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Tag: Russia

U.S. Investigators Discovered DNC Hacker Was a Russian Intelligence Operative

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The hacker Guccifer 2.0, who claimed responsibility for providing WikiLeaks with stolen e-mails from the Democratic National Committee, has been identified as a Russian intelligence operative, according to a new report.

Guccifer inadvertently revealed his identity after failing to disguise his IP address by activating a virtual private network – VPN, the Daily Beast reports

That enabled U.S. investigators to capture the Moscow IP address in the logs of a U.S. social media company and track down the hacker’s identity.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, whose investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election has netted indictments against 13 Russians and three Russian companies, has taken over the Guccifer probe.

U.S. intelligence agency suspected Guccifer was a Russian military operation at least as early as January 2017.

FBI Investigated AG Sessions for Perjury After Failing to Disclose Russia Ties

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was grilled by a congressional committee for failing to disclose his contacts with Russia.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe just two days before he was set to retire with full benefits last week, Sessions’ justification was for what he described as McCabe’s “lack of candor” in dealing with an internal Justice Department investigation.

But it turns out, McCabe authorized a criminal FBI investigation a year ago into Sessions’ own lack of candor when he told Congress he had no contacts with Russians – a claim he later acknowledged wasn’t true, ABC News reported Wednesday evening. And that’s what prompted Sessions to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, a move that has incensed President Trump because the decision to appoint special counsel Robert Mueller now fell to Sessions’ deputy attorney general.

The discovery that Sessions was under investigation for perjury – essentially the same allegations leveled against McCabe – raises serious questions about Sessions’ ability to lead fair and impartial probes as the nation’s top prosecutor. It also raises questions about whether Sessions’ firing of McCabe was an act of retaliation or even a way to remove a top FBI official who has become a key witness in Mueller’s obstruction of justice case against Trump following the president’s firing of then-FBI Director James Comey.

McCabe kept extensive notes of his interactions with Trump, was among a few FBI officials whom Comey briefed on the president’s alleged pressure to end the Russia investigation and met with Mueller about the obstruction of justice case against Trump.

Soon after Sessions fired him on Friday, McCabe bluntly asserted that his termination was an attempt to undermine the special counsel investigation of Trump.

Sessions’ lawyer, Chuck Cooper, told the New York Times on Wednesday that the attorney general is no longer under investigation.

“The special counsel’s office has informed me that after interviewing the attorney general and conducting additional investigation, the attorney general is not under investigation for false statements or perjury in his confirmation hearing testimony and related written submissions to Congress,” Cooper said in a statement. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/21/us/politics/sessions-fbi-investigation-perjury.html

Ex-CIA Boss Brennan: Russia May Have Compromising Information on Trump

Former CIA Director John Brennan on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former CIA Director John Brennan said Wednesday that he suspects Russian may have compromising information on Trump, a claim that set of a storm of speculation about whether Brennan was acting on a hunch or inside information.

Brennan, who led the CIA from 2013 to 2017, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Russians “may have something on him personally” when asked if he believed Trump was afraid of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The Russians, I think, have had long experience with Mr. Trump, and may have things that they could expose,” he said.

Brennan was still running the CIA when a salacious dossier suggested the president may be vulnerable to blackmail because of compromising information Russians had on Trump.

Brennan’s interview came a day after the president ignored his advisers and congratulated Putin on his election victory.

Trump also has refused to criticize Russia for meddling in the presidential election, even after the president finally acknowledged the Kremlin’s involvement in a smear campaign against Hillary Clinton.   

Russian Hackers Accused of Attacking U.S. Power Plants, Other Critical Infrastructure

Cyber crime expert, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Top U.S. intelligence officials have accused Russian hackers of waging a widespread attack against America’s nuclear power system, air transportation facilities, water processing plants and other critical infrastructure components.

The FBI and Homeland Security said the Russian government is behind a multi-stage intrusion campaign” involving cyber attacks designed to compromise the country’s electric grid, as well as “commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors,” according to a report released Thursday.

The new report is alarming because it shows Russia is capable of infiltrating and compromising infrastructure that is critical to millions of Americans. “In some cases, information posted to company websites, especially information that may appear to be innocuous, may contain operationally sensitive information,” the report reads. “As an example, the threat actors downloaded a small photo from a publicly accessible human resources page. The image, when expanded, was a high-resolution photo that displayed control systems equipment models and status information in the background.”

Also on Thursday, the U.S. government announced new sanctions against Russia following the indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian companies accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential campaign to help get Donald Trump elected.

President Trump’s Business Empire Targeted in Special Counsel Probe of Russian Interference

Trump Tower in New York City.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The special counsel team investigating Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for business documents, some of which are related to Russia, the New York Times first reported Thursday.

The subpoena is the first known legal action taken against one of Trump’s businesses as part of a quickly evolving investigation that began with the appointment of Robert Mueller, a former FBI boss, and has so far netted more than 100 combined charges against 19 people and three companies.

The probe now has three major focuses: Did Trump’s campaign collude with Russia to undermine the presidential election? Did the president or his advisers obstruct justice to interfere with the investigation? And did Trump or any of his family members reach international business deals made in exchange for favors from the White House?

The news comes less than a week after Republicans on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee concluded there was no evidence of collusion with Russia, even though lawmakers failed to interview key witnesses who have been charged and are cooperating with Mueller. Trump boasted that the conclusion, made without any feedback from Democrats, was proof he did nothing wrong. 

The Trump Organization said it began cooperating with special counsel in July 2017 and has nothing to hide.

“Since July 2017, we have advised the public that the Trump Organization is fully cooperative with all investigations, including the special counsel, and is responding to their requests,” said Alan S. Futerfas, a lawyer representing the Trump Organization. “This is old news and our assistance and cooperation with the various investigations remains the same today.”

Trump continues to  denounce the investigation as a fruitless “witch hunt” by top intelligence officials who want him out of the White House.

Manafort Seeks Dismissal of Charges, Arguing Mueller Overstepped His Authority

Ex-Trump campaign leader Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is facing up to 305 years in prison, urged a federal judge Wednesday to dismiss the charges against him because they exceed the legal authority of the special counsel appointed to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

In a motion to dismiss the charges, Manafort’s attorneys argued the alleged crimes predate Manafort’s involvement in the Trump campaign and therefore fall outside of the jurisdiction of special counsel Robert Mueller.

His attorneys contend Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein overstepped his authority by giving Mueller permission to prosecute any unrelated crimes that are discovered during the investigation of Russia.

“It is a blank check the special counsel has cashed, repeatedly,” Manafort’s filing read.

Manafort made a similar argument for a separate batch of charges file against him by the special counsel team.

Unless Manafort strikes a deal with prosecutors, the former high-paid political consultant is on track to become the first person to be tried in connection with Robert Mueller’s investigation

Manafort’s longtime business partner, Rick Gates, is among three former Trump aides who have pleaded guilty to assortment of charges and have agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team of prosecutors. Gates, who also served on Trump’s campaign, is expected to provide information about crimes he said he and Manafort committed as business partners.

Gates and Manafort were both charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, tax fraud and money laundering stemming from lobbying and consulting work related to Ukrainian politicians who are strong allies of Russia.

Book: Indicted Ex-Campaign Aide Told Feds Trump Encouraged Meeting with Putin

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, via LinkedIn.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

George Papadopoulos, former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign and cooperating witness in the special counsel probe, told federal investigators that Donald Trump encouraged him to try and secure a secret meeting with Russian President Donald Trump, according to the book “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on Ametrica and the Election of Donald Trump,” by Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff and Mother Jones’ David Corn.

Papadopoulos, a 28-year-old political newcomer at the time, told Trump during a meeting on March 31, 2016, that he believed he could establish a meeting between Trump and the Russian leader.

According to the book, Trump considered the prospect “interesting” and encouraged Papadopoulos to arrange the meeting.

Papadopoulos, who agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller’s investigation after pleading guilty in October 2017 to making false statements to the FBI, shared the information with federal prosecutors, according to the book.

The information could prove to be helpful to Mueller’s team as investigators try to determine whether Trump or anyone else from his campaign colluded with Russia to interfere it the 2016 presidential election.

Trump continues to denounce the investigation as a fruitless “witch hunt” by top intelligence officials who want him out of the White House.

Sex Coaches Jailed in Thailand Claim to Have Evidence of Russian Interference in Election

Russian leader Vladimir Putin

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI has tried to arrange a meeting with two self-proclaimed “sex coaches” housed in a Thai jail over claims that they have information about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

FBI agents attempted to set up a meeting with Anastasia Vashukevich and Alexander Kirillov, both Belarusian citizens, but the bureau was rebuffed by Thai officials who insist only the detainees’ lawyers and family members are allowed to have access to them, CNN reported Tuesday

The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok received handwritten letters last month from the women, who offered to provide evidence of Russian meddling in exchange for asylum.

The women were arrested along with other Russian-Speaking sex coaches at a seminar in Thailand last month.

Vashukevich claims to be a former mistress of a Russian oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the letter, she said she witnessed meetings between the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, and unidentified Americans in 2016 and 2017.

Deripaska denies the affair.