Does NSC Consider the Skripal Assassination Attempt to Be Election Related?

There’s something that remains unspoken about the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal.

While most observers do not question that Russia was behind the attack, and while Russia certainly seems to be flouting their role in it, I’ve seen no substantiated explanation for why Russia would carry out the attempt in the way they did. It’s not just that Russia conducted another apparent assassination operation in the UK even as recent press attention has focused on a series of similar attacks. But they did so using a nerve agent, justifying the kind of elevated response we’re seeing from Europe and being contemplated in the US.

There were reports that Skripal was a source for either Christopher Steele or someone close to Steele, suggesting that he might be responsible for some of the dossier or the more recent, related report, that Russia’s Foreign Ministry bragged about getting Mitt Romney eliminated from consideration to be Secretary of State (which might explain the timing of the attack, except that it probably required more planning than that). But Luke Harding, who has made similar denials that other deaths are related to the dossier, denies that’s the case.

It is understood he had nothing to do with the dossier on Russia and Trump written by the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. Before Steele went into private business he led MI6’s response to Litvinenko’s murder. Skripal was not a source and whatever he knew about Russian military intelligence was long out of date.

Given the response — with 10 European countries following the UK’s decision to expel Russian diplomats believed to be spies — I’ve been wondering what the motive is. All the more so given this detail in a story on the likelihood the US will also follow UK’s move.

Trump’s National Security Council reached recommendations for a U.S. response to the U.K. attack at a meeting on Wednesday and presented the proposals to him on Friday. Trump discussed the issue that day with U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, FBI Director Chris Wray, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, outgoing National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and others, two people familiar with the talks said.

It’s interesting enough that Wray was among the NatSec officials Trump has consulted on whether to match the British action. The FBI was key in decisions in the 2016 sanctions, including the focus on San Francisco, but this is about the UK action, not US.

But Trump consulted Rod Rosenstein, not Jeff Sessions, on the decision. Particularly given how half-assedly Sessions has adhered to his own recusal on the Russia investigation, Rosenstein’s inclusion suggests the expulsion decision may be more closely linked to the Mueller investigation than otherwise known.

Perhaps Harding is lying about Skripal’s tie to Steele. Perhaps Skripal has GRU connections to others running the GRU hack-and-leak operation. But the inclusion of Rosenstein makes me wonder if there’s some closer tie to the Mueller investigation than we know.

112 replies
  1. greengiant says:

    #TrumpRussia was not a birth on a clamshell, the ties to the oligarchy mobs go way back. Skripal could have know some things from before 2016.

  2. Willis Warren says:

    Why would Harding lie? other than the “I have inside info” lying that seems to be happening with alarming frequency

  3. matt says:

    I’ve seen no substantiated explanation for why Russia would carry out the attempt in the way they did.

    Yes, that’s the odd part.  Why be so blatant, obvious, and inflame the Wests deepest abhoration- chemical weapons.  Why not a heart attack, apparent suicide, or untimely fall from an upper story window?


  4. Galactus-36215 says:

    WoW…..FrankenTrump is going to expel 60 Russian diplomats! What convenient timing coming on the heels of the Stormy Daniels interview that garnered the highest television ratings in more than 10 years.

    I’m getting feelings of Deja Vu. Isn’t this the exact same tactic FrankenTrump used when the Access Hollywood tape came out? Now the MSM will be fawning all over this Russia action rather than the Stormy news for the next few days.

    I can’t say that I’m surprised, because I’m totally not. I had been waiting all day yesterday thinking FrankenTrump was going to launch some missiles at some silly little object for his diversion. I guess this helps him other ways. It gives the appearance of not being so One-Sided when it comes to Russia.

    In my best FrankenTrump impersonation voice, “Hey, Russia, if you’re listening, send us the replacement diplomats.”

  5. Bob Conyers says:

    Maybe the lack of a Session consultation is a sign that Trump isn’t talking to Sessions at all about anything.

    For what it’s worth, that day while Rosenstein was a part of that meeting with Trump and also making the high profile announcement of the Iranian hacker indictment, this is what Sessions was doing:

    Note that in this picture the pitcher of sweet tea gets about the same prominence as Sessions.

  6. Trip says:

    We don’t know anything about Skripal. Perhaps his release was tied to an ongoing intelligence asset agreement with the Kremlin, he permanently switched sides and was still active, or he was doubling. Or whatever he did in the past was so egregious from the Kremlin perspective that it was always a given that his ‘time would come’. Or that he is a cautionary tale for other rats. No one knows. And I guess we don’t really know what happened to him and his daughter, either.  It could be tied to the Mueller investigation, or the actions (expulsions) could be subterfuge of prior collaboration.  Who needs the diplomats when you invite the head spies and make a declaration (at least 3 times) of an upcoming direct meeting with Putin? It’s all very murky.

    The cockroaches scatter when the light is turned on.

  7. Trip says:

    Did this ever happen? How reliable is the source that Marcy retweeted?

    @emptywheel retweeted:
    Heads up: A reckoning is coming. . . . . . . ->collusion<- #DenyThis — #TheyAreSoFkt — #Soon

    Chris Vickery‏Verified account @VickerySec 19h19 hours ago
    Next week, things are going to get hot. Moderate-size breach report Monday. Then a separate report on, most likely, Tuesday (and history gains a new footnote). #BraceYourself

    • harpie says:

      Vickery’s Twitter Bio: Data breach hunter. Director of Cyber Risk Research at UpGuard (tweets not representative of employer).

      He just tweeted this:
      Chris Vickery @VickerySec 13m13 minutes ago 
      My apologies for the wait. Should be up in the next half hour.


    • harpie says:

      Chris VickeryVerified [email protected]  1m1 minute ago

      [quote] I found Bannon’s tools.
      Facebook ad tools, scrapers, targeting scripts, etc.
      Federal authorities have it all now.
      Smoking gun evidence involving foreign influence in US elections.
      Reports going up momentarily at: […] [end quote]

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        WOW. I *KNEW* before I could read the entire articles, that AWS was going to involved.

        The Database of Truth, according to the wiki, is a project under development for WPA Intelligence, the political firm run by Chris Wilson, former director of research, analytics & digital strategy for the Cruz 2016 campaign.

        Coming amidst a firestorm of scrutiny about how political operations can use and harvest consumer information, including from social media networks like Facebook, the UpGuard Cyber Risk Team can now reveal that a large code repository originating from AggregateIQ, a Canadian political data firm active in the 2016 US presidential race, was left publicly downloadable online. Revealed within this repository is a set of sophisticated applications, data management programs, advertising trackers, and information databases that collectively could be used to target and influence individuals through a variety of methods, including automated phone calls, emails, political websites, volunteer canvassing, and Facebook ads. Also exposed among these tools are numerous credentials, keys, hashes, usernames, and passwords to access other AIQ assets, including databases, social media accounts, and Amazon Web Services repositories, raising the possibility of attacks by any malicious actors encountering the exposure.

        • Bob Conyers says:

          That article quotes AIQ documents as saying

          …..The Database of Truth, a system that “integrates, obtains, and normalizes  data from disparate sorces, including starting with the RNC Data Trust.” (RNC Data Trust is the Republican party’s primary voter file provider.) “The primary data source will be combined with state voter files, consumer data, third party data providers, historical WPA survey and projects and customer data.”

          The Trump campaign went to great lengths to claim that they stopped using CA as their data source after a couple of months and switched to the RNC. I think this makes it clear that they’re completely disingenuous — what they did was combine CA data with the RNC data in a much larger database. Of course they never threw out the CA data.

          Some of the obvious next questions are what were their other data sources, and what then did they pull from this database and who did they give it to?

  8. seedeevee says:

    “While most observers do not question that Russia was behind the attack”

    That’s not true at all.

    • bmaz says:

      Actually, most people that really follow this, and don’t have their head up their ass,  minimally understand the Russian involvement. At least minimally. If they are not a habitual and relentless long time troll. Like you. That is about to change.

      • A Scientist says:

        Actual scientists have real questions about it that could be answered with lab reports, chain of custody docs, etc. Maybe the necessary scientific documentation isn’t important to lawyers who know it all. But even the British authorities who have a scientific basis said “developed in Russia” not used by Russia. Scientists are more careful with words than lawyers, so try reading the words of people who actually know something about the science rather than political hacks.

        • bmaz says:

          Dear “Actual Scientist”. Thanks. I have an undergraduate degree in hard sciences, with graduate work in organic chemistry and physics. That was before law school. Other members of this blog have pertinent degrees too in such subjects as microbiology, such as Jim White.

          And, as a lawyer, when I need experts, I hire them. In this case, I read the report from the actual Russian scientist who perfected the Novichok series of agents. What do you have other than claptrap?

        • SpaceLifeForm says:


          Almost immediately, UK Gov pressured Porton Down into saying it was Russia. They refused.

          Later, Putin said if it was a Novichok that had been developed by Russia, then both Skripals would have died immediately.

          Later, Russia held a presser in UK questioning the conclusions, and neither UK or US attended, because they had already decided it was a foregone conclusion.

          Then the Russian chemist (who lives in US now), says that the Skripals will never recover.

          Point is, there has been a rush to judgement, but no known hard facts.

          I’m not saying there was no Russian involvement, just that there is no proof.

          And why is US expelling 60 over something that is really a UK issue?

          • bmaz says:

            Hmmm, by what you have decided to respond to in real time is incredibly telling. Again, duly noted SLF.

          • Trip says:

            It isn’t one specific agent, but rather a class of agents. There are details about how clues in the breakdown can demonstrate origin.

            Interesting informative read:


            Another intriguing bit added to the mix:

            Kremlin denies claim Sergei Skripal asked Putin for pardon

            Friend of poisoned ex-spy says he asked Russian president for permission to visit his family

            “Many people shunned him. His classmates felt he had betrayed the motherland,” he said.According to Timoshkov, whom Skripal had known since school, he did not see himself as a traitor as he had sworn an oath to the Soviet Union.“In 2012 he called me. We spoke for about half an hour. He called me from London. He denied he was a traitor … [he told me] he wrote to Vladimir Putin asking to be fully pardoned and to be allowed to visit Russia. His mother, brother and other relatives were [in Russia].”


            If the US has high confidence in UK conclusions about the agent and perpetrator, standing with the UK against an attack on their allies’ soil, is standard/traditional support, such as all agreeing to sanctions, as another example. From what I understand, not ALL of the Russian diplomats are being asked to leave.

            • SpaceLifeForm says:

              I realize that a Novichok is a family of agents.
              Point being, Porton Down would not id the agent to Russia.

              Chemists that know their fucking job. Not some that think that everyone is a troll.

              (not referrimg to you, as i’m sure you realize)

          • matt says:

            I’m not saying there was no Russian involvement, just that there is no proof.

            Yes, in a global plot this complex- intermingled with hundreds of personal, corporate, and national interests- its impossible to know exactly the “how, why, and who” of the Skripal hit.

            Marcy brings her skepticism and investigative prowess into the post, which is greatly appreciated.  Another example of why your posts are the “go to” for in-between-the-lines analysis of the news.

          • bmaz says:

            Oh, I’m sorry. Did you have a semantics problem in your relation? But, hey, thanks for getting pissy and in the grill of your hosts. Where you habitually go “out there” in a place you think you own. Thanks for the joie de vivre SLF.

            • bmaz says:

              Dear Matt,

              You may think you own this blog because you have recently come out of nowhere and blow shit out of your ass on a consistent basis.

              You do not. And you will not. There is no trophy for being an ass to the people that host this blog, or in just relentlessly commenting. I’m sure you thought there was, but you were mistaken.

              If you wish to carry on with this diversionary nonsense, well, then, we’ll see. How do you want to play this, Matt?

              • matt says:

                Wha? I respect Marcy, Rayne, Ed, Jim, and the the others that host this blog.  EW is awesome- your posts are too!

                I just cant figure out why you harass people… why do you harass people?

            • bmaz says:

              I’m sorry, your “case” is that you wandered in about a year ago, post relentless comments, sometimes obliterating other commenters, many unrelated to the subject matter (“OT”), relentlessly and now think you own and control this joint. You act like you own this blog. In fact, you are a problem.

              Sorry, you are sadly and belligerently mistaken. But, hey, “rest your case”.

  9. tinao says:

    Wild guess here, but as putin asserting himself over trump. What’s a narrcisist most afraid of, the death of himself. No matter how far down the line as in skirpal’s case.

  10. orionATL says:

    the most obvious connection between the skripal assasination attempts and the mueller investigation was one that one dared not articulate for fear of being ridiculed – that skripal was just a handy target with which to warn all who might have certain knowledge of russian involvement in the 2016 federal election and be tempted to share that knowledge with the mueller team or the press.

    • Lamsmy says:

      I agree – given what is publicly known this seems the most logical explanation. Even Boris Johnson labelled this Putin’s warning to any would-be turncoats. Manafort is directly linked to two very powerful oligarchs and one of those, thanks to Navalny, is directly linked to the Kremlin. What Manafort knows could create a world of trouble for Putin. And it could get him killed.

    • TheraP says:

      I was thinking the same thing. It was a shot across the bow. A warning. (But I wasn’t sure if this idea was either way off base or so obvious that … well, I decided to read down the thread and see if I should bother to write about it.)

      It reminds me of that guy poisoned the airport by NK’s leader (assumption anyway).

      There’s a strange kind of “war” going on. With these attacks, which we’re meant to see as carrying messages.

      What worries me about people using actions as messages is that actions can be misread, can lead to misassumptions or with a guy like Trump could lead to impulsive retaliation.

      Diplomacy is much safer. Words can be misunderstood too, but there’s a better chance your message gets across as actually meant. And instead of tit for tat, you can continue the dialogue.

      So much going on. Being found out. Hard to keep up!

    • Willis Warren says:

      Is this what RNC meant on manafort’s notes???

      In an internal wiki, AIQ developers also discussed a project known as The Database of Truth, a system that “integrates, obtains, and normalizes data from disparate sorces, including starting with the RNC Data Trust.” (RNC Data Trust is the Republican party’s primary voter file provider.) “The primary data source will be combined with state voter files, consumer data, third party data providers, historical WPA survey and projects and customer data.”


  11. CenterPin says:

    I mentioned this very thing in a few places soon after it happened and got crickets for a reply. Thank you for exploring it here.

    I think the attack was a clear warning, not to Mueller, but rather to Manafort.

    Right now Manafort is under tremendous pressure. His choices boil down to flip on Trump (and many feel that would include Putin) or face possible years in prison. So far he’s chosen the path of silence, but sooner or later he’ll have to pick. Putin knows this, and he gave Manafort something to think about.

    Why the nerve agent? I can think of a couple more agonizing ways to die, but not many. There are YouTube videos showing its action on pigs. Its…memorable.

  12. KM says:

    [Trip:]  Pedantic. You understood.

    Understood your reply, of course.  Your original post, not so much, or I wouldn’t have bothered clarifying the actual status of the “tiny Canadian outfit”.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It appears that the “attempted” assassination of Sergei and Yulia Skripal is likely to become a completed act.

    A High Court judgment from 22 March 2018 granted leave to take additional blood samples from the unconscious Skripals for analysis by OPCW, partly on the basis that such samples were likely to be more revealing than samples taken post mortem:

    It [the request for blood samples] was made on an urgent basis.  The OPCW wished to collect samples in the near future.  The evidence is that samples taken from living individuals are of more scientific value than post mortem samples.

    Note the judicial understatement, continued in the next quote.  The court stated that as of 22 March, the Skripals were in critical but stable condition, but “it is not inconceivable that their condition could rapidly deteriorate.”

    As for the identity of the nerve agent, the court quotes a Porton Down analyst, identified only by job title for security reasons:

    Blood samples from Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal were analysed and the findings indicated exposure to a nerve agent or a related compound.  The samples tested positive for the presence of a Novichok class nerve agent or closely related agent.

    A bit of wriggle room there.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Chain of custody. Porton Down and OPCW want real evidence.
      Not sure they ever obtained real evidence.

      “the Skripals were in critical but stable condition, ”

      Unfortunately, they will never recover, and never be able to say exactly what happened that day. Times, places, events.

  14. Worried says:

    Maybe this assassination attempt was designed to provide a tailor-made situation for Trump to make an anti-Russian show of strength.

    • matt says:

      A possibility for sure.  As is the implication of @Larry’s 8:44 comment- that the other nation state, super cozy with Trump, made the hit with Russian fingerprints to both warn Russia, “We can implicate you in much bigger plots, if you don’t behave.”  And, as all suggest here, to intimidate all the two-bit intelligence and corporate players in the 2016 election drama.

    • Rugger9 says:

      As if the Kaiser will do anything substantial to his master Vlad.  Look how long the sanctions took and were watered down.  Besides, this is in the UK, not the US and the palace fired TRex for saying the Russians were involved.  I’m not buying this at all.

  15. yogarhythms says:

    OT Certitude is a rhetorical kettle bell. Intuition is based on trusting your own truth. Thread, Skirpals are suffering in the worst way. Total living dependency medically involves feeding tubes,elimination tubes: rectal and urinary, intravenous medication tubes for starters. If this is a message from Vlad it couldn’t have a more meaningful impact on ones survival.

  16. Ken Muldrew says:

    Way upthread, Trip wrote, “Everyone is over the top with intellectual property rights and yet this tiny Canadian outfit left it all out in the open.”

    They didn’t seem too secretive about it, almost as if the people working for Aggregate IQ were used to open source projects. You can read some of their questions on Stack Overflow (such as this one where it’s pretty obvious what they are up to):

    Ken Muldrew.

  17. harpie says:

    Today, UK Lawmakers interviewed Christopher Wylie and Paul-Olivier Dehaye. Justin Hendrix was tweeting the Hearing.
    Justin Hendrix@justinhendrix 4:11 AM – 27 Mar 2018  

    Asked about other companies doing this work: PALANTIR. There were also Palantir staff working with Facebook data. Palantir staff came into the offices of CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA and helped build the models we were working on, even though there was no contract, says @chrisinsilico

    Carole Cadwalladr@carolecadwalla responds: 

    We reported this a year ago. We had the emails (but couldn’t publish them then.) Palantir denied it. That’s Palantir who work with GCHQ. Who work with NSA. And whose owner Peter Thiel advised Trump campaign. / Oh yes. Forgot that. Palantir’s Peter Thiel is in the board of Facebook

    • matt says:

      Question.  Did Internet Research Agency and “Russian trolls” use the psycographic data from Cambridge Analytica to place targeted ad buys on FaceBook?

      • matt says:

        From Slate 3/21:

        “All of this raises questions: What was the full extent of Cambridge Analytica/SCL’s relationship to Russia and Russian companies? Was Cambridge Analytica/SCL ever informed about Russian efforts to interfere in U.S.politics? How much, if at all, did the two sides share with each other?”


        …or, did one side hire the other?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Proprietary algorithms used to “predict” crime, beyond anticipating its likely location and type.  What could go wrong at the policing or prosecution end, when significant evidence is behind the firewall?  I’m surprised Palantir didn’t try this first as the new OCP in Detroit.

  18. harpie says:

    New, from Jason Leopold,
    Christopher Steele’s Other Report: A Murder In Washington
    [quote] The author of the famous Trump dossier provided a secret report to the FBI asserting that RT founder Mikhail Lesin was bludgeoned to death by thugs hired by an oligarch close to Putin. Three other sources independently told the FBI the same basic story, contradicting the government’s finding that Lesin’s death was accidental. [end quote] 

  19. Rapier says:

    In the category of rank speculation and probably thinking that is too clever by half, I think the sanctions may be the beginning of a pivot away from Russia. Note that Gorka was out the other day saying Obama “facilitated the rise of Vladimir Putin”

    After all what is the upside now?

    Rosenstein’s presence? Showing him and then everyone else who is watching, ‘see, we aren’t in bed with Vlad’. Then who knows by summer it may be we have always been at war with .E̶u̶r̶a̶s̶i̶a̶ Russia

  20. Trip says:

    First, I am saddened by the loss of life, which included many children, in the fire in Russia.

    Secondly, I’m appalled by the gov’t douchebaggery, in retorts, that exists in our country, but also in Russia, to victims of catastrophic events.

    ‘Children die every day. Many have AIDS.’ How Russian officials responded to the deadly fire at a shopping mall in Kemerovo

    On March 27, locals and many relatives of those killed in Sunday’s tragic fire rallied in Kemerovo’s central square. When one of the demonstrators, a man named Igor Vostrikov, accused the authorities of treating their constituents like animals, Lieutenant Governor Sergey Tsivilev answered, “Young man, what do you mean? Do you want to exploit this grief for PR purposes?” Vostrikov then explained that his entire family died in the fire: his wife, his sister, and his three children.
    A woman from the Kemerovo administrative office tried to shout down the protesters’ calls for government accountability, telling the crowd: “Why the panic? Why the calls for immediate resignations? Children die every day. Many have AIDS.”

    https://meduza .io /en/feature/2018/03/27/children-die-every-day-many-have-aids **

    Compassion and empathy are dead. Long live compassion and empathy.

    ** [Readers should use extra caution when opening Meduza links. / ~Rayne]

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Beyond gross negligence.  Locking emergency exits and turning off fire alarms predictably lead to needless deaths.  Not a close question.  The conduct here seems to be reckless disregard at best, quite likely unlawful killing.  In Russia, liability might well depend on political relationships, as would persuading other similar places not to engage in this same, inherently dangerous behavior.

      • Rugger9 says:

        De facto you are correct that it is who you know that will show if you have a problem or an irritant.  Just like in Soviet days.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I assume you’re referring to whether the reporting claimed that the Russian mall’s theater’s emergency exit doors were locked – it did, and that’s where a lot of the “Goodbye mom, I love you,” tweets came from – and that a security guard had turned off the fire alarm system.  It did.

          Those acts have predictably lethal consequences.  It’s like testing whether a revolver is loaded by pointing it at your head and pulling the trigger.  Might work out a few times.  Not likely to work out all the time.  When it doesn’t, there’s blood on the wall.  The management stupidity and possibly greed is criminal.

          • Trip says:

            That is horrendous, but I thought you meant that this was the result of local gov’t not toeing Kremlin line somehow, which would be worse.

            • Trip says:

              Took me a long time to post that short response. I got this inbetween:

              Error 504 Ray ID:
              Gateway time-out

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              I meant that whether the criminal law would be applied to the actors responsible or these apparently needless deaths would probably depend on whether and how well those actors were connected to oligarchs.  Kind of like here, where a mom or dad protesting chemical pollution of their drinking water or air can be arrested faster than the civil or criminal law reaches out for the corporate polluter.

  21. Kathleen says:

    By getting rid of these Russian “agents” could this make it more difficult for Mueller and team to collect relevant information for his investigation….’s?

    • Fran of the North says:

      It is unlikely that expelling these 60 intelligence officers would impact the Mueller investigation. Odds are that control of assets at a campaign level would be held at the highest levels of a security service.  Additionally, the odds that a trained foreign intelligence operative would respond truthfully to a US inquiry are slim. Remember, most if not all of these folks have diplomatic immunity.


  22. matt says:

    Trump’s not getting any pressure from the Alt-Right (not for it) or the Dems (no influence on Trump) to oust Russian diplomats. So, its likely that, the only other entity putting a bug in Trumps foreign policy ear- Israel- premeditated/orchestrated the fast coordinated effort in UK’s knee jerk response immediately after the poisoning, and pressured Trump… and now NATO to do the same. In case no one noticed, Israel has been forced into a half cooperative/half combative war with Russia in Syria, and no doubt fears their influence in the region will embolden Iran. Obama/Clinton/Kerry tried to back away from more entanglements and supported a way forward with Palestine/Iran over the objections of Israel’s hardliners. We’re already supporting Israel/KSA’s “anti-Iran” genocide in Yemen. I guarantee the current administration will be sucked into another escalation in the next chapter of Middle East quagmire. The only way to get Americans and Europeans to support this insanity is to make them fear Israel’s other perceived enemies in the region (besides the terrorists)- Russia and Iran. God help us, if Mueller doesn’t blow the lid off his investigation soon… If he doesn’t do it soon, there’ll be another 9/11 scale event- probably nuclear- for which the Trump Administration will gladly accept as manna from heaven to rev up “all-in” military retaliation.

    What is Mueller waiting for?

  23. Danno says:

    There may have been multiple reasons for the Scripal poisoning but, the consensus from the Russia experts, was that the British/Western outrage gave Putin a huge boost in the election.

    And it seems to have worked.

    Putin’s main card to play to entrench his leadership is to present himself as the strong man defending Russia against the malevolent West.

    If only he had organised the poisoning for a few weeks earlier he might have cracked 80% in the election with the full force of Western retaliation.

    Poor strategy by the British (and later everyone) played into Putin’s hands. If the UK had cracked down on the virus of Russian kleptocrats living it up in London with looted funds their would have been a clear focus on corruption under Putin, which is a concern of most Russian voters.

    PS I have been visiting this web site for the last week and found no updates. Then tonight I find seven new stories dating back over the last week. Weird!

    • matt says:

      PS I have been visiting this web site for the last week and found no updates. Then tonight I find seven new stories dating back over the last week. Weird!

      Also, home page comment numbers are always off… and formatted reply in comment is often disabled.  Is this a web traffic thing?  Can I heartily recommend WP Engine for CDN hosting?

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Evrerytime you visit, you must force reload.

      Otherwise, you will potentially see stale cached data from CloudFlare.

      Always force a reload.

    • Trip says:

      That was an excellent thread, and the thought crossed my mind about Skripal, as well.
      I know she’s on vacation, but I still hope she does a formal write-up.

    • matt says:

      Nope. not safe. He’ll go crazy without internet access.

      Anti Russia national policies are picking up steam.  We’ll see where things go in Ukraine and Syria next.

  24. orionATL says:

    an obvious question about the skripal assasination attempt (so far just “attempt”) is this:

    if skripal was a source or a guide to sources for christopher steele,

    did the administration, especially trump toady and whitehouse cellar-dweller pompeo, betray him to the russians?

    if that “if” statement above is true, then i consider having betrayed him a highly likely possibility for this ethically crippled administration.

  25. orionATL says:

    well lookee what i found in an article about the execrable john bolton, a chaneyesque bully molded in prez’s image as well.

    u.n. ambassador john bolton wanted to go to the nsc to demand it unmask some individuals and companies with whom he disagreed.

    does this episode not sound like the source of those republican complaints about obama admin officials, especially  former U.N. AMBASSADOR  and national security advisor susan rice, wanting to improperly unmask indviduals? does this not sound like a typical contemporary republican party dishonestly – pull a dirty trick and then accuse others of having done so?

    ……this HTML class. Value is https://www.nytimes.  (what the hell? at nytimes copy no longer works as usual?)

    o.k. we’ll play the game this way:

    …..‘Kiss Up, Kick Down’: Those Recalling Bolton’s U.N. Confirmation Process Say He Hasn’t Change

    By Katie Rogers and Elizabeth Williamson

    March 29, 2018

    “…There was more.

    The panel also learned that Mr. Bolton had bullied intelligence analysts who made more conservative assessments of Syria’s illicit weapons programs in the run-up to a 2003 speech and had requested classified intercepts from the National Security Agency, including the names of American companies and officials, raising concerns that he was seeking information about ideological opponents.

    At an emotional committee meeting barely more than a week after the first hearing, two Democrats — Mr. Dodd and Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware — demanded three additional weeks to investigate the charges against Mr. Bolton and seek documents from the White House.

    Mr. Lugar accused Democrats of stalling and pushed for the committee to vote. But visibly shaken, Senator George Voinovich, Republican of Ohio, said he had heard enough to understand that Mr. Bolton was an ideologue who “fosters an atmosphere of intimidation.” Anyone who behaves in such a way, he concluded, should not be “the face of the United States to the world.”…”


    there’s that word IDEOLOGUE again.

    this time issuing from the lips of a republican senator about a republican cabinet-level official appointed by a republican president. senator voinivich was dead right about bolton. it is yet another measure of president trump’s judgemental and tempermental incompetence that he would even consider choosing bolton ass his national security advisor.

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