Thursday, April 27, 2017

Update and Review: Trump-Putin/Russian Ties, Links, and Mystery Web

Who, What, and Why is Behind Trump

Kushner meets with big Russian bank (with strong ties to Putin) in December 2016 (one month before Trump took office) as he was seeking loans to help finance “Kushner Tower.”
Highlights: Trump's son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, met with the CEO of Russia's state-owned VnesheConomBank in December 2016, The New York Times reported as indicated in this article from Business Insider. The meeting — which had not previously been disclosed and came on the heels of Kushner's meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower — caught the attention of the Senate Intelligence Committee, now investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election to see whether any members of Trump's campaign were complicit.
As the old Cash song asks: “How high’s the water Momma?” Well this shït is deep and rising with that Kushner stuff and now this about Michael Flynn:
Flynn got lots of $$$$ from Russia and Turkey and apparently never got permission, which the law requires, and failed to report it accurately. This is from the Washington Post and the extract below from the AP:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Documents released by lawmakers show President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Ret. Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, was warned when he retired from the military in 2014 not to take foreign money without “advance approval” by Pentagon authorities.
Now, the Defense Department IG’s office confirms in a separate document that it is investigating whether Flynn failed to obtain prior approval.
Meanwhile, the chairman and senior Democrat on the House Oversight Committee say they want the Army to rule on whether Flynn informed and asked permission for the payments from Russian and Turkish entities. Note: Flynn earned tens of thousands of dollars from Russia's state-sponsored/run RT television network and from a Turkish businessman linked to Turkey's government for speeches, etc.
Basic question just like it was asked during the Watergate Hearings: What did Trump know and when did he know it about big foreign money deals/payment to Kushner and Flynn? It is naïve to believe or think that Trump did not know about those two events nor what has transpired on his behalf. And, more so with SOS Rex Tillerson and his former company, ExxonMobil and money ties to Russia for oil drilling – some say worth $500 billion.
All signs indicate that Jared Kushner, Michael Flynn, Rex Tillerson, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and those listed below were somehow in bed with Russia and key Russian operatives at the same time they were connected to and part of the Trump campaign, the Trump transition team, and now while in key official Trump administration positions.
This is very serious stuff and hopefully the several congressional committees and FBI will prepare a final report – even if that’s possible to be final in anyway and tell the truth about the Trump-Putin/Russian ties for the past several years and it is further apparent why Mr. Trump will not release his tax returns: They would show who has borrowed money from and who is owes and therefore deeply indebted to (Russia and China perhaps) and now the Kushner billion-dollar bank loan from a well-known and Chinese communist connected bank for his “Kushner Tower.”

This quick review of the ties and web (that possibly bind) comes from the Washington Post with this great graphic:

Donald Trump, president. Trump’s connections to Russian business interests are murky, thanks to his decision not to release his tax returns during the campaign. We know that the Miss Universe pageant was hosted in Moscow when Trump owned it and that he earned millions of dollars for doing so. We know, too, that he’s repeatedly explored real estate deals in the country. It’s not clear whether Trump has met Kislyak, though the ambassador attended a foreign policy speech Trump gave last spring and the reception that preceded it. We know now that Trump has been in communication with Putin — but he also claimed to have been in contact with representatives of the Russian president (and Putin himself) before the campaign. 
Jeff Sessions, attorney general. Sessions’ relationship with Kislyak is well-established by now. This is a good point at which to note, though, that the existence of that relationship does not in any way imply wrongdoing by Sessions. It’s just part of the network we’re establishing.

Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn – discussed above.
Donald Trump Jr., son. The younger Trump visited France last October to speak to an obscure Russian group. In 2008, Don Jr., who works for the Trump Organization, famously told a real estate conference that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets” and that “we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
Paul Manafort, former campaign manager. Manafort’s links to Russian interests are well established. New revelations that emerged during the campaign prompted Trump to demand Manafort’s resignation. Manafort is one of the Trump campaign staffers who reportedly made contact with Russian interests during the campaign.
Rex Tillerson, secretary of state. Before he was confirmed to serve as the head of the State Department, even Republicans questioned Tillerson’s relationship to Putin. As the head of ExxonMobil, Tillerson helped negotiate a massive agreement between the Russian government and ExxonMobil-Rosneft, a partnership between the two companies. Tillerson was subsequently awarded the “Order of Friendship” by Putin.

Wilbur Ross, secretary of commerce. Ross’s connections to Russian business interests are less obvious than Tillerson’s. During the Clinton administration, Ross served on the board of the U.S.-Russia Investment Fund, an effort to bolster businesses in post-Cold-War Russia. During his confirmation, questions arose about his ownership of a bank on Cyprus that, in the words of McClatchy’s Kevin Hall, “caters to wealthy Russians.”

Roger Stone, longtime and close Trump adviser. Stone’s connection to Russia is murky. During the campaign, he drew attention for seeming to have inside knowledge on the WikiLeaks document releases — releases that have been linked to Russian interests by the government. More directly, the Times reports that Stone is possibly under investigation by the U.S. government for his links to Russia.

Carter Page, former adviser. Page is included in that alleged investigation as well, but his links to Russia are clearer. Page pretty clearly met with Kislyak last year during the Republican convention in Cleveland, as he admitted to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Thursday night. He also has repeatedly addressed Russian business groups in that country, including twice in 2016. Over a decade ago, he worked in Russia as an investment banker (I posted more on Carter Page here).

J.D. Gordon, former adviser. Page is far in the outer orbit of Trump’s circle, serving briefly as part of Trump’s national security advisory team. He’s joined there by Gordon
a onetime Pentagon spokesman who also served as an adviser to the campaign. Gordon, like Page, reportedly spoke with Kislyak in Cleveland.

Washington Post Caveat: This document should be considered a work in progress. As more information is released, it (and the graphic) will be updated.

Again, none of the relationships above are intended to show misbehavior by those involved. The broad question at stake is the extent to which Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 election and, if it did, the extent to which it may have leveraged relationships with Trump’s team to that end. That much-bigger question is much harder to evaluate.

As always, stay tuned… I believe that this review is well-intended and hopefully helpful to the readers. Thanks for stopping by. 

No comments: