Wednesday, July 19, 2017

RUSSIA FIGHTS U.S. FRACKING USING SHELL COMPANY TO FUND ENVIRONMENTAL CAMPAIGNS, INVESTIGATORS SAY

By Dan Boylan - The Washington Times - Sunday, July 16, 2017

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jul/16/russia-fights-us-fracking-using-shell-company-to-f/?

Russia’s propaganda schemes and shell companies are so complex that investigators call them “matryoshkas” for the Russian nesting dolls that hide one inside the other. Capitol Hill lawmakers say they are now wrestling with one that appears to have twisted American oil and gas policy in Moscow’s favor.

Adding fresh intrigue to the multiple Russia probes underway across Washington, top Republican lawmakers are demanding that the Trump administration immediately investigate a Bermuda-based shell company with suspected Kremlin ties that is accused of working in the shadows to move millions of dollars to anti-fracking activists across the U.S.

Capitol Hill investigators say the Bermuda fracking case underscores the complexity of recent Russian influence operations that attempt to use Americans as pawns in money laundering or propaganda schemes.

“If you connect the dots, it is clear that Russia is funding U.S. environmental groups in an effort to suppress our domestic oil and gas industry, specifically hydraulic fracking,” Rep. Lamar Smith, Republican Texas, said in a statement.

The fracking revelations dovetail with a recently declassified report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that concluded that Russia’s state-owned media outlet Russia Today, or RT, also engaged in a vigorous anti-fracking campaign to benefit the leading Russian state-owned energy firm Gazprom.

In recent years, NATO chiefs have criticized Russia for conspiring to undermine technology in Europe by supporting anti-fracking protesters in Romania and Bulgaria. Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind the efforts.

Fracking involves blasting shale rock with water, sand and chemicals to release trapped natural gas. Although it has led to a boom in U.S. gas production, environmental groups have voiced opposition, saying it contributes to global warming.

Russia has aligned itself with the anti-fracking movement for fear that aggressive U.S. fracking will cut into Moscow’s global gas profits, analysts say.

An investigator speaking to The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity for security reasons said Moscow does not care whether it’s using Democrats or Republicans in an influence campaign.

“The Kremlin seeks to influence American debate in ways that look natural,” the investigator said. “To do this, they use what we call ‘useful idiots,’ or people who are unaware they are being used.”

Shell companies

On Capitol Hill, worries over the Russian anti-fracking scheme led Mr. Smith, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, to send a letter late last month to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

The six-page letter asks Treasury officials to investigate “what appears to be a concerted effort by foreign entities to funnel millions of dollars through various nonprofit entities to influence the U.S. energy market.”

Co-signed by Rep. Randy K. Weber Sr., Texas Republican, the letter targets the San Francisco-based environmental group the Sea Change Foundation, which is alleged to have taken $23 million in 2010 and 2011 from Bermuda-based shell company Klein Ltd., which reportedly has ties to Russian oligarchs.

According to IRS documents, Sea Change Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private foundation.

After receiving funds from Bermuda, Sea Change is suspected of passing millions of dollars to U.S.-based environmental groups opposed to fracking, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters.

Last week, Klein Ltd. responded to the Capitol Hill accusations and denied funneling Russian money to environmental groups.

“Our firm has represented Klein since its inception, and we can state categorically that at no point did this philanthropic organization receive or expend funds from Russian sources or Russian-connected sources and Klein has no Russian connection whatsoever,” Klein attorney Roderick M. Forrest said in an email to The Times last week.

House investigators, led by Mr. Smith, believe the scheme potentially violates federal statutes pertaining to agents of foreign governments or those lobbying on behalf of domestic and foreign interests, but others on Capitol Hill are less sure. They note that private U.S. foundations may accept foreign contributions and that Moscow might have exploited that loophole in this particular case.

The League of Conservation Voters also denies all charges that it has any Kremlin associations.

“This seems like nothing more than an attempt at distraction away from the Trump campaign’s well-publicized interactions with Russian interests to influence the election,” league spokesman David Willett said in an email. “We have no connections to Russia and have been an effective advocate for environmental protection for over 45 years.”

Other environmental groups have blasted the House Republicans’ call for an investigation as “pathetic,” and Klein insists all its work is legal and operates within Bermuda’s strict regulations against money laundering.

Long shadows

Russia’s propaganda shadow has hung over environmental groups for some time. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on record calling out Russia for creating “phony environmental groups” opposed to pipelines and fracking.

“We were even up against phony environmental groups, and I’m a big environmentalist, but these were funded by the Russians to stand against any effort — ‘Oh that pipeline, that fracking, that whatever will be a problem for you’ — and a lot of the money supporting that message was coming from Russia,” Mrs. Clinton said in a June 2014 speech.

House investigators are unsure how much more they will be able to unearth about Sea Change, which was first exposed in a 2014 report by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. That report closely connected Klein with Russia’s state-owned oil giant Rosneft and Russian energy investment groups including Firebird New Russia Fund and VimpelCom Ltd.

The report singled out that Sea Change functioned as a “pass-through” financing organization. Investigators say such opacity is what they confront when they attempt to prosecute complex international Russian schemes.

One investigator compared the Sea Change probe to a recent Interpol investigation into a suspected Russian mafia money laundering operating that infiltrated Portugal’s top football teams. Because of the Portuguese scheme’s complexity, which included multiple shell companies, tax fraud, corruption and forgery of documents, Portuguese law enforcement code-named the case Operation Matryoshka Dolls.


• Valerie Richardson contributed to this report.


Russia Didn't Interfere In U.S. Election To Help Trump, But To Destabilize America
By Paul Roderick Gregory
Published Jewish World Review July 18, 2017

Read more at http://jewishworldreview.com/0717/gregory071817.php3#8eDJ1rSAbOls7ujy.99


A still unidentified Democratic Party donor paid for the factually challenged dossier that almost sunk the Donald Trump campaign. The dossier was created (and perhaps written) with the support and assistance of unregistered foreign agents of the Russian government, according to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The offer by an obscure music publicist to Donald Trump Jr. to share compromising information on the Clinton campaign was, as will be shown below, most likely a Russian operation. I conclude that Russia's interference in the 2016 election was not to help Trump but to throw the American political system into chaos and threaten its foundations.

Russia boasts one of the most effective and ruthless political operations in Washington. A flamboyant man-about-town ambassador sits at the top hobnobbing with the American political aristocracy. Russia's diplomats, spies, and PR experts lobby Russian interests and recruit the  powerhouses  of American political influence to plead their cases and use hired guns to sling dirt and promote "disinformation" about opponents.

Russia's "Magnitsky gang" was formed to get rid of the Magnitsky sanctions imposed by Congress in 2012. Russian lawyer Sergey Magnitsky represented Hermitage Capital (once the largest investor in Russia and a major holder of Yukos stock). He died in a Russian prison after being denied medical attention, provoking US sanctions. An irate Vladimir Putin retaliated by closing down American adoptions of Russian children.

The Magnitsky gang includes a "former" GRU spy, Rinat Akhmetshin, a Kremlin-connected lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, Anatoly Samochornov, Andrei Nekrasov and other Russian nationals. They hire American lobbyists and PR firms to represent Russian interests. They gather and disseminate "fake news" about Magnitsky and his boss, William Browder, including producing a distorted documentary. None have signed FARA documents as Foreign Agents of Russia. Instead, they claim to represent charitable non-profit organizations registered in the United States.

With the U.S. election pending, members of the Magnitsky gang expanded their portfolio to include meddling in the election. Using funds donated by a still-unnamed Democrat donor, Akhmetshin  hired  a US opposition research firm, Fusion GPS, to dig up dirt on candidate Trump. Fusion GPS hired a London intelligence firm, Orbis, headed by former British spy, Christopher Steele. Steele was tasked with using his Russian contacts to gather compromising information on Trump. Fusion and Orbis were not new to each other. They had worked together since January 2010, as their contract agreement shows.

Orbis produced reports between June and end of October 2016 in the form of a dossier that accused Trump and his associates of financial, political, and sexual misdeeds in Russia. These reports were supposedly gathered from sources at high levels of the Russian government. Orbis brought the dossier to the attention Senator John McCain, while Fusion briefed the US media on its contents. The dossier was passed on to the FBI, which may have asked Steele to continue his investigation. Although the Orbis dossier has been discredited due to numerous errors and mind-boggling claims, the Clinton campaign cited the dossier as the motivation for Trump's purported favoring of Russia.

We hopefully will learn more about the Steele dossier from a defamation suit which is currently being litigated in a British court and about the Fusion GPS operation which is being probed by the Grassley-Feinstein Senate Judiciary Committee. Grassley wishes to know why Fusion GPS, as an unregistered Foreign Agent of Russia, was a principal in the creation of the anti-Trump dossier.

Both Fusion GPS and Orbis are dodging answers by citing confidentiality agreements and claiming attorney-client privilege although neither is a law firm. The secret that Steele and Fusion seem most reluctant to disclose is the identity of the Democrat donor, despite demands for answers from the British court and the senate committee. Is the "client" someone close to the Clinton campaign?

Besides its work on Magnitsky sanctions and the Trump dossier, the busy Magnitsky gang penetrated the Trump campaign on June 9, when one of its principals, lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, met with Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign personnel in Trump Tower. The meeting was organized by Trump Jr. through a June 3 e-mail chain with an English music publicist. The publicist relayed a message from a Russian rock star (known to the Trump family) that "the Russian Crown Court" (there is no such thing) was prepared to supply the Trump campaign with incriminating information on Hillary Clinton as a gesture that Russia was on Trump's side in the election.

In the short June 9 meeting, Veselnitskaya disclosed no incriminating information on Hillary Clinton but talked instead about the Magnitsky adoption issue. When news of the meeting broke more than a year later, Veselnitskaya claimed no association with Russian agencies, but her claims are easily disproved through her Magnitsky work and her lobbying for suspected Russian money launderers.

The US and world press are celebrating the aborted meeting as proof of the Trump campaign's collusion with Russia. More sympathetic media outlets call the Trump Jr. fiasco a farce or argue that Trump Jr. was set up.

In my personal view, the whole story smells of a Russian planned operation that required a political novice on the receiving end. Is it credible to think that Russia's holding of top-secret Hillary Clinton information (perhaps from hacked "personal" e-mails) would be made known to a Russian rock star to pass on to the campaign of a US presidential candidate? Simple logic tells us that this meeting was not intended by the Russian side to be helpful to the Trump campaign. The disclosure of such an e-mail chain could be used either to harm the Trump campaign or come back to haunt him during his presidency.

The proof that this was not a keystone cops operation by Trump Jr. and an obscure music publicist is that a leading member of the Russian Magnitsky team actually showed up for the meeting and was in the loop. The goal of the Trump Tower meeting was not to gain the ear of the Trump campaign. Accounts of Russian lobbying against the Magnitsky sanctions suggest that Russian agents can organize meetings without such ruses.

The combination of the Steele Dossier and the Trump Jr. trap refutes the narrative that Russia was helping the Trump campaign. The Steele dossier was clearly a major hit on Trump designed to destroy his presidential campaign. It appears to have been funded by an unnamed Clinton ally and carried out by an unregistered Foreign Agent of Russia.

If the Steele dossier is to be believed, such information could only have come from the highest levels of Russian government. Why should officials with fly-on-the-wall knowledge of the Kremlin reveal their information to Steele, if not told to do so by the Kremlin? Given its numerous mistakes and unbelievable claims, a more likely explanation is that the dossier was created by disinformation specialists of Russian intelligence as postulated by Russian expert David Satter. Given its funding and the role of Fusion GPS, the dossier appears to be a joint product of the Russian government and at least some elements of the Clinton campaign. Once the dossier was in their and media hands, Clinton supporters and a supportive media did not hesitate to spread this information far and wide.

Some may say that the Trump Jr. affair was a harmless ruse to give a trusted representative of the Magnitsky gang a chance to make her case against the sanctions to Trump insiders. I consider this explanation wanting. The gang knew that the meeting was set up to talk about compromising material they did not have. As sophisticates in American politics, surely they would understand that this would be their first and last meeting. No, the real reason was to get on record that Trump Jr. took a meeting with Russian representatives promising the goods on Hillary. If so, this becomes a case of setting up Trump Jr. for the eventual revelation of such a meeting. It is impossible to interpret the Trump Jr. affair as a positive move by Russia in favor of the Trump campaign - as it is now being played in the mainstream media.

We have reached the stage I  warned  about three months back. Vladimir Putin is now in a position to destroy the Trump presidency and wreak untold havoc on the American political system. His disinformation specialists can make up virtually any story they wish of Trump's cooperation with Russia, and the anti-Trump media will accept it as gospel truth. Putin will get his wish of a weakened and embattled American president and an American political system in paralysis. He will continue to feed the story to make sure no resolution is possible.

The ironical outcome is that the real collusion may be between the enemies of Trump making an alliance with Putin to weaken their own country, all in order to overturn an election outcome they despise.

Previously: 
• 06/13/17 Three Overlooked Statements By Comey That Blow Apart The Russian Collusion Narrative 
• 06/21/17 Is Russiagate Really Hillarygate?

Paul Roderick Gregory is a fellow at the Hoover Institution, at Stanford, and energy fellow and Cullen Professor of Economics at the University of Houston. I am also a research professor at the German Institute for Economic Research Berlin. My specialties are Russia and Comparative Economics, and I am adding China to my portfolio. I have written more than 20 books on economics, Russia and comparative economics.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Subject: Was Aras Agalarov a Conduit to Trump?    Date: July 17, 2017 
To: WASHINGTON POST<email@e.washingtonpost.com>, “NY TIMES”<nytdirect@nytimes.com>


In response  to your questions concerning the Donald Trump Jr.’s  meeting  with Natalia Veselnitskaya  , let me express disappointment in that Charles Krauthammer,, whom we both deeply respect ,has become unhinged on this  subject. Unfortunately, he was joined by many other journalists and politicians whom you admire.

Let me assure you that after decades of working intensively to counter the Soviet Union and subsequently the Russian military and intelligence organizations I can with 100% assurance state that this supposed  approach to lay the groundwork for "collusion" between the Russian government and the Trump campaign is FAKE NEWS.

Had the Kremlin wanted to provide damaging information relating to the Hillary Clinton campaign, they would have delivered  damaging information, ,the materials being sent  by Federal Express, to  specific reporters and specific editors at the New York Times, at the Washington Post, etc. They would've included detailed evidence down to the pubic hairs of the prostitutes that entertained  Bill Clinton, complete with Bill Clinton's DNA on them  and a certified chemical analysis. 

MacFarqhar writes :”That is no more than informed speculation”  These words alone should be red flags. Then MacFarqhar goes on to state the obvious:“there are deep connections among the men.” 

That there are deep connections  between  Putin and Aras Agalarov is well known and indisputable. That there are connections between Donald Trump and Agalarov are also a matter of public record. However , had Putin wanted to reach Donald Trump he would not have wanted a second rate publicist such as Goldstone to be in the loop. Further only an opportunist publicist seeking to insert himself into a situation would have  placed   in the text so blatant  a statement of Russian support of Trump that the first assumption to be examined should be: is this a set up? Every experienced politician would've had the meeting but would have utilized aa a  cutout a third party who could be disowned and thrown overboard.

The operations of the Kremlin are very much as described: "Kremlin analysts stress that its red, crenelated walls conceal not a well-oiled machine but a hornet’s nest of interests and influences competing to dominate an Erector Set of ad hoc policies and sudden opportunities, many of them highly lucrative.”  Interestingly, this also describes every White House that I have been familiar with.

This article has all the trappings of a writer who has preconceived positions then goes out and interviews to obtain “qualified quotations" to support his/her viewpoint. I find it implausible that they would choose Mr Agalarov. [‘ In the view of Mr. Navalny, a bitter opponent of Mr. Putin, it makes perfect sense that information passed from the Kremlin through Mr. Chaika and Mr. Agalarov to Mr. Trump, as the security services could easily have used such a trusted channel to reach out to the Trump campaign…..It would be natural for the Kremlin, aware of that relationship, to reach down to that level to try to get something done with the Trump campaign, analysts said.” ]

 A more suitable choice would be an executive from one of the many Russian trading and/or transportation companies that are  active in both operations and communications within the United States.


MacFarqhar writes”It is unclear precisely what was discussed at the meeting with members of the Trump team. Participants have said that it dealt largely with an American law called the Magnitsky Act, which blacklists those suspected of human rights abuses in Russia, and a ban on the adoption of Russian children, and that nothing of significance was given to the campaign.”

What is perfectly clear is what was not discussed—actual significant negative information on Hillary Clinton [the so-called diagrams concerning funding support of Hillary Clinton from Russian sources was mentioned but certainly not documented]. 

All the evidence shows that this was a subterfuge in order to get attention to obtain a meeting  in order to promote a specific cause: repeal of the Magnitsky Act, 

It  should be a obvious to  the media, to the American public, to every Justice Department investigator ,and  to every Representative and Senator what was not discussed. There was no way that  Natalia Veselnitskaya  or any other participant at that meeting could have ,in any way, been authorized to set up any collusion mechanism . Further, there was  certainly no ability by any participant in that meeting to actually create such a channel.

*****

A Russian Developer Helps Out the Kremlin on Occasion. Was He a Conduit to Trump?

By NEIL MacFARQUHAR NEW YORK TIMES JULY 16, 2017



MOSCOW — Russian Island, near the port city of Vladivostok in the far east, was a decaying former military base and home to a scattering of cattle when President Vladimir V. Putin suddenly envisioned it as a $1.2 billion campus where he could welcome heads of state for an Asia-Pacific conference.

That sent Kremlin officials scrambling to find a developer to transform a site lacking fresh water, a pier or roads. They rejected numerous bids before one of them took a flier on a man known mostly for his glamorous shopping malls: Aras Agalarov of the Crocus Group.

A little more than three years later, in 2012, Mr. Putin opened the spectacular Far Eastern Federal University, some 70 modern buildings built in a crescent overlooking the sparkling Pacific Ocean.

Not long after, Mr. Putin pinned a blue-ribboned state medal, the Order of Honor, on Mr. Agalarov’s chest at a dazzling Kremlin ceremony. Soon, a string of demanding, more prominent projects followed: a stretch of superhighway ringing Moscow; two troubled stadiums for the 2018 World Cup, including one in a Baltic swamp.

Mr. Agalarov, 61, also worked on a project with a future president, Donald J. Trump. Last week, the Russian developer and his crooner son and heir, Emin, were thrust into the swirl of speculation about whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election.

Their names popped up in emails about arranging a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who claimed to have incriminating information about Hillary Clinton, but the president and his son have both insisted that nothing of value was provided.

“This is obviously very high-level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump — helped along by Aras and Emin,” wrote Rob Goldstone, a music producer and publicist working for Emin.

The American attorney for the Agalarovs, Scott S. Balber, contradicted Mr. Goldstone’s version, asserting in an interview that the senior Mr. Agalarov’s role was merely a matter of an introduction. “People in the business world do favors for each other all the time. As a courtesy to a lawyer they had a relationship with, they made an introduction,” Mr. Balber said. “We were not in possession of damaging info. We had no reason to believe this was in relation to the Russian government.”

While there is no indication beyond what was said in the emails that the Agalarovs were serving as a conduit between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, wealthy and well-connected businessmen are often called on to do the bidding of the Russian government.

Kremlin analysts stress that its red, crenelated walls conceal not a well-oiled machine but a hornet’s nest of interests and influences competing to dominate an Erector Set of ad hoc policies and sudden opportunities, many of them highly lucrative.

When it comes to exploiting those opportunities, the Kremlin often ignores its own bureaucrats, diplomats and other agents in favor of someone it thinks will get the job done — a charmed group whose members rise and fall in status along with their usefulness to Mr. Putin and his top aides.


In that context, analysts find it entirely plausible that the Kremlin would tap Mr. Agalarov, a construction tycoon with a web of contacts to Mr. Trump, as a way to pass information to the Trump presidential campaign.

“In a sense, almost no one is a direct agent of the Kremlin, but almost anyone can become one if the need arises,” said Ekaterina Schulmann, a political scientist at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.

Aleksei A. Navalny, the leading opposition figure in Russia and an anticorruption campaigner, says he has no doubt that the Agalarovs would do the bidding of the Kremlin if asked.

In a blog post, Mr. Navalny refers to Yuri Chaika, the Russian state prosecutor — a position equivalent to the United States attorney general — whom Mr. Goldstone identified in his emails as the source of the information on offer at the Trump Tower meeting. Mr. Chaika, a staunch Putin loyalist, has been in that position since 2006.

In the view of Mr. Navalny, a bitter opponent of Mr. Putin, it makes perfect sense that information passed from the Kremlin through Mr. Chaika and Mr. Agalarov to Mr. Trump, as the security services could easily have used such a trusted channel to reach out to the Trump campaign.

That is no more than informed speculation, yet there are deep connections among the men. After Mr. Navalny released a documentary in 2015 accusing Mr. Chaika of corruption, for example, Mr. Agalarov rose to his defense. Writing in the newspaper Kommersant, he said the film mixed fact and fiction and echoed the work of Joseph Goebbels, the chief Nazi propagandist.

Natalia Veselnitskaya, the lawyer who met with the younger Mr. Trump, and her former husband both worked in the prosecutor’s office of the Moscow region, the district surrounding the capital, and would have been under Mr. Chaika’s overall umbrella.

Ms. Veselnitskaya has done legal work connected to real estate for Mr. Agalarov’s company in Russia, said Mr. Balber, the family lawyer.

Mr. Trump entered this circle with the 2013 Miss Universe contest, carried out with the help of lower-level bureaucrats and Mr. Agalarov, who paid $20 million to bring the pageant to his family’s Moscow concert pavilion, Crocus City Hall.

It would be natural for the Kremlin, aware of that relationship, to reach down to that level to try to get something done with the Trump campaign, analysts said.

“If you are a business person, you are supposed to do something that the Kremlin asks you; you are otherwise free to pursue your own interests. That is how Russia works,” said Mrs. Schulmann, noting that most would be eager to respond to any such call as an expression of loyalty.


In this particular case, the Kremlin has denied any involvement, saying it was not in touch with Mr. Agalarov and did not even know the lawyer, Ms. Veselnitskaya. It is unclear precisely what was discussed at the meeting with members of the Trump team. Participants have said that it dealt largely with an American law called the Magnitsky Act, which blacklists those suspected of human rights abuses in Russia, and a ban on the adoption of Russian children, and that nothing of significance was given to the campaign.

Mr. Agalarov, in a Russian radio interview, called the story around the meeting — that it was about information damaging to Hillary Clinton — a “fabrication.”

The Crocus Group did not respond to a request to interview Mr. Agalarov.

For Mr. Agalarov, the involvement in the Trump administration’s Russia scandal is at best an unwelcome diversion in a career of steady if not always spectacular success.

He was born in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, then part of the Soviet Union, where he studied computer engineering and was a member of the Baku City Committee of the Communist Party.

He went to Moscow to study, and even before the collapse of the Soviet Union began trying to fill pent-up Russian demand for Western goods, especially computers.

What started as a modest trading company grew into a business organizing trade fairs that eventually mushroomed into the Crocus Group, a real estate empire that encompasses mammoth shopping malls, a chain of hypermarkets, an exposition center, restaurants, luxury housing developments and other enterprises.

Forbes magazine puts Mr. Agalarov 51st on its list of the richest Russians, with a fortune estimated at $1.7 billion.

“He is not the biggest retail guy, but Crocus City Mall was the first luxury mall to appear in Moscow,” said Darrell Stanaford, a 20-year veteran of the Russian real estate world as the former managing director in Moscow for the CBRE Group, a Los Angeles-based commercial real estate firm. “He likes the glitz. It is high-end luxury, so that is why he becomes such a good matchup for Trump.”

Mr. Agalarov keeps a modest footprint on social media, mostly by standing next to his photogenic son: on their luxury Moscow golf course development, for example, or posing with Robert De Niro at the opening of one of the two Nobu restaurants in Moscow where they are partners.

Mr. Trump pops up from time to time. On his Inauguration Day, both Agalarovs posted old pictures of themselves with him, along with effusive praise for their old friend.

Aside from the 2013 Miss Universe contest, it is not known what business ties, if any, the Agalarovs have with Mr. Trump, or with any other American companies. They clearly have an affinity for the United States, however, naming one chain of shopping malls “Vegas” and another luxury residential complex “Manhattan.”



In November 2013, after the buzz of the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow had subsided, Mr. Trump met privately with a group of elite Russian businessmen, including the head of Russia’s state-owned Sberbank at one of the Nobu restaurants in Moscow.

The elder Mr. Agalarov had been talking with Mr. Trump about building a Trump Tower in Moscow as part of a $3 billion real estate project involving hotels, a shopping center and office space.

Sberbank was ready to make it happen. About a week after the meeting, the bank announced a “strategic cooperation agreement” with the Crocus Group to finance about 70 percent of the ambitious project, including, potentially, a building bearing the Trump name.

“It was one of the 14 buildings that we planned to build here,” Mr. Agalarov’s son Emin said in a March interview with Forbes, adding that if Mr. Trump “hadn’t run for president, we would probably be in the construction phase today.”

The Sberbank financing — reported at the time as the biggest real estate development loan the bank had made — was another measure of the Agalarovs’ increasingly close connections to the centers of power in Russia.

In another indication, the Crocus Group was written into a 2014 bilateral treaty with the government of Kyrgyzstan to help that country integrate into Russia’s regional alliance, the Eurasian Economic Union.

In that deal, worth $127 million, the Crocus Group was designated the “single supplier” of services to integrate the two countries’ bureaucracies and reinforce the new customs common border, by, for example, building new border posts.

By naming the company in an international treaty, the Russian government avoided opening the work to competitive bidding, ensuring that the Crocus Group won the contract, Edil Baisalov, a former Kyrgyz presidential chief of staff, said in a telephone interview.

In Kyrgyzstan, he said, the apparent giveaway to Kremlin-connected insiders became known as “Crocusgate.”

Mr. Agalarov mentions occasionally how difficult it is to earn money on public works, telling the newspaper Vedomosti in 2015 that he had to buy a larger Gulfstream jet to make the cross-continental trek to Vladivostok to check on progress at the Far Eastern Federal University. On that project, he said, he spent more than $100 million of his own money because the official plans skipped significant costs like roads and landscaping. He won some of it back in court.

Statements about losing money are all part of the game, analysts said, noting that construction costs on Russian infrastructure routinely run 30 percent higher than for comparable projects in Europe.

“It is showing the wounds that he got in the service of the motherland,” said Ms. Schulmann, the political scientist. “You see how indifferent I am to profit when I do a service for the Kremlin. I have to make sacrifices.”

Mr. Agalarov, however, was more candid than most when asked whether it is altruism that leads him to respond when the Kremlin calls. In the interview with Vedomosti, he said, “There are things that you cannot turn down.”

Friday, July 14, 2017

RESPONSE TO: “The 16 Things You Must Believe If the 'Witch Hunt' Accusation Is True” by Mona Charen  7-14-17

Unfortunately, Mona  Charen is causing more damage than she can realize. 

Discussion of  Iran [ its  nuclear and missile development programs , its expansion in Syria, and Lebanon, its pressure on the neighboring Sunni states, it's international terror operations etc.],  North Korea; China; Russia  , etc.   clearly show  many  of the difficulties  that were ignored and then left behind by presidents William Clinton and Barack Obama.  [This was after the American public had been  assured by both the Clinton and Obama administrations by lofty promises of agreements and extravagant claims of success.]

However, I will limit this note to:

1.     The media’s “collusion with Moscow” theme

2.      RESPONSE TO: “The 16 Things You Must Believe If the 'Witch Hunt' Accusation Is True” by Mona Charen  7-14-17 

3.      Putin strongly favored Hillary Clinton in the election.  


1.      Relating to the “collusion with Moscow” theme remember the following:

 The entire Democratic party/Hillary Clinton theme as to why Putin favored Trump over Hillary was that Putin  was furious with Hillary for her attempts  to interfere  against him in the Russian election. And that  Putin’s outrage against Hillary  was “payback.

 The original “Russian dossier” activity was based on the theme that Christopher Steele had access to Russia government intelligence officials who  were hostile to Donald Trump. The original financiers of this activity were Republican opponents of Donald  Trump. John McCain, who should know better than attempting  to expedite Russian collusion in trying to affect the US election was  personally and very actively involved with transmitting the dossier to the FBI, a dossier  that he believed originated with Russian government intelligence.

The subsequent funding for the efforts  to obtain what was supposed to be from  Russian intelligence  and to come directly from Russian sources { thru  cut-out   Christopher Steele)  came from  Hillary Clinton supporters and the Democratic national committee.

 The  person who turned Goldstone on to sending Goldstone’s email  to Donald Trump,Jr. (and most likely suggested the text that included Russian government support for the Trump campaign) was the same individual who sent prostitutes to the Moscow hotel to Donald Trump – where they were repelled  by his security detail. Does this not seem to you as a continuing attempt to entrap Donald  Trump?

The  Russian dossier was brought into the White House by James Comey and by John Brennan. Its existence was leaked to the media and then the full text was soon after disclosed.  The” CIA’ study”  which claimed that the CIA had a source in Putin’s inner circle and that Putin had personally ordered interference in favor of Trump in the 2016 campaign was brought into the White House and vouched  for by John Brennan. According to the New York Times up to 136 people were made aware of this study-an invitation to leak it. If in fact the CIA had an operative that close to Vladimir Putin they would have not exposed  it on this specific “finding”. Putin’s  thoughts and actions are much more vital to US national interests in such areas as North Korea, Syria, future actions in Europe, etc.

 if Putin had wanted to disrupt the American elections there were far more effective ways  that would have been easily accomplished with less traceability to Russia. One trivial example is as follows:  hackers could have seized control of local Democratic and Republican organization computers. They could have wiped out the precinct walking lists which would have paralyzed the ground games in numerous precincts. They could have wiped out the donor lists. they could have wiped out the volunteer lists. Given the recent scale of criminal and  amateur hacks this would have been an extremely small task and could have been easily accomplished given the amount of traffic and the low level of security accorded to these multiple local organization computers.

Another  concern is that the key players included  :Ben Rhodes [the creator of the echo chamber to sell the American public false information and false intelligence on Iran to promote Obama’s nuclear deal]; Susan Rice [who had a horrible reputation for deceit when she was in industrial consulting and was a willing participant in the Benghazi…” It was a video” fiction. Note here too that her talking points were jointly constructed with the CIA] ;James Comey [who immediately granted immunity to several key  Clinton aides and agreed not to  thoroughly examine their computers, etc.]  Adam ;Schiff {who willingly participated in marketing the Iranian echo chamber fiction to the American public].

2.  Review Mona Charen’s  article, item by item. ….refutation of her statements and assumptions.

1) Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner did nothing wrong by meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. The emails requesting the meeting specifically mentioned a "Russian government attorney" and added that the requested meeting concerned "very high level and sensitive information" ... that "is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." That doesn’t prove a willingness to collude.

I HAVE WRITTEN ON THIS

Unfortunately, the technique of making an allegation , then opening up   an investigative action to determine the truth or falsity of the accusation, then leaking to the media the “fact” of investigation has become common in the  back channel relationships between various intelligence operatives and  the US media. Thus, it  is imperative  that Robert Mueller set up red teams to thoroughly scrub the  allegations that are currently being made  and “leaked”.

What is certain  is that a crime   definitely exists, can be proven and can be traced to the guilty parties

The Donald Trump Jr.. meeting was disclosed in an amended security form that was submitted by Jared Kushner as part of his security clearance.[ Rather than claiming that this was a clandestine meeting, it was firmly placed on the official security records of the US government.]

Tracking down the culprits for this leak  should be relatively straightforward and should be of high priority. Definitely a crime exists. Every White House official and  support person who had access to these materials as well as every FBI investigator and  every FBI support person who had  access to these materials should be questioned under oath and subject to a polygraph test.

2) Concern about Paul Manafort’s extensive links with Vladimir Putin’s former puppet in Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, including at least $12.7 million in payments, is, to quote Manafort's words, "silly and nonsensical.

SOME CORRECT…. SOME FALSE 

3) That Jared Kushner’s attempt, during the transition, to secure a back channel with the Russian government using their secure communications equipment in the Russian embassy was not alarming/inexplicable.

CHATTER, YES…..BUT NO ATTEMPT…..  OBAMA ACTUALLY  DID THIS WITH IRAN WHEN HE WAS STILL A CANDIDATE

4) That Donald Trump’s stubborn refusal ever to breathe a critical word about Vladimir Putin

 YOU IGNORE THE STAFF GUIDANCE
Putin  is  an unrepentant,cold-blooded, self-enriching KGB agent and an opportunist  bully. On the personal level  he is   ruthless,capable of murdering critics and opponents.  His goal is to expand Russia’s control, or at least influence over the old Soviet republics and Eastern Europe and to become influential power in the Middle East. The  sole obstacle  to a world led by Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Iran, ISIS, China, and North Korea is the deterrent ability of the United States.

 even as he has freely criticized U.S. allies,

THANKS TO TRUMP NATO   IS NOW STEPPING UP ON THEIR FINANCIAL AND  TROOP LEVEL COMMITMENTS. POLAND WILL HAVE  IN MISSILE-DEFENSE SYSTEM WHICH WAS CANCELED BY OBAMA.  TRUMP PUBLICLY RECOMMITTED THE US TO THE JOINT DEFENSE OF NATO. 

 or acknowledge Russian meddling in our election, is not strange.

Hacked computer server that handled DNC email remains out of reach of Russia investigators

It is perhaps the key piece of forensic evidence in Russia’s suspected efforts to sway the November presidential election, but federal investigators have yet to get their hands on the hacked computer server that handled email from the Democratic National Committee.

Indeed, the only cybersecurity specialists who have taken a look at the server are from CrowdStrike, the Irvine, California-based private cybersecurity company that the DNC hired to investigate the hack — but which has come under fire itself for its work.

Some critics say CrowdStrike’s evidence for blaming Russia for the hack is thin. Members of Congress say they still believe Russia was responsible but wonder why the DNC has never allowed federal investigators to get a look at the key piece of evidence: the server. Either way, a key “witness” in the political scandal consuming the Trump administration remains beyond the reach of investigators.

5) That Michael Flynn’s firing after less than a month on the job was really just because he had misled Mike Pence.

 HIS INVOLVEMENT WITH TURKEY , FROM MY VIEWPOINT  WAS  WRONG. IT WAS NOT ILLEGAL. HIS ONLY PENALTY, IF GUILTY,  WOULD BE TO FORFEIT AN AMOUNT FROM HIS PENSION EQUAL TO HIS NET PAYMENT FOR SERVICES.

 THE  FURY OVER THE SPEECH IN RUSSIA WAS A LOT OF NONSENSE. WE CHECKED WITH SPEAKERS BUREAUS AND THE FEE WAS AT THE LOWER END OF THE EXPECTED FEE SCALE. THIS COMPARES TO A $400,000 SPEECH MADE BY BILL CLINTON. I HAVE HAD A DIALOGUE WITH A REPORTER AND WE BOTH VIEWED THE TAPES.THE BLOOMBERG REPORTER’S ACCOUNT WAS HYSTERICALLY  ANTI-FLYNN.  I ALWAY,S WONDERED WHAT JILL STEIN WAS DOING AT THE TABLE AND WHY THAT WAS NEVER MENTIONED. OBVIOUSLY,  HER PRESENCE IN THE ELECTION WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR HILLARY’S LOSS. I AM SURPRISED THERE IS NO CONSPIRACY THEORY HERE.

6) That Donald Trump’s pressure on James Comey to go soft on Michael Flynn was purely a measure of loyalty and friendship from a person who has rarely shown those traits before.

THERE IS MUCH HERE BUT NOT WHAT YOU THINK.…. SEE ALAN DERSHOWITZ ON THIS  SPECIFIC INCIDENT.

7) That Comey's firing, at least according to evolving White House accounts, was due to his mishandling of the Clinton file — no, wait. It was due to poor management of the FBI, which was suffering from low morale — uh, no. It was because of two factual errors Comey made in congressional testimony. Finally, that it was really over the “Russia thing” — but only because Trump was an innocent man frustrated by Comey's unwillingness to clear him publicly.

 I CAN’T DISCUSS THIS YET. THE REASONS  FOR THE FIRING  WERE REAL. BY THE WAY, THERE WAS MUCH CONCERN WITHIN THE FBI, WITH  WHOM I HAVE FREQUENT AND CLOSE CONTACT  CONCERNING POLITICAL INTERFERENCE FROM THE TOP IN INTELLIGENCE AND OTHER INVESTIGATIONS.  PREVIOUSLY, SEVERAL HUNDRED FBI AGENTS THREATENED  COMEY WITH RESIGNATION DUE TO POLITICAL INTERFERENCE WITH THE STARTING, CONTINUING IN CLOSING OF INVESTIGATIONS. NOTE THAT THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE GRAND JURY CALLED FOR ANY ASPECT OF THE HILLARY CLINTON “INVESTIGATIONS” OR SHOULD  I CALL THEM “INCIDENTS”.

8) That it was irrelevant that Trump told the Russian ambassador and foreign minister in the Oval Office the day after Comey's sacking that the FBI director was a "nut job" WHOSE REMOVAL HAD RELIEVED "GREAT PRESSURE BECAUSE OF RUSSIA. THAT’S TAKEN OFF.”

NOT A NUT JOB…COMEY WAS A  PANICKED  POLITICAL/BUREAUCRATIC OPERATOR.

9) It's pure coincidence that one of the only foreign policy advisers on the Trump campaign was Carter Page, who was under FBI investigation for Russia ties. In Moscow, he gave a speech denouncing U.S. policy, saying, "Washington and other Western capitals have impeded potential progress through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change." Anti-anti-corruption isn’t disturbing.

JOHN BOLTON IS NOT PRO RUSSIAN…..  MOST OF THE   MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE ADVISERS  THAT I HAVE RUN INTO ARE ,LIKE ME,  EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS AS TO RUSSIAN ACTIONS AND INTENTIONS.   CONCERNING CARTER PAGE, HE HAS OFFERED TO TESTIFY UNDER OATH. RATHER THAN DEPENDING ON BIASED LEAKS I WOULD DEPEND ON SWORN TESTIMONY. THE FACT, THAT YOU COULD REFER TO HIM AS BEING “ UNDER FBI INVESTIGATION” REVEALS THE DANGER OF THE GAME PLAYED BY SUSAN RICE IN JEOPARDIZING OUR  NATION’S ABILITY TO SURVEIL TELEPHONE CONVERSATIONS IN ORDER FOR THE CLINTON CAMPAIGN  TO GAIN IMMEDIATE  POLITICAL ADVANTAGE.

10) That White House objections to sanctions against Russia, which passed the Senate 98-2, are purely procedural.

 YES, THEY ARE PROCEDURAL. TAKE OUT SOME OF THE PROVISIONS REMOVING THE FLEXIBILITY FROM THE PRESIDENT [  FLEXIBILITY THAT WAS GIVEN TO PRES. OBAMA TO BYPASS CONGRESS ON THE IRANIAN DEAL] AND YOU WILL GET A PRESIDENTIAL SIGNATURE. I AM SURPRISED THAT YOU RAISE THIS ISSUE.

FOR ME, THIS IS TRUMP’S TEST:   THE TAYLOR FORCE ACT, A BILL WHICH WILL DEFUND THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY UNTIL THEY CEASE AND DENOUNCE THEIR “PAY TO SLAY” POLICY, WHICH REWARDS TERRORISTS AND THEIR FAMILIES FOR ACTS AGAINST ISRAEL AND THE UNITED STATES."AS LONG AS THE PALESTINIAN GOVERNMENT IS IN EFFECT REWARDING TERROR, WE NEED TO BE SURE WE MAKE OUR OBJECTIONS — OUR CONDEMNATION — KNOWN, AND THAT CANNOT BE MERELY IN WORDS. OUR ASSISTANCE PROGRAM MUST REFLECT OUR FEELING OF REPUGNANCE."


11) That former Manafort partner and Trump surrogate Roger Stone, who boasted about links to WikiLeaks founder and America-hater Julian Assange, and accurately predicted in August 2016 that John Podesta would be next “in the barrel,” was just lucky.

 HAD  HAD  THERE BEEN NO BAD DEEDS THERE  WOULD HAVE BEEN NOTHING  TO HACK AND RELEASE.

While I would like to see Julian  Assange hung for treason for giving away defense information which jeopardized the lives of those cooperating with us in Afghanistan, I have to acknowledge that in  his 10 years of operation he has been 100% accurate and 100% honest in his presentation of information. He claims that the Democratic national committee information did not come from a state actor. Further the DNC contractors describe the murkiness and competition of the various hacking groups within Russia. That both of the main groups penetrated the Democratic National Committee makes unlikely that Putin or anyone else at the top coordinated their efforts.

12) That statements by Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. about Russian financial ties are not revealing. Golf writer James Dodson quoted Eric as explaining in 2014 how the Trump organization was able to get financing for various golf courses even after the Great Recession. "Well, we don't rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia. We've got some guys that really, really love golf, and they're really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time." Donald Trump Jr., who also traveled to Russia frequently, spoke at a 2008 real estate conference and noted that "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia." When Donald Trump stated, “I have zero investments in Russia,” he did not say that Russia had zero investments in him, but we should believe his other claim, “I have nothing to do with Russia.


EVERYONE OF  THESE  DEALS HAS A MULTITUDE OF INVESTORS.  [ WE HAVE A TRUMP GOLF COURSE DEAL LOCALLY.]   THERE ARE MANY  OVERVIEW AUTHORITIES: IN THIS CASE THERE IS THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA; THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES; SEVERAL PALOS VERDES CITIES IN THE CITY OF TORRANCE; TWO SCHOOL DISTRICTS; A SANITATION DISTRICT; A WATER  DISTRICT AND MANY MORE.  THERE ARE TAXES, LICENSES,PERMITS  ETC ETC, ALL OF WHICH REQUIRE SUBMISSIONS OF DATA, REVIEW OF BOOKS AND A THOROUGH ACCOUNTING OF FINANCES,ETC..  THERE ARE ACCOUNTANTS AND LAWYERS FROM THE MULTIPLE INVESTORS ALL OF WHOM ARE CAREFUL  SINCE THEY ARE LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE TO FIDUCIARIES.
 MANY OF THE REAL ESTATE INVESTORS ARE CHINESE CORPORATIONS AND/OR INDIVIDUALS. PREVIOUSLY MANY MAJOR INVESTORS CAME FROM JAPAN. MONEY TENDS TO FLOW WHERE THERE IS CASH RETURNS. WHEN REAL ESTATE INVESTORS FROM BEVERLY HIILLS  INVESTED IN REAL ESTATE IN SOUTH-CENTRAL LOS ANGELES CERTAIN BLACK LEADERS CLAIMED THAT IT WAS JEWISH MONEY ATTEMPTING TO EVICT THE BLACKS FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD.



13) That President Trump’s failure to release his tax returns, despite repeated promises to do so, is because he is under audit.

FRANKLY,MONA I WILL TRUST IRS….NOT THE MEDIA.  SINCE THERE ARE MULTIPLE AUTHORITIES STRAINING TO COLLECT EVERY NICKEL FROM DONALD TRUMP, I CAN ONLY ASSUME THAT THEIR COMPETENCE AND THEIR  DILIGENCE EXCEEDS THAT OF THE MEDIA. WATCHING THE MEDIA DISTORTED FACTS IN AREAS I KNOW THOROUGHLY,  IF I WERE ASKED ,I WOULD  ADVISE DONALD TRUMP TO READ THE MEDIA COVERAGE, AND THEN SEEK THE ADVICE OF HIS LAWYERS AND ACCOUNTANTS BEFORE REVEALING ONE IOTA OF HIS RECORDS TO BE POURED OVER,  DISSECTED, AND USED OUT OF CONTEXT. WHEN WILL THE CLINTON FOUNDATION RELEASE THEIR INTERNAL RECORDS. REMEMBER THEY GET A TAX DEDUCTION AND HAVE ONLY PUBLISHED THE MINIMUM REQUIRED BY LAW. FOCUS ON WHERE THE ABUSES HAVE BEEN PROVED.



14) That it’s unremarkable that presidential spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders refuses to say whether Russia is an adversary, a friend or a nation about whom we should be wary.

NOT HER JOB

15) That Donald Trump is the first president since 1949 to cast doubt on America’s commitment to NATO, but this is overdue and good for the U.S.

AS I WROTE ABOVE:  THANKS TO TRUMP NATO   IS NOW STEPPING UP ON THEIR FINANCIAL AND  TROOP LEVEL COMMITMENTS. POLAND WILL HAVE  IN MISSILE-DEFENSE SYSTEM WHICH WAS CANCELED BY OBAMA.  TRUMP PUBLICLY RECOMMITTED THE US TO THE JOINT DEFENSE OF NATO. 

16) That Donald Trump’s obsessive attacks on “fake news" are not an attempt to inoculate himself against future revelations but just good old-fashioned right-wing hatred of liberals.

 FAKE NEWS HELL YES !!!    MONA …READ CAMERA … THEY HAVE EXTENSIVE EXAMPLES.  READ THE MEDIA ON: GAZA; “OCCUPATION;” SEE HOW THE MURDER OF 2    ISRAELI DRUSE BORDER POLICE  AT THE TEMPLE  MOUNT THIS AM WAS COVERED.



It is surprising that in this current political debate more about the differences in energy policy and economic, military and social conditions are not raised. During the McCain campaign the US was facing the prospect of five dollars a gallon at the pump and that half of the nation would not be able to afford heat in the winter. At that time Russia enjoyed bountiful income from its petroleum exports and had a very strong political/economic lock on the Eastern European countries.
DS/ISA: ” We have a lot more to lose than the Russians given the comparative dependence on networked systems.
ISA : Levano computers used by the lawyers that Hillary Clinton engaged to screen her emails were hacked by the Chinese.
Putin holds both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in low regard.
Contrary to claims emanating from the Obama administration and from the Clinton campaign, Putin strongly favored Hillary Clinton in the election.
Most important to Putin is the very favorable political and economic outcomes to Russia that would occur from Hillary Clinton’s expected actions relating to fracking.
Hillary Clinton would vastly curtail fracking, either, by direct prohibition or through moratoriums; geographic area limitations; regulations; etc
[Fracking is an important innovation in oil and gas extraction. It has helped America make great strides toward becoming energy-sufficient [U.S. Now Has Largest Oil Reserves in the World, Thanks to FrackingJuly 7, 2016 by Jake Green ]
This would give Putin a vast increase in the value of Russia’s petroleum reserves and petroleum exports. It would restore Russia’s previous political and economic lock on East Europe’s energy supplies.[ It would also give Iran greatly increased petroleum income to finance its extensive terror and penetration operations throughout the world.]
A second reason is Putin’s belief, [based on years of observation of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry] that a Hillary Clinton administration would continue the parameters and trend lines established by Barack Obama .
a. Bill Clinton: announcing complete success of his negotiations with North Korea… North Korea will abandon their quest for nuclear weapons and completely demolish their nuclear development infrastructure. “Resolution of the North Korean nuclear threat”[William J, Clinton….]
b. Barack Obama ; Hillary Clinton ; John Kerry:
c. The Obama administration has pulled back in every confrontation with Putin’s Russia. Putin has seen this US pattern and has resolved to remain the first mover, not expecting much American pushback except in words.
d. Obama’s rebuke to Romney during debate (Obama to Romney: ”……you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,”)
e. Obama’s open microphone (Tell Vladimir “that after my election I have more flexibility”
g. Acceptance of Putin’s aggressive intervention in Ukraine;
h. Iranian nuclear deal which permits Russia to sell advanced weaponry to Iran and receive hard currency (furnished by the United States); Strategy of bringing Russia into the Middle East as a major player (as discussed in Obama’s Syria Policy Striptease Tony Badran The Tablet September 21, 2016  ) .

i. Obama’s White House has cut the military “out of the loop”in key international and military decisions [testimony of Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and the Joint Chiefs of Staff…]