Russia is believed to be ramping up an ‘aggressive’ spying campaign in the US – Business Insider Friday July 7th, 2017 at 10:07 PM

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Russia is believed to be ramping up an ‘aggressive’ spying campaign in the US – Business Insider

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Business Insider
Russia is believed to be ramping up an ‘aggressive’ spying campaign in the US
Business Insider
The suspected operatives currently in the US are said to be engaged in a number of activities, including collecting information on the Trump administration. Steve Hall, former chief of operations at the CIA. told CNN that move is indicative of a 
Trump doubts Russia’s role in 2016 attack, mocks US intel agenciesMSNBC
Russia steps up spying efforts after electionCNN International
Investigators explore if Russia colluded with pro-Trump sites during US electionThe Guardian
Politico
all 69 news articles »

Is Russia still spying in the US Donald Trump election interference

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Vladimir PutinRussian President Vladimir Putin. Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Russia is believed to be stepping up its efforts to gather intelligence inside the US, despite ongoing investigations here to determine how much its activities affected the 2016 presidential election.

Citing multiple current and former US intelligence officials on Thursday, CNN reported some 150 suspected Russian operatives are in the US. The Obama administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats in December and closed two Russian compounds thought to be connected to election hacking in the heat of the 2016 election.

The suspected operatives currently in the US are said to be engaged in a number of activities, including collecting information on the Trump administration. Steve Hall, former chief of operations at the CIA. told CNN that move is indicative of a “deterioration of relations” between rival nations.

“The espionage and intelligence collection part becomes that much more important as they try to determine the plans and intentions of the adversarial government,” Hall said.

The operatives were also believed to be searching for inroads among people in the US “who can provide access to classified information,” and in some cases, obtaining temporary duty visas to secure employment at businesses that manage private information.

The State Department has continued issuing temporary duty visas to Russian travelers, CNN reported, citing intelligence officials — despite the assessment of several US intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in the 2016 election and hacked Democratic Party organizations — and despite the Kremlin’s apparent increased activities inside the US post-election.

Without commenting specifically on the visas, a State Department official told the news network, “Where we do not see eye to eye with Russia, the United States will continue to stand up for the interests and values of America, our allies and our partners.”

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Who is Felix Sater? Trump’s Russian ex-Real Estate Partner Set to Help in Laundering Probe

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Whether at home or abroad, President Donald Trump’s alleged links to Russia dog the U.S. executive at every turn. Especially when it comes to his financial real estate empire.

The latest revelation came Thursday morning as the Financial Times reported Russia-born real estate dealmaker Felix Sater, who allegedly has organized crime links, had agreed to assist in an international probe into a Kazakh family’s real estate dealings in the U.S.— including one of Trump’s most famed properties, the Trump SoHo in downtown New York City.

The report, citing five people privy to the investigation, states Sater will cooperate with a probe into former Kazakh government minister Viktor Khrapunov and his family for spending millions on real estate in the U.S. via front companies. Sater is supposed to work with attorneys and investigators on cases spanning three continents.

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Members of the Kazakh government have alleged Khrapunov stashed public funds across the world, including using money from oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov, who is alleged to have “[stolen] billions from a bank,” the FT reports.

Records show that the Khrapunovs purchased three luxury apartments in the Trump SoHo in April 2013 at a grand total price of $3.1 million.

Sater has been a questionable person in Trump’s orbit long before he stood for president. As a principal in the Bayrock Group, which worked with both Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump on a number of real estate deals between 2002 and roughly 2011, Sater worked to construct the Trump SoHo, Bloomberg reports. Sater has also previously claimed to have links to both the Kremlin and Russia’s KGB, the older version of Russia’s top security and intelligence services—now the FSB and SVR.

Before working with the Trumps—and with the Bayrock Group, which is based two floors below the president’s office in Trump Tower—Sater previously worked on Wall Street and became involved in money laundering and stock fraud, which eventually led to him becoming an informant for the U.S. government.

Throughout his campaign and well into office, Trump has repeatedly denied any business dealings or conflicts of interest in Russia.  In May, just days after he dismissed former FBI director James Comey, Trump insisted to NBC News that he had no business in Moscow.

“I have had dealings over the years where I sold a house to a very wealthy Russian many years ago. I had the Miss Universe pageant — which I owned for quite a while—I had it in Moscow a long time ago. But other than that, I have nothing to do with Russia,” the president said.

But during a deposition in 2007, Trump testified that Bayrock brought investors from Russia to Trump Tower to discuss possible deals.

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

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Trump defends Western civilization – and media call it racist – Fox News

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Trump defends Western civilization – and media call it racist
Fox News
“In his speech in Poland on Thursday, Donald Trump referred 10 times to ‘the West’ and five times to ‘our civilization,’” Peter Beinart wrote. “His white nationalist supporters will understand exactly what he means. It’s important that other Americans 
What the idea of civilization does (and doesn’t) mean to TrumpWashington Post
The Falsehood at the Core of Trump’s Warsaw SpeechThe Atlantic
Trump, in Poland, Asks if West Has the ‘Will to Survive’New York Times
Bloomberg –CNN
all 1,689 news articles »

Trump Associate Agrees to Cooperate in International Money Laundering Investigation

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A former business associate of President Donald Trump has agreed to cooperate in an international money laundering investigation targeting a Kazakh family whom he helped make real estate deals with Trump, the Financial Times reported Thursday.

The Russian-born Felix Sater is a “career criminal” with alleged ties to Russian and American organized criminal groups, Bloomberg reported.

Trump SoHoTrump Soho in Manhattan (Photo: Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Sater formerly worked at a real estate development firm called the Bayrock Group, which partnered with Trump and his children Donald Jr. and Ivanka on several deals between 2002 and about 2011, the outlet claims.

Most notably, Bayrock partnered with the Trumps on the construction of the Trump Soho hotel and condominium in Manhattan.

Bayrock also once had an office in Trump Tower, in Midtown Manhattan, two floors beneath Trump’s own.

Trump has repeatedly insisted that he barely knows Sater despite the accounts of former Bayrock employees who say the two men met frequently while Sater worked for the company.

Bloomberg also reported that Sater used to carry a Trump Organization business card and once accompanied the now-president and his children to Moscow.

In October, the Financial Times reported that Sater had helped the family of Viktor Khrapunov invest millions of dollars in US real estate through front companies – including buying apartments in Trump Soho.

Now, Sater has turned on the Khrapunovs and is cooperating with lawyers and private investigators pursuing civil cases against the family across three continents, according to the Financial Times’ Thursday report.

Trump is not the primary focus of the investigation, but the development comes as Special Counsel Robert Mueller is looking into money laundering by his associates, The New York Times reports.

Khrapunov is the ex-mayor of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, and a former energy minister. His family is accused of “cleaning” illicit money by purchasing and quickly selling luxury US properties, like the Trump-branded condos Sater helped them buy, according to a joint investigation by McClatchy and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

Both Viktor Khrapunov and his son Ilyas face money laundering charges in the US and charges in Kazakhstan. Ilyas’ father-in-law, Mukhtar Ablyazov, also faces Kazakh criminal charges over US$ 10 billion that disappeared from the bank he owned until it was seized by regulators in 2009.

The three men maintain that they are the victims of political persecution by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The mounting evidence of Trump’s ties to individuals accused of money laundering is raising questions about the precautions he’s taken to discourage the investment of illegally-obtained funds into his global real estate empire.

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felix sater – Google News: Trump Associate Agrees to Cooperate in International Money Laundering Investigation – OCCRP

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Trump Associate Agrees to Cooperate in International Money Laundering Investigation
OCCRP
A former business associate of President Donald Trump has agreed to cooperate in an international money laundering investigation targeting a Kazakh family whom he helped make real estate deals with Trump, the Financial Times reported Thursday.

 felix sater – Google News

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Trump and Western civilisation

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US president issues call to defend western values

After Putin meeting, Russian government begins trash-talking about how weak Donald Trump is 

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That didn’t take long. Donald Trump met with his puppet master Vladimir Putin today, and it went about as one would have expected. After their meeting, Russia announced that Russia didn’t hack the election, and then the Trump administration parroted the line. But even as Russia continues to humiliate America by pulling the puppet strings of the traitor it installed in the Oval Office, the Russian government can’t help but make fun of him.

Russian government adviser Sergei Markov was so giddy at the prospect of his government having total control over Donald Trump that he called up the American media just to brag about it. He told the Daily Beast that “Putin is a much more powerful Alpha male than Trump” (link). Markov went on to explain, of course, that Trump can become less of weakling if he continues to remain under Putin’s thumb. And so this is where we’re at now.

Russia has such complete and total control over Donald Trump that it can’t help but brag about it. And Trump is either too sheltered to even hear about it when Russia makes fun of him in the mainstream American press, or he’s too addle-brained to understand that Russia is openly taunting him. If this were the plot of a movie, the audience would getting up and walking out by now because it would be too over the top to be believable. And yet here in the real world, we’re stuck with it for at least a little bit longer.

The Republican majority in Congress is still trying to milk a little more mileage out of Donald Trump’s sinking ship. The GOP knows that if and when Trump’s approval rating drops below a certain point, it’ll have to throw him overboard to avoid getting totally wiped out in the midterms. We’ll see what this embarrassing week does to Trump’s faltering approval, and if we finally see action – or if the Republican Party decides to keep sinking with him for awhile longer. If you’re a regular reader, feel free to support Palmer Report

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Trump Misleads on Russian Meddling: Why 17 Intelligence Agencies Don’t Need to Agree

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“Let me just start off by saying I heard it was 17 agencies,” he said when asked about the intelligence assessment.

“I said, ‘Boy, that’s a lot.’ Do we even have that many intelligence agencies, right? Let’s check it. And we did some very heavy research,” Mr. Trump continued. “It turned out to be three or four — it wasn’t 17 — and many of your compatriots had to change their reporting, and they had to apologize, and they had to correct.”

Mr. Trump was also correct about inaccurate news reports. Some, including an article in The New York Times, incorrectly reported that all 17 American intelligence agencies had endorsed the assessment.

But there is no evidence that significant uncertainty or dissent exists across the intelligence community, simply because not all 17 were involved in the assessment of Russian interference.

Here is what you need to know about American intelligence agencies and what they do:

The Best-Known Agencies

When you think of a spy slipping into a darkened safe house to meet an informant, or furtively taking out an Islamist militant leader, you are thinking of someone who works for the C.I.A. It is the best-known American intelligence agency, and it conducts most of the country’s human intelligence and runs most covert operations. It also includes thousands of analysts whose job is to decipher foreign events for American leaders.

The N.S.A., where Edward J. Snowden worked, eavesdrops on calls and emails. Its bailiwick is what is known as signals intelligence — known among spies simply as “sigint” — and other forms of electronic spying, such as creating computer viruses that caused Iranian nuclear centrifuges to spin out of controlor some North Korean missiles to veer off course.

The F.B.I. enforces federal law, as any good mobster knows. But it also has a role in the intelligence world, leading counterintelligence operations, which are efforts to understand and stop foreign espionage. (That is the work done by Stan Beeman, the fictional F.B.I. agent on “The Americans.”)

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was created after the Sept. 11 attacks to coordinate the efforts of all the parts of the intelligence community. The idea was to ensure that the agencies were working together to avoid future attacks.

Smaller Parts of Big Agencies

A number of widely known government agencies have their own intelligence arms. The Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the State Department, for instance, helps American diplomats understand the world.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence helps protect sensitive laboratories and nuclear facilities. At the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis looks out for threats to the United States.

The Office of National Security Intelligence at the D.E.A. brings together intelligence from around the government to help stop drug smuggling. The Treasury Department has the Office of Intelligence and Analysis to help cut the flow of money to terrorist groups, drug lords and other criminals who operate internationally.

Then, of course, there is the Pentagon. Its main intelligence arm is the Defense Intelligence Agency, which is the third-largest intelligence agency. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard also all have their own intelligence branches.

The Little-Known Agencies

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency decides what do with the images captured by American spy satellites. And the National Reconnaissance Office designs, builds and operates the satellites.

The work can be tricky. In 1999, a predecessor to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency incorrectly marked the Chinese embassy on maps of Belgrade, Serbia, which was inadvertently bombed by American warplanes, killing three and wounding 20. And in 2013, the agency incorrectly misplaced a reef by eight miles, leading to the grounding of the Guardian, a naval minesweeper.

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Ex-intel chief: ‘No evidence whatsoever’ anyone but Russia interfered in election

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New York Today: Plan B for Penn Station Commuters

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— Susan Piskiel Blackburn, 63, Short Hills, N.J. (N.J. Transit)

“I’ll use the PATH if necessary, though I fear herds of commuters moving inch by inch through Hoboken. So I’m looking forward more to the New York Waterway, which might seem like a mini-vacation each way. It’ll add 20 minutes to my walk to work, but maybe with a spring in my step from the boat ride’s misty wind.”

— Joel Schwartzberg, 48, Chatham, N.J. (N.J. Transit)

“Utilizing the Hunterspoint Avenue station as much as possible, especially during the evening commute. Many L.I.R.R. commuters do not realize how convenient and less stressful this station is.”

— Jesse Pardo, 29, Lynbrook, N.Y. (L.I.R.R.)

“I will avoid going into the city as often as possible. I don’t want to pay Long Island Rail Road. No fare reduction for me, as I wouldn’t want to go into Brooklyn or Hunterspoint.”

— Charlotte Armstrong, 37, West Hempstead, N.Y., (L.I.R.R.)

“My plan for the ‘summer of hell’ is simply to move to Brooklyn. L.I.R.R. isn’t great under normal operations, and I have no interest in seeing this circus continue.”

— Jason Rabinowitz, 31, Woodmere, N.Y., (L.I.R.R.)

What’s your Plan B during the track repairs? Let us know in the comments.

Here’s what else is happening:

Weather

If you plan to spend much time outside this morning, prepare to get wet.

We’re expecting showers and perhaps a thunderstorm or two until your afternoon coffee break.

But these are summer showers — the high is still forecast to be 79.

The skies should dry up by Saturday afternoon, after which sun and temperatures in the mid 80s are on tap. Sunday is similarly warm and sunny.

In the News

• Building a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River and repairing the existing one could cost nearly $13 billion. [New York Times]

• The authorities continue to investigate what motivated Alexander Bonds to shoot Officer Miosotis Familia. [New York Times]

• Bargains galore, from bed linens to chandeliers, were on offer at the liquidation sale at the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal. [New York Times]

• Gov. Chris Christie used several million dollars to heavily subsidize boat rides for a very small contingent of Jersey Shore residents. [New York Times]

• Mayor Bill de Blasio made a sudden trip to Hamburg, Germany, to join the Trump protests at the Group of 20 meeting. [New York Times]

• Mr. de Blasio agreed to increase the number of charter schools across the city. [New York Times]

 In “Big City,” Ginia Bellafante writes about how real estate interests are trying to rebrand a section of Harlem as “SoHa.” [New York Times]

• Some top officials of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority barely ride the subway. [Daily News]

• Today’s Metropolitan Diary: “Trying Koshary

 Scoreboard: New York Liberty thump Seattle Storm, 79-70

• For a global look at what’s happening, see Your Friday Briefing.

Coming Up Today

• An evening of Afro-Cuban music and a screening of “When the Spirits Dance Mambo” at the Bronx Museum. Beginning at 6 p.m. [Free]

• Dress to the nines and join a beachside disco at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island. 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. [Free]

• martial arts-inspired cardio fitness class is at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. 7 p.m. [Free]

• Watch or compete in the U.S. Air Guitar Semifinals at the Knitting Factory Brooklyn in Williamsburg. 7 p.m. [$20]

• A Mexican Affair,” an evening of music and stories, at the Paper Factory Hotel in Long Island City, Queens. 9:30 p.m. [$25]

• Yankees host Brewers, 7:05 p.m. (YES). Mets at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. (SNY).

• Alternate-side parking remains in effect until Aug. 15.

 Weekend travel hassles: Check subway disruptions and a list of street closings.

The Weekend

Saturday

• Visit thousands of pinwheels, part of the Connective Project art installation, at the Rose Garden in Prospect Park. 5 a.m. [Free]

• A gentle flow yoga class is at the Alice Austen House Museum on Staten Island. 10 a.m. [Free]

• Learn how to make vegan soap at Wave Hill in the Bronx. 10 a.m. [$55]

• Illustrators and artists present their work at Pete’s Mini Zine Fest at Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2 to 7 p.m. [Free]

• Learn about the radical history of Alphabet City on a walking tour beginning at the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space in the East Village. 3 p.m. [$20]

• Yankees host Brewers, 1:05 p.m. (YES). Mets at Cardinals, 4:10 p.m. (SNY).

Sunday

• Join an early-morning birding tour at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, before the gates open to the public. 6 a.m. [$15]

• The Disability Pride Parade begins on the northwest corner of Union Square, goes up Broadway and ends at Madison Square Park in Midtown. 11 a.m. [Free]

• Learn about the history of the World’s Fair sites on a tour beginning at the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. 11 a.m. [Free]

• Comedians perform as part of NYLaughs in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. 2 p.m. [Free]

• photography lesson and neighborhood tour beginning at Flushing Town Hall in Queens. 2 p.m. [$13]

• A performance of “The Three Musketeers,” by the Classical Theater of Harlem in Marcus Garvey Park. 8 p.m. [Free]

• Yankees host Brewers, 1:05 p.m. (YES). Mets at Cardinals, 2:15 p.m. (SNY). New York Liberty at Phoenix Mercury, 6 p.m. (MSG).

• For more events, see The New York Times’s Arts & Entertainment guide.

And Finally…

If the return to your cubicle, counter or computer this week has you longing for a job outdoors, here’s a tip: NYC Ferry is putting out a call for deckhands.

The gig involves handling lines and rigging when a ferry launches or docks, monitoring the deck and ensuring the safety of customers aboard the city’s new fleet.

You’ll need at least a high school diploma, sea legs and the desire to learn and to ask questions.

NYC Ferry hopes to have 80 deckhands by the end of the month, and 100 by next summer.

(And if you have the skills, the city is also looking to hire 50 captains by next summer.)

Deckhands won’t be offered a corner office, but the position does come with quite the view.

You can fill out an application here.

New York Today is a weekday roundup that stays live from 6 a.m. till late morning. If you don’t get it in your inbox already, you can sign up to receive it by email here.

For updates throughout the day, like us on Facebook.

What would you like to see here to start your day? Post a comment, email us at nytoday@nytimes.com, or reach us via Twitter using #NYToday.

Follow the New York Today columnists, Alexandra Levine and Jonathan Wolfeon Twitter.

You can find the latest New York Today at nytoday.com.

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More havoc at Penn Station as another train derails | New York Post

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A New Jersey Transit train derailed at Penn Station Thursday night, adding to ongoing commuter nightmare.

The accident took place just days before extensive track work is scheduled to begin at the transit hub.

About 180 people were on the North Jersey Coast Line train from Long Branch, which was nearing the station when the slow-speed derailment happened at 9 p.m.

“You could hear a loud bang and dragging sound,” said Donel Gregory, a vendor who works at the station. “I got out of there. ‘’

No injuries were reported. Only one car left the tracks and passengers were transferred to another train that was sent to pick them up.

Amtrak and the Long Island railroad said their trains would not be affected, but NJ Transit said its riders should expect “extensive’’ delays this Friday morning.

Riders were outraged.

A passenger on the derailed train, who asked to be identified only by her first name Nina said, “It’s like every week here. You just want to scream.’’

Tomas Bosa was in the station.

“I was here to meet my fiance on that train. It’s like walking into a fun house…everything seems upside down,’ he said.

Necchie Goldman, a daily Jersey Transit commuter who was not on the stalled train, said “This just isn’t normal.

“Trains should run. Who’s in charge?’’ she asked.

Other people in the station were equally angry.

“We live in the best city in the world and yet we have a third world transit system,’’ said Glen Ragneer. “Something has to be done.’’

Sections of the station used by Jersey Transit were closed down for a while. “I don’t know how people are getting home tonight,’’ Gregory added.

It’s the third recent derailment at Penn station. The others were in March and April and led to major delays and cancellations.

Amtrak, which owns the station and is responsible for the condition of the tracks, is set to begin an eight week-long program of repairs on July 10.

The repairs will take place seven days a week and some of the tracks will be out of service 24/7.

Executives at the MTA recently wrote Amtrak, which owns the station blaming it for “four equipment failures and accidents.’’ It said they “resulted in major delays” on tracks owned by Amtrak but used by the MTA’s Long Island Railroad.

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(30) First Lady Kept Inside Amid G-20 Protests – YouTube

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Published on Jul 7, 2017

Anti-globalization activists set dozens of cars ablaze and tried to block leaders’ delegations from entering the grounds of the Group of 20 summit on Friday in a second day of protests, forcing Melania Trump to stay indoors. (July 7

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(30) DAY 1: President Donald Trump G20 Summit Speech, Putin Meeting, Press Conference Hamburg Germany 17 – YouTube

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FULL DAY COVERAGE OF THE G20 SUMMIT IN GERMANY, HAMBURG

LIVE Stream: US President Donald Trump G20 Summit Speech, meeting with Russian president Putin , Press Conference – Hamburg, Germany 7/7/2017

WATCH LIVE G20 2017 SUMMIT
The 2017 G20 Hamburg summit is the twelfth meeting of the Group of Twenty (G20) held on 7–8 July 2017 in the city of Hamburg

The G20 Summit 2017 will take place in the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Germany.

Dates: 7 – 8 July, 2017
Location: Hamburg Messe & Congress

Hamburg will host the twelfth G20 Summit on the 7th and 8th of July, 2017. More than twenty Heads of State or Government as well as representatives of international organisations will meet at the Messehallen Convention Centre. Learn more about the G20 Summit.

G20 leaders will meet in Hamburg, Germany, on 7 and 8 July 2017. The theme of the German presidency of the G20 is ‘interconnected world’.

The leaders will discuss the main topics of economic, financial, climate, trade, employment and development policy. Migration and refugee flows and are other key issues of global significance that will appear on the summit agenda.
The President of the European Council.

THE G20 summit in Hamburg will bring together world leaders including Theresa May, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel.

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(30) President Trump And Vladimir Putin Meet For First Time At G20 Summit In Hamburg, Germany | TIME – YouTube

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Streamed live 25 minutes ago

World leaders President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin of Russia meet for the first time at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.
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Donald Trump encounters Vladimir Putin for 1st time at G-20: Grins and handshakes

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With a hearty handshake and broad smiles, President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putingreeted each other face-to-face for the first time Friday at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

The two leaders will sit down together later Friday for a highly anticipated meeting overshadowed by Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election last year and Democrats’ unsubstantiated allegations of Trump campaign collusion.

When the two leaders greeted each with a handshake at the G-20 gathering, Mr. Trump reached across with his left hand to pat Mr. Putin’s elbow during the handshake. The image went viral.

While the sit-down on the G-20 sidelines is their first face-to-face encounter, they have spoken by phone three times since Mr. Trump took office, according to the White House.

The White House said there was not set agenda for the meeting. Likely topics for the meeting include the election meddling, the Syria civil war in which the U.S. and Russia support opposing sides, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the fight against the Islamic State group and radical Islamic terrorism.

“Much to discuss,” Trump tweeted in advance of the meeting.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin will be joined at the meeting by U.S. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, said the White House.

U.S. lawmakers and federal investigators continue to look into Russia’s election interference, along with possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russian government officials. That puts Mr. Trump under intense scrutiny over how he handles the sit-down with Mr. Putin, a former Russian intelligence agent.

Heading into the meeting, Mr. Trump sharpened the lines of division between Washington and Moscow, criticizing Russia’s military actions in Ukraine and Syria and praising NATO for its vital role in defending Europe against aggression.

Mr. Trump, who likes to have neatly packaged achievements to pair with high-profile meetings, may seek some concessions from Russia to show he’s delivering progress and helping restore a once-productive relationship that he recently described as being at an “all-time low.”

Mr. Putin would almost certainly want something in return.

The list of issues ranges from Syria to Iran to Ukraine, and now North Korea, following Pyongyang’s test this week of a missile capable of striking the U.S.

Russia wants the U.S. to return the two compounds in New York and Maryland that were seized by the Obama administration as punishment for election meddling. It also wants the U.S. to ease sanctions it imposed on Russia after Mr. Putin annexed the Crimean Peninsula, and over Russia’s support of separatist elements in Ukraine.

The U.S. wants a resumption of adoptions of Russian children by American parents, which Russia banned in 2012, along with an end to what it claims is intensifying harassment of U.S. diplomats and other officials stationed in Russia.

Lawmakers in both political parties say Mr. Trump must confront Mr. Putin over the election.

Several senior Democratic U.S. senators served notice Thursday that Trump would be in “severe dereliction” of his presidential duty if he fails to confront Mr. Putin over the issue, telling Mr. Trump in a letter that he must make clear that Russia’s interference in U.S. democracy will not be tolerated.

“The upcoming elections cannot be a playground for President Putin,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck E. Schumer of New York; Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat; and the top Democrats on the Intelligence, Armed Services, and Foreign Relations committees.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Illinois Republican and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said this week that he will “raise holy hell” if Mr. Trump goes soft on Mr. Putin.

“It is very important for us to make a statement that Russia does not meddle not just in our elections, here and the future, but in our allies,” Mr. Kinzinger said.

Every detail of the Trump-Putin meeting will be scrutinized, from their facial expressions to the color of their neckties to how they shake hands.

“The big thing to watch will be what Mr. Putin asks for and what he offers in return and whether there’s a sense of receptivity on the president’s part,” said Derek Chollet, executive vice president and senior adviser for security and defense policy at the German Marshall Fund, a Washington think tank.

Before meeting with Mr. PutinMr. Trump will try to manage another rocky international relationship when he meets with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Mr. Pena Nieto had been scheduled to visit the White House shortly after Mr. Trump took office, but he scrapped the trip at the last minute due to disagreement with Mr. Trump over the U.S. president’s insistence that Mexico pay for the wall he has vowed to build along the U.S.-Mexico border to deter illegal immigration.

Mr. Pena Nieto insists Mexico will not pay.

Mr. Trump has vowed to tighten border security and crack down on undocumented workers and drug cartels, but he has been less firm on getting Mexico to pay for the wall.

He reassured Mr. Pena Nieto in April that he would not pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which involves the U.S., Mexico and Canada. But Mr. Trump said he could still withdraw if he concludes that a renegotiated pact would not produce “a fair deal” for all sides.

The Putin meeting is the highlight of a hectic, four-day European visit for Mr. Trump, who addressed thousands of Poles in an outdoor speech in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday. He met in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel, the summit host, and had dinner with two Asian allies — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in — to discuss North Korea’s aggression.

The Group of 20 gathering of the world’s leading rich and developing nations is the first since Mr. Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, deeply disappointing Merkel and other U.S. allies who had hoped to maintain momentum in battling climate change. Even as Mr. Trump has said in vague terms he would like to renegotiate the Paris accord, European leaders have vowed to press forward.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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Who stole the 2016 US Presidential Elections? The Big Questions In The Age Of Chutzpah – The Web World Times – wwtimes.com

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The Twenty-First Century is emerging as “the age of chutzpah“.

The 9/11 events, still waiting for their definitive investigation and understanding, and their “political equivalent” – the US Presidential Elections of 2016 serve as the illustrations. The other terms are: fascismtotalitarianism, and authoritarianism. Every age must have and name its “chutzpahs”.

Is Mr. Trump mad? Does it matter? There are many safeguards in the system to prevent the short circuiting due to individual insanity on the highest levels, and the additional measures at improvement are on the way.

Chutzpah is not insanity, “chutzpah is chutzpah”.

At the center of this spider web, which is the world mafioso Chutzpahnismo“The Tarantula” sits.

This picture was so astutely and allegorically observed by some of our most truth-seeking lawmakers. The tarantula’s name is “Puti-Put”, or more exactly, precisely, and politically correctly, “Putinism”. Putin’s Russia is a Mafia State in form, structure, ways, and methods, including her relations with the other states. The modern Russia is the ultimate triumph of the criminal will and mentality, she loves to throw her weight around too and sees herself as the reinforcer and the overseer in her neighborhood. A lot of criminal chutzpah.

With the steady trickle of the news reports on Trump investigation, it becomes increasingly clear: Russia’s hostile efforts at the political interference in the West are the long-term, carefully planned and coordinated. It takes a lot of chutzpah (and a lot of advanced preparations) to do so brazenly whatever they were and still are doing.

Not all the facts of these Russian interventions are known publicly yet. 

The big picture still is not complete. Inevitably, the next set of questions arises: what other foreign entities attempted to interfere and influence the US Elections, how, and what was the impact of these attempts? The long-term assessments, prognosis, plans, and work are needed in this direction. And, since these efforts at electoral interference are nearly universal, at least on the part of the big international players, the further questions arise: should these efforts be somehow regulated and restrained, or to be left to the province of the “free for all” Intelligence Services’ competition?

The punishment should fit the crime.

Can you neutralize the spider web if you do not get “The Tarantula” out of its center?

It takes a lot of chutzpah to assume that you, whatever and whoever you are, can attempt to install the President of the US as your puppet or a client and can get away from this brazenness unscathed.

“Because this Putinist onslaught has demonstrated a capacity to erode our institutions and those of other democratic countries, it deserves a prominent place in our thinking about global security. We are sleepwalking if we do not recognize this danger”, proclaimed a group of Congresspersons recently.

“The primordial interest of the United States for centuries (WWI, WWII and the Cold War) has been to stop a coalition between Germany and Russia, because united they are the only force that could threaten us”, observed George Friedman, and this observation, it seems to me, retains its validity and the strategic thrust more than ever. So far, “Divide et Impera“, this “common rule of politics”, seems to be quite skillfully and successfully employed by Germany and Russia against the US, rather than the other way around. The same dynamics are evident in US – Russia – China triangular relations.

This is doubly regrettable because, for Russia, it is the trans-Atlantic rather than the Continental orientation that seems to be the most viable and promising option and alternative, only if obscured by the subjectively colored, short-term goals and the shortsightedness of the current policies of Putinism.

“How very sad”, as Mr. Trump would say.

See full text here:

The Big Questions In The Age Of Chutzpah: The Foreign Interference In The Elections Of 2016

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Trump impeachment chances: Mueller team edition.

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In the tradition of the Clintonometer and the Trump Apocalypse Watch, the Impeach-O-Meter is a wildly subjective and speculative daily estimate of the likelihood that Donald Trump leaves office before his term ends, whether by being impeached (and convicted) or by resigning under threat of same.

At risk of repeating myself—which I guess is a risk inherent in writing about the same exact subject five days a week for, potentially, the next 390 weeks: If Russia-related Trump malfeasance occurred, it seems likely that Mueller will document it thoroughly and that his findings will be found credible by the general public. At this point, the question is simply whether Trump, Manafort, Flynn, or anyone else is guilty of anything more scandalous than maintaining sleazy financial relationships in the former Soviet Union.

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Russia steps up spying efforts after election

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The officials say they believe one of the biggest US adversaries feels emboldened by the lack of a significant retaliatory response from both the Trump and Obama administrations.

“Russians have maintained an aggressive collection posture in the US, and their success in election meddling has not deterred them,” said a former senior intelligence official familiar with Trump administration efforts.

Russians could also be seeking more information on Trump’s administration, which is new and still unpredictable to Moscow, according to Steve Hall, retired CIA chief of operations.

“Whenever there is a deterioration of relations between countries — the espionage and intelligence collection part becomes that much more important as they try to determine the plans and intentions of the adversarial government,” Hall said.

Since the November election, US intelligence and law enforcement agencies have detected an increase in suspected Russian intelligence officers entering the US under the guise of other business, according to multiple current and former senior US intelligence officials. The Russians are believed to now have nearly 150 suspected intelligence operatives in the US, these sources said. Officials who spoke to CNN say the Russians are replenishing their ranks after the US in December expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying in retaliation for election-meddling.

“The concerning point with Russia is the volume of people that are coming to the US. They have a lot more intelligence officers in the US” compared to what they have in other countries, one of the former intelligence officials says.

The FBI, which is responsible for counterintelligence efforts in the US, would not comment for the story.

Fueling law enforcement officials’ concern is that the Russians are targeting people in the US who can provide access to classified information, in addition to ongoing efforts to hack the US government for intelligence, according to several of the officials. In some cases, Russian spies have tried to gain employment at places with sensitive information as part of their intelligence-gathering efforts, the sources say.

But that hasn’t stopped the State Department from issuing the temporary duty visas — also known as TDY — to the suspected Russian intelligence officers. US intelligence officials who spoke to CNN expressed concerns about the number of temporary visas the State Department has issued to Russian travelers. The issue is not a new one between State and intelligence but has continued even after the intelligence findings of Russia meddling in the US election.

A State Department official would not comment specifically on the visas that have been issued, citing confidentiality under the Immigration and Nationality Act, but said “the United States is open to working with Russia where we can find areas of practical cooperation that will benefit the American people.” The official adds, “Where we do not see eye to eye with Russia, the United States will continue to stand up for the interests and values of America, our allies and our partners.”

DHS would not comment on the Russia visas specifically but said there is an extensive process for granting visas.

“The visa process involves multiple security checks, including screening of applicants against a wide array of criminal and terrorist databases to verify the individual’s identity and to detect derogatory information that might lead to an inadmissibility determination, as well as an in-person interview with the applicant,” according to a statement explaining the process.

Former State Department spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby says it’s a complicated issue.

“To deny a visa, there has to be concrete reasons to do it,” said Kirby, a CNN military and diplomatic analyst. “Sometimes they bring people over on legitimate business only, that’s true. But sometimes the spies they send over here come wrapped inside the veneer of legitimate business. They blur those lines pretty well. And that’s one way they try to get around the visa issue.”

In some cases, the FBI uses surveillance to track the suspected Russian intelligence officers as part of a counterintelligence effort. That’s how the US was able to identify and expel the 35 Russian diplomats last December, officials explained. US law enforcement officials say some of the Russian diplomats have violated protocol by leaving the Washington, DC, area without notifying the State Department. Russia has similar rules in place for US diplomats in Russia.

The issue was alluded to in a recent exchange between Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Bill Priestap, the FBI’s Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, during a hearing about Russia on Capitol Hill. “Does it complicate you and your agent’s efforts to conduct your counterintelligence mission, to have Russian nationals wandering around the country more than 25 miles outside their duty assignment?” Cotton asked. Priestap responded, “Sure. If that were to happen, that would absolutely complicate our efforts.”

One flashpoint in US-Russia relations: The US shut down Russian diplomatic compounds in December that US officials believe were outfitted with sophisticated surveillance equipment targeting US military and civilian infrastructure. Russian officials have pressed the US to return the facilities in a bid to improve relations. One former administration official said that the US even watched as Russians removed suspected surveillance equipment from the compounds when they were evicted. Russia has denied the compounds were being used for intelligence gathering.

A spokesperson for the Russian embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

Even after the meddling in the US elections in 2016, the US has been slow to take measures to respond to the intelligence threat, current and former US officials say.

Partisan political disagreements over the Russian activity — and President Donald Trump’s reluctance to accept intelligence conclusions about Russia’s meddling in the election — has slowed efforts to counter the threat, current and former officials say.

Trump: Russia 'and others' meddled in election
Trump: Russia 'and others' meddled in election

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US intelligence is also uneasy about ongoing Russian efforts to infiltrate US infrastructure. At a May Senate hearing on national security threats, top intelligence officials expressed concerns that the widespread use of cyber-security software in the US made by Kaspersky Labs based in Moscow could be used as a tool to accomplish that. The Russian-based company’s anti-virus products have become popular in the US consumer market.

But now US government agencies are concerned that Russian security services may be able to use the software for espionage or to help access otherwise secure networks, according to US officials briefed on the matter. Kaspersky products are also commonly used in equipment bought by US government agencies. The top officials from the FBI, CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency all testified at the May hearing that they wouldn’t allow Kaspersky software in their computer networks. But US government contractors may still use the products. The officials would not detail their concerns in an open hearing, citing the classified nature of the information.

Kaspersky has denied any ties to the Russian government and says it has never helped, and wouldn’t assist, with any government’s espionage efforts. In a statement to CNN, Kaspersky Lab says, “As a private company, Kaspersky Lab has no ties to any government, and the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts.”

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Foreign Interference In The Elections Of 2016 – Google Search

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Trump, in Poland, Says ‘Nobody Really Knows’ if Only Russia Meddled in U.S. Vote

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• West European countries had hoped to isolate Mr. Trump after he rejected the Paris climate change agreement, but those efforts appear to be faltering.

Was Russia solely responsible for campaign meddling? ‘Nobody really knows.’

Mr. Trump suggested on Thursday that he still was not convinced that Russia was solely responsible for interference in the 2016 election, breaking with American intelligence agencies who have agreed that the effort emanated from Moscow and was directed by Mr. Putin.

“I think it was Russia, and it could have been other people in other countries,” Mr. Trump said when asked for a yes-or-no answer to the question about Russian meddling.

“Nobody really knows,” he added, arguing that American intelligence agencies had made serious mistakes in the past, including an assessment before the United States-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 that Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction. “Nobody really knows for sure.” — Julie Hirschfeld Davis

Trump criticizes CNN, denounces ‘fake news’ and defends a divisive tweet.

President Trump tag-teamed with Poland’s president to denounce the media — hitting CNN and “fake news” while defending what he suggested was a lighthearted tweet of a video showing him body-slamming a figure whose head was replaced by the CNN logo.

What made Mr. Trump’s sermon against the mainstream media different this time was the fact Mr. Duda’s center-right party, Law and Justice, proposed restricting media access to Parliament last year. The government backed down after street protests.

“They have been fake news for a long time, and they have been covering me” in a dishonest way, Mr. Trump said of CNN when asked about the tweet at the news conference with Mr. Duda at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. “We don’t want fake news,” he added, as Mr. Duda nodded vigorously in agreement.

Mr. Duda, responding to an American reporter’s question about his own actions toward the news media, blamed Polish journalists for intentionally distorting his record and for failing to include his positions in articles critical of his government.

After chastising CNN — a go-to move on both sides of the Atlantic — Mr. Trump went after NBC, his former employer. “NBC is nearly as bad, despite the fact that I made them a lot of money on ‘The Apprentice,’ ” he said.

Despite taking a shot at the network, he made a point of calling on Hallie Jackson, the chief White House Correspondent for NBC, as one of the two American questioners. Ms. Jackson pressed Mr. Trump on whether he would finally and definitively blame Russia for trying to influence the 2016 election on his behalf. After the president hedged his answer, Ms. Jackson asked a follow-up question.

When she tried to ask a third, an aide to Mr. Duda cut her off, addressing her as “dear lady,” and squelching the microphone she had been handed. Mr. Trump, for his part, appeared surprised and ready to answer another question. — Glenn Thrush

U.S. weighs a ‘pretty severe’ response to North Korea.

Mr. Trump said on Thursday that he was weighing “some pretty severe things” to respond to the nuclear threat from North Korea, and he called on all nations to confront what he called the “global threat” from Pyongyang.

“We’ll see what happens — I don’t like to talk about what we have planned — but I have some pretty severe things that we’re thinking about,” Mr. Trump said at the news conference with Mr. Duda. “They are behaving in a very, very serious manner, and something will have to be done about it.”

North Korea conducted a successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that appeared capable of hitting Alaska. Mr. Trump said he and Mr. Duda had spoken about confronting terrorism as well as “the threat from North Korea, and that’s what it is — it is a threat, and we will confront it very strongly.”

He said the United States and nations around the world must “demonstrate that there are consequences for their very, very bad behavior.” — Julie Hirschfeld Davis

In a speech, Trump is expected to call for unity against terrorism.

Mr. Trump on Thursday plans to deliver a message of determination in the face of terrorism to the Polish people with a speech in which he was expected to say that the West must defend itself in a good-versus-evil fight against extremism.

“I am here today not just to visit an old ally, but to hold it up as an example for others who seek freedom and who wish to summon the courage and the will to defend our civilization,” Mr. Trump is expected to say in a speech in Krasinski Square, where a monument commemorates the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis. “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.”

“We must stand united against these shared enemies to strip them of their territory, their funding, their networks, and any form of ideological support,” Mr. Trump will say, according to excerpts provided by the White House in advance. “While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism.”

Mr. Trump will also say that Americans and Europeans must confront the danger of “the steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people,” citing the value of individual freedom and sovereignty. — Julie Hirschfeld Davis

Poland to buy missile defense system from the U.S.

Mr. Trump is to announce on Thursday that Poland has agreed to buy the Patriot missile defense system from the United States, a senior administration official said, opening his European trip with a show of support for a nation moving to respond to Russian aggression.

Mr. Trump was expected to make an announcement about the sale after a meeting with Mr. Duda, a right-wing leader whose populist tendencies match his own.

At a joint news conference, Mr. Trump said the United States was working with Poland to address what he described as destabilizing behavior on the part of Russia. — Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Glenn Thrush

With a few exceptions, a warm welcome for Trump in Poland.

Mr. Trump emerged from a Marriott in Warsaw on Thursday a little after 9:15 a.m., his sprawling motorcade of flag-flapping black sedans, police escorts and shuttle buses riding up the Vistula River to a back entrance to the presidential palace. He was greeted by Mr. Duda, and disappeared into closed-door meetings after a session with photographers, emerging only for the news conference.

Unlike in Hamburg, no major protests were expected in Warsaw, where Poland’s right-wing government was determined to provide Mr. Trump, and itself, with photographs of an ecstatic welcome, but there were signs of dissent.

Wednesday night, around the time Air Force One arrived in Warsaw, environmental protesters projected a message on the side of the Palace of Culture and Science, reading “No Trump, Yes Paris,” a dig at America’s plan to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

And Michael Schudrich, Poland’s chief rabbi, and other Jewish leaders issued a statement Thursday morning that was critical of the White House’s decision not to visit a monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943.

Every American president and vice president who has visited Warsaw since the fall of communism in 1989 has visited the monument. “We deeply regret that President Donald Trump, though speaking in public barely a mile away from the monument, chose to break with that laudable tradition, alongside so many other ones,” the statement read. “We trust that this slight does not reflect the attitudes and feelings of the American people.” — Rick Lyman

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donald trump racketeering – Google News: Russia-born dealmaker linked to Trump assists laundering probe – Financial Times

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Financial Times
Russia-born dealmaker linked to Trump assists laundering probe
Financial Times
Donald Trump faces renewed scrutiny of the riches that flowed into his real estate empire from the former Soviet Union after a fixer for a Kazakh family accused of pumping dirty money into US property agreed to assist an international investigation 

 donald trump racketeering – Google News

How Donald Trump has played Vladimir Putin’s game

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Donald Trump can be restrained — in what he does, if not always in what he says. Changing the president’s mind is another thing altogether. So a senior figure in the US administration describes the constant struggle about the direction of America’s foreign policy between Mr Trump and his cabinet’s grown-ups.

To take one example. The president has accepted, albeit grudgingly, that he cannot reauthorise torture in the interrogation of terrorists or enemy combatants. James Mattis simply said “No”. It does not work and is abhorrent to American values, the secretary of defence argued. Mr Trump has complied, but no one in the White House doubts he still thinks torture works.

Much the same can be said about the president’s attitude to alliances. From time to time Mr Mattis or General HR McMaster, the national security adviser, persuade him to recommit to the mutual defence provisions at the heart of Nato or bilateral treaties with Japan and South Korea, which have guaranteed the peace in East Asia. They have not persuaded him of the worth of those alliances as a multiplier of US power.

The relationship with Russia falls into the same category. Mr Trump would like to do a deal with Vladimir Putin when the two leaders meet at this week’s gathering of G20 leaders in Hamburg. The odds are that the cabinet grown-ups will block anything substantive, although nothing can be ruled out with so volatile and meretricious a president. What aides and advisers cannot do is change Mr Trump’s worldview.

The multiple investigations into Russian interference in the US election and possible collusion with Mr Trump’s campaign have not dulled the US president’s infatuation with his Russian counterpart. Left to his own devices, he would lift the US sanctions imposed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in return for Mr Putin’s collaboration in Syria and Kremlin acquiescence in US efforts to contain Iran.

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Beware of leaders’ pledges to build a future inspired by past glories

Mr Trump’s indifference to the fate of Ukraine was made plain during his White House meeting in May with Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister. The president explained that he wanted Moscow to negotiate with Kiev mainly because others in Washington (the Congress and State Department among them) were wedded to the Minsk peace accords. Shared western values, the preservation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, discouragement of Russian revanchism — these are not questions that grab Mr Trump’s attention.

Mr Trump’s approach is shaped by impulses, instincts and prejudices. Mr Putin has what the political scientists call a grand strategy. The US president snatches at power; the Russian leader understands it. Yes, Mr Putin is opportunistic, but to a purpose. Earlier this year, at a conference organised by Aspen Italia and Chatham House, I heard one of Moscow’s smartest foreign policy analysts set out the strategy.

Whether it was the annexation of Crimea, the invasion of eastern Ukraine, interventionism in Syria and, more recently, Libya, this scholar explained, Mr Putin’s actions had a single, simple goal. The post-cold war international order had bestowed unchallenged primacy on the US. Washington had done as it chose in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, brushing aside any objections from Moscow. In pushing back against the US in the Middle East and laying claim to the former Soviet space in Europe, Mr Putin is now challenging that order at every turn.

The strategy is to degrade and eventually dismantle the US-led, post-cold war settlement and replace it by an international system based on great power primacy and regional hegemonies. In the west, the concert established at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, with its spheres of influence and great power balancing, is just another piece of history. For the Kremlin, it offers a model for today’s international relations.

What Mr Putin could never have imagined is that he would find such a willing collaborator in the White House. Mr Trump shares the Kremlin worldview. Sure, he will occasionally pay lip service to America’s global responsibilities but, like Mr Putin, he is a nationalist not a globalist. Allies now understand that this US president could not be relied upon at a moment of crisis.

The alliances, rules and institutions of the old order were designed to provide protections for the weak as well as the strong. Mr Trump is no more interested than is Mr Putin in a voice for the weak. The shocking irony, as ever, escapes the US president: by striking a pose in defence of America First, Mr Trump has willingly surrendered US power and prestige accumulated over 70 years.

Things, of course, could go awry in Hamburg. Mr Putin may gang up with China’s Xi Jinping to blunt Mr Trump’s threats against North Korea. The Russian leader may judge that, for as long as the US administration is under siege from investigations into ties with Moscow, there is nothing more to be gained by playing chums with Mr Trump.

What no one should doubt is that Mr Putin is well on the way, courtesy of the White House, to achieving his grand strategic ambition. The US is estranged from its European partners; allies almost everywhere have lost trust in Mr Trump; and Washington now eschews the international leadership it had come to view as a birthright. If you are Mr Putin this marks a great victory. For everyone else, it speaks to a much more dangerous world.

philip.stephens@ft.com

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Russia-born dealmaker linked to Trump assists laundering probe

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Donald Trump faces renewed scrutiny of the riches that flowed into his real estate empire from the former Soviet Union after a fixer for a Kazakh family accused of pumping dirty money into US property agreed to assist an international investigation into his former business partners.

Felix Sater, a Russian-born dealmaker with organised-crime connections who worked on property ventures including Trump Soho in Manhattan, has attracted attention in recent months as efforts continue to chart the links between the US president’s circle and moneymen from Russia and its neighbours.

In October the Financial Times revealed Mr Sater had helped the family of Viktor Khrapunov, a former Kazakh minister now exiled in Switzerland, invest millions in US real estate through front companies. The Khrapunovs have spent heavily across the US, including, records indicate, buying apartments in Trump Soho.

Mr Khrapunov is accused by Kazakhstan’s rulers of embezzling government funds and hiding the cash around the world. Kazakh authorities claim the Khrapunovs’ laundering schemes also funnelled money from a fellow dissident, Mukhtar Ablyazov, an oligarch accused of stealing billions of dollars from a bank.

Mr Sater has now agreed to co-operate with an international investigation into the alleged money-laundering network, five people with knowledge of the matter said. The co-operation has included working with a team of lawyers and private investigators pursuing civil cases across three continents, the people said. Mr Sater declined to comment.

In Kazakhstan as in other former Soviet states, Mr Trump’s sprawling business interests threaten to impinge on the president as he manages American foreign policy commitments in the region.


Felix Sater

Occupation Real estate dealmaker, pictured right, who worked with Donald Trump
Kazakh connection Helped Khrapunov family move millions of dollars into US real estate


Both of the Kazakh dissidents under investigation say they are the victims of a political vendetta orchestrated by Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s strongman president, and conducted through a host of western lawyers, propagandists and spies-for-hire under a pretext of alleged financial crime.

The alleged Kazakh launderers, not the US president or Mr Sater, are the main focus of the investigation, said Matthew Schwartz of Boies Schiller Flexner, a US law firm working on the probe.

However, the eight-year investigation has already offered a rare glimpse of the inner workings of a US real estate market that US Treasury Department officials warn is awash with dirty money. It has raised questions about what steps Mr Trump has taken to check whether tainted funds are coursing through his properties.

Mr Trump’s Kazakh connection also adds to the emerging picture of the president’s enigmatic relationship with the former Soviet Union. Questions about that relationship have dominated the early months of his presidency as multiple investigations examine claims his campaign colluded with Russian attempts to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.

It is unclear how much money has flowed from the alleged Kazakh laundering scheme to Mr Trump. Title deeds and banking records show that in April 2013 shell companies controlled by the Khrapunovs spent $3.1m to buy three luxury apartments in Trump Soho from a holding company in which Mr Trump held a stake.


Mukhtar Ablyazov

Occupation Oligarch and opposition politician, pictured centre
Kazakh connection Says accusations that he stole billions of dollars are political

When the FT revealed these deals last year, Alan Garten, a lawyer for Mr Trump’s business, said he had “no doubt” that “every legal requirement” had been fulfilled in respect of checking the provenance of the money for the transactions. Mr Garten did not respond to a further request for comment.

But the relationships that link Mr Trump’s opaque business interests to the alleged laundering scheme go back much further — and run chiefly through Mr Sater.

Mr Sater’s Wall Street career began in the 1990s as a stockbroker. After a stint in prison for stabbing another broker in the face with the broken stem of a margarita glass, he became involved in a mob-related money-laundering and stock-fraud scheme.

He avoided more jail time by co-operating with prosecutors and using his contacts in Russian organised crime to help US intelligence retrieve some missing missiles from Afghanistan.

At the turn of the millennium, Mr Sater launched himself into real estate — just as one of the New York property scene’s storied families was falling on hard times.


Viktor Khrapunov

Occupation Exiled former government minister accused of embezzlement
Kazakh connection Son Ilyas Khrapunov is said to have moved money for his family and father-in-law, Mukhtar Ablyazov. The Khrapunovs say they are being persecuted


Mr Trump had inherited a real estate empire from his father, Fred. By the early noughties, it had suffered several bankruptcies. On television, by contrast, he was becoming an increasingly successful entertainment figure through the 2004 programme The Apprentice.

In the years that followed, a new business model emerged: Mr Trump would license his name to buildings that others would construct. And a new source of income was also helping to replace the dried up credit lines from wary banks: the vast wealth accumulated by the nascent capitalists of the former Soviet Union.

The developer that helped turn both the licensing idea and the inflows from ex-Soviet states into reality was a group called Bayrock, based on the 24th floor of Trump Tower. Bayrock was founded by Tevfik Arif, a businessman of Kazakh origin, who worked in the Soviet administration before coming to the US, where he teamed up with Mr Sater.

Bayrock and Mr Trump made plans for hotel towers branded with the Trump name in New York, Florida and Arizona. In 2005 Mr Trump signed a letter giving Bayrock exclusive rights to “create the finest and most luxurious experience in Russia” in the form of a Trump Tower in Moscow.

From the archives

FT probe finds evidence a Trump venture has links to alleged laundering network

Mr Sater visited the Russian capital with Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son Donald Jr, and entered negotiations with Russian businessmen to secure a site for the tower, which he said in a subsequent deposition could have been “a mega-financial home run”.

Bayrock’s Moscow idea came to nothing, but money from the former Soviet Union did start to flow into Trump ventures in copious quantities. “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Donald Trump Jr told a real estate conference in 2008, adding: “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

It kept flowing. A Reuters tally published in March found that 63 Russians, some with political connections, had spent $100m buying property at seven Trump-branded luxury towers in Florida.

Money from the former Soviet Union also arrived through Mr Sater and Bayrock, whose flagship development with Mr Trump was the 46-storey Trump Soho, a glistening hotel-condominium building in Manhattan.

In court proceedings, Mr Trump said that he had “never really understood who owned Bayrock”. Jody Kriss, a former Bayrock finance director, has claimed in racketeering lawsuits filed against Bayrock that the company’s backers included “hidden interests in Russia and Kazakhstan”.

The source of Bayrock’s funding for Trump Soho and other collaborations with Mr Trump is unclear.

There are signs Bayrock’s finances may feature in the recently-constituted special prosecutor’s investigation the US justice department has ordered into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Robert Mueller, the former FBI chief running the investigation, recently hired Andrew Weissmann, an experienced fraud prosecutor to work on the probe. Mr Weissmann, then an assistant US attorney in New York, signed Mr Sater’s 1998 plea deal. Other reported hires have expertise in tracking illicit money flows from the former Soviet Union.

Others are also seeking to solve the Bayrock riddle — including numerous investigators on Kazakh payrolls.

At the same time as it was working with Mr Trump, Bayrock embarked on several business projects linked to the Khrapunovs, business records show, including a Swiss hotel venture. Bayrock has declined to comment on its dealings with the Kazakhs and with Mr Trump.

Mr Sater left Bayrock in 2008 but maintained his relationship both with Mr Trump and with the Khrapunovs.

From the archives

The Republican became the face of Bayrock, a developer with roots in the Soviet Union

He spent part of 2010 back at Trump Tower trying — and, according to the tycoon’s lawyer, failing — to drum up deals. He has been quoted saying he had been working with a Russian developer on a fresh plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow as recently as 2015. And after Mr Trump entered the White House, Mr Sater helped to deliver a blueprint drawn up by a Ukrainian lawmaker to end the war between Kiev and Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Donbass region.

Meanwhile, Mr Sater helped members of the Khrapunov family secure visas to the US and acquire properties there, according to leaked correspondence and legal filings outlining the real estate deals. He worked mainly with Ilyas Khrapunov, the son of Viktor Khrapunov. Ilyas Khrapunov is married to Mr Ablyazov’s daughter and investigators believe that he has been a key manager of his father-in-law’s incognito fortune as well as his own family’s.

The relationship between the Khrapunovs and Mr Sater soured in 2013 over how to divide the proceeds of a $43m property transaction in Ohio. A lawsuit over the dispute was settled out of court. Investigators working for Kazakhstan made contact with Mr Sater following the Ohio rift.

Given his colourful past, some on the team pursuing the Khrapunovs are wary of Mr Sater. “To the extent that he is on anyone’s side, he’s probably on our side,” said one lawyer involved in the investigation. Nonetheless, Mr Sater is being paid handsomely for his assistance, people with knowledge of the arrangement said.

One person involved in the investigation said the FBI had taken an interest in whether the case involved potential money-laundering offences in the US.

The Khrapunovs and Mr Ablyazov insist their fortunes were earned honestly and that they have been forced to employ financial subterfuge to avoid politically motivated expropriation. They say the Nazarbayev regime is using western legal systems as a vehicle to target its enemies, mainly through lawsuits brought by the municipality and the bank that the Kazakhs are respectively accused of looting.

Ilyas Khrapunov told the FT: “Many people have been intimidated, coerced, and otherwise incentivised to turn against me and my family. It is sad but it is a reality of life when you are dealing with a regime as corrupt as Kazakhstan.”

At least four associates of the dissident Kazakhs have switched sides. Among the investigators that have been in contact with Mr Sater are those from Arcanum Global, a Washington-based private intelligence agency whose board boasts several former members of US, British and Israeli security services.

Just as he has tried to play down his history of involvement with Russia, Mr Trump has sought to portray Mr Sater as a distant acquaintance. Testifying in 2013, he said: “If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.”

Mr Sater is said to regard the relationship rather differently. One person involved in the investigation, who has spoken with him, said: “Felix brags about Trump all the time.”

Additional reporting by Kara Scannell in New York

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Showdown in Hamburg – The New York Times

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Miosotis Familia, a 12-year veteran, was shot in the head while sitting in a police vehicle in the Bronx early Wednesday.

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NYPD officer ‘murdered in a cowardly, unprovoked attack,’ Jeff Sessions says

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NYPD police officer ‘assassinated’

A New York City police officer was shot and killed on July 5 when she was sitting in a marked command vehicle in the Bronx, authorities said. The NYPD called the incident an “unprovoked attack.”A New York City police officer was shot and killed on July 5 when she was sitting in a marked command vehicle in the Bronx, authorities said. (The Washington Post)

A New York City police officer was shot and killed in an “unprovoked attack” as she was sitting in a marked police vehicle early Wednesday in the Bronx, authorities said.

Officer Miosotis Familia was inside the large vehicle — known as a mobile command post — with her partner at 12:30 a.m. when a gunman fired through a window and struck Familia in the head, police said. The city’s police commissioner called the shooting an assassination.

Familia, a 12-year NYPD veteran, was taken to a hospital in extremely critical condition, police said. Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill announced on Twitter several hours later that Familia had died. Familia’s partner was not wounded  in the attack.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Familia was “unjustly targeted and murdered in a cowardly, unprovoked attack.”

“She will be remembered for her years of service and for the example of selflessness that she set protecting people on our streets,” Sessions said. “This murder in cold blood is a tragedy, and sadly it is the latest in a troubling series of attacks on police officers over the past two years.”

Police said Familia was wrapping up her shift when the gunman fired. “My partner’s shot! My partner’s shot! My partner’s shot! Hurry up central!” her partner was heard screaming into a police radio, according to the Associated Press.

Two other officers confronted the suspected gunman about a block away from the scene of the shooting, police said. The shooting suspect was shot and killed after he drew a  revolver, police said. He was identified by authorities as 34-year-old Alexander Bonds.

Alexander Bonds  (New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision)

A bystander was shot during that encounter. Police said that person is in stable condition.

It remains unclear what prompted the attack, officials said. A police spokesman said Familia did not know Bonds.

Bonds, who also went by the name John Bonds, was paroled in May 2013 after serving seven years for robbery in Onondaga County, according to the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. He also served more than six months in prison in 2004 for selling a controlled substance.

The shooting was reminiscent of the 2014 killings of two New York police officers who were shot at point-blank range while sitting in a police car in Brooklyn.

“It’s clear that this was an assassination,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the time. “These officers were shot execution-style, a particularly despicable act which goes to the heart of our society and our democracy.”

Authorities said the gunman in the 2014  ambush had declared his intention on Instagram to kill officers as retribution for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, black men who were killed by police that year.

[NYPD: Attacker dead after report of ‘several people shot’ at Bronx Hospital]

The Dec. 20, 2014, killings of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos inflamed tensionsbetween the city’s police force and de Blasio, who during his 2013 mayoral campaign had strongly criticized the department’s “stop-and-frisk” tactic. After the ambush, police union officials accused the Democratic mayor of feeding anti-police sentiment. The rift prompted hundreds of police officers to turn their backs as de Blasio spoke at the funeral of one of the two slain officers.

In 2016, law enforcement fatalities spiked to their highest level in five years, with 135 officers killed in the line of duty, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit group that monitors line-of-duty deaths. The rising death toll rattled police officers nationwide.

Ambushes dominated the news after a pair of July 2016 attacks in which eight officers were shot in what authorities described as targeted attacks fueled by anger over how police use force on minorities.

An ambush in Dallas on July 7, 2016 — the deadliest single day for law enforcement since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — targeted officers patrolling a protest over deadly police shootings in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights, Minn., over the preceding days. Five officers were killed and nine others wounded before police killed the attacker.

[Two New York City police officers are shot and killed in a brazen ambush in Brooklyn]

Ten days later, another attacker sought out law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge, killing two police officers and a sheriff’s deputy before he was felled by a sniper. Officials said in a report released last week that the gunman had researched the officers involved in the deadly shooting of Alton Sterling, a black man killed outside a Baton Rouge store in an incident partially captured on video.

In November, two Iowa police officers sitting in their squad cars were  killed in a pair of ambush attacks. A San Antonio officer writing a ticket was ambushed and killed not long after.

These episodes helped fuel an uptick in police officer deaths last year, with 64 officers fatally shot, a 41 percent increase from the previous year, according to the Memorial Fund. Nearly one in three officers fatally shot was killed in what were deemed to be ambush attacks like those in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

Overall, law enforcement line-of-duty deaths have declined since the 1970s, when twice as many police officers were fatally shot each year and twice as many officers were killed annually. Still, in recent years, police have said they feel demonized by protests against how law enforcement officers use deadly force. Demonstrations have erupted in cities such as New York, Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and San Francisco after high-profile killings by officers.

Before 2016, traffic-related incidents — rather than shootings — were the leading cause of police deaths for most of the past two decades. Last year, nearly half of all police officer deaths were gun-related, the largest share in any year since 1994.

So far this year, at least 65 officers have been killed — a 25 percent increase over the same period last year, according to the Memorial Fund. Nearly half of them were killed by gunfire, but the overall increase in fatalities was largely fueled by what the fund called “other causes,” which can include boating accidents and illnesses.

Familia, 48, joined the New York Police Department in July 2005. She was a mother of three, said Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

In a statement, Lynch said of Familia:

[She] gave her life protecting a neighborhood that had been plagued by gang gun violence. Fully knowing the dangers that she faced, she suited up in uniform every day and stood tall against those who threaten and terrorize the good folks of the Bronx. As we mourn her death and support her family, friends and colleagues, we ask for your help. Violence against police officers cannot stand. When you see or hear someone making threats against NYC police officers you need to let us know, you need to be our eyes and ears.

Vivian Gomez, who lived in the same Bronx apartment building as Familia, said Wednesday morning that she’d heard about a police officer who was shot, but she did not know until a Washington Post reporter contacted her that the slain officer was her upstairs neighbor.

[Ambushes and fatal shootings fuel increase in police death toll this year]

She didn’t know Familia well, Gomez said, but they often saw each other in passing.

“When our paths crossed, she was either coming to or from work; I know she loved the job,” Gomez told The Post. “I never heard her say a negative thing about her job. Oftentimes, people would gripe about the hours, the long days. I never heard her say, ‘I dislike my job’ or ‘It’s tough.’ She always had a smile on her face.”

Gomez said Familia appeared to be devoted to her children.

“She always seemed to be a very caring mother. … Every time I saw her, she had her kids,” Gomez said. “They all seemed to be a very close-knit family. I found her always to be a very warm spirit.”

A relative reached by The Post on Wednesday declined to comment.

“It’s just an unfortunate situation in the time we live in, where cops are targeted,” Gomez said of Familia’s death. “I know there’s a lot of distress about lack of justice in our community. … She’s a real face behind the badge.”

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Officers at New York precinct told not to shower at station after fears of Legionnaires’ disease

A black off-duty cop tried to help stop a crime. Another officer shot him.

Three Chicago police officers charged with conspiring to cover up Laquan McDonald shooting

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nypd – Google Search

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NYPD cop assassin ranted about his hate for police

New York Post7 hours ago
The ex-convict who assassinated an NYPD officer early Wednesday was a cop-hater who previously ranted about police in an online video.
NYPD Officer Shot Dead in Bronx in “Unprovoked Attack”
BlogSlate Magazine (blog)7 hours ago

Russia Is Expanding Its Military, but NATO Isn’t Sure Why

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Russia’s military capabilities are expanding across Europe, but the top military chief of the Western defense pact NATO has said Moscow’s plans remain ambiguous amid a heavily politicized atmosphere between the two leading forces.

General Petr Pavel, a Czech army officer who holds the position of chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, said Monday that Russia was advancing in its nuclear and ballistic capabilities as well as in its capacity to send troops across the region, where Moscow and U.S.-led NATO are competing for influence. The two factions have accused one another of crossing lines both figuratively and literally, by effectively launching an arms race, especially along the increasingly militarized borders of the Baltic States. Amid these dueling accusations, however, Pavel said that NATO could not conclusively consider Russia’s military buildup in recent years an act of aggression against NATO and its Western allies.

Related: Russia military uses new war weapon to fight ISIS in Syria

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“When it comes to capability there is no doubt that Russia is developing their capabilities both in conventional and nuclear components,” Pavel told Politico. “When it comes to exercises, their ability to deploy troops for long distance and to use them effectively quite far away from their own territory, there are no doubts.”

“When it comes to intent, it’s not so clear because we cannot clearly say that Russia has aggressive intents against NATO,” he added.

Russian servicemen march in the Chechen capital of Grozny, Russia, during the Victory Day military parade, marking the 72nd anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, May 9, 2017. Like NATO, Russia has expanded its military presence in Europe, where some nations accuse Moscow of increasingly aggressive behavior. Said Tsarnayev/Reuters

NATO and Russia have pursued clashing agendas in recent years, especially since Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula amid political unrest in Ukraine in 2014. Russia argued that the move was necessary to protect the sizable ethnic Russian community, but NATO viewed the action, as well as Moscow’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, as an unacceptable breach of its neighbor’s sovereignty. The fallout led to the eventual creation of four so-called battle groups in the three Baltic states and Poland, all of which have received extensive personnel and armaments from the U.S., Canada and their European allies.

Russia has also fortified its side of the border, which includes the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad. Last year, Moscow moved nuclear-capable missiles along with other military assets to the coastal territory, which lies between Lithuania and Poland. Both sides of the conflict have also separately held a number of drills in the strategic region. Russia’s latest drill includes China, and an upcoming exercise with Belarus called Zapad, or “West,” will utilize up to 100,000 troops in a simulated NATO invasion from the Baltics. Defense Secretary James Mattis echoed local allied leaders in calling the massive maneuvers “destabilizing.

While Russia’s moves have been decried by NATO and its regional partners, Pavel maintains that such a military expansion could not alone be considered an act of war. Russia has long argued that its decision to upgrade and increase its arsenal was taken in defense of what it believes to be an aggressive posturing by the U.S., which has deployed military installations on both sides of Russia, including a sophisticated global anti-missile system. Despite Russia’s 5.9 percent increase in military spending, which totaled $69.2 billion last year, NATO’s collective $254 billion—without the U.S. and Canada—still wildly exceeds Moscow’s budget, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

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What Putin’s team is probably telling him about Trump

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Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting this week at the Kremlin. (Alexei Druzhinin/Associated Press)
By Michael Morell and Samantha Vinograd By Michael Morell and Samantha Vinograd July 5 at 4:18 PM

This is a speculative account of a memo that Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s national security team would likely send him as he prepares to meet with President Trump for the first time this week. It is not a reflection of how we see the issues; it is a reflection of how we think Putin’s closest aides see the issues.

This is what Putin hopes to get out of Trump at the G20 meeting

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the G20 conference which gets underway July 7. It will be their first face-to-face meeting and a opportunity for Putin to press Trump on these issues facing the two countries. This is what Putin hopes to get out of Trump at the G20 meeting (David Filipov, Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)

(David Filipov,Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)

Mr. President, when you meet with President Trump at the Group of 20 meeting this week in Hamburg, you will do so at a historic time. Russia is in its strongest position since the end of the Cold War; the United States, our great adversary, is the weakest it has been. We are on the road to achieving our fundamental national security objectives — for Russia to retake its place as a great power and to have a sphere of influence in the countries on our periphery.

This did not happen by chance; it happened because we took action. We undertook the most successful covert political influence campaign since World War II. We kept our nemesis Hillary Clinton out of the White House, and we installed a president who is deepening existing schisms in his country while creating new ones at home and abroad. This is the first time in history that the United States has been attacked by another country and not come together as a nation; instead, our actions have caused it to come apart. This is a great victory for us.

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Consumed with its failing politics, the United States is not paying attention to our work around the world, let alone pushing back. We have made important gains. In our near-abroad, we have taken steps in Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus that make clear that our neighbors must defer to our interests; in Syria and the broader Middle East, we are showing that we are a key player while weakening the United States; and, by supporting U.S. opponents in places such as Libya and Afghanistan, we are ensuring that U.S. policies will fail there. To be sure, our gains relative to the United States did not start with Trump, but they have accelerated under him.

Our objective for this meeting is simple: Keep the momentum in our favor. On style, you will want U.S. reporters to capture the two of you as close friends, smiling and laughing, which will feed the turmoil over the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with us (which you know the full truth about). This issue weakens America, and we want to keep it front and center. Obtaining the necessary media coverage can be accomplished by stroking Trump’s large ego, which you did so effectively during the U.S. presidential campaign.

On substance, your goal will be to leave Trump with the thought that Russia can be a partner in dealing with the world’s trouble areas — if the United States takes a more positive approach to us. We have friends in the White House, and you can use their worldviews in your conversation — that there would be no better ally than Russia in dealing with the twin threats of Islamist terrorism and Chinese expansionism. We need to help Trump push back against those in Washington who want to contain us, including on his national security team.

Trump likes making deals, and you will want to leave the impression that you are open to deals that would allow him to point to a success. We should perhaps start somewhere in the United States’ back yard. The White House has become focused on the crisis in Venezuela. You can suggest that we can use our influence with the government of President Nicolás Maduro to assist there, in exchange for U.S. acknowledgment that Eurasia is our sphere of influence. Again, simply implanting the thought is the objective.

Of course, our key goal is to get Trump to lift the sanctions put in place after our victory in Crimea. That will not happen soon — because of the charges that Trump’s associates colluded with us — but we can at least avoid additional sanctions, including those being advanced by the U.S. Senate. You can tell Trump that new sanctions would end any hope of our two nations working together.

There is one issue on which you will need to be tough and direct: Syria. The United States is getting more aggressive there; the U.S. airstrike on a Syrian military base and its downing of a Syrian aircraftwere counterproductive and dangerous. You should tell Trump again that you would consider further such moves direct acts of aggression against Russia. The Americans do not want conflict with you — if they did not respond with tough diplomatic actions to our undermining their democracy, they will not risk war with us in Syria. You can balance this tough message by holding out the hope of working together to defeat extremism in Syria.

Mr. President, we wish you a safe and productive trip to Hamburg. Our policies are working. We need only to keep going.

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Copter Drones With Machine Guns – Google Search

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Copter Drones With Machine Guns – Google Search

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The Army successfully tested a laser gun on an Apache helicopter

SFGateJun 27, 2017
An Apache helicopter just successfully honed in on and hit an … alternative to the Apache’s 30mm machine gun and hellfire missiles, … Last month, the Army also announced that it successfully shot down a drone with a laser.
Story image for Copter Drones With Machine Guns from Phys.Org

All that’s cool and quirky at the Paris Air Show

Phys.OrgJun 21, 2017
But with everything from the smallest drones to the largest … showcases a drone-zapping gun that is part of an anti-drone system his firm is … The machine will sell for between 100,000 and 150,000 euros ($111,500 to $167,000), he said. … a product version of the futuristic, electrically powered tri-copter.
Story image for Copter Drones With Machine Guns from Fox News

US ally used Patriot missile to shoot down small drone

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Iraqi troops engaged in the battle for Mosul have been using rifles and machine guns to shoot the drones down. Sophisticated radar-targeted …
Story image for Copter Drones With Machine Guns from Daily Mail

The future of warfare? An unmanned helicopter that is INVISIBLE to …

Daily MailFeb 22, 2017
The X-01 Hornet drone will be fully customisable, supporting a range of military … four fibre optic guided missiles and a 12.7 mm machine gun.
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The Israeli Military is Buying Copter Drones With Machine Guns

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TIKAD, the company’s first product, is remotely operated. So a human would do the flying, targeting, and trigger-pulling from afar, and, thus, under less stress to shoot to protect him- or herself.

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In the decade ahead, more and more tactical operations squads will send not humans but robots into standoff situations. The Marines are already training to new concepts of operations where lethal robots take the place of human door-kickers.

Local police departments, too, are increasingly choosing to send weaponized robots in the place of tactical squads, as happened last year when police in Dallas rigged a tracked ground robot to take out a shooter.

Aerial drones like quadcopters can often maneuver more easily in small spaces than the tracked ground robots of the sort that the Dallas police used. But physics does not allow the easy integration of a machine gun on a small aerial drone that also has to hover.

When a gun fires, expanding gases eject the bullet from its barrel with great force — and exert an equal and opposite force on whatever is holding the weapon. Newton describes this conservation of momentum — more commonly known as kickback or recoil — in his third law. When a person fires a pistol, the backward momentum is transferred through the shooter’s body into the ground. But a low-mass object hovering in the air, like a quadcopter, has no mount. The physical forces that pushed the bullet out of the barrel are going to act on the drone, more than likely knocking it out of position.

You might be able to rig a pistol to a quadcopter, as illustrated in this video, but the drone will move chaotically with every shot.

Defense One – All Content: The Israeli Military is Buying Copter Drones With Machine Guns 

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A breakthrough in drone design gives a glimpse into the future of urban warfare.

 Defense One – All Content

Donald Trump | The Guardian: Investigators explore if Russia colluded with pro-Trump sites during US election

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Questions raised as to whether Trump supports coordinated with Moscow to spread bogus stories aimed at discrediting Hillary Clinton

The spread of Russian-made fake news stories aimed at discrediting Hillary Clinton on social media is emerging as an important line of inquiry in multiple investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Investigators are looking into whether Trump supporters and far-right websites coordinated with Moscow over the release of fake news, including stories implicating Clinton in murder or paedophilia, or paid to boost those stories on Facebook.

Related: Donald Trump under investigation for potential obstruction of justice – reports

We set ourselves up to be victims of an international cyberwarfare campaign. We were very effective pawns

Related: What does Robert Mueller’s team tell us about the Russia investigation?

Related: ‘Your worst nightmare: a successful Donald Trump presidency’

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Five Problems with U.S. Intel Agencies’ Report on Russia ‘Interference’

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While the U.S. Intelligence Community is indeed made up of 17 agencies, the actual January 6, 2017 U.S. Intelligence Community report alleging Russia interference was the product of only three – the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency.

In its clarification, the Times wrote that the Russia interference conclusion was drawn by “four intelligence agencies” – including James Clapper’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which issued the January 6 report although its conclusions were not included in the report itself.

At the time of the assessment, the FBI was led by James Comey, who was fired following controversy over his handling of Hillary Clinton’s email probe, and the CIA was headed by Barack Obama appointee John Brennan.

Below are five significant issues with the official assessment as compiled by the CIA, FBI and NSA (and not 17 agencies) regarding alleged Russia interference.

1 – The NSA did not share the “high confidence” of the CIA and FBI.

The NSA did not share the “high confidence” of the CIA and FBI in the conclusion of the January 6 U.S. Intelligence Community report alleging the Russian government sought to aid Donald Trump’s “election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”

The NSA endorsed that conclusion with “moderate confidence.”

In testimony in March, former NSA Director Mike Rogers was asked why his agency only had “moderate” confidence in the judgment. He replied:

I’m not going to get into specifics in an unclassified forum but for me, it boiled down to the level and nature of the sourcing on that one particular judgment was slightly different to me than the others.

Asked by Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) during the same March hearing about the FBI’s “high confidence” judgment that Putin favored Trump and was aiming to help him win against Clinton, Comey stated that part of the conclusion came from “logic.”

Here is a transcript of that exchange:

COMEY: I don’t know for sure, but I think that was a fairly easy judgment for the community. He — Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much, that the flipside of that coin was he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much.

CONAWAY: Yeah and that and that my work on Saturday afternoon when the — my wife’s Red Raiders are playing the Texas Longhorns. She really likes the Red Raiders. But all the rest of the time, I mean the logic is that because he really didn’t like president — the Candidate Clinton, that he automatically liked Trump. That assessment’s based on what?

COMEY: Well, it’s based on more than that. But part of it is and we’re not getting into the details of it here, but part of it is the logic. Whoever the Red Raiders are playing, you want the Red Raiders to win, by definition, you want their opponent to lose.

Further in the exchange, Comey said the Russians tried to undermine Clinton because the polls showed she was ahead:

CONAWAY: So — and then election then says, the government — the Russian government aspired to help President-elect Trump election chances. So when did they not think she was going to win?

COMEY: Well, the assessment of the Intelligence Committee was, as the summer went on and the polls appeared to show that Secretary Clinton was gonna win, the Russians sort of gave up and simply focused on trying to undermine her, it’s your Red Raiders, you know they’re not going to win.

So you kind of hope key people on the other team get hurt so they’re not such a tough opponent down the road. And so there was at some point…

In testimony in May, Comey confirmed that the basis for the intelligence community’s assessment that Putin allegedly wanted Trump in office was not because the billionaire was, as Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) claimed during a hearing without citing any evidence, “ensnared in” Russia’s “web of patronage.”

Instead, the FBI chief provided two primary reasons for Russia allegedly favoring Trump over Clinton during the 2016 presidential race.

One reason, according to Comey, was that Putin “hated” Clinton and would have favored any Republican opponent. The second reason, Comey explained, was that Putin made an assessment that it would be easier to make a deal with a businessman than someone from the political class.

Comey’s statements are a far cry from the conspiracies, fueled by the controversial, largely discredited 35-page dossier allegedly paid for by Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans, alleging Putin held blackmail information over the billionaire.

2 – The Obama administration reportedly relied on an outside country for “critical intelligence” claiming Russian interference.

According to the Washington Post, one reasons the NSA’s confidence was lower was because some of the most important technical intelligence used by the Obama administration to allege that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election came from another country.

Those details were buried inside an extensive, 7,700-plus word Washington Post article published two weeks ago entitled, “Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault.” The piece was based on interviews with over three dozen “current and former U.S. officials in senior positions in government, including at the White House, the State, Defense and Homeland Security departments, and U.S. intelligence services.”

A section inside the article contains this revelation:

Some of the most critical technical intelligence on Russia came from another country, officials said. Because of the source of the material, the NSA was reluctant to view it with high confidence.

3 – A Congressman who reviewed the intelligence disagreed with the CIA’s “high confidence” judgement on Russian interference.

During his questioning of former CIA Director John Brennan at a hearing on May 23, Rep. Christopher Stewart (R-UT) raised a red flag regarding the CIA’s “high confidence” judgement that Moscow sought to aid Trump in the election by attempting to discredit Clinton.

Stewart stated:

And thank you Mr. Director for, again, your many years of service. I’m going to go very quickly because I want to reserve as much time as I can for our task force and the attorneys. I want to go through and make one point; it’s a point worth making. But before I do, I’m just going to add that I’ve reviewed the raw intelligence of the CIA regarding the analysis of whether they preferred Mr. Trump.

I don’t agree with the conclusion, particularly that it’s such a high level of confidence. I just think there should’ve been allowances made for some of the ambiguity in that and especially for those who didn’t also share in the conclusion that it was a high degree of confidence. But having said that, I do think we can agree that Russia wants a weakened U.S. president, would you agree with that?

4 – The Intelligence Community’s report on alleged Russian interference was quickly compiled.

That point was driven home during the following exchange between ex-CIA Director Brennan and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) during the May testimony:

STEFANIK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Director Brennan, for your service. My questions will be focused on the process and development of the intelligence community assessment. As you know, the previous administration directed the intelligence community to produce a comprehensive intelligence report assessing Russian activities and intentions on December 9.

The unclassified version of that report incorporated information as of December 29. In your experience as an analyst and as the director, what is the average time that it typically takes to produce an I.C. assessment?

BRENNAN: It can range from days to months to years, in fact, depending on the complexity of the matter, as well as the urgency of getting something out, but it really does vary widely.

STEFANIK: So you noted that the complexity can have an impact on the timeliness to produce a comprehensive report. This report was produced in just 20 days in December. Was there anything about this interagency process that differed the timeline, the approval process, the editing or the staffing?

BRENNAN: I think it followed the general model of how you want to do something like this with some notable exceptions.

It only involved the FBI, NSA and CIA as well as the Office of Director of National Intelligence; it wasn’t a full interagency community assessment that was coordinated among the 17 agencies and for good reason, because of the nature the sensitivity of the information trying to, once again, keep them tightly compartmented.

But in terms of the — the rigor on the — the (inaudible) tradecraft as well as the sourcing and as you think now, in the classified version there, it’s extensively sourced. It tried to adhere to the — the general standards.

Brennan did not further explain his comment that there were some “notable exceptions” to the Intelligence Community’s usual method of compiling such a report.

5 – The intelligence gathering operation, carried out by individuals from within the CIA, NSA and FBI, was said to have been highly compartmentalized and reported in secret to a select grouping of top Obama administration officials.  Those officials included Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, two individuals whose actions regarding Clinton’s email probe have been subject to question.

Brennan himself referred (see above testimony) to the “tightly compartmented” operation.

The Washington Post, in its extensive article published two weeks ago (also referenced above), reported on details of the compartmentalized operation that indicates a high degree of secrecy involving top Obama administration officials.

According to the newspaper, in the summer of 2016, then-CIA Director Brennan convened a “secret task force at CIA headquarters composed of several dozen analysts and officers from the CIA, the NSA and the FBI.”

The Post described the unit as so secretive it functioned as a “sealed compartment” hidden even from the rest of the U.S. intelligence community; a unit whose workers were all made to sign additional non-disclosure forms.

The unit reported to top officials, the newspaper documented:

They worked exclusively for two groups of “customers,” officials said. The first was Obama and fewer than 14 senior officials in government. The second was a team of operations specialists at the CIA, NSA and FBI who took direction from the task force on where to aim their subsequent efforts to collect more intelligence on Russia.

The number of Obama administration officials who were allowed access to the Russia intelligence was also highly limited, the Post reported. At first only four senior officials were involved: Brennan, Clapper, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and James Comey. Their aides were all barred from attending the initial meetings, the Post stated.

The newspaper continued :

Gradually, the circle widened to include Vice President Biden and others. Agendas sent to Cabinet secretaries — including John F. Kerry at the State Department and Ashton B. Carter at the Pentagon — arrived in envelopes that subordinates were not supposed to open. Sometimes the agendas were withheld until participants had taken their seats in the Situation Room.

Adding another layer of secrecy, the newspaper reported that when the closed Cabinet sessions on Russia began in the White House Situation Room in August, the video feed from the main room was cut off during the meetings. The feed, which allows only for video and not audio, is usually kept on so that senior aides can see when a meeting takes place.

The paper reported:

The blacked-out screens were seen as an ominous sign among lower-level White House officials who were largely kept in the dark about the Russia deliberations even as they were tasked with generating options for retaliation against Moscow.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

With research by Joshua Klein.

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Putin and American political process – Google News: Trump’s best deal with Putin: No deal – CNN

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Trump’s best deal with Putin: No deal
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Aaron David Miller is a vice president and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and author of “The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t Have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President. … But the unique mix of 
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Donald Trump: Donald Trump leaves Angela Merkel to stand up for liberal values

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 Donald Trump

Robert Mueller hires star lawyers for team

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As a federal prosecutor in the 1990s, Andrew Weissmann persuaded mobsters to break the Mafia code and testify against their brothers in crime, winning a conviction against Genovese family boss Vincent “the Chin” Gigante.

Later, as he headed the Justice Department’s Enron task force, his ability to persuade key witnesses to testify about what they saw on the inside helped secure a series of convictions.

Now Mr. Weissmann is part of the all-star team that former FBI Director Robert Mueller has put together as the special counsel pursuing a look into Russian meddling in the November presidential election and suspected collusion with Trump campaign figures — a case legal analysts say is brimming with the potential for cooperators.

Ten of the 12 lawyers on Mr. Mueller’s team have been revealed, and their political leanings have sparked early controversy. At least five have donated to Democratic campaigns.

But analysts say the team is full of legal stars, including Mr. Weissmann, who have the skills and experience to handle the investigation fairly — wherever it leads.

They include a former Watergate prosecutor, an experienced Supreme Court litigator, a former FBIcounterterrorism agent, a prosecutor with experience in organized crime cases and the head of the Justice Department’s public corruption unit in Manhattan.

Recruiting team members with experience probing financial cases or who are familiar with national security protocol will be essential. Mr. Mueller appears to have both covered, said lawyer Philip Lacovara, who was part of the Watergate special prosecutor’s team.

“Anybody who has done financial crimes investigations knows sometimes you start an investigation and you determine there is nothing there. But the key is having people who know what to look for,” he said. “It’s the idea that they have people with experience in big document cases that suggests to me this will be a serious investigation.”

Stretching the law

Mr. Weissmann and Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben, who has argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court, each had a hand in an obstruction of justice case that some legal scholars say may illustrate an aggressive approach by Mr. Mueller in the Russia investigation.

As director of the Justice Department’s Enron probe, Mr. Weissmann oversaw the 2002 prosecution of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, which was found guilty of obstruction after employees were told to shred documents related their energy company client.

After cutting his teeth prosecuting organized crime cases in Brooklyn, legal analysts say, Mr. Weissmann brought to the table experience flipping witnesses that helped him secure the star witness in the Andersen case: former Enron financial officer Andrew Fastow, who testified against his former bosses Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling.

On appeal before the Supreme Court, it was Mr. Dreeben who defended the government’s position that the company knowingly committed a crime by invoking its document retention policy “as a pretext and cover to clean up and purge the files.”

The Supreme Court ultimately sided with the accounting firm and overturned the conviction, remanding the case back to a lower court.

After the legal spanking, the Justice Department dropped the matter. But the highly publicized prosecutions established Mr. Weissmann and Mr. Dreeben as attorneys who would push the limits on difficult cases.

“These are two federal prosecutors who are known to stretch the criminal code to its breaking point,” said George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley.

That is relevant to the Russia investigation, he said, because of the hurdles the special counsel team is likely to face.

As part of the Russia probe, the special counsel’s team is reportedly considering whether Mr. Trump attempted to obstruct justice by firing FBI Director James B. Comey, who had been overseeing the investigation.

A long-standing opinion of the Justice Department’s office of legal counsel holds that a sitting president can’t be criminally charged, leaving Mr. Mueller to decide whether or not his team is bound by the legal interpretation.

“I don’t see how a case could be brought on this evidence without pushing both the precedent and the language of the law to the far extreme,” Mr. Turley said. “If you are going to charge the president, you should find a clear criminal violation that is in the center of the strike zone. Both Dreeben and Weissmann are used to throwing at the corners to bring charges.”

Mr. Lacovara, though, said he expects Mr. Mueller’s team will be “careful and cautious rather than aggressive and reckless” given the public sensitivity of the investigation.

Based on his wealth of experience, Mr. Dreeben’s role in the investigation will likely be “to offer hardheaded analysis of what the law is rather than to argue for expansion of the law,” Mr. Lacovara said.

Donations to Democrats

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a top ally of the president, has been critical of those hired for the team because of their political contributions.

At least five members of the team have donated to Democrats in recent elections, according to records from the Center for Responsive Politics.

“Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair,” Mr. Gingrich wrote on Twitter last month.

Mr. Trump told Fox News last month that it was ridiculous to have Hillary Clinton supporters as members of the investigative team.

Among the donors are Jeannie Rhee, a former deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s office of legal counsel, who donated $5,400 to Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign PAC Hillary for America. She gave $4,800 to President Obama’s campaign.

While working at the WilmerHale law firm with Mr. Mueller, Ms. Rhee was on the legal team that represented the Clinton Foundation. She was also part of the team that defended Mrs. Clinton against lawsuits over her email practices as secretary of state.

She worked alongside high-profile Democratic lawyer Jamie Gorelick, who now represents Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law.

Earlier in her legal career Ms. Rhee, a former assistant U.S. attorney, successfully prosecuted Washington Teachers Union officials who embezzled nearly $5 million.

Mr. Weissmann, while helping lead the white-collar defense team Jenner & Block law firm in 2006, donated $2,000 to the Democratic National Committee. In 2008, he gave $2,300 to the Obama campaign.

Watergate prosecutor James L. Quarles III, who has worked at WilmerHale since the mid-1970s, has a more bipartisan donation record, though his roughly $20,000 in contributions over the past few decades skews toward Democrats at the presidential level. He gave to failed Democratic nominees Michael Dukakis and Al Gore.

Elizabeth Prelogar, an appellate lawyer from the solicitor general’s office who studied in Russia on a Fulbright scholarship, gave $250 to the Hillary for America Political Action Committee and in 2012 donated $250 to Mr. Obama’s campaign.

Andrew Goldstein, a federal prosecutor who headed the Justice Department’s public corruption unit in Manhattan, gave $750 to Mr. Obama’s campaign in 2012.

No recent donations were on file for Mr. Mueller, a registered Republican. In 1996, Mr. Mueller did donate $450 to William Weld, the Republican candidate for a U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts. Mr. Mueller worked for Mr. Weld when he was the U.S. attorney in Boston.

The special counsel’s office has defended the hires and said it is following Justice Department policy and federal law that “prohibit the use of political or ideological affiliations to assess applicants.”

Mr. Turley, though, said he was surprised at how many lawyers Mr. Mueller brought on with histories of left-leaning political contributions.

“It’s not that it’s unethical, but when you are investigating a president and his administration it’s incumbent upon you to assure the public that political bias and affiliation will not factor into decision-making,” said Mr. Turley said. “Washington, D.C., has tens of thousands of lawyers. You can throw a stick on any corner and hit 10 of them.”

Richard Painter, a White House ethics counsel under George W. Bush, said prosecutors aren’t neutral to begin with and stressed that it’s judges who ultimately make legal determinations.

“If campaign contributions are a problem, U.S. attorneys wouldn’t be political appointees,” he said. “Hiring people who have the ability and the skill, that’s what is key.”

Experience matters

Several of the members of the special counsel’s team have expertise in handling appeals, something that could hint at Mr. Mueller’s long-term preparations. Mr. Dreeben’s record of arguing cases before the Supreme Court is particularly striking.

“It may be that he’s lining Dreeben up because he anticipates needing Dreeben’s services so that he can handle the investigation in a way that can handle appellate scrutiny or Dreeben may end up handling some appeals,” said Kathleen Clark, an ethics law professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

Ms. Prelogar also comes from the solicitor general’s office, and Adam Jed, an appellate attorney in the Justice Department’s civil division, has argued civil cases across the country — including defending the Obama administration’s contraceptive coverage policies before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Having experience on high-profile cases could help the lawyers prepare for the outsized attention they are likely to face as the investigation proceeds.

“You just have to put on some sort of armor to get the job done,” said John Curran, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York who worked early on in his career with Mr. Weissmann. “Whether it’s the powerful people you are looking at, or the fact the president is trying to comment on the case every day, you could see people getting swept up in ‘Oh I’m on a cool case’ and that’s not Andrew.”

Known for his penchant for keeping information close to the chest, Mr. Mueller has also sought to recruit known quantities.

Former FBI counterterrorism agent Aaron Zebley, who was Mr. Mueller’s chief of staff at the FBI, also worked at his law firm WilmerHale before leaving to join the new probe. Mr. Quarles and Ms. Rhee were also WilmerHale lawyers. Mr. Weissmann also previously served as both special counsel and general counsel in the FBI.

Rounding out the known members of the team are Lisa Page, a prosecutor with experience in organized crime cases, and Aaron Zelinsky, an assistant U.S. attorney who worked in Maryland under Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who opted to appoint Mr. Mueller as special counsel to lead the probe.

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mueller – Google News: As Mueller grows his Russia special counsel team, every hire is under scrutiny – Washington Post

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As Mueller grows his Russia special counsel team, every hire is under scrutiny
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Robert S. Mueller III was greeted with near universal praise when he was appointed to lead the investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, but as he builds his special counsel team, his every …
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As Mueller grows his Russia special counsel team, every hire is under scrutiny

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Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, right, departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill on June 21. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Robert S. Mueller III was greeted with near universal praise when he was appointed to lead the investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, but as he builds his special counsel team, his every hire is under scrutiny.

At least seven of the 15 lawyers Mueller has brought on to the special counsel team have donated to Democratic political candidates, five of them to Hillary Clinton — a fact that President Trump and his allies have eagerly highlighted. These critics also point to some of the lawyers’ history working with clients connected to the Clintons and Mueller’s long history with former FBI director James B. Comeyas they question whether those assigned to the investigation can be impartial.

Many lawyers and ethics experts say they can see no significant legal or ethical concerns with the team’s political giving or past work, and they note that Trump often misstates the facts as he casts aspersions. But others say the optical problem is a real one that threatens to undermine public confidence in the probe.

[Deputy attorney general appoints special counsel to oversee probe of Russian interference in election]

“In my view, prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with a political party,” said William P. Barr, who served as attorney general under George H.W. Bush. “I would have liked to see him have more balance on this group.”

Fact Check: Do the political preferences of Mueller’s team risk its independence?

President Trump suggested the special prosecutor’s team might not be fair, impartial investigators because of previous political contributions, legal clients and personal friends. President Trump suggested the special prosecutor’s team might not be fair, impartial investigators. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

Criticizing those conducting an investigation is not a new tactic: Democrats famously put Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr in the crosshairs during his examination of President Bill Clinton. And by raising questions about the investigators early, legal analysts said, Trump is laying the groundwork to question any results that are not to his liking.

“By staking out the position of partisanship through campaign contributions, the president simply is setting a stage for a public relations assault down the road,” said Jacob Frenkel, a defense lawyer at Dickinson Wright who previously worked in the now-defunct Office of the Independent Counsel.

Trump has called the special counsel’s investigation the “single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history,” adding that it was “led by some very bad and conflicted people!” In a more recent interview on Fox News, the president said that Mueller was “very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome,” and that “the people that have been hired are all Hillary Clinton supporters, some of them worked for Hillary Clinton.”

“I mean the whole thing is ridiculous, if you want to know the truth from that standpoint,” Trump said. “But Robert Mueller’s an honorable man and hopefully he’ll come up with an honorable solution.”

Asked if Mueller would have to recuse himself, he said, “We’re going to have to see.”

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A look back at the career of former FBI director Robert Mueller

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Robert S. Mueller, named special counsel to investigate potential coordination between Russia and the Trump team during the 2016 presidential election, became the sixth director of the FBI in 2001. He spent much of his 12-year tenure wrestling the agency into a battle-hardened terrorism-fighting force after the Sept. 11 attacks.

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Robert S. Mueller, named special counsel to investigate potential coordination between Russia and the Trump team during the 2016 presidential election, became the sixth director of the FBI in 2001. He spent much of his 12-year tenure wrestling the agency into a battle-hardened terrorism-fighting force after the Sept. 11 attacks.

1962 Robert Swan Mueller III, front row, second from left, attended St. Paul’s School, an elite prep school in New Hampshire, where he played hockey with future secretary of state John F. Kerry, front row center. As a Marine Corps officer, Mueller led a rifle platoon in Vietnam, eventually receiving numerous commendations, including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images

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Trump supporters have raised similar concerns. Former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich wrote on Twitter that Republicans were “delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair.” The pro-Trump group Great America Alliance released a video in which conservative commentator Tomi Lahren opined, “Only in Washington could a rigged game like this be called independent.”

But Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a strong Trump backer who has recused himself from the Russia probe, was more circumspect in an interview with “Fox & Friends” on Friday.

“Mr. Mueller is entitled lawfully, I guess at this point, to hire who he desires, but I think he should look for people who have strength and credibility by all people,” Sessions said.

Pressed on whether he had confidence in Mueller, Sessions said: “I feel confident in what he’ll do. That’s all I can say to you about that.”

Mueller has brought in 15 attorneys to work with him — among them former colleagues at the firm WilmerHale and veteran Justice Department lawyers, said Peter Carr, a spokesman for the Special Counsel’s Office. Only 13 have been publicly identified.

Put together, the team is a formidable collection of legal talent and expertise with experience prosecuting national security, fraud and public corruption cases, arguing matters before the Supreme Court and assessing complicated legal questions.

The team members include Michael Dreeben, a Justice Department deputy solicitor general who has argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court; Andrew Weissmann, the chief of the Justice Department’s fraud section; James Quarles, who worked as an assistant special prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force; and Jeannie Rhee, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel who also came from WilmerHale.

Rhee was on the team representing the Clinton Foundation, and another lawyer working with the special counsel, Aaron Zebley, once represented Clinton aide Justin Cooper. Zebley was Mueller’s chief of staff when Mueller served as FBI director.

Carr confirmed to The Washington Post that Brandon Van Grack, a Justice Department national security division prosecutor; Rush Atkinson, a trial attorney in the fraud section; and Andrew D. Goldstein, who had headed the public corruption unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York; and Zainab Ahmad, an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York specializing in terrorism cases, also had been assigned to work with the group. Goldstein had worked in the office under U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by Trump after he refused to resign upon request and who has said publicly that he had unusual exchanges with the president. Ahmad was recently profiled by the New Yorker for having prosecuted 13 terrorism cases without a single loss.

Seven special counsel team members have donated to Democratic campaigns — five of those to Clinton’s — and their giving totals nearly $53,000. The other six that are publicly known to be on the team did not give any political contributions, records show.

Ethics experts said the giving should not preclude anyone’s participation. Justice Department policies and federal law actually prohibit discriminating based on political affiliation when it comes to hiring for nonpolitical positions — meaning Mueller might feel he cannot consider donation history when he makes hires.

“Bottom line is, I don’t see how donations are relevant,” said Richard Painter, who was the ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush. “I’ve never heard of a single case where a prosecutor has been removed because of a political donation.”

[The White House may claim Mueller has conflicts of interest. Oh, the irony.]

Quarles’s donations were the most substantial. Over two decades, he gave more than $30,000 to various Democratic campaigns, including $2,700 to Clinton’s in 2016. But Quarles has also given to Republicans, contributing $2,500 in 2015 to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and $250 to then-Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) in 2005.

Rhee donated nearly $12,000 to various Democratic campaigns, including President Barack Obama’s and Clinton’s, and Weissmann donated at least $6,600. Goldstein donated $3,300 to Obama’s campaigns. Three others — Van Grack, Atkinson and Elizabeth Prelogar, a lawyer in the Solicitor General’s office — donated less than $1,000 between them.

Some experts said Trump’s assertions — many of which misstate the facts — provide no real basis to question the team’s work.

“There’s a bipartisan consensus that the various, wild conflicts allegations that have been made by Trump and his allies are groundless,” said Norm Eisen, a fellow at the Brookings Institution who served as Obama’s ethics czar. “It just is not the case that lawyers or investigators are disqualified by political activity of this kind.”

Trump and his allies have also fixated on the longtime professional relationship between Mueller and Comey, but the president might be overstating their relationship.

The two men played central roles in a 2004 incident during the George W. Bush administration that has entered Washington lore, when both prepared to resign instead of go along with the reauthorization of a controversial surveillance program. The episode became particularly famous for Comey’s intervention at the hospital bed of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Comey could be a key figure in Mueller’s investigation. The special counsel’s probe includes a look at whether Trump attempted to obstruct justice in possibly trying to shut down the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Comey’s firing might be considered a piece of evidence in that case.

Ethics experts said they see no reason Mueller — who had previously registered as a Republican — would have a conflict. And David N. Kelley, Comey’s attorney, disputed Trump’s characterization of his client and Mueller’s connection.

“Bob and Jim have a congenial relationship as former colleagues. Both served long legal careers that involved overlapping time spent within the Department of Justice, and that’s pretty well documented. But beyond that, they’re not close, personal friends,” Kelley said. “They’re friends in the sense that co-workers are friends. They don’t really have a personal relationship.”

Kelley said Comey had never been to Mueller’s home, and Mueller had never been to Comey’s home. He said they had lunch together once and dinner together twice — once with their spouses and once after Comey became FBI director so Mueller could brief him on the job. Once, in 2004 with two others from the Justice Department, they played golf together, Kelley said.

Kelley said Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein knew of Mueller and Comey’s relationship before naming Mueller as the special counsel. Rosenstein himself was appointed by Trump.

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“I don’t think Jim has given it a lot of thought, but why would Bob be conflicted?” Kelley said. “Bob’s not conducting an investigation where Jim is pitted against a target of the investigation. If anything, he’s a witness.”

Mueller also has professional connections, and some of those are allied with Trump.

Although he resigned to take the special counsel job, Mueller had worked for the law firm WilmerHale, whose lawyers represent Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; Trump’s daughter Ivanka; and the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Justice Department ethics experts ultimately cleared him to lead the probe despite that, and Carr said they gave the same consideration and approval to others from his firm.

Sari Horwitz contributed to this report.

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The U.S. warned North Korea that it is ready to fight if provoked, as Pyongyang claimed another weapons-development breakthrough following its launch Tuesday of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

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Officer Miosotis Familia’s murder is the Russian Mafia’s response to Mueller’s investigation and its focus of interest: “Here are my mouth and my ears for you. The Family (“Bratva”).” 

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Officer Miosotis Familia‘s murder is the Russian Mafia‘s response to Mueller’s investigation and its focus of interest: “Here are my mouth and my ears for you. The Family (“Bratva”). Alexander (Bortnikov?) Bonds (bonds)”. Some other interpretational flows are present also. Links: Miosotis Familia – Google Search Wednesday July 5th, 2017 at 9:13 AM 1 Share Russian mafia, Trump, … Continue reading “Officer Miosotis Familia’s murder is the Russian Mafia’s response to Mueller’s investigation and its focus of interest: “Here are my mouth and my ears for you. The Family (“Bratva”).””

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Man who assassinated NYPD officer in the Bronx previously …

New York’s PIX11 / WPIX-TV1 hour ago
Alexander Bonds fatally shot an NYPD officer in an unprovoked attack in the Bronx on July 5, 2017, according to police. He was later fatally …
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Russian ‘thief-in-law’ arrested in Las Vegas, faces multiple charges

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Russian authorities, Burns said, had a notice out for his arrest on … club in New York, and then bribing local law enforcement officers so they could … back to mafia members and associates in Russia, Georgia and Ukraine.
Feds hit 33 alleged Russian mobsters with gangland charges …
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Russian mafia abroad: Razhden Shulaya arrested in US not to face …

<a href=”https://en.crimerussia.com/” rel=”nofollow”>https://en.crimerussia.com/</a>Jun 19, 2017
Russian mafia abroad: Razhden Shulaya arrested in US not to face … Earlier, leaders of 5 main clans of the Italian mafia of New York were …
Story image for recent arrests of russian mafia from https://en.crimerussia.com/

WBO world boxing champ Avtandil Khurtsidze arrested by US over …

<a href=”https://en.crimerussia.com/” rel=”nofollow”>https://en.crimerussia.com/</a>Jun 8, 2017
… Warren, Khurtsidze was among the 33 alleged members of the organized crime group, 23 of whom were detained by the police of New York.
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Officer Miosotis Familia – Google Search

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Story image for Officer Miosotis Familia from CBS New York

NYPD Mourns Officer Miosotis Familia, Killed In Bronx Attack

CBS New York2 hours ago
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police are mourning NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia, who was shot and later died in what authorities are calling …
Miosotis Familia: NYPD Officer ‘Assassinated’ In Bronx In …
<a href=”http://Patch.com” rel=”nofollow”>Patch.com</a>1 hour ago
NYPD officer ‘assassinated in an unprovoked attack’ by gunman …
Local Source<a href=”http://NJ.com” rel=”nofollow”>NJ.com</a>1 hour ago
Media image for Officer Miosotis Familia from New York Times

New York Times

Media image for Officer Miosotis Familia from Patch.com

Patch.com

Media image for Officer Miosotis Familia from Washington Times

Washington Times

Media image for Officer Miosotis Familia from Heavy.com

Heavy.com

Media image for Officer Miosotis Familia from New York's PIX11 / WPIX-TV

New York’s PIX11 / WPIX-TV

Media image for Officer Miosotis Familia from New York Daily News

New York Daily News
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Merkel takes aim at U.S. ‘winners and losers’ policy before G20

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BERLIN German Chancellor Angela Merkel sharply criticized U.S. policy under President Donald Trump on Wednesday, two days before they are due to meet at the G20 summit, for being based on a “winners and losers” view of the world rather than on cooperation.

Merkel will host the two-day meeting of G20 leaders that starts on Friday in Hamburg. Along with Trump, others attending include Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan.

The talks are expected to be tricky as the agenda includes divisive issues such as free trade and climate change.

“As G20 president, it is my job to work on possibilities for agreement and not to contribute to a situation where a lack of communication prevails,” she told Die Zeit weekly.

However, she added that differences should not be pushed under the table.

“While we are looking at the possibilities of cooperation to benefit everyone, globalization is seen by the American administration more as a process that is not about a win-win situation but about winners and losers,” she said.

She said comments from a Trump security advisor that the world was an arena, not a global community, contradicted her views.

Germany wants everyone to benefit from economic progress rather than only a few, she said.

Europe must pool its energy, she said, adding that ideas of an economic government for the euro zone and of a European finance minister, put forward by new French President Emmanuel Macron, were “two important thoughts”.

Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to march in the city this week against globalization and what they say is corporate greed and a failure to tackle climate change.

Merkel said she respected peaceful demonstrators in Hamburg but “anyone who gets violent spurns democracy”.

German police used water cannon to disperse around 500 anti-capitalist protesters overnight in Hamburg.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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Analysis: Despite High Tensions, Trump, Putin Seek To Reestablish A Broken Dialogue

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The U.S. and Russian presidents are set to meet for the first time on July 7 at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. But U.S. allegations that Moscow interfered in last year’s election have strained efforts to get relations back on track.

Merkel takes aim at U.S. policy before G20

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BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel sharply criticized U.S. policy under President Donald Trump just two days before she hosts a G20 leaders summit, saying his administration saw globalization as creating winners and losers.

  

Mueller probe could draw focus to Russian crime operations

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government has long warned that Russian organized crime posed a threat to democratic institutions, including &quot;criminally linked oligarchs&quot; who might collude with the Russian government to undermine business competition….

NYPD Officer Dies After Being Shot in Vehicle

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BRONX, NY — A police officer was fatally shot early Wednesday as she sat in a command vehicle in New York, authorities said.

Miosotis Familia, 48, was shot just after midnight while she and her partner were sitting in a police command vehicle in the Bronx. She was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital, where she died, the New York Police Department said.

The department is calling it an “unprovoked attack.”

The suspect, 34-year-old Alexander Bonds, allegedly drew a revolver as he was confronted by officers. He was shot and killed by police about a block away, Police Commissioner James O’Neill said.

Police said Familia was a 12-year veteran working in the 46th Precinct.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the officers’ efforts during a press conference early Wednesday morning.

“She was on duty, serving this city, protecting people, doing what she believed in and doing the job she loved,” he told reporters. “After this sudden and shocking attack, her fellow officers came to her aid immediately.”

Another person was struck by a bullet during the encounter, police said. The person, who was not identified, was believed to be a bystander and is in stable condition at a local hospital.

Police said they recovered a silver revolver at the scene. The motive behind the shooting is unclear. The investigation is ongoing.

40.844782 -73.864827

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