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M.N.: The U.S. - Germany Diplomatic Meltdown: The German politicians' tone, the Merkel's ridiculous, clearly hypocritical, grandiose pronouncements and the pretenses to become the center of the World leadership in human rights and other areas trumpinvestigations.blogspot.com/2019/03/mn-us-…

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M.N.: The U.S. - Germany Diplomatic Meltdown: The German politicians' tone, the Merkel's ridiculous, clearly hypocritical, grandiose pronouncements and the pretenses to become the center of the World leadership in human rights and other areas trumpinvestigations.blogspot.com/2019/03/mn-us-…


Posted by mikenov on Wednesday, March 20th, 2019 7:56am
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“fbi and trump” – Google News: FBI tracked Michael Cohen’s phones with controversial device – WHYY

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FBI tracked Michael Cohen’s phones with controversial device  WHYY

Agents using a Triggerfish cell-site simulator tracked the whereabouts of Cohen’s two iPhones to a pair of rooms a floor apart at the Manhattan hotel where he …

“fbi and trump” – Google News

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M.N.: It looks and feels to me that some valuable exchange of information and opinions took place at this meeting. Maybe we are going to learn a bit more about the Trump-Kushner Crime Family and the heroic exploits of the Bielski Partisans. Stay tuned. - 5:46 AM 3/20/2019

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Слева направо: Президент Всемирного еврейского конгресса Рональд Лаудер, главный раввин России Берл Лазар, глава Федерации еврейских общин России Александр Борода.
4 из 4 | Слева направо: Президент Всемирного еврейского конгресса Рональд Лаудер, главный раввин России Берл Лазар, глава Федерации еврейских общин России Александр Борода. 
Из альбома к материалу
19 марта 2019 года Москва, Кремль
________________________________________________________


M.N.: It looks and feels to me that some valuable exchange of information and opinions took place at this meeting. Maybe we are going to learn a bit more about the Trump-Kushner Crime Family and the heroic exploits of the Bielski Partisans. Stay tuned. - 5:46 AM 3/20/2019
______________________________________

Встреча с Рональдом Лаудером • Президент России

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  • На встрече с президентом Всемирного еврейского конгресса Рональдом Лаудером.
  • На встрече с президентом Всемирного еврейского конгресса Рональдом Лаудером.
  • На встрече с президентом Всемирного еврейского конгресса Рональдом Лаудером.
  • Слева направо: Президент Всемирного еврейского конгресса Рональд Лаудер, главный раввин России Берл Лазар, глава Федерации еврейских общин России Александр Борода.
  • New Mueller probe revelations explain Trump's rage - CNN

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    New Mueller probe revelations explain Trump's rage  CNN
    President Donald Trump looks -- and is acting -- rattled and encircled by the Russia investigation. And a series of *fresh* disclosures on Tuesday show there is ...

    M.N.: The U.S. - Germany Diplomatic Meltdown: The German politicians' tone, the Merkel's ridiculous, clearly hypocritical, grandiose pronouncements and the pretenses to become the center of the World leadership in human rights and other areas, and the open hostility to America " had long been inappropriate to relations between close allies", and more than that: this tone and actions are dangerous to the present Global Security arrangements and structures. - 3:48 AM 3/20/2019

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    Image result for Russia is Mafia State

    M.N.: The German politicians' tone, the Merkel's ridiculous, clearly hypocritical, grandiose pronouncements and the pretenses to become the center of the World leadership in human rights and other areas, and the open hostility to America " had long been inappropriate to relations between close allies", and more than that: this tone and actions are dangerous to the present Global Security arrangements and structures. Put the nationalistic, passive-aggressive, filled with the historical rage, revanchist Germany firmly in her place, until it is too late, and until this situation leads to the next historical catastrophe. 

    I think that the "Trump Affair" was manufactured and designed by the German Intelligence Services, and very possibly by the resurgent New Abwehr; and this affair was implemented by their witting, half-witting, or unwitting proxies: Russian-Israeli Jewish Oligarchs and the Global Mafia, of which the today's Russian State became a part of, as the "
    Mafia State". This hypothesis has to investigated and explored very thoroughly. 

    Michael Novakhov

    3:48 AM 3/20/2019
    -
    "Grenell's tone had long been inappropriate to relations between close allies, Schneider said, charging the ambassador with failure to recognize Germany's contribution within the alliance, in Afghanistan for example.
    "Mr Grenell is harming transatlantic relations with his repeated heavy-handed remarks," he said."
    -

    'Total diplomatic failure': Trump-appointed envoy blasted by German officials

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    U.S. President Donald Trump's combative envoy to Germany, Richard Grenell continues to draw fire from German officials for trying to intervene in the country's affairs.
    "Mr Grenell is a total diplomatic failure," Carsten Schneider, head of the Social Democratic Party (SPD)' s parliamentary caucus, told the dpa in Berlin after ambassador Grenell criticized Berlin's decision to move more slowly toward the NATO spending target of 2 percent of gross domestic product.
    Grenell's tone had long been inappropriate to relations between close allies, Schneider said, charging the ambassador with failure to recognize Germany's contribution within the alliance, in Afghanistan for example.
    "Mr Grenell is harming transatlantic relations with his repeated heavy-handed remarks," he said.
    Grenell has also faced criticism for his handling of U.S.-German disagreements over trade, a 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the Russian-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
    The envoy last week warned German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier in a letter that security concerns could throttle U.S. intelligence sharing with Berlin if Huawei got a role in Germany's 5G next-generation mobile infrastructure.
    Merkel told reporters the German government was keenly focused on security of digital networks, including the 5G mobile infrastructure, but Berlin would keep its own counsel.
    Michael Grosse-Broemer, a conservative leader in parliament, said Germany was competent to address its own security, adding, "There is no need for pointers from the U.S. ambassador."
    Grenell also sparked controversy in Germany when he warned German firms to start closing down their business operations in Iran.
    His threat to slap sanctions on German firms involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline also proved counterproductive, shutting down potential critics of the project as German politicians are reluctant to be seen as bowing to U.S. pressure, experts said.
    "Political smoothness is not his thing and he's proud of that. You could say he was the most undiplomatic diplomat Washington ever had here," said Ruediger Lentz, executive director the Aspen Institute Germany.
    -

    Russia is Mafia State - Google Search

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    Trust in Mueller falls, half say Trump is victim of 'witch hunt'

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    According to a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll, Americans' trust in Robert Mueller's investigation is decreasing. USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON – Amid signs that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference may be near its conclusion, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds that trust in Mueller has eroded and half of Americans agree with President Donald Trump's contention that he has been the victim of a "witch hunt."
    Support for the House of Representatives to seriously consider impeaching the president has dropped since last October by 10 percentage points, to 28 percent.
    Despite that, the survey shows a nation that remains skeptical of Trump's honesty and deeply divided by his leadership. A 52 percent majority say they have little or no trust in the president's denials that his 2016 campaign colluded with Moscow in the election that put him in the Oval Office.
    That number does reflect an improvement from previous polls. One year ago, 57 percent had little or no trust in his denials; in December, 59 percent did.
     Twenty-eight percent say they have a lot of trust in former FBI director Mueller's investigation to be fair and accurate. That's the lowest level to date and down 5 points since December.
    In comparison, 30 percent express a lot of trust in Trump's denials, the highest to date.
    President Donald Trump has been relentless in attacking Robert Mueller's investigation. (Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)
    Mueller indicted 34 people, including Russian intelligence operatives and some of Trump's closest aides and advisers. The indictments detailed the eagerness of the Trump campaign to benefit from a sophisticated Russian effort to influence the 2016 election but have not accused the president’s aides of participating in that operation. Last week, Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was sentenced to a total of 7.5 years in federal prison for financial crimes.
    The poll's findings set the stage for a ferocious partisan battle when Mueller submits his report to Attorney General William Barr. The president's cascade of criticism of those pursuing him has fortified his support and raised questions about his investigators.

    Trump tweets about Mueller

    That campaign continued this weekend. 
    "What the Democrats have done in trying to steal a Presidential Election, first at the 'ballot box' and then, after that failed, with the 'Insurance Policy,' is the biggest Scandal in the history of our Country!" Trump declared in a tweet Sunday night.
    Friday, Trump tweeted that "there should be no" report from Mueller, who was appointed in May 2017 to investigate how Moscow tried to influence the presidential election and whether Team Trump cooperated.  
    "This was an illegal & conflicted investigation in search of a crime," Trump wrote Sunday, adding in a follow-up tweet, "THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO A PRESIDENT AGAIN!"
    Fifty percent say they agree with Trump's assertion that the special counsel's investigation is a "witch hunt" and that he has been subjected to more investigations than previous presidents because of politics; 47 percent disagree. Just 3 percent don't have an opinion.
    There is, unsurprisingly, a stark partisan divide on that question: 86 percent of Republicans but just 14 percent of Democrats say Trump is the victim of a "witch hunt." Among independents, 54 percent say he is; 42 percent say he isn't. 
    The president's success in persuading half of the electorate that he’s been subjected to unprecedented scrutiny is notable, says David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk Political Research Center.
    "Even among people who said they had ‘some’ trust in the Mueller investigation, half agreed with President Trump's witch hunt allegation,” he says.
    President Donald Trump hugs the American flag as he arrives to speak at Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2019, in Oxon Hill, Md., Saturday, March 2, 2019. Carolyn Kaster, AP
    7 Photos
    President Donald Trump speaks at CPAC 2019
    President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., on March 2, 2019. Nicholas Kamm, AFP/Getty Images
    Supporters cheer for U.S. President Donald Trump during CPAC 2019 on March 02, 2019 National Harbor, Md. The American Conservative Union hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference to discuss conservative agenda. Tasos Katopodis, Getty Images
    President Donald J. Trump speaks at the 46th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., on March 2, 2019. Trump spoke on the final day of the four-day American Conservative Union's CPAC conference. Erik S. Lesser, EPA-EFE
    President Donald J. Trump speaks at the 46th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., on March 2, 2019. Trump spoke on the final day of the four-day American Conservative Union's CPAC conference. Erik S. Lesser, EPA-EFE
    President Donald Trump speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., on March 2, 2019. Nicholas Kamm, AFP/Getty Images
    President Donald Trump speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., on March 2, 2019. Nicholas Kamm, AFP/Getty Images
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    "Trump, he gets badgered every single day," says Robert Lynch, 62, of Selden, New York, a Republican who describes himself as a "100 percent" supporter of the president. Mueller's report is "going to say no collusion, absolutely none," he predicts.
    Annette Lantos Tillemann-Dick, 66, an innkeeper from Denver and a Democrat, disagrees, saying evidence of collusion by Trump's campaign is obvious: "You don't need a report to see it. It's in our face."
    Lynch and Tillemann-Dick were among those surveyed. The poll of 1,000 registered voters, taken by landline and cellphone Wednesday through Sunday, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
    "I hope that illegal collusion makes it very difficult for the Republicans to continue to defend undefendable behavior on the part of the person who is sitting in the chief executive's office," Tillemann-Dick says. "And I hope that it would lead to him being removed from office." (Tillemann-Dick, who was called randomly in the survey, happens to be the daughter of the late congressman Tom Lantos, D-Calif.)

    A shift on impeachment 

    Support for impeaching Trump has cooled, the poll shows, in the wake of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's declaration that she opposed the idea unless there was bipartisan support for it. Among Democrats, 41 percent say Pelosi's comments had some or a lot of impact on their opinion about impeachment, about equal to the 42 percent who say they had no impact.
    Pelosi's argument that trying to remove Trump from office would divide the nation apparently flipped the public's expectations of what Congress will do. Last fall, the poll found that a 54 percent-32 percent majority said a new Democratic majority in the House was likely to seriously consider impeachment.
    Now, by 46 percent-41 percent, those surveyed predict that the House won't.
    "If he doesn't get impeached, it's not like it's going to be the end of the world because 2020 is not super-far away," says Calvin Crawford, 18, a political independent and a senior at University High School in Spokane, Washington, who was polled. "I think Trump is probably going to lose if a candidate comes out and starts to propose things that people actually want."
    Overall, Americans by 62 percent-28 percent say the House shouldn't seriously consider impeaching Trump, compared with 54 percent-39 percent last October. While a 53 percent majority of Democrats support impeachment, just 6 percent of Republicans do. 
    Gloria Davy, 65, a Democrat from Tucson, says it would bring her "great joy" for Democrats to push for impeachment, but she worries about the upheaval that could follow.
    "I can't imagine what would happen to the stock market," the Arizona retiree says. "So it's probably best not to impeach him and to just have him run for his second term and lose. That would be the safest thing for our economy."
    She is eager to see Mueller's report. "I'll read it cover to cover," she says.

    Release the report?  

    As Mueller's inquiry winds down, the debate over what to do about the confidential report he is required to submit to the Justice Department is heating up. Last Thursday, the House unanimously passed a resolution calling for public release of the report, but Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., blocked passage of the nonbinding measure in the Senate.
    The poll found overwhelming and bipartisan support for releasing the report, whatever it finds. In all, 82 percent say it is important to them that the report be made public; 62 percent call that "very important." 
    Mueller leaves after briefing members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election on Capitol Hill on June 21, 2017. Michael Reynolds, European Pressphoto Agency
    22 Photos
    A look at former FBI director Robert Mueller
    Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 21, 2017. J. Scott Applewhite, AP
    Mueller arrives for a court hearing at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco on April 21, 2016. He had been overseeing settlement talks with Volkswagen, the U.S. government and private lawyers for the automaker to buy back some of the nearly 600,000 diesel cars that cheat on emissions tests. Jeff Chiu, AP
    James Comey talks with Mueller before he was officially sworn in as FBI director on Sept. 4, 2013.Susan Walsh, AP
    Mueller jokes with CIA Director John Brennan during his farewell ceremony at the Department of Justice on Aug. 1, 2013, in Washington. Evan Vucci, AP
    President Barack Obama, followed by Mueller, right, and his choice for Mueller's successor, Comey, left, walks toward the podium in the Rose Garden on June 21, 2013. Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP
    Mueller testifies during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 19, 2013, where he confirmed that the FBI uses drones for domestic surveillance. Alex Wong, Getty Images
    Mueller is sworn in on Capitol Hill on June 13, 2013, prior to testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. J. Scott Applewhite, AP
    Mueller and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper listen to statements at a Senate Intelligence Committee open hearing on worldwide threats on Jan. 31, 2012. H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY
    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Mueller and National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen testify on Capitol Hill on Sept. 13, 2011, before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the terror threat to the U.S. Evan Vucci, AP
    Clapper speaks with Mueller during the launch of the strategy to combat transnational organized crime at the White House on July 25, 2011. Nicholas Kamm, AFP/Getty Images
    Mueller speaks at a conference on domestic terrorism on Oct. 6, 2010. Jacquelyn Martin, AP
    Obama speaks with Mueller during a meeting at FBI headquarters in Washington on April 28, 2009.Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images
    Mueller is welcomed on Capitol Hill on March 25, 2009, by Sen. Arlen Specter, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, prior to testifying before the committee's oversight hearing regarding the FBI. J. Scott Applewhite, AP
    Mueller and Sen. Patrick Leahy chat ahead of Mueller's testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 17, 2008, on Capitol Hill. Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images
    Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill on Feb. 5, 2008, before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on world threats. Kevin Wolf, AP
    Mueller prepares to testify on Capitol Hill on March 27, 2007, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the FBI. Susan Walsh, AP
    Mueller answers questions from the media in Charlotte, N.C., on April 24, 2006. Chuck Burton, AP
    CIA Director Porter Goss, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Mueller testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on April 27, 2005. Tim Dillon, USA TODAY
    Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft exit a press briefing at the Department of Justice on Oct. 29, 2001. Stephen Jaffe, AFP
    Mueller is sworn in at the start of his testimony during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on July 30, 2001. Dennis Cook, AP
    President George W. Bush names Mueller the new director of the FBI at a Rose Garden ceremony on July 5, 2001. Mike Theiler, AFP
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    Assessments of Mueller have become less positive and more partisan during his investigation. In June 2017, before he had brought any indictments or won any convictions, 30 percent viewed him favorably and 16 percent unfavorably, a net positive rating of 14 points. Twenty percent had never heard of him, and 33 percent weren't sure what they thought.
    In the new poll, 33 percent view him favorably and 31 percent unfavorably. That net positive rating of 2 points is his narrowest to date. As recently as last October, he had a net positive rating of 17 points, 42 percent-25 percent. 
    Few Americans expect the conclusion of the special counsel's investigation is going to settle the controversies surrounding the president.
    House committees controlled by Democrats launched a series of inquiries into Trump, his administration, his business practices and his family.  Views of those investigations are narrowly divided: 49 percent say Democrats are doing the right thing by pursuing the investigations aggressively; 46 percent say they are going too far.
    "Now we're going after Ivanka, so there will be more and more and more," said Davy, the Democrat from Arizona, "and he can't veto it."
    Lynch, the avid Trump supporter from Long Island, says Mueller's report will clear Trump and should recommend another investigation to follow into his 2016 opponent. "It should say, 'OK, now we're going after Hillary.' "
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    Заседание коллегии Генпрокуратуры России • Президент России

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  • На расширенном заседании коллегии Генеральной прокуратуры Российской Федерации. Фото РИА «Новости»
  • На расширенном заседании коллегии Генеральной прокуратуры Российской Федерации.
  • На расширенном заседании коллегии Генеральной прокуратуры Российской Федерации.
  • На расширенном заседании коллегии Генеральной прокуратуры Российской Федерации.
  • На расширенном заседании коллегии Генеральной прокуратуры Российской Федерации. Генеральный прокурор Юрий Чайка.
  • На расширенном заседании коллегии Генеральной прокуратуры Российской Федерации.
  • На расширенном заседании коллегии Генеральной прокуратуры Российской Федерации.
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    New Mueller probe revelations explain Trump's rage - CNN

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    1. New Mueller probe revelations explain Trump's rage  CNN
    2. Trump Cornered  The American Prospect
    3. Schiff: Real question is if Trump is under the influence of a foreign power  NBC News
    4. Mueller news: Trump boasts about poorly framed question in outlier poll  Vox.com
    5. Poll: Half of Americans say Trump is victim of a 'witch hunt' as trust in Mueller erodes  USA TODAY
    6. View full coverage on Google News


    New Mueller probe revelations explain Trump's rage

    1 Share
    But such disclosures are almost never good news for Trump.
    The vast breadth of the investigation by various jurisdictions also could offer a rich seam for Democratic House chairmen should they eventually subpoena primary evidence uncovered by Mueller and other prosecutors.
    And the release underlines that various investigations that are penetrating deep into Trump's business, personal and political life are likely to be haunting the President for years to come -- even after Mueller has left the stage.

    Campaign finance case still alive

    The pages of warrants make clear that the investigation into whether the Trump Organization is implicated in the campaign finance case involving his hush money payments to women before the 2016 election is still open.
    Eighteen-and-a-half blacked-out pages at the end of one document under the title "The Illegal Campaign Contribution Scheme" almost certainly contain details of Trump's interactions with Cohen.
    That prosecutors from the Southern District of New York believe those elements need to be kept out of the public eye suggests that their investigations -- which have already indirectly implicated Trump -- are not over.
    "They are not done. We have seen this in filings over and over again," Preet Bharara, a former US attorney for the Southern District of New York, told CNN's Jake Tapper.
    So Trump cannot yet be sure whether his family members or top business associates in his firm could face criminal jeopardy.
    For the President, who seeks to exert dominance over every room, situation or relationship, the lack of control over the fate of his own clan and the business that bears his name as prosecutors bear down must be close to intolerable.
    Some legal observers see the work of the Southern District as Trump's most perilous legal front, even more so than Mueller's look at whether there was coordination between Trump campaign aides and Russia and whether the President obstructed justice to cover it up.
    While a sitting President cannot be indicted, according to current Justice Department guidance, Trump cannot be certain that he will not be prosecuted for campaign finance violations when he eventually leaves office.
    "If I was Donald Trump, I would be scared," Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, said on CNN's "The Situation Room."
    The fact that prosecutors have already endorsed Cohen's statement that he made the payments in violation of campaign finance laws at the direction of Trump means "there may be another shoe to drop," said Bharara.
    "There may be other people who are assisting or who are conspiring, up to and including the President, and they haven't decided how they want to proceed on that," he added.

    More Russia links

    Tuesday's documents also contain more evidence that Trump associates, in this case Cohen, appeared to have at least indirect connections to powerful Russians.
    They show that Cohen was paid more than $500,000 through his company as a business consultant from January to August 2017 by Columbus Nova LLC., an investment management firm that is linked to Russian national Viktor Vekselberg.
    Vekselberg is an oligarch -- with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin -- who is under US sanctions regarding election interference.
    Columbus Nova said in a statement that neither Vekselberg nor anyone outside the firm had been involved in the decision to hire Cohen or to provide funding for his work.
    Cohen, who will go to jail in May after he admitted lying to Congress and for tax and fraud offenses, was not charged with unlawfully acting as an unregistered foreign lobbyist. But he is far from the only Trump associate to have suggestions of links that can be traced back to prominent Russians. Many of those Trump allies have been caught by Mueller trying to hide such relationships.
    The question of whether foreign influence and quid pro quos were in play during the Trump campaign for the presidency, and early in his administration, gets to the heart of what Mueller is charged with investigating.

    Feeding the 'witch hunt' narrative

    Docs show Mueller investigated Cohen long before raid
    Given the avalanche of revelations, it's not surprising that the President is sometimes prone to isolated outbursts of fury directed at Mueller.
    "THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO A PRESIDENT AGAIN!" Trump tweeted out of the blue on Saturday.
    Tuesday's revelations also provided the context against which the President stood in the White House Rose Garden and claimed the real "collusion" in US politics was between social media companies opposed to conservatives.
    "It seems to be if they're conservative, if they're Republicans, if they're in a certain group, there's discrimination, and big discrimination," Trump added.
    It's also notable that Mueller has indicted three Russian entities and 13 Russian nationals in connection with Moscow's operation to use social media to interfere in the 2016 election, sow political discord and elect Trump.

    New intrigue over Rosenstein

    Washington has been on edge for several weeks over expectations that Mueller is getting toward the end of the road.
    But there was a new wrinkle on Tuesday with the news that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has overseen much of the Mueller probe, is not yet ready to leave his job.
    Rosenstein had been expected to leave in mid-March, now that a new attorney general, William Barr, who is not recused from the Russia probe like his predecessor Jeff Sessions, has taken office.
    Rosenstein sees himself as the "heat shield" since he appointed Mueller, and could be in position to take the "hit" if controversy explodes when the report drops, the source said.

    Slow-rolling Trump's defense

    While Trump may feel increasingly isolated, there are new indications that Democrats who have launched their own vast investigation against Trump world will encounter significant difficulties.
    Some former officials who received letters from the committee requesting documents, including former White House counsel Don McGahn and former deputy counsel Annie Donaldson, are referring them to the White House.
    Republican aides said the committee had gotten responses from only eight of the 81 officials who had received letters from the committee earlier this month, and a ninth had mailed documents, though they had yet to be received.
    Democrats painted a more positive picture, but the speed bumps were a sign of the tortuous road of subpoenas and legal challenges ahead as House Democrats face White House resistance.
    People outside the government, however, are more exposed to subpoenas than others in the administration, as they cannot wage long fights citing executive privilege concerns as an excuse not to hand over documents.
    CNN's Kevin Collier, Marshall Cohen, Erica Orden, Pamela Brown, Sara Murray, Jeremy Herb, Manu Raju, Katelyn Polantz and Kara Scannell contributed to this report.
    Read the whole story
     
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    Jared Kushner: power hungry and intent on enriching himself? Yes, without any doubts. - M.N. | Real question is if Trump is under the influence of a foreign power

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    Image result for Michael Novakhov on Trump and Deutsche Bank

    Jared Kushner: power hungry and intent on enriching himself?

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    A new book, though, portrays Mr Trump's daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka and Jared Kushner, as a power-hungry couple, concerned primarily with ...
    Michael_Novakhov
    5 minutes ago
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    Yes, without any doubts.

    Real question is if Trump is under the influence of a foreign power

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    Breaking News Emails

    Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
    By Ken Dilanian
    WASHINGTON — Nearly two years into his investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller has not accused any member of the Trump campaign of conspiring with the 2016 election interference effort — and it's not clear whether he will.
    But legal experts, along with the congressman leading the House Russia investigation, tell NBC News that the most important question investigators must answer is one that may never have been suitable for the criminal courts: Whether President Trump or anyone around him is under the influence of a foreign government.
    "It's more important to know what Trump is NOW than to know what he did in 2016," said Martin Lederman, professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and former deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel during the Obama administration. "It's more important to know whether he has been compromised as president than whether his conduct during the campaign constituted a crime."
    Whether Mueller will answer that question in the absence of criminal charges is unclear. But in an interview with NBC News, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said he is steering his investigation in a new direction to focus on it — and he will demand any relevant evidence compiled by the FBI or Mueller's team.
    The California Democrat also expressed concern that Mueller hasn't fully investigated Trump's possible financial history with Russia.
    "From what we can see either publicly or otherwise, it's very much an open question whether this is something the special counsel has looked at," Schiff told NBC News.
    Schiff said the public testimony from former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen that in 2016 Trump stood to earn hundreds of millions of dollars from a secret Moscow real estate project is a staggering conflict of interest that must be fully explored.
    "I certainly agree that the counterintelligence investigation may be more important than the criminal investigation because it goes to a present threat to our national security — whether the president and anybody around him are compromised by a foreign power," Schiff said. "That's not necessarily an issue that can be covered in indictments."
    In fact, most FBI counterintelligence investigations don't result in criminal charges, experts say, because they tend to involve secret intelligence that either can't be used in court or doesn't add up to proof beyond a reasonable doubt. If the FBI assesses that a government official is compromised by a foreign adversary, officials often will quietly remove that person from a sensitive role or wall him or her off from classified information.
    Obviously, none of that is an option for the president of the United States.
    Read the whole story
     
    · · · · ·

    Jared Kushner: power hungry and intent on enriching himself?

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    A new book, though, portrays Mr Trump's daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka and Jared Kushner, as a power-hungry couple, concerned primarily with ...
    Michael_Novakhov
    11 hours ago
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    Yes, without any doubts.

    Real question is if Trump is under the influence of a foreign power

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    Breaking News Emails

    Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
    By Ken Dilanian
    WASHINGTON — Nearly two years into his investigation, special counsel Robert Mueller has not accused any member of the Trump campaign of conspiring with the 2016 election interference effort — and it's not clear whether he will.
    But legal experts, along with the congressman leading the House Russia investigation, tell NBC News that the most important question investigators must answer is one that may never have been suitable for the criminal courts: Whether President Trump or anyone around him is under the influence of a foreign government.
    "It's more important to know what Trump is NOW than to know what he did in 2016," said Martin Lederman, professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and former deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel during the Obama administration. "It's more important to know whether he has been compromised as president than whether his conduct during the campaign constituted a crime."
    Whether Mueller will answer that question in the absence of criminal charges is unclear. But in an interview with NBC News, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said he is steering his investigation in a new direction to focus on it — and he will demand any relevant evidence compiled by the FBI or Mueller's team.
    The California Democrat also expressed concern that Mueller hasn't fully investigated Trump's possible financial history with Russia.
    "From what we can see either publicly or otherwise, it's very much an open question whether this is something the special counsel has looked at," Schiff told NBC News.
    Schiff said the public testimony from former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen that in 2016 Trump stood to earn hundreds of millions of dollars from a secret Moscow real estate project is a staggering conflict of interest that must be fully explored.
    "I certainly agree that the counterintelligence investigation may be more important than the criminal investigation because it goes to a present threat to our national security — whether the president and anybody around him are compromised by a foreign power," Schiff said. "That's not necessarily an issue that can be covered in indictments."
    In fact, most FBI counterintelligence investigations don't result in criminal charges, experts say, because they tend to involve secret intelligence that either can't be used in court or doesn't add up to proof beyond a reasonable doubt. If the FBI assesses that a government official is compromised by a foreign adversary, officials often will quietly remove that person from a sensitive role or wall him or her off from classified information.
    Obviously, none of that is an option for the president of the United States.
    No official action was taken after Trump was accused of giving highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister in the Oval Office in 2017. As the president, he has the legal right to spill secrets to whomever he wants.
    The White House has long insisted that the notion of a president in thrall to the Kremlin is ridiculous, pointing to the sanctions the Trump administration has levied on Russia in response to cyber attacks, election interference, and its actions in Ukraine.
    Trump defenders complain that those who are now focusing on foreign influence have "moved the goalposts" — shifting emphasis to the issue of foreign compromise now that criminal charges involving "Russian collusion" seem less likely.
    Trump has criticized Schiff’s approach, saying in a Feb. 7 tweet, "So now Congressman Adam Schiff announces, after having found zero Russian Collusion, that he is going to be looking at every aspect of my life, both financial and personal, even though there is no reason to be doing so. Never happened before! Unlimited Presidential Harassment."
    But the question of Trump's motives regarding Russia has always been front and center for the FBI, as former Acting Director Andrew McCabe made clear in a recent round of media appearances. Neither Trump nor any of his supporters has been able to quell questions about the president's embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin, including Trump's seeming unwillingness to criticize the Russian autocrat.
    McCabe, who was fired for lack of candor in an unrelated matter, alleged that the president disputed intelligence that a North Korean missile could hit the United States, saying, "I don't care. I believe Putin."
    That allegedly happened behind closed doors, but few will forget the public spectacle of Trump siding with Putin over his intelligence community on the question of U.S. election interference at last year's Helsinki summit, telling the world: "President Putin says it's not Russia. I don't see any reason why it would be."
    McCabe said he could not rule out that the president was, in essence, a Russian asset. Trump has called McCabe a liar and "a disgrace to the FBI."
    "What Americans should be concerned about is whether the president's Russia policy is not dictated by our national interest but is dictated by his desire to make hundreds of millions of dollars off a tower in Moscow," Schiff said.

    In the beginning, a counterspy probe

    The FBI's Russia investigation began in July 2016 as a counterintelligence investigation into Trump campaign aides. Current and former officials say the case involved agents whose expertise is counterspy cases and agents who worked criminal matters.
    After Mueller took over the investigation and began filing criminal charges, the public and the news media came to view the probe largely through the lens of the criminal justice system. But the counterintelligence dimension never diminished.
    The FBI was looking for crimes, but was also using intelligence tools to ferret out and thwart Russia's efforts to interfere in American democracy. And it was collecting intelligence that the government would likely never want to use in court, current and former officials tell NBC News.
    In May 2017, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, told NBC News anchor Lester Holt he did so with Russia on his mind, and told the Russian foreign minister the firing had relieved "great pressure" on him. That led the FBI to open a counterintelligence investigation into the president specifically, according to McCabe. It was married to a criminal investigation examining possible conspiracy with Russian election interference and possible obstruction of justice, McCabe said.
    After Mueller in July 2018 accused Russian intelligence officers who hacked the Democrats of conspiring against the United States, many expected that he eventually might charge members of the Trump campaign with participating in that conspiracy.
    That hasn't happened. To the contrary, some of the key figures seen as likely participants in any Russia conspiracy — Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Michael Cohen — have been charged with other offenses in cases that made no allegation of any "collusion" with Russia. Two of them, Manafort and Cohen, have been sentenced.
    But just because they haven't been charged criminally doesn't mean there isn't evidence they were influenced by Russia, said Frank Figliuzzi, the former top counterintelligence official at the FBI and an NBC News contributor.
    "I cringe when I see people trying to apply criminal metrics to a counterintelligence case," he said.
    More often than not in counterintelligence cases, Figliuzzi said, the FBI makes a determination that a person has been subject to foreign influence without pursuing criminal charges. For example, he said, if the bureau finds that a top general has developed an inappropriate relationship with a Chinese intelligence asset, that general likely wouldn't be charged with espionage or other crimes. But he almost certainly would be fired.
    In Trump's case, longtime students of his real estate career have raised questions about how he generated large amounts of cash in recent years to make big purchases of golf courses and other assets, and of why the German bank Deutsche Bank — which has been fined for laundering Russian money — made loans to him when, by all accounts, no other bank would. There is no public evidence linking Trump’s relationship to Deutsche Bank with the allegations of laundering money for wealthy Russians.
    According to the Washington Post, the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section is investigating how Saudi Arabia and other countries sought to influence the Trump Administration through relationships with a key fundraiser, Elliott Broidy. Through a spokesman, Broidy has not denied working with those countries, but he denies any wrongdoing.
    It has long been presumed that Mueller would investigate these questions, to determine the extent of Trump's financial history with Russia or other foreign entities that now have a stake in his policy decisions. Trump is the only president in recent history not to have released his tax returns, and the only one to retain a stake in a business empire.

    How far did Mueller go?

    But Schiff told NBC News he is not convinced that Mueller's Russia investigation — tasked with examining whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian election interference — delved deeply into Trump's personal finances.
    "The concern I've had in terms of the scope of the Mueller investigation is that the president has tried to draw a red line around certain aspects of his finances," Schiff said. "That's not a line that can be observed and still protect the country."
    The special counsel’s office declined to comment.
    Schiff noted that the New York Times reported that Trump demanded that Mueller be fired in December 2017 after news reports suggested the special counsel had sent a subpoena to Deutsche Bank. After Trump's lawyers were assured by Mueller's office that the reports were not accurate, the president backed down, according to the Times. The president has called reports he sought to fire Mueller "fake news."
    But if Mueller hasn't looked at Trump's relationship the German bank, Schiff said, "they have not done a diligent investigation of money laundering."
    He added: "If the president has been successful in chilling the DOJ from looking at his finances, then the Congress needs to do it… Any way in which this president or those around him might be compromised by a foreign hostile power is front and center in our probe."
    David Kris, a former Justice Department national security lawyer and founder of Culper Partners consulting firm, worked closely with Mueller when he was FBI director, and knows him well. He told NBC News he believes that Mueller would have taken whatever steps necessary to examine the question of whether Trump had an improper financial relationship with Russia or Russian oligarchs.
    "I would trust Mueller to be competently thorough," he said.
    It's possible, however, that Mueller didn't believe his mandate allowed him to rummage through Trump's financial history, he added.
    Either way, Kris said, Schiff and Congress are on solid legal footing in expecting that Mueller and the FBI will brief them on the results of the counterintelligence investigation into the president — regardless of what criminal charges Mueller files or what he puts in his report.
    Leaving aside the special counsel regulations, the executive branch is required by law to keep the House and Senate intelligence committees "fully and currently informed" on important intelligence matters, Kris noted. There is also a requirement that the Justice Department tell Congress about any instances in which a prosecution was halted over concerns about intelligence sources and methods.
    Figliuzzi said he frequently briefed Congress on major counterintelligence cases as FBI counterspy chief. He said it's essential that Mueller tell the Congress what, if anything, he has found pointing to possible Russian or other foreign influence on anyone in the Trump administration.
    "This is an independent reporting obligation that the intelligence community has," Schiff said. "I do think that the special counsel regulations certainly permit the sharing of this information with the Congress and we're going to insist on it."
    Schiff said he is particularly concerned about the Trump Tower Moscow project, the real estate development Cohen was pitching to the Kremlin while Trump was running for president.
    He noted that when it first emerged that Cohen had emailed Putin's office seeking help, Putin's spokesman, Dmitri Pescov, said he never answered the email. But it later emerged in court documents that an assistant to Pescov did respond, emailing Cohen and asking him to call, which he did.
    "So here we had the Kremlin facilitating a cover up by the president of the United States," Schiff said. "This needs to be exposed."
    Ken Dilanian is a national security reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit.
    Read the whole story
     
    · · · · · · · · ·

    The Russian Campaign to Elect Donald Trump

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    Three years ago today, the personal email account of the chairman of the Clinton campaign, John Podesta, was hacked by an elite unit in Russia’s military intelligence service, the GRU. (Full disclosure: he is the founder of CAP Action, which you probably already know).
    This hacking effort was part of a yearlong campaign by Russian intelligence directed against the Clinton campaign and Trump opponents, an effort that left zero question about the prevalence of interference in the 2016 election.  There were two campaigns to elect Donald Trump in 2016: a campaign run out of Trump Tower (the Trump campaign) and a campaign run out of the Kremlin (the Russian campaign).
    In the three years since the Podesta hack, Mueller’s wave of indictments detailed just how massive the Russian campaign was. The Russian campaign often had the resources of a presidential campaign, with the added advantage of being bolstered by the immense capabilities of Russia’s intelligence services.
    The Campaign
    • Russia had a digital team the size of a modern presidential campaign: Housed in the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Russian campaign had a digital wing that was roughly the size of the Clinton campaign’s digital team based in Brooklyn. The Russians exploited the openness of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram to spread disinformation online and helped to promote Trump.
      • Estimates indicate that the IRA employed anywhere from hundreds to a thousand They also had 80 people just devoted to influencing the US population, which was about the same size of the Clinton campaign’s digital team.
    • Russia’s digital campaign had a multi-million dollar budget, funded by a close Putin ally, who has been indicted and sanctioned. The project to interfere in the US had a $1.25 million monthly budget in 2016.
    • Russia’s digital campaign was influential on social media, with some accounts gaining more than 100,000 followers. The IRA set up fake personas on social media platforms, deploying politically-driven messages that sought to bolster Trump, sow discord, and amplify extremist voices. For example, the IRA-twitter account @TEN_GOP falsely claimed to be the Tennessee Republican party and gained more than 100,000 followers.
      • They also created issue specific groups on Facebook and Instagram that amassed “hundreds of thousands of followers.” These include IRA-created groups like “Secured Borders,” “South United” and “United Muslims of America.”
    • Russia’s digital campaign organized at least eight political rallies in the U.S. This included demonstrations titled “March for Trump” and “Miners for Trump.”
      • For example, the IRA used the Facebook group “Being Patriotic” and the Twitter account @March_for_Trump to coordinate a series of rallies in Florida.
      • They even paid people to build a cage and wear a prison uniform pretending to by Hillary Clinton.
    • Russia’s digital campaign bought ads on social media, spending “thousands of U.S. dollars every month.” One advertisement in May read, “Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote.” Another in October said “Among all the candidates Donald Trump is the one and only who can defend the police from terrorists.”
    • Russia’s digital campaign sought to depress Clinton’s turnout by targeting African Americans. The IRA leeched off the popularity of the Black Lives Matter movement, setting up dozens of fake activist social media pages, including the Facebook group “Blacktivist.”
    • Russia’s digital campaign conducted reconnaissance missions to prepare for the election. Operatives from the IRA visited the U.S. as early as 2014 to prepare for the election, going to and collecting intelligence in Nevada, California, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Louisiana, Texas, New York, and Georgia.
    • Russia also used traditional propaganda outlets like Russia’s state-owned channels RT and Sputnik. These were used to elevate and amplify stories, spread disinformation, and to provide a platform for third-party candidates like Jill Stein.
    The Hack
    • Russian intelligence engaged in a massive cyber hacking campaign, targeting 76 Clinton campaign staffers. Russian hackers conducted extensive cyberoperations during the 2016 election cycle. They stole information from both Democratic and Republican targets – but only released information on Democrats.
      • In April, Russian hackers breached DNC servers. They stole field operations research, DNC analytics, donor lists, and emails. Russian hackers were able to take screen shots and capture key strokes when DNC staff were at their computer.
    • Russia released some, but not all, of the stolen content through WikiLeaks in a manner designed to help Donald Trump.
      • The DNC emails were released on the Friday before the DNC convention, massively disrupting what was supposed to be a unifying event after a divisive primary.
      • John Podesta’s emails were leaked on a Friday afternoon, just 29 minutes after the release of the Access Hollywood video.
    The Assets
    Russia used its intelligence assets as part of its campaign, particularly to liaise with the Trump campaign. Some were clear Russian agents knowingly working on Russia’s behalf, while others with previously known links may have acted unwittingly.
    • The Trump campaign passed polling data to a suspected Russian intelligence agent. Konstantin Kilimnik was Paul Manafort’s right hand man and is suspected to have ties with Russian intelligence.
    • Maria Butina sought to infiltrate the NRA and connect with key Republican leaders. According to her guilty plea, Butina said “circumstances were favorable for building relations with” the GOP, predicting in 2015 that whoever the Republican nominee was would win the election.
    • The June 9th, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower that included Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner was also attended by Rinat Akhmetshin, a Washington lobbyist and alleged former Soviet counter-intelligence officer, as well as a Russian government lawyer with ties to the Russian Prosecutor General.
    • Joseph Mifsud, a “Maltese professor,” informed the Trump campaign in April 2016 that the Russians had “thousands of emails” and had “dirt” on Clinton.
    • A suspected Russian agent was on the Trump campaign. Carter Page, according to the FISA warrant released in the Nunes memo, was suspected by the FBI to be a Russian agent. He traveled to Moscow during the campaign, delivering a foreign policy speech that parroted Kremlin talking points.
    These three lines of effort created a powerful and robust Russian campaign to elect Donald Trump. And there was no bright line separating the Russian campaign from the Trump campaign. They were in constant contact, with at least 28 meetings and more than 100 contacts between Trump officials and Kremlin-linked figures. Three years since the Podesta hack, the Trump administration’s inaction in response to such a massive attack on our democracy continues to be a national security risk.
    Read the whole story
     
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    Schiff: Real question is if Trump is under the influence of a foreign power

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    But if Mueller hasn't looked at Trump's relationship the German bank, Schiff said, "they have not done a diligent investigation of money laundering.".

    Crime and Criminology from Michael_Novakhov (8 sites): “political crimes” – Google News: Former FBI Director James Comey explains why it’s so hard to prosecute white-collar criminals, as 2020 Democrats slam ‘two systems of justice’ – CNBC 

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    Former FBI Director James Comey explains why it’s so hard to prosecute white-collar criminals, as 2020 Democrats slam ‘two systems of justice’  CNBC WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Democratic presidential contenders want Wall Street executives locked up for crimes committed on their watch — but former FBI … “political crimes” – Google News Crime and Criminology from Michael_Novakhov …
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    German politicians brand US ambassador a 'brat' and a 'total diplomatic failure' in defence row

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    German politicians brand US ambassador a 'brat' and a 'total diplomatic failure' and demand he be expelled after he criticised their plans to cut NATO spending

    • Richard Grenell slammed Germany's 'worrisome' plans to cut defence spending
    • His comments sparked fury in Berlin where politicians accused him of meddling
    • One MP said he was acting like the 'high commissioner of an occupying power' 
    • Donald Trump has accused NATO allies of freeloading on U.S. military might 

    By Tim Stickings For Mailonline and Afp

    Published: 06:25 EDT, 20 March 2019 | Updated: 07:39 EDT, 20 March 2019

    German politicians have reacted with fury after the U.S. ambassador criticised Berlin's plans to cut defence spending. 

    Richard Grenell slammed Germany's 'worrisome' budget plans which would see military outlays fall well below the NATO target of two per cent of GDP. 

    His comments were the latest flashpoint in a long-running row with Donald Trump, who has accused NATO allies of expecting a 'free ride' on Washington's military might.

    Grenell - who has frequently clashed with Berlin - is now facing calls to be expelled as U.S. envoy. 

    German politicians have reacted with fury after the U.S. ambassador, Richard Grenell (pictured), criticised Berlin's plans to cut defence spending below NATO targets
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    German politicians have reacted with fury after the U.S. ambassador, Richard Grenell (pictured), criticised Berlin's plans to cut defence spending below NATO targets 

    Wolfgang Kubicki of the liberal FDP party demanded that Grenell be declared 'persona non grata', Der Spiegel reported. 

    'Someone who acts like the high commissioner of an occupying power needs to learn that there are limits to our tolerance,' he said. 

    Social Democratic Party whip Carsten Schneider called Grenell a 'brat' and a 'total diplomatic failure', according to German media. 

    His party colleague Johannes Kahrs said it was 'unbelievable who can become a U.S. ambassador these days'. 

    Fellow SPD member Ralf Stegner said: 'Mr Grenell behaves in the way you expect from the Trump administration: uncouth, boorish and politically unsuited to the role.

    'Our relationship with the U.S. is more important than Trump or Grenell.'  

    Left Party MP Helin Evrim Sommer said: 'The expulsion of the Trumpist Grenell from Germany is overdue. 

    'Someone who meddles in the internal affairs of other states like a feudal lord disqualifies themselves as a U.S. ambassador'.  

    U.S. President Donald Trump
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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel
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    U.S. President Donald Trump (left) has repeatedly accused Berlin of freeloading on Washington's military might but Angela Merkel (right) rejected the American criticism

    However a right-wing AfD member came to Grenell's defence, saying: 'You only expel ambassadors in extreme cases, for example at the start of warlike confrontation.'  

    During the 2016 presidential campaign Trump said some NATO allies were 'getting a free ride', calling it 'unfair'. 

    In 2018 Washington spent nearly $700 billion on defence, compared with just $280 billion for all the European NATO allies combined. 

    Germany's finance ministry had yesterday presented its budget planning for coming years, which signalled a drop.

    It said defence spending would first rise to 1.37 percent of gross domestic product in 2020 but then likely fall back to 1.25 percent by 2023.

    While German defence spending went up from $45 billion to $50 billion last year, the growing economy meant the figure relative to GDP stayed flat at 1.23 per cent. 

    Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed back against the U.S. criticism by arguing that Germany was as focused on foreign aid as on military spending.  

    Bundeswehr recruits march to be sworn in at the ministry of defence in Berlin, Germany. Angela Merkel has insisted that Germany will not cut aid spending to increase its military
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    Bundeswehr recruits march to be sworn in at the ministry of defence in Berlin, Germany. Angela Merkel has insisted that Germany will not cut aid spending to increase its military 

    'We have always said that we're headed in the direction of two percent, and that by 2024 we will reach 1.5 percent,' she said.

    'I can understand that this is not enough for the American President, it's not enough for many European allies.'

    Grenell took up his Berlin posting on May 8 last year.

    The envoy immediately irked Germany when he tweeted that day that German companies should stop doing business with Iran, after Trump tore up the nuclear deal.

    He stoked further outrage with reported comments to right-wing news website Breitbart of his ambition to 'empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders.'  

    Grenell also raised eyebrows by describing Austria's arch-conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz as a 'rock star.'     

    Recently he appeared to threaten that the U.S. would cut back its intelligence co-operation with Germany if Berlin used Chinese firm Huawei in its 5G telecome infrastructure.  

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    German politicians brand US ambassador a 'brat' and a 'total diplomatic failure' and demand he be ...

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    German politicians have reacted with fury after the U.S. ambassador ... 'Our relationship with the U.S. is more important than Trump or Grenell. ... its intelligence co-operation with Germany if Berlin used Chinese firm Huawei in its 5G ...
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    Robert Mueller Owes the Country Some Answers On His Report

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    In 2006, Donald Trump sued me for libel, claiming that a biography I wrote, “TrumpNation,” lowballed his wealth and misrepresented his track record as a businessman. Trump lost the suit in 2011. He had sought $5 billion in damages, which was, more or less, the difference between what he claimed he was worth at the time — about $6 billion — and what my sources believed him to be worth: $150 million to $250 million. ($5 billion was also substantially more than the advance my publisher paid me to write the book.)

    During the course of the litigation, my lawyers got their hands on an assessment of Trump’s wealth that German banking giant Deutsche Bank AG had pulled together in 2004. Deutsche figured Trump had a net worth of about $788 million, even though he told them he was worth $3 billion.

    Have you “always been completely truthful in your public statements about your net worth,” my attorneys asked the future president during a deposition (in which he had to acknowledge nearly three dozen lies he had told over the years about his business and finances). “I try,” he replied. (Maybe not that hard; in recent congressional testimony, Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, said Trump and his accountant, Allen Weisselberg, had routinely conspired to inflate his wealth to insurers and banks.)

    When my lawyers inquired about how Trump calculated his net worth, he said his self-assessment went “up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings.” He noted later that “even my own feelings affect my value to myself.”

    I’ve written about Deutsche’s assessment of Trump’s wealth a number of times more recently, including in 2015, when Trump announced his presidential run, and last November, after German police raided Deutsche’s Frankfurt headquarters as part of a money-laundering probe connected to the Panama Papers scandal. Deutsche is back in the news this week. With the House Financial Services Committee, the House Intelligence Committee and the New York state attorney general all examining Trump’s relationship with the bank, the New York Times published a comprehensive account Monday evening of many of Deutsche and Trump’s business dealings and lending arrangements.

    “Deutsche Bank officials have quietly argued to regulators, lawmakers and journalists that Mr. Trump was not a priority for the bank or its senior leaders and that the lending was the work of a single, obscure division,” wrote the Times’s David Enrich. “But interviews with more than 20 current and former Deutsche Bank executives and board members, most of them with direct knowledge of the Trump relationship, contradict the bank’s narrative.”

    Large portions of this history, and the people involved in it, are familiar. When Trump nearly went personally bankrupt in the early 1990s, he left a handful of major U.S. banks on the hook for about $3.4 billion in loans he couldn’t repay (and about $900 million of which he had personally guaranteed). Hotels, casinos, real estate, an airline and other parts of his debt-ridden portfolio went into bankruptcy protection. Trump was only able to survive imploding completely because of financial support from his father, whose wealth made up a significant portion of Trump’s own fortune. (Though Trump lied to me about his lifelong reliance on his father’s money, documents he submitted in his lawsuit against me proved otherwise.)

    In the wake of his financial collapse, Trump was an outcast whom major U.S. banks avoided. To line up funding for the occasional, small-bore deals he pursued in those years, he had to turn to labor unions and small, local lenders. Into that vacuum stepped Deutsche. The bank was keen in the late 1990s to gain a foothold in U.S. investment banking and commercial lending and was happy to do business with Trump. Enrich adds to all of this a carefully constructed and deeply reported account of how Deutsche’s executives, dealmakers, bond salesmen and loan officers have kept in step with Trump — despite misgivings and sometimes lackluster or disastrous results — for about two decades. Trump secured more than just bragging rights by inflating his wealth to the media and banks; he also secured loans, under circumstances that more circumspect lenders might have deemed perilous.

    “Time after time, with the support of two different chief executives, the bank handed money — a total of well over $2 billion — to a man whom nearly all other banks had deemed untouchable,” Enrich wrote.

    The Times’s account focuses entirely on Trump and Deutsche’s well-known domestic dealings, however, and that may not be where investigators and law enforcement authorities end up finding their most interesting material.

    Deutsche has weathered a series of corporate governance and legal snafus that have helped undermine the bank’s standing and reputation overseas in recent years. German regulators appointed a monitor to oversee the bank’s money-laundering and terrorism-financing controls, and it has been forced to cough up more than $18 billion to settle lawsuits and pay fines since 2008. That amount includes a $7 billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department in 2017 related to its trading and sales practices in the mortgage market during the financial crisis of the mid-2000s.

    Deutsche’s bankers have also been discovered manipulating commodities and debt markets, rigging Libor rates, and helping about $10 billion depart from Russia under suspicious circumstances from Deutsche’s Moscow branch. U.S. and U.K. regulators fined Deutsche about $700 million in 2017 for compliance failures that a New York regulator said could have allowed for money laundering.

    The Trump SoHo hotel, which stripped Trump’s name from the property in 2017, was financed in the mid-2000s in part with loans channeled through Icelandic banks that collapsed during the financial crisis. I’ve written extensively about Trump’s involvement with the firm originally behind that project, Bayrock Group LLC; one of Bayrock’s executives, Felix Sater; and about murky funds from Europe that were channeled into the project. While Deutsche was closely involved with Icelandic banks at the time of the collapse, no information has surfaced indicating the bank had a direct role in the Trump SoHo debacle.

    Whether investigations of the Trump-Deutsche relationship wind up dovetailing with other federal investigations of Trump’s business, financial and political dealings, as well as his presidential campaign’s intersection with Russia, is still an open question. In the meantime, as the Times noted, plenty of other curiosities remain about the “symbiotic bond” between “a real estate mogul made toxic by polarizing rhetoric and a pattern of defaults, and a bank with intractable financial problems and a history of misconduct.”

    This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

    To contact the author of this story:
    Timothy L. O'Brien at tobrien46@bloomberg.net

    To contact the editor responsible for this story:
    Brooke Sample at bsample1@bloomberg.net

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