Take a moment to read this column by David Ignatius in the Post. Ignatius’s column in early 2017, first revealing the calls between Michael Flynn and the then-Russia Ambassador, was a key moment in the whole Russia story. It lit a fuse that led to Flynn’s resignation only weeks later and showed for perhaps the first time that the entire Trump/Russia story – with at least some levels of collusion – was quite real. This new column has no big news revelation. What is provides is perspective, ways in which the Friday indictments are a warning to both Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.
Key line from a new article in The Jerusalem Post on the apparent denouement of the Syrian Civil War and Israel’s effort to enlist Russian assistance in securing its key strategic objectives in a post-conflict Syria: “Benjamin Netanyahu worked laboriously mobilizing all his influence in Washington to persuade Donald Trump to meet Vladimir Putin.”
It got overwhelmed by news of the new Special Counsel indictments on Friday. But a group of Senate Democrats released a report late on Thursday (or early Friday) which shows why Congressional oversight is so important and what might be in store for next year. Most coverage of the report focused on the fact that Novartis gave Trump fixer Michael Cohen policy recommendations that ended up included in official administration policy. But that’s not the most important finding.
This is wild. You may have heard of the British far-right activist Tommy Robinson (actually a pseudonym for Stephen Yaxley-Lennon). He’s the founder of something called the English Defense League, a far-right nationalist group with a record of organized violence against British Muslims. Think of it as some variant of US alt-right types but with a specific focus on anti-Muslim xenophobia. Pam Geller, just more terrible and violent. He’s currently serving a year sentence for breaking a UK law that bars certain kinds of publicity of on-going criminal trials.
One of the things we’re going to be doing is using Prime as a channel for what are sometimes called reporters’ notebooks: working questions, notes, things to look into, to remember for future reference. I’m using this thread for my notes on today’s news, focusing specifically on things I want to look deeper into or am keeping an eye on.
I’ll be updating this post with nuggets through the rest of the day. So check back.
President Trump’s past statements denying, clouding, blame-shifting, and minimizing (Prime access) the Russian hacking of Democrats in 2016 read in an especially stark light after today’s indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers.
I’m hoping to write quite a bit more about the various threads of information coming out of today’s indictments. But one point I want to zero in on has to do with “Guccifer 2.0,” the purported independent hacker who was in fact either a Russian intelligence officer or a fictive personality through whom various Russian intelligence operatives communicated. The key is that it was known well before the 2016 election that Guccifer 2.0 was a Russian intelligence operative and numerous political operatives and journalists continued to use him as a source of information. Virtually every publication reported on the documents published by Wikileaks. But with Guccifer 2.0 many journalists were going to “him” with specific requests or getting special deliveries right from him. Specifically, one of his go-to publications was Jared Kushner’s New York Observer. And at the time Kushner was very much a hands-on owner.
TPM’s Tierney Sneed is at the DOJ for the press conference which is starting momentarily. There were hints that it was a new Mueller indictment to be announced. And it is. More soon.
We’ll have running updates in this post.