F.B.I. Is Investigating Trump’s Russia Ties, Comey Confirms By MATT APUZZO, MARCH 20, 2017


The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday in Washington. Eric Thayer for The New York Times 

WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, took the extraordinary step on Monday of announcing that the F.B.I. is investigating whether members of President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Mr. Comey’s remarks before the House Intelligence Committee created a treacherous political moment for Mr. Trump, who has insisted that “Russia is fake news” that was cooked up by his political opponents to undermine his presidency. Mr. Comey placed a criminal investigation at the doorstep of the White House and said agents would pursue it “no matter how long that takes.”

Mr. Comey also dismissed Mr. Trump’s claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor during the campaign, a sensational but unfounded accusation that has served as a distraction in the public debate over Russian election interference.

The New York Times and other news organizations have reported the existence of the investigation into the Trump campaign and its relationship with Russia, but the White House dismissed those reports as politically motivated and rallied political allies to rebut them. Mr. Comey’s testimony on Monday was the first public acknowledgment of the case. The F.B.I. typically discloses its investigations only in the rare circumstances when officials believe it is in the public interest.

“This is one of those circumstances,” Mr. Comey said.

Counterintelligence investigations are among the F.B.I.’s most difficult and time-consuming cases, meaning the cloud of a federal investigation could hang over the Trump administration for years.

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Soccer Hooligans In #Are Trained, Organized, And Violent: VICE News Tonight on HBO – Published on Feb 23, 2017


Soccer is known worldwide for its passionate fans, and every soccer-mad country has its hooligans who get sloppy and start brawls. But in Russia, these hooligans are trained, organized, and brutally violent.

These organized gangs of hooligans, referred to as “firms,” are becoming more prominent around the country. At the European Soccer Championship last summer, violent clashes in Marseilles showcased the professional fighting prowess of Russian hooligans.

Russia hosting the World Cup in 2018 has put pressure on law enforcement to crack down on the “firms,” who put close to 30 England supporters in the hospital after the 2016 Euro Cup.

VICE News correspondent Ben Makuch reports from Russia ,where he meets with some career hooligans. Despite having the support of some people in the government, the gangs anticipate significant disruption to their activities in the coming months.

 

The story of the week is POTUS, Russia and the FBI. The rest is a distraction – Malcolm Nance Saturday 25 February 2017 12.51 EST


theguardian.com

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‘Any investigation involving Trump advisers and Russian intelligence is serious stuff. If born out, it has the potential to become the greatest political scandal in American history.’ Photograph: Dmitri Lovetsky/AP

Narrative switching. That is what the POTUS’ administration is desperately trying to do around Russia right now. The White House reportedly interfered with the FBI in the middle of an active investigation involving counter-intelligence. This was not only foolhardy but also suspicious, as it directly undermined their apparent objective: distracting us.

On 14 February, the New York Times reported that advisors and associates of Donald Trump may have been in direct and continuous contact with officers of the Russian intelligence agency, the FSB, during a tumultuous election campaign in which the American democracy itself was hacked. A major party – now in opposition – was the victim of an unprecedented cyber attack.

According to the Times, intercepted telephone calls and phone records indicated to American counter-intelligence officers direct contact with the Russians.

The stakes are high. Most Democrats and more than a few Republicans believe this investigation could unearth details that could plunge the nation into a political and constitutional crisis not seen since the secession of the South in 1860 and 1861.

The Trump administration has repeatedly denied the characterization and defended the campaign’s conduct. However, its denials have always been couched in the most legalistic terms and each falls apart with every new revelation. It doesn’t help that Trump himself calls the allegations “fake news” then validates the reporting by attacking the leaks – suggesting that they are true.

Now, thanks to CNN, we learned on Thursday that Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus had reportedly contacted the deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, and requested that the bureau publicly characterize the Times story as not being serious – in McCabe’s reported words, “total BS”.

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The 3 Trump-Russia scandals, explained – Vox


The 3 Trump-Russia scandals, explained

(Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)

It’s starting to look like President Trump has a Russia problem.

Late on Tuesday night, the New York Times reported that members of Trump’s campaign team and other “Trump associates” had “repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials” prior to the November vote. The calls were intercepted by US officials monitoring Russian intelligence, who then leaked their existence to the Times.

The report cautions that there’s no evidence the Trump staff discussed Russian interference in the election — or that they even discussed Trump at all — and it doesn’t disclose whether any current administration officials were among the staffers who had been in contact with Russia.

But still. A campaign team having regular contact with a hostile foreign power is highly unusual, to put it mildly. Yet since the Times report doesn’t explain what they actually talked about, it ends up raising more questions than it answers.

So what do we know, exactly, about the scandals surrounding Trump and Russia? A fair amount — a disturbing amount, actually.

That’s because there isn’t just one scandal involving Trump and Russia: There are, roughly, three different allegations, which are connected but are each more or less distinct. One centers on Russia’s interference in the election, another centers on just-resigned National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s improper contact with the Russian ambassador after the election, and a third involves potential blackmail material Russian intelligence may or may not have on the president.

The US government is currently investigating each of these scandals, but none are proven. There are varying degrees of public evidence for each of them.

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Alleged hacker behind LinkedIn breach at centre of US-Russia legal tussle – Robert Tait in Prague and Julian Borger in Washington Friday 27 January 2017 03.30 EST


Yevgeniy Nikulin faces extradition requests from both countries amid lingering disquiet over Moscow’s alleged interference in the US presidential election

 Yevgeniy Nikulin was charged with offences relating to the hacking of computer networks belonging to LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring. Photograph: YouTube


Yevgeniy Nikulin was charged with offences relating to the hacking of computer networks belonging to LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring. Photograph: YouTube

An alleged computer hacker being held in the Czech Republic is at the centre of an international legal tussle between the United States and Russia amid lingering disquiet over Moscow’s alleged interference in the recent US presidential election.

Yevgeniy Nikulin, 29, faces extradition requests from both countries after being detained by Czech police on an Interpol arrest warrant issued by US authorities.

Nikulin, a Russian citizen, was arrested in a restaurant in Prague on 5 October shortly after arriving in the city during a holiday with his girlfriend.

A federal court in Oakland, California, followed up with an indictment charging him with offences relating to the hacking of computer networks belonging to LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring and formally requesting his extradition to the US.

He faces a maximum 30 years in prison and up to US$1m in fines if convicted on charges including computer intrusion, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy, damaging computers and trafficking in illegal access devices.

There is no acknowledged link between Nikulin’s alleged offences and the hacking of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, but his arrest came just three days before the Obama administration formally accused Russia of stealing emails from the Democratic National Committee and disclosing them through WikiLeaks.

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  Russia in power-broking role as Syria peace talks begin in Astana – Patrick Wintour Monday 23 January 2017 04.03 EST


Indirect talks between Syria’s rebels and representatives of Assad’s government seen as test of Moscow’s power

Representatives of the Assad regime and rebel groups assemble for Syria peace talks at Astana’s Rixos President hotel on Monday. Photograph: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images

Representatives of the Assad regime and rebel groups assemble for Syria peace talks at Astana’s Rixos President hotel on Monday. Photograph: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images

Indirect talks between Syrian rebel factions and government representatives have opened in Kazakhstan, as Russia takes on the role of Middle East power broker.

The meetings, scheduled to last two days at a luxury hotel in the Kazakh capital, Astana, will focus on how to extend the ceasefire negotiated after the opposition’s crushing military defeat in Aleppo at the hands of the Russian air force and Iranian-backed militias.

It had been hoped the talks would lead to a face-to-face meeting between opposition fighters and representatives of Bashar al-Assad’s government. However, rebels said on Monday they had no plans for direct talks.

The talks are sponsored by Russia, Turkey and Iran. The US, the EU, Saudi Arabia and the UN are, for the moment, largely marginalised. Russia faces a new set of challenges as it attempts to move from participant in the conflict to peace broker.

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Edward Snowden’s leave to remain in Russia extended for three years – Shaun Walker in Moscow Wednesday 18 January 2017 06.34 EST


Edward Snowden appears via video link during a conference in Argentina in November 2016. Photograph: Marcos Brindicci/Reuters

Edward Snowden appears via video link during a conference in Argentina in November 2016. Photograph: Marcos Brindicci/Reuters

Edward Snowden’s leave to remain in Russia has been extended for three years, his lawyer has said, as a Russian official said the whistleblower would not be extradited to the US even if relations improved under the incoming president, Donald Trump.

Snowden’s Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told RIA Novosti news agency that the permit had been extended until 2020. He also said that as of next year, Snowden would have the right to apply for Russian citizenship.

Earlier on Wednesday, Maria Zakharova, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, wrote on Facebook that Snowden’s right to stay had recently been extended “by a couple of years”. Her post came in response to a suggestion from the former acting CIA director Michael Morell that Vladimir Putin might hand over Snowden to the US, despite there being no extradition treaty between the countries.

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