Vintage Books | 01Nov2017 | Luke Harding
Secret Meetings, Dirty
Money and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win
[... 225-page pdf
About the Author
Also by Luke Harding
[Orbis / Fusion GPS]
1 The End of History Not
2 I Think He’s an Idiot
3 Publish and Be Damned
5 General Misha
6 He Does Bastards
7 Tuesday Night Massacre Comey 07Jun2017 Statement
[Trump / Kremlin]
10 From Russia with Cash [Money Laundering]
11 The Strange Case of the German Bank [Deutsche Bank]
Notes on Sources
Below, we summarize and copy/paste excerpts (in quotation marks) of
particularly relevant material in the book. Also, we sometimes insert
additional information in square brackets and sometimes in the colour fuchsia.]
Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd. is a “leading corporate
intelligence consultancy” run by Christopher Steele and his business
- "In December 2016, Nick Hopkins, a Guardian colleague, and I went to see Chris Steele to ask him these and other questions. Hopkins is the paper’s investigations editor."
"From 2007 to 2011, I spent four years in Russia as the Guardian’s
Moscow bureau chief until I was put in an airport cell and deported
from the country."
- Luke Harding refers to the Litvinenko Polonium-210 poisoning as an example to those that cross Vladimir Putin.
- "We had documentary evidence that high-ranking Russian bureaucrats and well-connected insiders had laundered $20 billion."
- “You need to look at the contracts for the hotel deals and land deals
that Trump did. Check their values against the money Trump secured via
loans,” Steele told us."
- "To our surprise, Steele implied that Trump and sex was an interesting line of inquiry. He gave no details."
- "Two days later, Steele’s work would land on President Barack Obama’s desk, but its beginnings were decades in the making."
1 The End of History Not
In the summer of 1991, Christopher Steele "was a twenty-seven-year-old
diplomat, newly married to his wife, Laura, on his first foreign
posting," in Moscow as a "British intelligence officer".
fifty yards away, Steele watched as a snowy-haired man in a suit
climbed on a tank and -- reading from notes brushed by the wind --
denounced the coup as cynical and illegal. This was a defiant Yeltsin."
"Three days after the coup, surveillance on him resumed." ...
"They went back to their old routines of bugging, apartment break-ins,
and harassing. The regime changed. The system didn’t." ... "By the time
Steele left Moscow in April 1993, the Soviet Union had gone."
"Steele spent twenty-two years as a British intelligence officer."
After his wife died in 2009, " Steele left MI6 and set up Orbis."
In 2009, Glenn Simpson quit journalism and set up his own "commercial
research and political intelligence firm" called Fusion GPS in
- "In 2009 Simpson met Steele."
- The English Football Association hired Steele to examine Russia's bid to host the 2018 World Cup.
"Steele discovered that FIFA corruption was global." His reesearch led
"to the arrest in 2015 of seven FIFA officials, allegedly connected to
$150 million in kickbacks, ..."
- "Between 2014 and 2016, Steele authored more than a hundred reports on Russia and Ukraine."
During the primaries, Republican supporter, Paul Singer, commissioned
Fusion GPS to investigate Trump and after Trump became the Republican
nominee for President, the Democratic National Committee took over the
- "Before this, in early spring 2016, Simpson approached
Steele" to scrutinize Paul Manafort and others on Trump's campaign team
with connections to Russia.
- "In June 2016 Steele typed up his first memo. He sent it to Fusion."
- "The memo was sensational. There would be others, sixteen in all, sent to Fusion between June and early November 2016."
Although Steele was in contact with the FBI in June and September 1916,
the Bureau was reluctant to act decisively during the election campaign.
- "Later that month Steele had a series of off-the-record meetings with a small number of American journalists. They included The New York Times, The Washington Post, Yahoo! News, The New Yorker, and CNN."
- He also met with reporters in mid-October 2016, but only "Corn[?] wrote about the dossier on October 31".
- But nothing was done before the 08Nov2016 Presidential election, which Trump won.
In late November 2016 a "group of internatiuonal experts gathered" in
Halifax, Nova Scotia, to discuss "Trump's stunning victory".
of the delegates was Sir Andrew Wood. Wood was the UK’s ambassador to
Russia from 1995 to 2000. He was taking part in a Ukraine panel. Its
theme was the challenges facing the country after Putin’s cloaked
invasion. (Canada has strong Ukraine ties: some 1.3 million citizens
are of Ukrainian descent.) Another participant was Senator John McCain."
- "The dossier’s eventual journey to the Oval Office would take this unlikely route: Moscow to London to Halifax to D.C."
"Steele gave a copy of a final memo he had written in December to the
top UK government official in charge of national security,... An
encrypted copy was sent to Fusion, with instructions to pass it to
McCain and Kramer."
- Steele's memo eventually found its way to President Barrack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump.
2 I Think He’s an Idiot
In April 2013, Victor Podobnyy and Igor Sporyshev were two Russian
spies who cultivated Carter Page as a possible asset to the Russian
secret services, SVR.
- Since 1998, Page's extreme pro-Russian sympathies were obvious and he underwhelmed everyone with whom he had contact.
- Everyone was surprised, when in March 2106 Trump named him as one of his five advisors on foreign policy.
"In July 2016 Page went back to Russia, on a trip approved by the Trump
campaign."-- ostensibly invited by the New Economics School to give a
public lecture at the World Trade Center, which attendees later
described as "really wierd".
- "According to the Steele dossier
[19Jul2016 memo] ... the real purpose of Page’s trip was ..." -- to meet
with Igor Sechin and later with Igor Diveykin, who have close ties to
- "According to an “associate,”
Sechin was so keen to lift
personal and corporate Western sanctions that he
offered Page an unusual bribe. This was “the brokerage of up to a 19
per cent (privatised) stake in Rosneft in return.” "
- Diveykin, presumably, indicated that the FSB had compromising material on Trump, as well as on Hillary Clinton.
Luke Harding devotes several pages to Sergey Kislyak, the Ambasador of
the Russian Federation to the United States. [Recently replaced.]
father, Ivan Petrovich Kislyak, was a highly regarded KGB officer who
finished his career as a major general. The Kislyaks were Ukrainian.
Ivan Petrovich was born in the village of Terny, in the Poltava region
of Soviet central Ukraine."
- Initially, Carter Page denied meetings with Kislyak and Sechin, but when embarassing details were published by Yahoo! News, he exited Trump's campaign in late September 2016.
"Steele’s Rosneft source was right. In early December -- less than a
month after Trump won the White House -- Rosneft announced it was
selling 19.5 percent of its stock."
- "A day after the Rosneft deal was unveiled, Page flew back to Moscow." -- But he was ignored by the Russian elite.
"Whatever Page’s motives were for helping Russian intelligence --
greed, naiveté, stupidity -- his woes were about to get worse."
3 Publish and Be Damned
Steele Dossier pdf-42
- "By early 2017 the allegations concerning Donald Trump and Russia were the worst-kept secret in politics and the media."
Everyone was afraid to publish the Steele Dossier, because many of its
allegations could not be verified, although CNN reported on its
existence about 10Jan2017.
- "In the wake of CNN’s reporting, BuzzFeed did what no one else was willing to do: it placed the full dossier online."
- "At 1:19 a.m. on January 11 Trump tweeted: FAKE NEWS -- A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!"
A huge controversy erupted amongst the news media pundits --
both as to the ethics of the disclosure, as well as to the contents of
- "It was left to Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press spokesman, to denounce the contents of the report."
"From Moscow, Putin’s reaction to the Trump dossier was a master class
in how to send several messages at once." -- sardonic humor;
"One key area of U.S.-Russian tension was Ukraine. According to
Steele’s sources, the Trump team agreed to sideline Russia’s
intervention in Ukraine during the campaign."
- "In return for
Kremlin assistance, Trump would soften the GOP’s stance on Ukraine and
turn his fire on the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia."
At the Republican Convention on 18Jul2016, J.D. Gordon watered
down the resolution of Diana Denman with respect to providing lethal
defensive weapons to Ukraine.
- "According to USA Today,
Gordon spoke with Kislyak on the sidelines of the convention. New York
made alterations. Out was lethal hardware for Ukraine. In was something
vaguer, meaningless even: “appropriate assistance.” "
- Christopher Steele did not approve of the BuzzFeed publication of his Dossier. He went underground to avoid the news media and was not particularly worried about FSB retaliation.
- "The people at risk were Steele’s anonymous sources. Whoever they were, they were now in great danger."
Luke Harding describes the history of the Lubyanka, home of the
FSB/KGB/NKVD/OGPU/GPU/Cheka security services originally initiated by
- "His agents persuaded wealthy white Russians to
donate to an anti-Bolshevik “trust,” ostensibly set up to resist
communism." ... "Dzerzhinsky got exiles to finance their own downfall."
"In Soviet times, the KGB was subordinate to the party and the
Politburo. Now Russia’s secret services were subordinate to nobody."
"In [4 or 5] December 2016, FSB officers gathered in the Lubyanka’s
auditorium", where Colonel Sergei Michailov, deputy head of the FSB’s
Information Security Center, was arrested, as well as (presumably)
his deputy, Major Dmitry Dokuchaev, and Ruslan Stoyanov, an
executive at Kaspersky Lab.
- "But FSB officers leaked the account
to Tsargrad, Moscow’s Russian Orthodox television channel, founded by
Konstantin Malofeev, a conservative businessman and prominent Putin
[Oligarch Malofeev is an ardent supporter of the Novorossia project and
funder of the separatists in the Donbas in Eastern Ukraine.]
- "For the FSB, the questions were: Who are the traitors and how should we punish them?" -- i.e. Were these Steele's sources?
"From late 2013 it [Shaltai-Boltai, founded by Vladimir Anikeev] leaked
official correspondence, including emails, that revealed Moscow’s role
in kick-starting unrest in eastern Ukraine."
- "The FSB “uses
coercion and blackmail to recruit [the] most capable cyber operatives
in Russia into its state-sponsored programmes,” Steele wrote in his
July 2016 memo, his second to Fusion."
- "In May  Anikeev was
persuaded to return to Moscow to meet with an FSB official. In November
he came back again and was arrested."
- Luke Harding
wonders whether the recent deaths of Russia-relevant individuals
were due to natural causes or assasinations: Erovinkin (26Dec2016),
Sergei Krivov (08Nov2016), Petr Polshikov (December 2016), Andrey
Malanin (January 2017), Alexander Kadakin (India), Vitaly Churkin
(Ambassador to U.N.).
- Next, Luke Harding discusses the
re-possession of "a country mansion a ninety-minute drive from
Washington", as well as "another Russian-owned compound, Norwich House,
on Long Island in New York", and expulsion of 35 "spies" associated
- "Additionally, Obama retaliated against the two
agencies allegedly behind Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear: the GRU and FSB,
respectively." -- He sanctioned nine entities and individuals includiing
Igor Korobov, Sergey Gizunov,Igor Kostyukov, and Vladimir Alexseyev.
"On August 4, John Brennan, the CIA chief, [had] called the head of
FSB, Alexander Bortnikov, in Moscow. Brennan warned Bortnikov that
Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election had to stop."
- On 06Jan2107, the Obama administration published a further report:
We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in
2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine
public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm
her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian
Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. All three
agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this
judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.
- "From June 2015, Russian operatives purchased a series of advertisements on Facebook."
"Facebook would eventually admit that Russia had employed 470
“inauthentic accounts and ages” as part of its influence campaign."
- "Moscow spent $100,000 on more than three thousand ads, Facebook said."
Except for "shuttering the U.S. embassy’s dacha in Serebryany Bor,
Moscow’s Silver Forest", Putin did not evict any American
diplomats from the America Embassy in Moscow, perhaps as a result
of 5 phone calls that General Michael Flynn had made to Ambassador
- "Flynn said he had merely wished the ambassador a Happy New Year."
- [As of 01Dec2017, Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty of lying to the FBI and agreed to co-operate with the Mueller investigation.]
5 General Misha
- [General Misha = General Michael Flynn]
"Of the three Russian agencies nvolved in espionage [FSB, SVR, GRU],
the GRU was the biggest and the most powerful. Its job was to collect
- In 2013, "Flynn claimed to be the first American to be allowed inside the Kremlin’s most secret espionage facility."
"Flynn had come to Moscow to deliver a lecture on leadership." ... "...
mutual interest in defeating ISIS and terrorism across the Middle East."
"Viktor Suvorov [Vladimir Rezun] -- a former GRU major who defected to
the West -- described Flynn’s visit to me as “very strange.”"
- " It was Kislyak who had invited him to Russia in the first place and coordinated his trip, Flynn said."
"In February 2014 Flynn gave another lecture -- this time in England."
-- at the Cambridge intelligence seminar at Corpus ChristieCollege.
"President Obama had appointed Flynn in April 2012" as head of the
Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), but colleagues were concerned by his
"In August 2014 Flynn exited government and the army." -- fired by
James Clapper [as ordered by Barack Obama whom Flynn hated?]
- Flynn wrote a book titled The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies.
- In August2015, Flynn met with Donald Trump for the first time for a 90 minute conversation.
- In December 2015, Flynn attended the 10-year anniversary of RT television, where he sat next to Vladimir Putin..
"Flynn declined to say how much he was earning from RT. The answer, it
later transpired, was $33,750." -- without permission from the
Department of Defense.
- "By spring 2016 Flynn was a vocal supporter of Donald Trump and foreign policy adviser to his campaign."
He repeatedly attacked Hillary Clinton to the chants of "Lock her up"
by Trump supporters at the Republican National Convention held in
Cleveland on 18/21Jul2016.
- "In the aftermath of Cleveland, Steele
sent two memos to Fusion GPS." -- based on his sources in Moscow, that
indicated that that there was a rift beween Peskov and Ivanov, but that
the Russians were generally pleased with their investment in the
- "Two days after the [Steele ?] memo Putin unexpectedly fired Ivanov from his presidential team."
The day that Putin and Erdogan met in St. Petersburg on 08Aug2016,
Flynn's lobbying firm signed a $600.000 contract on behalf of the
Turkish government (to extradite Fethullah Gulen, accused of
masterminding the coup attempt in Turkey).
- "Once more, Flynn failed to register as a foreign agent."
"During the transition period, Flynn continued to interact with Sergey
Kislyak." -- including 5 phone calls on 28Dec2017 as noted above.
- On 24Jan2017, Flynn was interviewed by the FBI. -- "Lying to federal agents would have been unwise. That was a crime."
- Sally Yates and others tried to warn the Trump administration that Flynn had been lying.
- "On February 13  Trump reluctantly fired Flynn."
- On 16Feb2017, Luke Harding met again with Christopher Steele to discuss Steele emerging from hiding.
6 He Does Bastards
- [Paul Manafort 2004-2017 Ukraine]
Luke Harding met Paul Manafort one week prior to the September
2007 parliamentary elections in Ukraine, which he was coveriung for the
country’s pro-Western president, Viktor Yushchenko, had called an
early election because of a standoff with Yanukovych, the prime
minister since August 2006. Yushchenko had previously fallen out with
Tymoshenko, an ally whom he fired as prime minister."
originally from Connecticut, was a veteran political consultant. His
grandfather James had emigrated to the United States from Sicily in
1919. His father had once been mayor of the city of New Britain and
leader of the Italian American community there."
- After the
Orange Revolution of 2004 that oveturned the falsified election of
Viktor Yanukovych (the pro-Russian candidate from the Party of Regions)
and forced a rerun that was won by Viktor Yushchenko (the pro-Western
candidate), the Party of Regions hired Paul Manafort to help re-make
the image of Viktor Yanukovych for future elections. Manafort convinced
Yanukovych to learn Ukrainian, improve his hand gestures, his speaking
abilities and adopt Western-style campaigning techniques.
During his interview with Luke Harding, Manafort maintained that
Yanukovych had become a democrat and had made "more overtures to the
West than to Russia"
- Manafort added: “He’s still his own man.
There is no Russian influence in this campaign. The perception that he
is the candidate of Russia against the interests of the West is bad
- "Over the next few years it turned out that Manafort’s
version of history was more than wrong. It went beyond spin or
political PR. Everything he told me was a lie."
began working for Oleg Deripaska [in 2004], a billionaire Russian
oligarch who made his fortune in the aluminum industry during the
- "According to the Associated Press, Manafort signed a $10 million annual contract with Deripaska."
"In a 2005 memo Manafort told Deripaska: “We are now of the belief that
this model can greatly benefit the Putin government if employed at the
correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success.” "
Deripaska recommended the Republican lobbyist to fellow oligarch Rinat
Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man. Akhmetov was the main financial backer
of the Party of Regions."
- "At Akhmetov’s request, Manafort visited
Ukraine in December 2004 between the second and third rounds of
presidential voting. Manafort’s view -- correct, as it turned out --
was that Yanukovych’s campaign was doomed."
- "In summer 2005 the
two men met for the first time in the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary."
"The meeting in western Bohemia went well. That autumn the Party of
Regions hired Manafort and his team -- including long-term aide Rick
Gates -- as advisers."
- Next, Luke Harding delves into
Ukrainian politics. In 2009, he watched Yanukovych's unmemorable speech
at the Yalta European Forum and described him as: "Calm.
Statesman-like. Quiet.", which he attributed to Manafort.
- "I was
in Kiev in January 2010 to witness Yushchenko’s elimination. I came
back in February for the final runoff between Tymoshenko and
- "Throughout the campaign Yanukovych had spoken in Ukrainian." -- as ordered by Manafort.
- After winning the election: "He spoke in Russian. It was a sign of things to come."
"Yanukovych moved quickly to consolidate all instruments of power: the
courts, parliament, the prosecutor’s office. Plus the media and TV."
- " In power, he was behaving -- as Manafort must have known he would -- as a classic bully and thug."
The lease of Sevastopol for Russia's Black Sea Fleet was extended to
2045; Tymoshenko was sent to jail; corruption became even more rampant.
Luke Harding describes the Euromaidan protests initiated by Mustafa
Nayem on 21Nov2103 rather perfunctorily; refers to government snipers
killing dozens on 20Feb2014; and Yanukovych fleeing the country on
22Feb2014 and taking $32 billion with him.
- "Putin’s response was to seize Crimea and declare that the uprising in Ukraine was a “fascist coup"."
"Soon after Putin started a war in eastern Ukraine -- albeit a covert
one, done with undercover troops and clandestine agents."
"Before signing on with Trump in spring 2016, Manafort spent over a
decade working in Ukraine. Yanukovych hired him to run four election
campaigns: the presidential one and three parliamentary polls. After
Yanukovych left, Manafort continued to work for the defeated Party of
Regions. He helped reshape it. This was at the behest of Lyovochkin,
Yanukovych’s former chief of staff. Manafort renamed it the Opposition
Bloc. He visited Kiev up until late 2015."
- Luke Harding
reports that, although most commentators in Ukraine describe Manafort
negatively, there are some (such as Oleg Voloshin), who view him
- “In 2004 Yanukovych was dead. He was seen as a Russian puppet. It was Paul who resurrected him.”
- "According to the Times, Manafort contacted Trump in late February 2016."
Following a recommendation from his daughter, Ivanka and Jared Kushner
and after meeting with him, Trump announced on 29Mar2106 that Manafort
was his new campaign manager.
- "Manafort’s six months as Trump’s campaign lieutenant ended abruptly in mid-August, days after The Times
published a front-page story. It read: “Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists
Cash for Donald Trump’s Campaign Chief.” " "Between 2007 and 2012
Manafort had allegedly received $12.7 million in cash."
"According to one of Steele’s early memos, Manafort was at the center
of the alleged “extensive conspiracy” between Trump’s campaign team and
- "Crucially, he alleged that the operation “had been
conducted with the full knowledge and support of TRUMP and senior
members of the campaign team.” "
- In addition, there remain questions related to Manafort's partner in Ukraine, Konstantin Kilimnik.
Luke Harding goes into some detail describing money transfers via
shell companies that Manafort utilized, which implies money laundering.
- "In 2011 Tymoshenko sued Manafort in the district court of New York" -- alleging a "conspiracy and racketeering enterprise."
- "In particular, she pointed the finger at Dmytro Firtash, Yanukovych’s wealthy supporter."
"Its real owner, she claimed, was Semion Mogilevich, the
Ukrainian-Russian mobster wanted by the FBI, who was believed to be
hiding in Moscow."
7 Tuesday Night Massacre
- [James Comey fired by Trump.]
Aftter a couple of pages of background setting the Washington, D.C.
scene, Luke Harding gets to the subject of this chapter:
- " James B. Comey, FBI chief since September 2013"
"It was in this last role that Comey had faced down George W. Bush, in
one of the most extraordinary moments of Bush’s presidency [in 2004].
Bush and his deputy, Dick Cheney, had sought the Department of
Justice’s approval for their top-secret program of domestic
surveillance: spying on Americans."
- "When Bush reauthorized the program anyway, Comey wrote a letter of resignation."
"Comey told Bush: “I don’t care about politics. I don’t care about
expediency. I don’t care about friendship. I care about doing the right
- "Next Comey met Bush in the Oval Office and informed him that then FBI director Bob Mueller was quitting, too."
- "Bush climbed down. He amended some aspects of the surveillance program."
"In the meantime, the House Intelligence Committee summoned Comey and
NSA chief Mike Rogers to give evidence. It was March 20, 2017. The two
were star witnesses."
- "Now, though, Comey took the unusual step of making a public statement:
I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as
part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s
efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes
investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the
Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any
coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts."
In response to the accusations of wire-tapping of the Trump Tower by
Britain's GCHQ originally floated on RT that Trump had tweeted about,
"The bureau had no information that supported those
tweets. The Justice Department shared this assessment, he said."
- To questions by Republicans Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy about all the leaks from the Whitehouse:
"Comey and Rogers agreed that leaking was a “serious crime.” Both said
under oath that they had never leaked restricted material."
- At the 03May2017 annual oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee:
- "He insisted he’d treated the Clinton and Trump investigations the same way."
- "Steele watched the hearing on TV from his home in Surrey." -- He rated Comey's testimony as "acceptably neutral".
While on a mission to Los Angeles on 09May2017, "Comey caught sight of
a TV screen", which informed him that he had been fired by Trump. Later
he picked up the official letter of termination from Trump dated
09May2017, that had been hand-delivered to FBI headquarters. Attached
were letters from Sessions and Rosenstein.
- On 10May2017, "two Russian visitors made their way to the Oval Office."
- "These were Moscow’s two top diplomats: Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak."
"No American press was allowed in to record the meeting. Lavrov,
however, had brought a photographer who worked for the state news
- "Trump reportedly said that he wasn’t personally concerned by the fighting in Ukraine", but then
- "revealed details of a highly classified intelligence briefing" from Israel concerning "an ISIS plot".
- Surprisingly, right after the meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak, Trump met with Dr. Henry Kissinger:
"Kissinger, it appeared, was back in the Oval Office in the role of intermediary. He wasn’t just
a throwback to the 1970s. He was frequently in contact with the Kremlin. Kissinger had long-
standing good relations with Russia’s president and was treated as a VIP whenever he dropped in
to Moscow. This happened quite frequently, with Kissinger visiting in 2016. Like Trump,
Kissinger had said favorable things about Putin. He had compared him to a character from
Dostoyevsky and said Putin possessed an “inward connection” to Russian history."
- In the aftermath of his firing, Comey relied on his notes:
"These were his records typed up in the immediate aftermath of his
interactions with Trump. There were nine of them -- three face-to-face
meetings and six telephone calls. They took place between January, when
Trump was not yet president, and April."
- In response to
Trump's tweet about him, James Comey asked Daniel Richman to
"leak" the notes of his meeting in the Oval Office on 14Feb2017:
- “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”
- "In an open letter to Rosenstein, the Times said that the deputy attorney general could safeguard democracy." -- by appointing an independent prosecutor.
- Rosenstein responded by appointing Robert Mueller as special counsel.
"Mueller had spent twelve years as FBI director under the Bush and
Obama administrations, 2001 to 2013 -- the longest tenure of anyone in
the job since J. Edgar Hoover."
- To prepare for his appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee on 08Jun2017, Comey published a 7-page document
outlining the gist of his meetings and phone calls with Trump which
clearly outlined the reservations he had about Trumps insistence for
absolute personal loyalty from him.
- [Something like a Mafia Don demanding loyalty from his underlings?]
- The Senate Intelligence Committee hearings on 08Jun2017 were watched by millions of people around the world:
- "The extent of the former director’s fury became evident immediately after he was sworn in."
- "He told the committee he started making a record of their conversations because of the “nature of the person.” "
- "Fundamentally, he believed the president to be unethical. Mendacious even."
- "Comey said he passed on his Trump memos to Bob Mueller."
"It was 1984 and General Vladimir Alexandrovich Kryuchkov ... was
head of the First Chief Directorate, the prestigious KGB arm
responsible for foreign intelligence gathering."
- "First, a hawkish
president, Ronald Reagan, was in power in Washington." -- [Reagan
referred to the Soviet Union as the Evil Empire.]
- "Comrade Kryuchkov’s Instructions: Top Secret Files on KGB Foreign Operations 1975–1985"
by Oleg Gordievsky introduced Luke Harding to the murky world of the
Russian intelligence services -- the KGB and later the FSB.
recruit and then control foreign spies (especially American) Kryuchkov
instructs his case officer to analyze the personality of the target and
then use a variety of techniques (ideology, flattery, money and
especially kompromat and sex) to ensnare the victim.
"When did the KGB open a file on Donald Trump?" -- 1977 "was the year
when Trump married Ivana Zelnickova, a twenty-eight-year-old model from
- In the early 1970s she moved to Toronto, then Montreal, then New York, where she married Donald Trump in 1977.
- "According to files in Prague, declassified in 2016, Czech spies kept a close eye on the couple in Manhattan."
"As Trump tells it, the idea for his first trip to Moscow came after he
found himself seated next to the Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin."
Dubinin's daughter, Natalia, relates how her father met Trump at
the top of Trump Tower when he first visited New York in March 1986.
- "My father's visit worked on him [Trump] like honey to a bee." .., " ... she admits her father was trying to hook Trump."
- In January 1987, Trump received a letter form Dubinin suggesting the possibility of building a hotel in Moscow.
" On July 4, 1987, Trump flew to Moscow for the first time, together
with Ivana and Lisa Calandra, Ivana’s Italian-American assistant."
- On 02Sep1987, the New York Times indicated that Trump might become a candidate for President.
"In December 1987 Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev made their first trip to
the United States." -- accompanied by Kryuchkov, who had dinner with
Robert Gates, the CIA deputy director. "The KGB had two moles inside
U.S. intelligence -- the CIA’s Aldrich Ames and the FBI’s Robert
- In 1996, Trump made another half-hearted attempt at a construction project in Moscow, but nothing came of it.
- In October 2007, Luke Harding, as the Guardian's
Moscow correspondent, interviewed billionaire oligarch Aras Agalarov
who was developing a high-class residential development near Moscow.
"Though he didn’t mention her by name, one of Agalarov’s lawyers was
the region’s top attorney. Her name was Natalia Veselnitskaya.
Veselnitskaya’s former husband, Alexander Mitusov, was a former
prosecutor who had become the region’s deputy transport minister.
Veselnitskaya worked in turn for Mitusov’s boss, Pyotr Katsyv."
"It was Katsyv’s son, Denis, who would shortly find himself at the
center of an international scandal. He was one of a series of Russian
officials accused of involvement in the case of Sergei Magnitsky. At
that point Magnitsky, an accountant, was in prison. He had investigated
and discovered a $230 million tax fraud scheme involving Katsyv and
others. They had allegedly stolen taxes paid by Hermitage Capital, an
investment fund run by a U.S.-born British CEO, Bill Browder."
"In 2009, Magnitsky died in custody -- murdered, Browder said, by the
Russian state. Veselnitskaya would later expend much effort seeking to
overturn a U.S. law, the Magnitsky Act, that punished the Russians
allegedly involved, including Katsyv. She hired a U.S. political
research firm to lobby in D.C. This was, ironically enough, Fusion GPS
-- the same outfit that commissioned Steele."
- "The Moscow
region functioned at a level well below the Kremlin. But Veselnitskaya
was known to be close to Russia’s prosecutor general, Yury Chaika.
Agalarov would later defend Chaika publicly when he was accused of
corruption. According to one person who worked with her, Veselnitskaya
was “fastidious” and “extremely smart.” And, the person said, “would
never act without authority.” Another associate described her as
ambitious and capable, adding: “She wasn’t a Kremlin insider. She
deeply wanted to be one.” "
- "Putin was furious about the
passage of the Magnitsky Act. He retaliated by banning the adoption of
Russian babies by U.S. couples. The Kremlin launched a campaign to
overturn the act. It frequently lobbied on the issue of “adoptions” --
Kremlin-speak for lifting U.S. sanctions"
- "So Putin’s interests and Veselnitskaya’s interests neatly coincided. Their common goal: to repeal American sanctions."
In 2007, Trump tried to launch a "vodka" project in Moscow, which
flopped.. Next, in 2013, he successfully hosted the Miss Universe
beauty pageant in Moscow:
- "It was at this point that Agalarov’s son, Emin -- a fan of Trump’s TV show The Apprentice -- persuaded Trump to bring the contest to Moscow."
- "In January 2013 the Agalarovs flew to Las Vegas to meet with Trump, at the Miss America beauty pageant."
- "Agalarov Sr. backed Miss Universe in Moscow --offering to pay Trump around $14 million in rights to host the contest."
"Finally, according to the Steele dossier, the Kremlin was actively
cultivating Trump -- an on-off process that had seemingly begun back in
1987 and resumed, the dossier said, around 2008"
-"Trump spent November 8 and 9  in Moscow. ... It was the Agalarovs who became Trump’s new buddies."
"But then Trump suddenly had bigger plans than a mere tower. After this
trip he was running for president for real. The Agalarovs were
enthusiastic supporters of his White House bid, as were other forces in
Manchester-born Rob Goldstone was a publicity agent for Emin Agalarov
and, as such, had occasion to meet the Trump family.
- "In fact, Donald Trump, Jr., spent more time in Moscow than his father."
On 03Jun2016, Goldstone sent Donald Trump Jr. a series of Emails, which
"offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and
information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia
and would be very useful to your father."
- This led to the infamous
meeting on 09Jun2016, which was attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared
Kushner, Paul Manafort, Natalia Veselnitskaya with Anatoli Samochornov
(translator), Rinat Akhmetshin, Ike Kaveladze.
- [Please consult the pdf file for details of the meeting and its aftermath.]
The chapter starts with the "Schwartzer Block" leaving a trail of
destruction as a prelude to the 07/08Jul2017 G20 Summit in Hamburg,
Germany. Despite the packed agenda to discuss the world's problems, the
main item of interest was: How would Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin
get along? Luke harding concludes: Exactly like Vladimir Putin wanted!
"Taking part in the talks were Putin, Trump, and just two other
principals, Sergei Lavrov and U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson."
As the CEO of Exxon Mobil, Tillerson had developed a good relationship
with the Russian elite -- even earning a "prestiguous state medal" from
Putin in 2013.
- "Of all the CEOs in America, it was Tillerson who
had the best contacts with senior Russians. Sechin was at Tillerson’s
elbow when the American got his Kremlin medal."
- "The discussions
went on for two hours and sixteen minutes. ... A record of what was
discussed would have been illuminating -- but there wasn’t one."
- "If Lavrov’s report was accurate, it meant that Trump had chosen to believe Putin over his own intelligence community."
- Outside the G20 venue, the rioting continued:
was like something out of a dystopian science fiction film. You had the
most powerful people in the world eating canapés in an ivory tower and
listening to Beethoven. And then outside you had thousands of
anarchists, covered in blood, battling with police.”
- "At some
point [during dinner] Trump got up. He sat down again -- next to Putin.
For the next hour Trump and Putin were deep in conversation. Only one
other person was with them, Putin’s personal interpreter."
six months into his presidency Trump’s weirdly deferential behavior
toward Putin -- his singular reluctance to criticize, his boundless
willingness to appease, his desire for face time -- were there for all
to see. It looked like a kind of thraldom."
- For six pages, Luke Harding lists events causing concern to America's European allies and to diplomats at home::
- "Now the Atlantic alliance was in trouble."
- "Is the U.S. administration as led by Donald Trump actually an ally?"
- "Often he criticized the Europeans, and in particular the Germans."
"There was more physical theater during Trump’s first meeting with
Macron, which featured an extended -- and arguably victorless --
- "For Merkel to distance herself from his administration made electoral sense."
- "In 2007 Moscow staged its first major external Web attack, against Estonia."
- "The Russian hackers struck France, too."
- "As EU spy chiefs warned, cyber attacks were part of a hybrid Russian strategy."
- "The Europeans viewed Putin with skepticism and foreboding."
- Within the United States, governmental institutions were in disarray:
- The State Department was being gutted;
"Senior posts requiring Senate confirmation remained unfilled, the
Trump administration was proposing a 32 percent cut in the budget, and
around a third of ambassadorial jobs were vacant."
- " .. the Trump administration in its early weeks had tried to “normalize” relations with Russia."
"The plan ran into immediate opposition on Capitol Hill and was
abandoned after Michael Flynn’s resignation. In fact, Congress was
moving in the other direction."
- When Putin decreed that the
U,S. Embassy staff be reduced by 775, Trump actually thanked Putin for
decreasing American expenses.
- "By summer 2017 two [opposite]
processes were taking place in Washington." -- The process of discovery
by Robert Mueller and the process of concealment by Donald Trump.
- "The Times discovered the Veselnitskaya meeting [on 09Jun2016], featuring Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort."
- "According to The Washington Post, Kushner and Ivanka held discussions with their lawyers on the sidelines of the G20, to plot a way forward."
The Trump family initially downplayed the meeting as inconsequentual,
but progressively had to change their story as more and more details
- "The special counsel’s probe began in May. It
was based in a nondescript office in Washington, where more than a
dozen attorneys, investigators, and support staff were busy at work.
These were Mueller’s staff."
- "One of those hired by Mueller was
Andrew Weissmann", followed by Lisa Page, Elizabeth Prelogar, Michael
Dreeben, James Quarles, Greg Andres.
- On 26Jul2017, FBI agents raided Paul Manafort's home.
- "Investigators also zeroed in on Flynn."
"But the legal net appeared to be tightening. Of its own accord Trump’s
administration was freely imploding. First Flynn, then Sean Spicer and
Reince Priebus, and then Steve Bannon -- by midsummer all were fired
10 From Russia with Cash
Luke Harding outlines the life story of of Dmitry Rybolovlev (and his
brilliant first wife, Elena) from their school days; evolution into a
self-made Oligarch; into Putin's elite; and eventually into Donald
- Upon graduation, he could have become a
cardiologist or "move to Moscow, learn about finance, and plunge into
the untried world of Russian capitalism."
- "In 1992 Rybolovlev took
a business course in the capital. He returned to Perm, set up an
investment bank, and applied what he knew about privatization to the
region’s Soviet-era chemical factories. He acquired a stake in
Uralkali, Russia’s biggest producer of potassium-based fertilizer. By
1996 he had control."
- "... he spent eleven months in jail, accused
of murdering a rival factory executive. After getting out, exonerated,
he joined his family in Switzerland and the safety of Geneva."
2007 Uralkali floated on the London Stock Exchange. By the spring of
2008, according to Forbes, Rybolovlev was the world’s fifty-ninth
richest man. He was worth $12.8 billion, the magazine said."
"It was at this point, in July , that Rybolovlev purchased
Trump’s Palm Beach mansion for a staggering $95 million." -- for which
Trump had paid $41.4 million 4 years earlier.
- "He eventually demolished it."
"The Palm Beach home would feature in a spectacular divorce action
brought in December 2008 by Elena against her husband after two decades
- "In 2015 they reached a private settlement."
- "In 2000 the Perm region held an election for governor."
- Rybolovlev unexpectedly backed Perm's mayor, Yuri Trutnev -- who was duly elected.
- "Trutnev had hosted Putin when the president visited Perm. They had got on. Both were practitioners of martial arts."
- "Putin summoned Trutnev and appointed him minister for the environment and natural resources."
- "Trutnev was now in a position to oversee Russia’s oil and gas sector. He could find environmental violations -- or not."
"One of Trutnev’s allies was Igor Sechin, the head of the major oil
company Rosneft and Putin’s powerful ally. ... Trutnev consistently
backed Sechin in his conflicts with other oil firms. For example,
Trutnev’s ministry supported Rosneft when it took over the assets of
- "Inside Russia’s power structures Trutnev’s reputation was unwavering -- he was the president’s loyal creature."
"According to the Steele dossier, it was around this time  that
the Kremlin and the Trump campaign began what the dossier called a
“regular exchange” of information."
- At about 2:00 PM on
03Nov2016 at the Charlotte International Airport in North Carolina,
limousine driver, Anna-Catherine Sendgikoski, noticed a sleek
Airbus A319 with identifying letters M-KATE (belonging to Rybolovlev).
Twenty minutes later another jet with the TRUMP name landed. A man
walked from the jet and got into a waiting motorcade. Sandgikoski
snapped two photos and posted them on Twitter.
- "At a rally in
Charlotte that afternoon Trump accused Hillary of “far-reaching
criminal conduct” and said a Clinton victory would create “an
unprecedented constitutional crisis." "
- "In 2016 and early
2017 Rybolovlev’s jet made seven trips to New York, for several days
each, usually at a time when the candidate was there. It flew twice to
Miami when Trump was at Mar-a-Lago. And it made seven trips to Moscow,
mostly preceding or following flights to Florida or New York."
- Luke Harding tried to arrange an interview with Rybolovlev via his advisor Sergey Chernitsyn, but was politely refused.
"The Steele dossier alleged that [Trump's personal lawyer] Cohen played
the role of secret intermediary. It said that Cohen made a clandestine
trip to Europe in August 2016. The goal was to “clean up the mess” left
by media revelations concerning Paul Manafort and Carter Page. The
meetings were originally scheduled to take place in Moscow but were
shifted to an “operationally soft” EU country “when it was judged too
compromising for him [Cohen] to travel to the Russian capital.”
- Steele's dossier suggested Prague, which Cohen vehemently denied.
- "With little hard information, reporters were left chasing phantoms."
- "In mid-August 2016 Ivanka and Jared Kushner visited Dubrovnik, Croatia. Rybolovlev’s yacht, My Anna, was spotted in Dubrovnik on the same dates."
Rybolovlev managed his business affairs offshore; used a Panama-based
law firm, Mossack Fonsec; whose leaked database became known as the
- "Rybolovlev also used another major offshore center, Cyprus."
- "Cyprus was a haven for billions of dollars in Russian capital, much of it of suspect origin."
- "The island was also a significant hub for Russian espionage and intelligence operations."
- "In 2010, Rybolovlev sold most of his shares in Uralkali for $5 billion and bought nearly 10% of the Bank of Cyprus.
After a bailout in 2013, Vladimir Strzhalkovky and Viktor
Vekselberg came on board -- both of whom were on good terms with Putin
- In 2014, Wilbur Ross became the Cyprus Bank's chief shareholder.
- " Ross brought in Josef Ackermann, the former chief executive of Deutsche Bank, as chairman."
"Ross resigned from the Bank of Cyprus in 2017 when he got a new job.
It was a good one. Trump made him U.S. secretary of commerce."
"Russian and Eurasian buyers had been purchasing real estate from him
[Trump] for a long time, ever since the building of Trump Tower began
- "The Russians came in waves. Some arrived with the tide
of Soviet refugees who emigrated to the United States in the 1970s,
many of them Jewish. Most of the money that left Russia during this
late communist period came from the mafia."
- "In 1984 Trump sold five apartments on the fifty-third floor to David Bogatin, an alleged Mogilevich associate."
"There was a second Russian influx in the early 1990s, prompted by the
end of the USSR. Inside Russia, there was widespread looting of
property and assets that had previously belonged to the Party or state.
These new immigrants fueled mafia activity in New York, in particular
in Brighton Beach and other parts of Brooklyn."
- "One of them was
Vyacheslav Ivankov, a well-known Moscow felon. Ivankov -- known as
Yaponchik, or the Little Japanese -- was a crime boss, or vor. His
criminal career was extensive -- forgery, firearms, drug trafficking,
extortion -- punctuated by long spells inside Soviet penal
institutions. In spring 1992 Ivankov moved from Russia to New York."
- FBI agent James Moody eventually tracked him down: “And then we found out that he was in a luxury condo in Trump Tower.”
- "The FBI eventually caught up with Ivankov at his mistress’s apartment in Brighton Beach."
- "Trump’s links to the underworld were multifarious. As were those of his nearest business partners."
[Luke Harding has a long section on the criminal activities of Felix
Sater and his connections to Trump, which is best read in the pdf file.]
- [Also discussed are Vadim Trincher, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, Helly Nahmad.]
District attorney Preet Bharara embarked on a high-profile crusade
against corruption, including the $230 million allegedly stolen in the
Magnitsky case. Along with all 46 U.S. attorney's appointed by Obama,
he was fired in March 2017.
- "Two months later his successor
settled the Prevezon case on the eve of trial. The firm paid a $5.9
million fine. Veselnitskaya claimed victory. The sum was so slight “it
looked like an apology from the [U.S.] government,” she said."
- The following excerpt of Felis Sater scheming to get Donald Trump elected as President of the United Staes is interesting.
- "Sater was confident he could arrange everything. On November 3, 2015, he wrote to Cohen:
I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected. We both know
that no one else knows how to pull this off without stupidity or greed getting in
the way. I know how to play it and we will get this done. Buddy our boy can
become President of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team
to buy in on this, I will manage this process."
"A year later, in January 2017, Sater and Cohen were involved in
another clandestine joint endeavor, this time involving Ukraine. Cohen
went to see Trump in the White House. He hand-delivered the plan to
Michael Flynn, shortly before Flynn resigned as national security
adviser, The New York Times reported. It envisaged Russia obtaining a lease on Crimea, for fifty or one hundred years."
"For four decades Trump’s property empire effectively functioned as a
laundromat for Moscow money. Funds from the former Soviet Union poured
into condominiums and Trump apartments."
11 The Strange Case of the German Bank
In 2005, Donald Trump had borrowed a very large sum of money from
Deutsche Bank to construct the Trump International Hotel &
Tower in Chicago.
- "Trump had personally guaranteed to repay the $640 million debt."
Following the 2008 financial crash Trump was in default in his payments
with $330 million still outstanding, such that in late November 2008
Deutshe Bank demanded immediate payment of $40 million.
- Instead of
paying up, Trump countersued, claiming "Deutsche Bank is one of the
banks primarily responsible for the economic dysfunction we are
- "In 2010 Trump settled his feud with Deutsche
Bank. This was done, extraordinarily, by borrowing more money
- "Shut out from its real estate division,
Trump turned to another part of the same institution, Deutsche Bank’s
private wealth division, which typically deals with high-net-worth
individuals." -- [i.e. the Russian Mafia?]
- Luke Harding
outlines how, in 2005, Deutsche Bank bought UFG in Moscow and later
developed a very lucrative collaboration with the state-sponsored banks
VEB and VTB.
- "At age seventeen [Tim] Wiswell spent a year at the
Anglo-American School in Moscow and then returned to the United States
- "In his midtwenties, Wiswell went back to Moscow and
got a job with Alfa, the private bank owned by the oligarch Mikhail
Fridman. From there he moved to Deutsche Bank. By twenty-nine he was
head of Russian equities."
- " Over five years, between 2011 and
February 2015, Wiswell presided over a money-laundering scheme run from
the equities desk of Deutsche Bank’s Moscow office. According to the
New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), more than $10
billion was shifted from Russia to the West."
- "The method was
simple -- and effective. In Moscow, a Russian client bought blue chip
Russian stocks from Deutsche Bank Moscow in companies like Gazprom or
Sberbank. The payment was in rubles. The size of a typical order was $2
million to $3 million. Shortly afterward a non-Russian “customer” sold
exactly the same number of securities to Deutsche Bank in London,
paying in dollars.
- "The end came in August 2015 when Deutsche Bank suspended Wiswell and then fired him. After that, he disappeared."
"The DFS -- which has the power to suspend any bank with a branch in
New York -- fined Deutsche Bank $475 million. London’s Financial
Conduct Authority imposed a £163 million penalty."
Deutsche Bank facilitated the illegal flight of capital by a number of
well-connected superusers and Kremlin insiders."
- Luke Harding
explains another money laundering scheme, that he personally
investigated, called the Global Laundromat, which processed at least
$20 billion and which involved Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank.
"It wasn’t just Donald Trump who maintained a warm relationship with
Deutsche Bank. The German bank looked after his entire family. Jared
Kushner, Ivanka, and Kushner’s mother, Seryl Stadtmauer, were all
Deutsche Bank clients."
- "Kushner had a $25 million line of
credit with Deutsche Bank. Additionally, in October 2016, it loaned him
$285 million. The cash was used to replace an existing loan on the old
New York Times Building, the retail property Kushner bought the
previous year from the Russian Lev Leviev."
Kushner-Kislyak meeting on December 1  took place at Trump Tower.
Michael Flynn was present, too. Kushner made an unusual proposal. He
asked Kislyak if it would be possible to set up a secret and secure
communications channel between the Trump transition team and the
Kremlin. The purpose, seemingly, was to keep any conversations hidden
from the outgoing Obama government and U.S. intelligence. A
back-channel, in effect."
- Kislyak made a counter-proposal to
have Kushner meet with Sergey Gorkov, (the head of VEB since February
2016 and previously trained in the FSB academy).
- Gorkov flew in
from Moscow and brought gifts: "There were a piece of art and some
earth carefully dug up and transported from the town of Novogrudok in
northwest Belarus ... where Kushner’s paternal grandmother, Rae
Kushner, grew up."
- The meeting took place on 13Dec2016, but Kushner waived it off as inconsequentual.
"It was almost as if Putin had played a role in naming Trump’s cabinet.
The U.S. president, of course, had done the
choosing. But the constellation of individuals, and
their immaculate alignment with Russian interests, formed a discernible
pattern, like stars against a clear night sky. A pattern of collusion."
- Since the epilogue is a summary of the material in the book, there are few "excerptable" quotes in it -- except for one:
"Were it not for Steele’s dossier, Trump would have lifted sanctions
and created a new alliance with Russia, Chris Steele believed."
Thus far, the accomplishments of Robert Mueller's include
indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates (both entered not guilty
pleas), the admission of guilt by George Papadopoulus, Carter Page
announced that he would plead the Fifth Amendment, and Michael Flynn
was under pressure to co-operate because of possible charges against
[As of 01Dec2017, Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty of lying to the FBI and agreed to co-operate with the Mueller investigation.]