Suspected Russian spy found working at US embassy in Moscow

U.S. Hires Company With K.G.B. Link to Guard Moscow Embassy

Via the Guardian:

US counter-intelligence investigators discovered a suspected Russian spy had been working undetected in the heart of the American embassy in Moscow for more than a decade, the Guardian has learned.

The Russian national had been hired by the US Secret Service and is understood to have had access to the agency’s intranet and email systems, which gave her a window into highly potentially confidential material including the schedules of the president and vice-president.

The woman had been working for the Secret Service for years before she came under suspicion in 2016 during a routine security sweep conducted by two investigators from the US Department of State’s Regional Security Office (RSO).

The Guardian has been told the RSO sounded the alarm in January 2017, but the Secret Service did not launch a full-scale inquiry of its own. Instead it decided to let her go quietly months later, possibly to contain the potential embarrassment it could cause.

And then there was this. Just a coincidence, right?

Under a $2.8 million no-bid contract awarded by the Office of Acquisitions in Washington, security guards at the American Embassy in Moscow and at consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok will be provided by Elite Security Holdings, a company closely linked to the former top K.G.B. figure, Viktor G. Budanov, a retired general who rose through the ranks to become head of Soviet counterintelligence.

A State Department official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity in accordance with the department’s rules, said that Elite Security and individuals associated with it had been “vetted” with “relevant national and local agencies” and would not increase the threat risk.

Putin madness

And, as logically follows:

All the GOP monkeys are trying to cover their asses

Mitch McConnell in particular:

https://twitter.com/KrisKoles/status/1019365117182476288

Another witch!

https://twitter.com/woodruffbets/status/1018929996482666499

Has Trump been a Russian asset since 1987?

Jonathan Chait went there with what he calls “a plausible theory of mind-boggling collusion”: Has Trump been a Russian asset since 1987?

A case like this presents an easy temptation for conspiracy theorists, but we can responsibly speculate as to what lies at the end of this scandal without falling prey to their fallacies. Conspiracy theories tend to attract people far from the corridors of power, and they often hypothesize vast connections within or between governments and especially intelligence agencies. One of the oddities of the Russia scandal is that many of the most exotic and sinister theories have come from people within government and especially within the intelligence field.

The first intimations that Trump might harbor a dark secret originated among America’s European allies, which, being situated closer to Russia, have had more experience fending off its nefarious encroachments. In 2015, Western European intelligence agencies began picking up evidence of communications between the Russian government and people in Donald Trump’s orbit. In April 2016, one of the Baltic states shared with then–CIA director John Brennan an audio recording of Russians discussing funneling money to the Trump campaign. In the summer of 2016, Robert Hannigan, head of the U.K. intelligence agency GCHQ, flew to Washington to brief Brennan on intercepted communications between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The contents of these communications have not been disclosed, but what Brennan learned obviously unsettled him profoundly. In congressional testimony on Russian election interference last year, Brennan hinted that some Americans might have betrayed their country. “Individuals who go along a treasonous path,” he warned, “do not even realize they’re along that path until it gets to be a bit too late.” In an interview this year, he put it more bluntly: “I think [Trump] is afraid of the president of Russia. The Russians may have something on him personally that they could always roll out and make his life more difficult.”

While the fact that the former CIA director has espoused this theory hardly proves it, perhaps we should give more credence to the possibility that Brennan is making these extraordinary charges of treason and blackmail at the highest levels of government because he knows something we don’t.

Suppose we are currently making the same mistake we made at the outset of this drama — suppose the dark crevices of the Russia scandal run not just a little deeper but a lot deeper. If that’s true, we are in the midst of a scandal unprecedented in American history, a subversion of the integrity of the presidency. It would mean the Cold War that Americans had long considered won has dissolved into the bizarre spectacle of Reagan’s party’s abetting the hijacking of American government by a former KGB agent. It would mean that when Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in on the president and his inner circle, possibly beginning this summer, Trump may not merely rail on Twitter but provoke a constitutional crisis.

Many people have been saying this for a while — Sarah Kendzior and Malcolm Nance, just to name two.

I simply assumed this, and 1987 was the turning point. That’s when Trump started talking about his “genius” plan to stop nuclear war (spoiler alert: He said he would make a deal with Putin where they would nuke a small country and it would scare everyone else so much, they would all give up their nukes.)

And when a former DIA comes out and implies the president may be “treasonous,” well, we have a problem. Hopefully this will all be public soon.

Republican senators celebrate the 4th in Russia

I don’t shock that easily anymore, but damn. This is something else:

How Trump is getting away with treason

Trump Putin

The media keeps breaking it into little pieces! David Corn for Mother Jones:

In this ongoing fight, it is Trump and his bumper stickers versus a media presenting a wide variety of disparate disclosures that come and go quickly in a hyperchaotic information ecosystem, often absent full context. No wonder then that a recent poll found that 59 percent of Americans said Mueller has uncovered no crimes. In fact, he has secured 17 criminal indictments and obtained five guilty pleas. Accurate news reporting alone does not always carry the day.

The Russia scandal is the most important scandal in the history of the United States. President Andrew Johnson was impeached (but not convicted) because he violated an act of Congress to remove a secretary of war. In the Teapot Dome scandal, the secretary of the interior in Warren Harding’s administration leased federal lands at low rates to private oil companies, presumably in return for bribes. In Watergate, a president and his aides engaged in political skulduggery against political foes. President Bill Clinton lied about a sexual affair he had with a subordinate in the White House. All these scandals raised serious questions about integrity in government. But at the heart of the Russia scandal is the most fundamental issue for a democracy: the sanctity of elections.

An overseas enemy struck at the core of the republic—and it succeeded. Trump and his minions helped and encouraged this attack by engaging in secret contacts with Moscow and publicly insisting no such assault was happening. This is far bigger than a bribe, a break-in, or a blow job. And, worse, the United States remains vulnerable to such a strike.

Yet the full impact of this scandal does not resonate in the daily coverage and discourse. In many ways, the media presents the Russia scandal mostly as a political threat to Trump, not as a serious threat to the nation. And many Americans, thanks to Trump and his allies, view it as a charade. All this shows how easy it is for disinformation and demagoguery to distort reality. That is a tragedy for the United States. For Trump—and Putin—that is victory.

The Russians have been very busy

Politics: Leading Brexit campaigners held secret meetings with Russian officials arranged by suspected Kremlin spy before referendum, report says

As many of us thought, it sure looks like the Russians were a driving force behind Brexit:

More Russian elites met with NRA officials during campaign

McClatchy reports:

WASHINGTON –Several prominent Russians, some in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle or high in the Russian Orthodox Church, now have been identified as having contact with National Rifle Association officials during the 2016 U.S. election campaign, according to photographs and an NRA source.

The contacts have emerged amid a deepening Justice Department investigation into whether Russian banker and lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the gun rights group to add financial firepower to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.

Other influential Russians who met with NRA representatives during the campaign include Dmitry Rogozin, who until last month served as a deputy prime minister overseeing Russia’s defense industry, and Sergei Rudov, head of one of Russia’s largest philanthropies, the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation. The foundation was launched by an ultra-nationalist ally of Russian President Putin.

The Russians talked and dined with NRA representatives, mainly in Moscow, as U.S. presidential candidates vied for the White House. Now U.S. investigators want to know if relationships between the Russian leaders and the nation’s largest gun rights group went beyond vodka toasts and gun factory tours, evolving into another facet of the Kremlin’s broad election-interference operation.

A friend of a friend was a legal observer during the primaries, and saw “truckloads” of New Hampshire NRA voters come in and switch their registrations to vote for Bernie Sanders — and not because they liked him. It was part of a concerted effort to screw Hillary, which is only one reason to oppose open primaries.