While significant in regard to the current situation, this NYT piece also shows evidence of a key continuity
from when the StB stopped their active Trump dossier around 1990 (slightly after the wall came down and the StB was officially dissolved, though of course that really just meant transitioning to the KGB/FSB) and Trump's business ventures with Russia (emphasis mine):
Last year, while hacking Democrats’ emails and working to undermine the American presidential election, the Russian government also granted extensions to six trademarks for Mr. Trump that had been set to expire. The Trump trademarks, originally obtained between 1996 and 2007 for hotels and branding deals that never materialized, each had terms that were coming to an end in 2016.
Despite their inactivity, the Trump Organization sought extensions for the trademarks from Rospatent, the Russian government agency in charge of intellectual property. In a series of approvals starting in April 2016 and ending in December, Rospatent granted new 10-year terms for the trademarks, the agency’s records show.
Four of the approvals were officially registered on Nov. 8 — Election Day in the United States.
Under normal circumstances, renewing trademarks in Russia is generally a routine matter, and there is nothing to suggest from the few public records available that Mr. Trump was shown favoritism. Still, extensions are not guaranteed and can be subject to challenge — particularly if, as in this case, the trademarks went unused for years, according to interviews with a half-dozen lawyers specializing in intellectual property law.
Recall from the StB notes we do have
(from the dossier on Ivana's father; not the evidently missing dossier's on Ivana or Trump) that the StB knew in 1988 that Trump was planning on running for President in 1996 (in spite of the fact that Trump had publicly floated the notion of running in 1987
--but specified he would not be running for office in the '88 election). So how would they know 1996 and not 1992, the next more logical election for Trump to be shooting for, even if it were only idle thoughts of his? That would have had to have meant that at some point in 1988 Trump--while under surveillance or as related by Ivana to her father--categorically stated, "I will not run in '92, but instead plan on running for '96" which makes no sense.
In '88, Bush had won, marking an extremely rare three consecutive term Republican hold over the WH. The most logical election for Trump would have been to shoot for '92 as either a conservative Democrat (which he could have easily lied about) or an Independent. But he doesn't even throw his hat into the '92 ring. Why and how would StB be so sure in '88 that he was planning on running in '96?
From the Guardian piece (again):
In 1988 a further informant working under the cover name “Milos” reported that Trump was being put under considerable pressure to run for the US presidency. The Czech authorities should be made aware, he said, that Ivana was under pressure herself to not put a step wrong during visits to Czechoslovakia, or else she risked putting her husband’s potential candidacy in jeopardy.
“Any false step of [Ivana's] will have incalculable consequences for the position of her husband who intends to run for president in 1996,” Milos wrote. He added that Trump was convinced he could win the presidency.
An earlier report on the 1988 US election campaign noted that Trump had donated two payments of $10,000 each to the Democrats and the Republicans. Ivana Trump had been convinced that George HW Bush would win and had been proved right, the report added.
The StB went so far as to send a spy to the US to monitor Trump, believing that if he was to succeed in becoming US president it could have a significant impact on Czechoslovak-US relations. A note by an StB spy named “Al Jarda” of 10 October 1989 details a visit made to Trump by a delegation from a communist agricultural production cooperative from Slusovice, the village where Ivana Trump’s father lived.
“They were given a welcome by one of the richest men in New York, Mister Donald Trump. He got them to explain to him extensively about the work of the cooperative and its further plans in the field of trade,” Al Jarda wrote. At the end of the visit Trump was invited to visit Slusovice. It is not believed that he ever took them up on the offer.
So in 1988 they somehow know that Trump plans on running for President in 1996, skipping an election. In 1989 they actually sent a spy to America apparently to embed himself within Trump's inner circle or the like, but certainly to continue whatever mission they had in regard to Trump up close. That's a significant risk/resource/effort--whatever you wish to call it--to waste on someone you are not actively seeking to turn into your own asset.
The wall comes down in '90, but of course it would have been a known and much discussed event--the dissolution of the Soviet state--certainly within the upper echelons long before any official notification. Which likely means that it would have been--at the very least--well established in the higher chambers in 1989 that a massive transition was about to unfold.
The point being, that the "why" of Trump not running in '92--and the surety of the agents following him in '88 that he would run in '96--may have more to do with active measures, not passive ones. Iow, if you look at the report from the StB as an update on two already turned assets (in particular the bizarre warning that Ivana can't make any missteps or it won't happen; what missteps and how would a passive surveillance operation be able to prevent any such missteps?), then the timeline fits.
Whoever is running the show at the KGB would have known in '87-'88 that significant change within Soviet structure was coming. Hell, that was pretty much all everyone talked about in America at that time as well. The point being that any active effort to assist Trump (their asset) in achieving the Presidency in '92 would have to be aborted as that would coincide with the dissolution and transition. '96, however, would be a perfect goal. Or, at the very least, the next possible window for the KGB's timeline, not Trump's.
Meanwhile, what does Trump do during that downtime? Well, we now know from the above that he was pursuing multiple Russian trademarks and business permits. They may have been granted
in '96, but of course they would have been requested
much earlier (at least '95, if not earlier as they would have to go through "normal" channels/red tape process to make them not seem more suspicious; in fact they likely would have paid special attention--just as they did in regard to Ivana--to put them on a slower track deliberately for just that reason).
So, just as we have today in regard to the Rosneft/Exxon/Tillerson deal (that even the Senate just put in a lock box for precisely this reason), we have at least circumstantial evidence showing Trump preparing
for capitalizing on a Russian/Trump presidency as far back as the early nineties and continuing such pursuits for almost a decade (until 2007), but supposedly none of those bookmarks are ever acted upon by Trump. Just re-upped, but never capitalized upon. They just basically lie dormant during Obama's entire presidency until...? April of 2016.
What's happening in April of 2016
March 29, 2016: On Roger Stone’s recommendation, Paul Manafort joins the Trump campaign as convention manager, tasked with lining up delegates. [Added March 27, 2017]
April through November 2016: Mike Flynn and other advisers to the Trump campaign have at least 18 phone calls and emails with Russian officials, including six contacts involving Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. According to a later report by Reuters, Jared Kushner has at least two phone calls with Kislyak. [Revised May 30, 2017]
April 20, 2016: Paul Manafort becomes Trump’s campaign manager. Reports surface about his 2007 to 2012 ties to Ukraine’s pro-Putin former president, whom Manafort had helped to elect.
Late April 2016: The Democratic National Committee’s IT department notices suspicious computer activity, contacts the FBI, and hires a private security firm, CrowdStrike, to investigate. [Added March 13, 2017]
May 2016: CrowdStrike determines that highly sophisticated Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries — denominated Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear — had been responsible for the DNC hack. Fancy Bear, in particular, had indicators of affiliation with Russia’s Main Intelligence Department (also know as the GRU). [Added March 13, 2017]
May 19, 2016: Paul Manafort becomes Trump’s campaign chairman and chief strategist. [Added March 27, 2017]
So, while all of that is going on, evidently someone
(my money's on Kushner) at some point--perhaps in one of those 18 phone calls--is re-activating all of Trump's dormant Russian trademarks and permits. In April.
But, of course, April is when the calls were made. The question is, when was the decision
to re-activate them made? Well, let's go back a bit in the months leading up and see what was happening:
Late 2015: Late 2015: Britain’s spy agency GCHQ became aware of suspicious “interactions” between members of Trump’s campaign and Russian intelligence operatives. Over the next six months, a number of western agencies from Germany, Estonia and Poland share more information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians. [Added May 22, 2017] [Added May 22, 2017]
Mid-January 2016: Flynn applies for a five-year renewal of his security clearance. [Added May 25, 2017]
Feb. 11, 2016: According to a May 22, 2017 letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), investigators meet with Flynn to discuss his security clearance application. When asked about his Moscow appearance, Flynn reportedly says, “I didn’t take any money from Russia, if that’s what you’re asking me.” [Added May 25, 2017]
Feb. 17, 2016: As questions about Russia swirls around Trump, he changes his story: “I have no relationship with [Putin], other than he called me a genius.”
Feb. 28, 2016: Jeff Sessions formally endorses Donald Trump’s candidacy for president. Three days later, Trump names Sessions chairman of his campaign’s national security advisory committee. [Added March 3, 2017]
Feb. 29, 2016: Paul Manafort submits a five-page, single-spaced, proposal to Trump. In it, he outlines his qualifications for helping Trump secure enough convention delegates to win the Republican presidential nomination. Manafort describes how he had assisted rich and powerful business and political leaders, including oligarchs and dictators in Russia and Ukraine: “I have managed presidential campaigns around the world.” [Added April 10, 2017]
March 14, 2016: Investigators issue a report on Flynn’s security clearance application. According to the summary in Rep. Cummings’ May 22 letter, Flynn told investigators that he was paid by “US companies” when he traveled to Moscow in December 2015. The report also says that Flynn told investigators he had not received any benefit from a foreign country. [Added May 25, 2017]
March 17, 2016: Jeff Sessions discusses Trump’s foreign policy positions, saying, “I think an argument can be made there is no reason for the US and Russia to be at this loggerheads. Somehow, someway we ought to be able to break that logjam. Strategically it’s not justified for either country.” [Added March 3, 2017]
March 21, 2016: In a Washington Post interview, Trump identifies Carter Page as one of his foreign policy advisers. Page had helped open the Moscow office of investment banking firm Merrill Lynch and had advised Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom, in which Page is an investor. He blames 2014 US sanctions relating to Russia’s annexation of Crimea for driving down Gazprom’s stock price. Earlier in March 2016, Iowa tea party activist Sam Clovis had recommended Page to the Trump campaign. [Supplemented April 24, 2017]
So in the roughly five months prior to April, the whole shitstorm about Russia's interference is revealed at the higher levels and during all of that
, Trump still orders someone to re-activate his Russian-held trademarks and business permits, etc. It could be no one else who makes that call.
And no, it would not have been a "routine" request made by some wonk at the Trump Organization simply because they were set to expire in 2016. Such a request at such a time would have been flagged and sent to Trump directly for approval, not merely "gee shucks, I just done gone ahead and submitted it cause my calendar said it was time!"
Everything Trump is doing in that timeline is systematically preparing for--and connecting with--Russian interests as if he knows exactly what Russia is doing to help him win