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Destiny

Russian Connection 5: In Which We Plan Sleepovers

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Sad
Destiny

Continued from here:

 

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GreyhoundFan

"Follow the Russian money, and tighten your seatbelt"

Spoiler

What should special counsel Robert S. Mueller III do if his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election uncovers crimes dealing with or motivated by money? Is he supposed to look the other way?

Not if Mueller holds true to his assigned mandate.

Unfolding right now is a legal saga I envisioned in a column 16 months ago: “If, during the investigation of links between Russians and Trump campaign associates, the feds come across financial transactions aimed at evading taxes on illegal income by concealing the source and amount of profit, those associated with such activities should be prepared to hear the words: ‘Ladies and gentlemen of the jury . . .’ ”

This week, in the Albert V. Bryan U.S. Courthouse across the Potomac in Alexandria, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been standing trial on multiple felony charges including tax fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy.

The Alexandria proceeding is not about possible coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Manafort is being prosecuted pursuant to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s separate mandate to the special counsel to investigate “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

Trump’s attorney and unintended court jester, Rudolph W. Giuliani, contends that the Mueller investigation should be limited to Russian interference. Trump goes further, arguing there should not be any investigation at all. He denounces the probe as a “witch hunt” and has called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end it.

Sessions has bowed out for good reason, and Rosenstein is not likely to pull the plug; nor should he.

Thus far, Mueller has produced multiple indictments and guilty pleas, and at this stage, we probably don’t know the half of what his team of experienced prosecutors and investigators has uncovered, possibly including other federal criminal violations.

Calls to shut down the investigation are simply the frantic response of Trump cultists who fear — if they have not already concluded — that there is more to come. Mueller is likely following the Russian money with the same vigor his team used in pursuit of Russian hackers and intelligence operatives.

This is a pattern we have seen before. Remember, the Watergate scandal more than four decades ago involved more than a break-in and coverup. That special prosecutor’s probe found tax violations, primarily involving the 1972 presidential campaign. Among its results were 18 corporate officials and 17 corporations pleading guilty to violations of campaign contribution laws.

Today, again, it’s about the money.

Fact is, a lot of Russian money has been pouring into this country for some time, especially after Russia defaulted on $40 billion in domestic debt in 1998, and some of the country’s biggest banks started to collapse. Deep-pocketed ex-Soviet citizens scrambled to get their money out and into New York real estate where reporting requirements were scant, and cash and laundered money moved with the ease of a stick floating down the Hudson.

None other than Donald Trump Jr. has admitted to the preponderance of Russian cash, claiming in 2008 that Russian investments were “pouring in” to Trump’s business ventures. Trump World Tower, which opened in 2001, was a “prominent depository” of Russian money, Bloomberg Businessweek reported last year.

Additional evidence of the money flow?

As I’ve noted before, a Financial Times investigation found title deeds and bank records showing that a family from Kazakhstan accused of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars bought apartments in a Manhattan building part-owned by Trump. More recently, an analysis by McClatchy’s D.C. bureau found that “buyers connected to Russia or former Soviet republics made 86 all-cash sales — totaling nearly $109 million — at 10 Trump-branded properties in South Florida and New York City. . . . Many of them made purchases using shell companies designed to obscure their identities.”

It’s important to stop and note that there’s nothing necessarily illegal about any of these real estate transactions. But Trump’s nonstop, manic attacks on Mueller’s investigation — and the media — look to me like the behavior of the guilty hearing footsteps and finding no place to hide.

Trump’s only alternative is to discredit and whip up a body of hate against those who would expose him for what he is: an amoral liar and self-centered, money-grubbing fraud, with a loyal following that would make any other cult leader jealous.

But Mueller, too, has no alternative but to follow the Russian connections and the money and see where they lead.

Folks, tighten your seat belts, there’s a bumpy road ahead.

 

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AmazonGrace

Agent Paul reporting for duty 

Note who's there: Kislyak

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AmazonGrace

His little friends are coming over for a pyjama party

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Sad
Destiny
His little friends are coming over for a pyjama party

Sleepovers for everyone!

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Howl
10 hours ago, AmazonGrace said:

Note who's there: Kislyak

Yup, that was my first thought.  I can't quite wrap my brain around the enormity and sheer insanity of all the facets of the Russian thing.  Putin is actively waging cyber warfare against the US electoral system, so what the actual fuck is Rand Paul, of all people, doing there?   

The Republicans shut down an attempt to get more $$ to the states to help them harden their voting systems and voter rolls against interference and hacking. 

I wouldn't call myself paranoid, but it may be time to start getting nervous. 

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AmazonGrace

Trouble ahead in Bosnia? 

 

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GreyhoundFan

"Putin is afraid of one thing. Make him think it could happen."

Spoiler

Michael Morell, a career intelligence officer, served as the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2010 to 2013; during that period, he served twice as acting CIA director. He is the host of the Intelligence Matters podcast.

Facebook revealed on July 31 that it had discovered a 17-month-long influence campaign to sow political divisiveness on its network, an effort that bore the hallmarks of the Kremlin-connected Internet Research Agency. Two days later at the White House, the nation’s top national security officials said Russia is conducting a pervasive campaign to weaken our democracy and influence this year’s midterm elections. Taken together, these announcements leave no doubt that Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s political assault on the United States continues unabated.

The most important question the Trump administration and Congress should be asking is: How can we make Putin stop? Finding the answer is essential because what Washington has done so far — some improvements to defending against these attacks, along with a mixture of targeted sanctions against Russia, the indictment of Russian officials and organizations, as well as the expulsion of Russian intelligence officers from the United States — has not worked.

Stopping Putin is vital, not just as a matter of protecting American democracy from Russian interference, but also because we must signal a stronger deterrence to other adversaries, such as China, Iran and North Korea. Potential aggressors must be shown they will pay a price if they attack. With better resources than Russia for trying to undermine our democracy, China, in particular, needs to know that the United States would respond by imposing a heavy cost.

The U.S. answer to Russia, so far, has been ineffective because Washington has only targeted the entities and individuals actually involved in the Russian information operations. Since the 2016 election, the United States, at various times, has sanctioned at least 10 Russian organizations, some more than once, and at least 23 specific individuals. Because the sanctions’ targeting has had little impact on the Russian economy overall, the political effect on Putin has been minor.

Here is what the United States needs to do. In terms of self-defense, it must secure the nation’s elections system, especially the software that holds data on registered voters. Every vote should be tallied on a backup paper ballot that could be used to verify election results, if necessary. New rules and better enforcement are needed to keep foreign money out of U.S. elections. The federal government should work with individual campaigns to fortify the security of the technology and networks they use. Finally, better coordination across the government is needed to protect U.S. elections, which would probably best be achieved by creating a Hybrid Threats Center similar to the National Counterterrorism Center.

There are multiple bills in Congress, all with support on both sides of the aisle, that would institute most of these changes and pay for them, but the legislation is frozen by the partisanship this issue stirs.

As for imposing costs on those who attack the United States: Fully implement sanctions already on the books. That is still not happening. But then move beyond targeted sanctions to broad-based sanctions that are designed to hurt the Russian economy — just as the Obama administration’s sanctions against Iran were designed to do, as are the Trump administration’s. Make it clear to Putin that we would drop the sanctions when he stops interfering in the democratic institutions of the United States and its allies, some of whom are also under siege.

What would such sanctions look like? A Senate bill introduced on Aug. 2, again with sponsors from both parties, is a good start: Prohibit any transaction related to Russian energy projects and bar the purchase of new Russian sovereign debt. Washington should encourage its allies to join in these efforts.

Putin is afraid of one thing. He is afraid that one day the Russian middle class will finally rebel against his regime and rush into the streets demanding change. It happened in Tunis, Cairo and other Middle Eastern and North African cities between 2010 and 2012, and it happened most alarmingly, from Putin’s perspective, four years ago in Kiev when Ukrainians threw out a government beholden to Moscow. Sanctions that bite at the heart of the Russian economy — sanctions that increase the risk that Russia’s middle class will become restive — will get Putin’s attention.

The leaders that the United States has chosen, and the security experts they have appointed and confirmed, are aware of the threat. A failure to defend the nation as well as possible, and failure to impose severe costs on those attacking our democracy, would be seen by history as a major abdication of responsibility. The statements from intelligence officials at the White House last week was an excellent first step. More steps, and stronger ones, are urgently needed.

 

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AmazonGrace

 

Leaked document: Putin lobbied Trump on arms control

A list of issues he shared with Trump in Helsinki suggests Russia wants to continue traditional nuclear talks with the U.S. — but doesn't answer all questions about their meeting.

Vladimir Putin presented President Donald Trump with a series of requests during their private meeting in Helsinki last month, including new talks on controlling nuclear arms and prohibiting weapons in space, according to a Russian document obtained by POLITICO.

A page of proposed topics for negotiation, not previously made public, offers new insights into the substance of the July 16 dialogue that even Trump's top advisers have said they were not privy to at the time. Putin shared the contents of the document with Trump during their two-hour conversation, according to a U.S. government adviser who provided an English-language translation.

 

POLITICO also reviewed a Russian-language version of the document, which bore the header in Cyrillic “Dialogue on the Issue of Arms Control." The person who provided the document to POLITICO obtained it from Russian officials who described it as what Putin had conveyed to Trump in Helsinki.

The White House declined to comment on the document Tuesday, aside from denying that Trump had received any actual paperwork.

More at https://www.politico.com/story/2018/08/07/putin-trump-arms-control-russia-724718

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Howl
Quote

"Putin is afraid of one thing. Make him think it could happen."

Excellent distillation of the sanctions issue, @GreyhoundFanThis gives me something to focus on and think about.  Russia is basically a first-world country with a third-world economy, but Putin has tremendous support.  The economy is definitely where he is vulnerable.  

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AmazonGrace

Deep State wants sanctions

 

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Spent
onekidanddone
3 hours ago, AmazonGrace said:

Deep State wants sanctions

 

Oh that won’t go over well with Trump’s over lord. 

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AmazonGrace

 

Rudy is more upset than usual 

 

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AmazonGrace

His story is that Wikileaks didn't get the emails from Russians and he knows this because Assange is awesome

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Howl

I was just having a flashback to ancient history (!), when pearl-clutching deplorables were shreiking the alarm over ebil Killary OMG giving away AMERICAN uranium to our ebil arch enemies the Russians!!!  And now Putin is, like, our best friend ever!  Who saw that coming? 

Anyway, I bookmarked this piece from Daily Kos, with an embedded clip of Ari Melber's entire interview of Randy Credico relative to Assange/Stone back in March 2018.  A good refresher. 

Ari Melber's Gonzo Interview with Randy Credico features Assange-Stone link plus Nixon impression

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fraurosena
On 8/8/2018 at 9:53 PM, AmazonGrace said:

Deep State wants sanctions

 

Promises, promises... I don't think it will go beyond that. Everyone will have forgotten by the end of the month anyway.

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Cartmann99
14 hours ago, Howl said:

I was just having a flashback to ancient history (!), when pearl-clutching deplorables were shreiking the alarm over ebil Killary OMG giving away AMERICAN uranium to our ebil arch enemies the Russians!!!  And now Putin is, like, our best friend ever!  Who saw that coming

Oh, there's still some folks on Twitter screaming about the uranium deal. They sometimes show up to try and change the subject whenever Trump does something extra stupid.

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fraurosena

This is a very interesting, though rather depressing, article. This is not the first time an attempt was made to cover up a Republican presidential scandal. And no, it’s not Watergate. This cover-up succeeded before our very eyes. 

 

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