What's Going On?

Here is what I think --

Shortly before the 2016 presidential election, Trump agreed, if elected, to lift United States sanctions on Russian individuals and entities in return for a 19% interest (worth 12 Billion Dollars) in Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil and gas company. Trump made a deal for an old fashioned, garden variety bribe of a public official.

A BRIBE scenario explains Trump’s constant fawning over Vladimir Putin. A BRIBE scenario explains Trump’s refusal to punish Russia for interference in the 2016 election and Trump’s refusal to do anything to deter and/or prevent future cyber-attacks by Russia.

A BRIBE scenario explains Trump’s unprecedented attacks on the free press (over 250 tweets attacking the press), his attacks on the F.B.I.(the agency charged with the duty to investigate bribes of public officials), his attacks on the United States Department of Justice (the agency charged with the prosecution of corrupt public officials) and his attacks on the C.I.A (the agency charged with protecting the United States from attacks by foreign countries like Russia).

A BRIBE scenario explains two secret high level efforts by Trump’s team to establish secret back-channel communications with Putin. A back-channel is needed because Trump hasn’t lifted Obama’s sanctions on Russia and Putin has yet to deliver full control of the Rosneft interest to Trump. It is an ongoing crime.

A  BRIBE scenario explains Trump's five private/secret meetings with Putin (no other Americans present; not even Secretary of State)  in Hamburg, Vietnam, Helsinki, Paris, Buenos Aries.

 

Page 1.

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures toward journalists shouting questions as he departs the White House May 29, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump is scheduled to travel to Nashville, Tennessee later today for a campaign rally. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures toward journalists shouting questions as he departs the White House May 29, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump is scheduled to travel to Nashville, Tennessee later today for a campaign rally. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Look over there. Don’t look over here.

US President Donald Trump (R) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (R) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Media personalities and their guests, including members of Congressional Committees, repeatedly say Trump’s refusal to punish Putin for his interference in the 2016 elections or to take actions to deter and/or prevent Putin from interfering in future elections is either (1) “inexplicable” or (2) that “the Russians must have something on him”, i.e. another sex scandal or some other form of kompromat (a Russian political term short for "compromising material").

Bribery is a more likely explanation for Trump’s refusal to confront the Russians. In return for the potential of a 12 Billion Dollar interest in Rosneft, as detailed below, or a building permit for a Trump Tower in Moscow, Trump may well have agreed to lift Obama’s sanctions on Russia.

Unlike kompromat, bribery is not merely embarrassing, it is a crime against the United States under  18 U.S.C. 201.  A BRIBE is also grounds for impeachment.  Art. II, Sec 4.  U.S. Constitution.

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What is bribery?

"Whoever being a public official or person selected to be a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for:

  1. being influenced in the performance of any official act;
  2. being influenced to commit or aid in committing, or to collude in, or allow, any fraud, or make opportunity for the commission of any fraud, on the United States; or
  3. being induced to do or omit to do any act in violation of the official duty of such official or person;
shall be fined under this title for not more than three times the monetary equivalent of the thing of value, whichever is greater, or imprisoned for not more than fifteen years, or both, and may be disqualified from holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States."
 

 

A Timeline of Known Facts...

Pre-Election

2016

June

Meeting with Russian Officials

Beginning in late 2015, Trump's Lawyer, Michael Cohen engaged with Russian officials in an effort to secure approvals for a Trump Tower in Moscow.  These efforts ended in mid-June 2016.

July

Meeting with Russian Officials

On July 7 or 8, 2016, Carter Page, a specialist in oil and gas production in Russia and one of Trump's foreign policy advisors, met Igor Sechin in Moscow. Sechin, who was Deputy Prime Minister of Russia and is a close ally of Putin, is also the Executive Chairman of Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil and gas company.

Sechin proposed transfer of 19% interest in Rosneft to Trump in return for Trump lifting Obama’s 2014 sanctions (Christopher Steele Dossier p. 30 dated 10/18/16). Page admitted publicly that he was in Moscow on July 7 and 8, 2016 (reported on CNN 11/3/17). One of the sanctioned entities believed to be seriously affected by Obama’s 2014 sanctions is Rosneft.

Page sought and received permission from Trump’s Co-Campaign Chairman to make his July 2016 trip to Russia. And while he denies meeting Sechin, he admits he saw a Russian government official and a Rosneft executive during his July 2016 trip to Russia.

Page has also admitted that sanctions “may” have been discussed. Page invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination when he testified before House Intelligence Committee about his meeting in Moscow.

Steele Dossier - Page 30.

Connection to Manafort

On May 19th 2016 Trump named Paul Manafort as his campaign manager. Manafort served in that capacity until August 19th 2016. Manafort has a long history of working on behalf of Ukrainians allied with Russia. Manafort has been convicted of multiple crimes including tax evasion, money laundering and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

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Russian Accommodations

On July 18th, 2016, Trump allies at Republican National Convention amended Republican Platform in a way that accommodated Russia (by weakening provision that called for arming anti-Russian forces in Ukraine.

Cohen's Cleanup

On August 19th, 2016, Manafort was fired as Trump’s campaign manager. Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer (who paid $130,000 to Stormy Daniels), took over Page’s Russian activities with the added task of cleaning up mess created by Manafort’s activities in Ukraine. Steele’s Dossier says Cohen met with Russians in Europe; Cohen denies that he did. McClatchy News reports (dated April 14, 2018) state that Mueller has evidence Cohen did go to Prague in late August or early September 2016.

October

Steele Dossier Delivered

October 15th, 2016, the Steele dossier was delivered to FBI. It describes the Rosneft deal. Steele had met with FBI twice before; once in London (on July 5th, 2016) and later in Rome (in early October 2016).

 

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November

Trump Wins 2016 Presidential Election

December

Meeting with Russian Ambassador

On December 1, 2016, Jared Kushner (Trump’s son-in law and advisor) and Michael Flynn (Trump’s campaign national security advisor) met with Sergey Kislyak, Russian Ambassador to the United States, to discuss setting up secret back-channel between Trump and Putin using Russian embassy communications facilities; not U.S. facilities at White House, State Department or the CIA.

Transfer of Interest in Rosneft

December 7th, 2016 Rosneft announced a transfer of 19.5% interest in the company. That transferee is a Limited Liability Company formed in Cayman Islands. The interest transferred was owned by the Russian government. The new beneficial owner of the 19.5% interest in Rosneft remains a secret today.

Carter Page meets with Russian and Rosneft Officials

On December 8, 2016, one day after Russia’s transfer of 19.5%  interest in Rosneft to a Cayman Island Limited Liability Company, Carter Page arrived in Russia.   Page left Russia on December 13, 2016.    Later Page testified before Congress that during his December trip to Russia, he met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich and Rosneft’s Investor Relations Chief Andry Baranov.  These are exactly the same two Russian officials Page claims he met with in Moscow in July.     There has been very little public attention given to Page’s December sojourn in Moscow, shortly after which Michael Flynn’s conversations with Russians about sanctions were discovered by U.S. intelligence agencies as noted below.

Meeting with Qatari Investment Authority

On December 12, 2016, Cohen and Flynn met with Ahmed Al-Rumaihi at Trump Tower. An online picture of meeting participants was provided by Michael Avenatti. Al-Rumaihi is CEO of Qatari Investment Authority. And while Qatar’s role in the Rosneft scheme is not clear, it could be as escrow agent for the 19% interest in Rosneft.

Payment to Hackers

On December 13th 2016, the last report by Steele (p.35) alleges hackers who helped Trump win were paid by Cohen and by Russians. Cohen reportedly raised more than $750,000 in cash in Fall of 2016; $130,000 was used to pay Stormy Daniels; the disposition of the remaining $620,000 remains unknown.

Election Interference Sanctions

On December 29, 2016, then President Obama imposed additional sanctions on Russia for election interference.  Most of the election related sanctions remain in place today.

Flynn Discusses Lifting 2014 Russian Sanctions

Later on December 29th, 2016 Flynn discussed Trump’s lifting of Obama’s 2014 sanctions with Kislyak during six telephone calls (Sally Yates,  Acting Attorney General of the United States, was listening and Flynn has been indicted and convicted of having lied to FBI about the calls). Flynn has not revealed why he lied to the FBI.

 

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2017

January

Meeting in the Seychelles

On January 11th 2017, Erik Prince (CEO of Blackwater, Trump supporter and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos), Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the UAE, George Nader (an American businessman now co-operating with Mueller investigation), and Kirill Dmitriev (a Russian with ties to Putin), meet in Seycelles. Prince lied to Congress about reason for the meeting. Prince said unplanned; Nader said that he, Nader, planned the meeting and that the subject of the meeting was setting up a back channel between Trump and Russians.

Meeting at Lowes Regency Hotel

On January 27th, 2017, Michael Cohen, Felix Sater (convicted felon) and Andri Artemenko (a Ukrainian legislator tied to Manafort) met at Lowes Regency Hotel in New York to discuss a plan, purportedly provided by Russia, for lifting of Obama’s sanctions. Cohen delivered the plan to Flynn in White House. Cohen denies delivering plan to Flynn. (5/15/18 – Artemenko was scheduled to appear before Grand Jury).

July

House Passes Russian Sanctions

On July 25th, 2017, the House of Representatives passed Russian sanctions 419-3 and the Senate passed Russian sanctions 98-2. Trump refused to implement any of the sanctions adopted by Congress for eight months claiming there was no need to implement those sanctions. When he did announce sanctions, none were designed to adversely affect Putin.

State Department Allocates Funds Against Election Interference

Congress allocated $120 million to the State Department to protect U.S. elections from foreign interference in 2018. Not a single dollar has been spent by Trump administration.

 

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2018

April

Trump Backs Out of More Russian Sanctions

On April 15th 2018, Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to U.N., announced harsher sanctions on Russia for its support of Syria in connection with use of chemical weapons. The following day Trump announced there will be no new sanctions. No reason given.

June

Trump Wants Russia Back in G-7

On June 8th, 2018, Trump announced his support for Russia’s return to membership in G-7. There has been no change in the behavior which caused Russia’s expulsion. No reason given.

July

Trump Meets Putin in Helsinki

On July 16, 2018, Trump met Putin in Helsinki. No other American officials were allowed in the meeting. Not even Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Was this so Trump could try to re-negotiate his bribe agreement with Putin? Trump has tried to lift sanctions but failed. He apparently failed to make a new deal in Helsinki.

Trump Invites Putin to US

On July 19, 2018, Trump announced plans to invite President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to visit the White House -- an invitation that stunned the nation’s top intelligence official, Senator Dan Coats, who said he was still groping for details of what the two leaders had discussed in their encounter in Helsinki, Finland.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at Helsinki Summit Press Conference.
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at Helsinki Summit Press Conference.
August

Homeland Security & Dereliction of Duty

On August 2, 2018, in a media briefing at the White House, the Trump Administration launched an effort to convince the public that the Administration has a program designed to protect future American elections from Russian interference. The participants included Trump appointees:
  • Dan Coates, Director of National Intelligence,
  • Kristen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security,
  • Christopher Wray, Director of the F.B.I. And
  • John Bolton, National Security Advisor to the President.
The briefing was held in response to an avalanche of criticism about a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) held six days earlier. In that meeting the NSC addressed, for the first time during the Trump Administration, protection of future American elections, but no strategy was adopted and no leader of the effort was named.
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The Collusion Conclusion

If you wonder why Trump never criticizes Putin, often actually praises Putin and trusts Putin more than he trusts Americans with long and stellar reputations in law enforcement and in defending our country, I think I have provided a plausible answer.

Trump made a deal with Putin for a 12 billion dollar bribe for the lifting of the 2014 sanctions Obama imposed on certain individuals and entities (including Rosneft by name) in Russia. Trump’s deal has not been consummated and has been made more difficult to consummate by the sanctions imposed by Obama after the election on December 29, 2016 and by the sanctions adopted by Congress in early August 2017.

Trump has been unable to lift the Obama sanctions and couldn’t prevent the adoption of the new Congressional sanctions legislation. But Trump has 12 billion reasons to keep trying. And he will until he is stopped.

Foot Note 1:

“Tillerson’s business ties with the Kremlin were long-standing and warm. (In 2011, he brokered a historic partnership between ExxonMobil and Rosneft.) After the election, Congress imposed additional sanctions on Russia, in retaliation for its interference,[summer of 2017] but Trump and Tillerson have resisted implementing them.  [From New Yorker 3/5/18 article about Steele].

 

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