The Psy-Group Proposal: A Way to Measure the Value that Russian Hackers Provided the Trump Campaign

On April 15, 2016, Russian hackers searched in DCCC and DNC networks for information on (among other things) Ted Cruz and the Democrats’ field plan.

The Conspirators searched for and identified computers within the DCCC and DNC networks that stored information related to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. For example, on or about April 15, 2016, the Conspirators searched one hacked DCCC computer for terms that included “hillary,” “cruz,” and “trump.” The Conspirators also copied select DCCC folders, including “Benghazi Investigations.” The Conspirators targeted computers containing information such as opposition research and field operation plans for the 2016 elections.

That’s an important detail with which to assess the recent NYT story that, in March, Rick Gates asked Israeli intelligence firm Psy-Group for a proposal on influence operations targeting both Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton. As the NYT story notes, Gates wasn’t actually all that interested in the Psy-Group proposal and there’s no indication anyone in the Trump camp was either.

There is no evidence that the Trump campaign acted on the proposals, and Mr. Gates ultimately was uninterested in Psy-Group’s work, a person with knowledge of the discussions said, in part because other campaign aides were developing a social media strategy.

But he was interested in the services Psy-Group offered, including intelligence gathering and influence operations.

According to Mr. Birnbaum, Mr. Gates expressed interest during that meeting in using social media influence and manipulation as a campaign tool, most immediately to try to sway Republican delegates toward Mr. Trump.

“He was interested in finding the technology to achieve what they were looking for,” Mr. Birnbaum said in an interview. Through a lawyer, Mr. Gates declined to comment.


The proposal to gather information about Mrs. Clinton and her aides has elements of traditional opposition research, but it also contains cryptic language that suggests using clandestine means to build “intelligence dossiers.” [I’ve switched the order of these passages]

So aside from context for the meeting Psy-Group owner Joel Zamel had with Don Jr (and any downstream arrangement the two had), it’s not clear what the report itself means for Mueller’s investigation, with regards to Psy-Group, particularly given claims that the group closely vetted their programs for legal compliance (though NYT was unable to learn whether Covington & Burling had given a green light for this campaign).

But the report that Gates was seeking proposals in March 2016 and the guts of the report are interesting for what they say about the mindset that Gates and Manafort brought to, first, the Convention and after that managing the entire campaign.

The materials Psy-Group provided in response to a Gates request provide at least three things that may be useful for a Mueller prosecution. First, they show that the Russian hackers were working on the same schedule that Gates and Manafort were, with initial data collection slotted for April.

The report also shows what kind of targets the Trump team knew would be resistant to messaging directly from Trump, and so should be targeted by unaffiliated online assets, including fictional avatars.

These groups — especially minority and swing voters — were precisely the groups that Russian trolls and Cambridge Analytica’s dark marketing targeted.

Likewise, Russian hackers may well have shared what amounted to intelligence dossiers with Trump.

Finally, the Psy-Group proposal also provides a dollar figure for the value of these kinds of services. That provides Mueller with a way to show the kind of financial benefit Trump received from both the Russian efforts and whatever efforts Cambridge Analytica gave to Trump for free (or coordinated on illegally): $3.31 million dollars.

The above proposed activity will cost $3,210,000. This does not include the cost of media, which will be billed at cost + 20% management fee and pre-approved with the client in advance prior to committing and spending. We estimate media cost at around $100,000 at this point (mostly social / online media).

One charge we know (from Manafort’s warrant applications) that Mueller is considering is receiving a thing of value from a foreigner. This proposal measures what kind of value Trump’s campaign received from the Russians.

It may be that Psy-Group poses a risk to Trump’s people directly, perhaps as a way to understand Israel’s role as a cut-out for Russia, or as a way to prove that Don Jr lied under oath about his willingness to accept gifts from foreigners. But even without that, the Psy-Group proposal provides a real time measure of how Trump’s campaign under Manafort planned to run their campaign.

 As I said in July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

90 replies
  1. Trip says:

    Tangentially related:

    Cambridge Analytica-linked businessman helped start Black Cube, lawsuit claims

    Vincent Tchenguiz also helped controversial ‘private intel agency’ apply for Israeli government grant for developing dual-use technologies; Economy Ministry won’t say if it got one

    I don’t offer any connection between Psy-Group and Black Cube, other than that they were both Israeli firms. However, Obama campaigned against Netanyahu. Dershowitz was railing against Obama. Israel stood to benefit from a Trump win. Were there Russian/Israeli cyber collaborations or separate entities working toward the same end? I don’t know if anyone is considering Israeli cut-outs. I do know that Israeli government criticism is verboten in the US press. How much of Russian meddling saw an assist via Israel, or perhaps vice-versa? I suspect we’ll never know.

    • Trip says:

      To wit:
      Blankfort seems to be left of Chomsky, and a critic of the 9/11 official narrative, but he quotes other news sources in this piece. Long read, but lots of stuff left out of US news.
      February 15, 2017
      The Putin-Netanyahu Bromance
      ..If you are with me so far, you will see a different picture emerging of both Netanyahu and Putin than what one finds in the US media. For those who have been led to see the Israeli prime minister as a staunch friend and ally of the United States, the evidence paints him as more of an opportunist who takes full advantage of the power of the Jewish political and religious establishment in the United States to lead its politicians around by the nose while milking its taxpayers for everything he can get. To cite his own words, he finds America “easy to move.”

      Although maybe Chomsky had a more recent change of heart:
      Noam Chomsky Condemns Israel’s Shift to Far Right
      Also (via Haaretz headline, I didn’t want to post too many links) In an interview on Democracy Now, the renowned linguist said that Russian interference in the U.S. elections was minor in comparison to open Israeli interference

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        That would not be a “change of heart.”  Chomsky has been a long-term critic of Israeli state policies, notably its genocide against Palestinians and corruption in general.

        He has often noted how much less space, virtually none, there is in the US for criticizing Israeli state policy than there is even in Israel, as has Glenn Greenwald. His criticisms of lobbying – legalized bribery – are also of longstanding.

        • Trip says:

          Okay, so that phrase, perhaps, is problematic. I can’t delete it, so it remains. I really wanted to quote the take on Israeli interference. I also was telegraphing Blankfort’s position ahead of the article, because inevitably someone would say, “He’s a crank, with such and such opinions”, however I wanted to stress that he quoted different news sources. I really don’t want to go any further in derailing the topic. My intent was not to dis Chomsky. In fact, I know him better than I know Blankfort. The reason I even started the comment was to question how deeply involved the Israeli government was involved in election meddling, what government was the driver, etc.

      • Willis Warren says:

        Chomsky has no way of knowing the level of interference of either Russia or Israel.  Any guess that either interfered more is simply a guess, especially when you have a history of mistrusting intelligence agencies.

        That said, Marcy just pointed out something of interest.  The Israeli services that were declined were probably provided pro bono by the Russkies.

        • Trip says:

          Chomsky called attention to the more blatant ‘meddling’:

          “I mean, even to the point where the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, goes directly to Congress, without even informing the president, and speaks to Congress, with overwhelming applause, to try to undermine the president’s policies—what happened with Obama and Netanyahu in 2015.

          That would be in addition to the insane lobbying money, and any intelligence work we know or don’t know about. That’s not even counting unregistered lobbyists like Dershowitz, who seemingly do it for free.

          That doesn’t mean that Russia didn’t interfere. But the Putin/Netanyahu bromance and use of ex-Mosad services would tend to show coordination, at the least. Chomsky’s opinion was an overall assessment. He probably can’t quantify Israeli spy-work/psyop anymore than he could Russian spy-work/psyop. No one really can.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Some jobs you never leave.  Reportedly, Chinese army officers and the Mossad are in that category.  I’m sure views differ.

        • Trip says:

          All of them @earl, look at Christopher Steele. On to private enterprise, but concerned enough that he acted as if he was still in a gov’t agency.

          Also Black Cube (who tried to get dirt on Rhodes) applied for an Israeli Gov’t grant for dual use technologies. Who knows if they got it? Then Vincent Tchenguiz went on to finance Cambridge Analytica. Or maybe I have the sequence out of order, (guess I need to read again).

    • Sandy says:

      What’s the timeline re Mercer and his paid minions, Bannon, Conway, switching from Cruz to supporting the Trump campaign?  Manafort’s  Russian contact may have steered him to the Israeli firm, he used them in his Ukrainian campaigns, then and recommended them to the Trump campaign.  By the time of the post- proposal meetings, Mercer may have agreed to fund the campaign and wanted his company, Cambridge Analytica, which Steve Bannon was also involved with, to do the work & coordinate with the Russians.  Obviously CA had independent contacts (ie., Prof Kagan) and significant overlap with Russia.  In this scenario, Gates would lose interest in the proposals bc he knew CA was going to do the work.

  2. Peterr says:

    Finally, the Psy-Group proposal also provides a dollar figure for the value of these kinds of services. That provides Mueller with a way to show the kind of financial benefit Trump received from both the Russian efforts and whatever efforts Cambridge Analytica gave to Trump for free (or coordinated on illegally): $3.31 million dollars.

    That kind of pokes a giant hole in the “oppo research is not a ‘thing of value'” line being pushed by some in the Trump fold.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Oppo Research is Not a Thing of Value = American Advertising is Not a Thing of Value

      Both statements are false.  The executives who spend so much of their vaunted campaign donors’ or shareholders’ money are not fools.  Cynical, ruthless predators, perhaps, but not fools.  They spend it because it works.  It’s even better if a campaign gets it “for free” from its friendly neighborhood GRU chief.

      • Trip says:

        Free advertising: Don’t leave out MSNBC and CNN, along with Trump TV (for the 2016 election, and now, the midterms) running Trump rallies and campaign stumps on a loop.

      • orionATL says:

        or gets it free from its local “small media” cites like the 6-page community/county/small town newspaper, or the local am radio the carpenters, barbers, and auto mechanics listen to all day long, or local broadcast tv.

      • oldoilfieldhand says:

        Or mainstream media (the real mob) in the USA. No cover for anyone and everyone who broadcasts Trump lies without question.

    • harpie says:

      Related, from Natasha Bertrand:

      5:10 AM – 10 Oct 2018 NEW: Fending off accusations that the Trump campaign conspired w/Russia & WikiLeaks, Trump lawyers have argued that the First Amendment protects the “right to disclose information—even stolen information.” This comes less than 30 days before the midterms.

      • BobCon says:

        The article referenced in that tweet includes more detail. The Trump side is quoted as arguing “the First Amendment protects the campaign’s “right to disclose information—even stolen information—so long as (1) the speaker did not participate in the theft and (2) the information deals with matters of public concern.”

        In a sense, that’s OK — if a Democrat is reading some message board and finds a hacker has posted Trump’s tax files on a server, and the Democrat forwards the URL of the message board to a Washington Post reporter, I’d be very leery of prosecuting the Democrat.

        But the danger is that the Trump lawyers are hoping that a judge will take the most pinched view possible of “the speaker did not participate in the theft” and the judge will refuse to accept any role by Stone types in the Trump campaign to coordinate with the Russians.

        If the Stoners contacted the Russians, told them what kind of information they wanted, when they wanted it released, and how they wanted it released, it’s hard to see how that should not be valid grounds for consideration as part of a criminal conspiracy. But to be honest, in the wake of the extreme view of conservative judges that the First Amendment offers grounds for overturning campaign finance rules, I’m not sure Trump’s lawyers won’t succeed.

        • SteveB says:

          Obviously the Trump lawyers formulation of the issue in terms of team Trump’s first amendment rights to utilise stolen information is a pinched interpretation for the reasons you state.

          However it also overlooks the other side of the coin :the quid for the pro quo. The Russian actors, hackers and diseminators gained advantages in real time – lobbying in favor of pro-Russian stances, and divisive lobbying sowing discord with a view to advancing Russian strategic information interests. Thus Team Trump were aiding and abetting unregistered lobbying on behalf of foriegn principals/a foriegn government – those actors do not have first amendment rights.

        • BobCon says:

          That’s a good point as to the solidity of the conspiracy.

          If I remember correctly, unfortunately the right wing legal theory is that the First Amendment isn’t just about the right to free speech, it’s about the right to free listening — somehow, you’re violating the First if you somehow constrain the possible universe of opinions someone can be exposed to, even if it’s foreigners telling you that there’s child slavery ring in a pizzaria.

          It’s nuts — the idea that the Founders would have somehow objected to restrictions on secret British agents spreading lies to undermine George Washington is laughable, but there we are.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        It’s clearer when the person disclosing the information is from the press.  And it depends on who stole it.  You have to be an innocent bystander.

        Generally, you have no FA right in the letter if you purloined it, or paid or persuaded someone to purloin it. But you can pass it on to an unrelated someone.

        • BobCon says:

          Like a lot of pieces of this, I suspect that the Trump side is hoping that they can beat the evidence somehow. Maybe exclude some of it by an expansive reading of executive privilege, use pressure on DOJ to look the other way on some more, use national security to justify reining in a bit more, look for a friendly judge to narrow things on First grounds, and eventually Mueller doesn’t have enough to win the public argument.

          I’m not convinced that’s a winning strategy, but I’m also not sure what else they have. As the previous post about Peter Smith notes, security wasn’t necessarily deep and consistent with these guys. There are a lot more loose threads than Cheney, Libby and Addington figuring out how to leak to a few reporters.

        • harpie says:

          I think that’s pretty much what Floyd Abrams argues at Just Security, today:

          What Facts Would Deny the Trump Campaign First Amendment Protections in Colluding with Russia  

           […] One issue in the case [Cockrum v. Donald Trump for President, Inc] is of substantial legal impact. It is when, if at all, a recipient and later disseminator of stolen or otherwise wrongfully obtained documents may be held liable in litigation commenced by those who claim to have been harmed by the publication of those documents […] 

    • emptywheel says:

      I think that’s precisely my point.

      This is evidence that will do very nicely at trial to disprove that. And it’s similar evidence to what Mueller used and was planning on using in the Manafort trials.

  3. orionATL says:

    one does not have to have signed a contract with the israel covert operations firm, psy-group, to have used strategic information it provided in its proffer for one’s own purposes, e.g., social media search-and-mislead operations by the trump campaign. the time line suggests the strategic thinking was available for tbe campaign to use.

    given what has been uncovered about the russian-trump search-and-mislead campaign among simple, unsuspecting american voters, this nation needs to take on the issue of preventing efforts to covertly mislead voters in election campaigns – and soon.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Exactly.  The act of exchanging information about what was on offer and negotiating its terms of sale would themselves be part of the subterfuge.

      They would be hidden behind other acts, such as denials, statements of non-interest, and the like, all while related actors or their cut-outs would be moving ahead on their procurement and execution.

      Conveniently for prosecutors, that process is evidence of the guilty knowledge and intent of all parties.

  4. Bay State Librul says:

    So, if they vetted the Israeli company with their lawyers, did their lawyers review/vett Russia. If not, doesn’t that prove they knew it was wrong? Does my question make any sense? After watching Kimbrel pitch last night, my heart has skipped a few beats

  5. viget says:

    I am concerned that a similar influence operation is going on right now in the wake of the Kavanaugh fight.  The repeated claim that “Republicans are more fired up after this week” is not borne out by the data.  CNN just released the generic ballot poll question which gives Dems about a 12 point advantage over R’s on the generic ballot, which is similar if not a little bigger margin than it had been pre-Kavanaugh nonsense.

    Could they be using Facebook and social media again to try to target minorities, suburban women,etc with this propaganda?  To sort of depress voter turnout? And of course, trying to fire up the base on the flip side?

    • orionATL says:

      you are right.

      this is more gaslighting by the grand old gaslight party, most notably the giant hot air balloon, uss trump.

      • BobCon says:

        One interesting bit I read is that the evidence about Roy Moore absolutely galvanized his base, with GOP support at its highest point on election day.

        The implications for the GOP aren’t good if that’s their strategy. Unfortunately, the odds are they keep the Senate, but they are equally likely to lose the House, which is going to (knock on wood) change the narrative against the stonewalling and gaslighting. We’ll see.

    • Rayne says:

      Yes. There’s been a flip-flop in reporting as to whether the Russians are actively working on 2018 mid-terms or not, just in the last couple of weeks. This is a hint that other influence ops are under way.

      Like fake Facebook event pages promoting the wrong date for rallies.

      I suspect an effort to rally women online to “blackout” their avatars was a similar fake movement as the language of the emails uses received was “off” — poor grammar, like that used by those whose primary language isn’t English — and an ask which does the opposite of what the target audience needs (erasure by blackout instead of elevation of women’s presence). This op began last year but it continues, reemerging in waves.

      Combined with other information warfare, it looks to me like a concerted effort to depress voter turnout with specific emphasis on targeting women.

  6. Bay State Librul says:

    Concur. The Astros look unbeatable, except we have a magic manager, Cora, who just happens to be a distant relative of the Astros.
    Bringing out Sale last night was iffy, but somehow worked.

    • JD12 says:

      I think the Sale move was psychological as much as anything, or it at least turned out to be afterwards. The 8th inning is the weakest link in the bullpen so those Yankee batters were probably looking forward to it, but that part of the lineup was a good matchup for Sale to take the wind out of their sails so to speak.

      Cora’s knowledge of the Astros is a big advantage. They’re still scary though. The Dodgers are too.

  7. Lulymay says:


    Sob! I don’t know what this new Yankee manager (been wondering all season, in fact) was doing when he put the fat man with the even bigger pay cheque in to pitch a do-or-die game!

    Oh well.. I’ll be rooting for Houston as can’t stand any team from Bawwston…

    • orionATL says:

      i’m a life long dodger fan, from way back in brooklyn days. not cause i ever lived even close, but because a teacher in a small rural town hundreds of miles away let her kids listen at their tables to the 1955 world series on their transistor radios. life takes funny turns :)

      enjoy the series.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As bmaz points out, Aaron Mate’s argument that the only “collusion” found disclosed so far is with Israel misses a few obvious points.  One is that Israel is a foreign power.  All the laws that make it illegal to conspire with Russia would apply to Israel or the UK or Brazil.

    A more important point is that Mate does not know what Mueller has but has not disclosed.

  9. SandyL says:

    This is a little off topic, but have you been following the story about Greg E. Lindberg?

    He is a major Republican donor who has played a role in funding both Rick Scott’s Senate campaign in Florida and Forest’s governor campaign in NC. The odd thing is that he only started contributing to political campaigns in 2016 and seemingly overnight became one of the largest political donors in both NC and Florida.

    He also was one of the biggest donors to the New Republican PAC which Scott led to help Trump’s presidential campaign.

    Anyhow, last week, the U.S. Attorney’s office in NC presented evidence to a Federal Grand Jury that has resulted in subpoena’s of his company’s records and records from the NC Insurance commission.

    While this may be totally unrelated to Mueller’s investigation, I wonder if it may be a spin off of that investigation since he was a large donor to Trump’s campaign via Scott’s PAC. There hasn’t been much national media coverage of this, and I’ve been able to find out very little about Lindberg or his company, aside from the fact that his company seems to have bought tons of companies in the last 10 years.

    Here are some articles in case you (or someone else) is interested in taking a deeper look:

    Federal Subpoena Targets North Carolina’s Largest Campaign Donor

    New Big Donor in NC Politics Named in Subpoena:

    Forest Gets 1 Million Donation from Durham Investor

    Rick Scott’s Donors Still Mostly Mystery:

  10. Marinela says:

    I hope Muller is allowed to investigate the scope of the Israel interference, as a matter that is coming out of Russia investigation. Questioning why the Israel alleged interference is not discussed in the media, only the Russia interference.
    But I am concerned about the coziness of Rosenstein on Air Force One with Trump. Did they make a deal, like fudge the FBI Kav report to allow he is confirmed in exchange for some Muller investigation stuff?

    Can anybody explain to me the difference between the Steele dossier (republicans then DNC) as the opposition research and the narrative that Trump campaign was just doing opposition research as well with Russians?

    Good information on this thread. Thank you.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      One distinction that matters is that while both were apparently from foreign sources, a legitimate someone paid for Steele’s work at the usual rate.

      It’s not clear whether that’s true for the Russian “help.”  If it wasn’t paid for at market rates, it’s an illegal foreign contribution under campaign finance laws.

      • Marinela says:

        So being cheap will bite you in the end.

        Would be useful if the media makes this contra-argument distinction.

        The right wing pundits always have arguments like these and nobody bothers to follow up. MSM becomes complicit when these arguments are not fact checked.

      • Mitch Neher says:

        Also, the Steele dossier was not used for electioneering communications nor to influence a federal election. That keeps Steele’s work in the campaign expenditure category.

        Plus, the Trump campaign did not report any of the Trump Tower information to the FBI. While Steele started forwarding his memos to the FBI almost immediately and throughout his effort.

    • maestro says:

      There are a few things to note in response to your post.

      First, the SCO does in fact seem to be investigating the Israeli threads, as every report discusses efforts by the SCO to interview witnesses and obtain documents. Indeed, we know that one of the main witnesses (George Nader) is actively cooperating and has testified to the grand jury several times already. My suspicion, like Marcy’s, is that Israel wasn’t acting alone here but in fact was part of the overall conspiracy involving Russia.

      WRT the Steele dossier, it’s not illegal to pay market value for goods or services rendered by non-citizens which is what happened with his project. It is illegal to accept political donations from non-citizens if they constitute a “thing of value”, which is why Don Jr.’s meeting at Trump Tower is suspect from the get-go.

      Moreover, that whole thing goes even further out the window when we get into conspiracy to commit various crimes.

      • Rayne says:

        WRT the Steele dossier, it’s not illegal to pay market value for goods or services rendered by non-citizens which is what happened with his project. …

        The Steele dossier was also purchased not by the campaign but by law firm — HRC’s campaign didn’t obtain it directly from Steele. Totally legal. IIRC Steve Bannon made some complaint that it was stupid for Team Trump not to have used a law firm as intermediary, knowing it was a problem.

    • Marinela says:

      Thank you for clarifications. I always wondered what/how is different. It seemed different, and also the conspiracy to steal emails is illegal, this is a good point.

  11. Trip says:

    Mueller gets longest sentence yet for man who helped Russian trolls
    Richard Pinedo, 28, received six months in prison and six months of home confinement after pleading guilty to a felony identity fraud charge.
    The sentence for Richard Pinedo, 28, is the most severe penalty handed down yet in special counsel Robert Mueller’s high-profile investigation into Moscow’s meddling to help elect President Donald Trump. While Friedrich’s sentence was the longest Mueller has obtained, it was on the low end of the sentencing guideline recommendations. Still, Pinedo’s attorney had asked that his client get no prison time. Mueller’s prosecutors let the judge factor in other cases of similar caliber and didn’t recommend any specific sentence.

  12. harpie says:

    New from WSJ:  11:30 AM – 10 Oct 2018 NEW THIS AFTERNOON with @dnvolz and @shelbyholliday: Republican activist Peter Smith met with Michael Flynn in 2015, and told associates he was using Flynn’s connections as part of his quest to find Hillary’s emails.

    • Trip says:

      Damn, can’t get past the paywall. Weren’t there a bunch of other close associates of Trump on Smith’s list, like Conway, too? I forget now. Will search EW.

      • harpie says:

        Yeah. I’m waiting to find out what it says from Tweeters:

        Wendy Siegelman, so far:

        11:42 AM – 10 Oct 2018 “Beyond his connection with Mr. Flynn, Mr. Smith also claimed ties with the antisecrecy website WikiLeaks, and he solicited money to assist founder Julian Assange with legal support” / The names of three people who reportedly pledged to contribute $100,000 to Peter Smith’s effort – “Maine real-estate developer Michael Liberty, Florida-based investor John “Jack” Purcell and Chicago financier Patrick Haynes” /

      • Trip says:

        Here’s the original:

        The Wall Street Journal‏Verified account @WSJ

        GOP activist Peter Smith, who sought Clinton emails, cited Bannon, Conway in a document

        Matt Tait/The Time I Got Recruited to Collude with the Russians

        Officials identified in the document include Steve Bannon, now chief strategist for President Donald Trump; Kellyanne Conway, former campaign manager and now White House counselor; Sam Clovis, a policy adviser to the Trump campaign and now a senior adviser at the Agriculture Department; and retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, who was a campaign adviser and briefly was national security adviser in the Trump administration.

    • harpie says:

      From Shelby Holliday:

      11:30 AM – 10 Oct 2018  [WSJ] New: GOP activist Peter Smith met with Mike Flynn in 2015 & claimed close ties to WikiLeaks, according to emails and people close to him: with @ByronTau @dnvolz / In an email, a close Smith associate wrote to a friend, “As you are aware Peter started a business relationship with Gen. Mike Flynn in November 2015. We spoke with him on the day he left for his trip to Moscow.” // Flynn attended the Kremlin-backed RT conference in Dec. of 2015. /

    • Trip says:

      More info:

      (WASHINGTON) — Congressional investigators have reviewed emails between retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn when he was a top adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump and at least one person involved in the late Republican operative Peter Smith’s secretive effort to obtain thousands of Hillary Clinton emails that Smith believed had likely been stolen by Russian hackers, sources told ABC News.
      The emails were included in a cache of documents and records that Smith’s estate turned over to agents working for special counsel Robert Mueller and investigators from Capitol Hill, according to the attorney for Smith’s estate, William Ensing, and congressional sources.

      You have to read other coverage to find out what’s in the WSJ story, very frustrating.

      • Domye West says:

        “source close to Flynn told ABC News they couldn’t speak to whether Smith had a financial relationship in 2015 with Flynn or the Flynn Intel Group”

        Could the 4th donor be Flynn?

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nice piece of work by Olivia Nuzzi of NY Magazine.  She was subjected to a bumbling con job by Trump, trying to woo her into changing her conclusion that the White House is a mad house filled with chaos and palace intrigue.

    Nuzzi had spent the morning interviewing various people in the White House on the topic.  As she was having a smoke on her way off the grounds, she was called back by Sarah Sanders and ushered into the Oval Office.

    Those Nuzzi had talked to had apparently been debriefed, presumably by Shine and Sanders, because Trump had been given briefing notes about their conversations and talking points intended to refute them.

    Someone had mentioned the topic of her work, and convinced Trump that he needed to try this con job, lest her magazine publish an unfavorable article.  The Greatest Marketing Genius the World Has Ever Seen decided that he’d have to do the job himself.

    Trump organized a full-court press.  In attendance by the end were Trump, Pence, Pompeo, Kelly, Ayers, Shine, Sanders, and Ms. Nuzzi.  Pence and Pompeo were apparently there for a planned lunch.  Trump corralled them into his extemporaneous conference.

    The assault on Nuzzi was all hail fellow, well met and disarming charm.  All uncoordinated.  All painfully and obviously insincere.  Ms. Nuzzi’s article summarizes it in its chaotic, manipulative, self-deceptive glory.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      And while this feverish, hours-long activity was going on, in a vain attempt to protect Trump’s brand, who was president and doing all the things real presidents are supposed to do?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yea, she’s a pretty, blond, 25-year old who looks vaguely like Ivanka.  Dropped out of Fordham.  She’s NYMag’s first ever DC correspondent.  One would think her experience is thin.

        That she was allowed in to the WH to do any of these interviews in the first place suggests the WH did not think her much of a threat.  That she was invited to the Oval Office for this snow job supports that.

        Interviews of her about this story suggest she is a bit over her head, but game and incredulous that the Don attempted this odd, I’ve-got-nothing-better-to-do full-court press.

        Her article suggests that the Don’s judgment remains as exceptional as ever.  Her days of personal interviews at this WH are probably over.

    • bmaz says:

      Nuzzi? She is the reporter the Trumpalos are suddenly worried about? Sure there are some reliable stenographers wandering around the WH grounds, but Nuzzi is the Jane Mayer like presence they are terrified of? Really??

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The mad monk must have thought she was pretty and wanted to meet her.  He was probably bored, too, what with being told to act presidential while storms of unprecedented ferocity were terrorizing his southern base.

        The Don’s staff must have thought her easily snowed, with no Jane Mayer-like network and knowledge base to work from.  Another own goal from the team that can’t shoot straight.

    • Trip says:

      I don’t care about her experience or lack thereof, her piece was a thing of mastery and beauty. Maybe precisely because she lacked experience, she revealed the con without shellac. Since she didn’t have ‘insider status’, like Mike and Maggie, it wasn’t draped in the benefit of the doubt of maybe these people are sane and thoughtful. It laid it all bare how ridiculous all of them are.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        That’s the point.  Shine and Sanders thought she could be used as an empty vessel they could fill.  She surprised the hell out of ’em .  Good for her.

        • Trip says:

          Maybe she is. I haven’t followed her. But perhaps her vacuousness was the right touch to reveal the vacuousness of the WH scene. Whatever the ingredient, it sure was refreshing alongside the typical PR thrust of the Mike and Maggie show. You’ve got to admit that.

      • klynn says:

        It is a great piece.  One of the best I have read that captures “the ease of BS” in the WH. All I could think as I read it was, “This is some creepy crap going on,” as though they all have a commitment to a hidden agenda, a hidden hoodwink of the People.  BTW Kelly got his “duty” list in the wrong prioritization.  He serves to protect the Constitution, and his oath of office makes his duty clear. He does not serve the President first. For Kelly to “…solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter…” it means that by swearing to support and defend the Constitution first, he serves The People firstly as well.

  14. Willis Warren says:

    Smith killed himself for a 5 million life insurance policy.  Now, the Daily Caller is saying “suicide is exempt from life insurance” but that isn’t true.  Only the first two years of a policy have a suicide rejection clause.  After two years, the policy is paid no matter how you die, barring fraud.

    I don’t doubt he wasn’t in on the payoff, as the Russians probably would have approached trump through manafort or Jared

  15. Trip says:

    emptywheel‏ @emptywheel

    You’d think that the lady that says she’s the most bullied in the world would consider divorce, then.

    She comes back from visiting Africa, after seeing a baby elephant reserve, and has no comments on the murders of these beautiful and intelligent creatures (by her sons-in-law), nor her husband calling Africa a “shithole”, but instead she hosts a pity party for herself?

    JFC, what a tone deaf, rich and entitled self-centered ass, just like her hideous husband.
    They belong together: they deserve each other.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The pith helmet and the tropical whites were the clues.  The Out of Africa dress was anachronistic, ignorant, and insensitive.  But Mrs. Trump vision was limited to how well it was tailored.  She and her husband are made for each other.

  16. Trip says:

    @Marcy, do you think Mueller had the info on Flynn and Smith all long, since Flynn began cooperating? Or do you think his involvement was more recently uncovered?

    • bmaz says:

      Why would you ask such a question?? She does not know and pretending like anybody does, other than Mueller, is far beyond silly.

      • Trip says:

        What the hell, we can’t ask her opinion now? I didn’t say that she knew. It’s a weird thing to have a bug up your ass about.

    • Trip says:

      Related in US:

      SF Jewish Federation Bankrolls These Hate Groups

      Among the extremist, radical right-wing, and anti-Muslim groups that received funds from the SF Federation, both directly and through the Diller Foundation, and some of which have received substantial and repeated grants over the years, include: Project Veritas, The AMCHA Initiative, The American Freedom Law Center, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, The David Horowitz Freedom Center, and the work of Islamophobic Dutch politician Geert Wilders (through the International Freedom Alliance Foundation). Others include the Clarion Fund, the Center for Security Policy (Frank Gaffney), the Middle East Forum (Daniel Pipes), the Tea Party Patriots Foundation, and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies….The San Francisco Jewish Community Federation is one of the largest Jewish charities in the United States with a budget of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars. Furthermore, it is located in, and presumably represents, one of the most progressive cities and communities in the United States. Whether the SF Federation’s financial support of radical, right-wing, Islamophobic, bigoted, and McCarthyite groups aligns with that community’s values is ultimately up to its members.

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