A little publicized Executive Order signed by Donald Trump almost a year ago may become his weapon of choice in thwarting the Trump-Putin investigation and the work of Special Counsel Bob Mueller.
Signed on 31 March 2016, Executive Order 13787 provides for a line of succession within the Justice Department.
The one-page document looks like an insignificant administrative process. It designates how officers – starting with the Attorney General through an Acting Attorney General – will be replaced, aka the order of succession. However, the section on Exceptions might raise eyebrows. Here, in innocuous detail is the following caveat: Continue reading “How An Executive Order Could Upend the Mueller Investigation”→
[Updated on 14 April 2018 with additional details related to Michael Cohen, the personal lawyer of Donald Trump.]
On 19 July 2017, the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees sent written requests to Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Donald Trump, Jr. for “all communications to, from or copied” from over 40 names.
The list of names reflects the complexity of the Senate’s investigation and points to two clear areas of inquiry.
The June 2016 meeting with the three men, a Russian lawyer and at least four others.
Multiple allegations which involve Russian government agents, Trump campaign people, Russian corporations and others as reported in the Christopher Steele dossier.
The committees are also looking at Kremlin officials and others under the influence of Putin and their contacts, if any, with the three men.
By the deadline of 4 August 2017, the committees had received thousands of pages of documents from the three men.
Below is a key to the persons and entities named in the Senate inquiries with links to more detailed information. (SeeSenate Judiciary letters to Paul Manafort below) These are arranged by subject matter, though many characters overlap.Continue reading “Who Are These Russians?”→
Unger’s research revealed Russian oligarchs and mafia clamoring to buy Trump properties in New York and Florida with many under FBI investigation for illegal gambling rings, prostitution and money laundering.
The “tower full of oligarchs,” as Bloomberg called it, became a model for Trump’s projects going forward. All he needed to do, it seemed, was slap the Trump name on a big building, and high-dollar customers from Russia and the former Soviet republics were guaranteed to come rushing in. Dolly Lenz, a New York real estate broker, toldUSA Today that she sold some 65 units in Trump World Tower to Russians.
The impetus to buy anything with the Trump name on it dates back three decades, says Unger. Dirty cash from Russian crime syndicates along with the largesse of Russian real estate developers brought Trump out of financial ruin to host The Apprentice, gain traction as a business success and launch his presidential bid.
Whether Trump knew it or not, Russian mobsters and corrupt oligarchs used his properties not only to launder vast sums of money from extortion, drugs, gambling, and racketeering, but even as a base of operations for their criminal activities. In the process, they propped up Trump’s business and enabled him to reinvent his image. Without the Russian mafia, it is fair to say, Donald Trump would not be president of the United States.
The New York Times articles implicating Donald Trump, Jr, Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner in what looks like collusion with Russia corroborate the very first entry in the Christopher Steele dossier and give a possible identity to one of his unnamed sources.
In its first bombshell report, the Times verified three crucial points from the memos prepared by Steele, a former intelligence officer with Britain’s M-16 spy agency:
Putin was engaged in an effort to help Trump and harm Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
The Kremlin had compiled information it believed might damage Clinton.
Sources close to the Trump campaign were coordinating with the Kremlin in the effort to undermine the election.
Specifically, the first Steele memo dated 20 June 2016 lay the groundwork for Kremlin interference and potential Trump team collusion. The entry noted that Putin’s people had delivered “valuable intelligence” to Trump on his “opponents” for “several years.” The wording points to an effort to undermine not just Hillary Clinton but Trump’s Republican rivals during the primary season.
The initial Steele memo from June relies on various unidentified sources. One such person, named “Source D” was a “close associate of Trump” who was directly involved in arranging Trump’s Moscow visits. This same individual was present during Trump’s “perverted conduct in Moscow” at the Ritz Carlton – the so-called golden showers defilement of the bed supposedly used by President and First Lady Obama during a previous visit. This episode is allegedly the highlight of the Kremlin’s blackmail material against Trump. According to Steele, the activity was taped.
While the identity of Source D is not certain, information from the Times article strongly suggests it is Emin Agalarov, the person who requested the meeting with Trump’s inner circle. According to the Times:
“… the beauty competition in Moscow brought the Trump family into partnership with Emin Agalarov, a pop star in Russia, and his father, Aras — a duo that develops major real estate projects in Russia and appears friendly with the Kremlin.
Since then, Emin Agalarov has repeatedly boasted of maintaining a warm relationship with Mr. Trump.
Further on in the Times story, Emin is placed at the Moscow Ritz Carlton with Trump:
Phil Ruffin, Mr. Trump’s partner at the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Las Vegas, who flew to Moscow for the competition, said he and Mr. Trump had lunch with the Agalarovs at the Ritz-Carlton.
This would lend added credence to Steele’s assertion that Emin is Source D and, importantly, that he was present at the infamous golden showers sex play at the hotel – purportedly the kompromat used to compromise Donald Trump.
It looks like Christopher Steele had it right. The Times report validates the Steele dossier and comports with the dates and details of its very first entry. Trump’s eldest son confirmed the explosive meet-up and revealed its purpose in a series of emails released yesterday.
Seen in chronological perspective, the meeting with the Russian lawyer is the start of a coordinated effort between Trump associates and Putin operatives that continued through the presidential election cycle.
It is time to revisit that collection of memos. Christopher Steele’s record gives us insight into how the Kremlin coordinated the attack on the election process and which members of Trump’s campaign team were involved.
And, it alerts us to the the next bombshell report.
The ever-expanding #KremlinGate investigation has unearthed a wide cast of figures who may soon face federal and state indictments. Their alleged crimes range from RICO violations and money laundering to conspiracy and treason. According to reports, these U.S. persons could encompass the President, his adult children, the Vice President, various surrogates, advisors and castaways of the Trump campaign, the Trump Administration, and GOP Congressional leaders.
As this murky cloud of impeachment hovers over the Trump administration, nerve-wracked Americans seek out another group of people. These are the disseminators – commentators/researchers/documentarians – who parse out the alleged offenders and their offenses, crafting an entangled network that leads to the Kremlin and back. Continue reading “Who’s On The Up and Up and Who’s Going Down #KremlinGate”→
In his fascinating Vanity Fair narrative, author Howard Blum asked whether there are two Steele dossiers – one is the 35-page document posted by BuzzFeed News and the other “a longer, more expertly crafted and sourced document, the final work product of a well-trained M.I.6 senior deskman”.
Two dossiers is entirely possible. And, there can be little doubt that the dossier sitting on BuzzFeed is an incomplete product.
A study of the published dossier reveals many gaps in the number sequence, indicating that sections were pulled from public view rather than missing parts of a finished product as Blum assumes. There are also chronological gaps and one undated section.
In tallying up these omitted memos, it looks like the public dossier is a bare bones copy of Steele’s full product. Upwards to 156 sections (memos) are apparently excluded, covering over three months’ of collected material from Steele. This contrasts with the 17 sections (memos) found at BuzzFeed.
The most significant omissions are at the start of the work product where Steele may have pulled 79 sections covering the Summer of 2016 and from October to December 2016, where 30 memos are missing.
One of the more puzzling questions in this political universe of odd affairs has to do with what’s called the Steele Dossier and when US officials knew about its existence.
This packet of information from Christopher Steele, a former spy with Britain’s M16 agency, contains 35 pages of data gleaned from his Russian sources over a six month period extending from June through December 2016.
The dossier is the key to #RussiaGate and all that term encompasses. Its many allegations – some confirmed and others under investigation – trace a connection between Donald Trump and key players in his campaign and Russian actors. It records alleged attempts by the Russian state to deliberately harm the presidential bid of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. According to Steele’s sources, the black op was coordinated, paid and enacted by the Kremlin and Trump campaign staff. Continue reading “The Steele Dossier: Who Knew And When”→