2:49 PM 9/13/2017 – WSJ.com: World News: Myanmar Crisis Spurs U.N. Session, al Qaeda Threat

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1. News in Photos from mikenova (4 sites)
WSJ.com: World News: Myanmar Crisis Spurs U.N. Session, al Qaeda Threat

A push by the military that rules Myanmar alongside Aung San Suu Kyi to clear Rohingya villages and drive the Muslim ethnic group into Bangladesh drew the attention on Wednesday of two international organizations: the United Nations Security Council and al Qaeda.

WSJ.com: World News

 

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Report: Michael Flynn Refuses to Testify Before Senate Intelligence Committee – Independent Journal Review
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House Dems: Michael Flynn May Have Lobbied For Nuclear Deal Inside White House – NPR
Congress to Trump: Reform Surveillance Authorities or Lose Them – Reason (blog)
Shuttered Facebook group linked to Russia organized anti-immigrant rallies across Texas – Business Insider
Mike Flynn’s Son Is Subject of Federal Russia Probe – NBCNews.com

 

Saved Stories – None
Alec Baldwin Is Bringing Back His Trump Impression For The ‘SNL’ Premiere

He’s baaaaack.

Trump either cannot see the differences in values between the US and Russia or he doesn’t care – Dallas News


Dallas News
Trump either cannot see the differences in values between the US and Russia or he doesn’t care
Dallas News
Then Trump should begin to understand the stark difference between American values and Russian preference for order, America’s respect for the rule of law and Russia’ centuries-long addiction to authoritarianism, America’s time-honored freedom of the …

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Hillary Clinton: Without the Comey letter, ‘the evidence shows I would have won’ – CNBC


Fox News
Hillary Clinton: Without the Comey letter, ‘the evidence shows I would have won’
CNBC
Hillary Clinton opened up on Wednesday about President Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey, saying she would have won the election had it not been for the former FBI director’s letter about his investigation of her private email account. “Absent that 
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Flynn again under spotlight for unreported foreign business deals – Sacramento Bee


NPR

CNN International
Flynn again under spotlight for unreported foreign business deals
Sacramento Bee
… during his background check. Both could be criminal violations. Flynn resigned his White House post after only a month because he misled administration officials about a telephone call he held during the transition with then-Russian Ambassador 
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Armenia and Azerbaijan are Stuck with Russia and the US – International Policy Digest


International Policy Digest
Armenia and Azerbaijan are Stuck with Russia and the US
International Policy Digest
Over the years, Russia has served as the main arbitrator for the territorial dispute between Armenians and Azerbaijanis over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The most vivid explanation lies in the past relationship of Russia with these two countries both

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Trump is privately raging about Robert Mueller. But all of this is his own fault. – Washington Post


Washington Post
Trump is privately raging about Robert Mueller. But all of this is his own fault.
Washington Post
THE MORNING PLUM: Is President Trump even capable of grasping the basic outlines of the story line that led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his intensifying investigation, which is now targeting Trump himself? This is 
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Barack Obama as good as admitted, back in December, that he missed the campaign trail, when he told his formed aide David Axelrod in an interview that he would have won the 2016 election against Donald Trump. Sadly for him, that pesky constitution
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It’s Official: Donald Trump Is The Most Anti-LGBTQ President In U.S. History

Measured by both actions and outcomes, it’s a fact that is now undeniable.

‘What Happened’? Hillary Cherry-Picks Through Historic Loss – The American Conservative


USA TODAY
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Report: Michael Flynn Refuses to Testify Before Senate Intelligence Committee – Independent Journal Review


Independent Journal Review
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Independent Journal Review
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who had largely been out of the news for months after being a cog in many of the initial big stories about the Trump administration, returned to the forefront on Tuesday night. That was when CNN reported 

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Harvard Psychiatrist: Trump Is a ‘Sociopath’ and a ‘Very Sick Individual’ – AlterNet

Harvard Psychiatrist: Trump Is a ‘Sociopath’ and a ‘Very Sick Individual’
AlterNet
… Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. Dodes is a signatory to the much-discussed February 2017 open letter to the New York Times that sought to warn the public about the dangers posed by Donald Trump’s mental health. He is also a 

Former Trump Aide Has No Idea Why Ivanka is in the White House – Newsweek


Western Journalism
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The Nation.
Will Russia Leave the West?
The Nation. 
Geographically, of course, Russia cannot leave the West. Its expanses include vast Far Eastern territories and peoples, but they also include major European cities such as St. Petersburg. For that reason alone, Russia has long been, to varying degrees 
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Still more, the European nations entrapped in the Soviet Bloc (East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and others) retained their Western currents, which flowed from their own Communist parties into the Soviet Russian political establishment 

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Narcissism to blame for why men more likely to troll on Facebook – Birmingham Mail


Birmingham Mail
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Birmingham Mail
Some commentators have accused US President Donald Trump of being a narcissist. One American psychologist and author, Dr John Gartner, declared in USA Today: “Donald Trump’s malignant narcissism is toxic.” The new claims are based on results from …

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House Democrats drop a house on Michael Flynn

Yesterday, Michael Flynn once again refused a request from Congress to testify about his role in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal. This was not entirely surprising he’s invoked the Fifth Amendment before but it had a sense of finality about it. I wrote last night that this opened the door for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to drop a house on him. Sure enough, the House Democrats just handed Mueller what he needs.

Congressmen Elijah Cummings and Eliot Engel have sent Robert Mueller evidence that Michael Flynn secretly tried to broker a $100 billion deal between Russia and Saudi Arabia, according to CNN (link). Newsweek first alleged the secret deal this summer (link), but now Congress has gathered enough evidence to prove that Flynn broke the law in the process. This evidence now hands Mueller a loaded weapon to use again Flynn, and he’ll do so in aggressive fashion.

As I wrote last night, don’t be shocked if Mueller has the FBI bust through Michael Flynn’s door, as he did to Paul Manafort, who wasn’t half this uncooperative. At this point Flynn is all but daring Mueller to have him arrested, suggesting that either he’s spitefully willing to go down with the ship, or he’s counting on a pardon from Donald Trump. So this may come down to Mueller’s ability to hit Flynn for his crimes in a way that Trump can’t pardon him.

There are two approaches to that. The first would be for Mueller to bring state level charges against Flynn, which can’t be pardoned. It’s been widely reported that Mueller is taking this approach with Manafort, who lives in New York, and has allegedly violated numerous state laws with his international financial dealings. Mueller would need to find relevant state level charges against Flynn or he could name Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator, which may legally prevent Trump from being able to pardon Flynn at all. Stay tuned.

The post House Democrats drop a house on Michael Flynn appeared first on Palmer Report.

Here’s more, real evidence that Trump is slowly rupturing the Republican Party – Washington Post


Washington Post
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The U.S. Army docked tanks and other fighting vehicles in northern Poland Wednesday, swelling its presence to two armored brigades in Europe. The reinforcement is a response to regional fears that Moscow may attempt another landgrab in its former …

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Trumps Moscow Tower and Back-Channel Ukraine Dossier: Both Began During the Election, Evidence Suggests

Congressional investigators are reportedly exploring any connections between two deals brokered by Donald Trumps lawyer Michael Cohen and Felix Sater which directly raised Russian interests. The timeline for one of these arrangements is potentially very different than what has been reported widely in the news media. Discussions of the two deals appear to have occurred closer together in time and discussion on both began during the presidential race. The timing is sure to raise the interest of investigators looking into possible links between Trump associates and Russian election interference.

The first arrangement involving Cohen and Sater was a proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow on terms that would be highly lucrative for Donald Trump. Those discussions reportedly began in September 2015 and led to Trump signing a 17-page letter of intent in late October 2015. Cohen said he discussed the project with Trump three times. The project went so far as to include soliciting building designs from architects and preliminary discussions about possible financing. According to Cohen, he personally decided to end the deal in late January 2016.

The second dealing with Cohen and Slater involved a back channel plan for handling Ukraine and Russia. Most all news outlets and analysis start the timeline for this plan in January 2017, but there is reason to believe it began much earlier.

The Ukrainian proposal has been called a peace plan by some, but that is a misnomer. The proposal involved unwinding Russian sanctions on favorable terms to Moscow, and the use of derogatory information against the current Ukrainian leadership. The idea was hatched by Ukrainian politician Andrii Artemenko, who told the Times that he received encouragement for his plans from Putins top aides. Discussing the terms of the proposal, Ukraines Ambassador to the United States, Valeriy Chaly said, Such ideas can be pitched or pushed through only by those openly or covertly representing Russian interests. Cohen reportedly hand delivered the Ukraine dossier to then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in the White House in the week before Flynns resignation.

The question is even if Cohen delivered the dossier in early 2017, when did the discussions of the Ukraine plan involving Cohen, Sater, and Artemenko begin?

The New York Times reported, it was late January when the three men associated with the proposed plan converged on the Loews Regency, a luxury hotel on Park Avenue in Manhattan to discuss Artemenkos ideas. Cohen later acknowledged to Business insider that he met with Artemenko in New York to discuss the plan but said it was only under 10 minutes.

(Cohen has told many different and conflicting stories about the Ukraine dossier.)

The discussions between Artemenko, Sater, and Cohen began long before January 2017, according to Artemenko. In an interview with a Ukrainian news outlet, Artemenko said that he began discussions with Cohen and Sater at the time of the primaries, when no one believed that Trump would even be nominated. Talking Point Memo reported on this interview in February 2017 (see also Josh Marshalls assessment that the Ukrainian news outlet is a legitimate publication).

It would surely be significant for the special counsel and congressional investigations if Cohens discussions involving the Ukraine plan began during the presidential election season. It is even more significant if, indeed, the plan came with Russian backing, as Artemenko and Ambassador Chaly both suggest. Even Cohen, in explaining the reason he met with Artemenko in January saidArtemenko told him the proposal was acknowledged by Russian authorities would create world peace.

It would also be significant that both deals involved Cohen and Slater in this time period. If the discussions on the Ukraine plan occurred during the primaries, when no one believed that Trump would even be nominated, that would be much closer in time to the emails between Cohen and Sater on Trump Tower in Moscow. Those emails include Sater telling Cohen, I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected. Buddy our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.

If the Ukraine discussions began in early 2016, other parts of the timeline also become significant. Those include bringing Paul Manafort onto the campaign in March 2016, with his ties to Ukraine including his work on the behalf of  the same pro-Kremlin political groups to which Artemenko belongs. The Trump team then changedthe Republican party platform on Ukraine in July 2016, which they later denied. On July 30, Trump told ABC News George Stephanopoulos that he was open to recognizing Russias control of Crimea.

Finally, it is worth considering why exactly the deal involving Trump Tower in Moscow discontinued.

Cohen has insisted that the reasons for pursuing the deal and for abandoning it were unrelated to the campaign and involved purely business determinations. In a two-page statement to the House Intelligence Committee on August 28, 2017, Cohen said:

The Trump Tower Moscow proposal was not related in any way to Mr. Trumps presidential campaign.The decision to pursue the proposal initially, and later to abandon it, was unrelated to the Donald J. Trump for President campaign. Both I and the Trump Organization were evaluating this proposal and many others from solely a business standpoint, and rejected going forward on that basis.

Sater tells a different story. According to the New York Times: Sater said he had been working on a plan for a Trump Tower in Moscow one that he said had come to a halt because of Mr. Trumps presidential campaign. Sater also told Talking Points Memo: Once the campaign was really going-going, it was obvious there were going to be no deals internationally. Sater said, It didnt go through because obviously he became President. Saters statements suggest the plan may have only been temporarily suspended due to the campaign and would have potentially proceeded if Trump had not been elected.

The Ukraine project was different. The Trump team was able to shift the Republican party in the direction of the Kremlins interests on Ukraine during the campaign itself. Almost as soon as they came into office, Trumps team then  began unusual efforts to unwind Russian sanctions.

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Read on Just Security »

Department of Justice ‘stops Senate from interviewing FBI officials’ over Trump’s Comey firing – The Independent


The Independent
Department of Justice ‘stops Senate from interviewing FBI officials’ over Trump’s Comey firing
The Independent
The Justice Department is reportedly blocking Senate investigators from speaking with FBI officials who may provide first-hand testimony about Donald Trump’s firing of ex-FBI chief James Comey. It is the latest sign that Special Counsel Robert Mueller
Trump Staffers’ Loyalty Tested as Mueller Closes InVanity Fair
Exclusive: Justice Department declines Senate request to interview FBI officials over Comey firingCNN
‘A calculated attack’: The White House says the DOJ ‘should certainly look at’ prosecuting James ComeyBusiness Insider
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House Dems: Michael Flynn May Have Lobbied For Nuclear Deal Inside White House – NPR


NPR
Congress to Trump: Reform Surveillance Authorities or Lose Them – Reason (blog)


Reason (blog)
Congress to Trump: Reform Surveillance Authorities or Lose Them
Reason (blog)
Van Tine Dennis/ABACA/NewscomFederal surveillance authority reforms may be coming, whether the President DonaldTrump’s administration and the intelligence community likes it or not. To be clear, they do not, despite the Trump’s vocal complaining that …
Congress Braces for Tense Debate on Surveillance LawRoll Call

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Shuttered Facebook group linked to Russia organized anti-immigrant rallies across Texas – Business Insider


Business Insider
Shuttered Facebook group linked to Russia organized anti-immigrant rallies across Texas
Business Insider
Casey Michel, a journalist who has spent years tracing US secession movements to Russia, tracked the group’s activity throughout the election and determined it was more than just a platform for far-right Texas secessionists. Several signs pointed to 

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Mike Flynn’s Son Is Subject of Federal Russia Probe – NBCNews.com


NBCNews.com
Mike Flynn’s Son Is Subject of Federal Russia Probe
NBCNews.com
Flynn’s status as a subject of the Russia investigation widens the publicly known scope of the probe. NBC News has reported that those under investigation have included the elder Flynn and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Othersunder …
Mike Flynn’s son is subject of Federal Russia probe: reportRaw Story
Flynn’s son is a subject in Russia probe: reportThe Hill (blog)

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Trump is privately raging about Robert Mueller. But all of this is his own fault. – Washington Post
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Central and Eastern Europe’s Crisis of Convergence
Central and Eastern Europe’s Crisis of Convergence – STRATFOR
Lawyer says extradition of oligarch tied to Trump campaign chief imminent

 

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
Alec Baldwin Is Bringing Back His Trump Impression For The ‘SNL’ Premiere

mikenova shared this story from Donald Trump.

He’s baaaaack.

Hillary Clinton: Without the Comey letter, ‘the evidence shows I would have won’ – CNBC

mikenova shared this story from trump investigated by the fbi – Google News.


Fox News
Hillary Clinton: Without the Comey letter, ‘the evidence shows I would have won’
CNBC
Hillary Clinton opened up on Wednesday about President Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey, saying she would have won the election had it not been for the former FBI director’s letter about his investigation of her private email account. “Absent that 
Clinton jumps gun on special counsel probe, ‘convinced’ Trump team helped Russia meddleFox News
‘This man is going to be the death of me’: Huma Abedin broke down in tears after learning of her estranged husband’s …Business Insider
Clinton calls Trump Jr.’s explanation of Russia meeting ‘an absurd lie’Politico
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Flynn again under spotlight for unreported foreign business deals – Sacramento Bee

mikenova shared this story from calls for Comey’s resignation – Google News.


NPR
Flynn again under spotlight for unreported foreign business deals
Sacramento Bee
… during his background check. Both could be criminal violations. Flynn resigned his White House post after only a month because he misled administration officials about a telephone call he held during the transition with then-Russian Ambassador
Flynn could face new pressure in Russia probe as Dems allege he concealed contactsABC News

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Armenia and Azerbaijan are Stuck with Russia and the US – International Policy Digest

mikenova shared this story from Russia influence in Eastern Europe – Google News.


International Policy Digest
Armenia and Azerbaijan are Stuck with Russia and the US
International Policy Digest
Over the years, Russia has served as the main arbitrator for the territorial dispute between Armenians and Azerbaijanis over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The most vivid explanation lies in the past relationship of Russia with these two countries both

and more »

Trump is privately raging about Robert Mueller. But all of this is his own fault. – Washington Post

mikenova shared this story from Trump – Google News.


Washington Post
Trump is privately raging about Robert Mueller. But all of this is his own fault.
Washington Post
THE MORNING PLUM: Is President Trump even capable of grasping the basic outlines of the story line that led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his intensifying investigation, which is now targeting Trump himself? This is 
Trump Staffers’ Loyalty Tested as Mueller Closes InVanity Fair
Trump’s closed-door rants on Comey and MuellerAxios

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The empty shell of Americas two-party system

mikenova shared this story from Donald Trump.

Both the Democrats and the Republicans are riven by internal schisms

Obama Is Now Campaigning for Germany’s Angela MerkelOr His Face Is, Anyway – Newsweek

mikenova shared this story from putin won US 2016 election – Google News.


Newsweek
Obama Is Now Campaigning for Germany’s Angela MerkelOr His Face Is, Anyway
Newsweek
Barack Obama as good as admitted, back in December, that he missed the campaign trail, when he told his formed aide David Axelrod in an interview that he would have won the 2016 election against Donald Trump. Sadly for him, that pesky constitution
You Snooze, She WinsSlate Magazine

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Harvard Psychiatrist: Trump Is a ‘Sociopath’ and a ‘Very Sick Individual’ – AlterNet

mikenova shared this story from psychoanalysis of Donald Trump – Google News.

Harvard Psychiatrist: Trump Is a ‘Sociopath’ and a ‘Very Sick Individual’
AlterNet
… Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. Dodes is a signatory to the much-discussed February 2017 open letter to the New York Times that sought to warn the public about the dangers posed by Donald Trump’s mental health. He is also a 

DNI Dan Coats: ‘Troubling’ former intel officials criticize Trump, intelligence community – Washington Examiner

mikenova shared this story from trump and intelligence community – Google News.


Washington Examiner
DNI Dan Coats: ‘Troubling’ former intel officials criticize Trump, intelligence community
Washington Examiner
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Wednesday it’s “troubling” many former intelligence officials have been critical of the intelligence community and its “capabilities with the president.” “I find it troubling that many outside the 
Intelligence director criticizes former officials for speaking out against TrumpThe Hill
Intel Director Slams Former Officials Criticizing Trump AdminNewsmax
Top US Official: Russia ‘Ever More Aggressive’ in CyberspaceVoice of America

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Trumps Moscow Tower and Back-Channel Ukraine Dossier: Both Began During the Election, Evidence Suggests

mikenova shared this story from Just Security.

Congressional investigators are reportedly exploring any connections between two deals brokered by Donald Trumps lawyer Michael Cohen and Felix Sater which directly raised Russian interests. The timeline for one of these arrangements is potentially very different than what has been reported widely in the news media. Discussions of the two deals appear to have occurred closer together in time and discussion on both began during the presidential race. The timing is sure to raise the interest of investigators looking into possible links between Trump associates and Russian election interference.

The first arrangement involving Cohen and Sater was a proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow on terms that would be highly lucrative for Donald Trump. Those discussions reportedly began in September 2015 and led to Trump signing a 17-page letter of intent in late October 2015. Cohen said he discussed the project with Trump three times. The project went so far as to include soliciting building designs from architects and preliminary discussions about possible financing. According to Cohen, he personally decided to end the deal in late January 2016.

The second dealing with Cohen and Slater involved a back channel plan for handling Ukraine and Russia. Most all news outlets and analysis start the timeline for this plan in January 2017, but there is reason to believe it began much earlier.

The Ukrainian proposal has been called a peace plan by some, but that is a misnomer. The proposal involved unwinding Russian sanctions on favorable terms to Moscow, and the use of derogatory information against the current Ukrainian leadership. The idea was hatched by Ukrainian politician Andrii Artemenko, who told the Times that he received encouragement for his plans from Putins top aides. Discussing the terms of the proposal, Ukraines Ambassador to the United States, Valeriy Chaly said, Such ideas can be pitched or pushed through only by those openly or covertly representing Russian interests. Cohen reportedly hand delivered the Ukraine dossier to then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in the White House in the week before Flynns resignation.

The question is even if Cohen delivered the dossier in early 2017, when did the discussions of the Ukraine plan involving Cohen, Sater, and Artemenko begin?

The New York Times reported, it was late January when the three men associated with the proposed plan converged on the Loews Regency, a luxury hotel on Park Avenue in Manhattan to discuss Artemenkos ideas. Cohen later acknowledged to Business insider that he met with Artemenko in New York to discuss the plan but said it was only “under 10 minutes.”

(Cohen has told many different and conflicting stories about the Ukraine dossier.)

The discussions between Artemenko, Sater, and Cohen began long before January 2017, according to Artemenko. In an interview with a Ukrainian news outlet, Artemenko said that he began discussions with Cohen and Sater at the time of the primaries, when no one believed that Trump would even be nominated. Talking Point Memo reported on this interview in February 2017 (see also Josh Marshalls assessment that the Ukrainian news outlet is a legitimate publication).

It would surely be significant for the special counsel and congressional investigations if Cohens discussions involving the Ukraine plan began during the presidential election season. It is even more significant if, indeed, the plan came with Russian backing, as Artemenko and Ambassador Chaly both suggest. Even Cohen, in explaining the reason he met with Artemenko in January said Artemenko told him the proposal “was acknowledged by Russian authorities would create world peace.

It would also be significant that both deals involved Cohen and Slater in this time period. If the discussions on the Ukraine plan occurred during “the primaries, when no one believed that Trump would even be nominated, that would be much closer in time to the emails between Cohen and Sater on Trump Tower in Moscow. Those emails include Sater telling Cohen, I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected. Buddy our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.

If the Ukraine discussions began in early 2016, other parts of the timeline also become significant. Those include bringing Paul Manafort onto the campaign in March 2016, with his ties to Ukraine including his work on the behalf of  the same pro-Kremlin political groups to which Artemenko belongs. The Trump team then changed the Republican party platform on Ukraine in July 2016, which they later denied. On July 30, Trump told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he was open to recognizing Russia’s control of Crimea.

Finally, it is worth considering why exactly the deal involving Trump Tower in Moscow discontinued.

Cohen has insisted that the reasons for pursuing the deal and for abandoning it were unrelated to the campaign and involved purely business determinations. In a two-page statement to the House Intelligence Committee on August 28, 2017, Cohen said:

The Trump Tower Moscow proposal was not related in any way to Mr. Trumps presidential campaign.The decision to pursue the proposal initially, and later to abandon it, was unrelated to the Donald J. Trump for President campaign. Both I and the Trump Organization were evaluating this proposal and many others from solely a business standpoint, and rejected going forward on that basis.

Sater tells a different story. According to the New York Times: Sater “said he had been working on a plan for a Trump Tower in Moscow one that he said had come to a halt because of Mr. Trumps presidential campaign. Sater also told Talking Points Memo: Once the campaign was really going-going, it was obvious there were going to be no deals internationally. Sater said, It didnt go through because obviously he became President. Sater’s statements suggest the plan may have only been temporarily suspended due to the campaign and would have potentially proceeded if Trump had not been elected.

The Ukraine project was different. The Trump team was able to shift the Republican party in the direction of the Kremlin’s interests on Ukraine during the campaign itself. Almost as soon as they came into office, Trump’s team then began unusual efforts to unwind Russian sanctions.

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Read on Just Security »

House Dems: Michael Flynn May Have Lobbied For Nuclear Deal Inside White House – NPR

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NPR
Shuttered Facebook group linked to Russia organized anti-immigrant rallies across Texas – Business Insider

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Business Insider
Shuttered Facebook group linked to Russia organized anti-immigrant rallies across Texas
Business Insider
Casey Michel, a journalist who has spent years tracing US secession movements to Russia, tracked the group’s activity throughout the election and determined it was more than just a platform for far-right Texas secessionists. Several signs pointed to 

and more »

Mike Flynn’s Son Is Subject of Federal Russia Probe – NBCNews.com

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NBCNews.com
Mike Flynn’s Son Is Subject of Federal Russia Probe
NBCNews.com
Flynn’s status as a subject of the Russia investigation widens the publicly known scope of the probe. NBC News has reported that those under investigation have included the elder Flynn and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Othersunder …
Mike Flynn’s son is subject of Federal Russia probe: reportRaw Story
Flynn’s son is a subject in Russia probe: reportThe Hill (blog)

all 9 news articles »

Trump’s White House Turns Up the Heat on James Comey – Vanity Fair

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Vanity Fair
Trump’s White House Turns Up the Heat on James Comey
Vanity Fair
Despite his inexplicable habit of wearing two collared shirts simultaneously, Steve Bannon demonstrated a semblance of acuity during Sunday’s revealing interview on 60 Minutes when he dubbed the president’s dismissal of F.B.I. director James Comeya …
White House: Prosecutors ‘should certainly look at’ charging ComeyMSNBC
Trump’s closed-door rants on Comey and MuellerAxios
Exclusive: Justice Department declines Senate request to interview FBI officials over Comey firingCNN
Newsweek –AOL –Newsmax
all 46 news articles »
Putin spokesman: US has ‘serious problems’ with press freedom as Justice Department probes Russia-funded news – Washington Examiner

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RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty
Putin spokesman: US has ‘serious problems’ with press freedom as Justice Department probes Russia-funded news
Washington Examiner
Critics of the Russia-funded news outlets see them as propaganda, and a January U.S. intelligence community report claimed RT and Sputnik were part of a Kremlin propaganda effort during the 2016 election that cast President Trump in a sympathetic light.
RT Says US Ordered Contractor For RT America To Register As ‘Foreign Agent’RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty

all 70 news articles »

Donald Trump Is Still ‘Ranting, Brooding’ About Comey and Russia Investigations – Newsweek

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Donald Trump Is Still ‘Ranting, Brooding’ About Comey and Russia Investigations
Newsweek
President Donald Trump continues to “rant and brood” over former FBI director James Comey and the Trump-Russiainvestigation that has plagued his administration, even as he has curtailed his public and Twitter comments on the subject, according to a …

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Q&A with Andy Wright on Flynn, Subpoenas and Privileged Information

mikenova shared this story from Just Security.

CNN reported Tuesday that retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, has twice declined to comply with a subpoena to appear as a witness before the Senate intelligence committee. He first did so in May, and has more recently refused a second request from the committee, asserting his Fifth Amendment rights. The House Intelligence Committee has also subpoenaed him. In March, Flynn offered to testify before both committees in exchange for immunity from prosecution but neither committee took him up on the offer. More news about Flynn came Wednesday morning: House Democrats say they have evidence that he failed to disclose a trip he took to the Middle East to help broker a $100 billion deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia’s nuclear power agency when he reapplied for his security clearance in 2015, according to CNN.

Meanwhile, at the White House, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the president’s spokeswoman, has accused former FBI  Director James Comey of various misdeeds each time shes taken the podium this week. On Monday, she said hed given false testimony” and accused him of “leaking privileged information to journalists.” When asked by a reporter if she was saying that Comey had perjured himself when testifying before Congress, she said, I think that’s something, probably, for [the Justice Department] to look at, not me.  I’m not an attorney. On Tuesday, she repeated the allegation that Comey leaked privileged government information, and took it a step further saying, His actions were improper and likely could have been illegal, but later she said, But I’m not here to ever direct DOJ into actions that they should take.

To try to make sense of the latest news, I turned to Just Security’s Andy Wright, my go-to expert on congressional investigations.

Q. How is Flynn able to refuse these congressional subpoenas?

A. Broadly speaking, Flynn may be able to resist a subpoena compelling him to offer testimony that is the subject of Flynns valid assertion of a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. It is clear that Flynn faces significant criminal exposure, especially for alleged false statements to FBI agents who interviewed him about the nature of his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition. Congress, like a court, has the ability to issue a subpoena to compel testimony. Also, like a court or a grand jury, Flynn may assert the Fifth Amendment in the face of compelled testimony in front of Congress. At that point, Congress can either grant use immunity under its statutory authorities, 18 USC 6002 and 18 USC 6005. No congressional committee has done so, so unless Flynn has waived privilege, evidence of which I have not seen, Congress cannot compel his testimony.

The distinction between a committees subpoena and a request for testimony is legally significant. Based on the media reporting Ive seen to date, I cant tell whether there was a second subpoena issued or whether the first subpoena is still driving the committee demands.

For more information on assertions of the Fifth in front of Congress, see pp. 25-36 of Congressional Due Process.  For more information on immunity grants, see pp. 31-32 of the Congressional Oversight Manual.

Q. Are there any further steps the Senate Intelligence Committee can take to compel him to testify?

A. First, Congress could offer him immunity. However, doing so could frustrate the parallel criminal investigation because it would require prosecutors to demonstrate they did not rely on any immunized testimony, even for leads derived therefrom, in any subsequent prosecution. The statutes require consultation with the Department of Justice, which here would be chiefly the Special Counsel.

Second, if the committee chair and colleagues rule that Flynn has waived privilege, they could seek to hold him in contempt of Congress. I have yet to see facts sufficient to support a ruling of waiver. The committee could insist that Flynn appear in order to assert the Fifth in person under oath, however I am of the general view that such a requirement is designed more for public shaming than to serve a legal purpose when counsel has represented Flynns intent to assert.

Q. Why hasnt the Senate Intelligence Committee held him in contempt yet?

A. The committee has not held Flynn in contempt because Flynn is acting within his constitutional right to remain silent when in legal jeopardy.

Q. Refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena doesnt look great. What do you think Flynns strategy is? Whats his cost-benefit analysis here?

A. There are lots of reasons to try to avoid asserting the Fifth Amendment in highly scrutinized and politicized cases such as the Russia investigations. While the privilege is designed to protect both the guilty and the innocent from prosecutorial overreach, it comes with great reputational damage in fact. In my best judgment as an observer, two things are informing Flynns strategy: (1) he faces a clear and present likelihood of indictment for at least a False Statements felony under 18 USC 1001. and (2) Flynn has already had his lawyer publicly signal his intent to assert the Fifth. Reputational damage has already been priced into Flynns defense teams calculations. At this point, the whole game for Flynn is avoiding conviction and jail time.

Q. Does Special Counsel Robert Mueller have tools to compel testimony not available to congressional investigators?

A. Like Congress, Mueller can offer immunity. Unlike Congress, however, a prosecutor also use charging decisions as leverage for testimony and or plea bargains. For example, lets say Muellers grand jury had probable cause to indict Flynn for, say, a Logan Act violation, three FARA criminal offenses, and two False Statement offenses. Mueller could offer to proceed with only a single felony count of False Statements in return for a guilty plea and a favorable sentencing recommendation predicated on substantial assistance to the government, including testimony before Congress and the Grand Jury.

Another interesting idea: During Watergate, Judge John Sirica used sentencing to leverage congressional testimony from several figures who were convicted in criminal trials but had used the Fifth Amendment as a shield against Congress. There is some doubt about whether that methodology is viable today, both in the context of the federal sentencing guidelines and more recent Fifth Amendment waiver cases, but it is worthy of contemplation.

Q. If Flynn did indeed take this trip and fail to disclose it on his security clearance form, is that significant?

A. An undisclosed effort to help broker a deal for Russian government entities is a huge revelation in the context of the Russia investigations. It could be significant legally as it relates to FARA, False Statements, or Espionage Act investigations. The legal significance for each would turn on the nature of Flynns role in the deal and his mental state about the failure to disclose.

Q. At this point, is it safe to say that Flynn has some serious criminal liability?

A. Flynn is in significant legal jeopardy of criminal prosecution.

Q. What is Huckabee Sanders talking about when she says Comey leaked privileged information? Was the information privileged? Even if it can be argued that it was, is this crime?

A. What Comey did appears to me to be no worse than former officials, like Robert Gates, disclosing Oval Office conversations in their books. I have been critical of that practice, but I do not believe it is illegal.

Presidential communications with senior advisers are presumptively amenable to an assertion of executive privilege by the president. In addition, the Executive Branch has significant confidentiality interests in open criminal investigation files, which have also at times been shielded by presidential assertions of executive privilege.

There are a couple of problems for the Huckabee Sanders argument here, however. First, it is not clear that Comeys conversations with President Trump, as reported, constituted advice in any traditional sense. In fact, it may have been evidence of criminal conduct by the president. Second, President Trump has not asserted executive privilege over those memos or Comeys testimony. The act of the presidents assertion of privilege itself has significance because it means the president thinks the threat posed by the information to the institution of the executive branch is worth internalizing the political costs of appearing to try to hide something. President Trump has not done so. Instead, his staff is trying to complain about leaks without onboarding the costs.

I do not see Comey facing any criminal liability for disclosures of unclassified material, even if it were the potential subject of an assertion of executive privilege. He may have violated a Department of Justice policy or regulation, but I would have to defer to subject matter experts on that.

Finally, like just about every single lawyer in America, I would strongly advise the White House staff to stop pundit-like commentary from the podium about an ongoing criminal investigation touching on the president and his associates. It is only worsening matters for the White House and the presidency as institutions.

Q. Is there any evidence that Comey gave false testimony? If he did, what are the consequences?

A. Any time two witness provide divergent and irreconcilable sworn testimony as to a material event, either one could be accused of perjury, which is a felony.  A prosecutor would need to come to the judgment that one of the actors is lying and there is sufficient evidence to mount a successful prosecution. The evidence would consist of the statements, documents, indications of motive, timelines, context, character, and so forth. Here, Comey has had a consistent story about his interactions with President Trump, one that he reportedly told to senior FBI officials in real time, and one that he documented with memoranda in real time, all of which occurred prior to his termination by the president. On the presidents side, there have been inconsistent, post-hoc rationales offered. What we havent seen, and Mueller will, is what other relevant witnesses say about these matters both on the White House staff and in the front office of the FBI. As to character, Comey has been accused of sanctimony but his truthfulness has not really come into question in the past. President Trump, however, has a long history of exaggeration and dishonesty. As for honesty, the Trump White House is made of glass and Huckabee Sanders ought not throw stones.

Q. Is it appropriate for the White House spokeswoman to be suggesting what the Department of Justice should be looking into?

A. No. It is wholly inappropriate for the White House to exert pressure as to investigative targets from the podium. We need evenhanded administration of justice. That means that the presidents constitutional duty to take care that laws be faithfully executed means that his White House staff should not politically interfere in criminal investigations, especially when it is self-serving to a president under investigation. I am currently 25 pages into a draft law review article called Justice Department Independence and White House Control that explains why in great detail.

Q. Are any of her comments relevant to Muellers obstruction of justice investigation?

A. Only at the margins. To the extent Huckabee Sanders makes representations about the truthfulness of the presidents account of events, Mueller may want to explore the basis of her knowledge.

Image: Drew Angerer/Getty Read on Just Security »

Sanders will introduce universal health care, backed by 15 Democrats

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Hillary Clinton still doesnt get what happened in the 2016 election

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RT, Sputnik and Russia’s New Theory of War – New York Times

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New York Times
RT, Sputnik and Russia’s New Theory of War
New York Times
… prevailed weeks earlier in the election over Marine Le Pen a far-right politician who had backed Putin’s annexation of Crimea and met with him in the Kremlin a month before the election Macron complained that Russia Today and Sputnik were 

Russia used Facebook to organize racist rallies to help Trump – Shareblue Media

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Shareblue Media
Russia used Facebook to organize racist rallies to help Trump
Shareblue Media
The FBI has reportedly been examining the Trump campaign’s data operation, and officials told CNN they are examining whether Russian operatives used people associated with the campaign wittingly or unwittingly to try to help Russia’s own data …
Russian paid Facebook to promote pro-Trump eventsMashable
Senate Russia investigators weigh issuing interim reportPolitico
Russia All Up In Trump Racists’ Facebooks, Inviting Them To Racism Sex Orgies!Wonkette (blog)
The Hill
all 40 news articles »
Meet the ‘Philly Central HS grad’ who was really a Russian troll helping Trump win – Philly.com

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Philly.com
Meet the ‘Philly Central HS grad’ who was really a Russian troll helping Trump win
Philly.com
An illustration of Facebook logo, on May 9, 2016. The discovery that a Russian company bought election-related Facebook ads in last year’s presidential race opens new avenues for Justice Department and congressional investigators.

Central and Eastern Europe’s Crisis of Convergence

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Enter Brexit

Britain’s exit from the European Union will deprive Central and Eastern European governments of a key ally when

it comes to EU reform

. Like them, the United Kingdom sees the bloc as a trade association among countries not necessarily interested in developing supranational structures. London has been skeptical of proposals to federalize the European Union and has obtained multiple opt-outs from initiatives such as the euro or the passport-free Schengen area. For Poland and Hungary, a United Kingdom that defends these views from within the EU was a much more valuable ally than a country that is on its way out of the bloc and uncertain about its future.

In addition, the impact of the British referendum was so profound that most EU leaders now understand that they cannot remain immobile. In recent months, there has been a plethora of proposals for EU reform. Most are in an embryonic phase, and many will be watered down or shelved. But there is a common narrative that makes Central and Eastern Europe nervous. Most of the plans involve the eurozone, not the European Union as a whole. This makes sense, as the crisis of the past decade focused primarily on the currency union, and its members are particularly driven to solve its pending problems. But underneath this seemingly pragmatic view, there is a deeper message: The European Union is the eurozone, and the countries that do not use the euro are not as relevant as those that do.

This connects directly to the concept of a “

multi-speed Europe

,” a Continental bloc where some countries deepen their integration while others do not. The European Union already moves at different speeds because, for example, some countries use the euro while others don’t, and some countries take part in the Schengen Agreement while others don’t. But so far, the official goal of the European Union is that at some point all its member states will reach the same level of integration. If the European Union were to abandon its pledge of an “ever closer union,” the political and institutional environment on the Continent would be severely disrupted. It would mean that for first time the bloc is officially acknowledging the existence of first- and second-tier member states.

This is a worrisome prospect for Central and Eastern Europe. The region depends on the European Union for trade, investment, subsidies and, to some extent, security. The Czech Republic and Slovakia are intimately connected to the German economy. Poland and Romania see membership as a part of

their security strategy

, which consists of having as many international alliances as possible to deter Russian aggression. Should these countries opt out, or be excluded, from the next stage of Continental reform, some would have to rely on the United States for investment, protection or energy imports. But the White House may not be as interested in subsidizing Polish farmers or paying for Romania’s roads as Brussels is.

Since the end of the Cold War, peace and prosperity in Central and Eastern Europe were the result of a combination of close ties with the United States and of membership in the European Union and NATO. If any of these factors is removed from the equation, entire national strategies have to be revised. A point could be made that in the case of weaker ties between Central and Eastern Europe and the rest of the European Union, NATO membership could be enough to provide security to the region. But security is not only connected to the military. Over the past two decades, EU membership has meant more solid institutions, more transparent democracies and a stronger rule of law in the former Communist bloc. All of these reduce the room for Russian manipulation, especially when Moscow’s strategy is based on exploiting institutional shortcomings, not just on military intervention.

Difficult Choices Ahead

Slovakia and the Czech Republic have already suggested that they intend to remain as close as possible to the Continent’s biggest players. Their decisions are motivated by economic and historical reasons, because they are former members of the Holy Roman Empire that are intimately connected to the German economy. But the choice will be harder for Poland and Hungary, which are governed by nationalist forces that see the European Union’s federalist and post-national aspirations as a threat to their national sovereignty and identity.

Geopolitics suggests that Poland should want to remain as close as possible to Western Europe. The existence of Poland as a nation, located in the heart of the North European Plain and easy to invade, has been challenged traditionally by

Germany and Russia

, forcing Warsaw to seek as many foreign allies as possible. Germany is no longer an immediate threat, but Poland still feels an intense sense of urgency — more than its peers in the Visegrad Group — when it comes to Russia. And this is where Polish and Hungarian imperatives diverge, because Budapest does not perceive an external threat the way Warsaw does.

It is also possible that the nationalist governments in Warsaw and Budapest are only an exception and that sooner or later pro-European administrations could return to power. In fact, there have been large demonstrations against both governments in recent years. So far, the contradiction between criticizing the European Union and enjoying the benefits of membership has not led to any meaningful consequences in the rebel countries. As the prospect of weaker ties with the bloc becomes more real, voters could return to pro-EU leaders. But the more the nationalist rhetoric takes root in these countries, the harder it will be for them to change direction.

But Central and Eastern European countries are not the only ones facing strategic choices; dilemmas lie ahead for Western European countries as well. In recent weeks France has criticized Poland and Hungary, suggesting that

their participation is not essential

 for the next stage of EU reform. In addition, France and Austria have pledged to restrict the use of an EU program that allows Central and Eastern European nationals to find temporary jobs in Western Europe. EU officials, in turn, have threatened to suspend voting rights and even to cut funding for countries that fail to follow the bloc’s rules.

But enforcing these threats could fuel new waves of nationalism in the region. A weaker EU presence in Central and Eastern Europe could lead to illiberal and unstable states on the bloc’s eastern flank, creating political, economic and even security threats for the European Union. Such a scenario would profoundly worry Germany. The fate of the region may be a secondary concern for France, but Germany sees the area as its natural sphere of economic and political influence. In the coming debate on the future of Europe, Berlin will probably seek to be involved in the region as much as possible. This could come at the price of compromises and watered-down EU policies to accommodate the region.

Roadblocks to Reform

The question of whether Central and Eastern Europe will let go of the EU is intimately linked to the question of whether the EU will let go of the region. And, all things considered, a multi-speed Europe may never happen. As well as managing existing East-West tensions, EU reforms have to

overcome

 the grating relationships between Europe’s northern and southern members, which have different views of the bloc’s future. Regardless, the mere discussion of a reformed European Union is enough to trigger strategic discussions in Central and Eastern Europe. After all, this is a region where the fate of nations is often determined by events beyond their borders.

For the European Union, the main challenge will be to find a balance between countries that want to deepen cooperation on monetary, fiscal, defense and migration affairs and countries that are reluctant to give up their national sovereignty. Without the United Kingdom, the ability of Central and Eastern Europe countries to shape the negotiations will be heavily constrained, forcing those countries to make decisions that they have been able to avoid for two decades.

Central and Eastern Europe’s Crisis of Convergence – STRATFOR

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Central and Eastern Europe’s Crisis of Convergence
STRATFOR
Recently, several Central and Eastern European countries have tried to increase military, economic and energy cooperation from the Baltic to the Black seas to enhance their autonomy. … Poland and Romania see membership as a part of their security 

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Lawyer says extradition of oligarch tied to Trump campaign chief imminent

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