A gaping hole in this site’s content, for the moment, is a discussion of how propaganda was targeted at voters who might be influenced by it. I’ve been building a library of sources on the subject matter, but it’s… so big. It seems to involve Jared Kushner, Eric Trump, Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, Robert Mercer, Cambridge Analytica, Alfa Bank, all the social media sites… and a lot more. Anyway. Soon, but maybe not right away. But I recognize it’s something important to add ASAP.
The FBI arrested Iran-based Reza Zarrab in Miami in March 2016. Zarrab was accused of bank fraud and money laundering to help Turkish President Recep Erdogan and other members of the Turkish government evade US sanctions against Iran. Zarrab is currently in federal prison in Manhattan.
Turkey’s president Erdogan has made several attempts to get Zarrab released, including personally asking Vice President Joe Biden to drop the case and to fire the US Attorney leading his prosecution, Preet Bharara. (Trump fired Bharara earlier in 2017 – see Prevezon Holdings).
On November 11, 2017, President Trump met privately with Russian Vladimir Putin at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Danang, Vietnam. During a press ‘gaggle’ on Air Force One following the meeting, Trump told reporters that during this meeting, he asked Putin whether Russia had meddled in the US election. Putin respond that “he didn’t meddle… Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I believe, I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it… I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country.” Trump further stated, “then you hear it’s 17 agencies. Well, it’s three. And one is Brennan, and one is whatever. I mean, give me a break, they’re political hacks.” And in comparison, “So you look at that, and you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with that.” Trump further claimed that “that whole thing was set up by the Democrats.”
The post below is now incorporated (with updates) into this page.
According to a January 6, 2017, report published by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), “Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber espionage—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or ‘trolls.’” Link (PDF) On this page, additional public information and examples are provided to support this statement.
Looks like I’m going to rewrite some of the content pretty soon. After putting together the social media page, I knew that the concepts weren’t all quite right. Today I re-read the DNI report from last December, and it turns out I didn’t grasp its discussion of Russia’s blended strategy, with covert intelligence operations combined with overt efforts. I know how to fix it, though. Clean up will be on the “hacking campaign” page, the “covert” and “overt” pages, the “social media” page, and probably both the Guccifer and Wikileaks pages. Yikes.
I put up an initial draft of a social media page describing and showing examples of Russian propaganda spread through the US via social media in the run up to the 2016 election.<Edit: the social media page has now been merged into the broader page on Russia’s Influence Campaign.> I’m thinking I’ll eventually break it up into multiple pages with different sub-topics. Also, with so many images of memes, I’m thinking I’ll create separate pages just for those images.
I didn’t get to work on the site much today, but the news sure didn’t wait up for me. The Paradise Papers are eventually going to work their way in to a lot of this site’s pages.
Anyway, these stories from today (or that I just happened to come across today) will eventually make it into the full timeline:
Politico: Wilbur Ross’s aide at the Commerce Department, Wendy Teramoto, served on the board of Navigator Holdings while Ross was Secretary of Commerce
NY Times: The Paradise Papers revealed that the Bank of Utah and the Appleby law firm worked together to create opaque aircraft trust arrangements for wealthy customers. These trusts allowed them to secretly obtain American registrations for their aircraft (which requires US citizenship or residency), and to avoid certain European taxes. Among those who utilized these aircraft trusts was Russia’s richest oligarch and Vladimir Putin ally, Leonid Mikhelson. In Mikhelson’s arrangement, Mikhelson had a company he owned in Belize use a subsidiary it owned in the Cayman Islands, use a subsidiary it owned in the British Virgin Islands, create a new company in Panama to purchase a $65 million jet, and record the purchase in the Isle of Man to avoid EU taxes. The Panama company then entered into a trusteeship with the Bank of Utah, enabling the trust to register the jet in the US since the trustee, the Bank of Utah, is a “citizen” of the US.
I’m still in the process of this site’s original build, so a lot of my research isn’t posted yet. However, I’m still trying to incorporate at least some new stories as they happen. For example, I updated the page on Wilbur Ross today following yesterday’s “Paradise Papers” news.
But it seems like ever since Manafort’s indictment last week, the story is moving a lot faster than before. This is going to be difficult to keep current. I’ll keep trying. But I do still have a day job.
I’m still trudging through the build. One thing that I haven’t completely decided yet, is how much I should include false statements by the trump campaign. For the most part, the site only talks about events. But I feel like that doesn’t quite cover the whole story. It seems like it would also be important to include false statements about these events made by the trump campaign.
For example, the campaign first said that Michael Flynn only spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak once by phone, and once via text message, both before the December 2016 sanctions. Then they admitted that Flynn spoke with Kislyak after the sanctions, but only to plan for a post-inauguration congratulatory call between Putin and trump. Then Flynn admitted that they might have maybe talked about sanctions on that call. Then they were forced to admit that Flynn made it clear to Kislyak that trump would lift the sanctions. Then, oh yeah, Flynn and Kushner also met with Kislyak in person at trump tower in early December. Then, they were forced to admit that Flynn requested that Kislyak facilitate a secure encrypted communications channel for him to use to communicate directly with Russia, outside the ears of US intelligence. And I’m probably forgetting a lot.