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Thread: The Trump Presidency

  1. #2206
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    Default Re: The Trump Presidency

    Irony is dead and buried, it's with Spanky in the grave............


    CROOKED IVANKA ... WAPO'S CAROL LEONNIG and JOSH DAWSEY: "Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to send hundreds of emails about government business last year":"Ivanka Trump sent hundreds of emails last year to White House aides, Cabinet officials and her assistants using a personal account, many of them in violation of federal records rules, according to people familiar with a White House examination of her correspondence.


    "White House ethics officials learned of Trump's repeated use of personal email when reviewing emails gathered last fall by five Cabinet agencies to respond to a public records lawsuit. That review revealed that throughout much of 2017, she often discussed or relayed official White House business using a private email account with a domain that she shares with her husband, Jared Kushner.


    "The discovery alarmed some advisers to President Trump, who feared that his daughter's practices bore similarities to the personal email use of Hillary Clinton, an issue he made a focus of his 2016 campaign. He attacked his Democratic challenger as untrustworthy and dubbed her 'Crooked Hillary' for using a personal email account as secretary of state." WaPo


    -- FLASHBACK: JOSH DAWSEY in POLITICO on Sept. 24, 2017: "Kushner used private email to conduct White House business"
    As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.

  2. #2207
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    -- "Trump to give Mueller written answers by Thanksgiving," by Eliana Johnson and Darren Samuelsohn: "President Donald Trump will give special counsel Robert Mueller written responses to a slate of questions as early as Tuesday. Trump's lawyers set an informal Thanksgiving deadline for the president to finalize his responses on topics surrounding the Russian hacking of the 2016 election, and he's almost ready to submit them, according to two sources familiar with the conversations." POLITICO



    -- DARREN SAMUELSOHN: "Mueller says powers still intact amid DOJ overhaul": "Robert Mueller's top attorney said Monday that the special counsel's investigative powers remain fully intact despite the recent change atop the Justice Department that gives Mueller's team a new supervisor. Michael Dreeben, the deputy solicitor general who represents Mueller, told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker taking charge of the Russia probe 'neither alters the special counsel's authority to represent the United States nor raises any jurisdictional issue.'" POLITICO
    As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.

  3. #2208
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    An early confirmation of the dictum that "elections have consequences".

    WaPo......

    House panel to investigate whether Ivanka Trump violated federal law by using personal email account for government business
    Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Tuesday that the committee launched a bipartisan investigation last year into White House officials' use of private email accounts, but the White House never provided the requested information. Cummings said Congress needs the information to ensure Trump, her husband, Jared Kushner, and other officials are complying with federal record laws. "My goal is to prevent this from happening again — not to turn this into a spectacle the way Republicans went after Hillary Clinton," Cummings said.
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  4. #2209
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    THE INVESTIGATIONS ...
    -- DARREN SAMUELSOHN: "Mueller got some answers, but he's not done with Trump,": "President Donald Trump on Tuesday finally submitted a set of written responses to Robert Mueller, signaling that he was done for good with the special counsel's questions. But Mueller is far from done with him.


    "The special counsel still wants to question the president over his actions while in the White House — Tuesday's answers only covered Russian hacking during the 2016 election. It's a fight that could result in a historic subpoena and eventual Supreme Court ruling, pulling a defiant Trump into a legal squabble that could set groundbreaking precedent for presidential investigations for years to come. Depending on how the battle plays out, House Democrats may even try and pounce and launch impeachment proceedings.


    "Things could get explosive fast. Next comes the perilous round of negotiations between Trump's lawyers and Mueller's prosecutors covering topics like Trump's intentions when firing FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. That line of questioning — which Trump says he shouldn't have to answer — is tied to Mueller's ongoing obstruction of justice investigation." POLITICO



    THE INVESTIGATIONS ... JOSH GERSTEIN: "Mueller says Manafort breached plea deal by lying": "Special counsel Robert Mueller is accusing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of violating the plea deal he agreed to earlier this year by repeatedly lying to prosecutors and FBI agents during recent debriefing sessions.


    "In a report filed with a federal judge Monday evening,
    Mueller's office alleged that Manafort 'committed federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel's Office on a variety of subject matters.' Prosecutors said the alleged lies leave Manafort exposed to the possibility of a more severe prison sentence under federal guidelines, but they did not elaborate on what exactly he allegedly lied about." POLITICO





    Absent pardon, Manafort could spend life in prison
    Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort continued to repeatedly lie after his plea agreement, special counsel Robert Mueller said in a stunning filing last evening.

    • "Prosecutors ... said Mr. Manafort’s 'crimes and lies' ... relieve them of all promises they made to him in the plea agreement. But under the terms of the agreement, Mr. Manafort cannot withdraw his guilty plea," per the N.Y. Times.
    • Why it matters, from WashPost: "Mueller’s team may have lost its potentially most valuable witness."

    MSNBC's Chris Hayes said this "sure looks like a last-minute play to be pardoned."

    • Ron Klain added later on MSNBC that we're "one step closer to a constitutional crisis": If Trump pardons Manafort, "that really is smack dab in the middle of a president essentially pardoning himself for cooperating with a foreign power in the presidential campaign."
    • "The crescendo is building. The music is rising here. We're headed to something very significant here in the next few days."

    P.S. ... N.Y. Times, 45 years ago today: "President Nixon's personal secretary, Rose Mary Woods, testified in Federal District Court in Washington that through some 'terrible mistake' she had pressed the wrong button on her tape recorder and thus caused an 18‐minute 'gap' on one of the subpoenaed Watergate tape recordings."
    As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.

  5. #2210
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    Having observed tradition and stayed silent prior to the mid-terms the Mueller operation is making headlines again.




    THE INVESTIGATIONS ...
    -- "Manafort's Lawyer Said to Brief Trump Attorneys on What He Told Mueller," by NYT's Michael Schmidt, Sharon LaFraniere and Maggie Haberman: "A lawyer for Paul Manafort, the president's onetime campaign chairman, repeatedly briefed President Trump's lawyers on his client's discussions with federal investigators after Mr. Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel, according to one of Mr. Trump's lawyers and two other people familiar with the conversations.



    "The arrangement was highly unusual and inflamed tensions with the special counsel's office when prosecutors discovered it after Mr. Manafort began cooperating two months ago, the people said.



    "Some legal experts speculated that it was a bid by Mr. Manafort for a presidential pardon even as he worked with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in hopes of a lighter sentence. Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of the president's personal lawyers, acknowledged the arrangement on Tuesday and defended it as a source of valuable insights into the special counsel's inquiry and where it was headed. Such information could help shape a legal defense strategy, and it also appeared to give Mr. Trump and his legal advisers ammunition in their public relations campaign against Mr. Mueller's office." NYT



    -- DARREN SAMUELSOHN foreshadowed this in an Oct. 8 story: "Trump team's contact with Mueller targets could taint findings"



    -- CNN'S SARA MURRAY and KATELYN POLANTZ: "Stone's efforts to seek WikiLeaks documents detailed in draft Mueller document": "Draft court filings obtained by CNN outline significant insights into what special counsel Robert Mueller may know about Roger Stone's efforts to seek documents from WikiLeaks in 2016.



    "Mueller's office was preparing to tell a federal court that Stone pushed an associate to get documents from WikiLeaks -- information that is now known to be stolen from the Democrats by Russian hackers -- that could help the Trump campaign, according to a draft of a court filing and other documents shared with CNN by Stone associate and conservative author Jerome Corsi." CNN




    Evidence is mounting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is moving toward further indictments — and perhaps some big ones, with an end-of-year flurry of activity, Garrett M. Graff reports for Axios.



    Graff — one of the most astute Mueller-watchers, and author of a bookfocused on his dozen years as FBI director — sees six signs that a Mueller climax may be accelerating:

    1. Mueller is tightening the screws on Jerome Corsi, a friend of former Trump adviser Roger Stone. A plea deal — or charges — appear imminent.
    2. Ecuador may be moving toward turning over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The government removed its Assange-backing U.K. ambassador last week, and has prohibited his lawyers from meeting with him. The report yesterday by The Guardian that Assange and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort may have met repeatedly — denied by Manafort and Assange — raises the stakes dramatically.
    3. Russian spy and NRA superfan Maria Butina is reported to be in talks for a plea deal.
    4. A number of Mueller’s prosecutors were hard at work on Veterans Day —when Michael Cohen took the train to Washington to talk to Mueller's team.
    5. ABC News reported an "unusually high" number — nearly three dozen, in fact — of sealed indictments filed over the course of the year in D.C. Fourteen of those have been added since August, a period when Mueller’s investigation was publicly quiet.
    6. And this big one: President Trump last week finally turned inlong-awaited written answers to Mueller’s investigators. His story — or at least a version of it — is now locked in. By doing so, Trump tacitly acknowledged Mueller's authority, despite tweeting last night: "The Mueller Witch Hunt is a total disgrace."

    Since Mueller laid low while waiting for Trump’s responses, the special counsel may have wanted to avoid taking any action that might spook the president.

    • Mueller appears to have been thinking this through carefully — not rocking the boat while he waited out Trump. His team delayed a mid-November hearing, where prosecutors were supposed to discuss Paul Manafort’s "lack of cooperation." They made that accusation Monday, after Trump’s answers were in hand.

    So the timeline looks like it's speeding up, after four months of near-silence from Mueller. Manafort's lack of cooperation might be the opening needed to file Mueller's most explosive findings in public shortly.

    • That could include new information about that mysterious 2016 Trump Tower meeting, or details about a possible Assange connection.
    • Based on Monday's court filing, Mueller apparently hopes to quickly issue a "report" on Manafort’s activities to the court, one that — if it’s anything like other documents Mueller has filed thus far — will be more informed, more knowledgeable, and more detailed than we can imagine.

    Be smart: We've been surprised at every turn by how much Mueller knows.

    • Go deeper: Garrett M. Graff for WIRED, "Robert Mueller's endgame may be in sight."

    Mueller has lots of unrevealed email
    "Conservative author Jerome Corsi alerted longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone in early August 2016 that WikiLeaks planned to release material damaging to ... Hillary Clinton, including documents related to her campaign chairman John Podesta, according to a draft court filing," the WashPost reports.

    • "Corsi emailed Stone about WikiLeaks’s plans nearly 10 weeks before the group published Podesta’s hacked emails in October, according to the document, which was prepared by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team as part of plea negotiations with Corsi that have collapsed."
    • Why it matters: This shows Mueller has lots of email we don't know about.

    What's coming, per WashPost: "Mueller has so far charged 32 people in connection with the probe, extracting guilty pleas from several, delving deeply into Russian influence and hacking operations, and compiling reams of unrevealed evidence through a grand jury."
    P.S. The special counsel's office issued a rare public statement, saying Mueller will continue to operate even if there's a government shutdown over Trump's wall:

    • "All employees with the Special Counsel’s Office are considered exempt and will continue their operations in the case of a lapse in appropriations."
    • The Justice Department tells me that's correct: "SCO is funded from a permanent indefinite appropriation and would be unaffected in the event of a shutdown. The appropriation bills before Congress do not touch the SCO."

    As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.

  6. #2211
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    THE INVESTIGATIONS ...

    -- WAPO'S MANUEL ROIG-FRANZIA, CAROL LEONNIG, ROS HELDERMAN
    and JOSH DAWSEY: "Trump's night-owl calls to Roger Stone in 2016 draw scrutiny in Mueller probe": "The calls almost always came deep into the night. Caller ID labeled them 'unknown,' but Roger Stone said he knew to pick up quickly during those harried months of the 2016 presidential campaign. There would be a good chance that the voice on the other end of the line would belong to his decades-long friend — the restless, insomniac candidate Donald Trump — dialing from a blocked phone number.


    "Those nocturnal chats and other contacts
    between the man who now occupies the Oval Office and an infamous political trickster have come under intensifying scrutiny as special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation bores into whether Stone served as a bridge between Trump and WikiLeaks as the group was publishing hacked Democratic emails.


    "Mueller's keen interest in their relationship
    was laid out in a draft court document revealed this week in which prosecutors drew a direct line between the two men — referring to Stone as someone understood to be in regular contact with senior Trump campaign officials, 'including with then-candidate Donald J. Trump.'" WaPo


    -- "Manafort Lied About Business Dealings, Mueller's Team Believes,"
    by WSJ's Aruna Viswanatha and Rebecca Ballhaus: "Paul Manafort's alleged misstatements to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators include comments about his personal business dealings and about his contacts with a former associate in Ukraine, say people familiar with the matter." WSJ


    -- "Trump says pardon for Paul Manafort still a possibility,"
    by the New York Post's Marisa Schultz and Nikki Schwab: "'It was never discussed, but I wouldn't take it off the table. Why would I take it off the table?' the president said during an Oval Office interview. He ripped special counsel Robert Mueller's probe and charged that Manafort, former political adviser Roger Stone and Stone's associate Jerome Corsi were all asked to lie by the special counsel. 'If you told the truth, you go to jail,' Trump said." NYP


    -- "Key Mueller witness: I lied and I'm ready to die in jail" -- MSNBC:
    "In a blockbuster interview, key Mueller witness and Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi admits to MSNBC's Ari Melber that he lied to Congress, that he tried to get stolen Clinton emails back to the Trump campaign in 2016, that he 'absolutely' intended to help the Trump campaign by doing so, that he told Roger Stone about John Podesta's emails and that his lawyers are still communicating with Trump's legal team 'as if' there is a joint legal defense." MSNBC


    THE SEASON PREMIERE ... STORMY VS. AVENATTI ... "Stormy Daniels: Michael Avenatti Sued Trump For Defamation Against My Wishes,"
    by The Daily Beast's Betsy Woodruff and Kate Briquelet: "Michael Avenatti sued Donald Trump for defaming Stormy Daniels against her wishes, Daniels told The Daily Beast in a statement on Wednesday. Avenatti also started a new fundraising site to raise money for her legal defense fund without telling her, Daniels said. She said she is not sure whether or not she will keep Avenatti on as her lawyer." Daily Beast


    THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION -- GABBY ORR
    and ELIANA JOHNSON: "U.N. ambassador hunt drags on as top candidate fades": "The hunt for a new United Nations ambassador — a job for which State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert was once considered a lock but is now out of contention — has faced repeated delays and is running up against Nikki Haley's end-of-year departure date. Meanwhile, a raft of new candidates has emerged, but no one has grabbed the front-runner mantel, raising the possibility that President Donald Trump could tap someone at the 11th hour who has already been passed over.


    "The White House Counsel's office has not yet been asked to vet
    anyone for the role, further indicating the president may not have settled on a finalist. 'It seems like this has been the position they could never quite find someone to fill,' said a Republican close to the White House, who added that Trump has mostly struggled to find someone who shares his disruptive foreign policy impulses." POLITICO




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  7. #2212
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    WaPo.......


    Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer, pleads guilty to lying to Congress about Trump real estate project in Russia, AP reports
    Cohen pleaded guilty in August to campaign finance violations related to payments before the election to two women who alleged they had affairs with Donald Trump years ago. That case was brought by federal prosecutors in New York.
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  8. #2213
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    The Cohen confessions



    A November surprise: Michael Cohen pleads guilty for lying to Congress about the plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, shining a freshly uncomfortable spotlight on President Trump.
    Why it matters: "The new guilty plea firmly — and dramatically — shifts the narrative and timeline of the Russia investigation," journalist Garrett Graff writes for WIRED:

    • "While pursuing the White House, Donald Trump was also pursuing personal business deals with a foreign adversary that, according to Mueller’s earlier indictments, engaged in a multifaceted, complex, expensive, and long-running criminal conspiracy to help deliver Trump to the presidency."

    Between the lines: The former Trump lawyer reportedly said in court that his three lies were out of loyalty to the president, per NBC News' Tom Winter.
    The lies, listed:

    • Lie #1: The Moscow Project ended in January 2016 and was not discussed extensively with others in the Trump Organization.
    • Lie #2: Cohen never agreed to travel to Russia in connection with the Moscow Project and "never considered" asking President Trump to travel for the project.
    • Lie #3: Cohen did not recall any Russian government response or contact about the Moscow Project.

    What they're saying: Trump told reporters today that Cohen is "a weak person" for pleading guilty, adding he thinks Cohen is "lying to get a reduced sentence."

    • In his written responses to Mueller, Trump acknowledged that he discussed plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow with Cohen before the deal fell through, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the New York Times.

    The bottom line: "The potential innocent explanations for Trump's behavior over the last two years are being steadily stripped away," Graff tweeted.

    • "Mueller has identified two separate criminal conspiracies that aided Trump in 2016: Russian cyber ops & Cohen's campaign finance violations. Today, we learned that the central figure in one (Cohen) was trying to contact and get help from the central figure in the other (Putin)."

    Go deeper:




    POTUS is now "Individual 1



    Until this week, public revelations about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation focused on characters who had been around President Trump.

    • For the first time, the special counsel's narrative has suddenly come alive with pre-presidential actions and entanglements by Trump himself.
    • "Investigators have now publicly cast Trump as a central figure of their probe into whether Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign," the WashPost reports.
    • Why it matters: This week's disclosures show that "Trump was in close contact with his lieutenants as they made outreach to both Russia and WikiLeaks — and that they tried to conceal the extent of their activities."

    The WashPost's Devlin Barrett tweeted: "In both of his guilty plea hearings, [former Trump lawyer] Michael Cohen has gone beyond the court filings to make clear his criminal actions were specifically on Trump's behalf."

    • And ABC News reported that Cohen, with years of visibility into Trump's financial and political dealings, "has spent more than 70 hours in interviews with Mueller's team."

    The president of the United States was labeled "Individual 1" in yesterday's court filing by Mueller.

    • The filing, which spelled out the facts that led to Cohen to plead guilty to lying to Congress, began to tie together the New York and Washington branches of the investigation.

    Cohen made it plain that Trump "was more involved in discussions over a potential Russian business deal during the presidential campaign than previously known," as the N.Y. Times put it.

    • "Trump’s participation in discussions about building a grand skyscraper in Moscow," The Times reports, "showed how the interests of his business empire were enmeshed with his political ambitions as he was closing in on the Republican nomination for president."
    • The backdrop: "Trump for decades dreamed of building a Trump Tower in the heart of Moscow, a plan that flared and fizzled several times over the years." (AP)

    Be smart: That suggests a profit motive for Trump's persistent and unexplained affinity for Russia.

    • Trump said as he left the White House yesterday for Argentina: "I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business. And why should I lose lots of opportunities?"

    Trump tweets from Argentina this morning:

    • "Oh, I get it! I am a very good developer, happily living my life, when I see our Country going in the wrong direction (to put it mildly). Against all odds, I decide to run for President & continue to run my business-very legal & very cool, talked about it on the campaign trail..."
    • "....Lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia. Put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn’t do the project. Witch Hunt!"

    P.S. ... Statement by Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump:

    • "BREAKING NEWS ALERT: Michael Cohen is a liar. It's no surprise that Cohen lied to Congress. He's a proven liar who is doing everything he can to get out of a long-term prison sentence for serious crimes of bank and tax fraud that had nothing to do with the Trump Organization."
    • "It is important to understand that documents that the Special Counsel's Office is using to show that Cohen lied to Congress were voluntarily disclosed by the Trump Organization because there was nothing to hide."
    • "It is hardly coincidental that the Special Counsel once again files a charge just as the President is leaving for a meeting with world leaders at the G20 Summit in Argentina. The Special Counsel did the very same thing as the President was leaving for a world summit in Helsinki."
    • "With regard to the hotel proposal in Moscow, the President has been completely open and transparent."



    Mueller's coming attractions


    Garrett M. Graff — author of a book focused on Mueller, and one of the investigation's best narrators — writes for Axios that we now have a host of new clues to Mueller coming attractions:

    • Michael Cohen's lies to Congress fit an odd pattern: Multiple people in Trump's orbit have outright lied or "forgotten" about a whole variety of contacts with Russian officials, developers, oligarchs, and emissaries. It's a uniquely consistent problem, across many top aides, that only seems to occur when the subject is Russia.
    • Remember Michael Cohen's two major revelations so far have come in just two, fairly limited, specific episodes, both of which investigative reporters have unearthed ahead of time: Stormy Daniels' hush money payments and the Moscow Trump Tower project. Cohen, though, worked with Trump — on his most sensitive messes — for a decade. What other episodes does he know about that we haven't unearthed yet?
    • Prosecutors ethically can't let a witness testify or plea to things they don't believe are true. So remember that everything Michael Cohen is saying in court, or pleading guilty to doing on paper, has been combed over for corroboration.
    • If Cohen is standing up in court and saying Donald Trump ordered him to do something, prosecutors aren't going just off his word. They have independent corroboration. Remember all those emails and telephones seized in the April raid on Cohen's office? We haven't seen any of that come out yet.

    Every twist of the investigation shows that Mueller knows far more than we thought he did:

    • Cohen's plea deal shows he has phone records (hence the 20-minute telephone call to Moscow).
    • The aborted Jerome Corsi plea agreement shows Mueller has a host of emails.
    • The fact that Mueller knows Paul Manafort was lying to him likely indicates heretofore unseen corroborating witnesses, documents, and more

    Be smart: There's a lot more behind the curtain.
    As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.

  9. #2214
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    Trump: Cohen should go to prison
    President Trump on Monday said Michael Cohen does not deserve leniency for cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller, arguing that his former personal lawyer should serve a “full and complete” prison sentence.
    Read the full story here







    Mueller's breadcrumbs




    Everyone's waiting for the "Mueller Report." But it turns out that special counsel Robert Mueller is writing a "report" in real time, before our eyes, through his cinematic indictments and plea agreements, Garrett M. Graffreports for Axios:

    • One of the least-noticed elements of the special counsel's approach is that all along, he has been making his case bit by bit, in public, since his very first court filing.
    • With his major court filings so far, Mueller has already written more than 290 pages of the "Mueller Report."
    • And there are still lots of loose ends in those documents — breadcrumbs Mueller is apparently leaving for later.

    Perhaps the best example is Mueller's oddly specific reference to the Russian hackers targeting Hillary Clinton "for the first time" after candidate Trump's still-unexplained "Russia, if you're listening" commenton July 27, 2016.

    • Trump said: "I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Clinton] emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press." (He also said: "I have nothing to do with Russia.")
    • A Mueller indictment in July said that the next day, "the Conspirators ... attempted after hours to spear-phish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office."
    • That shows Mueller has access to much more intelligence than is publicly known. Remember, these are Russian government employees. So Mueller has remarkable and thus far unexplained visibility.

    By making such detailed filings, Mueller is actually increasing his burden of proof — suggesting a supreme confidence that he has the goods.

    • And by making so much public as he goes along, Mueller is also insuring against his probe being shut down or otherwise curtailed by the White House.

    Some of his deeply detailed filings raise questions that suggest more is coming:

    • In a February indictment of officials of the Russian ***** factory, he announced that three Internet Research Agency employees traveled to the U.S. in 2014. He indicted two of them, but left unindicted someone from the IRA who evidently traveled to Atlanta as part of the operation for four days in 2014.
    • Mueller makes clear in the indictment that he knows the precise IRA official to whom this unnamed male traveler filed his Atlanta expenses after the trip.
    • The information could have come from U.S. intelligence or another country. But Mueller leaves the impression he may have a cooperator inside the ***** factory.

    Other hints at coming attractions:

    • Mueller said in last week's Michael Cohen plea agreement that a "Moscow Project" meeting about a Trump-branded building in Russia was called off, by Cohen, on the same day that the DNC hack became public.
    • Based on a court filing last week, Mueller apparently hopes to quickly issue a "report" on Manafort’s activities to the court.

    Be smart: If it’s anything like every other document Mueller has filed thus far, it'll be more informed, more knowledgeable, and more detailed than we can imagine.


    As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.

  10. #2215
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    A theory is developing that there will be little new in the Mueller report whenever its written, because it's actually being written now in real time via court filings.


    In previous court filings Mueller has revealed that he knows much more than has been previously disclosed. Some believe this is a deliberate tactic to counter the possibility the the investigation gets shut down by Spanky or his minions and factotums.



    We'll learn more soon as to whether there is much substance to the real time theory because Mueller has three court memo filing deadlines this week. One today on Michael Flynn, and two on Friday for Manafort and Cohen.

    Watch this space.



    As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.

  11. #2216
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    Republican National Congressional Committee says it was hacked during this year's election cycle
    It wasn’t known if a foreign government was behind the cyberattack against the campaign organization for House Republicans, which discovered the breach in April, a person familiar with the case said. But the intruder was “sophisticated, based on their tactics and methods” and the intrusion “was clearly designed to hide the tracks of who it was,” this person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the intrusion is under investigation.
    Read more »



    MORE ON THE INVESTIGATIONS FRONT: "Stone pleads the Fifth to snub Senate document request," by Kyle Cheney: "President Donald Trump's longtime political ally Roger Stone invoked his Fifth Amendment protection as he declined to share documents and testimony with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to a letter posted Tuesday by the committee's top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein." POLITICO


    -- BUT, BUT, BUT: DARREN SAMUELSOHN: "Roger Stone won't shut up"


    -- "Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg to meet with Senate Intelligence Committee in January," by WaPo's Bob Costa

    The number that scares Trump
    Mueller's sentencing memo for Flynn
    A number scaring the hell out of the Trumps: 119.

    • 70 hours of Michael Cohen interviews with Mueller's team + 30 hours of interviews with former White House counsel Don McGahn + 19 Michael Flynn interviews with prosecutors.

    Jonathan Swan's smart brevity on last night's 13-page sentencing memofor former national security adviser Michael Flynn, in which Robert Mueller recommends no jail time because Flynn was so helpful:

    • First: The good stuff is all redacted!
    • Second: Flynn has helped the Justice Department on threeseparate investigations: Mystery Criminal Investigation #1, the special counsel's probe, and Mystery Investigation #2. It's possible the second probe is a counterintelligence investigation rather than a criminal investigation, in which case its results will never see the light of day. Solving the mystery of Investigation #1 is going to be job numero uno for everyone today.
    • Third: Flynn appears to have set an important example. Mueller writes that his early cooperation "likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming with the SCO and cooperate." Who are those witnesses? What are they saying? Ahhhhh!

    "14 questions Bob Mueller knows the answer to," by Garrett M. Graff for WIRED:

    • "How closely related is the investigation of the 2016 election related to the Trump Organization’s financial scandals? The Michael Cohen plea agreement highlighted ... how little we know about the business holdings, income, business partners, or investors in Donald Trump’s business empire."
    • "The first rule of any scandal is always the Watergate maxim: Follow the money. Who were (or are) Trump’s business partners and what part of the 2016 election attack was played by any of them?"
    As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.

  12. #2217
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    Default Re: The Trump Presidency

    Both SDNY's and Mueller's court filings on Cohen and Manafort on Friday were heavily redacted, leading to speculation that the investigations are still ongoing and not yet ready to finish up. The existence of a hitherto unknown investigation was revealed. So time for a what do we actually know catchup.





    Even before Robert Mueller reports his findings in the Russia probe, what we already now know is highly damning and highly detailed.


    We now know several Russian officials reached out to a half dozen Republicans very close to Trump and his campaign, including his eldest son, his closest adviser, his lawyer, and his campaign manager. We now know they took the meetings, often enthusiastically, during and after the campaign.
    We now know Russia offered in those chats campaign assistance — “synergy,” they called it. We know now of no one around Trump who alerted the FBI of this effort to subvert our elections.
    We now know that 12 Russian intelligence officers were indicted for hacking the DNC and systematically releasing material for the purpose of hurting the Clinton campaign via WikiLeaks.
    We know that Trump associates Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi attempted — successfully, in some instances — to get in touch with WikiLeaks and that they are under investigation for whether they had advance knowledge about the email dumps.
    We now know Donald Trump, Jr and others took a meeting with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. We now know Don, Jr., when approached with the promise of dirt, wrote: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
    We now know Trump was negotiating a Trump property in Moscow during the presidential campaign — and hid this from the public and lied about it. We now know Mueller believes, based on his court filing, the “Moscow Project was a lucrative business opportunity that sought, and likely required, the assistance of the Russian government.”
    We now know every arm of the US intelligence community concluded Russia sought to systematically influence the election outcome. We now know this was an unanimous conclusion, save one dissent: Trump.
    We now know Trump officials continued talking with the Russians during the post-election transition. We now know Jared Kushner and Jeff Sessions failed to initially disclose any contacts with Russians on their government forms.
    We now know Jared Kushner suggested a secret backchannel with the Russians, which had it happened, would have been free of US eavesdropping.
    We now know Trump soured on FBI director James Comey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and White House counsel Don McGahn in part over their handling of the probe.
    We now know Paul Manafort, who ran the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016, lied about his Russia contacts, was indicted, and is going to jail.
    We now know Flynn lied about his Russian contacts, was fired and indicted, and then flipped to become a key witness in the investigation.
    We now know Cohen lied about his Russian contacts, was indicted, and then flipped to become a key witness against Trump.
    Be smart: The scary thing for Trump — Mueller knows a helluva lot more than we now know.


    Go deeper: Every big move in the Mueller investigation








    Catch up quick on Mueller
    "Mueller’s investigation ... has been remarkably focused and consistent straight through — zeroing in on five distinct investigative avenues," Garrett M. Graff writes in WIRED:

    1. "[M]oney laundering and Russian-linked business deals."
    2. The "Russian government’s cyberattack on the DNC, other entities, and state-level voting systems."
    3. Russia's "related online information influence operations, by the Internet Research Agency."
    4. "[T]he sketchy contacts by Trump campaign and transition officials with Russia."
    5. The "question of whether Trump himself, or others, actively tried to obstruct justice by impeding the investigation of the above."

    "A sixth investigative avenue was opened this spring by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, where Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws by paying hush money to Stormy Daniels and others — which he says occurred at Trump’s instruction."






    • Telling stat: Donald Trump carried 2,584 counties to Hillary Clinton’s 472. But the counties she carried accounted for nearly two-thirds of U.S. economic output, per the Brookings Institution.
    • Telling stat 2: Orange County flipping to blue marks the end of the last Republican urban area in America, per Felix.
    As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.

  13. #2218
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    Default Re: The Trump Presidency

    WaPo....
    Nearly every organization Trump has led is under investigation. The mounting legal threats may dominate his 3rd year as president.
    His private company is contending with civil suits. His 2016 campaign is under scrutiny by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. His inaugural committee has been probed by Mueller. And his charity is locked in an ongoing suit with New York state.
    In a few weeks, Democrats will take over in the House and pursue their own investigations into all of the above — and more.
    The ultimate consequences for Trump are still unclear. But for now, the president has been forced to spend his political capital — and that of his party — on his own defense.
    Read more »




    CNN via Reliable Sources newsletter



    THE INVESTIGATIONS -- "Trump Inauguration Spending Under Criminal Investigation by Federal Prosecutors," by WSJ's Rebecca Davis O'Brien, Rebecca Ballhaus and Aruna Viswanatha: "Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump's 2017 inaugural committee misspent some of the record $107 million it raised from donations, people familiar with the matter said.


    "The criminal probe by the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office,which is in its early stages, also is examining whether some of the committee's top donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions or to influence official administration positions, some of the people said." WSJ

    -- CNN'S JEREMY HERB
    and MANU RAJU: "Key lawmakers seek to haul in Trump associates working with Mueller": "Now that President Donald Trump's former 'fixer,' Michael Cohen, has been sentenced to prison, leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence committees are preparing to haul him back before Congress before he begins serving time.


    "He's not the only one. The Senate Intelligence Committee
    is also seeking to speak to other officials in Trump's orbit who have been charged in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his former deputy Rick Gates and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, according to committee leaders and sources familiar with the probe." CNN


    -- WAPO'S DEVLIN BARRETT: "Mueller's treatment of cooperating witnesses suggests end of Russia investigation may be near"


    Multiplying fronts in Trump probes:


    • NBC News: "Trump was the third person in the room in August 2015 when his lawyer Michael Cohen and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker discussed ways Pecker could help counter negative stories about Trump's relationships with women."
    • Why it matters: Daniel Goldman, an NBC News analyst and former assistant U.S. attorney, said that would "squarely place Trump in the middle of a conspiracy to commit campaign finance fraud."
    • WashPost: "Trump tried to place blame entirely on his lawyer for felonies that his advisers and allies are increasingly concerned could imperil the president."
    • Wall Street Journal: "Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee misspent some of the record $107 million it raised."
    • N.Y. Times: Federal prosecutors are examining "whether people from Middle Eastern nations — including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — used straw donors to disguise their donations" to Trump’s inaugural committee and a pro-Trump super PAC.












    THE INVESTIGATIONS ... MICHAEL COHEN SPEAKS -- "Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen says Trump knew it was wrong to make hush-money payments during campaign," by ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Eric Avram, Eliana Larramendia and James Hill: "Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen to arrange hush-money payments with two women because then-candidate Trump 'was very concerned about how this would affect the election' if their allegations of affairs became public, the president's former personal attorney said in an exclusive interview with ABC News. ...


    "[W]hen asked if he thinks the president is telling the truth about the Russia probe, Cohen replied simply, 'No.'" With video: ABC

    -- THE DAILY BEAST'S ASAWIN SUEBSAENG, MAXWELL TANI
    and LLOYD GROVE: "Jared Kushner Replaced Michael Cohen as Trump's National Enquirer Connection": "Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner was handed a task considered critical to the president's operations. In addition to serving as a senior adviser in the White House, he would also be playing the role of the main conduit between Trump and his friend David Pecker." Daily Beast


    -- THE NEW YORKER'S JEFFREY TOOBIN on ADAM SCHIFF:"Adam Schiff's Plans to Obliterate Trump's Red Line: With the Democrats controlling the House, Schiff's congressional investigation will follow the money"
    -- WAPO'S SPENCER HSU: "In filing intended to be under seal, U.S. prosecutors ask to transport Maria Butina, possibly to testify at grand jury": "U.S. prosecutors on Friday asked a federal judge for permission to move Maria Butina to and from jail for ongoing interviews, including potentially to testify before a grand jury, in a filing intended to be sealed that appeared on the public docket for her case. ...


    "In a seven-page document filed Friday afternoon to a judge, prosecutors said they were making their travel request under seal because disclosing Butina's movements from Alexandria City Jail, where she has been held since July, 'may jeopardize defendant's safety and may jeopardize the ongoing investigation.' ... The request asks to cover movements through Jan. 17." WaPo


    -- NYT'S ADAM GOLDMAN: "Mueller Rejects Flynn's Attempt to Portray Himself as Victim of the F.B.I."


    -- N.Y. DAILY NEWS' CHRIS SOMMERFELDT: "New Jersey AG probes Trump golf club after undocumented maids claim racially-charged harassment, threats": "New Jersey's top law enforcement agency is looking into claims of widespread harassment and immigration fraud at President Trump's Garden State golf club after several former and current housekeepers alleged racially-charged mistreatment, the Daily News has learned. Anibal Romero, a Newark-based attorney, said Friday the state attorney general's office recently reached out to him about claims that five of his clients were routinely threatened and called racial slurs while working at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster." N.Y. Daily News
    As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.

  14. #2219
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    Default Re: The Trump Presidency



    NYT....

    The Special Counsel Is Fighting a Witness in Court. Who Is It?
    By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT

    The office of Robert S. Mueller III is in a closed-door legal battle to force a witness to testify. Here’s what we know about the dispute.



    WaPo...

    Special counsel Robert Mueller, a man who seldom speaks and is rarely seen, is the object of Washington's fascination
    Silence has come to define special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. He is omnipresent and absent, inescapable but elusive, the invisible yang to President Trump’s gold-plated yin, and he will go down in history — for better or worse — as one of the pivotal figures of the Trump era.
    Read more »



    Good Monday morning. BOMBSHELL REPORT: WAPO'S CRAIG TIMBERG
    and TONY ROMM: "New report on Russian disinformation, prepared for the Senate, shows the operation's scale and sweep": "A report prepared for the Senate that provides the most sweeping analysis yet of Russia's disinformation campaign around the 2016 election found the operation used every major social media platform to deliver words, images and videos tailored to voters' interests to help elect President Trump — and worked even harder to support him while in office.


    "The report, a draft of which was obtained by The Washington Post, is the first to study the millions of posts provided by major technology firms to the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), its chairman, and Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), its ranking Democrat. The bipartisan panel hasn't said whether it endorses the findings. It plans to release it publicly along with another study later this week.


    "The research — by Oxford University's Computational Propaganda Project and Graphika, a network analysis firm — offers new details of how Russians working at the Internet Research Agency, which U.S. officials have charged with criminal offenses for interfering in the 2016 campaign, sliced Americans into key interest groups for targeted messaging. These efforts shifted over time, peaking at key political moments, such as presidential debates or party conventions, the report found." WaPo



    SUSAN GLASSER in her print debut in The New Yorker, "How Trump Made War on Angela Merkel and Europe: The German Chancellor and other European leaders have run out of patience with the President": "European leaders now worry that Trump's illiberal aims go well beyond his insistent demands on Merkel to pay more for NATO and stop shipping so many cars to the U.S. 'Many European leaders have told me that they are convinced that President Trump is determined to destroy the E.U.,' a former senior U.S. official told me. Trump has begun publicly calling the E.U. a 'foe,' and promoting the resurgence of nationalism, which Macron and Merkel see as a direct threat. ...


    "Europe has had many fights with American Presidents over the years, but never in the seven decades since the end of the Second World War has it confronted one so openly hostile to its core institutions. Since Trump's election, Europe's leaders have feared that it would come to this, but they have disagreed about how to respond to him. Many hoped to wait Trump out. A few urged confrontation. Others, especially in nations more vulnerable to Russia, urged accommodation." New Yorker


    U.S. intelligence says Russia sought to disrupt the 2016 and 2018 elections and sow discord. Regardless of what Robert Mueller does, Russia did it — and is still at it:

    • Multiple high-stakes, aggressive federal investigations were spawned by an initial FBI probe of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
    • Fallout from Russian meddling, including Democratic talk of impeaching President Trump, is likely to remain a dominant political issue as Democrats take over the House 17 days from now.
    • American politics have been further radicalized.
    • The FBI's image, once unassailable, has been tarnished with Trump's base.
    • Facebook and other tech giants were thrown on the defensive.
    • The misinformation campaigns are essentially what created "fake news," driven home by Trump on the campaign trail.
    • Trump's closeness with Putin has helped drive a wedge between the U.S. and Europe.
    • And Russia now is an easy scapegoat for officials to point at when things go wrong: vulnerabilities in technology, election surprises, etc.

    Russia is weaponizing technology not just to meddle in our elections, but to increase power on the global stage, Axios' David McCabe and Joe Uchill point out:

    • Russia likes to target vulnerable populations (countries with major elections, referendums, civil wars, political controversies).
    • These campaigns are easier because of the U.S. government's lack of unity in confronting the practice and the platforms. That's a big win for Russia.
    • Russia has gotten so much attention that there's less focus on Iran, where Russia has a big oil alliance — another win for Russia, Axios' Kim Hart and Sara Fischer note.

    New evidence that the campaign is ongoing is included in a report prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee, and obtained by the WashPost:

    • "Russia’s disinformation campaign around the 2016 election ... used every major social media platform to deliver words, images and videos tailored to voters’ interests to help elect President Trump — and worked even harder to support him while in office."
    • Why it matters: "The report expressed concern about the overall threat social media poses to political discourse, ... warning that [platforms] once viewed as tools for liberation in the Arab world and elsewhere are now threats to democracy."

    Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump, told me the resulting investigations are "playing right into the hands of our enemies, particularly Russia."

    • "This makes them much more important than they are," Giuliani said.
    • But it was the Trump campaign’s coziness with so many Russians that made it all possible.






    For WIRED, Garrett M. Graff compiles the full list of 17 known investigations targeting President Trump’s world from various federal, state, and local prosecutors:
    Investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller:

    • Russian government’s election attack (the Internet Research Agency and GRU indictments)
    • WikiLeaks
    • Middle Eastern influence: Potentially the biggest unseen aspect of Mueller’s investigation is his year-long pursuit of Middle Eastern influence targeting the Trump campaign.
    • Paul Manafort’s activity
    • Trump Tower Moscow project
    • Other campaign and transition contacts with Russia
    • Obstruction of justice

    Investigations by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York:

    • Campaign conspiracy and Trump Organization finances
    • Inauguration funding
    • Trump super PAC funding
    • Foreign lobbying

    Investigations by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia:

    • Maria Butina and the NRA

    Investigations by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia:

    • Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, the alleged chief accountant of the Internet Research Agency who was indicted separately earlier this fall, charged with activity that went above and beyond the 2016 campaign. Why she was prosecuted separately remains a mystery.
    • Turkish influence: Michael Flynn’s plea agreement includes some details of the case, and he is cooperating with investigators.

    Investigations by New York City, New York State and other state attorneys general:

    • Tax case: In the wake of an N.Y. Times investigation that found Trump had benefited from more than $400 million in tax schemes, city officials said they were investigating Trump’s tax payments, as did the New York State Tax Department.
    • The Trump Foundation
    • Emoluments lawsuit: The attorneys general for Maryland and D.C. sent out subpoenas earlier this month for Trump Organization and hotel financial records relating to their lawsuit that the president is in breach of the "Emoluments Clause" of the Constitution, which appears to prohibit the president from accepting payments from foreign powers while in office.

    And there's a mystery investigation from an unknown office:

    • Redacted Case #2: A second, redacted Flynn investigation could be one of the other investigations mentioned here. It could also represent another as-yet-unknown unfolding criminal case or could be a counterintelligence investigation that will never become public.

    Be smart: Garrett Graff for Axios readers ... Why the president should be worried after his Sunday tweet about "rats":

    • There are known cooperators in almost every single one of these 17 open cases, from Michael Cohen to National Enquirer chief David Pecker to former Manafort aides Sam Patten and Rick Gates.


    As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.

  15. #2220
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    Default Re: The Trump Presidency

    Michael Flynn is sentenced today. In response to good cooperation prosecutors recommending no jail time.


    -- "Roger Stone Admits Spreading Lies on InfoWars," by WSJ's Cezary Podkul and Shelby Holliday: "As questions swirl about his credibility, former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone settled a defamation suit seeking $100 million in damages on Monday for publishing false and misleading statements on InfoWars.com, a far-right website known for promoting conspiracy theories. The agreement requires Mr. Stone to run ads in national newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, apologizing for making defamatory statements about a Chinese businessman who is a vocal critic of Beijing.


    "It also requires Mr. Stone to publish a retraction of the false statements on social media. Doing so exempts him from paying any of the damages. In a text message, Mr. Stone described his conduct as 'irresponsible' and added that 'I am solely responsible for fulfilling the terms of the settlement.'" WSJ



    The Russian propaganda campaign to disrupt our elections and divide Americans went far beyond Google and Facebook, infiltrating and infecting everything from Pinterest to PayPal, Axios' Sara Fischer writes.



    • New reports out yesterday about Russia’s online disinformation efforts suggest that all of the major social media platforms, from the empires of Facebook and Google to Reddit and Tumblr, were weaponized over the past two years. Facebook-owned Instagram was particularly "underestimated."




    Every nook and cranny:

    • The rise of Instagram: A report from the nonprofit think tank New Knowledge found that in 2017, the Russian ***** farm known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA) moved the bulk of its misinformation efforts to less-policed platforms, primarily Instagram, after more surveillance practices took hold on Facebook and Twitter.




    • Offline manipulation: It also suggests that the Russians used other platforms, like fake websites and PayPal accounts, to manipulate users to participate in hyper-political behavior offline, like protests or marches.




    • Luring "assets": The report details how the IRA tried to lure people into doing tasks for them, like soliciting videos or legal requests, by using information against people with personal struggles around things like their sexuality.




    • Selling merchandise: They also set up accounts to promote socially-divisive merchandise, like "LGBT-positive sex toys" on Instagram and Facebook.

    Between the lines: Some of the most eye-opening findings from the new reports are the ones that show how Russians exploited existing divisions around key moments or movements in the U.S. without being fully noticed at the time.



    • Political events: A study from Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project and network analysis firm Graphika shows that Russians targeted Americans at key political moments like political conventions.




    • Disenfranchised voters: The Oxford study also points out that the IRA tried to campaign for African-American voters to boycott elections or follow the wrong voting procedures in 2016.




    • Racial tensions: The New Knowledge report shows that the IRA focused much of its attention on sowing discord amongst black audiences, particularly around the height of Black Lives Matter movement in 2016 and the NFL national anthem controversy in 2017.



    The big picture: The studies, commissioned by the Senate, follow other reports about ways repressive regimes, in places like Iran and Myanmar, also use social media to exploit existing divisions within vulnerable populations.



    • Political referendums, in particular, tend to be a hot target. Reports over the past year also suggest that Russian actors sought to rile up citizens around referendums in places like Spain, Britainand Macedonia.

    Go deeper.




    "[T]he 2016 election was the Pearl Harbor of the social media age: a singular act of aggression that ushered in an era of extended conflict," N.Y. Times tech columnist Kevin Roose writes:

    • "In an essay last month, Renee DiResta — one of the researchers involved in analyzing the social media data for the Senate committee — used the term 'Information World War' to describe the battles being waged by nations and ideological factions on social media platforms."

    "And Russia is just the beginning. Other countries, including Iran and China, have already demonstrated advanced capabilities for cyberwarfare, including influence operations waged over social media platforms."
    As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.

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