Tuesday, August 1, 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 June 2015 to July 2017.

Trump’s Business of Corruption
What secrets will Mueller find when he investigates the President’s foreign deals?

(The New Yorker) August 21, 2017, by Adam DavidsonPresident Donald Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow recently told me that the investigation being led by Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed by the Justice Department, should focus on one question: whether there was “coördination between the Russian government and people on the Trump campaign.” Sekulow went on, “I want to be really specific. A real-estate deal would be outside the scope of legitimate inquiry.”... Read the full article here.

A Putin-Friendly Oligarch’s Top US Executive Donated $285,000 to Trump
The head of Viktor Vekselberg’s American subsidiary helped finance Trump’s inauguration.

(Mother Jones) August 17, 2017, by David Corn and Dan FriedmanEarlier this year, as Donald Trump, then the president-elect, was trying to counter news reports that Russia had hacked the 2016 election to help him win, the head of the American subsidiary of a Russian conglomerate owned by a Russian oligarch with close ties to President Vladimir Putin made a huge donation to Trump.

On January 6—the day the US intelligence community reported that Putin had approved a covert operation to subvert the presidential campaign to assist Trump—Andrew Intrater donated $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration fund.... Read the full article here.

In Ukraine, a Malware Expert Who Could Blow the Whistle on Russian Hacking

(The New York Times) August 16, 2017, by Andrew E. Kramer and Andrew HigginsThe hacker, known only by his online alias “Profexer,” kept a low profile. He wrote computer code alone in an apartment and quietly sold his handiwork on the anonymous portion of the internet known as the Dark Web. Last winter, he suddenly went dark entirely.

Profexer’s posts, already accessible only to a small band of fellow hackers and cybercriminals looking for software tips, blinked out in January — just days after American intelligence agencies publicly identified a program he had written as one tool used in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.... Read the full article here.

Paul Manafort Sought $850 Million Deal With Putin Ally and Alleged Gangster
Trump’s one-time campaign chairman has a history of unorthodox real-estate deals. But this may have been the wildest of all.

(The Daily Beast) August 14, 2017, by Lachlan Markay and Spencer AckermanPaul Manafort partnered on an $850 million New York real-estate deal with an ally of Vladimir Putin and a Ukrainian moneyman whom the Justice Department recently described as an “organized-crime member.”

That’s according a 2008 memo written by Rick Gates, Manafort’s business partner and fellow alumnus of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. In it, Gates enthused about finalizing with the financing necessary to acquire New York’s louche Drake Hotel.... Read the full article here.

Trump campaign emails show aide’s repeated efforts to set up Russia meetings

(The Washington Post) August 14, 2017, by Tom Hamburger, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. HeldermanThree days after Donald Trump named his campaign foreign policy team in March 2016, the youngest of the new advisers sent an email to seven campaign officials with the subject line: “Meeting with Russian Leadership - Including Putin.”

The adviser, George Papadopoulos, offered to set up “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump,” telling them his Russian contacts welcomed the opportunity, according to internal campaign emails read to The Washington Post.... Read the full article here.

Manafort's son-in-law met with federal investigators, sources say

(CNN) August 11, 2017, by Pamela Brown, Shimon Prokupecz and Evan PerezFormer Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's son-in-law, Jeffrey Yohai, met with Department of Justice investigators in recent months, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Yohai provided information and documents to federal investigators in New York more than two months ago, according to one of the sources.... Read the full article here.

Team Trump Shivs Paul Manafort: There’s ‘Plenty for Mueller to Work With’
As the Russia probe widens, White House aides are pointing fingers at Trump’s former campaign chair: ‘There is no trust… There never really was any to begin with.’

(The Daily Beast) August 10, 2017, by Lachlan Markay and Asawin SuebsaengPresident Donald Trump would have you believe that Paul Manafort wasn’t all that involved with his campaign, and for good reason: Behind the scenes, Trump’s aides fume that the former campaign chairman is at least partially responsible for the president’s deepening legal woes.... Read the full article here.

Trump Praises Putin Instead of Critiquing Cuts to U.S. Embassy Staff

(The New York Times) August 10, 2017, by Peter BakeraugPresident Trump offered gratitude rather than outrage on Thursday for Russia’s decision to force the United States Embassy in Moscow to slash its personnel by 755 people, despite bipartisan condemnation from other American leaders who protested the Cold War-style move.... Read the full article here.

With Bank Subpoenas, Mueller Turns Up the Heat on Manafort

(Bloomberg) August 10, 2017, by Christian Berthelsen  and Greg FarrellU.S. special counsel Robert Mueller is bearing down on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as he directs a wide-ranging probe into Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.

Mueller’s team of investigators has sent subpoenas in recent weeks from a Washington grand jury to global banks for account information and records of transactions involving Manafort and some of his companies, as well as those of a long-time business partner, Rick Gates, according to people familiar with the matter.... Read the full article here.

Roger Stone Hates The National Enquirer’s Exposé Of His Pal Manafort
'It’s very disturbing. I’m trying to figure out the source,' Roger Stone tells the Daily Beast of the National Enquirer's report about his friend Paul Manafort's 'sick affair.'

(The Daily Beast) August 10, 2017, by Lloyd GroveAdd longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone to the inquiring minds who want to know why and how the Trump-friendly National Enquirer came to splash a sordid story headlined “TRUMP ADVISOR SEX SCANDAL—PAUL MANAFORT’S SICK AFFAIR.”... Read the full article here.

The ‘No-Nonsense’ Judge Who Could Decide Trump’s Fate
Judge Beryl Howell might be on her way from behind-the-scenes player to household name.

(The Daily Beast) August 10, 2017 by Betsy WoodruffRobert Mueller may be the face of the independent investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election, but a cybersecurity wonk on the federal bench may help decide Trump & Co.’s fate.

Behind the scenes, Beryl Howell is in a position to make pivotal decisions. And her importance could only grow. Federal court rules indicate that she signed off on Mueller’s request to assemble a grand jury, a highly secretive gathering of about two dozen people in Washington’s E. Barrett Prettyman courthouse that will grill witnesses and demand Trump associates’ documents.... Read the full article here.

Feds sought cooperation from Manafort's son-in-law
The former Trump campaign chairman is the focus of inquiries into his business dealings as well as Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

(Politico) August 9, 2017, by Josh Dawsey and Darren SamuelsohnFederal investigators sought cooperation from Paul Manafort’s son-in-law in an effort to increase pressure on President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, according to three people familiar with the probe.

Investigators approached Jeffrey Yohai, who has partnered in business deals with Manafort, earlier this summer, setting off “real waves” in Manafort’s orbit, one of these people said. Another of these people said investigators are trying to get “into Manafort’s head.”... Read the full article here.

Russia Is Continuing Its Cyberattack on America Right Now
Meanwhile, Trump keeps calling the Russia investigation “a total fabrication.”

(Mother Jones) August 9, 2017, by Bill BuzenbergaugPresident Donald Trump trashed the Russia investigation once again last week at a rally in West Virginia, saying that “there were no Russians in our campaign” and denouncing “a total fabrication” to enthralled supporters. “Have you seen any Russians in West Virginia or Ohio or Pennsylvania?” he asked mockingly. “Are there any Russians here tonight? Any Russians?”...

As Trump spoke, Russian-linked social-media networks were busy attacking Trump’s national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, using the same type of digital operations that the Kremlin deployed against the 2016 presidential election.... Read the full article here.

FBI conducted predawn raid of former Trump campaign chairman Manafort’s home

(The Washington Post) August 9, 2017, by Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. HeldermanFBI agents raided the Alexandria home of President Trump’s former campaign chairman late last month, using a search warrant to seize documents and other materials, according to people familiar with the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Federal agents appeared at Paul Manafort’s home without advance warning in the predawn hours of July 26, the day after he met voluntarily with the staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee.... Read the full article here.

Mueller, several team members gave up million-dollar jobs to work on special counsel investigation

(The Washington Post) August 8, 2017, by Matt ZapotoskyRobert S. Mueller III left a $3.4 million partner job in the white-shoe law firm WilmerHale, where he worked for clients such as Facebook, Apple, Sony and the NFL, to serve as the special counsel overseeing the law enforcement investigation into whether the Kremlin and the Trump campaign coordinated to impact the 2016 election, according to documents released Tuesday.... Read the full article here.

Hunt for Trump dossier author inflames Russia probe
An overseas trip to contact a former British spy exposes friction among House, Senate investigators and special counsel Robert Mueller.

(Politico) August 4, 2017, by Ali WatkinsTwo Republican House Intelligence Committee staffers traveled to London earlier this summer to track down the former British intelligence operative who compiled a controversial dossier on President Donald Trump and Russia, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The previously unreported trip underscores the importance of the 35-page dossier Christopher Steele wrote last year to congressional probes into possible collusion between Moscow and the 2016 Trump campaign.... Read the full article here.

Chafing over thwarted rapprochement, Trump blames Congress for Russia chill

(Reuters) August 3, 2017, by Eric WalshPresident Donald Trump chafed on Thursday over the new dive in U.S. relations with Russia, widening a rift with his own Republican Party as he blamed Congress for causing the tensions with a new package of sanctions.... Read the full article here.

Grand jury issues subpoenas in connection with Trump Jr., Russian lawyer meeting: sources

(Reuters) August 3, 2017, by Karen Freifeld and John WalcottA grand jury has issued subpoenas in connection with a June 2016 meeting that included President Donald Trump's son, his son-in-law and a Russian lawyer, two sources told Reuters on Thursday, signaling an investigation is gathering pace into suspected Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.... Read the full article here.

One year into the FBI's Russia investigation, Mueller is on the Trump money trail

(CNN) August 3, 2017, by Evan Perez, Pamela Brown and Shimon ProkupeczFederal investigators exploring whether Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russian spies have seized on Trump and his associates' financial ties to Russia as one of the most fertile avenues for moving their probe forward, according to people familiar with the investigation.... Read the full article here.

Trump’s Objections to Russia Sanctions Law Suggest He Might Trade Crimea Away

(TheIntercept.com) August 3, 2017, by Robert MackeyAfter President Donald Trump reluctantly signed a bill on Wednesday that makes it harder for him to lift sanctions on Russia, the White House issued a curious statement in his name, complaining that the new law includes “a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions.”

Specifically, the president complained about sections 253 and 257 of the legislation, which state that the United States “does not recognize territorial changes effected by force,” and will “never recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Government of the Russian Federation or the separation of any portion of Ukrainian territory through the use of military force.”... Read the full article here.

Trump signs what he calls ‘seriously flawed’ bill imposing new sanctions on Russia

(The Washington Post) August 2, 2017, by Abby PhillipPresident Trump on Wednesday signed a bill that imposes new sanctions on Russia, ending immediate hopes that he might be able to reset U.S. relations with the Kremlin as Congress overruled his opposition to the provisions' curb on his executive power.

Trump's reluctant signing of the legislation came nearly a week after it was approved by an overwhelming, bipartisan majority in the Senate and after a similarly large majority in the House. The president issued two statements outlining his concerns with the bill, which he called “seriously flawed,” primarily because it limits his ability to negotiate sanctions without congressional approval.... Read the full article here.

Trump 'weighed in' on son's Russia statement, White House confirms
Richard Painter, ethics lawyer under George W Bush, says president’s involvement in Trump Jr comments suggests ‘obstruction of justice’

(The Guardian) August 1, 2017, by Sabrina Siddiqui and Ben JacobsThe White House has confirmed Donald Trump played a role in drafting a misleading statement about his son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer.

On Tuesday, the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, contradicted Trump’s attorney, Jay Sekulow, who said the president had had no involvement.... Read the full article here.

Behind Fox News' Baseless Seth Rich Story: The Untold Tale

(NPR) August 1, 2017, by David FolkenflikThe Fox News Channel and a wealthy supporter of President Trump worked in concert under the watchful eye of the White House to concoct a story about the death of a young Democratic National Committee aide, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The explosive claim is part of a lawsuit filed against Fox News by Rod Wheeler, a longtime paid commentator for the news network. The suit was obtained exclusively by NPR.

Wheeler alleges Fox News and the Trump supporter intended to deflect public attention from growing concern about the administration's ties to the Russian government.... Read the full article here.

Trump Worked With Fox News on DNC Staffer Story, Suit Claims

(Bloomberg) August 1, 2017, by Andrew M HarrisPresident Donald Trump collaborated with Fox News to concoct a story claiming a Democratic National Committee staffer was killed in retaliation for furnishing information damaging to Hillary Clinton to Wikileaks, according to a lawsuit by a private investigator for the slain man’s family.

Rod Wheeler -- the investigator, a former Washington police detective, and an occasional Fox News contributor -- claims in his lawsuit that the president read the Fox story before it was published and suggested the insertion of quotes falsely attributed to Wheeler supporting the story’s premise. Trump wanted the story published to divert attention from the widening investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia, Wheeler claims.... Read the full article here.

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

See links to Alex Roslin's investigative journalism here, including his 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 for four other international book prizes.

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