FBI, CIA, NSA, Justice, and Treasury departments probe possible covert Kremlin aid to Trump

McClatchy reports: The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump, two people familiar with the matter said.

The agencies involved in the inquiry are the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Justice Department, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and representatives of the director of national intelligence, the sources said.

Investigators are examining how money may have moved from the Kremlin to covertly help Trump win, the two sources said. One of the allegations involves whether a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners may have been used to pay some email hackers in the United States or to supply money to intermediaries who would then pay the hackers, the two sources said.

The informal, inter-agency working group began to explore possible Russian interference last spring, long before the FBI received information from a former British spy hired to develop politically damaging and unverified research about Trump, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the inquiry. [Continue reading…]

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  1. Hard to believe that the inquiry — such as it is! (an “informal, inter-agency working group”) — won’t be squelched tomorrow at noon.

    Equally hard to believe, if we grant its likely existence: that such a grave incursion into US sovereignty has been met with nothing more than a feeble diplomatic response. What is going on here?

  2. Paul Woodward says:

    I think we’re back in an era where the unraveling of this presidency will depend on a whistleblower (or several) leaking information from high levels of government.

    The datadumps of recent years have to a significant degree had the opposite of their intended effect. Instead of bringing greater transparency and accountability to government and raising public awareness, they have, to a large extent, diluted the impact of leaking. They’ve made the event of leaks appear to be as significant (or lacking in significance) as the content of the leaks.

    What would be needed to bring down Trump would be evidence of something old-fashioned and very specific — that, for instance, he might have molested one of his daughters, might have documented ties to Russian mobsters, might have billions of dollars stashed away in off-shore accounts, etc. If something of that kind was discovered, it’s quite likely that it would be unearthed by accident by some federal officer no one ever heard of who was investigating something else.

    I’d say the chances of a scenario like that are about as likely as the prospect of a Congressional or agency investigation determining that Trump colluded with the Russians to receive assistance in getting elected and that the chances of either are probably less than the chance that he will complete his one or two terms.

    In spite of the huge amount of public cynicism directed at government, I’m confident that there is no shortage of individuals who take very seriously their responsibility to uphold the rule of law whoever happens to be the current occupant at the White House.

  3. You must be right that there are plenty of people out there who are serious about the rule of law. However, it’s not hard to understand why public cynicism has flourished, since those in charge of the law have flouted it vigorously for years, with the rightwing faction on the Supreme Court leading the way, blazing a trail from Bush v. Gore to the gutting of the voting rights act, with many sidelights along the way. And Comey’s carefully timed letters seem like some kind of ultimate debasement.

    A salient lesson of the Trump ascendancy is that democracy requires not just the rule of law, but even more fundamentally the rule of norms. We’re looking, looking for an attack on law: “when fascism comes…” it ought to do this and do that, visibly. But the whole apparatus of democratic government can be apparently kept as a shell while it contents are replaced and inverted. Since this is literally happening before our eyes, with the overt complicity of the the party in control of congress, the states, and the judiciary, it leads naturally to an expectation that law has become unmoored from the norms that force adherence to it.