Russian Agents Sought Secret US Treasury Records During 2016 Campaign

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could get along with Russia,” they said.

US Treasury Department officials used a Gmail back channel with the Russian government as the Kremlin sought sensitive financial information on its enemies in America and across the globe, according to documents reviewed by BuzzFeed News.

The extraordinary unofficial line of communication arose in the final year of the Obama administration — in the midst of what multiple US intelligence agencies have said was a secret campaign by the Kremlin to interfere in the US election. Russian agents ostensibly trying to track ISIS instead pressed their American counterparts for private financial documents on at least two dozen dissidents, academics, private investigators, and American citizens.

Most startlingly, Russia requested sensitive documents on Dirk, Edward, and Daniel Ziff, billionaire investors who had run afoul of the Kremlin. That request was made weeks before a Russian lawyer showed up at Trump Tower offering top campaign aides “dirt” on Hillary Clinton — including her supposed connection to the Ziff brothers.

Russia’s financial crimes agency, whose second-in-command is a former KGB officer and schoolmate of President Vladimir Putin, also asked the Americans for documents on executives from two prominent Jewish groups, the Anti-Defamation League and the National Council of Jewish Women, as well as Kremlin opponents living abroad in London and Kiev.

In an astonishing departure from protocol, documents show that at the same time the requests were being made, Treasury officials were using their government email accounts to send messages back and forth with a network of private Hotmail and Gmail accounts set up by the Russians, rather than communicating through the secure network usually used to exchange information with other countries.

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Analysts at an elite agency within Treasury first warned supervisors in 2016 that the Russians were “manipulating the system” to conduct “fishing expeditions.” And they raised fears that the Treasury’s internal systems could be compromised by viruses contained in emails from the unofficial Russian accounts. But staff continued using the Gmail back channel into 2017, despite repeated internal warnings that Russia could be trawling for sensitive financial records — including Social Security and bank account numbers — to spy on, endanger, or recruit targets in the West.
— Read on

“Nothing formal, just tweets.”

As you probably could’ve guessed by now, Trump hasn’t issues any orders, so neither the civilian nor military leadership has any idea what’s going on. For example:

The Marine Corps’ top officer has faced questions about what the recent drawdown orders and the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis mean for Marines. His answer:“I have no idea.”
— Read on

A ludicrous self-own

If the Presidebt doesn’t even know his own pointman in the fight against ISIS, then how can he possibly know ISIS has been defeated?

I try not to say it too often, but just imagine the Republican reaction had Obama said he did not know the man leading the fight against ISIS. Just imagine what they would have said and done.

And then never, EVER forget that feeling, because they will be right back at it in a couple of years as if none of this ever happened. It won’t work if you don’t forget and then act accordingly.

There’s a REALLY obvious problem with this.

In his phone call with President Donald Trump, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly promised that Turkey would take responsibility for finishing off the Islamic State group if the U.S. pulled out of Syria, a senior White House official tells NBC News.

“Erdogan said to the president, ‘In fact, as your friend, I give you my word in this,’” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to disclose details of a presidential phone call.
— Read on

Erdogan is obviously lying. Turkey has prised this same thing multiple times, but they’ve always been unwilling and unable to follow through. Why? BECAUSE WHAT THEY REALLY WANT TO DO IS WRECK THE KURDS.

This is obvious if you pay attention to this stuff. The people offering this argument know this, but this is the best they’ve got to offer?


The Dam is Finally About to Burst

Marcy is going with the “walls collapsing” metaphor. I like the “bursting dam” metaphor myself. But either way, the point is the same. We are rapidly approaching the endgame, and everyone knows it. The people who have leverage over Trump recognize that the expiration date on what they’ve got is fast approaching, and so they’re starting to lean in on Trump and hard. That’s leading Trump to act even more erratically than usual, and more importantly, to cross some very serious red lines for the hawks that make up the backbone of the Republican establishment.

Trump is, on a dime and without warning our closest allies, rolling up the American Empire. And he’s doing it not because he’s a peacenik, but because ruthless, committed authoritarians have convinced him he needs their continued approval more than he needs the approval of even the Republican hawks in the Senate.

Source: The Moving Parts: The Walls Come Down around Trump | emptywheel

Mattis’ resignation today was the first visible crack in the dam. More resignations are undoubtedly going to follow over the next week, and each will mark another very visible sign that the dam is about to break. We have at most six weeks until Mueller delivers his report. I’d be willing to bet the dam holds until then. But after? No way,