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Assange Says Trump Promised Pardon If He Cleared Russians

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump offered Julian Assange a pardon if he covered up Russia’s hacking of the DNC’s server, attorneys for the Wikileaks founder say, The Daily Beast reports.

Assange’s lawyers “said Dana Rohrabacher, a former Republican congressman, had brought the message to London from Trump.” The attorneys are arguing that Assange should not be extradited to the U.S., claiming the case was political and not criminal.

“Mr Rohrabacher going to see Mr Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange… said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks,” Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s lawyer, told the court, relaying a statement produced by another Assange’s attorney.The case, however, is not political.

Assange, were he to be extradited to the U.S., reportedly could face 175 years in jail if charged and convicted on 18 charges including conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.

Rohrabacher, who claims he does not believe Russia interfered in the 2016 election, had earned the nickname “Putin’s favorite Congressman.”

The FBI in 2012 had to warn him the Kremlin considers him a valuable information asset – complete with a Russian code name.

In 2016 Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and other Republicans were speaking about Russia and Ukraine. McCarthy told the group, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”

Mueller Links Roger Stone Indictment To Russian Hacking And Wikileaks

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

When Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued the indictment against Roger Stone, a long-time ally of President Donald Trump, he filed it while noting that it was connected to another case: the indictment of Russians who hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign.

Stone has been charged with lying to Congress, tampering with a witness, and obstructing justice.

Stone’s lawyers objected to the assertion that the cases were connected, a motion that could have triggered the case to be assigned to a different judge. But on Friday, Mueller responded to the lawyers’ objections and revealed why the cases are connected:

In Netyksho, eleven Russian military officers are charged by indictment with, inter alia, conspiring to hack into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

As alleged in the Netyksho indictment, in 2016, the Netyksho defendants stole documents from the DNC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Clinton campaign chairman. Those defendants then released many of the stolen documents, including through a website maintained by Organization 1. In the course of investigating that activity, the government obtained and executed dozens of search warrants on various accounts used to facilitate the transfer of stolen documents for release, as well as to discuss the timing and promotion of their release. Several of those search warrants were executed on accounts that contained Stone’s communications with Guccifer 2.0 and with Organization 1. Evidence obtained from those search warrants resulted in the allegations that the Netyksho defendants hacked and stole documents for release through intermediaries, including Organization 1, and that Stone lied to a congressional committee investigating, among other things, the activities of Organization 1 regarding those stolen documents.

Here, “Organization 1” refers to WikiLeaks, which published the stolen emails.

Mueller also argued that Stone’s actions are part of the same “alleged criminal event or transaction” as those at issue in Netyksho.

He explained that the “criminal conduct alleged in Netyksho was a central focus of the congressional investigation that the defendant is alleged to have obstructed, and therefore the activities underlying the crimes charged in that case are part of the same activities underlying the crimes charged in this case.”

Since Stone’s lies came up in the context of an investigation the Russian election interference and possible connections to the actions of Americans, the cases are linked.

“The defendant’s false statements did not arise in a vacuum,” the filing said.

Perhaps most damningly, prosecutors noted that they had seized hundreds of thousands of Stone’s communications: “The government obtained and executed dozens of search warrants on various accounts used to facilitate the transfer of stolen documents for release, as well as to discuss the timing and promotion of their release.
“Several of those search warrants were executed on accounts that contained Stone’s communications with Guccifer 2.0 and with Organization 1.”


GOP Majority Leader Told Colleagues In 2016: “Putin Pays” Trump

America got a glimpse today of the cynicism that infects Paul Ryan and the Republican leadership in Congress — even as the Speaker expressed his continuing support for Donald Trump, whose campaign is now officially under investigation by special counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller.

In remarks about the deepening Russia scandal that threatens to engulf Trump’s presidency, Ryan cautioned against a “rush to judgment,” urged a search for “facts,” but added: “It is obvious that there are some people out there who want to harm the president.” And when a reporter asked whether he maintains “confidence” in Trump, Ryan replied “I do.”

Only Ryan can explain why he would still trust Trump after learning that the president fired FBI director James Comey to kill the Russia investigation, after asking Comey last February to bury the Michael Flynn case. But it is now clear that the House leadership realized Trump was untrustworthy and unfit no later than last summer — and concealed those suspicions for purely partisan reasons.

Ryan says no rush to judgment on Comey firing

According to Washington Post national security reporter Adam Entous, Ryan and his deputy, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), engaged in a frank discussion of Trump’s suspected ties to the Kremlin last June, immediately following news of the Russian hack of the Democratic National Committee.

On June 15, 2016, both Ryan and McCarthy held separate meetings at the Capitol with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, who described Russia’s aggressive interference in European politics and how Moscow was “financing our populists, financing people in our governments to undo our governments.”

. Later that day, Ryan and McCarthy met with other members of their leadership group — including Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Steve Scalise, and Patrick McHenry — and talked about the Ukrainian official’s warning. Soon the discussion turned to the news of the DNC hack.

“I’ll guarantee you that’s what it is,” blurted McCarthy with a laugh. “The Russians hacked the DNC and got the opp [opposition] research that they had on Trump.” When Ryan wondered who had received that oppo research from the Russians, McCarthy said, “There’s . . . there’s two people I think Putin pays: [California Republican Rep. Dana] Rohrabacher and Trump.” When his colleagues laughed, he added, “Swear to God.”

At that point Ryan admonished them all, “This is an off the record…No leaks, all right? This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

“That’s how you know that we’re tight,” chirped Scalise.

“What’s said in the family stays in the family,” Ryan reiterated, sounding like a mob capo (and unaware, like so many actual Mafia bosses, that one of his soldiers was recording his comments and would eventually rat).

So House leaders suspected Trump of being compromised in the worst possible way for a future president — and supported him anyway. And they wanted to be sure that voters had no clue to their suspicions.

When Entous told spokespersons for Ryan and McCarthy that the paper was preparing a story about that meeting and read the quotes, they denied that the House leaders had ever said those words. Then when Entous told them that he had a recording of the meeting that the Post had verified, the spokespersons came back with a new explanation: McCarthy had been making “a joke.”

It’s all just too hilarious —  except that these are the clowns who control Congress at a time of grave peril for democracy, in our capital and in the world.

(The full story by Entous provides valuable context, which includes a sidebar transcript, is well worth reading.)

IMAGE: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) leaves after a meeting with Rep. Paul Ryan on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 21, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas.

Senators Call For Probe Of Russian Cyber Attacks

By David Morgan and Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Republican and Democratic senators called on Sunday for a special bipartisan panel to investigate cyber attacks against the United States by foreign countries with a focus on Russia’s alleged efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election.

Charles Schumer, who will be Senate Democratic leader in the new U.S. Congress in January, and Republican John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said separately on Sunday a select committee was needed to ensure effective congressional focus on the hacking of Democratic Party emails during the campaign.

“The fact that they’re hacking our political system and trying to influence the outcome, as it seems to be, that is serious, serious stuff,” Schumer of New York told a news conference in New York. He said the panel should also examine hacking by other countries including China and Iran.

Two other senators, Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island, joined Schumer and McCain of Arizona in sending a letter to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell requesting the panel.

By having one dedicated committee on the subject, they said, the investigation could be targeted, while avoiding the jurisdictional overlap that would occur if multiple panels started conducting their own reviews.

“Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American,” they wrote.

“Cybersecurity is the ultimate cross-jurisdictional challenge, and we must take a comprehensive approach to meet this challenge effectively.”

A spokesman for McConnell’s office said on Sunday he would review the letter from the four lawmakers.

Last week, McConnell said he would support efforts to investigate Russian interference in the presidential election.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia tried to influence the Nov. 8 election by hacking individuals and institutions, including Democratic Party bodies.

The matter has angered Republican President-elect Donald Trump, who says he won the vote fairly.

Russian officials have denied accusations of interfering in the U.S. election.

The U.S. Electoral College is expected to officially vote on Monday for Trump as the country’s next president. At meetings scheduled in every state and the District of Columbia, the institution’s 538 electors, generally chosen by state parties, will cast official ballots for president and vice president.

Trump won a majority of Electoral College votes, while the popular vote went to Democrat Hillary Clinton.


U.S. President Barack Obama suggested on Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally authorized the Democratic Party email hacks.

McCain told CNN’s “State of the Union” program that the U.S. response to the Russian attacks had been “totally paralyzed” and said cyber warfare “is perhaps the only area where our adversaries have an advantage over us.”

The Trump transition team did not respond to a request for comment.

John Podesta, Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman, said on Sunday it was an “open question” whether Trump’s advisers colluded with Russia to hack into Democratic Party emails to try to sway the election outcome.

Leaked emails had revealed details of paid speeches that Clinton gave to Wall Street, party infighting and comments from Clinton top aides who said they were shocked about the extent of her use of a private server to send emails while U.S. secretary of state.

The leaks led to embarrassing media coverage and prompted some party officials to resign.

Podesta said there was evidence that Trump associates had contact with a Russian intelligence official and the website WikiLeaks before U.S. intelligence agencies accused Russia of being behind computer attacks of Democratic emails, including Podesta’s. He did not specify what the evidence was.

“It’s very much unknown whether there was collusion. I think Russian diplomats have said post-election that they were talking to the Trump campaign,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.

“Not what Mr. Trump knew, but what did ‘Trump Inc’ know and when did they know it? Were they in touch with the Russians? I think those are still open questions,” he added.

Trump’s incoming White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, rejected the notion that Trump or his associates were aware of and in touch with the Russians during the hack attack.

“Even this question is insane,” Priebus told “Fox News Sunday.” “Of course we don’t interface with the Russians.

(Additional reporting by Julia Harte in Washington; Editing by Caren Bohan and Peter Cooney)

IMAGE: FILE – In this Jan. 28, 2013, file photo Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)