Stars and Stripes: Russian media: NATO jet approached plane carrying defense minister Shoigu

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1. News in Photos from mikenova (4 sites)
WSJ.com: World News: Queen Lays Out U.K.’s Brexit, Counterterrorism Plans in Low-Key Speech

Britains Queen Elizabeth II laid out the Conservative governments legislative agenda, in a speech that confirmed Britains negotiating aim in Brexit talks and set out the governments intention to come up with a new counterterrorism strategy.

WSJ.com: World News

 

Saved Stories – None
Stars and Stripes: Russian media: NATO jet approached plane carrying defense minister Shoigu
fbi – Google News: FBI: Congressional baseball practice shooter acted alone – New York Post
National Security: Homeland Security official: Russian government actors potentially tried to hack election systems in 21 states
Stars and Stripes: USS Dewey wont participate in trilateral exercises with S. Korea, Japan
RSS for National Security: A look at special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of lawyers
us national security – Google News: Chelsea Manning’s leaks did not damage US national security, says government report – The Independent
DEBKAFile: Russia’s deputy FM scraps meeting with senior US diplomat
fbi – Google News: Jeh Johnson says he was unaware of FBI Russia probe – PBS NewsHour
Washington Free Beacon: Obama Admins DHS Sec Cant Explain Why DNC Didnt Give Hacked Servers to Law Enforcement
Stars and Stripes: Sweden summons Russia after Baltic Sea air incident
Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: Watch Today’s Senate and House Intelligence Hearings on Russian Interference in U.S. Election
Just Security: The Early Edition: June 21, 2017
Russia: NATO Fighter Jets Buzz Plane Carrying Russias Defense Minister
Trump, Putin, the Mob, and the Terror – Google News: Trump, Russia and a Shadowy Business Partnership – Bloomberg
donald trump racketeering – Google News: Trump, Russia and a Shadowy Business Partnership – Bloomberg
Comey – Google News: After Comey Drama, Russia Hearings Expected To Focus Back On Russia – NPR
trump russia treason – Google News: Trump-Russia Probe: Anatomy of a Witch Hunt – Fox News
Putin Trump – Google News: Kremlin says ‘nothing scheduled yet’ for Putin-Trump meeting during G20 summit – TASS
trump and intelligence community – Google News: Trump’s Uneasy Relationship with US Intel Looms Large with Russia Issue in Focus – Voice of America
Putin and the Mob – Google News: AP News in Brief at 6:04 am EDT – Washington Post
2016 elections and mental health – Google News: In Trump era, mental health experts are rethinking Goldwater Rule – MyAJC
Russian Intelligence services – Google News: Soviet spymaster Yuri Drozdov dies at 91 – Atlanta Journal Constitution
Donald Trump – Google News: President Trump Expected to Reveal This Week If Secret Comey Tapes Exist – Fortune
Russian Intelligence services – Google News: Legendary Soviet spymaster passes away at 91 – TASS
putin won US 2016 election – Google News: Putin: US Routinely Meddles in Russian and Other Nations’ Elections – Center for Research on Globalization

 

Saved Stories – None
Stars and Stripes: Russian media: NATO jet approached plane carrying defense minister Shoigu

A NATO F-16 fighter approached and was then warned away from a jet carrying Russia’s defense minister, Russian media have reported, the latest in a string of aerial incidents that have marked rising tensions between the West and Russia.

Stars and Stripes

fbi – Google News: FBI: Congressional baseball practice shooter acted alone – New York Post

FBI: Congressional baseball practice shooter acted alone
New York Post
James Hodgkinson acted alone and there was no nexus to terrorism, Andrew Valle, assistant director in charge of the FBIWashington Field Office, said on Wednesday. The FBI is investigating this shooting as an assault on a member of Congress and an …

fbi – Google News

National Security: Homeland Security official: Russian government actors potentially tried to hack election systems in 21 states

Most of the hacking was just scanning for vulnerabilities, though a few were successfully exploited.

National Security

Stars and Stripes: USS Dewey wont participate in trilateral exercises with S. Korea, Japan

The guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey has left a South Korean island after making a port visit to complete required maintenance and wont participate in upcoming joint war games, a Navy spokesman said Wednesday.

Stars and Stripes

RSS for National Security: A look at special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of lawyers

The team of attorneys investigating potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign is still growing, but its early composition reveals a breadth of experience in criminal law _ and in following the money

RSS for National Security

us national security – Google News: Chelsea Manning’s leaks did not damage US national security, says government report – The Independent


The Independent
Chelsea Manning’s leaks did not damage US national security, says government report
The Independent
In 2010 Wikileaks published classified documents provided by US solider Chelsea Manning that were said to be damaging tonational security, but a newly-public report claims otherwise despite assessments about danger to civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq.

and more »

us national security – Google News

DEBKAFile: Russia’s deputy FM scraps meeting with senior US diplomat

June 21, 2017, 6:29 PM (IDT)Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabakov announced Wednesday he had called off a meeting with a senior US State Department official this week, saying the current situation between the two countries is “not conducive” for the dialogue. The cancellation was the latest sign of rising tensions between the two countries in recent months over Syria, Russian intervention in Ukraine and Moscow’s alleged meddling in the US presidential election. Ryabakov had been scheduled to meet Friday with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon in Saint Petersburg.

DEBKAFile

fbi – Google News: Jeh Johnson says he was unaware of FBI Russia probe – PBS NewsHour


PBS NewsHour
Jeh Johnson says he was unaware of FBI Russia probe
PBS NewsHour
WASHINGTON Jeh Johnson, the former Homeland Security chief, says he wasn’t aware that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. The top Democrat on the House …

fbi – Google News

Washington Free Beacon: Obama Admins DHS Sec Cant Explain Why DNC Didnt Give Hacked Servers to Law Enforcement

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said that he couldn’t explain why the Democratic National Committee (DNC) didn’t turn over its hacked servers to law enforcement.

Johnson, who headed the Department of Homeland Security in the second half of the Obama administration, was testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday about Russia’s role in the 2016 election.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) asked Johnson about the DNC not giving the server to authorities for the investigation.

“Twice now you have said that you could have camped out in front of the DNC and I would say in defense of you, it wouldn’t have made any difference if you had, because they weren’t going to give you the server,” Gowdy said. “So if you’re investigating either from the law enforcement or from an intelligence standpoint, the hacking by foreign hostile government, wouldn’t you want the server?”

“Wouldn’t that help you, number one, identify who the attacker was and if memory serves me, this was early in the summer of 2016 when we learned of the DNC hack, so if they had turned the server over to either you or [former FBI] Director [James] Comey, maybe we would have known more and maybe there would have been more for you to report?” Gowdy asked. “So I guess what I’m asking you is, why would the victim of a crime not turn over a server to the intelligence community or to law enforcement?”

“I’m not going to argue with you, Sir,” Johnson answered.

Johnson went on to say with a laugh that Gowdy’s question was “leading,” although earlier in the hearing Gowdy had told Johnson to tell him if any of his questions accidentally sounded as though they were.

The post Obama Admin’s DHS Sec Can’t Explain Why DNC Didn’t Give Hacked Servers to Law Enforcement appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

Washington Free Beacon

Stars and Stripes: Sweden summons Russia after Baltic Sea air incident

Sweden on Wednesday summoned Russia’s ambassador in the country after a Russian fighter jet flew close to a Swedish reconnaissance aircraft in international airspace over the Baltic Sea.

Stars and Stripes

Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices: Watch Today’s Senate and House Intelligence Hearings on Russian Interference in U.S. Election

This morning the House and Senate Intelligence Committees will hold overlapping hearings on Russian interference in our election, with a focus on threats and activities affecting our election infrastructure.

At 9:30 a.m. the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is scheduled to question two panels of experts on the subject of state and local election systems hacks. You can watch the Senate hearing live on C-SPAN. Witnesses on the first panel are Dr. Samuel Liles (DHS Acting Director of Cyber Division, Office of Intelligence and Analysis); Jeanette Manfra (DHS Acting Director of Undersecretary, National Protection and Programs Directorate); and Bill Priestap (FBI Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Division). The second panel will feature Michael Haas (Midwest Regional Representative of the National Association of State Election Directors); Dr. J. Alex Halderman (Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Michigan); Connie Lawson (President-Elect of National Association of Secretaries of State and the Secretary of State of Indiana); and Steve Sandvoss (Executive Director of the Illinois State Board of Elections). Also see here for ranking member Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA)’s letter yesterday to current DHS Secretary John Kelly urging him to disclose fuller information on foreign attempts to hack into our election systems.

At 10 a.m. former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson will be testifying before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on what DHS knew about Russian cyberattack on election infrastructure in the lead-up to the election. The livestream is available here and below, and you can read Johnson’s prepared statement in full.

Lawfare – Hard National Security Choices

Just Security: The Early Edition: June 21, 2017

Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Heres todays news.

SYRIA

A U.S. warplane shot down an Iranian-made armed drone after it approached U.S.-led coalition soldiers in southern Syria yesterday, the third occasion in two weeks on which the U.S. has brought down a pro-Assad regime aircraft seen as a threat to coalition and rebel fighters, Dion Nissenbaum, Ben Kesling and Maria Abi-Habib report at the Wall Street Journal.

The downing of the drone merely helps those terrorists whom the United States fights, the Russian deputy foreign minister said yesterday, though behind the heated remarks there were signs that the U.S. and Russian militaries were working together to manage the situation, writes Michael R. Gordon at the New York Times.

Russia has requested a detailed explanation of why the U.S. shot down a Syrian warplane Monday,Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last night, the AP reporting.

Australia will soon resume airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria following the suspension of operations in response to the shooting down of a Syrian warplane by the U.S. earlier this week, Australias defense chief confirmed today, the AP reporting.

Iran has set up a drone base close to a U.S. military base near Palmyra in Syria which could be the source of the drone that was shot down by the U.S. yesterday, U.S. defense officials told NBC NewsCourtney Kube.

America will have to do more to counter Irans actions in Syria before it an demolish the Islamic State there, including Irans use of proxy militias to challenge U.S. efforts to train local forces in southeastern Syria, writes Dennis Ross at POLITICO MAGAZINE.

The race to capture territory vacated by the Islamic State in eastern Syria is raising the risk of confrontation between the U.S., Iran and Russia, a risk that is already materialising, Rebecca Collard, Erika Solomon, Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Katrina Manson examining the signs at the Financial Times.

The ongoing surge of U.S. military operations and arms sales across the Middle East by President Trump is happening without an engaged public discussion about the risks or about diplomacy or other tools needed to protect the U.S., the downing of a Syrian warplane on Sunday and last months strike against a pro-Assad regime militia just the latest episodes in an escalation that lacks well-defined goals and strategy understood by the American public, write former Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta and Brian Katulis at the Washington Post.

The KOREAN PENINSULA

China has failed to convince North Korea to halt its nuclear and missile programs, President Trump declared via Twitter yesterday – an extraordinarily cavalier statement given his formerly ardent efforts to obtain the cooperation of Beijing in dealing with Pyongyang, observe Mark Landler and Gardiner Harris at the New York Times.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is willing to collaborate with the U.S. in putting maximum pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear program, but believes it is also important to send a message to Pyongyang that if it decides to denuclearize and to come to the negotiating table, then we are willing to assist them, he told the Washington Posts Lally Weymouth ahead of his first visit to the White House next week.

Discussions on taking on a potential role as broker for negotiations with North Korea are being discussed by the European Union with South Korea and China, E.U. officials said, Jeremy Page and Laurence Norman reporting at the Wall Street Journal.

Activity at an underground site in North Korea used to test nuclear weapons has been detected by U.S. satellites, U.S. officials concerned that North Korea could initiate a test during a visit by Chinese officials to Washington today, CNNs Barbara Starr, Elise Labott and Zachary Cohen report.

The U.S. is weighing up a ban on travel to North Korea following the death of 22-year-old Otto Warmbier shortly after his return to America from North Korea where he had been imprisoned for the past 17 months, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly having been considering the move since late April when American teacher Tony Kim was detained in Pyongtang, the APs Josh Lederman reports.

Japan will test its missile interceptor capability tomorrow in the wake of several recent missile tests by North Korea, according to Japanese media, Ellen Mitchell reporting at the Hill.

Is war with North Korea the next step? President Trump has begun the U.S. final campaign to disarm North Korea, but will it involve going after Chinese banks, or war with Kim Jong-un? Gordon G. Chang writes at The Daily Beast.

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn was present while C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo briefed President Trump on sensitive intelligence nearly every day for three weeks in January despite senior officials across the government being convinced that he had become vulnerable to Russian blackmail, Matt Apuzzo, Matthew Rosenberg and Adam Goldman writes at the New York Times.

To my current knowledge, the Russian government did not through any cyber intrusion alter ballots in last years presidential election, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson intends to say in his prepared statement before the House Intelligence Committee today, the Hills Joe Uchill reports.

Officials at the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. will be grilled on what can be done to thwart potential threats to future elections by the Senate Intelligence Committee today as part of its investigation into Russian interference in last years presidential election, the Hills Morgan Chalfant reports.

Special counsel Robert Mueller and House Intelligence Committee members had a productive meeting yesterday to deconflict their respective Russia investigations, committee ranking member Rep Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) said in a statement following the meeting. Rebecca Savransky reports at the Hill.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has not spoken to President Trump about whether or not he accepts that Russia tried to interfere with last years presidential election as has been concluded by the U.S. intelligence community, he told reporters yesterday, Madeline Conway reporting at POLITICO.

President Trumps unpredictable actions are to blame for slowing down the Senate Intelligence Committees investigation into possible Trump-Russia collusion, the vice chairman of the committee Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said yesterday, referring to the firing of former F.B.I. director James Comey and the spreading of rumors that Trump might fire special counsel Robert Mueller. Max Greenwood reports at the Hill.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has retained the services of a Washington lawyer Charles J. Cooper who was sitting behind him as Sessions testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of its Trump-Russia investigation last week, Sari Horwitz reports at the Washington Post.

GULF-ARAB DISPUTE

We are mystified that the Gulf states have not released to the public nor to Qatar the details about the claims they are making toward Qatar. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert released a blistering critique of Saudi Arabia and its allies enforcing a two-week embargo against Qatar yesterday in a statement that seems to put Secretary of State Rex Tillerson further at odds with President Trump over who is to blame for the dispute, writes Gardiner Harris at the New York Times.

Saudi Arabias King Salmans decision to elevate his son Prince Mohammed bin Salman to become crown prince in place of his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef today comes at a time when the Kindom is heading a bloc of Arab nations that has launched a campaign to isolate Qatar and almost certainly means the continuation of a more assertive Saudi foreign policy and a strong alliance with the U.A.E. in pursuing those policies, write Sudarsan Raghavan and Kareem Fahim at the Washington Post.

ISRAEL and PALESTINE

White House adviser Jared Kushner will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank today as he embarks on a renewed U.S. effort to revive Middle East peace negotiations, Luke Baker reports at Reuters.

Doomed to fail? Josef Federman at the AP takes a look at what lies ahead for White House adviser Jared Kushner, in Israel in the ambitious hope of laying the ground work for a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians today.

IRAQ

The Iraqi army has completely encircled the Islamic State in Mosuls Old City, it said yesterday, Al Jazeera reports.

Small, readymade drones are being used by Iraqi forces to target Islamic State fighters in the crowded streets of Mosuls Old City where the militants are making a last stand, Ben Kesling reports at the Wall Street Journal.

US-led airstrikes continue. US and coalition forces carried out eight airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on June 19. Separately, partner forces conducted seven strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

RUSSIA

A plane escorting Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was buzzed by a N.A.T.O. fighter jet as it flew over the Baltic Sea, which was seen off by a Russian military jet, Russian media reported today. Reuters reports.

An American reconnaissance plane was buzzed by a Russian jet over the Baltic Sea Monday, U.S. defense officials said, an encounter that comes amid rising tensions between Russia, the U.S. and the Assad regime in Syria, Gordon Lubold and Julian E. Barnes report at the Wall Street Journal.

Sanctions on over three dozen additional Russian individuals and organizations that took part in the countrys incursion in Ukraine were announced by the Treasury Department yesterday, the same day that the president hosted his Ukrainian counterpart at the White House to discuss a peaceful resolution to the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Alan Rappeport and Neil MacFarquhar report at the New York Times.

The new sanctions against Russia dont help to improve the climate and reflect the Russo-phobic obsession of our American colleagues, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday, the APreporting.

A bill to increase sanctions against Russia and take greater control over Russia policy from the White House hit a snag in the House of Representatives yesterday after passing in the Senate last week, Natalie Andrews reports at the Wall Street Journal.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko used his brief meeting with President Trump yesterday to push for more U.S. pressure on Russia in response to its support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, Alan Cullison reports at the Wall Street Journal.

U.S. retreat from the world creates great risks, including on the issue of international conflicts, the U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said yesterday at a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York, warning that if America leaves a space it will be “occupied by others. Somini Sengupta reports at the New York Times.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Senate Armed Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) threatened to withhold his nomination from a vote during President Trumps pick for Pentagon No. 2 Patrick M. Shanahans confirmation hearing yesterday, during which Shanahan faced questioning from other lawmakers on how he will overcome his lack of experience in the Defense Department and manage day-to-day operations at the Pentagon while recusing himself from all decisions with a tie to Boeing, where he is a vice president, Dan Lamothe reports at the Washington Post.

Documents leaked by Army soldier Cheslea Manning in 2010 had no strategic impact on the U.S. war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a newly-released Pentagon analysis, Ed Pilkington reporting at the Guardian.

Islamic State-linked rebels withdrew from the southern Philippine village of Malagakit around 50 miles south of Marawi, where government forces have been battling insurgents for over a month, today after storming the village at dawn and engaging government forces, the AP reports.

A man suspected of setting off an explosion in Brussels Central Station was shot dead last night, with no other casualties reported in what is being treated as a terrorist attack. Valentina Pop, Julian E. Barnes and Natalia Dozdiak report at the Wall Street Journal.

F.A.R.C. rebels began the final handover of individual weapons as part of Colombias peace agreementyesterday, the AP reports.

Agreement on a U.N. resolution welcoming the deployment of a 5,000-strong force made up of soldiers from five countries in Africas Sahel region to fight the growing threat posed by extremists was reached between the U.S. and France, they said yesterday, Edith M. Lederer reporting at the AP.

Read on Just Security »

Just Security

Russia: NATO Fighter Jets Buzz Plane Carrying Russias Defense Minister

The face-off over the Baltic Sea was the latest aerial encounter between Moscow and the West at a time of heightened tensions.

Russia

Trump, Putin, the Mob, and the Terror – Google News: Trump, Russia and a Shadowy Business Partnership – Bloomberg


Bloomberg
Trump, Russia and a Shadowy Business Partnership
Bloomberg
Before linking up with the company and with Trump, he had worked as a mob informant for the U.S. government, fled to Moscow to avoid criminal charges while boasting of his KGB and Kremlin contacts there, and had gone to prison for slashing apart

and more »

Trump, Putin, the Mob, and the Terror – Google News

donald trump racketeering – Google News: Trump, Russia and a Shadowy Business Partnership – Bloomberg


Bloomberg
Trump, Russia and a Shadowy Business Partnership
Bloomberg
Robert Mueller is examining whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice when he fired James Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Washington Post recently reported. … But Kriss’s assertion that Bayrock was a criminal

and more »

donald trump racketeering – Google News

Comey – Google News: After Comey Drama, Russia Hearings Expected To Focus Back On Russia – NPR

After Comey Drama, Russia Hearings Expected To Focus Back On Russia
NPR
The Senate and House intelligence committees plan to convene dueling hearings Wednesday, on Russia and the 2016 election. Facebook; Twitter. Google+. Email. Get The Stories That Grabbed Us This Week. Delivered to your inbox every Sunday, these …

Comey – Google News

trump russia treason – Google News: Trump-Russia Probe: Anatomy of a Witch Hunt – Fox News


Fox News
Trump-Russia Probe: Anatomy of a Witch Hunt
Fox News
Which brings us to today’s question: How did it become widely believed in the first half of 2017 that a U.S. president committedtreason with Russia? Consider what has passed for proof in the media. Tens of thousands of Americans have done business

trump russia treason – Google News

Putin Trump – Google News: Kremlin says ‘nothing scheduled yet’ for Putin-Trump meeting during G20 summit – TASS

Kremlin says ‘nothing scheduled yet’ for Putin-Trump meeting during G20 summit
TASS
MOSCOW, June 20. /TASS/. There are no preparations for the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump, as this separate meeting during the G20 summit in Hamburg in July has not been agreed upon yet, Kremlin …

and more »

Putin Trump – Google News

trump and intelligence community – Google News: Trump’s Uneasy Relationship with US Intel Looms Large with Russia Issue in Focus – Voice of America


Voice of America
Trump’s Uneasy Relationship with US Intel Looms Large with Russia Issue in Focus
Voice of America
Trump’s relationship with the intelligence community has been fragile from the start as he continually downplayed or dismissed intelligence asserting that Russia waged an unprecedented “influence campaign” to help swing the election in his favor.
Michael Flynn heard US secrets from CIA chief despite concerns about FlynnCBS News

all 10 news articles »

trump and intelligence community – Google News

Putin and the Mob – Google News: AP News in Brief at 6:04 am EDT – Washington Post


Washington Post
AP News in Brief at 6:04 am EDT
Washington Post
WASHINGTON Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says the Russian government at President Vladimir Putin’sdirection clearly conducted cyberattacks on the United States to influence the presidential election, but the assault did not change

and more »

Putin and the Mob – Google News

2016 elections and mental health – Google News: In Trump era, mental health experts are rethinking Goldwater Rule – MyAJC


MyAJC
In Trump era, mental health experts are rethinking Goldwater Rule
MyAJC
Then came the 2016 presidential election. As Trump and his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, battled in a vitriolic campaign, some members of the American Psychiatric Association broke the rule and voiced concerns about what they described as Trump’s …

and more »

2016 elections and mental health – Google News

Russian Intelligence services – Google News: Soviet spymaster Yuri Drozdov dies at 91 – Atlanta Journal Constitution

Soviet spymaster Yuri Drozdov dies at 91
Atlanta Journal Constitution
The Foreign Intelligence Service, a KGB successor agency known under its Russian acronym SVR, said Drozdov died Wednesday. It didn’t give the cause of his death or any other specifics. In 1979, Drozdov came to head a KGB department overseeing a …

and more »

Russian Intelligence services – Google News

Donald Trump – Google News: President Trump Expected to Reveal This Week If Secret Comey Tapes Exist – Fortune


Fortune
President Trump Expected to Reveal This Week If Secret Comey Tapes Exist
Fortune
President Donald Trump is expected to make an announcement in the coming days on whether any recordings exist of his private conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, potentially bringing to an end one of the central mysteries of the ongoing …
Will Donald Trump Finally Address the Comey Tapes This Week? A Few Possible Scenarios.Slate Magazine (blog)
It’s Not Sean SpicerU.S. News & World Report
Sean Spicer: No Chance Yet To Ask Donald Trump About Russia Election TamperingDeadline
Vox –Newsweek –The Independent
all 686 news articles »

Donald Trump – Google News

Russian Intelligence services – Google News: Legendary Soviet spymaster passes away at 91 – TASS


Washington Post
Legendary Soviet spymaster passes away at 91
TASS
MOSCOW, June 21. /TASS/. Chief of Soviet covert intelligence, architect and commander of the Vympel reconnaissance and sabotage unit of the Soviet Union’s external intelligence service Yury Drozdov has died at the age of 91, Head of the Press Bureau of …
Soviet spymaster Yuri Drozdov dies at 91Atlanta Journal Constitution

all 3 news articles »

Russian Intelligence services – Google News

putin won US 2016 election – Google News: Putin: US Routinely Meddles in Russian and Other Nations’ Elections – Center for Research on Globalization


Center for Research on Globalization
Putin: US Routinely Meddles in Russian and Other Nations’ Elections
Center for Research on Globalization
Putin described the current accusations against Russia, by the U.S. government, as a deceitful and fictitious tat, which ignores the very real and longstanding American tit, of CIA and other U.S., meddling in the electoral processes of foreign

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putin won US 2016 election – Google News

 

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
National Security: Homeland Security official: Russian government actors potentially tried to hack election systems in 21 states
fbi – Google News: Jeh Johnson says he was unaware of FBI Russia probe – PBS NewsHour
(3) Истребитель Су-27 отгоняет F-16 НАТО от самолета Шойгу: эксклюзивные кадры – YouTube
Russia: NATO Fighter Jets Buzz Plane Carrying Russias Defense Minister
donald trump racketeering – Google News: Trump, Russia and a Shadowy Business Partnership – Bloomberg
Comey – Google News: After Comey Drama, Russia Hearings Expected To Focus Back On Russia – NPR
2016 elections and mental health – Google News: In Trump era, mental health experts are rethinking Goldwater Rule – MyAJC
Russian Intelligence services – Google News: Soviet spymaster Yuri Drozdov dies at 91 – Atlanta Journal Constitution
Russian Intelligence services – Google News: Legendary Soviet spymaster passes away at 91 – TASS
WSJ.com: World News: Russia Clashes With European Court Over ‘Gay Propaganda’ Ruling
mueller – Google News: Special Counsel Robert Mueller meets with House Russia investigators – CNN
Trump, Russia, and Those Shadowy Sater Deals at Bayrock
Voice of America: Ukraine’s Poroshenko Pledges Commitment to Democracy During US Visit
Eurasia Review: Thirty Percent Of Russians Now Identify As Muslims OpEd
Reuters: World News: Germany delays decision on warships, drones as SPD wants more time
Trump’s and Putin’s connections with organized crime – Google News: Trump, Russia and a Shadowy Business Partnership – Bloomberg
Donald Trump – Google News: Once again, world leader Donald Trump turns a handshake into a pissing match – A.V. Club
Europe: Pro-Putin politics bots are flooding Russian twitter, Oxford-based study says
Trump’s business network reached alleged Russian mobsters
Saters ties to Trump raised in New York court hearing
Just Security: The Early Edition: June 20, 2017
Russia – Google News: Russian ‘gay propaganda’ law ruled discriminatory by European court – The Guardian
European court angers Russia with ‘gay propaganda’ ruling
russia analysis – Google News: Russian threat to target US aircraft in Syria seen as more ‘bluster’ than real policy change – CNBC
Russian Intelligence services – Google News: The Making of a Russian Spy: A Roadmap for the FBI to Resolve Russia Gate – Just Security

 

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
National Security: Homeland Security official: Russian government actors potentially tried to hack election systems in 21 states

mikenova shared this story from 1. US Security from mikenova (71 sites).

Most of the hacking was just scanning for vulnerabilities, though a few were successfully exploited.

National Security

fbi – Google News: Jeh Johnson says he was unaware of FBI Russia probe – PBS NewsHour

mikenova shared this story from 1. US Security from mikenova (71 sites).


PBS NewsHour
Jeh Johnson says he was unaware of FBI Russia probe
PBS NewsHour
WASHINGTON Jeh Johnson, the former Homeland Security chief, says he wasn’t aware that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. The top Democrat on the House …

fbi – Google News

(3) Истребитель Су-27 отгоняет F-16 НАТО от самолета Шойгу: эксклюзивные кадры – YouTube

mikenova shared this story .

Published on Jun 21, 2017

Телеканал «Звезда» публикует кадры приближения истребителя НАТО F-16 к самолету Министра обороны РФ Сергей Шойгу над Балтийским морем. На видео видно, как российский Су-27 из эскорта сопровождения отгоняет натовский истребитель от пассажирского борта, покачав крыльями.

Подробности на http://tvzvezda.ru

Russia: NATO Fighter Jets Buzz Plane Carrying Russias Defense Minister

mikenova shared this story from 1. Russia from mikenova (98 sites).

The face-off over the Baltic Sea was the latest aerial encounter between Moscow and the West at a time of heightened tensions.

Russia

donald trump racketeering – Google News: Trump, Russia and a Shadowy Business Partnership – Bloomberg

mikenova shared this story from 1. Trump from mikenova (185 sites).


Bloomberg
Trump, Russia and a Shadowy Business Partnership
Bloomberg
Robert Mueller is examining whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice when he fired James Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Washington Post recently reported. … But Kriss’s assertion that Bayrock was a criminal

and more »

donald trump racketeering – Google News

Comey – Google News: After Comey Drama, Russia Hearings Expected To Focus Back On Russia – NPR

mikenova shared this story from 1. Trump from mikenova (185 sites).

After Comey Drama, Russia Hearings Expected To Focus Back On Russia
NPR
The Senate and House intelligence committees plan to convene dueling hearings Wednesday, on Russia and the 2016 election. Facebook; Twitter. Google+. Email. Get The Stories That Grabbed Us This Week. Delivered to your inbox every Sunday, these …

Comey – Google News

2016 elections and mental health – Google News: In Trump era, mental health experts are rethinking Goldwater Rule – MyAJC

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MyAJC
In Trump era, mental health experts are rethinking Goldwater Rule
MyAJC
Then came the 2016 presidential election. As Trump and his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, battled in a vitriolic campaign, some members of the American Psychiatric Association broke the rule and voiced concerns about what they described as Trump’s …

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2016 elections and mental health – Google News

Russian Intelligence services – Google News: Soviet spymaster Yuri Drozdov dies at 91 – Atlanta Journal Constitution

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Soviet spymaster Yuri Drozdov dies at 91
Atlanta Journal Constitution
The Foreign Intelligence Service, a KGB successor agency known under its Russian acronym SVR, said Drozdov died Wednesday. It didn’t give the cause of his death or any other specifics. In 1979, Drozdov came to head a KGB department overseeing a …

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Russian Intelligence services – Google News: Legendary Soviet spymaster passes away at 91 – TASS

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Legendary Soviet spymaster passes away at 91
TASS
MOSCOW, June 21. /TASS/. Chief of Soviet covert intelligence, architect and commander of the Vympel reconnaissance and sabotage unit of the Soviet Union’s external intelligence service Yury Drozdov has died at the age of 91, Head of the Press Bureau of …
Soviet spymaster Yuri Drozdov dies at 91Atlanta Journal Constitution

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WSJ.com: World News: Russia Clashes With European Court Over ‘Gay Propaganda’ Ruling

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Russian law that bans gay propaganda is discriminatory and encourages homophobia, the European Court of Human Rights said, in a ruling that provoked an angry rebuke from Moscow.

WSJ.com: World News

mueller – Google News: Special Counsel Robert Mueller meets with House Russia investigators – CNN

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller meets with House Russia investigators
CNN
(CNN) The special counsel overseeing the Justice Department’s Russia investigation met with the leaders of the House Russia probe Tuesday evening, as the two sets of investigators figure out how to co-exist while examining into potential connections …
Trump likely to reveal this week whether secret tapes existABC News
Trump has a reason to be afraid of Mueller’s teamand it’s not because they donated to HillaryDaily Kos
Special Counsel Mueller’s legal team continues to raise questionsFox News
TIME –Tallahassee.com –The Irish Times –ABC News
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Trump, Russia, and Those Shadowy Sater Deals at Bayrock

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The special counsel’s investigation of the White House has come more sharply into focus.

Robert Mueller is examining whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice when he fired James Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Washington Post recently reported. As we’ve heard for months now, there is also a probe of possible collusion between Trump’s campaign team and the Kremlin to tilt the 2016 election in the president’s favor.

But the Justice Department inquiry led by Mueller now has added flavors. The Post noted that the investigation also includes “suspicious financial activity” involving “Russian operatives.” The New York Times was more specific in its account, saying that Mueller is looking at whether Trump associates laundered financial payoffs from Russian officials by channeling them through offshore accounts.

Trump has repeatedly labeled Comey’s and Mueller’s investigations “witch hunts,” and his lawyers have said that the last decade of his tax returns (which the president has declined to release) would show that he had no income or loans from Russian sources. In May, Trump told NBC that he has no property or investments in Russia. “I am not involved in Russia,” he said.

But that doesn’t address national security and other problems that might arise for the president if Russia is involved in Trump, either through potentially compromising U.S. business relationships or through funds that flowed into his wallet years ago. In that context, a troubling history of Trump’s dealings with Russians exists outside of Russia: in a dormant real-estate development firm, the Bayrock Group, which once operated just two floors beneath the president’s own office in Trump Tower.

Bayrock partnered with the future president and his two eldest children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, on a series of real-estate deals between 2002 and about 2011, the most prominent being the troubled Trump Soho hotel and condominium in Manhattan.

During the years that Bayrock and Trump did deals together, the company was also a bridge between murky European funding and a number of projects in the U.S. to which the president once leant his name in exchange for handsome fees. Icelandic banks that dealt with Bayrock, for example, were easy marks for money launderers and foreign influence, according to interviews with government investigators, legislators, and others in Reykjavik, Brussels, Paris and London. Trump testified under oath in a 2007 deposition that Bayrock brought Russian investors to his Trump Tower office to discuss deals in Moscow, and said he was pondering investing there.

“It’s ridiculous that I wouldn’t be investing in Russia,” Trump said in that deposition. “Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment.”

One of Bayrock’s principals was a career criminal named Felix Sater who had ties to Russian and American organized crime groups. Before linking up with the company and with Trump, he had worked as a mob informant for the U.S. government, fled to Moscow to avoid criminal charges while boasting of his KGB and Kremlin contacts there, and had gone to prison for slashing apart another man’s face with a broken cocktail glass.

In a series of interviews and a lawsuit, a former Bayrock insider, Jody Kriss, claims that he eventually departed from the firm because he became convinced that Bayrock was actually a front for money laundering.

Kriss has sued Bayrock, alleging that in addition to laundering money, the Bayrock team also skimmed cash from the operation, dodged taxes and cheated him out of millions of dollars. Sater and others at Bayrock would not comment for this column; in court documents they have contested Kriss’s charges and describe him, essentially, as a disgruntled employee trying to shake them down.

Photographer: Jeff Brown for Bloomberg

But Kriss’s assertion that Bayrock was a criminal operation during the years it partnered with Trump has been deemed plausible enough to earn him a court victory: In December, a federal judge in New York said Kriss’s lawsuit against Bayrock, which he first filed nine years ago, could proceed as a racketeering case.

(I have my own history in court with the president. Trump sued me in 2006 when I worked at the New York Times, alleging that my biography, “TrumpNation,” had misrepresented his business record and his wealth. Trump lost the suit in 2011; my lawyers deposed him and Sater during the litigation. Trump’s representatives didn’t respond to repeated interview requests for this column.)

Trump has said over the years that he barely knows Sater. In fact, Sater — who former Bayrock employees say met frequently with Trump in the Trump Organization’s New York headquarters, once shepherded the president’s children around Moscow and carried a Trump Organization business card — apparently has remained firmly in the orbit of the president and his closest advisers.

Sater made the front page of the New York Times in February for his role in a failed effort — along with Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen — to lobby former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on a Ukrainian peace proposal.

Comey was still Trump’s FBI director when he testified before the House Intelligence Committee in March about Russian interference in the 2016 election. During that hearing, Comey was asked if he was “aware of” Felix Sater, his criminal history and his business dealings with the Trump Organization. Comey declined to comment.

It’s unclear whether Sater and Bayrock are part of Mueller’s investigation. But Mueller has populated his investigative team with veteran prosecutors expert in white-collar fraud and Russian-organized-crime probes. One of them, Andrew Weissmann, once led an FBI team that examined financial fraud leading to the demise of Enron. Before that, Weissmann was a prosecutor with the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn and part of a team that prosecuted Sater and mob associates for investment scams in the late 1990s.

However the Mueller probe unfolds, a tour of Trump’s partnership with Bayrock exposes a number of uncomfortable truths about the president’s business history, his judgment, and the possible vulnerabilities that his past as a freewheeling dealmaker — and his involvement with figures like Sater — have visited upon his present as the nation’s chief executive.

Zegna Suits and Luxury Cars

Sater was born in the Soviet Union in 1966 and emigrated with his parents to the heavily Russian enclave of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, when he was about eight years old. He attended Pace University before dropping out when he was 18, then found his way to Wall Street where he worked as a stockbroker.

His early years on Wall Street, according to the recollections of his one-time business partner, Salvatore Lauria, were flush. By his mid-20s, Sater was collecting expensive watches, spending thousands of dollars on Zegna suits and buying luxury cars. That all came to a brief halt in 1993 when he was sent to prison for using the stem of a broken margarita glass during a bar fight two years earlier to attack another stockbroker; Sater’s victim needed 110 stitches to hold his face together.

When Sater emerged from prison 15 months later, he found his way back into trouble. With a group that included Lauria (who admits to having had ties to organized crime figures and grew up in New York as a close friend of a prominent Mafia boss), Sater opened an investment firm on the penthouse floor of 40 Wall Street, a Trump-owned building in Manhattan. From there, according to federal prosecutors, Sater and his team set about laundering money for the mob and fleecing about $40 million from unwitting and largely elderly investors, a number of whom were Holocaust survivors.

By the time law enforcement authorities eventually caught on to the 40 Wall Street operation, Sater had fled to Russia. Lauria visited him there.

Sater “was always hustling and scheming, and his contacts in Russia were the same kind of contacts he had in the United States,” Lauria wrote in a 2003 memoir, “The Scorpion and the Frog.” “The difference was that in Russia his crooked contacts were links between Russian organized crime, the Russian military, the KGB, and operatives who played both ways, or sometimes three ways.”

Sater, who had been charged with racketeering and money laundering by the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn in connection with the 40 Wall Street scam, eventually decided to return to America and face those charges. He had a card to play, however: his knowledge, gleaned from contacts in Russia, about a small stock of Stinger antiaircraft missiles loose on the black market in Afghanistan that were of interest to U.S. intelligence officials.

“We were hoping for a free ride or a get-out-of-jail-free card for our crimes on Wall Street,” Lauria wrote of Sater’s maneuvering with U.S. officials.

Sater told authorities that he could use his Russian contacts to buy the Stingers and, according to court filings in Kriss’s lawsuit and other accounts, a deal was struck in December, 1998. Sater pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges and then entered into a cooperation agreement with the government that sealed court records in the case and allowed his sentencing to be postponed for 11 years. (Sater would ultimately only pay a $25,000 fine and never go to prison.)

Many years later, as part of her confirmation hearings to become President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch would note that the cooperation deal she made with Sater when she was the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn lasted for a decade — from 1998 to 2008 — and that Sater gave the government “information crucial to national security and the conviction of over 20 individuals, including those responsible for committing massive financial fraud and members of La Cosa Nostra.”

At some point after becoming an informant, Sater also recast himself as a real-estate savant. He made his way to a Manhattan real-estate investment firm, APC Realty, where he raised money for deals and where he met Kriss in 2000.

Kriss, a native of Miami and a business graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, was an aspiring real-estate developer who was in his early 20s when they met. He says he was initially captivated by Sater.

“Felix knew how to be charming and he knew how to be brutally nasty,” says Kriss. “He has a talent for drawing people in. He has charm and charisma. But that’s what con men do.”

After APC began to fall apart in 2002, Kriss decided to strike out on his own back home in Miami, doing real-estate deals. Sater made his way to a small Hong Kong investment bank that used him as a New York-based rainmaker for real-estate deals.

In addition to his new life as a real-estate investor and government informant, Sater owned a comfortable home in Sands Point, Long Island, a toney New York suburb that was a setting for “The Great Gatsby.” He also had a wife and three daughters and was a member of an Orthodox synagogue in neighboring Port Washington. On one occasion Sater brought his rabbi with him to meet U.S. intelligence officials in New York, where, the rabbi said, agents praised Sater’s service to the country.

When Sater received a community service award at his synagogue on another occasion, a band played “Hail to the Chief.” Sater gave an acceptance speech in which he noted that he was “not a very religious person” but that his goal in life was to “repair the world or make it a better place.”

‘Air of Success’

About a year after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Sater joined Bayrock, a company that marketed itself as a property developer and had opened Manhattan offices on the 24th floor of a well-known building at 725 Fifth Avenue: Trump Tower.

In late 2002, Sater phoned Kriss and invited him to consult at Bayrock, bragging about a deep-pocketed investor, Tevfik Arif, who was partnering with him in search of bigger deals.

Arif, born in Kazakhstan, was a former Soviet official who had relocated to Turkey to make his fortune. He ran several upscale, seaside hotels there that catered almost exclusively to Russians, according to Kriss, and he had also redeveloped a shopping center in Brooklyn. At one point in his post-Soviet years, Arif also reportedly took over a former Kazakh state-owned chromium producer with his brother.

Like Sater, Arif had a home in Sands Point and Kriss says that Arif brought his children there from Turkey to learn English. (Arif’s representatives declined to respond to a list of questions about his business history, including how he met Sater and brought him to Bayrock, citing ongoing litigation.)

Bayrock was initially funded, in part, with a $10 million investment transferred to the firm by Arif’s brother in Russia, who, according to Kriss’s lawsuit, was able to tap into the cash reserves of a Kazakh chromium refinery. (A spokeswoman for Arif declined to comment on that allegation.)

A marketing document Bayrock once circulated to prospective investors noted that Alexander Mashkevich, an oligarch born in the former Soviet Union, was one of Bayrock’s primary sources of funding. Mashkevich’s firm, the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, was based in Kazakhstan and elsewhere and had interests in chromium, aluminum, coal, construction, and banking. (A person close to Mashkevich, who requested anonymity because of the Kriss-Bayrock litigation, said Mashkevich never invested in Bayrock.)

Bayrock never seemed to be short of money, however. According to Kriss’s lawsuit, the team running the little development firm in Trump Tower could locate funds “month after month, for two years, in fact more frequently, whenever Bayrock ran out of cash.” If times got tight, Bayrock’s owners would “magically show up with a wire from ‘somewhere’ just large enough to keep the company going.”

Kriss says that Sater and Arif wooed him to Bayrock by offering him 10 percent of the firm’s profits. Bayrock’s Trump Tower offices gave “an air of success to it,” Kriss says. Bayrock also gave Kriss, then 28 years old, the opportunity to work with Trump.

It was Sater who initially developed the relationship with Trump, according to Kriss and court records from Trump’s lawsuit against me. Sater had made the acquaintance of three Trump Organization executives who then introduced him to their boss. When the Bayrock team met Trump in 2002, the future president was enduring a long stretch in the financial wilderness, having narrowly escaped personal bankruptcy in the early 1990s.

He eventually emerged from that mess as a pariah among big banks. He was also a determined survivor and tireless self-promoter and he parlayed those skills into recreating himself as a branding machine and golf course developer in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Kriss says that it was Arif and Sater who pitched the future president on the idea of launching an international chain of Trump-branded, mixed-use hotels and condominiums. And Bayrock got to Trump at a time when his “brand” could help get a little extra attention for a condo project, but didn’t amount to much more than that.

“Trump was trying to build his brand and Bayrock was trying to market it,” Kriss recalls. “It wasn’t clear who needed each other more. This was before the show, remember.”

The “show,” of course, was “The Apprentice.” It aired for the first time on Jan. 8, 2004, and became a sensation that vaulted Trump into reality TV stardom. In the real world, Trump’s casinos were faltering. But on reality TV, Trump posed as a successful leader and dealmaker who embodied a certain kind of entrepreneurial flair and over-the-top billionairedom — an impression that stuck with tens of millions of TV viewers.

The popularity of “The Apprentice” also gave the Bayrock-Trump partnership added zing.

“That put Bayrock in a great position once the show debuted,” Kriss says. “The show did it for Trump, man. Nobody was interested in licensing his name before that.”

The hook at Bayrock, for Trump, was an 18 percent equity stake in what became the Trump Soho hotel, a steady stream of management fees on all Bayrock projects and the ability to plaster his name on properties without having to invest a single dollar of his own.

Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

It’s not clear how carefully Trump vetted his Bayrock partners. But his lack of concern about their backgrounds – and the potential risk to his own reputation from dealing with them – was part of a pattern. In Atlantic City, he had partnered with men with organized crime ties. Later, he and his children struck deals in Brazil and Azerbaijan with partners who had murky backgrounds or unusual legal entanglements.

Sater said in court filings that he disclosed his securities fraud conviction to members of the Trump Organization. He assumed they had told Trump, but he wasn’t sure.

“It’s not very hard to get connected to Donald if you make it known that you have a lot of money and you want to do deals and you want to put his name on it,” Abe Wallach, who was the future president’s right-hand man at the Trump Organization from 1990 to about 2002, told me in an interview. “Donald doesn’t do due diligence. He relies on his gut and whether he thinks you have good genes.”

Given Arif’s halting English, it was Sater and Kriss who interacted most frequently with the Trump family—and Sater the most often with Trump himself. Kriss says that most of his own contacts were with the elder Trump children, Don Jr. and Ivanka, and included drafting contracts and occasional nights on the town.

While Trump’s kids were involved in the back-and-forth with Bayrock, it was Trump himself who always had the final say.

“Donald was always in charge,” says Kriss. “Donald had to agree to every term of every deal and had to sign off on everything. Nothing happened unless he said it was okay to do it. Even if Donald Jr., shook your hand on a deal, he came back downstairs to renegotiate if his father told him to.”

The Trumps, Kriss says, saw Sater “frequently” and valued the relationship because “Felix demonstrated that he was loyal to them.” He says that at one point Sater was meeting with the future president in his Trump Tower office multiple times a week. Sater, according to a later court deposition, said that his business conversations with Trump in that office were wide-ranging and frequent — “on a constant basis.”

The pair had what Sater described as “real-estate conversations,” and they talked about “gathering intelligence, gathering know-how, general market discussions,” and also chatted about using Sater’s Russian connections to build a “high-rise, center of Moscow” that would be a “great opportunity, megafinancial home run.”

Although Sater socialized with Trump, “I wouldn’t call him my friend,” he said in the 2008 deposition. Still, Sater said he traveled with Trump to look at deals and was proud of Bayrock’s relationship with the famous developer. “Anybody can come in and build a tower,” he said. “I can build a Trump Tower because of my relationship with Trump.”

Bayrock and the Trumps then began laying the groundwork for domestic and international hotel-condo projects, eventually exploring deals in Turkey, Poland and Ukraine. Sater escorted Ivanka and Don Jr. on a trip to Moscow, where they looked at land for a Trump-branded hotel.

None of those overseas projects got past the planning stages. In the U.S., Bayrock and Trump projects moved forward haltingly.

In Phoenix, a one-story mall that Bayrock bought out of bankruptcy was meant to be the site of a Trump-branded tower. It became ensnared in zoning debates and then the national real-estate downturn and never got built.

Sater’s dealings in Phoenix later landed him in court with a local developer who had invested in the Phoenix project, Ernest Mennes. Mennes said in a lawsuit that when he threatened to reveal Sater’s criminal record, Sater told him that he would have a cousin “electrically shock Mr. Mennes’ testicles, cut off Mr. Mennes’ legs, and leave Mr. Mennes dead in the trunk of his car.”

In Mennes’s suit against Bayrock and Sater, he alleged that Sater also skimmed money from the Phoenix development. Bayrock and Sater settled the suit (which was later sealed and its terms left undisclosed; Sater’s lawyer, in an interview with ABC News, denied Mennes’s allegations).

The next project Trump and Bayrock pursued was the Trump International Hotel and Tower, a mixed-use hotel and condominium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Announced in 2005, it later went into foreclosure.

The third and final major project Bayrock and Trump worked on together was their most high-profile effort, the 46-story Trump Soho hotel in lower Manhattan.

Trump, Sater and Arif were all photographed together at a splashy launch party for the Trump Soho in 2007. Trump also pitched the Trump Soho on an episode of “The Apprentice,” promising that “this brilliant, $370 million work of art will be an awe-inspiring masterpiece.”

Helping Trump and Bayrock fund that masterpiece was a fresh influx of money from an Icelandic investment bank called the FL Group. Sater and Lauria, his longtime mob associate, had jointly recruited FL, introducing the firm to Bayrock and the Trump Organization. (I’ll have more on the FL Group and Bayrock in a future column; the firm’s former leaders, one of whom was later convicted of tax and accounting fraud, declined to comment or did not respond to interview requests for this column.)

Yet again, the Trump Organization — even though it signed off on the FL investment — appeared to care little about vetting a firm that came into the partnership through Sater. FL operated in a country with a porous, vulnerable banking system, and some investigators who scrutinized other Icelandic banks at the time said they suspected those banks of being conduits — unwitting or otherwise — for dirty funds from outside Iceland. (The FL Group collapsed a little over a year after it invested in Bayrock. The firm itself was never prosecuted; the leaders of a number of other Icelandic banks were prosecuted or jailed for crimes including money laundering).

Kriss said in an interview that an Icelandic competitor of the FL Group also contacted him to invest in Bayrock. When he took that offer to Sater and Arif they told him, he says, that the money behind Icelandic banks “was mostly Russian” — and that they had to take FL’s funds for deals they were doing with Trump because the investment firm was “closer to Putin.”

I thought it was a lie or a joke when they said Putin,” Kriss recalls. “I didn’t know how to make sense of it at all.”

(Kriss says he doesn’t have financial records showing that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a connection to the FL Group and that his own knowledge is purely anecdotal. A Kremlin spokesman said via email that Putin had no connection to the FL Group or Bayrock.)

‘Somebody Said That He Is in the Mafia’

Kriss says that in the wake of the FL deal he was owed a payout that could have ranged from about $4 million to $10 million, but that Bayrock reneged. When he persisted, he claims, Sater threatened him.

So Kriss says he accepted a $500,000 payment instead and then eventually quit. Sater, as it turns out, didn’t have much time left at Bayrock either.

In December, 2007 the New York Times published an article detailing some of Sater’s past run-inswith the law and some of his ties to organized crime (the article also noted that Sater had begun using “Satter” as an alternate spelling for his last name so he could try to “distance himself from his past” if people Googled him).

Two days after the Times story ran, Trump sat for a deposition with my attorneys as part of the libel lawsuit he had filed against me for “TrumpNation.” They asked him whether he planned to sever his relationship with Sater because of Sater’s organized crime ties. Trump said he hadn’t made up his mind.

“Have you previously associated with people you knew were members of organized crime?” one of my lawyers asked.

“No, I haven’t,” Trump responded. “And it’s hard to overly blame Bayrock. Things like that can happen. But I want to see what action Bayrock takes before I make a decision.” (In fact, Trump had partnered in the past in Atlantic City’s real-estate business with men he knew were mobbed up.)

Whenever he was asked in later years about his relationship with Sater, Trump routinely misrepresented it as distant. In a 2013 deposition taken as part of litigation surrounding Trump and Bayrock’s failed Fort Lauderdale project, Trump was asked again about his partnership with Sater.

“He was supposedly very close to the government of the United States as a witness or something,” Trump said. “I don’t think he was connected to the Mafia. He got into trouble because he got into a barroom fight.”

“I don’t know him very well,” Trump added, saying that he hadn’t conversed very often with Sater. “If he were sitting in the room right now I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.”

Trump also said that he didn’t think that questions about Sater’s background meant that he should have ended his business partnership with him: “Somebody said that he is in the Mafia. What am I going to do?”

Shortly after my lawyers asked Trump about Sater, Bayrock began discussing the best way for him to resign, according to company email and court records. By 2008, Sater had left the firm.

The Trump Soho ended in failure. It opened in 2010, but many units failed to sell and early condo purchasers sued Bayrock and the Trumps. Three years later, the Trump Soho went into foreclosure with most of its units still unsold, and a new company took control of the property. Bayrock hasn’t done another deal since then. (A spokeswoman for Bayrock attributed the failures of the Trump partnerships to fallout from the 2008 financial meltdown.)

‘He Seems to Have Unlimited Funds’

After Kriss left Bayrock, he set up his own development firm in New York and then sued Sater, Arif, Trump and Bayrock in Delaware in 2008, alleging that Bayrock was a criminal enterprise and demanding to be paid in full for his work there.

When the case moved to New York in 2010, it came with a twist. Sater had left a copy of his cooperation deal with the government – the one dating back to his Stinger missile and mob informant days – on the hard drive of his Bayrock computer. A Bayrock employee leaked it to Kriss’s attorney, who promptly filed it as an exhibit in court.

Trump was eventually dropped from the case and Sater began carpet-bombing Kriss with his own lawsuits, ultimately filing several separate actions that claimed, among other things, that Kriss has used the courts to prosecute him maliciously.

Sater also apparently kept busy outside of the courtroom.

Kriss says that about three years ago he started receiving threatening email from websites carrying versions of his name (“JKrissInfo.com,” for example). He soon discovered there were hundreds of other new websites that also contained false, disparaging information about him.

Kriss sued the anonymous authors of the websites for defamation and when the court ruled in his favor he was able to get a large portion of the sites delisted from Google. He says he also was able to use the court order to untangle the provenance of the websites, discovering that their registration tracked back to Sater’s home address in Sands Point.

Kriss says that goons once showed up at real-estate developments he was overseeing in Brooklyn, asking his employees if they knew the true story about their boss. Waves of letters questioning his bona fides have arrived at his office and in the mailboxes of every resident in two separate buildings where Kriss kept apartments.

Kriss says investors in his new company, East River Partners, have stood by him, but he’s worried that Sater’s digital vendetta may be hard to overcome. His new lawyer, Bradley D. Simon, says that he’s mystified by how Sater has managed to stay afloat all these years.

“Sater was a cooperating witness for the Eastern District of New York and he continued going on a crime rampage,” says Simon. “He’s filed all kinds of frivolous lawsuits, but that’s what he does. He seems to have unlimited funds.”

Photographer: Win McNamee/Getty Images

For his part, Sater continues to wear many hats. A couple of years after he left Bayrock, the Trump Organization hired him briefly as a consultant to prospect for real-estate deals, giving him company business cards with his name engraved on them.

More recently, Sater got enmeshed in litigation again, this time around the sale of an Ohio shopping mall — and the alleged disappearance of tens of millions of dollars — in a court case that was settled in 2013.

Sater has also entered into a war of words with his former Bayrock partner, Tevfik Arif. Sater claims, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, that Arif owes him money — and that if he isn’t paid he’ll publicize what he describes as Arif’s ties to organized crime and to tainted dealings in Kazakhstan’s metals business. (A Bayrock spokeswoman says that Sater’s claims about Arif are baseless.)

Meanwhile, Trump is mired a probe that now pivots off sensitive topics for him and his family: their money, their deals and Russia – all of which will test his promise to testify under oath to Mueller and his investigators.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Timothy L. O’Brien at tobrien46@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Jonathan Landman at jlandman4@bloomberg.net

Voice of America: Ukraine’s Poroshenko Pledges Commitment to Democracy During US Visit

mikenova shared this story from 1. Russia from mikenova (98 sites).

U.S. President Donald Trump received his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko at the White House Tuesday. Poroshenko hailed the U.S.-Ukraine relationship and pledged his commitment to democracy as he sought U.S. support against Russian aggression. His visit comes as the U.S. government considers extending economic sanctions against Moscow for its role in the unrest in eastern Ukraine. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Voice of America

Eurasia Review: Thirty Percent Of Russians Now Identify As Muslims OpEd

mikenova shared this story from 1. US Security from mikenova (71 sites).

Thirty percent of Russians now identify as Muslims, according to a new survey by the ZoomMarket marketing agency, just 12 percent fewer than the 42 percent who say they are Orthodox Christians. Some 18 percent say they are atheists, with all other denominations in the single digits.

Thus, three percent of Russians say they are Roman Catholics, two percent say they are Protestants or Old Believers, and one percent each identify as Buddhists, Jews, Greek Catholics or Slavic pagans (mazm.ru/article/a-2013.html and znak.com/2017-06-20/42_rossiyan_schitayut_sebya_pravoslavnymi).

The most Orthodox places were Samara, where 57 percent said they were Orthodox Christians, Nizhny Novgorod and Perm (53 percent), Novosibirsk (49 percent), St. Petersburg and Krasnoyarsk (43 percent), Voronezh (41 percent).

The most Muslim places were Kazan (72 percent), Krasnodar (43 percent), Voronezh (31 percent), Yekaterinburg (29 percent), Krasnoyarsk (28 percent), and Moscow (26 percent). And the most atheist were St. Petersburg (26 percent), Voronezh and Yekaterinburg (23 percent), Krasnoyarsk (22 percent), Moscow (21 percent), and Novosibirsk (18 percent).

These figures are important for at least three reasons. First, they show just how rapidly Islam is gaining ground in Russia. Second, they cast doubt on the claims of the Kremlin and the Moscow Patriarchate about how Orthodox Russia in fact now is. And third, they set the stage for even more changes ahead.

One indication of that: a third of all those queried said that they would vote for a religious party if one were available to them.

Eurasia Review

Reuters: World News: Germany delays decision on warships, drones as SPD wants more time

mikenova shared this story from 1. World and Politics from mikenova (22 sites).

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s budget committee has postponed a decision on orders for military equipment, including Corvette warships and drones, as Social Democrat (SPD) lawmakers want more time to discuss the 13 billion euro package, a senior party member said.

Reuters: World News

Trump’s and Putin’s connections with organized crime – Google News: Trump, Russia and a Shadowy Business Partnership – Bloomberg

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With a group that included Lauria (who admits to having had ties to organized crime figures and grew up in New York as a close friend of a prominent Mafia boss), Sater opened an investment firm on the penthouse floor of 40 Wall Street, a Trump-owned

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President Trump and his properties have been linked to at least 10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations and money laundering. USA TODAY

President Trump reacts after delivering his first address to a joint session of Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 28, 2017.(Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo, POOL, EPA)

To expand his real estate developments over the years, Donald Trump, his company and partners repeatedly turned to wealthy Russians and oligarchs from former Soviet republics — several allegedly connected to organized crime, according to a USA TODAY review of court cases, government and legal documents and an interview with a former federal prosecutor.

The president and his companies have been linked to at least 10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering.

Among them:

• A member of the firm that developed the Trump SoHo Hotel in New York is a twice-convicted felon who spent a year in prison for stabbing a man and later scouted for Trump investments in Russia.

•  An investor in the SoHo project was accused by Belgian authorities in 2011 in a $55 million money-laundering scheme.

• Three owners of Trump condos in Florida and Manhattan were accused in federal indictments of belonging to a Russian-American organized crime group and working for a major international crime boss based in Russia.

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•  A former mayor from Kazakhstan was accused in a federal lawsuit filed in Los Angeles in 2014 of hiding millions of dollars looted from his city, some of which was spent on three Trump SoHo units.

•  A Ukrainian owner of two Trump condos in Florida was indicted in a money-laundering scheme involving a former prime minister of Ukraine.

Trump’s Russian connections are of heightened interest because of an FBI investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian operatives to interfere in last fall’s election. What’s more, Trump and his companies have had business dealings with Russians that go back decades, raising questions about whether his policies would be influenced by business considerations.

Trump told reporters in February: “I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we’ve stayed away. And I have no loans with Russia. I have no loans with Russia at all.”

Yet in 2013, after Trump addressed potential investors in Moscow, he bragged to Real Estate Weekly about his access to Russia’s rich and powerful. “I have a great relationship with many Russians, and almost all of the oligarchs were in the room,” Trump said, referring to Russians who made fortunes when former Soviet state enterprises were sold to private investors.

Five years earlier, Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. told Russian media while in Moscow  that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets” in places like Dubai and Trump SoHo and elsewhere in New York.

New York City real estate broker Dolly Lenz told USA TODAY she sold about 65 condos in Trump World at 845 U.N. Plaza in Manhattan to Russian investors, many of whom sought personal meetings with Trump for his business expertise.

“I had contacts in Moscow looking to invest in the United States,” Lenz said. “They all wanted to meet Donald. They became very friendly.” Many of those meetings happened in Trump’s office at Trump Tower or at sales events, Lenz said.

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Dealings with Russian oligarchs concern law enforcement because many of those super-wealthy people are generally suspected of corrupt practices as a result of interconnected relationships among Russia’s business elite, government security services and criminal gangs, according to former U.S. prosecutor Ken McCallion, as well as Steven Hall, a former CIA chief of Russian operations.

“Anybody who is an oligarch or is in any position of power in Russia got it because (President) Vladimir Putin or somebody in power saw some reason to give that person that job,” Hall said in an interview. “All the organized crime figures I’ve ever heard of (in Russia) all have deep connections and are tied in with people in government.”

FBI Director James Comey acknowledged at a  congressional hearing into Russian interference in the U.S. election March 20 that many wealthy Russians may have close ties to the Kremlin and may be acting on its behalf.

Trump has not been accused of any wrongdoing in connection to any of the individuals mentioned in this article.

However, the deals, and the large number of Russians who have bought condos in Trump buildings, raise questions about the secrecy he has maintained around his real estate empire. Trump is the first president in 40 years to refuse to turn over his tax returns, which could shed light on his business dealings.

The White House declined to comment about this article, referring questions to the Trump Organization in New York. Amanda Miller, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, denied any transactions with people named in this article.

“The allegations … are entirely without merit,” Miller said in an email. “The Trump Organization never entered into a single transaction with any of these individuals and the condominium units were all owned and sold by third parties — not Trump.”

Trump’s privately held company works through a network of subsidiaries and partnerships that make direct connections hard to trace, particularly since he has refused to release his tax filings. In addition, some of the Trump Organization’s investors and buyers operate through shell companies and limited liability corporations that hide the identities of individual owners.

Trump and the Trump Organization signed licensing agreements for an ownership stake in properties such as Trump SoHo and Trump International Beach Resort, which bear the Trump name without requiring an investment by him. In the SoHo project, Trump received an 18% share of the profits in return for use of his name, according to a deposition Trump gave in 2007 for a defamation lawsuit he brought against an author.

The SoHo project

Donald Trump, Tevfik Arif and Felix Sater attend the Trump Soho Launch Party on Sept. 19, 2007 in New York. (Photo: Mark Von Holden, WireImage)

Among Trump’s partners in the SoHo project was Felix Sater, a Russian immigrant who spent a year in prison for the 1991 stabbing. He later cooperated with the FBI and the CIA for a reduced sentence after he was convicted in a $40 million stock manipulation and money-laundering scheme in New York state.

Sater was a major player in the Bayrock Group, which developed the Trump SoHo. A former Bayrock finance director and partner, Jody Kriss, referred to him as a controlling partner, but Bayrock says he was an executive, not a partner.

Sater’s criminal past was not well-known until publicly divulged in 2007. As he sought investment opportunities in Russia, he carried business cards identifying him as a senior adviser to the Trump Organization that included the company’s email and phone number.

In February, Sater introduced a Ukrainian politician pushing a pro-Russian peace proposal to Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer and former chief counsel at the Trump Organization, Cohen told NBC News.

Sater, 51, did not respond to multiple emails sent to his company or to calls seeking comment. He wrote on his company website that he made some bad decisions in the past but that he had paid his debt to society and helped the government with “numerous issues of national security, including thwarting terrorist attacks against our country.” His website was dark last week, displaying the message, “Maintenance mode is on.”

One source of financing recruited by Bayrock for the SoHo project was Alexander Mashkevich, according to a deposition by former Bayrock partner Kriss in a federal lawsuit. A Bayrock investment pamphlet lists Mashkevich as a source of financing for the Bayrock Group.  Mashkevich, a Kazakhstan mining billionaire, was accused in Belgium in 2011 in a $55 million money-laundering scheme. Mashkevich and two partners paid a fine and admitted no wrongdoing.

Federal indictments in New York, California and Illinois allege that people who bought Trump condos include felons and others accused of laundering money for Russian, Ukrainian or central Asian criminal organizations.

One indictment describes Anatoly Golubchik and Michael Sall, who own condos in Trump International Beach Resort in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., and Vadim Trincher, who owns a unit in Trump Tower in Manhattan, as members of a Russian-American organized crime group that ran an illegal gambling and money-laundering operation.

Money laundering was an issue for Trump’s Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, which was fined $10 million in 2015 for failing to report suspicious transactions. Federal rules are designed to protect the U.S. financial system from being used as a safe haven for dirty money and transnational crimes, Jennifer Shasky Calvery, then-director of the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen), said at the time. It was the largest penalty the agency ever levied against a casino since reporting requirements began in 2003, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“The Trump Organization admitted that it failed to implement and maintain an effective (anti-money laundering) program; failed to report suspicious transactions; failed to properly file required currency transaction reports; and failed to keep appropriate records as required by (the Bank Secrecy Act),” FinCen said in a statement.

The statement said warnings over repeated violations went back to 2003, but it did not mention Russians.

In Los Angeles, the federal lawsuit filed in 2014 by lawyers for the Kazakh city of Almaty accuses former mayor Viktor Khrapunov of owning three Trump SoHo units through shell companies used to hide hundreds of millions of dollars allegedly looted by selling state-owned assets. Kazakhstan is a former Soviet republic.

The Trump SoHo project “was largely financed by illegally obtained cash from Russia and Eastern European sources, including money provided by known international financial criminals and organized crime racketeers,” former prosecutor McCallion wrote on his blog in October. McCallion was an assistant U.S. attorney in New York from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s under presidents Carter and Reagan.

Sallie Hofmeister, a public relations adviser to Bayrock, said the company “flatly denies that any of its properties were financed using illegal money, and sees no evidence to the contrary provided by Mr. McCallion or anyone else.”

The Manafort connection

A view of the Trump SoHo hotel condominium building, on Feb. 21, 2017 in New York City. The development of Trump SoHo, completed in 2010, was constructed in partnership with the Bayrock Group. (Photo: Drew Angerer, Getty Images)

McCallion, as a private lawyer, also represented former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko in a 2011 lawsuit alleging that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, engaged in a racketeering and money-laundering scheme to hide $3.5 billion in stolen funds, much of it by buying U.S. real estate.

Manafort’s co-defendants were Dmitry Firtash, a Ukranian gas executive under federal indictment for bribery, and Semyon Mogelivich, identified by the Justice Department as head of a transnational criminal organization that posed a threat to U.S. national security. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2015 because Tymoshenko was unable to show the role of each defendant in the alleged money-laundering plot.

Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign in August, days after Ukrainian investigators alleged that secret ledgers showed $12.8 million was put aside for Manafort by the party of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in a popular uprising in 2014. More details about the alleged secret payments surfaced March 20.

Manafort, who has acknowledged working for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians, has denied receiving off-the-books pay and said his compensation covered campaign staff, polling and television ads in Ukraine.

Manafort also allegedly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance Putin’s interests a decade ago, the Associated Press reported March 22.

Firtash, a major donor of Yanukovych’s party, was indicted in 2013 by U.S. prosecutors in Chicago for allegedly paying officials in India $18.5 million in bribes for licenses to mine titanium ore. Firtash said he is an innocent victim of American efforts to punish political allies of Putin. His extradition from Austria to the United States was approved in February and then put on hold while an Austrian judge considers a Spanish indictment against him on charges of money laundering and organized crime.

In an interview with USA TODAY, McCallion said he spent years looking into the Trump Organization, the businesses and individuals that dealt with it, and the possibility that Trump’s real estate empire may depend on hundreds of millions of dollars from Russians.

“The FBI is always concerned if public officials can be blackmailed,” McCallion said. “It’s Russian-laundered money from people who operate under the good graces of President Putin. If these people pull the plug on the Trump Organization, it would go down pretty quickly.”

Luke Harding, author of A Very Expensive Poison, about the 2006 lethal poisoning of defected Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive polonium-210 in London, said the lawlessness in former Soviet republics like Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan explains why businessmen from those countries seek safe havens to invest their wealth.

“If you steal money in a place like Russia, you have a problem,” Harding said. “You need to convert it to rubles and dollars and put it somewhere someone can’t steal it from you. One place to do that is buy real estate in New York, Miami or London.”

Ariel Cohen, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank, said not all wealthy Russians are crooks or beholden to Putin. “It’s more complicated than that,” Cohen said.

“There are oligarchs who are FOPs (friends of Putin) and there are those who lost their assets due to corruption, abuse of power, a crummy legal system and the lack of property rights,” he said. “Many of these people moved abroad, to London, New York and Florida. They are refugees from the corporate raiding Russian-style practiced for the last couple of decades.”

Some became wealthy before Putin’s rise to power “and in some cases are in hidden resentment or quiet opposition to Putin,” Cohen said. “A lot of these people run big businesses, banks, retail, oil and gas, and these are legitimate businesses that pay taxes” in Russia.

Here is a closer look at some of the Trump project investors or condo buyers with alleged ties to organized crime and the Russian government:

Felix Sater

Sater spent a year in prison for stabbing a man in the face with a broken margarita glass at the Rio Grande restaurant and bar in New York in 1991.

A federal criminal complaint in New York in 1998 accused Sater of money laundering and stock manipulation but was kept secret by prosecutors because the Russian immigrant was working as a CIA informant, according to numerous published reports. Salvatore Lauria, a co-defendant, co-wrote in a 2003 book that he and Sater sought to reduce their sentences by acting as middlemen for the CIA to buy weapons that fell into the hands of mobsters after the fall of the Soviet Union. The scheme fell apart, but the relationships remained, according Lauria’s book, The Scorpion and the Frog: High Crimes and High Times.

Kriss, a former finance director for the developers, accused Sater, Lauria and Bayrock partners in a 2010 federal lawsuit of diverting millions of dollars to shell companies to avoid U.S. taxes. He also claimed they kept secret Sater’s criminal past and his guilty plea to racketeering charges while “he was aiding the prosecution of his Mafia and Russian organized crime confederates.”

Kriss alleged that while Bayrock was seeking  money from foreign investors for Trump SoHo, it considered two groups of Russians with offices in Iceland. One group offered better terms, but Bayrock rejected that and went with the FL Group, which provided $50 million in financing and was “in favor with Putin,” according to the original complaint. The lawsuit is still pending, but without that allegation.

Sater and his co-defendants denied the allegations, calling Kriss’ lawsuit a long-running extortion scheme. But many of the racketeering and fraud claims against them survived a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, according to a Dec. 2 order signed by U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield.

Sater’s criminal past came to light in 2007. That year, Trump testified in a deposition in a defamation lawsuit that he didn’t think Sater was a principal at Bayrock and that he was considering not doing business with him anymore. But Sater subsequently traveled to Russia carrying business cards identifying him as a senior adviser to Trump with a Trump Organization phone number and email address, according to photos of the card posted online by NBC, the BBC and other news organizations. In 2013, Trump said in another deposition that he didn’t think Sater was connected to the Mafia, that Sater mostly dealt “with my company, not me” and that “if he was sitting in the room right now I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.”

Sater told The Washington Post last year that he met one-on-one numerous times with Trump. He met alongside Donald Trump Jr. in Phoenix with local officials, and in New York he met repeatedly with Trump and his staff to talk about potential deals in Los Angeles, Ukraine and China, the Post reported.

Trump’s lawyer, in interviews with The New York Times and the Post, downplayed the relationship between the two men, saying Trump met and spoke with lots of people but his relationship was with Bayrock, not Sater. Sater did not respond to calls and emails sent to his office.

Alexander Mashkevich

Mashkevich, a Kazakh mining billionaire, was another source of funds for the SoHo project, according Kriss’ lawsuit. Bayrock’s investment pamphlet describes him in general as a source of Bayrock financing.

Investigators in Belgium accused Mashkevich and two of his Kazakh business partners of money laundering and forgery connected to the $55 million in alleged bribes they received from a Belgian company in the mid-1990s, according to the Financial Times. In 2011, all three men agreed to pay an undisclosed fine to settle the case. They admitted no wrongdoing, and the charges were dropped.

Mashkevich and principal Bayrock partner Tevfik Arif were embroiled in a case in 2010, when Turkish police alleged prostitution and human trafficking after they raided a luxury yacht that Mashkevich chartered. After police boarded the Savarona — once owned by the founder of the modern Turkish state, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk — they arrested 10 wealthy men, including Arif, a former Kazakh official. They also found nine young women from Russia and Ukraine — two were 16 years old — and “a huge amount of contraceptives,” according to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

Mashkevich, who was not at the scene, and Arif denied being involved in anything illegal. The women stayed silent about their involvement, according to published reports. Mashkevich was not charged with a crime. Arif was charged but acquitted, and the court file was sealed.

Peter Kiritchenko

Kiritchenko, a Ukrainian businessman who owned two condominiums with his daughter at Trump International Beach Resort in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., was named in a money-laundering scheme involving former Ukraine prime minister Pavlo Lazarenko.

According to federal prosecutors in San Francisco in 2009, Kiritchenko helped Lazarenko launder millions of dollars obtained through extortion by purchasing luxury real estate in the United States and other countries. Kiritchenko was convicted of one count of receiving stolen property in California after he testified against the former prime minister. Lazarenko was sentenced to eight years in federal prison and fined $9 million after he was convicted on multiple counts of money laundering.

A federal appeals court said Kiritchenko was a “deep and willing” accomplice “in the heart of the conspiracy.”

Viktor Khrapunov

Khrapunov, a former Kazakhstan energy minister and mayor of Almaty, owns three units in the Trump SoHo through shell companies, according to lawyers for the Kazakh city who filed a 2014 federal lawsuit against him in Los Angeles. Almaty’s lawyers alleged in the lawsuit that Khrapunov used real estate in California, New York, Europe and the Middle East to hide hundreds of millions of dollars looted by selling state-owned assets. Khrapunov, who lives in Switzerland, denies the claim, saying he and his family are being targeted by a political opponent, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Anatoly Golubchik, Vadim Trincher and Michael Sall

Three Trump condo owners — Golubchik,  Trincher and Sall — were convicted in 2013 in federal court in New York of participating in an illegal high-stakes sports betting ring for a Russian-American organized crime group. The betting ring operated illegal gambling websites and catered almost exclusively to wealthy oligarchs from the former Soviet Union, according to prosecutors.

Golubchik and Sall own Trump condos in Sunny Isles Beach. And professional poker player Trincher owns a condo in Trump Tower in New York City.

Golubchik and Trincher were principal leaders of the enterprise, which included money laundering and extortion, prosecutors charged in the indictment.

The godfather of the operation was identified as Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, who federal prosecutors said was a Vor, “a powerful figure in former Soviet Union organized crime” who never left Russia because he was under indictment in the U.S. for his role in allegedly bribing officials at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Sall helped launder tens of millions of dollars from the gambling enterprise, prosecutors said when they announced that all three condo owners pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Sall pleaded guilty to interstate travel in aid of an unlawful activity — illegal gambling. Golubchik and Trincher pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering. Tokhtakhounov remains in Russia, which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

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Saters ties to Trump raised in New York court hearing

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Lawyers suing a former business partner of Donald Trump have argued in a US court that his ties to the president are reason enough to unseal records relating to the government informant’s criminal past.

Felix Sater, a Russian-born former partner with New York property developer Bayrock, worked with the Trump Organization on projects around the world, including the Trump Soho tower in Manhattan.

The documents in question date back to 1998 when Mr Sater pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering in a stock manipulation scheme that involved members of several New York mafia families.

A judge in Brooklyn federal court heard arguments on Monday to make public decades of court filings concerning Mr Sater. Lawyers for Forbes magazine and a former Bayrock executive, who has previously sued Mr Sater alleging theft, argued that records relating to his criminal past should be unsealed because of his ties to the president.

The unsealing is “important” because of “the relationship between the defendant in this case and the president of the United States”, argued John Langford, an attorney with Yale Law School’s Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, on behalf of Forbes.

Mr Trump’s business connections have drawn intense scrutiny since he announced his campaign for the presidency two years ago. But he and his organisation are not parties to the case involving the unsealing and have not been named in the litigation.

Mr Sater’s business with the Trump Organization dates back more than a decade, but he recently emerged on the political stage, reportedly attending a meeting this year with Michael Cohen, an attorney for Mr Trump, and Andrii Artemenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker, to put forward a peace plan for Ukraine and Russia.

His work as an informant has remained under seal but some details of it have been made public over the years by government officials and by Mr Sater himself.

Prosecutors have said his co-operation, over more than a decade, helped lead to the convictions of more than 20 individuals, including members of New York crime families. Loretta Lynch, the former US attorney-general, told lawmakers in advance of her confirmation that Mr Sater also provided information that was “crucial” to national security. A prosecutor said in a 2011 court filing that Mr Sater had provided US intelligence “with highly sensitive information concerning various terrorists and rogue states”.

By the mid-2000s Mr Sater had remade himself at Bayrock, which was founded by Tevfik Arif, and in 2005 he travelled with Mr Trump to Colorado to pursue a redevelopment of Denver’s Union Station. Mr Sater’s criminal history was revealed in a 2007 New York Times profile. Not long after, Mr Sater left Bayrock and it was not until 2009 that he was sentenced for the 1998 stock case.

Mr Trump, in a 2013 deposition, distanced himself from Mr Sater. “If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like,” he said.

Mr Sater was sued in 2010 by Jody Kriss, a former Bayrock finance director, who alleged he had been cheated. On Monday Richard Lerner, a lawyer representing Mr Kriss and his lawyer, said it was necessary to unseal a pre-sentencing report because he alleged it would reveal that the US government knew Mr Sater had become involved with Bayrock but failed in its obligation to notify his business associates of his criminal past.

Evan Norris, a prosecutor, opposed unsealing the pre-sentence report, saying the safety of Mr Sater and his family was “still a factor”. He said the government was asking to keep two documents under seal and redact sections of several dozen others. But he and Mr Sater’s attorney jointly agreed that 80 per cent of the court filings could be made public.

Judge Pamela Chen, who was appointed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to write a report recommending whether to unseal certain documents, did not rule after the three-hour hearing. Instead, she ordered reporters out of the courtroom to continue to hear arguments from the lawyers under seal.

Just Security: The Early Edition: June 20, 2017

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Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Heres todays news.

SYRIA

Russia threatened to attack U.S.-led coalition warplanes over Syria yesterday in response to a U.S. attack on a Syrian plane for the first time in the six-year conflict on Sunday, the U.S. reacting by rerouting some flights of planes carrying out missions in Syria in an effort to minimize the risks to pilots, Dion Nissenbaum and Thomas Grove report at the Wall Street Journal.

Condemning the U.S. flagrant violation of international law, Russia warned that its forces will treat U.S.-led coalition aircraft and drones as targets if they are operating in airspace west of Syrias Euphrates River while Russian plans are on combat missions, Louisa Loveluck and David Filipov report at the Washington Post.

The Russians also said they had suspended the use of the hotline that the U.S. and Russian militaries used to ensure their aircraft did not collide in Syrian airspace yesterday in an escalation of the long-running tensions between America and Russia at a time when competing forces in Syria are converging, Michael R. Gordon and Ivan Nechepurenko report at the New York Times.

Australia suspended its airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria today as a precaution following the U.S.-Russia altercations, the AP reports.

Heavy airstrikes in the Syrian city of Deraa on the Jordanian border commenced today as a government-declared ceasefire expired, a witness and the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. Reuters reports.

Russia cannot confirm that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in an air strike in Syria last month, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov is quoted as saying by Russia media, after Moscow said last week that it may have killed Baghdadi. Reuters reports.

New conflicts are emerging among the assortment of parties fighting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq as the extremists begin to retreat, Philip Issa taking a look at some of the main players at the AP.

The Trump administration still has no strategy on how to deal with fresh conflicts certain to break out in parts of Syria once the Islamic State is ousted, with lawmakers and former U.S. officials warning that its apparently haphazard approach in the interim could lead to a dangerous escalation and the broadening of U.S. aims in Syria, writes Nahal Toosi at POLITICO.

Russias loud protests in response to the U.S. downing of a Syrian fighter jet show it is more than ready to support a gamble by Syria and Iran that the U.S. can be induced to abandon southeastern Syria rather than risk being dragged into a war unrelated to the Islamic State, the Washington Post editorial board explaining how countering Iran and Russia in Syria requires tactical defense but also a broader strategy to create an acceptable security order in the region, which may require increasing military or economic pressure on Iran, Russia and the Assad regime, and in the meantime a clear message to Moscow that continuing to align itself with Iran in the region will forfeit any chance it has of resetting relations with Washington.

The U.S. is finding out that it cannot defeat the Islamic State by ducking the larger conflict in Syria, and while the risk of escalation is real, America cannot easily avoid it: Assad and his allies know that the Islamic States days in Syrias Raqqa are numbered and they want to assert control over as much territory as possible in the meantime, which means destroying the U.S.-backed S.D.F., writes the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

US-led airstrikes continue. US and coalition forces carried out 15 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on June 18. Separately, partner forces conducted seven strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

The KOREAN PENINSULA

American student Otto Warmbier died yesterday after returning to the U.S. from detention in North Korea last week with severe brain injury, Felicia Schwartz and Jon Kamp report at the Wall Street Journal.

North Korea is a brutal regime, President Trump said, commenting on Warmbiers death, adding that he will handle Pyongyang, the BBC reports.

High-level talks between the U.S. and China tomorrow will see the U.S. pressing China to increase pressure on North Korea to curtail its nuclear and missile programs, Felicia Schwartz reports at the Wall Street Journal.

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

Former Department of Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson will testify in an open hearing before the House Intelligence Committee tomorrow as part of the committees probe into possible Trump-Russia collusion, Johnson having already met with Senate investigators in connection with their investigation, the Hills Morgan Chalfant reports.

Special counsel on the Russia probe Robert Mueller will meet with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week to safeguard against conflicts between the committees investigation and his own, according to two congressional aides, Jonathan Landay reporting at Reuters.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn didnt record any of his interactions with foreign government officials on his application to renew his security clearance last year despite saying in a speech in the days after submitting the application that he had had extensive contacts in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, according to a letter obtained by POLITICOs Austin Wright and addressed to multiple parties from Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) requesting documents related to Flynns work with Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Flynns former business partner Bijan Kian is now a focus of federal investigators looking at the lobbying work of the former national security adviser, Nathan Layne and Julia Edwards Ainsley report at Reuters.

GULF-ARAB DISPUTE

Qatar refuses to negotiate with the Arab states that have severed diplomatic and economic ties with it until they lift the blockade against it, Qatars foreign minister said yesterday, Al Jazeera reporting.

Three members of Irans Revolutionary Guard who were planning to carry out an attack on a major offshore oilfield in the Persian Gulf were arrested by Saudi Arabian forces, the Saudis said yesterday, an announcement which followed claims on Iranian state television that Saudi Arabias coast guard killed an Iranian fisherman on Friday, Abdullah Al-Shihri and Aya Batrawy report at the AP.

Three Iranian detained by Saudi Arabia are fishermen, not Revolutionary Guard Corps members, the head of border affairs at Irans interior ministry insisted yesterday. Al Jazeera reports.

The wall between the violent Arab world and the Arab world of glitz and globalization is breaking down in the wake of the diplomatic crisis engulfing Qatar on one side and Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Bahrain and Egypt on the other, and if the safe Arab world collapses, the implications will be global, writes Gideon Rachman at the Financial Times.

 Arab N.A.T.O. A military coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia to fight terrorism, such as the one the Trump administration says it wants, is guaranteed to be a mirage by a series of contradictions at its very heart including that, where trump sees an alliance united against extremism, the Saudis see a Sunni coalition that will push back on Iran, and in any case N.A.T.O. itself is much more than a coalition of common interests: it’s an alliance of shared values, writes former deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration Antony J. Blinken at the New York Times.

AFGHANISTAN

Afghan security guards came under Taliban attack in Afghanistans northern Parwan province last night leaving at least eight of them dead as they were on their way to work at the main U.S. military base in the country, Bagram airfield, Rahim Faiez reports at the AP.

The Afghan government has quietly provided a breakaway faction of the Taliban with weapons, intelligence and other support in its fight against the mainstream Taliban in recent months resulting in a series of successes in parts of the country where the government has otherwise been repeatedly beaten by the Taliban, particularly Helmand, where the insurgents still control 90 percent of the territory, report Taimoor Shah, Rod Nordland and Jawad Sukhanyar at the New York Times.

Potential Trump administration responses to Pakistan-based militants launching cross-border attacks in neighboring Afghanistan include expanding U.S. drone strikes, redirecting or withholding aid to Pakistan and possibly downgrading Pakistans status as a major non-N.A.T.O. ally, U.S. officials told Reuters Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY

President Trump will meet briefly with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the White House today, Poroshenko due to be hosted by Vice President Mike Pence who will then escort him to drop-in on Trump, allowing the president to avoid standing alongside his Ukrainian counterpart to make statements about bilateral relations as per the norm for visiting foreign leaders, the visit likely to leave questions about the administrations commitment to Ukraine, Julian Borger reports at the Guardian.

President Trumps new policy toward Cuba is a grotesque spectacle and his country will never negotiate under pressure or under threat, Cubas foreign minister said yesterday, in Cubas first response to Trumps decision to scale back Obama-era initiatives to improve U.S.-Cuba relations announced last week, Azam Ahmed reports at the New York Times.

White House adviser Jared Kushner will travel to Israel tomorrow to join the Trump administrations chief negotiator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Jason Greenblatt for meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after which he will meet with the president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, as he makes a foray into Middle East diplomacy that White House officials have said is unlikely to produce any breakthrough but which Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman at the New York Times point to as a potent remind of the importance attached to achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace by President Trump.

THE PHILIPPINES

The push to remove Islamic State-linked militants from the Philippine city of Marawi has been renewed by Philippine forces, the aim being to wrap up the fighting before the end of Ramadan, a military spokesperson said. Al Jazeera reports.

Joint maritime patrols aimed at preventing the Marawi conflict from spreading to other parts of the region were launched by the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia in the Sulu and Celebes Seas, the patrols agreed to over a year ago but delayed due to disputes including overlapping territorial claims, Ben Otto reports at the Wall Street Journal.

PARIS ATTACK

A car loaded with gas canisters rammed into a police vehicle on French Capital Paris Champs-Élysées avenue yesterday, leaving the driver of the car dead, France 24 reports.

A cache of weapons at the home of the attacker who was also carrying several weapons with him in the car – was discovered by police today, Reuters reports.

UK TERROR ATTACKS

Sundays terrorist attack in English capital London in which a van struck pedestrians outside a mosque was condemned by the State Department yesterday via a statement which also offered assistance to U.K. officials, Diamond Naga Siu reports at POLITICO.

The U.K. government is once again touting some of the widest-ranging plans to regulate the internet in the wake of Sundays terrorist attack, Mark Scott looking at this and similar debates popping up around the world at the New York Times.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

An injunction on President Trumps revised travel ban was reined in by the federal judge who issued it three months ago, U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson nullifying the injunction’s impact on studies and policy reviews ordered under Trumps March directive on the basis that the relevant portions of the block were too broad. Josh Gerstein reports at POLITICO.

Top U.S. government officials cannot be held liable for the alleged unconstitutional treatment of noncitizens detained in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled yesterday in a 4-to-2- decision that brought to an end a long-running lawsuit filed against George W. Bush administration officials. Robert Barnes reports at the Washington Post.

A review of whether a possible Russian takeover of Venezuelan government-owned petroleum company Citgo could constitute a threat to national security and a violation of economic sanctions was called for by six senators in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Sylvan Lane reports at the Hill.

An investigation into allegations that somebody was illegally recording attorney-client meetings at Guantánamo Bay detention center from Sept. 2015 to April this year, prompting a warning from a general to war court defense attorneys that their privileged communications were at risk, has been ordered by the commander of the U.S. Southern Command. Carol Rosenberg reports at the Miami Herald.

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Russian ‘gay propaganda’ law ruled discriminatory by European court
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Human rights observers argue that this law has been broadly applied to target and intimidate the LGBT community in Russia. The court concurred, arguing that its vague terminology allowed unlimited scope for abuse. The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov …
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European court angers Russia with ‘gay propaganda’ ruling

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russia analysis – Google News: Russian threat to target US aircraft in Syria seen as more ‘bluster’ than real policy change – CNBC

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Russian threat to target US aircraft in Syria seen as more ‘bluster’ than real policy change
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The U.S. downing of a Syrian government jet over the weekend marks an escalation in the long Syrian conflict, althoughRussia’s reaction Monday to view U.S. aircraft in the region as legitimate “targets” is seen more as “bluster” than anything else
Gen. Keane on Putin ‘Bluster’: Russia Won’t Shoot Down US Aircraft in SyriaFox News Insider
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Reuters –ABC Online
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Russian Intelligence services – Google News: The Making of a Russian Spy: A Roadmap for the FBI to Resolve Russia Gate – Just Security

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The Making of a Russian Spy: A Roadmap for the FBI to Resolve Russia Gate
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Surely, FBI investigators presume Russian intelligence would not have overlooked the travel of Trump associates to Russia. The Russian special services meticulously track all Americans when they visit Russia. It’s an art form. All means of
Flashback: Russian Ambassador Visited Obama White House 22 TimesTownhall
Trump lashes out over probe into possible obstruction of justiceNormangee Star

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