Monday, August 15, 2016


15 August 16

One of the more remarkable aspects of the level of Russian activity in support of Donald Trump during the primary was how unwilling anyone was to talk about it openly. It was dismissed as conspiratorial craziness in so many corners that very few serious journalists seemed willing to engage in the idea, or to do the basic research required to reveal that something was very definitely off about the social media surrounding Trump – something that seemed very much in common with the way Russia has leveraged social media propaganda in other instances. 

The comparisons between their activity in favor of Trump and particularly in the methods used to target critics were clear, and the language barrier that created the hackneyed form of English used in their posts was easy to spot. But for some odd reason, this was never really investigated until after Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee. Odd, that. But then, as with so many other troublesome aspects of Trump, what was clear in January didn’t become a story until August.

The conversation about Paul Manafort’s ties to the dark side of political activity has finally begun.  “On a leafy side street off Independence Square in Kiev is an office used for years by Donald J. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, when he consulted for Ukraine’s ruling political party. His furniture and personal items were still there as recently as May.

“And Mr. Manafort’s presence remains elsewhere here in the capital, where government investigators examining secret records have found his name, as well as companies he sought business with, as they try to untangle a corrupt network they say was used to loot Ukrainian assets and influence elections during the administration of Mr. Manafort’s main client, former President Viktor F. Yanukovych.

“Handwritten ledgers show 12.7 million dollars in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.

“In addition, criminal prosecutors are investigating a group of offshore shell companies that helped members of Mr. Yanukovych’s inner circle finance their lavish lifestyles, including a palatial presidential residence with a private zoo, golf course and tennis court. Among the hundreds of murky transactions these companies engaged in was an $18 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets to a partnership put together by Mr. Manafort and a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin.

“Mr. Manafort’s involvement with moneyed interests in Russia and Ukraine had previously come to light. But as American relationships there become a rising issue in the presidential campaign — from Mr. Trump’s favorable statements about Mr. Putin and his annexation of Crimea, to the suspected Russian hacking of Democrats’ emails — an examination of Mr. Manafort’s activities offers new details of how he mixed politics and business out of public view and benefited from powerful interests now under scrutiny by the new government in Kiev.

“Anti-corruption officials there say the payments earmarked for Mr. Manafort, previously unreported, are a focus of their investigation, though they have yet to determine if he actually received the cash. While Mr. Manafort is not a target in the separate inquiry of offshore activities, prosecutors say he must have realized the implications of his financial dealings.” Corey Lewandowski eagerly retweeted the link to the New York Times story, the better to get back in the good graces of his former master.

The fact that reports like this are only coming now supports those analysts who claim Vladimir Putin has already won our election.  “Alarming evidence of how deep the Kremlin’s got its tentacles in Washington mounts by the day. Large-scale hacking by Russian cyber-warriors didn’t just hit the Democratic National Committee, it stole emails from a wide array of top power-players, including the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, NATO’s military boss.

“Systematic Russian cyber-attacks on the DNC and related political targets in Washington were detected over a year ago by the National Security Agency, which monitors foreign cyber shenanigans, but the highly classified nature of this intelligence made it difficult to alert Congress about Kremlin espionage. That the Russians stood behind this operation, using well-known hacking cut-outs, was established early by NSA. “It was the Kremlin, we had them cold,” explained an NSA official with direct knowledge of the case: “Moscow didn’t care we knew, they were unusually brazen.” Because, in a way, it only helps them for some members of the public to know what they did, and remain aghast that they were able to do it so easily.


No comments:

Post a Comment