— Mike Nova (@mikenov) November 26, 2017
LAST January, shortly after Donald Trump was sworn in as America’s president, telephones started to ring in several Senate offices. The White House, staffers learned, was drafting an executive order to lift some of the sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its war against Ukraine in 2014. “We were horrified. Everyone was calling each other and we soon realised that all heard the same thing,” one recalls.
The staffers promptly leaked the rumour, and began work on a bill to turn the sanctions, imposed by executive order under Barack Obama, into law. The idea was to stop Mr Trump from lifting them unilaterally.
Although the earlier sanctions were related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it was evidence of Russia’s meddling in America’s elections, not to mention Mr Trump’s worryingly consistent praise of Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, that propelled Congress into action.
The result was the Counter America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA, which also includes measures against Iran and North Korea),
the only piece of legislation to be almost unanimously supported by both parties in Congress. Passed by 419-3 in the House and 98-2 in the Senate, it left Mr Trump with no choice but to sign or have his veto overridden.
The new law, signed in August, entrenches and in places tightens the sanctions of 2014, which have cut off Russian firms from most Western sources of financing.
Economically, they compounded the effects of the oil-price collapse on Russia’s economy in 2014 and have hampered Russia’s ability to climb out of the trough.
Uncertainty about their scope has made foreigners cautious about dealing with any Russian firm, not just with those directly targeted. Foreign direct investment in Russia fell from $69bn in 2013 to just $6.8bn in 2015. Yet with time, businesses adjusted to the new conditions. Western executives gradually returned to Russian gatherings. Foreign investors again gobbled up Russian government bonds.
As well as stopping Mr Trump from backsliding, CAATSA moderately increases the pressure on the Russian economy.
It extends the restrictions on investing in new Russian oil and gas projects to the operations of Russian firms in third countries. Yet the effectiveness of these new sanctions, which the administration is allowed to pause until late January, is undermined by the fact that European firms have been ring-fenced from their effects. Gazprom, Russia’s natural-gas giant, which supplies Europe with a huge amount of gas, has also been excluded from the sanctions lists, as is Nord Stream 2, a second trans-Baltic gas export pipeline to Germany. Some American officials would have liked to see that project blocked, but the desire to preserve unity between America and the EU turned out to be more important, says Daniel Fried, a former US official who designed the initial sanctions.
America and Europe did not want to fall out over arms sales, either. CAATSA extends existing sanctions to make sure that anyone engaged in a “significant transaction” with the Russian defence and security sectors can be affected. But as the world’s second-largest exporter of arms, Russia supplies many of America’s friends, including India, Vietnam and Iraq, as well as some NATO members including Turkey, Greece and some former Warsaw Pact members in eastern Europe. So decisions on applying sanctions to Russian arms sales will also be made case by case.
It is the personal sanctions that worry the Russian elite most. CAATSA allows “secondary sanctions”, meaning that American officials can go after anyone, in any country,
with significant business dealings with the so-called “specially designated nationals” (SDNs) who are already under sanctions—such as Igor Sechin, the head of Rosneft, the state oil firm, and Gennady Timchenko, an oligarch with interests in transport and energy. Depending on how CAATSA is implemented, this could make some of Mr Putin’s closest allies and cronies as toxic as other SDNs in Hizbullah, Iran or North Korea. A Chinese energy firm or a Western consultant dealing with any of the Russian SDNs could be affected.
“This is absolutely nuclear,” says a Russian official. “It goes beyond anything we had during the cold war.”
Another part of CAATSA requires the administration to submit a report to Congress identifying Russian oligarchs and senior foreign-policy officials with close ties to Mr Putin and his inner circle. Although the report will not place those named in it under sanctions, it makes them potential targets if the confrontation between Russia and the West escalates, thus perhaps making them pariahs in advance. The report, which will also estimate the wealth and sources of income of family members, including siblings, children, parents and partners, has already sown panic among the Russian elite.
“Who will be doing the checking? Is it the FBI, the CIA or someone else?” asks one of Mr Putin’s loyalists nervously. “Nobody likes what is happening. But there is not much we can do about it,” he admits. Inclusion in the report will be almost impossible to reverse. But the definition of an oligarch remains vague.
The report is due out by early February—just weeks before Russia’s presidential election—and could have large political consequences,
fuelling anger at America among the elite and giving new ammunition to Alexei Navalny, Russia’s leading opposition figure and anti-corruption crusader. Still, implementation will be the key. The tension between Congress and the White House which triggered the legislation may also undermine its execution.
But although the administration may not be breathlessly eager to implement personal sanctions, it cannot ignore them, either. “We will be watching them like hawks,” says a Senate staffer.
Lexology–Nov 9, 2017
Lexology–Nov 9, 2017
The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (H.R. 3364, Pub.L. 115–44), is a United States federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. The bill was passed during the 115th Congress, 98–2 in the Senate. On August 2, 2017, President Donald Trump signed it into law while issuing two statements simultaneously that he believed the legislation was “seriously flawed”. As at October 12, 2017, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said in a joint statement that the White House has “had plenty of time to get their act together” after missing an October 1 deadline to identify Kremlin-linked targets for sanctions.
Sharansky: By Sun, I See That We Were Going to the West
In-Depth–Newsday–Nov 2, 2017
In-Depth–euronews–Nov 3, 2017
В проигрыше, по мнению эксперта Атлантического совета, оказываются США, Саудовская Аравия и Израиль
Оригинальное видео: https://www.golos-ameriki.ru/a/situation-in-syria/4135599.html
Все школьники, госпитализированные в Липецке после ультразвуковой атаки, выписаны из больницы. Об этом в субботу, 25 ноября, сообщили РИА Новости в администрации области.
По последним данным, медицинская помощь понадобилась 28 детям. Большинство из них уже разъехались по домам, некоторые остаются в стационаре, потому что родители не успели их забрать.
Инцидент в липецкой школе произошел днем в пятницу, 24 ноября. 29 учеников пятого-восьмого классов доставили в больницу с похожими симптомами: головокружение, тошнота, рвота, потемнение в глазах, кровь из носа. Двоих пришлось положить в реанимацию.
Одна из пострадавших рассказала, что причиной стало приложение «Ультразвук», которое на десять минут включил на своем телефоне ученик восьмого класса. Следственное управление Следственного комитета по Липецкой области уже начало проверку по данному факту.
East Stratcom taskforce will be funded from EU budget for first time after summit highlights threat from ‘cyber-attacks and fake news’
The EU is stepping up its campaign to counter disinformation and fake news from Russia by spending more than €1m a year on its specialist anti-propaganda unit.
For the first time since the team was set up in 2015, the East Stratcom taskforce will have money from the EU budget, rather than relying on contributions from EU member states or squeezing other budget lines. The unit has been granted €1.1m (£980,000) a year from the EU budget for 2018-20, according to a source familiar with the team’s work.
Russia | The Guardian
Евросоюз потратит более одного миллиона евро на борьбу с «дезинформацией и фейковыми новостями» из России. Об этом сообщает британская газета The Guardian со ссылкой на источник.
По данным собеседников газеты, эти средства выделят подразделению ЕС по борьбе с пропагандой — East Stratcom. Деньги уже заложены в бюджете Евросоюза на 2018–2020 годы.
Издание отмечает, что это первый случай, когда подразделение по борьбе с пропагандой, основанное в 2015 году, финансируется напрямую из бюджета Евросоюза. До этого, специалисты, в частности, получали деньги от государств-членов ЕС.
Сообщения о выделении Евросоюзом бюджетных денег на борьбу с «пропагандой» из России появились на фоне заявления председателя Европейского совета Дональда Туска на саммите «Восточного партнерства». Туск тогда сказал, что одни из главных проблем Европы — это «кибератаки, поддельные новости и гибридная война».
Напомним, в 2015 голу Туск поручил главе Европейской службы внешних дел (EEAS) Федерике Могерини создать оперативную группу по стратегическим коммуникациям на Востоке (East StratCom Task Force) для «противодействия российской пропаганде». В нее вошли дипломаты, эксперты по России, журналисты и специалисты по соцсетям.
В конце марта 2017 года Европейская народная партия, имеющая наибольшее представительство в Европейском парламенте, приняла резолюцию «Российская дезинформация подрывает западную демократию». Документ предлагал увеличить финансирование и расширить штат сотрудников East Stratcom Task Force.
Также было предложено создать русскоязычный телеканал в Европе, способный стать альтернативой Russia Today.
U.S. President Donald Trump has told his Turkish counterpart that the U.S. will no longer supply weapons to Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria, according to a Turkish official’s summation of the call on Friday between the two world leaders. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Trump made the comment Friday after speaking by phone with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to Cavusoglu, Trump said he had given clear instructions that the YPG not be given arms. Cavusoglu also quoted the U.S. president as saying, “This nonsense should have ended a long time ago.” A White House statement issued Friday evening said Trump informed Erdogan of “pending adjustments to the military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria.” The statement described the change as “consistent with our previous policy,” and said it reflects the new phase of the battle after the fall of Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State’s self-described caliphate. “The battle of Raqqa is complete and we are progressing into a stabilization phase to ensure that ISIS cannot return,” the White House statement said, using an acronym for the militant group. The statement did not specifically name YPG. Erdogan and Trump also discussed the purchase of military equipment from the United States by Turkey, according to the White House. Turkey has been pushing to persuade the U.S. to abandon support for the YPG as the militia fights the Islamic State group. The U.S. considers the Syrian Kurds its best fighting force on the ground against Islamic State, but has to balance that interest with maintaining good relations with Turkey, a NATO ally. Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist organization linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in Turkey. The PKK has been fighting Turkey since 1984 in a conflict that has left about 40,000 people dead. Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union consider the PKK to be a terrorist group. Relations between Ankara and Washington also have been strained over issues that include the U.S. refusal to extradite a cleric wanted by Turkey in connection with a failed coup last year. The cleric, Fethullah Gulen, denies involvement. Additionally, Ankara has been critical of U.S. plans to try Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab and Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive with Turkish state bank Halkbank, on charges of defying sanctions against Iran. Ankara describes the case as political. The defendants are scheduled to go on trial next month in New York.
Voice of America
Overhauling welfare was one of the defining goals of Bill Clinton’s presidency, starting with a campaign promise to “end welfare as we know it,” continuing with a bitter policy fight and producing change that remains hotly debated 20 years later. Now, President Donald Trump wants to put his stamp on the welfare system, apparently in favor of a more restrictive policy. He says “people are taking advantage of the system.” Trump, who has been signaling interest in the issue for some time, said this past week that he wants to tackle the issue after the tax overhaul he is seeking by the end of the year. He said changes were “desperately needed in our country” and that his administration would soon offer plans. Work on new policy begins For now, the president has not offered details. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said more specifics were likely early next year. But the groundwork has begun at the White House and Trump has made his interest known to Republican lawmakers. Paul Winfree, director of budget policy and deputy director of Trump’s Domestic Policy Council, told a recent gathering at the conservative Heritage Foundation that he and another staffer had been charged with “working on a major welfare reform proposal.” He said they have drafted an executive order on the topic that would outline administration principles and direct agencies to come up with recommendations. “The president really wants to lead on this,” Winfree said. “He has delivered that message loud and clear to us. We’ve opened conversations with leadership in Congress to let them know that that is the direction we are heading.” Trump said in October that welfare was “becoming a very, very big subject, and people are taking advantage of the system.” Clinton’s campaign promise Clinton ran in 1992 on a promise to change the system but struggled to get consensus on a bill, with Democrats divided and Republicans pushing aggressive changes. Four years later, he signed a law that replaced a federal entitlement with grants to the states, placed a time limit on how long families could get aid and required recipients to go to work eventually. It has drawn criticism from some liberal quarters ever since. During her presidential campaign last year, Democrat Hillary Clinton faced activists who argued that the law fought for by her husband punished poor people. No evidence of fraud Kathryn Edin, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who has been studying welfare since the 1990s, said the law’s legacy has been to limit the cash assistance available to the very poor and has never become a “springboard to work.” She questioned what kinds of changes could be made, arguing that welfare benefits are minimal in many states and there is little evidence of fraud in other anti-poverty programs. Still, Edin said that welfare has “never been popular even from its inception. It doesn’t sit well with Americans in general.” Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at Heritage, said he would like to see more work requirements for a range of anti-poverty programs and stronger marriage incentives, as well as strategies to improve results for social programs and to limit waste. He said while the administration could make some adjustments through executive order, legislation would be required for any major change. “This is a good system,” he said. “We just need to make this system better.” Administration officials have suggested they are eyeing anti-poverty programs. Trump’s initial 2018 budget proposal, outlined in March, sought to sharply reduce spending for Medicaid, food stamps and student loan subsidies, among other programs. Budget director Mick Mulvaney said this year, “If you are on food stamps and you are able-bodied, we need you to go to work.”
Voice of America
Президент Судана обсудил с Путиным и Шойгу создание военной базы
На текущей неделе президент Судана впервые прибыл с визитом в Россию. В минувший четверг на встрече с Путиным Башир заявил о том, что его страна нуждается в защите «от агрессивного действия США». Он выступил против «американского вмешательства» во внутренние дела …and more »
здоровье путина – Google News
Turkey ‘very happy’ as US stops arming Kurds in Syria
Investigators for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s interference with the U.S. presidential election recently questioned witnesses about the alleged December 2016 meeting between Flynn and senior Turkish officials, two people …and more »
Russia and US Presidential Elections of 2016 – Google News
Turkey’s Torrid Love Affair With Michael Flynn
According to the Wall Street Journal, Flynn also met in September and December last year with senior Turkish officials—including energy minister Berat Albayrak, Erdogan’s son-in-law—to discuss kidnapping Gülen and delivering him to Turkey, an …
Michael Flynn signaled last night that he’s negotiating a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal. So now what? Flynn is arguably the most crucial cooperating witness that Mueller could ever hope to land, because he’s in position to implicate numerous high ranking people in the Russia scandal. Here are the seven key players who are about to see their lives destroyed.
Donald Trump: Let’s start with the obvious. Michael Flynn was coordinating with the Russian Ambassador during the election and the transition period. He surely wasn’t acting alone. He can point the finger to who else knew – and by incriminating those people, he’ll be putting them in position where they have to flip as well. Sooner or later, it’ll lead back to Trump being implicated in the Russia scandal. However, he’s far from the only one.
Jared Kushner: Flynn will have an easy time of implicating Kushner by revealing the true nature of Kushner’s own meetings with the Russian Ambassador and the head of a Russian bank.
Ivanka Trump: We don’t know why Ivanka Trump wandered into a transition period meeting and offered Michael Flynn any job in the administration he wanted. Was she being complicit, or just stupid? Even if Flynn can’t implicate her for any crimes, he’s about to take down Ivanka’s father and husband. Either way, Ivanka’s life will be destroyed.
Jeff Sessions: Flynn was so close to the Russian Ambassador, he almost certainly knows why the Ambassador kept meeting with Jeff Sessions during the election.
Donald Trump Jr: Flynn surely also knows the incriminating details of why Trump’s son kept coordinating with various Kremlin players throughout the election.
Paul Manafort: There’s nothing to suggest that Flynn can implicate Manafort. However, by cutting a deal, Flynn has made Manafort superfluous. That means that by the time Manafort caves and asks for a deal of his own, he’ll end up with a far less favorable deal than he could have gotten before Flynn flipped.
Mike Pence: For reasons known only to him, Pence made a point of trying to protect Flynn from his Russia crimes, to the point of obstructing justice. Pence will end up in a world of hurt.
The post Michael Flynn’s deal with Robert Mueller is about to destroy these seven key Trump-Russia players appeared first on Palmer Report.
Syrian Kurdish militias will feel betrayed and will likely align closer with Damascus, if Donald Trump indeed delivers on his promise to Recep Tayyip Erdogan and “adjusts” US military support for the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, experts have told RT.
In a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Friday, Trump briefed Erdogan on “pending adjustments for [US] military support provided to our partners on the ground in Syria.” Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, who was present during the call, said Trump explicitly promised to “not provide weapons to the YPG,” which Ankara considers a terrorist organization affiliated with the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
But without support from Washington, Kurds are likely to seek closer ties with Damascus to resolve the Syria crisis and retain the country’s unity, investigative journalist, Rick Sterling told RT.
“What may happen, is that they may recognize and start working more closely with the Syrian government. Of course, they have never been fighting against the Syrian government forces. And I think what may happen here is that YPG will align and make it very clear that they are not seeking a federation or anything like that but they will be part of a future Syria,” Sterling said.
Trump’s intention to backtrack on his support for the Kurds, experts believe, is part of an attempt to “adjust” failing US policy on Syria, following a number of recent diplomatic markers, achieved with Russia’s direct and dynamic input. Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Syrian leader Bashar Assad in Sochi. He later convened a summit on the future of Syria with the leaders of Iran and Turkey, where all parties endorsed an initiative to convene an all-Syrian national dialogue. The developments in Syria were also discussed between Putin and Trump Tuesday, during a more than an hour-long phone conversation.
“What is happening in Syria involves basically a failure of US foreign policy. What I mean is that Washington had allied with the Saudis regarding backing religious zealots. However, with the intervention of Russia, and Iran, and Hezbollah of Lebanon, these forces defeated the so-called Islamic State, defeated the religious zealots and therefore US policy is now scrambling to try to find an alternative to that failed policy,” historian Gerald Horne explained.
“The timing [of Trump-Erdogan phone call] is being driven by Russia’s role in seeking a solution and really making a lot of progress in resolving the conflict, bringing different parties together to the table,”Sterling pointed out.
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Sterling warned that some forces in Washington do not want peace to prevail in Syria. Furthermore, there is a chance that Washington might ally itself with Ankara’s troops in Syria, who are officially on the ground there to monitor the Idlib de-escalation zone, one of four established by Moscow, Ankara, and Tehran earlier this year. Erdogan, however, made little secret of the fact that Turkish forces might challenge the Kurdish stronghold of Afrin in northern Syria.
“There has been a lot of Turkish troops going into Northern Syria, so it may be that Washington will align more closely with Turkish troops which will refuse to leave Syria,” Sterling said. “I think what is going on in Washington is that there is uncertainty how to handle the situation. There are forces in Washington that want to play a spoiler in this [achieving peace]. They don’t want to see a resolution to the conflict, and that is what is dangerous.”
Washington’s decision to back away from the YPG, which has been the core of the US-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), is nothing less of a “betrayal,” experts told RT.
“The Kurds have been betrayed many times in the past,” Sterling said. “They will not be surprised by this. And they have probably been making plans for some time that their patron, the United States, will abandon them.”
“The Kurds are in a corner” following the Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum in September, which regional powers and the US failed to recognize, Horne said. “If the Kurds are getting a raw deal, this will not be the first time they have been traduced at the hands of Washington,” he added. He noted that following the Erdogan-Trump call, the “Kurds are really over a barrel.”
Politico–15 hours ago
Trump tells Turkish president US will stop arming Kurds in Syria
The Trump administration is preparing to stop supplying weapons to ethnic Kurdish fighters in Syria, the White House acknowledged Friday, a move reflecting renewed focus on furthering a political settlement to the civil war there and countering Iranian …
Trump will stop arming Syrian Kurdish fightersNew York Post
Trump speaks with Erdogan about crisis in SyriaPolitico
Trump denounces attack in Egypt, calls again for travel banFox News
NPR –Axios –Bloomberg
all 141 news articles »
Trump – Google News
For the residents of Middletown, Rhode Island, General Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor is still their hometown hero, politics aside. USA TODAY
Michael Flynn, then National Security Adviser to President Trump, attends a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the East Room of the White House on Feb 10, 2017.(Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo, European Pressphoto Agency)
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. — They show up unannounced, with cash and checks to drop off at William Flynn’s accounting firm on busy Aquidneck Avenue. “I was shocked and a little embarrassed,” he said. “Some don’t even know my brother, but they…wanted to do something for the family.”
And at a local wedding celebration earlier this month, a guest sought out Jack Flynn for a private moment. “I don’t have a lot of money,” the wedding guest told him. “But I want you to know that I wrote a check for $100 to help your brother.”
Michael Flynn is one of the most vulnerable figures in special counsel Robert Mueller’s widening inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. That investigation took a dramatic step forward this week, when former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and aide Rick Gates were charged with money laundering and conspiracy for activities that took place before they joined the campaign.
Another Trump campaign aide, George Papadopolous, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts – Mueller’s first public allegation that an aide to President Trump’s campaign sought to work with Russian officials to gather “dirt” on the Democratic nominee.
Unlike Manafort – whom prosecutors allege spent more than $1 million from offshore accounts on clothes alone – and many other Trump associates caught in the investigation’s grip, Flynn and his family are not wealthy. As he struggles with legal costs verging on seven figures, residents of the small community Flynn calls home are rallying to his side, even though this New England town hardly qualifies as Trump Country – it’s a deep blue stronghold where even some of his own family have long identified as Democrats.
Mike Flynn’s childhood home in Middletown, RI. (Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY)
The Flynns never occupied any of the ostentatious Newport mansions that overlook the most privileged coastline in Rhode Island. But the sprawling family, which has produced two Army generals, is akin to royalty in nearby Middletown – a working class beach town where by now, most everybody knows the daunting legal peril facing its most decorated son.
After all, they watched Mike Flynn, the sixth of nine children, rise from high school football champion to venerated military officer and Trump’s national security adviser.
They also watched his highly public and dramatic fall. Since he resigned in February for misleading Vice President Pence about his contacts with Russian officials after the election, two federal grand juries are still examining Flynn’s activities – both as Trump’s national security adviser and in a brief lobbying career before that. Flynn has made no secret of his desire for a deal to testify in exchange for immunity from possible prosecution. And earlier this year he asserted his Fifth Amendment protectionagainst self-incrimination when he refused to turn over documents sought by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Seven months after his unceremonious departure from the White House, trouble seemingly shadows virtually every corner of Flynn’s life – except here. At the urging of his family and oldest friends, the former national security adviser and his family have sought extended refuge in what feels like a galaxy away from Washington – where Flynn’s head-long descent into the political and legal unknown prompts flashes of anger, even contempt.
Jack Flynn, the fifth child in the family, described his brother’s ordeal as “a political assassination — a bunch of bulls—t.”
“I think that everybody is worried about what’s happening in Washington, D.C., but this is home,” added William Flynn, the eldest brother. “We grew up here, we know a lot of people and they know the family– like any other family– has problems. Most of them just happen to feel that Michael is a solid citizen.” In the 16,000-person community that lies between iconic Newport and Portsmouth, the former head of military intelligence who earned four Bronze Stars and was twice recognized with the Legion of Merit remains remarkably unsullied.
It is not surprising that family and friends have rallied to the general’s side. What is most striking is how the support here, a longtime Democratic stronghold where a Kennedy represented part of the state in Congress for 16 years, has transcended the nation’s deep political divide. Flynn’s own mother, Helen, was a well-known state Democratic activist.
“It’s not about being a Democrat, Republican or Independent,” said Middletown Council President Robert Sylvia, also a Democrat. “It’s about Michael Flynn.”
‘Out of the spotlight’
In this August 1972 photo provided by the Newport Daily News, Michael Flynn, 13, of Middletown, R.I., right, shakes hands with Middletown Councilman Francis LaPointe, left, as he is presented with a commendation and town title, in Middletown. Flynn was honored for pulling one small girl from the path of rolling car, and directing a friend to save another girl. (Photo: The Newport Daily News, AP)
As soon as he learned of Flynn’s firing, Tom Heaney dashed off a letter to his old friend that contained a simple message: “Come on home.”
Heaney’s friendship with Flynn goes back nearly 50 years, when both were Middletown Little Leaguers and later, high school football teammates who captured the 1976 Rhode Island state championship.
“I thought it would be a good idea to spend time together, prop them up and let them know we are here for them,” said Heaney, a retired Army colonel. “There is a pretty strong nucleus of friends who go back years. And a lot of us are still here. We’re trying the best we can to keep Mike and Lori out of the spotlight.” (Lori Andrade Flynn, the daughter of a large local Portuguese family, met Flynn in high school and her ties to the community run just as deep as her husband’s.)
As the investigation crests in Washington, the criticism offered by cable television analysts or lobbed anonymously over the Internet is biting. “To hear people suggest that he is a traitor or should be shot, and to think that’s not stressful—you’re talking about somebody with more than 30 years of military service,” Jack Flynn said. “That means something.”
At home, Michael Flynn can lean on his support network. His parents, since taking up residence in the low-slung cottage on Tuckerman Avenue more than a half-century ago, have been a mainstay of the town. Helen and Charlie Flynn, a retired Army master sergeant, squeezed their nine children into the three-bedroom, one-bath home just steps from the surf.
There was so little room in the house, Jack Flynn said the kids spent most of the time outdoors. The family’s close proximity to the ocean turned 57 Tuckerman into a kind of community clubhouse, where friends stacked surfboards outside and wet-suits were slung on the fence-line to dry in the ocean breeze.
In recent months, Michael and Lori Flynn have returned to their local haunts. You can find them with Flynn’s brothers and their friends playing rounds of golf at nearby Montaup Country Club or taking in an occasional dinner at 22 Bowen’s, a steakhouse on the wharf in Newport.
‘It’s a black hole right now’
Tom Heaney, left, and Robert ‘Rocky’ Kempenaar, two of Mik Flynn’s friends in Rhode Island, have two major worries — that the entire clan will go broke paying the former National Security advisor’s legal bills and that the Russia scandal will overshadow his storied military career. (Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY)
But it’s not exactly a vacation.
Heaney and Robert “Rocky” Kempenaar, a local real estate executive who played football with Flynn say the weight of the investigations has exacted an enormous toll on their friend.
Flynn’s prior consulting work, which also is being examined by investigators, has been virtually shuttered.With multiple investigations shadowing him, there is little demand for him on the speakers’ circuit where in 2015 he earned $33,000 for a now-controversial speech in Moscow. About a year after leaving the military, the retired general spoke to the Kremlin-backed television network Russia Today – and a photo of him at a related formal dinner seated next to Russian President Vladimir Putin sparked tremendous controversy as the probe into possible collusion between Trump associates and Russia intensifies.
Now, with his legal fees mounting, Flynn has hired a team of attorneys led by Robert Kelner, a partner at the prominent firm of Covington & Burling, to respond to a flurry of requests for documents and other materials from investigators. Every inquiry, including from the media, pushes the costs ever higher.
Flynn’s family, acknowledging the “tremendous financial burden,” last month set up a legal defense fund to alleviate the costs. “The enormous expense of attorneys’ fees and other related expenses far exceed their ability to pay,” brother, Joe Flynn, and sister, Barbara Redgate, said in a statement creating the fund.
Although the solicitation asked for contributions from “supporters, veterans and all people of goodwill,” the fund says it is not accepting donations from foreign nationals, the Trump Campaign or the president’s family business, the Trump Organization.
Flynn’s financial resources pale in comparison to other subjects of the investigation, including Trump himself. Trump has been tapping his campaign fund and the Republican National Committee to pay for his growing legal obligations. Earlier this month, the campaign reported that it spent more than $1 million on Trump and his son’s legal fees during the previous three months. (Nearly $238,000 went to the firm defending Donald Trump Jr.)
For a family that prizes independence and self-sufficiency, the decision to seek the help of others was “huge,” William Flynn said.
Michael Flynn has a military pension, which pays about $160,000 per year. But the family maintains that the legal costs are increasingly stripping away the family’s resources.
“You got all of these things going against you,” William Flynn said. “And the government has unlimited resources. You’ve got a special prosecutor (Mueller), the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department, the FBI.
“It’s a black hole right now,” he said. “My biggest concern is that this never ends.”
Meanwhile, in Washington
Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn speaks about American exceptionalism during the 2016 Republican National Convention. (Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY)
Some 400 miles away, the retired general features prominently in some of the most troubling revelations so far involving the Trump administration and Russia.
Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates has recounted in extraordinary detail how she rushed to the White House in January to alert officials that Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians – and even face possible criminal charges – after misleading Pence about his contacts with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador.
Pence publicly announced that Flynn assured him the subject of sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Russia were not raised in his conversations with Kislyak after the election. But those conversations had been secretly monitored by federal authorities – as are most communications involving foreign diplomats. Authorities knew that was not the case. “Compromise was the No. 1 concern,” Yates told a Senate panel in May. Russian officials, aware that Flynn had misled the White House, could have threatened to expose the nature of the communications.
What’s more, authorities viewed Flynn’s contacts with Russian diplomats as improper while the Obama administration was still in office – and a possible sign the Trump administration may have been trying to roll back sanctions imposed for Russia’s campaign of cyberattacks and fake news to influence the election.
The day after his Feb. 13 resignation, Flynn emerged as a central figure in yet another episode in the White House-Russia scandal. Former FBI Director James Comey has testified that Trump urged him at a private dinner to drop the investigation into Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak. Trump has denied making such a request.
In this Jan. 28, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump accompanied by, from second from left, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, White House press secretary Sean Spicer and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn speaks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. Flynn resigned as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. (Photo: Andrew Harnik, AP)
Flynn’s private business dealings also have drawn investigators’ interest, including $530,000 in earnings from a Dutch firm with ties to the Turkish government, and payment for his 2015 Moscow speech.
Flynn had not registered as a foreign agent – a legal requirement – when he accepted money from the Dutch company and only disclosed the payments after registering retroactively amid news reports of the failing. Flynn’s attorney, has maintained that his client had “fully” informed the Defense Department of his trip to Russia. He registered with the Justice Department after he was ousted from the Trump administration.
Flynn, through his attorney, declined to comment for this article.
Even the activities of Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr., who served as an aide to his father in the family’s consulting business have raised questions. Last year, he was dismissed from President Trump’s transition team for his promotion of a baseless conspiracy theory that a popular Washington, D.C., pizza parlor had become a front for a sex trafficking ring linked to the Clintons.
Yet Flynn’s brothers quickly dismiss the idea that Flynn had thrown his allegiance to an adversary or sought to shield business dealings with foreign governments. “The idea that he would do something underhanded drives me crazy,” William Flynn said. The scope of his brother’s business dealings, Jack Flynn says, represented “measly chump change” and could not have benefited an adversary like Russia.
At the same time, they are clear-eyed about their brother’s predicament. “The best case: this all goes away and Michael comes out unscathed,” William Flynn said. “The worst case: he gets convicted of something like perjury.” While the eldest Flynn is careful to say that he is not aware of anything that would warrant such a charge, he notes that bad recall of dates and times can turn into something much worse. “Sometimes, we’re just sloppy,” he said.
‘An island mentality’
In this photo, date unknown, provided by Joe Flynn, Michael Flynn, left, sits with his mother Helen Flynn, right, near a football field, in Middletown, R.I. (Photo: Charlie Flynn, AP)
Kempenaar, Flynn’s old friend, is not a Trump supporter. In fact, he said, Flynn’s support for then-candidate Trump took some locals by surprise. Flynn was a fiery surrogate for Trump on the campaign trail, famously encouraging the audience at the Republican National Convention to chant “Lock her up!” – referencing Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.
Yet none of this appeared to phase his friends back home. “I’ll put it this way,” Kempenaar said, “I could sleep at night knowing that Mike was there (at the White House). “I knew Mike had our best interests at heart.”
Jon Zins, managing editor of the Newport Daily News which has chronicled the family’s adventures over the years, believes that Flynn’s generational roots have “superseded” any real political backlash in Democratic area. “There is an island mentality to it, too,” Zins said. “There is a real sense of pride in being from here.”
But that pride is not blind, even here. Those closest to Flynn are concerned about how all of this ends. “I don’t think Mike has to come out squeaky clean,” William Flynn said. “I just want him to come out of it okay.”
Mueller leaves after briefing members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election on Capitol Hill on June 21, 2017. Michael Reynolds, European Pressphoto Agency
Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 21, 2017. J. Scott Applewhite, AP
Mueller arrives for a court hearing at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco on April 21, 2016. He had been overseeing settlement talks with Volkswagen, the U.S. government and private lawyers for the automaker to buy back some of the nearly 600,000 diesel cars that cheat on emissions tests. Jeff Chiu, AP
James Comey talks with Mueller before he was officially sworn in as FBI director on Sept. 4, 2013. Susan Walsh, AP
Mueller jokes with CIA Director John Brennan during his farewell ceremony at the Department of Justice on Aug. 1, 2013, in Washington. Evan Vucci, AP
President Barack Obama, followed by Mueller, right, and his choice for Mueller’s successor, Comey, left, walks toward the podium in the Rose Garden on June 21, 2013. Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP
Mueller testifies during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 19, 2013, where he confirmed that the FBI uses drones for domestic surveillance. Alex Wong, Getty Images
Mueller is sworn in on Capitol Hill on June 13, 2013, prior to testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. J. Scott Applewhite, AP
Mueller and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper listen to statements at a Senate Intelligence Committee open hearing on worldwide threats on Jan. 31, 2012. H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Mueller and National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen testify on Capitol Hill on Sept. 13, 2011, before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the terror threat to the U.S. Evan Vucci, AP
Clapper speaks with Mueller during the launch of the strategy to combat transnational organized crime at the White House on July 25, 2011. Nicholas Kamm, AFP/Getty Images
Mueller speaks at a conference on domestic terrorism on Oct. 6, 2010. Jacquelyn Martin, AP
Obama speaks with Mueller during a meeting at FBI headquarters in Washington on April 28, 2009. Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images
Mueller is welcomed on Capitol Hill on March 25, 2009, by Sen. Arlen Specter, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, prior to testifying before the committee’s oversight hearing regarding the FBI. J. Scott Applewhite, AP
Mueller and Sen. Patrick Leahy chat ahead of Mueller’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 17, 2008, on Capitol Hill. Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images
Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill on Feb. 5, 2008, before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on world threats. Kevin Wolf, AP
Mueller prepares to testify on Capitol Hill on March 27, 2007, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the FBI. Susan Walsh, AP
Mueller answers questions from the media in Charlotte, N.C., on April 24, 2006. Chuck Burton, AP
CIA Director Porter Goss, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Mueller testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on April 27, 2005. Tim Dillon, USA TODAY
Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft exit a press briefing at the Department of Justice on Oct. 29, 2001. Stephen Jaffe, AFP
Mueller is sworn in at the start of his testimony during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on July 30, 2001. Dennis Cook, AP
President George W. Bush names Mueller the new director of the FBI at a Rose Garden ceremony on July 5, 2001. Mike Theiler, AFP
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FacebookMichael Flynn and his wife, Lori.
According to various media reports, Michael Flynn, who served and resigned as President Donald Trump‘s National Security Advisor after 24 days, is facing federal charges. NBC News reported November 1 that federal investigators have enough evidence to bring charges on Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr. The report hasn’t been verified by officials, but they would come as part of a special investigation by Robert Mueller regarding possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.
Flynn is the sixth of nine children in a military family and has been married to Lori Andrade for over 30 years.
Here’s what you need to know about the couple:
1. They Met in High School & Have Been Married for Over 30 Years
FacebookMichael and Lori Flynn
Flynn and Andrade met when they both attended Middletown High School in Rhode Island. A story in the Providence Journal says that they started seeing each other as sophomores and were officially dating by their senior year. The article said that Lori was “a pretty girl who played intramural and powder puff sports” and Flynn was a football player.
The couple got married and, according to a feature story on the University of Rhode Island website, have been together for over 30 years.
2. They Have 2 Sons Together
Michael and Lori Flynn at an event. Michael Flynn is the author of a book on “radical Islam.” He argues the government has downplayed the nature of the threat to the American people. (Facebook/Lori Flynn)
The Flynns have two grown sons together: Michael Flynn Jr. and Matt Flynn. Michael Flynn Jr. has also been under scrutiny in the Mueller investigation, and served as the chief of staff of the Flynn Intel Group, a company he ran with his father. He’s been very active on Twitter and commented on the reports of a possible indictment November 5.
Michael told the University of Rhode Island’s alumni newsletter that Lori has been a huge influence on many through the years.
“Lori has been a steady presence in the lives of thousands of soldiers and their families during my numerous deployments and has played the role of not only mom, but dad, coach, teacher, and at times, taxi driver for our two sons, Michael and Matt, as well as for hundreds of other children,” he told the publication. “She’s always willing to volunteer her time for others.”
3. Their Ties to Rhode Island Run Deep
Michael and Lori Flynn.
A recent story in the USA Today says that Flynn and Andrade are well known in their Rhode Island community, and a friend of the couple, retired Army Col. Tom Heaney, said they are active in the community and frequently are out and about.
“There is a pretty strong nucleus of friends who go back years,” Heaney told the newspaper. “And a lot of us are still here. We’re trying the best we can to keep Mike and Lori out of the spotlight.”
Andrade grew up in Middletown, Rhode Island and is the daughter of a large Portuguese family who are from Aquidneck Island.
4. Flynn’s Sister Said She Deserves Credit for Being a Strong Military Wife
The Flynns at a sporting event. Michael Flynn has Tweeted his support for the New England Patriots. He also likes the Boston Red Sox. (Facebook/Lori Flynn)
Lori has always been there during Flynn’s decorated military service. Flynn’s sister told The Newport Daily News that Lori deserves a great deal of praise for her patience and willpower.
“I give her a lot of credit because he has been at work for so many years,” Clare Flynn Eckert said. “He is one of the strongest military wives, with Michael all the way.”
5. The Flynns Have Tried to Keep a Low Profile Since His Resignation
Michael and Lori Flynn
Flynn announced his resignation from his position February 13 as controversy continued to mount. Reports surfaced about his communications with the Russian ambassador, and he stepped down just 24 days after he was hired.
In the months that followed, the Flynns returned to their hometown to get out of the spotlight, USA Today reported.
“In recent months, Michael and Lori Flynn have returned to their local haunts,” the newspaper article said. “You can find them with Flynn’s brothers and their friends playing rounds of golf at nearby Montaup Country Club or taking in an occasional dinner at 22 Bowen’s, a steakhouse on the wharf in Newport.”
The Providence Journal attempted to speak to Flynn following his resignation, and Lori answered the door at their Middletown house. She refused to comment.
“Not interested, thank you very much,” she said before shutting the door.
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Michael Flynn “has a story to tell,” the fired U.S. national security adviser’s lawyer promised back in March, hinting at a trove of insider information relevant to an investigation of links between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Now it appears that Flynn might already be divulging what he knows, and likely opening a line of communication with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators. The dead giveaway? Flynn’s team has stopped sharing info with Trump’s attorneys.
The revelation that Flynn’s lawyers severed those communications about the Trump-Russia investigation was first reported by the New York Times on Thursday.
The legal manoeuvre, while not proving they have flipped and decided to co-operate with Mueller’s investigators, “is the clearest indication we’ve seen to date that Flynn is co-operating with prosecutors,” said former federal prosecutor Barak Cohen.
In this June 21 photo, special counsel Robert Mueller, left, departs after a closed-door meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible connection to the Trump campaign. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)
If confirmed, legal scholars say collaboration between Flynn and Mueller would be the biggest news in the Trump-Russia probe so far.
Cohen believes Flynn’s legal team has likely been speaking to the government “for a while,” and that a plea agreement is “imminent.”
Given the criminal exposure Flynn is believed to have — owing in part to $530,000 US in payments from the Turkish government that he failed to disclose under the Foreign Agents Registration Act — there’s incentive for him to play ball. He may also want to shield his son from indictment for his lobbying work on behalf of Turkey’s authoritarian regime.
George Papadopolous, former foreign policy adviser with the 2016 Trump campaign, is now a co-operating witness in special counsel Mueller’s Russia investigation. (Courtesy Linkedln)
Flipping Flynn could help build a case against Mueller’s likely “primary target” — Trump himself, said Seth Abramson, a legal analyst and prominent Twitter user known for lashing out against Trump.
“Not because Trump’s charges would be the largest charges, but because he’s the most important person in the hierarchy,” Abramson said.
Flynn would be able to provide a long view of Trump’s relationship with Russia, particularly as he was involved in both the campaign and part of the early administration.
U.S. President Donald Trump is joined by former chief of staff Reince Priebus, centre, Vice-President Mike Pence, former senior adviser Steve Bannon, former communications director Sean Spicer and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, right, as he speaks by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Signs of co-operation
His attorneys were in discussions with the House and Senate intelligence committees back in March about negotiating an immunity deal in exchange for information that might be relevant to Mueller’s probe into possible Russian collusion.
At the time, lawmakers said it would be premature to accept an immunity offer. Legal analysts believe Mueller used the time in between to gather leverage on Flynn before cutting a deal.
That Flynn has not communicated publicly for months suggested he was already co-operating, Cohen noted.
Defence lawyers with different clients sometimes enter into “joint-defence agreements” with one another if they share a common legal interest, in order to keep each other updated and to strategize without betraying attorney-client privilege. Continuing with such information-sharing can be deemed unethical for lawyers when a potential target is negotiating with prosecutors, giving rise to a conflict of interest.
Which is why legal experts suggest that Flynn’s legal split from working with Trump’s lawyers likely means Flynn is now working with Mueller.
Seemingly unconcerned by the optics, Trump jokes with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office the day after he fired FBI director James Comey, who was leading the Russia investigation. (Russian Foreign Ministry/EPA)
Typically, Cohen said, the parties might continue to engage in joint defence, even while talking with prosecutors representing the government, “until the prosecutors signal that co-operation may be jeopardized if the target of the investigation keeps talking to other targets.”
For his part, Abramson argues the Trump-Flynn legal information-swapping was ethically dubious from the get-go. He cited a message that Flynn told supporters he received from Trump in April — “stay strong” — after Flynn was fired in February for lying to the vice-president about meeting the Russian ambassador.
A month later, Flynn refused to hand over documents subpoenaed by a Senate panel.
“Witness tampering,” Abramson suggested.
The ‘motherlode’ of information
“What you want from Flynn is confirmation, whether through documentation or testimony, that it was in fact the deliberate plan for the Trump campaign to communicate they were going to unilaterally drop sanctions on Russia if Trump won the election,” he said.
He added that Flynn’s testimony would also be key to establishing whether the president meets a legal threshold of having a “high likelihood” of knowledge that Russia was committing computer crimes.
“Flynn can tell investigators more about what Trump was [allegedly] doing really behind the scenes with respect to Russia than any witness Mueller currently has ready and steady access to,” he said. That includes George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty last month to lying to federal agents about his attempts to communicate with Russia.
Flipping Flynn could yield “the motherlode” of information, said former federal prosecutor Mark Osler.
He speculated Flynn might still be at the first step towards cutting a deal — arranging a “proffer,” in which prosecutors decide whether a defendant “is shooting straight” and is suitable for a co-operation arrangement.
If a deal proceeds, not only can Flynn “tell the whole story from the campaign into the whole administration,” Osler said, but Flynn is also valuable for corroborating information about meetings he attended while serving as the national security adviser and in his campaign role.
Then-White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn walks down the White House colonnade on the way to a news conference at the White House on Feb. 10. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)
Flynn’s possible co-operation could also help to define who in the chaotic early days of the Trump administration called the shots, whether behind the scenes or at the forefront.
“Prosecutors love charts,” Osler said. “Especially given that these prosecutors, many come out of working cases on corporations and the mob, two areas where structure would be very important.”
In a Twitter thread, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti reacted that the development is “shocking” because it suggests Flynn no longer believes the president will pardon him or his son.
“If pardons are off the table, co-operation is likely the right move for Flynn,” he wrote.
Last night multiple major news outlets confirmed that Michael Flynn is making moves to negotiate a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in what amounts to the worst case scenario for Donald Trump. Flynn will give up many of Trump’s Russia secrets, taking Trump down in the process. Rather than ranting about it this morning, Trump made a statement which – if you put it within the proper context – sure sounds like a threat against the safety of Flynn and his son.
Flynn is accused of having illegally been on the payroll of the government of Turkey, and of having participated in a conspiracy to kidnap a Turkish cleric in Pennsylvania. Here’s what Trump tweeted this morning, just hours after Flynn’s deal was revealed: “Will be speaking to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey this morning about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East. I will get it all done, but what a mistake, in lives and dollars (6 trillion), to be there in the first place!” There’s more to this than initially appears.
At first it sounded like Trump was merely calling up Erdogan in a panicked attempt at figuring out how to respond to Flynn’s decision to cut a deal. But the more I think about it, this sounds like something more. If this were just about Trump talking strategy with Erdogan, Trump and his handlers would have tried to keep the phone call secret, or at least as low-key as possible. Instead Trump promptly advertised on Twitter that the phone call had taken place, even though it meant making the entire thing look even more suspicious in the eyes of the public. That’s because the tweet about the Turkey phone call wasn’t intended for the general public. It was aimed at an audience of one.
This phone call, and in particular the tweet announcing it, were intended to send a message to Michael Flynn. But legally speaking, at this point there is nothing that Trump or Turkey can do to Flynn. It sure sounds like Trump is hinting to Flynn that Turkey’s lawless regime might put his safety at risk if he goes through with the deal. Keep in mind that Flynn is flipping to protect his son from criminal prosecution. Is this a threat against Flynn’s son’s safety? If that sounds like it might be a stretch, keep in mind that just a week ago, Trump bizarrely insisted “people will die” if the Trump-Russia investigation continues.
The post Did Donald Trump just publicly threaten Michael Flynn’s safety? appeared first on Palmer Report.