Nel's New Day

June 9, 2018

Russian, Chinese Involvements Expand

While Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gives a few tweets and alienates our former allies, a member of the Congress is trying to slow down meddling by foreign nations in U.S. elections. Until DDT, notifying the FBI seems like a natural response for any candidates if foreign nations contact them about helping their campaign. DDT’s campaign members, however, didn’t bother to mention their frequent contacts with Russians to federal law enforcement, even after major party presidential nominees “were urged to alert the FBI about any suspicious overtures to their campaigns.” Therefore Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) is promoting the Duty to Report Act which would “explicitly require candidates and campaigns to notify the FBI if anyone representing a foreign power offers dirt on that candidate’s opponents.” He writes:

“[T]he legislation would make it a crime for candidates, their immediate family, or people involved with their campaign to fail to notify the FBI if any of them are told about, are offered, or receive in an unsolicited way nonpublic, materially significant information about another person running for the same office, when they know or recklessly disregard that the source is a foreign power or agent of a foreign power.”

The bill has 16 co-sponsors—all Democrats. Republicans may still be trying not to offend the man who signs their bills and names their far-right appointments.

Robert Muller continues his investigation, filing new charges against Paul Manafort for conspiracy against the U.S., laundering money, false statements, and conspiracy to obstruct justice in his attempt to coach witness testimony.  A judge decides on June 15 whether Manafort goes to jail after he was caught contacting witnesses in violation of his release before his trial and tried to control their testimony. This highly detailed article following Manafort’s involvement in the Russian takeover of Ukraine uses a variety of documents to explain the threads and indicates that any DDT pardon for Manafort won’t cover state-level activities that can be prosecuted.

An obstruction of justice indictment for coaching witnesses against Konstantin Kilimnik, overseer to Manafort’s Kiev office who has been repeatedly linked to Russian intelligence services, makes 20 Mueller indictments in the past year’s investigation. Kilimnik is currently missing, presumably in Russia after Ukraine allowed him to move there. A timeline of Mueller’s first 388 days.

Mueller also asked witnesses in the investigation to give him their personal phones so that his team can read encrypted texts, conversations with DDT’s associates. They received Manafort’s encrypted messages last month. On his popular Fox program, Sean Hannity recommends breaking the law: he told Mueller witnesses to protect themselves by destroying their cellphones. A response to this illegal advice:

“18§1512 Whoever corruptly persuades another person or attempts to do so with intent to alter, destroy, mutilate or conceal an object with intent to impair the object’s  integrity or availability for use in official proceeding shall be fined or imprisoned not more than 20 years.”

A new link in the Russian scandal has appeared through the connection between former GOP Rep. Curt Weldon (PA), who lost his election in 2006 after a number of ethics charges against him, and the $500,000 payment by Columbus Nova to DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Weldon’s decade-long ties to former Ukrainian Parliament member Andrii Artemenko, interviewed twice in the Mueller investigation, led to possible funding of a peace plan lifting sanctions on Russia by Viktor Vekselberg, co-founder of the Renova Group, a U.S./Russian venture company that lists Columbus Nova as part of its structure. Weldon has strongly supported Russia, stating that “the U.S. is much worse in many ways.” In January 2017 after DDT’s inauguration, Cohen met with Artemenko and Felix Sater, Cohen’s friend and DDT’s former business partner, and agreed to deliver the peace plan, approved by Vladimir Putin’s aides, to Michael Flynn, then DDT’s national security adviser. The full story.

Brittany Kaiser, a data director with DDT’s campaign’s data firm Cambridge Analytica, met personally with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange in February 2017 “to discuss the U.S. election.” CA had offered in July 2016 to help Assange index and distribute the 33,000 emails stolen from Hillary Clinton, and Kaiser had said that she funneled money to WikiLeaks, calling the organization her “favorite charity.”

Recent information shows Ivanka Trump tried to arrange a meeting between her father and Vladimir Putin through Russian Olympian Dmitry Klokov by introducing him to DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen during the presidential campaign. The purpose was to close a business deal to make millions for DDT, a presidential candidate, and his family. Cohen turned down a meeting, saying that the Trump Organization already had an agreement in place.

Carl Cameron, former Fox political correspondent who covered DDT’s campaign, talked about how the Russians orchestrated its cyberattack on Hillary Clinton in 2016 through Roger Stone’s connections with Guccifer 2.0, a Russian military intelligence officer, and other Russian groups to elect DDT with viralizing memes and fake news on social media. Much of this information has already been made public, but Joe Romm’s article puts everything together—thus far.

After Michael Cohen’s lawyers claimed client privilege for the seized documents, a judge assigned a special master to evaluate whether this was accurate. She found 162 items out of 300,000 that should not be available to prosecutors on that basis. The deadline for reviewing all the items is June 15. After that time, documents that are not privileged can be turned over to prosecutors. If DDT wants to challenge any of the unprivileged documents, he will need to do it publicly.

DDT has dropped the term “Spygate,” perhaps because last week House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreed with Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) that there was no evidence to support DDT’s claim that the FBI put a spy in his campaign. He followed that statement by saying that DDT shouldn’t pardon himself. The conservatives got upset, and he tried to make up for his honesty by adding the next day that there is no evidence of “collusion between the Trump campaign and President Trump and Russia.” Some Republicans are consistently calling on him to step down as speaker because he isn’t running for re-election.

DDT seems to have turned on China with his tariffs but not before daughter Ivanka received 13 new trademarks from China in the past three months plus provisional approval for another eight trademarks. At this time, she has at least 25 trademarks pending review and 36 active marks with the eight provisional ones. Most of Ivanka Trump’s U.S. imports come from China. His loosening sanctions on ZTE, the telecommunications company spying on the U.S., came the day after the Chinese-owned company hired Bryan Lanza, former DDT adviser, as a lobbyist. ZTE’s reward was for DDT to tweet, “Too many jobs in China lost.”

China successfully hacked highly classified information about undersea warfare from a Naval Undersea Warfare Center contractor in Rhode Island. The information tells China what distance is necessary to detect their submarines.

During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s third state visit to China this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping award him the country’s first friendship medal and promised everlasting friendship between the two countries.

In the U.S. this week, DDT had to fill his celebration of Super Bowl winners with Washington staffers after he disinvited Super Bowl winners, Philadelphia Eagles. He was upset because several of them declined to come to the White House, but he claimed the reason for disinviting them was that they didn’t stand for the national anthem. Fox tried to pass off footage of Eagles praying as “kneeling.” No Eagles knelt during the protests to injustice, and Chris Wallace had to apologize on behalf of the network because he is he executive producer of the Shannon Bream “news” show.

Comedian Stephen Colbert compared the false news on Fox to five black and Latino teenagers wrongfully convicted of a 1989 rape:

“So Donald Trump is blaming a group of black guys for something they didn’t do. They’ll have to rename the Eagles the Central Park 53.”

DDT took out large newspaper ads calling for their execution but never apologized after their sentences were vacated because of DNA evidence and a confession from a serial rapist and murderer. Last year, DDT disinvited Golden State Warriors after star player Stephen Curry said he probably would not attend.

DDT “misrepresentations” continue with false jobs claims. Earlier this year, he bragged about job totals that were the worst in seven years. Now he tweeted:

“In many ways this is the greatest economy in the HISTORY of America and the best time EVER to look for a job! … Best Economy & Jobs EVER”

The 2.97 million jobs during his first 16 months were exceeded by President Obama’s 3.45 million jobs in the preceding 16 months. The 1.047 million jobs created in January to May 2018 tied for third in the past seven years. DDT’s GDP growth fell short not only of his promises but also across much of President Obama’s two terms.

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