campaign

Russia used Facebook to try to spy on Macron campaign – sources

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Russian intelligence agents attempted to spy on President Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign earlier this year by creating phony Facebook personas, according to a U.S. congressman and two other people briefed on the effort.

About two dozen Facebook accounts were created to conduct surveillance on Macron campaign officials and others close to the centrist former financier as he sought to defeat far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen and other opponents in the two-round election, the sources said. Macron won in a landslide in May.

Facebook said in April it had taken action against fake accounts that were spreading misinformation about the French election. But the effort to infiltrate the social networks of Macron officials has not previously been reported.

Russia has repeatedly denied interfering in the French election by hacking and leaking emails and documents. U.S. intelligence agencies told Reuters in May that hackers with connections to the Russian government were involved, but they did not have conclusive evidence that the Kremlin ordered the hacking.

Facebook confirmed to Reuters that it had detected spying accounts in France and deactivated them. It credited a combination of improved automated detection and stepped-up human efforts to find sophisticated attacks.

Company officials briefed congressional committee members and staff, among others, about their findings. People involved in the conversations also said the number of Facebook accounts suspended in France for promoting propaganda or spam – much of it related to the election – had climbed to 70,000, a big jump from the 30,000 account closures the company disclosed in April.

Facebook did not dispute the figure.

Seeking Friends of Friends

The spying campaign included Russian agents posing as friends of friends of Macron associates and trying to glean personal information from them, according to the U.S. congressman and two others briefed on the matter.

Facebook employees noticed the efforts during the first round of the presidential election and traced them to tools used in the past by Russia’s GRU military intelligence unit, said the people, who spoke on condition they not be named because they were discussing sensitive government and private intelligence.

FILE PHOTO – French President Emmanuel Macron leaves the polling station after voting in the first of two rounds of parliamentary elections in Le Touquet, France, June 11, 2017.Christophe Petit Tesson/Pool

Facebook told American officials that it did not believe the spies burrowed deep enough to get the targets to download malicious software or give away their login information, which they believe may have been the goal of the operation.

The same GRU unit, dubbed Fancy Bear or APT 28 in the cybersecurity industry, has been blamed for hacking the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 U.S. presidential election and many other political targets. The GRU did not respond to a request for comment.

Email accounts belonging to Macron campaign officials were hacked and their contents dumped online in the final days of the runoff between Macron and Le Pen.

French law enforcement and intelligence officials have not publicly accused anyone of the campaign attacks.

Mounir Mahjoubi, who was digital director of Macron’s political movement, En Marche, and is now a junior minister for digital issues in his government, told Reuters in May that some security experts blamed the GRU specifically, though they had no proof.

Mahjoubi and En Marche declined to comment.

There are few publicly known examples of sophisticated social media spying efforts. In 2015, Britain’s domestic security service, MI5, warned that hostile powers were using LinkedIn to connect with and try to recruit government workers.

The social media and networking companies themselves rarely comment on such operations when discovered.

Facebook, facing mounting pressure from governments around the world to control “fake news’ and propaganda on the service, took a step toward openness with a report in April on what it termed “information operations.”

The bulk of that document discussed so-called influence operations, which included “amplifier” accounts that spread links to slanted or false news stories in order to influence public opinion.

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Soros ‘distressed’ by ‘anti-Semitic’ Hungary campaign

BUDAPEST, Hungary — US billionaire George Soros hit back Tuesday at a Hungarian government anti-immigration poster and media campaign that he said uses “anti-Semitic” imagery.

“I am distressed by the current Hungarian regime’s use of anti-Semitic imagery as part of its deliberate disinformation campaign,” the 86-year-old said in a rare statement.

The posters show a large picture of the Hungarian-born Jewish emigre laughing, alongside the text: “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh,” a reference to government claims that Soros wants to force Hungary to allow in migrants.

Since the posters appeared on billboards and at public spaces around the country last week, as well as on television, several incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti such as “Stinking Jew” or Stars of David daubed on them have been reported.

A poster with US billionaire George Soros is pictured on July 6, 2017 in Szekesfehervar, Hungary. (AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK)

Hungary’s largest Jewish organisation, Mazsihisz, has called on Prime Minister Viktor Orban to stop the campaign, with its head Andras Heisler writing to the prime minister that the “poisonous messages harm the whole of Hungary.”

Some opposition activists and citizens have also begun taking down some of the posters from billboards.

Soros said he was “heartened that together with countless fellow citizens the leadership of the Hungarian Jewish community” have spoken out.

Earlier Tuesday his spokesperson Michael Vachon called the campaign “reminiscent of Europe’s darkest hours” with “clearly anti-Semitic overtones.”

Those defacing the posters with graffiti “(understood) the government’s intent,” he said.

“The government has consistently and willfully misrepresented Soros’s views on migration and refugees,” he added.

On Friday Orban accused Soros of being a “billionaire speculator” who wanted to use his wealth and civil groups that he supports to “settle a million migrants” in the European Union.

Orban and government officials say that Hungary has a policy of “zero tolerance” of anti-Semitism, and that the poster campaign is about increasing awareness of the “national security risk” posed by Soros.

On Saturday, Israel’s ambassador in Budapest Yossi Amrani also criticized the poster campaign, saying it “evokes sad memories but also sows hatred and fear.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for an European Union leaders summit, on June 22, 2017, at the European Council in Brussels. (JULIEN WARNAND / POOL / AFP)

But late Sunday — reportedly at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office — Israel’s foreign ministry issued a separate “clarification” that criticism of Soros was legitimate.

“Israel deplores any expression of anti-Semitism in any country and stands with Jewish communities everywhere in confronting this hatred,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon in a statement. “This was the sole purpose of the statement issued by Israel’s ambassador to Hungary.

“In no way was the statement meant to de-legitimize criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself,” Nahshon added.

Netanyahu is due to visit Hungary next week, the first visit by an Israeli prime minister since the end of communism in 1989.

Hungary to pull ‘anti-Semitic’ Soros campaign ahead of Netanyahu visit

The Hungarian government said Wednesday it will end a billboard campaign against Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros deemed “anti-Semitic,” three days before before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to visit the country.

The posters show a large picture of the Hungarian-born Jewish emigre laughing, alongside the text: “Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh,” a reference to government claims that Soros wants to force Hungary to allow in migrants.

Leaders of Hungary’s 100,000-strong Jewish community have said the campaign is provoking anti-Semitism.

Since the posters appeared on billboards and at public spaces around the country last week, as well as on television, several incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti such as “Stinking Jew” and Stars of David daubed on them have been reported.

On Tuesday, Soros released a rare statement saying he was “distressed by the current Hungarian regime’s use of anti-Semitic imagery as part of its deliberate disinformation campaign.”

In a statement the government said that the anti-Soros campaign had reached its goals and was no longer necessary, according to Hungarian news outlets. The statement noted that a new law regulating the display of political posters in public places was due to come into effect on July 15.

Hungarian television network ATV cited Wednesday a leading member of the Orban’s ruling Fidesz party as saying Netanyahu’s upcoming visit prompted the move as well as preparations for an international water polo tournament scheduled to start on Thursday.

Netanyahu will meet with Hungarian Prime Minister is Viktor Orban in the capital Budapest in what will be the first visit by an Israeli prime minister since the end of communism in 1989.

Israel’s ambassador to Hungary slammed the campaign over the weekend for “sowing hatred” and suggested it evokes memories of the Holocaust.

However, on Sunday the Foreign Ministry clarified that while it condemns bigotry against Jews, it was not defending Soros, who it described as defaming Israel and undermining its right to defend itself.

Hungarian Pime Minister Viktor Orban gives a joint press conference in Budapest on July 4, 2017 during a summit of the Visegrad group countries and Egypt. (AFP Photo/Attila Kisbenedek)

“Israel deplores any expression of anti-Semitism in any country and stands with Jewish communities everywhere in confronting this hatred,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in the statement. “This was the sole purpose of the statement issued by Israel’s ambassador to Hungary.

“In no way was the statement meant to delegitimize criticism of George Soros, who continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself,” Nahshon added.

According to Israeli daily Haaretz, the walk-back came at the behest of Netanyahu.

Orban and government officials say that Hungary has a policy of “zero tolerance” of anti-Semitism, and that the poster campaign is about increasing awareness of the “national security risk” posed by Soros.

On Friday Orban accused Soros of being a “billionaire speculator” who wanted to use his wealth and civil groups that he supports to “settle a million migrants” in the European Union.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

SOROS COMPARES HUNGARIAN CAMPAIGN AGAINST HIM TO NAZI PROPAGANDA

 

Jewish American billionaire George Soros said the current Hungarian government campaign against him evokes “Europe’s darkest hours,” referring to Nazi German propaganda.

“I am distressed by the current Hungarian regime’s use of antisemitic imagery as part of its deliberate disinformation campaign,” Soros said in a statement issued in his name on Tuesday, according to reports.

 

The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has paid for a nationwide campaign vilifying Soros over his support for efforts to allow migrants to enter the country. Jewish leaders there say the campaign against Soros has stoked antisemitic sentiment in the country.

Billboards posted nationwide show a grinning Soros, who was born in Hungary, and the words “Let’s not allow Soros to have the last laugh.” Many of the billboards have been defaced with antisemitic graffiti.

Soros has said that the government is misrepresenting his views on immigration ahead of the 2018 elections.

“As a survivor of the Holocaust who hid from the Nazis in Budapest and later was himself a refugee, Soros knows first-hand what it means to be in mortal peril,” said the statement issued on his behalf. “He carries the memory of the international community’s rejection of Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis. … It is from the crucible of those experiences that his empathy for refugees from war-torn Syria and elsewhere was born.”

“Soros’s position is entirely consistent with mainstream European values. The claim that Soros is promoting a scheme to import a million illegal immigrants into Europe is Victor Orban’s fantasy,” the statement also said.

Hungarian Jews and Israeli lawmakers have called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel an official visit to Hungary scheduled for July 18, to protest the campaign against Soros and remarks by Orban in praise of Hungary’s World War II-era antisemitic leader Miklós Horthy.

It would be the first visit by an Israeli prime minister since Hungary disavowed Communism in 1989.

Israel’s ambassador to Hungary on Sunday issued a statement denouncing the Hungarian government’s campaign against Soros. Israel’s Foreign Ministry later released a clarification saying that the statement was meant to address the resulting antisemitism, not defend Soros, who, it said, “continuously undermines Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself.”

Soros is frequently vilified by European right-wing politicians for his support of pro-democracy efforts through his Open Society Foundations, and by pro-Israel activists for his support of Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups consistently critical of Israeli policies.

Trump Jr. Was Told in Email of Russian Effort to Aid Campaign

WASHINGTON — Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting. In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs. Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy.

Mr. Goldstone’s message, as described to The New York Times by the three people, indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information. It does not elaborate on the wider effort by Moscow to help the Trump campaign.

There is no evidence to suggest that the promised damaging information was related to Russian government computer hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails. The meeting took place less than a week before it was widely reported that Russian hackers had infiltrated the committee’s servers.

But the email is likely to be of keen interest to the Justice Department and congressional investigators, who are examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election. American intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government tried to sway the election in favor of Mr. Trump.

The Times first reported on the existence of the meeting on Saturday, and a fuller picture has emerged in subsequent days.

Alan Futerfas, the lawyer for the younger Mr. Trump, said his client had done nothing wrong but pledged to work with investigators if contacted.

“In my view, this is much ado about nothing. During this busy period, Robert Goldstone contacted Don Jr. in an email and suggested that people had information concerning alleged wrongdoing by Democratic Party front-runner, Hillary Clinton, in her dealings with Russia,” he told The Times in an email on Monday. “Don Jr.’s takeaway from this communication was that someone had information potentially helpful to the campaign and it was coming from someone he knew. Don Jr. had no knowledge as to what specific information, if any, would be discussed.”

It is unclear whether Mr. Goldstone had direct knowledge of the origin of the damaging material. One person who was briefed on the emails said it appeared that he was passing along information that had been passed through several others.

Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, and Paul J. Manafort, the campaign chairman at the time, also attended the June 2016 meeting in New York. Representatives for Mr. Kushner referred requests for comments back to an earlier statement, which said he had voluntarily disclosed the meeting to the federal government. He has deferred questions on the content of the meeting to Donald Trump Jr.

A spokesman for Mr. Manafort declined to comment.

But at the White House, the deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was adamant from the briefing room lectern that “the president’s campaign did not collude in any way. Don Jr. did not collude with anybody to influence the election. No one within the Trump campaign colluded in order to influence the election.”

The president, a prolific Twitter user, did not address his son’s controversy on Monday, and instead sought to highlight other issues throughout the morning.

In a series of tweets, the president’s son insisted he had done what anyone connected to a political campaign would have done — hear out potentially damaging information about an opponent. He maintained that his various statements about the meeting were not in conflict.

“Obviously I’m the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent… went nowhere but had to listen,” he wrote in one tweet. In another, he added, “No inconsistency in statements, meeting ended up being primarily about adoptions. In response to further Q’s I simply provided more details.”

The younger Mr. Trump, who had a reputation during the campaign for having meetings with a wide range of people eager to speak to him, did not join his father’s administration. He runs the family business, the Trump Organization, with his brother Eric.

On Monday, after news reports that he had hired a lawyer, he indicated in a tweet that he would be open to speaking to the Senate Intelligence Committee, one of the congressional panels investigating Russian meddling in the election. “Happy to work with the committee to pass on what I know,” the younger Mr. Trump wrote.

Mr. Goldstone represents the Russian pop star Emin Agalarov, whose father was President Trump’s business partner in bringing the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow in 2013. In an interview Monday, Mr. Goldstone said he was asked by Mr. Agalarov to set up the meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya.

“He said, ‘I’m told she has information about illegal campaign contributions to the D.N.C.,’” Mr. Goldstone recalled, referring to the Democratic National Committee. He said he then emailed Donald Trump Jr., outlining what the lawyer purported to have.

But Mr. Goldstone, who wrote the email over a year ago, denied any knowledge of involvement by the Russian government in the matter, saying that never dawned on him. “Never, never ever,” he said. Later, after the email was described to The Times, efforts to reach him for further comment were unsuccessful.

In the interview, he said it was his understanding that Ms. Veselnitskaya was simply a “private citizen” for whom Mr. Agalarov wanted to do a favor. He also said he did not know whether Mr. Agalarov’s father, Aras Agalarov, a Moscow real estate tycoon known to be close to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, was involved. The elder Mr. Agalarov and the younger Mr. Trump worked together to bring a Trump Tower to Moscow, but the project never got off the ground.

Emin Agalarov, right, spoke alongside Donald J. Trump and Erin Brady, Miss USA, in Las Vegas in 2013.CreditEthan Miller/Getty Images

Mr. Goldstone also said his recollection of the meeting largely tracked with the account given by the president’s son, as outlined in the Sunday statement Mr. Trump issued in response to a Times article on the June 2016 meeting. Mr. Goldstone said the last time he had communicated with the younger Mr. Trump was to send him a congratulatory text after the November election, but he added that he did speak to the Trump Organization over the past weekend, before giving his account to the news media.

Donald Trump Jr., who initially told The Times that Ms. Veselnitskaya wanted to talk about the resumption of adoption of Russian children by American families, acknowledged in the Sunday statement that one subject of the meeting was possibly compromising information about Mrs. Clinton. His decision to move ahead with such a meeting was unusual for a political campaign, but it was consistent with the haphazard approach the Trump operation, and the White House, have taken in vetting people they deal with ahead of time.

But he said that the Russian lawyer produced nothing of consequence, and that the meeting ended after she began talking about the Magnitsky Act — an American law that blacklists Russians suspected of human rights abuses. The 2012 law so enraged Mr. Putin that he halted American adoptions of Russian children.

Mr. Goldstone said Ms. Veselnitskaya offered “just a vague, generic statement about the campaign’s funding and how people, including Russian people, living all over the world donate when they shouldn’t donate” before turning to her anti-Magnitsky Act arguments.

“It was the most inane nonsense I’ve ever heard,” he said. “And I was actually feeling agitated by it. Had I, you know, actually taken up what is a huge amount of their busy time with this nonsense?”

Ms. Veselnitskaya, for her part, denied that the campaign or compromising material about Mrs. Clinton ever came up. She said she had never acted on behalf of the Russian government. A representative for Mr. Putin said on Monday that he did not know Ms. Veselnitskaya, and that he had no knowledge of the June 2016 meeting.

Ms. Sanders said at a news briefing that the American president had learned of the meeting recently, but she declined to discuss details.

The White House press office, however, accused Mrs. Clinton’s team of hypocrisy. The office circulated a January 2017 article published in Politico, detailing how officials from the Ukrainian government tried to help the Democratic candidate conduct opposition research on Mr. Trump and some of his aides.

News of the meeting involving the younger Mr. Trump, Mr. Kushner and Mr. Manafort blunted whatever good feeling the president’s team had after his trip to Europe for the Group of 20 economic summit meeting.

The president learned from his aides about the 2016 meeting at the end of the trip, according to a White House official. But some people in the White House had known for several days that it had occurred, because Mr. Kushner had revised his foreign contact disclosure document to include it.

The president was frustrated by the news of the meeting, according to a person close to him — less over the fact that it had happened, and more because it was yet another story about Russia that had swamped the news cycle.

Trump Team Met With Lawyer Linked to Kremlin During Campaign

Two weeks after Donald J. Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination last year, his eldest son arranged a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with a Russian lawyer who has connections to the Kremlin, according to confidential government records described to The New York Times.

The previously unreported meeting was also attended by Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, as well as the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, according to interviews and the documents, which were outlined by people familiar with them.

While President Trump has been dogged by revelations of undisclosed meetings between his associates and Russians, this episode at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, is the first confirmed private meeting between a Russian national and members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle during the campaign. It is also the first time that his son Donald Trump Jr. is known to have been involved in such a meeting.

Representatives of Donald Trump Jr. and Mr. Kushner confirmed the meeting after The Times approached them with information about it. In a statement, Donald Jr. described the meeting as primarily about an adoption program. The statement did not address whether the presidential campaign was discussed.

American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian hackers and propagandists worked to tip the election toward Mr. Trump, and a special prosecutor and congressional committees are now investigating whether his campaign associates colluded with Russians. Mr. Trump has disputed that, but the investigation has cast a shadow over his administration for months.

Mr. Trump has also equivocated on whether the Russians were solely responsible for the hacking. But in Germany on Friday, meeting President Vladimir V. Putin for the first time as president, Mr. Trump questioned him about the hacking. The Russian leader denied meddling in the election.

The Russian lawyer invited to the Trump Tower meeting, Natalia Veselnitskaya, is best known for mounting a multipronged attack against the Magnitsky Act, an American law that blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. The law so enraged Mr. Putin that he retaliated by halting American adoptions of Russian children.

Natalia Veselnitskaya

The adoption impasse is a frequently used talking point for opponents of the Magnitsky Act. Ms. Veselnitskaya’s campaign against the law has also included attempts to discredit its namesake, Sergei L. Magnitsky, a lawyer and auditor who died in mysterious circumstances in a Russian prison in 2009 after exposing one of the biggest corruption scandals during Mr. Putin’s rule.

Ms. Veselnitskaya was formerly married to a former deputy transportation minister of the Moscow region, and her clients include state-owned businesses and a senior government official’s son, whose company was under investigation in the United States at the time of the meeting. Her activities and associations had previously drawn the attention of the F.B.I., according to a former senior law enforcement official.

In his statement, Donald Trump Jr. said: “It was a short introductory meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow up.”

He added: “I was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance, but was not told the name of the person I would be meeting with beforehand.”

Late Saturday, Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the president’s lawyer, issued a statement implying that the meeting was a setup. Ms. Veselnitskaya and the translator who accompanied her to the meeting “misrepresented who they were,” it said.

In an interview, Mr. Corallo explained that Ms. Veselnitskaya, in her anti-Magnitsky campaign, employs a private investigator whose firm, Fusion GPS, produced an intelligence dossier that contained unproven allegationsagainst the president. The firm could not be reached for comment.

Donald Trump Jr. had denied participating in any campaign-related meetings with Russian nationals when he was interviewed by The Times in March. “Did I meet with people that were Russian? I’m sure, I’m sure I did,” he said. “But none that were set up. None that I can think of at the moment. And certainly none that I was representing the campaign in any way, shape or form.”

Asked at that time whether he had ever discussed government policies related to Russia, the younger Mr. Trump replied, “A hundred percent no.”

Paul Manafort at the Republican National Convention last year in Cleveland. CreditEric Thayer for The New York Times

The Trump Tower meeting was not disclosed to government officials until recently, when Mr. Kushner, who is also a senior White House aide, filed a revised version of a form required to obtain a security clearance. The Times reported in April that he had failed to disclose any foreign contacts, including meetings with the Russian ambassador to the United States and the head of a Russian state bank. Failure to report such contacts can result in a loss of access to classified information and even, if information is knowingly falsified or concealed, in imprisonment.

Mr. Kushner’s advisers said at the time that the omissions were an error, and that he had immediately notified the F.B.I. that he would be revising the filing. They also said he had met with the Russians in his official transition capacity as a main point of contact for foreign officials.

In a statement on Saturday, Mr. Kushner’s lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, said: “He has since submitted this information, including that during the campaign and transition, he had over 100 calls or meetings with representatives of more than 20 countries, most of which were during transition. Mr. Kushner has submitted additional updates and included, out of an abundance of caution, this meeting with a Russian person, which he briefly attended at the request of his brother-in-law Donald Trump Jr. As Mr. Kushner has consistently stated, he is eager to cooperate and share what he knows.”

Mr. Kushner’s lawyers addressed questions about his disclosure but deferred to Donald Trump Jr. on questions about the meeting itself.

Mr. Manafort, the former campaign chairman, also recently disclosed the meeting, and Donald Trump Jr.’s role in organizing it, to congressional investigators who had questions about his foreign contacts, according to people familiar with the events.

A spokesman for Mr. Manafort declined to comment. In response to questions, Ms. Veselnitskaya said the meeting lasted about 30 minutes and focused on the Magnitsky Act and the adoption issue.

“Nothing at all was discussed about the presidential campaign,” she said, adding, “I have never acted on behalf of the Russian government and have never discussed any of these matters with any representative of the Russian government.”

Because Donald Trump Jr. does not serve in the administration and does not have a security clearance, he was not required to disclose his foreign contacts. Federal and congressional investigators have not publicly asked for any records that would require his disclosure of Russian contacts. It is not clear whether the Justice Department was aware of the meeting before Mr. Kushner disclosed it recently. Neither Mr. Kushner nor Mr. Manafort was required to disclose the content of the meeting in their government filings.

During the campaign, Donald Trump Jr. served as a close adviser to his father, frequently appearing at campaign events. Since the president took office, the younger Mr. Trump and his brother, who have worked for the Trump Organization for most of their adult lives, assumed day-to-day control of their father’s real estate empire.

A quick internet search reveals Ms. Veselnitskaya as a formidable operator with a history of pushing the Kremlin’s agenda. Most notable is her campaign against the Magnitsky Act, which provoked a Cold War-style, tit-for-tat row with the Kremlin when President Barack Obama signed it into law in 2012.

Under the law, some 44 Russian citizens have been put on a list that allows the United States to seize their American assets and deny them visas. The United States asserts that many of them are connected to fraud exposed by Mr. Magnitsky, who after being jailed for more than a year was found dead in his cell. A Russian human rights panel found that he had been assaulted. To critics of Mr. Putin, Mr. Magnitsky, in death, became a symbol of corruption and brutality in the Russian state.

An infuriated Mr. Putin has called the law an “outrageous act,” and, in addition to banning American adoptions, compiled what became known as an “anti-Magnitsky” blacklist of United States citizens.

Among those blacklisted was Preet Bharara, then the United States attorney in Manhattan, who led high-profile convictions of Russian arms and drug dealers. Mr. Bharara was abruptly fired in March, after previously being asked to stay on by Mr. Trump.

One of Ms. Veselnitskaya’s clients is Denis Katsyv, the Russian owner of a Cyprus-based investment company called Prevezon Holdings. He is the son of Petr Katsyv, the vice president of the state-owned Russian Railways and a former deputy governor of the Moscow region. In a civil forfeiture case prosecuted by Mr. Bharara’s office, the Justice Department alleged that Prevezon had helped launder money tied to a $230 million corruption scheme exposed by Mr. Magnitsky by parking it in New York real estate and bank accounts. As a result, the government froze $14 million of its assets. Prevezon recently settled the case for $6 million without admitting wrongdoing.

Ms. Veselnitskaya and her client hired a team of political and legal operatives that has worked unsuccessfully in Washington to repeal the Magnitsky Act. They also tried but failed to keep Mr. Magnitsky’s name off a new law that takes aim at human-rights abusers across the globe.

Besides the private investigator whose firm produced the Trump dossier, the lobbying team included Rinat Akhmetshin, an émigré to the United States who once served as a Soviet military officer and who has been called a Russian political gun for hire.

Ms. Veselnitskaya was also deeply involved in the making of an anti-Magnitsky film that premiered just weeks before the Trump Tower meeting. Titled “The Magnitsky Act — Behind the Scenes,” the film echoes the Kremlin line that the widely accepted version of Mr. Magnitsky’s life and death is wrong. The film claims that he was not assaulted and alleges that he never testified that government officials conspired to steal $230 million in fraudulent tax rebates.

In the film’s telling, the true culprit of the fraud was William F. Browder, an American-born financier who hired Mr. Magnitsky to investigate the fraud after he had three of his investment funds companies in Russia seized. On RussiaTV5, a station whose owners are known to be close to Mr. Putin, Ms. Veselnitskaya was lauded as “one of those who gave the film crew the real proofs and records of testimony.”

Mr. Browder, who stopped the screening of the film in Europe by threatening libel suits, called the film a state-sponsored smear campaign.

“She’s not just some private lawyer,” Mr. Browder said of Ms. Veselnitskaya. “She is a tool of the Russian government.”

John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director, testified in May that he had been concerned last year by Russian government efforts to contact and manipulate members of Mr. Trump’s campaign. “Russian intelligence agencies do not hesitate at all to use private companies and Russian persons who are unaffiliated with the Russian government to support their objectives,” he said.

The F.B.I. began a counterintelligence investigation last July into Russian contacts with any Trump associates. Agents focused on Mr. Manafort and a pair of advisers, Carter Page and Roger J. Stone.

Among those now under investigation is Michael T. Flynn, who was forced to resign as Mr. Trump’s national security adviser after it became known that he had falsely denied speaking to the Russian ambassador about sanctions imposed by the Obama administration over the election hacking.

Congress later discovered that Mr. Flynn had been paid more than $65,000 by companies linked to Russia, and that he had failed to disclose those payments when he renewed his security clearance and underwent an additional background check to join the White House staff.

In May, the president fired the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, who days later provided information about a meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House. According to Mr. Comey, the president asked him to end the bureau’s investigation into Mr. Flynn; Mr. Trump has repeatedly denied making such a request. Robert S. Mueller III, a former F.B.I. director, was then appointed as special counsel.

The status of Mr. Mueller’s investigation is not clear, but he has assembled a veteran team of prosecutors and agents to dig into any possible collusion.

The History Of Jewish Mainstream Media’s Brainwashing Campaign

The media has had a long history of brainwashing the public. Finding its roots in communist regimes such as the former Soviet Union and China, propaganda is now the most dangerous weapon of mass destruction and it is constantly being used on the unaware American public. “Democracy, as we know it today, is akin to communism in one critical aspect: destroying capitalism! Here is the subtle difference between them: Communism violently destroyed capitalism overnight, while democracy has been peacefully destroying capitalism over time.” –Frank Li The goal is the destruction of capitalism, or in layman’s terms, the complete abolition of economic freedom. Whether one believes that the media is deceiving them or not makes no difference, the propaganda will still work. (Please Google “Operation Mockingbird”, or follow this link.) Unfortunately, you can fool some people all of the time, or all the people some of the time. But you can’t fool all the people all of the time. Brainwashing and communism are almost synonymous because communism would have died long ago without brainwashing and brainwashing developed to its peak under communism. One of the greatest bits of recent propaganda was when the left got away with the lie of saying before Obamacare, we had a free market healthcare system. We have actually had a “socialism-lite” version of healthcare for decades. The masters of brainwashing didn’t forget this though, they simply and conveniently repackaged the deal obviously completely leaving out the most obvious examples of socialized medicine: Medicare and Medicaid. But it didn’t matter. The easily manipulated took that as a “sign” from the media that it was time to get more control and more of the government’s authoritative involvement in the industry which is supposed to keep them healthy. And that’s only one example of the manipulation taking us closer toward complete slavery by the very government the media is protecting. In 1958, Mao launched the Great Leap Forward campaign. He was able to starve tens of millions of people by using propaganda, then successfully shift the blame from himself after the communist propaganda machine spun it as a “3-year natural disaster”. Socialists and communists around the globe still revile in this horrific lie of government control. Without propaganda and brainwashing, leftist policies would have died decades ago. People are born wanting freedom from tyranny. It takes an effective campaign starting in childhood to change their minds and support their masters willingly while decrying those who seek actual freedom from oppression. In 1923, Edward Bernays published his book “Crystallizing Public Opinion”, in which he argues that “crystallizing public opinion” is essential to a democratic government of large-scale nations. In order to govern, or control, a vastly disparate people, you have to unify their minds, but not aginst “authority.” Bernays also criticized fellow psychologist and author Walter Lippmann for knowing the public mind so well but failing to use that knowledge to manipulate the mind. Bernays spent a long career creating the “opinion-making machinery,” which would provide the “news” that would become the “history” of the 20th century. The engineered perceptions, not reality, provide the carefully crafted contents of people’s “public opinions” and the vehicle was the mainstream media. If ever anyone wants to know why alternative media has gained a foothold, it’s for the simple fact that those who dare to question the mainstream media’s version of events; are to be labeled as false and “conspiracy theorists,” even though their views obviously make the most sense. Conspiracy theorists don’t only have to believe in alien abduction or reptilian creatures anymore. Now, all they have to do is question authority or the media’s scripted version of events; and that was by design as well. Any time a credible but politically unpalatable explanation for real world events is expressed in the American public sphere, it is often denounced as “conspiracy theory”, then dismissed and studiously ignored by the mass media. Public opinion, the public herd mind, obediently follows suit and closes itself to any such crazy conspiracy talk. –Econintersect Wake up and question everything.  Start to understand freedom. Follow the money trails. It is not difficult to figure out that giving an authoritative entity like the US government more power through a willingness to vote and accept the whims of other voters is done through a massive propaganda machine. One should understand that voting away the rights and property of others is wrong, and they do…until the media brainwashes them into hating the very people who simply want their freedom from violence and totalitarianism. Just do a quick internet search of “sovereign citizens” (those who have declared their freedom from the US government corporation) and you will understand. The media and government are making these people look insane when all they want is to escape the plantation peacefully. The only reason Sovereign citizens are a “threat” to anyone, is because they are free from the shackles of government. Just look at the most recent evidence. CNN admitted they push fake news and false narratives to control what the public thinks in exchange for profits. Yet some in the public still defend CNN. Ask any American today and they will tell you that slavery is wrong, yet when you lay out the factual and logical case that the US government is a corporation which owns them, they get physically uncomfortable. And virtually no media outlet will print this simple truth because they would lose money. That’s a big red flag that the brainwashing has been successful in the democracy and soon-to-be USSA.

UK LAWMAKER RECALLS ANTISEMITIC ABUSE DURING GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN

 

A British lawmaker claimed that she was the target of antisemitic abuse during the UK general election after discovering several of her campaign posters were vandalized with swastikas, The Jewish Chronicle reported Wednesday.

Conservative MP Sheryll Murray recalled the experience during a session of Prime Minister’s Questions in parliament, saying that her campaign offices were also urinated on in the midst of the campaign season.

“Over the past months, I’ve had swastikas carved into posters,” Murray, a Conservative Friends of Israel supporter, announced during the first PMQ held since May won a narrow victory against Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn earlier this month.

Murray said she was “sickened” by the experience, and noted that the “symbol is incredibly offensive to both Jews who lost so many and the British who stood firm against its tyranny.”

The Conservative MP entreated the prime minister on “what can be done to stop this intimidation,” which she quipped was “hardly kinder, gentler politics.”

The prime minister replied: “She was not the only person who experienced this sort of intimidation during the election campaign.”

“Particularly…this sort of intimidation was experienced by female candidates.”

“I believe that this sort of behavior has no place in our democracy…and it could put good people off from serving in this House,” the prime minister added.

The issue of rising antisemitism on UK campuses was also discussed during Wednesday’s PMQ session, with Conservative MP Anne Main bringing the matter to the attention of the premier.

In response, May praised the work of the Community Security Trust and others in combating antisemitism and Islamophobia, according to The Jewish Chronicle.

Sanders Condemns Shooting… But Look What We Dug up From Vicious 2016 Campaign

http://conservativetribune.com/sanders-condemns-shooting-but/?utm_source=Email&utm_medium=PostUp&utm_campaign=CTDailyEmail&utm_content=2017-06-16

 

Though much of the violence that erupted at some of President Donald Trump’s election campaign rallies last year was later traced to leftist activists, then-Democrat primary candidate Bernie Sanders nevertheless blamed the businessman candidate for all of it.

“Trump should tone down his rhetoric and condemn the violence of some of his supporters,” the Vermont senator tweeted in March of 2016 after one of the GOP candidate’s supporters lost his cool on a liberal activist protester and sucker-punched him in the face.

It was later learned from an undercover investigation by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas that several liberal Political Action Committees had purposefully planned to provoke Trump supporters to violence so as to make Republicans look bad.

Take a look at Sanders’ tweet from 2016 below:

View image on Twitter

Trump should tone down his rhetoric and condemn the violence of some of his supporters.

That’s a fine sentiment, but the fact is, no matter what pieties Sanders preached, he and the Democrat Party have done precious little to live up to it — either during the heated days of the presidential campaign or in the months since Trump’s surprise upset over Hillary Clinton in November. From the weeks leading up to Trump’s inauguration, to Inauguration Day itself, and in all the time since, leftists who call themselves “The Resistance” have wreaked havoc in American political and social life.

It is conservatives and Trump supporters who have been violently, physically attacked by liberals, without a word of condemnation from the Democrat Party’s leaders.

In light of all that, Sanders’ advice to Trump hasn’t aged well at all.

Now, fast-forward to Wednesday, when a deranged liberal activist opened fire on a group of Republican congressmen and staff practicing in Alexandria, Virginia, for an upcoming baseball game with their Democrat peers.

Even after indisputable evidence surfaced showing that shooter James T. Hodgkinson had been a rabid Sanders supporter who did volunteer work in Sanders’ election campaign, the Vermont senator was giving himself an outlet he would have denied Trump last year. He even tried to cast down on the gunman’s support.

“I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign,” he said. “I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be: Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”

Wrong, Mr. Sanders. Hodgkinson was not “apparently” a volunteer on your election campaign. He was a volunteer, period.

And while you deserve zero blame for his hideous actions, it would have been nice had you followed the advice you gave Trump last year and urged your own supporters to calm their rhetoric. I mean, this is the second time that one of your supporters has lost his cool. The last time this happened, two people wound up dead.

Correction: It would be nice if you and all your peers would start calling out the violent rhetoric and actions of your own base — just like you demanded Trump do in the heat of the 2016 campaign.

As noted by Red Alert Politics contributor Siraj Hashmi, “(t)he Left and groups like Antifa have … increasingly (been using) violent tactics against Republicans and conservatives, and call(ing) everyone who disagrees with them a ‘Nazi’ or ‘white supremacist’ to justify their violent behavior.”

Anyone who would dare blame Sanders personally for Hodgkinson’s actions is a fool, of course. But so is anyone who denies that it’s time for the left to take a close look in the mirror.

Russia bragged about holding leverage over Trump campaign with ‘derogatory’ financial info: report

Russian government officials were overheard talking about potentially “derogatory” information about Donald Trump in conversations intercepted by U.S. intelligence agents during the presidential election campaign, according to a new report.

The discussion centered on whether Russia held leverage over Trump’s inner circle, and the intercepted communications suggested to U.S. intelligence officials that Russia believed “they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information,” reported CNN.

The report is based on information revealed by two former intelligence officials and a congressional source.

The sources cautioned that the Russian claims may have been exaggerated or even made up as part of a disinformation campaign, but U.S. intelligence services believed the conversation showed a clear intent by Russia to influence the presidential election between Trump and Hillary Clinton.

CNN reported May 19 that U.S. intelligence agents intercepted conversations between Russian officials bragging that they could use Mike Flynn, a foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign and then briefly the national security adviser, to influence Trump.

The New York Times followed up on that story and reported that Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was also discussed as possible agent of influence.

Manafort, who has extensive business ties with pro-Kremlin officials in Ukraine, has denied receiving illicit finances or any other wrongdoing in his work for Trump.

The White House denied the latest CNN report as “yet another round of false and unverified claims made by anonymous sources to smear the president,” and claimed a review of his finances from the last 10 years showed no financial ties at all.