The Politex Report #1206

DID TRUMP CAMPAIGN COLLUDE WITH RUSSIA FOR FAVORS?

#

Trump dodges question about whether his campaign colluded with Russia https://t.co/GUPPVy6Pro

Like Trump at his presser, Kellyanne Conway won’t deny Trump surrogates met with Russia. https://t.co/NkbYtb79sk

#

According to the report passed to Comey [by Sen. McCain], Russian intelligence allegedly gathered compromising material during Trump’s stay in Moscow in November 2013, when he was in the city to host the Miss Universe pageant.

Another report, dated 19 July last year said that Carter Page, a businessman named by Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers, had held a secret meeting that month with Igor Sechin, head of the Rosneft state-owned oil company and a long-serving lieutenant of Vladimir Putin. Page also allegedly met Igor Divyekin, an internal affairs official with a background in intelligence, who is said to have warned Page that Moscow had “kompromat” (compromising material) on Trump.

Two months later, allegations of Page’s meetings surfaced in the US media, attributed to intelligence sources, along with reports that he had been under FBI scrutiny.

Page, a vociferous supporter of the Kremlin line, was in Moscow in July to make a speech decrying western policy towards Russia. At the time he declined to saywhether he had been in contact with Russian officials, but in September he rejected the reports as “garbage”.

The Guardian has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The Fisa court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.

A month after Trump’s surprise election victory, Page was back in Moscow saying he was meeting with “business leaders and thought leaders”, dismissing the FBI investigation as a “witch-hunt” and suggesting the Russian hacking of the Democratic Party alleged by US intelligence agencies, could be a false flag operation to incriminate Moscow.

Another of the reports compiled by the former western counter-intelligence official in July said that members of Trump’s team, which was led by campaign manager Paul Manafort (a former consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine), had knowledge of the DNC hacking operation, and in return “had agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue and to raise US/Nato defence commitments in the Baltics and Eastern Europe to deflect attention away from Ukraine”.

--FBI chief given dossier by John McCain alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts. Guardian https://t.co/XEF3SVfNoJ

#

BBC: The Trump-Russia Dossier Grew Out Of Jeb Bush's Super PAC https://t.co/BDi5hLF6xm

The country’s senior intelligence officials last week provided Donald Trump and President Barack Obama with a document containing allegations that Russian operatives have “compromising personal and financial information” about the President-elect, CNN reported Tuesday.

The report cited multiple anonymous U.S. officials with “direct knowledge” of the briefings given to Trump and Obama about the intelligence community’s report on Russian interference in the U.S. election, which concluded the intent of those Russian actors was to help Trump win the White House.

The new allegations were contained in a “two-page” annex that was not included in the full intelligence community report released to the public in declassified form last week. By CNN's description, the document was primarily a synopsis of memos “compiled by a former British intelligence officer whose past work U.S. intelligence officials consider credible.”

CNN reported that the addendum also contained allegations that there was a “continuing exchange of information during the campaign from Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.”

--CNN: Trump Briefed On Claims Russian Actors Have Compromising Info On Him https://t.co/rlq3oZeQJR

#

Trump says he has ‘nothing to do with Russia.’ The past 30 years show otherwise. WP https://t.co/WW9d7sbOg1

Trump's Russian connections span 30 years from Gorbachev to Putin — https://t.co/8MnoRaMG2t

Trump claims he has ‘nothing to do with Russia.’ His son said the opposite. https://t.co/m6Kyw9StLo

#

Like many nationalist politicians in Europe, Trump has made plain his admiration for Putin, complimenting the Russian leader’s “great control over his country,” while at the same time failing to address the reality that Putin’s regime has instituted wholesale censorship of television, increased repressive measures on ordinary citizens, and unleashed his forces in Ukraine and Syria. (Putin, of course, discounts criticism of his policies as Western hypocrisy and points to everything from the invasion of Iraq, which he opposed, to the eastward expansion of nato, which he sees as an aggressive act.)

Trump’s argument throughout the campaign, the reason for his compliments for Putin, he has said, is related to his stated desire to ease tensions between Russia and the United States and avoid the ultimate disaster, a nuclear confrontation. But what concerns many seasoned American analysts, politicians, and diplomats is that Trump is deluding himself about Putin’s intentions and refuses to see the nature of Russia’s nationalist, autocratic regime clearly. Trump has spoken critically of nato and in support of European nationalist initiatives like Brexit to such a degree that, according to one Obama Administration official, “our allies are absolutely terrified and completely bewildered.”

Strobe Talbott, who was Bill Clinton’s closest adviser on Russia, told me recently that the hack of the D.N.C. and Putin’s other moves in Europe—including the annexation of Crimea, the Russian military presence in eastern Ukraine, and the financial support of nationalists like Marine Le Pen, of France—were part of a larger strategy intended to weaken the E.U. and nato.

“I try to be careful about superlatives,” Talbott said, “but I cannot think, going back to the Soviet Union or since, that there’s been a Moscow-Kremlin-instigated gambit that was so spectacularly successful as what they have done with our democracy. All of those assets that they tried to use on us over the years were far less by comparison; this was like winning seventeen jackpots all at once.”

--Trump, Putin, and the Big Hack - The New Yorker https://t.co/YMe4ctiZJt

#

Allegations now floating around range from the salacious (Russia has Trump sex tapes made at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow) to the serious (using intermediaries, Trump and Russia agreed to an explicit quid pro quo in which Russia would give him electoral help and in exchange he would shift US foreign policy). None of this is proven, and much of it is unprovable (if the FSB has a secret sex tape, how are we going to find it?) but the truth is that these kind of allegations, though difficult to resist, simply shouldn’t matter much compared to what’s in the public record.

First, on Russia:

Trump’s strange ideas about Russia date back to at least 1987, when Trump called for a US-Soviet alliance against France and Pakistan. During the 2016 campaign, Trump publicly called into question America’s commitment to defending NATO allies from Russian attack. Trump praised Russia’s intervention in the Syrian Civil War. Trump has also pointedly declined to criticize Putin on any front, whether it’s about killing journalists or invading Ukraine. Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, made a lot of money working for Putin’s proxy party in Ukraine. Concurrently, the Russian government’s state-owned English-language media operations, RT and Sputnik, were fairly open in their advocacy for Trump and against Hillary Clinton during the campaign. Trump, at the same time, has been very open about his desire to implement a more pro-Russian foreign policy — up to and including his decision to bypass conventionally qualified candidates and instead tap the CEO of an oil company with extensive business dealings in Russia as Secretary State. We may never know why, exactly, Trump thinks Russia’s brutal war in Syria was good or why it would be wrong to condemn Putin for killing journalists. But Trump’s Russia policy is both a bit bizarre and also quite clear. Maybe the Russians are bribing him into it. Maybe he just has bad ideas. Maybe they are blackmailing him.

--Beyond wild allegations, what’s clearly true about Trump and Russia is disturbing https://t.co/be5IKNWqRf

#

Whatever the FBI and other government agencies have established to corroborate or discredit the leaked material should be made public. In the meantime, journalism should do its job—not by sniffing Trump’s hotel sheets but by reporting on his, and his campaign’s, contacts with Russian and other foreign government officials and agents.

Although he’s never made this claim—and indeed often forced us to think about it more than we want to—Trump’s sex life is his own affair. But his personal and family business ties to foreign autocrats—whether Russian, Chinese, or Emirati—should have been fully aired long before now. Today’s Twitterstorm doesn’t change that. Nor should it deny even Donald Trump the same presumption of innocence any American would be entitled to...

And if the most serious charge proves true? If Trump or one of his employees did knowingly conspire with the agents of a hostile power to influence the American election in exchange for promises regarding US foreign policy? Trump’s mentor Roy Cohn sent the Rosenbergs to the electric chair for a lot less.

--Americans Deserve to Know the Specific Allegations on Trump and Russia: "Trump's sex life is his own affair." Nation https://t.co/PSZodEgN8Y

#