Tuesday, August 1, 2017

COMRADE TRUMP—The Definitive Trump-Putin Bromance and "This Russia Thing" Timeline (Aug.-Sept. 2017)

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? 

Stay up to date and check your facts with my definitive "Comrade Trump" timeline, compiling 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 latest Trump-Putin bromance timeline, here to see my Oct. 2017-May 2018 timeline and here to see my June 2015-July 2017 timeline.

Russian TV network spent nearly $300,000 on tweets aimed at U.S. market in election

(McClatchy) September 28, 2017, by Greg Gordon, Peter Stone and David GoldsteinRussia Today, the Kremlin-backed television network, spent $274,000 on more than 1,800 tweets on Twitter’s network that “definitely or potentially targeted the U.S. market” during the 2016 presidential campaign, representatives of the social media giant told congressional investigators Thursday.... Read the full article here.

Trump-Russia investigators close in on sources named in explosive dossier
Efforts to get ex-MI6 officer Christopher Steele to testify in US have fallen short, but Mueller's probe appears to be making steady progress

(The Independent) September 28, 2017, by Kim SenguptaChristopher Steele, the former MI6 officer who was at the centre of a storm over his explosive and contentious dossier on Donald Trump, is keeping a determinedly low profile.... Read the full article here.

Exclusive: Russians Impersonated Real American Muslims to Stir Chaos on Facebook and Instagram
Kremlin trolls stole the identity of an authentic U.S. Muslim organization—first to smear John McCain and Hillary Clinton, then to sing her praises.

(The Daily Beast) September 27, 2017, by Ben Collins, Kevin Poulsen and Spencer AckermanThe Facebook group United Muslims of America was neither united, Muslim, nor American.

Instead, sources familiar with the group tell The Daily Beast, it was an imposter account on the world’s largest social network that’s been traced back to the Russian government.... Read the full article here.

Twitter, With Accounts Linked to Russia, to Face Congress Over Role in Election

(The New York Times) September 27, 2017, by Daisuke Wakabayashi and Scott ShaneAfter a weekend when Americans took to social media to debate President Trump’s admonishment of N.F.L. players who do not stand for the national anthem, a network of Twitter accounts suspected of links to Russia seized on both sides of the issue with hashtags such as #boycottnfl, #standforouranthem and #takeaknee.... Read the full article here.

Manafort’s Offer to Russian Oligarch Was Tied to Disputed Deal

(Bloomberg) September 27, 2017, by Stephanie Baker, David Voreacos and Volodymyr VerbyanyWhen Donald Trump’s campaign chairman offered private briefings to a Russian oligarch close to President Vladimir Putin last year, he wasn’t only appealing to a superpower, he was pursuing a personal mission: the end to a costly dispute over a failed business deal.

The campaign’s chairman, Paul Manafort, wanted a meeting in hopes of resolving a long-simmering dispute with the Russian, said two people familiar with the offer.... Read the full article here.

Exclusive: IRS shares information with special counsel in Russia probe

(CNN) September 26, 2017, by Manu Raju, Pamela Brown and Evan PerezThe IRS is now sharing information with special counsel Robert Mueller about key Trump campaign officials, after the two entities clashed this summer over both the scope of the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and a raid on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's home, people briefed on the matter tell CNN.... Read the full article here.

Russian operatives used Facebook ads to exploit divisions over Black Lives Matter and Muslims

(The Washington Post) September 25, 2017, by Adam Entous, Craig Timberg and Elizabeth DwoskinThe batch of more than 3,000 Russian-bought ads that Facebook is preparing to turn over to Congress shows a deep understanding of social divides in American society, with some ads promoting African American rights groups including Black Lives Matter and others suggesting that these same groups pose a rising political threat, say people familiar with the covert influence campaign.... Read the full article here.

'Russia hoax continues': Trump attacks investigation into Facebook ads
Trump used Twitter to decry the investigation into some 3,000 ads purchased on the social media platform by Russians in the 2016 presidential election

(The Guardian) September 22, 2017, by Sam Levin, Mark Oliver and agenciesDonald Trump has attacked the escalating investigations into 3,000 adverts purchased on Facebook by Russians in the 2016 US presidential, using Twitter early Friday to say the “Russia hoax continues, now it’s ads on Facebook”.... Read the full article here.

Putin Just Held a Meeting With Manafort’s Russian Billionaire Buddy
A Kremlin gathering hosts several business figured linked to the Russia investigation.

(Mother Jones) September 22, 2017, by Hannah LevintovaThe Washington Post reported Wednesday that while serving as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort offered to provide regular “private briefings” on the presidential race to Kremlin-friendly Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. There is no evidence that Deripaska received or accepted such briefings, but, as the Post noted, Manafort’s offer “created a potential opening for Russian interests at the highest level of a US presidential campaign,” noted the Post.... Read the full article here.

Skadden, Big New York Law Firm, Faces Questions on Work With Manafort

(The New York Times) September 21, 2017, by Kenneth P. Vogel and Andrew E. KramerFive years ago, Paul Manafort arranged for a prominent New York-based law firm to draft a report that was used by allies of his client, Viktor Yanukovych, the Russia-aligned president of Ukraine, to justify the jailing of a political rival. And now the report is coming back to haunt it.... Read the full article here.

Facebook to Turn Over Russian-Linked Ads to Congress

(The New York Times) September 21, 2017, by Scott Shane and Mike IsaacUnder growing public pressure to reveal more about the spread of covert Russian propaganda on its site, Facebook said on Thursday that it was turning over more than 3,000 Russia-linked ads to Congressional committees investigating the Kremlin’s influence operation during the 2016 presidential election.... Read the full article here.

Trump campaign bodyguard linked to ex-con who’s key in Russia probes

(McClatchy) September 21, 2017, by Ben Wieder and Kevin G. HallAnother connection has emerged between Donald Trump and Felix Sater, the Russian emigre and ex-con who's become a key figure in widening investigations into ties between Trump associates and Russian figures.... Read the full article here.

Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire ‘private briefings’ on 2016 campaign

(The Washington Post) September 20, 2017, by Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig and Adam EntousLess than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Paul Manafort made the offer in an email to an overseas intermediary, asking that a message be sent to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in the past, these people said.... Read the full article here.

How Matt Drudge became the pipeline for Russian propaganda
Drudge Report has linked nearly 400 times to RT, Sputnik News, TASS since 2012

(MediaMatters.org) September 20, 2017, by Matt GertzOn July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing 298 passengers and crew. The next day, President Barack Obama alleged that the responsible parties were Russian-backed separatists seizing territory in the region following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Obama’s statement came amid a furious effort by Russian propaganda outlets to foster confusion about the act. In their telling, the tragedy had actually been a failed attempt by Ukrainians to shoot down President Vladimir Putin’s plane.

The Russian propaganda effort received a substantial boost when right-wing internet journalist Matt Drudge highlighted a story on the topic from RT.com, the website of the Russian government-backed English-language news channel RT. Drudge titled the resulting item on the Drudge Report, his highly trafficked link aggregation website, “RT: Putin’s plane might have been target...” in bright red text.... Read the full article here.

Exclusive: Russians Appear to Use Facebook to Push Trump Rallies in 17 U.S. Cities
‘Being Patriotic,’ a Facebook group uncovered by The Daily Beast, is the first evidence of suspected Russian provocateurs explicitly mobilizing Trump supporters in real life.

(The Daily Beast) September 20, 2017, by Ben Collins, Gideon Resnick, Kevin Poulsen and Spencer AckermanSuspected Russia propagandists on Facebook tried to organize more than a dozen pro-Trump rallies in Florida during last year’s election, The Daily Beast has learned.... Read the full article here.

Senate Cancels Meeting With Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen

(NBC) September 19, 2017, by Mike Memoli, Ken Dilanian and Carol E. LeeSenate investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election canceled an interview on Tuesday with longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen because they believe Cohen broke an agreement by speaking with the media.

The committee will now subpoena Cohen, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told NBC News.... Read the full article here.

Exclusive: US government wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman

(CNN) September 19, 2017, by Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Pamela BrownUS investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe.... Read the full article here.

With a Picked Lock and a Threatened Indictment, Mueller’s Inquiry Sets a Tone

(The New York Times) September 18, 2017, by Sharon LaFraniere, Matt Apuzzo and Adam GoldmanPaul J. Manafort was in bed early one morning in July when federal agents bearing a search warrant picked the lock on his front door and raided his Virginia home. They took binders stuffed with documents and copied his computer files, looking for evidence that Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, set up secret offshore bank accounts. They even photographed the expensive suits in his closet.... Read the full article here.

The Latest Scoops from CNN and the New York Times: A Quick and Dirty Analysis

(Lawfare Blog) September 18, 2017, by Susan Hennessey, Shannon Togawa Mercer, Benjamin WittesCNN and the New York Times this evening published dueling scoops on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

As Jim Comey might put it: Lordy, there appear to be tapes.... Read the full article here.

Did Jared Kushner's Data Operation Help Select Facebook Targets for the Russians?
The Russians used social media to rile the electorate. Investigators wonder if they had inside help.

(Vanity Fair) September 15, 2017, by Chris SmithThe headlines were about Facebook admitting it had sold ad space to Russian groups trying to sway the 2016 presidential campaign. But investigators shrugged: they’d known or assumed for months that Facebook, as well as Twitter and other social-media platforms, were a tool used in the Kremlin’s campaign. “The only thing that’s surprising is that more revelations like this haven’t come out sooner,” said Congressman Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat and a member of the House Intelligence Committee. “And I expect that more will.”... Read the full article here.

Flynn Promoted Nuclear-Plant Project While in White House
Then-Trump security adviser had his staff meet with those involved in Middle East proposal that once included Russian firms

(The Wall Street Journal) September 13, 2017, by Christopher S. Stewart,  Rob Barry and  Shane HarrisAs President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn promoted a controversial private-sector nuclear power plan in the Middle East that had once involved Russian companies, according to former security-council staffers and others familiar with the effort.

While working at the White House, Mr. Flynn advocated for a group of former senior U.S. military officers with whom he had worked while in the private sector. The project, which the former military officers were helping promote on behalf of several U.S. companies, envisions building and operating dozens of nuclear plants in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East, the people familiar with it said.... Read the full article here.

Michael Flynn 'promoted US-Russian nuclear project from White House'
Investigators examine former Trump adviser’s alleged links to private plan to build Middle East power plants

(The Guardian) September 13, 2017, by Stephanie KirchgaessnerUS congressional investigators are examining whether Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, secretly promoted a plan by private business interests to build US-Russian nuclear power plants in the Middle East while he was serving in the White House.... Read the full article here.

Dems to Mueller: Flynn failed to disclose trip to broker Saudi-Russian business deal

(CNN) September 13, 2017, by Manu Raju and Marshall CohenHouse Democrats sent special counsel Robert Mueller what they say is evidence that former national security adviser Michael Flynn failed to disclose a trip he took to the Middle East to explore a business deal with the Saudi government and a Russian government agency.... Read the full article here.

How Donald Trump Lied to Conceal His Moscow Business Partner
Perhaps this was his greatest deception of the 2016 campaign.

(Mother Jones) September 12, 2017, by David CornDonald Trump has told many lies and falsehoods. He’s lied about the Russia scandal. He’s lied about his ties to organized crime. Perhaps he’s lied so much that freshly excavated prevarications don’t register greatly. Yet recent news reports revealing that Trump was pursuing a huge development deal in Moscow in late 2015 and early 2016 show that during the campaign Trump committed a tremendous act of deception. 

This mammoth duplicity was encompassed in a small fib. On December 2, 2015, during an interview with an Associated Press reporter, Trump was asked about his relationship with a fellow named Felix Sater.... Read the full article here.

The surprising new strategy of pro-Russia bots

(BBC) September 12, 2017, by BBC TrendingCo-ordinated groups of Twitter bots pushing pro-Russian propaganda have developed an odd but occasionally effective strategy - retweeting messages that the bot-makers disagree with and flooding their enemies with followers.

Brian Krebs is an investigative journalist with a big social media following. But even he was surprised when one of his tweets was retweeted thousands of times.... Read the full article here.

Russia Sought A Broad Reset With Trump, Secret Document Shows
A Russian proposal obtained by BuzzFeed News reveals Moscow’s ambitious plan to break with the past and launch a major rapprochement with the United States.

(BuzzFeed News) September 12, 2017, by John HudsonIn the third month of Donald Trump’s presidency, Vladimir Putin dispatched one of his diplomats to the State Department to deliver a bold proposition: The full normalization of relations between the United States and Russia across all major branches of government.... Read the full article here.

Exclusive: Russia Used Facebook Events to Organize Anti-Immigrant Rallies on U.S. Soil
Pushing fake news was just one component of the Russian campaign to shape American minds. Part two: organizing anti-immigrant events echoing themes from the pro-Trump press.

(The Daily Beast) September 9, 2017, by Ben Collins, Kevin Poulsen and Spencer AckermanRussian operatives hiding behind false identities used Facebook’s event management tool to remotely organize and promote political protests in the U.S., including an August 2016 anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rally in Idaho, The Daily Beast has learned.... Read the full article here.

Some Trump Lawyers Wanted Kushner Out
Aides, worried about complications arising from Russia probe, drafted statement explaining departure

(The Wall Street Journal) September 11, 2017, by Peter Nicholas,  Rebecca Ballhaus and  Erica OrdenSome of President Donald Trump’s lawyers earlier this summer concluded that Jared Kushner should step down as senior White House adviser because of possible legal complications related to a probe of Russia' involvement in the 2016 presidential election and aired concerns about him to the president, people familiar with the matter said.... Read the full article here.

The Characters Who Tried to Make ‘Trump Tower Moscow’ a Reality
Just when you thought Putin’s circle and Trump’s couldn’t be any more intertwined, meet these two tycoons.

(The Daily Beast) September 11, 2017, by Betsy WoodruffWhile he was running for president, Donald Trump’s company nearly inked a deal to build Trump Tower Moscow.

It was a dream years in the making—and helped along the way by two New York real estate tycoons, one of whom is considered the right-hand man of an oligarch linked to an infamous money laundering investigation. Naturally, this man is also considered a friend of Vladimir Putin.

The two tycoons—Alex Sapir and Rotem Rosen—accompanied Donald Trump on his 2013 trip to Russia, where they reportedly tried to pull strings behind the scenes with to make Trump Tower Moscow a reality.... Read the full article here.

Document details scrapped deal for Trump Tower Moscow

(CNN) September 9, 2017, by Gloria Borger and Marshall CohenAround the time presidential candidate Donald Trump was touting his real estate dealings at a Republican primary debate, a proposal was in the works to build a Trump Tower in Russia that would have given his company a $4 million upfront fee, no upfront costs, a percentage of the sales, and control over marketing and design. And that's not all: the deal included the opportunity to name the hotel spa after his daughter Ivanka.... Read the full article here.

Russia’s Facebook Fake News Could Have Reached 70 Million Americans
Facebook acknowledged that Russian propagandists spent $100,000 on election ads. It neglected to mention how many millions of people those ads reached.

(The Daily Beast) September 8, 2017, by Ben Collins, Kevin Poulsen and Spencer AckermanRussian-funded covert propaganda posts on Facebook were likely seen by a minimum of 23 million people and might have reached as many as 70 million, according to analysis by an expert on the social-media giant’s complex advertising systems. That means up to 28 percent of American adults were swept in by the campaign.... Read the full article here.

The Fake Americans Russia Created to Influence the Election

(The New York Times) September 7, 2017, by Scott ShaneSometimes an international offensive begins with a few shots that draw little notice. So it was last year when Melvin Redick of Harrisburg, Pa., a friendly-looking American with a backward baseball cap and a young daughter, posted on Facebook a link to a brand-new website.... Read the full article here.

Trump Jr. says he can’t recall White House role in explaining meeting with Russians

(The Washington Post) September 7, 2017, by Tom Hamburger and Karoun DemirjianDonald Trump Jr. took questions Thursday from Senate investigators about his meeting with a Russian lawyer and other topics central to inquiries into Russian influence in the 2016 election, but he frequently said he could not provide important details, according to people who attended the hearing.... Read the full article here.

Russians Flock to Trump Properties to Give Birth to U.S. Citizens
While the president rails against children of undocumented immigrants, wealthy Russians rent his condos—at huge costs—so they can have American kids.

(The Daily Beast) September 6, 2017, by Katie ZavadskiAnatoliy Kuzmin held out his daughter’s blue U.S. passport over a red Russian one and snapped a photo from a Florida beach.

“Woohoo! Got dual citizenship for my daughter!” he wrote on Instagram.... Read the full article here.

Russian firm tied to pro-Kremlin propaganda advertised on Facebook during election

(The Washington Post) September 6, 2017, by Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. HeldermanRepresentatives of Facebook told congressional investigators Wednesday that the social network has discovered that it sold ads during the U.S. presidential campaign to a shadowy Russian company seeking to target voters, according to several people familiar with the company’s findings.

Facebook officials reported that they traced the ad sales, totaling $100,000, to a Russian “troll farm” with a history of pushing pro-Kremlin propaganda, these people said.... Read the full article here.

As Mueller deepens Trump-Russia probe, congressional investigators face obstacles

(McClatchy) September 5, 2017, by David GoldsteinCongress returns to the Capitol Tuesday, but the questions over Russia’s role in the 2016 election have never gone away.

The outlook, though, for bold, tough probes by lawmakers into whether the Kremlin colluded with President Donald Trump’s campaign could be dim.... Read the full article here.

Mueller Has Early Draft of Trump Letter Giving Reasons for Firing Comey

(The New York Times) September 1, 2017, by Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie HabermanThe special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has obtained a letter drafted by President Trump and a top political aide that offered an unvarnished view of Mr. Trump’s thinking in the days before the president fired the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey... Read the full article here.

Exclusive: Mueller Enlists the IRS for His Trump-Russia Investigation
Will the accountants take down key members of Team Trump? Or force the president’s tax returns into the open?

(The Daily Beast) August 31, 2017, by Betsy WoodruffSpecial counsel Bob Mueller has teamed up with the IRS. According to sources familiar with his investigation into alleged Russian election interference, his probe has enlisted the help of agents from the IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit.... Read the full article here.

The Curious Link Between Trump’s Moscow Tower Deal and a Ukraine “Peace Plan”
Both involved Trump associates Michael Cohen and Felix Sater—and US sanctions.

(Mother Jones) August 30, 2017, by Dan FriedmanA pair of Trump associates, Michael Cohen and Felix Sater, appear to be gaining significance in the Trump-Russia investigation. News broke this week that during the presidential campaign the two sought a deal for the construction of a Trump Tower in Moscow. And, as reported earlier this year, the pair pushed a Kremlin-backed proposal for the US to lift sanctions on Russia—part of a proposed “peace deal” between Ukraine and Russia that Cohen and Sater brought to Trump’s then national security advisor Michael Flynn.... Read the full article here.

Mueller teams up with New York attorney general in Manafort probe
The cooperation is the latest sign that the investigation into Trump's former campaign chairman is intensifying.

(Politico) August 30, 2017, by Josh DawseySpecial counsel Robert Mueller’s team is working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on its investigation into Paul Manafort and his financial transactions, according to several people familiar with the matter.

The cooperation is the latest indication that the federal probe into President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman is intensifying. It also could potentially provide Mueller with additional leverage to get Manafort to cooperate in the larger investigation into Trump’s campaign, as Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes.... Read the full article here.

Trump Attorney Says He Discussed Moscow Tower Deal With Trump During Campaign
In an interview, Michael Cohen says he talked with the then-candidate about the licensing deal on three occasions

(The Wall Street Journal) August 28, 2017, by Rebecca BallhausMichael Cohen, an attorney for the Trump Organization, discussed a prospective real-estate deal in Moscow with Donald Trump on three occasions during the presidential campaign, Mr. Cohen said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.... Read the full article here.

Top Trump Organization executive asked Putin aide for help on business deal

(The Washington Post) August 28, 2017, by Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig and Tom HamburgerA top executive from Donald Trump’s real estate company emailed Vladi­mir Putin’s personal spokesman during the U.S. presidential campaign last year to ask for help advancing a stalled Trump Tower development project in Moscow, according to documents submitted to Congress Monday.

Michael Cohen, a Trump attorney and executive vice president for the Trump Organization, sent the email in January 2016 to Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s top press aide.... Read the full article here.

Trump’s business sought deal on a Trump Tower in Moscow while he ran for president

(The Washington Post) August 27, 2017, by Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. HeldermanWhile Donald Trump was running for president in late 2015 and early 2016, his company was pursuing a plan to develop a massive Trump Tower in Moscow, according to several people familiar with the proposal and new records reviewed by Trump Organization lawyers.

As part of the discussions, a Russian-born real estate developer urged Trump to come to Moscow to tout the proposal and suggested that he could get President Vladimir Putin to say “great things” about Trump, according to several people who have been briefed on his correspondence.... Read the full article here.

Special Counsel Examines Possible Role Flynn Played in Seeking Clinton Emails From Hackers
Mueller probe of potential link between Trump campaign and Russia follows trail of GOP operative’s correspondence

(The Wall Street Journal) August 25, 2017, by Shane HarrisSpecial counsel Robert Mueller is examining what role, if any, former national security adviser Mike Flynn may have played in a private effort to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers, according to people familiar with the matter.... Read the full article here.

Mueller Seeks Grand Jury Testimony from PR Execs Who Worked With Manafort

(NBC News) August 25, 2017, by Ken Dilanian, Carol E. Lee and Tom WinterSpecial Counsel Robert Mueller issued grand jury subpoenas in recent days seeking testimony from public relations executives who worked on an international campaign organized by Paul Manafort, people directly familiar with the matter told NBC News.... Read the full article here.

At CIA, a watchful eye on Mike Pompeo, the president’s ardent ally

(The Washington Post) August 24, 2017, by Greg MillerAs CIA director, Mike Pompeo has taken a special interest in an agency unit that is closely tied to the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, requiring the Counterintelligence Mission Center to report directly to him.... Read the full article here.

Trump clashed with multiple GOP senators over Russia
The conversations are evidence of rising tensions between the president and congressional Republicans heading into a critical legislative span.

(Politico) August 23, 2017, by Josh Dawsey and Elana SchorPresident Donald Trump privately vented his frustration over Russia-related matters with at least two other Republican senators this month, according to people familiar with the conversations — in addition to the president's public admonishments of Mitch McConnell, John McCain and Jeff Flake.... Read the full article here.

Lobbyist at Trump Campaign Meeting Has a Web of Russian Connections

(The New York Times) August 21, 2017, by Sharon LaFraniere, David D. Kirkpatrick and Kenneth P. VogelaugRinat Akhmetshin, a Russian immigrant who met last summer with senior Trump campaign officials, has often struck colleagues as a classic Washington mercenary — loyal to his wife, his daughter and his bank account. He avoided work that would antagonize Moscow, they suggested, only because he profited from his reputation as a man with valuable connections there.

But interviews with his associates and documents reviewed by The New York Times indicate that Mr. Akhmetshin, who is under scrutiny by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, has much deeper ties to the Russian government and Kremlin-backed oligarchs than previously known.... Read the full article here.

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.

Did a Mole-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named Leak Plot to Elect Trump?
A brave lawyer defending people the Russian government accuses of treason says the case of cyber experts charged with working for the CIA is about the toughest he’s seen.

(The Daily Beast) August 20, 2017, by Anna NemtsovaFor the first time in his two decades defending people accused of treason, Ivan Pavlov has come across a case he says he truly has trouble getting his head around. Everything about it is a guessing game for the defense lawyer, including the charges against his client, whose name he is not allowed to mention in public.... Read the full article here.

British spy behind Trump-Russia dossier could be forced to talk after US court ruling

(ABC News) August 19, 2017, by Matthew Mosk, Brian Ross and Rhonda SchwartzA U.S. District court judge has put a former British spy one step closer to facing questions under oath about the controversial dossier he authored alleging President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team plotted with Russian agents.

A ruling by Judge Ursula Ungaro allows lawyers for a Russian technology executive named in the dossier to seek British approval to question onetime MI6 agent Christopher Steele about the funding and sourcing of the dossier under oath.... Read the full article here.

Billionaire Ally of Putin Socialized With Kushner, Ivanka Trump

(Bloomberg) August 18, 2017, by Stephanie Baker, Irina Reznik and Katya KazakinaAs federal investigators probe possible Kremlin links with the Donald Trump campaign, one connection that hasn’t gotten much attention is that between Jared Kushner and one of Russia’s most powerful and influential billionaires: Roman Abramovich.  

The men have met three to four times in social settings, and their wives have been friends for a decade, facts that Kushner and Ivanka Trump revealed on their security-clearance forms to join the White House staff, according to a person familiar with the filings...

In 2014, the Kushners spent four days in Russia at the invitation of Abramovich’s wife, Dasha Zhukova.... Read the full article here.

‘Alt-right’ figure who set up Assange meeting refuses to cooperate with Senate intel probe

(Yahoo News) August 18, 2017, by Michael IsikoffA controversial “alt-right” journalist and provocateur who met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London this week says he is refusing to turn over documents and emails requested by the Senate Intelligence Committee about any contacts he has had with Russian agents, telling Yahoo News he has no intention of cooperating with the panel’s investigation.

“I’m absolutely not” going to cooperate with the committee, Charles C. Johnson said in an interview after returning from London, where he had set up a meeting this week between Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy.... 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 latest Trump-Putin bromance timeline, here to see my Oct. 2017-May 2018 timeline and here to see my June 2015-July 2017 timeline.

See links to my investigative journalism here, including my book Police Wife: The Secret Epidemic of Police Domestic Violence, a finalist in the American Book Fest's 2017 Best Book Awards and winner or finalist in nine other book prizes.

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