Tag Archives: Russian

Giuliani: Nothing wrong with Trump camp taking Russian help

Giuliani: Nothing wrong with Trump camp taking Russian helpWASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani insisted Sunday there was "nothing wrong" with the president's 2016 campaign taking information from the Russians, as House Democrats pledged stepped-up investigations into campaign misconduct and possible crimes of obstruction detailed in special counsel Robert Mueller's report .



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'Time is short': Why experts warn Russian meddling detailed in Mueller report could happen again

'Time is short': Why experts warn Russian meddling detailed in Mueller report could happen againThe cyberattacks and other methods the Russians used to meddle in U.S. elections are the latest weapons in their years-long campaign to sow discord.



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Kremlin: No proof in Mueller's report of Russian meddling

Kremlin: No proof in Mueller's report of Russian meddlingMOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin argued on Friday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's 400-page report has not offered any credible evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.



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Trump’s aides were eager to take Russian dirt on Clinton. But it wasn’t a conspiracy, Mueller report said

Trump’s aides were eager to take Russian dirt on Clinton. But it wasn’t a conspiracy, Mueller report saidThe special counsel's final report report paints picture of a campaign eager to benefit from Russian interference.



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Mueller report: ‘Beyond implausible’ Trump team was unaware of Russian election interference, says legal expert

Mueller report: ‘Beyond implausible’ Trump team was unaware of Russian election interference, says legal expertWith the release of the Mueller investigation on Thursday, albeit in lightly redacted form, there are now as many questions as there are answers.And while the investigation did not find evidence the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, it uncovered “multiple links between Trump campaign officials and individuals tied to the Russian government”. The Independent spoke to legal expert and writer Colin Kalmbacher, who had much to say about Mr Mueller’s findings. The report highlighted that multiple members of the Trump campaign received some form of communication from Russian officials. Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, Roger Stone, Alex van der Zwaan, Konstantin Kilimnik, and 25 Russian nationals were indicted by the Special Counsel. On that, Mr Kalmbacher said that: “It’s beyond implausible the Trump Administration was unaware of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and any sleight-of-hand responses from administration officials that downplay such knowledge are not only off-base but, because they’re so ridiculous, also read as suspect.”President Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr, and other campaign officials have touted the claim of “no collusion” as the Special Counsel was “unable” to come to the conclusion that the group “willfully” violated the law in the case of the Trump Tower meeting, or intentionally colluded with Russia, but could not prove overall that justice was not obstructed. Mr Kalmbacher said that "it is imperative to differentiate between: (1) Russian government actors; and (2) non-governmental actors. Mr Mueller’s redacted report – and years’ worth of public knowledge – have established that highly placed Trump 2016 campaign officials made contact with Russian nationals not directly affiliated with the Russian Federation.” “In other words, obviously the Trump campaign had contacts with Russians but there’s nothing immoral, illegal or otherwise untoward about that. Only the most irresponsible and reckless – and almost certainly incorrect – reporting has suggested that Trump campaign apparatchiks actually had conspiratorial meetings with Russian Federation agents keyed toward cheating Donald Trump across the finish line by way of razor-thin margins in the Midwestern United States.” “As far as the latter is concerned, if I were summing up the extent of the Trump campaign’s efforts with Russian Federation agents, I’d have to emphasise the Mueller report's bottom-line finding that 'the investigation did not establish such coordination.'"As for the charges laid against Manafort in Virginia? They weren't linked to collusion at all. Mr Kalmbacher said: “I covered the Manafort trial in Virginia in person. This was all fairly run-of-the-mill gilded upper crust tax evasion and bank fraud. In other words: the story of American wealth. It would have been nice if the Manafort prosecution led to an American Spring focused on uprooting the methods by which the wealthy and well-connected game our system: but that’s not where things were headed. Manafort, the president's former campaign manager, was in March sentenced to nearly four years in prison on tax and bank fraud."You could prosecute most people who make over six figures for the same kind of stuff Manafort was convicted of in Virginia – but our system is actually set up to facilitate white collar crime – and none of that had anything directly to do with politics; he was interested in finding ways to launder his money earned in Ukraine, sure. But even these white collar crimes were fairly pedestrian stuff: lying on his taxes, hiding income, inflating assets. Is this the kind of thing society really thinks people should be caged for?”The section on Trump Campaign and the Dissemination of Hacked Materials begins with: “The Trump Campaign showed interested in WikiLeaks’s releases of hacked materials throughout the summer of 2016,” and is mostly redacted from that point.The report states “On July 22, 2016, WikiLeaks posted thousands of internal DNC documents revealing information about the Clinton Campaign. Within days, there was public reporting that US Intelligence agencies had “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the DNC.”Was Mr Mueller aware that the Trump campaign knew the emails were going to be released before they were? Mr Kalmbacher believes so.He replied, “Well, yes. But that’s hardly surprising – and not the least bit incriminating – because Wikileaks themselves teased the existence of the leaks before they were released.”Continuing, he added: “This is one of the more hare-brained episodes in the entire Russiagate drama. The idea that a hatchet man like Roger Stone had access to some secret pool of knowledge or that he was buddying around with Julian Assange in a bid to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House. It’s absolutely ridiculous. There’s no need for grand designs or cloak-and-dagger espionage. We’re not dealing with a Graham Greene character here. Anyone on either side of the equation should think twice about romancing Roger Stone. He’s not a scheming mastermind or a windswept hero. The Trump campaign knew about potentially harmful Clinton-related releases because Roger Stone was capable of using a Twitter account.”The report notes that "Beginning in June 2016, [redacted] forecast to senior Campaign officials that WikiLeaks would release information damaging to candidate Clinton. WikiLeaks‘s first release came in July 2016.’" "What an interesting coincidence," said Mr Kalmbacher. "Except that it’s not interesting whatsoever.”“Wikileaks publically teased the forthcoming release of Clinton-centric data in May of 2016. May comes before June. The real story here – and the revealing piece of information – is why it took Roger Stone at least two weeks to alert his superiors about this impending release. That’s hardly expert timing or even great ability to read for comprehension. But, of course, it’s not Roger Stone’s timing or reading comprehension that’s important here. The key point: the narrative of Stone’s scheming nefariousness is almost completely fictitious.”As for the legal implications of the report? “Most of the report on this subject is redacted. So, there are, presumably legal implications and I’d imagine the lines dedicated to those implications outline some of the still-working parts in the ongoing Stone prosecution.”Mr Kalmbacher continued: “More directly: don’t be so stupid as to lie about non-crimes. Other than that, no. There’s nothing illegal about relying on Wikileaks for campaign dirt. Wikileaks is a publishing company. They provide information – they do journalism – that powerful people do not like."Mr Mueller has decided to not prosecute those involved with the Trump tower meeting (Donald J Trump Jr, Manafort, and Jared Kushner) despite Mr Trump Jr setting up the meeting due to the offer of “some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father” as there was no proof that they “willfully” violated the law. But which campaign law is this based on, and what exactly about their behaviour didn't violate it? “This is based on 11 CFR 110.20. I’ve actually written about why Mr Mueller wouldn’t charge Trump Jr. over this meeting before. Turns out my prediction was half right. Mr Mueller, like most lawyers, has a habit of arguing with himself. In essence he decided not to prosecute Trump Jr. for two reasons: (1) it would be hard to classify opposition research as “a thing of value” and this would have been the first time in US history that such an effort would have been made; and (2) because of a tick (feature or bug?) in campaign finance law, ignorance of the law actually is an excuse and here, Mr Mueller determined that Trump Jr. was not familiar with the intricacies of campaign finance law. Who really is, though? Campaign Legal Center – that’s about it. "Mr Mueller is a conservative Republican whose interests and loyalties are pretty clear – he wasn’t there to rock the boat or make precedent. So, it’s no surprise that he didn’t go after the 45th president’s oldest son.”Finally, why did none of this add up to collusion? “Collusion was almost always never going to be proved or shown simply because it’s not the legal term of art applicable here.” He continued: “Collusion only exists in antitrust law in the US. I can’t recall exactly when or how it transposed itself into our cultural lexicon but it’s basically been used as a smokescreen."Mueller obviously can’t prove something that’s entirely inapplicable. But, again, prosecutors can easily prove conspiracy if they want to. They can easily prove campaign finance crimes if they want to. They can easily go after regulatory infractions a la Manafort if they want to.”“The decision not to charge here was a conscious one not to create controversy because the case, if charged, would have, simply, ruined people’s lives. And, it seems, Mueller didn’t deem that damage equivalent to the potential crimes he probably saw."



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Ukraine says it captured Russian military intelligence hit squad

Ukraine says it captured Russian military intelligence hit squadUkraine’s security service SBU said on Wednesday it had captured a Russian military intelligence hit squad responsible for the attempted murder of a Ukrainian military spy in the run-up to a presidential election on Sunday. The issue of how to deal with Russia, which annexed Crimea in 2014 and backs pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, is prominent ahead of the vote, with incumbent Petro Poroshenko casting himself as the commander-in-chief Ukraine needs to defend the country.



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Pentagon Admits Plan to Launch 1,300 Satellites Might Not Prevent Chinese or Russian Attacks

Pentagon Admits Plan to Launch 1,300 Satellites Might Not Prevent Chinese or Russian AttacksPhoto Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast/GettyA new Pentagon space agency wants to launch nearly 1,300 small satellites and, in the process, totally reinvent the way the military operates in orbit.The goal: to help the U.S. satellite constellation survive a sneak-attack by China or Russia. With hundreds of satellites in orbit, no single satellite is critically important, or so the thinking goes. If the Chinese or Russians were to knock out one or even dozens of satellites, scores more could take their place.But the new “mega-constellation” plan from the Space Development Agency might not actually work. The agency’s own director, Fred Kennedy, said it probably was “no panacea” against an enemy attack.It could be prohibitively expensive to deploy so many sats. Rocket launches are getting cheaper. But they might not yet be so cheap that the Pentagon could afford to conduct hundreds of them in a short span of time.In any event, the agency’s plan is advisory. The Pentagon could just ignore it. But the idea is interesting if no for other reason than its contrarianness. Today the U.S. military and other government agencies, universities and private companies together operate around 850 satellites, according to a count by the Massachusetts-based Union of Concerned Scientists. Second-place China has 280 satellites and Russia, in third place, has 150.But America’s satellites increasingly are vulnerable to attack, according to military officials. “China and Russia both are building direct-ascent weapons that can shoot down our satellites,” U.S. Air Force general John Hyten, the head of U.S. Strategic Command, said on Tuesday at the annual Space Symposium conference in Colorado Springs.“Direct-ascent weapon” is military parlance for “rocket.”That’s not all. Hyten also said Russia and China also are building lasers that can blind American spacecraft and jammers that cut the satellites’ links to controllers on the ground plus “on-orbit” weapons—in essence, kamikaze satellites that can ram into American sats.Not only are Moscow and Beijing building arsenals for taking down America’s space assets, they’re “doing it aggressively and quickly,” Hyten said.To be clear, the U.S. military has anti-satellite weapons of its own. And American sats aren’t exactly defenseless. Starting in 2018, the Air Force spent a billion dollars adding “resilience features” to some of its spacecraft. Resilience features might include better thrusters, allowing the spacecraft to maneuver more quickly in order to avoid attack. They may also include extra sensors on the spacecraft that act as a sort of orbital home-security system, monitoring the approach of potential assailants, according to James Oberg, an independent space expert and former NASA mission control specialist.“Now that autonomous mini-satellites can approach other satellites, sometimes without detection from the ground, space-based detection must be installed on the potential targets,” Oberg told me. The sensors could include cameras, radars, radio-signal detectors and “sniffers” that can track the energy from other satellites' thrusters, Oberg added.But the Space Development Agency, a small research organization that opened shop in March, wants to take a different approach. The Pentagon asked Congress for $ 150 million to fund the new agency through 2020.Rather than beefing up individual spacecraft, under the mega-constellation plan the military would simply buy lots more small, inexpensive satellites, reinforcing or replacing the roughly 170 large, expensive sats the armed forces currently operate.Speaking at the Colorado conference on Tuesday, Kennedy said he wants to see the Pentagon deploy “hundreds, perhaps even a thousand or more small satellites exhibiting a host of capabilities.”A graphic Kennedy displayed broke down the numbers of different kinds of spacecraft in the proposed mega-constellation. In all, 1,258 small satellites would crowd low orbit, scanning the Earth and space and relaying radio communications. Three copies of an “advanced maneuvering vehicle”—presumably some version of the Air Force’s secretive X-37B robotic mini-shuttle—would orbit above the other sats. Artificial intelligence would help ground-based controllers to maneuver and coordinate the hundreds of spacecraft, Kennedy said.But the plan hinges on very cheap space launches. Lots of them. In 2018, U.S. entities launched just 31, mostly big, satellites—many of which might remain in orbit a decade or longer. Since small satellites might last just a year or two, to build the mega-constellation the military could need to expand its launch activities by a factor of 20. It could be pricey. According to a 2018 paper by NASA researcher Harry Jones, the price per pound of a satellite launch has decreased from around $ 24,000 in the 1980s and 1990s to just $ 1,200 in 2019. But launching 600 or more satellites annually instead of 30 could more than offset the falling per-pound price of a launch.Kennedy acknowledged the downsides of his agency’s satellite plan. “We recognize that this isn’t the sum total of the nation's space construct,” he said. "We should not jump to extremes.”But even experimenting with a new approach to deploying satellites could result in better technology and methods that could make it harder for Russia or China to knock out America’s spacecraft, Kennedy said. “This puts us on a wonderfully disruptive path.”Kennedy said his agency would begin conducting conducting war games in order to test out the mega-constellation concept starting in 2022.Read more at The Daily Beast.



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Russian officials agree to free 'whale jail' animals

Russian officials agree to  free 'whale jail' animalsRussian officials said Monday they will work towards freeing all orca and beluga whales from a notorious facility in the east of the country, after a visit by US-based marine mammal advocates. Nearly 100 whales captured for sale to aquariums have been kept in small pens for months in what the media has nicknamed a “whale jail” in the Russian Far East, as the campaign to release them gathered strength and went global. Kremlin-backed Far Eastern governor Oleg Kozhemyako on Monday announced that he has “made a decision to free the animals into the wild,” after meeting noted environmentalists and campaigners Jean-Michel Cousteau and Charles Vinick who visited the facility last week.



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How a Russian S-400 Could Shoot Down an F-35 (Thanks to Turkey)

How a Russian S-400 Could Shoot Down an F-35 (Thanks to Turkey)Russian and American technology don't mix.



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Body of Israeli soldier missing since 1982 Lebanon War found by Russian and Syrian armies

Body of Israeli soldier missing since 1982 Lebanon War found by Russian and Syrian armiesThe body of an Israeli soldier missing since the 1982 Lebanon War was found by the Russian and Syrian armies, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, said yesterday. But Syrian state news agency SANA said Damascus had no details on the discovery of the corpse. Sergeant First Class Zachary Baumel had been listed as missing along with two other Israeli soldiers after a deadly battle with Syrian forces in a Lebanese village, and the return of his remains will bring to a close a highly sensitive case for Israelis. Russia said it handed over the remains to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, who is visiting Putin five days before he is to seek a fifth term in office in a difficult election. Mr Netanyahu, 69, is running in the April 9 vote despite facing potential corruption charges and experts say he hopes the Moscow visit will increase his chances of success on election day. Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting Putin five days before he is to seek a fifth term in office in a difficult election Credit: MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images "Our military together with Syrian partners found the place of his burial," Mr Putin said of Baumel. "We are very happy that he will be able to receive the right military honours in his homeland." Mr Netanyahu said Mr Baumel would be laid to rest at a ceremony in Israel later Thursday. "Zachary's friends and family will take part," he said, adding that his family had been "very touched". "His father is no longer alive, unfortunately," he added. "His mother is around 100 years old. Zachary also has a sister." Neither Russia nor Israel have given details on how or where the remains were found. Mr Putin said only that Syria – with which Israel has technically been at war – participated in the operation.



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