Why FBI Can’t Tell All on Trump, Russia

Donald Trump, Trump Tower
Photo credit: James Hughes / NY Daily News via Getty Images

Reporters: Jonathan Z. Larsen is the former editor of The Village Voice, whose reporting team included the late Wayne Barrett and Robert I. Friedman. These people and the paper produced many of the important early investigative reports on Donald Trump and on the mob. Larsen is now a senior editor and board member of WhoWhatWhy. Russ Baker, a former investigative reporter for The Village Voice, is Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. C. Collins is a WhoWhatWhy reporter.

UPDATES: Please see the following for more on this ever-unfolding mystery:

More About Felix Sater — The Problematical Friend Trump Forgot (4/5/2017)

Government Must Tell if Trump Associate Had Russian Mob Ties (4/27/2017)

Felix Sater Links Trump to Comey’s Replacement (5/15/2017)

Listen to a behind-the-scenes interview on this exclusive Trump-Russia-FBI story  a conversation with Russ Baker and Jonathan Larsen on Radio WhoWhatWhy.

***

The Federal Bureau of Investigation cannot tell us what we need to know about Donald Trump’s contacts with Russia. Why? Because doing so would jeopardize a long-running, ultra-sensitive operation targeting mobsters tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin — and to Trump.

But the Feds’ stonewalling risks something far more dangerous: Failing to resolve a crisis of trust in America’s president. WhoWhatWhy provides the details of a two-month investigation in this 6,500-word exposé.

The FBI apparently knew, directly or indirectly, based upon available facts, that prior to Election Day, Trump and his campaign had personal and business dealings with certain individuals and entities linked to criminal elements — including reputed Russian gangsters — connected to Putin.

The same facts suggest that the FBI knew or should have known enough prior to the election to justify informing the public about its ongoing investigation of potentially compromising relationships between Trump, Putin, and Russian mobsters — even if it meant losing or exposing a valued informant.

***

It will take an agency independent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to expose Donald Trump’s true relationship with Moscow and the role Russia may have played in getting him elected.

Director James Comey recently revealed in a congressional hearing for the first time that the FBI “is investigating … the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”

However, a two-month WhoWhatWhy investigation has revealed an important reason the Bureau may be facing undisclosed obstacles to revealing what it knows to the public or to lawmakers.

Our investigation also may explain why the FBI, which was very public about its probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails, never disclosed its investigation of the Trump campaign prior to the election, even though we now know that it commenced last July.

Such publicity could have exposed a high-value, long-running FBI operation against an organized crime network headquartered in the former Soviet Union. That operation depended on a convicted criminal who for years was closely connected with Trump, working with him in Trump Tower — while constantly informing for the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and being legally protected by them.

Some federal officials were so involved in protecting this source — despite his massive fraud and deep connections to organized crime — that they became his defense counsel after they left the government.

In secret court proceedings that were later unsealed, both current and former government attorneys argued for extreme leniency toward the man when he was finally sentenced. An FBI agent who expressed his support for the informant later joined Trump’s private security force.

In this way, the FBI’s dilemma about revealing valuable sources, assets and equities in its ongoing investigation of links between the Trump administration and Russian criminal elements harkens back to the embarrassing, now infamous Whitey Bulger episode. In that case, the Feds protected Bulger, a dangerous Boston-based mobster serving as their highly valued informant, even as the serial criminal continued to participate in heinous crimes. The FBI now apparently finds itself confronted with similar issues: Is its investigation of the mob so crucial to national security that it outweighs the public’s right to know about their president?

Jack Blum, a former senior Senate investigator and one of America’s foremost experts on white-collar financial crime, sums up the complexity — and the urgency — of the situation:

“What makes this investigation especially difficult is that it will lead into the complex relations between the counterintelligence operations of the FBI and its criminal investigative work,” says Blum.

“Further, it is likely other elements of the intelligence community are involved and that they have ‘equities’  to protect. Much of the evidence, justifiably, will be highly classified to protect sources and methods and in particular to protect individuals who have helped one or another of the agencies involved.”

FBI, New York Office

Photo credit: FBI

“I Can’t Go into Those Details Here”

In his March 20 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, FBI Director James Comey said that he could not go into detail about its probe into the Trump administration’s Russian connection.

If he had, we might have learned that, for more than three decades the FBI has had Trump Tower in its sights. Many of its occupants have been targets of major investigations, others have been surveilled, and yet others have served as informants. One thing many of them have in common is deep ties to organized crime — including the Russian mafia.

Felix Sater fits all of these categories. A convicted felon, Sater worked in Trump Tower, made business deals with Donald Trump through Sater’s real estate firm, Bayrock, cooperated with the FBI and CIA and was subsequently protected by the DOJ from paying for his crimes. And the Moscow-born immigrant remains deeply linked to Russia and Ukraine.

Based on documents examined by WhoWhatWhy, it is possible to draw certain conclusions that help connect the dots between Trump, the FBI, Russia and the mob.

The resulting picture is not a pretty one for Donald Trump. However, because of its efforts to neutralize the organization of perhaps the world’s most powerful mobster — a man considered a serious national security threat — the Bureau might just have compromised its own ability to provide to Congress or inform the American public about all of the ties that exist between Trump, his presidential campaign and the regime of Vladimir Putin.

Further, Trump’s business association with Sater and Bayrock may have put the president’s financial interests at substantial risk, including possibly millions of dollars in fines, penalties, or other damages, should civil or criminal misconduct be proven in court or otherwise resolved if claims were triggered. Anyone who knew of Trump’s jeopardy in this matter would have enormous leverage over the Trump operation.

The government’s kid-glove treatment of Sater is partially explained in those long-suppressed legal documents, which reveal that the mobbed-up businessman was perceived by the authorities to be extraordinarily cooperative and useful. Legal filings on Sater’s behalf state that he “reported daily” to the FBI for many years.

Sater agreed to assist the US government on issues of national security and organized crime. His activities were first revealed in a lawsuit brought by a former employee of Sater’s real estate firm, Bayrock. While working with Trump, Sater’s name became “Satter” publicly — presumably with the knowledge if not the encouragement of the FBI. This distanced Satter the businessman, and his partners, from Sater the criminal.

Attorneys representing the plaintiff spent years untangling the financial machinations of Bayrock — which they allege involve hundred of millions of dollars in claims arising from, among other things, money laundering and fraud.

They also sought to expose the government’s awareness of — even complicity in — Sater’s activities.

Their efforts to unseal court documents, including Sater’s legal history, have been met with a concerted pushback by DOJ lawyers, mischaracterizations of the case record, and even — according to the attorneys — anonymous death threats.

Felix Sater could not be reached for comment.*(See Editor’s Note at bottom for update)

A Stunning Discovery

The story of Donald Trump’s business dealings with a Russian mobster might never have come out were it not for a Bayrock employee stumbling upon Sater’s cooperation agreement with the FBI, among other sensitive information, that had inadvertently been left accessible.

That employee sought out attorney Fred Oberlander, who combed through the documents. Over time, Oberlander — who was instructing undergraduates at Yale University in computational physics and computer science from age 18 — began to deconstruct the byzantine financial structure that was Bayrock, which allegedly hid a range of crimes, including massive-scale money laundering from sources in the former Soviet Union.

On February 10, 2010, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Manhattan, instructed Oberlander, in a secret order, not to inform the legislative branch of the United States government what he knew about Felix Sater. (That order remains under seal, but a federal judge has unsealed a redacted version.)

Apparently, the appellate court was persuaded that the unusually broad order was justified on the merits, but the lawyers opposing Sater found the imposed remedy extraordinary.

“Our being ordered to not tell Congress what we know may well be the first and only hyper-injunction in American history,” asserts Oberlander’s own attorney, Richard Lerner. “If there are others who have been scared silent by judges who wish to nullify Congressional and public oversight, we may never know. That is frightening.”

Hyper-injunctions

Characters Out of a James Bond Movie

Preventing the Russian mafia from expanding its foothold in the United States has been one of the Bureau’s top priorities. In fact, it might be the FBI’s most important function apart from its role in the fight against terrorism.

The Russian mob has a breathtaking and underappreciated reach. It is so powerful that FBI Agent Peter Kowenhoven told CNN in 2009 that Semion Mogilevich, its “boss of bosses,” is a strategic threat, and a man who “can, with a telephone call or order, affect the global economy.”

US authorities came to see Mogilevich, who is described as close with Putin, as not only a danger to the financial system but a potential threat to world peace. He had access to stockpiles of military weapons and even fissionable material, snapped up as the Soviet Union fell apart.

His rumored ability to deliver the makings of weapons of mass destruction to the highest bidder — as well as his experience in smuggling opium from Afghanistan — would take on the very highest importance after 9/11, when European intelligence sources reported that al-Qaeda representatives had contacted Mogilevich in search of nuclear material.

The Russian mob should also not be confused with a mere crime syndicate. It is an organization comprised of state actors, oligarchs, and specific groups of individuals working collectively with the authority of the Russian government — a “mafia state.” At times, it is difficult to tell where the mob ends and the government begins.

To some, the Russian mob brings to mind the globalized villains of a James Bond movie, who want everything and will stop at nothing.

Robert I. Friedman, a former colleague of the authors of this article at The Village Voice, drew the ire of Mogilevich for his reporting on the Russian mafia. The “boss of bosses” put a $100,000 price on Friedman’s head soon after the publication of one of his fearless exposés of Mogilevich, and the FBI suggested that he stop reporting on the topic. (Friedman died in 2002, at the age of 51, of a rare blood disease he was said to have contracted on a trip to India.)

Enter Trump

Right from the earliest days of Trump Tower, in 1983, some of the choicest condominiums, including those in the 10 floors immediately below the future president’s own triplex apartment, went to a rogues gallery of criminals and their associates.

Granted, the construction and gambling industries have long been bedeviled by connections to organized crime. It may have been impossible for Trump to have avoided those ties altogether. Nevertheless, according to many news stories and public records, Trump has repeatedly been linked to organized crime figures and their associates.

Donald Trump, Roy Cohn

Donald Trump and Roy Cohn, October 18, 1984. Photo credit: Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

To be sure, nouveaux riches of all stripes were attracted to the Trump “glamour” and might well have had difficulty gaining approval of traditional condo or coop boards. Nonetheless, Trump must have known that many of his occupants were problematic — and likely to draw the attention of law enforcement.

Tower occupants have included:

–  Verina Hixon, a close friend of John A. Cody, New York’s concrete union boss, living in six units just below Trump’s triplex. Cody, with ties to the Gambino crime family, was later sentenced to five years in prison for racketeering. Trump and Cody reportedly helped Hixon with a loan so she could pay for the units.

–  Robert Hopkins, who was arrested in his suite for ordering a mob murder of a gambling competitor. Hopkins would eventually be convicted of running a massive gambling ring, partly from Trump Tower, an operation that occasioned what was perhaps the first of many wiretaps in the building. Trump appeared in person at the closing on the apartment, where, according to our Village Voice colleague Wayne Barrett’s 1991 Trump biography, Hopkins sat at the end of a conference table counting out $200,000 in cash. (It was mob lawyer Roy Cohn who introduced Hopkins to Trump.)

–  Sheldon and Jay Weinberg, an enterprising father-son duo: The father was masterminding the biggest Medicaid fraud known at the time; the son was later indicted on grand larceny and insurance fraud. The Weinbergs rented directly from Trump three condominiums he had kept for himself.

–  David Bogatin purchased five apartments on the 62nd floor while running a massive tax avoidance scandal involving commercial gasoline sales. Bogatin had ties with Italian and Russian mobsters. He would later flee to Poland and set up a highly successful chain of banks there before being extradited to the US, where he ended up in the maximum-security state prison in Attica, NY.

–  Joseph Weichselbaum, Trump’s helicopter pilot, convicted of drug trafficking on three occasions.

–  Glamorous international art dealer Helly Nahmad, then 34, who lived in a sprawling apartment in Trump Tower (and according to some accounts owned the entire 51st floor), was later convicted and served five months of a one-year sentence for running an illegal gambling operation. He helped orchestrate super-high-stakes card games that sometimes were played in Trump Tower and “catered to billionaires, Russian oligarchs, Hollywood stars, and pro athletes,” including Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Tobey Maguire, and Ben Affleck. Also convicted were Vadim Trincher and his sons Eugene and Ilya; the Trinchers had apartments in Trump Tower too.

Of course, living in Trump Tower by no means suggests any sort of criminality or association between or among the residents. Still, the list is impressive.

But even in this company, one man stands out. Not surprisingly, he is from the former Soviet Union.

Spying on Trump Tower — Since 1983

When the Soviet Union was breaking up in the early 1990s, Mogilevich (AKA “The Boss of Bosses,” AKA “The Brainy Don”) suborned a Russian judge to spring a ruthless and canny lifetime criminal from a Siberian prison. His name was Vyacheslav “Yaponchik” Ivankov.

Vyacheslav Ivankov, Semion Mogilevich

Vyacheslav Ivankov and Semion Mogilevich (inset) Photo credit: Alchetron (public domain) and FBI / Wikimedia

Four months later, in March 1992, Ivankov arrived in the United States to organize a new criminal network. He would take the disparate elements of already-established Russian-speaking criminals and use them to create a sophisticated, well-managed operation that could launder funds and generate cash flow as part of a transnational network. But authorities had no idea where he was.

“And then,” recounted a former FBI agent in Robert I. Friedman’s book Red Mafiya, “we found out he was living in a luxury condo in Trump Tower.”

The moment the Feds spotted him, he vanished again, only to resurface later in an Atlantic City casino:  Trump’s Taj Mahal.

 Thus, by the early 1990s, both the arrival of Russian organized crime in the US and the strange attraction of Trump properties for Russian mobsters were on the Bureau’s radar.

FBI activity in Trump Tower dates back to soon after it was built, in 1983. Around that time, the Bureau put electronic surveillance in the building with a tap on the phone of the above-mentioned Trump Tower resident Robert Hopkins, a Lucchese crime family associate, who was eventually arrested in the Tower for ordering a murder.

FBI interest in Trump Tower continued through the 1990s, when the Bureau, working closely with US prosecutors at the Eastern District (which includes Brooklyn), began to focus on the business operations of a man with ties to Mogilevich: the aforementioned Felix Sater.

At about the same time, Trump found himself in a bind with his commercial lenders, who kept his public mystique alive while in essence secretly stripping him of control of his casinos and putting him on an “allowance,” as they tried to salvage what they could from the wreckage of his disastrous business decisions. They retained the Trump name on his most iconic properties, based on the cold calculation that his “brand” might still help draw customers.

Трамп и его деньги (Trump and his Money)

As Trump lost access to traditional lines of credit, his desperate need for financing led to sources that are murky, at best, including monies traceable back to the former Soviet Union — a circumstance that may explain Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns.

According to two pages of Trump’s 2005 tax returns, purportedly sent anonymously to reporter David Cay Johnston, Trump appeared to make an enormous amount of money that year — earning more than $153 million, which put him into a tiny class of super-rich Americans, probably numbering in the dozens.

Trump’s windfall seems to have developed around the same time that investors from countries of the former Soviet Union started opening the cash spigot.

James Comey, Loretta Lynch,

Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch with FBI Director James Comey (left), and US Attorney Preet Bharara at a press conference on March 24, 2016. Photo credit: FBI

 

A 2013 indictment of the illegal high-stakes card games’ organizers, brought by US Attorney Preet Bharara, alleged not only high-stakes illegal gambling and the laundering of approximately $100 million dollars, but also extortion, as ring members used threats and force to strip ”money and property” from clients.

One of the operation’s leaders, Alimzhan “Taiwanchik” Tokhtakhounov, an alleged international crime boss and admitted friend of top Mogilevich lieutenant Vyacheslav “Yaponchik” Ivankov (who, as noted, was found living in Trump Tower at one point), managed the ring from afar; he could not legally enter the US as he was already wanted on charges of trying to bribe ice-skating judges at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Tokhtakhounov has often been tied to Boss of Bosses Semion Mogilevich.

Bharara, whom Trump recently fired — after accepting the resignations of other US attorneys left over from the Obama administration — is not the only big name who was involved in investigating the goings-on in Trump Tower. Former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch also played a part. Lynch, first a prosecutor and then the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, would have had knowledge of an FBI operation that involved Sater, the Russian mobster-turned-cooperating-witness.

“If he (Sater) were sitting in a room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.” – Donald Trump, 2013 deposition

While Sater has recently been the subject of some news coverage — his name came up during the March 20 House Intelligence Committee’s public hearing on Russia, when Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) asked FBI Director James Comey about him — no thorough exploration of the Bureau’s dealings with this key informant has been published.

Until now.

The information below is based on an extensive exploration of those dealings, and of previously unexamined and unpublished legal documents, which the government has sought to suppress.

The picture that emerges goes to the heart of the many questions raised about Trump’s relationship to Putin’s Russia in the weeks before and after the presidential election.

Efforts to try to get this information to the public appear to have been aggressively blocked by the DOJ because it would potentially expose their own operations — both those that have been effective and others that have not.

***

Felix Sater had been on the Bureau’s radar since the mid-1990s, when they were investigating Russian mob–affiliated financial scams.

Very soon after Semion Mogilevich associate “Yaponchik” Ivankov arrived in the US, in 1993, Sater, together with an Italian mob associate named Salvatore Lauria, and others, had taken over a firm called White Rock and created a criminal brokerage whose only purpose was to fleece investors and launder money.

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It excelled at “pump and dump” scams, a practice in which stock prices are artificially inflated, then sold to unsuspecting investors — especially targeting elderly and unsophisticated buyers with high-pressure cold-calling tactics. White Rock included members and associates of four of the five major New York City organized crime families, including the nephew of mobster Carmine “the Snake” Persico and the brother-in-law of Gambino hit man Sammy “the Bull” Gravano, as well as Russian criminal elements.

The Art of the (Double) Deal

Although shuttering Sater’s operation was considered a great success, authorities soon decided they could leverage it to get even bigger fish. Thus, they cut a deal with Sater, seemingly to help them go after the Russian-speaking mob, and its “Brainy Don,” Semion Mogilevich.

 Instead of serving jail time, Sater became a highly valued FBI informant. Using unnamed connections, Sater arranged to locate some Stinger missiles that Osama bin Laden had supposedly placed on the market — an older model that could be used to shoot down commercial airliners.

Immediately after September 11, 2001, Sater received a call from the chief of a new section in the FBI who wanted to talk to him about Stingers, according to Salvatore Lauria in The Scorpion and the Frog, co-authored with journalist David S. Barry. Months later, Sater joined Bayrock — the real estate development company with offices in Trump Tower — and he was soon partnering in business deals with Donald Trump himself. This raises some interesting questions: Did Sater take the job at Bayrock at the FBI’s direction? Indeed, was Sater’s business relationship with Trump at the FBI’s behest?

One thing is certain: Bayrock became one of the most important links between Trump and big-money sources from the former Soviet Union.

Donald Trump, Tevfik Arif, Felix Sater

Donald Trump, Bayrock partner Tevfik Arif, and Felix Sater attend the Trump Soho Launch Party on September 19, 2007 in New York. Photo credit: Mark Von Holden / WireImage

The firm was founded by Tevfik Arif, a former Communist Party functionary in the Soviet republic of what is now Kazakhstan. Arif had formed another entity called Bayrock in Moscow in 1989, during the very last years of the Soviet Union.

Many Soviet functionaries transitioned to successful careers in market capitalism with the help of friends in high places: those with access to resources could make enormous profits by pilfering the moribund Soviet state, and such funds were best laundered and moved abroad for safekeeping and investment. Real estate was generally seen as a stable investment.

During the five years Sater worked at Bayrock, he traveled throughout the former Soviet Union, ostensibly looking for real estate sites to develop with the Trump Organization — while also allegedly laundering hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit funds from mysterious sources in the former Soviet Union. And all the while he was working as an informant for the FBI.

Soon after joining Bayrock (about late 2001 to early 2002), he effectively took control of it — while of necessity hiding that fact from its lenders and clients. Sater was the firm’s Chief Operating Officer, and according to assertions in a lawsuit filed by a former Bayrock employee, by 2006 he owned more than 63% of the firm.

Sater’s dominant role came despite the fact that he was a felon. Because of the services he was providing to the US government, this information was withheld from banks and others with whom Bayrock signed contracts, including condominium buyers.

 The Trump organization lent its name to Bayrock projects in Toronto, Florida, Arizona, and in New York City, in the chic SoHo neighborhood; the SoHo project was the only Bayrock development into which the Trump Organization actually put up any equity. Most of the Bayrock-affiliated projects failed, though, leaving a trail of angry investors as well as a string of lawsuits and countersuits. According to legal depositions, most of the projects that Sater worked to develop overseas — necessitating trips to Russia, Poland, and Ukraine (including numerous trips to Crimea) — never seemed to get off the drawing board.

Sater and Trump sometimes traveled together. In September 2005, Trump and apparently Sater flew along with his wife Melania to Colorado, where Sater talked to a local reporter about possible Trump-Bayrock development projects in Denver.

The real estate tycoon and the undercover mobster were close enough that, according to his deposition testimony, Sater could simply walk up a flight of stairs to Trump’s office and stop in for an impromptu chat. Indeed, Sater and the Trump clan grew so close that in February 2006, at the personal request of Donald Trump, the mobster joined his children Ivanka, Donald Jr., and his son’s wife Vanessa in Moscow to show them around, according to his deposition testimony. While he was in Moscow he emailed a journalist about possible Trump-Bayrock developments in Denver, in which he indicated he was with Don Jr.; a few days later Sater is alleged to have called one of the partners at the Arizona project and threatened to have him “tortured and killed,” according to later court filings.

Sater’s tenure at Bayrock might have lasted longer, had The New York Times not “outed” his criminal past in 2007.

Yet a few years later, after Sater had left Bayrock, he could still be found in Trump Tower. But now he was apparently working directly for Trump himself, with an office, business cards, phone number and email address all provided by the Trump Organization. The cards identified him as a “Senior Advisor to Donald Trump.”

Today, Trump claims to have trouble remembering Sater.

“Trump was asked about Sater in depositions related to other cases in 2011 and 2013. In the first, Trump acknowledged that he used to speak with Sater ‘for a period of time.’ Yet in the second, Trump said, ‘if he were sitting in a room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like,’” Mother Jones reported.

In early December 2015, Trump still seemed unclear when asked by an Associated Press reporter about Sater. “Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it,” he said. “I’m not that familiar with him.” Ivanka and Don Jr. also later said that they had no memory of being with him in Moscow.

FBI agent Leo Taddeo definitely did not “have to think about it.” Taddeo had worked in the Italian and Russian organized crimes sections of the New York FBI office and had directly witnessed the ramifications of the arrival of “Yaponchik” Ivankov in 1992 — and the influence of Mogilevich — in the Russian-speaking community, New York financial markets, and beyond. He rose to be the head of the Russian organized crime section — and was one of Sater’s FBI handlers. Taddeo testified on Sater’s behalf at his sentencing, praising his “extraordinary” cooperation and stressing how “capable,” “important,” and “effective” he was.

During the years when Trump and Bayrock pursued their joint projects, the Trump SoHo was planned, designed and funded, and ground was broken for it.

So Bayrock, of which Sater came to own a majority, and the Trump Organization, headed by the future president himself, did several high-profile deals together and had offices close by each other in Trump Tower, and yet the current president claims that he is “not that familiar with him.”

There are a number of possible reasons why Trump has had to tread lightly around the issue of Sater. Aside from what Trump might have known about Sater’s back-channel connections to the Russian government or organized crime, their joint projects also pose enormous financial risk to Trump.

If he or anyone around him — such as other Trump Organization executives, accountants and lawyers — had knowledge of Sater’s criminal past and yet entered into contracts with him and Bayrock, Trump and his company would then be liable for hundreds of millions of dollars — and possible jail time.

Why?

Because parties to bank loans and investment contracts must confirm that no owner or manager has been convicted of fraud, and if that confirmation is false, anyone who knew of the fraud is potentially liable. The same would be true even if someone learned about Sater’s criminal status after signing the contract but continued with it.

Thus, if Trump knew Sater was a convicted felon but did business with him anyway, he, the Trump Organization, and anyone within the company who knew of it could face substantial penalties or fines. This might especially be true for the Trump-Bayrock projects, as so many of them ended terribly, with multiple lawsuits across many states.

However, the information of Sater’s past financial criminality was officially hidden because his legal docket in the White Rock/State Street case was kept secret (owing to his continuing “cooperating witness” status). For this reason, even after performing due diligence, someone entering business agreements with Sater would find no evidence of his criminal past.

Ukraine: The Big Prize

The FBI’s failure to fully expose Trump’s Russian connection before the election seemingly emboldened the entire Trump team — from the president to his former campaign manager to his “bulldog” personal lawyer — along with Sater, to take actions that can be seen to have benefited Putin. Nowhere is this more true than with Ukraine.

This former Soviet republic is central to Putin’s dream of restoring Russia to its Cold War-era greatness and protecting its borders. Annexing Crimea from Ukraine was a huge victory for him. Holding on to that strategically important region and maintaining access to it by controlling eastern sections of Ukraine itself are vital to Putin’s ambitions.

Other crucial strategic issues concerning Ukraine include its desire to join NATO, seen by Russia as a huge threat. There is also the matter of a pipeline that brings natural gas from Russia through Ukraine into fuel-hungry Europe, importantly Germany. Mogilevich was later named as the secret majority owner of the Ukrainian stake in a mysterious intermediary company, half-owned by Russian energy giant Gazprom. (Mogilevich, as well as Sater’s father, who has been identified as part of the Mogilevich organization in a Supreme Court petition, both hail from Ukraine. Mogilevich’s lawyer denied that his client had any connection to the company.) While questions swirled about the deal, Sater, then serving as an FBI informant, traveled to Ukraine and Russia — ostensibly searching for properties to develop with the Trump Organization. (For a post-publication response from Felix Sater on these points, see Editor’s Note at bottom.)

 For his part, candidate Trump didn’t even acknowledge that Russia had annexed Crimea or engaged its military in Eastern Ukraine, when the issue came up early in the presidential campaign.

“Just so you understand. [Putin] is not going to go into Ukraine, all right?” Trump said in an interview shortly after he was nominated — before being corrected on the facts.

Trump’s platform chairman J. D. Gordon reportedly had met with the Russian ambassador during the convention. In an interview with CNN’s Jim Acosta, Gordon said he had advocated the softening of the GOP platform language on Ukraine — a softening that Trump himself had advocated earlier in the year at a meeting with Gordon. Gordon’s later comments seem to walk that assertion back, but the GOP platform was changed.

Paul Manafort

Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Photo credit: Disney | ABC Television Group / Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

At that time, Trump Tower resident Paul Manafort was still running the campaign — until he was forced out because of his ties to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and other powerful forces sympathetic to Russia. But Manafort’s connections to Russia ran even deeper than suspected back then.

On March 22, the Associated Press reported that Manafort had been paid the astonishing sum of more than $10 million a year in the 2000s by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally, to implement a plan that would “greatly benefit the Putin Government.”

Stranger still, just last month, Trump associates Sater and Michael D. Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, lobbied then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn with a scheme to lift sanctions on Russia, imposed after it seized Crimea. They delivered a proposed “peace plan” for Ukraine that infuriated the country’s current prime minister. The proposal would have advanced the ambitions of a pro-Russian politician whose movement Manafort helped shape

It turns out that, like so many other figures in this story, Cohen has his own substantial Ukrainian ties. After graduating from what is considered by many to be a third-tier law school, Cohen became a personal injury lawyer. He married a woman whose parents are Ukrainian, and his brother, also a lawyer, married a woman whose father rose from humble Ukrainian roots to become a billionaire.

Much Less Than Six Degrees of Separation

While all this high-stakes maneuvering between the US and Russia over Ukraine was unfolding, the DOJ and FBI were hard at work to prevent the Sater-Trump story from becoming widely known.

 WhoWhatWhy has learned that a number of key law-enforcement figures associated with Sater’s role as a government informant have continued protecting him — which has inevitably helped to keep under wraps the criminal goings-on in Trump Tower. One of these figures even went on to work for Trump.

FBI Special Agent Gary Uher not only investigated (alongside fellow Agent Leo Taddeo) the early “pump and dump” case that originally snared Sater, he also apparently served as one of Sater’s handlers. After Uher retired from the Bureau’s New York office in 2011, he went into the private security business with another former FBI agent, in a firm named XMark — which became one of a small army of private security firms that guarded Trump during the presidential campaign. (Neither Uher nor Taddeo responded to requests for comment.)

In fact, both XMark and Uher personally began receiving payments from the campaign as soon as Trump announced, in June 2015. Uher’s name surfaced in the press a handful of times, sometimes in allegations that he roughly handled protestors at Trump rallies. Yet until now, no one has pointed out that before he went to work for Trump, Uher ran Sater.

It is not clear how Trump and Uher would have even known each other were it not for the man both knew in common — the man Trump was consistently vague about during the campaign — Felix Sater.

As for Taddeo, in July 2016, as talk of possible efforts by the Kremlin to help Trump’s campaign continued to pick up steam, the Washington Post  ran a story that downplayed the possibility and quoted the ex-agent, now in the private sector: “This is not Putin trying to help Trump,’’ he said. The article identified Taddeo as “a former FBI special agent in charge of cyber and special operations in New York”.; it did not tell readers he had been  Sater’s former FBI handler when Sater worked with Trump.

Gary Uher, Donald Trump

Left to right: XMark partners Ed Deck and Gary Uher accompany Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump with his private security director, longtime Trump Organization employee Keith Schiller, after delivering an address in Birch Run, Michigan, August 11, 2015. Photo credit: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

The paths of other central characters in the case are also curious.

Two of Loretta Lynch’s colleagues at the Eastern District US Attorney’s office, Leslie Caldwell and Kelly Anne Moore, left government service to join the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, and both represented Sater at his 2009 sentencing hearing. Caldwell returned to government work in late 2013 when she was tapped to serve as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division — the number three position at the Justice Department.

Moore is still at Morgan Lewis. That firm was hired post-election by Trump to sort out ethical issues concerning possible conflicts of interest — which considering this history takes on a whole new meaning. (Neither Caldwell nor Moore responded to requests for comment.)

Trump’s announcement that he had retained Morgan Lewis as ethics counsel was clearly meant to blunt calls for disinvestment or use of a blind trust for the oversight of his businesses. Curiously, on the same day that Trump made the announcement, the Moscow office of Morgan Lewis was named “Russia Law Firm of the Year” for 2016 by an industry association.

By entrusting Morgan Lewis with addressing his conflicts — and presumably demanding confidentiality agreements in the process, as is his practice — was Trump insulating himself from the release of information that would reveal the true nature of his financial relationship with Sater, Bayrock, and others?

Such revelations — which could have exposed Sater’s criminal history, his interactions with Trump, the full scope of Bayrock’s financial arrangements with the Trump Organization, and perhaps the true source of Bayrock’s financing — all would be covered by attorney-client privilege.

With so many players and so many layers of involvement, getting to the bottom of Trump’s Russian connection is a Herculean task. And there is one further complication.

Leslie Caldwell

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, July 21, 2016. Photo credit: The Justice Department / YouTube

The Trump-Sater-Mogilevich-Putin saga, with its intertwining domestic and international threads, is almost certainly a battleground for powerful elements in the US intelligence complex. Even unravelling one thread — the FBI’s “running” of Felix Sater as an informant — is a challenge at every level. The FBI historically has been riven by internal battles over priorities and strategies — and the Bureau has waged fierce turf wars with other intelligence agencies, notably the CIA.

Why We Need an Independent Investigation

To sum up, WhoWhatWhy’s investigation suggests that the FBI, in using an informant with a strong connection to Trump and alleged ties to Russian mobsters — including one deemed a national security threat by the US — has seemingly tied its own hands in investigating the president.

This makes it difficult for the Bureau to pursue the president’s long-running proximity to mobsters, including gangsters from the former Soviet Union, and to those with close connections to the Russian president and oligarchic elite.

This in part could explain the FBI’s odd behavior and the confusing back and forth on what the government knows about Russia’s interventions in the 2016 election.

In this complex tale, it is sometimes hard to keep focused on the most important connections. The FBI used Sater in high-value projects; perhaps to help take down the Brainy Don Mogilevich, who takes us straight to Putin. That connection is so sensitive as to be deadly. Indeed after Ivankov, Mogilevich’s lieutenant and Trump Tower resident, publicly discussed Mogilevich’s close ties to Putin, he was gunned down by a sniper on a Moscow street.

 At the end of 2015, the Justice Department’s criminal division, headed by Leslie Caldwell — the former Eastern District prosecutor and later Sater’s attorney — removed Mogilevich from the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, an extremely rare occurrence. Suspects are usually removed from the list for only two reasons: arrest or death.

Semion Mogilevich, FBI, wanted poster

FBI wanted poster for Semion Mogilevich, 2009. Photo credit: FBI and Zscout370 / Wikimedia

Donald Trump has been a big Putin fan for years. This has been a subject of speculation and derision, but it has not gone further than that.

Given how close Trump was with Sater, and Sater with the FBI, and the fact that the FBI was working to thwart Mogilevich (who was close to Putin), the big question is this: Why is this president’s unusual enthusiasm for the Russian leader, and Russia in general, not already a formal topic of urgent inquiry?

Something doesn’t add up.

Whatever it is, we need to know. And, as this article demonstrates, the FBI, for a variety of reasons, is not likely to tell us the whole story.

And, it should be pointed out, what is vitally important to the public interest is not always what the Bureau considers a crime. That is why the role of independent investigators, including, notably, journalists, is so vital. Jack Blum, the former senior Senate investigator and leading expert on white-collar financial crime, stresses the gravity and urgency of the situation:

“However complicated an investigation might become, it goes to the heart of our democracy and it must go forward. This time, unlike other investigations, including the Kennedy assassination, CIA-Chile, and Iran-Contra, it has to go to the heart of the matter no matter how long it takes and no matter how shocking the conclusions.”

Donald Trump, Twitter, Hillary Clinton

Photo credit: Donald Trump / Twitter Tweet 1 and Tweet 2

***

Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from FBI seal (Andy L / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), Vladimir Putin (President of Russia), Semion Mogilevich (Mark Nilstein / Getty Images), Felix Sater (591J / Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 4.0) and Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0).

*Editor’s Note: Felix Sater responded to WhoWhatWhy following publication of this article. He said that his father was not Ukrainian and was born in Moscow. He also stated that his father had never worked with or met Semion Mogilevich. Sater said that he had never done any work with the FBI pertaining to Russian organized crime and that he had not even heard of Mogilevich, the organized crime boss. His work with the FBI, he said, was strictly related to terrorism. In the meantime, the Wall Street Journal reported April 20 that in a financial dispute, Sater refers to his own former business partner at Bayrock as a member of organized crime from the states of the former Soviet Union, predicting embarrassment if that man’s relationship with Trump were to emerge publicly, and anticipating a headline: “The Kazakh Gangster and President Trump.”

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289 responses to “Why FBI Can’t Tell All on Trump, Russia”

  1. […] purportedly attended the meeting at the urging of Felix Sater, a one-time mob-connected businessman who went on to work with Trump, and about whom WhoWhatWhy has […]

  2. Edward Ericson Jr says:

    Great story. I missed the Ulrich thing when I looked into this a few months back. And, Jack, why you not call me back?

    Key thing for me is how Mueller is playing it: hiring all those Southern and Eastern District veterans. I conclude that Trump is something like Panama’s Noriega (who Mueller prosecuted way back when): he knows things. He must be rendered completely incredible before charges are brought, so if/when he starts yammering about all the “good work and favors” he did for the FEDs & the CIA, no one will buy it. It’s for the good of the country, man!

    Oh and btw: Greg Scarpa, not Whitey Bulger, is the model for the cover-up. Eastern District. The Grim Reaper makes Bulger look like Boy Scout. Look at the Colombo family…which literally partnered with Trump in the mid-80s, and also helped make those Russian mobsters from Brighton Beach very, very rich with the gasoline hustle at that same time—before Yaponchick even showed up…

  3. […] has been at the forefront of investigating these remarkable […]

  4. […] has been at the forefront of investigating these remarkable […]

  5. […] One of the most important and interesting articles that you can ever read: “WHY FBI CAN’T TELL ALL ON TRUMP, RUSSIA” MARCH 27, 2017 | RUSS BAKER, C. COLLINS AND JONATHAN Z. LARSEN https://whowhatwhy.org/2017/03/27/fbi-cant-tell-trump-russia/ […]

  6. […] One of the most important and interesting articles that you can ever read: “WHY FBI CAN’T TELL ALL ON TRUMP, RUSSIA” MARCH 27, 2017 | RUSS BAKER, C. COLLINS AND JONATHAN Z. LARSEN https://whowhatwhy.org/2017/03/27/fbi-cant-tell-trump-russia/ […]

  7. Alexi says:

    Please take a moment and turn this all on its head…

    Putin, Mogeleivich, Trump et al, know that there is an investigation running that could bring them all to ruin.

    They can only assassinate, bribe or blackmail so many people; and even so the investigation continues. At stake is the billions in money laundering, hundreds of billions at stake in Siberian oil fields, billions in “ordinary” criminality, billions in Ukrainian pipeline profits, the regional “threat” of an expanding NATO, implementation of harsher sanctions, seizing of bank accounts etc.

    The ONLY WAY to get on top of this would be to run the investigation themselves. Apparently that wasn’t going to happen. The ONLY remaining choice would be to run the entire U.S. Government with the election of a Russian stooge POTUS, and a team of compromised individuals (Flynn, Kushner, Sessions, Ivanka, Don, Jr. REXxon Tillerson, etc).

    It is possible to view the electioneering of Trump strictly as operational “self defense” by the current Russian regime, for Trump and his connections were the good only option on the table. And the Republican party was ready for hijacking on social issues (“Whitelash”), Tax Cuts, “Obamacare” repeal, “States rights”, a woman’s right to choose, Christian fundamentalism etc.

    Nobody ever convinced me that Trump ever gave a flying F` about America.

    The first clue was Manafort. It was immediately clear to some of us. Of ALL the people in the WORLD, Trump chose Paul Manafort to run his campaign? Seriously?

    PS. Well done! Reminiscent of Whitey Bulger and the Boston Marathon Bombing investigation. The FBI may indeed be up to elbows in the sense that they felt they would compromise too much were they to out Trump’s ties to Russia and organized crime.

  8. Amateur_Critic says:

    This article is a terrific piece of investigative journalism. My only criticism is that is makes many assertions without providing any sources or references to supporting documentation. I’m not doubting the veracity of the assertions, but it would be an even stronger piece if it had done so.
    As the article says, the FBI is so entangled in this whole affair over many years that it would be hard for it to credibly investigate the mess. It requires a Special Counsel, ie, Mueller, or an independent commission. But commissions can only report. Mueller has subpoena powers and can bring indictments.
    The investigators need to flip some insiders. The FBI had leverage on Sater and flipped him, using him for many years. He would be a good place to start, if he lives that long and isn’t assassinated by the Russian mob or some former-FBI Trump insider. He could help unravel the whole twisted fabric of any collusion of Trump and the Russians — from the Russian mob level up to Putin.
    It is very telling that Trump maintains he would have trouble recognizing Sater, given their long business history together. That in itself says a lot. Then I think the Special Counsel may go after the retired FBI agents who are in tight with Trump. There could be something in their recent history (since retiring from the Bureau) that’s fishy enough to be able to gain some leverage with them.
    Trump was probably safe when all this dirty dealing was under a rock and out of the sun light. If the right rocks get turned over, he will certainly regret becoming a candidate and getting elected. He may not just be impeached but could go to jail for the rest of his life, possibly bringing his kids with him.

  9. Cat Ewing says:

    I had read about an overall FBI operation, re: NY Russian mafia & Sater, Manafort connections – that was an item in NYT 5 months ago, thereabouts-but this report is a nuclear! omg, the snakepit of financial/political/national security of entanglements is way, way off the charts. And have not heard a peep from Pompeo/CIA? meanwhile, Putin is getting more interviews than Trump?! wtf?!

  10. Nathan Wind says:

    There was a whole load of info in there. Good work, that must have taken some time.

  11. ReadingIt says:

    So many people realize they elected a mob boss and still defend him. Where are the chants of ‘LOCK HIM UP’?

  12. […] One of the most important and interesting articles that you can ever read: “WHY FBI CAN’T TELL ALL ON TRUMP, RUSSIA” MARCH 27, 2017 | RUSS BAKER, C. COLLINS AND JONATHAN Z. LARSEN https://whowhatwhy.org/2017/03/27/fbi-cant-tell-trump-russia/ […]

  13. […] long and close relationship with Donald Trump and his significant ally Rudolph Giuliani. And, as we previously reported, that FBI office was running a highly valued informant inside Trump Tower, a man who was doing […]

  14. […] From the whowhatwhy.org article: […]

  15. […] an exclusive WhoWhatWhy investigation published in March, we told the story of Felix Sater, the Russian-born financial criminal whose […]

  16. Eugene says:

    Guess we are missing where and how.

  17. Mackenzie says:

    Now that Trump has attacked Syria, how (if at all) does this change anyone’s perspective on Trump’s Russia ties?

    For the record btw, I think Trump is an absolute lunatic for the Syria attack. Note too, however, that Hillary supported it. Both of our realistic options in this past election were horrific. The R’s and D’s are just 2 wings of the same bird of prey. (yes I’m stealing that line because it describes the situation so well)

    • Harrold Mercer says:

      There’s something amiss here. Trump didn’t mind dropping bombs and killing innocent people the day he took office, and afterwards, but now it’s suddenly a big problem for someone else to kill innocent people? People were left scratching their heads with his sudden change of heart about Assad, could it be that investigations are closing in on him and his ties with Russia and he’s simply trying to deflect, distract, and distance himself by potentially starting, or appearing close to starting WWIII? Something much deeper is going on.

    • Uncle Luie says:

      Sir, please explain why your profile is secret

    • Rich says:

      Hackbot

    • Jeff Clyburn says:

      Yeah. “Same bird.” … Except for their votes and filibusters on minor issues like SC justices, abortion, wage equality, net privacy, environmental accountability, energy policy, and on and on and on.

      The quest for false equivalency will be held accountable.

    • John Ward says:

      Thank you! This false equivalency claim is beyond old, and at this point now – it makes me sick.

    • Uncle Luie says:

      why can’t I open your profile?

    • Rich says:

      A perspective sodden with ignorance.

  18. Harrold Mercer says:

    Whenever I see ‘FBI’, ‘Russia’, and ‘informant’, especially along with talks of people being killed to silence them, I can’t help but think of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, particularly his connections to the FBI & CIA. It was thought he was a double agent. His brother’s trial is filled with hundreds of sealed documents that Tsarnaev’s lawyers cannot even see and his relationship with the FBI was not allowed to be mentioned at trial. Why?

  19. (Comment by reader @AdamLinson) Superb in-depth investigation goes so far beyond other reporting “your head will spin”

  20. PJB says:

    Will Trump follow in the footsteps of his predecessors and grant pardons to his various criminal associates? Crime is just a euphemism for “business as usual” and we pay for it with our taxes and our freedom.

  21. James S. Henry says:

    Good on Ufer and Taddeo, but you should acknowledge that my Amer Interest piece of 12/19/16 had all your stuff on Sater/ Mogilevich /Ivankov/ Firtash/Bogatin/ plea bargains/Lynch and FBI — plus more. Of course it is good to draw more attention to these themes.

  22. Marko says:

    And now Trump has gassed the Syrian people with sarin. When will this madness end ?

    Screw it. Just bring back the NWO paymasters. ( If you don’t , you’ll need to make regular donations to keep this site afloat. )

    • Leonards A. Section8 says:

      From a town in Syria straight to a St. Petersburg train station. That Trump gets around fast to spread his chaos! (Word I hear is he shot Tupac)

  23. Grandinquisitor1 says:

    All the Russians did was expose the collusion between the DNC and Clinton campaign to screw over Bernie Sanders. They did what an aggressive free press should have done. Oh – and that fabulous risotto recipe of John Podesta.

    • JesseG says:

      “All they did.” Crazy. If Trump or anyone, even the lowest worker, was involved they committed treason against the US.

  24. David X says:

    Vyacheslav Ivankov looks like the characters in the movie about eastern bloc mobsters, “Eastern Promises”.

  25. Principia says:

    LOL…wow, a lot of Russian trolls on this site. Sorry it just doesn’t work anymore.

  26. SHELDON BUCHMAN says:

    And why is he mean spirited and not Hillary?

    • dewired4u says:

      Because he said his daughter was ” a nice piece of ass” and he called his son a retard and he made fun of a disabled reporter oh ya and he doesn’t have a dog.

    • BlameWhitey says:

      What horrors Trump exudes. Can you imagine if he armed/trained/funded ISIS to murder hundreds of thousands, stole all the billions in earthquake relief money from the poorest, most desperate country in the Western hemisphere,

      bombed Libya and sent in his ISIS mercenaries, killing hundreds of thousands, opening the refugee floodgates to Europe, and then was paid tens of millions to support regimes that treat his base, women and LGBT, worse than dogs, because I don’t think it’s legal to beat, murder, or sexually mutilate dogs in those countries. The establishment is neck deep in pedophilia, drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering, and illegal wars, military actions, and occupations, moth democrat and republican, and the establishment obviously hates Trump, so he must be doing something for the people.

    • DaleR says:

      How can you so completely miss the point and flee into denial?

  27. Karen Burns says:

    On a lighter note, I got a kick out of Vyacheslav Ivankov’s nickname, “Yaponchik” … which means “Little Jap” .. I wonder how he acquired it?

    • D. Claude Kat says:

      He was raised near Mongolian area of Russia, so he may have had bit of Asian blood, people around him teased him and gave him nickname. Little Jap.

  28. Jeanne Shaw says:

    What is so shocking to me is why the FBI would allow Trump to even run for president knowing his involvement with the criminal Russian oligarchs and mobsters? How could they let this happen to the country they are supposed to protect? What ever illegalities lie in Trump’s background are enough to disqualify him as president and he should never have gotten this far. So we have the FBI to thank for the “deconstruction of the state?” If this is as it seems this country is in much worse danger than we thought. How far will they let Trump go in the destruction of our country?
    I’ve been very worried about Trump and Company but now I’m very worried the FBI are at fault for this nightmare, they knew and did nothing, as did Lynch and Obama. WTF?

    • SHELDON BUCHMAN says:

      Let’s not come to any conclusions until the entire
      investigation.

    • james warren says:

      But will it actually BE an “entire investigation”?

      If it is NOT an entire investigation, it just might just be seen as such for the rest of the century!

    • Hell2Pay says:

      That is really questionable now.

    • why not what says:

      Even if there is a full investigation, how much of it will be made public?

    • Grandinquisitor1 says:

      Ever heard of JFK?

    • Ray Reinhard says:

      That was the CIA, not FBI… but same concept. Step on the wrong toes…

    • Marko says:

      Did the FBI try to protect us from the shady associates of the Bushes or Clintons ? Read Baker’s ” Family of Secrets ” , and his article in The Nation : “Hillary’s Mystery Money Men”.

      Russian mafia , American mafia , transnational mafia – it appears to be an absolute requirement to become Potus that one has friends in organized crime.

  29. cnico says:

    Doesn’t seem to be any evidence from this info, of Russia throwing the election. Great info about Trump’s ties to the Russian mafia, but no evidence of any involvement in the election. But the FBI’s excessive protection of Sater is puzzling. Where is he now and why is he not dead? But aside from that, I see a lot of association with Trump and Russian operatives, but not enough for charges it appears. Unless he has been protected as well while the FBI tries to get to Mogilevich.

    • VictorEsp says:

      “no evidence of any involvement in the election”…the investigation isn’t over. It started last July. The reason Comey reported prior to the election on Hillary’s email investigation and not Trump campaign to Russia connections is because the investigation into the former began in mid 2015 – a year prior.

    • Jeanne Shaw says:

      The hacking didn’t change the vote totals so it’s a relatively small part of the story to me. Trump was obviously close to and making deals with corrupt billionares and the Russian mafia. From this information I don’t see there is any way he didn’t know and didn’t care. That alone is enough to keep him out of the White House. Maybe he’s an informant too. Nothing mentioned about who they busted with the informing. Seems like a lot of protection for Sater is it for Trump too. This should have all come out before the election but Obama stopped Comey, why?

    • Chuck Boyer says:

      Because Clinton organized crime is sloppier, they don’t care to be secretive about it. Therefore more difficult to cover up. They ‘out’ the fact too obviously.

    • ghm52 says:

      To think all our wonderful FBI had on Clinton was. E-mails.
      Why trust Mueller? He already knew eough about Trump before he started.
      Must be looking for newer stuff to avoid bringing in the agency-damning history.
      We deserve better service. Trump was not fit to be a candidate.

    • Chuck Boyer says:

      Why he isn’t dead is that both sides agree to allow all transactions to go through the one source, that way both sides can keep track of what is going on. A business agreement, Organized crime and Intelligence Services.

  30. hollywoodjeff says:

    Curiously, what the authors, and as far as I can tell, the commenters have ignored is the not insignificant fact that the mobsters mentioned (along with the oligarchs) owe their position to Boris Yeltsin who, owing them big-time after his election and unable to repay, sold off Russia’s natural resources to those who bought them at a closed private auction. It was Washington’s puppet, Yeltsin that did that, not Putin.

    I am not aware that WhoWhatWhy exposed the US role in the 2014 Ukraine coup which led to Russia’s retaking of Crimea and then justified pumping new life in the then almost moribund NATO and pushing its forces to Russia’s borders and raising the possibility of a new war and, as we’ve seen, a revival of the Cold War which was Hillary’s main foreign policy position, confronting Putin, in case readers don’t recall. The good news was that Hillary lost. The bad news was that Trump won. That’s America’s response to the digital age.

    • paul says:

      Well said

    • Principia says:

      No doubt your fellow comrades thank you for your trolling.

    • hollywoodjeff says:

      These days when certain people are caught with their facts down, all they can do is accuse the critics of being trolls. We had a name for this when I was in the army.

    • SHELDON BUCHMAN says:

      So about 2 hours ago
      it was just learned that
      Susan Rice was RESPONSIBLE
      for the spying on Trump.
      She was CAUGHT.
      Did she do it on her own
      Or was she ordered by
      her boss?

    • lissnup says:

      Excellent points. While reading, I experienced a mounting sense that the writers were also avoiding what seems to me an obvious suggestion: that Trump himself is an intelligence asset more valuable (and more protected) than even Sater. In other words, the man in the White House is Washington’s puppet.

    • BlameWhitey says:

      As was Obama, with lengthy family ties to the CIA. The difference is Trump isn’t pushing the globalist, anti-America agenda. If he is an asset, he’s definitely off the reservation.

    • James53 says:

      My thoughts exactly! The US and Yeltsin started this mess, Putin, who I dislike for his authoritarianism, is trying to clean it up, to whatever degree he can without being assassinated, and now is being vilified for his lawful actions in trying to keep Syria out of the hands of US-backed head choppers. Not to mention his purely defensive actions against NATO aggression. The US put fanatical Banderist Nazis in power in Ukraine, and that has been totally erased from history. If Trump has ties to organized crime in any country it should be investigated. Same with Clinton and all US politicians! But considering that the CIA and deep state IS organized crime, the only thing I see likely is a selective investigation and selective enforcement.

  31. Nancy Rapchak says:

    Now what about Giuliani? The big mafia fighter District Attorney. Is he undercover? I would hate to give him that much credit. Seems he is a fraud as well.

    • SHELDON BUCHMAN says:

      He is the best thing that NY
      had in the past, closing
      down Porno shops, movies
      and the homeless annoying
      NY drivers with washing
      car windows.

    • Principia says:

      LOL…yeah, right.

  32. LegionOfDo says:

    I get the impression that exposing Trump will cause the FBI to lose all their progress toward bringing down the much-higher-valued Mogilevich. If that’s the case, then we’ll never know the truth.

    • Jeanne Shaw says:

      Agreed. It just seems to me this country is more important than the case. Who are they protecting them or this country cause I damn sure think it should be this country. We should have known this stuff before the election. Was it planned or incompetence?

    • LegionOfDo says:

      Yeah, that’s where it gets really depressing, because it sure seems like it was planned. Incompetence on such a grand scale just doesn’t seem possible. These people know what they’re doing. I just wish we knew too.

    • ghm52 says:

      CYA 101

  33. Mik says:

    Russia has been a Mafia based country for centuries. Putin is the latest iteration of this gangster government. American Intelligence Agencies should go all-in on exposing Russian influences that got Trump in office, and all of Trump’s relationships to these gangsters.

    If the Trump Presidency is found to be criminal, then all of his appointments are null and void. Trump should get a life sentence for treason, as should any family members involved. There needs to be a new election, carefully protected by the FBI, NSA, and Senate intelligence agencies. Also, American IT needs to be updated via the help of Silicon Valley experts, to protect Americans from Russian or other hackers. We have the best minds here, and we can go full-on in making Putin wish he had never messed with us.

    NATO needs to be strengthened unilaterally. Alliances in Asia should be brought on board in terms of intelligence. We need to make it clear to Russia that they are not going to bully their way back to power. If they can do it legally, via business, fine. But criminal thugs are not going to undermine global financial and governmental stability.

    I will not Iive in a world run by the Soviet Mafia. And I am sure that the whole of Western Europe will agree to this.

    • Marko says:

      “But criminal thugs are not going to undermine global financial and governmental stability.”

      That’s precious.

      I hate to burst your bubble , but that horse left the barn long ago.

    • Mik says:

      Overall, the world is managed in rational ways, and here and in the EU, in ways that promote personal freedom. That was not true in the Soviet Bloc, and it is barely true in Russia. The criminal influence that Russia is re-exerting is only beginning to be understood.

      This is why Hillary’s e-mail issue, although minimal, is in fact a big deal. Because we need leaders who understand that Russia may have used this technology in many ways beyond fake news. They could have potentially hacked the voting machines, and are clearly working on means to hack any information system, including banks, and the Military. In other words, they are attempting to dominate the world via web technology. And it is hair-raising to think that Trump is part of the plan.

    • Marko says:

      U.S. elections have been thoroughly rigged by domestic actors for decades. Putin has a lot of catching-up to do to match their expertise and impact.

      Bbbbut……..yes , I know :

      USA ! USA! USA!

    • James53 says:

      Why the selective focus on Russia? Not only have I not seen a single shred of evidence indicating that Russia “interfered” in our election ( and even in the unlikely event that Assange, Ray McGovern, William Binney and Craig Murray are lying and proven liars Brennan and Clapper are telling the truth, didn’t Russia do us a favor by revealing the staggering corruption of Clinton and her team of thugs?) Why not also address Saudia Arabia and Israel, who not only subvert our elections on a regular basis, have been caught spying and planning terrorist attacks on the US and all over the world? This entire demonization of all things Putin and Russia reeks of psyop, distraction and a dangerous escalation with a nuclear power who has done nothing but acted defensively against the insane NATO psychopaths and tried to stop them from their unholy obsession with world domination.

    • ghm52 says:

      “staggering corruption”? SRSLY? After reading this article?

    • Mik says:

      There are degrees to everything and Trump is extreme. If you can’t see that then I feel sorry for your lack of ability to judge other people.

    • D. Claude Kat says:

      Yes US bungling during Jackson/Vannik days led to this and there is no stopping it, very sad, very real. BUT Trump is right man to run US at this point.

    • BlameWhitey says:

      So let me get this straight, you would put in charge of elections, an agency that specializes in illegal activity, spying, torture, overthrowing legitimately elected governments, and political assassinations? That sounds like exactly what they would want you to believe. Think for yourself ever? Our government has been involved in the most horrendous, vicious, psychopathic criminal activity, from drug trafficking to proliferation of WMD’s, trafficking of women and children, rampant pedophilia, not to mention slaughter of millions of civilians in undeclared wars, aggressive actions, and illegal intervention. Your manufactured outrage at Trump is hilarious, unconscionable crimes, both here and abroad have been perpetrated by our government for decades. And Silicon Valley is now spearheading the mass censorship, going all in for Hitlery. And these are the agencies and people you trust? How much propaganda do you consume? You must have your head up your own arse.

    • Mik says:

      The GOP is the bigger problem, and Trump is GOP extreme. You’re too lost in your fantasy ideology to understand that Trump is GW Bush on steroids.

    • BlameWhitey says:

      Exactly what the corporate news has been spoon feeding you, job well done in regurgitating. When you wake up to the fact that the Dem/Rep as opposition has been a theatrical charade, you’ll admit that Democrats are responsible for an equivalent number of crimes, as needless to say, these cartels work together. Trump is hated by all elements of insiders, establishment, and hack lifers, he must be doing something right, albeit nobody is perfect. However you won’t catch on until you can discard your binary, two party football team, controlled opposition, infantile paradigmatic view of politics.

    • Mik says:

      I don’t watch corporate news, and Trump is as corporate as anyone else, if not more aggressively so. He is greed personified.

      Also, I am not Left or Right. I am an American…

      And Trump is anti-American.

  34. MorallyCorrect2 says:

    Trump’s tweets, statements and conduct have all become very transparent; they all scream “Guilty as charged” and imply there is conduct we don’t even know about yet.

  35. Dennis says:

    So the FBI lets Trump flush America down the toilet so they can get convictions of Russian bankers ? I don’t buy it.

    • Brodie says:

      Fascinating article, and I hope some of it is true, because it could mean the FBI really is going after Trump. But… “Something doesn’t add up.” — about the story, too.

      I’m skeptical of all arguments that suggest this investigation is “complicated” or that it will take years. No. This is the President of the U.S., and crazy at that. We really don’t have “years.”

    • Jeanne Shaw says:

      Exactly, and spoken so much more succinctly then me. What’s up with that picture? The thing is, Comey went to Obama and wanted to release it about the same time he was working on Clinton’s. Obama stopped him why? And Loretta Lynch knew all bout this before she was AG, in New York. She did nothing why? We needed to know.

    • Logiclogiclogic says:

      Obama wanted to release it but McConnell nixed it when a vote was taken (dems for it, R’s against it). So in the name of ‘fairness’ once again, Obama caved into the notion of being ‘fair’ to all parties and didn’t release it. He also didn’t release it because he thought it would taint the outcome (if HRC had won) and he fully expected HRC to win. So many missed opportunities to inform the American public. And I do blame Obama for this misstep. He should have flipped his middle finger to McConnell and said “Tough, we’re doing it anyway”. Especially after McConnell blocked his every attempt to do good for the American public from Day 1 of Term 1. The R’s just rolled Obama left and right.

    • ghm52 says:

      McConnell threatened Obama. Worked as usual.

  36. Đào Thu-Vân says:

    I have to admit that this stuff is too complex for me!
    Does it mean that America put Trump where he is now in order to expose Putin’s criminal records?
    Any opinion/s?

    • John Judge says:

      Putin wants NO daylight, which is why several Russians have been killed, assaulted, imprisoned or just plain disappeared since the US election. Oddly all of them appear to have given evidence of Putin’s wrongdoing or were scheduled to. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence. But if I was Rachel Maddow or some of the others investigating Putin, Russia, Trump I would be very, very careful.

    • Karen Burns says:

      Hundreds of Russian journalists, political figures opposed to the Putin regime and others have been killed, including an American who opened a Forbes office in Moscow. I found many Russians who would praise Putin in public (stating that he wants to make Russia great again,) but in private they abhor him and are very worried about what will happen to their country. They feel betrayed and see a definite resemblance between Putin and Stalin. I spent three years there, so I got to meet many people.

    • Terry Powers says:

      It seems to me it means that the Russian oligarchy executed a successful take-over of the executive branch of the United States government, with the passive and quite probably active assistance of the Department of Justice, as well as, perhaps, even higher ranking officials. I’ve read reams of reports on these connections; this is the first one that, literally, turned my stomach.

  37. J C says:

    We get it, Trump is mobbed up. Has been since the 1970s, when he was starting out.

    And yeah, Russian businessmen are frequently some form of mobster.

    But why is Who What Why pushing the idea that Vladimir Putin wishes to restore the Soviet empire?

    What do you think the US would do if a nuclear armed state overthrew the government of Quebec and started killing English speakers?

    No, Putin supposedly having ties to Russian mobsters does not make the claims about Putin’s purported wish to take over Ukraine any more valid. NATO expanded toward the borders of Russia despite promises not to do so.

    • John Judge says:

      I think you are making the mistake of thinking Russia works like the US. It doesn’t. Putin is a ruthless authoritarian leader. The Oligarchs AND Mobsters owe their lives and fortunes to the good graces of Putin, and in return they fund/do anything Putin wants – like giving Trump money through a bad business deal, or hiring Manafort, or Flynn, or… and the Russian mafia is directly connected to Putin and the Oligarchs. They do the enforcing and are paid for by Putin. It’s pretty scary really. They come at your from the left all corporate banker, Mother Russia, and if you step out of line they come at you all retired Spetnaz, FSB and put Polonium in your tea (google it). I will say that Russia probably deserves Crimea. It is historically Russian, 90% of the people speak Russian and it is pretty much the only warm water port Russia has and is a huge naval base. It’s not like the US would give up Tidewater Virginia if the South left again.

    • Gus Mueller says:

      Uhh, yeah, but. Kruschchev GAVE Crimea to Ukraine. Your analogy fails. Grownups are talking.

    • Karen Burns says:

      Putin himself said that he wants to bring Russia and its neighbors back together to reflect a time when Russia (the dominant country of the USSR) was a superpower. He blasted Gorbachev and Yeltsin for losing “the country.”

    • Gus Mueller says:

      You know Ukraine doesn’t have nuclear weapons right?

    • makulu53 says:

      Agreed. But let’s not forget that the US government’s hands are hardly clean. Nixon’s “War on drugs” evolved out of his paranoia and desire to punish people who opposed him, into a criminal enterprise. Our government is in Afghanistan primarily out of a desire to control the flow of most of the world’s supply of opiates. It is a $50+ billion enterprise at the wholesale level. Organized criminals are supplied with the opiates in return for cash, which creates a huge slush fund that our leaders can use to conduct covert operations instead of having to ask Congress to appropriate funds. These funds are used to influence elections, overthrow “unfriendly” governments, and support American business interests. Eisenhower warned us about the “Military-Industrial Complex” in his farewell speech, and now, 57 years later it has grown into a monster that is out of control.

  38. Steve Rogers says:

    Who would have thought that a mentally unstable charlatan would be such a lousy president?! Wow…

  39. WhilesSkiles says:

    So “Russian Bots” were influencing the election? Weren’t State Department and CIA “bots” doing the same thing? (And failing horribly which is real the problem now isn’t it?) And what exactly is this “Fake News” that was supposedly spread? They are simply calling views and interpretations of real events “fake news”. That’s not fake; it’s simply news and opinion they can’t control. What’s really appalling about this is it’s an attempt to desperately claw back their former, lost control of information with paranoia and smears and all kinds of insane guilt by association. And for Christ’s sake THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ASSOCIATING WITH RUSSIANS! No sane or unobsessed person think it is. It’s not even guilt by association. It’s not guilt of any kind.

    Also to talk about and investigate Russian influence of the election and not investigate the Clinton Foundation and Huma Abedin’s connections is inexpressibly absurd and ridiculous. But I don’t even want to talk about Clinton. The election is long over…for some people that is. Their attempted color revolution and astroturf unrest was a horrible failure now they’re giving this a whirl. They won’t stop until they get a civil war, which they would also lose miserably. They need to grow the hell up and accept reality!!!!The Neo-Liberal era is over. Remember when they said Nationalism and Communism is dead? Well this is the same thing. Accept it.

    • J C says:

      “Huma Abedin’s connections”, such as?

    • Terry Powers says:

      I can’t speak for anyone else, but as for me, the concern here has NOTHING to do with political parties or who won the election but with where our newly elected president’s loyalties actually lie.

      With every report I read on this subject, it looks increasingly like Trump has willingly assisted Russian oligarchs in laundering dirty money through his own holdings or those he’s a party to in exchange for their continuing investment in his financial endeavors; in other words, he’s literally “owned” by a foreign state. Do think those tax returns are being withheld because there’s nothing in them of any interest?

      This isn’t about Russia, per se; it’s about American sovereignty and whether decisions are being made according to U.S. interests or those of a foreign power whose interests are the antithesis of our own. No offense, but your presumed loyalty to Trump has apparently blinded you to reality, or else you think that Putin being in charge of American foreign policy is as good a situation as any.

  40. I grew up in the upper echelons of NYC and am a few years younger than Trump. It was well known then that this man was connected with the mobs – both Italian and Russian. It is partly why Manhattan society excluded him. Trump was and still probably is in so deep with the Russians financially that he is completely compromised and why Manhattan by using his ego against him they have explicitly compromising information on him. Trump is a Russian puppe. Being run by a handler very close to him and someone who tries very hard to avoid the public eye now. This is not good for America – and until this festering wound is cleaned out and cauterized, our nation is at great risk.

  41. oz7com says:

    In true justice, Hillary Clinton should be made the President of the United States, not Pence. This situation negates the election.

  42. Paul Robinson says:

    They make convenient excuses for why they can’t release non existent information, while continuing to make baseless accusations. Meanwhile the many crimes and acts of treason committed by Hillary and the Clinton Gang are ignored.

  43. BS says:

    Hogwash

  44. Debbie Soares says:

    Regardless of the FBI either infringing on other agency investigations, or even thwarting possibly their own, what they consider bigger fish to catch; Americans deserve to know if in fact their President is a puppet, can be bought for a $, or even a criminal. The FBI needs to know and really consider the security and strength of the USA being undermined and destroyed by this one man. The FBI needs to understand the destruction of our democracy and country is more important than catching Russian mobsters, saving a Russian squealer, or saving face for a con-man. The FBI, CIA and DOJ need to consider telling all of what they have to the Senate Intel, and both Houses of government should bring Trump and his whole administration up on treason charges and impeachment.

    • WhilesSkiles says:

      The mainstream sources couldn’t threaten him with withholding money for saying things they didn’t like. He is actually the first American leader in the lives of most people alive NOT a puppet. The hypocrisy is astounding.

    • AudioTactics says:

      All of the evidence indicates that Trump is a Russian puppet though…

  45. Frank Casanova says:

    If we get out of this at all, it will be by the skin of our teeth. The Kennedy Assassination investigation never really uncovered the truth either. We will never know. Same goes here.

    • Antonio Calabria says:

      I agree with most of what you wrote. The government’s investigation into the murder of President Kennedy was a whitewash. But fortunately, a good number of books published since then have thrown a lot of light on the conspiracy and the murder.

    • Karen Burns says:

      My grandmother told me that after the JFK assassination, certain information was classified and obviously withheld from the public. However, she pointed out that the authorities said that the information would not be available for 50 years. Well, it’s over 50 years since that statement was made. Where is that information? Why hasn’t it been released?

    • Frank Casanova says:

      Right !! I think a lot of it is still very sensitive and 50 years was not enough time to be honest about what was essential the first real “Coup” in US history.

  46. DutchS says:

    If you think the Russian Mafia popped out of the ground full-grown in the 1990’s, I have a bridge to sell you. No, count on it, they ran the “Workers’ Paradise” of the Soviet Union, at least since the days of the gulag, when criminals were basically allowed to run the camps. They did a lot of the dirty work for the KGB and when the Soviet Union came undone, a lot of KGB men went over to the mob.

    Also, with a certain amount of military experience, let me tell you that classified information isn’t for your entertainment. There are venal reasons things are kept secret but there are also eminently sound reasons as well. And unless you can tell me how specifically something will help you make a more informed decision, you do not have a Need to Know.

  47. Dix Lee says:

    So we get stuck with a third rate hack in the White House so an FBI high level investigation on the Russian mob isn’t jeopardized?

  48. Hawk620 says:

    Lots of capricious comments about Putin and his questionable allies, but very little proof offered to substantiate such theories from what I am reading. Do the authors of this generally a well-written essay know that it was Putin who put the kabash on the Yeltsin oligarchs and restored Russia to economic normalcy? (A work in progress for sure, btw). Unfortunately for the author, whose skills as wordsmiths are somewhat legendary, this essay smacks of speculation and lack of annotation.

    • Frank Casanova says:

      How can there be incontrovertible PROOF at this point? That’s the whole point of the article.

    • Roberta Joan says:

      Unless kleptocracy is now considered a legitimate system of government, Russia has never had “economic normalcy”. Tsars, Bolsheviks, Communists/Soviets, and the current Russian thief and murderer, Putin, have been kleptomaniacs, one and all.

    • WhilesSkiles says:

      How many people do you know who actually live in Russia?

    • J C says:

      So you’re saying go back to the Yeltsin era?

    • Terry Powers says:

      There’s literally no end to corroborated publicly accessible data on Trump’s financial involvement with former Soviet oligarchs; again and again,previously denied meetings with Russian officials turn out to have to have taken place after all; denying and subsequently admitting to changing the Republican Party platform position on the Ukraine; and, probably LEAST significantly, Russia’s Trump-biased election meddling. And all the speculation could have been put to rest months ago with the simple release of his tax returns, the accepted norm for Presidential candidates going back to Nixon, and he refused to do it. Short of Vladimir holding a press conference and unequivocally stating that, yes, the Donald is, in fact, neatly tucked into his back trousers pocket, what is required of you to seriously entertain that possibility. I don’t think the Prez will be offering up any voluntarily signed confessions.

  49. bahmi says:

    The FBI “investigation” into the emails of Hillary Clinton was open”????? You think Comey was open in discussing those emails?

    • Everybodhi says:

      Hillary did testify before congress about those emails, publicly, answering their questions for 14 hours.
      I would like to see Trump testify before congress about his Russian ties, under oath.

  50. Matthew Kissell says:

    @rom661 – The IRS has his records. Im sure they are hiding stuff for him. Especially when Obama would have had instant access to those records.

    • Everybodhi says:

      Obama never had access to any citizen’s tax returns, including Trump.
      That’s not how our government works.

  51. Lokesh Gunjugnur says:

    An excellent investigative journalism. While you see the obvious behavior of hide and seek in the current administration, the absolute disregard for truth and reasoning, a blatant display of arrogance from the people in power, a lack and shame and respect by the very who tout it and a public whose attention span and mental make up begs us asking for more, you have proved once again that there is hope in the hands of a few. Thank you very much sir for enlightening us. But then again, you sometimes wonder if this massive stupid population which is a majority deserves these cons and crooks to lead them.

  52. Richard Walden says:

    This excellent investigative piece could, when combined with whatever ex MI-6 agent Christopher Steele has found out while working for both Rubio’s campaign and later the democrats, become very difficult for both Trump and the US intelligence and law enforcement agencies that know about these dealings to avoid their consequences. In addition, Trump faces an inevitable black market sale of his alleged Miss Universe-era Ritz Carlton Moscow sexcapades tapes and, with luck, unveiling his alleged after-hours Wall Street-run sex parties using a dominatrix and her crew. At some point, all this c*** should lead to, at the very least, charges of either tax evasion or lying to a federal investigator–and that should set off impeachment or even a 25th amendment replacement move against him by the required one half of his cabinet (likely led by its Wall Street delegation)..The cause? Mental incapacity….

  53. Seth Grossman says:

    That’s exactly how CIA ruined Jonathan Pollard in 1990’s. Pollard was about to be released after 12 years in prison for illegally giving Israel information about Iraq missiles and chemical weapons we were supposed to give them according to our treaty with them anyway. Then CIA leaked phony reports falsely accusing Pollard and Israel of working for the Russians. The sources were never released because CIA and FBI both falsely said it would compromise investigations. Later, we found out CIA lied, and that investigation about Russians never existed. Liberty and Prosperity

  54. Eduard says:

    This website doesn’t allow dissenting views or criticism of an article that is based on innuendo and guilt by association. I think I’ll have my salad with Russian salad dressing now. Oh no, I just revealed my connection to Vladimir Putin!

    Watch this post get scrubbed.

    • PaulVerite says:

      Spicey, is that you?

    • dancenever says:

      No one has scrubbed it yet- rather disproving your conspiracy theory. You might want to get some arguments of your own rather than plagiarising Trump’s frontman.

    • Eduard says:

      How convenient! How about my other two posts that were deleted and showed the entire article above as being based on guilt-by-association and innuendo? Here’s the most important fact in my deleted posts.
      1)During the Bush Administration the State Department had GOOD foreign relations with Russia (look this up, i.e. Wikipedia). That means business with Russia was open to the American public.
      2) A landlord of hundreds of rental properties does not have the resources or the legal capacity to spy on its tenants. This is the job of the FBI. A landlord’s job is financial in nature for renting office space. Accordingly, a renter will assure the lessee has the approved credit rating and assure its published business income stream covers the rent. That’s it. If some customer comes in my donut shop to buy donuts, I have no obligation other than the sale. There is no other “connection”. The “make everything radioactive that’s Russian” narrative did not really exist until the presidential campaign. Now, there’s something interesting.

    • Savior Rebus says:

      Again not scrubbed. fake comment.

    • Eduard says:

      Now there is Libtard illogic.

    • CrashingOut says:

      Almost a week later and your comment looks stupider every day :) enjoying all the winning yet, how’s that Trumpcare bill treating you?

    • Eduard says:

      The spying on Trump by the Obama Administration has been confirmed. The unmasking of it has been pinpointed to Susan Rice. Two others are being investigated in the loop as well. Those two are Brennan and Lynch.

      In regards to Obamacare, every week more providers are pulling out. It’s failing and a dead man walking. With the Repubs, Ryancare was a bad deal that the majority of people didn’t want. It is actually healthy to have competing ideas.

      I always say, “one step back, two steps forward.” Wait and see, libtard. Something beautiful will arise. It’s like a phoenix rising from the burnt ashes of democrat corruption and control.

    • Eduard says:

      What the leftist libtards don’t get is that the American people have spoken very clearly they don’t care about Trumps’ tax returns. Only the Democrats seem to care. This is why they lost the election. Because the same old game plan just doesn’t work for them anymore.

  55. Isabelle Ziegler says:

    There’s probably more to the Cohen brothers links also.

  56. Expatmom says:

    Why did Comey & the Bureau make sure Clinton lost the election??

  57. MedusaX says:

    It is likely that Trumps’s campaign activities threatened to upend more than just one ongoing investigation …

    The Russian efforts to influence the election were recognized prior to Nov. but the potential threat (to the election outcome) posed was not accurately assessed.

    Clearly, the Trump campaign & transition team members were captured (incidentally or otherwise) engaging in communication activities, with persons under surveillance, on a frequent basis… so frequently that there exists at least 3 binders of intelligence data detailing such interactions.

    The big question now seems to be whether or not the investgating agencies made a deal with Donald during the Transition period…..

    If such a deal was made, it would explain why Trump chose to get out of the Azerbaijani Baku Tower deal …. but felt no need to truly divest of any other business holdings.

    We know there are multiple Russia/Trump Team investigations underway….
    But what we do not know
    Is if DjT is the target or the mole…..

  58. WickedCats says:

    What ? Then did Comey hand this ******* the presidency by rehashing the email issue two weeks before the election?

  59. benignfringe says:

    I am greatly relieved to see this article. I will continue to believe that the truth will be Mr. Trump’s reward for his life of lying and abuse.

  60. Willis Ronald Linn says:

    rom 661 I see we’re on the same side!

  61. oz7com says:

    The “President” has been office way too many days

  62. Eduard says:

    This is a tortuous story based on innuendo and guilt by association. Since when does a landlord, especially of a very tall building housing hundreds of tenants, and many other rental properties, become responsible for knowing beforehand the legally of the businesses of its tenants? As long as verification of the tenant’s business credit is confirmed, verification of its financial portfolio to pay rent, and a BBB type confirmation is made, the landlord has no other obligations for renting its office space. So what if his tenants were foreign born, especially in NYC? This is a stretch and guilt by association. Trump also associated with Mike Tyson. This doesn’t make Trump a rapist and wife-beater. Remember, during the Bush Administration, the U.S. had good foreign relations with Russia. There was no public policy whatsoever against doing business with Russians. It is only in the last year or so, especially during the presidential campaign, that Russia has been made radioactive. In the article, the authors betrays themselves by artfully using “former Soviet Union” to describe Russia today. Nice try, fellows. Russia today is not anything like the agnostic Soviet Union of decades ago. Russia has reestablished the Christian church as an important part of governance and Russian culture. Whereas, the Soviet Union persecuted, imprisoned, and murdered church leaders, Russia has declared itself as a Christian nation. The innuendos and guilt-by-association, along with pure speculation and no real evidence, makes this an article based on conspiracy theories.

    • Willis Ronald Linn says:

      The Russian People are of many faiths and even in the Soviet Union days they were still there. Putin has been linked directly to poison murders and mafia-like hits on his opponents since his days in the KGB – he is a mobster and a murderer. Here is something else, if you rent an apartment building with the knowledge that a lot of your renters are crack dealers, you are promoting the deal and are guilty by association just like being the driver of a get away car! Trump and his associates have gone beyond the point of just being involved, they are 100% guilty of enough crimes, that I think that death would be too easy a punishment!

    • SenorApplesauce says:

      That was a tortuous attempt to ignore what was actually in this story.

    • rocks911 says:

      You are full on, completely, undeniably, irrevocably in denial.

  63. Jeff Clyburn says:

    the mental gymnastics by Trump-enthused cons trying to pretend “nothing to see here! please disperse!” really are breathtaking… to them, investigative journalists should have a binary choice: 1) reveal a smoking gun of proof that brings indictment, or 2) don’t bother writing anything, no matter how big the glacier of circumstantial evidence. … Fortunately, the Fourth Estate doesn’t work that way, and that glacier isn’t melting … Not that they ever attempt to actually counter the links and specific assertions provided in reports like these. Instead, the best these Ayn Rand cultists offer is a lazy surface dismissal of any unflattering report on their hero, and a laughable bid to attach non-profit WhoWhatWhy to some vast media conspiracy. … As always: You’re not fooling anyone, Trumpets.

  64. Betty Aberlin says:

    btw publishing this James Hughes photo: Trump seen from below to heighten his customary gesture which is somewhere between “I’m being crucified, I am Christ” & “so sue me” is irresponsible.

    • Jeff Clyburn says:

      Is there a photo of him that isn’t? He either looks like this, or he’s jutting his jaw like Mussolini, or he’s making an expression critical of a disabled person. I’m sure their options were limited.

  65. L Garou says:

    Bill Clinton, co-President Hillary, Mad Maddie and Al Gore already have 500,000 notches on their broom sticks from their demonic sanctions which killed (murdered) HALF A MILLION Iraqi children who never did anything to anyone. Remember “we think it’s worth it”?
    To ignore this, excuse this as ‘war’ or somehow lessen this demonic crime is an obscenity in itself.

    • John Judge says:

      WTF? GEORGE W BUSH invaded Iraq. He authorized TORTURE. He disbanded their entire government and military. Those people needed jobs. What do military people know how to do? War. So many of them joined Isis. We didn’t murder children. Saddam on the other hand DID. He even used chemical weapons on them. So yes, we created a series of economic sanctions to break the will of Iraq and keep them from buying more weapons to use on their neighbors (remember Kuwait?) or their own people. There is no doubt that sanctions hurt the poor as well as the leaders of a country. We can only use the tools we have. The article you cite was published in 1995. Since then we have tried other strategies with Iraq. War. Occupation. Leaving. None have worked to bring peace, prosperity and happiness to the region. But if you study some history you will learn it has been a violent place since well before Jesus. So I’m not sure you can really lay much of the blame for the children pre 1995 on the US. You can lay all of the blame for the 500,000+ civilian deaths in Iraq, the destruction of their infrastructure, 2 million people having left the country and the formation of Isis into a global threat at the feet of George W. Bush and his failed policies.

    • L Garou says:

      I’m not talking about George.

      Hey, how about Ghengis Khan, he was a SOB!

    • John Judge says:

      I’m pretty sure Ghengis wasn’t an American so the US is not responsible for his actions. You were laying the deaths of Iraqi children at the feet of democrats. I was pointing out the GOP leaders destroyed the country, the infrastructure, murdered civilians (and allowed contractors to as well), lost a fortune, and oh yes turned ISIS into what it is today and accomplished? Oh yes, the killing of Saddam. Which we could have done with a stealth bomber or a flight of cruise missiles. Perhaps both sides should remember that land wars in Asia are a mistake. Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, tell me when I get to the one that was great, Korea? Japan? (be honest without the nuke it would have been a bloody mess)

    • L Garou says:

      I repeat myself..
      Over and out.

    • John Judge says:

      Do as you wish, but to believe only one political party makes horrible mistakes that effects billions of lives and kill hundreds of thousands is naive.

    • L Garou says:

      I don’t believe that and you know it.
      You’re just talking to hear yourself talk.

    • Willis Ronald Linn says:

      You sure do L Garou, just like a broken record!

    • L Garou says:

      No one asked you, big mouth.

    • Willis Ronald Linn says:

      John, where did you find this troll to play with, I want one, too mine retreated into the field of truth!

    • Willis Ronald Linn says:

      L Garou, did you vote for the Khan too? Go figure!

    • SenorApplesauce says:

      and this article wasn’t about the Clintons or Gore.

    • Willis Ronald Linn says:

      Shuuu John, they don’t want the Bush years remembered and don’t give a c***. Republicans in Congress pushed for almost all the wars they blame others for!

  66. momjones says:

    Knowing what they knew and then releasing some bogus email story to derail the election in this monster’s favor? They have essentially handed us over to Russian mobsters. Given our national security away, put innocent people in the line of fire, to what now? Keep secrets?

    • Willis Ronald Linn says:

      Now, legal actions either take them down, or the People will have to. we are under obligation to the 2nd Amendment’s reason to bear arms.

    • pearlite says:

      Couldn’t have said it better myself!

  67. pfry says:

    Wow. Deserving of a Pulitzer.

    • John Judge says:

      Yeah, but if you read the oath the Secret Service, FBI,etc. take it says to defend from all enemies foreign and domestic. It seems to me that if there are 101 connections between Trump and Putin AND organized crime he should be in a federal cell awaiting trial. Just because the President can be impeached by Congress doesn’t mean he is immune from all other law enforcement.

    • Willis Ronald Linn says:

      Any crime he did that was eligible for trial prior to “election” can still be brought to court, and Treason is an exception that allows him to be tried while still a standing president.

  68. AnotherLover says:

    Okay. Didn’t make it even a quarter of the way through this article. Probably because it sounded like so much hyperbloviating, like the entire Russian angle. The news after the elections: The Mainstream Press Is Corrupt. MSM news after the elections? Russia. Kinda makes me sick anybody’s buying it.

  69. SelfMadeRepub says:

    Trump is just a temporary fixture in Putin’s puppet government here in the U.S.

    • Willis Ronald Linn says:

      Putin and Trump are bringing a lot of unwanted attention to the Russian Mob Boss, I’m sure he has plans for them!

    • J C says:

      “Putin’s puppet”.

      Roy Cohn would be at home with this neo-McCarthyite c***–irony.

  70. (Comment by reader @bigotesdemorsa) FBI let a compromised person become prez. why?

    • sublimelight says:

      Exactly. Why?? He’s been on their radar for three decades? What?!

    • Antonio Calabria says:

      What would be the most obvious answer, I wonder.

    • notlurking says:

      I am asking myself the same question….if the FBI had the goods on him even partially why not come out during the election….leak some nasty stuff to derail it….weird.

    • Willis Ronald Linn says:

      The Trump big money buddy system who have lawyers flowing out their zippers is the reason it’s taken so long! The combined wealth of these crooks can hide them well.

    • Rose McFrog says:

      Putin was the big prize. Dumb Donnie was the perfect catalyst to fire him up and make him drop his guard. I knew Putin underestimated us. To be able to prove that Russia’s been meddling in our elections to steal power and resources has international implications. Who knows, maybe the FBI is working with insiders in the politburo. They can’t be comfortable with all the recent assassinations.

    • bahmi says:

      Could be just another NWO power grab.

    • Gumby Version 2018 says:

      Because the FBI is compromised as well ….

  71. (Comment by reader @I_am_Rubycakes) Wow!! This is deep.

  72. Joseph says:

    Let’s not forget that as a condominium landlord, most anyone, typically via LLCs or trusts, can purchase such NYC hi-end residential real estate. The facilitators of the payment are the buyer’s and seller’s banks who have the responsibility of “knowing their customer,” and adhering to money laundering rules and regulations. Placing a blame upon Trump for dealing with some of the Russian mobsters’ entities is no different than Gulfstream selling the G650ER or Rolls Royce sell a fleet of autos to some of the world’s unknown billionaires’ entities.

    Add that having any form of “close, trusting business or otherwise relationship” with any persons who are close to the seat of power in Russia, or its former USSR republics, is incredible fortuitous serendipity, as such can help to assure i.) access to Russian state secrets, ii.) less likelihood of a belligerent confrontation, particularly given Russia’s 7,000 nuclear warhead stockpile, iii.) economic cooperation with both an advanced scientific State as well as one with the World’s largest landmass and stores of natural resources, and iv.) ability for USA’s IC to share in revenue generation for much needed funding. Surely unlicensed card gaming does not fall in the category of a National Security Risk, nor does the laundering of monies from operations that are legal at point of funds generation origin.

    • robdashu says:

      Joseph, it sounds like you’re ready for a merger today – the “USUSSR”. Many advantages, great people, terrific country!

    • Willis Ronald Linn says:

      Most anybody real wealthy you say? Maybe their needs to be more oversight on how they made their money, where they hid it, and what they use it for, like Trump’s tax forms might show!

  73. htvit in says:

    I’m still struggling with the question what does the Trump’s election win really means. What is it telling us?
    Anyone on the “left” care to help me figure that out?

    • Willis Ronald Linn says:

      It means Russia and the Mob have worked their way deep into our Government, and we need to find real strong weed killer to take them out–That Weed Killer is the Real American Government–We The People!

  74. Josh Stern says:

    Three points that contradict the claims of this article:
    1) The FBI has publicly said, on multiple occasions, that Trump himself was not the direct target of surveillance and was not under criminal investigation,
    2) there is no overlap between these allegations and the ones publicly made by Schiff – they are disjoint – while Schiff is claiming that his allegations are the heart of the matter,
    3) the line about Russia doing something aggressive in Crimea is bunk.

    • paul says:

      Crimea voted TWICE to leave Ukraine. First in 1991 (IGNORED BY GOVENT)

    • paul says:

      2ND TIME TWO YEARS AGO. It was a Crimexit based upon the American principle of “:self-determination”. Russia did NOT “Annex” Ukraine. Kiev sent the army into Crimea but the soldiers deserted/joined the Russians or just went back home. Not one single person died.

    • Karen Burns says:

      Now, those who voted for Crimea to become part of Russia are having second thoughts. Seems that there was much more freedom for them when they were part of Ukraine. Not anymore. And .. then there are those nasty problems with sabotage.

    • JMMorgan says:

      You need to cite a creditable source for this. All it takes is a simple google search to debunk your claim:
      “. . . an interesting study, “The Socio-Political Sentiments in Crimea,” was released by the Ukrainian branch of GfK, the well-known German social research organization, as part of the Free Crimea initiative. Intriguingly, the primary objectives of this project, launched with the support of the governmental Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, were to “debunk aggressive Russian propaganda” and to “reintegrate Crimea into Ukraine.” Thus the researchers can hardly be suspected of being Russian sympathizers. . . .
      “In answer to the most important question: “Do you endorse Russia’s annexation of Crimea?” 82% of the respondents answered “yes, definitely,” and another 11% – “yes, for the most part.” Only 2% gave an unambiguously negative response, and another 2% offered a relatively negative assessment. Three percent did not specify their position. . . .”

    • Josh Stern says:

      My original post got chopped. I refered people to an article on the history of Crimea seeking autonomy by Arina Tsukanova. WWW does like links or apparently even mentioning other sites, so please do a web search as it is a an excellent piece.

    • Karen Burns says:

      The “voting” consisted of people getting ballots, filling them out and then a Russian thug would take it and read it. If the ballot was not filled out “correctly,” then the voter would be walked out the door and threatened. He or she had a choice of redoing it or getting beaten up. Most chose the former. Crimea is a part of Ukraine and what Russia did was invade Ukraine. Crimea is not a country.

    • paul says:

      So funny Karen April Fools I know !!! Sounds like a bad Hollywood film with Russian villains with bad accents!!! OMG thanks for the laugh!

    • Karen Burns says:

      paul .. obviously you were not there and didn’t observe what was happening, so laugh all you want.

    • Marko says:

      You’ve entirely destroyed any credibility you may have had with this post.

      Google the 3/17/14 CBS report “Official results: 97 percent of Crimea voters back joining Russia ” and watch the 2-min. video. Not a thug to be found , just a lot of happy , and soon-to-be Russian , Crimean voters

    • Richard says:

      That may have been the case then, but articles from the last couple weeks suggest the residents are waking up to their new reality and are mighty unhappy about their chose.

      Spotty utilities, power outages, dirty water, food shortages, no access to bank ATM’s which have been stripped of all monies, leaving people with no way to buy even basic supplies to live, and to boot criminals from Russia running and wrecking everything in their path, along with severe intimidation of anyone getting out of line.

      Be careful what you wish for is certainly apt in this case, and I would suggest it also applies equally to DJT and his band of goons.

      Time to wakey, wakey.

    • Marko says:

      Right , right ,” articles suggest ” . Um , WHICH articles ?

      Here’s a result from a 2017 survey by a German firm :

      “How would you vote if a referendum about Crimea joining the Russian Federation was held today?”

      78.8 percent of respondents in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol said they would vote “the same as in March 2014.” Only 2.4 percent said they would make a different choice, while 6.8 percent declined to answer the question.

      …10 percent are contemplating leaving Crimea. Moscow and
      other parts of Russia are by far the most preferred migration destinations. Living in an EU country or the prospect of Ukraine joining the EU one day holds little attraction for Crimeans.

      Much more info in the survey. The people of Crimea seem to be doing fine , more than can be said about many Americans .

  75. BillyDe ”°º×»-(¯`v´¯)-» ♥ ♥ says:

    ATTENTION MEDIA and FBI: ➽ NOT my President Trump and three (3) of his colleagues ordered Russian dressing for their salads at Trump Grill in Trump Tower at 7:36 pm on the 18th of March 2017. OMG

  76. markgao11 says:

    So Russians do have leverage on Mr. Trump. At least they could cause enormous financial loss to the Trump organization.

    • Willis Ronald Linn says:

      The are already causing tremendous loss to American Rights, Freedoms, Security and way of life. Let’s look at this: Russia would like to weaken America, so now comes Trump and the phonies in our “elected”congress, Trump wants us out of NATO and The United Nations, he wants us fighting trade wars with our allies in the China sea “China and Russia have mutual defense treaties, Russian is and has been supporting Iran, North Korea, Argentina and many other countries Trump is linked to. Exxon-Mobil is linked to Trump, Putin and the Russian Mob. Trump is going to lose no matter who takes this mess apart!

  77. Marcia Douglas says:

    THANK YOU. If this mess has to come in from the cold and see the light of day … do it damn it!

  78. GeorgeMokray says:

    Practice, practice, practice.

  79. Martha Bartha says:

    Manafort may get a deal!

  80. Martha Bartha says:

    The GOP is already stalling!

  81. rom661 says:

    For the many Trump clones here, although I’m not a fan of Clinton, she did release her taxes, which presidents have done for what, forty years or more? There is no reasonable conclusion to explain his failure to do so other than that he is hiding something. Yes, he doesn’t have to. Yet. But it makes no sense if he doesn’t have something to hide. Plus, I think he is a mean spirited creep but that’s another topic.

    • Jeff Clyburn says:

      also a draft dodger, who clearly has no problem spiking the war rhetoric … “What, ME fight? Let the poors fight the wars we cause!” …. Nothing is more disgusting. Nothing.

    • Willis Ronald Linn says:

      I agree

    • Josh Stern says:

      I’m not a Trump fan. There are lots of bad Trump policies to fight. At the moment however, most of the oxygen is being sucked out of valid criticism by the people who want to ally themselves with fabricated Deep State nonsense & propaganda. I don’t feel that way about WWW, but I do feel the FBI is always about politics and very rarely about law enforcement or truth. The big picture for the FBI at the moment is working on the CIA/NSA/DOD side of a political fight. They can pull out misc. junk from their closet to add further smoke, but it it isn’t going anywhere. They already said they are not investigating Trump and nothing new is added here about his staff.

    • John Judge says:

      Seriously? I am not a Hillary fan, but Trump has been in violation of the Constitution since the moment he took his oath. (Emoluments Clause) His national security adviser was a foreign agent! His SoS has a 500 billion conflict of interest with Russia. His Sec. of Commerce was on the board of a Cyprus bank known for laundering Russian money, with a Russian billionaire who paid Trump 50 mil more than Palm Beach house was worth and who paid Paul Manafort millions more, who was another foreign agent of Russia working as the HEAD of the Trump campaign, and who laundered his Russian millions through the same Cyprus bank. And the man who was investigating all of this was asked to stay on by Trump and then fired when he got close. There are so many violations of federal law, election law and even international law that it is beyond belief. But don’t think it won’t be prosecuted, it has to be. It might have to wait until the democrats win some seats. But the more the GOP denies the forest fire at the White House, the more credibility they lose.

    • Josh Stern says:

      I don’t doubt that Trump has corruption lurking in various places or that he appointed a cabinet of rich dudes who are likely the same. But the Russia hacked the election and Russia buying influence claims are nonsense. Replace UK or France or Italy in your search for business ties and you would come up with larger numbers and more connections. Does that entitle you to claim that UK, France or Italy are buying the POTUS? It’s silly. Flynn is a different case. He was a lobbyist for Turkey, not Russia. He got fired from Obama’s DIA for, among other things, being an outspoken opponent of some of Obama’s covert programs. Given that background, it’s not surprising he appeals as a political lobbyist, but that doesn’t make his positions wrong. Not declaring the lobbying connection properly was wrong of him, and Trump let him go. He’s out. A mistake. Manafort was also fired even prior to the election. The above things are factual. I have a semi-serious conspiracy theory too – I think that Trump was not expected to win the primary or the general, and that the CIA started scrambling to compromise him in Spring 2016 when he was doing surprisingly well. The genesis of the various malwares and reports of suspicious internet activity that led to FISA warrants can both be traced to the CIA. CIA was active in Ukraine coup, and that was Manafort’s last posting. Manafort was partners with Stone. Both did embarrassingly bad work for Trump…and turn out to be the center of the investigation into suspicious communications, supposedly with Russian something or other….

    • John Judge says:

      The British, French & Italian companies are companies, not shells and fronts for our enemy Russia. Putin works hand in glove with the Russian mafia. Many of the Oligarchs are ex-KGB/ FSB like Putin. They send money to people like Manafort, Flynn, Trump (Manafort took RUSSIAN money and was a foreign agent as well as Flynn). The Oligarchs are up to their necks in the Russian mafia. Look at the news. In the last month two Russian gov’t officials have disappeared (one from a gov’t meeting with a hood over his head!) The opposition leader was jailed, another opponent took a header off the 4th floor and one was murdered on a public street. This doesn’t happen much in France or the UK either, unless the RUSSIANS are doing it. I agree with you, I don’t think Trump himself thought he would win, or his backers. My point is that I think there is serious criminal activity here, in the Trump campaign, the transition and the current White House. Cut off one head and another pops up. Get rid of Manafort and we get rid of Flynn. Get rid of Flynn we get Rex, and Jared and Ivanka (Sessions?). All of which have ties to Russia and Azerbaijan. (Where it appears Trump industries did business with people who do business with people who fund terrorism, which is a violation of federal law too.) You want to tell me it’s a coincidence that Trump has tons of debt with Deutsche Bank who is in trouble for laundering Russian money? That the head of Deutsche Bank is now the head of the Bank of Cyprus? The bank of Cyprus was principally owned by the Sec. of Commerce and a Russian billionaire with ties to Trump and Putin? and Manafort just happened to have MILLION in several accounts? I have voted R, D and I over the years for the White House. I say this with no happiness or glee, these matters are intertwined with national security, the Constitution, federal laws like sedition, conspiracy, money laundering, nepotism, and it will only end with Trump leaving the White House. Does the GOP put America first and enforce our laws? Or do they put party first and make America a puppet of Russia? Those are the choices on the table. The longer they wait the less credibility the party has. 70 days ago Trump had 47% approval, today? around 37. That’s a loss of 400,000 people a day.

    • Josh Stern says:

      Now you are trying to circularly justify anti-Russian propaganda with more anti-Russian propaganda. Putting aside the propaganda, it’s important to separate domestic criticisms from criticisms of foreign policy aggression and meddling. There is no question that Russia has greater domestic corruption, totalitarianism, legal control, press control etc. than the US. But in the area of foreign policy and international meddling, the US has done 10X as much as Russia, and that case is even much stronger since the fall of the USSR 30+ years ago. The things you are saying make a lot less sense than someone claiming anyone in *any* foreign election is a US puppet because of US ties. Take the Cyprus bank example. If Trump got a loan that he would not have qualified for from another bank then it is corruption, pure and simple, without worrying about a covert Russian purpose to it. If he could have had the same loan from some other bank, then there is no content to the allegation. Much the same can be said of other associations.

    • John Judge says:

      Just because you can qualify for a loan does not mean taking other laundered money is legal. We have laws against that. We have laws against 101 things team Trump have done and are doing. And yes it is all much worse when team Trump is bought by our enemy vs. our historic allies (which would be just as illegal though). No doubt the US and Russia both meddle in geopolitics too much, and in some of the same ways. But Putin is evil and Russia is a bully. The US meddles from greed, or to do the right thing (as we see it). Sure we almost always screw it up, and are seen as a bully too. But that is because we have a government of ignorant people who don’t understand history or geopolitics. As for the money… let me try to break it down a bit more. Putin props up a guy as a billionaire by putting his competitors in prison or on the run. The billionaire kicks backs cash to Putin and does his bidding. Manafort offers his services to the billionaire. The billionaire does a “bad” deal with Trump that GIVES Trump 50 million. Manafort gets tens of millions working as an agent of foreign gov’t from the very same billionaire (without registering another felony). The same billionaire owns a corrupt bank in Cyprus with Trump team Sec. of Commerce (rich I know). Then Manafort puts his laundered millions in that bank to hide it and what he is doing with it. My point in belaboring this is is this is NO coincidence. This is naked corruption. Then people in Russia who know about all this start having accidents, some fatal. In the last two months I know of 6. If you think all of this is coincidence you have your head in the sand. If you don’t think it is corrupt, imagine Hillary & friends doing this. Feel your blood pressure rising? That is a sure sign that the actions are unethical, illegal, immoral and in several cases unConstitutional.

    • Josh Stern says:

      Loan and the charge of “laundered money” really have nothing to do with each other, unless you are claiming that Trump sent someone to Cyprus to pick up bags of cash money, or, I suppose that the bank’s loan rates rather than being overly attractive as a bribe were actually so bad that they had no clients and Trump was doing them a favor…

      Manafort was definitely a suspicious character. I sent e-mails to friends pointing that out in June 2016 and I wasn’t surprise by either him getting dumped a few months later or the corruption and weird contacts allegations being directed at him now. The Trump campaign started doing politically stupid things as soon as he joined them. I actually do think he was an undercover plant. But I think it was CIA rather than Russia and I don’t think Trump knew anything about it. I’m suspicious of Stone too, who is a long time Manafort partner and routinely talks c*** that is too silly to be on the level (“I was poisoned with Plutonium” etc.)

    • John Judge says:

      I am pleased you have an open mind and are willing to look at things. It seems to me that there are more people and issues on the table than you. But the investigations and media continue to dig.

      My best guess is that Trump was ensnared by these people in a moment of bankruptcy. They provided easy cash with no questions. The snare was set. Manafort, Trump, Ross, Jared, Rex, Flynn, and others are all stuck and thus under the influence of Putin, which explains why none of them say a word against Russia despite the mounting evidence. Regardless of what you or I think the weeks and months will bring new evidence one way or the other.

    • Josh Stern says:

      That’s kind of a wild guess. In your theory, when was Trump last in bankruptcy, which group gave him the money, and what did they get for it in return?? The idea that – Russian mobsters gave him money years ago in the hope that he would become POTUS and then pursue sensible policies of not spouting phony US propaganda at Russia or blame Russia for the fact that ethnically Russian Crimea never wanted to be artificially connected to Ukraine, and especially didn’t support the neo-Nazi regime that the CIA installed in Ukraine in 2013, so we shouldn’t be arming them and sanctioning Russia for opposing that – seems kind of far fetched.

    • John Judge says:

      I am troubled by the time line too. Did it start as an effort to get control of Trump’s business? Did they want a US mole? The KGB/ FSB plays a long game. But when a billionaire pays 95 million for something the last guy bought for 40 million you have to wonder. Typically billionaires are smart, especially about money. So why pay more? It was 2008 and Donald really needed it. It ALL sees far fetched. If it was a movie you would turn it off. But there are 101 links from the White House to the Kremlin. And it isn’t the Red Phone. I want a LOT more evidence, but I there is too much to sweep under a rug, and every time anyone like Nunes interferes with the various investigations I get a bit more creeped out. It feels like Watergate X Iran Contra X a bad cold war movie.

    • Josh Stern says:

      Putting Trump and Trump/campaign/admin to one side for the moment…the CIA and FBI have a long, long track record of basically lying about almost everything they give press releases/conferences about. The CIA also has a multitude of ways to plant fake stories in the press and fake leads with private investigators, or real leads that don’t lead to petty scandals rather than a big international intrigue. In this situation, they are putting out salvo after salvo against Trump going back to Summer 2016 and a high percentage of their salvos have already been proven duds. Then they change the story. The press/Congress are taking everything they say as “known fact” and parroting it as such. If Trump was guilty of a big thing that mattered to national security, they would already have announced it and shown the evidence. The fact that this has dragged on for so long and they actually want to drag it out more – e.g. they are *not* going to offer Flynn immunity to talk – suggests very strongly that they have nothing really interesting and the motives are purely political.

    • Karen Burns says:

      So you think the neo-Putin lapdog, Viktor Yanukovych was wrongly dismissed? Are you aware that Putin himself traveled to Ukraine to campaign for Yanukovych who is not even Ukrainian! Neo-Nazi regime, you say? How so?

    • Josh Stern says:

      Historically, there was a decent amount of support for the Hitler in Ukraine and the CIA made allegiance with the remnants of those collaborators after WWII. In 1947-48 CIA/MI6 sent commandos into Ukraine. Their goal was to underime/overthrow the USSR. Putin was aware in 2013 that CIA was involved in trying to change the govt. and also that the new opposition would promise to be more aligned with NATO and against Russia. For the CIA, that is more than enough reason to back the coup. But the US is still the bad guys in this story and in the Crimea story.

    • Karen Burns says:

      Why do you think there was support for Hitler in Ukraine? Are you familiar with Ukraine’s history? Now, why would Ukrainians not be very fond of having communism imposed on them? Maybe the collectivization of their farming enterprises, the removal of important historical items from their museums, the destruction of their centuries old churches, the attempts to destroy their cultural identity?

    • Josh Stern says:

      I posted a reply to you with a bunch of links, forgetting that WWW doesn’t allow that. You can read articles about the Ukrainian coup on GlobalResearch, ConsortiumNews, and StrategicCulture.

    • Karen Burns says:

      Josh, I read EVERYTHING I can get my hands on (or eyes on) and I spend extensive time in Ukraine and Russia where I have many important political contacts. I just returned after a 3+ year stay.

    • Karen Burns says:

      Josh, thank you for the links. Good job!

    • Josh Stern says:

      I big paart of the FBI’s campaign has been about labeling RT as malicious propaganda site. I started viewing RT and their news is, in reality, a lot more accurate and unbiased than the American mainstream. So what can be inferred from that focus??? From that, along with the fake quality of the other evidence presented, I infer that the charges themselves are a deliberate psyop.

    • John Judge says:

      Something else we kinda agree on. RT does supply better news than most American outlets, especially on international stories. But you must not forget that RT is the instrument of a foreign government and when Putin wants it to jump or sit, it does. Any story about Trump, Hillary, or Russia has to be looked at very, very carefully at RT. Until Reagan, it was illegal for foreign individuals or corporations to own US media, and it gave us Murdoch (now a US citizen). I don’t think Reagan did us any favors. Prior to Fox we all got the same news, with little political slant. Then Fox arrived and started to spin everything. This polarized the country. Then the internet arrived and things got 100 times worse. Now we have fake news, much planted by the Russians according to the FBI and NSA. Why do you think we have the spin and fake news? It is to manipulate voters and energize them to vote on issues that are emotional so they overlook the fact their votes actually act against their own interests. Even Obamacare is a Heritage Foundation idea, but today if a democrat does it it must be bad. It was better for the country and the people when the left and right met in the middle and then went to lunch. -Cheers

    • Josh Stern says:

      Replying to your other good point. You say it is a slam dunk that Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause…so ask yourself, with all these political opponents supposedly rapid to get rid of Trump, why do we hear relatively little about that slam dunk and so much about the nutty, Cold War DOD budget pumping Russian accusations?? If it was just about getting rid of Trump politically or corruption per se then that emphasis pattern would be reversed. The fact that it isn’t suggests the smoke is coming from Langley.

    • John Judge says:

      I think if democrats controlled anything there would already be indictments against Trump and his inner circle. The Constitution is clear, it is a violation for “[N]o Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them [i.e., the United States], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” As I read it Trump, Ivanka, Jared, Flynn, Ross and others have received, money, gifts, profit, building permits, debt restructuring etc. to their benefit from foreign governments or corporations controlled by foreign gov’ts. All of which to my reading (And that of Constitutional experts) is explicitly forbidden. After WWII Congress made special laws to allow people like Generals Eisenhower and Marshall to receive foreign honors (knighthoods etc.) from governments who were grateful for their service. Trump & Co. have no special exemption.

    • Josh Stern says:

      Republicans have been supporting the Dems against Trump on many issues. Again, it seems like that one would be a much easier try than the Russian nonsense – but it wouldn’t boost Cold War spending or activity.

  82. bfryer says:

    wow.

    • Al Pollock says:

      Does anyone care to discuss Hillary and her cohorts deal with the Russian uranium deal? or how about Barry to the Russians ” I will have more flexibility after the election” and what about Barry signing a executive order sealing all the records .

    • Joe says:

      The decision was made by Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, which is required by law to investigate all U.S. transactions that involve a company owned or controlled by a foreign government. Clinton was one of nine voting members on the foreign investments committee, which also includes the secretaries of the Treasury, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce and Energy, the attorney general, and representatives from two White House offices — the United States Trade Representative and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. She did not approve the sale by herself. The committee can approve a sale, but it cannot stop a sale. Only the president can do that.
      Besides that, the US only produces 2% of the world’s uranium. The Russian company wanted to buy URANIUM ONE in order to get their control of its Kazakhstan uranium, which is 75% of the world’s supply. AND we are not talking about weapons-ready uranium, but ORE.

    • J C says:

      “Barry to the Russians”?

      Birther much?

  83. drgnm says:

    Pushed by all powerful attackers (Obama, Clintons, Lynch, Comey, …) there is nothing FBI can show against DJT. If they had any small piece they could use it would be on the front pages long time ago. There is nothing. DJT is your president now. Take it. Suggestion to the authors: How about you investigate and analyze all Clinton’s crimes? I believe you would have material for many articles. And many readers.

    • Kevin117 says:

      What what are you so afraid of?

      By the way, Clinton HAS been investigated. Many, many times. Nothing.

    • drgnm says:

      Clintons have been protected, not investigated. That is the fact. Read more at least from the WikiLeaks released DNC/Podesta emails. Hope DJT starts series of Clinton’s crimes investigations for the good of this nation and drains the swamp forever.

    • Jeff Clyburn says:

      Right… she was “protected” (not investigated) days before the biggest election in history. If your logic held up, Comey, who chose to dump on her and not Donald, would’ve have made something stick on anything from Benghazi to Emails. … Your apology for a petty and vile racist who insults allies, detains military translators and rejects science is right out in the open. You’re not fooling anyone.

    • drgnm says:

      Jeff, I am not sure you can handle the truth. Doesn’t seem so.

    • rom661 says:

      I assume that facts either confuse you or interfere with your reality.

    • drgnm says:

      Make sure you recognize what is the fake news vs. real news and reflect on that before analyzing my comments.

  84. Barbara Mullin says:

    Another area to investigate is US interference in Russia’s election of Boris Yeltsin and US participation in selling off Russia’s common good with gains going to certain oligarchs all during the Clinton administration.

  85. Parker says:

    So after three decades of investigating, how many convictions has the FBI obtained? Hmmmmmmm

  86. (Comment by reader @Tit4tat11) RT must read. Trump Comey must go FBI must be revamped. Comey worse than Edgar Hoover if this is true.

  87. Franklin Beenz says:

    so WhoWhatWhy have become FBI excuse-makers

    another speculative Trump hit-piece .. how original … how quaint

  88. cfosterlaw says:

    “The Russian mob should also not be confused with a mere crime syndicate. It is an organization comprised of state actors, oligarchs, and specific groups of individuals working collectively with the authority of the Russian government — a “mafia state.” At times, it is difficult to tell where the mob ends and the government begins.”

    Sounds just like the United States!

  89. lurkerobiknovenniy says:

    Well, Trump is a businessman on a global scale – sure, he has all sorts of contacts with Russia –

    so?

  90. Westcoastdeplorable says:

    Hmmmm. Sure smells like a hit piece to me. Much more documentation required.

  91. SLindauer says:

    That’s grossly irresponsible speculation! Truly fake & wishful news!!! Mike Morell, who would have been CIA Director under Hillary Clinton, has dismissed any such rubbish: “There’s not a campfire, not a candle, not a spark of flame — and many people have been looking for it.”

    Oh, but some other individuals have been exposed: Hillary Clinton, John Podesta and Rep. Adam Schiff stand out. Hillary’s got paid $145 MILLION in stock shares from Russia’s Uranium One deal, which handed off 20% of U.S. uranium on public lands. And let’s not forget those were the Bundy/Hammond lands, which Hillary stole from families that had been leasing the federal lands for close to 100 years. Hillary wanted profited off federal lands, so she forced the ranchers out.

    Yes, there’s going to be a story here. But just like the recounts in Wisconsin and Michigan, just like defectors in the Electoral College, it won’t be Trump who comes out the loser.

    • russbaker says:

      While there may or may not be anything to the things Lindauer raises, her blindness on Trump suggests an agenda,

    • wrighton says:

      Not to mention siding with the Bundy clan?!? Hey Russ…big fan btw…would you consider putting Bill Maher onto this story to see if he’d mention some of it on Real Time….after this last week’s episode, I kinda think he’s cranked up about Trump enough to do it!
      Great Job Russ!!! Please watch your back!!!!

    • Mackenzie says:

      When are you doing a Hillary investigation? Even though she’s not POTUS, I’m sure it would be enlightening to see the backgrounds of both major candidates more closely scrutinized to show people what their choices REALLY were. And while there already has been an investigation on HRC from Comey and crew, there already was one on Trump as well.

    • J. says:

      Don’t worry. Americans are capable of considering both Hillary AND Trump to be crooks and associated with crooks.

    • Dr. John Miller says:

      You speculate wildly yourself. If you have evidence, present it and citations that back it up.

    • DC Musicfreak says:

      You drink fake news from a firehose! Amazing talent.

    • editorsteve says:

      Russia has indirect control of 20% of US uranium but can’t export it. The WaPo was unable to pin down HRC involvement . And I’m speaking as one who nailed her on her work as Sec of State to bludgeon Bulgaria into opening inappropriate lands for fracking. Bulgaria held firm and did not do it, but that put HRC on collision course with Putin. Russia would have been hurt by Bulgarian gas production.

    • Joe says:

      The $145 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation (from which neither Clinton gets a penny) were made in 2007-2008, when she was beginning her run for the Presidency, with no notion of becoming Sec of State in 2009 when the deal was done.

  92. mrviolin says:

    rich russians like fancy diggs, what…are they going to stay at the hyatt?

  93. mrviolin says:

    trump associates with people who can afford his properties. sometimes rich people are guilty of crimes.

  94. Therese Vick says:

    Wow. Just wow.

  95. Len Colodny says:

    A great piece of investigative work.

  96. cstahnke says:

    Interesting article. Just a correction, there are Russians in Eastern Ukraine who don’t want to be part of what they see, accurately, as a right-wing chauvinistic “nazi” regime in Kiev put in power through a CIA coup. Also Crimea may have been annexed but there was a plebiscite that according to most observers showed that most residents of the area wanted to return to Russia.

    Russia has long been dominated by organized crime even before the USSR fell. Stalin himself gave criminals dominion of the concentration camps where millions lost their lives, and eventually they were baked into the Soviet pie. After the USSR fell, they were the natural power-brokers and eventually Putin was able to make ‘arrangements’ (with organized crime) that allowed Russia to once again become a viable country. However, the same sort of thing has happened in the U.S. – the old Italian gangs were gradually defenestrated though they still have power in regions like New England, and as other gangs came in were integrated into power through bribery of local and federal officials and, more importantly, because organized crime at all levels became useful to the CIA, FBI and other law-“enforcement” organizations.

    Similarly, organized crime has become integrated into not just the National Security State but also major corporations who need muscle to assert power. Most of what we see as “politics” is just show–the rubber meets the road where organizations can project power. If I can hire someone to kill my rival through my connections (yes, some years back I knew someone who could do just that) and some serious cash I could do so. Nowadays bullets aren’t the best way to kill people, there are many other ways.

    Some years ago Loretta Napoleoni wrote a book called *Rogue Economics* which said that we are entering a time of increased criminality. Others have written that up to 20% of all economic life involves organized crime–I believe that number is higher today. In addition, I think it is safe to say that Wall Street banks and other corporations like Monsanto are really no different (and maybe worse) than traditional organized crime. So I don’t take the focus or Russia seriously except I agree with the article that states that the Russian version is the most powerful force in that community. But since nearly the whole of the public is uninterested in reality–does any of this matter. One way or the other we will be ruled by some faction of the oligarchy–the old Republic is long gone and now we are all part of an international Empire where a dozen factions contend every day.

    • Leonards A. Section8 says:

      That was Soros working alongside Hillary and the State Department.

    • Karen Burns says:

      As soon as Ukraine got its independence in 1991, the government should have instructed all ethnic Russians to leave Ukraine just like the Baltic countries did. During the Soviet era, Russians were “encouraged” to settle in Ukraine in order to dilute the ethnicity. The biggest blunder Ukraine ever made was to give up its nuclear weapons, so many of which were developed and built there.

    • Pater Tenebrarum says:

      Yes, let’s just have governments forcibly throw out 45% of a country’s population on the grounds of “wrong ethnicity”. And the kleptocrats ruling Ukraine should have kept control of Soviet nuclear weapons.