Monday Reads: From Russia with Thugs

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

It would be nice to focus on something other than T-Russia for awhile but this probably is the story of the century and it’s unfolding at a breakneck speed. Hannah Levintova at MoJo has written a great tick tock for any one having trouble keeping up with all the events to date. You may want to bookmark it since they will be updating and editing it. It spans 30 years of T-Russia history.

The Trump-Russia scandal—with all its bizarre and troubling twists and turns—has become a controversy that is defining the Trump presidency. The FBI recently disclosed that since July it has been conducting a counterintelligence investigation into possible coordination between Trump associates and Russia, as part of its probe of Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election. Citing “US officials,” CNN reported that the bureau has gathered information suggesting coordination between Trump campaign officials and suspected Russian operatives. Each day seems to bring a new revelation—and a new Trump administration denial or deflection. It’s tough to keep track of all the relevant events, pertinent ties, key statements, and unraveling claims. So we’ve compiled what we know so far into the timeline below, which covers Trump’s 30-year history with Russia.  We will continue to update the timeline regularly as events unfold.

So, here are some interesting reads on the most recent developments which include a Senate Committee questioning Jared Kushner.  NW Luna posted this which is the list of what’s happened this week alone. It’s written by Yonatan Zunger via Medium.

In the past week, there have been several startling revelations about the investigations into Donald Trump, his closest allies, and their ties to Russia. Not only has the existence of two investigations, one by the FBI and one by the House Intelligence Committee, been confirmed, but there is increasing information as to just what is being investigated: an alleged deal for Trump to advance Russian interests as President in exchange for a share of the Russian state oil company Rosneft and Russian intelligence assistance in winning the election.

This news has been spread over a tremendous number of articles and even Twitter threads, rather than in a single big headline. So today I would like to pull together all of these reports, and make it clear what things are known for certain, what things have been reported and sourced but not confirmed, and what things are still speculation.

Information from Nunes continues to shock.

He continues to try to explain his White House visit and conversation with Paul Ryan as calls mount for his resignation.

According to a Daily Beast report later over the weekend, Nunes went off the grid that night to meet a source and view dozens of intelligence reports, including accounts of meetings involving President Donald Trump’s advisers.

Then it gets weirder. CNN is now reporting that Nunes had in fact slipped off to the White House grounds last Tuesday to view the documents. And then on Wednesday, after briefing reporters on what he had found in those intelligence reports, he went back to the White House to inform the president.

On the surface, none of this looks good for Nunes, who is in charge of his committee’s bipartisan investigation into all things Trump and Russia. Why would Nunes need to brief the president on documents he viewed at a facility on White House grounds?

In an interview Monday, Nunes told me that he ended up meeting his source on the White House grounds because it was the most convenient secure location with a computer connected to the system that included the reports, which are only distributed within the executive branch. “We don’t have networked access to these kinds of reports in Congress,” Nunes said. He added that his source was not a White House staffer and was an intelligence official.

Nunes, it should be said, has a history of cultivating independent sources inside the intelligence community. He made contact, for example, with the U.S. intelligence contractors who ended up saving most of the Americans stuck in the Benghazi outpost when it was attacked on Sept. 11, 2012. More recently, Nunes has reached out to his network of whistleblowers to learn about pressure inside the military’s Central Command on analysts to write positive reports on the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State.

In this case, Nunes had been hearing for more than a month about intelligence reports that included details on the Trump transition team, and had been trying to view them himself. He told me that when he finally saw the documents last Tuesday evening, he made sure to copy down their identifying numbers so he could request access to them formally for the rest of the committee.

So, what the heck is going on with Jared Kushner and why hasn’t some one told him to shove off?  It appears T-Russia was in full swing prior to and after the election including stealth visits by the Russian ambassador facilitated by Kushner who secreted him into Mount Doom last fall.  Inquiring senators want to know wtf were they all thinking?

The Senate Intelligence Committee will reportedly question White House adviser Jared Kushner as part of its probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The committee wants to question Kushner, who is also President Trump’s son-in-law, about meetings he arranged with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, The New York Times reported.

According to the Times, the White House counsel’s office was told this month about the panel’s request.

A White House official and a spokesman for Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr (R-N.C.) confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that Kushner had agreed to meet.

“Throughout the campaign and transition, Jared Kushner served as the official primary point of contact with foreign governments and officials. Given this role, he has volunteered to speak with Chairman Burr’s Committee,” a White House official told the Journal.

The White House has previously acknowledged a December meeting at Trump Tower between Kushner, Kislyak and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Discussions at that meeting reportedly focused on the potential of better relations between the U.S. and Russia.

Meanwhile, Putin is brutally suppressing a nascent Russian Protest that broke out around the country on Sunday.

This is from the Ioffe article at The Atlantic mentioned in the Goldberg tweet above.

But Sunday’s protest was different. Unlike the rallies in Nemtsov’s memory or even the 2011-2012 protests, this one did not have a permit from the Moscow city authorities. Over the weekend, the mayor’s office warned people that protestors alone would bear the responsibility for any consequences of attending what they deemed an illegal demonstration. But despite those warnings and despite the fresh memory of some three dozen people being charged—many of whom did prison time—for a protest in May 2012 that turned violent, thousands came out in Moscow. The police estimated attendance at 8,000, but given officials’ predilection for artificially deflating the numbers of those gathered at such events to make them seem less of a threat, the number could easily have been double that. People clogged the length of Tverskaya Street, one of the city’s main drags. The iconic Pushkin Square was packed, and people clung to the lampposts, chanting “Russia will be free!”

Three weeks ago, Navalny, who became famous as an anti-corruption blogger, posted an hour-long video exposé (with English subtitles) on his blog and YouTube channel. It showed, in great detail and using drone footage, what he said were the vast real-estate holdings of prime minister and former president Dmitry Medvedev, a man who talked of fighting corruption during his presidency and who in May told the residents of recently annexed Crimea, who are suffering from electricity and fuel shortages, “We don’t have the money now. … But you hang in there!” The money, Navalny alleged, was all bundled up in palaces, some costing hundreds of millions of dollars, all over the country. It was strange to attack Medvedev, now a widely ridiculed has-been in Russian politics, and many doubted that Navalny telling people to go out and protest Medvedev would have any resonance. And yet, when he named the day—March 26—people across 11 time zones answered his call and came out.

The Russian opposition leader–Navalny–has been jailed for at least 15 days. More disturbing was the arrest of many foreign journalists.

Thousands of people rallied in dozens of cities across Russia on Sunday following a call by Navalny to protest over an investigation into Medvedev’s alleged corruption. Navalny’s team released a video alleging Medvedev had amassed a collection of palaces, yachts and vineyards during his time in office.

Authorities in most cities – from Chita in Siberia to Makhachkala in Dagestan – denied permission for the rallies. Police arrested those who were holding posters or chanting, and also on occasion simply swept random people off the street.

Guardian correspondent Alec Luhn was among those arrested, despite having Russian journalistic accreditation. He was held for hours and charged with participating in an unsanctioned demonstration before being released after the foreign ministry intervened.

A rights group monitoring the arrests said on Monday morning that 1,030 people had been detained in Moscow alone. About 120 remained in custody on Monday morning. The majority of those released were charged with the minor offence of taking part in an unsanctioned demonstration and are likely to be fined.

In Nizhny Novgorod, parents of five children who took part in the protests were charged with “improper parenting”, according to Interfax news agency.

It took the US State Department 12 hours to respond to arrests of protesters and journalists.

On Sunday night, roughly 12 hours after images and reports of the crackdown began emerging from Moscow, the top State Department spokesman issued a statement strongly condemning the detention of hundreds and calling for the immediate release of all peaceful protesters.

And we thought the Cold War was pretty much over.  Sheesh!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

36 Comments on “Monday Reads: From Russia with Thugs”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    This administration is just begging for an independent commission to get to the bottom of this treachery.

    Why are we being so supportive of a dictatorial nation who abuses and murders its opposition?

    The answer lies in those sanctions which if lifted appear to make all those involved billions of dollars.

    I firmly believe that dossier placing Trump in that hotel room with hookers. This is probably why he is so reluctant to criticize Putin. They have something on him – and perhaps others – that points not only to collusion but perversion as well.

    The fact that Trump goes out of his way to alienate allies is deliberate. He is acting on behalf of a foreign power and that alone is treason.

    The congressional GOP needs to put party aside and act on behalf of the nation. This stuff has gone beyond speculation and must be taken seriously.

    Nunes actions alone require full disclosure. How long the country can exist under this cloud is in doubt.

    • dakinikat says:

      We’re stuck with this because white american men couldn’t deal with the idea of a woman president for the most part,

      • Enheduanna says:

        Apparently a huge portion of white American women can’t either.

        Here’s a funny read from Palmer Report:

        • teele says:

          I don’t want to see him resign; I want to see him impeached. I want Pence to resign, and I want to see Ryan forced out of the speaker position. Actually, if Pence and Ryan go away first, I will reconsider Twitler’s resignation.

      • Fannie says:

        Nailed it Dak.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        I totally agree Dak. Hillary lost because she’s a woman, period. All those who say blue collar working class men voted against her because of tRump’s populist message are full of shit. They voted for tRump because he’s a white man. And far too many women voted against her because they allow men in their lives to think for them. I know a few of those women. And seniors who voted for tRump should be ashamed of themselves. You’d think when you’ve lived for that many decades you’d know better than to buy into combover tRump snake oil salesman. Goddamn!

        • bostonboomer says:

          I totally agree!

          • ANonOMouse says:

            And what chaps my ass even worse are those people who want to put Bernie Sanders in charge of the party because they say “he speaks to those people”. No he doesn’t speak to those people, he has a penis and that, above all else, is what sells Bernie. Bernie Sanders is too damn old to be President or lead the Party. I don’t want a person who isn’t a Democrat to be the leader of the party. Thom Hartmann is trying like crazy to sell Bernie as the obvious leader of the Party, for what purpose? I don’t trust Thom Hartmann and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was someone who supported Sanders who worked at the DNC who’s mentioned as the Democrat in the Dossier. My mind goes to Tulsi Gabbard because she got really cozy with tRump after he was elected and even visited him at Trump Tower. WTF was that about?

      • Catscatscats says:

        A woman both “hated and feared” by Putin who has bigger balls than any of them.

    • NW Luna says:

      Hillary warned about this repeatedly. So did many other reliable sources. But…Hillary is a woman. We’re all familiar with when a woman in a group brings up a good idea…which gets ignored. Then later a man brings up the same idea and it’s suddenly given credence.

      Also, we need to keep reminding ourselves that Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million, and won the EC vote by less than 80,000 votes in crucial areas. And his wins in certain states have statistical oddities, but since our voting system is so screwed up we’ll never know what really happened.

  2. Enheduanna says:

    This is to complement the Palmer Report article:

    Got that from Shakesville – the BBC is using an unflattering photo of tRump in its articles. I’m really of the opinion he’s not going to make it for 4 years.

    • dakinikat says:

      He’s likely to quit because we don’t appreciate him enough!! As soon as he gets all of his russia policy in place and collects his Russian oil stock

      • ANonOMouse says:

        From the beginning this has been about what’s in it for Donald. I’m a firm believer that the Russian’s have compromising information on him. It fits his MO because he’s spent a lifetime as a philanderer, a crook, a slime ball who surrounds himself with unsavory characters and involves himself in ventures that smell crooked, cheap and sleazy. When the “pee tape” surfaces will that do him in? Or will it take something a bit more spectacular like a ménage à trois? This guy is into everything and has done most everything, nothing would surprise me. Something is going to stick to this guy and it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.

  3. MsMass says:

    It all makes me wonder what the RATS (Republican And Trump Shitheads) are going to do when they are pushed into a smaller and smaller corner. How are they going to lash out? I think they will.
    Just imagine for a moment, agents putting Trump in handcuffs in the Oval Office and taking him to prison. A lovely thought, ahhhh……

  4. dakinikat says:

    Trump giving broad new powers to his inexperienced son-in-law

    But in a striking new piece, the Washington Post reports that Kushner’s power and portfolio are poised to expand.
    President Trump plans to unveil a new White House office on Monday with sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises – such as reforming care for veterans and fighting opioid addiction – by harvesting ideas from the business world and, potentially, privatizing some government functions.

    The White House Office of American Innovation, to be led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will operate as its own nimble power center within the West Wing and will report directly to Trump. Viewed internally as a SWAT team of strategic consultants, the office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington, float above the daily political grind and create a lasting legacy for a president still searching for signature achievements.
    There was a point, early on in the Obama presidency, in which Republicans feigned apoplexy about so-called “czars.” The Democratic president appointed a series of officials to tackle issue-specific challenges, which GOP lawmakers considered outrageous. As the Republican line went, these people were accountable only to Obama, not the public or their representatives, and the nature of their responsibilities were deemed an abuse of policymaking process.

    Now, however, Donald Trump wants his inexperienced son-in-law to oversee “a SWAT team of strategic consultants” to start making policy outside the existing legislative and regulatory framework, answering only to Trump.

    • NW Luna says:

      Hereditary oligarchy.

    • quixote says:

      The other angle, besides the stupidity of it all, is that you have an agency set up to shaft Congresscritters’ on whatever they might care about. And you’ve just had a humiliating defeat and promised to take names and get them for it.

      The primary purpose may not really be the federal bureaucracy, but to be able to choke anyone into doing anything you want. The only kind of “dealing” Agent Orange knows.

  5. NW Luna says:

    Why have I been arrested? Maybe you killed Kennedy, the Russian officer said

    I raised my phone to take a photo as riot police suddenly began detaining protesters, but before I could get the picture a pair of thick arms grabbed me. A trooper in a black helmet and flak jacket was barrelling me toward a police van.

    “I’m a foreign journalist,” I kept repeating in Russian. “Open your legs wider,” was all he said as he pushed me face-first up against the truck and started patting me down.

    I’ve witnessed many unfounded arrests and farcical trials in more than six years reporting in Russia. But I was still shocked at how roughly police detained several peaceful demonstrators and a foreign journalist in this instance, even though there was no threat of rioting or violence. The charges filed against many of us were dubious at best.

  6. NW Luna says:

    That 30-yr history article from Mother Jones is chilling.

  7. dakinikat says:

    Pee pee tapes!!!

    • NW Luna says:


    • ANonOMouse says:

      Last week on Chris Matthews one of his guests made the claim during “tell me something I don’t know” that the pee tapes are real and there are people trying to purchase them.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Just keep in mind that the Sun is a tabloid rag and Seth Abramson was pushing bogus Clinton conspiracy theories throughout the primaries and beyond. Maybe it’s true, but I’ll wait for a reliable source.

      • Delphyne49 says:

        Thanks, BB, for that advice – I’ve been following Eric Garland and he retweeted Seth. My personal feeling is that I trust Garland, but will take your advice seriously.

        • bostonboomer says:

          I noticed that too. I just don’t want to get sidetracked with conspiracy theories. There is already so much solid evidence.

  8. dakinikat says:

  9. bostonboomer says:

    Raw Story: Jared Kushner flew to Aspen same day as ‘one of Putin’s closest confidants’ whose wife is pals with Ivanka.

    As the president’s push for health care reform went down in flames last week, Kushner and his family were reportedly skiing in Aspen. Trump was said to be unhappy about the timing of the vacation.

    Photojournalist Eric Rosenwald examined flight logs from airports in the area and found that Kushner arrived in Aspen on Saturday, March 18 — the same day as Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who has been described as “one of Putin’s closest confidants.” Abramovich is known to own a home in Aspen.

    According to Politico’s Jake Sherman, Abramovich’s wife, Dasha Zhukova, attended President Trump’s inauguration as a guest of Ivanka Trump.

    Rosenwald goes on to point out that two days later Abramovich’s plane flew to the Caribbean just as two planes linked to Michael Cohen, special counsel to the president, arrived at nearby airports.

  10. NW Luna says:

    h/t to kat — Saw that white supremacist terrorist got charged with a terrorist crime. Name it what it is!