By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (3/21/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
Trump-Russia is more a mini-series than a movie. The landscape is too broad, too many characters, too many plot twists…
Flynn to Kian to Erik Prince to Dmitriev to Russian Bank to Putin – When A Cast of Bad Actors Becomes a Conspiracy. And national betrayal
Weedy but damning with mercenary former Blackwater founder, unofficial Trump campaign adviser and brother to Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Erik Prince as a more central Trump-Russia conspirator.
One of the lesser-known persons implicated through special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation is the former Michael Flynn business partner Bijan Kian. Former convicted Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn continues to cooperate with Mueller and is awaiting sentencing. Kian was indicted by the Eastern District of Virginia: “The indictment alleges that Kian and Alptekin, close allies of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sought out Flynn’s firm to “discredit and delegitimize” Fethullah Gulen, the exiled dissident Turkish cleric, and “secure his extradition” back to Turkey on behalf of the government in Ankara.”
While the Kian-Fethullah Gulen extradition saga is an entire story unto itself as is the story of Alptekin and his ties to the Putin government this is not the focus.
The focus is a pre-trial request made by Kian’s lawyer for expansive documentation from prosecutors ahead of a trial. One specific aspect of the request disclosed a previously unknown Trump-Russia connection between Flynn and Kirill Dmitriev after the 2016 election: Details of Flynn’s contact with Kirill Dmitriev and other Russian officials following the election, and whether those were reported to DIA.
The CEO of a sanctioned Russian investment fund Demitriev is linked to Prince through a meeting in the Seychelles “just weeks before President Trump’s inauguration”. “Prince told told Congress his discussion with Dmitriev was just happenstance and took place “over a beer.” Prince also said he did not attend the meeting as a representative of the Trump team.” Prince’s exposure for lying to Congress comes from this:
“Since Prince’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Mueller’s team has received information that the meeting was a pre-organized effort to set up a backchannel between the Trump administration and the Kremlin, .”
There is much more that can be said about any of these accomplices or events but the eye opener here is:
Flynn’s indicted business partner Kian’s lawyer has just disclosed knowledge by Mueller of a link between Flynn and Russian banker Dmitriev who is already linked to coordinating a Trump administration back-channel with Russia through Prince.
Trump apologists would suggest a cast of bad actors surrounding the president, but when the bad actors act in concert that defense blows up.
Second inadvertent disclosure
A second inadvertent disclosure came as a result of a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information request regarding the federal warrant leading to the investigation of convicted former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. The 895-page document discloses much new news about Mueller’s investigation of Cohen, including that the investigation started nearly as much as a year prior to the FBI raid of Cohen properties, “only a month after Mueller was appointed”.
There are at least two important take-aways: the first is related to campaign finance violations that are part of Cohen’s guilty plea:
“… the documents … made clear that the probe into campaign finance violations continues to this day: Entire sections discussing “The Illegal Campaign Contribution Scheme” in several of the documents are completely redacted, ostensibly to protect the government’s ongoing investigation.
“Federal prosecutors are reportedly looking into whether others within the Trump Organization knew about the hush money payments.”
Remember that hush payments to Stormy Daniels that underpin the campaign finance violations included checks signed by Trump, Donnie Jr. and Trump Org Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.
The second disclosure shows that Cohen received payments totaling $583,333 from sanctioned Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg. “Cohen received more than $80,000 in monthly payments and a total of $583,332.98 from Columbus Nova LLC, a Zurich-based firm that is linked to Vekselberg.”
The $583K was part of “more than $2.8 million in transfers and checks” Cohen received for consulting through his relationship to Trump.
While the interest in Vekselberg has been know for some time, the disclosure of the payments is new:
“Federal agents working with Mr. Mueller stopped Mr. Vekselberg, a billionaire businessman, at a New York-area airport this year, searched his electronic devices and questioned him, according to people familiar with the matter. They confronted him after he stepped off a private plane about two months ago, according to one of the people.
“There is no indication that Mr. Mueller suspects Mr. Vekselberg of wrongdoing. But Mr. Vekselberg attended the presidential inauguration last year, and the interest in him suggests that the special counsel has intensified his focus on potential connections between Russian oligarchs and the Trump campaign and inaugural committee.”
Vekselberg’s Trump-Russia connections also include a donation of “$250,000 to Mr. Trump’s inauguration” which Vekselberg attended.
Avalanche of documents
One final acknowledgment goes to the results of the House Judiciary Committee requests made to “81 individuals and entities connected to President Donald Trump”.
“The committee had received just eight responses as of Tuesday morning, GOP counsels to the committee said. The vast majority of the 8,195 pages of material the committee received was provided by former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon, who handed over 2,688 pages; Trump confidant Thomas Barrack, who supplied 3,349 pages; and the National Rifle Association, which turned over 1,466 pages, the Republicans said.
“The committee’s Democratic chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, on Monday that the panel had heard from a “large number” of recipients who “either sent or agreed to send documents to the committee” — documents which Nadler said “already number in the tens of thousands.”
“Nadler said that witnesses pledged to provide additional documents, but the committee hasn’t yet received them. He also said some people were seeking “friendly” subpoenas in order to compel their compliance with the request.”
There is a longer list of lesser well-known individuals from the list of 81, but so far, noticeable by absence includes Trump sons Donnie Jr. and Eric. Others to have communicated cooperation include AMI/National Enquirer which is headed by cooperating witness David Pecker and former Trump White House spokesperson Sean Spicer.
All of this signals a broadening and deepening of Trump-Russia corruption including — but in addition to — the remit of Robert Mueller.