacceptable’ and lead to the ‘most serious consequences’.” NPR reports, “Hours after President Trump condemned an alleged poison gas attack in Syria over the weekend, Damascus said one of its air bases had come under attack, first blaming the U.S., but later Israel.” Fox News adds, “Russia on Monday blamed the Israeli Air Force for the deadly airstrike on a Bashar al-Assad air base after a suspected chemical attack killed at least 60 in a Damascus suburb over the weekend.” Enter John Bolton.

From The Hill, ABC News, NPR and Fox News.


The AP
reports, “Some of Russia’s richest and most influential people were hit with sanctions Friday by President Donald Trump’s U.S. administration. In total, 24 Russian officials and tycoons face new restrictions while a dozen companies were targeted as Washington stepped up its condemnation of a series of Russian actions over recent years, including the annexation of Crimea, support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, hacking attacks and meddling in Western elections.” The AP breaks it down into a few lists. First, oligarchs:


Kiril Shamalov: “Russia’s youngest billionaire has an estimated wealth of $1.4 billion according to the Forbes magazine. In 2014, Shamalov acquired a large share of Russian petrochemical company Sibur, later selling most of his stake for an undisclosed sum. The 36-year-old is reportedly President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law, married to his daughter Katerina Tikhonova. The Kremlin has never acknowledged that Tikhonova is Putin’s daughter as the Russian leader has sought to keep his two daughters out of the public eye. Media reports earlier this year alleged the couple had split.”


Igor Rotenberg: “The 44-year-old is the son of billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, Putin’s friend since both started practicing judo as teenagers in the 1960s. He began his career as a partner of his father and later came to control oil and gas exploration company, Gazprom Burenie, and an operator of a nationwide toll system for having trucks.”


Oleg Deripaska: “The 55-year-old tycoon controls a business empire with assets including aluminum, energy and construction and is worth $5.3 billion”. He is tied “to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who once worked as his consultant. Deripaska has previously been targeted with U.S. sanctions,” but this round is “more comprehensive.”


Viktor Vekselberg: “The 60-year-old magnate built his fortune, currently estimated by Forbes at $14.6 billion, by investing in aluminum and oil industries. More recently, he has expanded his assets to include industrial equipment and high technologies.”


Then there are the Russian mafia state officials, which includes:


Andrei Kostin: “61-year-old Kostin heads Russia’s second-largest bank, VTB, which is majority-owned by the state,” which, “plays a pivotal role in the Russian economy”.


Alexei Miller: “CEO of Gazprom”.


Nikolai Patrushev: “66-year-old KGB veteran is the secretary of the presidential Security Council, a body that includes top Cabinet officials and chiefs of intelligence agencies. Patrushev, known for his hawkish anti-Western stance, has been involved in preparing key foreign policy decisions and is believed to be one of Putin’s closest and most influential advisers.”


Viktor Zolotov: “The 64-year-old began his career as a KGB bodyguard in the 1970s and served as the chief of the presidential security service for 13 years from 2000. Zolotov is another powerful representative of Kremlin hawks. As the National Guard chief, he commands a force that numbers hundreds of thousands of troops.”


Alexei Dyumin: “The 45-year old served as Putin’s chief security guard and assistant before being promoted to lead the Russian military’s special operations forces. In 2014, he oversaw the annexation of Crimea and the following year became a deputy defense minister. Since his 2016 appointment as governor of the Tula region, Dyumin has received unusually prominent coverage by state media, fueling speculation Putin is grooming him as a possible successor.”


And the AP writes, “The U.S. list includes several companies owned and controlled by Deripaska, including Basic Element Limited and EN Group located in Jersey. The list also includes companies controlled by Shamalov, Rotenberg and Vekselberg. In addition, the sanctions target the state-controlled arms trader, Rosoboronexport, and the Russian Financial Corporation Bank,” that it owns. POLITICO adds, “Suleiman Kerimov, a top Putin adviser,” and “Alexander Torshin, deputy governor of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, who reportedly is under investigation in the U.S. on suspicion of funneling money to the National Rifle Association to assist the Trump campaign,” are on the list as well.

From the AP and POLITICO.



NPR reports, “The special counsel’s office is apparently trying to establish whether powerful Russians who owe fealty to President Vladimir Putin — the oft-referenced ‘oligarchs’may have funneled cash donations to President Trump’s campaign or his inauguration fund.”   NPR notes, “On Friday, the Treasury Department targeted some of those same oligarchs for a new round of sanctions, along with a number of other Russian government officials and entities — including the state weapons exporter. And here was the description Treasury gave of the conduct of one targeted Russian, gold baron Suleiman Kerimov: ‘He is alleged to have brought hundreds of millions of euros into France — transporting as much as 20 million euros at a time in suitcases, in addition to conducting more conventional funds transfers — without reporting the money to French tax authorities.’ That pattern of conduct, and the nature of the interdictions,” leaves investigators with “questions about how long this smuggling of cash might have gone on.” Additionally, “investigators want to know whether the money might have gone into Trump’s inauguration accounts — and whether it continues to this day,” CNN adds. Of course, “Foreign contributions to U.S. elections are illegal. And people entering the United States must notify Customs and Border Protection if they’re bringing in currency or ‘monetary instruments’ worth more than $10,000 — or it can be seized and those carrying it potentially could face civil or criminal penalties,” CNN notes.

From CNN.



POLITICO reports, “H.R. McMaster, recently ousted as national security adviser, received a robust send-off from White House staff on Friday, his last day in the Trump administration. A large crowd, including Vice President Mike Pence, gathered outside the West Wing in the afternoon sunshine for a ‘clap out,’ sending up a sustained cheer and warm applause as McMaster left the compound on his last day.”




McClatchy reports, “Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators this week questioned an associate of the Trump Organization who was involved in overseas deals with President Donald Trump’s company in recent years. Armed with subpoenas compelling electronic records and sworn testimony, Mueller’s team showed up unannounced at the home of the business associate, who was a party to multiple transactions connected to Trump’s effort to expand his brand abroad”. Of note, McClatchy adds, “Investigators were particularly interested in interactions involving Michael D. Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney and a former Trump Organization employee. Among other things, Cohen was involved in business deals secured or sought by the Trump Organization in Georgia, Kazakhstan and Russia.” McClatchy notes, “It’s unclear how many properties or deals the Mueller team might be looking at; the Trump Organization’s foreign business relationships span the globe from properties in Panama, Brazil and Uruguay to Azerbaijan and Georgia. Trump’s children — Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric — were parties to talks involving many of the dealings. Generally, the discussions revolved around licensing fees for use of the Trump name.”

From McClatchy.



CNN reports, “President Donald Trump has begun the initial steps of preparing for a possible interview with the special counsel, a White House official and a person familiar with the situation said Friday, a sign the President’s legal team is intensifying its deliberations over whether to allow him to come under Robert Mueller’s questioning.” Who even knows what that means except that it is a thing of pure freakish, tragicomic horrific delight to imagine our fake Russian bullshit president preparing, as if he were a serious person, for anyting! To tease us, CNN adds, “One source familiar with the proceedings stressed the preparation efforts is ‘in its infancy,’” like the fake Russian bullshit president himself. If only that could be said in a way that did not insult children who, no matter what the NRA says, are innocent.

From CNN.



CNN reports, “President Donald Trump on Saturday accused the Department of Justice of slow-walking ‘documents relating to FISA abuse,’ Hillary Clinton’s emails, former FBI Director James Comey and others, and asked what it and the FBI ‘have to hide.’” Hey, wait isn’t that DARKNESS AT NUNES spiel or that fake NGO or government organized non-governmental organization, or GONGO, Judicial Watch’s shtick? In incredibly imperfect, semi-coherent, buzzy syntax, “‘Lawmakers of the House Judiciary Committee are angrily accusing the Department of Justice of missing the Thursday Deadline for turning over UNREDACTED Documents relating to FISA abuse, FBI, Comey, Lynch, McCabe, Clinton Emails and much more,’ Trump wrote. ‘Slow walking – what is going on? BAD!’” Did you follow that? If you do not ever turn to conservative media or have a family member or neighborhood character that can translate this to you, you are either out of luck or successfully insulating yourself from stupid. How can you do that in this country? To abstain fully from stupid is to not have the full richness of the American experience. But you think that is it? You do not know Twitler at all yet! “‘What does the Department of Justice and FBI have to hide?’ Trump asked in a follow-up tweet. ‘Why aren’t they giving the strongly requested documents (unredacted) to the HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE? Stalling, but for what reason? Not looking good!’” You know, most normal people would step down and resign if their campaign chair and first National Security Advisor pick were indicted on federal charges – not this one! But yet, he thinks he can criticize others on what does and does not look good? CNN notes, “the Justice Department missed a subpoena deadline to provide the House Judiciary Committee documents related to an array of issues, including the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, alleged surveillance abuses under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and Andrew McCabe,” because maybe they are tired of feeding the covfefe machine bullshit?

From CNN.



POLITICO reports, “The Department of Justice on Friday dismissed Rep. Devin Nunes‘ demand for an unredacted copy of the document that initiated the FBI’s investigation of links between Russia and President Donald Trump’s campaign. In a letter released Friday, the Justice Department reaffirmed its and the FBI’s response to the House Intelligence Committee‘s inquiries regarding the document.” POLITICO notes, “Nunes, who is the House Intelligence Committee chairman, on Thursday sent a letter to the Justice Department demanding an unredacted copy of that document.” The Justice Department also gave DARKNESS AT NUNES some marioshka dolls to play with until he gets big enough for chess.




CNN reports, “The Justice Department is allowing all House and Senate intelligence committee members to review the application that it and the FBI used to obtain a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page”. CNN adds, “Lawmakers will be able to review the application and renewals at a secure location at the Justice Department— something the department calls an ‘extraordinary accommodation.’” CNN notes, “Separately, Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior said the department on Monday will supplement its document production to the House Judiciary Committee by producing another 1,000 pages of materials in response to a subpoena issued by committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte.” Additionally, CNN reports, “The Justice Department on Monday is expected to name Chicago’s top federal prosecutor, US attorney John Lausch, to oversee the FBI’s production of documents to the House Judiciary Committee, after President Donald Trump angrily accused it of ‘stalling’ the release.”

From CNN and CNN.



CNN reports, “A Donald Trump foreign policy adviser pushed government agencies to review materials from the dark web in the summer of 2016 that he thought were Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails”. CNN adds, “Joseph Schmitz approached the FBI and other government agencies about material a client of his had discovered that Schmitz believed might have been Clinton’s missing 30,000 emails from her private e-mail server, sources say. The material was never verified, and sources say they ultimately believed it was fake.” CNN notes, “Schmitz was one of the first people Trump named to his campaign’s national security and foreign policy team. The team, showcased in a March 2016 photo, was thrown together early in Trump’s successful run as he faced mounting pressure to prove his ability to pull in high-level advisers who could help prepare him for the White House.” Schmitz’s “status as a former Pentagon inspector general afforded him access to the agencies and a sophisticated understanding of the government bureaucracy. He was relentless, sources say, and truly believed his client had found important, sensitive material. He did not hesitate in his pursuit even though the material on the dark web — a part of the Internet not easily accessible or traceable — was questionable and many experts already believed the Russians had stolen Clinton’s emails,” CNN writes, adding, “Schmitz met with officials at the FBI, the State Department and the Intelligence Community Inspector General — the watchdog tasked with investigating Clinton’s alleged mishandling of classified information. He claimed a source he called ‘PATRIOT,’ an unidentified contractor he was representing, had discovered what he believed was likely material stolen from Clinton that could contain classified information. Both the client and Schmitz were afraid that going through the material without permission could jeopardize their security clearances, though there is no indication their actions were illegal.” CNN notes, “Schmitz and his associates may still be a part of Trump’s orbit,” as, “One of Schmitz’s colleagues at his small law firm, Dennis Dean Kirk, was tapped by Trump in March to lead the federal workers’ appeal committee, the Merit Systems Protection Board.” CNN adds, “Schmitz is connected to the Center for Security Policy, a far-right organization that has promoted anti-Muslim views.”

From CNN.



POLITICO reports, “National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton said Sunday that he plans to leave the White House — a move that will leave President Donald Trump without one of the earliest and sharpest defenders of his ‘America First’ foreign policy.” Sad! And by doing it on Sunday, it is as if to run screaming away from the stain on humanity that John Bolton brings with him come Monday! POLITICO notes, “Though Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, brought Anton into the administration, he spent the majority of his tenure serving as spokesman for Flynn’s replacement, H.R. McMaster.” POLITICO adds, “Before joining the Trump administration, Anton had become a controversial figure during the 2016 campaign for his attempt to make the case for Trump’s candidacy. In a pseudonymous essay, ‘The Flight 93 Election,’ he made a highbrow version of Trump’s attack on the GOP establishment, calling conservative intellectuals wilted and outmoded, and praised Trump for connecting the issues of trade, immigration and foreign policy. Writers affiliated with the Claremont Institute, the California think tank that published Anton’s essay, are among the small coterie of right-leaning intellectuals who have continued to defend the president.”




The Times of London reports, “The entire political section of the US embassy in Moscow and the personal interpreter of the ambassador are believed to be among 60 American diplomats expelled from Russia. The Washington Post adds, “In a breakup message for our era, the fraught U.S.-Russian relationship took a wistful turn when a cohort of expelled U.S. diplomats released an emotional farewell video. Set to the tunes of a country music band from North Carolina, the video features eight of the 60 Americans kicked out of Russia in the latest tit for tat between Moscow and the West.” The Washington Post adds, “The U.S. diplomats’ departing words — released Friday night in a nearly 12-minute video titled, in Russian, ‘Thoughts for the Road’ — are laced with disappointment and sorrow but also optimism about maintaining a good relationship with Russia. Several talk of their love for Russia, cemented over a lifetime learning its language, literature and history.” For example, “Maria Olson, who was the U.S. Embassy spokeswoman in Moscow, held up a book of Russian fairy tales given to her by a Russian journalist, recalling how she grew up reading Russian literature — in translation — with her father in rural Michigan.”

From The Times of London and The Washington Post.



Bloomberg reports, “Some of the information improperly harvested from Facebook users might be stored in Russia, said the former employee of Cambridge Analytica who blew the whistle on the data-privacy scandal involving the analytics firm’s role in the 2016 presidential election.” Surprise! The actual KGB scum wants what the proto-KGB scum has! Bloomberg adds, “The data ‘could be stored in various parts of the world, including Russia,’ Christoper Wylie said in an interview with NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ that will run in full on Sunday. ‘The professor who was managing the data harvesting process was going back and forth between the UK and Russia,’ Mr Wylie said, an apparent reference to Cambridge University lecturer Aleksandr Kogan.” Oh hi, Aleksandr Kogan! Of course, “The number of Facebook profiles whose data was improperly shared with London-based Cambridge Analytica was first estimated at 50 million people. This week, Facebook raised that estimate to 87 million. Mr Wylie said the true figure ‘could be higher, absolutely.’” Assume FARAbook is also infiltrated, because it probably is. But don’t worry it is not all bad. Now when you update your FARAbook status to “fuck you Russia” as one does often enough, you get the cheap thrill of knowing they might actually be reading it, so kind of worth that. Thanks Zuck!

From Bloomberg.



CBS News reports, “Canadian analytics firm AggregateIQ, which worked for the victorious Vote Leave campaign in the Brexit vote, has been suspended from Facebook, the company said Friday. AggregateIQ has been linked to the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, the data firm that has been accused of improperly accessing data from 87 million Facebook users.” CBS News adds, “The firm also worked for President Trump’s newly appointed national security adviser John Bolton, and the GOP Sens. Thom Tillis and Ted Cruz, according to the Guardian. Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign had also worked with Cambridge Analytica, which is at least partially funded by GOP donor Robert Mercer. Cambridge Analytica also did work for the Trump 2016 campaign”. The FARAbook decision to suspend Aggregate IQ comes as British and Canadian officials announced they are also probing the company, according to Tech Crunch.

From CBS News and Tech Crunch.



The Hill reports, “The Cambridge Analytica whistleblower who insists Facebook data was inappropriately used to aid the Trump campaign in the 2016 presidential election said on Sunday he will cooperate with the Department of Justice. Christopher Wylie told NBC’s Chuck Todd on ‘Meet the Press’ that he plans on meeting with ‘law enforcement and the Department of Justice.’”

From The Hill.



Reuters, citing reports in Russian state-run Ria Novosti, reports, “Russia’s communications watchdog said on Friday it had asked Facebook to explain why access had been restricted to the Facebook accounts of some Russian media organizations”. The Russian state censor, “Roskomnadzor said it considered the restrictions to be a continuation of Facebook’s ‘unfriendly policy toward Russian users,’ RIA said.” Now FARAbook is Russophobic too? Reuters notes, “Facebook said on Tuesday it had deleted hundreds of Russian accounts and pages associated with a ‘troll factory’ indicted by U.S. prosecutors for fake activist and political posts in the 2016 U.S. election campaign. Facebook said many of the deleted articles and pages came from Russia-based Federal News Agency, known as FAN, which they linked to the St Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency.”

From Reuters.



Reuters reports, “Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal is no longer in a critical condition and his health is improving rapidly, more than a month after he was poisoned with a nerve agent in England, the hospital treating him said on Friday.” Reuters adds, “The hospital did not say whether either Sergei or Yulia would suffer long term effects. Britain’s foreign office welcomed the improvement in the Skripals but said they were ‘likely to have ongoing medical needs’.”

From Reuters.



Russian state-run Tass reports, “A group of air defense systems S-400 Triumf and artillery and missile systems Pantsir-S1 of the Central Military District have for the first time been used as an integral system to repel a massive missile attack of a hypothetical enemy at a tactical exercise at the Ashuluk test site, in the Astrakhan Region, the acting chief of the 14th Air Force and Air Defense Army’s air defense department, Colonel Gennady Shlag said on Friday.”

From Russian state-run Tass.



The Baltic Times reports, “Even without performing the announced missile tests in the Baltic Sea Russia may have attained a different goal by causing a public stir in Latvia, Maris Cepuritis, a researcher at the Center for Eastern European Policy Studies, told LETA. The expert said that perhaps the missiles were not fired during the exercise because of some technical reasons. ‘Perhaps the missile systems were not even ready for launch,’ the expert said.” The Baltic Times notes, “Russia might still have attained another goal with these drills – to cause a public stir, providing a reason for public discussions about Russia’s military might at a time when Latvia was marking the anniversary of its accession to NATO and the anniversary of the Alliance’s foundation, and the presidents of the three Baltic states were meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington.” The Baltic Times adds, “the Latvian National Armed Forces observed movement of Russian naval ships in Latvia’s exclusive economic zone in the Baltic Sea where Russia said it would be conducting missile tests but no missiles were fired.” Public Broadcasting of Latvia adds Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis is quoted as saying the announced tests, “may have been part of strategic communication”.

From The Baltic Times and Public Broadcasting of Latvia.



The Baltic Times reports, “NATO’s supreme allied commander Europe (SACEUR), Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, visited Estonia on Friday to look at the 1st Infantry Brigade stationed at Tapa and soldiers of the NATO battle group serving in the composition of the brigade.”

From The Baltic Times.





The Hill reports, “Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort filed a motion late Friday to suppress evidence special counsel Robert Mueller’s team found in a storage locker in Virginia.” The Hill adds, “Manafort is claiming that Mueller unlawfully had access to the business records in the unit because a former Manafort employer listed on the lease allowed entry. According to Manafort, the employee didn’t have the authority to allow a FBI agent into the unit.” The Hill notes, “Manafort alleges that the initial search of the unit violates his Fourth Amendment rights because the agent did not have a warrant and that the former employee lacked the authority to let the agent in. The documents seized during the search of the storage locker were used to support criminal charges against Manafort.”

From The Hill.





NBC News reports, “A man found critically injured after an apartment fire at Trump Tower in New York City on Saturday has died, police said. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania and their son, Barron, were in Washington, D.C., a spokesperson said.” NBC News adds, “The Fire Department of New York commissioner earlier said that firefighters found the occupant of an apartment on the 50th floor and he was transported to a hospital and was in critical condition.” NBC News notes, “The New York Police Department identified the victim as Todd Brassner, 67. A medical examiner will determine the cause of death.” Our fake Russian bullshit president’s response? “Fire at Trump Tower is out. Very confined (well built building). Firemen (and women) did a great job. THANK YOU!” he tweeted.

From NBC News.



The Washington Post reports, “Under Kelly’s watch, the president now has ‘Policy Time,’ sessions once or twice a day where advisers present and argue their competing views over a specific issue, with Trump presiding. He has also implemented bimonthly Cabinet meetings, with a focused agenda, as well as restored order to the morning senior staff meeting. And attendance for most Oval Office meetings is still run through Kelly’s office.” Policy time!? His “Fox and Friends” screaming at the TV while tweeting like a craven lunatic is called “Executive Time” so this new schedule block, formerly known as presidenting as it occurred 24/7, now isolates nice little chunks of our fake Russian bullshit president’s schedule for very serious matters of state. It is followed by apple juice box and nap time, also known as the only time when our fake Russian bullshit president is hurting no one, not even himself.

From The Washington Post.


The Independent
reports, “Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.’s trip to the United Arab Emirates cost taxpayers a minimum of $73,000 (£51,820) in Secret Service fees, according to a new report.” The Independent adds the fake Russian bullshit president’s “eldest sons travelled to Dubai to meet business partner Hussain Sajwani and visit Trump-brand properties in the area, according to a Trump Organisation spokesperson. The two conducted no government business. The protection detail for the sons’ two-week jaunt racked up at least $73,000 in fees, according to government purchase orders obtained by CBS News.” Did they at least have a nice time?

From The Independent.



CBS News “60 Minutes” looks at how “The first shots were fired here in Illinois, not far from downtown Springfield, in a nondescript shopping center, the kind you’ll find anywhere in the United States. There, in a repurposed supermarket, is the headquarters of the Illinois State Board of Elections.” Steve Sandvoss, the executive director, described their IT department as, “Bows and arrows against the lightning, hate to say it”. The lightning is of course the Russian mafia state’s crippling cyber attacks and devastating cyber intrusions. CBS News adds, “Steve Sandvoss showed us the voter registration website where the hackers exploited a security flaw to get in. His IT team determined the attackers had been in their system unseen for three weeks. They only noticed when the hackers suddenly ramped up their attack and, in just a couple of hours, scooped up bits of information on up to 90,000 voters, complete records of 3,500. His engineers upgraded the firewall and plugged the website holes. That stopped the data heist, but not the attack.” CBS News continues, “The Department of Homeland Security was so alarmed by what it saw the Russians doing, it took the unprecedented step of arranging a conference call with election officials from all 50 states. The FBI put out this flash alert. But the intelligence community wasn’t prepared to publicly implicate Russia, so the call and the alert simply warned states to be on the lookout for the kind of malicious attack that had hit Illinois.” CBS News notes, “Compounding that worry: states were reluctant to accept cybersecurity help from Homeland Security. Under the Constitution, states run elections. Several pushed back against what they saw as federal intrusion, still unaware the threat was coming from Russia.”

From CBS News.



Fox News reports, “The FBI and Department of Homeland Security say hackers from the GRU, the Russian intelligence service, successfully attacked the computers of the Illinois State Board of Elections. Of 7.9 million registered Illinois voters, the state Board of Elections told Fox News that a total of 76,000 Illinois voters may have had their information viewed, with the greatest number of them — 14,121 — being Galesburg residents.” Galesburg was a coincidental choice, as “the city’s voting code happened to match the numbers the hackers used to breach the system.” Fox News adds, “Officials told Fox News that an IT technician was alerted June 12, 2016, when the ‘processor usage on the Illinois Voter Registration System server had spiked to 100 percent with no explanation,’ and ‘the intruders boosted the intensity of the attack to 5 hits per second.’ State officials said they took other steps to safeguard voters’ information, such as resetting all passwords, adding encryption software, mandating two logins, instituting further firewall protections and monitoring web server logs daily to detect other possible attempts,” and yet… TRUMPISTAN WATCH, a lifelong Chicago voter, was dropped twice, once after this alert occurred. As the saying goes, those things do not happen in these parts; tradition has it our deceased pets were more likely to find their way onto the voting rosters than a living resident be removed.

From Fox News.



BBC News reports, “For the first time in at least 100 years, the US Cabinet has a bible study group.” BBC adds, “Every Wednesday, some of the world’s most powerful people meet in a conference room in Washington DC to learn about God. The location can’t be revealed – the Secret Service won’t allow it – but the members can. Vice-President Mike Pence. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The list goes on.” BBC notes, “In total, 10 cabinet members are ‘sponsors’ of the group. Not everyone attends every meeting – they are busy people – but they go if they can. Meetings last between 60 and 90 minutes, and members are free to contact the teacher after-hours.” There is a preacher from California who flies in the first half of the week, claims modesty and that gays are sinful.

From BBC News.



Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Person A loves good wine and craft beer, frequents Kyiv’s finest restaurants, speaks impeccable Russian, English, and Swedish, and may be a linchpin in the sprawling U.S. criminal investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. Even before he was mentioned in U.S. court filings from the team of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Person A was extremely careful about revealing his true identity, particularly to media. He left scant evidence of his existence — an image search, for example, will bring up nothing on the Internet.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, “Person A has been identified by media as Konstantin Kilimnik — a former Russian army linguist and longtime fixer in Kyiv for former Donald Trump campaign aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “Gates told London-based lawyer Alex van der Zwaan — the first to be jailed as a result of the FBI’s inquiry into collusion between Trump’s campaign team and Russia — about Kilimnik’s past work as a GRU officer.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty continues, “In February 2017,” the American outlet, “conducted the first in-person interview with Kilimnik. The interview led to an additional face-to-face meeting, several phone calls, and dozens of text messages over the course of nine months in 2017. Kilimnik cut communication in late September, as Mueller’s investigation ramped up”. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, “Kilimnik contacted a Ukrainian news outlet after the original interview to claim that it never took place. But it did”. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s reporter writes, “I caught my first glimpse of Kilimnik it was at Good Wine, an upmarket cafe and grocery in one of Kyiv’s posh neighborhoods”. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty continues, “Kilimnik, who stands about 162 centimeters (5-foot-3 inches) with shoes on.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “around an hour into our conversation, Kilimnik himself decided to go on the record, to tell ‘the truth’ after reading ‘fakes news’ about Manafort in the mainstream media, which he said had the story all wrong.” Additionally, “he did not allow me to photograph him. When the acquaintance discreetly snapped a picture during the interview, he quipped: ‘Don’t show that picture. If you show that picture I will kill you, the KGB will kill you…the GRU will kill you as well.’ Kilimnik loves a good spy joke.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, “Much of what Kilimnik enjoyed discussing was Manafort’s effort to strengthen Ukraine’s ties with the West, including through a political association deal and trade pact with the EU”.

From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.



The Atlantic reports, “A longtime Republican operative with ties to the controversial data firm hired by President Donald Trump’s campaign team also has a nearly two-decade-long friendship and business relationship with a suspected Russian intelligence agent, Konstantin Kilimnik, who has landed in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s crosshairs. The Washington-based operative, Sam Patten, would not tell me whether he has been interviewed by Mueller’s team,” however, “Patten said that his relationship with Kilimnik—a former officer in Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) who worked closely with Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, for over a decade—has ‘been thoroughly explored by relevant government entities.’” The Atlantic notes, “Patten’s long friendship with Kilimnik—which stems from their time working together at the International Republican Institute in Moscow between 2001 and 2003—would likely be enough to draw scrutiny from Mueller, who appears to have homed in on Kilimnik as a potentially significant link between the Trump campaign and Russia.” The Atlantic adds, “Kilimnik was already working on a new venture with Patten that appeared to be focused on targeted messaging in foreign elections,” which, “was a private LLC incorporated in February 2015 called Begemot Ventures International (BVI) with a mission to ‘build the right arguments before domestic and international audiences.’ Kilimnik is listed as the firm’s principal and Patten is listed as an executive, according to company records, and the company is registered to Patten’s office address in Washington. A website for Begemot—which was built almost two years after the company was incorporated—links to Patten’s email for inquiries, but does not list the company’s clients.” The Atlantic notes, “Patten describes himself as an ‘international political consultant’ on his website, but he worked at the Oregon office of Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Group”.

From The Atlantic.





POLITICO reports, “President Donald Trump’s attacks on the mainstream media may be rooted in statistical reality: An extensive review of subscription data and election results shows that Trump outperformed the previous Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, in counties with the lowest numbers of news subscribers, but didn’t do nearly as well in areas with heavier circulation.” POLITICO adds that their “findings — which put Trump’s escalating attacks on the media in a new context — were drawn from a comparison of election results and subscription information from the Alliance for Audited Media, an industry group that verifies print and digital circulation for advertisers. The findings cover more than 1,000 mainstream news publications in more than 2,900 counties out of 3,100 nationwide from every state except Alaska, which does not hold elections at the county level.” POLITICO notes, “That gives new force to the widely voiced concerns of news-industry professionals and academicians about Trump’s ability to make bold assertions about crime rates, unemployment and other verifiable facts without any independent checks. Those concerns, which initially were raised during the campaign, were largely based on anecdotes and observations.” POLITICO adds, “To many news professionals and academics who’ve studied the flow of political information, there’s no doubt that a lack of trusted local media created a void that was filled by social media and partisan national outlets.”



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