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.
2017.12.04 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 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) 2017.12.06 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) 2017.12.13 Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein defended special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in the face of critical questioning Wednesday from the House Judiciary Committee about whether bias might have infected Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, that he had not seen good cause to fire Mueller, and disputed that the probe is a "witch hunt" as Donald Trump has claimed. washingtonpost.com (See also Legal Issues) 2017.12.13 Donald Trump Jr. met with the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee for 9 hours, as part of the panel’s investigation into Russia, the 2016 U.S. election and whether his father’s election campaign colluded with Moscow. reuters.com (See also Donald Trump Jr, Legal Issues, Trump Relationship with Russia, 2016 Campaign, 2016 Election) 2017.12.14 Fourteen former national security, intelligence, and foreign policy officials who have served at senior levels in Republican and Democratic administrations recently wrote an amicus brief as part of a lawsuit brought against Donald Trump's campaign and Roger Stone, his longtime confidant. businessinsider.com (See also Legal Issues, Trump Relationship with Russia, 2016 Campaign) 2017.12.15 Buried in campaign finance reports available to the public are connections between a group of wealthy donors with ties to Russia and their political contributions to Donald Trump and a number of top Republican leaders, and thanks to changes in campaign finance laws, the political contributions are legal. dallasnews.com (See also Russia, Trump Relationship with Russia, Corruption) 2017.12.15 Special Counsel Robert Mueller has requested that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked for President Donald Trump’s campaign, turn over documents as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, according to people familiar with the matter. wsj.com (See also Legal Activity, 2016 Campaign, 2016 Election, Steve Bannon, Trump Relationship with Russia) 2017.12.22 Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon and his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski have been asked to testify to House lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. bloomberg.com (See also Steve Bannon, 2016 Election, Legal Issues) 2017.12.22 The Associated Press found that a Russian hacking group targeted at least 200 journalists, publishers and bloggers as early as mid-2014 up to a few months ago. apnews.com (See also Russia, 2016 Campaign, Assaults on Civil Liberties) 2017.12.27 Special counsel Robert Mueller has begun to question Republican National Committee staffers about the party's 2016 campaign data operation, which helped President Donald Trump's campaign team target voters in critical swing states. businessinsider.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia, 2016 Campaign, Legal Issues, Jared Kushner) 2017.12.30 George Papadopoulos, a Trump foreign policy adviser, was the improbable match that set off a blaze that has consumed the first year of the Trump administration. nytimes.com (See also 2016 Campaign, Russia, Trump Relationship with Russia, Legal Issues) 2018.01.04 Donald Trump gave firm instructions in March to the White House’s top lawyer: stop the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, from recusing himself in the Justice Department’s investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s associates had helped a Russian campaign to disrupt the 2016 election. nytimes.com (See also Jeff Sessions, Department of Justice, 2016 Election, Corruption) 2018.01.17 US authorities are poring over hundreds of newly uncovered payments from Russian diplomatic accounts, including transactions by former ambassador Sergey Kislyak 10 days after the 2016 presidential election and a blocked $150,000 cash withdrawal five days after the inauguration. buzzfeed.com (See also Trump Relationship with Russia, Corruption, 2016 Election) 2018.01.29 Mike Pompeo said there had been no significant diminishing of Russian attempts at subversion in Europe and the US, and that the director of the CIA expects that Russia will target the US mid-term elections later this year. bbc.com (See also Mike Pompeo, Russia) 2018.02.08 The U.S. official in charge of protecting American elections from hacking says the Russians successfully penetrated the voter registration rolls of several U.S. states prior to the 2016 presidential election. nbcnews.com (See also 2016 Election, Department of Homeland Security) 2018.02.13 Russia is already meddling in the midterm elections this year, the top American intelligence officials said, warning that Moscow is using a digital strategy to worsen the country’s political and social divisions. nytimes.com (See also Russia, Trump Relationship with Russia, 2016 Election) 2018.02.15 Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates is finalizing a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller's office, indicating he's poised to cooperate in the investigation, according to sources familiar with the case. cnn.com (See also Corruption, Legal Issues) 2018.02.16 The special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations with illegally trying to disrupt the American political process, including efforts designed to boost the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump and hurt that of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. nytimes.com (See also 2016 Campaign, 2016 Election, Legal Activity)
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.