Russian Meddling in Election
The United States government announced in October 2016 that Russia had hacked the Democratic National Committee and other Democratic party operations. Hacked emails had been released publicly, some of which contained embarrassing information about the Democratic Party and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the party's presidential nominee.
Initially, U.S. intelligence agencies did not suggest the Russian hack was intended to help Trump win the election. In December 2016, however, the Central Intelligence Agency told a group of U.S. Senators that Russia had intended to help Trump win the presidency. Continued investigation revealed email accounts of some Republican congressmen, GOP non-profits, and other party organizations had been hacked, but that information had not been released.
The Washington Post quoted a senior U.S. official as saying, “It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected." Read the Washington Post article.
2017.08.21 Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-born Washington influence peddler who met with senior Trump campaign officials, has often promoted causes benefiting President Vladimir V. Putin and his allies. nytimes.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia, Legal Activity) 2017.08.24 CIA director Mike Pompeo has not impeded work looking into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, but several officials said there is concern about what he might do if the CIA uncovered new information potentially damaging to Trump. washingtonpost.com (See also Mike Pompeo, Trump Relationship with Russia, 2016 Campaign) 2017.08.24 Congressional investigators have unearthed an email from a top Trump aide, Rick Dearborn, who is now Trump's deputy chief of staff, that referenced a previously unreported effort to arrange a meeting last year between Trump campaign officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin. cnn.com (See also 2016 Election, Trump Relationship with Russia, Russia, Jeff Sessions) 2017.08.28 A business associate of Donald Trump, Felix Sater, promised in 2015 to engineer a real estate deal with the aid of the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, that he said would help Mr. Trump win the presidency. nytimes.com (See also Russia, Trump Relationship with Russia) 2017.08.28 A top executive from Donald Trump’s real estate company emailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal spokesman during the U.S. presidential campaign last year to ask for help advancing a stalled Trump Tower development project in Moscow, according to documents submitted to Congress. washingtonpost.com (See also Legal Issues, Trump Relationship with Russia, Corruption) 2017.08.28 Donald Trump discussed a proposal to build a hotel and condominium tower in Moscow on three occasions with his company’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, who emailed the press secretary for Russian President Vladimir Putin to ask for assistance on the project. bloomberg.com (See also Russia, Trump Relationship with Russia) 2017.08.30 Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on its investigation into Paul Manafort and his financial transactions, potentially providing Mueller with additional leverage to get Manafort to cooperate in the larger investigation into Trump’s campaign, as Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes. politico.com (See also Legal Activity, Trump Relationship with Russia, Corruption, 2016 Campaign) 2017.08.31 Special counsel Bob Mueller has teamed up with the IRS to assist with his investigation into alleged Russian election interference, enlisting the help of agents from the IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit, one of the federal government’s most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities, focusing exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. thedailybeast.com (See also 2016 Campaign, Legal Issues, Corruption, Trump Relationship with Russia) 2017.09.01 Paul Manafort's notes from a controversial Trump Tower meeting with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign included a mention of political contributions near a reference to the Republican National Committee. nbcnews.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia, Corruption, Legal Issues, 2016 Campaign) 2017.09.06 Amid ongoing concern over the role of disinformation in the 2016 election, Facebook said Wednesday it found that more than 5,000 ads, costing more than $150,000, had been placed on its network between June 2015 and May 2017 from "inauthentic accounts" and Pages, likely from Russia. wired.com (See also 2016 Campaign, Trump Relationship with Russia) 2017.09.06 Representatives of Facebook told congressional investigators that the social network has discovered that it sold ads during the U.S. presidential campaign to a shadowy Russian firm tied to pro-Kremlin propaganda, seeking to target voters. washingtonpost.com (See also 2016 Campaign, Trump Relationship with Russia) 2017.09.07 Donald Trump Jr. said he was open to receiving information about Hillary Clinton's "fitness, character or qualifications" when he accepted a meeting with a Russian lawyer last year in his opening statement of about 15 to 20 minutes before taking questions behind closed doors from staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee latimes.com (See also 2016 Election, Trump Relationship with Russia, Donald Trump Jr) 2017.09.11 Russian operatives hiding behind false identities used Facebook’s event-management tool to remotely organize and promote anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rallies. thedailybeast.com (See also Russia, Trump Relationship with Russia, 2016 Election, Immigration) 2017.09.11 Russian politician Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the Duma, said U.S. "intelligence missed it when Russian intelligence stole the president of the United States," on a Russian panel television show. axios.com (See also 2016 Election, Russia) 2017.09.11 The FBI recently questioned a former White House correspondent for Sputnik, the Russian-government-funded news agency, as part of an investigation into whether it is acting as an undeclared propaganda arm of the Kremlin. huffingtonpost.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia, Russia, Attempts to Discredit Media) 2017.09.13 Donald Trump's former national security adviser, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, has refused a new request to appear as a witness before the Senate intelligence committee, asserting his Fifth Amendment rights. cnn.com (See also Michael Flynn, Legal Issues, 2016 Election) 2017.09.20 Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, in an email from Paul Manafort to an overseas intermediary. washingtonpost.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia, Corruption, 2016 Campaign, Russia) 2017.09.25 Russian operatives used Facebook ads to exploit America’s racial and religious divisions during the 2016 presidential campaign. washingtonpost.com (See also 2016 Campaign, Racism) 2017.10.04 A number of Russian-linked Facebook ads specifically targeted Michigan and Wisconsin, two states crucial to Donald Trump's victory last November - where Trump won by 10,700 and 22,700 votes respectively. cnn.com (See also 2016 Election) 2017.10.04 At a rare bi-partisan news conference, Senators Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the committee’s chairman, and Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and its vice chairman, broadly endorsed the conclusions of American spy agencies that said President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia directed a campaign of hacking and propaganda to disrupt the 2016 presidential election. nytimes.com (See also 2016 Election) 2017.10.04 Two former heads of the CIA said Russia probably didn’t have the ability to microtarget U.S. voters and districts in the 2016 presidential campaign on its own, meaning some sort of assistance would have been necessary. bloomberg.com (See also 2016 Election) 2017.10.09 A newly disclosed email sent on the morning of a Trump Tower meeting held during last year’s presidential campaign between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian could offer evidence backing up the Russian lawyer’s claims that she was meeting with Trump Jr. solely to discuss a 2012 law despised by the Kremlin that imposed financial sanctions on wealthy Russians as punishment for human rights abuses. washingtonpost.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia, Donald Trump Jr) 2017.10.09 Google has found evidence that Russian agents bought ads on its wide-ranging networks in an effort to interfere with the 2016 presidential campaign. nytimes.com (See also 2016 Campaign) 2017.10.11 The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is looking at Cambridge Analytica’s work for Donald Trump’s campaign as part of its investigation into Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 race. thedailybeast.com (See also 2016 Campaign, Trump Relationship with Russia) 2017.10.13 Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, has much stronger financial ties to a Russian oligarch than have been previously reported, including that $26 million changed hands in the form of a loan between a company linked to Manafort and Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin, bringing the total of their known business dealings to around $60 million over the past decade. nbcnews.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia, Corruption, Russia)
After leaked emails from Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee were printed in the mainstream U.S. media and elsewhere, Trump invited Russian hackers to continue searching for deleted email. This is an unprecedented invitation for a foreign government to interfere in the United States political process. After 17 U.S. intelligence agencies agreed that the Russian government had sponsored hacking, Trump called the conclusion "ridiculous," an unusual repudiation of reports from intelligence agencies. He also falsely claimed that the Obama administration brought up the concern about foreign meddling in a U.S. election after Clinton's loss. He softened his tone somewhat after Republican leaders pressed for an official inquiry.
From his invitation to Russian hackers to search for Clinton's emails to his rejection of intelligence from multiple agencies and false claim that the concern was raised only after he won the election, Trump has demonstrated disregard for political norms and factual accuracy. He has sided with a foreign government over the conclusions of multiple intelligence agencies in the United States and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Russia has admitted being in touch with Trump's allies during the campaign, making its intent clear despite Trump's denials.
From The New York Times
“There shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s mind,” Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency and commander of United States Cyber Command, said at a postelection conference. “This was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance, this was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily,” he said. “This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”
Trump's relationship with Vladimir Putin following the state-sanctioned cyberattack is "baffling to anyone with a functioning brainstem," according to Van Jones. Source: CNN.
From The New Yorker: The Russian economy has been crippled by 2013 sanctions, giving Putin a reason to engage in a propaganda campaign against the United States and deny the presidency to Hillary Clinton.
From The Weeklings, Greg Olear: DAH, DONALD: RUSSIAN BLOOD MONEY AND THE FBI’S CASE AGAINST TRUMP (2017.01.24)
THIS IS AN ATTEMPT to assemble the pieces in the Trump/Russia jigsaw puzzle, to reveal the Big Picture.
My conclusions were heavily influenced by Louise Mensch‘s eye-opening January 17 essay, “Dear Mr. Putin, Let’s Play Chess.” Other sources include Seth Abramson’s “The Domestic Conspiracy That Gave Trump the Election is in Plain Sight,” which ran on the Huffington Post on the same day, and “A Brief History of the First Russo-American Cyber War,” by War Is Boring’s Bryan E. Frydenborg. The Steele dossier, the “Golden Shower” series of intelligence reports written by Christopher Steele in 2016 and subsequently released by Buzzfeed, was also a useful resource. I have exhaustively fact-checked assertions, linking to a wide range of news sources from across the political spectrum, from the Washington Post to Reuters to Breitbart.
The dramatis personae—the pile of puzzle pieces, if you will—is generally well known to most observers: Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, James Comey, Rudy Giuliani, Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Blackwater founder Erik Prince, Trump attorney Michael Cohen, “ratfucker” Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Russian moles in the NSA and the FBI’s New York field office, and an obscure Russian hacker named Yvegeny Nikulin.
This is how the pieces fit together. This is how they connect. This is what it means.
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In short, it’s about the money. Which makes sense, given Trump’s disgustingly obvious greed. The Russian oligarchs are laundering money all over creation, and Trump, with his opaque taxes and billion-dollar losses and cash business concerns, is somehow complicit in the scheme. Campaign finance, one imagines, is just the tip of the iceberg.
If he’s shown to be in debt to the Russians and the Chinese, Trump can explain that away. Fake news, he will say. So what. I won, people don’t care. Same with the Russian prostitutes. You can’t shame a man incapable of feeling shame. What is Trump afraid of? Prison. That would be the ultimate downfall for Donald Trump. The loss of his position, his social standing, his fortune, his golden throne, his access to beautiful women willing and otherwise. His Twitter account.
There is no “alternative fact” that can spin the very real possibility that Donald J. Trump will die in federal prison, alone.