Russia Monitor

Russia Monitor: Will They Get To The President, Jared? We Sure As Hell Hope So

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (11/23/17) Dear Fellow Readers, “Do you think they’ll get the president?” – Kushner asked a friend, according to a person briefed on the conversation. I do. Kudos to Fresh Air this week. On Monday (11/20) the show ran How The Panama Papers Reveal Illicit Money Networks. Then on Tuesday (11/21) they aired Journalist Investigating Trump And Russia Says ‘Full Picture Is One Of Collusion’. In broad strokes these are the same story and are the key to Trump’s greatest risk with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation – his business longstanding and extensive, shadowy relationship with…

Read More

Russia Monitor: So How Long Has The Trump-Russia Mutual Enchantment Gone On? A Lot Longer Than We Realized

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (11/20/17) Dear Fellow Readers, How long have we lived with Trump and the Trump-Russia story? We have lived with Trump for one year since the election. We have lived with Trump for two years if we consider when he announced his candidacy for the presidency. Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, what we’re seeing with special counsel Robert Mueller’s broader investigation to consider Trump’s business dealings with Russians takes us back ten years. Let’s open with that question, how long, and end with one attempt at an answer. Trump Has Us Deeply Divided…


Russia Monitor: The Trump/Putin Threat From Within Growing Clearer With Every News Cycle

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (11/16/17) Dear Fellow Readers, The big Trump-Russia news this cycle has been the revelations about Donnie Trump Jr. communicating and coordinating with WikiLeaks in an effort to advantage Trump in the 2016 election. We’ll dig into this more but the important take-aways are the willingness of Donnie Jr. and the Trump campaign to win at all costs and the final confirmation of WikiLeaks as a hostile intelligence service. This second point is well summarized by Trump’s own CIA Director Mike Pompeo as, “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like…


Russia Monitor: Who You Going To Trust, Me, Or Your Lying Eyes?

Is ‘A Lie Told Often Enough Becomes Truth’ Really True? By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (11/13/17) Dear Fellow Readers, As the Trump-Russia story unspools ‘No contact’ becomes ‘no collusion’ becomes ‘it wasn’t me’…  Trump campaign, staff and associates lies are a moving target. Once a set of lies are dispelled they pick up the goal posts, move them down the field and issue new lies. Except for Trump, he tries to hold the goal posts in one place as if his lies alone are the force of nature that will win the battle for hearts and minds over Trump-Russia…


WARNING: Russian Cyber Warfare Is An Immediate Threat To World Democracy

  By Natalie Nougayrède The Guardian (11/4/11) Anyone in Europe and Britain worried about the state of US democracy should take time to watch the videos of this week’s congressional hearings over Russian online meddling in the 2016 presidential election. If the words “checks and balances” mean anything, this surely is it. My favourite moment is when senator Dianne Feinstein leans into the microphone and says sternly to the Facebook, Twitter and Google representatives(whose evasive answers have exasperated her): “You don’t get it! This is a very big deal. What we’re talking about is cataclysmic. It is cyber warfare. A major foreign power with sophistication and ability got…


Russia Monitor: The Incompetent Gang That Couldn’t Collude Straight

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (11/9/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Trump-Russia: The gang that couldn’t collude straight! There are two goals for the column today: 1) examples of the breadth and depth of history of Trump-Russia, and; 2) a closer look at Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Trump campaign foreign policy adviser. Imagine, we’ve come so far – we can now consider breadth and depth of Trump-Russia collusion, well past the “what about this meeting between…?”. As The Washington Post notes the whole issue of “did they or didn’t” they collude with Russia is pretty obvious: The Trump Administration Is Up…


Russia Monitor: Threatening Totalitarianism Ratchets Up The Stakes Of Mueller Probe

  He is a fake president trying to force his authoritarian fake reality upon the nation. By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (11/6/17) Dear Fellow Readers, David Roberts of Vox poses an excellent question, “what if Mueller proves his case and it doesn’t matter?”. Greg Sargent of The Washington Post offers the same concern as he addresses the real risk we face with Trump and Trump-Russia collusion: New Reporting Deals Another Big Blow To Trump’s Dangerous Russia Spin. “… that the alleged Russian sabotage itself, irrespective of whether his (Trump) campaign colluded with it, definitively never happened at all and, by extension, doesn’t…


Russia Monitor: Is The White House Scared, Yet?

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (11/2/17 Dear Fellow Readers, What happened and why is it important? Special Counsel Robert Mueller Charges Three Former Trump Campaign Officials Mueller is serious. Mueller is organized. Mueller’s actions are very bad news for Trump, his campaign staff, White House staff and associates. Trump is very pissed and his support groups are working hard to deflect and attack. This is very big news and very important regarding Trump-Russia and interference in our 2016 election. The timing is earlier than expected and the impact sends a clear signal. Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted Paul…


Russia Monitor: It’s Mueller Time!

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (10/30/17) Dear Fellow Readers, A few months ago Keith Olbermann on his ‘The Resistance’ show said we’d wake up one morning and it would all be over. We’d see news images of lots of activity at the White House and all of a sudden… Trump would be gone. This is not that announcement but on Friday night, just after 8 PM Central CNN announced: First On CNN: First Charges Filed In Mueller Investigation. “A federal grand jury in Washington on Friday approved the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller,…


Russia Monitor – Russia’s Most Successful Export: America’s New ‘Normal’

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (10/25/17) Dear Fellow Readers, There is one thing you can count on in US politics right now – it is predictably unpredictable. On second thought, that is too optimistic. What’s predictable is that when the dust of the latest meaningless dust-up settles we’re going to get screwed again. Maybe a little… likely a lot. We dodged a fusillade with health care when the GOP Congress motivated by ideology and money couldn’t agree to agree with themselves on how to screw us best. Much like health care we have no idea what rewriting the…


Russia Monitor: Golly-Gee-Willikers, Where To Next, Comrade?

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (10/23/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Trump-Russia. What happened? What needs to happen now? Trump continues to deny Russian involvement in aiding and abetting his election and may well be the single person in this administration clinging to that notion. To do otherwise would challenge his self-imagined mythical victory mandate. Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III blandly acknowledges that no steps have been taken to prevent the ongoing Russian influence in our politics. He admits this with a golly-gee-willikers, possum-in-the-headlight look of vacant-minded innocence as if he can’t imagine who should be doing something; as if…


Russia Monitor: Wonder Boy & Other Trumpland Geniuses Crater

    By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (10/19/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Why did Jared Kushner meet with Sergei Gorkov and why is the meeting important? It’s important – this is at the core of Trump-Russia with a focus on Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump’s govern-for-personal-enrichment operation that extends across his family, advisers and cabinet. It will take a few links to fill out the picture, here’s the roadmap: Sergei Gorkov was the head of Vnesheconombank (VEB) when he met with Kushner in December 2016 VEB is a Russian state investment bank that funds Putin projects Gorkov is a…


Russia Monitor: It’s All A Big Nasty Ball Of Coincidence. Right?

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (10/16/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Vetting is for losers! Just like human rights, doing business without bribes and the rule of law. Losers! Sad! Fake News! Lies and distractions can only get you so far – we want to know what really happened. Did a crowd of liars and sociopaths steal an election? If so, why? ***** Manafort’s Multiple Millions (Of Rubles) Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, has been in the news for months with details of his multiple relationships with assorted Russian characters, including oligarch/billionaire, Putin pal, Oleg Deripaska. We already know…


Russia Monitor: Are We To Believe Manipulation Of (Anti)Social Media Really Outflanking Tech Giants?

    By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (10/12/17) Dear Fellow Readers, As The Washington Post reported Monday, Google finally fund its way into the Russia scandal headlines: Google Uncovers Russian-Bought Ads On YouTube, Gmail And Other Platforms.  For the first time the internet titan, Google has uncovered evidence that Russian operatives exploited the company’s social media platforms in a coordinated attempt to interfere in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the company’s investigation. The Silicon Valley giant has found that tens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads by Russian agents who aimed to spread disinformation across Google’s many products, which include YouTube,…


Russia Monitor: Looking Back On The Critical Week America Got Snookered

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (10/9/17) Dear Fellow Readers, The news dictates a look-back approach for today’s episode of the Russia Monitor… Let’s use Rachel Maddow’s program as a starting point to consider how October 7, 2016 unfolded. This was a seminal moment in the 2016 election and the exposure of Russian interference for the benefit of Trump: At The Center Of 2016’s Most Intense Weekend. One year ago we had a one-day news cycle that started with Hurricane Matthew skirting the coast of south Florida as the first Category 5 hurricane since Felix in 2007 then moving on…


‘On Point’ – How Brutal Totalitarianism Took Over Russia

  By Tom Ashbrook On Point (10/2/17) Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen on how modern Russia took a wrong turn on the road to democracy and its march, now, to totalitarianism. Reporter Masha Gessen grew up in Russia.  Left young when it was still the Soviet Union.  Came back when there was an opening to democracy, and watched as Russia went the other way – to Vladimir Putin and what she now plainly calls totalitarianism.  Why did that happen?  What does it mean for Russians and for the world?  For the United States in particular?  This hour On Point:  Mashsa Gessen…


Russia Monitor: A View From Inside Russia-Trumplandia

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (10/5/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Imagine the emotion of being in the line of fire in Las Vegas and then hearing the White House say this is not the time to discuss gun control. Imagine the emotion having been on the street in Charlottesville and then hearing Trump say “many fine people” were among the Nazis. Imagine the emotion of suffering through the recovery after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and hearing Trump accuse you of wanting everything done for you. The truth is, there are times we operate with absolute certainty because we…


Russia Monitor: Trump’s Pals In (Anti)Social Media

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (10/2/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Let’s take a look at the recurring focus on Russian use of Facebook, Twitter and Google to influence the election in Donald Trump’s favor. Facebook has been a point of focus for some weeks now. Long enough for a more thoughtful review of what we’ve learned to date. Over at the New York Times contributing op-ed writer Zeynep Tufekci wrote of Zuckerberg’s Preposterous Defense Of Facebook. The serious questions for and about Facebook has been the Russian accounts that supported Trump. Trump has tried to change the narrative by adding his own…


Russia Monitor: A Busy, Busy Week

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (9/28/17) Dear Fellow Readers, So much has happened in the last few days. It’s news, not complicated new connections so I’ll use headlines and let you decide where you’d like to know more. I’ll simply stick to the high notes, just know there is much more. Let’s start with a milestone. Early on the question was often posed, “where’s the evidence of collusion?”. Well that’s why you investigate, you don’t investigate without suspicion, we are, on our better days, a country of laws. Complex investigations take time. Watergate took years, Whitewater took even…


Russia Monitor: As The Facts Pile Up, A Question For All – Which Side Are You On?

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (9/25/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Which Side Are You On? I don’t want to just pick a side, I want us to address real political issues that can make a difference in our lives. I want civility and respect in politics. I want us to make wise decisions that benefit the health and well-being of all of us. I don’t want elections to be all about the money. I want a democratic process based on fair voting. But instead this has been the weekend of Trump’s focus on professional athletes. Stephen Curry and LeBron James…


Russia Monitor: Parsing The Fetid Pieces Of Trumpworld

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (9/21/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Trump. Russia. Collusion. Start working on the definition of ‘collusion’, and be ready for political hair-splitting because we are that close. You decide which of these events make the stronger case but let’s consider frmer Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s status and the sale of ads to Russia by Facebook supporting the Trump campaign. Talking Points Memo reporter Allegra Kirtland writes on How The FISA Order Against Manafort Could Spell Big Trouble For Trumpworld TPM has done a good job of bringing together two important breaking news stories from…


Russia Monitor: From Natural Disaster To National Disaster

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (9/18/7) Dear Fellow Readers, Irma missed Miami but slammed the Keys. The neighbors were happy but it’s hard to feel good about any of it. Miami is mostly back to normal though a few houses in this part of Miami are still without power. No air conditioning reminded me of the ‘good ole days’ – I’m not really sure what that is or was, but we didn’t have air conditioning then either. As I get ready to head from Miami back to the real world I’ll offer a quick update and stick with…


Russia Monitor: Enough Threads To Knit A Straight Jacket

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (9/13/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Irma is headed to the west coast of Florida and not Miami, my prayers go out to everyone in the Keys and on the west coast. Miami may have dodged another bullet or at least a direct hit. Today (Sunday) is the big day for South Florida so we’ll see. There have always been multiple threads to Trump-Russia. Donnie Jr. and Facebook bring more validation to the main three:  Trump-Russia collusion;  Trump obstruction of justice; and Trump-Russian manipulation of the election. On Thursday Donnie Jr. sat for five hours…


Russia Monitor: All Kinds Of Hurricanes Headed Toward National Disaster Trump

By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (9/7/17) Dear Fellow Readers, From Miami and waiting for Hurricane Irma. Speaking of Irma – which I believe to be real in spite of international meteorological expert Rush Limbaugh’s assurances to the otherwise – is just one of a whole freight train of record breaking storms heading Trump’s way. Hurricane Irma Just Slammed Into Trump’s Caribbean Estate — And Is Headed Toward His Florida Properties I take no pleasure in this but Trump’s property on St. Martin may have taken quite a hit. And Mar-A-Lago, his resort in West Palm Beach, is currently on target…


Russia Monitor: Trump’s Russia Problem Goes From Drip, Drip To Deluge

  By Dan Peak The Daily Call (9/4/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Trump-Russia; there are a range of opinions and possible outcomes. Last edition I showed the Slate Trump Impeach-O-Meter and it shows ‘chances’ increasing from 60-62%. The Gallup daily Job Approval poll showing Trump favorability/un-favorability is running at all time lows (34-35% favorability) and consistent highs (holding at 60% un-favorability). Polls in general for Trump are trending slowly and consistently against him. For perspective or reinforcement look no further than The Washington Post. The Bad News About ‘this Russia thing’ Keeps Pouring In For Trump This stands as a pretty…


Russia Monitor: Watch Him Do A Con Man’s Waltz With A Stone In His Shoe

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (8/31/17) Dear Fellow Readers, If you were going to write a spy thriller, what would be a good setting, how might you create tension, what are the ‘tricks of the trade’ for such a book? Let’s start with plausibility, you can stretch a reader’s imagination, but not launch so far past credulity that readers won’t bite. Trump-Russia: Putin and Russia stealing the U.S. election, that might be a bridge too far? Then again, The Manchurian Candidate didn’t lose us. A few years ago we might have viewed The Americans (FX Networks) as an…


Russia Monitor: That Investigator Case Wall Is Filling Up Fast!

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (8/29/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Our prayers for the people of Houston and east Texas, the flooding is horrific. It was only two weeks ago we were saddened by the death of Heather Heyer and the violence in Charlottesville. Each news cycle feels like an assault. Trump-Russia was more in the news this week. The two main threads were the reports on Trump’s ongoing efforts to ‘call off the dogs’ of investigation into his Russia ties and the Trump Dossier is back in the news. Before I jump in, if you are reading this…


Russia Montior: Will Mueller Investigation Eclipse Trump Sooner Or Later?

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (8/24/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Trump is like a total eclipse regularly elbowing aside all other news as all media is drawn like moths to his billowing fires. Trump rallies the faithful in Arizona and spins on and on about neo-Nazis, threatens shutting down government, rants about fake news, a pardon for Sheriff Joe Arpaio and on and on … and on. Meanwhile, Special Counsel Mueller continues quietly doing his work undistracted. Trump Resignation Game-Ender? That said, Keith Olbermann, on Tuesday’s The Resistance, gets credit for pulling together important clues behind more obscure headlines to come to an…


Russia Monitor: This Will Not End Quietly

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (8/21/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Charlottesville, Boston, New York, Bannon’s resignation, business and arts councils ended – Trump should not be our president. Some have predicted he will resign, including “Art of the Deal” author Tony Schwartz. That would be great, the sooner the better. Even though his legislative agenda is compromised his administration continues to do damage daily across many fronts. Personally, I don’t think he will go quietly – his nature is to double-down and attack; he is doing all of that and will do more, much more. Michael Moore predicted Trump as…


WDRT Interview: ‘Commoner Call’ Editor Mark Taylor & Contributing Columnist Dan Peak Talk Politics & Current Events

WDRT (7/22/17) The Commoner Call editor and web site’s “Russia Monitor” columnist Dan Peak have a wide-ranging conversation about a variety of political and current events topics on the appropriately named “Conversations” WDRT 91.9 weekly broadcast. WDRT is a local community based and supported alternative radio station, and located on Main Street in Viroqua, Wisconsin. Link to 59-Minute Audio  


Russia Monitor: The Explosive Magnitsky Testimony You Probably Missed

      By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (8/7/17) It’s predictable and, to a certain extent, understandable that congressional republicans and diehard Trump fans dismiss the growing Russia investigation as some kind of Clinton-excusing witch hunt. Despite an ever growing, constantly evolving list of witnesses, secret meetings, Trump/Russia business ties and embarrassing ‘coincidences’, the Trumpsters wave it all away as simply democratic party sour grapes. Partisanship is a kind opaque blinkered view of reality that, to a certain extent – even if morally wrong – is understandable. What is not understandable is the number of lefties I have…


Russia Monitor: A Never-Ending Blizzard Of Syllables & New Russiagate Leads

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (7/31/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Initially, Russiagate, was hard to write about. Who is Sergei Magnitsky, or Yury Chaika? Who the heck is Natalia Veselnitskaya – or as Sen Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says, Natalia “Agent XYZ” after struggling to pronounce her name at the beginning of the Thursday Senate judiciary committee meeting. More importantly, who cares? It was hard to connect dots with such broad territory, timing and blizzard of syllables. I knew enough to know that ‘adoptions of Russian orphans’ was synonymous with the Magnitsky Act, which are sanctions against Russia. I knew the sanctions…


Russia Monitor: We Gotta’ Do Two Things Well At The Same Time

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (7/27/17) Dear Fellow Readers, First, a note on a domestic issue that affects everyone of us: Health Care – Urgent and Important.  Time to make calls… President Donald Trump: (202) 456-1111 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: (202) 224-2541 Speaker Paul Ryan: (202) 225-3031 Senator Ron Johnson: (202) 224-5323 Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121 Governor Scott Walker: (608) 266-1212 ***** Russiagate updates Russia put forward a great effort to influence our election. There are so MANY ties between the Russians, their influence and the Trump administration and new ones keep spilling out daily. The topic is BROAD and DEEP. Health care…


Russia Monitor: Pardon Me, Mr. Mueller … Please!

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (7/25/17) Dear Fellow Readers, I will let Donald Trump conduct his own news roundup to start this edition; here’s one of his tweets from Saturday morning: Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us.FAKE NEWS 6:35 AM – 22 Jul 2017 When Trump tweets or comments on such things he is often foretelling things to come. It’s always an indication of his focus, often described as a distraction from all…


Russia Monitor: Turns Out What Was Fake Wasn’t The News But All The Trump Denials

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (7/20/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Adam Schiff (D-CA) and senior Dem member of the House Intelligence committee summarizes the Trump-Russia history this way: Evolution of a Defense: No meetings w/ Russians Yes, meetings No collusion We tried to It’s not illegal Everybody does it I didn’t know. And that’s where we are. Trump and Donald Jr. denials no longer sell so well. I will offer a bit of breaking news then let the headlines tell the story and paint the picture of where we now stand with Trump-Russia. F.B.I. Nominee Answers Questions on Donald…


Russia Monitor: Rip Tides & Hidden Currents Challenge Corporate America’s Role In Russia

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (7/17/17) Dear Readers, With all the news, rumors and jack-in-the-box surprises regarding the multiple Russian roles and characters popping up in the Trump White House one can’t help but wonder about the role and relationships of American corporations moving into the growing Russian market. It’s an issue Forbes Magazine recently explored in a provocatively titled story American Companies Thriving In Russia: Is There Something To Be Ashamed About? “Ever since the Democratic National Committee decided to turn their disdain for Bernie Sanders into disdain for Russians and Donald Trump, the New York billionaire…


Russia Monitor: The End Of The Beginning

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (7/13/17) Dear Fellow Readers, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” – Winston Churchill  The week’s very big news, starting on Saturday and continuing through Monday, was a series of articles released by the New York Times that can be summarized by this headline: Russian Dirt on Clinton? ‘I Love It,’ Donald Trump Jr. Said The dialog of Trump-Russia has changed from ‘no meetings with Russians’ to ‘nothing illegal’ and per White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, “There…


Russia Monitor: Oh, The Tangled Webs & Trip Wires Of Trumplandia

  *****   By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (7/6/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Someone following the Trump Russia story closely commented on how it took a few days to fully digest implications of the Wall Street Journal articles on Peter W. Smith’s efforts to build a team to find the missing Clinton emails and his ties to Michael Flynn. Peter W. Smith Linked to Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Sam Clovis If you want a quick review, check out The Time I Got Recruited to Collude with the Russians by Matt Tait, CEO and founder of UK-based Capital Alpha Security, for an excellent first-person view…


Russia Monitor: Now He’s Colluding With Fox News?!

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call. (7/3/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Why did Fox News start a week ago with their ‘collusion is not a crime’ slant? Maybe Trump’s vicious and unhinged Tweets are meant to keep all eyes on him while hoping for new news to change the narrative. If you can ignore carnival sideshow of Trump’s tantrums there is real news that deserves our attention. COLLUSION: Trump Campaign Colludes With The Russians? Two articles by Shane Harris of The Wall Street Journal this past week on the issue of collusion have grabbed a lot of attention. The Wall Street Journal…


Russia Monitor: Let The Country Burn Or Put Out The Fire?

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (6/29/17) Dear Fellow Readers, The health care legislative process in the Senate has mostly pushed Trump Russia collusion off the front page – rightfully so and more resistance is required as ‘it will be back’. Important Versus Urgent: Is That A Real Choice? One comment I see in the media is that Russian involvement in our election doesn’t deserve the attention it gets and it pushes other important issues out of the limelight. This is wrong given the potential seriousness of the issue – up to and including had we ‘known’ we might we…