It’ll do you good, it’ll give me wood, we’ll make history
If you love your country, I’m gonna say it one more time,
I said if you love your country yea
Then stand your ass up and show them big old titties to me
A close look at the tangled web of relationships involving Trump, his Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, his campaign in general, Putin, Russia, and Wikileaks in light of the DNC and Clinton-aimed related hacking is not reassuring. Trump is fond of using the phrase: “There’s something going on!” when he wants to imply a scandal without going into detail. Well, “There’s something going on” here and we will go into detail in this in-depth special report, more than any single article you will find anywhere, period. Here is the one article to read on Trump, Putin, the Russian hacks, and political cyber warfare in election 2016.
Andrew Harnik/AP; Reuters; The Washington Post
AMMAN — When it comes to President Obama, Donald Trump is very fond of saying “There’s something going on!”, often in relation to the president’s views on, responses to, and efforts to fight Islamic terrorism, and most recently, regarding his body language…
Well, we can return Donald the courtesy: there’s something going on with Trump, Putin, Russia, Wikileaks, the DNC/Clinton hack/reveal, and the 2016 election, up to an including the possibility of some kind of secret deal between Putin and Trump or between some of their people, though Putin acting without coordination with Trump’s campaign—trying to undermine America and weaken America’s global standing and its position with its allies, most notably NATO allies—is also very much a possibility; so is some sort of combination of these.
Maybe this sounds ridiculous, and it should. But the facts of Trump and his associates’ ties to Putin and Russia are what are most disturbing of all.
As with any complicated situation, the best place to begin is the beginning…
Trump’s Business History with Russia & Russians: There’s Something Going On!
Starting in the 1980s, Trump began both seeking business opportunities in Russia, including a 1987 trip to Moscow and Leningrad, and began taking money from Russian investors, to the degree that, by 2008 his, one of his sons, Donald Jr., was able to remark to a business conference that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our [the Trump Organization’s] assets,” and that “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” Trump made numerous other trips to Russia since his first in 1987, as did Donald Jr., to pursue business interests there, exploring a variety of ventures. Trump’s business partners in one deal went to Moscow to sell Russian investors condos in 2006, and in 2008 Trump sold Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev a Palm Beach mansion for $95 million. Donald Jr. alone made over a half-dozen trips during the financial and sub-prime mortgage crises that began in 2008, when Russia was on the Trump Organization’s “A-list” for potential real estate deals.
Around this time, Trump also went into a deal structured to deprive the U.S. government of tens of millions of dollars in legitimate tax revenue that involved the construction and financing of Trump’s marquee SoHo property in New York City. The main partner driving this project way Bayrock, was a company run by Tevfik Arif, a man who in the Soviet-era was an economic official for the USSR. His point man for the deal, Felix Sater, was a convicted Russian mobster; financing involved money from an Iceland firm known for drawing money from Putin-linked Russians, as well as from a financier hailing from the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan named Alexander Mashkevich, who had been charged in a corruption case but settled in exchange for not having to admit any wrongdoing. Trump recalled only light, possible interaction with Sater, but evidence shows that Sater worked closely with Trump on the deal, as did Arif, who personally set trump up with Russian investors. The other major partner in the deal was from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia.
The deal did not go well. Trump was sued for defrauding buyers of condo units in the SoHo because he and his children Ivanka and Eric had falsely inflated the level of buyer interest, and settled late in 2011, refunding 90% of $3.16 million in deposits on condos, though not admitting that he or the Trump Organization had done anything wrong. Arif was later arrested in Turkey, charged with running a prostitution ring from a yacht in a situation that involved Mashkevich, but was later acquitted, though the details of the case remain murky. As for Sater, he was later brought into the Trump Organization, being given a business card that named him a “Senior Advisor to Donald Trump,” years after Trump is publicly said to have been aware of his earlier criminal record.
Perhaps most famously, in 2013, Trump even brought his Miss Universe beauty pageant to Moscow, invited Russian President Vladimir to the pageant, and publicly speculated on a new friendship between himself and the Russian president should Putin attend; a meeting was set up for the two men, and though Putin canceled just before the meeting, he sent a Trump a traditional Russian gift with a “warm” written message. In attendance of both the pageant an afterparty at a Moscow nightclub were many of Russia’s notorious business oligarchs, mingling with Trump, discussing potential future deals.
He Said, He Said: There’s Something Going On!
Fast forward two years later, to when Trump announced his candidacy for the U.S. presidency, and Putin and Trump have had something of a lovefest: neither has opted to criticize the other, instead choosing to hurl compliments at each other from opposite sides of the world:
Trump remarked last September that: “I will tell you that, in terms of leadership, he’s getting an “A” and our president is not doing so well.”
Trump also said: “I think that I would probably get along with him [Putin] very well. And I don’t think you’d be having the kind of problems that you’re having right now.”
Trump also released a statement praising Putin as “a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond” and that “I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect.”
When Putin said nice things about Trump, Trump said those compliments were an “honor.”
Trump also said he would not denounce Putin: “A guy calls me a genius, and I’m going to renounce?” and that “I’m not going to renounce him.”
Putin on Trump:
Putin recently said of Trump that “He is a bright and talented person without any doubt” and “an outstanding and talented personality.”
In response to Trump’s stated desire to improve U.S.-Russian relations, Putin remarked “What else can we do but to welcome it? Certainly, we welcome it.”
Putin also referred to Trump as “the absolute leader of the presidential race.”
When pushed on his compliments on Trump, Putin slyly doubled down and reiterated them.
Russian Press on Putin
But it’s not just Putin saying nice things about Trump: Putin’s massive media propaganda machine now seems to have swung solidly behind Trump and his candidacy as well, lavishing praise on him across the board while it clearly does not favor Clinton and demonizes her.
Putin’s choice in 2016 is clear: he dislikes Clinton and prefers Trump.
Trump’s Positions More Favorable to Russia than Any Other Candidate: There’s Something Going On!
In addition, Trump has put forward policies closer to the Kremlin’s policies than any other major candidate for the presidency. Notably:
Trump is against the U.S. taking a large role in helping Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression, and his campaign people also aggressively saw to it that language calling for the U.S. government to supply arms to the Ukrainian government to help it defend itself against “Russia’s ongoing military aggression in Ukraine” and expressing American “admiration and support” for Ukraine in this struggle was removed from the 2016 Republican Party platform, shortly before the Republican National Convention, removing stances that virtually all Republican national security and foreign policy leaders shared; factoring in that the Trump campaign was pretty agnostic when it came to the platform in general, this is indeed curious (Trump’s people have distinctly avoided going into detailed or adequate explanations for this decision). Trump also just recently said at a press conference that he is considering lifting sanctions on Russia and recognizing its annexation of Crimea.
Trump also doesn’t think that there is enough evidence to blame Russia for the downing of MH17.
Trump defended Putin against accusations that he was behind the murders of numerous Russian journalists critical of Putin.
But ties to Russia in the Trump campaign don’t end with Trump and his family.
How Paul Manafort, Agent of Despots, Gave Ukraine to Putin, & Manafort’s Other Russian Ties: There’s Something Going On!
The Daily Beast
Trump’s Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, is a notorious spin doctor for Third World dictators, a leader of the “torturer’s lobby” who represented and lobbied for a true rogue’s gallery, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (then Zaire’s) Mobutu Sese Seko, the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos, Somalia’s Siad Barre, Sani Abacha of Nigeria, and Kenya’s Daniel arap Moi; other clients include Jonas Savimbi, the leader of the Angolan human-rights-abusing rebel guerilla group UNITA, and the Kashmiri American Council: a front for the terrorist-dealing Pakistani government intelligence service ISI that had helped create the Taliban, among other nefarious dealings.
Manafort has also had dealings with Russian business oligarch and Putin ally Oleg Deripaska going back to 2005 on a project to help Montenegro secure independence from Serbia, a move that would help Deripaska economically but also advance Russian interests in extending Russian influence into Montenegro, which has coastline on the Mediterranean Sea. Later, Deripaska claimed in 2014 in a Cayman Islands court that Manafort, along with Manafort partner Richard Gates, took almost $19 million that was supposed to be invested jointly with Deripaska, but which disappeared without a trace, much like Manafort did at the time; Deripaska, even with the aid of private investigators, was unable to track down Manafort in the years before today, when Manafort emerged to work for Donald Trump. Deripaska is still seeking the money, which he has asked to be returned for eight years running now. Gates also works for Trump’s presidential campaign, and, incidentally, it was Gates whose ultimate responsibility it was to vet and approve Melania Trump’s now infamously plagiarized speech.
Perhaps the most intense story of Manafort’s saga are his business dealings in Ukraine. Manfort’s Ukrainian career officially began over a decade ago when Manafort arrived to serve the interests of Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, then Ukraine’s richest businessman. Akhmetov was a close ally of Viktor Yanukovych, then the country’s prime minister, who was a close ally of Vladimir Putin in a Ukraine whose political fault lines very much ran (and still run) along the ethnic Ukrainian and ethnic Russian divide within Ukraine, with Yanukovych allying with the ethnic Russian camp that feels strongly tied to Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin in particular has a history of trying to manipulate, strong-arm, and dominate Ukrainian politics, with Yanukovych acting as key agent for advancing Russian interests in Ukraine.
Behind the scenes and unofficially, Manafort worked as a campaign consultant for Yanukovych, already surrounded by a cloud of corruption at this time, who was running for Ukraine’s presidency against Viktor Yushchenko in 2004; Yanukovych was running in part on a campaign to stay close with Russia, while Yushchenko was running in part on bringing Ukraine closer to the West. During the campaign, Yushchenko was even poisoned with dioxin and was incredibly lucky to live; the sitting president and Yanukovych colluded to falsify the election’s results, which in reality were a victory for Yushchenko, to hand the win to Yanukovych, who was quickly congratulated by Putin.
But the people roared to the street and independent observers cried fraud, and the Orange Revolution began, in which the Ukrainian Supreme Court sided with Yushchenko, a redo of the election was ordered, and Yushchenko rode a people-powered revolution over the course of about a month to victory (much to Putin’s chagrin). Paul Manafort had worked on behalf of Yanukovych, against democracy, against the overall will of the Ukrainian people.
But Manafort stuck around, helping to resurrect Yanukovych’s career over the course of the following years, sometimes working in direct opposition to express American interests and engineering Yanukovych’s 2010 comeback victory in Ukraine’s presidential election. Manafort even brought in Tad Devine, who would be one of the top senior staffers on Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign, to aid with Yanukovych’s 2010 election campaign, among other people. Manafort also helped to shape the strategy of Yanukovych’s political party, the Party of Regions. Overall, he seems to have been one of the main driving forces behind the overall political reversal in Ukraine and return of Yanukovych to power.
Concurrent with much of his work for Yanukovych, Manafort also linked up closely with Ukranian power-broker Dmitry Firtash, who worked closely with Seymon Mogilevich, a godfather of the Russian Mafia. But, even more importantly, he was one of Putin’s top agents in Ukraine: Russia’s state-owned gas giant, Gazprom, would sell Firtash huge amounts of gas at a discounted rate, who would then sell that gas to Ukraine for a sizable profit, profit that Firtash funneled to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, including—yes—Yanukovych.
On top of this, Firtash used millions out of the billions he made from this scam to partner with Manafort and “a longtime Trump family aide” to hatch an elaborate business venture on prime real estate on New York’s Park Avenue, investing $25 million into the project in 2008; he also set up a $100 million investment fund, which Manafort and his associates were paid $1.5 million to run (that same year, Manafort was considered for the role of McCain’s campaign convention chair, but was not chosen because of these very relationships). This was at a time when Yulia Tymoshenko, who was a partner of Yushchenko during the Orange Revolution and was appointed as the Prime Minister under President Yushchenko, had herself recently returned to power again as Prime Minister, before Yanukovych’s 2010 comeback; Tymoshenko, who had first risen to prominence as a gas tycoon herself, moved to seize Firtash’s gas business assets and cut him out of the gas loop and thus cut off a source of Russian influence in Ukrainian politics. It should, thus, be no surprise that Firtash was suc enthusiastic a supporter of Yanukovych. Once Yanukovych came to power on the back of Manafort’s years of consulting and rehabilitating him, Tymoshenko was imprisoned as a result of a politically motivated trial while Firtash was awarded back $3 billion in gas assets, also reopening the Kremlin’s gas-scheme line to dominating Ukrainian politics at the expense of Ukrainian interests and sovereignty. In many ways, this set the stage for the 2014 Maidan protests that erupted into the current Ukrainian mess.
Tymoshenko could sense a money laundering scheme in that Park Avenue New York real estate deal, the end state of which never came to be and with much of the money going back to Ukraine, exactly what her government’s actions were trying to prevent; after she was imprisoned, she sued Firtash, Manafort, Mogilevich, and others in New York for racketeering whose proceeds had been used to persecute her, but the suit was dismissed on questions of procedure and jurisdiction; still, the U.S. District Court rulingacknowledged that foul play was indeed going on, that “the Court accepts as true the allegation that some of the money that passed through the U.S. Enterprise was “funneled back to Ukraine” — albeit by unidentified actors — and somehow used as “‘financing’” for Tymoshenko’s “persecution”” (As for Firtash, there is currently a U.S. arrest warrant out for him on bribery charges, and as a result he is living in Austria in exile from Ukraine).
As Yanukovych became ever closer to Putin and tried to steer Ukraine closer to Russia, Manafort’s role was kept quiet and confidentiality agreements were signed, and he profited handsomely from this work. His role in Ukrainian politics over the last few years is even cloudier. But what is clear is that, fed up with the stagnation, corruption, and cronyism of President Yanukovych’s government, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets early in 2014 after he went back on pledges to increase ties to the EU, culminating with Yanukovych fleeing the country with Russian help and a new, more pro-Western government being formed. In response, Yanukovych, in exile in Russia and facing charges in Ukraine, requested Putin intervene militarily in Ukraine. Russia soon invaded, annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region and directly and indirectly assisting separatist rebels in eastern parts of Ukraine, where a state of civil war still exists today.
Both before and after the seismic recent events in Ukraine, Manafort maintained minimal contacts with his American friends and colleagues and avoided responding to media inquiries; for years his location and activities were not known with specificity. One of these colleagues, Roger Stone, a former Nixon advisor and close confidante of Donald Trump, sent an email to other mutual colleagues in the midst Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea early in March 2014 titled “Where is Paul Manafort?” The e-mail then included some options for answers to this question: A.) “Was seen chauffeuring Yanukovych around Moscow,” B.) “Was seen loading gold bullion on an Army Transport plane from a remote airstrip outside Kiev and taking off seconds before a mob arrived at the site,” and C.) “Is playing Golf in Palm Beach.”
If that was exhausting to go through, remember: that was just one person. But there is much more… to be continued, See Part 2