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By Jonathan Chait

Most of the commentary surrounding the Russia scandal has treated the possibility that Donald Trump’s campaign deliberately colluded with Moscow as remote, unfounded speculation. The new reporting that has broken this weekend suggests instead that this collusion likely did take place. It provides a road map to the, or perhaps a, likely avenue through which this occurred.

The figure carrying out the operation in question was Peter W. Smith, who died at the age of 81 earlier this year. Smith is hardly a lone kook. He’s an established Republican donor with a demonstrated history in financing ethically murky investigations, such as paying Arkansas state troopers for stories of Bill Clinton’s sexual dalliances.

Smith surfaced earlier in the week in an explosive Wall Street Journal report by Shane Harris, which Harris followed up on Friday night. What really underscores the significance of Harris’s reporting, though, is a detailed account, also published Friday night, by Matt Tait, a British cybersecurity expert who dealt extensively with Smith. Tait’s report makes it clear that Smith had access to Michael Flynn, at the very least, and was working not only to obtain stolen Clinton emails but also to hide the Trump campaign’s involvement.

Tait had established some expertise analyzing Clinton’s emails; Smith, who said he had been contacted by someone who possessed a cache of emails from Clinton’s private server, wanted help validating them. As Tait explains, he warned Smith that Russia had been conducting an attack on the U.S. elections, but Smith appeared completely unconcerned about it. Smith tried to hire Tait for his project and showed him a document creating an independent-looking organization to try to acquire the stolen emails. The document, Tait reports, “detailed a company Smith and his colleagues had set up as a vehicle to conduct the research: ‘KLS Research’, set up as a Delaware LLC ‘to avoid campaign reporting,’ and listing four groups who were involved in one way or another.” This certainly appears like an attempt to mask the Trump campaign’s involvement in the plot.

The document listed a series of high-level Trump campaign officials: Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Sam Clovis, Lt. Gen. Flynn, and Lisa Nelson. Bannon and Conway, contacted by the Journal, deny any involvement with Smith. But Smith’s comments to Tait indicate a fairly close understanding of Trump campaign internal dynamics. It is possible he was bluffing, but Smith seemed to be displaying authentic insider credentials.

The key to understanding the significance of this report is to put it together with a sentence from Harris’s first story on this in the Journal, which reports that U.S. investigators “have examined reports from intelligence agencies that describe Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from Mrs. Clinton’s server and then transmit them to Mr. Flynn via an intermediary.”

So, according to Harris’s reporting, Russians were trying to transmit emails from Clinton’s server. Tait is describing in detail a Republican operative trying to obtain stolen emails from Russia. So we have evidence both of the campaign’s request and Russian efforts to fulfill the request.

Smith is deceased (at an old age, there is no grounds for suspicion about the cause of his death), but Michael Flynn, a figure he reportedly worked for, is very much with us and facing significant legal jeopardy. Flynn’s lawyer has said he has “a story to tell.” This might be part of the story.

Mike Flynn has reportedly, turned on Trump, to save himself.

Don Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort secretly met with Russian Lawyer. Don Jr. admitted he met with the Russian Lawyer and Jared Kushner has not included his meetings with Russians, on several occasions.

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Trump, his Administration, his Associates, his Family, all colluded with Russia to enable Putin to hack our election in Trump’s favor. We know this and the World knows this. Trump has destroyed our Democracy with the help of his Buddy Comrade Putin.

Trump is a Traitor to our Nation and the World, along with the GOP, who is covering up for him. They can all go down with his sinking ship, including Mike Pence, who is complicit in the cover up.

Trump Obstructed Justice when he Fired Comey, Yates and Bharara. This story is not going away anytime soon.

Your son “Fredo” is in a lot of trouble. Wouldn’t it be ironic, if your downfall is over “Emails”.

Don Jr., admitted he “Colluded” with Russia, along with Manafort and Jared Kushner.
Jared Kushner is in more trouble, because he’s and adviser to Trump. He lied on his Security Clearance form by not claiming his numerous meetings with the Russians.

Mueller and his Team of Prosecutors, will take them all down.

How much longer is the GOP going to keep covering up for Trump? When is the GOP going to grow a set and Impeach Trump?

Ukraine is not our enemy, Russia is. Rachel Maddow predicted this as another story to deflect.

So Why is it Loretta Lynch’s Fault that Don Jr. committed Treason and Colluded with the Russian’s???


WASHINGTON – The Associated Press

Russia investigation is closing in on the president’s inner circle

The U.S. government has long warned that Russian organized crime posed a threat to democratic institutions, including “criminally linked oligarchs” who might collude with the Russian government to undermine business competition.

Those concerns, ever-present if not necessarily always top priorities, are front and center once more.

An ongoing special counsel investigation is drawing attention to Russian efforts to meddle in democratic processes, the type of skullduggery that in the past has relied on hired hackers and outside criminals. It’s not clear how much the probe by former FBI Director Robert Mueller will center on the criminal underbelly of Moscow, but he’s already picked some lawyers with experience fighting organized crime. And as the team looks for any financial entanglements of Trump associates and relationships with Russian officials, its focus could land again on the intertwining of Russia’s criminal operatives and its intelligence services.

Russian organized crime has manifested itself over the decades in more conventional forms of money laundering, credit card fraud and black market sales. Justice Department prosecutors have repeatedly racked up convictions for those offenses.

In recent years, though, the bond between Russian intelligence agencies and criminal networks has been especially alarming to American law enforcement officials, blending motives of espionage with more old-fashioned greed. In March, for instance, two hired hackers were charged along with two officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service in a cyberattack on Yahoo Inc. in 2013.

It’s too early to know how Russian criminal networks might fit into the election meddling investigation, but central to the probe are devastating breaches of Democratic email accounts, including those of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. U.S. authorities have blamed those hacks on Russian intelligence services working to discredit Clinton and help Trump — but have said the overall effort involved third-party intermediaries and paid Internet trolls.

Former law enforcement officials say Russian organized crime has been a concern for at least a couple of decades, though not necessarily the most pressing demand given finite resources and budget constraints. The threat is diffuse and complex, and Russia’s historic lack of cooperation has complicated efforts to apprehend suspects. And the responsibility for combatting the problem often falls across different divisions of the FBI and the Justice Department, depending on whether it’s a criminal or national security offense — a sometimes-blurry boundary.

“It’s not an easy thing to kind of grasp or understand, but it’s very dangerous to our country because they have so many different aspects, unlike a traditional cartel,” said Robert Anderson, a retired FBI executive assistant director who worked counterintelligence cases and oversaw the criminal and cyber branch.

“You have to know where to look, which makes it more complicated,” he added. “And you have to understand what you’re looking for.”

Federal prosecutors continue to bring traditional organized crime cases, such as one last month in New York charging 33 members and associates of a Russian crime syndicate in a racketeering and extortion scheme that officials say involved cargo shipment thefts and efforts to defraud casinos. But there’s a heightened awareness about more sophisticated cyber threats that commingle the interests of the government and of criminals.

“An organized criminal group matures in what they do,” said retired FBI assistant director Ron Hosko. “What they once did here through extortion, some of these groups are now doing through cyberattack vectors.”

Within the Justice Department, it’s been apparent since the collapse of the Soviet Union that crime from that territory could affect national security in Europe and the U.S. Acting FBI director Andrew McCabe was years ago a supervisory special agent of a task force created to deal with Eurasian organized crime.

A 2001 report from the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice, a research arm, called America “the land of opportunity for unloading criminal goods and laundering dirty money.” It said crime groups in the region were establishing ties to drug trafficking networks, and that “criminally linked oligarchs” might work with the government to undermine competition in gas, oil and other strategic markets.

Three months later came the Sept. 11 attacks, and the FBI, then under Mueller’s leadership, and other agencies left no doubt that terrorism was the most important priority.

“I recall talking to the racketeering guys after that and them saying, ‘Forget any focus now on organized crime,'” said James Finckenauer, an author of the report.

Besides cyber threats, Justice Department officials in recent years have worried about the effect of unchecked international corruption, creating a kleptocracy initiative to recover money plundered by government leaders for their own purposes.

In 2014, then-Attorney General Eric Holder pledged the Justice Department’s commitment to recouping large sums believed to have been stolen during the regime of Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president chased from power that year.

That effort led to an FBI focus on Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman who did political consulting work on behalf of Yanukovych’s pro-Russia political party and who remains under scrutiny now.

But those same foreign links have also made cases hard to prove in court.

In many instances, foreign criminal hackers or those sponsored by foreign governments — including China, Iran and Russia — have remained out of reach of American authorities. In some cases, judges have chastised U.S. authorities for prosecutorial overreach in going after international targets.

A San Francisco federal judge, for instance, in 2015 dismissed an indictment involving two Ukrainian businessmen who’d been accused of bribing an official at a United Nations agency responsible for creating standards for machine-readable international passports.

The judge said he couldn’t understand how the government could apply a foreign bribery law to conduct that had no direct connection to the U.S.

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Russia Scandal Takes An Alarming Turn For Trump World:


On Thursday night, the Wall Street Journal published an important piece on Donald Trump’s Russia scandal, noting that a longtime Republican operative, Peter Smith, assembled a team that set out to obtain Hillary Clinton emails. To that end, Smith and his cohorts reached out to people they believed to be Russian hackers, affiliated with Russia’s government, because Smith and his cohorts thought these hackers may have stolen the materials.

The point, as we discussed last week, was to then use the stolen documents in the United States, exploiting materials from Russia to affect the American election. In other words, we’re talking about a group of folks who, in a rather literal sense, tried to collude with Russia as part of the country’s attack on our election.

Just as importantly, while Smith wasn’t officially part of Trump’s presidential campaign, he did tell multiple people on multiple occasions that this project was coordinated with Michael Flynn – who at the time was a senior adviser to Trump, and who went on to become the White House National Security Advisor in the Trump administration.

Over the holiday weekend, the Wall Street Journal moved the ball forward with some additional details.

A longtime Republican activist who led an operation hoping to obtain Hillary Clinton emails from hackers listed senior members of the Trump campaign, including some who now serve as top aides in the White House, in a recruitment document for his effort.

The activist, Peter W. Smith, named the officials in a section of the document marked “Trump Campaign.” The document was dated Sept. 7, 2016…. Officials identified in the document include Steve Bannon, now chief strategist for President Donald Trump; Kellyanne Conway, former campaign manager and now White House counselor; Sam Clovis, a policy adviser to the Trump campaign and now a senior adviser at the Agriculture Department; and retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, who was a campaign adviser and briefly was national security adviser in the Trump administration.

So, we’re talking about some of the first real evidence of collusion between a Republican in the U.S. and Russians hoping to help put Donald Trump in power. These new reports are shining light on who this Republican was working with – and the possibility of this man, Smith, working as an intermediary between the Trump campaign and the foreign adversary that attacked the American election.

Indeed, according to Smith, who died in April, he was in communications with top members of Trump’s campaign team while he was trying to collude with Russian agents to obtain Clinton emails.

What’s more, Lawfare published a provocative piece late on Friday night from security consultant Matt Tait, who described having worked briefly with Smith on his Clinton-email endeavor. “[I]t was immediately apparent that Smith was both well connected within the top echelons of the campaign and he seemed to know both Lt. Gen. Flynn and his son well,” Tait wrote. “Smith routinely talked about the goings on at the top of the Trump team, offering deep insights into the bizarre world at the top of the Trump campaign.”

His piece added, “The combination of Smith’s deep knowledge of the inner workings of the campaign, this document naming him in the ‘Trump campaign’ group, and the multiple references to needing to avoid campaign reporting suggested to me that the group was formed with the blessing of the Trump campaign.”

As for the high-profile names Smith referenced as his contacts in Trump World, Tait wrote, “My perception … was that the inclusion of Trump campaign officials on this document was not merely a name-dropping exercise. This document was about establishing a company to conduct opposition research on behalf of the campaign, but operating at a distance so as to avoid campaign reporting.”

Trump and his allies wanted Clinton’s deleted emails. The GOP candidate wasn’t shy on this point, declaring at a press conference last summer, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re about to find the 30,000 [Clinton] emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That will be next.”

To that end, a Republican financier went to work trying to find those emails, talking to Russian agents, and telling people he hoped to serve as intermediary between Russian contacts and people he knew on Team Trump.

In recent months, those watching this scandal progress haven’t just wondered about possible collusion and cooperation between the Trump campaign and Moscow. We’ve also asked related questions such as, what would that collusion look like? In what form? Through what mechanisms?

A possible answer is coming into focus.

Broker, Mobster, Fraudster and Trump Associate Felix Sater Agrees to Cooperate With Investigation:

By Mark Sumner – Thursday Jul 06, 2017

This is news that is likely to be heard wherever Donald Trump is staying tonight.

… Russia-born real estate dealmaker Felix Sater, who allegedly has organized crime links, had agreed to assist in an international probe into a Kazakh family’s real estate dealings in the U.S.— including one of Trump’s most famed properties, the Trump SoHo in downtown New York City.

Donald Trump’s relationship to former Bayrock executive Felix Sater is both complicated and deep. A decade ago, Trump was nursing a fresh bankruptcy and had burned so many bridges that legitimate sources wouldn’t lend him a dime.

By the 2000s, the property developer and casino owner with ready access to the capital markets and the biggest New York banks was no more.

Donald Trump, pretend real estate guy, did his pretending at the Trump Soho—a building actually constructed by a Kazkh oligarch and a company called Bayrock, where the number two guy was Felix Sater.

As a principal in the Bayrock Group, which worked with both Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump on a number of real estate deals between 2002 and roughly 2011, Sater worked to construct the Trump SoHo, Bloomberg reports. Sater has also previously claimed to have links to both the Kremlin and Russia’s KGB, the older version of Russia’s top security and intelligence services—now the FSB and SVR.

For Sater, the KGB isn’t even the most sordid part of his past—a past that features a stint as a mob informant.

He dropped out of college and began working as a stock broker. But in his late 20s he got into bar fight where he stabbed a fellow broker in the face with a shattered glass. He did time in prison for this attack. After he got out he got involved in a major securities fraud scheme (basically a ‘pump and dump’ operation) tied to the Genovese and Colombo crime families.

For Donald Trump, Sater’s agreement to roll over on Bayrock and its collection of former Soviet oligarchs is a very big deal. From the KGB, to the Mafia, to Donald Trump. Felix Sater has followed the money no matter what he had to do to find it. But he hasn’t been exactly mum about his former associates.

Mr. Sater pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering in the Wall Street case in 1998 as part of an agreement with US prosecutors to serve as a confidential informant in investigations involving organised crime and national security.

Now Sater seems set to protect himself again by describing his relationship to Trump.

In May, Trump told NBC that he has no property or investments in Russia. “I am not involved in Russia,” he said.

But that doesn’t address national security and other problems that might arise for the president if Russia is involved in Trump, either through potentially compromising U.S. business relationships or through funds that flowed into his wallet years ago. In that context, a troubling history of Trump’s dealings with Russians exists outside of Russia: in a dormant real-estate development firm, the Bayrock Group, which once operated just two floors beneath the president’s own office in Trump Tower.

Trump made efforts to disown Sater during the campaign, even saying that he had no idea who ran the Bayrock Group. He should expect a reminder. Including a refresher about this little incident:

Trump testified under oath in a 2007 deposition that Bayrock brought Russian investors to his Trump Tower office to discuss deals in Moscow, and said he was pondering investing there.

Trump didn’t buy any towers in Moscow. Why? Because in 2007, Donald Trump had no money. He was busy faking returns for the Taj Mahal Casino to make it look profitable to investors while hiding from tax collectors. It was the year that Trump was dragged into court and made to face that his “empire” was built on lies.

Trump had brought it on himself. He had sued a reporter, accusing him of being reckless and dishonest in a book that raised questions about Trump’s net worth. The reporter’s attorneys turned the tables and brought Trump in for a deposition. …

Trump had misstated sales at his condo buildings. Inflated the price of membership at one of his golf clubs. Overstated the depth of his past debts and the number of his employees.

Trump’s funds were disappearing. His ability to secure new finances was nonexistent. His visit from Russian investors wasn’t about bringing Trump to Moscow. It was about bringing Moscow to Trump.

… a series of very deep studies published in the [Financial Times] examined the structure and history of several major Trump real estate projects from the last decade—the period after his seventh bankruptcy and the cancellation of all his bank lines of credit. …

The money to build these projects flowed almost entirely from Russian sources. In other words, after his business crashed, Trump was floated and made to appear to operate a successful business enterprise through the infusion of hundreds in millions of cash from dark Russian sources.

He was their man.
And now the man who delivered Trump to the Russian investors is ready to tell his story to investigators. A story that other people involved are already starting to spill.

In a series of interviews and a lawsuit, a former Bayrock insider, Jody Kriss, claims that he eventually departed from the firm because he became convinced that Bayrock was actually a front for money laundering.

This is a hunt that’s likely to find a whole cauldron full of witches. Let’s have one more description of Trump’s long-time partner.

One of Bayrock’s principals was a career criminal named Felix Sater who had ties to Russian and American organized crime groups. Before linking up with the company and with Trump, he had worked as a mob informant for the U.S. government, fled to Moscow to avoid criminal charges while boasting of his KGB and Kremlin contacts there, and had gone to prison for slashing apart another man’s face with a broken cocktail glass.

Talk up a storm, Felix. Maybe Robert Mueller would like to hear from you, as well.

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Sincery yours,
The Info Global Online Team!


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