|1. News in Photos from mikenova (4 sites)|
|WSJ.com: World News: U.S., Russia Reach Deal on Cease-Fire in Southwest Syria|
The U.S. and Russia have agreed on a cease-fire in southwest Syria, a U.S. official said Friday, as Russias President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump meet for the first time in Germany.
WSJ.com: World News
|Saved Stories – None|
|Russia-born dealmaker linked to Trump assists laundering probe – Financial Times|
|Who is Felix Sater? Trump’s Russian ex-Real Estate Partner Set to Help in Laundering Probe – Newsweek|
|FT Investigation: Trump and the Russian-born fixer – Financial Times|
|Broker, mobster, fraudster and Trump associate Felix Sater agrees to cooperate with investigation – Daily Kos|
|Justice League: Meet The Veteran Prosecutors Powering The Russia Probe – TPM|
|A new corruption probe linked to Trump is a scathing indictment of the US real-estate industry – Quartz|
|Ahead of Putin meeting, Trump says he’ll ‘represent our country well’ – Los Angeles Times|
|Melania Trump planned to join a Hamburg tour. Protesters at the G-20 had other ideas. – Washington Post|
|World leaders meet and greet at G20 summit in pictures|
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, welcomes leaders of the worlds biggest economies to Hamburg for the G20 summit to be held on Friday and Saturday, and Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin officially meet for the first time
|Rachel Maddow Warns News Orgs: Beware Of Forged Documents Connecting Trump To Russia – RealClearPolitics|
|Anti-Putin activist released from jail ahead of Putin-Trump meeting – The Hill|
|Why the G-20 Matters – New York Times|
|Putin Was a Mediocre KGB Agent, According to Former Boss – Folha de S.Paulo|
|Trump Carries a Weak Hand Into Putin Meeting – NBCNews.com|
|Donald Trumps speech on the west lacks conviction|
His actions do not suggest he supports western values, writes Gideon Rachman
|Attorney General Sessions visits Guantanamo Bay prison – National Post|
|Why Is Trump Keeping Our Western Allies at Arm’s Length? – Newsweek|
|Trump Presses Putin on Russian Meddling in US Election – New York Times|
|Trump Is Seeking Voter Data. What Does That Mean? – New York Times|
|Putin Trump – Google News: News of the Trump-Putin handshake came from the Kremlin, not the White House. Yes, it matters. – Washington Post|
Putin Trump – Google News
|Trump, with Putin, Predicts ‘Positive Things’ for US, Russia – FOX40|
|Australian intelligence pinged global crime boss – The Australian|
|Trump defends Western civilization and media call it racist – Fox News|
|Washington’s Leak Mob: Current and Ex- Officials Damage National Security in Quest to Topple Trump – Fox News|
|Daily Reads: Trump Offers White Nationalist Dog Whistles in Poland; Russia Steps Up Spying – BillMoyers.com|
|Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks|
|Trump defends Western civilization and media call it racist – Fox News|
|Trump Associate Agrees to Cooperate in International Money Laundering Investigation|
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 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.
|felix sater – Google News: Trump Associate Agrees to Cooperate in International Money Laundering Investigation – OCCRP|
felix sater – Google News
|Trump and Western civilisation|
US president issues call to defend western values
|After Putin meeting, Russian government begins trash-talking about how weak Donald Trump is|
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
The post After Putin meeting, Russian government begins trash-talking about how weak Donald Trump is appeared first on Palmer Report.
|Trump Misleads on Russian Meddling: Why 17 Intelligence Agencies Dont Need to Agree|
“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 control or 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.
|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|
— 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:
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.
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]
• 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]
• A martial arts-inspired cardio fitness class is at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. 7 p.m. [Free]
• “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.
• 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).
• 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]
• A 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.
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.
You can find the latest New York Today at nytoday.com.
|More havoc at Penn Station as another train derails | New York Post|
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.
|(30) First Lady Kept Inside Amid G-20 Protests – YouTube|
|(30) DAY 1: President Donald Trump G20 Summit Speech, Putin Meeting, Press Conference Hamburg Germany 17 – YouTube|
|(30) President Trump And Vladimir Putin Meet For First Time At G20 Summit In Hamburg, Germany | TIME – YouTube|
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.
|Donald Trump encounters Vladimir Putin for 1st time at G-20: Grins and handshakes|
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.
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.
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.
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. Trumpin 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.
“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.
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.
|Who stole the 2016 US Presidential Elections? The Big Questions In The Age Of Chutzpah The Web World Times wwtimes.com|
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: fascism, totalitarianism, 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”.
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:
|Trump impeachment chances: Mueller team edition.|
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.
|Russia steps up spying efforts after election|
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.
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.”
|Foreign Interference In The Elections Of 2016 – Google Search|
|Trump, in Poland, Says Nobody Really Knows if Only Russia Meddled in U.S. Vote|
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
|donald trump racketeering – Google News: Russia-born dealmaker linked to Trump assists laundering probe – Financial Times|
donald trump racketeering – Google News
|How Donald Trump has played Vladimir Putins game|
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.
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.
|Russia-born dealmaker linked to Trump assists laundering probe|
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.
Occupation Real estate dealmaker, pictured right, who worked with Donald Trump
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.
Occupation Oligarch and opposition politician, pictured centre
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.
Occupation Exiled former government minister accused of embezzlement
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
|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|
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.
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.
The Dec. 20, 2014, killings of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos inflamed tensions between 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.
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:
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.
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.”
Orlando Shooting Updates
News and analysis on the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
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Major national and political news as it breaks.
Peter Holley and Julie Tate contributed to this report, which has been updated.