Coalition of the Confused

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Confused malcontents swilling Chardonnay while awaiting the Zombie Apocalypse.

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Russia and emails and probes, Oh My!   America - all of it

Started 10/24/17 by Jenifer (Zarknorph); 102418 views.
In reply toRe: msg 28
Jenifer (Zarknorph)

From: Jenifer (Zarknorph)

1/23/18

Robert Mueller seeks to grill US President in Russia collusion probe

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Investigators probing potential collusion between Russia and Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign are reportedly now seeking to question the US President.

Key points:

  • Mueller is looking into whether Trump has sought to obstruct the Russia investigation
  • Former FBI director Comey's sacking is likely one area of interest to Mueller's team
  • Sessions' participation in a March 2016 meeting of Trump's national security advisers could also be examined

Special counsel Robert Mueller's questioning would focus on the President's decisions to oust national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI director James Comey, according to a report in the Washington Post.

The Post reported that Mr Trump's legal team was negotiating on the form the President's testimony could take.

The paper said Mr Trump's lawyers could ask for him to be allowed to answer some questions in person and some in a written statement.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-24/jeff-sessions-questioned-in-robert-mueller-russia-probe/9355058

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I'm not surprised.  The last thing the Trump cabinet wants is Donald speaking for himself.

In reply toRe: msg 29
Jenifer (Zarknorph)

From: Jenifer (Zarknorph)

1/25/18

Donald Trump called for Robert Mueller's firing last year, then backed off

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US President Donald Trump ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller last June, but he backed off the order after a White House lawyer threatened to resign, The New York Times has reported.

Key points:

  • Mueller is leading the investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election
  • White House refused to deliver the order to the Justice Department
  • New York Times report cites four people familiar with the request by the President

The newspaper reported Mr Trump demanded Mr Mueller's firing just weeks after the special counsel was first appointed to investigate allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.

Lawyer Don McGahn said he would not deliver the order to the Justice Department, according to The Times, which cites four people familiar with the request by the President.

Mr Mueller learned of the incident in recent months as his investigators interviewed current and former senior White House officials in an inquiry into whether the President obstructed justice, the Times reported.

Amid media reports that Mr Mueller was looking into a possible obstruction case, Mr Trump argued at the time the special counsel could not be fair.

The President is reported to have said Mr Mueller could not be impartial because of a previous dispute over golf club fees that he said the special counsel owed at a Trump golf club.

Mr Trump also believed Mr Mueller he had a conflict of interest because he worked for the same law firm that was representing Mr Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner and also that he had been interviewed to return as the director of the FBI the day before he was appointed as special counsel.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-26/trump-ordered-robert-mueller-fired-in-june-201-nyt-reports/9365110

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Now the conflict of interest is one thing - but the golf fees?

Jenifer (Zarknorph)

From: Jenifer (Zarknorph)

2/16/18

You're right!  The FBI was busy finding Russians!

US indicts 13 Russian nationals, three companies in election meddling probe

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The US Justice Department has indicted three Russian companies and 13 individuals for attempting to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Key points:

  • Indictment alleges an effort between 2014 and 2016 to disparage Hillary Clinton and support Donald Trump
  • One of the Russian nationals named in the court document is Yevgeny Prigozhin, dubbed "Putin's chef" by Russian media
  • Donald Trump has been briefed on the indictment, the White House says

Between 2014 and 2016, there was a multi-pronged effort with the aim of supporting then-businessman Donald Trump and disparaging his rival Hillary Clinton, US special counsel Robert Mueller said in an indictment on Friday (local time).

The 37-page indictment described a conspiracy to disrupt the US election by people who adopted false online personas to push divisive messages, travelled to the US to collect intelligence, and staged political rallies while posing as Americans.

One of the companies, the St Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, "had a strategic goal to sow discord in the US political system, including the 2016 US presidential election," the indictment said.

"Defendants posted derogatory information about a number of candidates, and by early to mid-2016, Defendants' operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J Trump … and disparaging Hillary Clinton," the court document said.

Mr Trump, who has previously denounced Mr Mueller's probe into whether his campaign colluded with the Kremlin as a "witch hunt", said the indictment proved his campaign was in the clear.

"Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President," he wrote on Twitter.

"The results of the election were not impacted."

The indictment broadly echoed the conclusions of a January 2017 US intelligence community assessment, which found Russia had meddled in the election, and that its goals eventually included aiding Mr Trump, the Republican candidate who went on to a surprise victory over Democratic Party candidate Ms Clinton in November 2016.

"The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy. We must not allow them to succeed."

Facebook and Twitter both declined to comment on the indictment.

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In reply toRe: msg 31
Jenifer (Zarknorph)

From: Jenifer (Zarknorph)

2/16/18

'Putin's chef' among those indicted

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the allegations were absurd.

"Thirteen people interfered in the US elections?! Thirteen against an intelligence services budget of billions? Against intelligence and counterintelligence, against the latest developments and technologies? Absurd? Yes," Ms Zakharova wrote in a post on Facebook.

One of the individuals indicted, Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, said he was not upset, state news agency RIA reported.

"The Americans are very emotional people, they see what they want to see. I have great respect for them. I am not at all upset that I am on this list. If they want to see the devil, let them," RIA quoted Mr Prigozhin, a businessman with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as saying.

Mr Prigozhin, an entrepreneur from St Petersburg, has been dubbed "Putin's chef" by Russian media.

His restaurants and catering businesses have hosted the Kremlin leader's dinners with foreign dignitaries. In the more than 10 years since establishing a relationship with Mr Putin, his business has expanded to services for the military.

Mr Prigozhin's assets also include an oil trading firm that reportedly has been sending private Russian fighters to Syria.

Russia already targeting US midterm elections: US intelligence

The indictment appeared likely to provide ammunition to Democrats and others arguing for a continued aggressive probe of the matter.

The 2017 intelligence agency finding has spawned investigations into any ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Russia has denied interfering in the election, and Mr Trump has denied any collusion by his campaign.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday (local time) he had already seen evidence Russia was targeting US elections in November, when Republican control of the House of Representatives and Senate were at stake, plus a host of positions in state governments.

"Frankly, the United States is under attack," Mr Coats said at an annual hearing on worldwide threats.

Russia would try to interfere in the 2018 US midterm elections by using social media to spread propaganda and misleading reports, much as it did in the 2016 campaign, intelligence chiefs said at the hearing.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-17/russia-nationals-companies-indicted-in-us-election-probe/9457416

Anyone on Facebook?

In reply toRe: msg 32
Jenifer (Zarknorph)

From: Jenifer (Zarknorph)

2/17/18

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismisses FBI election meddling probe as 'blather'

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has described reports about Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election as "blather".

Key points:

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov tells a Munich security conference reports on meddling are "just blather"
  • US President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser, HR McMaster, says evidence is "now really incontrovertible"
  • Mr Trump has maintained the indictment proves his campaign was in the clear

Mr Lavrov's comments come just one day after the US Justice Department indicted three Russian companies and 13 individuals, accusing them of conspiring to interfere with "US political and electoral processes".

The Foreign Minister declined to comment on the new charges, telling the Munich Security Conference on Saturday (local time) that US Vice-President Mike Pence and others had raised questions about the investigation.

"You may publish anything you want to. So until we see the facts, everything else is just blather," Mr Lavrov said.

Russia's former ambassador to the United States has also dismissed the allegations as "fantasies" rooted in domestic politics.

"I'm not sure that I can trust American law enforcement to be the most precise and truthful source of information about what Russians do," former ambassador Sergei Kislyak said.

"I have never done anything of this sort. None in my embassy did. So whatever allegations are being mounted against us are simply fantasies that are being used for political reasons inside the United States in the fight between different sides of the political divide."

The surprise 37-page indictment could alter the divisive US domestic debate over Russia's meddling, undercutting some Republicans who, along with US President Donald Trump, have attacked Mr Mueller's investigation.

"These Russians engaged in a sinister and systematic attack on our political system. It was a conspiracy to subvert the process, and take aim at democracy itself," said Paul Ryan, Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The indictment described a conspiracy to disrupt the US election by people who adopted false online personas to push divisive messages, travelled to the US to collect intelligence, and staged political rallies while posing as Americans.

One of the companies, the St Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency,
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In reply toRe: msg 33
Jenifer (Zarknorph)

From: Jenifer (Zarknorph)

2/17/18

Okay... so what actually happened?

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A year before Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy, two Russian operatives landed in the United States to lay groundwork for an intelligence operation targeting the legitimacy of the 2016 election.

What began as a Cold War-like attack by a long-time adversary would mix old-fashioned political agitation with 21st century social media tools that ultimately roiled the election and shook America's political landscape.

To get up to speed:

  • The probe into interference in the 2016 US election began in July of that year with the FBI looking at links between Mr Trump's campaign and Russia
  • In May 2017, Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel to the investigation
  • Mr Mueller has US indicted three Russian companies and 13 nationals for attempting to influence the outcome of the election
  • In the indictment, the special counsel said there was an effort to support Mr Trump and to disparage his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton
  • Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein made the announcement and said the defendants conducted, what they themselves called, "information warfare against the United States"

The 37-page indictment described a conspiracy to disrupt the US election by people who adopted false online personas to push divisive messages.

It revealed that social media campaign relied on extensive intelligence work by operatives on US soil.

And we learned this all started earlier than commonly believed, first aiming to "sow discord" ahead of the 2016 election and later to boost Mr Trump's candidacy.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-17/russian-defendants-conduct-information-warfare-against-the-us/9457942

Continued...

In reply toRe: msg 34
Jenifer (Zarknorph)

From: Jenifer (Zarknorph)

2/17/18

Funding came from 'The Organisation'

The indictment does not specifically tie the influence operation to Russia's intelligence apparatus.

Instead, it points fingers at a group of operatives working for a unit called "The Organisation", financed to the tune of millions of dollars.

According to the indictment, that money came from by Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Yevgeny Prigozhin points his finger, his gaze his slightly past the camera

He's a St Petersburg businessman dubbed "Putin's chef" because his restaurants have catered dinners for the Kremlin leader and foreign dignitaries.

Operatives travelled through US as tourists

The scheme outlined in the indictment began with fraudulent visa applications for US travel.

Though some of the Russians were rejected, two operatives, Aleksandra Krylova and Anna Bogacheva, allegedly travelled as tourists through at least nine states over about two weeks in June 2014.

They had developed "evacuation scenarios" in case their cover was blown.

Another unindicted operative travelled to Georgia in November of that year.

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Continued...

In reply toRe: msg 35
Jenifer (Zarknorph)

From: Jenifer (Zarknorph)

2/17/18

Intelligence gathered in the US taken home to Russia

Prosecutors say the operatives were gathering intelligence used to evaluate political targets on social media.

The operation developed metrics on social media groups, measuring things like frequency of posting and audience engagement.

Later, back in Russia, some of the operatives posed as US citizens to contact political and social activists.

The indictment describes one interaction with someone at a "Texas-based grassroots organisation" who suggested they target closely contested purple states like Colorado, Virginia and Florida.

It was banal conventional wisdom, but afterwards, the Russian operatives began using the jargon in their own interactions, which US authorities somehow were able to access.

Preparations included buying space on US servers

The early groundwork set the table before the campaign was in full swing.

Social media accounts were established to lend credibility to their covert efforts.

The Russian-based operatives posed as US political activists from all corners.

Later, goals were set and enforced by the group's leadership: undermine Mrs Clinton while boosting her Democratic opponent in the primary, Bernie Sanders, as well as Mr Trump.

To obfuscate their efforts, the operatives, working in concert with the Internet Research Agency — a St Petersburg-based troll farm — purchased server space in the US.

Using virtual private networks they could conduct their social media interactions while appearing to be based in the US.

Continued...

In reply toRe: msg 36
Jenifer (Zarknorph)

From: Jenifer (Zarknorph)

2/17/18

Web of fake identities, bank and social media accounts

They also relied on identity theft, stealing and then using the social security numbers, home addresses and birthdates of real Americans without their knowledge, the indictment says.

The operatives set up bank accounts at a federally insured bank, set up accounts at PayPal using stolen identities and fake drivers' licences, and purchased fraudulent credit card and bank account numbers at as many as six US banks.

The operatives even received money from real Americans who wanted to use the Russian-backed social media pages for their own promotions, the indictment says.

The false identities and accounts aided the covert purchase of internet advertising, circumventing laws to prevent foreign influence in US politics.

That groundwork also helped to stage political rallies.

While posing as American political activists, the operatives paid people in the US to promote or disparage candidates.

Once Trump was nominated, the Russians scaled up

Starting in June 2016, just weeks after Mr Trump had officially clinched the Republican nomination, the Russians upped the ante on their clandestine work.

They began to organise and coordinate pro-Trump political rallies.

To build interest, the Russians promoted the events using their "false US persona social media accounts", contacting unwitting American administrators of large social media groups focusing on US political issues.

Using fake pro-Trump Facebook and Twitter accounts, the Russians touted two political rallies in New York, one slated for June 25, 2016, and a second for July 23.

The Russians soon grew bold enough to enlist unwitting Americans in their efforts.

One was asked to build a cage on a flatbed truck, while a second American was asked to wear a costume portraying Mrs Clinton in a prison uniform.

The Russians, the indictment notes, "paid these individuals to complete the requests".

On June 5, someone posing as an American activist used the Twitter account @March_for_Trump to contact an unnamed Trump campaign volunteer in New York.

The Trump volunteer "agreed to provide signs for the March for Trump rally", the indictment alleges.

That internet contact came four days before senior Trump campaign officials, including Mr Trump's son, Donald Junior, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met in person with a group of representatives for Russian interests at Trump Tower.

The Trump Tower meeting — separately being investigated by the special counsel — is not cited in the indictment and is not known to have any connection with the allegations detailed in it.

Continued

In reply toRe: msg 37
Jenifer (Zarknorph)

From: Jenifer (Zarknorph)

2/17/18

Russian operatives targeted Florida — a key swing state

By August, the Russian group had moved its sights to Florida, a key swing state, again using false IDs to contact Trump campaign staff involved in Florida activities.

The Russians used Facebook and Instagram to promote a series of "Florida Goes Trump" rallies on August 20.

Using a false persona known as "Matt Skiber", the Russians messaged Florida-based Trump supporters.

"Hi there!" the fake Skiber allegedly wrote. "I'm a member of Being Patriotic online community. Listen, we've got an idea."

Skiber suggested "organising a YUGE pro-Trump flash mob" in every Florida town.

"We've got the folks who are OK to be in charge of organising the events almost everywhere in FL. However, we still need your support. What do you think about that? Are you in?"

Trump won the election in Florida by just under 120,000 votes out of more than 9 million cast.

The operation also targeted minority communities to exploit racial fissures and suppress Democratic votes.

On October 16, 2016 — three weeks before the US election — the Russian-controlled Instagram account "Woke Blacks" encouraged followers not to go to the polls, saying hatred of Mr Trump was "forcing" black people to vote for "Killary".

The account said: "We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we'd surely be better off without voting AT ALL."

Indictment alleges meddling continued after Trump won

Even after Mr Trump won the presidency, the Russians continued to fuel his popularity with ersatz rallies, while at the same time using their false identifies to provoke anti-Trump rallies.

One anti-Trump rally was held four days after the election in New York. It was called "Trump is NOT my President".

A week later another protest was held in Charlotte, North Carolina and was described as "Charlotte Against Trump".

As reports of Russian influence began to surface in the US media, the operatives noticed.

In September, Facebook said it had found evidence of Russians buying ads on its platform.

Prosecutors cited an email by Irina Viktorovna Kaverzina to a family member on September 13 that said: "We had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity [not a joke]."

"So I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with colleagues."

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-17/russian-defendants-conduct-information-warfare-against-the
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