Our Democracy Under Trump’s Hands: Eighth Amendment Ignored

An early appointment Trump made was to make Gina Haspel the head of the CIA. Gina Haspel is a torturer. She oversaw a clandestine torture program in Thailand, may well have conducted some of the tortures herself, and then destroyed the evidence of the torture. These articles detail Haspel’s work as a torturer:

“The banality of Gina Haspel”

“U.S. NAVY RESERVE DOCTOR ON GINA HASPEL TORTURE VICTIM: ‘ONE OF THE MOST SEVERELY TRAUMATIZED INDIVIDUALS I HAVE EVER SEEN’”

“U.S. Senate: Oppose and Block the Confirmation of Torturer Gina Haspel to CIA Director”

Torture is expressly forbidden by the Constitution in the eighth amendment. “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” The Supreme Court has elucidated what is meant by the amendment’s wording.

In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), Justice Brennan wrote, “There are, then, four principles by which we may determine whether a particular punishment is ‘cruel and unusual’.”

  • The “essential predicate” is “that a punishment must not by its severity be degrading to human dignity,” especially torture.
  • “A severe punishment that is obviously inflicted in wholly arbitrary fashion.”
  • “A severe punishment that is clearly and totally rejected throughout society.”
  • “A severe punishment that is patently unnecessary.”

Waterboarding, which Haspel oversaw and perhaps inflicted on people herself, has been properly defined as a form of torture. Torture has been proven, over and over again, to be detrimental to finding out truth from enemies. Indeed, there has been a great deal of research and discovery into the issues of truth and lies. For instance, cognitive interviewing is an interviewing technique for questioning individuals who either can not express themselves well, such as children, or are reluctant to do so, such as criminals and foreign agents hostile to one’s own country without corrupting the answers with the interviewer’s bias. This article covers some of the data psychologists have found that reliably and verifiably establish truth from lies: “How to tell when someone’s lying: Psychologist helps law enforcement agencies tell truth from deception.” By every definition, what Gina Haspel did to people was torture, which is forbidden by the Constitution. Instead of jail time which such criminality deserves, Trump has rewarded her with running the CIA.

As bad as that is, what is much worse is that Trump is clearly following in the footstep of the despots he so much admires, Putin, Kim Jong-un, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. All three of these despots torture people. Consider these articles:

“A new phase in Turkey’s crackdown: Torturing diplomats”

“Cries from Putin’s torture pit”

“Human Rights Watch: North Korea events of 2018”

Torturing people is pretty much part of the dictators’ handbook on how to hold a nation full of people in terrified subjugation. All the really successful despots have a good torturer as a chief administrator and as an advisor. Here we have quite a problem. We have the CIA doing important and credible work which Trump refuses to believe and likes to insult while its director, a torturer, has to protect and defend the CIA’s important and credible work. She manages to do this to the extent that the rank and file CIA officers think she is wonderful. With the admiration and trust they have for her, will they blindly turn to torturing people the moment she orders it?

Trump has also directed ICE to perform torture. Kidnapping the children of asylum seekers and putting them in detention camps where not even their hygienic needs are met is very much the torture of children. By now, we all know that even infants have been taken from their families, torn from the mother’s arms while nursing. “American Academy of Pediatrics head says separating families is ‘child abuse.’” Many of these children are too young to understand any offense their families’ may be accused of, and as minors, they are not responsible for any offenses their family members are accused of. Thus the abuse of children because of a family member’ supposed offense looks to fit the definition of torture quite well. Something to keep in mind is that people on the psychopathic spectrum do not experience emotions of empathy, compassion, desire to nurture and project infants that normal people do. However, they know normal people do have these feelings and use those healthy feelings against normal people as a weapon. This is exactly what Trump and his ICE appointees are doing, weaponizing basic humanity to frighten the poor, the desperate, and those seeking to be free from coming to the US. When a reporter asked the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director about the imprisoned children crying for their families, he responded that he wanted would-be-asylum-seekers to see those children crying so that they would know that is what would happen to their own children. Yes, Virginia, there really is a Boogie Man, and his name is Mathew Albence.

In her book, Blow Out, Rachel Maddow describes in depth and detail how several dictators have taken power and what that has meant for their countries. On a personal note in this regard, my husband is originally from Venezuela. From our earliest days together, he told me how the communists (Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s plants) would come and tell Venezuelans that they should throw out those who owned and ran the industries and farms and take them over themselves. The communists ingratiated themselves by working for free as doctors and teachers. So, the Venezuelans would storm factories and steal everything and walk out on the farms. The corporations would leave Venezuela, and then there were neither industries nor farms, and of course, fewer and fewer jobs. My husband’s family would go picnic in abandoned haciendas where the nation’s food had once been grown. The Peace Corps from America would also come, and they would tell Venezuelans that if you work hard you can have whatever you want. The communists made sure the Venezuelans believed the Peace Corps was a spying arm of the US. My husband and I know of a Venezuelan woman who has worked her whole adult life as a maid. She made enough money in the US to buy a second home in Venezuela to retire to. Her other house was where her family lived. She voted for Chavez. Chavez said nobody needed a second home and took her retirement house away from her. So, being over eighty years of age, she can’t retire. Today Venezuela has a dictator, and no electricity, no industry, and no food. Venezuela is not where it is now because of its social services. Much before Chavez, there was free medical care and free college. What sent Venezuela to the gutter were the despots that destroyed its social democracy.

Blind loyalty towards Trump will lead us exactly down the road Venezuela has followed, and a torturer is at his elbow.

Posted in opinion, politics, Rachel Maddow's Blow Out, Trump | Leave a comment

Our Democracy Under Trump’s Hands: Paul Manafort Campaign Manager of Ukraine Despot

This distillation of The Mueller Report focuses on Paul Manafort. The subject of Paul Manafort is very important as of this date, 11/9/2019, because Rudy Giuliani, in his work in Ukraine, is consulting with Manafort who is in prison serving time on the felonies having to do with his shady work in Ukraine. You will want to be reading Rachel Maddow’s book, Blow Out, with this post. She graphically details Manafort’s corrupt work in the Ukraine in support of Putin-backed Ukrainian former president, Yanukovych and so is an excellent adjunct to the rather dry FBI account of Manafort’s doings.

Note: Most square brackets [ ] are mine to clarify points. Some are Mueller’s. Mueller’s are identified as such. The numbers are the number references to footnotes so that you can find easily where the passages come in The Mueller Report.

From The Mueller Report:

In approximately 2005, Paul Manafort began working for Deripaska, a Russian oligarch who has a global empire involving aluminum and power companies and who is closely aligned with Vladimir Putin.843 A memorandum describing work that Manafort performed for Deripaska in 2005 regarding the post-Soviet republics referenced the need to brief the Kremlin and the benefits that the work could confer on “the Putin Government.” 844 Gates described the work Manafort did for Deripaska as “political risk insurance,” and explained that Deripaska used Manafort to install friendly political officials in countries where Deripaska had business interests.845 Manafort’s company earned tens of millions of dollars from its work for Deripaska and was loaned millions of dollars by Deripaska as well.846

In 2007, Deripaska invested through another entity in Pericles Emerging Market Partners L.P. (“Pericles”), an investment fund created by Manafort and former Manafort business partner Richard Davis. The Pericles fund was established to pursue investments in Eastern Europe.847 Deripaska was the sole investor. 848 Gates stated in interviews with the Office that the venture led to a deterioration of the relationship between Manafort and Deripaska. 849 In pa1ticular, when the fund failed, litigation between Manafort and Deripaska ensued. Gates stated that, by 2009, Manafort’s business relationship with Deripaska had “dried up.”850 According to Gates, various interactions with Deripaska and his intermediaries over the past few years have involved trying to resolve the legal dispute. 851 As described below, in 2016, Manafort, Gates, Kilimnik, and others engaged in efforts to revive the Deripaska relationship and resolve the litigation.

Through Deripaska, Manafort was introduced to Rinat Akhmetov , a Ukrainian oligarch who hired Manafort as a political consultant. 852 In 2005, Akhmetov hired Manafort to engage in political work supporting the Party of Regions, 853 a political party in Ukraine that was generally understood to align with Russia. Manafort assisted the Party of Regions in regaining power, and its candidate, Viktor Yanukovych , won the presidency in 2010. Manafort became a close and trusted political advisor to Yanukovych during his time as President of Ukraine. Yanukovych served in that role until 2014, when he fled to Russia amidst popular protests. 854

In March 2016, Paul Manafort traveled to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to meet with Trump. Trump hired him at that time.877 Manafort agreed to work on the Campaign without pay. Manafort served on the Trump Campaign from late March to August 19, 2016. On March 29, 2016, the Campaign announced that Manafort would serve as the Campaign’s “Convention Manager.” 871 On May 19, 2016 , Manafort was promoted to campaign chairman and chief strategist, and William Gates, who had been assisting Manafort on the Campaign and a long time employee of Manafort’s, was appointed deputy campaign chairman. 872 Manafort had no meaningful income at this point in time, but resuscitating his domestic political campaign career could be financially beneficial in the future. William Gates reported that Manafort intended, if Trump won the Presidency, to remain outside the Administration and monetize his relationship with the Administration. 878

Gates further reported that Manafort said that being hired on the Campaign would increase the likelihood that Manafort would be paid the approximately $2 million he was owed for previous political consulting work in Ukraine. 884 Gates also explained to the Office that Manafort thought his role on the Campaign could help “confirm” that Deripaska had dropped the Pericles lawsuit, and that Gates believed Manafort sent polling data to Deripaska ( as discussed further below) so that Deripaska would not move forward with his lawsuit against Manafort .885 Gates further stated that Deripaska wanted a visa to the United States, that Deripaska could believe that having Manafort in a position inside the Campaign or Administration might be helpful to Deripaska, and that Manafort’s relationship with Trump could help Deripaska in other ways as well. 886 Gates stated, however, that Manafort never told him anything specific about what, if anything, Manafort might be offering Deripaska. 887

Immediately upon joining the Campaign, Manafort directed Gates to prepare for his review separate memoranda addressed to Deripaska, Akhmetov, Serhiy Lyovochkin, and Boris Kolesnikov, 879 the last three being Ukrainian oligarchs who were senior Opposition Bloc officials. 880 The memoranda described Manafort’ s appointment to the Trump Campaign and indicated his willingness to consult on Ukrainian politics in the future. On March 30, 2016, Gates emailed the memoranda and a press release announcing Manafort’ s appointment to Konstantin Kilimnik for translation and dissemination. 881

Manafort’s Russian contacts during the campaign and transition periods stemmed from his consulting work for Deripaska from approximately 2005 to 2009 and his separate political consulting work in Ukraine from 2005 to 2015, including through his company Dl\1P International LLC (DMI). Kilimnik worked for Manafort in Kiev during this entire period and continued to communicate with Manafort through at least June 2018.

Kilimnik is a Russian national who has lived in both Russia and Ukraine and was a longtime Manafort employee. 855 Kilimnik had direct and close access to Yanukovych, [the Putin backed] former president of Ukraine whom Paul Manafort worked to put in office. Kilimnik also had direct access to Yanukovich’s senior entourage. Kilimnik facilitated communications between Manafort and his clients, including Yanukovych and multiple Ukrainian oligarchs. 856 Kilimnik also maintained a relationship with Deripaska’s deputy, Viktor Boyarkin, 857 a Russian national who previously served in the defense attache office of the Russian Embassy to the United States.858

Manafort followed up with Kilimnik to ensure his messages had been delivered, emailing on April 11, 2016 to ask whether Kilimnik had shown “our friends” the media coverage of his new role.882 Kilimnik replied, “Absolutely. Every article.” Manafort further asked: “How do we use to get whole. Has Ovd [Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, Mueller’s brackets] operation seen?” Kilimnik wrote back the same day, “Yes, I have been sending everything to Victor [Boyarkin, Deripaska’s deputy, Mueller’s brackets], who has been forwarding the coverage directly to OVD.” 883 Manafort stayed in touch with these contacts during the campaign period through Konstantin Kilimnik, who previously ran Manafort ‘s office in Kiev and whom the FBI assesses to have ties to Russian intelligence.

On August 2, 2016, while he was Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort met in New York City with Konstantin Kilimnik. Kilimnik requested the meeting to deliver in person a message from former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was then living in Russia. The message was about a peace plan for Ukraine that Manafort has since acknowledged was a “backdoor ” means for Russia to control eastern Ukraine. Several months later, after the presidential election, Kilimnik wrote an email to Manafort expressing the view–which Manafort later said he share–that the plan ‘s success would require U.S. support to succeed: “all that is required to start the process is a very minor ‘wink’ ( or slight push) from [Donald Trump, Mueller’s brackts].”840 The email also stated that if Manafort were designated as the U.S. representative and started the process, Yanukovych would ensure his reception in Russia “at the very top level.”

Manafort communicated with Kilimnik about peace plans for Ukraine on at least four occasions after their first discussion of the topic on August 2: December 2016 (the Kilimnik email described above); January 2017; February 2017; and again in the spring of 2018. The Office reviewed numerous Manafort email and text communications, and asked President Trump about the plan in written questions. 841

Manafort twice met with Kilimnik in person during the campaign period–once in May and again in August 2016. The first meeting took place on May 7, 2016, in New York City.905 In the days leading to the meeting, Kilimnik had been working to gather information about the political situation in Ukraine. That included information gleaned from a trip that former Party of Regions official Yuriy Boyko had recently taken to Moscow–a trip that likely included meetings between Boyko and high-ranking Russian officials. 906 Kilimnik then traveled to Washington, D.C. on or about May 5, 2016; while in Washington, Kilimnik had pre-arranged meetings with State Department employees. 907

Late on the evening of May 6, Gates arranged for Kilimnik to take a 3:00 a.m. train to meet Manafort in New York for breakfast on May 7. 908 According to Manafort, during the meeting, he and Kilimnik talked about events in Ukraine, and Manafort briefed Kilimnik on the Trump Campaign, expecting Kilimnik to pass the information back to individuals in Ukraine and elsewhere. 909 Manafort stated that Opposition Bloc members [Putin supporters intent on securing Ukraine for Putin] recognized Manafort ‘s position on the Campaign was an opportunity, but Kilimnik did not ask for anything. 91° Kilimnik spoke about a plan of Boyko to boost election participation in the eastern zone of Ukraine, which was the base for the Opposition Bloc.911 Kilimnik returned to Washington, D.C. right after the meeting with Manafort.

Manafort met with Kilimnik a second time at the Grand Havana Club in New York City on the evening of August 2, 2016 . The [cloak and dagger!] events leading to the meeting are as follows. On July 28, 2016, Kilimnik flew from Kiev to Moscow .912 The next day, Kilimnik wrote to Manafort requesting that they meet, using coded language about a conversation he had that day.913 In an email with a subject line “Black Caviar,” Kilimnik wrote:

“I met today with the guy who gave you your biggest black caviar jar several years ago. We spent about 5 hours talking about his story, and I have several important messages from him to you. He asked me to go and brief you on our conversation. I said I have to run it by you first, but in principle I am prepared to do it. … It has to do about the future of his country, and is quite interesting.914”

Manafort identified “the guy who gave you your biggest black caviar jar” as Yanukovych. He explained that, in 2010, he and Yanukovych had lunch to celebrate the recent presidential election. Yanukovych gave Manafort a large jar of black caviar that was worth approximately $30,000 to $40,000.915 Manafort’s identification of Yanukovych as “the guy who gave you your biggest black caviar jar” is consistent with Kilimnik being in Moscow–where Yanukovych resided–when Kilimnik wrote “I met today with a December 2016 email in which Kilimnik referred to Yanukovych as “BG,” 916. Manafort replied to Kilimnik’s July 29 email, “Tuesday [August 2] is best . .. Tues or weds in NYC.”9 17

Three days later, on July 31, 2016, Kilimnik flew back to Kiev from Moscow, and on that same day, wrote to Manafort that he needed “about 2 hours” for their meeting “because it is a long caviar story to tell.”918 Kilimnik wrote that he would arrive at JFK on August 2 at 7:30 p.m., and he and Manafort agreed to a late dinner that night.919 Documentary evidence–including flight, phone, and hotel records, and the timing of text messages exchanged920–confirms the dinner took place as planned on August 2.921

As to the contents of the meeting itself, the accounts of Manafort and Gates–who arrived late to the dinner–differ in certain respects. But their versions of events, when assessed alongside available documentary evidence and what Kilimnik told business associate Sam Patten, indicate that at least three principal topics were discussed.

First, Manafort and Kilimnik discussed a plan to resolve the ongoing political problems in Ukraine by creating an autonomous republic in its more industrialized eastern region of Donbas, 922 and having Yanukovych, the Ukrainian President ousted in 2014, elected to head that republic. 923 That plan, Manafort later acknowledged, constituted a “backdoor” means for Russia to control eastern Ukraine.924 Manafort initially said that, if he had not cut off the discussion, Kilimnik would have asked Manafort in the August 2 meeting to convince Trump to come out in favor of the peace plan, and Yanukovych would have expected Manafort to use his connections in Europe and Ukraine to support the plan.925 Manafort also initially told the Office that he had said to Kilimnik that the plan was crazy, that the discussion ended, and that he did not recall Kilimnik asking Manafort to reconsider the pIan after their August 2 meeting.926 Manafort said that he reacted negatively to Yanukovych sending–years later–an “urgent” request when Yanukovych needed him.927 When confronted with an email written by Kilimnik on or about December 8, 2016, however, Manafort acknowledged Kilimnik raised the peace plan again in that email. 928 Manafort ultimately acknowleded Kilimnik also raised the peace pIan in Jary 2017 meetings with Manafort … 929

Second, Manafort briefed Kilimnik on the state of the Trump Campaign and Manafort’s plan to win the election. 930 That briefing encompassed the Campaign’s messaging and its internal polling data. According to Gates, it also included discussion of “battleground” states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota. 931 Manafort did not refer explicitly to “battle ground” states in his telling of the August 2 discussion.

Third, according to Gates and what Kilimnik told Patten, Manafort and Kilimnik discussed two sets of financial disputes related to Mana fort’s previous work in the region. Those consisted of the unresolved Deripaska lawsuit and the funds that the Opposition Bloc owed to Manafort for his political consulting work and how Manafort might be able to obtain payment.933

Footnote 922: The Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republic , which are located in the Donbas region of Ukraine, declared themselves independent in response to the popular unrest in 2014 that removed President Yanukovych from power. Pro-Russian Ukrainian militia forces, with backing from the Russian military, have occupied the region since 2014. Under the Yanukovych-backed plan, Russia would assist in withdrawing the military, and Donbas would become an autonomous region within Ukraine with its own prime minister. The plan emphasized that Yanukovych would be an ideal candidate to bring peace to the region as prime minister of the republic, and facilitate the reintegration of the Ukraine with the support of the U.S. and Russian presidents. As noted above, according to the written documentation described in the pIan, for the plan to work, both U.S. and Russian support were necessary. [end of footnote]

After the meeting, Gates and Manafort both stated that they left separately from Kilimnik because they knew the media was tracking Manafort and wanted to avoid media reporting on his connections to Kilimnik.934

Gates also reported that Manafort instructed him in April 2016 or early May 2016 to send Kilimnik Campaign internal polling data and other updates so that Kilimnik, in turn, could share it with Ukrainian oligarchs.888 Manafort claims not to recall that specific instruction. Kilimnik, who speaks and writes Ukrainian and Russian, facilitated many of Manafort’s communications with Deripaska and Ukrainian oligarchs. Gates understood that the information would also be shared with Deripaska and others in Ukraine . 889 Gates reported to the Office that he did not know why Manafort wanted him to send polling information , but Gates thought it was a way to showcase Manafort ‘s work, and Manafort wanted to open doors to jobs after the Trump Campaign ended. 890 Gates said that Manafort ‘s instruction included sending internal polling data prepared for the Trump Campaign by pollster Tony Fabrizio. 891 Fabrizio had worked with Manafort for years and was brought into the Campaign by Manafort . Gates stated that, in accordance with Manafort’s instructions, he periodically sent Kilimnik polling data via WhatsApp ; Gates then deleted the communications on a daily basis. 892 Gates further told the Office that, after Manafort left the Campaign in mid-August, Gates sent Kilimnik polling data less frequently and that the data he sent was more publicly available information and less internal data. 893

The Office could not reliably determine Manafort’s purpose in sharing internal polling data with Kilimnik during the campaign period. Manafort…[redacted phrase]…did not see a downside to sharing campaign information, and told Gates that his role in the Campaign would be “good for business” and potentially a way to be made whole for work he previously completed in the Ukraine. As to Deripaska, Manafort claimed that by sharing campaign information with him, Deripaska might see value in their relationship and resolve a “disagreement”–a reference to one or more outstanding lawsuits. Because of questions about Manafort ‘s credibility and our limited ability to gather evidence on what happened to the polling data after it was sent to Kilimnik, the Office could not assess what Kilimnik (or others he may have given it to) did with it.

Manafort told the Office that he did not believe Kilimnik was working as a Russian “spy .”859 The FBI, however, assesses that Kilimnik has ties to Russian intelligence. 860 Several pieces of the Office ‘s evidence–-including witness interviews and emails obtained through court- authorized search warrants–support that assessment:

  • Kilimnik was born on April 27, 1970, in Dnipropetrovsk Ob last, then of the Soviet Union , and attended the Military Institute of the Ministry of Defense from 1987 until 1992.861 Sam Patten, a business partner to Kilimnik, 862 stated that Kilimnik told him that he was a translator in the Russian army for seven years and that he later worked in the Russian armament industry selling arms and military equipment. 863
  • U.S. government visa records reveal that Kilimnik obtained a visa to travel to the United States with a Russian diplomatic passport in 1997. 864
  • Kilimnik worked for the International Republican Institute’ s (IRI) Moscow office, where he did translation work and general office management from 1998 to 2005. 865 While another official recalled the incident differently ,866 one former associate of Kilimnik’s at TRI told the FBI that Kilimnik was fired from his post because his links to Russian intelligence were too strong. The same individual stated that it was well known at IRI that Kilimnik had links to the Russian government. 867
  • Jonathan Hawker, a British national who was a public relations consultant at FTI Consulting , worked with DMI on a public relations campaign for Yanukovych. After Hawker ‘s work for DMI ended, Kilimnik contacted Hawker about working for a Russian government entity on a public -relations project that would promote, in Western and Ukrainian media, Russia’s position on its 2014 invasion of Crimea. 868
  • Gates suspected that Kilimnik was a “spy,” a view that he shared with Manafort, Hawker, and Alexander van der Zwaan, 869 an attorney who had worked with DMI on a report for the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 870

Gates account about polling data is consistent…[redacted sentences]… with multiple emails that Kilimnik sent to U.S. associates and press contacts between late July and mid-August of 2016. Those emails referenced “internal polling,” described the status of the Trump Campaign and Manaport’s role in it, and assessed Trump’s prospects for victory.

The Office also obtained contemporaneous emails that shed light on the purpose of the communications with Deripaska and that are consistent with Gates’s account. For example, in response to a July 7, 20 I 6, email from a Ukrainian reporter about Manafort ‘ s failed Deripaska-backed investment, Manafort asked Kilimnik whether there had been any movement on “this issue with our friend.”897 Gates stated that “our friend” likely referred to Deripaska ,898 and Manafort told the Office that the “issue” (and “our biggest interest,” as stated below) was a solution to the Deripaska-Pericles issue.899 Kilimnik replied:

“I am carefully optimistic on the question of our biggest interest. Our friend [Boyarkin] said there is lately significantly more attention to the campaign in his boss’ [Deripaska ‘s] mind, and he will be most likely looking for ways to reach out to you pretty soon, understanding all the time sensitivity. I am more than sure that it will be resolved and we will get back to the original relationship with V. ‘s boss [Deripaska].” 900

Eight minutes later, Manafort replied that Kilimnik should tell Boyarkin’s “boss,” a reference to Deripaska, “that if he needs private briefings we can accommodate. “901 Manafort has alleged to the Office that he was willing to brief Deripaska only on public campaign matters and gave an example: why Trump selected Mike Pence as the Vice-Presidential running mate.902 Manafort said he never gave Deripaska a briefing. 903 Manafort noted that if Trump won, Deripaska would want to use Manafort to advance whatever interests Deripaska had in the United States and elsewhere. 904

Manafort resigned from the Trump Campaign in mid-August 2016, approximately two weeks after his second meeting with Kilimnik, amidst negative media reporting about his political consulting work for the pro-Russian Party of Regions in Ukraine. Despite his resignation, Manafort continued to offer advice to various Campaign officials through the November election. Manafort told Gates that he still spoke with Kushner, Bannon, and candidate Trump,935 and some of those post-resignation contacts are documented in emails. For example, on October 21, 2016, Manafort sent Kushner an email and attached a strategy memorandum proposing that the Campaign make the case against Clinton “as the failed and corrupt champion of the establishment” and that “Wikileaks provides the Trump campaign the ability to make the case in a very credible way–by using the words of Clinton, its campaign officials and DNC members.”936 Later, in a November 5, 2016 email to Kushner entitled “Securing the Victory,” Manafort stated that he was “really feeling good about our prospects on Tuesday and focusing on preserving the victory,” and that he was concerned the Clinton Campaign would respond to a loss by “moving immediately to discredit the Trump victory and claim voter fraud and cyber-fraud, including the claim that the Russians have hacked into the voting machines and tampered with the results.”937

Trump was elected President on November 8, 2016. Manafort told the Office that, in the wake of Trump’s victory, he was not interested in an Administration job. Manafort instead preferred to stay on the “outside,” and monetize his campaign position to generate business given his familiarity and relationship with Trump and the incoming Administration. 938 Manafort appeared to follow that plan, as he traveled to the Middle East, Cuba, South Korea, Japan, and China and was paid to explain what a Trump presidency would entaii.939

Manafort’ s activities in early 2017 included meetings relating to Ukraine and Russia. The first meeting, which took place in Madrid, Spain in January 2017, was with Georgiy Oganov. Oganov, who had previously worked at the Russian Embassy in the United States, was a senior executive at a Deripaska company and was believed to report directly to Deripaska. 940 Manafort initially denied attending the meeting. When he later acknowledged it, he claimed that the meeting had been arranged by his lawyers and concerned only the Pericles lawsuit.941 Other evidence, however, provides reason to doubt Manafort’s statement that the sole topic of the meeting was the Pericles lawsuit. In particular , text messages to Manafort from a number associated with Kilimnik suggest that Kilimnik and Boyarkin–not Manafort’s counsel–had arranged the meeting between Manafort and Oganov.942 Kilimnik’s message states that the meeting was supposed to be “not about money or Pericles” but instead “about recreating [the] old friendship”–ostensibly between Manafort and Deripaska–”and talking about global politics.”943 Manafort also replied by text that he “needs this finished before Jan. 20,”944 which appears to be a reference to resolving Pericles before the inauguration.

On January 15, 2017, three days after his return from Madrid, Manafort emailed K.T. McFarland, who was at that time designated to be Deputy National Security Advisor and was formally appointed to that position on January 20, 2017.945 Manafort ‘s January 15 email to McFarland stated: “I have some important information I want to share that I picked up on my travels over the last month.” 946 Manafort told the Office that the email referred to an issue regarding Cuba, not Russia or Ukraine, and Manafort had traveled to Cuba in the past month.947 Either way, McFarland–who was advised by Flynn not to respond to the Manafort inquiry–appears not to have responded to Manafort. 948

Manafort told the Office that around the time of the Presidential Inauguration in January, he met with Kilimnik and Ukrainian oligarch Serhiy Lyovochkin at the Westin Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia. 949 During this meeting , Kilimnik again discussed the Yanukovych peace plan that he had broached at the August 2 meeting and in a detailed December 8, 2016 message found in Kilimnik’ s DMP email account.950 In that December 8 email, which Manafort acknowledged having read,951 Kilimnik wrote, “all that is required to start the process is a very minor ‘wink’ (or slight push) from DT”–an apparent reference to President–elect Trump-“and a decision to authorize you to be a ‘special representative’ and manage this process.” Kilimnik assured Manafort, with that authority, he “could start the process and within 10 days visit Russia. Yanukovych guarantees your reception at the very top level,” and that “DT could have peace in Ukraine basically within a few months after inauguration.” 952

Manafort sought to qualify his engagement on and support for the plan.

On February 26, 2017, Manafort met Kilimnik in Madrid, where Kilimnik had flown from Moscow.956 In his first two interviews with the Office, Manafort denied meeting with Kilimnik on his Madrid trip and then, after being confronted with documentary evidence that Kilimnik was in Madrid at the same time as him, recognized that he met him in Madrid. Manafort said that Kilimnik had updated him on a criminal investigation into so-called “black ledger” payments to Manafort that was being conducted by Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau.957

Manafort remained in contact with Kilimnik throughout 2017 and into the spring of 2018.

958 In resolving whether Manafort breached his cooperation plea agreement by lying to the Office, the district court found that Manafort lied about, among other things, his contacts with Kilimnik regarding the peace plan, including the meeting in Madrid. Manafort 2/13/19 Transcript, at 29-31, 40.

Those contacts included matters pertaining to the criminal charges brought by the Office , 959 and the Ukraine peace plan. In early 2018 , Manafort retained his longtime polling firm to craft a draft poll in Ukraine, sent the pollsters a three-page primer on the plan sent by Kilimnik , and worked with Kilimnik to formulate the polling questions. 960 The primer sent to the pollsters specifically called for the United States and President Trump to support the Autonomous Republic of Donbas with Yanukovych as Prime Minister, 961 and a series of questions in the draft poll asked for opinions on Yanukovych ‘s role in resolving the conflict in Donbas. 962 (The poll was not solely about Donbas; it also sought participants’ views on leaders apart from Yanukovych as they pertained to the 2019 Ukraine presidential election.)

The Office has not uncovered evidence that Manafort brought the Ukraine peace plan to the attention of the Trump Campaign or the Trump Administration. Kilimnik continued his efforts to promote the peace plan to the Executive Branch (e.g., U.S. Department of State) into the summer of 2018.963

Please keep in mind that Mueller and his team ran into the issues of people lying, people claiming the fifth, and documents and people being out of reach of in Europe. Therefore finding no conclusive evidence does not mean there isn’t any. It means the special council could not find it.

End of Distillation of The Mueller Report as regarding Paul Manafort.

 

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3, Our Democracy Under Trump’s Hands, Trump Versus Hillary, Part B

Today, I’ll give the rest of distillation of The Mueller Report that encompasses what was found about Trump harassing, even threatening his political opponent Hillary Clinton and the Putin directed social campaign against her. In the last few days, Buzzfeed obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the notes and other data that Mueller used which underpin the information and statements he gives here. Note that Robert Mueller is a Republican; his report does not favor democratic views. His report is a careful and conservative reflection of the discoveries he made while investigating Trump and Trump’s campaign for Russian (Putin) influence and any crimes that came to light during the investigation. A comparison with what Mueller reports and what the background data gives clearly indicate his careful, restrained, and honest revelations.

Social Media Campaigns

The Internet Research Agency, LLC (IRA), is a Russian organization funded by Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and companies he controlled, including Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering (collectively “Concord”). 2 Dozens of IRA employees were responsible for operating accounts and personas on different U.S. social media platforms. The IRA referred to employees assigned to operate the social media accounts as “specialists. “42 Starting as early as 2014, the IRA’s U.S. operations included social media specialists focusing on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.43 The IRA later added specialists who operated on Tumblr and Instagram accounts.44 IRA employees posted derogatory information about a number of candidates in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. By early to mid-2016, IRA operations included supporting the Trump Campaign and disparaging candidate Hillary Clinton.

As early as March 2016, the IRA purchased advertisements that overtly opposed the Clinton Campaign. For example , on March 18, 2016, the IRA purchased an advertisement depicting candidate Clinton and a caption that read in part, “If one day God lets this liar enter the White House as a president – that day would be a real national tragedy.” 57 Similarly, on April 6, 2016 , the IRA purchased advertisements for its account “Black Matters” calling for a “flashmob” of U.S. persons to “take a photo with #HillaryClintonForPrison2016 or #nohillary2016.” 58 IRA-purchased advertisements featuring Clinton were, with very few exceptions, negative. 59

The focus on the U.S. presidential campaign continued throughout 2016. An IRA-controlled Facebook group “Secured Borders, “criticized the “lower number of posts dedicated to criticizing Hillary Clinton” and reminded the Facebook specialist “it is imperative to intensify criticizing Hillary Clinton.” 51

 Pressure to Investigate Hillary Clinton

[Mueller refers to efforts to pressure Sessions as evidence of obstruction of justice.]

On multiple occasions in 2017, the President spoke with Sessions about reversing his recusal so that he could take over the Russia investigation and begin an investigation and prosecution of Hillary Clinton.

[Trump also tweeted similar ideas:]

July 22, 2017, the President tweeted, “So many people are asking why isn’t the A.G. or Special Council looking at the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes. 33,000 e-mails deleted?” 644

On July 25, the President tweeted, “Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are Emails & DNC server) & Intel leakers! “660 The following day, July 26, the President tweeted, “Why didn’t A.G . Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation.”661

On the morning of Monday, July 24, 2017, the President criticized Sessions for neglecting to investigate Clinton and called him “beleaguered.”659[Foot-noted Tweet quote] @realDonaldTrump, Tweet: “So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillary’s crimes & Russia relations?”

On July 25, the President tweeted, “Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are Emails & DNC server) & Intel leakers! “660 The following day, July 26, the President tweeted, “Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation.”661

From summer 2017 through 2018, the President attempted to have Attorney General Sessions reverse his recusal, take control of the Special Counsel’s investigation, and order an investigation of Hillary Clinton.

According to Sessions, the President asked him to reverse his recusal so that Sessions could direct the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute Hillary Clinton, and the “gist” of the conversation was that the President wanted Sessions to unrecuse from “all of it,” including the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation. 737

On October 16, 2017, the President met privately with Sessions and said that the Department of Justice was not investigating individuals and events that the President thought the Department should be investigating. 752 According to contemporaneous notes taken by Porter, who was at the meeting, the President mentioned Clinton’s emails and said, “Don ‘t have to tell us, just take a look.” 753

Two days later, on October 18, 2017, the President tweeted, “Wow, FBI confirms report that James Corney drafted letter exonerating Crooked Hillary Clinton long before investigation was complete. Many people not interviewed, including Clinton herself. Comey stated under oath that he didn’t do this–obviously a fix? Where is Justice Dept? “755

On October 29, 2017, the President tweeted that there was “ANGER & UNITY” over a “lack of investigation” of Clinton arid “the Comey fix,” and concluded: “DO SOMETHTNG!” 756

During that Oval Office meeting, which Porter attended , the President again suggested that Sessions could “unrecuse,” which Porter linked to taking back supervision of the Russia investigation and directing an investigation of Hillary Clinton.758

768 @realDonaldTrump Tweet, “Lawmakers of the House Judiciary Committee are angrily accusing the Department of Justice of missing the Thursday Deadline for turning over UNREDACTED Documents relating to FISA abuse, FBI, Comey, Lynch, McCabe, Clinton Emails and much more. Slow walking – what is going on? BAD!”; @realDonaldTrump Tweet, “‘GOP Lawmakers asking Sessions to Investigate Comey and Hillary Clinton.’ @FoxNews Good luck with that request!”

844[Foonote info] @realDonaldTrump Tweet, “So General Flynn lies to the FBI and his life is destroyed, while Crooked Hillary Clinton, on that now famous FBl holiday ‘interrogation’ with no swearing in and no recording, lies many times … and nothing happens to her? Rigged system, or just a double standard?”

There is evidence that at least one purpose of the President ‘s conduct toward Sessions was to have Sessions assume control over the Russia investigation and supervise it in a way that would restrict its scope. By the summer of 2017, the President was aware that the Special Counsel was investigating him personally for obstruction of justice. The President had previously and unsuccessfully sought to have Sessions publicly announce that the Special Counsel investigation would be confined to future election interference. Yet Sessions remained recused. In December 2017… the President spoke to Sessions in the Oval Office with only Porter present and told Sessions that he would be a hero if he unrecused. Porter linked that request to the President’s desire that Sessions take back supervision of the Russia investigation and direct an investigation of Hillary Clinton. The President said in that meeting that he “just wanted to be treated fairly,” which could reflect his perception that it was unfair that he was being investigated while Hillary Clinton was not.

[Trump Jr. also added to the pressure on Sessions:]

96 @DonaldJTrumpJr Tweet: “RT @TEN_GOP: BREAKING Thousands of names changed on voter rolls in Indiana. Police investigating #Voterfraud . #DrainTheSwamp.”; @DonaldJTrumpJr Tweet: “RT @TEN_GOP: BREAKING: #VoterFraud by counting tens of thousands of ineligible mail in Hillary votes being reported in Broward County, Florida.

Additional Potential Issues of Obstruction of Justice

After the appointment of the Special Counsel, this Office obtained evidence about the following events relating to potential issues of obstruction of justice involving the President. [These given below are only related to Trump’s attacks on Hillary.]

The President’s reported involvement in issuing a statement about the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russians and senior Trump Campaign officials that said the meeting was about adoption and omitted that the Russians had offered to provide the Trump Campaign with derogatory information about Hillary Clinton.

By June 2017, the President became aware of emails setting up the June 9, 2016 meeting between senior campaign officials and Russians who offered derogatory information on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” On multiple occasions in late June and early July 2017, the President directed aides not to publicly disclose the emails, and he then dictated a statement about the meeting to be issued by Donald Trump Jr. describing the meeting as about adoption.

In response to a question about whether he was considering a pardon for Manafort or other individuals involved in the Special Counsel’s investigation, the President said, “I don’t want to talk about that. No, I don’t want to talk about that. … But look, I do want to see people treated fairly. That’s what it’s all about.” 854 Hours later, Manafort’s bail was revoked and the President tweeted, “Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns. Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob. What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all the others? Very unfair!” 855

He [Cohen] even retained Bill and Crooked Hillary’s lawyer. Gee, I wonder if they helped him make the choice!” 1043 The next day, the President tweeted, “So interesting that bad lawyer Michael Cohen, who sadly will not be testifying before Congress, is using the lawyer of Crooked Hillary Clinton to represent him-Gee, how did that happen? “1068

[Trump answering DOJ q’s] I have no recollection of being told during the campaign that Vladimir Putin or the Russian government “supported” my candidacy or “opposed” the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. However, I was aware of some reports indicating that President Putin had made complimentary statements about me.

[Trump answering DOJ q’s] I do not recall being told during the campaign of any efforts by Russia to infiltrate or hack the computer systems or email accounts of Hillary Clinton or her campaign prior to them becoming the subject of media reporting and I have no recollection of any particular conversation in that regard.  

Personally or Politically Motivated Investigations Are Illegal

[Mueller explains how unfounded, personally or politically motivated investigations are illegal.]

There are “obvious political checks” against initiating a baseless investigation or prosecution of a former President. And the Attorney General holds “the power to conduct the criminal litigation of the United States Government,” which provides a strong institutional safeguard against politicized investigations or prosecutions. 1092 [Footnote info]1092 Similar institutional safeguards protect Department of Justice officers and line prosecutors against unfounded investigations into prosecutorial acts. Prosecutors are generally barred from participating in matters implicating their personal interests, and are instructed not to be influenced by their “own professional or personal circumstances,” so prosecutors would not frequently be in a position to take action that could be perceived as corrupt and personally motivated. And if such cases arise, criminal investigation would be conducted by responsible officials at the Department of Justice, who can be presumed to refrain from pursuing an investigation absent a credible factual basis. Those facts distinguish the criminal context from the common-law rule of prosecutorial immunity, which protects against the threat of suit by “a defendant [who] often will transform his resentment at being prosecuted into the ascription of improper and malicious actions.” As the Supreme Court has noted, the existence of civil immunity does not justify criminal immunity. (“Whatever may be the case with respect to civil liability generally, … we have never held that the performance of the duties of judicial, legislative, or executive officers, requires or contemplates the immunization of otherwise criminal deprivation of constitutional rights.”).

 

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2, Our Democracy under Trump’s Hands: Trump vs Hillary

What has finally pushed the Democrats into voting for a procedure of Trump’s impeachment is Trump’s admission that he extorted the president of Ukraine into promising to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden and make the president of the Ukraine promise to announce on CNN that he would have the Bidens investigated for corruption, although it is well known that there is no evidence of the Bidens doing anything corrupt. In return, Trump would release the money already provided by Congress for Ukraine to defend itself against Putin invading their country. Trump held up the money for so long that Putin’s Russia was able to take full control of part of Ukraine, the part that has the valuable gas and oil resources. This was not the first time that Trump endeavored to improve his election chances by finding dirt on the opponent he most feared, and in the case of not finding any dirt, “trumping” (if you’ll pardon the pun) up bogus charges against them. Trump, aided by Putin’s disinformation campaign on social media, did all he could to accuse falsely Hillary Clinton of all sorts of wrong-doing. Mueller investigated Trump’s efforts to denigrate Clinton and expounded on what he found of Trump’s character assassination of Clinton in his detailed report. While Mueller could not find enough evidence of Trump directly asking for Putin’s help in his efforts to hurt Clinton, Mueller does say that he could not find that evidence because:

“while the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges. …the investigation established that several individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign lied to the Office, and to Congress, about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals and related matters. Those lies materially impaired the investigation of Russian election interference. …Some individuals invoked their Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination and were not, in the Office ‘s judgment, appropriate candidates for grants of immunity. … And the Office faced practical limits on its ability to access relevant evidence as well-numerous witnesses and subjects lived abroad, and documents were held outside the United States. Further, the Office learned that some of the individuals we interviewed or whose conduct we investigated-including some associated with the Trump Campaign—deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption or that do not provide for long-term retention of data or communications records. …the Office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events described in the report.”

In other words, Mueller could not find evidence of the Trump campaign working directly with Putin’s spies because people lied, people deleted information, people claimed the fifth, and people and documents stayed out of reach in Europe.

Lying about political opponents, harassing them, and imprisoning them are some of the beginning steps would-be dictators take on their way to destroy their nations for their personal gain. Rachel Maddow in her book Blow Out details Putin doing this as well as some other dictators. That Trump is doing this, admits to getting the president of Ukraine to set up a bogus investigation into the Bidens is very dangerous to our democracy. As my husband who worked as certified behavior analyst for many years explains, once someone gets away with a behavior they become much more likely to do it again. Every time they do it and receive no negative consequences for it, they feel more and more free to repeat that behavior. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Trump went after Clinton, even trying to get public pressure to build to “lock her up.” He has done this again with the Bidens. This means he will do it again unless stopped. If he does it again, who will it be?

Now let’s look at what Mueller found regarding Trump’s attacks on Hillary Clinton. This distillation of The Mueller Report regarding Hillary Clinton will be covered in two blog entries. Here is the first.

Mueller: Trump Versus Hillary, Part A

Introduction

This distillation from the Mueller report is focused on Trump’s political attacks on Hillary Clinton.

Footnotes that cite documents have been removed for ease of reading. The numbers to the footnotes have been kept so that anyone who wants to see the footnotes can easily find them in the full Mueller report. Footnotes that give information (sentences! not article titles and document numbers) that further explain the attacks on Clinton issue are given.

Amazon sells the full Mueller report. You can also download it for free by googling “Mueller Report pdf” which will lead you to the free download link.

 

Offers of “Dirt” to the Trump Campaign Heads

Further, in the spring of 2016, campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos made early contact with Joseph Mifsud, a London-based professor who had connections to Russia and traveled to Moscow in April 2016. Immediately upon his return to London from that trip, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that the Russian government had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails.

Trump Campaign advisor Michael Caputo learned through a Florida based Russian business partner that another Florida-based Russian, Henry Oknyansky (who also went by the name Henry Greenberg), claimed to have information pertaining to Hillary Clinton. Caputo notified Roger Stone, an American political consultant, author, lobbyist and strategist known for his use of opposition research, usually for candidates of the Republican Party. Caputo brokered communication between Stone and Oknyansky. Oknyansky and Stone set up a May 2016 in-person meeting.260 Oknyansky was accompanied to the meeting by Alexei Rasin, a Ukrainian associate involved in Florida real estate. At the meeting, Rasin offered to sell Stone derogatory information on Clinton that Rasin claimed to have obtained while working for Clinton. Rasin claimed to possess financial statements demonstrating Clinton’s involvement in money laundering with Rasin’s companies. According to Oknyansky, Stone asked if the amounts in question totaled millions of dollars but was told it was closer to hundreds of thousands. Stone refused the offer, stating that Trump would not pay for opposition research.261 [Stone is under federal indictment.]

Oknyansky claimed to the Office that Rasin’s motivation was financial. According to Oknyansky, Rasin had tried unsuccessfully to shop the Clinton information around to other interested parties, and Oknyansky would receive a cut if the information was sold.262 Rasin is noted in public source documents as the director and/or registered agent for a number of Florida companies, none of which appears to be connected to Clinton. The Office found no other evidence that Rasin worked for Clinton or any Clinton-related entities.

In addition to the hacking, a meeting was proposed to Donald Trump Jr. in an email from Robert Goldstone, at the request of his then-client Emin Agalarov, the son of Russian real-estate developer Aras Agalarov. Goldstone relayed to Trump Jr. that the “Crown prosecutor of Russia … offered to provide the Trump Campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia” as “part of Russia and its government ‘s support for Mr. Trump.” Trump Jr. immediately responded that “if it’s what you say I love it,” and arranged the meeting through a series of emails and telephone calls.

On June 7, Goldstone emailed Trump Jr. and said that “Emin asked that I schedule a meeting with you and [t]he Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow.” 694 Trump Jr. replied that Manafort (identified as the “campaign boss”), Jared Kushner, and Trump Jr. would likely attend.695 Go~d to learn that Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner would attend.696 Kaveladze — “puzzled” by the list of attendees and that he checked with one of Emin Agalarov’s assistants, Roman Beniaminov, who said that the purpose of the meeting was for Veselnitskaya to convey “negative information on Hillary Clinton.” 697 Beniaminov, however, stated that he did not recall having known or said that.698

On June 9, 2016 … a Russian lawyer met with senior Trump Campaign officials Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and campaign chairman Paul Manafort to deliver what the email proposing the meeting had described as “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary.” The Russian attorney who spoke at the meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had previously worked for the Russian government and maintained a relationship with that government throughout this period of time. She claimed that funds derived from illegal activities in Russia were provided to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats. Trump Jr. requested evidence to support those claims, but Veselnitskaya did not provide such information.

The communications setting up the meeting and the attendance by high-level Campaign representatives support an inference that the Campaign anticipated receiving derogatory documents and information from official Russian sources that could assist candidate Trump’s electoral prospects. The June 9, 2016 meeting between high-ranking campaign officials and Russians promising derogatory information on Hillary Clinton implicates an additional body of law: campaign finance statutes. Schemes involving the solicitation or receipt of assistance from foreign sources raise difficult statutory and constitutional questions. As explained below, the Office evaluated those questions in connection with the June 9 meeting The Office ultimately concluded that, even if the principal legal questions were resolved favorably to the government, a prosecution would encounter difficulties proving that Campaign officials or individuals connected to the Campaign willfully violated the law.

Even assuming that the promised “documents and information that would incriminate Hillary” constitute a “thing of value” under campaign-finance law, the government would encounter other challenges in seeking to obtain and sustain a conviction. Most significantly, the government has not obtained admissible evidence that is likely to establish the scienter requirement beyond a reasonable doubt. To prove that a defendant acted “knowingly and willfully, ” the government would have to show that the defendant had general knowledge that his conduct was unlawful. “This standard creates an elevated scienter element requiring , at the very least, that application of the law to the facts in question be fairly clear. When there is substantial doubt concerning whether the law applies to the facts of a particular matter, the offender is more likely to have an intent defense.” Election Offenses 123.

The Office would also encounter difficulty proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the value of the promised documents and information exceeds the $2,000 threshold for a criminal violation, as well as the $25,000 threshold for felony punishment. See 52 U.S.C. § 30109(d)(l). The type of evidence commonly used to establish the value of non-monetary contributions-such as pricing the contribution on a commercial market or determining the upstream acquisition cost or the cost of distribution-would likely be unavailable or ineffective in this factual setting. Although damaging opposition research is surely valuable to a campaign , it appears that the information ultimately delivered in the meeting was not valuable. And while value in a conspiracy may well be measured by what the participants expected to receive at the time of the agreement, see, e.g., United States v. Tombrello, 666 F.2d 485, 489 (11th Cir. 1982), Goldstone’s description of the offered material here was quite general. His suggestion of the information’s value-i.e., that it would “incriminate Hillary ” and “would be very useful to [Trump Jr.’s] father “-was nonspecific and may have been understood as being of uncertain worth or reliability, given Goldstone’s lack of direct access to the original source. The uncertainty over what would be delivered could be reflected in Trump Jr.’s response, “if it’s what you say I love it” (emphasis added).

Hacked, Stolen, and Leaked Hillary Clinton Emails

Beginning in March 2016, units of the Russian Federation ‘s Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU) hacked the computers and email accounts of organizations, employees, and volunteers supporting the Clinton Campaign, including the email account of campaign chairman John Podesta. Starting in April 2016, the GRU hacked into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The GRU targeted hundreds of email accounts used by Clinton Campaign employees, advisors, and volunteers. In total, the GRU stole hundreds of thousands of documents from the compromised email accounts and networks.

At a press conference on July 27, 2016, Trump said that the assertion that Russia had hacked the emails was unproven, but stated that it would give him “no pause” if Russia had Clinton’s emails. 35 Trump added , “Russia , if you’re listening , I hope you ‘re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”36

36 [Footnote info:] Within five hours of Trump’s remark, a Russian intelligence service began targeting email accounts associated with Hillary Clinton for possible hacks.

Two military units of the GRU carried out the computer intrusions into the Clinton Campaign, DNC, and DCCC: Military Units 26165 and 74455. 110 Military Unit 26165 is a GRU cyber unit dedicated to targeting military, political, governmental, and non-governmental organizations outside of Russia, including in the United States.111 The unit was sub-divided into departments with different specialties. One department, for example, developed specialized malicious software “malware”, while another department conducted large-scale spearphishing campaigns. 11

112 [Footnote info:] A spearphishing email is designed to appear as though it originates from a trusted source, and solicits information to enable the sender to gain access to an account or network, or causes the recipient to download malware that enables the sender to gain access to an account or network.

GRU officers also sent hundreds of spearphishing emails to the work and personal email accounts of Clinton Campaign employees and volunteers. Between March 10, 2016 and March 15, 2016, Unit 26165 appears to have sent approximately 90 spearphishing emails to email accounts at hillaryclinton.com. Starting on March 15, 2016, the GRU began targeting Google email accounts used by Clinton Campaign employees, along with a smaller number of dnc.org email accounts. 117

Military Unit 74455 is a related GRU unit with multiple departments that engaged in cyber operations. Unit 74455 assisted in the release of documents stolen by Unit 26165, the promotion of those releases, and the publication of anti-Clinton content on social media accounts operated by the GRU

Beginning in mid-March 2016, Unit 26165 had primary responsibility for hacking the DCCC and DNC, as well as email accounts of individuals affiliated with the Clinton Campaign. 115 The later DCCC and DNC intrusions were not crimes of opportunity but rather the result of targeting. 116

109 [Info from a footnote:] …our Office charged 12 GRU officers for crimes arising from the hacking of these computers, principally with conspiring to commit computer intrusions.

The GRU spearphishing operation enabled it to gain access to numerous email accounts of Clinton Campaign employees and volunteers, including campaign chairman John Podesta , junior volunteers assigned to the Clinton Campaign’s advance team, informal Clinton Campaign advisors, and a DNC employee. 118 GRU officers stole tens of thousands of emails from spearphishing victims, including various Clinton Campaign-related communications.

The GRU began stealing DCCC data shortly after it gained access to the network. On April 14, 2016 (approximately three days after the initial intrusion) GRU officers downloaded rar.exe onto the DCCC’s document server. The following day, the GRU searched one compromised DCCC computer for files containing search terms that included “Hillary,” “DNC, ” “Cruz ,” and “Trump.” 131

On June 14, 2016, the DNC and its cyber-response team announced the breach of the DNC network and suspected theft of DNC documents. In the statements, the cyber-response team alleged that Russian state-sponsored actors (which they referred to as “Fancy Bear”) were responsible for the breach. 145 Apparently in response to that announcement, on June 15, 2016, GRU officers using the persona Guccifer 2.0 created a WordPress blog. In the hours leading up to the launch of that WordPress blog, GRU officers logged into a Moscow-based server used and managed by Unit 74455 and searched for a number of specific words and phrases in English, including “some hundred sheets,” “illuminati,” and “worldwide known.” Approximately two hours after the last of those searches, Guccifer 2.0 published its first post, attributing the DNC server hack to a lone Romanian hacker and using several of the unique English words and phrases that the GRU officers had searched for that day.146

GRU officers also operated a Facebook page under the DCLeaks moniker, which they primarily used to promote releases of materials. 141 The Facebook page was administered through a small number of preexisting GRU-controlled Facebook accounts. 142

GRU officers used the DCLeaks Facebook account, the Twitter account @dcleaks, and the email account dcleaksproject@gmail.com to communicate privately with reporters and · other U.S. persons. GRU officers, using the DCLeaks persona, gave certain reporters early access to archives of leaked files by sending them links and passwords to pages on the dcleaks.com website that had not yet become public. For example, on July 14, 2016, GRU officers operating under the DCLeaks persona sent a link and password for a non-public DCLeaks webpage to a U.S. reporter via the Facebook account. 143 Similarly, on September 14, 2016, GRU officers sent reporters Twitter direct messages from @dcleaks_, with a password to another non-public part of the dcleaks.com website. 144

Beginning in late June 2016, the GRU also used the Guccifer 2.0 persona to release documents directly to reporters and other interested individuals. Specifically, on June 27, 2016, Guccifer 2.0 sent an email to the news outlet The Smoking Gun offering to provide “exclusive access to some leaked emails linked [to] Hillary Clinton’s staff.” 148 The GRU later sent the reporter a password and link to a locked portion of the dcleaks.com website that contained an archive of emails stolen by Unit 26165 from a Clinton Campaign volunteer in March 2016. 149 That the Guccifer 2.0 persona provided reporters access to a restricted portion of the DCLeaks website tends to indicate that both personas were operated by the same or a closely-related group of people. 150

The GRU units transferred many of the documents they stole from the DNC and the chairman of the Clinton Campaign to WikiLeaks. GRU officers used both the DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 personas to communicate with WikiLeaks through Twitter private messaging and through encrypted channels, including possibly through WikiLeaks ‘s private communication system.

WikiLeaks, and particularly its founder Julian Assange, privately expressed opposition to candidate Clinton well before the first release of stolen documents. In November 2015, Assange wrote to other members and associates of WikiLeaks that “we believe it would be much better for GOP to win … Dems+Media+liberals woudl [sic] then form a block to reign in their worst qualities . . . With Hillary in charge, GOP will be pushing for her worst qualities., dems+media+neoliberals will be mute. … She’s a bright, well connected, sadisitic sociopath.”156

While designing the archive, one WikiLeaks member explained the reason for building the archive to another associate: “We want this repository to become ‘the place’ to search for background on hillary’s plotting at the state department during 2009-2013. … Firstly because its useful and will annoy Hillary, but secondly because we want to be seen to be a resource/player in the US election, because eit [sic] may encourage people to send us even more important leaks.”158

In March 2016, WikiLeaks released a searchable archive of approximately 30,000 Clinton emails that had been obtained through FOIA litigation. 157

On June 12, 2016, Assange claimed in a televised interview to “have emails relating to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication,” 194 but provided no additional context.

Throughout 2016, the Trump Campaign expressed interest in Hillary Clinton’s private email server and whether approximately 30,000 emails from that server had in fact been permanently destroyed, as reported by the media. Several individuals associated with the Campaign were contacted [by the DOJ] in 2016 about various efforts to obtain the missing Clinton emails and other stolen material in support of the Trump Campaign. Some of these contacts were met with skepticism, and nothing came of them; others were pursued to some degree. The investigation did not find evidence that the Trump Campaign recovered any such Clinton emails, or that these contacts were part of a coordinated effort between Russia and the Trump Campaign.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1, Introduction: Our Democracy under Trump’s Hands

When Trump took office, he immediately put at heads of the various governmental agencies individuals who are actively hostile to the mission of the agency they run. Usually these people had also donated generously to his campaign or were people he had heard about on Fox News who praised him and spouted the views of the extremist right. Since Trump had been a democrat and had contributed to democratic campaigns, I wondered why he put as head of important regulatory, public service bureaus such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Education Department, people who would dismantle and destroy those bureaus. I knew that Steve Bannon wanted to completely destroy the government and thought that perhaps Trump was under Bannon’s influence. Steve Bannon was Vice President of Cambridge Analytics, the Russian backed company responsible with flooding Facebook and other social networks with KGB created disinformation, or as we now call such lies, Fake News. The Mueller Report makes clear how Cambridge Analytics operated. But Trump fired Bannon and kept on putting people into positions who are totally incompetent to run those agencies effectively and honestly.

Before I continue, I want to mention that I feel referring to Russian interference and ill-doing is a misnomer. The Russian people want a democracy. They managed to put Gorbachev into office as president after decades of the vicious, totalitarian rule of the Communist Party. They created a new constitution, and when Gorbachev stepped down, elected Boris Yeltsin. At first Yeltsin continued with the massive reforms needed that would make Russia a real democracy. However, he eventually became utterly corrupt and embarrassed his nation with his drunkenness. Vladimir Putin stepped in, offering Yeltsin amnesty for his crimes and allowing Yeltsin to keep his ill-gotten wealth. The former head of the KGB, Putin, is a Communist in the traditional murderous, corrupt, tyrannical meaning of that word. He pretends to uphold the Russian Constitution, but he is in fact a dictator with absolute power. So in this, my blog series about Trump, I will be referring not to Russian interference, but Putin’s interference. I have been to Russia and met Russians and dined with Russians and shared laughs with Russians. Most Russians are kind, funny, good people. However, a huge percentage of them are mean bullies. The bullies are in charge. My husband and I had to flee Russia in danger of our lives. These bullies and their leader, Putin are as terrible as any Anti-Communist American Hawk says they are.

Let me also express another semantic issue central to the issues I will be discussing in this blog. Communists are not socialists. Socialism is not a “modified form of communism,” as my fellow students told me at Parliament Hill, the school I attended in London when I was in high school. Communism is a despotic, fascist, totalitarian method of controlling a country. Like all of such ilk, communism lies about what it is. It pretends to be socialist; it isn’t. The word socialism terrifies Americans because of the communist lie that communism is socialism. Socialism is a term that was coined after our (American) Constitution was written, after our nation was formed. What Europeans think of as socialism, we Americans think of as democracy. The Declaration of Independence and the Preamble of the Constitution make it clear US laws are to be created for the common good: to foster for all safety, health, prosperity, and protection of individual rights and freedoms. European countries, at the time our government was being formed, were undergoing political upheavals against the greed and viciousness of the monarchs or royalty which had caused starvation and many other abuses of everyone else. Many European countries decided they did not want to abolish monarchy as a system of power and rule like we did. Instead, they limited the power of the monarchs and set up parliaments to enact laws which would provide for the common good. The Europeans called this form of governance meant for the betterment of people socialism. We kept calling it democracy. Today, many UK and European people think that our system of governance is capitalist and theirs socialist. They confuse the financial system (which they actually share) with the form of government. Again we answer we are a democracy; they don’t answer that so often because they have a monarchy. However, Americans tend to idealize all things European, and so when wanting to enact laws that will better serve the common good, American efforts to better the lives of the majority of citizens get labelled socialist. Even with the full term democratic socialism, ignorant Americans believe communism is meant. That is wrong. Social democracy has nothing to do with the tyranny Putin and other despots impose on their people.

To return to the question with which I began, why was Trump putting into high positions the very people who would destroy the agencies that serve and protect us? Rachel Maddow’s book Blow Out is answering my question. I would suggest that anyone who reads my blog about Trump’s time in power read Blow Out at the same time. In this series of blogs, I will be presenting distillations of The Mueler Report that present his findings without the wearisome academic footnotes, references, and many repetitions that make the report a chore to read. I leave in my distillations the footnote numbers so that the references can be easily found in his report. Also, any phrase from my distillations can be put in the pdf search engine of The Mueller Report to take you to the exact section where Mueller gives the information. In addition to The Mueller Report distillations, I will be commenting on what I read in Blow Out, and how I, as a private citizen construe the implication of her research regarding our democracy under Trump’s hands. I will add to this other information that I find relevant to these issues of our democracy and Trump’s work.

By the way, I found something very interesting. If you put a letter, word, or phrase in The Mueller Report pdf search engine, the search engine cranks out every instance of your search, even in the redacted sections. Conceivably you could reconstruct redacted sections by crafty use of the pdf’ search function. I have not done this. I don’t recommend it for your personal safety from ire of the secret service. If a judge ever rules the general public may have access to the redacted portions, there is a way to get them without having to wait on officials to parse them out.

 

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Creativity Part 3: Six Aspects

REQUIEMsamdancing1WebThere are six different aspects that contribute to creativity that I can count: knowledge of one’s art and its materials, skilled sensitivities and perceptions, abstract thinking, imaginative thinking, trained and controlled daydreaming, and creative trances. Imaginative thinking encompasses empathy (putting yourself in another’s shoes); a shift in cognition from the technical or specific to the general and obvious or vice versa such as in the way of jokes and humor; personifying the inanimate and objectifying the human while comprehending the difference; imagining something transformed; and forming ideals. Daydreaming and creative trances allow the intuition to surface while consciously imagining (imaginative thinking), planning (mental structuring of future endeavors), or speculating (abstract thinking). Any weakness or limitation in knowledge, sensitivities, perceptions, abstract thinking, imaginative thinking, trained and controlled daydreaming, and creative trance states also limit the creative process of choosing an innovative question; recognizing relationships missed by others; envisioning an innovative answer, solution, or thing; perceiving of associative and relevant criteria; or innovating a method for constructing the answer, solution, or thing.

Business, science, and the other organizational institutions for which people work all prefer to have their people bring innovation and creativity to their jobs. However, as arts programming is the first educational resource to be cut when money becomes tight, and as the culture as a whole feels it appropriate to underpay artists and to cut funding for arts programming, only those who really want to be artists pursue formal arts training. People may actually be significantly less creative, innovative, and even intelligent than they could be due to a lack of training in the creative processes of the arts. Like any other skill, a certain level of ability to be creative is innate. Nevertheless, all skills require training to be greatly increased, and this is no different for creative skills. No athletic champion when asked how he or she managed to achieve success will say, “I was born superior.” Every champion has worked hard to become good enough to succeed. Yet people are expected to have creative abilities without being trained. Perceptions and sensitivities have to be broadened and sharpened. Exposure to imaginative thinking must be incorporated to a greater extent in learning. Daydreaming should be trained as an activity to cope with stress, and focused day dreaming needs to be encouraged as a means towards creating worlds, situations, machines, cures, and solutions, and fun and beautiful things. Daydreaming not only acts as an instrument that directs the mind towards goals thereby giving strength and endurance to achieve them, it fosters imagined rehearsals of creating things. The skills of recognizing artistic styles and working with a variety of media increase the ability to abstract, allowing a transference of abstraction to other disciplines. Seeing, listening, and recognizing one’s feelings about what one is doing are fundamental steps in learning that lead to enhancing the mental process of creativity in all fields.

If skill building in perception and sensitivities, imaginative thinking, day dreaming have been routinely eschewed throughout one’s life, then one can not simply insert artistic techniques into one’s work and become suddenly creative. Creativity is a highly complex mental process that must be developed over years, beginning in early childhood and continuing throughout life. The arts techniques developed over the millennia provide a means for changing perspective for fruitful experimentation, and when organized by a vision, techniques for turning that vision into reality.

Creativity has an innate component which means that some people are simply never going to be particularly creative while others will bring creativity to everything they do. This is why artists feel that creativity is how they live their lives.

 

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Creativity Part 2: Creativity Occurs When?

ImprovSceneThe mathematician and the scientist’s admonition to “think like a mathematician!” “think like a scientist” actually parallel the artist’s processes in that knowledge, skill, and a proper analytical process is necessary to problem solving. The wider the knowledge of and skill in handling the data and the analytical processes the more likely creativity can occur. Scientists speak of training this intuition, and again this comes down to letting the unconscious mind work with knowledge unencumbered by the conscious mind’s judgementalism. As our brains work through chemical-electrical functions, the thinking process is pretty much at the speed of electrical current, or if you will, the speed of light. The unconscious mind is able to swiftly assemble associations of relevant data according to the form of analysis appropriate to the problem, and then it presents the solution as a feat accompli to the conscious mind.

However, very few mathematicians and scientists are able to think creatively. Which brings us back to the question of how do artists so consistently think creatively. We have techniques, many if not most cataloged in the TRIZ.

For instance, in order to eliminate an unproductively fixed point of view various techniques that allow for change of perspective are taught. In fine art, a painter will turn the canvas upside-down or look at it in a mirror to get a fresh perspective. There are many drawing techniques as well, such as drawing the air space around the figure, drawing only the lines of the figure, drawing only the shadows of the figure, drawing only the curves of the figure. In the theater, switching perspectives in rehearsals is also a norm: play it as though your character is tree, a food, a little child, a bag lady—whatever the opposite of the character is or whatever extreme of the character is. Either the exact opposite or the extreme version of what the element is are played with, because most people can only make a small change even when trying to make a huge change. Learning to deftly switch perspectives and making ever larger changes of perspective with ever greater ease are an integral part of all training in the arts because narrow views are inhibiting to artists and their art.

Another example is what to do when something is not working right in the piece one is creating. The problem part may be inherent in either the materials used or the stylistic approach, the “school” selected for thematic unity of the work. In this case, what is not working has to be extracted for analysis and reorientation. A standard technique is to make the problem factor a focus point so that everything else revolves around it, instead of it revolving around and throwing off the balance of the other elements.

While artists first imagine their pieces as a whole, when they work on them they work on sections in such a way as to get each element of the work to convey as much as possible. This is especially essential in poetry and the theater (including film and TV). This is the purpose of signs and symbols in art–to express many ideas with one image. Each element must be as organically functional to the work as whole as possible. “Every moment should be filled” is the actor’s dictum. In all art, it is held that no aspect should be superfluous though different schools of art consider the “superfluous” in very different terms. That every element must work together as an organic whole is de rigueur in all arts.

Artists will also at times balance the main theme of their piece with it opposite. Negative and positive space can balance each other in fine art, a “foil” balances qualities that can seem unrealistically abundant in a protagonist in literature, and “comic relief” serves to point up tragedy by contrast in dramatic works The idea behind these artistic techniques is that too much of one element can at times become bothersome to the audience breaking their involvement with the piece, thus dismantling it. The adding of the countering element keeps the audience’s attention on the piece as a whole which maintains the piece’s integrity while allowing for a type of rest that also serves as a new perspective that sharpens the understanding of the counterbalanced element.

Further, skilled artists know that conformity to arbitrary rules as a choice of expression does not limit creativity; it is when conformity is required, when conformity is an act of obedience that creativity is stifled. Doing something or expressing something because someone else wants you to is very different from doing or expressing something because you yourself want to. Obedience puts unnatural limits on thinking and feeling. Conforming with arbitrary rules is often necessary in problem solving and artistic creation, but the rules one agrees to conform with are usually chosen by the individual as a means of setting up a framework for working on an artistic problem. The rules for writing for a fantasy magazine, a physics journal, and a philosophy journal are all different but each set of rules must be conformed with to have one’s voice heard.

Creativity occurs when an individual chooses an innovative question; recognizes associations or relationships missed by others; perceives associative and relevant criteria; envisions and provides an innovative answer, solution, or thing; or innovates a method for constructing the answer, solution, or thing.

 

 

 

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