Monday, October 2, 2017

COMRADE TRUMP—The Definitive Trump-Putin Bromance and "This Russia Thing" Timeline (UPDATED)

Having trouble keeping up with the drip-drip of revelations about U.S. President Donald Trump and his cozy ties with Russian leader Vladimir Putin? 

My definitive "Comrade Trump" timeline compiles the latest Trump-Putin bromance news. Feel free to send in your own tidbits via the comments. I don't necessarily endorse the articles linked below.

Click here to see my earlier Trump-Putin bromance timeline for Aug.-Sept. 2017. And click here to see my first timeline for June 2015 to July 2017.


'Trump's son should be concerned': FBI obtained wiretaps of Putin ally who met with Trump Jr.

(Yahoo News) May 25, 2018, by Michael IsikoffThe FBI has obtained secret wiretaps collected by Spanish police of conversations involving Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of Russia’s Central Bank who has forged close ties with U.S. lawmakers and the National Rifle Association, that led to a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. during the gun lobby’s annual convention in Louisville, Ky., in May 2016, a top Spanish prosecutor said Friday.... Read the full article here.


At Trump Tower, Michael Cohen and Oligarch Discussed Russian Relations

(The New York Times) May 25, 2018, by William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess and Mike McIntireEleven days before the presidential inauguration last year, a billionaire Russian businessman with ties to the Kremlin visited Trump Tower in Manhattan to meet with Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, according to video footage and another person who attended the meeting.

In Mr. Cohen’s office on the 26th floor, he and the oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, discussed a mutual desire to strengthen Russia’s relations with the United States under President Trump, according to Andrew Intrater, an American businessman who attended the meeting and invests money for Mr. Vekselberg. The men also arranged to see one another at the inauguration, the second of their three meetings, Mr. Intrater said.... Read the full article here.


Michael Cohen’s Business Partner Agrees to Cooperate as Part of Plea Deal

(The New York Times) May 22, 2018, by Danny Hakim, William K. Rashbaum and Vivian WangA significant business partner of Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer, has agreed to cooperate with the government as a potential witness, a development that could be used as leverage to pressure Mr. Cohen to work with the special counsel examining Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Under the deal reached with the New York attorney general’s office, the partner, Evgeny A. Freidman, a Russian immigrant who is known as the Taxi King, specifically agreed to assist government prosecutors in state or federal investigations, according to a person briefed on the matter.... Read the full article here.


By Demanding an Investigation, Trump Challenged a Constraint on His Power

(The New York Times) May 21, 2018, by Charlie Savage, News AnalysisWhen President Trump publicly demanded that the Justice Department open an investigation into the F.B.I.’s scrutiny of his campaign contacts with Russia, he inched further toward breaching an established constraint on executive power: The White House does not make decisions about individual law enforcement investigations.

“It’s an incredible historical moment,” said Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School who helped write a coming scholarly article on the limits of presidential control over the Justice Department.... Read the full article here.


'The Day that We Can't Protect Human Sources': The President and the House Intelligence Committee Burn an Informant

(Lawfare Blog) May 19, 2018, by Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin WittesIt wasn’t that long ago that both the executive branch and the legislature in this country considered the protection of intelligence sources a matter of surpassing national importance.... Read the full article here.


Russia-linked company that hired Michael Cohen registered alt-right websites during election

(The Washington Post) May 9, 2018, by Eli RosenbergA company at the center of widening questions involving President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen is listed as the organization behind a string of websites targeted toward white nationalists and other members of the alt-right.... Read the full article here.


‘I’m crushing it’: How Michael Cohen, touting his access to President Trump, convinced companies to pay millions

(The Washington Post) May 9, 2018, by Michael Kranish, Rosalind S. Helderman, Carolyn Y. Johnson and Josh DawseyPresident Trump had been sworn into office, and his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, saw a golden opportunity.

From his perch in a law office on the 23rd floor of New York’s Rockefeller Center, Cohen pitched potential clients on his close association with Trump, noting that he still was the president’s lawyer, according to associates. He showed photos of himself with Trump and mentioned how frequently they spoke, even asking people to share news articles describing him as the president’s “fixer.”... Read the full article here.


Firm Tied to Russian Oligarch Made Payments to Michael Cohen

(The New York Times) May 8, 2018, by Mike McIntire, Ben Protess and Jim RutenbergA shell company that Michael D. Cohen used to pay hush money to a pornographic film actress received payments totaling more than $1 million from an American company linked to a Russian oligarch and several corporations with business before the Trump administration, according to documents and interviews.

Financial records reviewed by The New York Times show that Mr. Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer and longtime fixer, used the shell company, Essential Consultants L.L.C., for an array of business activities that went far beyond what was publicly known. Transactions adding up to at least $4.4 million flowed through Essential Consultants starting shortly before Mr. Trump was elected president and continuing to this January, the records show.... Read the full article here.


What Can We Say About Mueller’s 49 Questions?

(Lawfare Blog) May 1, 2018, by Benjamin WittesThere are reasons to be cautious about the 49 questions that Robert Mueller wishes to pose to President Trump in an interview, as the New York Times reported Monday evening.

Most important, the list of questions did not come from Mueller. By the Times’s account, the questions were “read by the special counsel investigators to the president’s lawyers, who compiled them into a list. That document was provided to The Times by a person outside Mr. Trump’s legal team.” In other words, the questions as the Times lists them are the Trump legal team’s account of the subjects about which Mueller’s investigators want to ask.... Read the full article here.


Mueller raised possibility of presidential subpoena in meeting with Trump’s legal team

(The Washington Post) May 1, 2018, by Carol D. Leonnig and Robert CostaIn a tense meeting in early March with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, President Trump’s lawyers insisted he had no obligation to talk with federal investigators probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

But Mueller responded that he had another option if Trump declined: He could issue a subpoena for the president to appear before a grand jury, according to four people familiar with the encounter.... Read the full article here.


Mueller Has Dozens of Inquiries for Trump in Broad Quest on Russia Ties and Obstruction

(The New York Times) April 30, 2018, by Michael S. SchmidtRobert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russia’s election interference, has at least four dozen questions on an exhaustive array of subjects he wants to ask President Trump to learn more about his ties to Russia and determine whether he obstructed the inquiry itself, according to a list of the questions obtained by The New York Times.... Read the full article here and the special counsel's apparent list of question topics here.


Trump Jr. And Emin Agalarov Stayed In Touch Throughout The Transition
From phone calls and text messages to “an expensive painting” that Aras Agalarov gave Donald Trump for his birthday in 2016, the two families were in regular communication before and after the Trump Tower meeting — and during the transition.

(BuzzFeed News) April 27, 2018, by Chris GeidnerA direct line of communication between the Kremlin-connected Agalarov family and the Trump family was open during the transition after President Donald Trump’s presidential election, BuzzFeed News has learned.

The “first of a series” of text messages was sent between Emin Agalarov and Donald Trump Jr. two days after the 2016 election, a source familiar with the communications told BuzzFeed News.... Read the full article here.


Lawyer Who Was Said to Have Dirt on Clinton Had Closer Ties to Kremlin Than She Let On

(The New York Times) April 27, 2018, by Andrew E. Kramer and Sharon LaFraniereThe Russian lawyer who met with Trump campaign officials in Trump Tower in June 2016 on the premise that she would deliver damaging information about Hillary Clinton has long insisted she is a private attorney, not a Kremlin operative trying to meddle in the presidential election.

But newly released emails show that in at least one instance two years earlier, the lawyer, Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, worked hand in glove with Russia’s chief legal office to thwart a Justice Department civil fraud case against a well-connected Russian firm.... Read the full article here.


Trump: ‘Of Course’ I Stayed Overnight at Moscow Hotel

(The Daily Beast) April 26, 2018Donald Trump said that he did in fact stay overnight in Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant in 2013—the evening when it’s claimed that the fabled “pee tape” was made. Speaking on Fox & Friends on Thursday morning, the president said: “I went to Russia for a day or so... of course I stayed there,” referring to the much-talked-about trip that became central to allegations made in the controversial Steele dossier.... Read the full article here.


Comey memos offer new details on his interactions with Trump as the FBI’s Russia probe intensified

(The Washington Post) April 19, 2018, by Ellen Nakashima and Devlin BarrettPresident Trump expressed concerns about the judgment of his national security adviser Michael Flynn weeks before forcing him to resign, according to memos kept by former FBI director James B. Comey that recount in detail efforts by Trump to influence the bureau’s expanding investigation of Russia.

The memos also reveal the extent of Trump’s preoccupation with unproven allegations that he had consorted with prostitutes while in Moscow in 2013. Trump, according to the memos, repeatedly denied the allegations and prodded Comey to help disprove them, while also recalling being told by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia has the most beautiful prostitutes.... Read the full article here and the Comey memos here.


Trump puts the brakes on new Russian sanctions, reversing Haley’s announcement

(The Washington Post) April 16, 2018, by Philip Rucker, Carol D. Leonnig, Anton Troianovski and Greg JaffePresident Trump on Monday put the brakes on a preliminary plan to impose additional economic sanctions on Russia, walking back a Sunday announcement by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that the Kremlin had swiftly denounced as “international economic raiding.”... Read the full article here.


A Former Russian Spy Worked On A Trump Moscow Deal During The Presidential Campaign
While Trump was running for president, his business team was trying to develop a Trump tower in Moscow — with the help of a former Russian military intelligence officer. But in a twist, that former officer also provided intelligence to the US.

(BuzzFeed News) April 13, 2018, by Jason Leopold and Anthony CormierA former Russian spy helped Donald Trump’s business team seek financing for a Trump-branded tower in the heart of Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

This connection between Trump and Russian intelligence — made public here for the first time — is known to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team and raises fresh questions about the president’s connections to the Kremlin.... Read the full article here.


Sources: Mueller has evidence Cohen was in Prague in 2016, confirming part of dossier

(McClatchy) April 13, 2018, by Peter Stone and Greg GordonThe Justice Department special counsel has evidence that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and confidant, Michael Cohen, secretly made a late-summer trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Confirmation of the trip would lend credence to a retired British spy’s report that Cohen strategized there with a powerful Kremlin figure about Russian meddling in the U.S. election.... Read the full article here.


Trump attorney Cohen is being investigated for possible bank fraud, campaign finance violations

(The Washington Post) April 9, 2018, by Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger and Devlin BarrettMichael Cohen, the longtime attorney of President Trump, is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, according to three people with knowledge of the case.

FBI agents on Monday raided Cohen’s Manhattan office, home and hotel room as part of the investigation, seizing records about Cohen’s clients and personal finances. Among the records taken were those related to a 2016 payment Cohen made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump, according to a fourth person familiar with the investigation.... Read the full article here.


Manafort associate had Russian intelligence ties during 2016 campaign, prosecutors say

(The Washington Post) March 28, 2018, by Spencer S. Hsu and Rosalind S. HeldermanThe FBI has found that a business associate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, including during the 2016 campaign when Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, were in touch with the associate, according to new court filings.... Read the full article here.


‘You should do it’: Trump officials encouraged George Papadopoulos’s foreign outreach, documents show

(The Washington Post) March 23, 2018, by Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom HamburgerWhen a Russian news agency reached out to George Papadopoulos to request an interview shortly before the 2016 election, the young adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump made sure to seek approval from campaign headquarters.

“You should do it,” deputy communications director Bryan Lanza urged Papadopoulos in a September 2016 email, emphasizing the benefits of a U.S. “partnership with Russia.”... Read the full article here.


EXCLUSIVE: ‘Lone DNC Hacker’ Guccifer 2.0 Slipped Up and Revealed He Was a Russian Intelligence Officer
Robert Mueller’s team has taken over the investigation of Guccifer 2.0, who communicated with (and was defended by) longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone.

(The Daily Beast) March 22, 2018, by Spencer Ackerman and Kevin PoulsenGuccifer 2.0, the “lone hacker” who took credit for providing WikiLeaks with stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee, was in fact an officer of Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU), The Daily Beast has learned. It’s an attribution that resulted from a fleeting but critical slip-up in GRU tradecraft.

That forensic determination has substantial implications for the criminal probe into potential collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia.... Read the full article here. 


Trump’s national security advisers warned him not to congratulate Putin. He did it anyway.

(The Washington Post) March 20, 2018, by Carol D. Leonnig, David Nakamura and Josh DawseyPresident Trump did not follow specific warnings from his national security advisers Tuesday when he congratulated Russian President Vladi­mir Putin on his reelection — including a section in his briefing materials in all-capital letters stating “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” according to officials familiar with the call.

Trump also chose not to heed talking points from aides instructing him to condemn the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain with a powerful nerve agent, a case that both the British and U.S. governments have blamed on Moscow.... Read the full article here.


Cambridge Analytica’s Dirty Tricks Elected Trump, CEO Claims
Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, claimed they used proxies in the U.S. to influence the 2016 election.

(The Daily Beast) March 20, 2018, by Nico HinesBritish political consultants that worked for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign said they secretly used proxy organizations and super PACs to spread ads in the U.S. that could not be traced back to the Trump campaign.

Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, was secretly recorded by undercover reporters from Channel 4 in Britain who were posing as prospective clients. “There’s no evidence, there’s no paper trail, there’s nothing,” said Nix, reassuring them that his company’s dirty tricks for his clients would never be detected.... Read the full article here.


‘Astonishing’ Facebook Intervention Could Have Compromised Cambridge Analytica Evidence, Says U.K.
Consultants sent by social network were kicked out of Cambridge Analytica’s London offices late Monday, as authorities in the U.S. and U.K. fear evidence may have been destroyed.

(The Daily Beast) March 20, 2018, by Jamie RossFacebook has been plunged into crisis over the allegations that Cambridge Analytica misused data from more than 50 million people to help elect Donald Trump. Nearly $40 billion was wiped off Facebook’s market value Monday, an emergency meeting is due to be held Tuesday morning, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been criticized for remaining silent during what some analysts are describing as a threat to the company’s existence.... Read the full article here.


FTC opens investigation into Facebook after Cambridge Analytica scrapes millions of users’ personal information

(The Washington Post) March 20, 2018, by Tony Romm and Craig TimbergThe Federal Trade Commission has opened an investigation into Facebook following reports that a data analytics firm that had worked with the Trump campaign had improperly accessed names, “likes” and other personal information about tens of millions of the social site’s users without their knowledge.... Read the full article here.


How A Player In The Trump-Russia Scandal Led A Double Life As An American Spy
Felix Sater has been cast as a Russian mafioso, a career criminal, and a key business associate of President Donald Trump — but he spent more than two decades as an intelligence asset who helped the US government track terrorists and mobsters. “Greed is my go-to weapon.”

(BuzzFeed News) March 12, 2018, by Anthony Cormier and Jason LeopoldIn the sprawling Trump-Russia investigation, one name constantly pops up: Felix Sater. In story after story, Sater is described as Donald Trump’s former business partner, a convicted stock swindler who was born in the Soviet Union, worked in Russia, tried to win Trump a deal in Moscow, and even helped broker a Ukrainian peace plan that Vladimir Putin would have loved.... Read the full article here.


Qataris opted not to give info on Kushner, secret meetings to Mueller

(NBC) March 12, 2018, by Julia Ainsley, Carol E. Lee, Robert Windrem and Andrew W. LehrenQatari officials gathered evidence of what they claim is illicit influence by the United Arab Emirates on Jared Kushner and other Trump associates, including details of secret meetings, but decided not to give the information to Special Counsel Robert Mueller for fear of harming relations with the Trump administration, say three sources familiar with the Qatari discussions.... Read the full article here.


Christopher Steele, the Man Behind the Trump Dossier
How the ex-spy tried to warn the world about Trump’s ties to Russia.

(The New Yorker) March 12, 2018, by Jane MayerIn January, after a long day at his London office, Christopher Steele, the former spy turned private investigator, was stepping off a commuter train in Farnham, where he lives, when one of his two phones rang. He’d been looking forward to dinner at home with his wife, and perhaps a glass of wine.... Read the full article here.



Putin condemned for saying Jews may have manipulated U.S. election

(The Washington Post) March 11, 2018, by Avi SelkJewish groups and U.S. lawmakers condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s suggestion that the 2016 U.S. presidential election may have been manipulated by Russian Jews.

Putin’s remarks came during a long and occasionally surreal interview with NBC News on Saturday, in which he speculated that nearly anyone other than the Russian government could have been behind a program to disrupt the election.... Read the full article here.


Putin says Jews, Ukrainians, Tatars could be behind U.S. election meddling

(The Associated Press) March 10, 2018Russian President Vladimir Putin says he doesn’t care about alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election because the actions weren’t connected to his government.

In an interview with American broadcaster NBC News that aired Saturday, Putin also suggested that some of the 13 Russian nationals indicted by the United States may not be ethnically Russian.

“Maybe they are not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship, which should also be checked,” he said.... Read the full article here and find links to the interview here.


Amid renewed scrutiny, Erik Prince to host fundraiser for Russia-friendly congressman

(CNN) March 8, 2018, by Rebecca BergBlackwater founder Erik Prince will host a fundraiser this month for Russia-friendly Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, as Prince faces new questions over a 2017 meeting currently being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller.... Read the full article here.


What Happened in Moscow: The Inside Story of How Trump’s Obsession With Putin Began
His 2013 visit paved the way for a scandal that shook the world.

(Mother Jones) March 8, 2018, by David Corn and Michael IsikoffThis is the first of two excerpts adapted from Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump (Twelve Books), by Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, and David Corn, Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones. The book will be released on March 13.

It was late in the afternoon of November 9, 2013, in Moscow, and Donald Trump was getting anxious.

This was his second day in the Russian capital, and the brash businessman and reality TV star was running through a whirlwind schedule to promote that evening’s extravaganza at Moscow’s Crocus City Hall: the Miss Universe pageant, in which women from 86 countries would be judged before a worldwide television audience estimated at 1 billion.... Read the full article here.


Russian Trolls Tried to Torpedo Mitt Romney’s Shot at Secretary of State
Online campaign targeted the ex-GOP nominee as Donald Trump considered him in late 2016

(The Wall Street Journal) March 8, 2018, by Rob Barry and  Shelby HollidayWeeks after Donald Trump was elected president, Russia-backed online “trolls” flooded social media to try to block Mitt Romney from securing a top job in the incoming administration, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows.

The operatives called the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, then a contender for secretary of state, a “two headed snake” and a “globalist puppet,” promoted a rally outside Trump Tower and spread a petition to block Mr. Romney’s appointment to the top diplomatic job, according to a review of now-deleted social-media posts.

The revelation comes alongside a new report, in the New Yorker, that alleges the Kremlin pressured then-President Elect Trump to consider a candidate more favorable to Russian interests. Mr. Trump ultimately appointed former Exxon Mobil Corp. chief Rex Tillerson, who has said he has a “very close relationship with” Russian President Vladimir Putin, to lead the department.... Read the full article here.


Mueller gathers evidence that 2017 Seychelles meeting was effort to establish back channel to Kremlin

(The Washington Post) March 7, 2018, by Sari Horwitz and Devlin BarrettSpecial counsel Robert S. Mueller III has gathered evidence that a secret meeting in Seychelles just before the inauguration of Donald Trump was an effort to establish a back channel between the incoming administration and the Kremlin — apparently contradicting statements made to lawmakers by one of its participants, according to people familiar with the matter.

In January 2017, Erik Prince, the founder of the private security company Blackwater, met with a Russian official close to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and later described the meeting to congressional investigators as a chance encounter that was not a planned discussion of U.S.-Russia relations.... Read the full article here.


Adviser to Emirates With Ties to Trump Aides Is Cooperating With Special Counsel

(The New York Times) March 6, 2018, by Mark Mazzetti, David D. Kirtkpatrick and Adam GoldmanAn adviser to the United Arab Emirates with ties to current and former aides to President Trump is cooperating with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and gave testimony last week to a grand jury, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Mueller appears to be examining the influence of foreign money on Mr. Trump’s political activities and has asked witnesses about the possibility that the adviser, George Nader, funneled money from the Emirates to the president’s political efforts. It is illegal for foreign entities to contribute to campaigns or for Americans to knowingly accept foreign money for political races.... Read the full article here.



Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg called before grand jury, says he will refuse to go

(The Washington Post) March 5, 2018, by Josh DawseyFormer Trump aide Sam Nunberg said Monday that he has been subpoenaed to appear in front of a federal grand jury investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election but that he will refuse to go.... Read the full article here.


Mueller team asks about Trump's Russian business dealings as he weighed a run for president

(CNN) February 28, 2018, by Kara Scannell, Pamela Brown, Gloria Borger and Jim SciuttoInvestigators for special counsel Robert Mueller have recently been asking witnesses about Donald Trump's business activities in Russia prior to the 2016 presidential campaign as he considered a run for president, according to three people familiar with the matter.... Read the full article here.


Kushner, Russia bombshells rock the White House

(CNN) February 28, 2018, Analysis by Stephen CollinsonA volley of stunning revelations over Jared Kushner and the Russia probe are rocking Donald Trump's inner circle and suggest a pivotal moment is at hand in the West Wing personnel wars that have raged throughout his presidency.

First, it emerged Tuesday that chief of staff John Kelly downgraded the top secret security clearance for the President's son-in-law in a bid to clear up a scandal over whether top administration players are qualified to access the most sensitive intelligence.... Read the full article here.


Kushner’s overseas contacts raise concerns as foreign officials seek leverage

(The Washington Post) February 27, 2018, by Shane Harris, Carol D. Leonnig, Greg Jaffe and Josh DawseyOfficials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter.... Read the full article here.


Mueller just made a move indicating that Rick Gates has something of significant value to offer him

(Business Insider) February 27, 2018, by Sonam ShethA federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, on Tuesday granted a motion by the special counsel Robert Mueller's office to dismiss several charges brought against Rick Gates, the former deputy chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.... Read the full article here.


Rick Gates, Trump Campaign Aide, to Plead Guilty in Mueller Inquiry and Cooperate

(The New York Times) February 23, 2018, by Mark Mazzetti and Maggie HabbermanA former top adviser to Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign indicted by the special counsel was expected to plead guilty as soon as Friday afternoon, according to two people familiar with his plea agreement, a move that signals he is cooperating with the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

The adviser, Rick Gates, is a longtime political consultant who once served as Mr. Trump’s deputy campaign chairman. The plea deal could be a significant development in the investigation — a sign that Mr. Gates plans to offer incriminating information against his longtime associate and the former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, or other members of the Trump campaign in exchange for a lighter punishment.... Read the full article here.


Special counsel Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case

(The Washington PostFebruary 22, 2018 by Devlin Barrett and Spencer S. HsuNew charges were filed Thursday against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner, ratcheting up the legal pressure on them as they prepare for a trial later this year.

A new indictment has long been expected in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s prosecution of Manafort and his right-hand man, Rick Gates, on fraud and money laundering charges. Manafort served as President Trump’s campaign chairman from June to August 2016. Gates also served as a top official on Trump’s campaign. The new indictment contains 32 counts, including tax charges.... Read the full article here.


Mueller Charges Lawyer With Lying in Russia Probe

(Bloomberg) February 20, 2018, by David Voreacos and Stephanie BakerAn attorney who worked for a prominent law firm was charged with making false statements to federal authorities as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election.

Alex Van Der Zwaan was charged Feb. 16 with lying to the FBI and Mueller’s office about conversations related to his work on a report prepared by his law firm on the legitimacy of the criminal prosecution of a former Ukrainian prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko.... Read the full article here.


Former Trump aide Richard Gates to plead guilty; agrees to testify against Manafort, sources say

(The Los Angeles Times) February 18, 2018, by David WillmanA former top aide to Donald Trump's presidential campaign will plead guilty to fraud-related charges within days — and has made clear to prosecutors that he would testify against Paul Manafort, the lawyer-lobbyist who once managed the campaign.

The change of heart by Trump's former deputy campaign manager Richard Gates, who had pleaded not guilty after being indicted in October on charges similar to Manafort's, was described in interviews by people familiar with the case.... Read the full article here.


The 21st-century Russian sleeper agent is a troll with an American accent

(The Washington Post) February 17, 2018, by Anton Troianovski, Rosalind S. Helderman, Ellen Nakashima and Craig TimbergNot long after Marat Mindiyarov started working at the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll factory indicted by the U.S. Justice Department on Friday, he began hearing about the coveted “Facebook Department.” There, workers could earn more money and work alongside a younger, hipper crowd. But to gain entry, job candidates had to prove they could seamlessly insinuate themselves into the American political conversation.... Read the full article here.


A former Russian troll speaks: 'It was like being in Orwell's world'

(The Washington Post) February 17, 2018, by Anton TroianovskiThe indictment by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III of 13 Russians associated with a St. Petersburg online “troll factory” that allegedly interfered with the U.S. election has brought a sense of vindication to the handful of former employees who have already been speaking out about what they witnessed.... Read the full article here.


Trump ex-aide Manafort accused of bank fraud in bail offer: document

(Reuters) February 17, 2018Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has drawn a new accusation of bank fraud from U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, according to court documents made public on Friday.... Read the full article here.


Russians Bought Bank Accounts From California Man, Mueller Says

(The New York Times) February 16, 2018, by Nicholas FandosIt was a lucrative business. For several years, Richard Pinedo, a Southern California computer science major, would open bank accounts in his name and sell them online to shadowy purchasers for cash. In other cases, he served as a middle man, buying accounts in other people’s names and flipping them on the internet.... Read the full article here.


Inside a 3-Year Russian Campaign to Influence U.S. Voters

(The New York Times) February 16, 2018, by Scott Shane and Mark MazzettiIn September, as the first detailed evidence surfaced of Russia’s hijacking of social media in the 2016 election, Irina V. Kaverzina, one of about 80 Russians working on the project in St. Petersburg, emailed a family member with some news.

“We had a slight crisis here at work: the F.B.I. busted our activity (not a joke),” she wrote of the project in Russia.... Read the full article here.


Mueller Indicts 13 Russian Nationals for Election Interference, Says They Communicated With Trump Campaign

(The Daily Beast) February 16, 2018Special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election. The lead defendant is the “Internet Research Agency,” known as Russia’s “troll farm.” They are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft. “Some Defendants, posing as US persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign,” the criminal complaint claims. The document also names specific fake groups or events created by the Russian trolls, like “United Muslims of America” and “March for Trump,” which were previously revealed as trolls by The Daily Beast.... Read the full article here and the criminal complaint here.


U.S. Secretly Negotiated With Russians to Buy Stolen NSA Documents— And the Russians Offered Trump-Related Material, Too

(The Intercept) February 9, 2018, by James RisenThe United States intelligence community has been conducting a top-secret operation to recover stolen classified U.S. government documents from Russian operatives, according to sources familiar with the matter. The operation has also inadvertently yielded a cache of documents purporting to relate to Donald Trump and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.... Read the full article here.


U.S. Spies, Seeking to Retrieve Cyberweapons, Paid Russian Peddling Trump Secrets

(The New York Times) February 9, 2019, by Matthew RosenbergAfter months of secret negotiations, a shadowy Russian bilked American spies out of $100,000 last year, promising to deliver stolen National Security Agency cyberweapons in a deal that he insisted would also include compromising material on President Trump, according to American and European intelligence officials.... Read the full article here.


Republican lawmakers distance themselves from Trump on memo

(The Washington Post) February 4, 2018, by Elise Viebeck and Shane HarrisRepublican members of the House Intelligence Committee dissented Sunday from President Trump’s view that corruption has poisoned the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In a sign of a growing rift within the House GOP, four members of the panel dismissed the idea pushed by Trump and other Republicans that a controversial memo criticizing how the FBI handled elements of its Russia probe undermines the investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III into possible coordination between Trump associates and the Kremlin.... Read the full article here.


Carter Page Touted Kremlin Contacts in 2013 Letter

(Time) February 3, 2018, by Massimo Calabresi and Alana AbramsonFormer Trump campaign adviser Carter Page bragged that he was an adviser to the Kremlin in a letter obtained by TIME that raises new questions about the extent of Page’s contacts with the Russian government over the years.

The letter, dated Aug. 25, 2013, was sent by Page to an academic press during a dispute over edits to an unpublished manuscript he had submitted for publication, according to an editor who worked with Page.

“Over the past half year, I have had the privilege to serve as an informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin in preparation for their Presidency of the G-20 Summit next month, where energy issues will be a prominent point on the agenda,” the letter reads.... Read the full article here.


Carter Page, Ex-Trump Aide Once Shunned by Right, Is Back at the Center of the Russia Case

(The New York Times) February 2, 2018, by Ali WatkinsFor months, Carter Page, the former Trump campaign adviser who was under government surveillance as part of the Russia investigation, has been shunned by Republicans and dismissed by the White House, which portrayed his campaign stint as inconsequential.... Read the full article here.


Sentence buried in GOP memo may undercut Trump efforts to discredit Russia probe

(The Washington PostFebruary 2, 2018, by Karen Tumulty and Rosalind S. HeldermanThough President Trump and his allies hope that the controversial release of a GOP-written memo alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI will tarnish the legitimacy of the entire Russia probe, that argument may be undercut by a single sentence buried near the end of the four-page document.

It confirms for the first time that the event that set the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation in motion was not the surveillance of Trump adviser Carter Page — a subject upon which most of the memo dwells — but rather that it was opened as the result of information the bureau had received about another person connected to the Trump campaign.... Read the full article here.


‘Grassroots’ Media Startup Redfish Is Supported by the Kremlin
The documentary outlet styles itself as independent and community-based, but its work airs on a state-supported TV network and most of its employees are from state-backed media.

(The Daily Beast) February 1, 2o18, by Charles DavisRedfish, a Berlin-based media collective, launched with a promise to deliver “radical, in-depth grassroots features,” with professional graphics, filed everywhere from Eastern Europe to South America. Its first report, on a fire at a public housing development in England that killed over 70 people, has been praised by Vice, as a “fantastic example of amateur community-produced media.”... Read the full article here.


Trump sees Nunes memo as a way to discredit the Russia investigation

(CNN) February 1, 2018, by Kevin Liptak, Kaitlan Collins, Sara Murray and Dan MericaPresident Donald Trump continues to tell his associates he believes the highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools could help discredit the Russia investigation, multiple sources familiar with White House discussions said.... Read the full article here and the memo here.


Trump Russia: Republicans accused of tampering with memo on FBI

(BBC) February 1, 2018The US House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat has accused Republicans of tampering with a memo about claims of FBI surveillance at the 2016 election.

Adam Schiff said Republicans had changed the text after it was voted on.... Read the full article here.


Mueller Zeros In on Story Put Together About Trump Tower Meeting

(The New York Times) January 31, 2018, by Jo Becker, Mark Mazzetti, Matt Apuzzo and Maggie HabermanAboard Air Force One on a flight home from Europe last July, President Trump and his advisers raced to cobble together a news release about a mysterious meeting at Trump Tower the previous summer between Russians and top Trump campaign officials. Rather than acknowledge the meeting’s intended purpose — to obtain political dirt about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government — the statement instead described the meeting as being about an obscure Russian adoption policy.... Read the full article here.


Trump’s gripes against McCabe included wife’s politics, Comey’s ride home

(NBC) January 29, 2018, by Carol E. LeeThe day after he fired James Comey as director of the FBI, a furious President Donald Trump called the bureau's acting director, Andrew McCabe, demanding to know why Comey had been allowed to fly on an FBI plane from Los Angeles back to Washington after he was dismissed, according to multiple people familiar with the phone call.... Read the full article here.


Trump Launched Campaign to Discredit Potential FBI Witnesses
The president targeted three bureau officials who could provide key testimony in the Mueller probe.

(Foreign Policy) January 26, 2018, by Murray WaasPresident Donald Trump pressed senior aides last June to devise and carry out a campaign to discredit senior FBI officials after learning that those specific employees were likely to be witnesses against him as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to two people directly familiar with the matter.... Read the full article here.


Dutch agencies provide crucial intel about Russia's interference in US-elections

(de Volkskrant) January 25, 2018, by Huib ModderkolkHackers from the Dutch intelligence service AIVD have provided the FBI with crucial information about Russian interference with the American elections. For years, AIVD had access to the infamous Russian hacker group Cozy Bear. That's what de Volkskrant and Nieuwsuur have uncovered in their investigation.... Read the full article here.


Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Off When White House Counsel Threatened to Quit

(The New York Times) January 25, 2018, by Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie HabermanPresident Trump ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive.... Read the full article here.


Flynn kept FBI interview concealed from White House, Trump

(NBC News) January 24, 2018, by Carol E. LeeA year ago today, President Donald Trump’s newly sworn–in national security adviser, Michael Flynn, met privately in his West Wing office with FBI investigators interested in his communications with Russia's ambassador, without a lawyer or the knowledge of the president and other top White House officials, according to people familiar with the matter.... Read the full article here.


In the crowd at Trump’s inauguration, members of Russia’s elite anticipated a thaw between Moscow and Washington

(The Washington Post) January, 20, 2018, by Craig Timberg, Rosalind S. Helderman, Andrew Roth and Carol D. LeonnigIn the days before Donald Trump’s inauguration, a wealthy Russian pharmaceutical executive named Alexey Repik arrived in Washington, expressing excitement about the new administration.

He posted a photo on Facebook of a clutch of inauguration credentials arranged next to a white “Make America Great Again” hat, writing in Russian: “I believe that President Donald Trump will open a new page in American history.”... Read the full article here.


Allegations of money laundering at Trump properties surface in U.S. hearing transcript

(The Globe and Mail) January 18, 2018, by Mark MacKinnonA U.S. congressional committee investigating President Donald Trump's links to Russia has heard testimony alleging the Trump Organization may have engaged in money laundering via properties bearing Mr. Trump's name, including the former Trump International Hotel and Tower in downtown Toronto.... Read the full article here.


FBI investigating whether Russian money went to NRA to help Trump

(McClatchy) January 18, 2018, by Peter Stone and Greg GordonThe FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.

FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.... Read the full article here.


Trump Tower meeting with Russians 'treasonous', Bannon says in explosive book
  • Former White House strategist quoted in Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff
  • Bannon: ‘They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV

(The Guardian) January 3, 2018, by David SmithDonald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has described the Trump Tower meeting between the president’s son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”, according to an explosive new book seen by the Guardian.... Read the full article here.


The Republicans’ Fake Investigations

(The New York Times) January 2, 2018, by Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch, OpinionA generation ago, Republicans sought to protect President Richard Nixon by urging the Senate Watergate committee to look at supposed wrongdoing by Democrats in previous elections. The committee chairman, Sam Ervin, a Democrat, said that would be “as foolish as the man who went bear hunting and stopped to chase rabbits.”... Read the full article here and read Glenn Simpson's August 22, 2017, testimony to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee here.


How the Russia Inquiry Began: A Campaign Aide, Drinks and Talk of Political Dirt

(The New York Times) December 30, 2017, by Sharon LaFraniere, Mark Mazzetti and Matt ApuzzoDuring a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.... Read the full article here.


Kremlin trolls burned across the Internet as Washington debated options

(The Washington PostDecember 25, 2017, by Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg JaffeThe first email arrived in the inbox of CounterPunch, a left-leaning American news and opinion website, at 3:26 a.m. — the middle of the day in Moscow.

“Hello, my name is Alice Donovan and I’m a beginner freelance journalist,” read the Feb. 26, 2016, message.... Read the full article here.


Image of Cooperation Between White House and Mueller Starts to Fracture

(The New York Times) December 17, 2017, by Michael S. SchmidtFor much of the seven months since Robert S. Mueller III was appointed special counsel, President Trump’s lawyers have stressed their cooperation with him, believing that the more they work with his investigation, the sooner the president will have his name cleared.... Read the full article here.


Doubting the intelligence, Trump pursues Putin and leaves a Russian threat unchecked

(The Washington Post) December 14, 2017, by Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Philip RuckerIn the final days before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, members of his inner circle pleaded with him to acknowledge publicly what U.S. intelligence agencies had already concluded — that Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was real.

Holding impromptu interventions in Trump’s 26th-floor corner office at Trump Tower, advisers — including Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and designated chief of staff, Reince Priebus — prodded the president-elect to accept the findings that the nation’s spy chiefs had personally presented to him on Jan. 6.... Read the full article here.


Trump Objects to Defense Law’s Anti-Russia Provisions
The president, in signing the defense authorization, made clear his opposition to countering Kremlin ‘hybrid warfare operations.’

(The Daily Beast) December 12, 2017, by Spencer AckermanPresident Donald Trump Tuesday night signaled his reluctance to enforce congressionally-passed restrictions on Russia.

In signing the massive annual military spending bill, known formally as the National Defense Authorization Act, Trump objected to several measures Congress passed to toughen U.S. policy toward Russia, which U.S. intelligence has assessed interfered in the 2016 election to benefit him.... Read the full article here.


For Trump adviser at center of Russia probe, a rapid rise and dramatic fall in his ancestral land

(The Washington Post) December 10, 2017, by Griff WitteA brass band played, fighter jets streaked the clear blue sky and a red carpet adorned the airport tarmac on the day in May 2016 when Vladimir Putin came to Athens for a visit. 

“Mr. President, welcome to Greece,” the Greek defense minister, Panos Kammenos, said in Russian as he smiled broadly and greeted a stone-faced Putin at the base of the stairs from the plane.

Kammenos, a pro-Russian Greek nationalist who bragged often of his insider Moscow connections, would receive a second key visitor that day, but with considerably less fanfare.... Read the full article here.


Paul Manafort says he edited Ukraine op-ed, is silent on colleague’s alleged ties to Russian intelligence

(The Washington Post) December 7, 2017, by Spencer S. HsuAttorneys for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Man­afort acknowledged Thursday that he edited an opinion piece for a Ukraine newspaper but did not publicly address allegations by special counsel prosecutors that he drafted it with a former colleague with ties to Russian intelligence.

Manafort’s defense argued in a court filing to a federal judge in Washington that Manafort’s work on the op-ed piece for an English-language newspaper in Kiev defending himself did not violate a court gag order because it would not likely bias potential jurors in any U.S. trial.... Read the full article here.


Investigators probe European travel of Trump associates
Questions linger about 2016 trips by Donald Trump Jr., Carter Page, Michael Cohen and other Trump associates.

(Politico) December 6, 2017, by Josh MeyerCongressional investigators are scrutinizing trips to Europe taken last year by several associates of President Donald Trump, amid concern they may have met with Kremlin-linked operatives as part of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Several people close to then-candidate Trump visited Europe during and after the campaign, including his son Donald Trump Jr., Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and foreign policy advisers Carter Page, George Papadopoulos and Jeffrey Gordon. Their known destinations include London, Paris, Budapest and Athens.... Read the full article here.


Manafort Associate Has Russian Intelligence Ties, Court Document Says

(The New York Times) December 4, 2017, by Kenneth P. VogelPresident Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and an associate with ties to Russian intelligence drafted an op-ed article last week about Mr. Manafort’s work for Russia-aligned interests in Ukraine, according to a court document filed Monday by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

The filing seeks tougher bail restrictions against Mr. Manafort, arguing that writing the op-ed flouts a judge’s admonition against trying to use the news media to influence the case against Mr. Manafort and Rick Gates, another former campaign official.... Read the full article here.


McFarland’s Testimony About Russia Contacts Is Questioned

(The New York Times) December 4, 2017, by Michael S. Schmidt and Sharon LaFraniereA leading Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee questioned on Monday whether a high-ranking official in Donald J. Trump’s transition team had been deceptive over the summer about her knowledge of discussions between Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, and a former Russian ambassador.... Read the full article here.


Sessions argued in Clinton impeachment that presidents can obstruct justice
Trump’s personal lawyer said Monday that the ‘president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer … and has every right to express his view of any case.’

(Politico) December 4, 2017, by Kyle CheneyDonald Trump’s personal lawyer argued Monday that, as the nominal head of federal law enforcement, the president is legally unable to obstruct justice. But the exact opposite view was once argued by another senior Trump lawyer: Attorney General Jeff Sessions.... Read the full article here.


Trump lawyer says president knew Flynn had given FBI the same account he gave to vice president

(The Washington PostDecember 3, 2017, by Carol D. Leonnig, John Wagner and Ellen NakashimaPresident Trump’s personal lawyer said on Sunday that the president knew in late January that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn had probably given FBI agents the same inaccurate account he provided to Vice President Pence about a call with the Russian ambassador.... Read the full article here.


Trump's lawyer: I wrote the president's 'sloppy' tweet about Flynn's dismissal

(ABC News) December 3, 2017, by Jordyn Phelps, Katherine Faulders and Devin DwyerPresident Donald Trump's personal lawyer, John Dowd, says he drafted the president's Saturday morning tweet that stated he fired former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for lying not only to Vice President Mike Pence but also to the FBI.... Read the full article here.


Emails Dispute White House Claims That Flynn Acted Independently on Russia

(The New York Times) December 2, 2017, by Michael S. Schmidt, Sharon LaFraniere and Scott ShaneWhen President Trump fired his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in February, White House officials portrayed him as a renegade who had acted independently in his discussions with a Russian official during the presidential transition and then lied to his colleagues about the interactions.... Read the full article here.


Michael Flynn Plea Agreement Documents

(Lawfare Blog) December 1, 2017, by Matthew KahnOn Friday, the special counsel charged former national security adviser Michael Flynn with one count of making false statements to the FBI in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2) regarding his contacts with the former Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. Flynn pleaded guilty in D.C. federal district court at a 10:30 a.m. hearing. The special counsel's office has released a charging document, a statement of the offense, and a plea agreement. Flynn has released a statement. All documents are below.... Read the full article here.


Michael Flynn Expected to Plead Guilty to Lying to the F.B.I.

(The New York Times) December 1, 2017, by Eileen Sullivan and Adam GoldmanPresident Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, is expected to plead guilty on Friday to lying to the F.B.I. about two conversations with the Russian ambassador last December during the presidential transition.

The charges were the latest indication that Mr. Flynn was cooperating with the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Flynn was scheduled to appear in federal court in Washington at 10:30 on Friday morning.... Read the full article here and a CNN story with more details here. See the charging document hereAlso read this CNN backgrounder on how Trump failed to have Flynn properly vetted before appointing him to the key position. Oops. 


Trump Wants to Install a Reliable Mouthpiece on Russia at the CIA
Tom Cotton, whom Trump reportedly aims to put in charge of the agency, has taken the president’s line in denying the Russia scandal.

(Mother Jones) November 30, 2017The White House is considering replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo and giving Pompeo’s job to Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, the New York Times reports. In Cotton, who reportedly wants the CIA job, President Donald Trump would install at the intelligence agency one of the most vocal supporters of his efforts to dismiss the Trump campaign’s suspected collaboration with the Kremlin in an effort to interfere in the 2016 election.... Read the full article here.


Trump Pressed Top Republicans to End Senate Russia Inquiry

(The New York Times) November 30, 2017, by Jonathan Martin, Maggie Haberman and Alexander BurnsPresident Trump over the summer repeatedly urged senior Senate Republicans, including the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to end the panel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, according to a half dozen lawmakers and aides. Mr. Trump’s requests were a highly unusual intervention from a president into a legislative inquiry involving his family and close aides.... Read the full article here.


Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn?
Trump's ex-adviser allegedly discussed getting paid $15 million to help free Reza Zarrab. Now Zarrab is working with federal prosecutors, including possibly Robert Mueller.

(The Daily Beast) November 28, 2017, by Katie ZavadskiReza Zarrab, a Turkish businessman accused of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, pleaded guilty and will testify against his co-defendant, a federal court heard Tuesday. Zarrab's cooperation with federal prosecutors could have implications for Michael Flynn, who allegedly plotted on behalf of Turkish interests to help free Zarrab.... Read the full article here.


A Split From Trump Indicates That Flynn Is Moving to Cooperate With Mueller

(The New York Times) November 23, 2017, by Michael S. Schmidt, Matt Apuzzo and Maggie HabermanLawyers for Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, notified the president’s legal team in recent days that they could no longer discuss the special counsel’s investigation, according to four people involved in the case — an indication that Mr. Flynn is cooperating with prosecutors or negotiating a deal.... Read the full article here.


Exclusive: Manafort flight records show deeper Kremlin ties than previously known

(McClatchy) November 23, 2017, by Peter Stone and Greg GordonPolitical guru Paul Manafort took at least 18 trips to Moscow and was in frequent contact with Vladimir Putin’s allies for nearly a decade as a consultant in Russia and Ukraine for oligarchs and pro-Kremlin parties.

Even after the February 2014 fall of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, who won office with the help of a Manafort-engineered image makeover, the American consultant flew to Kiev another 19 times over the next 20 months while working for the smaller, pro-Russian Opposition Bloc party. Manafort went so far as to suggest the party take an anti-NATO stance, an Oppo Bloc architect has said. A key ally of that party leader, oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, was identified by an earlier Ukrainian president as a former Russian intelligence agent, “100 percent.”... Read the full article here.


Exclusive: What Trump Really Told Kislyak After Comey Was Canned
During a May 10 meeting in the Oval Office, the president betrayed his intelligence community by leaking the content of a classified, and highly sensitive, Israeli intelligence operation to two high-ranking Russian envoys, Sergey Kislyak and Sergey Lavrov. This is what he told them—and the ramifications.

(Vanity Fair) November 22, 2017, by Howard BlumOn a dark night at the tail end of last winter, just a month after the inauguration of the new American president, an evening when only a sickle moon hung in the Levantine sky, two Israeli Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters flew low across Jordan and then, staying under the radar, veered north toward the twisting ribbon of shadows that was the Euphrates River.... Read the full article here.


The Hidden History of Trump’s First Trip to Moscow
In 1987, a young real estate developer traveled to the Soviet Union. The KGB almost certainly made the trip happen.

(Politico) November 19, 2017It was 1984 and General Vladimir Alexandrovich Kryuchkov had a problem. The general occupied one of the KGB’s most exalted posts. He was head of the First Chief Directorate, the prestigious KGB arm responsible for gathering foreign intelligence.... Read the full article here.


Top Russian Official Tried to Broker ‘Backdoor’ Meeting Between Trump and Putin


(The New York Times) November 17, 2017, by Matt Apuzzo, Matthew Rosenberg and Adam GoldmanA senior Russian official who claimed to be acting at the behest of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia tried in May 2016 to arrange a meeting between Mr. Putin and Donald J. Trump, according to several people familiar with the matter.

The news of this reached the Trump campaign in a very circuitous way. An advocate for Christian causes emailed campaign aides saying that Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Russian central bank who has been linked both to Russia’s security services and organized crime, had proposed a meeting between Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump. The subject line of the email, turned over to Senate investigators, read, “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite,” according to one person who has seen the message.... Read the full article here.


Ivanka and the fugitive from Panama
Exclusive: How an alleged fraudster in Panama, working with Donald Trump's daughter, helped make Trump's first international hotel venture a success. The broker was in business with a money-launderer and two criminals from the former Soviet Union. Then he fled.

(Reuters) November 17, 2017, by Ned Parker, Stephen Grey, Roman Anin, Brad Brooks and Christine MurrayIn the spring of 2007, a succession of foreigners, many from Russia, arrived at Panama City airport to be greeted by a chauffeur who whisked them off in a white Cadillac with a Donald Trump logo on the side.

The limousine belonged to a business run by a Brazilian former car salesman named Alexandre Ventura Nogueira, who was offering the visitors a chance to invest in Trump’s latest project – a 70-floor tower called the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower. It was the future U.S. president’s first international hotel venture, a complex including residential apartments and a casino in a waterfront building shaped like a sail.... Read the full article here.


Dodgy ‘Hackers’ Target Bellingcat Investigators Who Call BS on Moscow
Members of Bellingcat, the fact-checking collective known for exposing Kremlin lies, are being slurred by hijacked Twitter accounts posing to be their own.

(The Daily Beast) November 17, 2017, by Joseph Cox“Personal data of veterans Ukrainian ATO,” one of the tweets, before linking to a cache of allegedly hacked data, published Thursday reads.

“Tomorrow more,” the account, apparently belonging to Aric Toler, a researcher at open-source intelligence and journalism community Bellingcat, promised. “It will be a sensation, really,” the tweet added.... Read the full article here.


Russian ambassador says he won't name all the Trump officials he's met with because 'the list is so long'
Trump and Russian Ambassador
Sergey Kislyak

(CNBC) November 16, 2017, by Tucker HigginsRussian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak said on Wednesday that it would take him more than 20 minutes to name all of the Trump officials he's met with or spoken to on the phone.

"First, I'm never going to do that," he said. "And second, the list is so long that I'm not going to be able to go through it in 20 minutes."... Read the full article here.


Christopher Steele believes his dossier on Trump-Russia is 70-90% accurate
The respected ex-MI6 officer told Guardian journalist and author Luke Harding that his FBI contacts greeted his intelligence report with ‘shock and horror’

(The Guardian) November 15, 2017, by Julian BorgerChristopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who compiled an explosive dossier of allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, believes it to be 70% to 90% accurate, according to a new book on the covert Russian intervention in the 2016 US election.

The book, Collusion: How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win, by the Guardian journalist Luke Harding, quotes Steele as telling friends that he believes his reports – based on sources cultivated over three decades of intelligence work – will be vindicated as the US special counsel investigation digs deeper into contacts between Trump, his associates and Moscow.... Read the full article here.


What Hillary Knew About Putin's Propaganda Machine
Russian disinformation around Ukraine set the stage for the Kremlin’s election meddling here. Clinton saw it coming, but couldn't stop it.

(Politico) November 15, 2017, by Rick StengelI was a magazine guy.

After eight years as managing editor of Time, I left at the end of 2013 to become under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. It’s a fancy title, but that job is one of the few in Washington that’s tailored for someone with a media background like me. After I was nominated, some of my colleagues joked that I was now “head of U.S. propaganda,” but I thought of myself instead as the chief marketing officer of brand America. I figured I’d be spending a lot of my time combating America’s negative image in the Muslim world—and I did—but then the Russian annexation of Crimea happened in early 2014. What I saw Russia do online and in social media around this grave violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty was a revelation to me—and nothing short of a trial run for what they did to manipulate our presidential election in 2016. Few Americans realized it back then, but we were already in a global information war with Russia.... Read the full article here.


WikiLeaks Set Off an Attack on Our Trump-Russia Project—Right After Messaging Donald Trump Jr. About It
Was Julian Assange trying to conspire with the Trump campaign?

(Mother Jones) November 15, 2017, by Bill BuzenbergOn Monday, The Atlantic published private messages from September 2016 in which WikiLeaks gave Donald Trump Jr. the password to a forthcoming site documenting his father’s ties to Russia. But there was more to the story of WikiLeaks’ apparent effort to conspire with the Trump campaign against PutinTrump.org—and I had a front row seat to it, as editorial director of the site. Within just minutes of reaching out to Trump Jr., Wikileaks also publicized the password, setting off a wave of online harassment, email bombs, and personal threats against people behind the site.... Read the full article here.


Secret Finding: 60 Russian Payments "To Finance Election Campaign Of 2016”
The FBI is scrutinizing more than 60 money transfers sent by the Russian foreign ministry to its embassies across the globe, most of them bearing a note that said the money was to be used “to finance election campaign of 2016.”

(BuzzFeed News) November 14, 2017, by Jason Leopold, Anthony Cormier and Jessica GarrisonOn Aug. 3 of last year, just as the US presidential election was entering its final, heated phase, the Russian foreign ministry sent nearly $30,000 to its embassy in Washington. The wire transfer, which came from a Kremlin-backed Russian bank, landed in one of the embassy’s Citibank accounts and contained a remarkable memo line: “to finance election campaign of 2016.”

That wire transfer is one of more than 60 now being scrutinized by the FBI and other federal agencies investigating Russian involvement in the US election.... Read the full article here.


Jeff Sessions says he now recalls Trump campaign meeting where Russia discussed
At issue is meeting attended by George Papadopoulos, who has pleaded guilty to lying about Russia contacts

(Thomson Reuters) November 14, 2017U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions now says he recalls a meeting with then candidate Donald Trump and aides where campaign connections to Russia were discussed, after earlier testifying he was unaware of any such contacts.... Read the full article here.


Donald Trump Jr. communicated with WikiLeaks during 2016 campaign

(The Washington Post) November 13, 2017, by Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. HeldermanPresident Trump’s eldest son exchanged private messages with WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign at the same time the website was publishing hacked emails from Democratic officials, according to correspondence made public Monday.... Read the full article here.


Trump Says Putin ‘Means It’ About Not Meddling

(The New York Times) November 11, 2017, by Julie Hirschfeld DavisPresident Trump said on Saturday that he believed President Vladimir V. Putin was sincere in his denials of interference in the 2016 presidential elections, calling questions about Moscow’s meddling a politically motivated “hit job” that was hindering cooperation with Russia on life-or-death issues.... Read the full article here.


A London Meeting of an Unlikely Group: How a Trump Adviser Came to Learn of Clinton ‘Dirt’

(The New York Times) November 10, 2017, by Sharon LaFraniere, David D. Kirkpatrick, Andrew Higgins and Michael SchwirtzAt midday on March 24, 2016, an improbable group gathered in a London cafe to discuss setting up a meeting between Donald J. Trump, then a candidate, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

There was George Papadopoulos, a 28-year-old from Chicago with an inflated résumé who just days earlier had been publicly named as a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign. There was Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic in his mid-50s with a faltering career who boasted of having high-level contacts in the Russian government.... Read the full article here.


Mueller Probes Flynn’s Role in Alleged Plan to Deliver Cleric to Turkey
Under alleged plan, ex-Trump adviser and his son were to be paid millions to forcibly remove Fethullah Gulen from U.S. and deliver him to Turkish custody

(The Wall Street Journal) November 10, 2017, by James V. Grimaldi, Shane Harris and Aruna ViswanathaSpecial Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating former White House national security adviser Mike Flynn’s alleged role in a plan to forcibly remove a Muslim cleric living in the U.S. and deliver him to Turkey in return for millions of dollars, according to people familiar with the investigation.... Read the full article here.


What to Make of the Latest Story About Flynn and Gulen?

(Lawfare Blog) November 10, 2017, by Susan Hennessey and Benjamin WittesThe Wall Street Journal has another major story today regarding disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Reportedly, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating allegations that both Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., plotted to either kidnap and render Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen to Turkey or to use Flynn’s influence as national security adviser to effectuate his extradition—all in exchange for up to $15 million.... Read the full article here.


Russian oligarch questioned over Manafort links


(CNN) November 10, 2017CNN's Matthew Chance attempts to speak to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska about his ties to Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman.... Watch the video here.


Ex-Trump security chief testifies he rejected 2013 Russian offer of women for Trump in Moscow

(CNN) November 9, 2017, by Manu Raju and Jeremy HerbPresident Donald Trump's long-time confidant Keith Schiller privately testified that he rejected a Russian offer to send five women to then private-citizen Trump's hotel room during their 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant, according to multiple sources from both political parties with direct knowledge of the testimony.... Read the full article here.


Trump adviser sent email describing ‘private conversation’ with Russian official

(The Washington Post) November 7, 2017, by Rosalind S. Helderman, Matt Zapotosky and Karoun DemirjianCarter Page, a foreign policy adviser to President Trump’s campaign whose visit to Moscow during the election has drawn scrutiny, sent an email to fellow Trump aides during his trip describing “a private conversation” with a senior Russian official who spoke favorably of the Republican candidate, according to records released late Monday by congressional investigators.

Page also wrote that he had been provided “incredible insights and outreach” by Russian lawmakers and “senior members” of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s administration during the trip.

The email appeared to contradict earlier statements by Page, who had said he had only exchanged brief greetings with the senior Russian official, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, after he delivered a speech at a Russian university.... Read the full article here.


CIA Director Met Advocate of Disputed DNC Hack Theory — At Trump's Request

(The Intercept) November 7, 2017, by Duncan Campbell and James RisenCIA Director Mike Pompeo met late last month with a former U.S. intelligence official who has become an advocate for a disputed theory that the theft of the Democratic National Committee’s emails during the 2016 presidential campaign was an inside job, rather than a hack by Russian intelligence.... Read the full article here.


Trump Jr. Hinted at Review of Anti-Russia Law, Moscow Lawyer Says

(Bloomberg) November 6, 2017, by Irina Reznik  and Henry MeyerA Russian lawyer who met with President Donald Trump’s oldest son last year says he indicated that a law targeting Russia could be re-examined if his father won the election and asked her for written evidence that illegal proceeds went to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.... Read the full article here.


Russian Twitter Support for Trump Began Right After He Started Campaign
In three months after Mr. Trump announced his candidacy, tweets from Russian accounts offered far more praise for the businessman than criticism

(The Wall Street Journal) November 6, 2017, by Mark Maremont and  Rob BarryKremlin-backed support for Donald Trump’s candidacy over social media began much earlier than previously known, a new analysis of Twitter data shows.

Russian Twitter accounts posing as Americans began lavishing praise on Mr. Trump and attacking his rivals within weeks after he announced his bid for the presidency in June 2015, according to the analysis by The Wall Street Journal.... Read the full article here.


Trump commerce secretary's business links with Putin family laid out in leaked files
Wilbur Ross stands to profit from company run by Russians, some of whom are under US sanctions

(The Guardian) November 5, 2017, by Jon Swaine and Luke HardingDonald Trump’s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, is doing business with Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law through a shipping venture in Russia.

Leaked documents and public filings show Ross holds a stake in a shipping company, Navigator, through a chain of offshore investments. Navigator operates a lucrative partnership with Sibur, a Russian gas company part-owned by Kirill Shamalov, the husband of Putin’s daughter Katerina Tikhonova.... Read the full article here.


Russia funded Facebook and Twitter investments through Kushner associate
Institutions with close links to Kremlin financed stakes through business associate of Trump’s son-in-law, leaked files reveal

(The Guardian) November 5, 2017, by Jon Swaine and Luke HardingTwo Russian state institutions with close ties to Vladimir Putin funded substantial investments in Twitter and Facebook through a business associate of Jared Kushner, leaked documents reveal.

The investments were made through a Russian technology magnate, Yuri Milner, who also holds a stake in a company co-owned by Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser.... Read the full article here.


Trump Campaign Adviser Met With Russian Officials in 2016

(The New York Times) November 3, 2017, by Mark Mazzetti and Adam GoldmanCarter Page, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump presidential campaign, met Russian government officials during a July 2016 trip he took to Moscow, according to testimony he gave on Thursday to the House Intelligence Committee.... Read the full article here.


Trump says he dropped Manafort from campaign due to 'potential conflicts' with 'certain nations'

(CNN) November 4, 2017, by Daniella DiazPresident Donald Trump said he dropped Paul Manafort as his campaign chairman because of Manafort's involvement with "certain nations," according to excerpts of an interview published Saturday.... Read the full article here.


Jenna Abrams, Russia’s Clown Troll Princess, Duped the Mainstream Media and the World
Roseanne Barr and Michael McFaul argued with her on Twitter. BuzzFeed and The New York Times cited her tweets. But Jenna Abrams was the fictional creation of a Russian troll farm.

(The Daily Beast) November 2, 2017, by Ben Collins and Joseph CoxJenna Abrams had a lot of enemies on Twitter but she was a very good friend to viral content writers across the world.

Her opinions about everything from manspreading on the subway to Rachel Dolezal to ballistic missiles still linger on news sites all over the web.... Read the full article here.


Sam Clovis withdraws his nomination for USDA’s top scientist post after being linked to Russia probe

(The Washington PostNovember 2, by Juliet Eilperin and Philip RuckerThe U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientist nominee, Sam Clovis withdrew his name from consideration Wednesday amid revelations that he was among  top officials on the Trump campaign who was aware of efforts by foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos to broker a relationship between the campaign and Russian officials.... Read the full article here.


Mueller Reveals New Manafort Link to Organized Crime
Trump’s former campaign manager didn’t just do business with accused gangsters. One of them transferred millions into a Manafort account, allegedly used for money laundering.

(The Daily Beast) November 2, 2017, by Betsy WoodruffBuried deep in Robert Mueller’s indictment of Paul Manafort is a new link between Donald Trump’s former campaign and Russian organized crime.

The indictment (PDF), unsealed on Monday, includes an extensive look into Paul Manafort’s byzantine financial dealings. In particular, it details how he used a company called Lucicle Consultants Limited to wire millions of dollars into the United States.... Read the full article here.


Russia hackers had targets worldwide, beyond US election

(The Associated Press) November 2, 2017, by Raphael Satter, Jeff Donn and Justin MyersThe hackers who disrupted the U.S. presidential election had ambitions well beyond Hillary Clinton’s campaign, targeting the emails of Ukrainian officers, Russian opposition figures, U.S. defense contractors and thousands of others of interest to the Kremlin, according to a previously unpublished digital hit list obtained by The Associated Press.... Read the full article here.


U.S. Prosecutors Consider Charging Russian Officials in DNC Hacking Case
At least six Russian government officials are identified as part of ongoing investigation

(The Wall Street Journal) November 2, 2017, by Aruna Viswanatha and  Del Quentin WilberThe Justice Department has identified more than six members of the Russian government involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computers and swiping sensitive information that became public during the 2016 presidential election, according to people familiar with the investigation.... Read the full article here.


Trump aide's suspected middleman knew about Clinton 'dirt' -- source

(CNN) November 2, 2017, by Nic Robertson and Hilary ClarkeAn academic suspected of being the link between a Trump campaign adviser and the Russian government told a business contact that Moscow had a trove of information about Hillary Clinton in April 2016, months before the information was public, CNN has learned.

Joseph Mifsud, a London-based academic from Malta, also boasted of his connections with Moscow and talked about how he had dinner in a small group with President Vladimir Putin, the business contact and a former assistant told CNN.... Read the full article here.


Michael Flynn Followed Russian Troll Accounts, Pushed Their Messages in Days Before Election
Trump’s notoriously Kremlin-friendly national security adviser amplified Russian messages right when they mattered most—in the days leading up to Nov. 8, 2016.

(The Daily Beast) November 1, 2017, by Ben Collins and Kevin PoulsenFormer White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn followed five Twitter accounts based out of the Russian-backed “troll factory” in St. Petersburg—and pushed their messages at least three times in the month before the 2016 election.... Read the full article here.


Manafort has 3 passports, traveled to China with phone registered under fake name

(CNN) November 1, 2017, by Katelyn PolantzHow rich are Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and where did they travel?

That question lingered over the pair's court hearing on Monday after both faced the first indictments from Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.... Read the full article here.


Top campaign officials knew of Trump adviser’s outreach to Russia

(The Washington Post) October 30, 2017, by Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom HamburgerSeveral weeks after Donald Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination, his national campaign co-chairman urged a foreign policy adviser to meet with Russian officials to foster ties with that country’s government.... Read the full article here.


Carter Page: I may have discussed Russia in emails with Papadopoulos

(Politico) October 30, 2017, by Brent D. GriffithsCarter Page, a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, said he might have exchanged emails about Russia with a fellow adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the president's campaign and possible collusion with the Russian government.... Read the full article here.


Who’s who in the George Papadopoulos court documents

(The Washington Post) October 30, 2017, by Rosalind S. HeldermanNewly released court documents show that Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos communicated with several senior campaign officials about his outreach to the Russian government over a period of months. The recipients of Papadopoulos’s emails are not named in the filings, but The Washington Post has identified several individuals based on interviews and other documents. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty this month to lying to federal agents about his outreach to Russia.... Read the full article here.


The not-so-hidden message in Mueller's court filings
The special prosecutor's indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates — and the plea deal struck with low-level adviser George Papadopoulos — suggest a road map for additional charges still to come.

(Politico) October 30, 2017, by Darren SamuelsohnRobert Mueller delivered a punch in the rapidly expanding Russia investigation by simultaneously indicting Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, two of the most prominent figures in Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

But the special counsel sent a more powerful signal to others around the president with the public release of a plea deal struck with low-level loyalist George Papadopoulos, which was full of details about the former foreign policy adviser’s email traffic to still-unnamed high-ranking campaign officials about a “request from Russia to meet Mr. Trump.”... Read the full article here.


Russian Influence Reached 126 Million Through Facebook Alone

(The New York Times) October 30, 2017, by Mike Isaac and Daisuke WakabayashioRussian agents intending to sow discord among American citizens disseminated inflammatory posts that reached 126 million users on Facebook, published more than 131,000 messages on Twitter and uploaded over 1,000 videos to Google’s YouTube service, according to copies of prepared remarks from the companies that were obtained by The New York Times.... Read the full article here.


Paul Manafort, Once of Trump Campaign, Indicted as an Adviser Admits to Lying About Ties to Russia

(The New York Times) October 30, 2017, by Adam Goldman and Nicholas FandosPresident Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was indicted Monday on charges that he funneled millions of dollars through overseas shell companies and used the money to buy luxury cars, real estate, antiques and expensive suits.

The charges against Mr. Manafort and his longtime associate Rick Gates represent a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over Mr. Trump’s first year in office.... Read the full article here and the indictment here.


Trump Campaign Adviser Met With Russian to Discuss ‘Thousands’ of Clinton Emails

(The New York Times) October 30, 2017, by Matt ApuzzoA professor with close ties to the Russian government told an adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in April 2016 that Moscow had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails,” according to court documents unsealed Monday.

The adviser, George Papadopoulos, has pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about that conversation. The plea represents the most explicit evidence connecting the Trump campaign to the Russian government’s meddling in last year’s election.... Read the full article here and the statement of the offense here.


Ex-CIA Director Spoke to Mueller About Flynn’s Alleged Turkish Scheme

(NBC News) October 27, 2017, by Ken DilanianFormer CIA Director James Woolsey has been interviewed by FBI agents working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller about allegations that Mike Flynn discussed the potentially illegal removal of a Turkish cleric from the U.S., Woolsey's spokesman told NBC News.... Read the full article here.


First on CNN: First charges filed in Mueller investigation

(CNN) October 27, 2017, by Pamela Brown, Evan Perez and ShimonA federal grand jury in Washington on Friday approved the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to sources briefed on the matter.

The charges are still sealed under orders from a federal judge. Plans were prepared Friday for anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday, the sources said. It is unclear what the charges are.... Read the full article here.


Conservative website first paid Fusion GPS for Trump research

(The Washington Post) October 27, 2017, by Devlin Barrett, Sari Horwitz and Adam EntousA conservative publication said Friday it paid a Washington research firm to start probing Donald Trump’s background — a move that set in motion a chain of events leading to the explosive dossier alleging ties between Trump associates and Russia.... Read the full article here.


Talking Points Brought to Trump Tower Meeting Were Shared With Kremlin

(The New York Times) October 27, 2017, by Sharon LaFraniere and Andrew E. KramerNatalia V. Veselnitskaya arrived at a meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 hoping to interest top Trump campaign officials in the contents of a memo she believed contained information damaging to the Democratic Party and, by extension, Hillary Clinton. The material was the fruit of her research as a private lawyer, she has repeatedly said, and any suggestion that she was acting at the Kremlin’s behest that day is anti-Russia “hysteria.”

But interviews and records show that in the months before the meeting, Ms. Veselnitskaya had discussed the allegations with one of Russia’s most powerful officials, the prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika. And the memo she brought with her closely followed a document that Mr. Chaika’s office had given to an American congressman two months earlier, incorporating some paragraphs verbatim.... Read the full article here.


Republicans spoil for a fight over Russia probe budget
Robert Mueller's first spending report must be reviewed by the Justice Department, but lawmakers are already questioning the open-ended use of taxpayer funds.

(Politico) October 26, 2016, by Darren SamuelsohnRepublicans trying to hobble Robert Mueller’s sprawling probe into President Donald Trump and Russia matters are about to get a new weapon: the special counsel’s budget.... Read the full article here.


The Trump-Russia Scandal Is a Huge Media Fail
If we don’t come to terms with this assault on American democracy, Trump and Co. win.

(Mother Jones) October 26, 2017, by David CornAbout a year ago, I met a man named Christopher David Steele. It was unusual for him to be speaking with a journalist. He had spent most of his adult life in the shadows, as a counterintelligence officer for MI6, the British foreign intelligence service. His specialty was Russia.... Read the full article here.


Russian Twitter Bot Targeted Maxine Waters, A Prominent Trump Impeachment Backer
The infamous @TEN_GOP account went after the California Democrat well after the 2016 election had ended.

(The Daily Beast) October 26, 2017, by Ben Collins and Sam SteinA prominent Democratic congresswoman who has been a vocal proponent of Donald Trump’s impeachment says she was the target of a Russian-bot Twitter campaign that encouraged her own removal from office.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) wrote Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey on Thursday requesting information on the “total number of accounts linked to Russia that ever mentioned” her name, as well as the number of times those tweets were retweeted. In her letter, Waters reveals that the now-notorious Russian-bot account, @TEN_GOP, ginned up attacks against her after Trump’s elections, and did so—she alleges—with apparent knowledge of a town hall she was holding inside her district.... Read the full article here.


The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Russia Probe Just Blew Up
Republicans and Democrats are now pursuing their own investigations.

(Mother Jones) October 25, 2017, by Dan FriedmanSenate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have broken up over Russia.

The committee’s once bipartisan investigation into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice or his campaign colluded with Russia has hit a partisan wall, with Republicans and Democrats saying they will now conduct their own probes.... Read the full article here.


Congress: Trump Won’t Implement Russia Sanctions—and He Won’t Tell Us Why
Congress is close to powerless in compelling the Trump administration to implement sanctions that it already forced him to sign into law.

(The Daily Beast) October 23, 2017, by Andrew DesiderioWhen Congress sent President Donald Trump a bill in July that slapped new sanctions on Russia, the president signed the legislation reluctantly while lambasting it as an example of congressional overreach.

The administration has since blown past an October 1 deadline to implement the sanctions. Lawmakers are now searching for answers as to whether the president is even planning to follow the law that they passed and he signed.... Read the full article here.


Russia’s Favored Outlet Is an Online News Giant. YouTube Helped.

(The New York Times) October 23, 2017, by Daisuke Wakabayashi and Nicholas ConfessoreWhen the state-backed Russian news channel RT became the first news organization to surpass one billion views on YouTube in 2013, it marked the achievement with a retrospective of its most popular videos and a special guest — one of the Google-owned site’s senior executives.... Read the full article here.


Exclusive: Russian Propaganda Traced Back to Staten Island, New York
Moscow may have paid for the memes, but a man in a quiet Staten Island neighborhood hosted them. It’s further evidence of how deep into America the Russian campaign extended.

(The Daily Beast) October 23, 2017, by Katie Zavadski, Ben Collins, Kevin Poulsen and Spencer AckermanRussia’s propaganda campaign targeting Americans was hosted, at least in part, on American soil.

A company owned by a man on Staten Island, New York, provided internet infrastructure services to DoNotShoot.Us, a Kremlin propaganda site that pretended to be a voice for victims of police shootings, a Daily Beast investigation has found.... Read the full article here.


Trump Campaign Staffers Pushed Russian Propaganda Days Before the Election
Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump Jr. pushed messages from an account operated from Russia’s ‘troll farm’—including allegations of voter fraud a week before Election Day.

(The Daily Beast) October 18, 2017, by Betsy Woodruff, Ben Collins, Kevin Poulsen and Spencer AckermanSome of the Trump campaign’s most prominent names and supporters, including Trump’s campaign manager, digital director, and son, pushed tweets from professional trolls paid by the Russian government in the heat of the 2016 election campaign.... Read the full article here.


Jeff Sessions shifts ground on Russia contacts under Senate questioning
The attorney general concedes for the first time it was possible he had discussed Donald Trump’s policy positions with Russian ambassador

(The Guardian) October 18, 2017, by Julian BorgerThe US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has given a new account of his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 election, conceding it was possible that they had discussed Donald Trump’s policy positions.

Under intense questioning by the Senate judiciary committee, Sessions departed from his previous blanket denials about contacts with Russian officials, saying he did “not recall” elements of the conversations in three meetings in 2016 with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, and conceded for the first time that substantive issues may have been discussed.... Read the full article here.


Memo Undermines Russian Lawyer’s Account of Trump Tower Meeting
It bolsters the case that she was acting on behalf of the Kremlin.

(Mother Jones) October 17, 2017, by Dan FriedmanThe Russian lawyer at the center of a controversial June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower says there was in fact no controversy. Natalia Veselnitskaya attended the meeting where Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump campaign officials hoped to Russian receive dirt on Hillary Clinton. Now a memo she brought to that meeting has been disclosed, and she says it shows that she did not discuss politics with the Trump team and was acting independently, not as a Kremlin emissary. But she may want to read her own talking points a bit more carefully.... Read the full article here.


Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election
  • Investigation finds Russians posing as Americans made payments to activists
  • Revelations likely to put further spotlight on Russian meddling in US election

(The Guardian) October 17, 2017, by Shaun WalkerRussian trolls posing as Americans made payments to genuine activists in the US to help fund protest movements on socially divisive issues, according to a new investigation by a respected Russian media outlet.... Read the full article here.


Russian journalists publish massive investigation into St. Petersburg troll factory's U.S. operations

(Meduza) October 17, 2017A day after Dozhd television published an interview with a former member of Russia’s infamous Internet Research Agency, the news agency RBC released a new detailed report on the same organization’s efforts to meddle in U.S. domestic politics. Meduza summarizes RBC’s new report here.

The Internet Research Agency, Russia’s infamous “troll farm,” reportedly devoted up to a third of its entire staff to meddling in U.S. politics during the 2016 presidential election. At the peak of the campaign, as many as 90 people were working for the IRA’s U.S. desk, sources told RBC, revealing that the entire agency employs upwards of 250 people.... Read the full article here.


An ex St. Petersburg ‘troll’ speaks out
Russian independent TV network interviews former troll at the Internet Research Agency

(Meduza) October 15, 2017One of the many remarkable things about 2017 is that American journalists no longer have the Irish Republican Army in mind when writing “IRA,” which is now used most often to mean Russia's Internet Research Agency — the “troll factory” responsible for buying ads on social media and polluting American online news discussion in an apparent effort to destabilize U.S. democracy. On October 15, the Russian independent news network Dozhd published the latest development in this ongoing story: an interview with a man who allegedly worked for the IRA from 2014-2015. Meduza summarizes that interview here.... Read the full article here.


Twitter deleted data potentially crucial to Russia probes
Social-media platform’s strict privacy policy led to deletions of Russian information of interest to investigators.

(Politico) October 13, 2017, by Josh MeyerTwitter has deleted tweets and other user data of potentially irreplaceable value to investigators probing Russia’s suspected manipulation of the social media platform during the 2016 election, according to current and former government cybersecurity officials.... Read the full article here.


Flynn ally sought help from 'dark web' in covert Clinton email investigation
Barbara Ledeen, a staffer on the committee looking into Trump’s Russia ties and a friend of Mike Flynn, tried to launch her own investigation into Clinton’s emails

(The GuardianOctober 13, 2017, by Stephanie KirchgaessnerA close associate of Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn arranged a covert investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state, and through intermediaries turned to a person with knowledge of the “dark web” for help.... Read the full article here.


Trump Just Blew Off a Deadline for Implementing Russian Sanctions He Approved
Lawmakers worry the president is planning to ignore parts of the law he signed under congressional pressure.

(Mother Jones) October 11, 2017, by Dan FriedmanThe White House has blown by an October 1 deadline for beginning to implement new sanctions targeting Russia, drawing concern in Congress that President Donald Trump is planning to ignore parts of a bill he grudgingly signed in August.... Read the full article here.


Russia Probe Now Investigating Cambridge Analytica, Trump’s ‘Psychographic’ Data Gurus
They were once Steve Bannon’s favorite analytics shop. Now investigators want to know if the Kremlin had a thing for Cambridge Analytica, too.

(The Daily Beast) October 11, 2017, by Betsy Woodruff and Spencer AckermanA data firm backed by some of Donald Trump’s closest allies is now facing scrutiny as part of an investigation into possible collusion between the president’s team and Russian operatives, The Daily Beast has learned.... Read the full article here.


Presidential Obstruction of Justice: The Case of Donald J. Trump

(The Brookings Institution) October 10, 2017, by Barry H. Berke, Noah Bookbinder and Norman L. EisenThere are significant questions as to whether President Trump obstructed justice. We do not yet know all the relevant facts, and any final determination must await further investigation, including by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But the public record contains substantial evidence that President Trump attempted to impede the investigations of Michael Flynn and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, including by firing FBI Director James Comey.... Read the complete paper.


Russia Recruited YouTubers to Bash ‘Racist B*tch’ Hillary Clinton Over Rap Beats
Wannabe YouTube stars and diehard Donald Trump supporters ‘Williams & Kalvin’ totally swear they’re from Atlanta. In reality, they were working for the Kremlin.

(The Daily Beast) October 8, 2017, by Ben Collins, Gideon Resnick and Spencer AckermanAccording to the YouTube page for “Williams and Kalvin,” the Clintons are “serial killers who are going to rape the whole nation.” Donald Trump can’t be racist because he’s a “businessman.” Hillary Clinton’s campaign was “fund[ed] by the Muslim.”

These are a sample of the videos put together by two black video bloggers calling themselves Williams and Kalvin Johnson, whose social media pages investigators say are part of the broad Russian campaign to influence American politics. Across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, they purported to offer “a word of truth” to African-American audiences.... Read the full article here.


Exclusive: Russian-linked group sold merchandise online

(CNN) October 6, 2017, by Donie O'Sullivan"Young, gifted and black." "Melanin and muscles." "Our sons matter." The slogans on the clothing that a group called "Blacktivist" offered for sale through Facebook were supposed to look like they came from American Black Lives Matter activists. But they were in fact being promoted by a Russian-linked group working to amplify political discord in the U.S. before the presidential election.... Read the full article here.


Facebook Cut Russia Out of April Report on Election Influence
The drafting of the report sparked internal debate over how much information to disclose about Russian influence campaigns on the social network

(The Wall Street Journal) October 5, 2017, by Robert McMillan and  Shane HarrisFacebook Inc. cut references to Russia from a public report in April about manipulation of its platform around the presidential election because of concerns among the company’s lawyers and members of its policy team, according to people familiar with the matter.... Read the full article here.


Ex-Trump adviser Paul Manafort conspired to mislead bankruptcy court, son-in-law charges

(USA Today) October 4, 2017, by Kevin McCoy and Brad HeathAs federal authorities investigate former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's controversial ties to Russia, his estranged son-in-law is accusing him of conspiring to mislead a federal bankruptcy court about real estate investments.

Jeffrey Yohai made the allegation on Sept. 28, in a case that centers on four troubled California real estate investments that collectively total millions of dollars. Manafort's daughter, Jessica, filed for divorce from Yohai in March.... Read the full article here.


Facebook says 10 million U.S. users saw Russia-linked ads

(Reuters) October 2, 2017, by David IngramSome 10 million people in the United States saw politically divisive ads on Facebook that the company said were purchased in Russia in the months before and after last year’s U.S. presidential election, Facebook said on Monday.... Read the full article here.


Trump’s company had more contact with Russia during campaign, according to documents turned over to investigators

(The Washington PostOctober 2, by Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman and Adam EntousAssociates of President Trump and his company have turned over documents to federal investigators that reveal two previously unreported contacts from Russia during the 2016 campaign, according to people familiar with the matter.

In one case, Trump’s personal attorney and a business associate exchanged emails weeks before the Republican National Convention about the lawyer possibly traveling to an economic conference in Russia that would be attended by top Russian financial and government leaders, including President Vladi­mir Putin, according to people familiar with the correspondence.... Read the full article here.


Did Manafort Use Trump to Curry Favor With a Putin Ally?
Emails turned over to investigators detail the former campaign chair's efforts to please an oligarch tied to the Kremlin.

(The Atlantic) October 2, 2017, by Julia Ioffe and Franklin FoerOn the evening of April 11, 2016, two weeks after Donald Trump hired the political consultant  Paul Manafort to lead his campaign’s efforts to wrangle Republican delegates, Manafort emailed his old lieutenant Konstantin Kilimnik, who had worked for him for a decade in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.... Read the full article here.


Facebook’s Russia-Linked Ads Came in Many Disguises

(The New York Times) October 2, 2017, by Mike Isaac and Scott ShaneThe Russians who posed as Americans on Facebook last year tried on quite an array of disguises.

There was “Defend the 2nd,” a Facebook page for gun-rights supporters, festooned with firearms and tough rhetoric. There was a rainbow-hued page for gay rights activists, “LGBT United.” There was even a Facebook group for animal lovers with memes of adorable puppies that spread across the site with the help of paid ads.... Read the full article here.


Click here to see my Trump-Putin bromance timeline for August-September 2017. And click here to see my timeline for June 2015 to July 2017.

See links to my investigative journalism here, including my book Police Wife: The Secret Epidemic of Police Domestic Violence, winner of the Arlene Book Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors and a finalist in six other international book prizes.