Russia Monitor: Our Future Hinges On Three Important Questions For Our Future…


By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (2/8/18)

Dear Fellow Readers,

Are we all on board with getting to the bottom of what happened during our 2016 election? Is everybody as cooperative as Trump when he says he’s “looking forward” to meeting with Special Counsel Mueller? Is there more to learn with Russian influence in our election or with Trump-Russia corruption? Do we face any risk of interference in our 2018 elections?

Three questions for the nation:

1) Do we risk interference in the 2018 elections?

2) Is there more to learn about the 2016 elections

3) Are we all on board to learn what we need to learn from 2016?

The HuffPost reported Wednesday: Rex Tillerson Says Russia Is Already Trying To Meddle In 2018 Midterms.

The subhead of the story carried both a warning and a prediction: And the U.S. is inadequately prepared to overcome this threat, warned the secretary of state.

Is there a risk to our 2018 election risk? Yes, according to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. And no, we are not prepared. In keeping with the admissions of Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III, there is not a plan to get us ready.

“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned this week that Russia is already trying to meddle in the 2018 midterm elections. And the U.S. is inadequately prepared to counter that threat, he said. 

““Really, I think it’s just important to continue to say to Russia, ‘Look, if you think we don’t see what you’re doing, we do see it and you need to stop. If you don’t, you’re just going to continue to invite consequences for yourself,’” Tillerson said.

“He said the U.S. is no more prepared now than it was before the 2016 presidential election to prevent Russian interference.”

CIA Director Mike Pompeo agrees with Tillerson:

“CIA Director Mike Pompeo also warned last month that Russia will almost certainly attempt to influence the 2018 midterm elections. “I have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that,” Pompeo told the BBC.”

But Trump does not agree.

Trump, however, asserted in November that he doesn’t believe Russia interfered in the election ― because Putin said so

It’s important to note. Trump appointed Tillerson to head State and Pompeo to head the CIA – but ignores them. Having appointed Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III attorney general, his head of Department of Justice, and Christopher Wray to head the FBI, Trump accuses the Justice Department and the FBI of bias against him.

Only a week ago Russia Monitor noted that the Trump administration refused to impose new sanctions against Russia as required by Congress in a 517-5 vote.

Trump is planning a military parade while ignoring the views of his State, Justice, CIA and FBI appointed heads.

Maybe we’ve learned all we need to know so we can also get behind the parade?


NBC News reported: Russians Penetrated U.S. Voter Systems, Says Top U.S. Official.

Months ago we learned the Russian had targeted voter registration rolls for a number of states. At the time we were assured all was good. Here’s what we were told for Wisconsin in September 2016:

“Homeland Security told state elections officials on Friday that Wisconsin was one of 21 states targeted by the Russians, raising concerns about the safety and security of the state’s election systems even though no data had been compromised. But in an email to the state’s deputy elections administrator that was provided to reporters at the Wisconsin Elections Commission meeting on Tuesday, Homeland Security said that initial notice was in error. 

“We have never seen any of those activities result in anything other than someone trying to turn the doorknob to see if a door is open,” Thompson said. “Those IP addresses we talked about, we had blocked, they were related to non-election systems.”

So a few doorknobs tested. But it turns out that for some states much more happened; on February 7, 2018 NBC News reported:

“The U.S. official in charge of protecting American elections from hacking says the Russians successfully penetrated the voter registration rolls of several U.S. states prior to the 2016 presidential election.

“In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Jeanette Manfra, the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, said she couldn’t talk about classified information publicly, but in 2016, “We saw a targeting of 21 states and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated.”

In September 2016 we were told 20 states had been targeted by the Russians. We are now learning that voter rolls were successfully penetrated.

We know Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III is not leading a national defense of our elections. And there are differences of opinion on whether individual states are taking any action and whether they are even up to countering sophisticated Russian hacking operations.


Election hack more serious than previously disclosed

What is becoming more and more clear is that happened to our election in 2016 is more serious than previously disclosed and Trump is ignoring the advice of his own cabinet and heads of law enforcement.

But we are all on the same page? I mean every GOP-led attempt to deflect attention has either fizzled of blown up in their face.

Most notably, House Intelligence Chair Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) had his second grand attempt to protect Trump by impugning the reputations of Trump’s FBI and Department of Justice fizzle. 

But the Trump Circus of Ineptitude plays on: Trump’s Latest Stunt Is About To Blow Up In His Face.

Trump has shown he is capable of following whatever mean-spirited whim he has at a moment in time. That said, even Republicans walked away from the latest Nunes inept attempt to provide Trump cover:

“But the performance of congressional Republicans on the Sunday shows — and a weekend’s worth of legal analysis taking apart the Nunes effort — together suggest another possibility. The Nunes memo affair may be shaping up as a much bigger fiasco than we even know — so bad, in fact, that it could ultimately undermine Trump’s position even more dramatically than we could have expected.”

The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the Democratic response to the Nunes memo and that recommendation now goes to the White House for further action, if any.

But, as reported in The Washington Post Sunday, never mind to flaming fiascos, Nunes is far done: Report: Nunes Wants to Publish As Many As 5 More Memos.

If only the GOP had this same resolve to understand what really happened. Absent that it makes one wonder if they aren’t complicit?

“House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes is planning to release as many as five additional memos targeting politically motivated “wrongdoing” at federal agencies, according to a new Axios report. On Friday, the House Intelligence Committee released a declassified GOP-written memo which accused officials at the FBI and Justice Department of abusing their power for politically motivated purposes and using misleading information to obtain a FISA warrant to surveil a former Trump campaign adviser who was suspected of having ties to the Kremlin.

“The overhyped memo got a lot of attention, but was far from the shocking conspiracy exposé that Nunes and many other Trump allies had promised, and it in fact largely reinforced the rationale of the Russia investigation. Either way, it’s unlikely Nunes will be deterred by the criticism, so more memos are undoubtedly on the way. “


Trump’s FBI tale is a lie

Maybe we’re not all on board. What else would Trump or the GOP lie about?

As an article in Lawfare noted Monday: ‘I Hope This Is an Instance of Fake News’: FBI Messages Show the Bureau’s Real Reaction to Trump Firing James Comey.

When then FBI Director James Comey was fired by Trump, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered this:

“…claimed that the president had “lost confidence in Director Comey” and that “the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.” She stated that the president had “had countless conversations with members from within the FBI” in the course of making his decision to fire ComeyThe following day, Sanders stated that she personally had “heard from countless members of the FBI that are grateful and thankful for the president’s decision” and that the president believed “Director Comey was not up to the task…that he wasn’t the right person in the job. [Trump] wanted somebody that could bring credibility back to the FBI.”

Benjamin Wittes, the editor in chief of Lawfare decided to do his own research:

“On June 22, 2017, Wittes made four FOIA requests. One of them sought communications to the workforce from the senior FBI leadership regarding Comey’s firing. Another sought communications on the topic from all the assistant directors and special agents in charge at the FBI’s many components and field offices to their respective teams. When the FBI did not respond in a timely manner, Wittes sued—represented by the folks at Protect Democracy—stating that his purpose was “to show conclusively that President Trump and his White House staff are lying about career federal law enforcement officers, their actions, and their attitudes”

All of the correspondence can be reviewed through the article but here’s the summary:

“The bottom line is that the documents tell a remarkably consistent story about the reaction inside the FBI to Comey’s firing, and it is not the story the White House has told about an agency in turmoil. It’s very much the story, rather, that McCabe told the Senate a few days after Comey’s dismissal. Someone, the documents show, stood before the American people the week of the firing and told the truth about the FBI. It just wasn’t Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Donald Trump.”


There is risk to our 2018 elections according to the Trump administration.

What happened to our 2016 election is even more troubling according to the Trump administration.

Trump and many within the GOP are doing everything they can to hide something — whatever it is — it compromises our ability to take the right steps to protect the nation.



Also on Monday Wired reported: Bob Mueller’s Investigation Is Larger — And Further Along — Than You Think.

This past weekend Trump assured us the Nunes memo “totally vindicates” him. As reported in the last edition of the Russia Monitor, Trump pumped up is claim even while supporters like Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) walked back their own comments. Gowdy said, “I think it would be a mistake for anyone to suggest the special counsel should not continue his work, this memo, frankly, has nothing at all to do with the special counsel.”

And so it is – Mueller is continuing his work.

“The first thing we know is that we know it is large.

“We speak about the “Mueller probe” as a single entity, but it’s important to understand that there are no fewer than five (known) separate investigations under the broad umbrella of the special counsel’s office—some threads of these investigations may overlap or intersect, some may be completely free-standing, and some potential targets may be part of multiple threads. But it’s important to understand the different “buckets” of Mueller’s probe.”

Garrett Graff, the author, notes there are five investigative angles:

  • Preexisting Business Deals and Money Laundering.
  • Russian Information Operations. 
  • Active Cyber Intrusions. 
  • Russian Campaign Contacts. 
  • Obstruction of Justice.

It’s a useful review as is this, or if anyone is of a mind — like Trump — to fantasize that the latest news “totally vindicates him – here’s a lot to consider: A (So Far) Complete Timeline Of The Investigation Into Trump And Russia.


What we always see with the saga of Trump-Russia corruption is that as times goes on, more and more always spills out on the table. More contacts with Russians. More lies and denials. More diversions and attacks. More risk in our elections. Scan the Washington Post history and consider.

There is always more detail. Former Trump White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon is avoiding appearing before the House Intelligence Committee but is planning to meet with Mueller. Mark Carallo, the former spokesperson for Trump’s personal legal team, is also planning to meet with Mueller. There is some commentary to suggest both are planning to be cooperative witnesses.

But for a much-needed change, let’s end on a note of humor form breaking news at The Onion… 

Trump Boys Forge Father’s Signature On Letters They Wrote Excusing Them From Any More Testifying