So much still unresolved from the Trump era installed in 2016, and continued through 2020, a Russian intelligence operation. Hard to tell whether it ranks with Robert Hanssen, Aldrich Ames, or even Operation Pandora, the plan to foment a US race war in the 1960s, although the Trump win could surpass all of them.
- Trump hires
- Manafort to run his campaign. Manafort then orders
- Gates, his deputy, to provide polling and strategy information to
- Kilimnik, their longtime colleague and, according to the Senate committee, a Russian intelligence officer. Kilimnik then shares that information with
- Russian intelligence agents.
It’s important to note that there is 1) no evidence at this point that Trump knew about the sharing of that information or 2) that Russia did much with the information it obtained. There were targeted ads from Russian actors during the campaign, but there remains no good evidence that those ads were targeted with insider information (much less well-targeted in general) nor that they had much of an effect.
What is instead revealed is that the government’s concern about the Trump campaign’s links to Russia — links that extended to other members of Trump’s team — was in this case probably warranted. Manafort’s presence in the campaign prompted head-scratching from the outset, given his ties to various international ne’er-do-wells. He had been on the radar of federal intelligence agencies for years. It’s not surprising, then, that this link should be demonstrated. It just took awhile for the line to be drawn as clearly as it was Thursday morning.
Among the reasons that Mueller’s team couldn’t draw that line clearly in the first place was that Manafort misled investigators (spurring false-statement charges) and otherwise refused to offer a detailed assessment of his time on the campaign.
Two days before Christmas last year, Trump, by then a lame duck, granted Manafort a pardon.
2/ Every time they were asked about a connection between the campaign and the Kremlin, they shot it down. And they were INDIGNANT about it. The response was always something along the lines of, “Russia? Us? How dare you accuse us of such a thing!” Here are some examples:3/
24 July 2016, Paul Manafort, Trump campaign chair:
“…pure obfuscation…..That’s absurd. And, you know, there’s no basis to it.”4/
24 July 2016, Donald Trump, Jr:
“I can’t think of bigger lies. But that goes to show you what the DNC & …Clinton camp will do. They will lie & do anything to win…..These lies & the perpetuating of that kind of nonsense to gain some political capital is just outrageous.”5/
27 July 2016, Donald Trump:
“I can tell you, I think if I came up with that, they’d say, ‘Oh, it’s a conspiracy theory, it’s ridiculous.’ I mean I have nothing to do with Russia. I don’t have any jobs in Russia. I’m all over the world, but we’re not involved in Russia.”6/25 September 2016, Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager:
“If [Carter Page is] doing that [meeting with Russians], he’s certainly not doing it with the permission or knowledge of the campaign, the activities that you described. He is certainly not authorized to do that.”7/24 October 2016, Trump:
“I have nothing to do with Russia, folks, I’ll give you a written statement.”8/
11 November 2016, Hope Hicks, campaign communications director:
“It never happened. There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”9/
18 December 2017, Conway:
“Those conversations never happened. I hear people saying it like it’s a fact on television. That is just not only inaccurate and false, but it’s dangerous.”
[ALSO: NO ONE WAS SAYING THIS ON TELEVISION]10/
11 January 2017, Trump (tweet):
“Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”11/
15 January 2017, Mike Pence, Vice President-elect:
“Well of course not. I think to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy.”
[PENCE KNEW AND ALWAYS HAS]12/
7 February 2017, Trump (tweet):
“I don’t know Putin, have no deals in Russia, and the haters are going crazy…”
16 February 2017, Trump:
“I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does.”13/
19 Feb 2017, Reince Priebus, WH chief of staff:
“I can assure you & I have been approved to say this: that the top levels of the intelligence community have assured me that that is not only inaccurate, but it’s grossly overstated & it was wrong. And there’s nothing to it.”14/
20 February 2017, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy White House press secretary:
Trump/Russia is “a non-story because to the best of our knowledge, no contacts took place, so it’s hard to make a comment on something that never happened.”15/
24 February 2017, Sean Spicer, White House press secretary:
“Well, again, there are no connections to find out about. That’s the problem. I think, a), he [Trump] has answered it forcefully. You can’t disprove something that doesn’t exist… [cont’d]16/
Spicer cont’d: “He’s talked about the fact how many times he’s talked to Putin. He has no interests in Russia….There’s only so many times he can deny something that doesn’t exist.”17/
26 February 2017, Trump (tweet):
“Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!”18/11 May 2017, Trump:
“I have had dealings over the years where I sold a house to a very wealthy Russian many years ago. I had the Miss Universe pageant—which I owned for quite a while—I had it in Moscow a long time ago. But other than that, I have nothing to do with Russia.”19/
18 May 2017, Trump:
“…the entire thing has been a witch hunt. There is no collusion—certainly myself and my campaign—but I can always speak for myself and the Russians—zero.”20/ All of those lies were repeated over and over in the press and on social media. Many Americans believed these lies. And now half a million of us are dead.All of those quotes are in the first chapter of my book DIRTY RUBLES, published in May of 2018. All stuff that was reported in the media, but which the MSM never bothered to organize and present as a coherent narrative.
Lies. Filthy, seditious lies. Lies that killed.[END]
Prosecutors claimed that for almost a decade Imaad Zuberi had promised government officials and others in Turkey, Libya, Sri Lanka, Bahrain, and other countries that he would wield influence in Washington on their behalf, and he used their money to make illegal campaign contributions in the United States while pocketing some of the funds. He also evaded taxes on the millions he made through these schemes and obstructed investigations of his activities, according to prosecutors.
Until 2016, Zuberi’s contributions went largely to Democrats. He was a bundler for Hillary Clinton in 2016. But after Donald Trump’s victory, Zuberi reversed course, giving heavily to Trump and the GOP. His contributions included $900,000 to Trump’s inauguration committee. That contribution became the subject of an investigation by federal prosecutors in New York, who suspected, according to people with knowledge of the probe, that Zuberi made the contribution with money received from Qataris who were hoping to win influence with Trump. Zuberi eventually pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for what prosecutors said were efforts to cover up the origin of the money. (The Trump inauguration case was combined with the separate foreign lobbying and obstruction case last year.)
In sentencing documents filed last fall, prosecutors asserted that at the time of the Doha trip, Zuberi was “secretly lobbying on behalf of Qatar” to “secure foreign policy changes from the Trump Administration.” This would mean that the guy who underwrote a secret White House mission to Qatar had been working for the Qataris. The prosecutors also said that Zuberi’s actions were investigated as part of a broader federal probe of Qatari influence efforts. According to people familiar with that investigation, federal prosecutors have impaneled a grand jury in Washington, DC.
The matter raises the question of how a man identified by the Justice Department as a criminal and Qatari agent became involved in a secret, high-level diplomatic mission to Qatar for the Trump White House.