Questions about alleged ties Donald trump with Russia, which first emerged during last year’s elections, continue to interfere with his administration. Given that this story is developing on several fronts at the same time, it may be difficult to remember all the things that we know actually, and what we think we know. Although the trump rejects most of these allegations, calling them lies spread by his political opponents, there are some things with relative certainty can be called true — even if no response still remains many questions. Here is a brief summary of what we know and what we don’t know about the main elements of this murky puzzle.
What do we know. Allegations that the Russian authorities deliberately interfered in the elections of 2016, was first performed last summer when private firms working in the field of cybersecurity, came to the conclusion that the two hacker groups — Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear — who worked for the Russian government, penetrated into the network of the national Committee of the Democratic party. In October, the Obama administration formally accused Russia of organizing the hacking campaign aiming to influence the election (Russia allegedly used similar tactics in several European countries).
During the electoral campaign private e-mails stolen as a result of hacker attacks to the mail server of the national Committee of the Democratic party and personal mailbox adviser to Hillary Clinton, John Podestà (John Podesta), published online sources, working under nicknames Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks and publishing incriminating information to the website WikiLeaks Julian Assange. After winning the trump guide us intelligence accused the Russian authorities and personally Russian President Vladimir Putin of orchestrating the leaks to help Trump. This leak was part of a larger campaign of influence, including the proliferation of “fake news” to discredit Hillary Clinton. December 29, the Obama administration introduced sanctions against Russia and was exiled from the country’s 35 diplomats for alleged interference in elections.
Russian authorities deny these accusations, and trump only reluctantly and belatedly agreed with the conclusion of the intelligence community that these hacker attacks is Russia.
What we don’t know. At the moment there is pretty convincing evidence that hacking attacks against the national Democratic Committee were performed by Russian artists, who worked on behalf of the authorities. However, the evidence of the other distributed assertions (that Vladimir Putin personally ordered to publish the stolen correspondence, and that it was made to elect trump, and not just a weakening of the presumptive winner of the race, Hillary Clinton) are rather indirect.
Unfortunately, the sources of much of what we (we think) we know are media reports citing anonymous U.S. officials, the veracity of which is difficult to inspect. Declassified and published in the January version of the analytical report of the intelligence community that Putin is actively trying to help the Tramp, was in some places too General and misleading, and others unrelated to the case. For example, the report cited non-key politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky. They were presented as if he is a close associate of Putin. The report was long and not enough about what speaking is an application about Russian government television channel RT. The report is a little backed up the allegations.
It is very possible that Putin is actively trying to achieve the election of a trump, and, of course, it seems unlikely that such a secret operation would be carried out without permission in the Kremlin at the highest level, but the final proof of this are not yet available.
What do we know. January 12, CNN reported that the elected President trump and President Obama was briefed on the contents of official notes compiled by the former British intelligence officer, about the old attempts of Russia to discredit trump. The document, which the same day was published by BuzzFeed, it was alleged that between trump and the Russian authorities there was a “well planned conspiracy”. In certain parts of the dossier contained information about indecent acts trump, and claimed that Russian has dirt — a video in which trump is involved in “perverted sexual acts” with Russian prostitutes. The dossier also was given the details of relationships between the members of the electoral headquarters of the trump and the Russian officials — including the meeting of trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen (Michael Cohen) with a Russian official, Vladimir Soloduhina in August in Prague.
Memos — which, as it turned out, was written by former secret service agent named Christopher Steele (Christopher Steele), who collaborated in the primaries by groups of Republicans, hostile against trump, and then with groups that supported Hillary Clinton — the alleged spread in Washington for several months, and mentioned in writing other journalists, in particular, David Korn (David Corn) from the publication Mother Jones. Some of the allegations contained in the dossier was informed and congressional leaders. In December, a full copy of the dossier received Senator John McCain (John McCain), who gave it to the FBI Director James Komi (James Comey).
What we don’t know. We don’t know whether given in the file statement true, as far as intelligence officials are convinced that they are true, and what are the motives of the officials tries to warn the tramp of their existence. Trump these claims refutes. Cohen denies that in August in Prague there was a meeting. This is one of the more specific charges that could be falsified. As the Czech secret services say they have no evidence that this meeting took place. That part of the dossier, in which he argued that Trump has proposed a 19 percent stake in Russian oil company Rosneft, is also caused surprise, given that the shares were sold in December. Details of those who bought them, are still unclear, but about this figure for some time said. If these allegations are false, the question arises about who and why they were fabricated.
According to reports, FBI is investigating a dossier and publicly neither confirms nor denies any of the contained statements.
What do we know. The first trump adviser for national security, Michael Flynn (as Michael Flynn) were watching closely because of its ties with Russia during the election campaign. Former Director of the intelligence Department of the Ministry of defense has been a regular commentator on RT and received monetary reward for it. In addition, he was one of the keynote speakers at the organized television channel gala event in December 2015 in Moscow, during which he sat at the same table with Putin.
January 12, David Ignatius (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post reported in his column that Flynn, by the time taken by trump in his team of the national security Advisor, held several telephone conversations with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak December 29 — the same day when the Obama administration announced the introduction of sanctions against Russia in response to interference in elections. That member of the transition team is talking with a foreign official, is not unusual, however, if Flynn has given Russia any guarantees about sanctions, it may be illegal step, because the President at that time was still Barack Obama. The Logan act forbids U.S. citizens to negotiate with foreign governments without special permission. In addition, in this case the question arises, not whether it was “the favor” — appreciation for the fact that the Kremlin has supported trump’s election. The next day, trump praised Putin for his restrained reaction to the sanctions.
Flynn publicly denied allegations that he had discussed the sanctions during a phone conversation. Vice-President Mike Pence (Mike Pence) also said in a television interview in January, citing the words of Flynn that the question of sanctions was not raised. But, according to the Washington Post, in late January, the acting attorney General Sally Yates (Yates Sally) told the White house that Flynn imposed the administration is misleading and can become a victim of blackmail by Russia. Flynn, who supposedly had contact with Kislyak throughout the election campaign, also questioned the FBI agents. They were interested in telephone conversations during the first few days of the administration. 13 Feb Flynn resigned from the post of national security adviser after it became clear that he introduced members of the administration misled. In particular, he put a Penny in that position that he was forced to publicly announce false information.
What we don’t know. The FBI apparently knows from intercepted telephone conversations that Flynn and Kislyak discussed sanctions, but we don’t know what actually Flynn said the Ambassador. We also don’t know what he told the FBI during interrogation. If he told them the same thing and publicly stated (that the question of sanctions was not raised), he can be charged with high crime of perjury (although it seems unlikely that the FBI will make these charges). Flynn may have lied to the Pens, but much more interesting is who in the administration knew the truth about his conversations with dubious or allowed him to discuss the sanctions with the Ambassador. Hard to believe he acted completely alone. If it was just an isolated case, or the contacts and cooperation with the Russians Flynn was carried out on a deeper level? The main question is whether they were aware of trump. According to the President, Flynn did nothing wrong, and although he “did not order him” to call, “he ordered would be if he didn’t”.
By Paul Manafort
What do we know. Before few months as Chairman of the electoral headquarters of the trump last year, Manafort (Paul Manafort) has made a career out of lobbying the interests of authoritarian leaders like Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos (Ferdinand Marcos) and the President of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko (Mobutu Sese Seko). And most recently, he helped to restore political career of Pro-Russian Ukrainian politics, Viktor Yanukovych.
Yanukovych has hired Manafort in 2005, soon after suffered defeat in the presidential campaign, with falsification of voting results, the alleged poisoning of his opponent and mass street protests that became known as the “orange revolution”. “The sharp change in the political image” and “American” tactics of the election campaign that introduced Manafort, helped Yanukovych to win the presidential election in 2010, that allowed to return to Ukraine — at least for some time — in the political orbit of Russia (in 2014 Yanukovych was ousted from power and fled to Russia). During this time, Manafort also participated in a number of lucrative deals between Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs linked to Yanukovych.
In August last year, Ukrainian investigators have discovered a secret handwritten ledgers, which contain the secret cash payments Manafort in the amount of 12.7 million dollars from Pro-Russian political party of Yanukovych in the framework of “grey” schemes of compensation to the friends and allies of the former President. Manafort denied receiving money, but because of the publications in the media, his reputation was ruined, he soon resigned from the post of Chairman of the electoral headquarters of the trump.
Last week, Politico published text messages, allegedly obtained as a result of hacking smartphone daughter of Manafort, which appear to have been sent by Ukrainian MP who tried to blackmail Manafort before you publish evidence of his illegal financial agreements with Yanukovych. This Deputy, Serhiy Leshchenko, said that the messages were not authentic.
Manafort was also one of the assistants in the headquarters trump, who during the campaign allegedly had contact with representatives of Russian intelligence (read more about this in the next section, “Secret contacts”).
What we don’t know. Ukrainian and Russian friends Manafort, of course, would benefit from a softer U.S. policy toward Russia and the lifting of sanctions imposed by the Obama administration over the annexation of Crimea and Russian support of separatist groups in Eastern Ukraine. We don’t know yet how big was the role of Manafort in the promotion policy towards Pro-Russian headquarters of the trump. Is unknown if he had direct contacts and relations with Russian authorities when he worked at the trump.
The journalist of the edition of The Washington Post Josh Rogin (Josh Rogin) reported that at the Republican Convention in July, when Manafort was the Chairman of the electoral headquarters, its members insisted not to include in the party platform calls for the provision of the Ukrainian armed forces weapons to fight Pro-Russian separatists. Manafort denied that he or any of the staff members insisted on such changes, but it contradicts statements made by the sources who were at the Congress and told reporters The Daily Beast that members of staff trump wanted to soften its position on the Ukrainian question. Ukraine was a key theme of the election campaign — why it was necessary actively to promote this theme?
What do we know. February 14 the New York Times reported that U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies were intercepting regular telephone calls between members of the electoral headquarters of the trump and the official representatives of the Russian special services that took place in the year before the election. Data were collected as part of the investigation conducted to find out if acted headquarters trump in collusion with Russia in the conduct of hacker attacks aimed at the election headquarters of Hillary Clinton.
According to the Times, the US authorities claim that communication “is not limited to the official representatives of the electoral headquarters of the trump, they were seen by other associates of trump.” Manafort was among those who were on this captured.
The newspaper’s sources, the Times refused to name other names telephone conversations which were intercepted, but we know that the FBI studied the activities of Flynn, Paige Carter (Carter Page), former adviser to trump on foreign policy with a long-standing political and financial ties with Moscow, and Roger stone (Roger Stone), veteran Republican worker of the device, which, as it turned out, during the election campaign maintained secret links with WikiLeaks. The content different from the content of the above conversations between Flynn and Kislyak.
Trump and his aides deny that they had any contact with Russian officials during the campaign, and at some point the Russians agreed. But soon after the elections, Deputy foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov admitted, stating casually and without going into details that “there were contacts” between representatives of the Russian authorities and members of the campaign staff.
But that’s not all: on 19 February the Times reported that a week before Flynn’s resignation from the post of national security adviser he was presented with a plan under which trump should cancel sanctions against Russia. The plan was developed by three persons — a lawyer Michael Cohen (he is the main figure in the dossier Steele. The wife of a Cohen = Ukrainian, and in the past he led the country your business). Second — Felix Sutter (Felix Sater), Russian-born American businessman and longtime associate of trump, who was once convicted for conspiring with the mafia to commit fraud stock and served time for that cut man face with a shard of glass (trump denies that they have a relationship). And the third — Andrey Artemenko, the Pro-Russian Ukrainian politician who invest in real estate in the United States. Although Artemenko directly and not associated with Manafort, it is associated with the political movement, the development of which American consultant helped. Under the plan, reported the Times, Artemenko also spreads the dirt on the current President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko.
What we don’t know. Officials who spoke to journalists of the Times in the article, published on February 14, refused to disclose information about the contents of intercepted telephone conversations. Not say they and who of the advisors trump (in addition to Manafort) led such conversations. We don’t know who are those Russians and how directly they are connected with special services. Furthermore, it was unclear if you knew that the team members trump that talking to Russian secret agents. As Manafort, denying in an interview in the Times his connection with the Russians, “because these people do not wear badges with the inscription “I — Russian scout””.
As for the cunning plan in respect of Ukraine, it is not clear how seriously he was treated Flynn or anyone else in the White house knew anything about him by trump.
Business trump in Russia
What do we know. Trump is trying to run projects on construction of real estate in Russia since 1980-ies — including the ambitious project 2005 construction (together with Sterom) tower, trump tower on the Moscow river, but these plans are at an early stage failed. He had other projects with the Russians. One of them is carrying out together with one Russian billionaire contest “Miss universe” in Moscow in 2013 and the sale of trump’s mansion in palm beach worth 95 million dollars oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev in 2008. In the same year, the son of trump, Donald trump Jr., said that “the Russian share accounts for a disproportionate share of our assets” and “from Russia receive a lot of money.”
What we don’t know. A lot of things. Since the trump does not publish your tax returns, it is difficult to assess the extent of his business interests in Russia. We also have no idea what is the role of his business interests in any other areas.
Public statements and positions
What do we know. Trump, of course, went much further than most politicians — in particular, the majority of Republicans in his defense and praise of the government of Vladimir Putin. In July 2015 shortly after the beginning of his election campaign, trump said, “I think I’d get along very well with Vladimir Putin”. And he continued to do during the debates between the candidates-Republicans, noting in an interview to the program “60 minutes” that he and the Russian President — “brethren”. In December 2015, Putin called trump “bright”, selecting a word that can mean “bright” or “brilliant” but also can mean simply “colorful.” Trump chose the first option, and then said that the Russian President called him a “genius” and that it would be “insane” to disagree with the praise of Putin. Trump dismissed the accusations that Putin ordered the killing of journalists, saying, “at least he’s a leader”, in contrast to Barack Obama. He also said that the two countries should cooperate in Syria to “kill ISIS” (a terrorist organization banned in Russia — approx. ed.). Most surprisingly, in June, he publicly urged Russian hackers to find the missing emails of Hillary Clinton.
Trump after his election was appointed Secretary Rex Tillerson (Rex Tillerson), the General Director of the oil company, which in the past had business ties with Russia and that opposed sanctions. In interviews, he continued to defend Putin, at times going against the opinions and statements of members of his own administration. The dismissive attitude of the tramp toward NATO and his skepticism about democracy promotion is also pleasing to Moscow.
What we don’t know. We don’t know, will Russia anything substantial from the trump. Not yet made any steps towards the lifting of sanctions and not seen any change in the US position on Ukraine or Syria. If what we know about Russia’s intervention in the elections is true, then it is possible that there is a syndrome of remorse: Pro-Kremlin politicians have expressed concern about passion trump the idea of new nuclear arms race.
So what does all this give us? Trump during his election campaign, no doubt, gave advice and recommendations of people with Pro-Russian sympathies and interests, and he shares many dark and is based on the principle of the power of Putin’s worldview. Also at the moment it seems highly likely that Russia interfered in the elections to help the Trump — or, at least, to discredit Hillary Clinton.
In addition, the situation becomes somewhat dark and obscure. The argument in support of “manjurka candidate”, in which the Russians manage to trump through bribes and blackmail, based on questionable information and blind faith. To imagine what has happened in American politics over the past year as a result of Russia organized a Grand conspiracy, I guess, means to provide all — Russian, Trump, U.S. voters who, maybe trump just like — too much honor.
I wonder if the evidence will become more specific than what we have now. The journalists will publish the new elements of this “puzzle”, but put them all together (or ever know for sure whether they constitute a single whole) are unlikely to succeed. Of course, it is possible that the devastating new information about trump still appear. In this case, what we know now, is already causing enough anxiety.