16 February 2017

Donald Trump’s Russia Scandal Is Just Getting Started & These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia & US investigators corroborate some aspects of the Russia dossier 14FEB17, 10JAN17 & 10FEB17

michael flynn's resignation as from the drumpf/trump-pence administration is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot more to this scandal, if there wasn't there wouldn't be so much intrigue involving putin, the fsb, Russian state controlled media, the US Congress, the American intelligence community, drumpf/trump, the White House and the Deep State. Here is a fascinating report from +Foreign Policy , +BuzzFeed News and +CNN  .....

Donald Trump’s Russia Scandal Is Just Getting Started

 The White House says Mike Flynn was going rogue, but there’s no good reason to believe that.
Donald Trump’s administration has now completed its first full personal scandal cycle. It began with the revelation of Mike Flynn’s discussions with the Russian ambassador to the United States and the subsequent claims that Vice President Mike Pence’s defense of Flynn stemmed from false information provided by the then-national security advisor, followed on Monday night by Flynn’s resignation. Since Flynn’s story has a neat beginning, middle, and end, it’s tempting to treat the underlying scandal as essentially complete and to begin focusing on the avalanche of other controversies spilling out from the Trump White House.
That would be a grave mistake. The Trump-Russia file, which concerns fundamental questions of national security, is far more deserving of close scrutiny by Congress, the media, law enforcement, and the public than any of the White House’s many other alleged misdeeds. And the Flynn phone calls are only the beginning, not the end, of the scandal in question.
When news first emerged last month that Flynn spoke to Ambassador Sergei Kislyak during the transition, he and other White House officials — notably Vice President Pence — insisted that the talks did not include any discussion of sanctions. Now Flynn has all but declared that he lied to Pence, assuming sole responsibility for both the possible illegal conversations and the lies the administration proffered to the American public. But why should we believe that version of events when this White House has given us so many reasons for doubt? It is just as reasonable to believe that Flynn, rather than freelancing during the phone calls, was acting with approval, in accordance with the Trump team’s Russia policy.
And that raises the question of what motivates Trump’s Russia policy in the first place. The famed dossier compiled by former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele, alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin cultivated Trump over several years as part of a plan to subvert the West, contained some errors, but U.S. officials have told CNN that they have corroborated some of its information. Trump and Putin have dismissed the dossier’s allegations, but Trump was vehement during the campaign about the need to transform relations with Putin’s regime and perhaps lift all sanctions against Russia.
The most important question the dossier raises is whether Trump colluded with Russia in its interference in the U.S. presidential election. That is crucial not just because it might constitute treason, but because if it did occur, that alone would amount to kompromat. Forget the prostitutes. If Trump and the Kremlin worked together, that fact alone gives Putin something with which to pressure Trump to act in Russia’s interest.
Even if there was no direct collusion between Trump and Russia, his aides may have made arrangements without his knowledge. The dossier claims that a representative from Trump’s presidential campaign, Carter Page, met last July with Igor Sechin, head of the Russian oil monopoly Rosneft and a senior Kremlin official. Sechin reportedly offered brokerage on a 19 percent stake in Rosneft in exchange for lifting sanctions, and Page was “non-committal in response.”
Page runs an investment firm specializing in oil and gas deals in Russia and nearby countries and has a track record of defending Putin and criticizing U.S. policy on Russia. The Trump campaign eventually cut ties with Page, but Trump had earlier named him as one of five foreign-policy advisors he consulted with.
At about the same time, Trump chose Paul Manafort, a man with close ties to powerful people in Russia, to lead his operations during the summer’s Republican National Convention and later to lead the campaign. Manafort, who has been accused of (and denies) receiving $12 million in cash payments from the deposed Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych — a close Moscow ally — played a key role in the purging of the Republican Party platform of criticism of Russia and support for Ukrainian independence.
At the time when the dossier alleges the “secret meeting” between Page and Sechin occurred, Page is known to have been in Russia for a speaking engagement. (In fairness, even if the meeting between Sechin and Page did occur, there is no guarantee that Trump was aware of it.) Page was also in Moscow five months later on Dec. 7, one month after Trump’s electoral victory, when Putin and Sechin announced on Russia’s national television that the country had sold to foreign investors 19.5 percent of Rosneft, almost exactly the portion cited by the dossier.
Putin and Sechin said the stake in Rosneft was acquired by a joint venture of Qatar and Switzerland’s Glencore. But Glencore said it was acquiring an “indirect equity interest” amounting to just 0.54 percent of Rosneft. And when Reuters set out to confirm the identity of the purchasers, it found a Singapore-registered entity holding the 19.5 percent stake, with the entity’s ownership a tangle of shell companies whose real proprietors it could not ascertain.
According to the dossier, Steele heard of the Page-Sechin meeting from a “source close to Rosneft president.” That source, Russia watchers speculated, was possibly a man well-known in intelligence circles, a former general at the KGB and its successor agency, the FSB, named Oleg Erovinkin.
Erovinkin turned up dead in late December. He had been personally named by Putin to become Rosneft’s chief of staff. Sechin, too, a former deputy prime minister, was handpicked by Putin.
When Erovinkin was found dead in the back seat of his Lexus on Dec. 26, at least one Russian news site suggested foul play with the headline “Sechin chief of staff killed in central Moscow.” State media declared that the government was conducting a large-scale investigation. But Rosneft later announced that Erovinkin had heart trouble.
Before Erovinkin’s death, in early December, Russian media buzzed with details of a purge inside the cyber-operations branch of the FSB, with several officers detained and charged with treason. At least four people have been arrested; among them are Sergei Mikhailov, head of the FSB’s Information Security Center, and his deputy. CNN confirmed the arrests, and a lawyer for one of the men said his client is charged with providing “several special services to the United States.”
The Kremlin, it appears, wanted the world to know about the arrests. Russian media described the “theatrical” detention of Mikhailov, who was reportedly attending a gathering of intelligence officers when he was carried away with a bag over his head.
The drama was likely meant to send a message - but to whom? Speculation in Russia is that the arrests are connected to the hacking of the U.S. election and possibly with confirming the operation to the CIA. By letting word of the arrests spread, the Kremlin may have been issuing a warning to its own agents. But if the Trump team did, in fact, work with the Kremlin, one can only imagine what a trial could bring to light and what the consequences might be for Trump.
During the campaign, Trump publicly called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails. Since becoming president, his statements on Russia have ranged from traditional to shocking. His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, condemned Russia and insisted sanctions imposed over the seizure of Crimea are here to stay. But when Trump was asked about Putin being a “killer,” he suggested the U.S. government has no moral standing to criticize him.
As long as doubts about the possible collusion of Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin continue, and as long as Trump refuses to release his taxes and relieve doubts about financial connections, it will be difficult for him to act on any of his promises to transform policy toward Russia.
The Trump administration no doubt hopes that by firing Flynn, it can signal he was acting alone, that he “went rogue.” But without a credible, thorough investigation into what transpired before the election, it is impossible to know if Flynn was following the administration’s playbook and whether Trump or his administration is guilty of something much more serious.

These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties To Russia

A dossier, compiled by a person who has claimed to be a former British intelligence official, alleges Russia has compromising information on Trump. The allegations are unverified, and the report contains errors.
A dossier making explosive — but unverified — allegations that the Russian government has been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” President-elect Donald Trump for years and gained compromising information about him has been circulating among elected officials, intelligence agents, and journalists for weeks.
The dossier, which is a collection of memos written over a period of months, includes specific, unverified, and potentially unverifiable allegations of contact between Trump aides and Russian operatives, and graphic claims of sexual acts documented by the Russians. BuzzFeed News reporters in the US and Europe have been investigating various alleged facts in the dossier but have not verified or falsified them. CNN reported Tuesday that a two-page synopsis of the report was given to President Obama and Trump.
Now BuzzFeed News is publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government.
The document was prepared for political opponents of Trump by a person who is understood to be a former British intelligence agent. It is not just unconfirmed: It includes some clear errors. The report misspells the name of one company, “Alpha Group,” throughout. It is Alfa Group. The report says the settlement of Barvikha, outside Moscow, is “reserved for the residences of the top leadership and their close associates.” It is not reserved for anyone, and it is also populated by the very wealthy.
The Trump administration’s transition team did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment. However, the president-elect’s attorney, Michael Cohen, told Mic that the allegations were absolutely false.
“It’s so ridiculous on so many levels,” he said. “Clearly, the person who created this did so from their imagination or did so hoping that the liberal media would run with this fake story for whatever rationale they might have.”
And Trump shot back against the reports a short time later on Twitter.
His former campaign manager and current senior White House adviser, Kellyanne Conway, also denied the claims during an appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers, adding that “nothing has been confirmed.” She also said Trump was “not aware” of any briefing on the matter.
The documents have circulated for months and acquired a kind of legendary status among journalists, lawmakers, and intelligence officials who have seen them. Mother Jones writer David Corn referred to the documents in a late October column.
Harry Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson tweeted Tuesday that the former Senate Democratic leader had seen the documents before writing a public letter to FBI Director James Comey about Trump’s ties to Russia. And CNN reported Tuesday that Arizona Republican John McCain gave a “full copy” of the memos to Comey on Dec. 9, but that the FBI already had copies of many of the memos.

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Read the report here:

Ken Bensinger is an investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. His secure PGP fingerprint is 97CC 6E32 10A2 23FE 4E84 98B4 9CFF 4214 9D26 8AA7
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Miriam Elder is the world editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 5B5F EC17 C20B C11F 226D 3EBE 6205 F92F AC14 DCB1
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Pulitzer-prize winner Mark Schoofs is the investigations and projects editor for BuzzFeed News. While working at The Village Voice, Schoofs won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his series on AIDS in Africa.
Contact Mark Schoofs at