Trump is Being Bribed by Putin
First, some brief history:
- July 8, 2016 — Trump advisor Carter Page visits Moscow and receives an offer for Trump of the brokerage fee for a 19% equity sale of a massive Russian oil deal (Rosneft, a $11B sale with a fee worth $500M) if Trump would lift US/EU sanctions related to the invasion of Ukraine. These sanctions have crippled the Russian economy and hamstrung their oligarchy.
- July 18, 2016 — Trump’s team makes one tweak to the RNC platform: a pro-Russia softening of the US Gov’s stance on their invasion of Ukraine.
- July 22, 2016 — Wikileaks dumps the DNC emails on the eve of the DNC, helping hold down Clinton’s favorability among an incensed left and boosting Trump’s RNC bump while holding Clinton to her lowest polling of the cycle.
- July 27, 2016 — Trump tells the press that he would consider lifting sanctions on Russia and “jokingly” instructs Russia to continue to hack Clinton “if they’re listening.” It would be his last press conference of the election.
Now, of course, we know that:
- The hacking was directed by Russia to help Trump win the election.
- Wikileaks timed their dumps to hurt Clinton’s campaign.
- Russian officials congratulated themselves over their efforts to elect Trump.
What has the Trump team been up to since then?
- Trump advisor Carter Page is under investigation for his ties to Russia. He’s continued to visit Moscow in spite of that investigation.
- Trump advisor Paul Manafort is under investigation for his ties to Russia. Specifically for his support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He left his post as campaign chair in the August 2016 because of those allegations. Manafort resurfaced after the election to advise Trump on cabinet positions…
- Shortly thereafter, Rex Tillerson, former Exxon CEO, emerged as a dark horse candidate for Secretary of State. Tillerson has extensive business ties to Russian oil and lobbied for a reduction in sanctions while at Exxon. Specifically he has deep ties to the company that offered Carter Page the brokerage deal, may be hiding oil assets in offshore tax shelters as he has in the past, and has been awarded the Russian Order of Friendship by Putin.
- Trump’s National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn is under investigation for his repeated communications with Russia following a December increase in sanctions by then Pres. Obama (this link includes reference to a WaPo article indicating that Flynn had been cleared — see the update at the bottom to find that the investigation found evidence of wrongdoing). The Trump team defended those calls with various conflicting explanations. After getting kicked out of the Obama DIA for his insubordination and Islamophobia, Flynn — the veteran military intel officer — cozied up to Putin. Payments from Russia to Flynn at the time may have violated the Constitution’s emolument’s clause and a further investigation is pending. (SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM)
- Trump advisor Roger Stone is a former business partner of Manafort who cut his teeth in politics as one of Nixon’s dirty trixsters. Stone outed himself as a back-channel communicator between Wikileaks’s Assange and the Trump campaign in November 2016. Stone also led the charge to cement the election as rigged in case of a Clinton victory. He is under investigation by US intelligence.
During the campaign many described Trump as a useful idiot of Russia. His actions since then may determine that an underestimation.
- An intelligence report, unsubstantiated though given the above hardly far-fetched, has identified Trump as a Russian asset cultivated over the last five years.
- Allegations exist that Russia has both the carrot of the oil money and the stick of kompromat — incriminating evidence used as blackmail — to encourage Trump’s pro-Putin action.
- “ The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump.”
- The Russian General who likely offered Page the deal was found dead from gunshot wounds in the back of his car in an alley in Moscow in December 2016. The Russian state press has called his death a heart attack.
- Russia has charged four Russian nationals — three Russian intel agents and the executive of a Russian cyber security firm — with treason for “giving US intelligence services Russian state secrets.” This occurred shortly after the election, while Trump and his team were receiving intel briefings including briefings related to Russia espionage.
- Another Russian hacker is in a US-Russian tug of war while in jail in Prague, with a potential connection to the Huma Abedin emails that were discovered in October 2016 and resulted in the now infamous Comey Letter to Congress — which itself is the subject of a Justice Dept. investigation.
- Trump has delayed the signing of a cyber security Executive Order designed as a response to the DNC hacks, which was hacked, in his words, “successfully, very successfully…”
- Trump’s spokesperson described the relieving of sanctions as “under consideration” — amid criticism from GOP Congressional leadership.
- Trump spoke with Putin on January 28, 2017 but reportedly avoided the topic of sanctions. We don’t know what was discussed because the Trump team turned off their recording devices.
- Days later Trump lifted some sanctions on Russia’s intelligence agency, the FSB.
- While the Trump administration weakens the US stance on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, “Russian artillery and rockets continue to pound Ukrainian forces in the country’s contested east, reigniting the frozen conflict and killing about a dozen Ukrainian soldiers [since the day after the call].” Bipartisan Congressional leadership continue to push for a US response with no support from the Trump administration.
- Russia sold a 19.5% share — matching the first reference of this post — of it’s Rosneft oil and gas conglomerate to unknown buyers shielded by a Cayman shell company. The kind that Rex Tillerson is all too familiar with.
- The Republican Congress removed requirements for disclosure of foreign payments by oil and gas companies, meaning that we cannot know if Trump, Tillerson, Page, or others are enriched or will be enriched by the loosening of sanctions and the sale of Rosneft.
We’re getting fucked, royally, by a Trump-Putin alliance that is out for hundreds of billions in oil money and the destruction of western democracies. That’s potentially why Rep. John Lewis and other Democratic law makers who left a post-election intel briefing on Russian interference called Trump “illegitimate” and part of a conspiracy, and that the election would be re-done if the same activities took place in other democracies.
What’s next? For the US… God only knows. Hopefully the investigations currently underway are thorough and non-partisan. For Western Democracies… keep an eye on Russian aggression in Ukraine as well as Russian interference in upcoming elections of EU states — particularly France and Germany.