Trump: Russia Investigation (4)

Trump: Russia Investigation (1)
Trump: Russia Investigation (2)

Trump: Russia Investigation (3)

Trump Parroting Russian Propaganda

Rachel Maddow identifies Trump’s comments that parrot Russian propaganda. Worth watching.

Why is Trump spouting Russian propaganda? He must have (or had) aides and advisers telling he was doing that. Why doesn’t he stop? Why does he seem to believe the propaganda and Putin over his American staff? Even if Russia doesn’t have leverage over Trump, at best, Trump doing this has to be problematic and worrying.
http://www.village-idiots.org/category/trump/

1/4/2019

Here’s the entire Deadline White House segment. It’s worth watching in my opinion.

1/25/2019

Here’s a montage of Trump citing wikileaks:

9 thoughts on “Trump: Russia Investigation (4)

  1. First thought: It’s insane that the FBI was investigating a sitting U.S. President for secretly working with an adversarial country.

    Second thought: Trump supporters are going to say the FBI was out to get Trump. This would be a concern of mine, too, but one thing I’d examine is if there is any compelling reasons to justify such actions. Without these reasons, then that would suggest the move was political. But there seems to be so many compelling reasons for opening an investigation. Indeed, there are so many, thinking of them all is difficult. Here’s a few the Times mentions:

    Mr. Trump had caught the attention of F.B.I. counterintelligence agents when he called on Russia during a campaign news conference in July 2016 to hack into the emails of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump had refused to criticize Russia on the campaign trail, praising President Vladimir V. Putin. And investigators had watched with alarm as the Republican Party softened its convention platform on the Ukraine crisis in a way that seemed to benefit Russia.

    and

    In the months before the 2016 election, the F.B.I. was also already investigating four of Mr. Trump’s associates over their ties to Russia. The constellation of events disquieted F.B.I. officials who were simultaneously watching as Russia’s campaign unfolded to undermine the presidential election by exploiting existing divisions among Americans.

    There’s so much more as well.

    Here’s a third thought: The Congressional GOP and conservative media are truly betraying the country. They are ignoring so many significant red flags, putting their party ahead of the country.

    Edit

    Wittes takes focuses on something from the Times piece I should have emphasized, and explores the implications of this–namely, Trump’s actions that could constitute obstruction of justice, could also be seen as a national security threat because an act like firing Director Comey was a way to interfere with investigating and understanding Russia’s interference in the election and the way this posed a threat (which includes Americans or Russians assisting in the process).

    He makes some other points as well, but I’m too lazy to summarize.

    Edit

    The recent news doesn’t surprise me, but confirmation that FBI opened counter-intel investigation against a sitting president reminds me how insane everything is.

    I will step back and try to take a reasonable approach at the possibility that Russia has suborned the POTUS to act in their interests, and he’s aware of this or not….Again, let me acknowledge taht uttering these words, seriously entertaining this idea, seems insane, and I’m sure makes me sound unhinged. But look at a few points:

    1. If we imagine someone like this, in what ways would they be acting different from Trump? To say it another way: Is there any evidence to provide make this claim plausible? If there is little or no evidence, then, yes, you could call me unhinged. But if there is quite a bit of evidence and reason to suspect Trump of being an agent, then you can’t really dismiss the notion;

    2. Trump has done things that has served Russia’s interests (e.g., undermining NATO, EU; used divisive rhetoric for domestic issues, etc.), but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s under the Russia’s influence. Trump could be doing these things for legitimate or benign reasons. Maybe he genuinely believes undermining NATO, unless they pay more for their defense, is in the interests of the U.S. Maybe he believes that being nice to Putin and getting along with Russia is also in the best interests of the country.

    OK. If this is the case, here’s what I would need to see. First, I would need him to explain the reasons these things are so critical. He’s has to show that he has good reasons for doing this. (It’s better to get along versus not getting along with Russia is not a good reason), and the burden on him is greater given that he has refused to release his tax forms or divest his business. If he had done both that would help us see that he was trustworthy and not in a position to profit or be blackmailed with regard to his approach to Russia. He also was not upfront about trying to build a hotel in Russia, which was an effort that was ongoing during the campaign. There are other reasons, and all of these reasons make his position a tough sell.

    Second, I’m sure advisers and Republicans have made him aware of Russia’s approach to undermining our country. He has to know this, but he has basically chosen to ignore it and continue to behave in ways that help undermine the country. Perhaps one could argue that Trump’s narcissism, rather than being under Russian influence, explains his behavior. That’s possible, but it does’t preclude Russian influence. Moreover, I’m not sure narcissism absolves Trump–he’s still behaving in ways that assists Russia achieve it’s objectives, in spite of people around him telling him that he’s doing so. If he can’t explain why this is in our country’s best interest–if he doesn’t really try–then it doesn’t seem that much different than if he was under Russian influence.

    Edit

    I saw a comment on twitter about knowing whether Trump is acting on his best interests or the country. My comment: It’s extremely difficult, or impossible to know, and that’s largely because Trump has refused to release his tax forms and divest his best. The degree of trust we have to give him is unreasonable, and it’s unwarranted because he has not behaved in way to earn that trust; really, it’s just the opposite.

    1/13/2019

    Thread from Clint Watts, former FBI Special Agent:

    Regarding this NYT story from this weekend, imagine you are a FBI Agent working Russian counterintelligence in 2016 and you witness the following:

    – you witnessed Russian hackers targeting a wide swath of Americans including the DNC, DCCC, former Secretary of State & a Presidential candidates staff

    – someone previously targeted by Russian Intelligence joins the Trump campaign and then appears on a stage in Moscow supporting Russia policy and speaking negatively of US policy

    – A Presidential candidate hires a new campaign manager whose not been in the business in the states for years, but has been seen pushing a Russian agenda in Ukraine and has Russian intel contacts

    – an Australian official contacts you and says the Russians have stolen emails of a Presidential candidate & may want to give them to the candidate’s competitor

    – a Russian lawyer & others tied to Russian government visit a Presidential candidate’s son in the candidate’s building in NYC

    – Candidate Trump stands on a stage and calls out Russia and asks about emails from his competitor, says they will be rewarded if they have them and release them

    – website that’s released sensitive & classified documents from US for years, helped deliver a US insider to The Kremlin, begins publishing document & emails during Dem convention, content you know was stolen by Russia. Site administrator once hosted a TV show on Russia State TV

    – A strange, unexpected policy change occurs at RNC convention, the change is a less supportive position toward Ukraine and is advantageous to Russia
    11 replies 123 retweets 556 likes

    – candidate’s campaign manager goes on CNN and asserts a false terrorist attack in Turkey, one tied to and advanced by Russian propaganda

    – during this time, you watch a campaign associate tweet with a Russian account that’s pointing people to stolen documents from the opposing campaign. The campaign associate predicts something will happen to the opposing campaign manager- his emails are later released

    – as Election Day approaches, Presidential candidate makes allegation, without evidence, voter Fraud & Election Rigging, Russia propaganda echoes this, social media accounts associated Kremlin do the same, at same time, you watch Russian Hackers hit state election infrastructure

    -After election, current President issues sanctions against Russia, but the incoming National Security advisor makes calls to Russian officials from 3rd country, when approached for clarification post inauguration, the advisor lies about contents of phone call w/Russian officials

    I’m almost sure there is a lot more to add. Various members of the campaign lied about contacts with Russia–Don Jr., Jeff Sessions, and Mike Flynn (who also has sketchy contacts with Russia, and given that Obama advised Trump to not select him as National Security Adviser, I have to wonder if FBI had other alarming information about Flynn). If Trump campaign never told FBI about contacts with Russian representatives, even after being warned, that would be a huge red flag as well. Jared Kushner, who has outstanding debts, spoke with the Russian Ambassador who set up a meeting with former Russian bank president. (The bank and the guy also have red flags.) Trump was also casting doubt on US intelligence community’s claim that Russian was interfering. Trump wouldn’t say negative things about the Russian President. Trump also didn’t release tax forms or divest his business. I’d also be surprise if FBI (and US IC) didn’t know Trump’s financial situation, or at least see red flags about where his money was coming from, interactions with Russian organized criminals, signs of money laundering.

    Watts has added more to the thread since my previous post:

    During summer fall leading into the election, you receive raw intelligence from highly reliable source whose proven invaluable on other investigations. source provides intelligence on Russia’s efforts to support a presidential candidate, the info is consistent with other info

    Before inauguration your bosses, your leaders from all intelligence agencies brief president elect on classified info showing Russia influenced the election on behalf of President elect. President elect rejects intelligence from all your superiors and suggests Russia innocent

    From the summer of 2015 all the way through the election and after inauguration, you watch as the candidate, president elect and now president offers overt effusive support for Vladimir Putin who you know has been helping the President get elected.

    Shortly after inauguration, your new commander-in-chief spouts false information about Polish aggression toward Belarus. This is not supported by the Intelligence community you are in, and the only source for this viewpoint is Russian propaganda

    During this period, the President inexplicably and repeatedly asks your boss if he’s under investigation with regards to Russia, despite your boss and other intel heads going out of their way to brief the President about Kremlin efforts to potentially compromise & manipulate him

    While Congressional committees investigate Russian interference, the President fires your boss for his handling of an email investigation into the President’s opponent, an investigation that helped elevate the President rather than hurt him

    You later find out a draft memo from President to your boss regarding his firing cited the Russia investigation

    The President then goes on national television and in an interview says he fired your boss because of the Russia investigation

    A week after firing your boss, the President invites Russian leaders into the Oval Office, Russian photographers capture the moment, but US media is not allowed to observe. President then brags to Russian leaders about firing your boss

    Sometime during the spring, if you’re not already aware, you read a news story alleging the President’s son-in-law may have sought a way to communicate with Russia via a back channel not monitored by you and your colleagues
    16 replies 785 retweets 4,115 likes

    During summer, you watch the President attend NATO summit and shove Montenegro PM, in an Interview claim Montenegro is aggressive, might start a war. This mirrors Russian propaganda & you know Russia backed covert operation destabilize Montenegrin election

    For next year, either you, your colleagues and your organization, FBI, are discredited by President. He mixes true and false information in public disclosures which you are not allowed to respond to. If you do respond, your accused of leaking and could be fired or even jailed

    Documents & information from confidential sources you’ve pledged to protect, are selectively leaked into public through those who are supposed to provide government oversight. These inappropriate disclosures make your job as an investigator nearly impossible & hurts your sources

    At some point during the summer or before, you learn that the President’s son was receiving & responding to direct messages from website that was releasing emails stolen from the President’s opponent by Russia

    1st two years President’s term, you watch him take a negative, adversarial stance toward NATO and particularly Germany. This strains your relationship with your most valuable intel partners, your Counterterrorism agent colleagues depend on them & they help fight war on terror

    Over next 2 years, President aggressively seeks meetings with Putin who helped elect him. Need for meetings is not clear. one President meets in private with Putin for 2 hours without witnesses but translator. To this day, you, your bosses don’t really know what was discussed

    President emerges from private meeting with Putin and on world stage in Helsinki accepts and validates Russian denials about election interference & rejects years of your teams intel work. This badly damages your reputation and partner trust with your organization

    Separately, your President publicly discusses a Russian proposed partnership on cyber security, this insane concept is mind boggling to you as an investigator as you’ve just spent years tracking these same Russians who just attacked your country

    Even further, your President publicly mentions a possible exchange where Russian investigators might interview and interrogate you and other Americans about their attack on you and America. A crazy, frightening and bizarre threat to you as a civil servant.

    Throughout your investigation into Russian interference, you watch as your President’s attacks on the Special Counsel, Justice Department & FBI are amplified and spread in America by the very Russian troll social media accounts and state sponsored propaganda you are investigating

    Throughout the Special Counsel indictments, hearings and trials, you watch the President and his legal team publicly interject, discredit witnesses and discuss pardons, all subverting the rule of law and justice which you’ve dedicated your life to protect and defend

    You either know or learn a parallel investigation shows Russians representing a bogus Russian gun rights movement penetrated the political party hosting members who’ve tried to discredit you – you recognize this as a TEXTBOOK espionage/influence op you learned at FBI academy

    After two years, the Attorney General over you, who appropriately recused himself from Russia investigation, is fired for seemingly no clear reason after taking public lashings from the President

    Your AG is replaced by an acting AG whose unqualified for position, has limited experience justify such high level appointment, you’ve watched him on TV discrediting your agency and your team’s investigation despite seeing none of evidence or knowing anything Russian influence

    The same month, the President’s personal lawyer pleads guilty in federal court and says he continued negotiations throughout almost the entire Presidential campaign for a Tower in Moscow. This is in opposition to President’s public denials.

    You read public reporting that the best apartment in the Moscow Tower project pursued by the President’s business was offered to Russia’s President Putin, the same Putin your President always sides with over you and your agency, the Putin who helped your President win

    You either knew or learned through a redaction error that the President’s campaign manager was alleged to have lied about providing polling data to a Russian whom he owed money, via a former Russian GRU contact
    17 replies 487 retweets 2,708 likes

    Wrote thread through day from memory without web searches, I’m sure I missed a lot, & this is all on the public, can’t imagine what it must feel like to serve FBI during this investigation,we clearly don’t know everything Mueller team knows, I imagine there is much more to learn

    Special Counsel investigation must continue, this is a crisis, this is a national emergency

    1. The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries.

      As a result, U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years. Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russia sought to install through what U.S. intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference.

      (emphasis added)

      Later,

      Former U.S. officials said that Trump’s behavior is at odds with the known practices of previous presidents, who have relied on senior aides to witness meetings and take comprehensive notes then shared with other officials and departments.

      The article implies that this practice is exclusive to Putin. I’m not sure if this is accurate, but I don’t recall reading anything explicit in the article.

      1/14/2019

      Interesting insights into why the note taking of meeting with foreign leaders, especially of an adversarial country, is important.

    2. Some think this is damning. I’m not sure if I’d go that far, but it would have bee better if he added an emphatic, “No!”

      1/14/2019

      Here he provides a clearer answer.

      I agree with Bharara:

  2. Interesting article. Here’s the basic premise:

    It would be rather embarrassing for Donald Trump at this point if Robert Mueller were to declare that the president isn’t an agent of Russian intelligence.

    The pattern of his pro-Putin, pro-Russia, anti-FBI, anti-intelligence community actions are so one-sided, and the lies and obfuscation surrounding every single Russian meeting and conversation are so consistent, that if this president isn’t actually hiding a massive conspiracy, it means the alternative is worse: America elected a chief executive so oblivious to geopolitics, so self-centered and personally insecure, so naturally predisposed to undermine democratic institutions and coddle authoritarians, and so terrible a manager and leader, that he cluelessly surrounded himself with crooks, grifters, and agents of foreign powers, compromising the national security of the US government and undermining 75 years of critical foreign alliances, just to satiate his own ego.

    I’m not sure if I agree with everything think in this article, but the idea that Trump not being an agent would actually not speak well of Trump is something that resonates with me. If Trump is an agent because of blackmail or a desire to personally profit from the relationship, while these motives cast him in a bad light, they are understandable, and in the case of blackmail, maybe (maybe) we could have some degree of sympathy.

    But if Trump is doing everything primarily because he is an autocrat and/or a mob boss at his core–that he understands and approaches leadership and governing like a tyrannical dictator or mob boss, and that he is totally ignorant of and/or has an aversion for Constitutional system of government and liberal democratic ideals–this would, in some ways, cast him in an even worse light. And not only Trump–it would also cast our electorate in a bad light.

    But the groups that would, does, come out looking the worst are Congressional Republicans, Republican party, Fox News, and other conservative pundits that have supported Trump. Either way, they have wittingly or unwittingly supported, protected, and empowered a president that was either a Russian agent or an authoritarian.

  3. edit

    What’s the best–most innocuous explanation–for Trump’s attempt to discredit the Mueller investigation, especially if Trump is actually innocent? Some ideas:

    1. That’s just Trump’s style–he’s fighting back. But why would he fight back if he were innocent? If you’re innocent you don’t fight back by smearing Mueller’s integrity, dangle pardons to witnesses, ask your FBI director to drop an investigation on your recently fired National Security Adviser (for lying about Russian contacts). Is he just offended by the idea that he’s being investigated? If that’s true, that makes him some like a monarch or dictator–e.g., “How dare you question whether I cooperated with Russians to win the election!” He’s not above the law, and while he may claim this is a baseless investigation, there’s too much evidence and details that suggest otherwise. He should never have publicly called on Russia to release emails; he should have stopped trying to build a hotel in Moscow, or at least he should have been transparent. The list goes on.

    2. Suppose Trump believes the investigation is primarily a political act. If he cares about the country and institutions like the DOJ and FBI, he would be careful about undermining the trust of those agencies. Based on his actions, he doesn’t really care, or is completely oblivious to the damage he’s doing–both are damning. It suggests he cares primarily about himself and not the important institutions in our country.

    Additionally, the fact that Russia is attempting to undermine Mueller investigation should give him pause, too, shouldn’t it? Yeah it should–except we already know that he and his campaign made attempts to work with Russia to win the election and the Russians actually did interfere.

  4. U.S. Withdraws from INF Treaty with Russia

    I don’t know anything about this treaty (except in involves nuclear weapons). I don’t know if the comments below are accurate or not, but it’s something to consider:

  5. Understanding Russian money-laundering and corruption is a critical contextual information to understanding the significance of the Trump-Russia matter. The article below describes the way Russia became this way and the way the U.S. has aided efforts to laundering money, not only from Russia but other countries as well. Perhaps the bigger point of the article is that corruption from Russia and other countries have also had a corrupting influence on our country, even before Trump became the president. Worth reading.

    Here’s an excerpt about the CIA chief in Russia, who testified to Congress in the late 90s:

    American officialdom, Palmer believed, had badly misjudged Russia. Washington had placed its faith in the new regime’s elites; it took them at their word when they professed their commitment to democratic capitalism. But Palmer had seen up close how the world’s growing interconnectedness—and global finance in particular—could be deployed for ill. During the Cold War, the KGB had developed an expert understanding of the banking byways of the West, and spymasters had become adept at dispensing cash to agents abroad. That proficiency facilitated the amassing of new fortunes. In the dying days of the U.S.S.R., Palmer had watched as his old adversaries in Soviet intelligence shoveled billions from the state treasury into private accounts across Europe and the U.S. It was one of history’s greatest heists.

    and

    The United States, Palmer made clear, had allowed itself to become an accomplice in this plunder. His assessment was unsparing. The West could have turned away this stolen cash; it could have stanched the outflow to shell companies and tax havens. Instead, Western banks waved Russian loot into their vaults. Palmer’s anger was intended to provoke a bout of introspection—and to fuel anxiety about the risk that rising kleptocracy posed to the West itself. After all, the Russians would have a strong interest in protecting their relocated assets. They would want to shield this wealth from moralizing American politicians who might clamor to seize it. Eighteen years before Special Counsel Robert Mueller began his investigation into foreign interference in a U.S. election, Palmer warned Congress about Russian “political donations to U.S. politicians and political parties to obtain influence.” What was at stake could well be systemic contagion: Russian values might infect and then weaken the moral defense systems of American politics and business.

    Americans shouldn’t be only concerned about donations to politicians–but any donations to institutions, private businesses, and any prominent individual from Russia or any corrupt country. Anyone that takes money can be corrupted, and the danger is that these entities will work for the interests of Russia and other countries, either through the influence of money or even blackmail.

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