Intelligence Community Releases Declassified Report on Russia’s Influence of the Election

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Late last week, the intelligence community released their report following an investigation into the alleged influence of the 2016 election by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Intelligence agencies. The report is a declassified version of a much more detailed report which concluded that Putin “ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.” It went on to say that Putin’s motives were to “denigrate” Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and that he had “a clear preference for President-elect Trump.” The report details the reasons Putin does not like Clinton and outlines the ways the Russian government influenced the election including the hacking of John Podesta and the DNC, leaks to WikiLeaks, and hacking the RNC. Read the full report below or download a PDF copy HERE.

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News Source: The New York Times

Judge Unseals Hillary Clinton FBI Search Warrant

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On Tuesday, a federal judge ordered that the search warrant that many have faulted for Hillary Clinton’s loss be unsealed. The warrant called for the investigation of emails between Clinton and aide Huma Abedin that were found on a laptop belonging to Abedin’s ex-husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner. The document does not provide in detail what the FBI hoped to find, and the investigation ultimately turned up nothing. The warrant was approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox.

Many people have criticized the timing of the investigation by the FBI and the manner in which FBI director James Comey handled the investigation. He sent a letter to Congress two weeks before the election saying that the email investigation had been reopened. A few days later they concluded that no new evidence was found, but the damage to Clinton had been done. Despite winning the popular vote, Clinton lost the electoral college and the presidency. Clinton and her former campaign staffers blame Comey and the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary for America chair John Podesta for their loss.

Read a copy of the warrant below or download a PDF copy HERE.

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News Source: The Washington Post, USA Today, Fortune, ABC News, Newsweek

Six Key Developments Today On Trump, WikiLeaks, And Russia

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Hillary for America Senior Policy Advisor Jake Sullivan released the following statement today after news reports by Esquire and Motherboard confirmed for the first time publicly that Russia is behind the hack of John Podesta’s emails. Also, according to Esquire, Guccifer told journalists that he gave the DNC emails to WikiLeaks:

“The new public data confirming the Russians are behind the hack of John Podesta’s email is a big deal. There is no longer any doubt that Putin is trying to help Donald Trump by weaponizing WikiLeaks. Despite all the evidence, including the conclusions of the US intelligence community, Donald Trump went on the debate stage and acted as Putin’s puppet, defending Russia and refusing to admit and condemn the Kremlin’s actions. This behavior has gone from bizarre to disqualifying. In light of his associate’s admitted ‘back-channeling’ with Assange, and Trump’s own undisclosed business ties with Russia, it’s time for Trump to tell the American people what he knew about these hacks and when he knew it.”

According to Esquire:

“In the weeks that followed, Guccifer offered interviews and batches of documents to several journalists, but he wrote that “the main part of the papers, thousands of files and mails, I gave to WikiLeaks.”

“So far U. S. investigators have not said publicly who was responsible for the Podesta hack, but the data harvested by SecureWorks makes it clear that Fancy Bear broke into the Clinton chairman’s account as early as late March. The CIA briefed Trump about the origin of the kompromat, but he continued to cite the material, telling a Pennsylvania crowd, “I love WikiLeaks!”

According to Motherboard:

Months later, on October 9, WikiLeaks began publishing thousands of Podesta’s hacked emails. Almost everyone immediately pointed the finger at Russia, who is suspected of being behind a long and sophisticated hacking campaign that has the apparent goal of influencing the upcoming US elections. But there was no public evidence proving the same group that targeted the Democratic National Committee was behind the hack on Podesta—until now.

The data linking a group of Russian hackers—known as Fancy Bear, APT28, or Sofacy—to the hack on Podesta is also yet another piece in a growing heap of evidence pointing toward the Kremlin. And it also shows a clear thread between apparently separate and independent leaks that have appeared on a website called DC Leaks, such as that of Colin Powell’s emails; and the Podesta leak, which was publicized on WikiLeaks.

Six Key Developments Today On Trump, WikiLeaks, And Russia

  1. Esquire published a deep dive on the full extent of Russia’s unprecedented hacking campaign to influence the U.S. election, including new details about the operation.
  1. Motherboard confirmed that government-backed Russian hackers were behind the cyberattack on John Podesta’s emails, publicly detailing new, undeniable evidence.
  1. Politico documented Trump’s haunting propensity for defending Putin’s crimes. Beyond the cyberattacks, Trump defended Putin in the killing of journalists, the assassination of a former Russian spy, and the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.
  1. Dallas Morning News reported that Trump had been personally briefed by House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul that Russia was behind these cyberattacks before he debate, in which he again denied their culpability.
  1. Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said on MSNBC this morning that she was completely comfortable with the campaign exploiting documents that were stolen by Russian agents.
  1. Former director of the NSA and CIA, Michael Hayden, told NBC News: “[Trump] reject[ed] a high confidence judgment from the American intelligence community that the Russians are breaking in to DNC emails. That’s troubling on two counts. First, what will it take for him to criticize Russia? And second, here is a man who would be president, rejecting an intelligence judgment because it is politically inconvenient.”

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HFA Statement on Trump’s Comments on Meeting with Putin

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Hillary for America Senior National Spokesperson Glen Caplin released the following statement today after Donald Trump’s comments saying he, “Could see myself meeting with Putin and meeting with Russia prior to the start of the administration.”

“It’s unclear why Donald Trump needs to meet with Vladimir Putin on November 9th since he’s already repeating all his talking points, pushing his policy agenda and taking advantage of his espionage operation. Rest assured that as president, Hillary Clinton will stand up to Putin in the face of his unacceptable behavior, not coddle him.”

Hillary for America previously released a new video cataloguing Trump’s disturbing connections to Russia and why they are so concerning. Watch it here.

The campaign also recently released a Medium post on the Russian hack that Donald Trump refuses to admit or condemn laying out an important question that voters deserve to know – “What did Trump know, and when did he know it?” Read it here.

Here are 15 facts you should know about Donald Trump, WikiLeaks and Russia:

1) The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that top Kremlin officials are behind the hack of the DNC and other Democratic organizations to influence the elections – and named WikiLeaks as part of their effort.

  • Washington Post: “Intelligence officials have identified WikiLeaks and other sites as among those receiving or publishing information from Russian intelligence, a claim that Assange has dismissed in the past.

2) According to the Wall Street Journal, “FBI Suspects Russia in Hack of John Podesta Emails”– top Russian officials meanwhile shifted away from denying a role in separate hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

3) Long time Trump campaign associate Roger Stone says he is in contact with Julian Assange. Stone unwittingly admitted the Russians are the source for WikiLeaks when he said, “The DNC heist documents…were hacked and first made public by Guccifer 2.0, almost a month ago, and when that did not get the appropriate traction, he took them to WikiLeaks who then leaked them.”  Stone also seemed to predict Podesta’s emails would be released as far back as August, suggesting possible collusion.

4) According to reports, “several current and former officials who have worked in the Justice Department, FBI and intelligence community said they have little doubt federal law enforcement is looking into the different questions surrounding the different current and one-time Trump campaign operatives.

5) Julian Assange’s own ties to the Kremlin are extensive and well-documented:

  • Assange hosted a talk show on Putin’s propaganda network, RT.
  • A recent New York Times examination of Assange’s time in exile found that WikiLeaks’ activities have consistently benefitted Putin’s Russia at the expense of America and our allies.
  • National security experts have criticized Assange and WikiLeaks for doing Putin’s bidding by releasing documents obtained by Russian hackers:
    • Defense One: How Putin Weaponized Wikileaks to Influence the Election of an American President: “Considerable evidence shows that the Wikileaks dump was an orchestrated act by the Russian government, working through proxies, to undermine Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign.”
  • Former NSA analyst and counterintelligence officer, John Schindler: “Russian hackers working for the Kremlin cyber-pilfered the DNC then passed the purloined data, including thousands of unflattering emails, to Wikileaks, which has shown them to the world. This, of course, means that Wikileaks is doing Moscow’s bidding and has placed itself in bed with Vladimir Putin.”
  • National Security expert Michael Weiss: “In a bizarre mind-meld that could only happen today, the WikiLeaks founder is refusing to say whether he got the hacked DNC emails from Russia, and Trump is defending Putin.”

6) Trump was reportedly briefed by U.S. intelligence officials before the last debate that Russian intelligence services were behind the hacks. Despite that information, Trump stood on the debate stage and claimed to 80 million Americans that it could be anyone including someone “sitting in their bed who weighs 400 pounds.” Why?

  • NBC News: “A senior U.S. intelligence official assured NBC News that cybersecurity and the Russian government’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election have been briefed to, and discussed extensively with, both parties’ candidates, surrogates and leadership, since mid-August. ‘To profess not to know at this point is willful misrepresentation,’ said the official. ‘The intelligence community has walked a very thin line in not taking sides, but both candidates have all the information they need to be crystal clear.’”
  • WaPo: Headline: “Trump refusal to accept government assessments on Russian hacks dismays former officials”
    • “The former officials, who have served presidents in both parties, say they were bewildered when Trump cast doubt on Russia’s role after receiving a classified briefing on the subject and again after an unusually blunt statement from U.S. agencies saying they were “confident” that Moscow had orchestrated the attacks.”

7) Donald Trump himself encouraged Russian hackers to spy MORE on Hillary Clinton: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said. “I think you’ll be rewarded mightily by our press!”

8) Trump’s business interests in Russia run deep…and present HUGE conflicts of interest. Because Donald Trump won’t release his taxes, the full extent of his Russian business interests that could conflict with American national security interests is largely unknown. But just some of the recent headlines have revealed hundreds of millions of dollars related to Russian business interests; connections to business groups with ties to the Kremlin like Bayrock; business dealings with alleged Russian mobster Felix Sater and a 30-year history of pursuing business with Russia including the Miss Universe pageant. Trump’s son has said that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section” of the Trump Organization’s assets and that “we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

9) Trump’s policies are concerning experts because they align closely with Putin’s agenda, contrary to American interests.

  • Op-ed by Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul: “Putin has rational motives for wanting Trump to win: Trump champions many foreign policies that Putin supports. Trump’s most shocking, pro-Kremlin proposal is to “look into” recognition of Crimea as a part of Russia…. Trump has demanded that other NATO members essentially pay us for protection… Trump has also disparaged our allies in Asia, creating new opportunities for Russian influence…. On the whole, Trump advocates isolationist policies and an abdication of U.S. leadership in the world. He cares little about promoting democracy and human rights. A U.S. retreat from global affairs fits precisely with Putin’s international interests.”
  • Vox: Trump’s policies are objectively pro-Russia. “Nothing Russia could do, on its own, would help its foreign policy more than what Trump is proposing. He is literally suggesting the United States transform global politics to make it more favorable to Russian interests.”
  • Slate: Putin’s Puppet: If the Russian president could design a candidate to undermine American interests—and advance his own—he’d look a lot like Donald Trump. “Donald Trump is like the Kremlin’s favored candidates, only more so. He celebrated the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU. He denounces NATO with feeling. He is also a great admirer of Vladimir Putin.”
  • Politifact: “Trumps [sic] comments on backing away from NATO, supporting Russia on the Ukraine and rethinking sanctions against Russia certainly qualify as statements that dovetail with what the Putin administration would like.”

10) Former Acting CIA Director Michael Morrell has concluded, “In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

11) The Trump campaign’s ties to Russia are deeply disturbing.

  • One-time Foreign Policy Adviser Carter Page is being probed by U.S. intelligence agencies for meeting with sanctioned Kremlin officials including Igor Diveykin. “A former Russian security official, Diveykin now serves as deputy chief for internal policy and is believed by U.S. officials to have responsibility for intelligence collected by Russian agencies about the U.S. election, the Western intelligence source said.”
    • The Trump campaign lied about Page having “never been a part of our campaign. Period” to cover up his involvement.  In fact, Trump announced Page himself to Washington Post editorial board back in March 2016 as one of his foreign policy advisers, which was confirmed by Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks to CNN.
  • Campaign Chair Paul Manafort was forced to resign after the New York Times revealed, “Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012…Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.”
  • Gen. Michael Flynn, the adviser who joined Trump for his classified intelligence briefing, has been paid by Kremlin-run RT and sat two seats down from Putin at the outlet’s 10th anniversary gala. “The presence of such an important figure at Putin’s table startled current and former members of the Obama administration. ‘It was extremely odd that he showed up in a tuxedo to the Russian government propaganda arm’s party,’ one former Pentagon official told me. Like Trump, Flynn has advocated forging closer ties with Russia.”
  • Mike McSherry, an aide who helped lead Trump’s convention strategy, worked alongside Manafort and Gates to lobby for Putin puppet Yanukovych.
  • Howard Lorber, a Trump economic adviser, traveled with Trump to Moscow in the 1990s seeking real estate deals. Lorber was just the the “latest in a long list of relationships that give Trump a financial stake in warm U.S.-Russian relations.”
  • Boris Epshteyn, a senior Trump adviser and surrogate, moderated a 2013 forum at the “Invest In Moscow!” Conference and has echoed Kremlin talking points on TV. As a surrogate for Donald Trump’s campaign he argued that Russia has not seized Crimea from Ukraine, even though Vladimir Putin seized the region more than two years ago. While discussing the GOP nominee’s recent remarks about Putin on CNN Sunday, campaign surrogate Boris Epshteyn said, “First of all, Russia did not seize Crimea.”
  • Richard Burt, who has been an adviser to Trump and helped write his first major foreign policy speech, has deep ties to Russia as well. Burt sits on the board of directors for the US-Russia Business Council, formerly sat on the senior advisory board of Russia’s Alfa Bank, and has argued againstS. sanctions on Russia.
  • Michael Caputo, a former top Trump adviser who also recently resigned, had a contract with Russian conglomerate Gazprom Media in 2000 to improve Putin’s image in the United States.

12) Trump allies, WikiLeaks and Russia pushed a nonsensical conspiracy theory about the DNC hacks. “Trump campaign surrogates are fueling a conspiracy theory that a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer was connected to the hacking of the DNC, a theory being pushed by WikiLeaks and the Russian state-controlled press. Some experts have gone as far as to say that Putin is explicitly using Trump to further his agenda.”

13) Even top Republicans have raised serious concerns about Trump’s relationship with Putin’s Russia. 50 G.O.P officials warned that Donald Trump would put the nation’s security at risk: “They viewed Mr. Trump’s comments on NATO as an abandonment of America’s most significant alliance relationship. Mr. Trump has said throughout his campaign that he intends to upend Republican foreign policy orthodoxy on everything from trade to Russia, where he has been complimentary of President Vladimir V. Putin, saying nothing about its crackdown on human rights and little about its annexation of Crimea.”

  • 14) Top Democrats on four House committees that oversee national security on Friday called on the FBI to investigate Donald Trump’s purported ties to the Russian government and its alleged hacking of Democratic groups and operatives.

15) Trump has praised Putin for a decade, and Putin has returned the favor.

  • Trump, 2007: “[Putin’s] doing a great job. In rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia period. Forget about image.”
  • Trump, 2011: “I often speak highly [of Putin] for his intelligence and no-nonsense way…. Putin has also announced his grand vision: the creation of a ‘Eurasian Union’ made up of former Soviet nations that can dominate the region. I respect Putin…”
  • Trump, 2013, on Putin’s NYT op-ed denouncing American exceptionalism: “I thought he did an amazing job…. He’s making him look like a — he’s the professor and the President is a school child… He really becomes with this letter, almost, the world leader”
  • Trump, 2013: “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow – if so, will he become my new best friend?”
  • Washington Post on Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe Contest in Moscow: “Putin canceled at the last minute, but he sent a decorative lacquered box, a traditional Russian gift, and a warm note”
  • Trump, 2014: “Putin has become a big hero in Russia with an all time high popularity.”
  • Trump, 2015: “In terms of leadership, [Putin’s] getting an ‘A,’ and our president is not doing so well.”
  • Putin, 2015 on Trump: “He’s a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt.”
  • Trump, 2016: “[Putin] called me a genius, I’m going to disavow it? Are you crazy? Can you believe it? How stupid are they.”
  • AP, 2016: Russia’s Putin Reaffirms Praise for Trump, Calling Him ‘Bright’

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HFA Statement on Roger Stone’s Admission of WikiLeaks Contact

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Hillary for America Senior National Spokesperson Glen Caplin released the following statement on Roger Stone’s admission of ‘Back-Channel Communications with WikiLeaks’:

“It is disturbing that Roger Stone, a longtime Donald Trump confidante, has confirmed the fact that he has “back-channel communications” with Wikileaks, an organization that is working with the Russian government to affect the American presidential election.”

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News Source: NBC News

HFA Statement On U.S. Formally Naming Russia Responsible For Election-Related Hacks

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John Podesta, Chair of Hillary of America, released the following statement Friday in response to the U.S. government formally naming the Russian government as responsible for recent hacks intended to interfere with the U.S. presidential election:

“The world now knows, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that the hack of the Democratic National Committee was carried out by the Russian government in a clear attempt to interfere with the integrity of our elections. The only remaining question is why Donald Trump continues to make apologies for the Russians. Trump’s initial reaction to the hack in July was to invite further intrusions by the Russians. Even after he was reportedly briefed on the very findings that were just announced publicly by U.S. government officials, he stood on a debate stage one week ago and played dumb about Russia’s role in this hack. He has repeatedly praised Vladimir Putin, outlined a list of pro-Putin policies, and has done hundreds of millions of dollars of business with Russian interests. Even his own running mate has criticized Putin yet Trump continues to refuse. It should concern every American that Russia is willing to engage in such hostile acts in order to help Donald Trump become President of the United States. But even worse, Trump’s own actions suggests he welcomes the help. If he wants to reassure American voters, he must not only acknowledge and condemn Russia’s role in this outrageous intrusion against U.S. interests, but he must finally disclose the full extent of his ties to Russia and divest any Russian-linked assets.”

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News Source: The Washington Post

Clinton Holds Press Conference This Morning

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Before leaving for North Carolina today, Hillary Clinton held a press conference with members of her press pool. In an opening statement, Clinton criticized Donald Trump for, again, praising Russian President Vladimir Putin during last night’s Commander-in-Chief Forum. She also questioned his judgement after he hinted at some thing he learned during his first classified briefing saying, “I think what he said was totally inappropriate and undisciplined.” Clinton then answered questions on a number of topics including recent poll numbers, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson not knowing that Aleppo is a city in Syria, and a question about criticisms that she needs to smile more. A video of the press conference is below.

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News Source: The New York Times, Politico

Clinton Campaign Responds to Resignation of Paul Manafort

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Hillary for America responded to the resignation of Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. Their statement, video, and release are below.

Statement from Robby Mook on Manafort’s Resignation and Trump’s Continued Pro-Kremlin Ties

Friday, Hillary For American Campaign Manager Robby Mook issued the following statement on the resignation of Trump’s Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and the many continuing ties between Trump and his campaign and pro-Kremlin forces:

“Paul Manafort’s resignation is a clear admission that the disturbing connections between Donald Trump’s team and pro-Kremlin elements in Russia and Ukraine are untenable.  But this is not the end of the story.  It’s just the beginning.  You can get rid of Manafort, but that doesn’t end the odd bromance Trump has with Putin. Trump still has to answer serious questions hovering over his campaign given his propensity to parrot Putin’s talking points, the roster of advisers like Carter Page and Mike Flynn with deep ties to Russia, the recent Russian government hacking and disclosure of Democratic Party records, and reports that Breitbart published articles advocating pro-Kremlin positions on Ukraine.  It’s also time for Donald Trump to come clean on his own business dealings with Russian interests, given recent news reports about his web of deep financial connections to business groups with Kremlin ties.”

HFA also released a new video on Donald Trump’s tendency to echo Vladimir Putin’s talking points:

BACKGROUND

Trump Campaign Advisers’ Russia Connections Extend Far Beyond Manafort

Carter Page, Trump’s pro-Putin foreign policy adviser, built his career on deals with Russia’s state owned gas company, Gazprom, and traveled to Moscow just last month.

Washington Post: Trump adviser’s public comments, ties to Moscow stir unease in both parties

“In early June, a little-known adviser to Donald Trump stunned a gathering of high-powered Washington foreign policy experts meeting with the visiting prime minister of India, going off topic with effusive praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump. The adviser, Carter Page, hailed Putin as stronger and more reliable than President Obama, according to three people who were present at the closed-door meeting at Blair House — and then touted the positive effect a Trump presidency would have on U.S.-Russia relations. A month later, Page dumbfounded foreign policy experts again by giving another speech harshly critical of U.S. policy — this time in Moscow.”

Bloomberg: Trump’s New Russia Adviser Has Deep Ties to Kremlin’s Gazprom

A globe-trotting American investment banker who’s built a career on deals with Russia and its state-run gas company, Carter Page says his business has suffered directly from the U.S. economic sanctions imposed after Russia’s escalating involvement in the Ukraine. When Donald Trump named him last week as one of his foreign-policy advisers, Page says his e-mail inbox filled up with positive notes from Russian contacts. “So many people who I know and have worked with have been so adversely affected by the sanctions policy,” Page said in a two-hour interview last week. “There’s a lot of excitement in terms of the possibilities for creating a better situation.”

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the adviser who joined Trump this week for his first classified intelligence briefing, has been paid by Kremlin-run RT and sat next to Putin at the outlet’s 10th anniversary gala.

Washington Post: He was one of the most respected intel officers of his generation. Now he’s leading ‘Lock her up’ chants.

Like Trump, Flynn has advocated forging closer ties with Russia. In interviews with The Washington Post, Flynn acknowledged being paid to give a speech and attend a lavish anniversary party for the Kremlin-controlled RT television network in Moscow last year, where he was seated next to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin…. Asked why he would want to be so closely associated with a Kremlin propaganda platform, Flynn said he sees no distinction between RT and other news outlets. “What’s CNN? What’s MSNBC? Come on!” said Flynn, who also has appeared occasionally as an unpaid on-air analyst for RT and other foreign broadcasters.

Politico: The Kremlin’s Candidate

At a moment of semi-hostility between the U.S. and Russia, the presence of such an important figure at Putin’s table startled current and former members of the Obama administration. “It was extremely odd that he showed up in a tuxedo to the Russian government propaganda arm’s party,” one former Pentagon official told me.

Daily Beast: Trump Embraces Ex-Top Obama Intel Official

Three former U.S. officials said that a trip Flynn took last December to Moscow—where he was filmed sitting at the head table next to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a formal dinner—set off alarms within military and intelligence circles over whether Flynn had notified the U.S. government about his foreign travel, as his security clearance requires.

Mike McSherry, an aide who helped lead Trump’s convention strategy, worked alongside Manafort and Gates to lobby for Putin puppet Yanukovych.

BuzzFeed: Ukraine Lobbying Contract Linked To Manafort Also Involved Another Trump Aide

“Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort is not the only Trump aide to have been involved in lobbying for Ukraine’s pro-Russian ex-president. Mike McSherry, a senior vice president at Mercury Public Affairs who helped lead the Trump campaign’s convention committee strategy last month, is listed in Mercury’s lobbying disclosure forms as having represented a Brussels-based nonprofit group linked to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine.”

Howard Lorber, a Trump economic adviser, traveled with Trump to Moscow in the 1990s seeking real estate deals

Washington Post: Another Trump adviser with deep ties to Russia

This week Donald Trump released a new roster of economic advisers, including a businessman with extensive investments in Russia who tried to get a Trump Tower built in Moscow. It’s the latest in a long list of relationships that give Trump a financial stake in warm U.S.-Russian relations. Businessman and investor Howard Lorber already donated $100,000 to the Trump Victory fund, has been named as one of Trump’s “best friends” and even appeared once on “The Apprentice.” He is also president and chief executive of the Vector Group, a holding company that has various business interests in Russia. In 1996, Lorber brought Trump to Moscow to look for opportunities for Trump to lend his famous name to development projects there. “Howard has major investments in Russia,” Trump told Russian politician Alexander Ivanovich Lebed after his trip to Moscow with Lorber, according to a 1997 profile of Trump in the New Yorker.

Boris Epshteyn, a senior Trump adviser and surrogate, moderated a 2013 forum at the “Invest In Moscow!” Conference and has echoed Kremlin talking points on TV.

Huffington Post: When It Comes To Donald Trump’s Russia Ties, It’s All About The Aides

And there’s also Boris Epshteyn, a Trump surrogate who frequently appears on television and describes himself as a senior adviser to the campaign. The Russia-born investment banker and attorney moderated a panel at an October 2013 conference in New York City called “Invest in Moscow!” The panel was mainly comprised of Moscow city government officials, like Sergey Cheremin, a city minister who heads Moscow’s foreign economic and international relations department…. “In Russia, where business and the state are so closely linked, business dealings automatically imply ties to people high up in government as well,” said Kathryn Stoner, an expert in U.S.-Russia relations at Stanford University.

Talking Points Memo: Trump Surrogate Pushes Pro-Putin Line That Russia Hasn’t Seized Crimea

A surrogate for Donald Trump’s campaign argued on Sunday that Russia has not seized Crimea from Ukraine, even though Vladimir Putin seized the region more than two years ago. While discussing the GOP nominee’s recent remarks about Putin on CNN Sunday, campaign surrogate Boris Epshteyn said, “First of all, Russia did not seize Crimea.”

Richard Burt, who has been an adviser to Trump and helped write his first major foreign policy speech, has deep ties to Russia as well.

Reuters: Former Reagan aide helped write Trump foreign policy speech

“I was asked to contribute material” for Trump’s April 27 speech at the Center for the National Interest, a Washington, D.C., think tank, said Richard Burt.

Vice: How Putin’s American Fixers Keep Russian Sanctions Toothless

Richard Burt, a former Reagan White House official who now works at the lobbying firm McLarty Associates, serves on the US-Russia Business Council board. According to the Wall Street Journal, Burt, who has argued against unilateral sanctions against Russia…

Michael Caputo, a former top Trump adviser who also recently resigned, did public relations work for Putin years ago, promoting his image in the Western world.

Washington Post: Inside Trump’s financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin

An adviser who helped run Trump’s efforts in the New York primary, Michael Caputo, lived in Russia in the 1990s. Caputo also had a contract for several months in 2000 with the Russian conglomerate Gazprom Media to improve Putin’s image in the United States. Caputo declined to comment but told the Buffalo News, his hometown paper, that he was “not proud of the work today. But at the time, Putin wasn’t such a bad guy.”

Trump’s Russia Problems Run Deep, Concerning Experts

Trump’s policies align closely with Putin’s agenda, contrary to American interests.

Op-ed by Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul: Why Putin wants a Trump victory (so much he might even be trying to help him)

Putin has rational motives for wanting Trump to win: Trump champions many foreign policies that Putin supports. Trump’s most shocking, pro-Kremlin proposal is to “look into” recognition of Crimea as a part of Russia…. Trump has demanded that other NATO members essentially pay us for protection… Trump has also disparaged our allies in Asia, creating new opportunities for Russian influence…. On the whole, Trump advocates isolationist policies and an abdication of U.S. leadership in the world. He cares little about promoting democracy and human rights. A U.S. retreat from global affairs fits precisely with Putin’s international interests.

Vox: Trump’s policies are objectively pro-Russia

Nothing Russia could do, on its own, would help its foreign policy more than what Trump is proposing. He is literally suggesting the United States transform global politics to make it more favorable to Russian interests.

Slate: Putin’s Puppet: If the Russian president could design a candidate to undermine American interests—and advance his own—he’d look a lot like Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is like the Kremlin’s favored candidates, only more so. He celebrated the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU. He denounces NATO with feeling. He is also a great admirer of Vladimir Putin.

Trump personally has business ties with Russian oligarchs.

Donald Trump on his Miss Universe Contest in Moscow: “Almost all of the oligarchs were in the room.”

Donald Trump Jr.: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

CNN: That time a Russian billionaire paid Trump $95 million for a mansion

Washington Post: Former Mafia-linked figure describes association with Trump

On the 24th floor of Trump Tower, in an office two floors below Donald Trump, Felix Sater was trying to revive his career. The Russian-born businessman had already done a stint in prison for stabbing a man in the face with the stem of a margarita glass, and he was now awaiting sentencing for his role in a Mafia-orchestrated stock fraud scheme… Trump and his lawyers have said that he was not aware of Sater’s criminal past when he first signed on to do business with Sater’s firm, Bayrock Group. Sater’s involvement in the stock fraud was kept secret for years by federal prosecutors because of his role as an informant. But even after elements of Sater’s background were disclosed in a 2007 New York Times article, he remained in close proximity to Trump — at one point using Trump Organization office space and business cards.

Washington Post: “Putin canceled at the last minute, but he sent a decorative lacquered box, a traditional Russian gift, and a warm note, according to Aras Agalarov, a Moscow billionaire who served as a liaison between Trump and the Russian leader. Still, the weekend was fruitful for Trump. He received a portion of the $14 million paid by Agalarov and other investors to bring the pageant to Moscow. Agalarov said he and Trump signed an agreement to build a Trump Tower in the heart of Moscow — at least Trump’s fifth attempt at such a venture.”

Trump and his campaign have been aligned with the Russians while they attempt to defeat Hillary Clinton.

New York Times: Spy Agency Consensus Grows That Russia Hacked D.N.C.

American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence.

AP: Donald Trump encourages Russian hackers to spy on Hillary Clinton

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said. “I think you’ll be rewarded mightily by our press!”

Washington Post: Trump allies, WikiLeaks and Russia are pushing a nonsensical conspiracy theory about the DNC hacks

Trump campaign surrogates are fueling a conspiracy theory that a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer was connected to the hacking of the DNC, a theory being pushed by WikiLeaks and the Russian state-controlled press.

BuzzFeed: Exclusive: How Ukraine Wooed Conservative Websites

Several conservative bloggers repeated talking points given to them by a proxy group for the Ukrainian government — and at least one writer was paid by a representative of the Ukrainian group, according to documents and emails obtained by BuzzFeed. The Ukrainian campaign began in the run-up to high-stakes Ukrainian parliamentary elections last year, and sought to convince skeptical American conservatives that the pro-Russian Party of Regions, led by President Viktor Yanukovych, deserved American support. During that period, articles echoing Ukrainian government talking points appeared on leading conservative online outlets, including RedState, Breitbart, and Pajamas Media. [emphasis added]

Some experts have gone as far as to say that Putin is explicitly using Trump to further his agenda.

Reuters: Senior ex-CIA official: Putin made Trump ‘an unwitting agent’ of Russia

A former top CIA official attacked Donald Trump on Friday as a danger to national security, saying President Vladimir Putin had made the Republican presidential candidate an “unwitting agent” of Russia. Putin had flattered Trump into supporting positions favorable to Russia, Michael Morell, a longtime CIA officer and former deputy director of the agency, said in an opinion piece in The New York Times. “In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation,” Morell said”

Politico: Is Putin playing Trump like he did Berlusconi?

[T]he Berlusconi-Putin bromance has acquired a new resonance, as foreign policy analysts and even some U.S. officials see unsettling echoes in the recent long-distance kinship between the Russian leader and Donald J. Trump. It may even suggest that Putin is applying a specific method to the GOP nominee. In recent years Putin has befriended several major Western European politicians, including former leaders of France and Germany, who openly challenge U.S. and European policies toward Russia, including NATO’s buildup in Eastern Europe and economic sanctions punishing Putin’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Even top Republicans have raised serious concerns about Trump’s relationship with Putin’s Russia.

New York Times: 50 G.O.P. Officials Warn Donald Trump Would Put Nation’s Security ‘at Risk’

Many of those signing it had declined to add their names to the letter released in March. But a number said in recent interviews that they changed their minds once they heard Mr. Trump invite Russia to hack Mrs. Clinton’s email server — a sarcastic remark, he said later — and say that he would check to see how much NATO members contributed to the alliance before sending forces to help stave off a Russian attack. They viewed Mr. Trump’s comments on NATO as an abandonment of America’s most significant alliance relationship. Mr. Trump has said throughout his campaign that he intends to upend Republican foreign policy orthodoxy on everything from trade to Russia, where he has been complimentary of President Vladimir V. Putin, saying nothing about its crackdown on human rights and little about its annexation of Crimea.

Washington Post: Republicans are among a new list of foreign policy experts denouncing Trump

Several Republicans are among a group of former cabinet officers, senior officials and career military officers who denounced Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Thursday, calling his recent remarks on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Russia “disgraceful.” The open letter, released first to The Washington Post, takes issue with Trump statements that appear to question the alliance, encourage Russia to hack and release Hillary Clinton’s deleted State Department emails, and seem to recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which the United States considers illegitimate.

Trump has praised Putin for a decade, and Putin has returned the favor.

Trump, 2007: “[Putin’s] doing a great job. In rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia period. Forget about image.”

Trump, 2011: “I often speak highly [of Putin] for his intelligence and no-nonsense way…. Putin has also announced his grand vision: the creation of a ‘Eurasian Union’ made up of former Soviet nations that can dominate the region. I respect Putin…”

Trump, 2013, on Putin’s NYT op-ed denouncing American exceptionalism: “I thought he did an amazing job…. He’s making him look like a — he’s the professor and the President is a school child… He really becomes with this letter, almost, the world leader”

Trump, 2013: “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow – if so, will he become my new best friend?”

Washington Post on Trump’s 2013 Miss Universe Contest in Moscow: “Putin canceled at the last minute, but he sent a decorative lacquered box, a traditional Russian gift, and a warm note”

Trump, 2014: “Putin has become a big hero in Russia with an all time high popularity.”

Trump, 2015: “In terms of leadership, [Putin’s] getting an ‘A,’ and our president is not doing so well.”

Putin, 2015 on Trump: “He’s a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt.”

Trump, 2016: “[Putin] called me a genius, I’m going to disavow it? Are you crazy? Can you believe it? How stupid are they.”

AP, 2016: Russia’s Putin Reaffirms Praise for Trump, Calling Him ‘Bright’

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News Source: The Washington Post