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.
2017.11.11 Donald Trump dismissed probes into whether his campaign colluded with Russia as an “artificial Democratic hit job,” and said he believed Putin was being sincere when he insisted that Russia did not attempt to interfere in the 2016 election. politico.com (See also 2016 Campaign, Trump Relationship with Russia) 2017.11.17 A senior Russian official who claimed to be acting at the behest of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia tried in May 2016 to arrange a meeting between Mr. Putin and Donald J. Trump. nytimes.com (See also 2016 Campaign, Trump Relationship with Russia) 2017.11.18 White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told congressional Russia investigators that he did not communicate with WikiLeaks and did not recall anyone on the Trump campaign who had, but Kushner did receive and forward an email from Donald Trump Jr. about contact Trump Jr. had with WikiLeaks. cnn.com (See also Legal Issues, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr) 2017.11.19 Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating whether Donald Trump sought to obstruct a federal inquiry into connections between his presidential campaign and Russian operatives has now directed the Justice Department to turn over a broad array of documents, suggesting that the Special Counsel is still actively digging into, among other matters, whether Trump or any other administration official improperly tried to influence an ongoing investigation. abcnews.go.com (See also Corruption, Jeff Sessions, Department of Justice, Legal Activity) 2017.11.20 Travels by Trump campaign adviser Carter Page to meet with senior officials in Hungary during the 2016 presidential election are being closely examined by congressional investigators, given the increasingly close ties between Hungary and Russia and the role of the country as a hub for Russian intelligence activity. abcnews.go.com (See also 2016 Campaign, Trump Relationship with Russia) 2017.11.23 Lawyers for Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, notified the president’s legal team that they could no longer discuss the special counsel’s investigation, an indication that Mr. Flynn is cooperating with prosecutors or negotiating a deal. nytimes.com (See also Michael Flynn, Corruption, Legal Issues) 2017.11.30 Attorney General Jeff Sessions declined to answer Congressman Adam Schiff's question asking whether President Trump ever asked him to obstruct the ongoing investigation into Russian inference in the 2016 presidential election. msn.com (See also Jeff Sessions, Department of Justice, Corruption, Trump Relationship with Russia) 2017.11.30 Donald Trump over the summer repeatedly urged senior Senate Republicans, including the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to end the panel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. nytimes.com (See also Conflicts of Interest, Russia, Legal Issues, 2016 Election) 2017.12.01 Documents released as part of Mr. Flynn’s plea agreement show that his pre-inauguration discussions with Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, about foreign policy were part of a coordinated effort by aides running Mr. Trump’s transition into the White House, as Mr. Flynn was directed by a “very senior member” of Mr. Trump’s presidential transition team. nytimes.com (See also Michael Flynn, Trump Relationship with Russia, Mike Pence, Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus) 2017.12.01 Michael Flynn will reportedly testify that Donald Trump instructed him to make contact with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. thedailybeast.com (See also Michael Flynn, Trump Relationship with Russia, 2016 Campaign, Criminality) 2017.12.02 Legal experts pointed out Donald Trump may have publicly admitted through a tweet that he knew Michael Flynn had lied to the FBI when the president approached then-FBI Director James Comey and asked him to drop the investigation, which could then indicate an attempt to obstruct justice had taken place. politico.com (See also Michael Flynn, Legal Issues, Corruption) 2017.12.02 Michael Flynn’s admission that senior transition officials gave him orders last December casts doubt on the Trump administration’s effort to portray Flynn’s pre-inauguration diplomacy as a rogue operation, as Mike Pence, former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, and former press secretary Sean Spicer all strongly denied early this year that Flynn discussed sanctions last December with Russia’s ambassador to the US. buzzfeed.com (See also Michael Flynn, Trump Relationship with Russia, Mike Pence, Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus) 2017.12.03 A conservative operative trumpeting his close ties to the National Rifle Association and Russia told a Trump campaign adviser last year that he could arrange a back-channel meeting between Donald J. Trump and Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president, according to an email sent to the Trump campaign. nytimes.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia, Russia) 2017.12.03 As the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation draws closer to him, President Trump on Sunday unleashed an extraordinary assault on the nation’s premier law enforcement agency, calling it a biased institution whose reputation for fairness was “in tatters.” nytimes.com (See also Unpresidential Behavior, Unprecedented Actions, False Statements, Michael Flynn) 2017.12.04 As the White House contends with questions about who knew about former national security adviser Michael Flynn lying to the FBI, people close to Vice President Mike Pence are trying to make clear that President Donald Trump’s No. 2 knew nothing at all. politico.com (See also Michael Flynn, Mike Pence, Legal Issues, Criminality) 2017.12.04 John Dowd, Donald Trump's outside lawyer, outlined a new and highly controversial defense/theory in the Russia probe: A president cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice. axios.com (See also Legal Issues, False Statements, Corruption, Trump Relationship with Russia) 2017.12.04 K.T. McFarland, a former aide to President Trump, told a senator that she did not talk with Michael T. Flynn about his contacts with a Russian official, but recently surfaced emails suggest she knew of a key phone call. nytimes.com (See also Michael Flynn, Trump Relationship with Russia, False Statements) 2017.12.04 The special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Monday accused Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, of working with a Russian colleague to draft an opinion piece about his political work for Ukraine, as recently as November 30th. reuters.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia, Legal Issues, Ukraine) 2017.12.05 Democrats have placed a hold on the nomination of KT McFarland to be ambassador to Singapore until she answers their questions about her knowledge of communications between former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. cnn.com (See also Michael Flynn, False Statements, Trump Relationship with Russia) 2017.12.05 U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has asked Deutsche Bank for data on accounts held by President Donald Trump and his family. reuters.com (See also Legal Issues, Trump Business, Russia) 2017.12.06 Donald Trump Jr. asked a Russian lawyer at the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting whether she had evidence of illegal donations to the Clinton Foundation, the lawyer told the Senate Judiciary Committee in answers to written questions. nbcnews.com (See also 2016 Campaign, Donald Trump Jr, Legal Issues) 2017.12.06 Donald Trump Jr., while being interviewed privately by the House Intelligence Committee following disclosures that Democrats say must be explored in the probe of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia before the 2016 election, said that he couldn't answer questions about what he told his father after a controversial meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016, citing attorney-client privilege. bloomberg.com (See also Donald Trump Jr, Trump Relationship with Russia, False Statements) 2017.12.07 An executive at a leading Russian social media company made several overtures to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 — including days before the November election — urging the candidate to create a page on the website to appeal to Russian Americans and Russians. washingtonpost.com (See also Donald Trump Jr, Russia, 2016 Campaign) 2017.12.07 The British publicist who arranged the June 2016 meeting with Russians and Donald Trump Jr. sent multiple emails to a Russian participant and a member of Donald Trump's inner circle later that summer, the first indication there was any follow-up after the meeting. cnn.com (See also Donald Trump Jr, Trump Relationship with Russia, False Statements, 2016 Campaign) 2017.12.08 Candidate Donald Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and others in the Trump Organization received an email in September 2016 offering a decryption key and website address for hacked WikiLeaks documents, according to an email provided to congressional investigators. cnn.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia, Donald Trump Jr, 2016 Campaign)
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.