This Week In Russiagate, June 30, 2017 Edition

Last week, Jeh Johnson, the former Department of Homeland Security Secretary, told the House Intelligence Committee,

Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyberattacks on our nation for the purpose of influencing our election — plain and simple.”

Despite the admission by Secretary Johnson, despite the months of refusal by the now 45th* President of the United States to accept the conclusions by 17 intelligence agencies he now leads that Russia intervened in the 2016 elections, we begin This Week In Russiagate with a stunning reversal by the President. What was once nothing other than a Democratic hoax whining over the loss of the 2016 elections, has now become all the fault of the Obama administration for not doing enough to stop or punish the Russians.

The Twitterer In Chief’s Russia Tweet Storms

The 45th* President of the United States began tweeting last Friday night in response to Secretary Johnson’s testimony, blaming the previous administration and the DNC for not doing enough to stop the Russian intervention that he has at all previous times insisted did not occur. At 5:43 pm on June 23, the President tweeted,

“Just out: The Obama Administration knew far in advance of November 8th about election meddling by Russia. Did nothing about it. WHY?”

At 7:01 am on Saturday, June 24, 45th* tweeted,

“…Why did Democratic National Committee turn down the DHS offer to protect against hacks (long prior to election). It’s all a big Dem HOAX!”

According to Secretary Johnson, the DNC turned down the offer by DHS to help protect against potential intruders because,

“The DNC did not feel it needed DHS’s assistance at that time.”

The same question could be directed to the various states that turned down the DHS offer to help patch potential vulnerabilities to Russian hackers. According to the Idaho Republican Chief Deputy Secretary of State, Tim Hurst, the DHS help was rejected because it was believed that if the Federal government was permitted to access state election systems,

“The next step may be that they want to take over it as critical infrastructure, and that would not be good for the system, not good for the country.”

The new President, in a Fox And Friends interview that aired on June 25, 2017, then lied to the nation, saying that,

I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it…The CIA gave him information on Russia a long time before the election. … If he had the information, why didn’t he do something about it? He should have done something about it?”

The Republican candidate for President must not have been paying attention on August 18, 2016, moving forward, when he began to get Intelligence briefings, which presumably included the facts then available concerning the Russian intervention into the 2016 elections. Perhaps he did not read or paid no attention when he presumably was briefed on the October 7, 2016 joint statement issued by Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, and the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, warning the nation of the fact of the Russian intervention. Could it be that the President didn’t read or did not comprehend a briefing following the public release on January 6, 2017 of the non-classified version by the Office of The Director of National Intelligence Report Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections.

Secretary Johnson explained that among the reasons why the administration was not more publicly aggressive in response to the Russian intervention was,

“We were very concerned that we not be perceived as taking sides in the election, injecting ourselves into a very heated campaign or taking steps to delegitimize the election process and undermine the integrity of the election process.”

There might also have been the belief within the administration that was expressed by 45th* in this tweet on June 26, 2017, at 6:37 am,

“The reason that President Obama did NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling is that he expected Clinton would win.”

The claim that the administration did nothing simply is not true. In addition to the October 7, 2016 public warning issued by Secretary Johnson and Director Clapper of the administration, and the release of the January 6, 2017 declassified version of the intelligence communities assessment, the administration shuttered luxury estates in New York and Maryland that were being used for intelligence related operations.  Also, on December 29, 2016, the administration,

“Announced the expulsion by Sunday of 35 unnamed Russian officials — and their families — who they said were working undercover as spies.

Of course, 45th* at the time was insisting that,

“Obama and Democrats are merely attempting to delegitimize his election.”

The new President, who always seems to have questions about his predecessor but who never seems to take any action, took almost six months after the Obama administration publicly announced measures directed against Russia for their intervention into the 2016 election, to even acknowledge the possibility of that intervention. The question as to why he took so long to do so, may be answered by examining his public stance toward Russia as a candidate, along with the inaction by his administration since he took office.

The Do Nothing In Chief 

When it comes to doing nothing about reigning in the Russians, there is no one better than than the 45th* President of the United States. And for anyone who might believe that the Russian intervention into our 2016 election was a one time event, think again.  The Russians have come, and they aren’t going away anytime soon.

CNN compiled a list of 80 statements made by the now 45th* President of the United States, beginning June 18, 2013 through February 17, 2017, concerning the nature and extent of his relationship with Russian President, Vladimir Putin. His statements have consistently been in praise of Mr. Putin, while he also,

Contradicted himself over the years about the nature of his relationship with Putin.”

While the new American President has a long history of favorable statements towards Mr. Putin, the Russian President has returned the favor going back into 2015 when the now Republican President announced his candidacy for President in 2016.  The apparent mutual admiration society between the two men has naturally led to a suspicion of potential collusion and cooperation between the Russians and the 2016 Republican candidates campaign.

A Ransomware cyber attack recently hit Ukraine then spread across Europe. While this most recent attack does not now appear to be election related, there is every reason to believe that it, along with the prior Russian meddling into the 2016 and 2017 European and United States Elections, amounted to dry runs for what can be expected in future elections. There is currently no evidence that this administration is doing anything to try to stop them.

Despite the 45th* President having recently blamed his predecessor for failing to take action, the facts show that it is the new administration that has failed to act. Nicholas Burns, the former US Ambassador to NATO, testified in open session to the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 28, 2017. Ambassador Burns told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the current President,

“Has refused to launch an investigation of his own. He has not made this a priority in his conversations with Russian officials. He has taken no known steps to work with the Congress and with state and local governments to prevent such interference in our 2018 mid-term elections or in the 2020 elections beyond. Senior members of his Administration have admitted that he has never asked for their own views on this problem. And he has not given your committee’s bipartisan effort to investigate and to devise countermeasures the support it clearly deserves.”

Burns also testified that,

“President Trump’s response to Russia’s cyber attacks on the U.S. democratic system is both “dismaying and objectionable.” He says it’s the “President’s duty to be skeptical of Russia and that his refusal to take action is “a dereliction of his basic duty to defend the country.”

This new President has shown a stubborn refusal to admit to reality, while always seeking to accuse others for behaviors that he exhibits, and for the failures that he and his team have made. Meanwhile, the investigations roll on.

The President’s Men Continue To Lawyer-Up And If They Haven’t, They Should

We learned last Sunday that Jared Kushner’s real estate firm finalized a $285 million loan from Deutsche Bank just days before the election.  The German bank, which had previously been sanctioned by the UK and by the State of New York, recently agreed to pay a $41 million to resolve claims by the US Federal Reserve regarding possible money laundering for Russian oligarchs. 45th*’s business organization is also believed to owe some $300 million to Deutsche Bank.

Perhaps not coincidently, it was reported the following day that Jared Kushner, the Son-In-Law-In-Chief, hired a powerhouse criminal lawyer, Abbe Lowell, to,

Represent him in the special counsel’s probe of potential Russian collusion with the Trump campaign and his financial dealings, as well as in separate congressional inquiries.”

The next day, on June 27, news broke that, Paul Manafort, the second Republican campaign manager, filed many years late as a foreign agent of Turkey, having received over over $17 million from 2012 through 2104 for services rendered to that pro-Russia government.

Then there is the news that Carter Page, who had been identified by the Republican candidate himself as a foreign policy adviser to the campaign, sat for a ten hour questioning session with the FBI without the assistance of counsel. Page has long been under surveillance by the FBI,  and he is believed to have been cultivated as a spy by Russian Intelligence. Mr. Page might very well have made a mistake spending all of that time with the FBI without his own lawyer.

A Smoking Gun Or Not?

Concerning Peter W. Smith, the Republican operative who allegedly enlisted hackers to find out if the Russians were in possession of any of the personal emails that Hillary Clinton deleted from the private email server, this news will not turn into the smoking gun evidence of collusion between the Republican candidate’s campaign and the Russian government. Take note that Mr. Smith died on May 14, 2017 and he apparently was not interviewed by the FBI before his death.

There are reports that Smith claimed to be working with Michael Flynn, an adviser to the campaign, along with Flynn’s son, in the effort to obtain the elusive alleged 30,000, which later grew to 33,000 missing emails. The truth is that these emails were never missing. The Republican candidate created the suggestion of 30,000 missing emails at a Miami, Florida news conference on July 27, 2016, from,

Unrelated allegations that Russia had hacked into the computers at the National Democratic Committee and spirited out more than 19,000 emails to raise the issue of the “missing” Clinton emails.”

Mr. Smith is also alleged to have referenced senior campaign officials Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, and Sam Clovis in a recruiting document dated September 7, 2016. It should be noted that Peter W. Smith, an associate of Newt Gingrich, is closely associated with past anti-Clinton witch hunts such as Troopergate and the Paula Jones affair.

Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary, continues to insist that his boss was joking when the then Republican candidate said last July,

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

The alleged missing emails were not missing at all as they had been turned over to the FBI, and were in fact examined by the FBI as part of the now closed investigation. This is confirmed by the fact that no releases of the missing emails ever occurred either before or after the 2016 election. It has also been alleged that while Mr. Smith received some emails from his team of hired hackers, he did not believe the product was trustworthy, therefore,

“We told all the groups to give them to WikiLeaks.”

The smoking gun is more likely to be found in the possession of Roger Stone, the longtime friend and ally of the 45th* President of the United States, who is scheduled to testify in a closed session with the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 24. Mr. Stone has publicly admitted to having contacts with Guccifer 2.0, and it is that admitted connection which is,

“The first confirmed evidence of a G.O.P. operative and an alleged Russian intelligence entity working together to tilt the 2016 election for Republican candidates.”

The emails that grew from 19,000 to 30,000, then to 33,000, that never were missing, never was a concern of the Russians but they were part of another Republican strategy designed to deny Hillary Clinton the presidency in 2016. The lies and misrepresentations about the not missing emails, like the endless Congressional Benghazi hearings, were, as admitted by  Congressman Kevin McCarthy, (R-CA), designed to damage the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee as part of,

Strategy to fight and win.”

As Congressman Richard Hanna said in October 14, 2015 radio interview,

“This may not be politically correct, but I think that there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people and an individual, Hillary Clinton.”

The 45th* President of the United States is scheduled to meet Russian President, Vladimir Putin, next week at the G-20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany. The evidence continues to mount indicating that something is not right with the activities of the President and his team who appear to have been inappropriately engaged with Russians around the world before and after the 2016 election. Stay tuned as The Democratic Road will continue to cover every twist and turn on This Week in Russiagate.

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