GOP Operative Sought Clinton Emails From Hackers, Implied a Connection to Flynn

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Czer, Jun 30, 2017.

  1. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Jews with Russian citizenship could have been behind interference in the 2016 US presidential election, President Vladimir Putin said.

    In an interview with NBC News broadcast on Friday, Putin said that he “could not care less” about indictments issued by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller accusing Russian nationals and companies of election interference, stating that “they do not represent the interests of the Russian state” and are unrelated to the Kremlin.

    “Maybe they’re not even Russians,” said Putin. “Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship, even that needs to be checked.”

    MKs Ksenia Svetlova and Dr. Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) called on the Israeli government to condemn Putin’s remarks.

    “Maybe the Jews interfered in the American elections, maybe the Jews control the world, maybe Jews slaughtered the Jews in Poland. For all those allegations, there is one origin: Jew-hatred,” said Svetlova. “I expect the Israeli government to come out strongly against these serious remarks made by the Russian president. If Israel won’t defend the Jews, nobody will do so in its place.”

    “This is the worst form of antisemitism,” said Shai. “[Putin’s] comments demonstrate that nothing has changed in the perception of Jews as those responsible for the ‘world’s evil.’ A strong response is required from the Israeli government.

    “I would expect Jewish organizations to join and condemn these serious remarks. They also carry responsibility for the fate of the Jewish people, whoever and wherever they are,” he added.

    President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that there was interference by Russia and probably by other countries in the 2016 election, and the United States would counteract any attempt at meddling in the November 2018 midterm elections.

    “Well, the Russians had no impact on our votes whatsoever, but certainly there was meddling and probably there was meddling from other countries and maybe other individuals,” Trump said at a joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

    “We’re doing a very, very deep study and we’re coming with some... very strong suggestions on the 2018 election... We’ll counteract whatever they do, we’ll counteract it very strongly,” Trump said.

    Last week, Putin told Washington to send him hard evidence that his citizens meddled in US elections, mocking accusations to date as “yelling and hollering in the United States Congress.”

    “I have to see first what they’ve done. Give us materials, give us information,” Putin said in another excerpt from the interview with NBC, according to an English voice-over of his words.

    “We cannot respond to that if they do not violate Russian laws,” Putin told NBC’s Megyn Kelly, when asked whether Moscow would take action against the named individuals.

    Kelly listed some of the accusations of Russian interference made by Mueller’s office and other US officials, including the spreading of false information online.

    “With all due respect for you personally, with all due respect for Congress, you must have people with legal degrees, 100% you do,” Putin said smiling.

    He said US authorities should send Russia’s general prosecutor an official request.

    “This has to go through official channels, not through the press or yelling and hollering in the United States Congress,” Putin said.
  2. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    Lol what, this guy was spying and caught.

    Robert Alan "Bob" Levinson (born March 10, 1948)[1] is an American former Drug Enforcement Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who disappeared mysteriously in 2007 in Kish Island, Iran. He is believed to be currently held captive by the government of Iran.[2][3] He disappeared on March 9, 2007, when visiting Iran's Kish Island while supposedly researching a cigarette smuggling case.

    U.S. officials believed Levinson had been arrested by Iranian intelligence officials to be interrogated and used as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Washington. But as every lead fizzled and Iran repeatedly denied any involvement in his disappearance, many in the U.S. government believed Levinson was probably dead.[4]

    He was subsequently revealed to be alive. On December 12, 2013, the Associated Press reported that their investigations revealed that Levinson had been working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),[5][6] contradicting the U.S.'s statement that he was not an employee of the government at the time of his capture.[7]

    White House spokesman Jay Carney spoke the day after the Associated Press news agency reported Mr Levinson was on an unauthorised mission for the CIA.

    He has been missing since March 2007.

    Mr Carney declined to comment on what Mr Levinson was doing in Iran at the time he disappeared.

    The Associated Press report, which Mr Carney labelled "highly irresponsible", says Mr Levinson had done contract work for the CIA in his capacity as a former FBI expert in Russian organised crime.

    But at the time Mr Levinson disappeared, his CIA contract was out of money, though the CIA analysts with whom he was working were trying to authorise more, the AP reported.
    White House spokesman Jay Carney spoke the day after the Associated Press news agency reported Mr Levinson was on an unauthorised mission for the CIA.

    He has been missing since March 2007.

    Mr Carney declined to comment on what Mr Levinson was doing in Iran at the time he disappeared.

    The Associated Press report, which Mr Carney labelled "highly irresponsible", says Mr Levinson had done contract work for the CIA in his capacity as a former FBI expert in Russian organised crime.

    But at the time Mr Levinson disappeared, his CIA contract was out of money, though the CIA analysts with whom he was working were trying to authorise more, the AP reported.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2018
  3. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

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    China's 'president for life': Congress votes to abolish term limits

    China has approved the removal of term limits for its leader, in a move that effectively allows Xi Jinping to remain as president for life.

    The constitutional changes were passed by China's annual sitting of the National People's Congress on Sunday.

    The vote was widely regarded as a rubber-stamping exercise. Two delegates voted against the change and three abstained, out of 2,964 votes.

    China has imposed a two-term limit on its president since the 1990s.

    Mr Xi, however, defied the tradition of presenting a potential successor during October's Communist Party Congress.

    Instead, he consolidated his political power as the party voted to enshrine his name and political ideology in the party's constitution - elevating his status to the level of its founder, Mao Zedong.

    In late February, the party proposed removing term limits from China's constitution. Mr Xi was due to step down in 2023.

    On paper, the congress is the most powerful legislative body in China - similar to the parliament in other nations. But it was widely believed that it would approve what it was told to.

    Rare dissent
    The issue is not, however, without controversy.

    The National People's Congress has never voted against the Communist Party. But some reports suggest a number of the 2,980 delegates may abstain - which would be seen as a clear protest vote.

    Censors in China have been blocking discussion around the topic, including images of Winnie the Pooh. Social media users have taken to using the cartoon character to represent Mr Xi.

    One government critic wrote an open letter describing the proposal as a "farce", in a rare show of public dissent.

    Former state newspaper editor Li Datong wrote that scrapping term limits for the president and vice-president would sow the seeds of chaos - in a message sent to some members of the national congress.

    "I couldn't bear it any more. I was discussing with my friends and we were enraged. We have to voice our opposition," he told BBC China.

    State media, however, have portrayed the changes as much-needed reform.

    US President Donald Trump was criticised by some commentators for seeming to approve of Mr Xi's unlimited rule, saying on Monday: "President for life... I think it's great. Maybe we'll have to give that a shot some day."

    At a political rally on Saturday, Mr Trump insisted he had merely been joking during a fundraiser, and that his comments were represented unfairly by some media.

    Xi Jinping thought
    Mr Xi's possible third term is not the only item the National People's Congress is likely to approve. It is also expected to:

    • confirm China's new government line-up for the next five years, kicking off Xi Jinping's second term as president
    • ratify a law to set up a new powerful anti-corruption agency
    • ratify the inclusion of the president's political philosophy - "Xi Jinping Thought" - in the constitution
    Xi Jinping thought is the ideology approved by the Communist Party last October. Officially, it is "Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era".

    Schoolchildren, college students and staff at state factories will have to study the political ideology, which the Communist Party is trying to portray as a new chapter for modern China.

    Mr Xi became president in 2012, and quickly consolidated personal power while cementing China as the regional superpower.

    He also fought corruption, punishing more than a million party members - which has helped his popularity among some.

    At the same time, however, China has clamped down on many emerging freedoms, increasing its state surveillance and censorship programs.
  4. Czer

    Czer I'm a poor person. The lambo is my cousin's.

    Post Count:
    How A Player In The Trump-Russia Scandal Led A Double Life As An American Spy

    Felix Sater has been cast as a Russian mafioso, a career criminal, and a key business associate of President Donald Trump — but he spent more than two decades as an intelligence asset who helped the US government track terrorists and mobsters. “Greed is my go-to weapon.”
    March 12, 2018

    In the sprawling Trump-Russia investigation, one name constantly pops up: Felix Sater. In story after story, Sater is described as Donald Trump’s former business partner, a convicted stock swindler who was born in the Soviet Union, worked in Russia, tried to win Trump a deal in Moscow, and even helped broker a Ukrainian peace plan that Vladimir Putin would have loved.

    Basically, he’s portrayed as something just short of a Russian spy.

    Effectively, he has been a spy — but for the United States. For the first time, BuzzFeed News has verified the surprising sweep of Sater’s undercover work and many of his specific exploits. He worked as an asset for the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (or DIA) and tracked Osama bin Laden. Then he worked for more than a decade for the FBI, providing intel on everything from the mob to North Korea’s drive for nuclear weapons. He still operates as a source for the bureau, according to two current FBI agents.

    He did some of this work to fend off prison time after he admitted guilt in a stock scam — but he had started helping the US government before then, and he continued to report back to the FBI after the agreement ended. Today, as he is being questioned about Trump's business deals and ties to Russia, he has built relationships with at least six members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, some going back more than 10 years.

    “At the direction of the FBI,” Sater traveled to the Middle East after 9/11 to collect “valuable intelligence” on “key leaders in al Qaeda.”

    Fragments of Sater’s work for the government have leaked out, partly because Sater himself has bragged about “building Trump Towers by day and hunting Bin Laden by night.” But his “cloak-and-dagger claims of chasing down terrorists” were often dismissed as “wildly unlikely,” while Sater himself remained “an obsession of the many investigators — professional and amateur — searching for Trump’s Russia connection.”

    Now BuzzFeed News has obtained the statement Sater gave under oath to House Intelligence Committee investigators at his attorney’s office in December, interviewed him extensively, and corroborated many details of his spy-thriller account through legal documents, emails, letters, and interviews with 10 current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials familiar with his undercover work.

    “At the direction of the FBI,” the Department of Justice stated in a newly unsealed court filing, Sater traveled to the Middle East after 9/11 to collect “valuable intelligence” on “key leaders in al Qaeda,” and he helped “in a number of other areas, including Russian organized crime.” In other court filings, the Justice Department said Sater’s work on behalf of the United States “involves 18 foreign governments” as well as “various families of La Cosa Nostra,” and that his help was “of an extraordinary depth and breadth.”

    Specific exploits confirmed by BuzzFeed News include:

    • He obtained five of the personal satellite telephone numbers for Osama bin Laden before 9/11 and he helped flip the personal secretary to Mullah Omar, then the head of the Taliban and an ally of bin Laden, into a source who provided the location of al-Qaeda training camps and weapons caches.
    • In 2004, he persuaded a source in Russia’s foreign military intelligence to hand over the name and photographs of a North Korean military operative who was purchasing equipment to build the country’s nuclear arsenal.
    • Sater provided US intelligence with details about possible assassination threats against former president George W. Bush and secretary of state Colin Powell. Sater reported that jihadists were hiding in a hut outside Bagram Air Base and planned to shoot down Powell’s plane during a January 2002 visit. He later told his handlers that two female al-Qaeda members were trying to recruit an Afghan woman working in the Senate barbershop to poison President Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney.
    • He went undercover in Cyprus and Istanbul to catch Russian and Ukrainian cybercriminals around 2005. After the FBI set him up with a fake name and background, Sater posed as a money launderer to help nab the suspects for washing funds stolen from US financial institutions.
    The CIA, DIA, FBI, and leaders of the House Intelligence Committee all declined to comment.

    Over the past month, two BuzzFeed News reporters met frequently with Sater in Los Angeles, where he’s been living since February and which seems to suit him. He’s tan. He had his Porsche shipped over from Long Island. He gets the good table at Delilah, a see-and-be-seen West Hollywood nightclub. He said he is telling his full story, long kept secret by the government, to clear his name. “I am being given no choice because of the ongoing Trump investigations,” he said. “The media lies about me.”

    “The media lies about me.”

    The revelations about his clandestine work for the United States complicate an already complicated figure, revealing a man who thrives on mixing espionage, politics, and business, often playing one off the other to his own advantage.

    Sater, who recently turned 52, started out as a stockbroker who lost his license after he assaulted a man in a bar brawl. He helped scam investors out of tens of millions of dollars in the mid-1990s. He later emerged as a partner to the Trump Organization and a senior advisor to Trump himself, raising money for the future president and his family on projects such as Trump SoHo, the troubled hotel that nearly led to fraud charges against Ivanka Trump and her brother Donald Jr.

    Even as he was helping US intelligence and law enforcement agencies, Sater racked up enemies in his business dealings. An Arizona man said Sater threatened to cut his legs off during a failed development deal. Florida investors said his company, Bayrock, ripped them off. A former colleague said in a lawsuit that the entire Bayrock operation was run by organized crime figures, and that Sater threatened to have him killed if he didn't cooperate. Sater denied doing any of these things.


    Mark Wilson / Getty Images
    Michael Cohen

    But he doesn't deny that he is always looking for an angle. As the Trump campaign kicked into high gear in 2015, Sater saw an opportunity.

    In emails initially revealed by the Washington Post, Sater wrote to Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, boasting about being able to finally line up a real estate development in Moscow — a deal the Trump Organization had long sought.

    In one of the emails, Sater told Cohen that he could get buy-in from Putin himself and that “we will get Donald elected” in the process. Those emails have become a flashpoint in the Trump-Russia investigation — but Sater, who denied having anything to do with Russian interference in the election, told BuzzFeed News he was just doing what he’s always done: working a deal.

    Did he actually know Putin?

    “No, of course not.”

    Did he think the Trump Moscow deal could get Trump elected?

    Even Trump “is fucking surprised he became the president.”

    Then why send that email?

    “If a deal can get done and I could make money and he could look like a statesman, what the fuck is the downside, right?”


    Melissa Lyttle for BuzzFeed News
    Sater in Los Angeles.

    “The dark side of Wall Street”

    Born in the Soviet Union but an American citizen raised in Brooklyn, Sater was a Wall Street wunderkind who worked at top shops such as Bear Stearns and Shearson Lehman Brothers. He was whip-smart but also a hothead, and, one night in 1991, a drunk Sater got into an argument at a Midtown bar with a commodities broker. The man was coming after Sater with a beer bottle, Sater said, so he grabbed a margarita glass and hit the man in the face with it. Both men were hospitalized afterward, but Sater’s opponent took the worst of it: a badly slashed face that led to Sater spending a year in prison for felony assault.

    Got a tip? You can email To learn how to reach us securely, go to

    Worse still, he was stripped of his broker’s license and became persona non grata on Wall Street. To make money, he helped start a company that purported to buy and sell Nasdaq stocks. In reality, it was an elaborate and illegal “pump and dump” stock scheme that defrauded investors out of nearly $40 million, according to court records.

    Brokers, paid under the table, purchased stocks through offshore accounts controlled by Sater. Sater’s firm spun false stories about the companies to inflate their value, then dumped the overpriced stocks onto unwitting investors. Court documents show that the five main New York City mafia families were directly involved, mostly to provide muscle.

    “They were there for disputes,” Sater said.

    After working on what he called “the dark side of Wall Street” for 18 months, Sater said he left the business in 1995 because he “didn’t want to do dirty shit anymore.” The next year, he went to Russia to work on telecommunications deals with AT&T and others. One night, Sater was at dinner with a group of Russians in Moscow when he was introduced to an American defense contractor named Milton Blane. Sater said Blane, who died last year, followed him into the restroom that night and asked for his phone number to set up a meeting the following day.

    “I want you to understand: If you’re caught, the USA is going to disavow you and, at best, you get a bullet in the head.”

    At an Irish pub, Blane explained that he worked for the DIA and that some of the people Sater had been dining with were high-level Russian intelligence agents. “‘You’re in with a group who could deliver,’” Sater recalls Blane telling him. Blane, Sater said, asked him to work as an asset, intelligence lingo for an confidential source, but warned, “‘I want you to understand: If you’re caught, the USA is going to disavow you and, at best, you get a bullet in the head.’”

    Sater's fluent Russian, his business connections, and his access to Russian military officials would have made him a prime recruitment target for any US intelligence agency in Moscow, two longtime intelligence officers said. But they also said Blane’s approach was unorthodox — recruits wouldn’t usually be told they would be disavowed, and a counterintelligence investigation would normally have taken place to ensure Sater wasn’t working for an enemy.

    In any event, the Moscow meeting with Blane launched Sater’s work for the government, which would last for the better part of two decades. He said was not paid for his work — which two Justice Department officials confirmed — but did it to help his country and for the “thrill.”

    One of Sater’s early operations involved the pursuit in 1998 of Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. The CIA had originally given the missiles to the mujahideen to oust the Soviets during their occupation of Afghanistan — but now the agency wanted to prevent them from falling into the hands of radicalized jihadists. Sater managed to find some, complete with their serial numbers.

    Sater’s attorney, Robert Wolf, said he acted as his conduit to the CIA. As Wolf tells it, he called someone he had long known: David Kendall, Bill Clinton's lawyer, telling him that he had serial numbers for the Stinger missiles that the Clinton administration had been trying to obtain. Kendall, Wolf said, called back and said he had spoken with President Clinton and that Wolf should call Robert M. McNamara Jr., the CIA's general counsel. During the phone call with McNamara, Wolf read out the serial numbers for the Stinger missiles.

    CIA officials were skeptical, so Sater provided photographs of the missiles — with their serial numbers and a copy of a daily newspaper to prove the photo was current.

    But, intelligence sources told BuzzFeed News, CIA officials were skeptical. So Sater provided photographs of the missiles — with their serial numbers and a copy of a daily newspaper to prove the photo was current. Two former intelligence officers and an FBI agent confirmed that Sater had provided the photographs, an incident they said bolstered his credibility.

    Meanwhile, Wolf recalled, McNamara brokered a meeting at a restaurant near the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, which was attended by Wolf and two employees of the CIA’s clandestine division: an operations officer and an attorney named Steve Hermes. For the next year or so, Wolf said, he talked regularly with Hermes by pay phone or landline when Sater wanted to pass on new information — or when the CIA wanted more intelligence. “We just went back and forth for months and months about al-Qaeda, bin Laden, and the return of the Stingers,” Wolf said.

    Hermes, who has retired from the CIA, and Clinton’s spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment. Kendall declined to comment. McNamara Jr. died in 2013.

    In August 1998, President Bill Clinton authorized Operation Infinite Reach — a bombing strike against al-Qaeda in retaliation for the terror attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people. Sater, 10 current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials said, supplemented US intelligence by providing location coordinates for al-Qaeda camps that the US military ultimately bombed in Khost, Afghanistan.

    BuzzFeed News also confirmed another 1998 mission, in which Sater infiltrated the Afghan precious stone market to find dealers who were laundering money for al-Qaeda. Sater found his own dealer, from New York City’s 47th Street diamond district, and brought him to the Middle East to make the ruse seem more authentic. An FBI source said the Justice Department later confirmed this detail in court filings that remain under seal. BuzzFeed News reviewed an internal government document about the mission in which an intelligence official characterized the information Sater passed on as “highly sensitive intelligence.”

    But while Sater developed contacts and filtered information for America’s spies, back at home the FBI was starting to ask questions about his past.


    Obtained by BuzzFeed News
    Sater in Dubai in May, 1998.

    Bin Laden’s phone numbers

    One day in 1998, while Sater was living in Russia, a NYPD official called the FBI with an unusual tip: In a Manhattan storage locker, the police had discovered a shotgun, two pistols, and a gym bag containing a cache of documents tied to Sater.

    Raymond Kerr, in charge of the FBI’s Russian organized crime task force, went down to the NYPD station to check out the records. What he found was shocking: The documents showed the inner workings of the pump-and-dump scheme, which involved more than a dozen traders and muscle from the Italian mob. Immediately, Kerr and another agent, Leo Taddeo, began hunting for Sater.

    Sater was vacationing in Italy when the Afghan intelligence officer called with five satellite phone numbers belonging to bin Laden.

    As the FBI closed in, Sater continued to work his contacts overseas. He developed a close bond with an intelligence officer working for the Northern Alliance, the Afghan militia led by Ahmad Shah Massoud, the fierce and beloved fighter called the Lion of Panjshir. As the Northern Alliance fought Islamists, its intelligence officer fed information to Sater, according to Sater and a former FBI agent.

    Late in 1998, Sater was vacationing in Italy with his family when the Afghan intelligence officer called with five satellite phone numbers belonging to bin Laden. He asked Sater to pass the numbers along to officials in the US.

    Then the FBI found Sater and told him he was under investigation for the stock fraud. “I never intended on fighting and I surrendered,” Sater told BuzzFeed News. “I knew I was going to cooperate.”

    Sater flew back to New York City, and at his first meeting with Taddeo, the FBI agent, Sater played his trump card, turning over a piece of scrap paper on which he had jotted down bin Laden’s satellite phone numbers.

    Sater pleaded guilty to racketeering in December 1998. But instead of being sentenced, Sater, like 16 other defendants in the case, signed a cooperation agreement with the US government, and his entire case file was sealed.

    Signing Sater’s cooperation agreement for the Department of Justice was Andrew Weissmann, then an assistant US attorney and now a key member of the special counsel’s team. Mueller himself would be the FBI director for most of the time Sater served as a source.

    “For more than 10 years, he worked with prosecutors providing information crucial to national security.”

    The US attorney who oversaw Sater’s pump-and-dump case was Loretta Lynch, later the attorney general under President Barack Obama. While the Senate was considering her confirmation, Sen. Orrin Hatch asked Lynch about how her office handled Sater’s fraud case. In a written response, she said:

    “The defendant in question, Felix Sater, provided valuable and sensitive information to the government during the course of his cooperation, which began in or about December 1998. For more than 10 years, he worked with prosecutors providing information crucial to national security and the conviction of over 20 individuals, including those responsible for committing massive financial fraud and members of La Cosa Nostra. For that reason, his case was initially sealed.”

    To the government, he was no longer Felix Sater; in public he was referred to as John Doe, while in hundreds of pages of FBI interview reports, his code name was “The Quarterback.”


    Melissa Lyttle for BuzzFeed News
    Sater in Los Angeles.

    “Greed is my go-to weapon”

    Sater was driving into Manhattan one fall morning when traffic ground to a halt on a ramp to the Queens–Midtown Tunnel. In the distance, he saw smoke rising from lower Manhattan.

    The 9/11 attacks shook Sater, and his law enforcement and intelligence handlers urged him to find any information he could.

    Sometimes, he said, he threatened people, but most of the time he used a different approach: “I'm not that big of a guy and I don't carry a gun. Greed is my go-to weapon. I knew how to tap into that emotion. I would convince them that they're going to make a lot of money with me.”

    He said he told a former Russian intelligence official that the two of them could run banks together and make $200 million. To the Northern Alliance source who had provided bin Laden’s satellite numbers, Sater said he went one step further, persuading the man that he would become the “Alan Greenspan of Afghanistan” and run the country’s federal reserve after the US invasion.

    Sater said he set up Delaware LLCs in the US — for the “Bank of Kabul” and the “Bank of Afghanistan.” He registered websites to convince the Northern Alliance source that he was serious about his intentions, going so far, he said, as to print out the corporate registrations, adorn them with ribbons, and use a wax stamp to make them seem more official. He said he mailed the documents, and a satellite phone, to the source.

    Two former Justice Department officials said Sater took these steps without the FBI’s knowledge or authorization, telling his handlers about it only after the fact.

    Sater’s source had his own source: Mullah Omar’s personal secretary, who was living inside a cave with bin Laden.

    But soon, according to three former FBI agents, an intelligence official, and a Department of Justice official, Sater reported back to intelligence agencies on the results of coalition bombings, kills on the battlefield, the financial networks behind the 9/11 bombers and other al-Qaeda members worldwide, and even the identity of a New Mexico company believed to be laundering terror funds in the US.

    Sater’s Afghan intelligence source funneled to him copies of al-Qaeda passports, jihadi escape routes, the locations of fighters, and weapons caches. He described the source as a “gold mine” — but it was only much later that Sater learned that the information originated inside al-Qaeda’s hideouts. According to a former senior Justice Department official and a former FBI agent with knowledge of Sater’s work, Sater’s source had his own source: Mullah Omar’s personal secretary, who was living inside a cave with bin Laden.

    In most cases, Sater would turn over information and never know what, if anything, the US did with it. But Raymond Kerr, a former FBI agent in charge of investigating organized crime in New York City and who used Sater as a key source, said the intelligence Sater provided was valuable. “We wouldn’t have gone to bat for him the way we did if his information wasn’t good and we couldn’t corroborate it,” Kerr said.

    Said another top intelligence official who worked directly on terror cases before and after 9/11, “Felix likely does not realize how important his work has been in saving American lives. What he did on behalf of the US for more than a decade outweighs any of the bad deeds from his youth.” Sater, the official said, “deserves a commendation.”


    Obtained by BuzzFeed News
    Sater and Trump.

    Doing deals for Trump

    Sater was under orders to keep his government work secret. He changed his last name to “Satter” to avoid scrutiny from internet sleuths, and the details of his participation in the stock fraud were kept sealed from the public.

    The first hints emerged in a little-read book, The Scorpion and the Frog, written by one of Sater’s partners in the stock fraud. In it, author Salvatore Lauria wrote about his adventures with Sater in Russia and elsewhere for the CIA. Sater was referred to as “Lex Tersa” (“Tersa” is an anagram of “Sater”) but the book didn’t take off and his history as an intelligence asset remained largely hidden.

    “I’m going to be the biggest developer in New York City — and you want to be my partner.”

    But a new partnership would put him in business with one of the most famous people in America — Donald Trump.

    Sater and his partners, including Tevfik Arif, a Kazakh real estate baron, started a company called Bayrock Group and sought to finance real estate projects across the globe. Bayrock rented office space in Trump Tower, and one afternoon the ever-confident Sater said he knocked on Trump’s office door and introduced himself: “I’m going to be the biggest developer in New York City — and you want to be my partner.”


    Mark Von Holden / WireImage
    Donald Trump, Tevfik Arif, and Sater.

    Bayrock began to work with the Trump Organization on licensing deals in which Trump earned a fee by doing little more than giving his name to the project, while others put up the money and actually built the property. Sater and Trump are pictured celebrating deals together across the globe, and Sater accompanied Ivanka Trump and her brother Don Jr. on a trip to Russia.

    But the good times stopped rolling when a 2007 article in the New York Times outed Felix’s involvement in the pump-and-dump scheme and his “tangled past.” Investors, unaware of Sater’s criminal background, questioned his involvement with Bayrock. Banks pulled back from doing business with the company, and his partners squeezed him. “I had to leave the company that I built with my own hands,” he said.

    He left the US and spent two years working in Russia with a large real estate developer, the Mirax Group. He worked on two projects in London, he said, including a group of townhouses near Regent’s Park that made “good money.”


    Patrick Mcmullan / Getty Images
    Sater speaking next to Donald Trump in 2007.

    “Trying to rehabilitate myself”

    In 2009, 11 years after he formally started cooperating, the US government was finally going to hold up its end of the bargain. Sater headed to a federal courthouse in Brooklyn in October 2009 for his sentencing in the stock fraud scheme.

    Two federal prosecutors and four FBI agents showed up to vouch for him. A transcript of that hearing is heavily redacted, but it makes clear that Sater was no ordinary cooperating witness.

    “There was nothing he wouldn’t do,” former assistant US attorney Todd Kaminsky, now a New York state senator, told the judge. “He was really helpful and was the key to open a hundred different doors.”

    “There was nothing he wouldn’t do.”

    Taddeo, his main FBI handler, said that Sater’s work damaged the Bonanno crime family and helped the FBI take La Cosa Nostra out of the Wall Street stock business.

    “The length of his cooperation is extraordinary,” said Marshall Miller, another assistant US attorney. “And I wanted to be here to express from the office’s perspective just how capable a cooperator he was, how important a cooperator he was, and how effective he was.”

    Taddeo, who left the FBI in August 2015 and now works for a private cybersecurity firm, did not respond to phone and email messages. Kaminsky said he couldn’t comment because much of the case was still sealed, and Miller, who has left the Justice Department, also declined to comment.

    Finally, it was Sater’s turn to face the judge. “Yes, I am guilty of the things that I have done,” he said. But, he added, “I am trying to rehabilitate myself.”

    US District Court Judge I. Leo Glasser, who had sentenced dozens of people to prison based on information Sater had provided to the FBI, told him, “For 11 years, I would suspect you had gone to bed every night or every other night sleeping a little restlessly and wondering what your sentence is going to be. So, in effect, there has been a sentence which already has been imposed.”

    “Donald said, ‘Where have you been?’”

    For the $40 million scheme, Sater was fined $25,000.

    To this day, Sater continues to cooperate with the FBI and Justice Department, he said in his statement to the House Intelligence Committee. He wouldn't disclose additional details, except to say that he works on “international matters.” Two US officials confirmed Sater continues to be a reliable asset.

    As for his regular life, when he relocated back to the US in 2010, he recalled, “Donald said, ‘Where have you been?’” Sater said Trump asked him to join the Trump Organization. “That's when I became senior advisor to him,” he said. The Trump Organization and the White House declined to comment.


    Melissa Lyttle / Melissa Lyttle for the New York Times
    Sater in Los Angeles.

    “Trump Moscow”

    When Trump won the presidency, Sater saw an opportunity to do what he does best: make deals. But his ambition backfired, putting Sater in the middle of the Trump-Russia scandal.

    In early 2017, Sater told BuzzFeed News he was trying to close a deal with a Ukrainian politician and others on an energy deal in Eastern Europe. Sater estimated he and his partners could earn billions. But as they closed in, the Ukrainian, Andrey Artemenko, asked Sater for a favor: Could he broker a meeting with Trump’s team to discuss a “peace plan” for Ukraine and Russia?

    The deal, which Sater said set out a way to lift sanctions on Russia, surely would have pleased the Kremlin, but it would have been a sharp departure from previous US policy. Still, Sater summoned Trump’s personal lawyer, Cohen, to a Midtown Manhattan hotel in February 2017, and Artemenko gave him a letter about the plan. Cohen has denied passing the plan to the White House and told BuzzFeed News he threw it out.

    “I thought everybody wins. Turns out, I lost.”

    Where some see the meeting as foreign interference in US policy, Sater sees opportunity. If he could grease the skids with a potential business partner while bringing peace to a war-torn region, Sater said, who could argue with that? “No more war,” Sater said. “People not getting killed. Beautiful situation.”

    But the encounter is now reportedly part of the special counsel’s investigation, and Sater finds himself in the spotlight. Of the Ukrainian plan, Sater said, “I thought everybody wins. Turns out, I lost.”

    Sater has already been summoned by congressional investigators, and he is expected to speak to the Senate Intelligence Committee in April. He also has been questioned by Mueller’s team, several of whom he knows from his past undercover work. It’s almost certain that Sater has sensitive information about Trump’s business dealings, but he won’t say what he was asked or what information he provided. The special counsel’s office declined to comment for this story.

    The glare of the Trump-Russia investigation, he said, has taken its toll: His marriage of 29 years collapsed, his reputation is mud among his business friends, and he has recently been the subject of anti-Semitic messages and phone calls from neo-Nazi groups.

    Got a tip? You can email To learn how to reach us securely, go to

    He hopes that by revealing the extent of his cooperation, he will be able to change how the public — and his own family — thinks about him. Meanwhile, he presses on without the support of Trump, whom Sater said he considered a good friend.

    Trump has denied knowing the man who had an office three doors down from his own and who helped his company explore deals across the globe. In a 2013 deposition, Trump said of Sater, “If he were sitting in the room right now, I really wouldn’t know what he looked like.”

    Over dinner last week at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Sater was clearly hurt when he spoke about the president’s statement. “It’s very upsetting but, you know, what am I going to do?” Sater said. “Start calling him a liar?” Sater said he hasn’t talked with Trump in a couple of years, but he sees an angle to keeping in Trump’s good graces.

    “First thing I plan to do when Trump leaves office, whether it's next week, in 2020 or four years later, is march right into his office and say, ‘Let's build Trump Moscow.’

    “I'm serious.” ●

    Emma Loop contributed additional reporting to this story.

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    I'm sure the entire GOP establishment and anything related to it isn't going to be taken down.

    House Republicans say probe found no evidence of collusion between Trump, Russia

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House Intelligence Committee Republicans said on Monday the panel had finished conducting interviews in its investigation of Russia and the 2016 U.S. election, and found no collusion between President Donald Trump’s associates and Moscow’s efforts to influence the campaign.

    “We have found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians,” committee Republicans said as they released an overview of their probe.

    Representative Mike Conaway, who has led the panel’s investigation, said the panel had finished the interview phase of its probe.

    “You never know what you never know, but we found no reason to think that there’s something we’re missing in this regard. We’ve talked to everybody we think we need to talk to,” Conaway said in an interview on Fox News Channel

    Committee Democrats had no immediate response to the announcement, which was expected. Panel Republicans have been saying for weeks they were near the end of the interview phase of the probe.

    Reflecting a deep partisan divide on the House of Representatives panel, Democrats have been arguing that the probe is far from over. Representative Adam Schiff, the panel’s ranking Democrat, said last week that there were dozens more witnesses who should be called before the panel, and many more documents that should be subpoenaed.

    Democrats have accused Republicans on the committee of shirking the investigation in order to protect Trump and his associates, some of whom have pleaded guilty to charges including lying to investigators and conspiring against the United States.

    Trump has repeatedly denied collusion between his associates and Russia.
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    Press Releases

    Schiff Statement on House Republicans’ Premature Shutdown of Russia Investigation

    Washington, March 12, 2018

    Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement:

    “Today, the House Majority has announced it is terminating the Russia investigation, leaving to others the important work of determining the full extent of Russian interference in our election, the role of U.S. persons connected to the Trump campaign in that intervention, possible efforts to obstruct the investigation by the President and most important, what needs to be done to protect the country going forward. While the Majority members of our committee have indicated for some time that they have been under great pressure to end the investigation, it is nonetheless another tragic milestone for this Congress, and represents yet another capitulation to the executive branch. By ending its oversight role in the only authorized investigation in the House, the Majority has placed the interests of protecting the President over protecting the country, and history will judge its actions harshly.

    “Next week, it will be one year since our investigation began with its first open hearing, and the country learned that the Trump campaign had been the subject of a counterintelligence investigation since July of the election year. Since that time, we have learned a great deal about countless secret meetings, conversations and communications between Trump campaign officials and the Russians, all of which the Trump Administration initially denied, would later misrepresent, and finally be forced to acknowledge. Thirteen Russians have been indicted in a far reaching conspiracy in which the Russians sought to influence our election by helping Donald Trump, hurting the Hillary Clinton campaign and sowing discord in the United States. Most significant, high-ranking Trump campaign and Administration officials have also been indicted, including the President’s national security advisor, his campaign chair and deputy campaign chair, as well as one of his foreign policy advisors, and three of those have already pled guilty.

    “During that first open hearing of our investigation, I asked whether we could conduct this investigation in the kind of thorough and nonpartisan manner that the seriousness of the issues merited, or whether the enormous political consequences of our work would make that impossible. At that time, I said that I did not know the answer, but ‘if this committee can do its work properly, if we can pursue the facts wherever they lead, unafraid to compel witnesses to testify, to hear what they have to say, to learn what we will and, after exhaustive work, reach a common conclusion, it would be a tremendous public service and one that is very much in the national interest.’

    “Regrettably, that challenge proved too much. The Majority was not willing to pursue the facts wherever they would lead, would prove afraid to compel witnesses like Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks, Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump Jr., Corey Lewandowski and so many others to answer questions relevant to our investigation. It proved unwilling to subpoena documents like phone records, text messages, bank records and other key records so that we might determine the truth about the most significant attack on our democratic institutions in history. Instead, it began a series of counter-investigations, designed to attack the credibility of the FBI, the Departments of Justice and State, and investigate anyone and anything other than what they were charged to do — investigate Russia’s interference in our election and the role the Trump campaign played. Ironically, even while they close down the Russia investigation, they plan to continue trying to put our own government on trial: this is a great service to the President, and a profound disservice to the country.

    “Some will say that we should leave the investigation to Special Counsel Mueller anyway, since he has the resources and independence to do the job. But this fundamentally misapprehends the mission of the Special Counsel, which is to determine whether U.S. laws were broken and who should be prosecuted. It is not Mueller’s job to tell the American people what happened, that is our job, and the Majority has walked away from it. Others may be tempted to say a pox on both houses, and suggest that in a dispute between the parties, both must be equally culpable. But after months of urging the Majority to do a credible investigation, the Minority was put in the position of going along with a fundamentally unserious investigative process, or pointing out what should be done, what must be done, to learn the truth. We chose the latter course.

    “On a fundamental aspect of our investigation — substantiating the conclusions of the Intelligence Community’s assessment that the Russians interfered in our democracy to advance the Trump campaign, hurt Clinton and sow discord — we should have been able to issue a common report. On those issues, the evidence is clear and overwhelming that the Intelligence Community Assessment was correct. On a whole host of investigative threads, our work is fundamentally incomplete, some issues partially investigated, others, like that involving credible allegations of Russian money laundering, remain barely touched. If the Russians do have leverage over the President of the United States, the Majority has simply decided it would rather not know. On the final aspect of our work — setting out the prescriptions for protecting the country going forward — we will endeavor to continue our work, with or without the active participation of the Majority.

    “In the coming weeks and months, new information will continue to be exposed through enterprising journalism, indictments by the Special Counsel, or continued investigative work by Committee Democrats and our counterparts in the Senate. And each time this new information becomes public, Republicans will be held accountable for abandoning a critical investigation of such vital national importance.”
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  8. Utumno

    Utumno Administrator Staff Member

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    Spokesman fired now too lol
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    Exxon Mobil withdraws from Russia deal citing sanctions

    MOSCOW (AP) — Exxon Mobil will end a joint venture with Russia’s state-controlled Rosneft due to U.S. and European sanctions against Moscow.

    Exxon revealed in a regulatory filing that it decided to end the partnership late last year after the U.S. expanded sanctions against Russia. The company plans to begin unwinding the joint venture this year.

    The retreat will result in an after-tax loss of about $200 million — spare change in comparison to Exxon’s 2017 profit of $19.7 billion.

    But ending the partnership with Rosneft appeared to dash Exxon’s hopes of drilling in the potentially oil-rich Russian Arctic, and it erases some of the legacy of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the one-time Exxon chairman and CEO.

    Tillerson signed a deal with Rosneft, Russia’s biggest oil producer, in 2011 with hopes of drilling in the difficult terrain of Russia’s Arctic waters. The partnership would combine Exxon’s technological expertise with Rosneft’s access to the area.

    The deal came under strain, however, after the U.S. sanctioned Russia in 2014 over the invasion of Ukraine and annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. The sanctions did not affect existing energy deals, but they prohibited any business with Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, an influential oligarch in Russia with whom Tillerson reportedly has had close personal ties.

    Exxon applied for a waiver from the sanctions, but it has not been granted. Last year, the U.S. Treasury fined Exxon $2 million for signing new deals with Sechin in 2014. Exxon sued the U.S. government to stop the fine.

    The U.S. expanded sanctions against Russia last year for allegedly interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

    As America’s top diplomat since February 2017, Tillerson maintains that the sanctions will remain in place until Russia reverses course in Ukraine and gives back Crimea. Still, the Russian deal on his watch at Exxon raised questions about his ability to enforce the sanctions and persuade European countries to continue doing so.

    Brian Youngberg, an analyst with Edward Jones, said the withdrawal from the Rosneft partnership would not seriously hinder the Irving, Texas, company financially nor stop it from pursuing major deals overseas.

    Since the deal was announced in 2011, Youngberg said, oil prices have fallen, production from U.S. shale fields has surged, and forecasts indicate global demand for oil will grow more slowly than once thought. He questioned whether oil from the Arctic will ever be needed.

    On top of Exxon’s reported loss of $200 million, the company will walk away after spending about $700 million drilling a deepwater well in Russia’s Kara Sea, Wood Mackenzie analysts estimated.

    “This decision puts a formal end to Exxon Mobil’s long-term strategy of exploring the Arctic,” which had led to discovery of a major oil field in 2014, said Wood Mackenzie’s Samuel Lussac.

    Rosneft, in a company release, said that it “will continue the independent development of these projects,” and that it supports Exxon Mobil’s eventual return, if the law allows that. Analysts said Rosneft might turn to BP PLC as a partner, which has a stake in Rosneft.
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    Tillerson added, "And this is very, very concerning to me and others, that there seems to be a certain unleashing of activity that we don’t fully understand what the objective behind that is.
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    McCain: Trump’s CIA pick was involved in ‘one of the darkest chapters in American history’ (Israeli news reporting on it also)

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday condemned President Trump’s decision to nominate Gina Haspel to become the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), saying she was involved in “one of darkest chapters in American history.”

    While he expressed confidence in current CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s ability to serve as secretary of State, an appointment Trump announced earlier Tuesday, McCain said in a statement that Haspel needs to explain her stance on torture.

    “The torture of detainees in U.S. custody during the last decade was one of the darkest chapters in American history,” McCain said. “Ms. Haspel needs to explain the nature and extent of her involvement in the CIA’s interrogation program during the confirmation process.”

    Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Bush administration “squandered precious moral authority” to get intelligence, McCain said.

    Haspel joined the CIA in 1985 and faced scrutiny for her role surrounding waterboarding and other interrogation techniques used on detainees at a secret CIA prison in Thailand in 2002.

    The American Civil Liberties Union said Haspel was “up to her eyeballs in torture, both in running a secret torture prison in Thailand and carrying out an order to cover up torture crimes by destroying videotapes.”

    Progressive foreign policy groups are fighting back against her nomination, saying her direct role in the torture program should “disqualify her” from the position.

    Pompeo committed himself to enforcing federal law on interrogation techniques during his confirmation hearing last year to become CIA director.

    “Any nominee for director of the CIA must pledge without reservation to uphold this prohibition, which has helped us regain our position of leadership in the struggle for universal human rights,” McCain said Tuesday.

    McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner during in the Vietnam War, has sharply criticized Trump’s support of controversial interrogation policies like waterboarding.

    “I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good,” McCain said in 2014.

    Haspel was nominated to the top CIA position Tuesday after Trump announced on Twitter that he was ousting Secretary of State Rex Tillersonand tapping Pompeo to take his post. If confirmed, Haspel will be the first woman to hold the position.
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    They are trying to fire sessions, clean the slate approach.
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    APNewsBreak: Green Party candidate was on state GOP payroll

    HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A man who registered as a Green Party candidate for Montana's U.S. Senate race was on the state Republican Party's payroll and heads a newly formed anti-tax group, according to a review of election documents.

    Timothy Adams filed as a challenger Monday against Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, who faces a tough re-election campaign, in a race where a Green Party candidate could siphon votes from the Democrat.

    The Green Party qualified as a political party in Montana on Monday, which was also the state's deadline for candidates to file for office. Green Party officials blasted an email that morning to solicit candidates who could register by the day's end.

    Adams was one of six people to file as a Green Party candidate for the races on the ballot this fall. A total of seven people are looking to unseat Tester, including four Republicans vying for their party's nomination.

    Adams' name and phone number is the same as the treasurer of Montanans Against Higher Taxes, a group formed to oppose a legislative referendum on the ballot this fall for a 10-year property tax extension for the state's university system.

    Adams also is accusing the pro-ballot referendum committee of campaign finance violations in a complaint filed with the Commissioner of Higher Practices last month. In that complaint, he lists the same phone number and a home address in Bozeman.

    In his Senate filing, he lists a Three Forks post office box as his address. The reason for the disparity was not immediately clear.

    Adams did not return calls for comment on Monday and Tuesday.

    That same Bozeman address was listed under Adams' name in Federal Election Commission documents, showing Adams was paid by the Montana Republican State Central Committee from October 2013 through May 2015. His role with the party was not clear.

    Adams also filed to run as a Libertarian candidate in a state House race in 2012, but later withdrew.

    Green Party state coordinator Danielle Breck said she spoke to all of the candidates who filed under the party's name, including Adams. She said she reviewed with the candidates the Green Party's four pillars and 10 key points, which include ending war, halting dependence on fossil fuels and advocating for social justice.

    "We don't actually have any ability to deny candidates to file under our name," Breck said.

    She noted that another person, Steve Kelly of Bozeman, also filed as a Green Party candidate for the Senate race. There will be a primary election to determine the party's nominee, if both candidates stay in the race.

    "We will absolutely vet both of those candidates," she said.

    As of Tuesday, no Green Party candidate filed for the Senate race with the Federal Election Commission, according to the FEC website.
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    Prime Minister May’s Use of Force Claim: Clarifying the Law that Governs the U.K.’s Options

    On Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May made the remarkable statement that, absent a credible response from the Russian government, the United Kingdom will conclude that the use of a nerve agent against a former Russian informant Sergei Skripal was “an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom.” News reports have proliferated, but some of them are inaccurate or incomplete. There are two recurring issues that warrant clarification: the possible role of the North Atlanic Treaty Organization in a U.K. response, and the range of possible U.K. actions.

    Politico reported that NATO is in touch with the U.K. about the nerve agent attack. This in itself is not surprising, given NATO’s focus on the security of its members. However, the Politico piece points to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty—the collective self-defense provision—and implies that the alliance might invoke that provision in this context. As many readers know, however, a “use of force” in international law is distinct from an “armed attack,” and Article 5 only envisions a collective forcible response to the latter. (Many states and scholars, as well as the International Court of Justice, believe that an armed attack represents a particularly serious use of force.) May presumably chose her reference to a “use of force” carefully, knowing that only an “armed attack” could trigger the U.K.’s right to use force in self-defense and NATO’s collective self-defense option. Hence, while NATO may choose to cooperate in a response to the nerve gas use, Article 5 is not directly relevant unless and until the U.K. determines that an “armed attack” has occurred.

    The press has reported on (non-forcible) reactions that the U.K. may be considering. This reporting tends to focus on imposing economic sanctions, expelling Russian spies or diplomats from the U.K., restricting visas to Russian businesspeople, or revoking the broadcast license for RT, Russia’s national media network. These measures would be “retorsions,” or unfriendly acts that do not violate international law.

    The U.K. has another category of options, however: countermeasures. The Draft Articles on State Responsibility, adopted by the International Law Commission and generally accepted as an accurate restatement of customary international law, define countermeasures as acts by the injured state that would otherwise be international law violations, but which are not wrongful because they are responses to an initial international law violation by the wrongdoing state. Countermeasures should be proportional to the original violation and their goal must be to induce the wrongdoing state to comply with its international obligations and cease the violative behavior. The victim state must cease its countermeasures once the violation ceases. Only states that are injured may impose countermeasures: This means that a victim state’s allies may not impose “collective countermeasures” on the wrongdoing state if only the victim state was actually injured. And, according to the Draft Articles, before imposing countermeasures the injured state must call on the wrongdoing state to fulfill its obligations, notify the wrongdoing state that it intends to take countermeasures, and offer to negotiate with that state.

    Thus, if the U.K. concludes that Russia has used force against it, Russia would have violated Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter, and the U.K. would be entitled to take countermeasures once it fulfills these preliminary procedures. The U.K. could, for instance, cease performing one or more sets of treaty obligations it has with Russia, including treaties related to trade, taxation or investment. If, but only if, the U.K.’s allies conclude that Russia’s use of chemical weapons constitutes an international law violation owed to them, these allies might entertain collective countermeasures against Russia as well. Although the Russian violation at issue does not appear to be ongoing—which makes it less clear what the “cessation” of the violation would look like—the U.K. will likely deem its countermeasures successful if Russia acknowledges the violation, commits to avoid such acts in the future, and perhaps undertakes to provide some form of reparations for damages. Of course, the likelihood of that happening seems remote.
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    Air Force Issues Gag Order on Press Engagements: Memo

    The U.S. Air Force is curtailing its media engagements and limiting the amount of information it releases in what it says is an effort to protect operational security, according to a new memo.

    The service says its latest move is in line with the new National Defense Strategy, and must "avoid giving insights to our adversaries which could erode our military advantage," according to a seven-page memo obtained by The new guidance was first reported Monday by Defense News.

    The March 1 memo, titled "Public Affairs Guidance: OPSEC and Public Engagement Reset" highlights for public affairs officers throughout the ranks how to best deal with members of the media. In some specific cases, officers are encouraged to "re-assess" media coverage or stories already in the works.

    "PA offices should account for and re-assess all potential media coverage that may result from previous interviews that have yet to be published," the memo says. "The PA office should review all information provided to ensure it protects operational security, and if necessary, work with/advise higher headquarters of the potential coverage."

    Media embeds, base visits and interviews are suspended until further notice with limited exceptions.

    Combatant commands such as U.S. Air Forces Europe-Africa and Pacific Air Forces are to adhere to their existing media practices, according to the guidance; however, in the likelihood that COCOM-approved engagements "may result in coverage of airmen, units and operations," PA officials should consult with "higher headquarters," the memo states.

    Exercises and any event that reveals tactics, techniques and procedures have been flagged as "operational security risk" topics. Topics for potential engagement with the media include human interest stories, historical topics or programs that bring awareness such as Black History Month and Sexual Assault and Prevention Month, the memo says.

    The guidance comes at a time when services such as the U.S. Navy -- as well as the Defense Department as a whole -- have clamped down on media engagement in recent months.

    Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson last March issued a memo which told sailors to steer clear of "events that are primarily for marketing, and that don't make an intellectual contribution to warfighting," as well as openly sharing information with the press.

    The Pentagon that same month issued similar guidance in which Defense Secretary Jim Mattis cautioned about publicly speaking about readiness shortfalls, which he argued could give adversaries an upper advantage.

    Mattis himself has given limited, public briefings at the podium at the Pentagon since becoming defense secretary.

    Similarly, with the ramp up in Afghanistan and a fluid timeline on operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon has pulled back on divulging troop numbers, continuing a long-running controversy over how many and where troops are in harm's way in the Middle East.

    Some programs in the latest fiscal 2019 budget request, especially those belonging to the Air Force, remain obscure.

    The Trump administration is requesting $716 billion for national security, of which the Pentagon would receive $686.1 billion in military funding. Overall, it's a $74 billion increase from current funding levels. The Defense Department has been stifled in recent years due to budget caps and automatic spending cuts known as sequestration that have hurt readiness, manning and operations and maintenance levels.

    The Air Force, for example, intends to invest heavily in next-gen technologies in next year's budget, testing new equipment that can give it a competitive edge against near-peer adversaries while also prototyping weapons for the advanced fight.

    The service asked for $504 million in fiscal 2019 for its next-generation air dominance research, development, test and evaluation program, according to the budget request, plus a planned investment of roughly $11 billion over the course of five years for RTD&E on next-gen air dominance.

    But the service is steadfast to say it is investing that money in a "family of systems" instead of divulging concrete examples of what the end result may be in an effort to keep such information away from U.S. adversaries -- mainly, Russia and China.
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    ‘Open revolt’ at the State Department over Tillerson dismissal, reporter says

    A pool reporter who was on the plane with Secretary of State Tillerson hours before he was fired says there is “open revolt” between Trump and the State Department.

    “The White House and the State Department are now in essentially open revolt over who exactly fired the Secretary of State when” Associated Press reporter Josh Lederman who covers Tillerson and was accompanying him on an official flight said everything seemed fine that morning told Powerhouse Politics podcast.

    “The fact that this was imminent, that he was going to step off his airplane after jetting across Africa on Trump’s behalf for a week, within four hours be fired by tweet, was something that we had no sense of,” Lederman said.

    President Trump’s firing of his Secretary of State Tuesday morning took reporters by surprise, plunging an already chaotic White House into more turmoil. Immediately after Trump’s decision, the State Department and the White House seemed to disagree on who was the current Secretary of State.

    When asked by ABC News if Tillerson was still serving as secretary, a State Department official said the press office had to check.

    Meanwhile, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tillerson would serve as secretary “during a transition period.”

    Tillerson will keep his cabinet title until the end of March; and if confirmed by the Senate, CIA Director Mike Pompeo will take his place.

    This could mean a major shift in foreign policy.

    “The biggest change will be to Iran policy. That’s where you really see the biggest gulf between the general approach of Tillerson and the general approach of Pompeo,” Lederman said.

    In the meantime, Tillerson, appears headed back to private life.

    Most wouldn’t characterize Tillerson as the conventional Secretary of State, considering his business background and his approach to the role as top U.S. diplomat.

    But Lederman explains this is not the reason Trump fired him.

    “Trump did not fire him because he wanted him to be like John Kerry. Trump fired him because he tried to push Trump to do things that he didn’t want to do,” Lederman said, citing the Iran deal and the Paris Climate agreement.
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    Mattis, Schultz among political elite with links to Theranos
    Mar 14, 2018

    Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was among the many high-profile political heavyweights with links to Theranos, the biotech charged with fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

    Mattis became a board director for Theranos in 2013 and quit only after he was nominated to be defense secretary.

    Before joining the board, Mattis tried to get the Defense Department to procure Theranos equipment to use in Afghanistan, The Wall Street Journal reported. The department ultimately decided against doing so, though the U.S. Army awarded a contract to Theranos in 2012.

    Two former secretaries of state, George Schultz and Henry Kissinger, as well as former Defense Secretary William Perry and ex-Sens. Bill Frist and Sam Nunn also were on the star-studded board.

    Tyler Schultz, the grandson of the ex-secretary of state, was one of the Theranos employees who raised questions about the company and alerted a state regulator, according to a Wall Street Journal profile.

    None of those board members were named individually in the SEC suit, which charged the company, founder Elizabeth Holmes and former company president, Ramesh Balwani. The SEC suit said Holmes was the primary liaison with the board.

    The SEC did say that Holmes convinced the board — as well as shareholders — in early 2014 to split Theranos stock and give super voting powers to Holmes.

    One board member — the SEC didn’t say which one — found out from Holmes in June 2014 that she was contemplating terminating the company’s relationship with a grocery chain that media reporting has shown to be Safeway. But Holmes continued to talk about the grocery relationship in meetings with investors after that.

    The presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton had planned to hold a fundraiser at Theranos before moving it after media attention. Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes participated in health-care summits sponsored by the Clinton Foundation.

    Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of News Corp, invested $100 million in Theranos in a funding round that lasted between 2014 and 2015, according to a Wall Street Journal article. News Corp is the parent company of MarketWatch.
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    Trump may be floating a plan to fire Jeff Sessions, potentially jeopardizing Mueller's Russia probe

    • President Donald Trump is reportedly drawing up a plan to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
    • Trump's opinion of Sessions took a nosedive after Sessions recused himself from the FBI's Russia investigation last year.
    • Trump is said to be considering replacing Sessions with EPA administrator Scott Pruitt.
    • Pruitt would not need to be recused from the Russia probe, and could theoretically fire special counsel Robert Mueller.
    President Donald Trump has been formulating a plan to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Vanity Fair reported on Wednesday.

    Sessions has been a target of Trump's ire since he recused himself from the FBI's Russia investigation last March, following reports that he was not forthcoming during his Senate confirmation hearing about his contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign season.

    Sessions' recusal is a key point of frustration for Trump, who once reportedly asked why he couldn't order "my guys" at the "Trump Justice Department" to do what he wanted.

    When the Russia investigation began picking up steam last summer, so did Trump's attacks on his hand-picked attorney general, whom he called "weak" and "beleaguered" in a string of Twitter rampages.

    He also repeatedly suggested Sessions should replace then-deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, whom Trump described as "a Comey friend who was in charge of the Clinton investigation," and asked why the FBI wasn't investigating former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

    McCabe was forced out of the FBI earlier this year amid an internal investigation into his handling of the Clinton email probe. On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that Sessions is weighing whether or not to fire McCabe over his alleged misconduct days before he's set to retire.

    Trump's tweets last summer came after he admitted, during an interview with The Times the previous week, that he would not have nominated Sessions to be attorney general if he had known Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

    "Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else," Trump told the outlet.

    Sessions said this weekend that he believes he made the right decision by stepping aside from the DOJ's Russia investigation.

    The special counsel Robert Mueller is believed to be focusing on the time period last summer when Trump ramped up his attempts to pressure Sessions to carry out his suggestions. That inquiry makes up one thread of Mueller's investigation into whether Trump sought to obstruct justice when he fired FBI director James Comey last May.

    The White House initially said Comey was fired because of the way he handled the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. But Trump later said on national television that he fired Comey, in part, because of "this Russia thing." He also reportedly told two top Russian government officials that dismissing the FBI director had taken "great pressure" off of him.

    After Comey's firing, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel in charge of the Russia investigation. Typically, the appointment of a special counsel falls on the attorney general, but Sessions did not participate in the decision because he was recused.

    In the event that Sessions is fired, Vanity Fair reported, Trump is mulling over replacing him with Scott Pruitt, who currently heads up the Environmental Protection Agency.

    Although he is already a Cabinet secretary, Pruitt would need to go through a second Senate confirmation hearing because he would be moving to a different department. But since the Senate green-lighted him once before, it likely wouldn't be as difficult as confirming a new nominee.

    This type of rapid Cabinet shuffling is unprecedented in US history. Trump also nominated Mike Pompeo, who was CIA director, to be his new secretary of state after he fired Rex Tillerson on Monday. Pompeo's second confirmation hearing will likely take place in April.

    If Pruitt became the attorney general, he would not be recused from the Russia investigation, and could theoretically fire the special counsel.