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A New Conspiracy Theory

For serious discussion of politics, political news, policy, political theory and economics and events happening round the world
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Sat Jul 08, 2017 2:59 pm

And now we have this: Tillerson Says Malenia Was Sent In Repeatedly to Break Up Trump-Putin Meeting.

Trump and Putin were alone for over two hours. Melania is "sent in" ostensibly to try to break up the meeting. Perhaps there was another reason?
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Tue Jul 11, 2017 2:09 am

You've all no-doubt heard of the recent Donald Trump Jr. revelations, yes?

Here's why I'm suspicious of this (as in "false flag" suspicious). As I've abundantly demonstrated, Trump's relationship with Russia/Putin etal goes WAAAAAY back (as far back as the 1970's if one is talking strictly about Soviet intelligence agents tracking he and Ivana's every move) and certainly as far back as 2013 as we've just gone over in detail (i.e., the Miss Universe pageant, the most likely time period for Trump's "activation" as a Russian asset).

Plus, the manner in which Trump acted on all of the Russian trollbots' dissemination tactics demonstrates a pattern of foreknowledge--however briefly each may have been--prior to any such tactics begin deployed. In other words, they planted "viral" stories and he took almost immediate advantage of them as they unfolded throughout the campaign. It was symbiotic (and hence the points made by pundits--and Clint Watts in particular--about how Trump absolutely colluded with Russian efforts, just openly if not covertly).

This story--with Don Jr.--is starting to smell like an attempt to discredit the entirety of the investigations by priming the pump only to then have the lawyer come forward with audio or video tape or something equally third-act revealing, so the Trumps can then point to it as THE example of "fake news." The funny thing being, of course, that this is how idiot mafioso think and don't understand that it's not a court of public opinion that is going to try their asses.

Not 100% sure, of course, but it's an old dodge from the espionage handbook to discredit something in this manner and Putin has already tried to do a variation on it with the whole Syrian airport waste of time that we all just kind of forgot about. That was meant to magically lift the sanctions by demonstrating how "tough" Trump is against Putin (and now we see that same con being run, only now Putin is on our side against Syria...in order to get the sanctions lifted).
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Tue Jul 11, 2017 7:21 pm

I'll say it again, this seems way too pat to me: Email Donald Trump Jr Received. Trump Jr to blame (who is then easily pardoned by painting him to be an overeager son-of who was out of his depth, along with Kushner and the already damaged Manafort), exonerating Trump Sr. Trump Sr pardons Jr and Kushner, but feeds the world Manafort (an already dead man) and that's that.

There is no way this whole thing started in June with an easily traceable email outreach to the son of Trump. It may be a part of the whole thing, but it most definitely was not the genesis.
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Post by colourwheel » Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:22 pm

"I love emails, you can't erase them!" -Donald Trump

I am sure there is so much more to the story then the public will ever know. Now there is public hard evidence of actual attempted collusion provided by Trump Jr. himself, I am sure the Feds are going to be looking into all sorts of emails and documents from the Trump Camp to the White house etc...

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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:29 am

Here's why I'm worried. Trump Jr (with Kushner and Sessions confirming) can now "confess" and turn state's evidence against Manafort and/or Flynn--who are already dead men walking--and exonerate Trump Sr. "He had no knowledge of..." "It was Manafort who acted as the mastermind, merely telling Trump what to say and when to say it" etc.

Investigations end with the "confessions." Jr and Kushner take bullets, Sr remains POTUS and pardons them with some bullshit about how they aren't "insiders" and didn't know the consequences--like Manafort did--and were themselves pawns/dupes, etc.

Putin to King's 4. Checkmate.

Again, I could be totally wrong (I hope I am totally wrong), but all of this did NOT start with a lawyer reaching out to the son of Trump with promises of dirt on Clinton's "ties to Russia." No way, no how.

Sr most likely knew what Putin was planning way back in 2013 (that's why the Miss Universe was held in Moscow). Regardless, this seems like misdirection once again orchestrated by a master tactician. Whether that's Putin or Stone, I don't know, but I fear that this is all too tidy.

Look for Deplorables trying to redirect the Trump Jr email narrative toward the alleged Clinton/Russia connection and/or more "leaks" that purport to prove a Clinton/Russia connection. That was the land-mine buried (and I believe it was buried either by Putin or Roger Stone, the second most evil man on the planet).

And the lawyer better have her life insurance premiums paid up.
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Post by Tharmas » Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:53 pm

[quote=""Koyaanisqatsi""]Here's why I'm worried. Trump Jr (with Kushner and Sessions confirming) can now "confess" and turn state's evidence against Manafort and/or Flynn--who are already dead men walking--and exonerate Trump Sr. "He had no knowledge of..." "It was Manafort who acted as the mastermind, merely telling Trump what to say and when to say it" etc.


The New Yorker has an interesting take along these lines.

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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:04 pm

Good to know I'm not the only one :D . Or, rather, bad to know in this case.
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Thu Jul 13, 2017 1:06 pm

Getting closer: Russian Officials Overheard Discussing Trump Associates Before Campaign Began. Snippets:
Investigators are re-examining conversations detected by US Intelligence agencies in spring 2015 that captured Russian government officials discussing associates of Donald Trump...In some cases the Russians in the overheard conversations talked about meetings held outside the US involving Russian government officials and Trump business associates or advisers...The 2015 conversations were detected several months before Mr. Trump declared his candidacy for the White House. The conversations have been in investigators' possession for some time, but officials said the Donald Trump Jr news this week prompted them to look at them again.

In 2015, intelligence agencies weren't sure what to make of the surveillance reports, which they viewed as vague and inconclusive...But the volume of the mentions of Trump associates by the Russians did have officials asking each other, "What's going on?" one former official said.
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Sun Jul 23, 2017 5:15 pm

Of further note in regard to the timeline:
As we detail in our recent report, based on 30 months of closely watching Russia’s online influence operations and monitoring some 7,000 accounts, the Kremlin’s troll army swarmed the web to spread disinformation and undermine trust in the electoral system.
As early as August 2015, Russian English-language outlets and their social media allies were promoting Trump—at a time when the idea that he could actually win seemed a distant fantasy. And they kept going throughout the Republican primary, surging at key times. Put differently, Russia didn’t just intervene in the general election against Hillary Clinton—it helped him defeat his anti-Moscow GOP rivals, too. The United Kingdom observed a similar campaign. Dating back to the earliest parts of 2015, Russian media outlets incited fear of immigration and promoted Brexit advocate Nigel Farage’s accusations of American manipulation to foster popular support for the British to leave the EU.
Here's the relevant timeline from the Bill Moyers link previous:
June 16, 2015: Trump announces he is running for president.
Pause a moment to consider that about a month and a half after Trump has officially announced he's running, the Russian cyber campaign begins. That necessarily means they were planning long before Trump made his official announcement.

Here is what happened in the months just after and during the time that Russia's machine is running:
Aug. 6, 2015: The Trump campaign says it has fired Roger Stone; Stone claims he’d quit. Either way, Stone remains a prominent Trump surrogate for the rest of the campaign. [Added March 27, 2017]

Aug. 21, 2015: Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions makes a surprise appearance at a Donald Trump rally and dons a “Make America Great Again Cap.”

Late summer 2015: A member of Trump’s campaign staff calls Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn to ask if he’s willing to meet with Trump. Flynn agrees. Later, Flynn says four other Republican presidential candidates also reached out to him: Carly Fiorina, Scott Walker, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz. [Added May 15, 2017]

Fall 2015: As Felix Sater works on a plan for a Trump Tower in Moscow, Trump’s bid for the presidency brings the project to a halt, according to a Feb. 19, 2017 article in The New York Times citing Sater. [Added July 11, 2017]

September 2015: An FBI special agent contacts the Democratic National Committee to report that at least one DNC computer system had been hacked by an espionage team linked to the Russian government. The agent is transferred to a tech-support contractor at the help desk, who did a cursory check of DNC server logs and didn’t reply to follow-up calls from the FBI agent. [Added March 13, 2017]

Sept. 21, 2015: On Hugh Hewitt’s radio program, Trump says, “The oligarchs are under [Putin’s] control, to a large extent. I mean, he can destroy them, and he has destroyed some of them… Two years ago, I was in Moscow… I was with the top-level people, both oligarchs and generals, and top-of-the-government people. I can’t go further than that, but I will tell you that I met the top people, and the relationship was extraordinary.” [Added March 3, 2017]

Sept. 29, 2015: Trump tells Bill O’Reilly: “I will tell you in terms of leadership he [Putin] is getting an ‘A,’ and our president is not doing so well.”

Nov. 10, 2015: At a Republican primary debate, Trump says: “I got to know [Putin] very well because we were both on 60 Minutes. We were stablemates, and we did very well that night.”
Nov. 30, 2015: When an Associated Press reporter asks Trump about Felix Sater, he answers, “Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it. I’m not that familiar with him.” Trump refers questions about Sater to his staff. [Added March 3, 2017]

Dec. 10, 2015: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who would become Trump’s national security adviser, sits at Putin’s table for the 10th anniversary gala of Russia’s state-owned television propaganda network, RT. Flynn had made a paid appearance on the network. For his December speech, he nets $33,500 of the $45,000 paid to his speakers’ bureau. For all of 2015, Flynn receives more than $65,000 from companies linked to Russia. [Revised March 20, 2017]

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]
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Post by Gná » Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:12 pm

Full text of Bill Browder's testimony, the background story on the Magnitsky Act (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnitsky_Act).

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/ar ... ee/534864/
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:30 am

[quote=""Gná""]Full text of Bill Browder's testimony, the background story on the Magnitsky Act (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnitsky_Act).

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/ar ... ee/534864/[/quote]

Yep. It's an upper east side privileged white kid thinking that if he says, "I want two tickets to Dr. Zhivago" to his drug dealer on the phone the cops won't be able to nail him for buying grams of coke.
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Thu Aug 24, 2017 12:21 pm

In-depth study from Hahvahrd regarding news bias that I have not yet fully read, so posting more as a placeholder at this point (PDF): Partisanship, Propaganda & Disinformation - Online Media and the 2016 Election
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:01 pm

Here's a little something something that slipped past my radar: Beijing just told 340 million Chinese not to criticize Putin on social media.

This was back in July, during which time a constitutionally questionable and unprecedented bill to require Congressional approval of any removal of sanctions against Russia was being passed around in the Senate (that Trump was forced to sign in August due to its veto-proof majority).

Recall that the same sanctions prevented the Exxon/BP/Rosneft deal (to process Russia's newly discovered and game-changing oil reserves), that, had they not been in place would have resulted in Russia surpassing Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil distributor by around this time or 2018. Arguably the primary reason why Russia colluded with the Trump administration to begin with and sought to place their long-compromised orange puppet in the WH,who in turn just coincidentally put the ex-head of Exxon--Tillerson, who had spearheaded the deal and is infamously a medal wearing bestie of Putin's--as Secretary of State.

At the time of the original public announcement of the discovery and subsequent half a billion dollar deal with Exxon/BP in 2014, China knew what Russia was planning and what the shift would mean for their country's dependency on foreign oil and began an end-run to flood the global market with cheap alternative energy sources. Now that Trump has screwed that pooch and the Senate Republicans in particular also knew what he was doing and forced him to sign the bill (requiring Congressional approval on any lifting of sanctions), it would seem China once again took advantage of the situation and moved to counter it further by partnering with Russia instead.

They already took the initiative--over the past three years specifically (see previous posts)--to drastically change out their dependency on coal and oil and flood the global market (as well as local) with inexpensive solar and wind, so they have already set their course change perfectly while we (and Russia) have been stalled in Trumpland. And now it appears--having restructured their infrastructure accordingly--China is taking over the number two position from us in regard to global dominance for the next generation. Russia will control the oil dependent nations (including us) and China will focus on the new capitalism and take over all aspects of global commerce (not just cheap labor anymore, but the managerial class now that we're out of the running and Britain fucked themselves with Brexit).

So, as it stands now and without significant changes being made in the US to counter that already way ahead of us partnering, Anglo Saxon global dominance is finally in its death throes. The EU under Germany will continue its favored nation status as being the middle managers/higher end global consumers; the US (and the re-born UK) will be relegated to purely the consumer-until-bankruptcy/foreclosure status that Trump is uniquely qualified to profit off of and foment (and already began from day one to implement); and countries like Venezuela and Mexico will have to fight it out with Africa to be the working poor, I guess. Frankly there is no real room left, so perhaps the Middle East/OPEC nations will form some sort of doomsday blackmarket/dark web terrorist hybrid as they fall in oil dependency (and it's revealed that for all their billions they really don't have anything else but oil and jihad to give to the world), or simply serve as Russia's gas-dependent junkie states?
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Thu Sep 28, 2017 4:15 pm

Details are finally starting to emerge: Russian Backed Facebook Ads Went Beyond Just Boosting Trump in 2016.

First, we finally have confirmation that Russia used Sanders and Jill Stein:
Others that were purchased by Kremlin-connected accounts promoted the candidacies of Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders, seeking to sow discord among the left and apparently drive votes away from Hillary Clinton.
Note that some 3,000 Facebook ads purchased by Russia have been tracked, so far, but:
Facebook acknowledged that it does not yet know the extent of Russia’s purchases or whether these unidentified ad buys remain on the site. Executives did confirm, however, that Kremlin-backed groups did more than purchase ads or post memes: Operatives tried to organize anti-immigrant and anti-Clinton rallies in both Texas and Idaho.
But just think of the 3,000 ads alone for a moment and consider how fast and how far viral "sharing" can take those 3,000 ads. Facebook reaches 79% of American internet users. 22% of the world’s population uses Facebook, and 76% of those users logged in every day in 2016.

You're talking about hundreds of millions of impressions (industry term) over and over and over again throughout the election (and beyond), literally flooding Facebook alone. Twitter was also a powerful weapon:
On March 2, a disturbing report hit the desks of U.S. counterintelligence officials in Washington. For months, American spy hunters had scrambled to uncover details of Russia's influence operation against the 2016 presidential election. In offices in both D.C. and suburban Virginia, they had created massive wall charts to track the different players in Russia's multipronged scheme. But the report in early March was something new.

It described how Russia had already moved on from the rudimentary email hacks against politicians it had used in 2016. Now the Russians were running a more sophisticated hack on Twitter. The report said the Russians had sent expertly tailored messages carrying malware to more than 10,000 Twitter users in the Defense Department. Depending on the interests of the targets, the messages offered links to stories on recent sporting events or the Oscars, which had taken place the previous weekend. When clicked, the links took users to a Russian-controlled server that downloaded a program allowing Moscow's hackers to take control of the victim's phone or computer--and Twitter account.

As they scrambled to contain the damage from the hack and regain control of any compromised devices, the spy hunters realized they faced a new kind of threat. In 2016, Russia had used thousands of covert human agents and robot computer programs to spread disinformation referencing the stolen campaign emails of Hillary Clinton, amplifying their effect. Now counterintelligence officials wondered: What chaos could Moscow unleash with thousands of Twitter handles that spoke in real time with the authority of the armed forces of the United States? At any given moment, perhaps during a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, Pentagon Twitter accounts might send out false information. As each tweet corroborated another, and covert Russian agents amplified the messages even further afield, the result could be panic and confusion.
Twitter, of course worked in tandem with Facebook to spread the Trump virus. which is arguably why Trump used it almost exclusively. Though much had been made of the fact that there were evidently two different users of Trump's twitter account; one from his phone (an Android) and one from an iPhone, widely assumed to have been used by his election team to send out less inflammatory tweets, now I wonder if that assumption isn't wildly off-base. How easy would it be for that second user to have been a Russian agent?

I've also noted that this was not a new tactic to them, but here is more to that end:
American researchers have found they can use mathematical formulas to segment huge populations into thousands of subgroups according to defining characteristics like religion and political beliefs or taste in TV shows and music. Other algorithms can determine those groups' hot-button issues and identify "followers" among them, pinpointing those most susceptible to suggestion. Propagandists can then manually craft messages to influence them, deploying covert provocateurs, either humans or automated computer programs known as bots, in hopes of altering their behavior.

That is what Moscow is doing, more than a dozen senior intelligence officials and others investigating Russia's influence operations tell TIME. The Russians "target you and see what you like, what you click on, and see if you're sympathetic or not sympathetic," says a senior intelligence official. Whether and how much they have actually been able to change Americans' behavior is hard to say. But as they have investigated the Russian 2016 operation, intelligence and other officials have found that Moscow has developed sophisticated tactics.
Like much of America, many in the U.S. government hadn't imagined the kind of influence operation that Russia was preparing to unleash on the 2016 election. Fewer still realized it had been five years in the making.

In 2011, protests in more than 70 cities across Russia had threatened Putin's control of the Kremlin. The uprising was organized on social media by a popular blogger named Alexei Navalny, who used his blog as well as Twitter and Facebook to get crowds in the streets. Putin's forces broke out their own social media technique to strike back. When bloggers tried to organize nationwide protests on Twitter using #Triumfalnaya, pro-Kremlin botnets bombarded the hashtag with anti-protester messages and nonsense tweets, making it impossible for Putin's opponents to coalesce.
After his re-election the following year, Putin dispatched his newly installed head of military intelligence, Igor Sergun, to begin repurposing cyberweapons previously used for psychological operations in war zones for use in electioneering. Russian intelligence agencies funded "troll farms," botnet spamming operations and fake news outlets as part of an expanding focus on psychological operations in cyberspace.
So as far back as 2011/2012, Putin has not just fully grasped the power of social media, but used it effectively to his own benefit. The "weaponization" of social media is an apt comparison. If in 2012 Putin has built an atomic bomb, by 2015 he's got tactical nukes.

And they got it from us, apparently:
It turns out Putin had outside help. One particularly talented Russian programmer who had worked with social media researchers in the U.S. for 10 years had returned to Moscow and brought with him a trove of algorithms that could be used in influence operations. He was promptly hired by those working for Russian intelligence services, senior intelligence officials tell TIME. "The engineer who built them the algorithms is U.S.-trained," says the senior intelligence official.
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:35 pm

More in-depth in regard to Facebook: What Facebook Did to American Democracy. Snippets:
Tech journalists covering Facebook had a duty to cover what was happening before, during, and after the election. Reporters tried to see past their often liberal political orientations and the unprecedented actions of Donald Trump to see how 2016 was playing out on the internet. Every component of the chaotic digital campaign has been reported on, here at The Atlantic, and elsewhere: Facebook’s enormous distribution power for political information, rapacious partisanship reinforced by distinct media information spheres, the increasing scourge of “viral” hoaxes and other kinds of misinformation that could propagate through those networks, and the Russian information ops agency.

But no one delivered the synthesis that could have tied together all these disparate threads. It’s not that this hypothetical perfect story would have changed the outcome of the election. The real problem—for all political stripes—is understanding the set of conditions that led to Trump’s victory. The informational underpinnings of democracy have eroded, and no one has explained precisely how.
Well, I did :D .
We’ve known since at least 2012 that Facebook was a powerful, non-neutral force in electoral politics. In that year, a combined University of California, San Diego and Facebook research team led by James Fowler published a study in Nature, which argued that Facebook’s “I Voted” button had driven a small but measurable increase in turnout, primarily among young people.

Rebecca Rosen’s 2012 story, “Did Facebook Give Democrats the Upper Hand?” relied on new research from Fowler, et al., about the presidential election that year. Again, the conclusion of their work was that Facebook’s get-out-the-vote message could have driven a substantial chunk of the increase in youth voter participation in the 2012 general election. Fowler told Rosen that it was “even possible that Facebook is completely responsible” for the youth voter increase. And because a higher proportion of young people vote Democratic than the general population, the net effect of Facebook’s GOTV effort would have been to help the Dems.

The research showed that a small design change by Facebook could have electoral repercussions, especially with America’s electoral-college format in which a few hotly contested states have a disproportionate impact on the national outcome. And the pro-liberal effect it implied became enshrined as an axiom of how campaign staffers, reporters, and academics viewed social media.

In June 2014, Harvard Law scholar Jonathan Zittrain wrote an essay in New Republic called, “Facebook Could Decide an Election Without Anyone Ever Finding Out,” in which he called attention to the possibility of Facebook selectively depressing voter turnout. (He also suggested that Facebook be seen as an “information fiduciary,” charged with certain special roles and responsibilities because it controls so much personal data.)

In late 2014, The Daily Dot called attention to an obscure Facebook-produced case study on how strategists defeated a statewide measure in Florida by relentlessly focusing Facebook ads on Broward and Dade counties, Democratic strongholds. Working with a tiny budget that would have allowed them to send a single mailer to just 150,000 households, the digital-advertising firm Chong and Koster was able to obtain remarkable results. “Where the Facebook ads appeared, we did almost 20 percentage points better than where they didn’t,” testified a leader of the firm. “Within that area, the people who saw the ads were 17 percent more likely to vote our way than the people who didn’t. Within that group, the people who voted the way we wanted them to, when asked why, often cited the messages they learned from the Facebook ads.”

In April 2016, Rob Meyer published “How Facebook Could Tilt the 2016 Election” after a company meeting in which some employees apparently put the stopping-Trump question to Mark Zuckerberg. Based on Fowler’s research, Meyer reimagined Zittrain’s hypothetical as a direct Facebook intervention to depress turnout among non-college graduates, who leaned Trump as a whole.

Facebook, of course, said it would never do such a thing. “Voting is a core value of democracy and we believe that supporting civic participation is an important contribution we can make to the community,” a spokesperson said. “We as a company are neutral—we have not and will not use our products in a way that attempts to influence how people vote.”

They wouldn’t do it intentionally, at least.

As all these examples show, though, the potential for Facebook to have an impact on an election was clear for at least half a decade before Donald Trump was elected. But rather than focusing specifically on the integrity of elections, most writers—myself included, some observers like Sasha Issenberg, Zeynep Tufekci, and Daniel Kreiss excepted—bundled electoral problems inside other, broader concerns like privacy, surveillance, tech ideology, media-industry competition, or the psychological effects of social media.
It’s a long article, but well worth the read if one is so inclined. It goes into “filter bubbles” (essentially what I argued during the primaries in regard to social media only being effective at putting wedges between like-minded people) as well as the fact that Facebook quietly became the new mainstream news source and no one really knew it. Those of you that were following, I pointed out a sea change during the primaries with the Sanders campaign; where MSM effectively got shamed into following and reporting on what was going on in social media and google searches, instead of the other way around (that social media and google searches corresponded to following MSM).

Iow, MSM started to take its cue from social media, where something like 63% of Millennials at least got their news. This piece confirms this and goes into further detail on exactly how that happened:
Facebook took over the news-media ecosystem. They’ve never publicly admitted it, but in late 2013, they began to serve ads inviting users to “like” media pages. This caused a massive increase in the amount of traffic that Facebook sent to media companies. At The Atlantic and other publishers across the media landscape, it was like a tide was carrying us to new traffic records. Without hiring anyone else, without changing strategy or tactics, without publishing more, suddenly everything was easier.

While traffic to The Atlantic from Facebook.com increased, at the time, most of the new traffic did not look like it was coming from Facebook within The Atlantic’s analytics. It showed up as “direct/bookmarked” or some variation, depending on the software. It looked like what I called “dark social” back in 2012. But as BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel pointed out at the time, and as I came to believe, it was primarily Facebook traffic in disguise. Between August and October of 2013, BuzzFeed’s “partner network” of hundreds of websites saw a jump in traffic from Facebook of 69 percent.

At The Atlantic, we ran a series of experiments that showed, pretty definitively from our perspective, that most of the stuff that looked like “dark social” was, in fact, traffic coming from within Facebook’s mobile app. Across the landscape, it began to dawn on people who thought about these kinds of things: Damn, Facebook owns us. They had taken over media distribution.

Why? This is a best guess, proffered by Robinson Meyer as it was happening: Facebook wanted to crush Twitter, which had drawn a disproportionate share of media and media-figure attention. Just as Instagram borrowed Snapchat’s “Stories” to help crush the site’s growth, Facebook decided it needed to own “news” to take the wind out of the newly IPO’d Twitter.
It goes on from there.
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Sat Oct 14, 2017 5:01 pm

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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:07 pm

I’m currently researching a theory that, much like “follow the money” if I follow Trump’s electoral college strategy (and in particular, who formed it), I will also see a correlation of Russian cyber targeting. In so doing, I came across this piece from Nov. 18 of 2016: How the Trump Campaign Built an Identity Database and Used Facebook Ads to Win the Election.

Of particular note:
The engine of the Trump campaign was its digital operations division. Headquartered in San Antonio, the Trump digital team consisted of 100 staffers, including a mix of programmers, web developers, network engineers, data scientists, graphic artists, ad copywriters, and media buyers. The chief executive of Trump’s digital operation was Brad Parscale, a successful entrepreneur and founder of the marketing agency Giles-Parscale Inc.

Parscale worked closely with President-Elect Trump and was one of select few members of Trump’s inner-circle entrusted to tweet from his personal Twitter account, @ realDonaldTrump. Parscale’s lack of prior campaign experience was actually one of his greatest assets.

“I always wonder why people in politics act like this stuff is so mystical,” Parscale says. “It’s the same shit we use in commercial, just has fancier names.” On the strength of Parscale’s ability to generate campaign donations using Facebook and e-mail, the digital operations division was the Trump campaign’s largest source of cash.

In the Bloomberg BusinessWeek piece, “Inside the Trump Bunker, With Days to Go”, reporters Sasha Issenberg and Joshua Green detail how deeply President-Elect Trump was interested in his campaign’s digital strategy and fundraising operations. “Trump himself was an avid pupil. Parscale would sit with him on the plane to share the latest data on his mushrooming audience and the $230 million they’ve funneled into his campaign coffers.”

In the early days of Trump’s campaign, Parscale was given a small budget and the goal of expanding Trump’s base of supporters. Parscale made a calculated decision to invest all the money on Facebook advertising. Using his laptop to buy $2 million dollars in Facebook ads, Parscale unceremoniously launched Trump’s first digital ad campaign.

To start, Parscale uploaded the names, email addresses, and phone numbers of known Trump supporters into the Facebook advertising platform. Next, Parscale used Facebook’s “Custom Audiences from Customer Lists” to match these real people with their virtual Facebook profiles. With Facebook’s “Audience Targeting Options” feature, ads can be targeted to people based on their Facebook activity, ethic affinity, or “location and demographics like age, gender and interests. You can even target your ad to people based on what they do off of Facebook.”
There’s much more in that piece, but more importantly is this: A long-overlooked player is emerging as a key figure in the Trump-Russia investigation. Who is it? Yes, you guessed it, Brad Parscale. Of note:
Congressional investigators are now probing whether voter information stolen by Russian hackers from election databases in several states made its way to the Trump campaign, Time reported on Thursday. The data operation Parscale directed was supervised by Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is now being scrutinized by the FBI over his contacts with Russia's ambassador and the CEO of a sanctioned Russian bank in December.

"If any campaign, Trump or otherwise, used inappropriate data the questions are, how did they get it? From whom? And with what level of knowledge?" the former top Democratic staffer on the House Intelligence Committee, Michael Bahar, told Time. "That is a crux of the investigation."
And more from Wired:
One way to find out if the Trump campaign helped Internet Research Agency would be to compare the targeting criteria the campaign used on Facebook to the targeting criteria the Russian propagandists used. If both groups targeted the same audience, that's worth looking into. Investigators could do the same with any further suspicious accounts Facebook unearths.

What about Cambridge Analytica? Could it have been involved?

Cambridge Analytica was President Trump’s data-mining firm during the 2016 election. The Trump team, led by digital director Brad Parscale, worked with Cambridge, as well as the Republican National Committee, to analyze data about the US electorate to guide decisions about where and how to advertise on television and online. That’s not unusual. Hillary Clinton’s campaign tapped similar analyses from a data-analytics firm called BlueLabs, as well as the Democratic National Committee.

What is unusual about Cambridge Analytica is its backstory. The company, which is a US spinoff of UK-based firm SCL Elections, is financially backed by billionaire financier Robert Mercer, who spends liberally to advance his fiercely conservative views.

Cambridge has also been accused of amassing data from Facebook users—such as what they like on the site and who their friends are—via silly personality quizzes. (Facebook has since closed this privacy gap.) Cambridge combined those results with data from elsewhere to sort people into categories based on their personality types, so advertisers could send them specially tailored messages. Cambridge calls this approach psychographic targeting, as opposed to demographic targeting.

During the election cycle, some Republican operatives outside the Trump campaign accused the company of overselling its technical wizardry. Now, Cambridge’s approach is viewed by some, including Hillary Clinton, as a form of ugly psychological warfare that was unleashed on the American electorate.

Cambridge's parent company, SCL, has been known to use questionable methods in other countries’ elections. In Trinidad, it reportedly staged graffiti to give voters the impression that SCL's client had the support of Trinidadian youth. And Cambridge is currently being investigated in the UK for the role it may have played in swaying voters to support Brexit. It’s worth noting, though, that the UK has stricter laws around how citizens’ data can be used near elections. The US does not have the same protections.
Shortly after the election, Parscale told WIRED, “Facebook and Twitter were the reason we won this thing. Twitter for Mr. Trump, and Facebook for fund-raising." The Trump campaign ran as many as 50,000 variants of its ads each day on Facebook, tweaking the look and messaging to see which got the most traction. Days after the election, Andrew Bleeker, who ran digital advertising for the Clinton campaign, acknowledged that the Trump team used digital platforms “extremely well.” He said the Trump campaign “spent a higher percentage of their spending on digital than we did.”
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Sat Oct 28, 2017 12:16 pm

Update from Wired re: Cambridge Analytica And Parscale. Snippets:
Here’s what we know.

Cambridge worked both for the Trump campaign and a Trump-aligned Super PAC. In June 2016, Cambridge sent three staffers, led by chief product officer Matt Oczkowski, to the campaign’s San Antonio office. Oczkowski’s team eventually grew to 13 people, working under Trump digital director Brad Parscale and alongside his staff and outside consultants. According to Parscale, the Cambridge staff provided useful analysis of data about the American electorate. They did not, however, provide the raw data—things like demographic information, contact information, and data about how voters feel about different issues—on which that analysis was done.

That may sound like a small distinction, but it’s a crucial one. Ever since it burst onto the scene of American politics in 2015, Cambridge has trumpeted its massive data trove, boasting 5,000 data points on every American. Cambridge claims to have built extensive personality profiles on every American, which it uses for so-called “psychographic targeting,” based on people’s personality types. It is feared by some, including Hillary Clinton, for conducting a kind of psychological warfare against the American people and dismissed by others as snake oil. Both Parscale and Oczkowski have said repeatedly that the Trump campaign did not use psychographic targeting. Questions also have swirled about how Cambridge accumulated the data. Liberal voters in particular worried that their data had been harvested without their knowledge and used to elect Trump. But according to both Parscale and Oczkowski, the campaign didn’t use Cambridge’s trove of data, opting instead for the RNC’s data file.

“The RNC was the voter file of record for the campaign, but we were the intelligence on top of the voter file,” Oczkowski says. “Sometimes the sales pitch can be a bit inflated, and I think people can misconstrue that.”

Parscale describes the firm's work this way: "As I’ve said multiple times over prior statements, Matt Oczkowski and his team created a daily tracker of polling, so that I could see how Trump was doing in key swing states. They provided that to me daily." Parscale says Cambridge also helped the campaign with what he calls "persuasion online media buying. They also helped us identify potential donors. And they created a visualization tool that showed in each state which areas were most persuadable and what those voters care about.”
What’s also clear, however, is that the Trump campaign seems to have ample motivation to distance itself from Cambridge, a firm whose tactics have sometimes raised questions. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that shadowy billionaire and Trump supporter Robert Mercer is Cambridge’s main financial backer. Former Trump campaign manager and chief strategist to President Trump, Steve Bannon, also held a position on Cambridge's board. The company itself is an offshoot of the British firm, SCL, which has roots in government and military operations.

Now, Assange’s confirmation that Cambridge’s CEO wanted to join forces against Clinton has renewed suspicions about the company’s business tactics, suspicions that the Trump team would very much like to avoid in the face of ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in the election.

“I had absolutely no understanding any of this was going on, and I was surprised as everybody else when I saw the story” about Nix's approach to Assange, Oczkowski says. During the campaign, he says his team was walled off from the rest of Cambridge, because the company was also working with a Trump Super PAC. Federal regulations prevent campaigns from coordinating with Super PACs. Of the 13 Cambridge staffers who worked in Trump's San Antonio office, only four remain at the company.

Still, for some in Congress, the web of connections among Nix, the campaign, and now, Assange, seems too close for comfort. The House Intelligence Committee has acquired Cambridge staffers' email records, which it is currently analyzing for clues of inappropriate contact with foreign actors trying to meddle in the election. Next week, representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google will testify before both the House and Senate intelligence committees and will likely face questions about their interactions with Trump's digital team and members of Cambridge's staff.

And investigators will, no doubt, continue to question members of team Trump about Nix's communication with Assange. The panels will be seeking answers. But, as is often the case when it comes to Cambridge, each answer will likely only lead to more questions.
The key, of course, is the we just acted on data provided to us defense. By making that distinction clear, they are effectively stating, “We don’t know where they got the data, but I wouldn’t put it past them. Don’t hold us accountable.” It’s not a smoking gun, of course, but then in cases of conspiracy there rarely is.
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:08 pm

Something to consider: Was Roy Cohn A Closet Russian Spy Using the Red Scare to Undermine Democracy?. The pattern certainly fits. Just as he was famously, viciously anti-gay—and using that viciousness to hide his own homosexuality—so too was he famously, viciously anti-communist.

This would be known as hiding in plain sight in espionage terms. And, of course, homosexuality back then would have been the exact kind of “kompromat” that the Russians would exploit. Granted not the most authoritative of sources, but the blogger raises a question I’ve also had of late; why Roy Cohn? Yes, he was Trump’s father’s lawyer apparently, but by most accounts (see link below) the relationship with the Donald was beyond client/lawyer.

They evidently met in 1973, so their relationship goes back to the same time period as when we know the StB (KGB) first registered Trump on their radar as well.

Of perhaps particular note:
The tabloids couldn’t get enough of the Trumps’ theatrics. And as Donald Trump’s Hyatt rose, so too did the hidden hand of his attorney Roy Cohn, always there to help with the shady tax abatements, the zoning variances, the sweetheart deals, and the threats to those who might stand in the project’s way.
“Sweetheart deals” in particular. Russian money, perhaps? Haven’t been able to find any specifics yet, but still looking.

And then there’s this:
Trump—who would remain loyal to Cohn for many years—would be one of the last and most enduring beneficiaries of Cohn’s power. But as Trump would confide in 1980, he already seemed to be trying to distance himself from Cohn’s inevitable taint: “All I can tell you is he’s been vicious to others in his protection of me,” Trump told me, as if to wave away a stench. “He’s a genius. He’s a lousy lawyer, but he’s a genius.”
Which implies that Cohn’s “mentorship” was more along the lines of political mentoring, not strictly lawyerly advice.
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Thu Nov 02, 2017 3:14 pm

Adding this post from another thread:

[quote=""Koyaanisqatsi""]My concern is (and I have to think Mueller knows this and it’s part of his strategy) that everything I’ve read so far paints an origin narrative of the meeting with Trump Jr and Kushner, as if Trump has not had extensive ties to Russia (if not Putin directly) going back to at least the eighties. My more extensive conspiracy theory thread aside, this whole notion of a mysterious “we’ve got dirt” on Hillary meeting sounds exactly like something Roger Stone (or Roy Cohn, or Putin for that matter) would have created as a smokescreen, particularly in light of the tu quoque defense we’re just now seeing being disseminated (i.e., “It’s just opposition research and Hillary ‘colluded’ with a foreign national to get dirt on Trump too so samey samey” etc).

It’s exactly the kind of late inning/long con, false flag gambit that Stone/Cohn/Putin (yes, I know Cohn is dead; point is he was Trump’s mentor) would come up with and the timing of it all (June of 2016) seems the most suspect about it, because it would take that amount of time to plan it all out and create fake evidence and a fall-guy (or in this case, girl) etc, but when you break it down, it’s not all that difficult. Creating a few fake emails is pretty much all it would take—once everything supporting it was set up and rehearsed, etc—and we know the Russians are adept at that (as is just about any 10 year old geek let alone Cambridge Analytica).

The timeline of when Russia first started their cyber offensive was at least back in 2014; if not in direct application, certainly in the planning and strategy phase. Setting all of that up—just the pure logistics of it—would take months prior. This notion that they were just planning on disrupting our election in general—and not for a specific outcome—doesn’t wash as the lessons Putin would have learned in his own previous cyber offensive against Russians is that it only works to divide within like-minded “echo chambers.” Just flooding social media with pointless “Dems did this and Repugs did that” general shit would have no impact at all. It would just blend in with all of the normal two-party noise machines.

Plus the motivation could only have been the removal of the sanctions and not just “hey, let’s mess with the Americans for no specific reason.” That’s the kind of dim witted spin for the masses that the CIA excell at to make everyone not worry about what’s really going on, but ten seconds of reflection reveals how insipid that is. This was a massive and surgical effort that backed one candidate (Trump) and targeted the other (Clinton) a good two years out at least. Even if you accept the notion that the target was just to ensure Clinton was out and it didn’t matter who on the Republican side was in, that still doesn’t explain why they backed Trump (the most unlikely candidate running on the right). Yes, Trump had been pro-Russia for a long time prior (for good reason), but without coordinated collusion back in the primaries, that’s a huge risk on the longest shot. And we do see evidence from the primaries:
When exactly did the Russian influence campaign begin? In an interview with Just Security , former FBI special agent Clint Watts explained that the Russian approach to its influence campaign involved an earlier starting point than many assume. Watts said:

What many people miss is that a first principle of effective information wars is to win over the audience first. The Russians developed an alt-right audience in the United States, including testing how they would respond to different messages, well before the primaries began. The Russians were then ready for whichever candidate suited them.

During a March 30, 2017 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Watts testified about how the Russian operation took shape once the primary got underway:

Through the end of 2015 and start of 2016, the Russian influence system began pushing themes and messages seeking to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. Russia’s overt media outlets and covert trolls sought to sideline opponents on both sides of the political spectrum with adversarial views towards the Kremlin.

They were in full swing during both the Republican and Democratic primary season that may have helped sink the hopes of candidates more hostile to Russian interests long before the field narrowed.
But who would appeal to the alt-right before the primaries? Or during the primaries, for that matter? Trump? Not until this nonsense began did he ever intimate he was a racist pos, so the Russians just guessed, “Let’s establish ourselves within the alt-right and just wait and see if any of the Republican candidates are openly racist/alt-right and back them”? That dog don’t hunt.

Trump went balls out right from the very first words he ever spoke (ironically, June of 2015) in the primaries (basically, Mexicans are all rapists) to appeal specifically to the neo-nazis that the Russians had pre-emptively targeted, so the notion that this all started with a Mata Hari dangling “dirt” on Clinton to the idiot sons of the idiot would-be King in June of 2016 just isn’t true.[/quote]
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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Fri Jan 05, 2018 9:37 pm

I know I haven't updated this in a while (primarily because it's being borne out in various ways already by Mueller), but of note was this recent deal: Rosneft Confirms Oil Supply With China.

Cycle is complete. Trump (and Tillerson) failed to get the sanctions lifted (thus Tillerson setting the stage to resign as I predicted regardless of him calling such plans "laughable") and so Putin moves forward and takes China's "green" initiative endrun for what it clearly was (leverage against Russia's goal to force dependence on Russian oil) and makes a mutually beneficial deal with China's oligarchy.

Now that Republicans have stolen a trillion dollars from tax payers, they will simply wash their hands of anything to do with Trump (except for a pointless few overtures).

Dems will take control of Congress in 2018 as Mueller picks off the Trump admin low-hanging fruit working his way up to Trump over the next few months.

The only question remaining is whether or not Trump will be persuaded to resign and what excuse he'll use. My guess would be for "health" reasons (with intimations of it being mental health as we're already seeing abundant evidence and numerous people on both sides of the aisle confirming).

Kushner and the boys will likely be the next indictments, but they are the dumbshow. As this thread alone has amply demonstrated, Trump has likely been a Russian asset (dormant or money launderer) at least since the nineties (if not sooner). This did not start with a meeting of Trump's kids in 2016 and Mueller has plenty of evidence to that effect, hence the money-laundering experts and extensive Deutschebank interest.
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Holy crap!

Post by Cliché Guevara » Sun Jan 28, 2018 8:08 pm

Wow, this thread is dense! Thanks for the links and analysis/perspective, Koy (and others who have contributed). I believe you. Fascinating stuff! And still in development. :notworthy:

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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:50 pm

[quote=""Cliché Guevara""]Wow, this thread is dense! Thanks for the links and analysis/perspective, Koy (and others who have contributed). I believe you. Fascinating stuff! And still in development. :notworthy: [/quote]

Thanks! Yes, still in development, but in the hands of Mueller.
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WOW. I can't believe I forgot about this thread...

Post by Arpie » Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:05 am

But I shouldn't be surprised. My aging brain and information overload means much I thought I wouldn't forget slips away.

You are truly awesome, Koy. I can assure you I will soon add a few more readers of your thoughts here, after emailing some friends this is a 'must read' analysis wrt 'whats been going on.' Thanks for all your time in sharing your astute observations, and I look forward to reading more.

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Post by Gná » Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:08 pm

Why is it in Russia's interest to disclose these meetings? According to the article, it is to sow discord but why would they release information that could undermine Trump's position?
3 Russian spy chiefs visited the US days before Trump decided against new sanctions on Russia

Three top Russian intelligence officials traveled to the US last week.

Two are barred from entering the US under existing sanctions, but one official’s visit was authorized and cleared by the appropriate agencies, and it’s unclear who authorized the second’s entry.

The State Department declined to comment on the specifics of visa cases and referred further questions to the Russian Embassy.

The officials who head two of Russia’s top spy agencies visited the US last week to meet with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and discuss issues related to counterterrorism, two people familiar with the matter told Business Insider.

Sergey Naryshkin of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service and Alexander Bortnikov of its Federal Security Service met with Pompeo to discuss the US’s and Russia’s mutual interest in counterterrorism.

A third official, Igor Korobov – who leads the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence unit – visited the US at the same time as Naryshkin and Bortnikov but did not meet with Pompeo, one of the people said.

The news was first reported by The Washington Post earlier this week.

Naryshkin and Korobov are among several Russian officials barred from entering the US under existing sanctions.

Former President Barack Obama’s March 2014 executive order imposing sanctions on Russia for its aggression in the neighboring territory of Crimea says Naryshkin cannot enter the US without a waiver and express approval from the White House and other federal agencies.

Korobov was barred when Obama signed another executive order in December 2016 implementing sanctions in response to the US intelligence community’s conclusion that the Russian government mounted an elaborate campaign to interfere in the 2016 US election.

The order sanctioned individuals who were found to be responsible for or complicit in “malicious cyber-enabled activities” that represented a threat to US national security.

Naryshkin’s visit has raised questions from Democrats and other observers about why the spy chief was allowed to enter the US amid heightened tensions with Russia.

The visit also occurred before President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday decided not to impose new sanctions on Russia for its election meddling.

Former diplomats and intelligence officials stressed that US intelligence heads often meet with their counterparts from adversarial nations to work together on issues of national security, like terrorism.

“It is routine for senior foreign intel officials to come to the US, Russians included,” said Glenn Carle, a former CIA operative. “It is not common if they have been banned entry, however.”

He continued: “The Russian explanation that they received a waiver on national security grounds rings true. It would be the [CIA director] or the White House, and perhaps the State Department, that would authorize the waiver.”

State Department refers questions to the Russian Embassy
A CIA representative said Naryshkin’s visit was authorized and approved according to proper procedure.

“While we do not discuss the schedules of US intelligence leaders, rest assured that any interaction with foreign intelligence agencies would have been conducted in accordance with US law and in consultation with appropriate Departments and agencies,” the representative said in a statement.

A State Department representative declined to comment on the details of individual visa cases, citing legal restraints. The person referred further questions to the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC, but declined to explain why.

Richard Kauzlarich, a former deputy assistant secretary of state who specialized in US-Russia relations, questioned why the State Department would make such a move.

“My goodness,” he said, adding that the US’s embassy in Russia would have issued Naryshkin the visa to travel to the US.

“Quite frankly, I’m not sure why the State Department would refer anyone to the Russian Embassy or what they would be able to tell you,” he said.

Meanwhile, the purpose of Korobov’s visit remains unclear. His counterpart in the US is Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

A DIA representative did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The GRU was found to be the primary Russian intelligence agency responsible for interfering in the 2016 US election.

In addition to hacking and disseminating emails from the Democratic National Committee and attempting to breach election systems, Russia also worked to establish personal contact with Americans seen as sympathetic to Moscow. Officials also mounted an elaborate campaign aimed at spreading disinformation and stoking partisan bickering via Twitter and Facebook.

‘It is no accident the Russians announced this meeting’

Russia appears to be using some of those tactics even now, a US official suggested to CNN on Thursday, pointing to the Russian Embassy’s tweet announcing Naryshkin’s visit.

“It is no accident the Russians announced this meeting,” the official said. “The target was sowing discord in US.”

News of the meeting comes amid the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference and whether members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the race in his favor.

The investigation has zeroed in on the White House and the president in recent weeks as Mueller examines whether he sought to obstruct justice by firing FBI Director James Comey last May.

Trump’s critics have also accused the president of adopting a softer stance toward Russia to appease Russian President Vladimir Putin, citing the administration’s decision this week not to impose the new sanctions despite a law Trump signed in August designed to punish Russia for its election meddling.

Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman, said the law had already deterred Russian defense sales.

“From that perspective, if the law is working, sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed because the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent,” Nauert said.

Carle said there were “legitimate, plausible reasons” the three Russian spy chiefs were admitted into the US, but that there were “political and other reasons why none of it may be acceptable.”
Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/sergei- ... =true&r=US
Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.

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