2018 Retrospective

This time last year, I wrote the 2017 Retrospective.  That piece served as a quasi-nostalgia piece/best of/how did I get here essay/predictions for the upcoming year.  As much as I don’t like Best-of lists and other looks back, I feel like this is needed to keep perspective.

 

WHERE WE LEFT OFF IN 2017?

At the end of 2017, we were just starting to get a picture of how big the Russian Conspiracy truly was.  We were also witness to the most dysfunctional presidential administration of the modern era.  A cabinet rife with corruption that was looking for new and interesting ways to destroy their departments while lining their pockets.  Meanwhile, rumors and stories about the depths of cooperation with foreign powers kept rising to the surface.  Every so often, a new story highlighting a new part of the conspiracy arose.  The NRA.  The National Prayer Breakfast.  Oleg Deripaska.  Alexander Torshin.  Maria Butina.  Kostya Kilimnik.

The Rumor Mill was still months ahead of the active story from the Mainstream Media.  While the MSM was hung up on Trump’s tweets, the Rumor Mill was talking about the NRA being used as the primary source for laundering Russian money into the Republican National Committee for use in the 2016 election.

 

KICKING OFF 2018

January started off with the first of several major books exposing the dysfunction of the Trump Administration.  “Fire and Fury” was the first major book to show how bad things are inside the White House.  Nothing gets done, everyone is ready to stab the other in the back at a moment’s notice, and everything revolves around the whims of a septuagenarian in a diaper.  This book also established a pattern.  The worse it makes Trump look, the more he freaks out about it on Twitter and through Wall-Eye Sanders.  The worse they react, the more likely it is to be true.  The more likely it’s true, the better the sales.  This book sold like beer at a football game.  My favorite quote from it was a conversation between Steve Bannon and Trump after Trump said in an interview with his frenemy Maggie Haberman that investigating his finances would be “crossing a red line.”

“You’ve got the LeBron James of money laundering investigations on you, Jarvanka. My a–hole just got so tight!”

I don’t want to imagine Steve Bannon’s asshole, but it’s a worthy response when finding out Andrew Weissmann is looking into your finances. (Daily Check-In 01/05/2018)

We also saw the beginning of the year kick off with Republicans in both the House and Senate rally around Trump at all opportunities to either demonize his enemies or obstruct investigations into Trump and his cronies.  This is when I learned two important procedural rules.  House committees can only release transcripts after a vote, but the ranking chairperson of a Senate committee can do whatever the fuck they feel like, including releasing transcripts. (Daily Check-In 01/09/2018). Diane Feinstein did with Glenn Simpson’s testimony.  Glenn is the head of Fusion GPS, the group that ran Opposition Research against Trump and ultimately hired Christopher Steele.

The only committee in either house of congress that acted like grown-ups this year was the Senate Intelligence Committee.  They’re work is still ongoing.

The most off-the-rails thing to happen in January was a news report showing that Michael Cohen had paid adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 a couple weeks before the election.  At the time, it seemed rather…weird and unrelated.  Turns out it would have HUUUGE consequences throughout the year. (Daily Check-In 01/12/2018)

What should have been the biggest story of the early year happened on Daily Check-In 01/25/2018 when it came out that the Dutch had pwned the GRU and had proof that they were involved with the attacks on the United States.  Instead, Maggie Haberman dropped a story for the New York Times talking about how Trump had tried to fire Robert Mueller back in June.  It also turns out that this was the weekend that Trump was supposed to interview Mueller at Camp David, but pulled out at the last minute.

Throughout the month, more stories started to break into the MSM talking about Trump’s ties to the Russian Mob, and the NRA’s ties to the Russians.  On Daily Check-In 01/30/2018, the weirdest thing happened thus far: Sean Hannity was suspended from Twitter.  While his account was dark, a parody account arose and sounded so much like him that Julian Assange of Wikileaks DM’ed him.

Another thing we saw at the beginning of the year was the back and forth, will he or won’t he, about Mueller’s attempts to interview Trump.  It was widely viewed at the beginning of the year by the MSM that Mueller was only looking into Obstruction of Justice and had very little to go on for Russian connections.

 

FEBRUARY 2018:  THERE ARE INDICTMENTS

As I said, the MSM pushed the story that Mueller was only interested in investigating Obstruction of Justice.  That narrative fell apart on Daily Check-in 02/16/2018 when Special Counselor Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russians and 3 Russian companies for attacking the United States during the 2016 election by spreading propaganda, organizing Americans against each other, and committing a metric fucktonne of identity theft.  Mueller also got a guilty plea from Richard Pinedo for assisting the Russians by helping them get bank accounts that they then used to spoof PayPal.

Early February saw yet another attempt by the Republicans to distract from Mueller and discredit the investigation with the Nunes Memo.  (Daily Check-In 02/01/2018). That attempt lasted all of about 30 seconds everywhere outside of Fox News.  That how long it took to debunk the claims in Devin Nunes’ memo.

February also brought other stories like Hope Hicks trying to organize a cover-up of the June 9th meeting on a conference call, Steve Bannon interviewing with Robert Mueller, and that several states were hacked by the Russians. (Daily Check-In 02/07/2018).

Something tragic not related to the Russian Conspiracy occurred on Daily Check-In 02/14/2018 with the Parkland Massacre.  17 high school students were murdered by one of their classmates.  But this shooting was different.  This one was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  This shooting didn’t disappear from the news within a week like all the rest.  The kids stuck around.  They organized.  They marched.  They protested.  They registered to vote.  And they’re making a difference.

On Daily Check-In 02/26/2018 Trump asked his Energy Secretary Rick Perry to cancel a trip to India to instead go to London to meet with Saudis to negotiate nuclear reactors.

Also, Rick Gates flipped. (Daily Check-In 02/23/2018).  His old attorney Alex Van Der Zwaan pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

 

MARCH 2018: THE NRA AND THE GRAND BARGAIN TAKES SHAPE

I didn’t know it at the time, but March saw several interesting developments that lead to the Grand Bargain Theory.

George Nader flipped. (Daily Check-In 03/06/2018). He was Erik Prince’s right hand man and an adviser to the United Arab Emirates.  George was also with Prince at the Seychelle’s meeting.  He’s also a convicted pedophile who was stopped at the border on New Year’s Eve and decided to cooperate with Mueller to avoid a fate worse getting shanked in prison.  Elliot Broidy also made his way into the news in March with trying to kill the 1MDB money laundering investigation. (Daily Check-In 03/05/2018)

Cambridge Analytica made the front page finally for their work in fucking with the election by microtargeting voters for ads. They stole user profiles from Facebook, shared them with the Russians, and used those profiles to attack individuals with ads targeted specifically to them. (Daily Check-In 03/21/2018).

The Russians tried to kill a former spy on British soil.  (Daily Check-In 03/12/2018).  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke out about this attack.  Trump fired him the next day.

That was also the same day the House Intel Committee “ended” their investigation after finding “no evidence that the Russians assisted Donald Trump.”  Remember that.

On the campaign finance front, March saw Stormy Daniels and her new attorney Michael Avenatti go on the offensive against Michael Cohen.  More details emerge about how completely nutty this payment was, how it was made, and where the funds ultimately came from.  We also know that at least one other woman was paid off by Michael Cohen.  Karen McDougal was also paid off in 2016 to stay silent during the election. (Daily Check-In 03/16/2018)

The Mueller Investigation kept moving forward with subpoenas to the Trump Organization, requests for info about the Seychelles trip, and interviews with many staffers.

 

APRIL 2018: THE SUBJECT OF AN INVESTIGATION

On April 3rd, we found out that Donald Trump was officially the subject of a criminal investigation. (Daily Check-In 04/03/2018). We also got the evidence and explanation of the poison pill built into the Special Counselor’s investigation.  If Robert Mueller is fired, then all of his Senior Assistant Special Counselors are authorized in their dual roles as United States Attorneys to pursue any open investigations to their completion.  Also, those investigations were outsourced to various jurisdictions and indictments were filed under seal.

One of those investigations was United States versus Michael Cohen.  On April 9th, the FBI raided his home, his office, and hotel.  (Daily Check-In 04/09/2018).  They got ALL THE THINGS.  This might go down as the beginning of the end of the Trump Presidency.  I’ve probably said that a few hundred times, but when things are so bad that a judge said that the least intrusive way of getting the info they needed was multiple no-knock raids, things are bad.  Over the next few weeks, more of Cohen’s shadiness came out.  These included accepting payments for access to Trump, running cab companies, and his ties with mobsters.

Jared Kushner unloaded the 666 Fifth Avenue albatross to a group using Qatar as a middleman. (Daily Check-In 04/23/2018)

We also found out that several subjects and target were getting stopped entering the country, in that little in-between area where laws are a bit…different. (Daily Check-In 04/03/2018)

Sean Hannity is involved in some shady shit with Cohen, when it was revealed that he was one of Cohen’s three clients. (Daily Check-In 04/18/2018). Hannity was involved in some slightly shady real estate purchases.  That, and pushing Russian propaganda.

We got the flight details of Trump’s trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant in 2013.  These records contradict Trump’s claims that he didn’t spend the night in Russia. (Daily Check-In 04/23/2018)

James Comey’s book “A Higher Loyalty” was released. On the night he was on Rachel Maddow to talk about it, his memos about his meetings with Trump made the news.  (Daily Check-In 04/19/2018)

We finish April with the New York Times getting a list of questions from Jay Sekulow that he says are the questions that Mueller wants to ask Trump. (Daily Check-In 04/30/2018)

 

MAY 2018: SOMETHING ROTTEN IN NEW YORK

The Trump Organization is under various investigations, The Trump Foundation is under a microscope, Cohen is fucked 8 ways from Sunday, but that’s not the only weirdness in New York.  On Daily Check-In 05/07/2018 then NYAG Eric Schneiderman resigned after 4 women accused him of sexual assault in a story written by Ronan Farrow and Jane Meyer.  From the time the story dropped, it took about 2 hours for him to resign.  He was replaced by NYAG Underwood.  This would turn out to be the worst thing for the Trump Organization, the Trump Family, and anyone associated with Trump in New York.

At first, Trump Jr. was celebrating this move, but he’s an idiot with no strategic thinking.  My hypothesis is that they had shit on him for years, and were either waiting for him to come after them to release it or were going to use it to blackmail him.  Instead, he gets removed from the playing board and an unknown comes into play.  This unknown, by the way, would make Trump’s life even more of a living nightmare by the end of the year.

Cohen was implicated in a pay to play scandal with several companies, including AT&T. Within a month of engaging Cohen, they had a meeting with Ajit Pai in an attempt to kill net neutrality. (Daily Check-In 05/11/2018). Right after that, we get direct ties to the Qatar Investment Authority. (Daily Check-In 05/14/2018).

Trump and Nunes tried to expose top secret sources to protect themselves. (Daily Check-In 05/18/2018)

Daily Check-In 05/25/2018 revealed that Cohen met with Viktor Vekselberg during the transition, and the Spanish had wiretaps that showed Donnie Jr. was in contact with Alexander Torshin and his associate Maria Butina.

 

JUNE 2018:  A LITTLE BUSY

Jared Kushner’s buddy Richard Gerson was at the Seychelles Meeting.  He met with Prince Mohammed (MBZ) and George Nader. (Daily Check-In 06/01/2018). Gerson was also around when MBZ visited Kushner and Nader in New York City.  Gerson claimed he was only there to escort former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to the meeting.

Paul Manafort and Kostya from the GRU were indicted for witness tampering on Daily Check-In 06/04/2018.

The Brexit Backers were caught playing nice with the Russians.  This included passing info to and from Wikileaks. This produced even more visible ties to the Russian Conspiracy. (Daily Check-In 06/11/2018). We also heard of EVEN MORE contacts between the Russians and the NRA.

On June 15th, Paul Manafort went to prison.  I still get a smile on my facing knowing that he has most likely spent his final day as a free man. (Daily Check-In 06/15/2018).  That day, we also found out about the cut-out the Russians used to get the DNC emails to Wikileaks.

I was a little busy at the end of June and beginning of July. (Irregular Posts)

 

JULY 2018: RUSSIAN SPIES AND VERBAL BLOWJOBS

The three biggest stories of July involved Russia.  Surprise, surprise.

While Trump was on his way to Helsinki for a summit meeting with his boss Vladimir Putin, Robert Mueller indicted 12 members of the Russian GRU for hacking the DNC. (Daily Check-In 07/13/2018)

The next big story was Trump giving Putin a verbal blowjob in Helsinki, where he parroted everything Putin said, including how he believed him over all of the United States Intelligence Community. (Daily Check-In 07/16/2018)

While that was happening, news broke that a Russian woman named Mariia Butina was arrested for being an unregistered agent of the Russians.  She was a spy for the Russians that worked for Alexander Torshin and the Russian Government to infiltrate the National Rifle Association.  Over the next couple weeks a lot of her contacts came to light, including deep ties to the Religious Right and even some members of Congress.

A weird narrative developed on Daily Check-In 07/20/2018 as details emerged from the Cohen Investigation in SDNY.  Out of the million plus documents that the feds seized, only a handful of them were within the realm of Attorney-Client Privilege.  Some of that info were recordings Cohen made covering his meetings with Trump.  Trump then went after Cohen, and Cohen fought back.  Eventually a tape of Trump getting briefed on the Karen McDougal payoff was released.  Also, Cohen said Trump knew of the June 9th meeting, because he told him about it on June 7th. (Daily Check-In 07/26/2018). That prep meeting included 6 people.  Trump, Donnie Jr., Paul Manafort, Cohen, Trump’s secretary Rhona, and Paul’s second Rick Gates. (Daily Check-In 07/27/2018)

Paul Manafort’s tax evasion trial began on Daily Check-In 07/31/2018.

 

AUGUST 2018: MANAFORT FOUND GUILTY

While the Manafort trial was underway, more news about Roger Stone came out.  His crew has been under investigation for a long time. Long enough to make the constant jokes about him being in a barrel feel like they need thrown in a barrel.  (Daily Check-In 08/10/2018)

Omarosa released a book.  While talking about it, she let it be known that she was interviewed by Mueller’s team and that Trump knew about the Wikileaks email dump beforehand, (Daily Check-In 08/14/2018)

Don McGahn interviewed with the Special Counselor’s team for more than 30 hours.  As the White House Counsel, nothing he said was covered under privilege. (Daily Check-In 08/20/2018)

Paul Manafort was found guilty on 8 of his 18 counts in his tax evasion trial.  It came out that one juror didn’t convict on the charges related to money laundering.  (Daily Check-In 08/21/2018)

Bob Dole’s involved in a bank so corrupt even the Russians won’t do business with it. (Daily Check-In 08/28/2018)

Sam Patten, an associate of Manafort who worked with Cambridge Analytica, pleaded guilty to FARA violations. (Daily Check-In 08/31/2018)

Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to 8 felony counts the same day that Manafort was convicted.  In his plea deal, Cohen said flat out that Trump directed him to pay off Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.  Trump’s CFO Allen Weisselberg and the head of the National Enquirer David Pecker were given immunity for their assistance in the Cohen and Trump investigations.

 

SEPTEMBER 2018:  KAVANAUGH, FEAR, AND FLIPPING.  OR SO WE THOUGHT

Bob Woodward’s new book “Fear” is released.  Around the same time, an anonymous Op-Ed is published in the New York Times that describes Trump as dangerous. (Daily Check-In 09/06/2018).

Paul Manafort appeared to flip on Trump on Daily Check-In 09/14/2018.

Supreme Court Justice Kennedy retired, allowing Trump to nominate Brett Kavanaugh.  During his confirmation hearings, reports of multiple sexual assaults involving Brett made the news.  This led to possibly the most disgraceful performance by the Senate in modern history.  They decided to half-heartedly reopen the investigation into the allegations.  They also agreed to hear Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford, but pussed out and hired a woman to interview her.

Devin Nunes used this distraction to release transcripts (Daily Check-In 09/28/2018).

 

OCTOBER 2018:  THE COMING STORM

The Mueller front was rather quiet during October, for the most part.

Elena Alekseenvna Khusyaynova, Accountant from Project Lakhta was indicted on 10-19-18. Daily Check-In 10/19/2018. Elena was the accountant in charge of Project Lakhta, Russia’s project to influence the 2018 Election.  She received a Criminal Complaint for Conspiracy to Defraud the United States.

On Daily Check-In 10/02/2018 the New York Times dropped a big story destroying the myth of Trump being a self-made millionaire.  His daddy bailed him out all the time, and his siblings took part along with him in schemes to avoid paying taxes.  His sister was a federal judge.

In October, news about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.  (Daily Check-In 10/12/2018).  Jamal was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Turkey.  While the free world lined up to blame Mohammed Bin Salman for his role in the murder, Trump and Kushner bent over backwards to cover for their buddy, the Saudi Crown Prince.

 

NOVEMBER 2018:  THE BLUE WAVE

Dmitry Ryobolev, the Russian Oligarch who paid $95 million for a Trump property worth less than $40 million, was busted on Daily Check-In 11/06/2018.

The Democrats won control of the House of Representatives.  In overwhelming fashion.  Halfway through the following day, Trump fired Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. (Daily Check-In 11/07/2018). Matt Whitaker was named as Acting AG.

Steve Bannon’s role in Brexit came to the foreground (Daily Check-In 11/19/2018).

Trump finally submitted his written answers for Mueller’s questions. (Daily Check-In 11/20/2018).

Mueller’s team pulled their deal from Paul Manafort, saying that he lied to them and fed Trump information. (Daily Check-In 11/26/2018).  This likely implicates Trump on lying to investigators and committing perjury.  Only Trump could get caught cheating on a take-home test.

Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to Lying to Congress. (Daily Check-In 11/29/2018).

 

DECEMBER 2018:  SENTENCING AND THE WHEELS FALL OFF

Michael Cohen was sentenced to 3 years in jail. (Daily Check-In 12/12/2018). During his sentencing, Cohen once again said that he committed his crimes at Trump’s direction. Most importantly, he said that all of the crimes he did, he did at Trump’s direction.

The Special Counselor recommended that Flynn not serve prison time because of how helpful he’s been.  Then Flynn tried some “But I was entrapped” shit.  That didn’t sit well with the Judge, who flat out asked if Flynn committed Treason at his sentencing. (Daily Check-In 12/18/2018)

Bijan Kian and Kamil Ekim Alptekin, Turkish nationals were indicted on Daily Check-In 12/17/2018.  Bijan Kian was the second in command of Flynn Intel Group.  Kamil Alptekin set up Inovo BV, a Dutch company designed to hide payments from Turkey’s government.  Kamil and Bijan were both indicted for FARA violations and Acting as a Foreign Agent.

Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from Syria.  Jim Mattis resigned in protest. (Daily Check-In 12/20/2018).  And for the third time this year, there’s a government shutdown.

 

HOW HAVE THINGS CHANGED?

At this time last year, it felt like screaming at a brick wall to get people to pay attention to the criminality of Donald Trump, let alone anyone else in his retinue.  Now, there’s no doubt that he’s at least surrounded by criminals.  It’s kind of hard to have a personal attorney who’s going to jail for three years, who implicated him in his crimes, and have the Federal attorneys say that there is ample evidence to charge him with multiple crimes.  Plus, the Trump Foundation was shut down for being a slush fund.

I didn’t include some of the other crazy shit like the border policies of separating children from their parents, or GOP’s attempt at rigging electoral systems across the country.  I also barely touched on how big the Democrats won in the election.  They claimed about 40 seats in the House, and won in places like Utah and Oklahoma.  They won legislative victories in Wisconsin and Michigan.  The only major races they lost are covered in so much controversy that those races are tainted, and one of them is currently headed towards a rerun.

I have no clue when the Mueller probe will end, or how big it will be when it ends.  Anyone who says they know is full of shit.  But things have changed in the last year.

I feel a sense of inevitability about impeachment.  It’s no longer a question of “if” but “when” and “for which crimes?”  This isn’t just because the Democrats won the House, but because of the continuing pile-on of crimes.  Everyone in Trump’s orbit is up to their necks in some criminal behavior.  It’s only a matter of time before we have to answer the following:

  • Can a sitting President be indicted by the Federal Government?
  • What about a state?
  • How many countries are involved in the Grand Bargain/Russian Conspiracy?
  • Is treason the worst of the crimes?
  • How long will Mike Pence be President?
  • What about Nancy Pelosi?
  • How many people will Maria Butina link up with?

As of the end of the year, there have been…

Gimme a second…

34 to 45 people indicted in 2018, depending on who gets counted.  That’s a lot of witches for this witch hunt.

 

That’s it for today.  I have one more post for the year covering the weekend and New Year’s Eve.  Aside from that, I’ll see yinz next year.

 

Thank you, and have a good one.

 

The Indicted

Here’s a list of everyone that has been indicted so far.

 

Paul Manafort – Former Campaign Manager to Donald Trump.  

Indictments first reported on Daily Check-In 10/30/2017

Paul Manafort has been indicted on about 30-40 charges of the following crimes, as of May 6, 2018:

  • Conspiracy Against the United States
  • Conspiracy to Launder Money
  • Failure to File Reports of of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts for several years (each year is a different charge)
  • Unregistered Agent of a Foreign Principal
  • False and Misleading FARA Statements
  • False Statements
  • Subscribing to False United States Individual Income Tax Returns, for multiple years
  • Assisting in the Preparation of False United States Individual Income
  • Bank Fraud Conspiracy, multiple counts
  • Bank Fraud, multiple counts

 

Paul Manafort is awaiting two trials, one in D.C. and the other in Eastern Virginia.  The trails are both scheduled for later 2018.

On June 8, 2018, Manafort was also indicted on the following charges, along with Kostantin Kilimnik

  • Conspiracy Against the United States
  • Conspiracy to Launder Money
  • Unregistered Agent of a Foreign Principal
  • False and Misleading FARA Statements
  • False Statements
  • Obstruction of Justice
  • Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice

On Daily Check-In 06/15/2018, Paul Manafort was remanded to prison, pending his trials.

On Daily Check-In 08/21/2018, Paul Manafort was found guilty on 8 felony counts from his trial in the Eastern District of Virginia.

On Daily Check-In 09/14/2018, Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Witness Tampering and Conspiracy Against the United States.  He also pleaded guilty to the remaining charges from his EDVA trial.

 

Rick Gates – Former Deputy Campaign Manager to Donald Trump.

Indictments first reported on Daily Check-In 10/30/2017

Arrested in October 2017.  Rick was originally charted with close to 30 white-collar felonies.  After a few months of back and forth, Gates pled guilty to one charge of Making False Statements to the FBI and one charge of Conspiracy Against the United States, as reported on Daily Check-In 02/20/2018.  The remainder of his charges were dropped as he became a cooperating witness.  Sentencing is still pending as of May 6, 2018.

 

George Papadopoulos – Former member of Trump’s Foreign Policy team.

Indictments first reported on Daily Check-In 10/30/2017

Arrested in July 2017, pled guilty to 1 charge of Making False Statements to the FBI, and became a cooperating witness. Sentencing is still pending as of May 6, 2018.

 

Michael Flynn – Former National Security Advisor.

Indictment first reported on Daily Check-In 12/01/2017.

Mike Flynn pled guilty to 1 charge of Making False Statements to the FBI, and became a cooperating witness.  Sentencing is still pending as of May 6, 2018.

 

Alex Van Der Zwaan – Former attorney to Rick Gates.

Indictment first reported on Daily Check-In 02/20/2018, the same day that Rick Gates pled guilty.

Alex was sentenced on Daily Check-In 04/03/2018 to 30 days in prison, a $20,000 fine, and 3 months probation.

On Daily Check-In 05/08/2018, Alex reported to prison to serve his sentence.  He was released on Daily Check-In 06/04/2018Daily Check-In 06/04/2018, and deported shortly thereafter.

Fun fact: Alex is the son-in-law of German Khan, a Russian Oligarch.  The law firm he worked at, Skadden Arps, also worked with Michael Cohen on his BuzzFeed lawsuit, and I’m looking for the story, but I recall hearing an office at one of their locations that was loaned out to Cohen was raided.

 

Richard Pinedo – Identity Thief.

Indictment first reported on Daily Check-in 02/16/2018.

From California, Richard ran an online company on the Dark Web called Auction Essentials.  This company provided Russians from the Internet Research Agency with the means to spoof PayPal security.

Richard Pinedo pled guilty to one charge of Identity Theft, and become a cooperating witness.

Mr. Pinedo was sentenced to 6 months in jail on +Daily Check-In 10/10/2018Daily Check-In 10/10/2018.

 

The Russian Troll Farm

Indictment first reported on Daily Check-in 02/16/2018.

The following companies and people were indicted for Conspiracy to Defraud the United States.  Those marked with an * are also charged with Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and Bank Fraud.  Those marked with a ^ are also charged with Aggravated Identity Theft.

  • INTERNET RESEARCH AGENCY LLC *^
  • CONCORD MANAGEMENT AND CONSULTING LLC
  • CONCORD CATERING
  • DZHEYKHUN NASIMI OGLY ASLANOV *^
  • GLEB IGOREVICH VASILCHENKO *^
  • IRINA VIKTOROVNA KAVERZINA ^
  • VLADIMIR VENKOV ^
  • MIKHAIL IVANOVICH BYSTROV
  • MIKHAIL LEONIDOVICH BURCHIK
  • ALEKSANDRA YURYEVNA KRYLOVA
  • ANNA VLADISLAVOVNA BOGACHEVA
  • SERGEY PAVLOVICH POLOZOV
  • MARIA ANATOLYEVNA BOVDA
  • ROBERT SERGEYEVICH BOVDA
  • VADIM VLADIMIROVICH PODKOPAEV

 

Konstantin Kilimnik – “Kostya from the GRU”

Indictment first reported on Daily Check-In 06/08/2018

Konstantin, also known as “Kostya from the GRU”, was Manafort’s man in Kiev.  He worked with Manafort for more than a decade, helping him execute many illegal activities.  On June 8, 2018, he was indicted on the following charges, along with Paul Manafort.

  • Conspiracy Against the United States
  • Conspiracy to Launder Money
  • Unregistered Agent of a Foreign Principal
  • False and Misleading FARA Statements
  • False Statements
  • Obstruction of Justice
  • Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice

 

The Russian Troll Farm

Indictment first reported on Daily Check-In 07/13/2018

The following people were indicted for Conspiracy to Commit an Offense Against the United States and Money Laundering.  Those marked with * were also charged with Aggravated Identity Theft.  Those with ^ were charged with an additional count of Conspiracy to Commit an Offense Against the United States.

  • Viktor Borisovich Netyksho *
  • Boris Alekseyevich Antonov *
  • Dmitry Sergeyevich Badin *
  • Ivan Sergeyevich Yermakov *
  • Aleksey Viktorovich Lukashev *
  • Sergey Aleksandrovich Morgachev *
  • Nikolay Yuryevich Kozachek *
  • Pavel Vyacheslavovich Yershov *
  • Artem Andreyevich Malyshev *
  • Aleksandr Vladimirovich Osadchuk * ^
  • Aleksey Aleksandrovich Potemkin *
  • Anatoly Sergeyevich Kovalev ^

 

Sam Patten – Lobbyist for the Opposition Bloc and former member of Cambridge Analytica 

Indictment first reported on Daily Check-In 08/31/2018

Sam Patten was indicted on one count of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). He worked alongside Paul Manafort representing the Opposition Bloc, a political party in Ukraine comprised of the remnants of the Party of Regions, which fell apart after former President Viktor Yanukovitch was forced from office and fled to Moscow.  Sam also served as a Straw Buyer, or middleman, to launder foreign money into Trump’s Inauguration Committee, and worked at SCL/Cambridge Analytica from 2014 to 2015.

He pled guilty to this charge, and is now a cooperating witness for the Mueller Investigation.

Michael Cohen – Trump’s Personal Lawyer, Fixer, and Deputy Chair of the Republican National Committee.

Indictment first reported on Daily Check-In 08/21/2018

Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, pled guilty to 5 counts of Tax Evasion, 1 count of Lying to a Bank, 1 count of Causing an Unlawful Corporate Contribution, and 1 count of Excessive Campaign Contribution.

Indicted on Daily Check-In 11/29/2018 for Lying to Congress.  This was part of his cooperation agreement with Mueller.

Cohen was sentenced to 3 years in prison on Daily Check-In 12/12/2018.

 

Not directly indicted by Mueller’s team, but indicted on a relevant investigation.  Case could have been sourced out to local U.S. Attorney’s Offices

Mariia Butina – Russian National and protege of Alexander Torshin

Indictment first reported on Daily Check-In 07/16/2018

Mariia, also known as Maria, was Alexander Torshin’s protege and served as a go-between or backchannel between Torshin, The Kremlin, the National Rifle Association, the Republican Party, and Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential Campaign.

Maria has been indicted on one count of Conspiracy to act as an Agent of the Russian Federation, and Acting as a Foreign Agent.

 

Not directly indicted by Mueller’s team, but indicted on related crimes and now cooperating witnesses.

Jeffrey Yohai – Real Estate Entrepreneur and Former Son-in-law of Paul Manafort

Indictment first reported on Daily Check-In 05/18/2018

Details of his indictment and plea deal are under seal as of May 22, 2018.

Jeff pled guilty as part of a plea deal against his former father-in-law Paul Manafort, and became a cooperating witness.  Jeff worked with Paul on multiple real estate deals that are suspected of being involved in money laundering.

 

Evgeny Freidman – The Taxi King

Indictment first reported on Daily Check-In 05/21/2018 (May 22)

Evgeny, a former business partner of Michael Cohen, pled guilty to one count of Tax Evasion of $50,000.  He received 5 years probation, and became a cooperating witness against Michael Cohen.

 

Not directly indicted by Mueller’s team, but indicted on related crimes.

Chris Collins, Representative from New York.

Indictment first reported on Daily Check-In 08/08/2018

Collins, the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump, was indicted for 1 count of Conspiracy to Commit Securities Fraud, 7 counts of Securities Fraud, 1 count each of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, Wire Fraud, and False Statements.

 

Duncan Hunter, Representative from California.

Indictment first reported on Daily Check-In 08/21/2018

Hunter, the second member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump, was indicted for Conspiracy, 43 counts of Wire Fraud (Yes, 43), 18 counts of Falsification of Records Related to Campaign Finance, and 3 counts of Prohibited Use of Campaign Contributions.

 

Elena Alekseenvna Khusyaynova, Accountant from Project Lakhta.

Indictment first reported on Daily Check-In 10/19/2018

Elena was the accountant in charge of Project Lakhta, Russia’s project to influence the 2018 Election.  She received a Criminal Complaint for Conspiracy to Defraud the United States.

 

Bijan Kian and Kamil Ekim Alptekin, Turkish nationals.

Indictment first reported on Daily Check-In 12/17/2018.

Bijan Kian was the second in command of Flynn Intel Group.  Kamil Alptekin set up Inovo BV, a Dutch company designed to hide payments from Turkey’s government.  Kamil and Bijan were both indicted for FARA violations and Acting as a Foreign Agent.

 

Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian Lawyer and Spy.

Indictment first reported on Daily Check-In 01/08/2019.

Natalia Veselnitskaya is a Russian lawyer and spy with very close ties to the Kremlin.  She represented Putin’s government in the June 9th meeting.  Ms. Veselnitskaya was indicted on a count of Obstruction of Justice for her role in a 2014 civil case where she represented Prevezon Holdings.  That company had purchased a large number of real estate ventures in New York City using laundered funds gained through a tax scam perpetrated by the Russian government against Hermitage Capital.  This scam was uncovered by a Russian tax attorney named Sergei Magnitsky.  For his role in uncovering this corruption, he was arrested, tried, convicted, and eventually tortured to death.

She allegedly created a false paper trail with the Russian Prosecutor-General to cover up Prevezon’s involvement in this case, as well as her own.  These false documents were entered into evidence into SDNY and were meant to deflect the case away from her client.

Cooperating Witnesses

Cooperating Witnesses are people that help investigators by providing information against others that committed crimes, often times crimes that the witness either took part in directly or personally witnessed.  Usually, they’re cooperating with the prosecution and investigators for consideration of leniency in their own sentencing.

Just as with most other criminal cases, in the Mueller Investigation, a cooperating witness has to be able to offer something more than themselves.  They have to be able to provide evidence on someone or something more important than them.  For example, if a witness robbed a bank, and they can only provide evidence against someone committing petty vandalism, the prosecutor won’t work with them.  However, if the bank robber can implicate the rest of their crew, or provide evidence against the crime boss that ordered and planned the robbery, the prosecution might be willing to make a deal for testimony.  This deal could include a reduced prison sentence, immunity against certain crimes, or other considerations like serving a sentence in a specific prison or getting extra privileges.

This article, which will be updated over time, lists the confirmed, rumored, and disproven cooperating witnesses, and will be updated over time.

 

CONFIRMED

George Papadopoulos:  Member of the Foreign Policy team, he was the first person known to flip.  George was arrested in July 2017, and pled guilty to lying to the FBI in October 2017.  His deal was first reported on Daily Check-In 10/30/2017.  George reported to jail on Daily Check-In 11/26/2018.

George Nader: Assistant and confidant of Erik Prince, with deep ties to the United Arab Emirates.  A convicted pedophile, his deal was reported on Daily Check-In 03/06/2018.

Richard Pinedo: Sold bank account information on the Dark Web to Russians working for the Internet Research Agency so they could spoof PayPal.  First reported on Daily Check-in 02/16/2018.

Rick Gates:  Former business partner of Paul Manafort, was Deputy Campaign Manager of the Trump Presidential Campaign from June 2016 until the end.  Following the campaign, he was the Chief of Staff to the Chairman of the Trump Inaugural Committee chairman Tom Barrack.  His deal took a long time to work out, but was finalized on Daily Check-In 02/23/2018.

Mike Flynn: Former National Security Advisor to President Trump.  Pled guilty to lying to the FBI in exchange for his cooperation in multiple legal affairs on Daily Check-In 12/01/2017.

Jeffrey Yohai:  Paul Manafort’s former son-in-law, his deal became public on May 18, 2018.

Evgeny Freidman: Michael Cohen’s former business partner in Taxi Medallion businesses.  He pleaded guilty to tax evasion and agreed to testify against Donald Trump’s personal attorney on   May 22, 2018.

Sam Patten: A lobbyist that worked with Paul Manafort, he also worked for the Opposition Bloc, arranged a deal to funnel at least $50,000 of Ukrainian money into the Trump Inauguration Committee, and worked at SCL/Cambridge Analytica on messaging for Vladimir Putin.  His deal became public on Daily Check-In 08/31/2018.

Paul Manafort: Former Campaign Chairman for the Trump Presidential Campaign.  He agreed to a plea deal involving a cooperation agreement on Daily Check-In 09/14/2018.  The Special Counselor’s Office broke that deal on Daily Check-In 11/26/2018 after they announced that Manafort had lied repeatedly during the cooperation period.

Michael Cohen: Former attorney for Donald Trump.  He’s rumored to be cooperating with the Mueller Investigation, but as of this time does not have a formal agreement.  UPDATE: Formal update confirmed on Daily Check-In 11/29/2018

 

RUMORED

Steve Bannon:  Former White House Chief Strategist.  He’s rumored to have spilled the beans on Trump, Cambridge Analytica, and the Mercers to avoid espionage and treason charges.

 

DISPROVEN

Alex Van Der Zwan:  Rick Gates’ former attorney.  Convicted of lying to the FBI, serving a 30 day sentence in prison.

 

UPDATE HISTORY

April 15th: Began article and listed names.

May 18th:  Added Jeffrey Yohai.  Fleshed out details of each person.

May 22nd:  Added Evgeny Freidman.

September 3rd:  Added Sam Patten.

September 16th: Added Paul Manafort.

November 27th: Paul Manafort is no longer a cooperating witness.

December 6th: Michael Cohen is officially cooperating with Robert Mueller’s team as of November 29th, 2018.

No One Plans The Cover-Up

“The Cover-up is Worse than the Crime.”

We’ve all heard that cliche at least once in our lives.  It’s always comes after someone gets caught after committing a crime, and they seemingly got away with it.

And it’s complete and total horseshit.

Lying to the cops isn’t worse than murder, or rape, or robbery, or espionage.  Not even close.  Not on any possible metric.

So, why do we hear this cliche each time someone gets caught after the crime?  Why does someone always mutter this cliche each and every time?

Because the cover-up gets little to no planning ahead of the actual crime.  The cover-up is an afterthought.  The original crime gets all of the planning, but getting away with it is merely an afterthought.

Think back to every heist movie and television series that has come out in the last 20-30 years.  They mostly follow the same pattern…

  • Normal person facing extraordinary stress makes choice to commit a crime to get out of their problems.
  • Every detail of the crime is planned, from the tiniest detail to the second by second execution of the crime itself.
  • Person performs the crime, but something goes wrong after the crime.  Usually, a coconspirator does something stupid.
  • Crazy things happen because they didn’t plan getting away with the crime.
  • The better movies have the person getting caught, or losing more than they gained.  The bad ones have the person living happily ever after.

Every fucking time.  EVERY. FUCKING. TIME.  Now, what do bad movie tropes have to do with Trump-Russia?  Why does it feel like we’re in the middle of a heist movie?

Because like every heist movie, the criminals didn’t plan the getaway.  They’re winging it.  They didn’t think they would win in the first place, so why plan on getting away with it?  The bad guys planned on losing the election and creating a media outlet to spread their message afterward.  Now, they have to govern, and they’re winging it.

Winging it is how they get caught.

So, it’s not that the cover-up is worse than the crime, but the execution of the cover-up is worse than the execution of the crime.

Voter Rolls – The Easy Target

One element of the Russian Investigation that has drawn a lot of attention is what the Russians hacked and why.

We know they hacked email accounts from the Democratic National Committee, and we’ve heard reports that they hacked the Republican National Committee as well.  They were hacked for compromising information.We know that they have hacked the emails of several journalists, and  they exploited Social Engineering techniques to manipulate people on FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media sites.  We’ve seen reports about how the state voter rolls were compromised, and how chaos was created at the polling places through DDoS’s and other methods.

But one thing we haven’t heard any reports about were the voting totals themselves. There have been rumors, reports, and analyses from the edges of the spectrum, but no reports from any official, semi-official, or under-the-table sources.

Why is that?

The fringes will say that this is because the real evidence of the scope of the corruption is being hidden and obfuscated from the public, because this would cause a complete and total collapse in the fabric of democratic society.  The official sources say that there was no evidence of vote totals being changed.  Then the fringes will say that the totals were changed without a trail, and talk about how easy it is to hack a voting machine, the official sources say that this isn’t how it works, then they start arguing with each other and calling each other names.

So, two groups people argue about whether or not the vote totals themselves were changed, while completely ignoring everything else that took place.

What do I think?

From what I’ve seen, there is not enough evidence to suggest that vote totals were changed.  Not only that, but they wouldn’t need to be changed, and the amount of effort needed to change them wouldn’t be worth the return on investment.  Instead, hacking the voter rolls would be more effective, require minimal effort, and would slide under the radar, not being detected until someone went digging.

 

THE HACKER MENTALITY

Before I go into details about how the American Voting System works, let me describe how a hacking a little bit, and what a hacker thinks.

When most people think of hackers, they think of some neckbeard sitting behind a keyboard punching out obscure code to bring down a secure server while sipping energy drinks and talking about how corruption of “The Man”.  Okay, that’s part of it, but there’s more to hacking than bad hygiene and a caffeine addiction.

Hacking is about exploring a system, finding the weakness inherit in the system. That weakness could be a code exploit, a network weakness, or a PEBKAC* weakness.  What they do with that information depends on the hacker.  Good hackers, or White Hats, will inform the system owner of the exploit and seek to get it fixed.  Evil hackers, or Black Hats, will use that information for nefarious means.  The morally ambiguous Grey Hats fall somewhere in the middle.

How do I know so much about this?  I’ve been in IT most of my life, and, when I was younger, many years ago, may or may not…

Look, I’m pretty sure EVERYTHING I might have done is beyond the Statute of Limitations, but I’m still not going to go into details.  Just in case.  Needless to say, I know the hacker mentality.

 

FINDING THE EXPLOIT

Any system designed by man or used by man can be defeated or compromised by man.  Whether it’s a security system, a computer network, or the mail server at a Fortune 500 company, anything can be broken into.

The questions that a hacker asks are “What is the end goal?”, “Is it worth the effort?”, “What’s the risk?”, and “Is there an easier way into the system?”

What is the end goal?

Most hackers go into a system with an end goal in mind.  It could be exploration, curiosity, trying to find incriminating evidence, grabbing information for personal gain, or getting access for future use.  Sometimes, it’s just to say “I did it.”

Is it worth the effort?

This part varies from hacker to hacker.  Sometimes, it’s an easy job, like a brute-force attack* to get into an email account when most of the password is known.  Other times, the hack could require months of work and weeks of meticulous planning, but the reward is amazing.

What’s the risk?

Once again, this varies from hacker to hacker, and job to job.  Getting access to a secured laptop containing a rival company’s secrets might carry some significant legal risk if caught, but is nothing compared to trying to get into the NSA’s database from the outside.  The biggest reason I greatly scaled down when I did was the penalties involved jumped up from a couple weeks in Juvi to several years in Federal prison.

Is there an easier way into the system?

This is a question that every decent hacker asks.  Is there an easier way to get what I need than what’s given.  Is there an easier way into the database than trying to hack it from an outside connection?  Can I get into the mail server from any computer in the company, or only some of them?  Could I get someone else to get me in to the building by pretending that I’m lost and on my way to an interview or presentation?

This is called finding the exploit.  Finding and researching the easiest way into the system.  IT Professionals, Disaster Recovery Specialists, Security Specialists, Mechanics, and Engineers do this all of the time.  They’ll study all of the aspects of a system, whether it’s a computer network, a data center, a shopping mall, a car, or a bridge, and look for ways to break it.  They’ll go out of their way to find new and exciting ways of destroying things, then redesign them to stand up to that weakness.

Hackers do the same thing.  They study a system, and look for the weakest part of it.  They’ll find the easiest way to do the most amount of work, or damage.  Sometimes, that easiest part is an open wireless network, or a known code exploit, or it’s person who doesn’t know how to use their computer.

 

DOING THE JOB

Now that the hacker has studied the system for an exploit, they have to find a way to pull it off.  An exploit can have multiple ways of being, well, exploited.

Let’s say that a hacker wants access to a corporate mail server so that they can read the mail of the board members, and while researching the system found that there’s a code exploit that allows for a program to sit on the server, hidden from the world, and silently forward all mail sent to selected people and groups to a dummy mailbox for future collection.  Anything that gets sent to Bill@Microsoft.com would get forwarded to some random and obscure mail account hosted in Azerbaijan.

But how does the hacker get the program on the server?

There’s a few different ways they could do this.  They could go phishing* for an employee or contractor to get them to run the program.  Similarly, they could go spear-phishing* to one of the board members directly, and get their login information so then the hacker could login as the board member and install the code themselves.  They could set the program up in some other file to run as a trojan* once it gets downloaded onto a computer.  They could execute a bit of social engineering* and get their way into the building with direct physical access to the computers.  They could set up a man-in-the-middle attack and pretend to be the help desk, after causing someone to call in a help ticket.  Or, they could brute force* their way in with Systems Administrator credentials.

How they go about doing the hack is up to their own personal interest and skills.  It only matters that it works.

 

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH VOTER ROLLS?

Let’s say you’re Hacker Hackovsky, the famous Eastern European hacker, and you’ve been approached by a shady Mr. NOT-RUSSIAN speaking with a terrible American accent, to find a way to influence the American Presidential Election.  At first, you say no, but Mr. NOT-RUSSISAN drive a truckload of bitcoin up to your house, and says “We don’t need a win, we need chaos.  A win for our guy would be good, but chaos is better.”  After doing the math and realizing that this much bitcoin could be turned into real money somewhere, you accept the job.

You have a month to do research before deciding on the methods and targets.  During this month, you discover the following:

  • The American Voting System is ugly.  The voting machines change from state to state, and county by county.
  • Some machines are brand new with a paper trail, while others are more than 15 years old, and not connected to any network.
  • Vote totals are meticulously scrutinized.  A deviation of a couple votes in a polling place out of 1,000 could trigger a full-scale investigation.
  • Most towns and communities have individual polling places.
  • Several states have laws that require new voters to show ID before voting.
  • American Media is ugly, with multiple “sides” reporting the same story to the delight of their audiences.
  • The higher the population density, the more likely the populace is liberal.
  • Older white people love “our guy”, but the young and minorities don’t.
  • Social Media allows people to share ideas, regardless of the truth behind the claims.
  • There are a lot of Americans who do not use critical thinking skills, and therefore don’t ask if the person on the other side is even a person, let alone where they come from.
  • While each county has control over their individual voting machines, the states have control over the voter rolls, the list of who gets to vote where.
  • This list is stored on government databases maintained by each state.
  • While some states have caught up to modern times with security features and real-time change tracking, most of them are on old systems with no change tracking at all.
  • The couple months before the election are the busiest time for these voter rolls to be changed, and there’s little to no way to slow down access to them.
  • “Our Guy” has access to multiple national databases, including a health care company that can access all Americans based on address.  One of these databases includes all voters in America.
  • “Our Guy” also has access to a data analysis firm that can crunch all of this down to specific areas of the country to minimize the amount of work needed, allowing for microtargeting of people.
  • “Our Guy” is very divisive.  Violent extremists and racists love him.
  • “Our Guy” is running against “Her”, a woman that will make life miserable for your benefactor, should she be elected.
  • Two other minor candidates are running, and one of them, “The Other Woman”, is an asset and ally of the cause, and friendly to your benefactor.
  • “Our Guy” is a sore loser, and likely to whine about his loss for years.
  • You also have access to one of the most sophisticated propaganda machines in the world, and several friendly Americans that are willing to spread it, whether they know it or not.

Give the above, what’s the best course of action to cause chaos, and possibly get “Our Guy” elected?

Changing the vote totals at the machine level is out.  There are too many machines, and many of them require physical access.  That means having someone walk into a polling place, knowing the machine ahead of time, plug a USB drive in to the machine or connect an even older peripheral to it, and upload data to corrupt the vote totals.  All while standing in wide view of dozens of people, without drawing any attention.  Then, having to do this for multiple machines, per polling precinct, across the country.  Let’s say there’s 100,000 places to vote in the United States, and an average of 6 machines.  To affect half, this would require 300,000 people with direct access to the voting machines.  Then, those 300,000 would have to stay silent and execute the job perfectly.  Not gonna happen.

Changing the vote totals at the county or state levels are out, too.  There’s a very short window in which to operate, and these systems will be protected, monitored, checked, and double checked throughout the night.  The results have to be hand delivered to the county office under police guard, and once they’re certified, that paper trail will be used to show what it’s supposed to be.

So if you can’t change the vote totals, you can change who votes and how they vote.

How?  Alter the voter rolls, and target specific groups with the propaganda you want.

The voter rolls are different from state to state, but all have basic information like name, date of birth, address, precinct, party, and how often or last time they voted.  They likely also have a social security number, which is used as an ID number in a lot of systems, even though it shouldn’t be used that way.

What else uses SSN’s in their database?  Health care databases.  You could take data from the voter roll database, search for a matching SSN, then see if the information is up to date.  If it’s not, no need to worry, the person doesn’t live there and won’t vote.  If it does match, you could take that data, then see what their party is, how often they vote, and compare that to any active social media profiles that match, and compare that to known demographics and stats, like the likelihood that a Democrat who votes every year and follows progressive causes on FaceBook would vote for Trump.

Once this data is collected, you could determine whether propaganda or voter suppression is the best weapon for certain areas.

The propagandists can craft the messages that will get the best outcome to the right location.  You could buy advertising on Social Media to target largely white areas of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio with ads that show “Her” supporting the boogeyman of the day, whether it’s Muslims, Blacks, or Mexicans.  You could also have the propagandists craft a message showing “Her” attacking minorities and have it run in inner cities.  You could have them buy ads promoting “The Other Woman” as a protest vote, knowing that it would not affect “Our Guy.”

Meanwhile, you edit the voter rolls in states and cities where your work will have the greatest impact.  Choose states that require active checking of the voter rolls, like Texas, or have new Voter ID laws like Wisconsin or North Carolina.  Change some entries on the voter rolls, like middle initials, or street addresses, or zip codes.  Add or remove a Jr. suffix in the database.  Flip party affiliations.  Change the spelling of the last name.  Something small, innocuous, but devastating.  Remember, if the information on the ID doesn’t match what the voter rolls say it should be, they can’t vote.

One of these by themselves will create chaos, but all of it together has a small chance of electing “Our Guy”, but only if everything and everyone works.  It’s a stretch, but can be done with the resources available.  Meanwhile, changing the vote totals would require a small army and/or time travel to pull off, and if your plan requires time travel, it’s a bad plan.

 

THE HOUSE WITHOUT LOCKS

Any system made by man can be defeated by man.

When it comes to breaking into a house, or a computer, or a system, it’s not always about whether or not security is used, but whether the security is worth the hassle.

Think of a burglar looking for a house to rob.  They look at the security that each house has in place.  One has a fence, another an alarm system, another several REALLY BIG FUCKING DOGS, and another has absolutely nothing.  No deadbolt, no locks, no “Beware of Dog” sign, no alarm, no random gun crap lying around, nothing.  Each house has about the same stuff, but this one has no security.

Were the vote totals changed?  Highly unlikely.  The amount of time, effort, energy, and resources needed to pull that off would be astronomical, and would be outed faster closeted Bible-thumping politician.  The vote totals are the house with 10 locks, big dogs, and an alarm with camera controlled machine guns.

The voter rolls, on the other hand, are relatively unsecured.  They were easy to access, easy to change, and easy to manipulate.  They were the house with no locks, the windows are open, and the big screen TV is visible from the street.

So, that’s why there are no credible reports about the vote totals being hacked, but several confirmed reports of voter rolls being attacked.  Why change the vote totals themselves when suppressing those who can vote can be done for 1/100th the cost?

 

TERMINOLOGY

PEBKAC: Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair.  An IT acronym used to describe the location of an error.  Also called a PBKC error, it is used by IT technicians to describe a problem or issue created by a user.  If you’re IT person ever says this you, they’re a dick.

Brute Force Attack:  Repeatedly attempting to force ones way into a system, usually by attempting different passwords over and over again.  This is very effective on older systems without failed user login lockouts on a few attempts, or if most of the name and/or password are known.

Phishing:  A method of gaining access to a system by sending out bait and getting the user give over the required information, all while pretending to be a legitimate source.

Spear Phishing:  A focused phishing attack, targeting one member or small group, often including personalized information in the attack.

Trojan:  A piece of software, usually malware*, hidden in another piece of software to get it past security.

Man In The Middle:  A type of hacker attack where the user is tricked into communicating with a malicious third party, often while trying to contact a legitimate person.

Social Engineering:  The art of hacking people, businesses, and society.  Exploiting people and their weaknesses for personal benefit.  This could be done through researching the target and/or taking advantage of existing societal norms.

Malware:  Malicious Software.

The Justice League

ROBERT MUELLER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE

When Robert Mueller was appointed the Special Counselor for the Russia Investigation by the Deputy Attorney General back in May 2017, one of the first things that he did was assemble a team to help him with the day to day activities.  Not only would these team members do the heavy lifting in the courtroom, but their expertise would shape the investigation.  These hires also tell us who and what they know.

What do we know about this team?

They are some of the best prosecutors in the world, specializing in everything from white-collar crimes to cybersecurity to terrorism.  Many of them gave up 6, 7, possibly 8 figure salaries and partnerships to work on the Russian Investigation at base government pay.

What does this mean?

This means that there is more than enough evidence to convince some of the greatest lawyers on Earth to leave their private practices representing the wealthiest clients in the world to take part in the largest case in history.  At the least, they will take part in the prosecution of the President of the United States.  At the most, their roles will be pivotal in securing the fate of Democracy as we know it.

Who’s on the team, and what do they do?

Robert Mueller, Special Counselor

Former FBI Director, Mueller took over the position one week before the 9/11 terror attacks.  He became the longest serving FBI Director since J. Edgar Hoover.  After his time there, he became a partner at WilmerHale law firm in Washington, D.C.

James Quarles, member of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force

James Quarles was a young man in the 1970’s, but already a skilled lawyer.  He served as an Assistant Special Prosecutor in the Watergate scandal.

Andrew Weissmann, Fraud and Corruption

Weissmann headed up the Enron Task Force between 2002 and 2005.  Before that he was a federal prosecutor in New York.  He took down Enron Chariman Kenneth Lay, CEO Jeffery Skilling, and members and bosses in the Genovese, Colombo, and Gambino crime families.

Greg Andres, White-Collar Crimes

Andres brings foreign bribery experience to the team.  He took down an $8 Billion Ponzi scheme in Texas.

Andrew D. Goldstein, Assistant US Attorney from Southern District New York

Goldstein worked for Preet Bharara in SDNY where he led the public corruption unit.  He has experience in money laundering, fraud, and corruption cases.  Before his boss was fired by Donald Trump, Goldstein and Preet were supposedly working on a RICO case against the Trump Organization.  Rumor has it that he took the evidence against Trump with him down to Washington.

Elizabeth Prelogar, The Russian Expert

Prelogar is fluent in Russian, and clerked for Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan.

Rush Atkinson, Criminal Fraud

Atkinson is a prosecutor in the Criminal Division Securities & Financial Fraud Unit.  He took down a mother and son team that orchestrated a $16 million medicare fraud scheme.

Aaron Zebley, former Chief of Staff to FBI Director Mueller

Zebley has expertise in Counterterrorism and National Security cases.  He was prosecuting Al Qaeda before prosecuting Al Qaeda was cool.  In recent years at WilmerHale, he focused on Cybersecurity cases.

Michael Dreeben, Supreme Court Expert

Less than 10 attorneys in history have argued more than 100 cases before the United States Supreme Court.  Michael Dreeben is one of them.

Adam Jed, Civil Appeals Expert

Jed is an appellate lawyer in the civil division, not the criminal division.  This implies that they’re preparing for civil cases, and expecting them them to challenged on appeal.  His most famous case is United States v. Windsor, where he helped overturn the Defense of Marriage Act and brought about the legalization of gay marriage across the land.

Aaron Zelinsky, U.S. Attorney from Maryland

Zelinsky has worked for Rod Rosenstein, and was a hostage negotiator in the State Department under President Obama.

Kyle Freeny, Money Laundering and Asset Recovery

Freeny just wrapped up work on the “Wolf of Wall Street” money laundering case when she got the call to join the Mueller team.

Zainab Ahmad, Counterterrorism and Witness Flipping

Ahmad has singlehandedly crippled Al Qaeda in the United States.  She has more convictions against terrorists in the United States than anyone else.  How?  She’s THE expert in flipping witnesses. If she can flip hardened terrorists against each other, what chance does a member of the Trump Family have against her?

Jeanie Rhee, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General

Rhee has two years of DOJ experience, and worked with Robert teller at WilmerHale.  She represented the Clinton Foundation in a racketeering lawsuit in 2015.

Brandon Van Grack, National Security Division Prosecutor

Van Grack is an expert in espionage, national security, and International Crime cases.

Ryan Dickey, Cybercrime Expert  

Ryan K. Dickey is a United States Attorney who specializes in cyber crimes. He was the prosecutor who convicted the original Guccifer, and is the man behind the shutdown of MegaUpload. He is one of the best attorneys in the world for prosecuting computer crimes.

Scott Meisler, Appellate Lawyer

Scott has represented the government in appeals involving search warrants, seizures, motions to suppress wiretap evidence, mail fraud, wire fraud, as well as structuring financial transactions and money laundering.  In other words, he knows how to “defend the technicalities.”

Brian Richardson, The New Guy

Richardson clerked for Supreme Court Justice Steven Breyer in October 2016 before joining the Mueller team in July 2017.  He’s also worked in multiple district courts.

Heather Alpino, Counterintelligence and Export Control

Alpino is a Harvard Law graduate who has worked on cases against Iranian hackers, a British National and American who tried to get chemical weapons equipment into Syria, and prosecuted Hamza Kolsuz for trying to illegally export guns to Turkey.

Jonathan Kravis, Corruption

Kravis has experience in prosecuting public corruption cases.  He helped take down former Congressman Chaka Fattah and DEA Agent Artemis Papadakis.

Uzo Asonye, Fraud and Financial Crimes

Asonye is the Deputy Chief of the Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Unit in Eastern District Virginia.

Kathryn Rakoczy, Street Crime

Rakoczy has spent most of the last decade specializing in misdemeanors and violent crime in Washington, D.C.

Deborah Curtis, Counterespionage

Curtis has worked on many cases of espionage, including busting Chinese companies trying to get around North Korean sanctions, nailing an American scientist spying for the Israelis, prosecuting former State Department contractor Stephen Jin-Woo Kim for leaking classified intelligence to an Fox News reporter, and Chelsea Manning.

 

What can we infer?

We have multiple experts in money laundering, fraud, bribery, mafia crimes, cyber crimes, espionage, counterterrorism, asset recovery, witness flipping, international crimes, and Russian culture.  By the way, they also have one of the few people alive that prosecuted a White House for criminal charges.

Mueller is not fucking around.

So far, we’ve got two arrests on white-collar crimes, and two convictions on plea deals for lying to the FBI regarding contacts with Russians.  Plus, there’s a ton of stuff still under seal.

Without hyperbole, this is one of the greatest collection of lawyers ever pulled together.  They’ve been working on this case since May 2017, and the investigation began a year before that.  Any one of these prosecutors coming after a person would cause sleepless nights and panic inducing anxiety.  All of them coming after a person would cause them to seriously contemplate suicide.

They are not fucking around.  People are going to jail, or worse.

Thanks to Reddit user PoppinKREAM and this post for making this post a lot easier to put together.

 

UPDATED FEBRUARY 25, 2018:  From some new information from CNN, I made a few changes:

Kyle Freeney is a she, not a he.  I also added Brian Richardson and Scott Meisler.

UPDATED APRIL 6, 2018:  Corrected spelling of Elena Kagan.

UPDATED JULY 20, 2018:  Based on this article from The Daily Beast, I added the following people:

  • Heather Alpino
  • Jonathan Kravis
  • Uzo Asonye
  • Kathryn Rakoczy
  • Deborah Curtis

UPDATED SEPTEMBER 3, 2018: According to reporting from  this article from CNN, the following lawyers have left Mueller’s team.

  • Ryan Dickey
  • Brian Richardson

UPDATED OCTOBER 3, 2018: According to reporting from Politico, the following lawyers have left Mueller’s team.

  • Kyle Freeny
  • Brandon Van Grack

Flipping Flynn

This past Thursday, while most of America was eating turkey or trying to get a jump start on their Holiday shopping, The New York Times released a whopper of a story about Mike Flynn, the former head of the DIA, and short tenured National Security Advisor to Donald Trump.

The story released by The Grey Lady contained some juicy details, but the crux of the story is that Flynn’s legal team is no longer sharing information about Mueller’s investigation with Donald Trump’s legal team.

This might not sound like a big deal, and a little bit too much of insider gossip, but this could be the beginning of the end for Donald Trump’s presidency.

Let me break this down, point by point.

Before I get lost down a rabbit hole, there’s this little matter of sharing information between legal teams.  Depending on who gets asked, there could be some laws getting bent, but the general consensus is that if two or more parties are targets of the same investigation, and they have legal counsel, they can share information between them.  This becomes vital in cases where the investigators keep everything under wraps, and every sliver of information is worth its weight in gold.  If Trump’s lawyers hear something about the investigation, or get asked questions about Flynn, or Kushner, Donnie, or Mike Pence, it would be considered a courtesy to give those legal teams a heads up, so they know what kind of questions to expect.

So, what does it mean when one legal team stops sharing information?  And what can we glean from this story?

Normally, there are three reasons why a legal team might stop sharing information.  First, what they’re sharing is illegal and/or unethical and could place their clients in jeopardy, or they are no longer on the same side of the investigation.  Considering they were previously sharing info, and that they aren’t exactly the pillars of ethical behavior, the likely answer is that Flynn is no longer on the same side of the investigation as Trump.

Well, what does that mean?

That means exactly what I said.  They’re no longer on the same side.  Either one of their investigations took a turn down a dark path, or one of them isn’t being investigated anymore.  Let me work both of those scenarios.

In the first case, where an investigation into one party takes a turn, then it wouldn’t make sense for the teams to share information, as that could cause more legal problems than it would solve.  Let’s say, during Flynn’s questioning, the FBI asked him about a bunch of missing Russians that disappeared after visiting one of Trump’s properties.  People kept disappearing, until one day, a bunch of bodies washed up along the Atlantic City coast.  They ask Flynn what he knew, but all of this is a shock, and has nothing to do with the previous investigation, it’s just something that washed up.  If Flynn tells Trump about this line of questioning, he could be considered an accessory after the fact.  Telling Trump would be a very bad idea for Flynn.

The second case is that one of them isn’t being investigated anymore.  While this is a slight possibility, it’s as slight as the Cleveland Browns winning the Super Bowl, after being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.  Sure, there are some technicalities, and if a few teams died in plane crashes, then they might be given a pass to the playoffs, but it’s not happening.

There are two sides to the Mueller Probe; those that worked with Trump, and those investigating the Trump Team.  If Flynn is no longer on the Trump Team, the only team left is the Investigators.

But does that necessarily mean that Flynn is working with Mueller?  Not really, but it’s very likely.

Back in the Spring, when Russia was just starting to hit the Main Stream Media, Mike Flynn offered to testify before the Senate, the House, and the FBI, in exchange for immunity.  All three of them said no.

Over the past several months, more and more information has come out about Mike Flynn, and all of the shady business he’s involved with.  He’s been caught in multiple phone calls with the Russian Ambassador, received money from Russia and Turkey for lobbying on their behalf, was in a meeting in December 2016 in Trump Tower working on a back channel connection to Russia using their diplomatic connections, he lobbied on behalf of Kaspersky AFTER working as the head of the DIA when they announced to the rest of the IC that Kaspersky is an arm of Russian Intelligence, he lied on his security clearance background check and renewal, solicited stolen emails from the HRC campaign, and asked others to do the same, didn’t register as a foreign agent under FARA, he shot down a program to arm Kurdish rebels against ISIS because Turkey didn’t like it, and he’s been connected to several meetings with Turkish officials discussing the release of a known money launder, attempted to negotiate several deals to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East on behalf of Russian companies, and the kidnapping and extradition of a political opponent of the Turkish President.  There’s also rumors that he leaked classified information to Erdogan which allowed him to circumvent the attempted coup against him.

This doesn’t include him “lying to the Vice President”, which was the excuse used to fire him 18 days after the White House was informed of his likely compromised position.

That gigantic pile of accusations includes the following crimes:

  • Corruption
  • Abuse of Power
  • Perjury
  • Money Laundering
  • Conspiracy to Commit Kidnapping
  • Violations of the Logan Act
  • Failure to Register as a Foreign Agent
  • Violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice
  • Conspiracy to Commit Election Fraud
  • Conspiracy Against the United States
  • Conspiracy to Benefit from Hacking
  • Accepting Campaign Gifts and Donations from a Foreign Power
  • Bribery
  • Conspiracy to Commit Espionage
  • Espionage
  • Conspiracy to Commit Sedition
  • Sedition
  • Recruiting for Service Against the United States
  • Conspiracy to Commit Treason
  • Misprision of Treason
  • Treason

The crimes in italics carry a penalty of life in prison.  Those in bold are capital offenses, and in the United States, carry the death penalty.

Did I mention that his son, Michael Flynn, Jr., was involved in almost all of those alleged crimes as well?

See, Mike Flynn brought his son along with him everywhere after he was fired from his job at the DIA.  Both Mike Flynn’s started the Flynn Intelligence Group, a lobbying firm to take advantage of his previous experience.  There, he worked with many people across the world, including Russians, Iranians, Syrians, and Turks.  Both Flynn’s were involved in everything from accepting bribes to giving away state secrets.

Junior is in a world of hurt, and will receive the same punishment as his father.

And that is how Mueller flipped, or will flip, Flynn.  By using his son as leverage, Mueller will get Mike Flynn to spill his guts on everyone and everything.  If Flynn cooperates, then Junior doesn’t die a traitors death.  Senior is still screwed, but if he hand delivers Trump and Pence, he might get life in prison instead of the death penalty.

According to the rumors that I’ve heard for the last few months, a deal has been on and off a few times, but has been pulled by Mueller’s team when Junior goes and does something stupid.  Senior then has to beg harder and give up more.

As big of a fish as Mike Flynn is, there are a few more that are bigger that he worked with throughout the campaign, transition, and into the White House.  Flynn worked with Manafort on several money deals.  He worked with Jared Kushner, and likely Ivanka Trump, on setting up the December 2016 Trump Tower meeting.  He worked with Steve Bannon and the Mercers on Cambridge Analytica.  Flynn worked with Mike Pence on the Transition Team.

And, don’t forget, but Mike Flynn was on the “Very Short List” to be Donald Trump’s Vice President.  Yep, the man that Donald Trump asked the FBI Director to “let him go” was originally considered for the position of Vice President.  Even with all of his various ties to Russia and Turkey.

By the way, the reason Flynn ended up as National Security Advisor in the White House is funny.  Trump originally wanted him to head the CIA, but that position would require Senate confirmation, which they felt Flynn wouldn’t get.

Flynn can take down everyone, but if I were a betting man, my guess is that he is used to take down Jared Kushner next.  Flynn WAS in Trump’s inner circle.  Jared IS Trump’s inner circle.

Flynn can take down Mike Pence, Jared can take down Donald Trump.