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The Russia Investigation: Mueller - "Over the course of my career, I've seen a number of challenges to our democracy.The Russian govt's effort to interfere in our election is among the most serious."

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Fwiw the impact of the story about the WH using alternate IC and Congressional routes to pump out bilge countering the leaks about Trump's Russian connections is that it pushes the argument more in favor of Sessions recusal and appointment of a special prosecutor than relying on the various committees getting cranked up.

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Does anyone think Nunes' statement that he hasn't seen any evidence of Trump-Russian connections is true?

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1 minute ago, Dedfin said:

Does anyone think Nunes' statement that he hasn't seen any evidence of Trump-Russian connections is true?

No, although I think it is entirely possible of his own choosing he hasn't read the IC reports or the Flynn transcripts, so it makes his disbelief all the easier.

Like I said in the Trump thread just now I'm expecting Nunes will be creating a tribunal seeking out leakers to create a competing narrative with the Senate and IC investigations.

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1 hour ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

No, although I think it is entirely possible of his own choosing he hasn't read the IC reports or the Flynn transcripts, so it makes his disbelief all the easier.

Like I said in the Trump thread just now I'm expecting Nunes will be creating a tribunal seeking out leakers to create a competing narrative with the Senate and IC investigations.

All read I can get from this is they don't have sufficient info yet--that the briefings have been limited.  Not sure what has to happen for the FBI and other IC to spill the beans about what they have and where they're going, but it just doesn't sound like that's happened yet.

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6 minutes ago, cobalt_27 said:

All read I can get from this is they don't have sufficient info yet--that the briefings have been limited.  Not sure what has to happen for the FBI and other IC to spill the beans about what they have and where they're going, but it just doesn't sound like that's happened yet.

I wouldn't put it past the FBI-CIA to compartmentalize what they've disclosed to the various IC committees/investigations to see what filters up to the top.  

BTW, how the hell does Cohen become Trump's attorney.  FWIW, I know he was at USC for at least part of the time he says with respect to the Steele dossier, but everything else about this guy just screams "shady as hell".  He's certainly not the type of "white-shoe" family office GC you'd expect for a "billionaire" like Trump.  I'm going to do a really bad job of describing this, but there's just something off with a GC with his background and the type of stuff he was doing.  He should be contracting Trump's real estate deals, etc.  Instead it seems like he's his own little fiefdom.   It's just really, really weird for a "personal attorney" not to be working 100% of the time for the boss in a family office like Trump's.  

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32 minutes ago, Sammy3469 said:

I wouldn't put it past the FBI-CIA to compartmentalize what they've disclosed to the various IC committees/investigations to see what filters up to the top.  

BTW, how the hell does Cohen become Trump's attorney.  FWIW, I know he was at USC for at least part of the time he says with respect to the Steele dossier, but everything else about this guy just screams "shady as hell".  He's certainly not the type of "white-shoe" family office GC you'd expect for a "billionaire" like Trump.  I'm going to do a really bad job of describing this, but there's just something off with a GC with his background and the type of stuff he was doing.  He should be contracting Trump's real estate deals, etc.  Instead it seems like he's his own little fiefdom.   It's just really, really weird for a "personal attorney" not to be working 100% of the time for the boss in a family office like Trump's.  

A quick check of his wiki bio reveals he went to Thomas Cooley law school.

I had the fortune to work with a Cooley grad. Not ye olde sharpest knife in the drawer. Note they have satellite campuses. I'm not being a snoob to the Cooley grads out there (respect) but I believe the MI bar passage rate hovers around 25%. Not really an esteemed degree. I only mention that because as you say it's quite remarkable considering where he is today.

His wife is Ukrainian. He bought flats in Trump buildings. Otherwise it's a mystery how he landed where he did.

ETA - more here.

Apparently Cohen worked for a NY law firm employed by Trump, then moved over to directly work for Trump about 2010. Still as the article states Cohen is 'something of a cipher'.

Edited by SaintsInDome2006

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4 minutes ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

A quick check of his wiki bio reveals he went to Thomas Cooley law school.

I had the fortune to work with a Cooley grad. Not ye olde sharpest knife in the drawer. Note they have satellite campuses. I'm not being a snoob to the Cooley grads out there (respect) but I believe the MI bar passage rate hovers around 25%. Not really an esteemed degree. I only mention that because as you say it's quite remarkable considering where he is today.

His wife is Ukrainian. He bought flats in Trump buildings. Otherwise it's a mystery how he landed where he did.

FWIW his old law firm (decidedly not the type of real estate law or litigation firm you'd expect of a Trump special counsel) leases space in Kushner's building.  

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Andrey Artemenko: "I got confirmation" from Felix Sater that my Russia-Ukraine plan was delivered to Michael Flynn

 
Quote

 

Artemenko told me he thinks he's facing treason charges because Kiev feels threatened by his "foreign allies, contacts, and supporters."

When I asked if he's still working to get his "peace plan" acknowledged by the Trump administration, he said Yes.

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Sammy3469 said:
13 minutes ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

A quick check of his wiki bio reveals he went to Thomas Cooley law school.

I had the fortune to work with a Cooley grad. Not ye olde sharpest knife in the drawer. Note they have satellite campuses. I'm not being a snoob to the Cooley grads out there (respect) but I believe the MI bar passage rate hovers around 25%. Not really an esteemed degree. I only mention that because as you say it's quite remarkable considering where he is today.

His wife is Ukrainian. He bought flats in Trump buildings. Otherwise it's a mystery how he landed where he did.

FWIW his old law firm (decidedly not the type of real estate law or litigation firm you'd expect of a Trump special counsel) leases space in Kushner's building.  

“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia,” Trump’s son, Donald Jr., said at a real estate conference in 2008, according to a trade publication, eTurboNews.

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Sessions Says He'll Recuse Himself on Russia Probe If Needed

Quote

“I would recuse myself on anything that I should recuse myself on,” Sessions told reporters Monday at the Justice Department in Washington. “That’s all I can tell you.”

Well, that's something. 

Edited by SameSongNDance
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My prediction is due to the efforts of Sessions, the White House and the House, this will fizzle out.

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Maddow to her credit tackling the octopus like, and possibly dangerous, Rybolovlev story.

First time I've seen it covered on tv or in any MSM in terms of the Trump/Cyprus/Ross connection.

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2 minutes ago, Sinn Fein said:

Your quote does not match your headline :oldunsure:

 

I'm a spaz when it comes to inserting links for a reason that's absolutely beyond me.

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11 minutes ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

Maddow to her credit tackling the octopus like, and possibly dangerous, Rybolovlev story.

First time I've seen it covered on tv or in any MSM in terms of the Trump/Cyprus/Ross connection.

Scary sounding ####... .....this should end badly for trump

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14 minutes ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

Maddow to her credit tackling the octopus like, and possibly dangerous, Rybolovlev story.

First time I've seen it covered on tv or in any MSM in terms of the Trump/Cyprus/Ross connection.

She's absolutely crushing it.

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1 hour ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

Maddow to her credit tackling the octopus like, and possibly dangerous, Rybolovlev story.

First time I've seen it covered on tv or in any MSM in terms of the Trump/Cyprus/Ross connection.

What is this now?

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Guys you've got to give context and links. We can't follow...

OMGZ (random media member) is doing great with (random Russian name) and (random Eastern European city and/or state) wow Trumps going down!

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8 minutes ago, Slapdash said:

link?

 

3 minutes ago, mr roboto said:

Guys you've got to give context and links. We can't follow...

OMGZ (random media member) is doing great with (random Russian name) and (random Eastern European city and/or state) wow Trumps going down!

Here.

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Maddow stretched a 5 minute segment into 20 minutes.  I really don't like her.

in a nutshell, Rybolovlev is a really rich oligarch.  He went through a nasty divorce and was looking to hide assets by paying too much for property, including paying Mr Trump $100M for a house purchased two and a half years earlier for $40M.

Also, Rybolovlev does a lot of banking in Cyprus, where Wilbur Ross sits on the board.  That bank is headed by the former Deutsche Bank head, where his bank had to pay a $650M penalty for laundering Russian money.

Trump and Rybolovlev allegedly never met.  The deal may or may not have been brokered by Ross.

Bonus: Manafort, Page, and Tillerson make no sense to Americans WRT advising Trumps candidacy and/or presidency, but make a ton of sense when viewed through a Russian prism.

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Just now, SaintsInDome2006 said:

I'm not sure if tonight's report is up yet?

The segment is up, when you scroll down you see "New Commerce Secretary at nexus of lucrative Trump Russian deal".

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3 minutes ago, moleculo said:

including paying Mr Trump $100M for a house purchased two and a half years earlier for $40M.

Fwiw an important issue - or claim - is that Russian oligarchs and mafia types have been laundering money through NYC and So. Florida real estate, including Trump properties.

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Just now, SameSongNDance said:

The segment is up, when you scroll down you see "New Commerce Secretary at nexus of lucrative Trump Russian deal".

You're right, thanks, fyi to all - that's it.

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4 minutes ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

Fwiw an important issue - or claim - is that Russian oligarchs and mafia types have been laundering money through NYC and So. Florida real estate, including Trump properties.

we can also circle back to that Financial Times article (I think this thread, even) that claimed Russian Mob used Trump Casinos to launder money.  That is, lower level guys (I think), not even the oligarch types.

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On 2/23/2017 at 7:12 PM, mr roboto said:
On 2/23/2017 at 7:00 PM, PlasmaDogPlasma said:

You don't have a wall with pictures and articles pinned up and connected by strings?

I think @SaintsInDome2006 Does 

Try this one for starters.

Also this.

One more.

Might need to magnify this one.

(Courtesy Adam Khan)

Edited by SaintsInDome2006
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28 minutes ago, moleculo said:

we can also circle back to that Financial Times article (I think this thread, even) that claimed Russian Mob used Trump Casinos to launder money.  That is, lower level guys (I think), not even the oligarch types.

Bag men. That's how rackets work.

- eta - I will try to find the article.

Edited by SaintsInDome2006

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Mechanism for transmitting this intelligence involves 'pension' disbursements to Russian emigres living in US as cover, using consular officials in New York, DC and Miami

 

Quote

...On the mechanism for rewarding relevant assets based in the US, and effecting a two-way flow of intelligence and other useful information, Source claimed that Russian diplomatic staff in key cities such as New York, Washington DC and Miami were using the emigre 'pension' distribution system as cover. The operation therefore depended on key people in the US Russian emigre community for its success. Tens of thousands of dollars were involved.

In terms of the intelligence flow from the TRUMP team to Russia, Source reported that much of this concerned the activities of business oligarchs and their families' activities and assets in the US, with which PUTIN and the Kremlin seemed preoccupied.

- Steele Dossier.

Miami Herald:

Quote

 

...While many of the dossier’s assertions may never be substantiated, media reports over the last two weeks about the timing of electronic intercepts of conversations by Trump aides with Russians have lent a measure of credibility to Steele and his reports. The purported scheme to mask payments as pension benefits could offer U.S. investigators one possible avenue for confirming a portion of Steele’s reports.

The dossier says diplomatic staff based in the United States were involved in recruiting and compensating Russian emigre hackers inside this country and other Russian operatives. Their payments, it said, were authorized by consular offices in cities such as New York and Washington and in Miami, where only an informal consular arrangement exists. Two sources told McClatchy that an informal working group of intelligence agencies are scrutinizing the pension system as part of the election plot.

McClatchy reported Feb. 14 that a senior diplomat in Russia’s embassy in Washington, identified in Steele’s dossier as having played a key role in coordinating the pension “ruse,” was under scrutiny by federal investigators when he left the United States last August, according to two sources familiar with the inquiry. Diplomat Mikhail Kalugin, now back in Moscow and out of investigators’ reach, has said he had been long scheduled to return home at that time and denied having any role in paying U.S. pro-Trump operatives.

In early 2015, the Kremlin, its intelligence agencies and Russian banks faced a worsening predicament. President Barack Obama had imposed a series of sanctions to punish Russia, its banks and a long list of individuals and Russian institutions over Moscow’s support for separatists who seized control of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

While the sanctions were tightened in the summer of 2015 to prohibit large Russian banks from doing business in the United States, money transfers were still permitted. But Russian banks might have shied from wiring money for the FSB for fear of further sanctions, said Harrell, now a senior fellow for the Washington think tank Center for a New American Security.

By using the existing stream of relatively modest payments to thousands of Russian emigres, it “would be pretty easy to layer some illicit payments to hackers,” he said.

The simplest way to move funds, Harrell said, would be to wire them through Western Union, where there is less of a paper trail than if the hacker opened a bank account. But the pensioners also could have acted as intermediaries, he said.

A pensioner could have cut a deal with the FSB that left no trail for investigators, Harrell said. “He says, ‘OK, I’ll give my cash to this hacker. You give my brother in Moscow $2,500 a month.” Or the pensioner could earn a monthly fee for simply turning over his pension money to the operative, he said.

Harrell worked with the Treasury Department and intelligence agencies to craft financial sanctions that sought to thwart bad actors such as Iran and North Korea and also change the behavior of more powerful world players, including Russia.

Louise Shelley, director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University in suburban Washington, said the pension system would be an attractive option for the Russian FSB amid the current sanctions.

“You want to hide the illicit in your legal financial flows,” said Shelley, who is an expert on Russian money laundering. “You’re looking for points that aren’t going to arouse suspicion.”

The tougher sanctions on Russian banks, and limits on lending to some key Russian energy conglomerates, date to 2012 and have targeted many of Putin’s closest associates and financial institutions.

But as a result of the sanctions, and similar actions by European nations, most Western banks scrutinized even routine Russian transactions.

Couldn’t the Russians have just moved stacks of cash via a “diplomatic pouch,” which is immune from searches by government authorities? Yes, but delivering the cash could be risky, especially if the Russian operatives were geographically scattered.

“The last couple of years the Russian diplomats have been under pretty heavy surveillance in the United States, so you wouldn’t want the physical contact,” Harrell said.

Nikolay Lakhonin, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington, declined a request to discuss how pension payments are distributed in the United States.

He provided a statement from Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova that dismissed the dossier as “mind-boggling heresies” and “simply unbearable nonsense.”

Nor would the U.S. Embassy in Moscow answer questions about the pensions.

In late 2014, the Russian pension agency estimated that the government was sending benefits to 259,000 emigres in the United States, Israel and numerous other countries around the globe. Tass, the Russian news agency, reported in 2015 that the average pension paid to Russians who served in wars was $546 per month.

McClatchy reached several Russian pensioners living in the United States. Through interpreters, they said they were required to establish proof with consular officials of their Russian heritage to qualify for benefits, which usually arrived every three months. They generally gave someone in Russia power of attorney, and their Russian contact then sent the money through a bank wire transfer or Western Union.

A 52-year-old veteran of the Russian war in Afghanistan in the 1980s who lives in New York, said through a translator that the Russian Ministry of Defense automatically deposits his monthly checks in a bank account that he maintains in Russia, where he is still a citizen.

Richard Nephew, a former State Department negotiator on the Russian sanctions, agreed that it wouldn’t be far-fetched to visualize Russian intelligence agencies moving money through the pension system.

If you are a spy agency, he said, “you go to whatever works .... (The pension system) was available, potentially subject to less scrutiny, and you take advantage of that.”

 

The way I see it what is described is a two track system:

- Trump Org/campaign communicated with RIS/FSB through its Russian oligarchic US connections (and I take it also through Manafort's Russo-Ukrainian connections via other recent reports). These connections to Trump go back years and also provide the further leverage that was needed to influence him.

- Hackers were paid through the Russian emigre pension system which would permit multiple deposits under multiple names into one account or several. Russia kept Trump & Co. apprised as needed through the same oligarchy/familial connections in the US.

 
Edited by SaintsInDome2006

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On 2/18/2017 at 8:41 PM, Sammy3469 said:

The fact they are even probing the finances means they have something.  It could be as minor as the Flynn payment for the RT dinner, but my guess is there's a paper trail a mile long of the oligarchs buying Trump apartments in his various developments.  Once the have those they can work backward slowly, but pretty easily.

There is a ton to unravel especially since Ross owns a chunk of one of the favorite Cyprus banks to do this sort of thing through and it takes a lot of time, but you want something that would shake up the Republican senators, this is it.

- I find it odd that Miami Herald and Maddow waited until now, Ross' confirmation, to run this story.

On 2/19/2017 at 8:10 PM, Sammy3469 said:

...All it really takes is the FBI to find one of the LLCs was a front used by say Sater to pass through "income" to both himself and Trump and the whole thing unravels.  Granted if the Russians are involved there is not probably extensive layering involved, but the FBI has become quite adept doing this type of thing lately (and yes it can take awhile for them to follow all the threads since the layering occurs through several shady countries like the bank Ross owns a part of in Cyprus...another convenient link).

- That really is what happened in Watergate. How did this check from CREEP end up in a plumber's account?

WaPo didn't figure that on their own, the FBI gave them that.

More on Bank of Cyprus here:

Quote

For the past two years, Ross has been a business partner with Vekselberg in a major financial project involving the Bank of Cyprus, the country's largest and most significant financial institution. A financial crisis in 2013 led to the bank's collapse and eventual bailout. The bank had held billions in deposits from wealthy Russians—some of it presumably dirty money or funds deposited there to escape Russian taxation—and during its restructuring, a large amount of these deposits were converted into shares, giving Russian plutocrats a majority ownership (on paper) of the bank. The idea of Russians gaining control of a European bank unnerved European financial powers. But in the summer of 2014, Ross led a 1 billion euro takeover of the troubled bank in a deal that offered Russian shareholders a buyout. (Ross had previously bought a stake in the Bank of Ireland during an earlier European debt crisis—a move that turned out to be profitable.) Still, the Bank of Cyprus would not be freed of Russian influence. Shortly after Ross' deal, the bank announced that Vekselbergs' conglomerate, the Renova Group, had become the bank's second-largest shareholder.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/12/trump-commerce-pick-wilbur-ross-financial-ties-russians

 

Edited by SaintsInDome2006

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Rachel Maddow was all over the link between Wilbur Ross, Trump and Russian oligarchs tonight.  Turned MSNBC on earlier to listen to John Schindler and her show was on before I went to bed here.  Huge article upcoming in the New Yorker about all this too.  But, Nunes sees nothing to investigate here?!  WTF is going on.

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This is absolutely outstanding work (as Maddow discussed with Remnick and @rodg12 eluded to above):

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/06/trump-putin-and-the-new-cold-war

It does less to advance any new material on Russia-Trump as it does explore Putin and Russia's background, our history of policy missteps, and the convergence of every crazy, wild affair to where we are today.  It's a great historical document.

Edited by cobalt_27
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14 hours ago, Slapdash said:

“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia,” Trump’s son, Donald Jr., said at a real estate conference in 2008, according to a trade publication, eTurboNews.

I thought they had nothing to do with Russia?

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3 minutes ago, Leeroy Jenkins said:
14 hours ago, Slapdash said:

“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia,” Trump’s son, Donald Jr., said at a real estate conference in 2008, according to a trade publication, eTurboNews.

I thought they had nothing to do with Russia?

“How many people have to say that there’s nothing there before you realize there’s nothing there? At some point, you do have to ask yourself what are you actually looking for. How many times do you have to come to the same conclusion before you take the answer?"

“All I’m saying is the people who’ve done the investigating about Russia overall and its activities in the United States — specifically now with respect to our election — haven’t provided anything that lead me to believe or should lead you to believe”

-- Sean Spicer, February 27, 2017

 

Melissa has been very clear and consistent on this @Leroy Jinkins - when are you going to accept the answer already provided?

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"How many people have to say that President Nixon had nothing to do with a coverup before you realize that he had nothing to do with a coverup?"

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7 hours ago, cobalt_27 said:

This is absolutely outstanding work (as Maddow discussed with Remnick and @rodg12 eluded to above):

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/06/trump-putin-and-the-new-cold-war

It does less to advance any new material on Russia-Trump as it does explore Putin and Russia's background, our history of policy missteps, and the convergence of every crazy, wild affair to where we are today.  It's a great historical document.

Great read. Makes me question Kerry and Obama a bit more. Putin is dangerous. 

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1 minute ago, [scooter] said:

"How many people have to say that President Nixon had nothing to do with a coverup before you realize that he had nothing to do with a coverup?"

Third rate burglary. Can't believe Katherine Graham is happy with how much money they are wasting on that story. 

 

Nixon to the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff:

“The press is your enemy Enemies. Understand that? … Now, never act that way … give them a drink, you know, treat them nice, you just love it, you're trying to be helpful. But don't help the bastards. Ever. Because they're trying to stick the knife right in our groin.”

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That is a bigly story from Maddow.  Haven't had a chance to read the New Yorker article yet.

Wilbur Ross's Russian connection is a new one that I've seen.

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8 hours ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

- I find it odd that Miami Herald and Maddow waited until now, Ross' confirmation, to run this story.

- That really is what happened in Watergate. How did this check from CREEP end up in a plumber's account?

WaPo didn't figure that on their own, the FBI gave them that.

More on Bank of Cyprus here:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/12/trump-commerce-pick-wilbur-ross-financial-ties-russians

 

Just to put a finer point on Cyprus (this is all from the AML world), the favorite Russian places to launder money through were Cyprus (for European-US transactions and the Seychelles for Asian stuff.  They'd route the money there through the Bank of Cyprus (Ross's bank), then turn around and send it to Cayman, one of the other British entities (Isle of Man, BVI, etc) and/or a Delaware LLC.  Once they got the money into Cyprus it was all pretty painless to set up the shell LLC or other legal entities to do this (and before we cast stones at the rest of the world, a Delaware LLC is notoriously one of the most opaque and easiest ways to launder money and is one of the favorite ways even today since it has the imprimatur of being a vetted entity since it's located in the US, but I digress).  

The key was getting it into the "world-banking" system.  For that they used they Ross's Bank of Cyprus.  Why?  Cyprus is in the EU, so if you can get the money there, it's free and clear especially since the Bank of Cyprus has branches in the UK and at one time (2007) in Moscow.  Until 2012 when they came under FSA (UK) regulations, they operated as a wild west bank doing anything for anyone (they still do, but are more "discrete" as they've learned the AML laws of the world.  No need for complicated wash trades (another favorite way to get money to the UK), no need to pay off the Swiss, no need to worry about the Germans.  In one swoop, you've gotten money into the EU.  And boy did they and still do today.

The question is why Ross, someone who sued Trump over his casinos (hint, hint), someone more adept at vulture investing manufacturing and other hard industry assets, someone who doesn't have a history investing in Europe is involved with THE bank of Cyprus known almost exclusively for laundering money for the Russians even to this day.  

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8 minutes ago, Leeroy Jenkins said:

Great read. Makes me question Kerry and Obama a bit more. Putin is dangerous. 

I'm an Obama guy, but he wasn't the perfect president and made a number of substantial errors and miscalculations.  He really tip-toed around Russia, for example, almost placating them to curry favor for other objectives in Iran and Syria, neither of which materialized in our national interests.

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