POLITICO reports our fake Russian bullshit president celebrated the one year anniversary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into his treasonous alliance with Russia to install him as the White House’s most famous squatter ever, “by labeling the probe the ‘greatest witch hunt in American history,’ declaring his innocence and recycling his claim that Democrats are the party guilty of wrongdoing.” Yawn. And P.S. visit Salem and learn some fucking history, asshole. Meanwhile his former National Security Advisor, the garbage Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to the FBI and his former campaign manager Paul Manafort is facing multiple indictments.




The Washington Post reports, “President Trump’s allies are waging an increasingly aggressive campaign to undercut the Russia investigation by exposing the role of a top-secret FBI source. The effort reached new heights Thursday as Trump alleged that an informant had improperly spied on his 2016 campaign and predicted that the ensuing scandal would be ‘bigger than Watergate!’” If Trump thought he could protect himself from harm by burning the whole country down, he would. Oh wait, that is exactly what he is doing! The Washington Post notes, “The dispute pits Trump and the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee against the Justice Department and intelligence agencies, whose leaders warn that publicly identifying the confidential source would put lives in danger and imperil other operations. The stakes are so high that the FBI has been working over the past two weeks to mitigate the potential damage if the source’s identity is revealed”.   The Washington Post adds, “The bureau is taking steps to protect other live investigations that the person has worked on and is trying to lessen any danger to associates if the informant’s identity becomes known”. The Washington Post notes Trump lawyer Rudy “Giuliani said Trump believes it is time for the Justice Department to release classified documents about the origin of the Russia probe, requested by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), that are expected to contain details about the confidential source.” The Washington Post adds, “The source is a U.S. citizen who has provided information over the years to both the FBI and the CIA, as The Post previously reported, and aided the Russia investigation both before and after Mueller’s appointment in May 2017”.

From The Washington Post.



Bloomberg reports, “Special Counsel Robert Mueller gave a judge the complete three-page memo that the prosecutor overseeing the Russia investigation wrote to justify the probe of Paul Manafort”. Bloomberg adds, “U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III ordered Mueller’s prosecutors to provide him an unredacted version of the memo that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote on Aug. 2, 2017, about why Manafort was a target of the special counsel. Ellis made the demand at a May 4 court hearing in Alexandria, Virginia, to consider Manafort’s argument that Mueller overstepped his appointment authority, and the indictment should be dismissed.” Bloomberg notes, “Prosecutors filed the full memo under seal and directly to the judge through the classified security officer. Such a designation suggests it involves national security information.”

From Bloomberg.



Reuters reports Jeffrey Yohai, “The former son-in-law of Paul Manafort, the one-time chairman of President Donald Trump’s campaign, has cut a plea deal with the Justice Department that requires him to cooperate with other criminal probes”. Reuters adds, “The guilty plea agreement, which is under seal and has not been previously reported, could add to the legal pressure on Manafort, who is facing two indictments brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller”. Reuters notes, “Jeffrey Yohai, a former business partner of Manafort, was divorced from Manafort’s daughter last August. Yohai has not been specifically told how he will be called on to cooperate as part of his plea agreement, but the two people familiar with the matter say they consider it a possibility that he will be asked to assist with Mueller’s prosecution of Manafort. Legal experts have said that Mueller wants to keep applying pressure on Manafort to plead guilty and assist prosecutors with their probe.” Reuters adds, “As a close business partner, Yohai was privy to many of Manafort’s financial dealings,” and, “In addition to co-investing in California real estate, the two cooperated in getting loans for property deals in New York, Manafort’s indictments show.”

From Reuters.



The Washington Post reports, “The Treasury Department’s inspector general is expanding a probe into leaks of confidential reports about suspicious banking activity by Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney, to include an uncorroborated allegation that some of those reports were mysteriously absent from a government database.” The Washington Post notes, “The investigation began last week after Michael Avenatti, an attorney for adult-film star Stormy Daniels, detailed transactions in which large firms with business interests before the U.S. government transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to Essential Consultants, a company controlled by Cohen. Several news outlets reported later that they had reviewed financial records detailing the transactions. The information appeared to come in part from a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR), experts said.” Then, “Late Wednesday, the New Yorker published a story about an unnamed law enforcement official it said had leaked the report. The official told the magazine that the report contained references to two earlier reports about Cohen’s financial activity — reports the official said were missing from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) database. Fearing a coverup, the official leaked the report”. In light of that report, “In a letter Thursday, Wyden sought more information about ‘reported alterations’ in the SAR database related to Cohen and Essential Consultants, including ‘possible removal or sequestration’ of SARs,” The Washington Post adds.

From The Washington Post.



The Washington Post reports, “A California man who says he served as a translator last year for Michael Cohen and a South Korean aerospace firm that paid Cohen’s company $150,000 said Tuesday that FBI agents recently interviewed him.” The Washington Post adds, “Mark Ko said in an email to The Washington Post that he spoke with the FBI about the arrangement ‘a few weeks ago.’ Ko declined to provide details about investigators’ inquiries and said he was unsure whether the agents were part of the probe led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Ko’s statement is the first indication that federal authorities are examining Cohen’s contract with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI)”. The Washington Post notes, “KAI, by contrast, has defended its decision to hire Cohen’s company. A spokesman, Oh Sung-keun, said last week that the firm did not know of Cohen’s connection to Trump when it hired Essential Consultants, which Cohen set up shortly before Trump was elected,” adding, “Cohen has no known experience in government accounting.” For his part, Ko “said KAI’s discussions did involve accounting.” Bloomberg notes, “CNN identified Ko last week as the man behind Demeter Direct, which [Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael] Avenatti had named as having been paid by Essential Consultants,” Cohen’s shell company. Bloomberg adds, “Demeter Direct’s website is no longer active, but an archived version from last year lists clients including Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Verizon Communications Inc., both of which said they never hired the company. In the interview, Ko said the list was inaccurate and that he, not Demeter Direct, did some advertising work for those companies more than a decade ago.”
From The Washington Post and Bloomberg.



CNN reports, “A federal judge on Thursday cast doubt on a civil lawsuit brought against the Trump campaign and Roger Stone by three Democrats who claim that election-year WikiLeaks releases destroyed their reputations.” CNN adds, “‘We didn’t possess the emails, we didn’t disseminate the emails and we didn’t hack the emails,’ said Trump campaign attorney Michael Carvin, referring to the Democratic National Committee email leak.” Furthermore, “Carvin argued Thursday that the Trump campaign shouldn’t be held liable for the acts of individuals on the campaign”. CNN notes, “Judge Ellen Huvelle was skeptical that her Washington court was the right venue for the case, noting the Trump campaign was based in New York and that the DNC recently filed its own hacking-related lawsuit in New York.” Additionally, “Huvelle asked the Democrats’ side sharp questions about the complaint against longtime Trump ally Stone, who is also named in the suit. She pointed out that Stone left the Trump campaign a year before the hacked emails came out in July 2016 and that he does not live in Washington, where the suit was filed.” CNN notes, “Two of the Democrats who filed the lawsuit last year saw their Social Security numbers exposed in the leaks. The third plaintiff claims the emails outed him as gay.”

From CNN.



Bloomberg reports, “Cambridge Analytica, overwhelmed by a scandal over how it harvested data from Facebook to influence the last U.S. election, filed for bankruptcy in New York. The U.K.-based political consulting firm had already said it would cease operations and wind down in its home country and the Chapter 7 petition in New York will address issues raised by U.S. creditors. The filing listed estimated liabilities of $1 million to $10 million.”

From Bloomberg.


reports Jon Hunstman, “The U.S. ambassador to Moscow is no longer scheduled to make a speech at Russia’s premier economic forum next week where he was to give welcoming remarks at a panel including billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, an oligarch under American sanctions and linked to payments to President Donald Trump’s lawyer.” Bloomberg adds, “‘While I will not be participating in any panel discussions at SPIEF, I will be meeting as many people as possible to discuss the road ahead,’ Ambassador Jon Huntsman said in a video posted in the embassy’s Twitter account, referring to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. ‘Dialogue is our only path to progress.’” Bloomberg notes, “The Trump administration has been sending mixed signals in regards to Russia, encouraging American business leaders to attend the forum for the first time since the Ukraine crisis even after roiling local markets in April with the harshest sanctions yet against several prominent businessmen and companies.” As for Ambassador Huntsman, “An embassy spokesperson said he will be attending ‘as a routine part of his duties as U.S. ambassador. He does not have a speaking role.’”

From Bloomberg.



NJ.com reports, “A Russian plane linked to the country’s government flew into the Seychelles the day prior to a 2017 meeting now under review by Special Counsel Robert Mueller”. NJ.com notes, “Mueller’s team is examining a series of meetings that took place in the Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, as part of its broader investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Much speculation has centered on one particular meeting that took place between Erik Prince, founder of the security company Blackwater, Kirill Dmitriev, the director of one of Russia’s sovereign wealth funds, and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the effective ruler of the United Arab Emirates (also known as “MBZ”).” NJ.com adds, “The Russian aircraft in question departed from Moscow and landed in the Seychelles at 4:21 p.m. Jan. 10, 2017, according to the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority — one day before Prince arrived on the island. The aircraft carried six passengers, including flight crew. Two individuals familiar with the aircraft’s purchasing history said the aircraft is owned by Andrei Skoch, a Russian billionaire who made his fortune in the mining business and is now a deputy in the Russian State Duma, the country’s legislative body.” NJ.com notes, “employees at the Seychelles airport and the Four Seasons Hotel told NJ Advance Media that the plane’s passengers stayed at the resort during their time on the island. The hotel was the setting of meetings among Prince, UAE representatives and Dmitriev, according to Prince’s testimony with the House Intelligence Committee in December 2017”. NJ.com speculates that “if Skoch participated in the Seychelles meetings that week in January 2017, it would raise the possibility state business, including sanctions, was discussed.”

From NJ.com.



Russian state-run Tass reports,Russia’s State Duma on Thursday postponed the second, main reading of the bill on criminal punishment for compliance with anti-Russian restrictive measures in Russian territory in order to hold consultations with businesses, thus supporting a proposal made by the lower house speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin.” Russian state-run Tass notes, “Volodin said that the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RUIE) and some banking organizations had asked him to hold more consultations on the bill.”

From Russian state-run Tass.


Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
reports, “Police in Moscow have detained an anchor of the Navalny LIVE online television channel over the May 5 antipresidential protest organized by opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, who is also the owner of the channel. Yelena Malakhovskaya wrote on Twitter that police detained her near her apartment block on May 17.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, “Malakhovskaya broadcast live the May 5 protests across Russia, during which police detained some 1,600 people, including Navalny.”

From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.



Reuters reports, “European countries are ignoring evidence of Russian interference in their politics and the destabilizing effect on the region of policies that will make Europe more reliant on Russian energy, Slovakia’s President Andrej Kiska said on Thursday. Kiska, who is not a member of any political party, is a pro-Western voice in NATO and euro zone member Slovakia but has limited executive powers. He said this week he would not seek reelection next year.” He made the comments at a security conference in Bratislava, the Slovak capital.

From Reuters.



Reuters reports, “Poland has detained a Russian woman who was part of a pro-Russian group that sought to whip up tension between Poland and Ukraine and will expel her soon, the national agency for internal security ABW said on Thursday. Four other people involved in what the ABW described as ‘hybrid’ activities against Poland would be banned for five years from entering Poland, the ABW said.”

From Reuters.





BuzzFeed News reports, “All through the hot summer campaign of 2016, as Donald Trump and his aides dismissed talk of unseemly ties to Moscow, two of his key business partners were working furiously on a secret track: negotiations to build what would have been the tallest building in Europe and an icon of the Trump empire — the Trump World Tower Moscow. Talks to construct the 100-story building continued even as the presidential candidate alternately bragged about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and rejected suggestions of Russian influence, and as Russian agents worked to sway US public opinion on Trump’s behalf.” The effort “extended from spearfishing with a Russian developer on a private island to planning for a mid-campaign trip to Moscow for the presidential candidate himself.” According to BuzzFeed, “the architectural drawings show,” that “he sharply angled skyscraper would have climaxed in a diamond-shaped pinnacle emblazoned with the word ‘Trump’”. BuzzFeed notes, “Michael Cohen, the president’s embattled personal fixer, and Felix Sater, who helped negotiate deals around the world for Trump, led the effort.” BuzzFeed adds, “Last month, Senate Intelligence Committee staffers peppered Sater for hours with questions about the Trump Moscow project. Sater testified that Cohen acted as the ‘intermediary’ for Trump Moscow”. BuzzFeed notes, “In public statements, Cohen has said that he informed Trump the deal was dead in January 2016, but new records show he was still working on it with Sater at least into June.” BuzzFeed adds Sater “told Cohen he had connections to top Russian officials and businessmen: Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, brothers who grew up with Putin and were considered his ‘shadow cabinet’; Andrey Molchanov, a billionaire Russian politician Sater was introduced to by a close personal friend, who proposed building the tower on his property; and a former member of Russia’s military intelligence to whom Sater passed photographs of Cohen’s passport to obtain a visa.” BuzzFeed notes, “For Ivanka and Donald Jr., Sater arranged a tour of the Kremlin… when a tour guide pointed out Putin’s office, Ivanka Trump asked if she could sit in his chair at an antique desk,” and Sater said, “he sat behind the desk, spun in the chair twice, and that was that.” BuzzFeed adds, “during the negotiations, the Trump Organization changed an upfront fee from $100,000 to $900,000. On Oct. 28, 2015, the day of the third Republican presidential debate, Trump personally signed the letter of intent.”

From BuzzFeed News.



CNN reports, “Mueller’s team often sets up rendezvous point with witnesses, who are then picked up in a rotating fleet of cars with tinted windows. A white sedan, a black SUV and a teal car with a dent in the side have all been used to whisk witnesses through the loading dock and into a parking garage minutes before their scheduled interviews. Those who have been willing to walk through the front door — in full view of the media — have been discouraged from doing so”. CNN adds, “After the covert entry, lawyers and clients are confronted with a wall of lockers where visitors are instructed to stash their cell phones and other electronics before proceeding. Most of the meeting room space is a secured Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or a SCIF, so cell phones won’t function inside. Witnesses are deposited in a drab waiting room where doors are secured with electronic locks and bureaucrats are buzzing in and out.” CNN notes, “The questioning takes place in relatively tight quarters — conference rooms large enough to fit a table, a few chairs and little else. Mismatched tables and chairs — all in muted tones — look like they’ve come from an office surplus store and then bounced through multiple government buildings before ending up wedged between Mueller’s prosecutors and their latest witness. There’s no refreshment station, although interviewees are offered water. Prosecutors take the lead on questioning witnesses, with FBI agents occasionally chiming in with facts investigators have found. Mueller himself is rarely seen, sources said. When a witness wants to confer with their lawyer, investigators step out of the room.” CNN adds, “Those who go to the grand jury at federal district court in Washington have a more formal experience”. CNN notes, “The three tiers of jurors represent a ‘mixed bag of people,’ the person said, describing ‘a non-descript group of what looked like a cross section of humanity’ that lives in Washington. After being sworn in, prosecutors come at you ‘methodically’ with no ‘grandstanding,’ as they ask you questions or present documents for you to explain.”

From CNN.



CNN reports, “A New York appeals court has denied a motion by President Donald Trump’s attorney to stay the Summer Zervos defamation case pending appeal, meaning the gathering of evidence known as ‘discovery’ can move forward as both parties await a ruling on the appeal.” CNN recalls, “Zervos, a former ‘Apprentice’ contestant, filed a lawsuit against Trump in January 2017 in which she alleged that Trump defamed her in 2016 after she said he sexually assaulted her in 2007. Trump’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, is appealing the March 20 ruling by New York Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter, who allowed the case to go forward. He wants the appellate court to revisit the matter of whether the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause bars a state court from hearing an action against a sitting president — what would be considered immunity, because it would make the President immune from suit. Schecter ruled it does not. Kasowitz also argues that Schecter erred in denying the President’s motion to dismiss or delay the case on First Amendment grounds.” This could be a potential gold mine of misdeeds as, “The subpoena asks for ‘(a)ll video and audio recordings that include Donald J. Trump talking or commenting on the female candidates or female potential candidates of any season of The Apprentice in any sexual or inappropriate manner, including without limitation any statements or comments by Donald J. Trump concerning any female candidate’s or potential candidate’s body or body parts and/or his sexual or romantic desire or intention concerning any female candidate or potential candidate.’”

From CNN.



The New York Times reports, “The company controlled by the family of the White House adviser Jared Kushner is close to receiving a bailout of its troubled flagship building by a company with financial ties to the government of Qatar, according to executives briefed on the deal.” The New York Times adds, “Charles Kushner, head of the Kushner Companies, is in advanced talks with Brookfield Asset Management over a partnership to take control of the 41-story aluminum-clad tower in Midtown Manhattan, 666 Fifth Avenue, according to two real estate executives who have been briefed on the pending deal but were not authorized to discuss it. Brookfield is a publicly traded company, and its real estate arm, Brookfield Property Partners, is partly owned by the Qatari government, through the Qatar Investment Authority.”

From The New York Times.



CNBC reports, “Viktor Vekselberg, the Russian oligarch at the center of a widening scandal over influence peddling by President Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, has been banned from doing business in America under U.S. sanctions. But as of this week, Vekselberg was still the chairman of a U.S. nonprofit group that boasts support from several Fortune 100 corporations and one of Trump’s top advisors.” CNBC notes, “Named for Renova Group, Vekselberg’s sanctioned Russian holding company, the Renova Fort Ross Foundation was established in 2010 to preserve an unlikely historic landmark: a California state park situated along the state’s wild northern coastline two hours north of San Francisco. The park contains a 19th-century fort built by early Russian settlers in America. At the Kremlin’s request, Vekselberg delivered it from dire financial straits.” CNBC adds, “Under Vekselberg’s patronage, the Fort Ross State Historic Park became a cause celebre among corporations and institutions doing business in Russia. Donors and supporters have included U.S. oil giant Chevron, PepsiCo, Cisco Systems, Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Also among the foundation’s donors is American billionaire Steve Schwarzman, founder of the Blackstone Group and former chairman of Trump’s Strategic and Policy Council.” CNBC notes, “Like Columbus Nova, Vekselberg’s Renova Fort Ross Foundation has also been scrubbing its public face in the wake of questions about Vekselberg. In the past week, the foundation has renamed its Twitter account to remove the word ‘Renova.’ The foundation’s sole employee did not respond to repeated emails and phone calls”. CNBC adds, “the Renova Fort Ross Foundation, or RFRF, has served as a hub for Russian-themed events and outreach,” as a result, “The goodwill that Vekselberg has accrued through his philanthropy has translated into political access.” For example, “in October 2012,” he “chaired a $2,500 per person gala dinner held in San Francisco’s City Hall to mark the bicentennial of Russian settlers’ arrival in California”. CNBC notes, “According to a Forbes article written by a reporter who attended the event, the program featured speeches by Vekselberg and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who was seated next to the Russian billionaire. An official greeting from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was read aloud by a former U.S. ambassador to Russia.”

From CNBC.





CNN reports, “The White House’s daily communications staff meeting has not taken place for several days in the wake of someone leaking staffer Kelly Sadler’s joke that Sen. John McCain’s opinion of Gina Haspel, confirmed Thursday as CIA director, doesn’t matter because ‘he’s dying anyway.’” Again they call it a joke when it is just petty vindictive bullshit from a morally unfit employee, like all of them. CNN adds, “A senior White House official said the daily communications staff meeting, which brought together more than two dozen press and communications staffers each morning, had not been held for several days.”

From CNN.



Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “A Ukrainian court has ordered the head of a major Russian state news agency’s branch in Ukraine held for two months on charges of high treason in a case that drew angry criticism from Moscow and expressions of concern from media watchdogs.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “The Kherson City Court in Ukraine’s south ruled on May 17 that the director of RIA Novosti Ukraine, Kirill Vyshinsky, be held until July 13 pending investigation of the charges against him. Vyshinsky was detained in Kyiv on May 15 by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), and his apartment and the news outlet’s office were searched. He was later transferred to Kherson.”

From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.




The New York Times
reports, “Richard Pipes, the author of a monumental, sharply polemical series of historical works on Russia, the Russian Revolution and the Bolshevik regime, and a top adviser to the Reagan administration on Soviet and Eastern European policy, died on Thursday at a nursing home near his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 94.” The New York Times adds, “Professor Pipes, who spent his entire academic career at Harvard, took his place in the front rank of Russian historians with the publication of ‘Russia Under the Old Regime’ in 1974. But he achieved much wider renown as a public intellectual deeply skeptical about the American policy of détente with the Soviet Union.” The New York Times notes, “While writing ambitious histories of the Russian Revolution and the Bolshevik regime, Professor Pipes continued his campaign for a tougher foreign policy toward the Soviet Union in the late 1970s as a member of the neoconservative Committee on the Present Danger and as director of Eastern European and Soviet affairs for President Reagan’s National Security Council.” The New York Times adds, “He went on to play a pivotal role in drafting National Security Decision Directive 75, which set forth the Reagan administration’s policy toward the Soviet Union. It called for the government to shift the emphasis away from punishing Soviet misbehavior after the fact and to concentrate instead on pursuing policies that would change the nature of the regime.” He left the job after two years as then Secretary of State Alexander Haig cut the National Security Council “out of most important decisions,” and returned to Harvard. He came to America fleeing Nazi-occupied Poland in 1939 with his family and ended up in upstate New York.

From The New York Times.


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