Monday, September 11, 2017

Monday Information on September 11, 2017

One of the most controversial political scandals in history is the Russian scandal. It involves the allegation that Russian actors interfered with the 2016 elections of the United States of America. There is another allegation that the Trump team colluded with Russians in order to promote an electoral victory. Time will tell the complete truth. In the meantime, it is important to chronologically show information about this scandal. By Spring of 2015, the U.S. intelligence community intercepted conversations of Russian government officials discussing associates of Donald Trump in a high volume. Trump announced his candidacy for President in June 15, 2015. Later, a hack occurred against at least one DNC computer system as exposed by a FBI special agent. On Hugh Hewitt’s radio program, Trump says, “The oligarchs are under [Putin’s] control, to a large extent. I mean, he can destroy them, and he has destroyed some of them… Two years ago, I was in Moscow . . . I was with the top-level people, both oligarchs and generals, and top-of-the-government people. I can’t go further than that, but I will tell you that I met the top people, and the relationship was extraordinary.” Trump wanted to build a Trump branded building in Moscow, but it doesn’t materialize. On November of 2015, Trump associate Felix Sater emails Trump lawyer Michael Cohen: "Michael, I arranged for Ivanka to sit in Putin's private chair at his desk and office in the Kremlin [...] Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putin's team to buy in on this.” Michael T. Flynn (who is a retired General) gave a paid speech on world affairs in Moscow. The dinner was created by RT News or an English language Russian network. Flynn was on RT as an analyst. By February 29, 2017, Paul Manafort submits a five-page proposal to Trump outlining his qualifications to help Trump secure enough convention delegates and win the Republican presidential nomination. Manafort describes how he had assisted rich and powerful business and political leaders, including oligarchs and dictators in Russia and Ukraine: “I have managed presidential campaigns around the world." Russian officials and the Trump team contact each other from April 2016 and beyond. Manafort becomes Trump’s campaign manager. Reports surface about his 2007 to 2012 ties to former President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych, whom Manafort had helped to elect. On June 9, 2016, Jared Kushner, Manafort and Trump Jr. Tower with Goldstone, Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian attorney, Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist Ike Kaveladze, a representative of the Agalarovs' Crocus Group, and a translator.

Veselnitskaya is best known for lobbying against the Magnitsky Act, an American law that blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. Donald Trump Jr. gave conflicting accounts about the meeting to this day. On July 22, 2016,   WikiLeaks publishes 20,000 emails from seven key officials of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The emails show them disparaging Bernie Sanders and favoring Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential primaries. Trump wants Russia to find Clinton’s emails. James Comey of the FBI uses an investigation to find out the truth about allegations of Russian interference by July of 2016.  Brennan calls his Russian counterpart Alexander Bortnikov, head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), to warn him against meddling in the presidential election. Sessions met with Russian official Kislyak at least 2 times. By September 29, 2016, Comey testified before the House Judiciary Committee, confirming that federal investigators have detected suspicious activities in voter registration databases, as stated in the August 18 alert. Putin denied accusations of Russian interference in elections on October 27, 2016.  Through the "red phone", President Obama tells President Putin to stop interfering or face consequences on October 31, 2016. Kislyak denies that Russia was involved in U.S. election hacking on November 2016. On that same day, in a private Oval Office meeting, Obama warns Trump against hiring Flynn. During early December 2016, in Russia, Sergei Mikhailov, FSB cyber chief, Ruslan Stoyanov, senior researcher with Kaspersky Lab, and Dmitry Dokuchayev, a hacker known as “Forb”, are arrested for treason. On December 26, 2016, Oleg Erovinkin, a former KGB official, is found dead in the back seat of his car in Moscow. He was suspected of assisting former MI-6 agent Christopher Steele in compiling a dossier alleging Trump ties to Russia as part of opposition research.

Sanctions come against Russia by Obama by December 29, 2016. In a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions denies communicating with the Russian government in the course of Trump's election campaign. Flynn was fired in less than a month in office. By March of 2017, Sessions comes under scrutiny after reports that he had contact with Russian government officials during the election campaign, even though he denied it during his confirmation hearings. Democratic representatives ask Sessions to resign his post as United States Attorney General.  Sessions announces that he will recuse himself from any investigations into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. On May 8, 2017, In an Oval Office meeting, Trump informs Kushner, Pence and McGahn of his intention to remove Comey, and gives them copies of the Miller draft. McGahn objects to the angry tone of this letter and convenes a separate meeting later that day with Sessions and Rosenstein, who had previously considered removing Comey from office. Rosenstein is given a copy of Miller's draft and agrees to write a new memo that would support the dismissal, using Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation as the main rationale. Yet, Trump is angry over Comey’s investigation of the Russian scandal. Comey is fired on May 9, 2017. Trump reportedly tells Lavrov and Kislyak that he fired Comey to relieve pressure caused by the investigation. On May 12, 2017, Trump threatens Comey with alleged secret recordings of their conversations. Rosenstein appoints former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the investigation into Russian election interference and related matters on that same day.

On July 26, 2017, The FBI conducts a pre-dawn raid on Paul Manafort's home, seizing documents and electronic devices. The raid was on the day Manafort was scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Mueller investigates Trump’s business actions. House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas to the FBI and the Department of Justice for documents relating to the Trump dossier. They were not complied with by the September 1 deadline; so the deadline was extended to September 14. The Washington Post and NBC report that Mueller has issued subpoenas to several lobbying firms connected to Flynn and Manafort, including Mercury Public Affairs and SGR LLC. Politico reports that Mueller has teamed up with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to set up a separate method of charging people in the case, if Trump tries to use his pardon power to stymie the investigation. On September 7, 2017, in a five hour long questioning with the Senate Judiciary Committee's staff, Donald Trump Jr states that he met with a group of Russians in Trump Tower in June 2016 in order to seek damaging information about Hillary Clinton, but that no such information was forthcoming. The Washington Post reported that Special Council Robert Mueller gave the White House the names of 6 aides he expects to question in Russia probe (Hope Hicks, Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Don McGahn, James Burnham and Josh Raffel). The investigation continues. We can handle the truth. Regardless of where this leads into, we have the right to seek answers and anyone who has done wrong (even if the President Trump is involved); they must be held accountable for their actions.

The Midwestern city of St. Louis has a long history and vibrant culture. It is a major port in the state of Missouri and on the western bank of the Mississippi River. It is a city that borders Illinois. It has over 310,000 people and its metropolitan area has almost 3 million people. St. Louis has a diverse history too. Like other Midwestern cities, it has a culture that is diverse filled with immigrants, black people, great art, excellent cuisine, and lively institutions. Like other cities, it was once a depot of segregation and other injustices that courageous people in St. Louis fought to end. It is a city with gorgeous architecture and down to Earth human beings. From 1764 (when it was founded by the French fur traders Pierre Lacl├Ęde and Auguste Chouteau. The city was named after the King Louis IX of France) to the present, St. Louis is filled with a history of development and growth. St. Louis has the Forest Park Jewel Box, MetroLink, the St. Louis Art Museum, the Gateway Arch, etc. The economy of St. Louis deals with service, manufacturing, trade, transportation of goods, and tourism. Many corporations are in the metro area of St. Louis like Anheuser-Busch, Express Scripts, Boeing Defense, Scottrade, Go Jet, etc. It has a large medical, pharmaceutical, and research presence too. Its current mayor is Lyda Krewson. It is a city of 66 square miles. To the East of St. Louis is found East St. Louis, Illinois. South of St. Louis include Cahokia and Columbia (which are both found in Illinois). North of St. Louis are Castle Point and Jennings (both found in Missouri). Ferguson and Florissant are found northwest of St. Louis. Clayton, Chesterfield, and Richmond Heights are found to the West of St. Louis. It's a home to architects, musicians, social activists, teachers, other scholars, scientists, engineers, doctors, nurses, athletes, lawyers, judges, politicians, and other contributors to society. St. Louis is here to stay and we will always respect the great culture and the great people of St. Louis, Missouri.

By Timothy

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