Daily Check-In 04/06/2018

Friday April 6th

 

THE RUSSIAN INVESTIGATION

The following is a comment from Reddit user /u/CitCeasar.  Here’s the permalink.

Earlier this week, CNN broke the story that Mueller had stopped several oligarchs asking questions about Russian money being funneled to the campaign or inauguration. That story indicates that Mueller and his team were focused on two methods to accomplish this:

  1. One area under scrutiny, sources say, is investments Russians made in companies or think tanks that have political action committees that donated to the campaign.
  2. Another theory Mueller’s office is pursuing, sources said, is whether wealthy Russians used straw donors — Americans with citizenship — as a vessel through which they could pump money into the campaign and inauguration fund.

Previous stories from the Dallas Morning News have also raised questions about straw donors. One of these stories, “How Putin’s oligarchs funneled millions into GOP campaigns”, focused on several specific people:

  • Len Blavatnik, a dual U.S.-U.K. citizen and one of the largest donors to GOP political action committees in the 2015-16 election cycle. […] Data from the Federal Election Commission show that Blavatnik’s campaign contributions dating back to 2009-10 were fairly balanced across party lines and relatively modest for a billionaire. […] In 2015-16, everything changed. Blavatnik’s political contributions soared and made a hard right turn as he pumped $6.35 million into GOP political action committees, with millions of dollars going to top Republican leaders including Sens. Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham.
  • Andrew Intrater, according to Mother Jones, is Vekselberg’s cousin. He is also chief executive of Columbus Nova, Renova’s U.S. investment arm located in New York. (FEC records list his employer as Renova US Management LLC.). Intrater had no significant history of political contributions prior to the 2016 elections. But in January 2017 he contributed $250,000 to Trump’s Inaugural Committee. His six-figure gift bought him special access to a dinner billed as “an intimate policy discussion with select cabinet appointees,” according to a brochure obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.
  • Alexander Shustorovich, chief executive of IMG Artists, attempted to give the Republican Party $250,000 in 2000 to support the George W. Bush presidential campaign, but his money was rejected because of his ties to the Russian government, according to Quartz. So why didn’t the Trump team reject Shustorovich’s $1 million check to Trump’s Inaugural Committee?
  • Simon Kukes is an oil magnate who has something in common with Intrater. From 1998 to 2003, he worked for Vekselberg and Blavatnik as chief executive of TNK. Redacted CIA documents released in 2003 under the Freedom of Information Act said “TNK president Kukes said that he bribed local officials.” The CIA confirmed the authenticity of the reports to The Guardian newspaper but would not comment further. In 2016, Kukes contributed a total of $283,000, much of it to the Trump Victory Fund. He had no significant donor history before last year’s election.

Another name worth looking at is Timothy Kasbe, who was discussed in the Washington Post’s story about well-connected Russians who attended the Trump inauguration.

Prior to donating $150,000.00 to the Trump inauguration, Kasbe had no prior history of political contributions/donations. Kasbe was also an executive at a Russian-based jean company at the time he made the donation. Kasbe then left the country to take a job in New Zealand shortly after the inauguration.

Why was he covered in the WaPo story? It’s because he was the one who invited Alexey Repik, one of the wealthy Russians with rumored ties to the FSB who attended the inauguration. Kasbe told the WaPo that the Repiks were “family friends from California,” while Repik said “they had met months earlier during a tour of Silicon Valley companies for Russian business executives that Kasbe helped host on behalf of a headhunting firm.”

Repik had access to some major players during his inauguration visit. He attended various events where he met President Trump, Mike Pence, Reince Priebus, Rex Tillerson, and Mike Pompeo, posting some of these encounters on a public Facebook post and discussing others with the WaPo.

How did Repik get access to these power players? Well, Kasbe’s inauguration donation would have provided some access. However, it appears Kasbe told the New Zealand Herald that the event where Repik met President Trump was unrelated to his inauguration tickets/donations.

Who invited Repik to that event? According to Repik’s own Facebook post, it was Reince Priebus.

 

George Nader has given information to Mueller’s team at least 7 times so far; 3 interviews and 4 grand jury appearances.  This is on top of the documents he provided to the team.

If the warrants against the five phones are “not the subject of either of the current prosecutions involving Manafort,” then they would seem to not be connected to the crimes arising out of the Ukrainian imbroglio, which is the subject of his current prosecutions. By process of elimination, they are related to either a potential collusion case against Manafort, or additional targets. If there are additional targets, though, they would have to be connected in some way to Mueller’s wider mandate to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and/or the Trump campaign’s potential cooperation with that interference and links to Russia.

In other words, Mueller appears to be going after someone for collusion using the Manafort connection.

Legal analyst Renato Mariotti observed on Twitter that this new warrant could very well mean that Mueller is seeking “historical cell site information” for Manafort’s old phones, which would mean he’s trying to track the timing of Manafort’s previous movements. Again, this all came soon after Gates began cooperating with the investigation. Gates has already plead guilty and confessed to lying in February to the FBI about his knowledge of a meeting between Manafort, Mercury Public Affairs lobbyist and former Congressman Vin Weber, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher at the Capitol Hill Club in 2013. (Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was recorded in 2016 saying that he—“swear to God”—believed Rohrabacher was on Putin’s payroll, which his staff first denied and then argued was “clearly an attempt at humor.”)

By the way, here’s a link to the Mueller filing re: Manafort search warrants. Enjoy.  Here is also the  Manafort Motion Bill of Particulars – Mad Dog PAC, courtesy of Spicy Mic.

 

Here are the Russians people and entities that were hit with the sanction hammer:

  • Andrey Akimov
  • Vladimir Bogdanov
  • Oleg Deripaska
  • Alexey Dyumin
  • Mikhail Fradkov
  • Oleg Govuron
  • Sergei Fursenko
  • Alexander Torshin
  • Viktor Veksleberg
  • Suleiman Kerimov
  • Vladimir Kolokoltsev
  • Konstantin Kosachev
  • Miguel Jose Leone Martinez
  • Alexey Miller
  • Nikolai Patrushev
  • Jesus Perez Alvear
  • Vladislav Reznik
  • Igor Rotenberg
  • Kirill Shamalov
  • Evgeny Shkolov
  • Andrei Skoch
  • Timur Valiulin
  • Alexander Zhorov
  • Viktor Zolotov
  • AgroHolding Kuban
  • Basic Element Limited
  • B-Finance Ltd.
  • EN+ Group PLC
  • JSC EuroSibEnergo
  • GAZGroup
  • Gazprom Burenie, 0 0 0
  • Ladoga Menedzhment, 0 0 0
  • NPV Engineering Open Joint Stock Company
  • Renova Group

Full list Here.

Joseph Schmitz, former Inspector General at the Pentagon, used to work with Blackwater.  Just like George Nader.

Gee, I wonder how Mueller found out about this guy.

 

CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA AND FACEBOOK

 

THE PROPAGANDA MACHINE

When Geraldo Rivera is calling something bullshit, it’s bullshit.

 

#NEVERAGAIN

 

THAT’S KIND OF A WAR CRIME…

 

WHITE HOUSE CHAOS:  TRUMP IS A THIN SKINNED PANSY AND PRUITT IS STILL EMPLOYED?

 

RED STATE TEACHER STRIKES

 

SAY GOODBYE TO THE ECONOMY

 

STORMYWATCH, FROM THE STORMCENTER 6000 METEOROPORNOLOGICAL CENTER

 

CAN WE GET BACK TO POLITICS?

Here’s part of his press statement

Since being elected to Congress in 2010, I’ve worked to make government more efficient and responsive, cut government spending, repeal Obamacare, protect life and reduce the debt. Locally, I’ve worked tirelessly to get federal funding for the widening and deepening project at the Port of Corpus Christi and help our other area ports and military facilities. I’ve also been extremely successful in working with our communities on recovering from Hurricane Harvey. Most importantly, I’ve been able to help countless people, especially veterans with their problems with the federal government.

“While I planned on serving out the remainder of my term in Congress, I know in my heart it’s time for me to move along and look for new ways to serve.

 

 

RUMOR MILL: DARK MONEY

I’m beginning to think that Spicy Mic had the day off from work today, and spent a lot of it doing research.

Below is a link to a tweet about dark money ties from Viktor Vekselberg to Len Blavatnik.  From Len to the GOP, as Len is an American citizen.

 

That’s it for today.  In the future, I’ll do a run-through of all the recently sanctioned Russians and their companies.

 

Thank you, and have a good one.

 

“Without Journalists, it’s just propaganda.”

– Katy Tur

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