It is suggested that the Russian government has attempted to influence elections in other countries, sometimes by using front groups.
Michael Vickers, who was undersecretary of defense for intelligence from 2011 to 2015, says that if the Russian government is behind the recent leak of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails by WikiLeaks, it would be unprecedented for the US. “What is really new here is the attempt to influence the politics of the United States. That is the problem.”
However, he also points out that there is evidence the Russians have attempted to influence elections in European countries close to their border. For instance, in 2004, a Russian hacker group calling itself Cyber Berkut claimed it hacked and disabled the electronic vote-counting system of the Ukraine central election commission three days before the presidential election. However, analysts believe the hack was actually done by the Glavnoje Razvedyvatel’noje Upravlenije (GRU), one of two Russian military intelligence agencies accused of recently hacking the DNC. These analysts claim the GRU created Cyber Berkut as a false front to deflect responsibility. (The Washington Post, 7/24/2016)
Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook suggests the Russian government is behind the release of DNC emails by WikiLeaks.
On July 24, 2016, Mook says, “What’s disturbing about this entire situation is that experts are telling us that Russian state actors broke into the DNC [Democratic National Committee], took all those emails, and are now leaking them out through these websites,” such as WikiLeaks. “It’s troubling that some experts are telling us this was done by the Russians for the purpose of helping [Republican presidential nominee] Donald Trump.”
Mook also apologizes for the content of some emails, which show the DNC had a bias in favor of Clinton and against Senator Bernie Sanders, despite DNC rules that it should be neutral in the Democratic primaries. (The Hill, 7/24/2016)
Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort calls Mook’s comments “pure obfuscation.” He adds, “What they don’t want to talk about is what’s in those emails.” (The Washington Post, 7/24/2016)
Two days later, Mook makes similar accusations about Russia. He also says, “I think the timing around our convention was not a coincidence.” WikiLeaks released 20,000 DNC emails on June 22, 2016, just three days before the start of the Democratic National Convention. (The Hill, 7/26/2016)
July 15, 2016 – Cambridge Prof With CIA, MI6 ties met with Carter Page during campaign and beyond
“Days after Carter Page’s high-profile trip to Moscow in July 2016, the Trump campaign adviser had his first encounter with Stefan Halper, a University of Cambridge professor with CIA and MI6 contacts.
…”Page’s relationship with Halper tracks closely with the period when the Trump adviser was under heavy scrutiny from the federal government.
By the time he joined the campaign in March 2016, Page was already known to the FBI, though not because of any criminal activity. FBI agents interviewed him in 2013 as part of an investigation into a Russian spy ring operating in New York. Page said he met with one of the Russians and provided him with academic papers he had written.
The FBI put Page back on its radar at around the time he joined the Trump campaign. In late-spring 2016, top government officials, including then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and then-FBI Director James Comey, discussed whether to alert the Trump campaign to Page’s past interactions with the Russian spy ring. But government officials decided against providing the information.
Page’s visit to Moscow, where he spoke at the New Economic School on July 8, 2016, is said to have piqued the FBI’s interest even further. Page and Halper spoke on the sidelines of an election-themed symposium held at Cambridge days later. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6 and a close colleague of Halper’s, spoke at the event.
Page was invited to the event in June by a University of Cambridge doctoral candidate.
Page would enter the media spotlight in September 2016 after Yahoo! News reported that the FBI was investigating whether he met with two Kremlin insiders during that Moscow trip.
It would later be revealed that the Yahoo! article was based on unverified information from Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the dossier regarding the Trump campaign. Steele’s report, which was funded by Democrats, also claimed Page worked with Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on the collusion conspiracy.” (Read more: Daily Caller, 5/17/2018)
US intelligence is said to be looking closely to see if Russia could be covertly trying to release all of Clinton’s emails to the public.
The Washington Times claims that an unnamed US intelligence official says US intelligence agencies are closely watching Russian online blogs and other Internet locations for any signs that Russian hackers have obtained Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state and are preparing to publicly release them. At least two postings suggest this could be happening, but the evidence cannot be confirmed as authoritative.
Additionally, an unnamed State Department official says Russia, China, and Israel are the three foreign governments most likely to have obtained all of Clinton’s emails, including her deleted ones, through covert hacking operations.
It is known that many organizations and people connected to Clinton have been hacked in recent months, and the Russian government is suspected, but their involvement has not been confirmed. If the Russians are involved, one possible motive would be to influence the FBI’s Clinton investigation and thus the 2016 presidential election. Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, calling him someone he could “get along very well with,” while Clinton espouses policies that frequently conflict with Russian aims. (The Washington Times, 6/29/2016)
May 10, 2016 – George Papadopoulos, Alexander Downer & the Opening of the FBI Investigation
By: Jeff Carlson (themarketswork.com)
“The New York Times provided us an introduction to FBI reasoning in launching the Trump-Russia Inquiry – drunken comments from George Papadopoulos:
During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.
About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.
The information that Mr. Papadopoulos gave to the Australians answers one of the lingering mysteries of the past year: What so alarmed American officials to provoke the F.B.I. to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign months before the presidential election?
The Papadopoulos/Downer meeting has been portrayed as a chance encounter in a bar. That does not appear to be the case. Papadopoulos was introduced to Downer through a chain of two intermediaries. Papadopoulos knew an Israeli embassy official in London named Christian Cantor who introduced Papadopoulos to Erika Thompson. Thompson was a counselor to Downer and served in Australia’s London embassy.
On May 4, 2016, Papadopoulos gave an interview to the London Times in which he stated then-UK Prime Minister David Cameron should apologize to Trump for negative comments. The interview was not well-received. According to the Daily Caller, Thompson reached out to Papadopoulos two days after the story appeared and said Downer wanted to meet with Papadopoulos. The meeting between Papadopoulos and Downer took place on May 10, 2016. Downer reportedly told Papadopoulos to “leave David Cameron alone.”
We know Papadopoulos mentioned “thousands of emails” in his FBI Interview regarding his April 26, 2016 meeting with Mifsud. That comment is noted in the July 28, 2017 Affidavit and the October 5, 2017 Statement of the Offense. However, there is nothing regarding comments made to Alexander Downer in either document.
What does Alexander Downer have to say about the May 10, 2016 meeting. From a news.com.au article:
“We had a drink and he (Papadopoulos) talked about what Trump’s foreign policy would be like if Trump won the election.”
He (Trump) hadn’t got the nomination at that stage. During that conversation he (Papadopoulos) mentioned the Russians might use material that they have on Hillary Clinton in the lead-up to the election, which may be damaging.
“We didn’t know anything about Trump and Russia and we had no particular focus on that,’’ Downer says of the Papadopoulos meeting. “For us we were more interested in what Trump would do in Asia” Downer told The Australian. “He [Papadopoulos] didn’t say dirt; he said material that could be damaging to her. No, he said it would be damaging. He didn’t say what it was.”
“By the way, nothing [Papadopoulos] said in that conversation indicated Trump himself had been conspiring with the Russians to collect information on Hillary Clinton. It was just that this guy, [Papadopoulos], clearly knew that the Russians did have material on Hillary Clinton — but whether Trump knew or not? He didn’t say Trump knew or that Trump was in any way involved in this. He said it was about Russians and Hillary Clinton; it wasn’t about Trump.”
Interestingly, the Schiff Memo appears to back this account up. From page two:
“Papadopoulos’ disclosure occurred against the backdrop of Russia’s aggressive covert campaign to influence our elections, which the FBI was already monitoring. We would later learn in Papadopoulos’ plea that the information the Russians could assist by anonymously releasing were thousands of Hillary Clinton emails.”
Despite initial reporting to the contrary, it appears neither “political dirt” nor Clinton emails were ever mentioned at the Papadopoulos/Downer meeting. Notably, Papadopoulos didn’t mention anything to indicate Trump knew of the Clinton information, or had any role in its collection or potential distribution.
There’s been some confusion over how Papadopoulos’ comments made their way to the FBI. Downer stated in his interview that he reported the conversation back to Australia almost immediately…” (Read much more: themarketswork.com, 8/15/2018)
Hacking attacks on a DNC consultant researching pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine lead DNC leaders to conclude the Russian government is behind such attacks.
Alexandra Chalupa, a consultant for the Democratic National Committee (DNC), has been working for several weeks on an opposition research file about Paul Manafort, the campaign manager of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Manafort has a long history of advising politicians around the world, including controversial dictators. Logging into her Yahoo email account, she gets a warning entitled “Important action required” from a Yahoo cybersecurity team. The warning adds, “We strongly suspect that your account has been the target of state-sponsored actors.”
Paul Manafort was a key adviser to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych from 2004 until 2010. Yanukovych is a controversial figure frequently accused of widespread corruption and was overthrown after a massive series of protests in February 2014, and has since been living in Russia, protected by the Russian government. Chalupa had been drafting memos and writing emails about Manafort’s link to pro-Russian Ukrainian leaders such as Yanukovych when she got the warning. She had been in contact with investigative journalists in Ukraine who had been giving her information about Manafort’s ties there.
Chalupa immediately alerts top DNC officials. But more warnings from Yahoo’s security team follows. On May 3, 2016, she writes in an email to DNC communications director Luis Miranda, “Since I started digging into Manafort, these messages have been a daily occurrence on my Yahoo account despite changing my password often.”
In July 2016, she will tell Yahoo News, “I was freaked out,” and “This is really scary.” Her email message to Miranda will later be one of 20,000 emails released by WikiLeaks on July 22, 2016, showing that there was good reason to be concerned about hacking attempts.
Chalupa’s email to Miranda, results in concern amongst top level DNC officials. One unnamed insider will later say. “That’s when we knew it was the Russians,” since Russia would be very interested in Chalupa’s research and other countries like China would not. This source also says that as a precaution, “we told her to stop her research.”
Yahoo will later confirm that it did send numerous warnings to Chalupa, and one Yahoo security official will say, “Rest assured we only send these notifications of suspected attacks by state-sponsored actors when we have a high degree of confidence.” (Yahoo News, 7/25/2016)
December 2015 – January 2017: Spygate, the true story of collusion – how America’s most powerful agencies were weaponized against Trump
Although the details remain complex, the structure underlying Spygate—the creation of the false narrative that candidate Donald Trump colluded with Russia, and the spying on his presidential campaign—remains surprisingly simple:
1. CIA Director John Brennan, with some assistance from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, gathered foreign intelligence and fed it throughout our domestic Intelligence Community.
2. The FBI became the handler of Brennan’s intelligence and engaged in the more practical elements of surveillance.
3. The Department of Justice facilitated investigations by the FBI and legal maneuverings, while providing a crucial shield of nondisclosure.
4. The Department of State became a mechanism of information dissemination and leaks.
5. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee provided funding, support, and media collusion.
6. Obama administration officials were complicit, and engaged in unmasking and intelligence gathering and dissemination.
7. The media was the most corrosive element in many respects. None of these events could have transpired without their willing participation. Stories were pushed, facts were ignored, and narratives were promoted.
Let’s start with a simple premise: The candidacy of Trump presented both an opportunity and a threat.
Initially not viewed with any real seriousness, Trump’s campaign was seen as an opportunistic wedge in the election process. At the same time, and particularly as the viability of his candidacy increased, Trump was seen as an existential threat to the established political system.
The sudden legitimacy of Trump’s candidacy was not welcomed by the U.S. political establishment. Here was a true political outsider who held no traditional allegiances. He was brash and boastful, he ignored political correctness, he couldn’t be bought, and he didn’t care what others thought of him—he trusted himself.
Governing bodies in Britain and the European Union were also worried. Candidate Trump was openly challenging monetary policy, regulations, and the power of special interests. He challenged Congress. He challenged the United Nations and the European Union. He questioned everything.
Brennan became the point man in the operation to stop a potential Trump presidency. It remains unclear whether his role was self-appointed or came from above. To embark on such a mission without direct presidential authority seems both a stretch of the imagination and particularly foolhardy.
Brennan took unofficial foreign intelligence compiled by contacts, colleagues, and associates—primarily from the UK, but also from other Five Eyes members, such as Australia.
Individuals in official positions in UK intelligence, such as Robert Hannigan—head of the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ, Britain’s equivalent of the National Security Agency)—partnered with former UK foreign intelligence members. Former MI6 head Sir Richard Dearlove, former Ambassador Sir Andrew Wood, and private UK intelligence firm Hakluyt all played a role.
A hacking attack on a French TV network is blamed on a Russian group that will later be accused of hacking political entities in the US.
The French television network TV5 Monde is attacked by hackers on April 8, 2015. A group claiming to be linked to ISIS (also known as the Islamic State) and calling itself “Cyber Caliphate” shuts down the network’s TV channels for several hours. The group also posts pro-ISIS propaganda on the station’s website.
However, on June 9, 2015, it is reported by the BBC and elsewhere that French police have decided that attack was actually done by hackers based in Russia. The “Cyber Caliphate” claim was a false front to deflect blame. Police are said to be focusing their investigation on the Russian hacking group known as Fancy Bear or APT 28. French media reports that the group has also targeted the computer systems of Russian dissidents, Ukrainian activists, and others. (BBC, 6/9/2015) (France24, 6/10/2015)
In July 2016, the Washington Post will report that French authorities believe the Glavnoje Razvedyvatel’noje Upravlenije (GRU) was behind the cyberattack. This is one of two Russian military intelligence agencies that will be accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2015 and 2016. The GRU has been linked to the Fancy Bear or APT 28 hacking group. The Post will also claim that some analysts believe the attack was Russian retaliation against France for backing out of an agreement to sell helicopter carriers to Russia because of Russian aggression in Ukraine. (The Washington Post, 7/24/2016)
February 2, 2015 – Obama admits to his coup in Ukraine and Putin being caught off balance by the Maidan protests
“US President Barack Obama’s recent interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria reveals the United States’ involvement in the Ukrainian crisis from its outset and that the country worked directly with Ukrainian right-wing fascist groups, experts told Sputnik.
On Sunday, in his interview with CNN, Obama admitted that the United States “had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine.”
“Obama’s statement is reiterating something that the world public opinion already knew — the US was involved in the coup of [ex-Ukrainian President] Viktor Yanukovych from the start. History shows us that the US has overthrown numerous governments in Latin America, Asia, and Africa and replaced them with leaders that ruled with a fascist ideology that proved useful for Washington’s geopolitical interests,” independent researcher and writer Timothy Alexander Guzman told Sputnik.
Yanukovych’s decision to not sign an association agreement with the European Union in late 2013 triggered a mass wave of protests across Ukraine, culminating in the February 2014 coup. Following the transition of power, Kiev forces launched military operations against those who refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new government.
Guzman claimed that during the Ukrainian conflict, Washington and its NATO allies worked directly with right-wing Ukrainian Fascist groups, including the neo-Nazi inspired Right Sector militia.
An international law professor at the University of Illinois College of Law Francis Boyle shares a similar opinion, also arguing that Obama’s approach to Ukraine is no different to the neoconservative approach of former US national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, or political scientist Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” philosophy.
“I think he [Obama] has made it very clear that he is going to continue to take a Brzezinski hard-lined approach toward Ukraine and Russia and that there are not going to be any compromises at all, and effectively he expects President Putin to throw in a towel, capitulate, whatever, it does not appear to me there is any ground for negotiations in light of what President Obama at least said publicly,” he said in an email to Sputnik.
Boyle also stated that the United States may already be sending covert offensive military equipment to Ukraine, despite Washington’s claims that it provides Kiev only with non-lethal aid.
The expert also claimed that Obama’s ignorance of the Minsk agreements and of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposals to negotiate the conflict peacefully indicates that Washington is going to continue with its aggressive policy in Ukraine.
“How can Russia tolerate this gang of Nazis in Kyiv [Kiev] setting up shop right there on the borders of Russia, and being armed, equipped and supplied by NATO? Of course, Russia cannot tolerate that,” Boyle concluded, adding that the United States itself would not tolerate such threats close to its borders.
On Sunday, US President Barack Obama, in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, explained that the United States “brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine.” The US President said that Russian President Vladimir Putin made his decision to legally annex Crimea “not because of some grand strategy, but essentially because he was caught off-balance by the protests in the Maidan.” (Read more: Sputnik, 2/02/2015) (Archive)
May 19, 2014 – November 2015: Documents reveal an extensive relationship between dossier author Steele and top Obama State Dept. officials re Russia-Ukraine policy and sanctions
“Judicial Watch and The Daily Caller News Foundation today released 146 pages of State Department documents revealing that former British spy and dossier author Christopher Steele had an extensive and close working relationship dating back to May of 2014 with high-ranking Obama State Department officials.
The documents obtained by Judicial Watch in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit show that, from May 2014 to November 2015, Steele filed dozens of reports with his close associate at State, Special Coordinator for Libya Jonathan Winer, who would then pass them to Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. The reports focused mainly on the Russia-Ukraine crisis and U.S. sanctions on Russia.
The documents show that Steele’s work was also distributed to State Department Coordinator for Sanctions Policy Daniel Fried and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Paul Jones, whose focus in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs was on Russia and Ukraine policy.
The documents are Orbis Business Intelligence reports that Steele provided to the State Department. Steele, a former MI6 spy, co-founded Orbis in 2009.
An early Steele report was passed by Winer to Nuland on May 19, 2014. It discusses Russia-Ukraine policy. Winer writes: “Toria, another piece that is not in my lane but which I wished to pass on to you. My friend Chris Steele (Orbis Intelligence, former MI-6 Russia expert), provided me the enclosed memo yesterday, describing a recent conversation (redacted) on Russian Ukraine policy. As I was provided it from a person in private sector, I am treating it as low side.”
In a November 20, 2014 email exchange, Winer offers to introduce Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Paul Jones to Steele while Steele was to be in town, and he provides Jones and Nuland with three Steele reports, discussing: “Ukraine looking towards [redacted]”; “Ukraine economy shrinking due to loss of East [redacted]”; and “President Putin’s current priorities [redacted]”. Winer writes to Jones: Paul, if you are still free, does 3 pm work to meet with Chris Steele? I would pick him up downstairs, get him to your office, and sit in. Will be sending you another Orbis report regardless in a few minutes, it just arrived but I haven’t had chance to open it and manicure it yet.”