Russian Election Interference

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How You Can Resist
How You Can Resist
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Recent Updates
Recent Updates
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Investigations[edit]

3/25/2017

  • Devin Nunes stated that Paul Manafort’s personal attorney has contacted the House Intelligence Committee and expressed a desire to appear and give testimony to the committee.[MSNBC 3/24/2019]
  • In addition to Paul Manafort, other members of Trump’s campaign and advisors have offered to talk to the House IC Committee in a public hearing, including Carter Page’s and Roger Stone about their roles in the campaign and will be questioned about any interactions or connections to Russia.[1]]
  • Roger Stone wrote a letter to the Committee in which he states that he wants to “redress” the way his actions have been characterized as treasonous.” Stone has repeatedly stated that he had a back channel to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange and then denied that he made those statements. Stone admitted that he still stays in touch with Paul Manafort but denied they were coordinating their appearance before the committee. [2]
  • Carter Page, who advised the President on foreign policy and travelled back and forth to Russia during the campaign, has denied that he was a campaign insider in contradiction to announcements by Trump in the spring. He also denies receiving any payments from Russian interests.[ http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/24/politics/roger-stone-carter-page-testify-house-intelligence-committee/index.html]
  • Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, crossed the usual boundary between Congress and the President when he went to the White House without the Democratic member of the Committee, Adam Schiff, to tell President Trump that he had found new secret reports that included the names of members of the Trump campaign, which are supposed to be blacked out, or redacted, to protect US citizens from being spied on by the Intelligence Community.[3]

New Connections[edit]

  • 3/23/2017 Further potential connections between the Trump campaign and Russia concerns a computer server of Russian Alfa Bank that looked up the Trump Organization server an excessive number of times. This points to 2,820 attempts to connect with the Trump server during a four month period when Trump’s connections with Russia were being publicized.[4]

In The News[edit]

  • 3/25/2017 A former CIA director, James Woolsey, reported that he attended a meeting with Michael Flynn and Turkish government ministers, this was during the period of time that Flynn was officially lobbying on behalf of someone linked to the Turkish government. Woolsey, a Flynn Intel Group board member who was present at the September meeting, said that Flynn and the Turkish ministers went further than talking about how to lobby for Gulen's extradition, however, and discussed how they could physically remove Gulen from the country and deliver him to Erdogan.[5]
  • 3/25/2017 Michael Flynn Failed to register his work as a lobbyist for a foreign government and the Trump administration admitted that it was aware at the time that he needed to do so.[ http://theweek.com/speedreads/685341/white-house-admits-trump-transition-team-knew-flynn-needed-register-foreign-agent]
  • 3/25/2017 In an apparent attempt to tell his supporters that the problem with Russia has been solved, The National Inquirer, which is owned by a close friend of Trump, cover read, “Trump Catches Russia’s White House Spy!”[6]


Voting Rights
What We Know About Russian Influence on the 2016 Election
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What we know generally about Russian interference in the 2016 election comes from two primary sources:

  • Director of National Intelligence (DNI) released a declassified version.[7]
  • House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held an Open Hearing on Russian Active Measures Investigation on March 20, 2016.[8][9]
 We know that Vladimir Putin, who is the autocratic leader of Russia despite having the title of president, personally ordered and directed a hostile campaign against the United States during the 2016 elections. This attack was intended to inflict damage to Hillary Clinton and her campaign and to promote the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the US.[10][11][12]
 Government officials have warned that the success of Putin’s interference in the US election of 2016 will embolden them to continue interfering both here and abroad.[13][14][15]

Russia’s campaign to influence the 2016 election was also conducted in order to:[16][17][18]:

  • Undermine faith in the US democratic process, both in the US and abroad;
  • Drive a wedge between the Intelligence Community and elected officials;
  • Undermine the position of the US as the leader of western democracies;
  • Erode US commitment to NATO;

Why Russia is Still an Enemy of the US[edit]

Putin uses violence and threats of violence to stop criticism, to stop exposure of his dealings, and to quell opposition figures.[19]

Russia wants to expand its area of control and is a threat to many US allies throughout the world, especially in Europe. The Scandinavian countries have begun increasing their military capacity.[20][21]

Vladimir Putin rules Russia as an authoritarian dictator. He acquired his power by denying citizens the right to a free press, to assemble in protest, and to express themselves freely, and by rewarding Russian billionaires, known as oligarchs. Although there are elections in Russia, they are rigged to advantage the candidates that Putin prefers.

Putin aggressively controls the press in Russia through manufacturing criminal charges and threats of violence against journalists. Many journalists have been attacked, and while it is hard to verify every event, nearly 40 journalists have been murdered since Putin took power in 2000.[22][23]

Putin deploys excessive force to repress even small protests. In 2007 he deployed 9,000 troops to arrest 170 people who were participating in a protest that involved just a few hundred protestors.[24]

In 2012, Putin charged members of a performance art group called Pussy Riot with “hooliganism” and sent two of the band members to spend two years in a hard labor camp.[25]

Putin's Strategies in US and Trump Campaign[edit]

CNN, on 3/23/2017, reported they have been informed by unnamed US officials that the FBI has information that indicates there was communication and possibly cooperation between members of the Trump campaign and Russian agents. That information includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings.[26]

FBI Director Comey stated that:[27]

 "I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed."

Adam Schiff, Ranking Member of House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, stated:[28]

 “I can tell you that the case is more than that. And I can’t go into the particulars, but there is more than circumstantial evidence now. … I will say that there is evidence that is not circumstantial, and is very much worthy of investigation.”

People Close to Trump with Connections to Russia[edit]

The connections between Donald Trump, his business, his campaign, and Russian businesses and financiers and agents of the Russian government are complex. The following infographics are a helpful guide.

RussiaConnection.jpg

More details about individuals' ties to Russia:


Stolen Data and WikiLeaks[edit]

The FBI investigation into potential cooperation between Trump campaign and Russia involves whether or not the Trump campaign directed the timing of the release of information stolen from the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton, and others.[29]One law enforcement official said the information in hand suggests, "People connected to the campaign were in contact and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready."[30]

Russian computer hackers, directed by Vladimir Putin, broke into computer networks and stole information that was later released to the public via WikiLeaks, run by Julian Assange, and DC Leaks, which appeared in 2016 to damage Hillary Clinton.[31]Roger Stone, a long time advisor to Donald Trump, has admitted to having a back channel to communicate with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.[32][33]And, throughout August and right up to the election Roger Stone frequently predicted the appearance of more of the stolen data.[34][35]

Fake News and Social Media[edit]

The FBI, as part of its investigation into Russia’s attack on the US election, has been exploring the role of Russian generated “bots”, which are computer generated posts to Twitter and Facebook. The FBI is also exploring the possibility that far-right media sites assisted Russian operatives in spreading pro-Trump or anti-Clinton stories via social media.These media outlets frequently tell and repeat stories that are false, or some combination of truth and fiction, and often involve conspiracy theories. The following sites have been identified as being included in the investigation:[36] [37][38][39]:

  • Breitbart News, which was controlled by Steve Bannon who is now in the White House.
  • Infowars, an online program hosted by Alex Jones
  • RT a propaganda outlet of Vladimir Putin’s Russia
  • Sputnik News[40][41][42][43]

Organizations
Timeline of Communication between Trump Campaign and Russia
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Trump and his surrogates have repeatedly said that they did not have any contact with Russian officials before the election.[44]Now that campaign members are publicly admitting to having had meetings with Russian officials, Trump and his surrogates are denying that there was anything inappropriate about the meetings.[45]

  • 2/13/17: Michael Flynn was forced to resign after it was revealed that he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the content of his conversations with Sergey I. Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States.[46]Administration officials had previously denied that Flynn had discussed sanctions on the calls with Kislyak, and Flynn may have given false testimony to the FBI.[47][48]
  • 1/12/17: President-Elect Trump and President Obama were briefed on a report drafted by the Director of National Intelligence.[49]The report, a declassified version drawing on intelligence from 19 intelligence agencies, disclosed Russia's coordinated campaign to interfere in the US election, to create a favorable environment for Trump and a negative impact on Clinton. The clandestine campaign blended covert intelligence actions, like computer hacking, with overt Russian government actions via state-run media propaganda units, such as Russia Today (RT), and paid social media users, known as trolls.[50]The report did not assess the impact of that involvement on the outcome of the election.[51]Intelligence officials also included a summary of a series of memos, now known as the dossier, that claimed that Russia had information on Trump that would make him vulnerable to blackmail.[52]
  • 12/29/16: President Obama expelled 35 Russians and closed two compounds related to Russian intelligence in response to Russian involvement in the US election.[53]
  • In December 2016, US intelligence agencies picked up communications between Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey I. Kislyak. Such conversations may break a federal statute, depending on their content, which has not as yet been made public.[54]
  • 11/10/16: Just two days after the election, the Russian deputy foreign minister stated publicly that “there were contacts” during the campaign between Russian officials and many members of the Trump campaign. “Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage,” Ryabkov said.[55]
  • 11/10/16: Speaking to Bloomberg News, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said staffers at the Russian Embassy in Washington met with members of Trump’s campaign—meetings she described as “normal practice.”[56]
  • Fall 2016: Jeff Sessions (now attorney general) spoke twice during the 2016 campaign with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislak.[57][58] In addition to being the Russian ambassador, Kislyak has also been identified as a top spy and spy recruiter for Russia.[59] Spokespeople for Attorney General Sessions said that Sessions had met with the ambassador in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and not as a representative of the Trump campaign.[60] All 26 other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee told the Washington Post that they had not met with Kislyak in 2016.[61] The Clinton campaign confirmed that they had no contact with Russia during the campaign.[62] Sessions had earlier stated, under oath, that he had had no contact with the Russian government during the course of Trump's campaign.[63][64][65]
  • Russia intentionally contributed to negative coverage of Hillary Clinton during the month of October, a critical month before the election.[66]
  • That data was disclosed at pivotal moments during the primaries and general election via Guccifer 2.0, DC Leaks, and Wikileaks, run by Julian Assange.[67]
  • July 2016: Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski revealed that he knew and approved of Carter Page’s trip to Russia.[68]
  • 7/16: During the Republican National Convention, which was held in Cleveland, Ohio, July 18 to 21, 2016, several members of the Trump campaign met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. While it isn’t unusual to have foreign representatives at national conventions or to hold meetings over that time, what is unusual was the influence the Russian ambassador appears to have had on the Republican national platform.[69]
  • 7/16: Paul Manafort, J.D. Gordon, Carter Page, and Walid Phares attended meetings with the Russian ambassador before and during the Republican National Convention.[70]
  • 7/27/16: Donald Trump openly invited Putin to hack Hillary Clinton.[71]
  • 4/27/16: Donald Trump met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, immediately prior to a speech Trump gave on foreign policy. In this speech Trump asserted that he would improve US–Russian relations.[72]
  • In 2015 Putin and the Kremlin expressed a clear preference for Donald Trump.[73]
  • 7/15: Russian hackers gained access to the computer networks of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and remained actively engaged in data collection until July 2016.[74]
  • As early as 2015, Russian-directed hackers gained entry into networks connected with candidates for the Presidential primaries, think tanks, and lobbying groups they understood as being likely to influence policy on Russia.[75]
  • 2014: Russian intelligence agents began actively gathering information on the US election system and hacked into local and state electoral boards. No evidence has been found that they accessed actual voting machines or vote tally systems.[76]
  • From 2011 to 2013, the FBI had a court-approved wire tap and other surveillance in place at Trump Tower—not to spy on Trump but to spy on a Russian crime ring that ran just three floors below Trump’s penthouse.[77]The Russians were running an extensive crime ring involving gambling, extortion and money laundering from Trump Tower that illegally brought $50,000,000 into the country.[78]In April 2013, the FBI raided the apartment. Thirty people were charged, but the ring leader, Alimzhan Tokhtakhunov, fled the country.[79]Months after the 2013 raid, Tokhtakhunov was in the VIP section of Miss Universe Moscow, not far from Trump.[80]

Financial Connections between Trump Organization and Russia
Financial Connections between Trump Organization and Russia
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Inquiries are also ongoing with regard to Donald Trump and the Trump Organization’s financial connections with Russia.[81]. Trump has refused to release his tax returns, so it is difficult to detail his financial ties, including with Russia.[82].

  • In 2013, Donald Trump brought his Miss Universe Pageant to Moscow. Aras Agalarov, a Russian billionaire/oligarch, served as the go-between Trump and Putin during the planning for the pageant in Moscow.[83]Agalarov also put together some of the financing for the Russian pageant, and signed an agreement to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, Trump's fifth attempt to do so.[84]2013 There had been a plan for Trump and Putin to meet, but Putin supposedly canceled. (This is not confirmed.)[85]

On November 13, 2016, Scott Dworkin, of the Democratic Coalition, submitted a preliminary report to President Obama and the Democratic leadership in which he identified and documented significant ties between Donald Trump and Russia.[86]:

  • Trump has 250 business registered in Russia.[87]
  • Beginning at least as early as 1987, before the collapse of the USSR, Trump travelled to Russia frequently. In 1987 he met with then-leader of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev to discuss construction of Trump properties in Moscow. He again pursued building in Moscow in 1996.[88][89] His most recent trip was in 2013, when his Miss Universe pageant was held in Moscow.[90][91]
  • Trump himself has previously confirmed that he has a relationship with Vladimir Putin.[92]
  • Trump and his son Eric have admitted to having significant business involvement in Russia.[93][94]
  • Trump’s financial difficulties in the 1980s and 1990s decreased his ability to borrow money from traditional lenders, so he turned to alternate sources of financing, many of which have links to Russia and Russian oligarchs.[95][96][97]
  • One example of Trump’s business connections to Russia is Trump Soho, which was financed by Bayrock, a Russian-affiliated criminal enterprise involved in money laundering and tax evasion. Bayrock has also been involved in financing several other Trump properties.[98]
  • Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP, one of the law firms representing Trump, has substantial connections to Russia, including an established office in Russia.[99]. The firm was named "Russia Law Firm of the Year" in 2016.[100].

Actions Taken by the Federal Government
Legislative Response to Russian Interference
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  • 3/2/17: All Democratic members of the House Committee on the Judiciary wrote to FBI Director Comey and the U.S. Attorney of the District of Columbia calling for an immediate criminal FBI investigation into Attorney General Jeff Sessions's statements to Congress, as well as into any involvement or knowledge the Trump administration and Trump campaign had about Sessions's statements.[101] The Senate Judiciary Chair rejected calls from Senate Democrats calling for Sessions to clarify his statements.[102]
  • 2/24/17: Democratic calls for an independent investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election gained momentum when key Republicans Lindsey Graham and Darrel Issa agreed that an investigation was necessary.[103]
  • 2/23/17: Senate and House Republicans have blocked Democrats' efforts to force Trump to release his taxes, but Susan Collins (R-Maine), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has suggested that the committee may use its subpoena power to obtain the tax information in order to assess Trump's ties with Russia.[104]
  • 1/10/17: Senators proposed new bipartisan sanctions against Russia, and a provision that would require Congressional approval to lift sanctions currently in effect.[105][106]
  • 1/4/17: Senate bill S.27 was submitted to establish an independent commission to examine and report on the facts regarding the extent of Russian official and unofficial cyber operations and other attempts to interfere in the 2016 United States national election, and for other purposes.

Policing
Ongoing Investigations
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While Congress has the authority to conduct some investigative inquiries into alleged abuses of power by the executive branch, the power to appoint a special prosecutor (an independent attorney not affiliated with the government) belongs to Assistant United States Attorney Dana Boente [107] now that AG Sessions has recused himself from investigations concerning the Trump campaign.

  • The Senate Intelligence Committee is conducting an investigation into Russian involvement in the election and contacts between the Trump campaign, or supporters, and Russians. They are also examining communications between Mike Flynn and Russia at the time the Obama administration expelled several Russian intelligence officers.[108]
  • 3/2/17: There are reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee has approached Christopher Steele, author of the Trump/Russia dossier, to testify to their committee. Although Steele is unlikely to travel to the United States, Senate Republicans and Democrats have both been working to arrange a meeting with Steele elsewhere.[109]
  • The House Intelligence Committee is conducting a less robust investigation, and Republican members are lukewarm about aggressively pursuing the wide range of questions.[110]
  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has an inquiry into whether or not Mike Flynn’s payment for a speech in Russia violated any Department of Defense rules, or laws regarding payments by foreign governments.[111]
  • Senate Judiciary Committee leadership on both the Democratic and Republican side has requested that the committee receive a briefing from the FBI on the events leading up to the departure of Mike Flynn.[112]
  • Intelligence Community investigations are ongoing, with regard to both Russian interference in the election and financial ties between Trump, Trump organizations, and Trump supporters, but little has been revealed publicly.[113][114]
  • Several federal agencies, including the Intelligence Community and the Treasury Department, are investigating allegations that the Russian government covertly sent money to aid President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign by using a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners.[115].
  • One of the current investigations by the FBI is whether or not Russia has compromising information on Donald Trump.[116]
  • Another FBI investigation is exploring the communication between the Trump campaign and Russia.[117]
  • By the day of Trump's Inauguration, a task force had been established involving the CIA, FBI, NSA, and other agencies to take an overarching view of all the possible actions and interactions with Russia.[118]

Recent Updates
Past Updates
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  • 3/21/17: A key witness in the case about Russian corruption (one of the cases Preet Bharara was working on before being fired by President Trump on March 11) was badly injured after either falling or being thrown from a fourth-floor window in Moscow.[119]Since 2013, US federal prosecutors have been investigating what was then a decade-long criminal ring engaged in stealing money from the Russian Federation and laundering it (making it look like legal money) in the US and elsewhere. In the US, much of that investigation was focused on money that flowed through Cyprus and wound up in New York City real estate. The case is called the Magnitsky Affair.[120][121]
  • 3/21/17: Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, announced that he will visit Moscow in April. Tillerson is known to have a close, personal relationship with Vladimir Putin.[122]