Majorityrights News > Category: Russian Politics

4 things we learned from the indictment of 13 Russians in the Mueller investigation

Posted by DanielS on Saturday, 17 February 2018 03:54.

Washington Post, “4 things we learned from the indictment of 13 Russians in the Mueller investigation”, 16 Feb 2018:

This post has been updated.

We have the first indictment in the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III that actually has to do with Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The special counsel on Friday indicted 13 Russians in connection with a large-scale troll farm effort aimed at influencing the election in violation of U.S. law.

The indictment of the Internet Research Agency comes on top of two Trump advisers having pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI — Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos — and two more being indicted on charges of alleged financial crimes that predated the campaign — Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. Nobody is in custody and Russia does not extradite to the United States, but the document from the secretive Mueller investigation does shed plenty of light where there previously wasn’t any.

So what does the new indictment tell us? Here’s what we can say right away:

1. It doesn’t say the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, but doesn’t rule it out either.

Anybody looking for clues about the collusion investigation into the Trump campaign won’t find much to grab hold of. If anything, the indictment may hearten Trump allies in that it doesn’t draw a line to the campaign — which suggests there was a large-scale effort independent of any possible collusion. Perhaps that’s the real meddling effort, some folks in the White House may be telling themselves right now. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein even specified that Trump campaign officials who were contacted by the Russian nationals “did not know they were communicating with Russians.”

But that’s about as much insight as anyone can draw; we simply don’t know what else is coming down the pike, and any ties to Trump campaign officials may have been withheld from this indictment to avoid disclosing details of an ongoing investigation. The president hasn’t even been interviewed yet, so we wouldn’t expect any ties to the campaign at this juncture.

Asked whether campaign officials had knowledge of the scheme or were duped, Rosenstein chose his words carefully. “There is no allegation in this indictment that any American had any knowledge,” Rosenstein said.

The words “in this indictment” mean Rosenstein’s comments are pretty narrow.

Update:

In a statement, Trump and the White House suggested that the announcement “further indicates that there was NO COLLUSION between the Trump campaign and Russia.” Again, it doesn’t provide any direct indication.

2. It just got a lot harder for Trump to dismiss Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt.”

At one point in the indictment, a price tag is put on the effort: $1.25 million in one month, as of September 2016. To put that in perspective, that’s as much as some entire presidential campaigns were spending monthly during the primaries. And that lends credence to the idea that this was a large-scale effort connected to the Russian government.

President Trump has often sought to downplay the idea that Russia interfered in the 2016 election — even suggesting he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assurances that it didn’t happen. This document lays it out in extensive detail.

The argument that this is a “witch hunt,” which Trump has argued and more than 8 in 10 Republicans believe, just became much more difficult to make. And the document would seem to make pretty clear that the Mueller investigation isn’t just targeted at taking down Trump, either.

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Mueller’s Reputation In Washington Is ‘Stunningly Bipartisan’

Posted by DanielS on Friday, 02 February 2018 05:03.


The Russia Investigations: Trump Reportedly Wanted To Fire Mueller; D.C. Dumbstruck. A journalist describes Robert Mueller, pictured in 2007 when he was FBI director, as “about as apolitical and nonpartisan a figure as you could find in Washington.” (photo credit Susan Walsh/AP).

NPR, “Mueller’s Reputation In Washington Is ‘Stunningly Bipartisan,’ Journalist Says”, 1 Feb 2018:

As the investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election forges on, Robert Mueller, the Justice Department special counsel leading the investigation, has managed to stay largely out of public view.

Journalist Garrett Graff says that is in keeping with Mueller’s personality: “This is not someone who in any way has tried to grab the spotlight, but instead has kept his head down and worked hard throughout his career.”

Graff’s 2011 book, The Threat Matrix, explores the transformation of the FBI under Mueller’s leadership. Appointed by President George W. Bush, Mueller took over as director of the FBI one week before the Sept. 11 attacks. After Mueller completed his 10-year term as FBI director, President Barack Obama reappointed him for a two-year term, which required a special act of Congress.

“Bob Mueller is probably about as apolitical and nonpartisan a figure as you could find in Washington, particularly at the levels of government in which he has served,” Graff says. “This is someone who really, truly believes in truth, justice [and] in the American way, in a way that very few people in American life today anymore do.”

Interview Highlights

On Mueller’s bipartisan record

We know him most recently, obviously, as the FBI director, but his tenure in government really dates back to the Reagan years. And he’s been appointed or held top jobs in the administrations of all five of the last presidents, and was appointed to the Justice Department, the head of the criminal division, under George H.W. Bush’s administration, then was appointed a U.S. attorney by Bill Clinton, then appointed the acting deputy attorney general by George W. Bush, and then later FBI director — a position he was reappointed to, in an unprecedented move, by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate by a vote 100-0, a stunningly bipartisan track record in today’s times.

On Mueller’s military service

Part of what makes Bob Mueller such a fascinating character is he has dedicated his life sort of time and again to public service. ... Mueller and a handful of other colleagues ... [signed] up for Vietnam after college. This was early in the 1960s, so it was before Vietnam became the cultural touchpoint that it did later.

White House Touts ‘Unprecedented’ Cooperation Amid Mueller Interview Talks

Second Lt. Marine Corps Bob Mueller ended up leading a platoon in the jungles of Vietnam for a year and really distinguished himself in combat. He received a Bronze Star with valor for his leadership in an ambush that his unit suffered in the fall of 1968, and then was actually shot himself in a separate incident in April 1969 where he received, of course, the Purple Heart and was quickly back on patrol, serving out the remainder of his year.

He came into the F.B.I. in part, in the summer of 2001 because he was known inside the department as a computer-guy. He had help found the Justice Department’s first real computer crime unit. And, the FBI in the summer of 2001 had this incredibly outdated computer system…

On how the FBI changed after the Sept. 11 attacks

Bob Mueller, in the days after Sept. 11, sees this incredible sea change in the mission of the FBI, which until then for most of its first 90 years had primarily been a law enforcement agency focused domestically on solving crimes after the fact. And on Sept. 11, we saw an international plot that focused on a suicide attack with catastrophic results, and that that necessitated this top-to-bottom change in the way that the United States approached counterterrorism issues, that after-the-fact investigation was going to be inadequate in the face of these threats.

So Mueller was given a mission by [former Attorney General] John Ashcroft and President Bush to not just investigate attacks afterwards, but to stop plots in the first place, to disrupt the attack before it happened.

It led to this massive reorganization that Bob Mueller spent the next 12 years of his tenure working on, to move the FBI from what was traditionally a domestic law enforcement agency into something that is more akin to an international intelligence agency.

On how Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign is similar to other FBI investigations

This is, in many ways, a perfectly standard and routine FBI investigation. The FBI, as an investigative agency, takes down corrupt organizations, that’s what it’s designed to do, go after street gangs, drug cartels, organized crime families, and the way that they do that is by starting on the outside and working their way in. And so that can either mean starting at the bottom of an organization, or starting with ancillary charges and working their way inwards, the equivalent of getting Al Capone for tax evasion.


“You Can’t Make This Up”: Corroborating accounts of the onset of the Russian investigation

Posted by DanielS on Monday, 22 January 2018 11:58.

Looking back a year, to the onset of the Russia investigation…

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Watch for The PKK as a revolutionary group fighting for ethnonationalism

Posted by DanielS on Saturday, 20 January 2018 05:10.

The Russian Federation is still crying: “Nobody likes traitors. Apparently, Kurds will stay alone with Turkish armed forces. Neither Damascus nor Moscow will provide any assistance to them. And only Kurdish leaders are responsible for that” - Alexandr Dugin.

It is a good sign that they are, along with their People’s Protection Unit (YPJ), putting imperialist Turkey, US, Russia and Israel in a bind.

Having their origin in separation from the Jewy treachery of Soviet Russia, its imperialism, its Muslim Turkish cohorts, in favor of left nationalism in order to wrest national independence for the Kurds, it would be ideal if this Asian backed left nationalism could sheer off the eastern half of Turkey and, along with fellow ethnonationalists from the west, put the squeeze on those rats. The imperial Russian Federation is still crying that the Kurds have rejected them. In causing consternation for the JewSA, Russovitz and Israel’s Turkish Friends, they are causing ethnonational consternation for imperial Israel as well.

Now, the Kurds have different facets and we are talking favorably about the ideal form and purpose of their left nationalism, not any assistance or alignment that some of them may have provided for radical Islam - on the contrary, that is just another form of imperialism.

Jerusalem Post, “Turkish and Syrian threats in Afrin put U.S., Russia in a bind, 19 January 2018:

What does it all mean for Israel?


People hold flags of People’s Protection Unit (YPJ) as they walk during a protest against Turkish attacks on Afrin, in Hasaka, Syria, January 18, 2018. . (photo credit: RODI SAID / REUTERS)

On Friday, Turkey increased its shelling of the Kurdish-held Afrin enclave in northern Syria. According to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) up to 70 artillery shells were fired during the night.

While Turkey has threatened to invade the Kurdish area, which it says is being controlled by terrorists aligned with the Kurdistan Workers Party, Syria has threatened to shoot down Turkish warplanes in case of any attack on Syria’s territory. The war of words in northern Syria puts the US and Russia in a bind because the US is allied with the Kurds in eastern Syria while Russia has been a close ally of the Syrian regime.

Since mid-January, there have been rumors and threats of a Turkish invasion of Afrin. The area has been controlled by the YPG since the early years of the Syrian civil war. In eastern Syria, the YPG and its affiliated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been successful at defeating Islamic State. However, in northern Syria, the Kurds have only come to control the thinly populated mountainous area of Afrin.

The autonomous canton is home to around one million people. The area is surrounded by Turkey on two sides and in Syria it borders areas controlled by Syrian rebel groups. The Kurds in this area have remained mostly outside the Syrian conflict because the Syrian rebel groups represent a buffer from most of the heavy fighting.

However, the Kurds here also have a complex relationship with the Syrian regime. They have not opposed Russian military personnel, for instance, who have been spotted in the Afrin area, and the YPG maintains amicable contact with the Russians, who are the Syrian regime’s closet ally.

Since the fall of 2016, when Turkey began to intervene in Syria, the YPG has been targeted by the Turks and their Syrian rebel allies. When Turkey and those allies moved into the area between Jarabulus and Kilis in 2016, it was widely seen as an offensive not only against ISIS, but also to make sure the Kurdish forces did not get any closer to the Turkish border to link up Afrin with the areas they control in eastern Syria.

In March 2017, the US, which has been working closely with the SDF and YPG against ISIS, sent vehicles to Manbij to ward off any Turkish attack on its Kurdish partners. This was an important symbol because it showed the US had drawn a clear line around its partner forces and would warn off any attack. The US shot down a Syrian plane in June 2017 that was operating close to the SDF as well.

However, US-led coalition spokesman Ryan Dillon put out a statement on January 16 saying it is not operating in Afrin and the Pentagon told the Turkish news agency Anadolu that it was not involved with the YPG in Afrin. “We don’t consider them as part of our defeat ISIS operations,” a Pentagon spokesman said. This is a clear message to Turkey that the US would not be involved in any sort of operations if they happened in Afrin.

However, the US has indicated the US will be remaining in eastern Syria for the foreseeable future. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterated this pledge Wednesday. The US has often urged Turkey to keep its focus on fighting ISIS, rather than mission creep that would lead to conflict with the Kurds. Any conflict with the Kurds would inevitably complicate the US mission in eastern Syria, because it would cause the Kurds in the east to want to aid their comrades in Afrin.

Turkey has posited that any operation into Afrin would be with rebel groups and that the operation is carried out “for them,” and Turkey is “helping our brothers,” according to statements from the Turkish Presidency. However, this poses problems because the Syrian rebels that Turkey wants to work with against Afrin are busy fighting the Syrian regime in Idlib, where they are hardpressed, suffering civilian and military loses.

Nevertheless Turkey’s defense minister Nurettin Canikli vowed on January 19 that Ankara would carry out the operation, according to Turkish media. “The threat level against Turkey is increasing by the day. This operation will be carried out and we will combat terrorism.” At the same time, the Syrian regime warns that any incursion could bring Syrian air defense into the picture. Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Daisal Mekdad warned Friday that any attack on Afrin would be an act of “aggression” against Syria.

According to Al-Jazeera, Russia has moved military observers in Afrin “away” from the area, closer to Syrian regime-held territory. Any attack would therefore not harm the Russians who have become a key arbiter of issues in Syria. Russia has hosted the Astana and Sochi talks about the future of Syria, meeting with Turkey, Iran and Syria’s governments. In Afrin, Russia is the key player because it has relations with all sides and it has warmed relations with Turkey over the last six months.

However, Russia has remained mum on any potential Turkish operation. It must balance its interests in cultivating relations with Syria, with its support of Damascus and its relations with the Kurds. Wishing to see itself as the broker of peace, Russia would hope that there is not a major Turkish incursion. That means any Turkish action might be limited, as it has been before, and the war of words is intended more to test the waters with the US, Russia and Syria, than lead to a major attack jeopardizing the lives of thousands.

For Israel, what does this mean? A similar scenario will eventually play out near the Golan, without Turkey but with the regime seeking to test the US, Jordan and Israel’s resolve with Russia in the background. Afrin therefore matters greatly to the region and what transpires there will tell us about the future of Syria.

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Trump sought to parlay loss into media empire, Bannon warned win would spotlight Russian laundering

Posted by DanielS on Friday, 05 January 2018 02:06.

According to Wolff book: Trump was shocked by presidential victory. He had run with anticipation of a loss to Hillary based on her “fake” media support which he could parlay into a “real” media empire by contrast; Bannon warned presidential victory would spotlight Trump’s Russian money laundering; Melania cried in stress over “botched plan gone right” which actually landed the presidency for Donald.

NewsWeek, “Trump Was Horrified When He Won the White House and Melania Cried, Book Claims”, 3 Jan 2018:

No one on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign team thought Trump would actually become president—and they didn’t really want him to either, according to excerpts from Michael Wolff’s book published Wednesday in New York magazine.

Now-President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Donald Trump Jr., campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and first lady Melania Trump were all reportedly left dumbfounded and afraid on the night of the election in 2016, the book claims. Shortly after 8 on election night, it became clear that Trump had a real shot of becoming president. Wolff wrote that Don Jr. said his father “looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears—and not of joy.” Steve Bannon, who helped run the Trump campaign and helped Trump’s team through the transition, said he saw Trump morph from “a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump.”

A week before the election, Trump was sure he would lose the presidency. But still, according to Wolff’s book, he told Ailes that it was “bigger than I ever dreamed of. I don’t think about losing, because it isn’t losing. We’ve totally won.”

Then he actually won.

Wolff’s claims match various reporting on Trump’s election: He certainly wanted the fame that goes along with running a successful campaign, but critics theorized that he wasn’t quite as happy claiming the job of president. In February, The New York Times reported that Trump misses his access to “fans and supporters — an important source of feedback and validation.” The Associated Press wrote that Trump didn’t even want to live in the White House.

But Wolff’s new book claims Trump and his campaign never planned to win and never wanted to accept the job that comes along with a victory. So once he did take office, the West Wing was in disarray, with Bannon, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner all operating in a free-form environment. Bannon, especially, saw his role as creating the “soul” of the White House, according to Wolff. And Trump’s own behavior was credited as not befitting the White House.

“Nothing contributed to the chaos and dysfunction of the White House as much as Trump’s own behavior,” Wolff wrote. “The big deal of being president was just not apparent to him. Most victorious candidates, arriving in the White House from ordinary political life, could not help but be reminded of their transformed circumstances by their sudden elevation to a mansion with palacelike servants and security, a plane at constant readiness, and downstairs a retinue of courtiers and advisers. But this wasn’t that different from Trump’s former life in Trump Tower, which was actually more commodious and to his taste than the White House.”

Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is to be published by Henry Holt & Co. on January 9.

The Hill, “Bannon warned Russia probe would focus on money laundering: report”, 3 January 2018:

Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon warned that the special counsel investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia would focus on money laundering, according to a book to be published next week.

The revelation is included in “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” a new book by Michael Wolff. The Guardian, which has viewed a copy, published several stories on Wednesday about the book, which includes interviews with Bannon and President Trump.

Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was charged with money laundering in an October indictment brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, as was his associate Richard Gates.

In Wolff’s book, Bannon identifies Weissmann, an attorney on Mueller’s team, as a “money-laundering guy.”

“You realize where this is going,” Bannon said in the book. “This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner. … It’s as plain as a hair on your face.”

“They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV,” Bannon said, referring to the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

The former White House chief strategist also spoke about the 2016 meeting between Trump Jr. and a group of Russians, describing it as “treasonous.”

And Bannon in “Fire and Fury” mentioned connections between Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and loans taken out from the German Deutsche Bank that have come under scrutiny in relation to the investigation.

In December, federal prosecutors subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for records tied to Kushner’s family’s real estate business, Kushner Companies.

“It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner shit,” Bannon said of the probe. “The Kushner shit is greasy. They’re going to go right through that. They’re going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me.”


Business Insider
, “I know why Steve Bannon let Michael Wolff into the White House”, 4 Jan 2018:

- Michael Wolff’s new book, “The Fire and the Fury,” is rocking the Trump White House, and it hasn’t even been released yet.

- It has the president turning on former adviser Steve Bannon. This is in part because Bannon helped Wolff gain incredible access to the White House.

- Why? Add this to the long list of ego-driven media mistakes made by the administration - a costly one at that.

- What Bannon didn’t count on was that Wolff isn’t a soldier in his army.

I feel like I write this all the time, but the White House is in chaos.

The Trump administration is being thrown by the forthcoming publication of Michael Wolff’s book “The Fire and The Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”

The excerpts, until now jealously guarded at select media outlets like New York Magazine and NBC for weeks, tell of a shockingly incompetent president and the in-over-their-heads aides who openly disrespect him. It is chaos, and someone let Wolff take a front seat and watch it all.

That person, by all accounts, was former White House adviser Stever Bannon. While Trump may have known that the biographer of his idol, Rupert Murdoch, was on site, it was Bannon who ensured Wolff had access.

Why? Consider it one part self-aggrandizement, another part a desire for acceptance, and wholly and completely a continuation of Bannon’s desperate search for ideological allies.

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Gas Under Gaza

Posted by DanielS on Monday, 01 January 2018 01:43.

Middle East Monitor, “Palestinians discuss development of gas field with Shell”

In February of 2017, The Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF) announced that it has been discussing the development of Gaza Marine Gas Field with Shell, Anadolu has reported.

Gaza Marine is about 30km off the coast of the Gaza Strip in the eastern Mediterranean; it is estimated to contain about 28 million cubic metres of gas.

British Gas bought the concession from the Palestinian Authority in 1999 but the development of the project has been on hold due to Israeli obstacles. Preventing the development of the project is part of the internationally-backed Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip. Shell bought the British Gas stake in Gaza Marine recently, and it is now the main developer of the field.

The Director of the PIF, Mohamed Mustafa, told Anadolu that the current discussions with Shell concentrate on accelerating the development of the project. He noted that there had been a study to connect a pipeline from the field to the sole electricity plant in Gaza. “The most important thing, though, is that we get Israel’s permission for this pipeline because it crosses its land,” he explained.

According to Offshore-technology.com, Shell holds a 90 per cent interest in the field. The stake will reduce to 60 per cent if the PIF and Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) decide to exercise their options. PIF and CCC would subsequently hold 30 per cent and 10 per cent interests respectively.

The PIF is a sovereign Palestinian fund with capital of $800 million.


Natural gas in the Gaza Strip
, From Wikipedia:

Significant reserves of natural gas were found offshore from the Gaza Strip. As of early 2015, Gaza’s natural gas was still underwater and the same for almost all of the Levantine gas.[1]

History

The Palestinians signed a memorandum of intent on November 8, 1999 with British Gas and a company linked to the Palestinian Authority, the Consolidated Contractors Company, giving them rights to explore the area.[2][3] The discovered natural gas reserve was calculated to have 35 BCM, larger than Israel’s Yam Tethys maritime gas field.[3] It was found in two small gas fields dubbed Gaza Marine 1 and Gaza Marine 2.

In 1999, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak set aside exploration of Gaza’s offshore resources for a future Palestinian state, with no prior consultation with Israel stipulated.[2] According to Michael Schwartz, Barak deployed the Israeli navy in Gaza’s coastal waters to impede the implementation of the terms of the modest contract between the Palestinian Authority and British Gas (BG) to develop Gaza’s Mediterranean gas resources.[1] Israel demanded that the Gaza gas be piped to facilities on its territory, and at a price below the prevailing market level[4] and that Israel also control all the (relatively modest) revenues destined for the Palestinians — to prevent the money from being used to “fund terror.” In Schwartz’s view, with this Israeli action the Oslo Accords were officially doomed, because by declaring Palestinian control over gas revenues unacceptable, the Israeli government committed itself to not accepting even the most limited kind of Palestinian budgetary autonomy, let alone full sovereignty. In Schwartz’s view, since no Palestinian government or organization would agree to this, a future filled with armed conflict was assured.[1]

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Hermeneutic construction of Putin and Trump’s character, positions and relation:

Posted by DanielS on Thursday, 28 December 2017 00:38.

Correction: I spoke too soon about Timothy Snyder being an anti-nationalist, and I did that in light of his estimation that Britain and France were not really nations while they were empires, that their “nationhoods” were creations of post hoc political convenience. Nevertheless, to say that he is against nationalism would not be correct, since in fact he sees the weak state and the destruction of the state as that which abets genocide.

Snyder’s characterology of how Putin’s and Trump’s positions have emerged in fairly conjoint construction is uncanny…

As such he does make of himself a useful idiot in that he exposes one side of the YKW equation - the specific origin and characters of their right wing cohorts, Putin and Trump.

Youtube, “A Republic, If You Can Keep It: Masha Gessen Talks Autocracy with Timothy Snyder”, 12 July 2017:
       
As his fellow Trump/Putin critic, (((Masha Gessen))) would suggest, we would miss the truth of these characters, more like mafia dons than statesmen, if we were to maintain a policy of sheer fact checking. Because essentially, they don’t care. They both have a cynical world view and it is about power - logical consistency is for the naive. By contrast to that, one must have the courage and confidence to tell the true story -

Youtube, “Chatham House Primer: Modern Authoritarianism”, 30 Oct 2017:

This guy, (Ivan) Ilyin, I think was a very interesting philosopher; he is kind of the grandfather of the current Russian “fascism.”  Current Russian “fascists” like Alexander Dugin are a little jealous of him and say that he just serves a technical function in the Kremlin and he’s not that interesting. I think he’s interesting. One of his ideas is that for Russia to have a leader, that person has to be free of history, which is a high demand.

He (Ilyin) was a right-wing Hegelian ...his whole idea was that god created the world and that was a mistake. It’s an interesting view, those of you who know anything about Orthodox theology know that there are references… god created the world, it was a mistake, the factuality of the world is itself sinful, history is itself sinful, contingency, to use the technical term, contingency is sinful, all these facts and passions we have, they’re inherently sinful.

So, in order for Russia to be rescued it has to be rescued by someone who is somehow clean of history.

It has to be a redeemer who comes from beyond history.

What I find so interesting is that this actually happened in a way.

The place that is not history is fiction.

When Mr. Putin came to power, Surkov and the others in the Kremlin literally had a kind of game and then a public opinion poll where they tried to figure out which Russian fictional character would be most attractive to Russians. They came up with this character (Max Otto von) Stierlitz, who was a double agent and a person in a novel, and in a film, in the 70’s, who was a Russian spy who spoke German. That’s why they chose Mr. Putin. So, he literally .. this true people! This is the world we live in. So he literally came from fiction.

Then you connect Mr. Putin to Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump is Not a successful real estate developer! That never happened. Mr. Trump bankrupted six companies. He owed billions of dollars to, I think, seventy banks. Until, low and behold, some nice Russians came and said, ‘hey, why don’t you just put your name on some buildings and we’ll give you money for that, and we will build the buildings - which then became his business plan. Which is a great (((business plan))) if you can get it.

Rob Goldstone relaxing, chatting with Trump

The Miss Universe pageant. How did he run (((the Miss Universe pageant)))? The Russians gave him twenty million dollars and he showed up. Which is a great business plan if you can do it.

So, a fictional Russian character comes to power and then creates a fictional American character called Mr. Trump. This happened!

Once the Russians had bailed him out, he then appeared on American television, on celebrity apprentice, playing a successful real estate developer - which he never was.

But as a character, he was great, he could say, “you’re fired!” in a really convincing way.

So, one fictional character then creates another fictional character. And that fictional character also comes to power. ..with the help of all kinds of fictional devices, mostly delivered through the internet.  So there really is an interesting problem of (((genre))) going on in our life.


A backlog of details connecting Chabad-Lubavitch to Putin, the Russian Federation and Trump

Posted by DanielS on Wednesday, 20 December 2017 01:02.

A backlog of articles detailing the connection between Chabad-Lubavitch, Putin, the Russian Federation and Trump.

Politico, “The Happy-Go-Lucky Jewish Group That Connects Trump and Putin”, 9 April 2017:

Where Trump’s real estate world meets a top religious ally of the Kremlin.

Chabad of Port Washington, a Jewish community center on Long Island’s Manhasset Bay, sits in a squat brick edifice across from a Shell gas station and a strip mall. The center is an unexceptional building on an unexceptional street, save for one thing: Some of the shortest routes between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin run straight through it.

Two decades ago, as the Russian president set about consolidating power on one side of the world, he embarked on a project to supplant his country’s existing Jewish civil society and replace it with a parallel structure loyal to him. On the other side of the world, the brash Manhattan developer was working to get a piece of the massive flows of capital that were fleeing the former Soviet Union in search of stable assets in the West, especially real estate, and seeking partners in New York with ties to the region.

Their respective ambitions led the two men—along with Trump’s future son-in-law, Jared Kushner—to build a set of close, overlapping relationships in a small world that intersects on Chabad, an international Hasidic movement most people have never heard of.

Starting in 1999, Putin enlisted two of his closest confidants, the oligarchs Lev Leviev and Roman Abramovich, who would go on to become Chabad’s biggest patrons worldwide, to create the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia under the leadership of Chabad rabbi Berel Lazar, who would come to be known as “Putin’s rabbi.”

A few years later, Trump would seek out Russian projects and capital by joining forces with a partnership called Bayrock-Sapir, led by Soviet emigres Tevfik Arif, Felix Sater and Tamir Sapir—who maintain close ties to Chabad. The company’s ventures would lead to multiple lawsuits alleging fraud and a criminal investigation of a condo project in Manhattan.

Meanwhile, the links between Trump and Chabad kept piling up. In 2007, Trump hosted the wedding of Sapir’s daughter and Leviev’s right-hand man at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach resort. A few months after the ceremony, Leviev met Trump to discuss potential deals in Moscow and then hosted a bris for the new couple’s first son at the holiest site in Chabad Judaism. Trump attended the bris along with Kushner, who would go on to buy a $300 million building from Leviev and marry Ivanka Trump, who would form a close relationship with Abramovich’s wife, Dasha Zhukova. Zhukova would host the power couple in Russia in 2014 and reportedly attend Trump’s inauguration as their guest.

With the help of this trans-Atlantic diaspora and some globetrotting real estate moguls, Trump Tower and Moscow’s Red Square can feel at times like part of the same tight-knit neighborhood. Now, with Trump in the Oval Office having proclaimed his desire to reorient the global order around improved U.S. relations with Putin’s government—and as the FBI probes the possibility of improper coordination between Trump associates and the Kremlin—that small world has suddenly taken on outsize importance.

Trump’s kind of Jews

Founded in Lithuania in 1775, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement today has adherents numbering in the five, or perhaps six, figures. What the movement lacks in numbers it makes up for in enthusiasm, as it is known for practicing a particularly joyous form of Judaism.

Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, recalled having this trait impressed upon him during one family wedding at which the two tables occupied by his first cousins, Chabad rabbis, put the rest of the celebrants to shame. “They were dancing up a storm, these guys. I thought they were black. Instead they’re just black-hat,” Klein said, referring to their traditional Hasidic garb.

Despite its small size, Chabad has grown to become the most sprawling Jewish institution in the world, with a presence in over 1,000 far-flung cities, including locales like Kathmandu and Hanoi with few full-time Jewish residents. The movement is known for these outposts, called Chabad houses, which function as community centers and are open to all Jews. “Take any forsaken city in the world, you have a McDonald’s and a Chabad house,” explained Ronn Torossian, a Jewish public relations executive in New York.

Chabad adherents differ from other Hasidic Jews on numerous small points of custom, including the tendency of Chabad men to wear fedoras instead of fur hats. Many adherents believe that the movement’s last living leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who died in 1994, is the messiah, and some believe he is still alive. Chabad followers are also, according to Klein, “remarkable” fundraisers.

As the closest thing the Jewish world has to evangelism—much of its work is dedicated to making Jews around the world more involved in Judaism—Chabad serves many more Jews who are not full-on adherents.

According to Schmuley Boteach, a prominent rabbi in New Jersey and a longtime friend of Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, Chabad offers Jews a third way of relating to their religious identity. “You have three choices as a Jew,” he explained. “You can assimilate and not be very affiliated. You can be religious and Orthodox, or there’s sort of a third possibility that Chabad offers for people who don’t want to go the full Orthodox route but do want to stay on the traditional spectrum.”

This third way may explain the affinity Trump has found with a number of Chabad enthusiasts—Jews who shun liberal reform Judaism in favor of traditionalism but are not strictly devout.

“It’s not a surprise that Trump-minded people are involved with Chabad,” said Torossian. “Chabad is a place that tough, strong Jews feel comfortable. Chabad is a nonjudgmental place where people that are not traditional and not by-the-book feel comfortable.”

He summarized the Chabad attitude, which is less strict than the Orthodox one, as, “If you can’t keep all of the commandments, keep as many as you can.”

Torossian, who coincidentally said he is Sater’s friend and PR rep, also explained that this balance is particularly appealing to Jews from the former Soviet Union, who appreciate its combination of traditional trappings with a lenient attitude toward observance. “All Russian Jews go to Chabad,” he said. “Russian Jews are not comfortable in a reform synagogue.”

Putin’s kind of Jews

The Russian state’s embrace of Chabad happened, like many things in Putin’s Russia, as the result of a factional power struggle.

In 1999, soon after he became prime minister, Putin enlisted Abramovich and Leviev to create the Federation of Russian Jewish Communities. Its purpose was to undermine the existing umbrella for Russia’s Jewish civil society, the Russian Jewish Congress, led by oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky, a potential threat to Putin and President Boris Yeltsin. A year later, Gusinsky was arrested by Putin’s government and forced into exile.

At the time, Russia already had a chief rabbi as recognized by the Russian Jewish Congress, Adolf Shayevich. But Abramovich and Leviev installed Chabad rabbi Lazar at the head of their rival organization. The Kremlin removed Shayevich from its religious affairs council, and ever since it has instead recognized Lazar as Russia’s chief rabbi, leaving the country with two rival claimants to the title.

The Putin-Chabad alliance has reaped benefits for both sides. Under Putin, anti-Semitism has been officially discouraged, a break from centuries of discrimination and pogroms, and the government has come to embrace a state-sanctioned version of Jewish identity as a welcome part of the nation.

As Putin has consolidated his control of Russia, Lazar has come to be known derisively as “Putin’s rabbi.” He has escorted the Russian leader to Jerusalem’s Western Wall and attended the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics, Putin’s pet project, on the Jewish Sabbath. Putin returned that favor by arranging for Lazar to enter the stadium without submitting to security checks that would have broken the rules for observing Shabbat.

In 2013, a $50 million Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center opened in Moscow under the auspices of Chabad and with funding from Abramovich. Putin donated a month of his salary to the project, while the Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB, pitched in by offering relevant documents from its archives.

In 2014, Lazar was the only Jewish leader present at Putin’s triumphal announcement of the annexation of Crimea.

But the rabbi has paid a price for his loyalty to Putin. Since the annexation, his continued support for the Russian autocrat has caused a rift with Chabad leaders in Ukraine. And for years, the Russian government has defied an American court order to turn over a trove of Chabad texts called the “Schneerson Library” to the Chabad Lubavitch headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Shortly after the opening of the tolerance museum, Putin ordered the collection transferred there instead. The move made Lazar the custodian of a prized collection that his Brooklyn comrades believe is rightfully theirs.

If Lazar has any qualms about his role in all the intra-Chabad drama, he hasn’t let on publicly. “Challenging the government is not the Jewish way,” the rabbi said in 2015.

Trump, Bayrock, Sapir

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, as Trump looked for business and investors in the former Soviet Union during the first years of this century, he struck up an enduring relationship with a firm called Bayrock-Sapir.

Bayrock was co-led by Felix Sater, a convicted mob associate.

Sater and another Bayrock employee, Daniel Ridloff, who like Sater later went on to work directly for the Trump Organization, belong to the Port Washington Chabad house. Sater told POLITICO Magazine that in addition to serving on the board of the Port Washington Chabad house, he sits on the boards of numerous Chabad entities in the U.S. and abroad, though none in Russia.

The extent of Sater’s ties to Trump is a matter of some dispute. Working out of Trump Tower, Sater partnered with the celebrity developer on numerous Trump-branded developments and scouted deals for him in the former Soviet Union. In 2006, Sater escorted Trump’s children Ivanka and Don Jr. around Moscow to scour the city for potential projects, and he worked especially closely with Ivanka on the development of Trump SoHo, a hotel and condominium building in Manhattan whose construction was announced on “The Apprentice” in 2006.

In 2007, Sater’s stock fraud conviction became public. The revelation did not deter Trump, who brought him on as “a senior advisor to the Trump Organization” in 2010. In 2011, a number of purchasers of Trump SoHo units sued Trump and his partners for fraud and the New York attorney general’s office opened a criminal inquiry into the building’s marketing. But the purchasers settled and agreed not to cooperate with the criminal investigation, which was subsequently scuttled, according to the New York Times. Two former executives are suing Bayrock alleging tax evasion, money laundering, racketeering, bribery, extortion and fraud.

Under oath, Sater has described a close relationship with the Trumps, while Trump has testified under oath that he barely knew Sater and would not be able to pick his face out in a crowd. Several people who worked closely with Sater during this period and who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, citing fear of retaliation from both men, scoffed at Trump’s testimony, describing frequent meetings and near-constant phone calls between the two. One person recalled numerous occasions on which Trump and Sater dined together, including at the now-defunct Kiss & Fly in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.

“Trump called Felix like every other day to his office. So the fact that he’s saying he doesn’t know him, that’s a lot of crap,” said a former Sater colleague. “They were definitely in contact always. They spoke on the phone all the time.”

In 2014, the Port Washington Chabad house named Sater its “man of the year.” At the ceremony honoring Sater, the chabad’s founder, Shalom Paltiel, recounted how Sater would spill his guts to him about his adventures working as a government cooperator on sensitive matters of national security.

“I only recently told Felix I really didn’t believe most of it. I thought perhaps he watched too many James Bond movies, read one too many Tom Clancy novels,” said Paltiel at the ceremony. “Anyone who knows Felix knows he can tell a good story. I simply did not put too much credence to them.”

But Paltiel went on to recount receiving special clearance years later to accompany Sater to a ceremony at the federal building in Manhattan. There, said Paltiel, officials from every American intelligence agency applauded Sater’s secret work and divulged “stuff that was more fantastic, and more unbelievable, than anything he had been telling me.” A video of the event honoring Sater has been removed from the Port Washington Chabad house’s website but is still available on YouTube.

When I contacted Paltiel for this article, he hung up the phone as soon as I introduced myself. I wanted to ask him about some of the connections I’d come across in the course of my reporting. In addition to his relationship with Sater, Paltiel is also close to “Putin’s rabbi” Lazar, calling Lazar “my dear friend and mentor” in a short note about running into him at Schneerson’s gravesite in Queens.

According to Boteach, this is unsurprising, because Chabad is the sort of community where everybody knows everybody else. “In the world of Chabad, we all went to Yeshiva together, we were all ordained together,” Boteach explained. “I knew Berel Lazar from yeshiva.”

The Port Washington Chabad house has another Bayrock tie. Among its top 13 benefactors, its “Chai Circle,” as listed on its website, is Sater’s partner, Bayrock founder Tevfik Arif.

Arif, a former Soviet bureaucrat turned wealthy real estate developer, owns a mansion in Port Washington, an upscale suburb, but he makes a curious patron for the town’s Chabad. A Kazakh-born citizen of Turkey with a Muslim name, Arif is not Jewish, according to people who have worked with him. In 2010, he was arrested in a raid on a yacht in Turkey that once belonged to the founder of the modern Turkish state, Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, and charged with running an international underage prostitution ring. Arif was later cleared of the charges.

Before the scandal on Ataturk’s yacht, Arif partnered closely with Trump, Ivanka Trump and Sater in the development of Trump SoHo along with the Sapir family, a New York real estate dynasty and the other half of Bayrock-Sapir.

Its patriarch, the late billionaire Tamir Sapir, was born in the Soviet state of Georgia and arrived in 1976 in New York, where he opened an electronics store in the Flatiron district that, according to the New York Times, catered largely to KGB agents.

Trump has called Sapir “a great friend.” In December 2007, he hosted the wedding of Sapir’s daughter, Zina, at Mar-a-Lago. The event featured performances by Lionel Ritchie and the Pussycat Dolls. The groom, Rotem Rosen, was the CEO of the American branch of Africa Israel, the Putin oligarch Leviev’s holding company.

Five months later, in early June 2008, Zina Sapir and Rosen held a bris for their newborn son. Invitations to the bris described Rosen as Leviev’s “right-hand man.” By then, Leviev had become the single largest funder of Chabad worldwide, and he personally arranged for the bris to take place at Schneerson’s grave, Chabad’s most holy site.

Trump attended the bris. A month earlier, in May 2008, he and Leviev had met to discuss possible real estate projects in Moscow, according to a contemporaneous Russian news report. An undated photograph on a Pinterest account called LLD Diamond USA, the name of a firm registered to Leviev, shows Trump and Leviev shaking hands and smiling. (The photograph was first pointed out by Pacific Standard.)

That same year, Sapir, an active Chabad donor in his own right, joined Leviev in Berlin to tour Chabad institutions in the city.

Jared, Ivanka, Roman, Dasha

Also present at the Sapir-Rosen bris was Kushner, who along with his now-wife Ivanka Trump has forged his own set of ties to Putin’s Chabad allies. Kushner’s family, which is Modern Orthodox, has long been highly engaged in philanthropy across the Jewish world, including to Chabad entities, and during his undergraduate years at Harvard, Kushner was active in the university’s Chabad house. Three days before the presidential election, the couple visited Schneerson’s grave and prayed for Trump. In January, the couple purchased a home in Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood and settled on the city’s nearby Chabad synagogue, known as TheSHUL of the Nation’s Capital, as their house of worship.

In May 2015, a month before Trump officially entered the Republican presidential primary, Kushner bought a majority stake in the old New York Times building on West 43rd Street from Leviev for $295 million.

Kushner and Ivanka Trump are also close with Abramovich’s wife, Dasha Zhukova. Abramovich, an industrialist worth more than $7 billion and the owner of the British soccer club Chelsea FC, is the former governor of the Russian province of Chukotka, where he is still revered as a hero. He owes his fortune to his triumphant emergence from Russia’s post-Soviet “aluminum wars,” in which more than 100 people are estimated to have died in fighting over control of aluminum refineries. Abramovich admitted in 2008 that he amassed his assets by paying billions of dollars in bribes. In 2011, his former business partner, the late Boris Berezovsky—an oligarch who had fallen out with Putin and gone on to live in exile at the Trump International on Central Park West—accused him of threats, blackmail and intimidation in a lawsuit in the United Kingdom, which Abramovich won.

Abramovich was reportedly the first person to recommend to Yeltsin that he choose Putin as his successor. In their 2004 biography of Abramovich, the British journalists Chris Hutchins and Dominic Midgely write, “When Putin needed a shadowy force to act against his enemies behind the scenes, it was Abramovich whom he could rely on to prove a willing co-conspirator.” The biographers compare the two men’s relationship to that between a father and a son and report that Abramovich personally interviewed candidates for Putin’s first cabinet. He has reportedly gifted Putin a $30 million yacht, though Putin denies it.

Abramovich’s vast business holdings and his personal life overlap with Trump’s world in multiple ways.

According to a 2012 report from researchers at Cornell University, Evraz, a firm partly owned by Abramovich, has contracts to provide 40 percent of the steel for the Keystone XL pipeline, a project whose completion was approved by Trump in March after years of delay. And in 2006, Abramovich purchased a large stake in the Russian oil giant Rosneft, a company now being scrutinized for its possible role in alleged collusion between Trump and Russia. Both Trump and the Kremlin have dismissed as “fake news” a dossier that alleges that a recent sale of Rosneft shares was part of a scheme to ease U.S. sanctions on Russia.

Meanwhile, his wife, Zhukova, has long traveled in the same social circles as Kushner and Ivanka Trump: She is a friend and business partner of Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife Wendi Deng, one of Ivanka’s closest friends, and a friend of Karlie Kloss, the longtime girlfriend of Kushner’s brother, Josh.

Over the years, Zhukova has grown close to Jared and Ivanka themselves. In February 2014, a month before Putin illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine, Ivanka Trump posted a photo to Instagram of herself with Zhukova, Wendi Deng, a bottle of wine, and the caption, “Thank you [Zhukova] for an unforgettable four days in Russia!” Deng was recently rumored to be dating Putin, though she denied it. Other photos from the trip show Kushner was also present in Russia at the time.

Last summer, Kushner and Ivanka Trump shared a box at the U.S. Open with Zhukova and Deng. In January, Zhukova reportedly attended Trump’s inauguration as Ivanka Trump’s guest.

On March 14, The Daily Mail spotted Josh Kushner dining with Zhukova in New York. According to the outlet, Josh Kushner “hid his face as he exited the eatery with Dasha.”

A week later, at the same time Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were vacationing in Aspen with her two brothers and their families, Abramovich’s plane flew from Moscow to Denver, according to a flight tracking service. Abramovich owns two properties in the Aspen area.

A spokesman for Abramovich declined to comment on the record about the Colorado overlap. The White House referred queries about the couples to a personal spokeswoman for Ivanka Trump. The spokeswoman, Risa Heller, initially indicated she would provide answers to questions about the Colorado overlap and recent contacts between the couples, but did not do so.

President Trump has reportedly sought security clearances for Kushner and Ivanka, who have taken on growing roles in his White House. For anyone else, a close personal relationship with the family of a top Putin confidant would present significant hurdles to obtaining security clearances, former high-ranking intelligence officials said, but political pressure to grant clearances to the president’s children would be likely to override any security concerns.

“Yes, such connections to Russia should matter for a clearance,” said Steve Hall, a former CIA Moscow station chief. “Question is, will they?”

“I don’t think the Trump family camp will have any trouble with security clearances, as long as there’s no polygraph involved,” said Milt Bearden, former chief of the CIA’s Eastern European division. “It’s absolutely crazy, but not going to be an issue.”

***

With Washington abuzz about the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Trump world’s relationship with Putin’s Kremlin, their overlapping networks remain the object of much scrutiny and fascination.

In March, the New York Times reported that Lazar had met last summer with the Trump administration’s special representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt, then a lawyer for the Trump Organization. The men characterized the meeting as a normal part of Greenblatt’s campaign outreach to Jewish leaders and said it included general discussion of Russian society and anti-Semitism. The meeting was brokered by New York PR rep Joshua Nass, and Lazar has said he did not discuss that meeting with the Russian government.

In late January, Sater met with Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to discuss a proposed Ukraine peace deal that would end U.S. sanctions on Russia, which Cohen then delivered to Trump’s then-national security adviser Michael Flynn at the White House, according to the Times. Cohen has given varying accounts of the episode.

According to one Jewish Republican who said he sees Cohen “all the time” there, Cohen himself is a regular presence at the Midtown Chabad on Fifth Avenue, a dozen blocks south of Trump Tower and a half-dozen blocks south of his current office at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Cohen disputed this, saying, “I’ve never been to a Chabad and I’ve never been to one in New York City either.” Cohen then said he last stepped foot in a Chabad over 15 years ago to attend a bris. He said the last Chabad-related event he attended was on March 16 at a hotel in Newark when he spoke at a dinner honoring Trump’s secretary of veterans affairs, David Shulkin. The dinner was hosted by the Rabbinical College of America, a Chabad organization.

To those unfamiliar with Russian politics, Trump’s world and Hasidic Judaism, all these Chabad links can appear confounding. Others simply greet them with a shrug.

“The interconnectedness of the Jewish world through Chabad is not surprising insofar as it’s one of the main Jewish players,” said Boteach. “I would assume that the world of New York real estate isn’t that huge either.”

Zionist Report, “COMMENTARY: Trump and Putin – Agents of Chabad-Lubavitch”, 28 Mar 2017:

Americans have given up on America a long time ago, and pretty soon they will get a real taste of their atrocious mistake. When countries don’t have what it takes to assume their responsibility, the result, without a doubt, is their own destruction.

“Trump and Putin: Agents of Chabad-Lubavitch”

The following is a section I wrote on November 7, 2016; it was part of an update titled Why the globalists will announce Trump as the winner of the election. I’m reposting it on this page because it contains information that is vital to your understanding of what’s really going in the world right now. So here goes…

READ MORE...


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