Statement from Robby Mook on Manafort's Resignation
Friday, Hillary For American Campaign Manager Robby Mook issued the following statement on the resignation of Trump's Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort:
"Paul Manafort's resignation is a clear admission that the disturbing connections between Donald Trump's team and pro-Kremlin elements in Russia and Ukraine are untenable. But this is not the end of the story. It's just the beginning. You can get rid of Manafort, but that doesn't end the odd bromance Trump has with Putin. Trump still has to answer serious questions hovering over his campaign given his propensity to parrot Putin's talking points, the roster of advisers like Carter Page and Mike Flynn with deep ties to Russia, the recent Russian government hacking and disclosure of Democratic Party records, and reports that Breitbart published articles advocating pro-Kremlin positions on Ukraine. It's also time for Donald Trump to come clean on his own business dealings with Russian interests, given recent news reports about his web of deep financial connections to business groups with Kremlin ties."
HFA also released a new video on Donald Trump's tendency to echo Vladimir Putin's talking points:
Trump Campaign Advisers' Russia Connections Extend Far Beyond Manafort
Carter Page, Trump's pro-Putin foreign policy adviser, built his career on deals with Russia's state owned gas company, Gazprom, and traveled to Moscow just last month.
Washington Post: Trump adviser's public comments, ties to Moscow stir unease in both parties
"In early June, a little-known adviser to Donald Trump stunned a gathering of high-powered Washington foreign policy experts meeting with the visiting prime minister of India, going off topic with effusive praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump. The adviser, Carter Page, hailed Putin as stronger and more reliable than President Obama, according to three people who were present at the closed-door meeting at Blair House — and then touted the positive effect a Trump presidency would have on U.S.-Russia relations. A month later, Page dumbfounded foreign policy experts again by giving another speech harshly critical of U.S. policy — this time in Moscow."
Bloomberg: Trump's New Russia Adviser Has Deep Ties to Kremlin's Gazprom
A globe-trotting American investment banker who's built a career on deals with Russia and its state-run gas company, Carter Page says his business has suffered directly from the U.S. economic sanctions imposed after Russia's escalating involvement in the Ukraine. When Donald Trump named him last week as one of his foreign-policy advisers, Page says his e-mail inbox filled up with positive notes from Russian contacts. "So many people who I know and have worked with have been so adversely affected by the sanctions policy," Page said in a two-hour interview last week. "There's a lot of excitement in terms of the possibilities for creating a better situation."
Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the adviser who joined Trump this week for his first classified intelligence briefing, has been paid by Kremlin-run RT and sat next to Putin at the outlet's 10th anniversary gala.
Washington Post: He was one of the most respected intel officers of his generation. Now he's leading 'Lock her up' chants.
Like Trump, Flynn has advocated forging closer ties with Russia. In interviews with The Washington Post, Flynn acknowledged being paid to give a speech and attend a lavish anniversary party for the Kremlin-controlled RT television network in Moscow last year, where he was seated next to Russian President Vladimir Putin…. Asked why he would want to be so closely associated with a Kremlin propaganda platform, Flynn said he sees no distinction between RT and other news outlets. "What's CNN? What's MSNBC? Come on!" said Flynn, who also has appeared occasionally as an unpaid on-air analyst for RT and other foreign broadcasters.
Politico: The Kremlin's Candidate
At a moment of semi-hostility between the U.S. and Russia, the presence of such an important figure at Putin's table startled current and former members of the Obama administration. "It was extremely odd that he showed up in a tuxedo to the Russian government propaganda arm's party," one former Pentagon official told me.
Daily Beast: Trump Embraces Ex-Top Obama Intel Official
Three former U.S. officials said that a trip Flynn took last December to Moscow—where he was filmed sitting at the head table next to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a formal dinner—set off alarms within military and intelligence circles over whether Flynn had notified the U.S. government about his foreign travel, as his security clearance requires.
Mike McSherry, an aide who helped lead Trump's convention strategy, worked alongside Manafort and Gates to lobby for Putin puppet Yanukovych.
BuzzFeed: Ukraine Lobbying Contract Linked To Manafort Also Involved Another Trump Aide
"Donald Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort is not the only Trump aide to have been involved in lobbying for Ukraine's pro-Russian ex-president. Mike McSherry, a senior vice president at Mercury Public Affairs who helped lead the Trump campaign's convention committee strategy last month, is listed in Mercury's lobbying disclosure forms as having represented a Brussels-based nonprofit group linked to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine."
Howard Lorber, a Trump economic adviser, traveled with Trump to Moscow in the 1990s seeking real estate deals
Washington Post: Another Trump adviser with deep ties to Russia
This week Donald Trump released a new roster of economic advisers, including a businessman with extensive investments in Russia who tried to get a Trump Tower built in Moscow. It's the latest in a long list of relationships that give Trump a financial stake in warm U.S.-Russian relations. Businessman and investor Howard Lorber already donated $100,000 to the Trump Victory fund, has been named as one of Trump's "best friends" and even appeared once on "The Apprentice." He is also president and chief executive of the Vector Group, a holding company that has various business interests in Russia. In 1996, Lorber brought Trump to Moscow to look for opportunities for Trump to lend his famous name to development projects there. "Howard has major investments in Russia," Trump told Russian politician Alexander Ivanovich Lebed after his trip to Moscow with Lorber, according to a 1997 profile of Trump in the New Yorker.
Boris Epshteyn, a senior Trump adviser and surrogate, moderated a 2013 forum at the "Invest In Moscow!" Conference and has echoed Kremlin talking points on TV.
Huffington Post: When It Comes To Donald Trump's Russia Ties, It's All About The Aides
And there's also Boris Epshteyn, a Trump surrogate who frequently appears on television and describes himself as a senior adviser to the campaign. The Russia-born investment banker and attorney moderated a panel at an October 2013 conference in New York City called "Invest in Moscow!" The panel was mainly comprised of Moscow city government officials, like Sergey Cheremin, a city minister who heads Moscow's foreign economic and international relations department…. "In Russia, where business and the state are so closely linked, business dealings automatically imply ties to people high up in government as well," said Kathryn Stoner, an expert in U.S.-Russia relations at Stanford University.
Talking Points Memo: Trump Surrogate Pushes Pro-Putin Line That Russia Hasn't Seized Crimea
A surrogate for Donald Trump's campaign argued on Sunday that Russia has not seized Crimea from Ukraine, even though Vladimir Putin seized the region more than two years ago. While discussing the GOP nominee's recent remarks about Putin on CNN Sunday, campaign surrogate Boris Epshteyn said, "First of all, Russia did not seize Crimea."
Richard Burt, who has been an adviser to Trump and helped write his first major foreign policy speech, has deep ties to Russia as well.
Reuters: Former Reagan aide helped write Trump foreign policy speech
"I was asked to contribute material" for Trump's April 27 speech at the Center for the National Interest, a Washington, D.C., think tank, said Richard Burt.
Vice: How Putin's American Fixers Keep Russian Sanctions Toothless
Richard Burt, a former Reagan White House official who now works at the lobbying firm McLarty Associates, serves on the US-Russia Business Council board. According to the Wall Street Journal, Burt, who has argued against unilateral sanctions against Russia...
Michael Caputo, a former top Trump adviser who also recently resigned, did public relations work for Putin years ago, promoting his image in the Western world.
Washington Post: Inside Trump's financial ties to Russia and his unusual flattery of Vladimir Putin
An adviser who helped run Trump's efforts in the New York primary, Michael Caputo, lived in Russia in the 1990s. Caputo also had a contract for several months in 2000 with the Russian conglomerate Gazprom Media to improve Putin's image in the United States. Caputo declined to comment but told the Buffalo News, his hometown paper, that he was "not proud of the work today. But at the time, Putin wasn't such a bad guy."
Trump's Russia Problems Run Deep, Concerning Experts
Trump's policies align closely with Putin's agenda, contrary to American interests.
Op-ed by Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul: Why Putin wants a Trump victory (so much he might even be trying to help him)
Putin has rational motives for wanting Trump to win: Trump champions many foreign policies that Putin supports. Trump's most shocking, pro-Kremlin proposal is to "look into" recognition of Crimea as a part of Russia…. Trump has demanded that other NATO members essentially pay us for protection… Trump has also disparaged our allies in Asia, creating new opportunities for Russian influence…. On the whole, Trump advocates isolationist policies and an abdication of U.S. leadership in the world. He cares little about promoting democracy and human rights. A U.S. retreat from global affairs fits precisely with Putin's international interests.
Vox: Trump's policies are objectively pro-Russia
Nothing Russia could do, on its own, would help its foreign policy more than what Trump is proposing. He is literally suggesting the United States transform global politics to make it more favorable to Russian interests.
Slate: Putin's Puppet: If the Russian president could design a candidate to undermine American interests—and advance his own—he'd look a lot like Donald Trump.
Donald Trump is like the Kremlin's favored candidates, only more so. He celebrated the United Kingdom's exit from the EU. He denounces NATO with feeling. He is also a great admirer of Vladimir Putin.
Trump personally has business ties with Russian oligarchs.
Donald Trump on his Miss Universe Contest in Moscow: "Almost all of the oligarchs were in the room."
Donald Trump Jr.: "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia."
CNN: That time a Russian billionaire paid Trump $95 million for a mansion
Washington Post: Former Mafia-linked figure describes association with Trump
On the 24th floor of Trump Tower, in an office two floors below Donald Trump, Felix Sater was trying to revive his career. The Russian-born businessman had already done a stint in prison for stabbing a man in the face with the stem of a margarita glass, and he was now awaiting sentencing for his role in a Mafia-orchestrated stock fraud scheme… Trump and his lawyers have said that he was not aware of Sater's criminal past when he first signed on to do business with Sater's firm, Bayrock Group. Sater's involvement in the stock fraud was kept secret for years by federal prosecutors because of his role as an informant. But even after elements of Sater's background were disclosed in a 2007 New York Times article, he remained in close proximity to Trump — at one point using Trump Organization office space and business cards.
Washington Post: "Putin canceled at the last minute, but he sent a decorative lacquered box, a traditional Russian gift, and a warm note, according to Aras Agalarov, a Moscow billionaire who served as a liaison between Trump and the Russian leader. Still, the weekend was fruitful for Trump. He received a portion of the $14 million paid by Agalarov and other investors to bring the pageant to Moscow. Agalarov said he and Trump signed an agreement to build a Trump Tower in the heart of Moscow — at least Trump's fifth attempt at such a venture."
Trump and his campaign have been aligned with the Russians while they attempt to defeat Hillary Clinton.
New York Times: Spy Agency Consensus Grows That Russia Hacked D.N.C.
American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have "high confidence" that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence.
AP: Donald Trump encourages Russian hackers to spy on Hillary Clinton
"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said. "I think you'll be rewarded mightily by our press!"
Washington Post: Trump allies, WikiLeaks and Russia are pushing a nonsensical conspiracy theory about the DNC hacks
Trump campaign surrogates are fueling a conspiracy theory that a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer was connected to the hacking of the DNC, a theory being pushed by WikiLeaks and the Russian state-controlled press.
BuzzFeed: Exclusive: How Ukraine Wooed Conservative Websites
Several conservative bloggers repeated talking points given to them by a proxy group for the Ukrainian government — and at least one writer was paid by a representative of the Ukrainian group, according to documents and emails obtained by BuzzFeed. The Ukrainian campaign began in the run-up to high-stakes Ukrainian parliamentary elections last year, and sought to convince skeptical American conservatives that the pro-Russian Party of Regions, led by President Viktor Yanukovych, deserved American support. During that period, articles echoing Ukrainian government talking points appeared on leading conservative online outlets, including RedState, Breitbart, and Pajamas Media. [emphasis added]
Some experts have gone as far as to say that Putin is explicitly using Trump to further his agenda.
Reuters: Senior ex-CIA official: Putin made Trump 'an unwitting agent' of Russia
A former top CIA official attacked Donald Trump on Friday as a danger to national security, saying President Vladimir Putin had made the Republican presidential candidate an "unwitting agent" of Russia. Putin had flattered Trump into supporting positions favorable to Russia, Michael Morell, a longtime CIA officer and former deputy director of the agency, said in an opinion piece in The New York Times. "In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation," Morell said"
Politico: Is Putin playing Trump like he did Berlusconi?
[T]he Berlusconi-Putin bromance has acquired a new resonance, as foreign policy analysts and even some U.S. officials see unsettling echoes in the recent long-distance kinship between the Russian leader and Donald J. Trump. It may even suggest that Putin is applying a specific method to the GOP nominee. In recent years Putin has befriended several major Western European politicians, including former leaders of France and Germany, who openly challenge U.S. and European policies toward Russia, including NATO's buildup in Eastern Europe and economic sanctions punishing Putin's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Even top Republicans have raised serious concerns about Trump's relationship with Putin's Russia.
New York Times: 50 G.O.P. Officials Warn Donald Trump Would Put Nation's Security 'at Risk'
Many of those signing it had declined to add their names to the letter released in March. But a number said in recent interviews that they changed their minds once they heard Mr. Trump invite Russia to hack Mrs. Clinton's email server — a sarcastic remark, he said later — and say that he would check to see how much NATO members contributed to the alliance before sending forces to help stave off a Russian attack. They viewed Mr. Trump's comments on NATO as an abandonment of America's most significant alliance relationship. Mr. Trump has said throughout his campaign that he intends to upend Republican foreign policy orthodoxy on everything from trade to Russia, where he has been complimentary of President Vladimir V. Putin, saying nothing about its crackdown on human rights and little about its annexation of Crimea.
Washington Post: Republicans are among a new list of foreign policy experts denouncing Trump
Several Republicans are among a group of former cabinet officers, senior officials and career military officers who denounced Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Thursday, calling his recent remarks on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Russia "disgraceful." The open letter, released first to The Washington Post, takes issue with Trump statements that appear to question the alliance, encourage Russia to hack and release Hillary Clinton's deleted State Department emails, and seem to recognize Russia's annexation of Crimea, which the United States considers illegitimate.
Trump has praised Putin for a decade, and Putin has returned the favor.
Trump, 2007: "[Putin's] doing a great job. In rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia period. Forget about image."
Trump, 2011: "I often speak highly [of Putin] for his intelligence and no-nonsense way…. Putin has also announced his grand vision: the creation of a 'Eurasian Union' made up of former Soviet nations that can dominate the region. I respect Putin…"
Trump, 2013, on Putin's NYT op-ed denouncing American exceptionalism: "I thought he did an amazing job…. He's making him look like a -- he's the professor and the President is a school child… He really becomes with this letter, almost, the world leader"
Trump, 2013: "Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow - if so, will he become my new best friend?"
Washington Post on Trump's 2013 Miss Universe Contest in Moscow: "Putin canceled at the last minute, but he sent a decorative lacquered box, a traditional Russian gift, and a warm note"
Trump, 2014: "Putin has become a big hero in Russia with an all time high popularity."
Trump, 2015: "In terms of leadership, [Putin's] getting an 'A,' and our president is not doing so well."
Putin, 2015 on Trump: "He's a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt."
Trump, 2016: "[Putin] called me a genius, I'm going to disavow it? Are you crazy? Can you believe it? How stupid are they."
AP, 2016: Russia's Putin Reaffirms Praise for Trump, Calling Him 'Bright'
Hillary Clinton, Statement from Robby Mook on Manafort's Resignation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/318938