FBI Investigated if Trump Worked in Favor of Russia

Washington, Jan 12 (Prensa Latina) The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) opened a probe in 2017 to determine if U.S. President Donald Trump worked secretly in benefit of Russia, U.S. media publish today.

Dailies, TV networks and digital websites echo a report published by The New York Times, which says that after Trump dismissed former FBI director James Comey in May that year, officials in charge of enforcing the law were concerned about the president's behavior.

Based on that concern, they began investigating Trump to see if he had worked in favor of Russia and against U.S. interests in a probe of explosive implications, said the NYT.

According to the paper, counterintelligence officials should consider if the president's actions represented a threat to national security and they also attempted to determine if he acted knowingly or not for the Euroasian nation.

The inquiry of the Federal agency also focused in a criminal aspect already known for a long time: if the dismissal of Comey obstructed justice on the part of the head of the White House.

After leaving his post, many attributed the fact that Comey was the person heading the probe about a supposed Russian interference in the 2016 elections and a supposed complicity with the Trump campaign.

Although at first the administration attributed the dismissal to the handling carried out by the former director of the investigation on the private e-mail server of democrat former candidate Hillary Clinton, the president himself let it be known later that the dismissal was related to the Russia issue.

According to the newspaper, agents and high officials of the FBI suspected the connection of Trump with Russia during the 2016 campaign, but they abstained from opening a query on that issue, partly because they were not sure of how to pursue a probe of such sensitivity and magnitude.

But the activities of the president before and after the dismissal of Comey helped to boost the aspect of counterintelligence of the investigation, indicated the daily that quoted sources familiar with the issue.

The special prosecutor Robert Mueller took charge after the investigation on the 2016 elections, as part of which have been accused on different charges previous Trump collaborators, but the daily sustained it is not clear if at this time the process of counterintelligence begun in 2017 is still going on.

  • Published in World

Double agent Skripal & daughter have ‘not spoken to family in Russia since poisoning’ – niece to RT

Sergey and Yulia Skripal, the victims of a high-profile poisoning attack in Britain, have not contacted their family in Russia since the attack in March last year, the double agent’s niece told RT.

Viktoria Skripal, Sergey’s niece and Yulia’s cousin, believes that the British authorities may be covering up Sergey’s death. The official narrative is that both he and Yulia survived the poisoning attack, but unlike her, Sergey was never shown alive. Yulia showed up for a single brief carefully orchestrated interview with Reuters in May.

According to Viktoria, the family members living in Russia, including Sergey’s elderly mother, have not heard from either of them since before the attack. Viktoria believes this to be suspicious.

Sergey is a family man, very attached to family members and a responsible person. He called his 91-year-old mother every week. After what happened in March, those calls stopped.

The British authorities say the former double agent and his daughter were targeted by the Russian intelligence in a failed assassination plot – an accusation that Moscow denies.

Also on rt.com Skripal’s Salisbury home to be partly dismantled by British military...

According to a recent report in The Telegraph newspaper, the pair is trying to get their lives back together.

“Far from being cut off entirely from her former life, Yulia has remained in touch with certain close friends who refuse to divulge a shred of information about her. A few, both British and Russian, are understood to have visited her in the summer,” the newspaper said.

  • Published in World

Putin is the ‘greatest gift’ to NATO since end of Cold War — ex-CIA head Petraeus

Russia successfully ‘breathed new life’ into NATO by giving it a reason to boost military expansion into Eastern Europe and strengthen the US foothold on the continent, ex-CIA boss, retired four-star general David Petraeus said.

Russia singlehandedly gave the American-led military bloc “a new reason for living,” the former general told the audience at an international conference in New Delhi, India on Wednesday.

Petraeus stressed that Moscow prompted the alliance to deploy more troops and aircraft into Eastern Europe and the Baltic States as well as set up new command HQs in the region.

Putin is the ‘greatest gift’ to NATO since end of Cold War — ex-CIA head Petraeus

It was done under the pretext of fighting ‘Russian aggression’ as relations between NATO and Moscow steadily deteriorated during the presidency of Vladimir Putin. In that sense, Putin is “the greatest gift” NATO has received since the conclusion of the Cold War, the American general said.

He also ‘credited’ the Russian leader for providing the US with the rationale to return an armored brigade to Europe “for the first time in a number of years.” It is currently stationed in Poland.

The former CIA head told the audience that despite the occasional tensions between the US President Donald Trump and NATO, Washington remains the “backbone” of the alliance as its chief armed force and financial backer.

Also on rt.com ‘Obvious threat’: Russian officials warn Poland not to proceed with permanent US military base...

In recent years, the US and its allies have been boosting military might in Europe, citing the need to deter Moscow following the Ukrainian crisis and the accession of Crimea into Russia. This strategy led to the increase of the number of combat-ready troops and large-scale military drills near the nation’s borders.

The Kremlin, in turn, had been blasting NATO’s continued expansion eastward. Russian politicians said that the growing militarization of the region undermines European security and may lead to destabilization in the region.

Four-star General David Petraeus was considered to be one of the most influential military policy-makers in the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. Before being appointed the head of the CIA, he led the US Central Command.

  • Published in World

‘Hunt for our people goes on’: Moscow warns there’s no ‘safe place’ after US nabs Russian national

The Russian Foreign Ministry has issued a warning about what it describes as a “hunt on our citizens,” urging travelers to be cautious. The message follows the detention of a Russian citizen by the FBI in Saipan.

Russians should take every precaution when traveling abroad and ensure there’s nothing in their records that might interest the US, the Foreign Ministry warned after the 39-year-old citizen was arrested.

 
   © (top left) Viktor Bout / Reuters / Damir Sagolj; (top right) A placard with an image of Konstantin Yaroshenko / Sputnik; (bottom left) Maria Butina / Reuters / Alexandria Sheriff's Office; (bottom right) Family photo of Roman Seleznyov / AFP

“US law enforcement officials are continuing their hunt on Russian citizens,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told TASS on Saturday. The statement was issued just after Dmitry Makarenko was detained by FBI in the Pacific island of Saipan. 

The diplomat said any Russian who has reason to believe that he or she could be of interest to the Americans “should assess the consequences of traveling abroad” because “there is, in fact, no safe place, no guarantee [that they will not be arrested].”

The indictment put forward against Makarenko alleges that he and his associate Vladimir Nevidomy, a resident of Florida, tried to transfer military-grade equipment, such as night-vision rifle scopes and ammunition primers, to Russia between April and November 2013.

Nevidomy pleaded guilty to the charges last June and is now serving a 26-month sentence. Makarenko first appeared before court on Monday and is facing 45 years behind bars if found guilty.

Meanwhile, a Foreign Ministry statement said it learned of Makarenko’s arrest from his relatives. “US authorities – breaching the bilateral Consular Convention – did not inform us in due time about our citizen being detained,” it said

Makarenko’s detention is the latest in a string of arrests by US authorities of Russian citizens. Last December, Mira Terada was detained by Finnish police on an Interpol warrant initiated by the United States, according to the Russian Embassy in Finland. She was accused of engaging in drug trafficking and money-laundering activities during her brief stay in the US between 2013 and 2016.

Also on rt.com Russian arrested by FBI for exporting rifle scopes & ammo primers to Russia – court documents...

In July of the same year, gun-rights advocate Maria Butina was arrested for failure to register as a foreign agent while living in the US, and now faces charges that could land her in prison for five years.

Makarenko’s detention coincided with that of Paul Whelan, who was brought into custody in Moscow in late December. The FSB, Russia’s security service, maintains that the American was collecting intelligence through social media platforms. His relatives have denied the allegation, saying the ex-marine (who was given a bad-conduct discharge in 2008 over accusations of theft) was in Russia for a wedding.

READ MORE: ‘It’s cold there, she’s lost weight’: Mother of Russian woman in Finnish MALE PRISON reveals details

Notably, as the story unfolded, it emerged that apart from holding US and UK citizenships, Whelan also had Canadian and Irish passports.

Russian diplomats say they are trying to get consular access to a detention site in Florida, where Makarenko is being kept. Meanwhile, Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Russian Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said Russia will defend its citizen whose arrest was in violation of international law.

  • Published in World

Russia Launches Investigation Into BBC As Dispute With Britain Escalates

MOSCOW:  Russia's media regulator said today that it had launched an investigation into the activities of British public broadcaster the BBC, a move it described as a response to pressure being put on a Russian TV channel in Britain.

Roskomnadzor, the regulator, said in a statement it was looking into the activities of the BBC World News channel and BBC internet sites to see if they complied with Russian law.

It said its checks were in response to a decision by British media regulator Ofcom, which yesterday said that Russian broadcaster RT had broken impartiality rules in some of its news and current affairs programmes.

The Kremlin said Russian government agencies had repeatedly raised concerns about the BBC's coverage of Russia and of Moscow's actions in Syria.

"Many questions about the BBC in terms of its tendentious coverage of events, its coverage not in the style of a media actor but in a pre-planned and politically motivated way, have accumulated over a long period," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Only the country's media regulator had the authority to examine such allegations, he said. An unnamed source familiar with the investigation was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that the BBC's activities in Russia could be restricted if it was found to be in breach of Russian law.

The BBC said it was in full compliance.

"As everywhere else in the world, the BBC works in Russia in full compliance with the country's laws and regulations to deliver independent news and information to its audiences," said a spokeswoman.

Ofcom declined to comment.

MASK SLIPPING

Ofcom said yesterday that it was considering imposing some kind of sanction on RT, which is financed by the Russian state. It took issue in particular with its coverage of the poisoning in Britain of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

Britain has accused agents working for Russia's military intelligence agency, the GRU, of committing the crime, an allegation Moscow denies.

British Media Secretary Jeremy Wright also weighed in yesterday, saying what he called RT's mask as an impartial news provider was slipping.

RT rejected Ofcom's findings, saying Ofcom had ignored its explanations and not paid "due regard" to its rights.

Commenting on the launch of the Russian investigation today, Margarita Simonyan, RT's editor-in-chief, said on Twitter that Ofcom had hinted that it planned to strip her channel of its broadcasting license in Britain.

"Welcome to the brave new world," she wrote.

"I assume they (the Russian regulator) will now look to see if the BBC expresses alternative points of view with a microscope."

Russian officials have previously said that Moscow would "mirror" any action Britain takes against RT when it came to retaliating against British media operating in Russia.

  • Published in World

Russia, Iran & Turkey agree to launch Syrian constitution committee by January

Top diplomats from Russia, Turkey and Iran have agreed to ensure that a 150-strong committee to draft a new Syrian constitution will convene for the first time early next year as they wrapped up a meeting in Geneva on Tuesday.

“We have agreed to take efforts aimed at convening the first session of the Syrian constitution committee early next year. These steps will lead to the launch of a viable and lasting Syrian-owned, Syrian-led, UN-facilitated political process,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a statement following the meeting hosted by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

Also on rt.com Sochi or Vienna: Which peace plan offers best solution for Syria?

The agreement, which could pave the way for political reconciliation in the war-ravaged country, was struck between Lavrov, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

The creation of the 150-member body was first envisaged during a UN-backed summit in Sochi last January, which reinvigorated the stale Geneva peace process. However, efforts had been without a major breakthrough due the parties’ inability to agree on the composition of the committee.

READ MORE: Putin & Erdogan agree Idlib buffer zone to avert new Syria crisis

The body will consist of 50 representatives from the Syrian government, 50 representatives from the opposition, and the remaining 50 are intended to be “independent” delegates of civil society chosen by the UN.

The latter has become a bone of contention, with Damascus reportedly opposing some of the candidates.

The list has not been finalized as of yet, but the trio of Russia, Turkey and Iran is nearing a mutually acceptable solution, Cavusoglu said after the meeting.

READ MORE: West cries foul over humanitarian crisis in Idlib, which isn’t even happening – top Russian diplomat

“As guarantor states, we are working together with the UN on this issue. We are gradually moving towards the finish line,” he said.

Cavusoglu stated earlier that Turkey will work with Syrian President Bashar Assad if he remains in power after “very credible, transparent, democratic and fair” elections are carried out, which is the ultimate goal of the constitutional committee.

It was hoped that the committee would convene before Mistura, who is stepping down in December, leaves his post. Speaking after the meeting, the outgoing special envoy wasn’t overly optimistic, however, saying that “there is an extra mile to go” before having a balanced and credible body tasked with drafting a constitution.

 
FILE PHOTO: Bodrum Airport, Turkey, August 5, 2008

Meanwhile, the US – which has so far been wary of the possibility of intra-Syrian reconciliation – seems to be taking a less hawkish approach, with its special representative in Syria, James Jeffrey, recently saying that it doesn’t want to topple Assad anymore.

“We want to see a regime that is fundamentally different. It’s not regime change – we’re not trying to get rid of Assad,” Jeffrey said at the Atlantic Council meeting on Monday.

This doesn’t mean that the US has actually abandoned its plans to dislodge the Syrian president, however, according to Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Instead, it would merely prefer to do so without spilling blood.

“The Americans are counting on this committee’s constitution change and [the] election overseen by the UN, which will change the regime peacefully and bring about a peaceful settlement in America’s favor,” he argued.

Landis predicted that since this is “unlikely to happen,” the US will maintain a presence in Syria until it occurs.

“That could mean that America is an open-ended force in Syria,” he said.

  • Published in World

Trump, Without Evidence, Blasts Social Media Giants For Opposition "Bias"

Washington: US President Donald Trump took a swipe Tuesday at tech giants Facebook, Twitter and Google, accusing them of being biased in favor of opposition Democrats.

"Facebook, Twitter and Google are so biased toward the Dems it is ridiculous!" Trump tweeted. "Twitter, in fact, has made it much more difficult for people to join @realDonaldTrump. They have removed many names & greatly slowed the level and speed of increase. They have acknowledged-done NOTHING!"

Trump's tirade follows a detailed US Senate report on Russian troll farms that disrupted the 2016 US presidential election via social media.

  • Published in World

Russia will easily design new missiles to defend itself if US pulls out of INF – Putin

Russia may easily respond to the US withdrawal from the milestone INF Treaty by developing new types of land-based missiles, Vladimir Putin said, warning that Washington's decision to pull out “is one step towards an arms race.”

The Russian president reiterated that Moscow did not violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), but if Washington ditches it, Russia will be left with no choice but “to react accordingly” to defend itself. 

 
FILE PHOTO RT-21M Pioneer missile and launcher © Wikipedia

“As you know, we do have sea and airborne [missile] systems and there will be no difficulty to carry out research-and-development and make them land-based if needed,” Putin told a Defense Ministry conference on Tuesday.

Russia’s successes in developing sea- and air-launched missiles became a source of concern for “our partners,” prompting them to undermine the treaty. Putin had also praised Russia’s newest Kalibr cruise missiles which saw action against terrorists in Syria.

Over the past months, Washington has been repeatedly accusing Russia of violating the INF. Moscow, for its part, denied such accusations calling them unfounded.

But, Putin said, the US is violating the INF directly, as it’s actively building up Aegis Ashore facilities in Romania and Poland. Meanwhile, there are strike drones in the US military arsenals whose properties fall under the treaty.

They blatantly violate it and make hypothetical, unfounded claims against us.

The Russian president noted that the US and Russia – two signatories to the treaty – are not the only countries to possess short- and intermediate-range missiles. “There are plenty of them … why don’t they [the US] engage these countries?”

Putin believes they don’t do it “simply because it apparently hampers certain aspirations and these aspirations are unlikely to be peaceful ones,” while the US pullout “is one step towards an arms race.”

Also on rt.com A new arms race has begun – Gorbachev on Trump's INF pullout plan

He also reminded the conference that the US military is profiting from a record $725-billion “militarist budget” that dwarfs Russia’s annual defense spending worth $46 billion.

Earlier Putin suggested the US planned their withdrawal beforehand. Notably, the Congress authorized funding an effort to build new missile systems “before Washington announced withdrawal from the INF. The decision had been made some time ago, but quietly – they thought we wouldn’t notice it.”

  • Published in World
Subscribe to this RSS feed