Who Are These Russians?

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  • 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. (See Senate Judiciary letters to Paul Manafort below) These are arranged by subject matter, though many characters overlap.



The June 2016 Meeting at Trump Tower

ARAS AGALAROV: Azerbaijani-Russian oligarch; father of Emin Agalarov, friend of the Trump family; connected to Vladimir Putin. Involved in the June 2016 meeting. Sponsor of the Trump Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Founder and president of the Crocus Group, a real estate development company. Mentioned in the Steele dossier. More here and here.

Emin Agalarov, Donald Trump, Aras Agalarov at the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow.

EMIN AGALAROV: Russian pop star and friend of the Trump family; his PR is managed by Ron Goldstone; son of tycoon Aras Agalarov; involved in arranging the June 2016 meeting. Emin and his father lunched with Donald Trump in 2013 at the Moscow Ritz Carlton; he claimed in a tweet to know what occurred in the hotel room via a tweet shortly after Trump’s election. More here and here.

RINAT AKHMETSHIN: Russian-American lobbyist, present during the June 2016 meeting; former intelligence agent in the Soviet army. More here and here.

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ROB GOLDSTONE

ROB GOLDSTONE: English publicist and friend of the Trump family who arranged the June 2016 rendezvous with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner. Represents Emin Agalarov. Operates a PR company called Oui 2 Entertainment. Served as a judge in Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe pageant. More here and here.

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IRAKLY KAVELADZE

IRAKLY KAVELADZE: The eighth person in the room during the June 2016 meeting; U.S. citizen born in the former Soviet Georgia, VP of Crocus, the Agalarov business; reportedly a key player in a Russian money-laundering scheme. More here and here.

ANATOLI SAMOCHORNOV: The translator for Natalia Veselnitskaya during the June 2016 meeting; ex-State Department contractor. More here.

Natalia Veselnitskaya
NATALIA VESELNITSKAYA

NATALIA VESELNITSKAYA: Moscow attorney present at the June 2016 meet-up where she reportedly left a folder with “dirt” on Hillary Clinton for the Trump trio. Strong supporter of Putin; headed up a pro-Russian lobbying effort attacking the Magnitsky Act in the US.  More here and here.


The Steele Dossier Mentions

CHRISTOPHER STEELE: Former intelligence agent with UK’s M16 agency who was contracted to compile opposition research on then-candidate Donald Trump. The resulting dossier alleges an active campaign by Putin to damage Hillary Clinton and install Trump as president.  More here, here and here.

Senate ltr to Manafort p1

ALFA GROUP: Includes Alfa Bank, the largest privately owned bank in Russia; controlled by Mikhail Fridman. An article in Slate by Franklin Foer reported on an unusual configuration between a server in Trump Tower which “appeared to communicate almost exclusively with two servers registered to Alfa Bank in Moscow.” Mentioned in the Steele dossier, though misspelled. More here and here.Senate ltr to Manafort p2

Copy of the Senate Judiciary requests for documents sent to Paul Manafort with listed names.

PETR AVEN: Russian billionaire and head of Alfa Bank and stakeholder in the Alfa Group with Mikhail Fridman. More here, here and here.

ANDREI BONDAREV: Russian diplomat who replaced Mikhail Kalugin in Washington, DC according to this source.

MICHAEL COHEN: Trump’s longtime lawyer mentioned in the Steele dossier as the go-between for Kremlin officials and the Trump campaign. Under investigation by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and the FBI. More here and here.

IGOR DIVYEKIN: Mentioned in the Steele dossier as one of two Kremlin officials who secretly met with Carter Page in Moscow in July 2016 during which the subject of kompromat on then-candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was broached. Divyekin, a top Kremlin official, also talked about “issues of future bilateral energy cooperation and prospects for an associated move to lift Ukraine-related western sanctions against Russia,” according to the dossier. More here and here.

MIKHAIL FRIDMAN: Co-founder and largest stakeholder of the Alfa Group and founder of LetterOne; Ukranian-Russian billionaire and business magnate with Israeli citizenship and ties to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. More here, here and here.

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PETR AVEN (left) and MIKHAIL FRIDMAN

OLEG GOVORUN: Named in the Steele dossier as an intermediary who communicates with executives of Alfa Bank and the Russian government. Govorun is minister of regional development for Russia. More here.

 

ALESEJ GUBAREV
ALEKSEJ GUBAREV

ALEKSEJ GUBAREV: Former Soviet cosmonaut who operates Webzilla, a web hosting company; CEO of XBT Holdings; mentioned in the Steele dossier. Gubarev is suing BuzzFeed News for publishing the dossier. More here and here.

 

SERGEI IVANOV: Putin‘s longtime ally and former chief of staff. He and Putin worked together in the FSB. Mentioned many times in the Steele dossier. In August 2016, he is portrayed as angry about the Kremlin’s clandestine operation to smear Hillary Clinton, particularly about the release of a Clinton advisor’s email via Wikileaks. Putin fired Ivanov that same month. More here and here.

MIKHAIL KALUGIN: Russian diplomat working in Washington, DC who was under scrutiny as a spy working to alter the 2016 US election. Mentioned in the Steele dossier though his name was misspelled. More here and here.

GERMAN KHAN: Ukranian billionaire. Co-founder of Alfa Group and major shareholder with Fridman‘s LetterOne. Has dual Israeli citizenship and ties to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. More here and here.

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SERGEI MILLIAN

SERGEI MILLIAN: Born in Belarus and now an American citizen and head of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, Millian is widely believed to be “Source D” mentioned in the Steele dossier. Source D claimed to be present at the Moscow Ritz Carlton where Trump’s sexual peccadilloes took place, which is the alleged kompromat held on him by Putin. More here and here.

JILL STEIN: American citizen and 2016 Green Party presidential candidate mentioned in the Steele dossier as part of the Kremlin strategy to draw primary votes away from Hillary Clinton. Invited to Moscow and sat at the head table with President Putin along with Micheal Flynn and the Kremlin’s upper echelon. More here and here.

RITZ CARLTON MOSCOW HOTEL: Site of the alleged “golden showers” taped episode with Donald Trump and Putin-supplied prostitutes, leading to the Kremlin’s blackmail material. According to the the Steele dossier, there was at least one witness: “Source D” believed to be Sergei Millian. Emin Agalarov, who dined with Trump at the hotel, also implied he was a witness. More here, here and here.

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OLEG SOLUDUKHIN: “Russian official for Rossotrudnichestvo, an external arm of the Russian foreign ministry in Prague,” who allegedly met with Trump lawyer Michael Cohen in the fall of 2016. Mentioned in the Christopher Steele dossier. More here and here.

WEBZILLA B.V.: an Amsterdam-based international web hosting company run by Gubarev. More here and here.

XBT HOLDINGS S.A.: a global internet hosting company run by Gubarev. More here.


The Putin Circle

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Rosneft’s Igor Sechin (right) shown in this 2014 photo with Exxon’s Stephen Greenlee (left) and Putin in the rear. Photo: Reuters

SERGEI KIRIYENKO: Head of domestic policy in the Russian Federation, formerly head of Russia’s nuclear power agency, and former prime minister; longtime friend of Vladimir Putin who introduced Putin to the Russians when he was an unknown KGB agent. More here and here.

SERGEI KISLYAK: Putin’s Ambassador who reportedly had multiple, secret contacts with members of the Trump campaign team, including Mike Pence, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner and conversed with Michael Flynn after the election about easing or removing the sanctions put in place by President Obama as a result of the Kremlin’s interference nin the election.  More here, here and here.

KONSTANTIN KOSACHEV: Russian politician; head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian Federation. More here and here.

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Russia’s Foreign Minister SERGEI LAVROV (left) with DONALD TRUMP and Russian Ambassador SERGEI KISLYAK, meeting in the Oval Office, May 2017.

SERGEY LAVROV: Russia’s Foreign Minister and one of Putin’s most vocal representatives. In May 2017, Lavrov was invited to the White House by Trump along with Sergei Kislyak for a closed-door meeting, covered by the Russian-state press only. Mentioned in passing in the Steele dossier as a possible casualty should the Kremlin’s undermining of the presidential election backfire. More here and here.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Putin’s hand-selected, stand-in Russian president who served during Putin’s term limit restriction from 2008-2012. Current Prime Minister and Putin mouthpiece who publicly berated Trump after Congress enacted sanctions against Russia. More here and here.

DMITRY PESKOV: Spokesperson for Putin who has appeared on a number of American news shows to blast all talk of Russian interference in the 2016 election.  More here and here.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: President of the Russian Federation implicated in a clandestine effort to alter the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.

ap_04122302959_468ROSNEFT: the Russian state-controlled oil and gas producer from which Putin derives his immense wealth. Igor Sechin is its chief executive. Multiple sanctions on the Moscow-based company have been levied by the Obama administration, Western countries and most recently by the US Congress. More here and here.

IGOR SECHIN: Russian oligarch and close ally of Putin; top executive at Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil company. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US and Europe levied sanctions against Rosneft and four other big energy companies. More here and here.

YURI USHAKOV: Longstanding foreign affairs advisor and spokesman for Putin. More here.

Vladimir Putin Appoints Anton Vaino as Kremlin Chief of Staff
ANTON VAINO with VLADIMIR PUTIN

ANTON VAINO: President Vladimir Putin‘s Chief of Staff who replaced S. Ivanov in August 2016. More here and here.

VIKTOR YANUKOVYCH: The Putin-backed president of Ukraine, ousted from office and now on trial for treason in Kiev.  Following his ouster, he fled to Russia where he has safe haven with Putin. Yanukovych owes his office partly to the efforts of Paul Manafort and Tad Devine, the chief of staff for Bernie Sanders during his primary run. More here.


The Trump Campaign

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MIKE FLYNN

MICHAEL FLYNN: The Trump Administration’s National Security Advisor who was forced to resign after news sources revealed he’d been in secret contact with various Kremlin officials. The then-Attorney General Sally Yates notified the White House ethics lawyer that Flynn was in danger of compromise by the Russian government but it took another two weeks before Flynn was forced out. Under scrutiny by multiple US entities, Flynn tried to get immunity for his testimony but apparently was unsuccessful. More here, here and here.

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COREY LEWANDOWSKI

COREY LEWANDOWSKI: Trump’s divisive campaign manager fired from his job; hired as a political commentator at CNN and then resigned, thinking he would have a position in the Trump Administration. After CNN, Lewandowski worked for a short time with the One America network before being fired. More here, here and here.

Republican National Committee Holds Annual Spring Meeting In Florida
PAUL MANAFORT

PAUL MANAFORT: Trump’s ousted campaign manager whose home was raided by the FBI on 26 July 2017 in the first such federal warrant of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.  Manafort’s work for Yanukovych, the ousted, Putin-backed president of Ukraine, has cast him under FBI investigation for possible money laundering and other offenses. In attendance at the June 2016 meeting. Manafort belatedly registered as a foreign agent in June 2017. More here, here, here and here.

Trump's ex-adviser Carter Page gives presentation in Moscow
CARTER PAGE

CARTER PAGE: Trump’s “foreign policy advisor” who was subsequently fired when allegations arose concerning his contacts with Russian officials. Described in the Steele dossier as having met with Igor Sechin and Igor Divyekin. One of the first of Trump’s team to be extensively questioned by the FBI in March 2017 and reportedly surveilled with a FISA court order in the summer of 2016.  More here and here.


DOUBLE WHAMMY: Mueller’s Grand Jury Coincides With Senate Requests for Info

The Special Counsel’s grand jury matches the timing of requests from two Senate committees, making this a double whammy for the beleaguered Trump administration.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller convened a grand jury in Washington D.C. recently. The Wall Street Journal broke the revelation on 3 August, quickly followed with more details from the NY Times and  The Washington Post. The actual date of the grand jury is not specific other than a reference to “a few weeks ago.”

Lost in the newest headlines is a similar probe by two US Senate committees sent on 19 July, which would coincide with the time frame of Robert Mueller’s grand jury.

The Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees requested detailed material from Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner in pursuit of their investigation into alleged Russian interference and possible collusion by the Trump campaign. The correspondence to the trio asks for “all communications to, from or copied” from dozens of names.

Judging from the listed names, many Russian, the Senate investigation is focused on the June 2016 meeting with the Trump trio, a Russian lawyer and at least four others.

The Times noted that Mueller was “investigating a June 9, 2016, meeting set up by Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, based on the expectation of getting damaging information about Hillary Clinton from a Russian lawyer.”

The timing of the Senate’s requests and Mueller’s grand jury appear to be reinforcing measures. The grand jury has issued subpoenas, which are legally binding requests for information. The Senate’s parallel actions are “requests” and are not binding. However, according to all reports, the substance of both inquiries at the very least includes the 16 June meeting.

The Trump team now faces a two-pronged assault from two different sources: the US Senate and the Special Counsel.

You can almost hear the screws tightening.


“Good night. Tomorrow will be worse.”

The moon over Moscow.

Sometimes, there’s just too much to encapsulate.

Let’s start with Friday 28 October when FBI Director James Comey gave us all a big nothing bite of a paragraph with the magic words “Hillary Clinton” and “email.” That was enough to rock the cool heads and send the hot ones into a frenzy.

Over the weekend, Comey’s nothingburger announcement morphed into a Halloween monster burger called The Comey and it is oozing with criminality.

The Democratic Coalition Against Trump was the first to level a charge. (I may be wrong but I don’t have the resources for infinite research.) It filed a complaint against the FBI Director with the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility for “interfering in the Presidential election.”

Comey’s megaphone, Jason Chaffetz, Republican House member from Utah, was likewise hit with an ethics complaint from the Coalition. That complaint was reinforced yesterday (31 October) when Richard Painter, the former Bush White House counsel, joined forces in a statement damning to both Comey and Chaffetz.

James Comey used his power as head of the FBI to attempt to influence a Presidential election. This is drastic violation of the Hatch Act that extends beyond party lines. When Comey was pressured by members of the United States House of Representatives to send a letter detailing the (sic) his investigation into Secretary Clinton’s emails, he should have known that the contents would be made public. The Members who released this letter placed partisan politics above the integrity of the FBI. We hope that investigations into Comey’s actions begin swiftly and are resolved with the same expediency.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid sent a letter to Comey accusing him of a double standard in his Friday release. Reid warned the FBI chief that he may have violated the Hatch Act and demanded Comey immediately balance the brouhaha by telling the world about the agency’s investigation into Donald Trump and players in the Russian Federation.

That letter in itself is enough to leave many aghast. Lots of black-and-white and very little grey.

Reid’s charges included a sentence that has long been simmering in Democratic circles. The FBI, wrote the long-time Senator, has “explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government.”

Now is a good time to pause and remind readers of a forecast from Rick Wilson.

I wrote about this yesterday in a post called “Oppo Bombs: When and What But Not If.”   Wilson was tweeting about it too. He also said:

How might Wilson, who is in divorce proceedings from the GOP while courting independence (Evan McMullin), be in-the-know? Maybe because McMullin is ex-CIA, and as most people know, you’re never ex-CIA (just ask John Shindler).

So here we are, the first of November, and the story bombs are firing out of pens, pointing at a cast that includes Donald J. Trump, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, a Russian bankster and oligarch, and a fellow by the name of Vlad. But to be complete, let’s not overlook Tad Devine, Bernie’s senior advisor, former Manafort partner and the force behind the deposed Putin puppet in Ukraine. Because it all began a long time ago when the comic book club “inadvertently” stole the guts out of the DNC’s computer cache. Remember that?

Back to the present.

Last night, Mother Jones gave David Corn the go ahead to roll out his undocumented article that purportedly nails Trump for the tramp that many people call him. However, Corn claims The Donald is answering to Pimp Putin.

Corn, who has built a reputation for cutting edge journalism, cites “a former senior intelligence officer for a Western country who specialized in Russian counterintelligence” for his material. The magazine stands behind Corn by stating that it has viewed material from this anonymous source – material that was forwarded to Comey’s FBI.

Here’s the bombshell:

The first memo, based on the former intelligence officer’s conversations with Russian sources, noted, “Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance.” It maintained that Trump “and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals.” It claimed that Russian intelligence had “compromised” Trump during his visits to Moscow and could “blackmail him.” It also reported that Russian intelligence had compiled a dossier on Hillary Clinton based on “bugged conversations she had on various visits to Russia and intercepted phone calls.”

Hot damn. If this has any connection to reality, we know Trump is indeed Putin’s puppet. But. No named sources. And a screaming headline worthy of The National Enquirer: “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump.”


There are just too many premature conclusions, potential ramifications, and other qualifiers to fit into this blog post. However, if the Corn report is connected to fact then the Franklin Foer article in Slate certainly moves this scenario closer to reality.

Foer’s piece, “Was A Trump Server Communicating With Russia?” was also released on 31 October. Significantly, it does use named sources as well as a cyber expert who goes by the handle “Tea Leaves”. It charts an investigation into a single server in the Trump Tower that appeared to be communicating with a Russian billionaire who also runs Alfa Bank, that country’s largest private banking institution.

Foer’s sources investigated this connection for months, examining the DNS activity logs of the Trump server. Their conclusion was inconclusive. However the investigators suggested a “digital hotline” between the Trump and the bank servers. It concluded that this hotline was a secretive channel.

…the logs suggested that Trump and Alfa had configured something like a digital hotline connecting the two entities, shutting out the rest of the world, and designed to obscure its own existence.

Meanwhile, the Halloween horror story simmered down with a report from the New York Times. Once again, no named sources. Info comes from anonymous “FBI officials” who said “Nyet!” to the Russia-Trump connection.

At face value, the Times story downplays the allegations made by Corn and Foer. And yet, there are nuances. Its report gives a blow-by-blow of every possible way in which such foreign influence could be executed. Some people might read it in the same light as Yale’s “non-endorsement” of Hillary Clinton.

For example, “FBI officials” claim the computer logs showing pings between Alfa Bank and the Trump organization server are probably just “spam.”

Computer logs obtained by The New York Times show that two servers at Alfa Bank sent more than 2,700 “look-up” messages — a first step for one system’s computers to talk to another — to a Trump-connected server beginning in the spring. But the F.B.I. ultimately concluded that there could be an innocuous explanation, like a marketing email or spam, for the computer contacts.

Nothing to worry about, folks. It’s just the largest Russian bank under Putin’s thumb spamming Donald Trump’s organization.

Perhaps these two former Facebook execs are hyping things as well.

Trick or Treat? Should voters take this gossip seriously or is it another nothingburger? Will Early Voting decide this election or will the ballots of 8 November be free of digital trickery from Russian “spam”?

Our POTUS says: Ride it out. Everything’s OK. Politics as usual.

There’s still a week to go. Will the October Surprise be dwarfed by a November to Remember?

So many questions.


|Qualifier: I stole the headline of this post from Julia Ioffe’s Twitter feed. It seems perfect.|