From the beginning of his campaign in 2015, the republican President Donald Trump’s stance towards Russia has been a major departure from what has been the US policy for the past 25 plus years. He kept talking Russia’s language when he would speak about weakening NATO and the lifting of sanctions against Russia that the US had advocated and enacted.
Then he denied that his surrogates managed to delete the section from the republican platform regarding the US assisting Ukraine with arms, so that its citizens could withstand Russia’s aggressive moves. There were witnesses to all of this activity who have publicly countered the president’s claim that he had nothing to do with this change to the platform.
We already know that the Intelligence Community has been investigating Russia’s hacking of US websites associated with both campaigns and its efforts to meddle in US presidential elections in order to influence the outcome. But it appears that there is more scrutiny being applied to how deep Russia’s involvement ended up being regarding US election process.
On 1/12/17 Paul Wood of BBC News posted a story about ongoing investigations regarding the US president’s administration, “Trump ‘compromising’ claims: How and why did we get here?” I have been blogging for months about possible conflicts of interest issues between President Trump and his business ties to Russia. It appears that there are ongoing investigations regarding our president, his surrogates and their interactions with Russia officials.
“I understand the CIA believes it is credible that the Kremlin has such kompromat – or compromising material – on the next US commander in chief. At the same time a joint taskforce, which includes the CIA and the FBI, has been investigating allegations that the Russians may have sent money to Mr Trump’s organisation or his election campaign.”
“The significance of these allegations is that, if true, the president-elect of the United States would be vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians.”
“A joint task-force, which includes the CIA and the FBI, has been investigating allegations that the Russians may have sent money to Mr Trump’s organization or his election campaign.”
“On 15 October, the US secret intelligence court issued a warrant to investigate two Russian banks. This news was given to me by several sources and corroborated by someone I will identify only as a senior member of the US intelligence community. He would never volunteer anything – giving up classified information would be illegal – but he would confirm or deny what I had heard from other sources.”
“I’m going to write a story that says…” I would say. “I don’t have a problem with that,” he would reply, if my information was accurate. He confirmed the sequence of events below.”
“Last April, the CIA director was shown intelligence that worried him. It was – allegedly – a tape recording of a conversation about money from the Kremlin going into the US presidential campaign.”
“It was passed to the US by an intelligence agency of one of the Baltic States. The CIA cannot act domestically against American citizens so a joint counter-intelligence task-force was created.”
“The task-force included six agencies or departments of government. Dealing with the domestic, US, side of the inquiry, were the FBI, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Justice. For the foreign and intelligence aspects of the investigation, there were another three agencies: the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency, responsible for electronic spying.”
“Lawyers from the National Security Division in the Department of Justice then drew up an application. They took it to the secret US court that deals with intelligence, the Fisa court, named after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They wanted permission to intercept the electronic records from two Russian banks.”
“Their first application, in June, was rejected outright by the judge. They returned with a more narrowly drawn order in July and were rejected again. Finally, before a new judge, the order was granted, on 15 October, three weeks before election day.”
“Neither Mr Trump nor his associates are named in the Fisa order, which would only cover foreign citizens or foreign entities – in this case the Russian banks. But ultimately, the investigation is looking for transfers of money from Russia to the United States, each one, if proved, a felony offence.”
“A lawyer- outside the Department of Justice but familiar with the case – told me that three of Mr Trump’s associates were the subject of the inquiry. “But it’s clear this is about Trump,” he said.”
“I spoke to all three of those identified by this source. All of them emphatically denied any wrongdoing. “Hogwash,” said one. “Bullshit,” said another. Of the two Russian banks, one denied any wrongdoing, while the other did not respond to a request for comment.”
“The investigation was active going into the election. During that period, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid, wrote to the director of the FBI, accusing him of holding back “explosive information” about Mr Trump.”
“Mr Reid sent his letter after getting an intelligence briefing, along with other senior figures in Congress. Only eight people were present: the chairs and ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, and the leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties in Congress, the “gang of eight” as they are sometimes called. Normally, senior staff attend “gang of eight” intelligence briefings, but not this time. The Congressional leaders were not even allowed to take notes.”
“In a New York Times op-ed in August, the former director of the CIA, Michael Morell, wrote: “In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr Putin had recruited Mr. Donald Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”
“Michael Hayden, former head of both the CIA and the NSA, simply called Mr Trump a “polezni durak” – a useful fool.”