Wbgld7z98iyqlejy9lce

Allegra Kirkland

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

Articles by

The House Intelligence Committee on Monday night released the full, unclassified transcript that former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page’s provided in closed-door testimony last week.

This release was specifically requested by Page, who spent months going back and forth with lawmakers over the terms of his testimony and which requested documents he would agree to produce. The former Trump foreign policy aide met with the Senate Intelligence Committee last week as well, and sat for some 10 hours of interviews with the FBI about his contacts with Russia in multiple interviews this spring.

Page has consistently dismissed investigations into that country’s interference in the U.S. presidential election, referring to them as a “witch hunt.”

The full 243-page document is below.

Read More →

A barrage of reports over the weekend divulged what was framed as a major new development in the Russia investigation: former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page admitted that he met with a senior Kremlin official during a July 2016 trip to Moscow.

But we already knew this detail. In an interview with the Washington Post over a year ago, Page acknowledged that he met and shook hands with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich during a graduation event at the New Economic School, where both men were invited to give speeches.

It is Page’s subsequent downplaying of that encounter that made it seem like a new revelation when reports emerged that Page divulged the encounter in his lengthy closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee late last week. By repeatedly insisting he met mostly with “scholars” and had no formal meetings with Russian government officials on his Moscow jaunt, Page turned his run-in with Dvorkovich into red meat for hawk-eyed reporters looking for any discrepancy in how Trump campaign staffers describe their contacts with Russia.

In text messages to TPM on Monday, Page reiterated that he “covered this irrelevant point” in that September 2016 interview with the Post and that the renewed focus on the meeting was a “complete waste of time.” He added that he had “moved on to more important things.”

A review of that original story shows that his description of the run-in has stayed consistent. He volunteered to Post columnist Josh Rogin that he met and shook hands with Dvorkovich at the event in an “exchange of pleasantries.” On Friday, he told the New York Times that he said “a very brief hello to a couple of people,” including a “senior person” who he later told CNN was Dvorkovich.

What seems to have gotten Page in trouble is his overly strict definition of what constitutes a “meeting.” In his many conversations with the press over the past year, Page adamantly denied that he ever met with Russian government officials over the course of the 2016 campaign.

Asked by PBS in February if he’d had “any meetings with Russian officials in or outside of Russia” in 2016, Page replied, “no meetings, no meetings. I might have said hello to a few people as they were walking by me at my graduation—the graduation speech that I gave in July, but no meetings.”

As the Times noted, in multiple conversations with the newspaper about his Moscow trip he either denied meeting with any Russian government figures or avoided the question by saying he met with “mostly scholars.”

These blanket denials came back to bite him before, when he was forced to admit in March that he had also exchanged a quick hello with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention. The situation played out again this weekend because Page has insisted these encounters with high-level Kremlin figures were not long or involved enough to qualify as “meetings.”

Read More →

Safely ensconced in Moscow, the Russian lawyer with Kremlin ties who met with three top Trump campaign figures at Trump Tower last summer is now offering her own version of what went down at the private meeting that has become a central focus of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

In an interview with Bloomberg published Monday, attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya claims that Donald Trump Jr. suggested that a law imposing sanctions on high-profile Russians could be reviewed if his father was elected and also requested written evidence for her allegations about Hillary Clinton’s campaign receiving illicit funds.

Veselnitskaya told Bloomberg she is prepared to provide this account to the Senate Judiciary Committee as well as to special counsel Robert Mueller. She said that she would only testify before Congress if her answers were made public—a condition that the committee has not yet agreed to.

This is the first time Veselnitskaya has offered details of her version of the June 2016 sit-down at Trump Tower. Her willingness to testify highlights the precarious position of Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who were all in attendance at the meeting, which didn’t become public until after Trump took office. The eldest Trump son eagerly accepted an invitation to the meeting, which was billed as an opportunity to receive Russian government “dirt” on Clinton.

Though both Veselnitskaya and the Trump campaign have said the encounter was a bust and that she possessed no valuable information about the Democratic candidate, Mueller is investigating their exchange as part of his probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Alan Futerfas, Trump Jr.’s attorney, told Bloomberg that his client had no comment on the interview.

As Veselnitskaya recalled, Trump Jr. offered to review the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which imposed sanctions on a group of Russian officials implicated in the murder of a Russian accountant who exposed widespread government tax fraud. The law is a particular irritant to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who retaliated against its passage by barring Americans from adopting Russian children.

“Looking ahead, if we come to power, we can return to this issue and think what to do about it,’’ Veselnitskaya told Bloomberg, allegedly quoting Trump Jr.

She told the publication that Trump’s son also asked for financial documents that would support her claims that Clinton’s campaign may have received money from wealthy donors who allegedly evaded U.S. taxes, which she could not provide.

Read More →

Carter Page acknowledged Friday that he was copied on an email chain in which fellow Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos suggested hooking the Trump team up with Russian government officials.

“I was one of many people on that email chain,” the perpetually chatty Page told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an on-air interview.

The March 24, 2016 email in question was highlighted in the plea agreement Papadopoulos entered into after lying to FBI agents about the extent of his contacts with individuals like Joseph Mifsud, a London-based professor of diplomacy who allegedly spent months trying to connect Papadopoulos with Russian officials.

In it, Papadopoulos said he was taking steps “to arrange a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss U.S.-Russia ties under President Trump,” according to court records. The email went to “several members of the Campaign’s foreign policy team,” prosecutors alleged. Among those receiving the email, it has since been reported, was Sam Clovis, who told Papadopoulos: “Great work.”

Page told CNN that he had never heard about Mifsud’s subsequent offer to provide Russian government “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, which was also detailed in court records

He told Tapper his interactions with Papadopoulos during the campaign were limited to a “couple of brief conversations” and a “few emails.”

Page also divulged that he had told “a few other people” on the campaign that he planned to travel to Moscow in July 2016 to deliver a speech in his capacity as a private citizen. News that he had mentioned the visit to Attorney General Jeff Sessions drew headlines, as it complicated Sessions’ claims that he did not know about the Trump campaign’s Russia contacts.

Asked who else was informed, Page played coy, saying, “It will come out.”

Politico previously reported that Page told then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, his fellow national security adviser J.D. Gordon, and spokeswoman Hope Hicks about the trip.

Read More →

Democrats on Capitol Hill want answers from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

This week’s deluge of fresh information from congressional and federal investigators revealed two previously undisclosed instances in which Sessions was allegedly directly informed about contacts between Russia and Trump campaign staffers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

Though Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) cautioned that perjury allegations were based on a “very careful standard,” he and other top Democrats claim Sessions appears to have failed to disclose the extent of what he knew about these contacts in his testimony to Congress.

That testimony has varied in its specificity. In June, Sessions gave a flat “no” to the Senate Intelligence Committee when asked if he was “aware of any communications” between Trump campaign officials “about Russia or Russian interests in the United States” prior to Trump’s inauguration. He offered a narrower response before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October, saying only that he had seen nothing “that would indicate collusion with Russians to impact the campaign” when asked if he’d ever overheard conversations with campaign staffers “who talked about meeting with the Russians.”

However Sessions chooses to interpret lawmakers’ questions, we now know of at least three instances in which he was allegedly told about or personally participated in communications with Russian officials or institutions during the 2016 campaign.

Those Two Times Sessions Met With The Russian Ambassador

Sessions incidentally kicked off a chain of events that led to the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Russia probe when he said during his confirmation hearing that he was “not aware” of any communications between the Trump campaign and Russian government, nor had he himself had any.

As it turned out, Sessions had twice met with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States. Furor over this discrepancy ended up prompting his recusal from the Russia investigation, clearing the way for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein eventually to appoint Robert Mueller as special counsel in the Russia investigation

Sessions’ defense that he’d had those meetings in his capacity as a senator was belied by his role as a prominent surrogate of the Trump campaign and by intelligence intercepts that showed Kislyak boasting to his superiors in Moscow of speaking to the Alabama Republican about campaign-related matters.

When Papadopoulos Offered To Hook Trump Up With Putin

At a March 2016 meeting with the campaign’s hastily-assembled foreign policy team attended by Sessions, then-aide George Papadopoulos allegedly offered to use his “connections” to orchestrate a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump insists his memory of this meeting, which came out in court documents unsealed Monday, is hazy. But a source told NBC News that Sessions immediately “shut down this idea of Papadopoulos engaging with Russia,” pivoting the conversation to other topics.

That same source later modified those remarks, saying it was unclear that Sessions remembered putting the kibosh on this Trump-Putin meeting, but that he definitely did so.

When Page Told Sessions He Was Traveling To Moscow

In testimony to the House Intelligence Committee and an interview with CNN this week, former campaign adviser Carter Page divulged for the first time that he allegedly told Sessions he planned to travel to Moscow in July 2016.

Page said he mentioned the trip, which he said was “completely unrelated” to his campaign role, “in passing” during a brief encounter with Sessions.

A source familiar with the conversation told CNN that the run-in happened at a June 2016 dinner at the Capitol Hill Club attended by members of Trump’s national security team, and that Sessions “didn’t respond” when Page informed him of his upcoming visit.

Page has previously said that he met no Russian government officials during that trip to deliver a speech at the New Economic School.

As these new alleged details about his attorney general trickle out, Trump has other matters on his mind. He sent off a flurry of tweets Friday urging the Justice Department to look into how the Democrats “rigged” the 2016 primary and told reporters he was “disappointed” in the department for failing to take those steps.

Read More →

The number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in the U.S. has increased by 67 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) audit released Thursday.

Some 1,299 incidents of physical assaults, vandalism, and defacement of Jewish institutions occurred between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 of this year, compared to 779 over the same period last year, with a notable spike after August’s violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The audit also found a notable increase in anti-Semitic bullying and vandalism in schools. Incidents in K-12 grade schools during the period covered by the review more than doubled from 130 to 269, while those on college campuses went from 74 to 118.

In Healdsburg, California, for example, a sixth-grade Jewish boy was taunted with swastikas and cigarette lighters and told by classmates that they would burn him “like they did in the Holocaust.”

Other examples cited by the ADL include a Fairfax, Virginia Jewish Community Center being defaced with the SS symbol and words “Hitler was right,” and an Orthodox Jewish woman in Brooklyn being called a “fucking Jew” by an assailant who pulled her wig off.

“We are astonished and horrified by the rise in anti-Semitic harassment, incidents and violence targeting our communities,” ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement. “While the tragedy in Charlottesville highlighted this trend, it was not an aberration. Every single day, white supremacists target members of the Jewish community—holding rallies in public, recruiting on college campuses, attacking journalists on social media, and even targeting young children.”

The ADL’s data is drawn from victims, law enforcement, and community leaders, and includes both criminal and non-criminal acts.

Read More →

The Justice Department is considering charging six Russian government officials allegedly involved in hacking and obtaining sensitive information from the Democratic National Committee’s computers during the 2016 campaign, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

People familiar with the investigation told the newspaper that discussions about whether to bring a case are in early stages but that it could happen as soon as next year.

As the report points out, the U.S. would be more likely to publicly identify those individuals and impose significant restrictions on their travel than actually attempt to arrest and jail them.

The case could shed light on how exactly the DNC’s computers were infiltrated. The U.S. intelligence community’s January assessment that the Kremlin “ordered an influence campaign” aimed at disrupting the 2016 race offered little detail on how intelligence agencies reached that determination and did not identify any specific actors involved.

The DNC case is a joint investigation by federal prosecutors and FBI agents based in Washington, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Philadelphia, and is being conducted separately from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, according to the Journal.

The Russian government has denied interfering in the U.S. election, and President Donald Trump has cast doubt on the conclusion that the Kremlin was behind it, positing that other countries could also have conducted cyberattacks against Democratic operatives and organizations.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Russian hackers’ 2016 targets extended far beyond the U.S. presidential race, targeting Russian opposition figures and U.S. defense contractors.

Read More →

Being under federal investigation hasn’t stopped former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos from trying to advance his career.

Four months ago, shortly before he was arrested for lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Russian nationals during the campaign, he asked his followers on LinkedIn for their “thoughts” on him pursuing a congressional run. In October, around the time he pleaded guilty to those allegations, he expressed interest “in meeting with prominent publisher” and queried his LinkedIn connections for recommendations. And just a week ago, before his case was unsealed, Papadopoulos put out a call for “speaker bureau recommendations.”

This might seem like a remarkable degree of hubris for someone facing felony charges. But it represents a pattern for the 30-year-old Chicago native, who leveraged an inflated resume and the chaos of the crowded 2016 Republican primary into advisory roles on two major presidential campaigns.

On LinkedIn, a platform designed for self-promotion, Papadopoulos’ penchant for self-inflation stands out, dating back to his years at DePaul University, where he graduated in 2009 with a degree in political science.

Dick Farkas, Papadopoulos’ former professor and a Russia expert at the university, remembered him as a “nondescript” and not “particularly noteworthy” student who displayed no “particular interest” in Russian affairs.

Noting that Papadopoulos describes himself as concentrating on “international political economy,” Farkas told TPM that the school offers political science students no option for a concentration or specific regional focus and called it a “classic case of George embellishing his credentials.”

The listed phone number was disconnected at the Lincoln Square residence where the Chicago Tribune reported Papadopoulos currently lives with his mother and brother. A message left for his father, Antonios Papadopoulos, at his nephrology office in the suburb of Addison was not returned.

After receiving a masters degree from the University College London in 2010, Papadopoulos settled in Washington, D.C., where he claims on his LinkedIn to have spent some four and a half years as a “research associate” at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank. The institute told the Washington Post he was actually an unpaid intern who served as a contracted researcher to several fellows working on a book.

With just this thin resume and a few appearances at energy conferences abroad under his belt, Papadopoulos reached out to to Ben Carson’s campaign manager, Barry Bennett, through a LinkedIn message asking for a job, as Bennett recalled to the Post. Eager to beef up the campaign’s foreign policy team, Bennett told the Post he simply asked a friend at the Hudson Institute if Papadopoulos was an “okay guy” and brought him on board.

After a six-week stint with the Carson campaign, Papadopoulos was cut loose in January 2016 as part of what Bennett told the Post was an effort to reduce staffing costs.

How exactly Papadopoulos landed on Trump’s foreign policy team a few months later remains unclear. What’s known is that Sam Clovis, then the campaign co-chairman, was tasked with quickly pulling together a foreign policy advisory team, and that Papadopoulos’ name ended up on a list of five individuals that Trump announced were advising him on national security issues at a March 21 meeting with the Washington Post’s editorial board.

Court documents say that Clovis told Papadopoulos on March 6, shortly before he officially joined the campaign, that improved U.S.-Russia relations were a “principal foreign policy focus.” The young volunteer adviser seemed to take this advice and run with it, leveraging his new campaign title to communications with individuals he “understood to have substantial connections to Russian government officials,” according to his statement of offense.

One was Joseph Mifsud, a London-based professor of diplomacy, who Papadopoulos told senior Trump officials could connect the campaign with high-ranking officials in Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Papadopoulos told the Trump team that another one of his connections was Vladimir Putin’s niece, though the FBI said the “Female Russian national” he met with actually had no relation to the Russian president.

Farkas, Papadopoulos’ former professor, told TPM he was skeptical his one-time student was actually making these kinds of high-level connections.

“I’ve traveled enough and I’ve studied enough about things Russian to know that he did not have the access he was claiming to,” he said.

In an interview this year, Papadopoulos told the Wall Street Journal he stayed on the campaign through the transition. His first interview with the FBI came on Jan. 27, just seven days after Trump was sworn in.

Though his recent LinkedIn queries suggest he’s continued to pursue a range of professional options while assisting the Mueller investigation, he currently appears to have no formal affiliation and is listed only as an independent “oil, gas and policy consultant.” In October, he tweeted a photograph of himself holding a briefcase on a London street with the hashtag #business.

The only current affiliation listed on his page is membership in the Cyprus-based International Presidential Business Advisory Council.

Contacted about this listing in August, the head of the organization, John Georgoulas, told TPM that “Papadopoulos is NOT a member of IPBAC, never was and we have never worked together.”

His claim to membership, Georgoulas added, was “weird and not true!”

Read More →

Muslims. Undocumented immigrants. Black Lives Matter activists.

These were among the groups targeted in the Facebook ads purchased by Russia-linked accounts during the 2016 election and released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee. Though the small number of ads made public make it difficult to confirm that the ads are a “representative sampling,” as Democrats on the committee claim, those released shore up reporting about Russia’s efforts to stoke American voters’ fears of their Muslim, black and Latino neighbors.

Four of the ads, from the page Stop All Invaders, disparaged Islam with messages about the need to “kick Sharia out of America” and the “security risk” posed by burqa-wearing women who could be terrorists in disguise.

Another pair of ads focused on undocumented Latino immigration.

“Border Patrol agents in South Texas arrested an illegal alien from Honduras that had previously been deported and convicted of Rape Second Degree,” read one ad from Heart of Texas written in garbled English.

“Thanks to Obama’s and Hillary’s policy, illegals come here because they wait for amnesty promised,” the ad, which appears to have been shared over 1,000 times, continued. Another sponsored image from what is billed as a “news & media website” called Secured Borders entices people to join their group with an image of a yellow road sign that reads, “No invaders allowed.”

There is also an anti-Black Lives Matter advertisement from a group called “Being Patriotic” which blames a “BLM movement activist” for “another gruesome attack on police.” While the text itself says that an East Boston man “critically injured” two officers, the image in the body reads “our hearts are with those 11 heroes,” suggesting the one ad may be splicing together information from separate incidents.

As TPM has previously reported, Black Lives Matter was a particular target in ads run by Russian troll farms during the election.

Read More →

LiveWire