Michael Cohen Reportedly Received Secret $400k Payment to Fix Talks Between Ukraine President and Trump

So it turns out the extent of Michael Cohen‘s financial dealings may be a smidge bigger than previously thought. The BBC is exclusively reporting this morning on $400,000 Cohen received to “fix talks between the Ukrainian president and President Trump”:
The payment was arranged by intermediaries acting for Ukraine’s leader, Petro Poroshenko, the sources said, though Cohen was not registered as a representative of Ukraine as required by US law… Shortly after the Ukrainian president returned home, his country’s anti-corruption agency stopped its investigation into Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
An anonymous senior Ukrainian intel officer said President Poroshenko “decided to establish a back channel to Trump” and a former aide of his got a Ukrainian MP to help out and they eventually found Cohen. Trump had met with Poroshenko last June and the report says there’s “no suggestion” he was aware of this payment. However, they Continue reading "Michael Cohen Reportedly Received Secret $400k Payment to Fix Talks Between Ukraine President and Trump"

This program made people better at identifying disinformation. (They still weren’t great at knowing what to trust.)

The success of media literacy programs is often described in terms of number of people reached, rather than by how (or if) they actually change people’s behavior in the long run. It’s not even clear what metrics to judge them on. But a new report from a media literacy course run in Ukraine suggests that the program actually was able to change participants’ behavior — even 18 months after they’d completed the course. The program was called Learn to Discern (L2D); it was run by global development and education nonprofit IREX with funding from the Canadian government and support from local organizations Academy of Ukrainian Press and StopFake (which Nieman Lab covered four years ago). First, the raw numbers: IREX says that its L2D seminars “reached more than 15,000 people of all ages and professional backgrounds” through a “train the trainers” model, in which 361 community leaders were trained
Continue reading "This program made people better at identifying disinformation. (They still weren’t great at knowing what to trust.)"

Who is Alex van der Zwaan, the First Person Sentenced in the Mueller Probe?

Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation just placed its first person behind bars. So, who is he? Alex van der Zwaan was served with a 30-day jail sentence on Tuesday along with a $20,000 fine after admitting to lying to special agents in Mueller’s Russia probe during November 2017. The false statements concerned e-mail communications and phone calls  between him and Richard Gates, an ex-campaign aide to President Donald Trump. Van der Zwaan is a 33-year-old Dutch attorney who is also the son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan, who is also linked to President Vladimir Putin. Khan is one of the individuals named in the infamous Trump-Russia dossier that suggests Trump could be open to blackmail from the Kremlin. Van der Zwaan was a London-based associate of a high-powered law firm called Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom in the early 2010s. At the time, Gates and Paul Manafort, another Continue reading "Who is Alex van der Zwaan, the First Person Sentenced in the Mueller Probe?"

Trump Reportedly Told Putin: ‘If You Want to Have an Arms Race We Can Do That, But I’ll Win’

Behind the scenes, President Donald Trump is taking a bit of a tougher stance on Russia, facing off with President Vladimir Putin, according to sources who spoke with NBC News. Two White House officials told the outlet that in a discussion with Putin last week, Trump threatened him, saying, “If you want to have an arms race we can do that, but I’ll win.” The warning is a shift in the tone of Trump’s relationship with Putin, which had bordered on chummy following the 2016 election. But sources say the tide has changed since Putin revealed Russia had the potential to hit the U.S. with nuclear-capable weapons. The implication “really got under the president’s skin,” a White House source said. Trump also reportedly asked his staffers to keep his policy moves regarding Russia under wraps. Following his signing of a weapons deal to arm Ukrainians in their country’s Continue reading "Trump Reportedly Told Putin: ‘If You Want to Have an Arms Race We Can Do That, But I’ll Win’"

Manafort Indicted on 12 Counts Including Conspiracy Against the United States

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, turned himself in to the FBI Monday morning after he was told to surrender by federal authorities. Though the details of charges were initially unclear, the indictment against Manafort and Rick Gates, his former business associate, was released shortly after by the Department of Justice — and doesn’t look great for Manafort. The two were indicted on 12 counts, including “conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.” Per the indictment, between “at least 2006 and 2015, Manafort and Gates acted as unregistered agents of the Government of Ukraine,” generating “tens of millions of dollars in income” which they allegedly hid from US authorities by laundering it through “scores of US and Continue reading "Manafort Indicted on 12 Counts Including Conspiracy Against the United States"

Oops! Rick Perry Falls For Russian Pranksters, Gives Them 22-Minute Phony Interview

Apparently, there is a pair of pranksters known as the “Jerky Boys of Russia” who were able to arrange a call with Secretary of Energy Rick Perry last week. And they were straight up punked the former Governor of Texas by conducting a 22-minute phony interview with him. According to E&E News, Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexei Stolyarov posed as Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and attempted to pitch Perry on a new biofuel made from alcohol and manure. Beyond talking about this new fuel option, the pranksters also discussed the Trump administration’s decision to exit the Paris Climate Accord. Perry told the pranksters that America stepping away from the agreement shouldn’t damage the relationship with Ukraine. “I hope that stepping away from the Paris accord will not have any negative impact with our relationship with the Ukraine,” Perry stated. “We tried to divorce the politics from this and really Continue reading "Oops! Rick Perry Falls For Russian Pranksters, Gives Them 22-Minute Phony Interview"

Former Clinton Campaign Spokesperson Karen Finney Denies DNC Collusion with Ukraine

A common refrain among Trump supporters defending the previously undisclosed meeting between a Russian lawyer (among others) and Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner has been “but what about the DNC meeting with Ukraine officials!?” This is in reference to a mid-January report in Politico titled “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire.” The nut of that article reads:
Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.
While there are some obvious similarities between the theories of collusion between Russian interference (and the Trump campaign) and  the Clinton campaign ostensibly working with Ukraine, Continue reading "Former Clinton Campaign Spokesperson Karen Finney Denies DNC Collusion with Ukraine"