A summary of the book by Malcolm Nance, 2016

Many of the conclusions that were included in the consensus opinion of the three principle US intelligence agencies – the NSA, the CIA, and the FBI – are identical to those in The Plot to Hack America. The intelligence community assessment was written at the same time that Malcolm Nance was writing his book. The intelligence assessment was delivered to President Obama on the exact same date – September 23, 2016 – that The Plot to Hack America was released in an on-line edition. President Obama, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Director of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced publicly the conclusion that the Russians had attempted to hack the US election on the exact same date – October 7, 2016 – that Nance’s book became available in stores.

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Malcolm Wrightson Nance (born 1961) is a retired United States Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer in naval cryptology and author, scholar, and media commentator on international terrorism, intelligence, insurgency and torture. He conceptualized and spearheaded the Advanced Terrorism, Abduction and Hostage Survival School (ATAHS), a survival program designed to train Special Mission Units, Navy SEALS and members of the US Intelligence Community in resisting torture, exploitation and escaping terrorist captivity by al-Qaeda.

Nance was a career counterterrorism and intelligence officer for the US government’s Special Operations, Homeland Security and Intelligence agencies, with over 33 years of experience, and spent more than two decades on clandestine antiterrorism and counterterrorism intelligence operations.

A fierce champion of ethics and human rights, he has trained and advised numerous defense, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies worldwide in understanding and exploiting terrorist strategies, tactics, and ideology.

In 2016, Nance urged readers to be skeptical of Podesta emails leaked by WikiLeaks, writing that the documents were “riddled with obvious forgeries” and were black propaganda “not even professionally done”, and arguing that even if all the emails were authentic, WikiLeaks’ excerpts of the emails were posted to Twitter in a way that distorted their meaning.

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“There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel.”

– Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

 

Introduction

By the summer of the 2016 presidential campaign, a WordPress page operated by someone claiming the mantle of Gucifer 2.0 was dumping embarrassing emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee. When Wikileaks began doing the same, Gucifer 2.0 claimed credit as the source.

Cybersecurity firms found familiar patterns to the hack of the DNC servers, and tools that would be prohibitively expensive for the usual suspects of random hackers, including the exploitation of previously unknown software flaws. The private IT security experts concluded that the hacks were the work of two well-known groups tied to Russian intelligence: FANCY BEAR and COZY BEAR.

A Defense Intelligence Agency veteran noted that, while this kind of hacking and data collection is routine, the public release was unprecedented.

It quickly became evident inside the intelligence community that Russia was putting a cyber thumb down on the US presidential election in an apparent attempt to tip the election to the candidate with the most pro-Russian platform in GOP history.

The Story

Beginning in March and April 2016, an unknown person or persons hacked into the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee, targeting very specific information: the opposition research file on Donald Trump.

Once they had that information, the hackers rooted around in the computers for several months, stealing personal emails, digital voice mails, and sensitive personal data on donors – including bank accounts, credit card and social security numbers.

On the surface, this was nothing new. Hackers had penetrated the campaigns of Obama and McCain in 2008. But the name Gucifer 2.0 was too redolent of the real Gucifer, a prolific Romanian hacker who had just been extradited to the US for trial. Gucifer 2.0 was a copy-cat.

Two weeks later, Steve Biddle, the national security writer for the web magazine Gawker, posted the entire Trump file from the DNC. This seemed straight from the Karl Rove playbook: release damaging information early to diffuse its long-term impact. Word quickly spread that the Gucifer hack had Russian fingerprints all over it.

A few months after the hacks, at the start of the Democratic National Convention, WikiLeaks began leaking the stolen emails in an overt attempt to damage Hillary Clinton and create a rift between her campaign and Bernie Sanders supporters.

Civilian cybersecurity specialists joined the US and NATO allies as they commenced a massive cyber-sleuthing operation, led by the US Cyber Command within the NSA as well as the FBI, which found the source of the leaks within the FSB (Russia’s successor to the Soviet KGB) and its sister GRU – Russia’s military intelligence agency.

The metadata, showing the pathways from the DNC computers to WikiLeaks, led straight back to a conglomeration of Russian intelligence operatives codenamed CYBER BEARS. The pattern showed that someone was playing 3-dimensional chess with American democracy.

Since the days of the Russian Tsars, developed during the ¾-century history of the Soviet Union, and brought into the government by former KGB officer Vladimir Putin, Russia has perfected the art of political warfare using cyber assets to attack and neutralize political opponents, both at home and abroad. They call it Kompromat, comprised of either gathered intelligence or invented data, to generate or threaten scandal.

President Obama received a briefing days before the WikiLeaks release of the data to the public, indicating that the FSB had been ordered to engage in political warfare to hack the American election and push Donald Trump into the White House.

Trump was the perfect candidate for a political asset. The KGB had long learned to target “ego-centric people who lack moral principles – who are either too greedy or who suffer exaggerated self-importance.”

Such a campaign could have been directed only from the highest level of the Russian government – Putin himself. By the use of what the FSB calls “active measures”, Russia employed hacks, strategic leaks, and internet distribution through Russian government-controlled media and US social networks, with amplification from right-wing “news” sites such as Breitbart, led by Trump’s later top advisor Steve Bannon, a self-declared Leninist intent on “deconstructing the administrative state”.

Watergate 2.0

In late April 2016, the information technology division of the Democratic National Committee found problems in their system that indicated unauthorized access. Upon discovery, they called in CrowdStrike, an IT security company, to assess the damage.

After CrowdStrike technicians implanted analytical software into the DNC servers, they soon discovered that two unknown entities had made an unauthorized penetration, and they recognized this as a professional hit using professional tools and software. The CrowdStrike team started a series of analytical tests to discover the methods of entry, to outline the pathways taken within the server, and to determine where the hackers went, what they did, and what data may have been taken.

One entity had implanted itself and monitored the emails and chats of the DNC staff for months, stealing files, emails, voice messages and donors lists with personal information. The second entity, seemingly acting independently, had targeted two very specific files.

CrowdStrike quickly determined that the penetration began in the summer of 2015, initially as an exploratory operation to determine the server’s security settings. This probe would lay the groundwork for the determined and focused 2016 attack, during which there was just enough cover to be deniable but also enough of a trace to leave a “big cyber F-you”.

What seemed unmistakable was that the dissemination of the material was timed to benefit the Republican Party. The extent of this hack was unprecedented and allowed any innocent comment to be spun into a political flamethrower.

In 1972, President Richard Nixon, through his proxies in the White House called “The Plumbers” and in coordination with the Committee to Reelect the President (aka CREEP), sent five men to break into the  offices of the DNC in the Watergate Hotel to plant bugs and steal files. Although Nixon won the election, when the cover-up became bigger than the crime, Nixon became the first president to resign in disgrace in August of 1973.

The 2016 DNC hack, conducted 44 years later almost to the day, was the exact same operation, but using digital intrusion tools rather than burglars with gloves, and the discovery would occur long after the damage was done.

The goal of political espionage is to discover precisely what your enemy knows about you. For the 2016 political season, the most highly prized information would be the opposition files held by the DNC about the Republican Party candidates.

The target of the second entity was precise – it ignored everything but the opposition research folders on Donald J. Trump.

Trump’s Revenge – Erasing Obama’s Presidency

Though Trump denied it, the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, at which he was the target of the harshest roasting – including by president Obama – left Trump visibly unhumored. Trump immediately reacted in his usual retaliatory way by denigrating the comedian who had lashed into him.

The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns wrote, “That evening of public abasement, rather than sending Mr. Trump away, accelerated his ferocious efforts to gain stature within the political world. And it captured the degree to which Mr. Trump’s campaign is driven by a deep yearning sometimes obscured by his bluster and bragging: a desire to be taken seriously.”

Donald Trump entered a large field of GOP primary candidates on June 16, 2015 – with an audience augmented by paid actor “extras”. By the end of July, that field would expand to 17 major Republican candidates.

With a campaign built around hyperbole, personal insults and Orwellian double speak, Trump managed to remain at or near the top of the polls as one by one his competitors dropped out.

As Trump’s lead remained steady approaching Christmas, the outsider candidate received a peculiar endorsement. Out of the blue, Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, made a series of comments that seemed to endorse Trump. Putin said in a press conference, “He is a bright and talented person without any doubt. He is the absolute leader of the presidential race…”

This was a surprise except to those who had noticed Trump’s penchant for admiring strong-men leaders like the Russian aristocrat Putin, Korea’s Kim Il-Sung and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

By spring, the field narrowed to three candidates and Trump became the presumptive nominee when Senator Ted Cruz dropped out on May 3. Ohio Governor Ted Kasich suspended his campaign the next day.

A hallmark of the 2016 campaign was the attempt to damage Hillary Clinton with information related to the private email server located in her home while she served as Obama’s Secretary of State. However, the FBI concluded its investigation by determining that Clinton did not intentionally commit any crimes, had not misled anyone, and would not be indicted. It seemed as if nothing could derail Clinton’s nomination.

Something More Sinister

Late in the primaries, before Trump and Clinton would go to their nominating conventions, the Gawker website published the entire DNC file on Trump. It was rather mundane information, garnered mostly from publicly-available sources. But for the Trump campaign to know what his opponent had on him would be invaluable in defending himself and counter-attacking, and releasing it early in the campaign reduced its effect.

The opposition research file had been compiled by DNC staffer Alexandra Chalupa. In May, Chalupa had emailed the DNC communications director about her contact with Ukrainian journalists in reference to Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s ties to the former pro-Russian Ukrainian president. As soon as she started receiving information on Manafort, Yahoo’s security department warned her that her email was the target of “state-sponsored actors”. These warnings became a daily occurrence, in spite of Chalupa changing her password frequently.

Paul Manafort is a lawyer who led what is known as the “Torturer’s Lobby”, having worked in support of a rogue’s gallery of dictators, strongmen, and autocrats.

Transmitting the Punch

A few weeks after the announcement of the DNC hack, Judge Andrew Napolitano, a contributor to Fox News, announced on The Megan File on May 9, 2016 that he had confidential information that the highest levels of the Kremlin, SVR (Russia’s foreign intelligence service) and Putin’s inner circle were debating whether they should release the 20,000 Clinton emails that they hacked.

It appears that the source of the story was a mythical journalist named Sorcha Faal, widely believed to be a pseudonum for David Booth, who hosts the conspiracy theory website Whatdoesitmean.com. Sorcha Faal’s work from this website is often copied by mainstream Russian media like Russia Insider’s Svobodnaya Pressa (free press) – a core component of the Russian propaganda system – Ren TV and Sputnik News.

Foreign Shenanigans

The NSA knew that the FSB and other agencies were probing around the seams of the election, and likely tipped off the FBI which notified the DNC but without enough detail to reveal the source.

On May 18, 2016, director of national intelligence James Clapper briefed Congress about cyber-attacks and activities that may affect the 2016 election. Clapper noted that the US intelligence community had observed espionage activity in the last two election cycles, but that foreign interest was much higher than in the past.

During the 2008 election, Chinese government hackers penetrated the computers of the Obama and McCain campaigns and made off with numerous policy documents related to China. However, the nature of these hackings resembled traditional intelligence collection operations.

By the last week of August 2016, it would become patently clear that someone had stolen every facet of the Democratic Party system, taken what they pleased and launched an organized campaign to discredit the party in the media. The effect of the hacker’s campaign was to influence a strategic outcome that would help one American political party and indirectly help a foreign actor’s strategic policy against the West. A hack of this magnitude could have been perpetrated only by a determined foe that wanted to foment division in the Democratic Party, a foe with advanced cyber technology to see to it that Donald J. Trump would take advantage of the chaos caused at a critical moment in the process, almost exactly 100 days from the election.

That foe had been waiting patiently for the right opportunity to damage America, and the opportunity came on a golden platter at the Miss Universe Pageant of 2013 in Moscow.

The Spy-Master In Chief

Putin was interested in intelligence since he was a teenager. He studied law at Leningrad State University, where he earned his degree in 1975, and immediately joined the KGB as a junior officer, studying at the 101st Intelligence School and later at the Yuri Andropov Red Banner Institute. His spy craft training included foreign language, surveillance, specialty photography, wiretapping, breaking and entering, small arms assassination, and how to manipulate people to become spies against their own nation. Putin learned the KGB motto: “Once KGB, always KGB.”

From 1985 to 1990, Putin was stationed in East Germany, where he used a computer company as cover to steal computer technology from the West, having turned academics into is moles, for which the KGB awarded Major Putin a Bronze Medal. With the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, Putin had to “sanitize” his office and formally resigned from the KGB in 1991 after a brief stint in the counter-intelligence division.

His political career began as deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, where his job was to liquidate Soviet assets and help create the new class of oligarchs, a position which gave him enormous power and a retinue of wealthy Russians beholden to him. In 1998, Putin became head of the new FSB, and in 1999 Boris Yeltson appointed Putin to be Prime Minister, after which he rose to popularity as an anti-terrorism pit bull, launching a second brutal war on Chechnya that killed more than 50,000 people. When Yeltsin resigned, Putin became President of the Russian Federation.

Putin used terrorist attacks on Russian apartment buildings as his excuse for invading Chechnya, and all those who exposed the fact that FSB agents were responsible for the “false flag” attacks in Russia met with untimely deaths, including the ex-KGB officer Litvenenko, who died of Polonium poisoning.

During his time at the KGB, Putin mastered the age-old spycraft dating back to Tsarist Russia, including the all-important ability to read people – their wants, dreams, likes, dislikes, desires – and get them to betray their own countries.

The Illegals Take Manhattan

The FSB used real estate acquisition as a way to infiltrate American society. In 2010, the US Justice Department arrested 10 Russian “illegals” – deep undercover operatives – in the US. One of them, Anna Chapman, was traded to Russia and, after receiving a hero’s welcome, used social media to support Donald Trump for the 2016 GOP nomination, writing: “Trump will get along with Putin. He approves of the Russian operation in Syria and is surprised why the USA supports Ukraine.” She also mocked Hillary Clinton.

Putin surmises that America and NATO are waning, with the US military stretched thin beyond capacity due to two failed wars costing trillions of dollars. Russia, on the other hand, according to professor Karen Dawisha at Miami University, is not a failing democracy but “an authoritarian system that’s in the process of succeeding”.

In Putin’s desire to damage the United States, he will use all the tools of Russian statecraft – such as forging alliances, blackmail, propaganda and cyberwarfare. To Putin, the best of all possible worlds would be an economically crippled America, withdrawn from military adventurism and NATO, and with leadership friendly to Russia.

Trump’s Agents, Putin’s Assets

Donald Trump has long sought to establish real estate relationships with Russia’s wealthy elite. In 2013, he got his chance when he was invited by one of the richest families in Russia to co-host the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow.

In 1987, long before the pageant, Soviet Ambassador Yuri Dubinin convinced Trump to visit Moscow and St. Petersburg to develop a Trump Tower for Russia. Trump, however, returned home without any project.

Twenty years after Trump’s initial visit, following the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of the Putin-protected oligarchs, Trump’s son Donald visited Moscow in 2008 looking to expand the Trump real estate brand beyond America. Nothing materialized then, either.

But it was Trump’s fame in the Apprentice TV reality show that attracted the attention of the Agalarov family, whose money, lavishness and flattery won Trump over. Aris Agalarov was a billionaire Russian real estate mogul and his son, Emin, was a rich pop singer who got Trump to do a cameo on his music video – even firing him in the end.

In a 2013 interview with the New York Post about his latest Moscow visit, Trump bragged that “almost all the oligarchs were in the room”. Trump negotiated the Miss Universe deal with the support of the Agalarovs.

After being turned away by American banks due to his serial bankruptcies, Trump easily received financing from Russian investors, some with criminal ties. At one point, Trump even turned for help to the Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, an international terrorist.

Trump was dazzled by the glitter and wealth of the new Russian oligarchy and desired the attention of the only oligarch who mattered – Vladimir Putin. Trump tweeted with gleeful anticipation, “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?”

When Trump returned from Moscow, he gave his experience glowing reviews. “Moscow is a very interesting and amazing place! U.S. MUST BE VERY SMART AND VERY STRATEGIC.” In a Fox News interview in 2016, Trump said Putin “has a tremendous popularity in Russia. They love what he’s doing. They love what he represents. And you know what? They want to be friendly with the United States. Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got along with somebody?”

The man Trump so admired was not only the leader of Russia, but a man steeped in the arts of espionage and an expert at manipulation and exploitation. He could do with Trump what he did with the Russian oligarchy – make him or break him with a single sentence of approval or insult. Trump responded with obsequious flattery, and Putin had to have recognized the showman Trump as a target who could be developed into a political asset friendly to Russia.

Putin’s Candidate Development Strategy

The new FSB methods are exactly the same as the old KGB methods, but harness technology to speed up operational timelines. Not only has Putin used human intelligence and espionage to great effect, but he also led the way in using computer information systems technology he was tasked to steal in the 1980s.

The creation of new perceptions through propaganda has always been a mainstay of the Soviet Union, and today’s Russia fully understands the potential of the internet age to mold perceptions and create its own reality.

After the 1950s, the Russians tended to target conservatives for recruitment, rather than leftists, as they were more likely to develop the highest levels of government clearance. They sought out the “filthy rich, cynical, egocentric people who can look into your eyes with an angelic expression and tell you a lie”.

If there were ever a candidate list for recruitment by a hostile intelligence agency, Trump would have been at the head of the class. Trump has repeatedly demonstrated that he cannot keep the truth straight when it comes to claiming prestige and high level associates. Trump’s methodology of denial, deception, misdirection, tacit victim-blaming, and outright fabrication came to permeate every aspect of his campaign. POLITIFACT characterized virtually everything the Trump campaign said in 2015 as “Lie of the Year”. It was bold and audacious to just let lies, innuendo and fabrication be the main thrust of his political campaign, but it was a strategy that the spies of the Kremlin could appreciate. Trump seemed to epitomize the Russian psychological and information warfare’s “active measures” of Deny, Deceive and Defeat.

Manipulate the Subject’s Ego

The FSB maintains the policies and techniques that have worked for more than a century. They will either find a willing asset who voluntarily works with them for personal, financial or ideological reasons – or they will find a suitable candidate and “develop” him or her into a useful asset, whether or not that asset discovers his or her role.

The intelligence officer is trained to observe and home in on the personal or psychological flaw or flaws that make the asset vulnerable. The US government uses a system called MICE: Money, Ideology, Coercion (or Compromise) and Ego (or Excitement).

If personal importance is key to a subject’s identity and wealth and opportunity an inducement, then the oligarchs will be rolled out. Trump may have been unwittingly steered into positions sympathetic to Russia, such that he now feels they are deeply-held beliefs, due to the flattering attentions of wealthy Russians close to Putin’s orbit. The archetype of the potential Western asset is the egocentric narcissist.

Egocentric people who lack moral principles, who are either greedy or suffer from exaggerated self-importance, are the people the FSB want and finds easiest to recruit.

[Tony Schwartz, the ghost writer of Trump’s 1987 autobiography The Art of the Deal, wrote: “Trump stands for many of the things I abhor: his willingness to run over people, the gaudy, tacky, gigantic obsessions, the absolute lack of interest in anything beyond power and money.” He saw Trump as driven by an insatiable hunger for “money, praise, and celebrity”. “He doesn’t have a clear set of guiding principles inside him. He doesn’t have values that he feels compelled to live by.”]

In Trump’s case, his “bromance” with Putin would be built on his desire for the riches of the oligarchs and to be recognized as a man of substance and stature. It would cost Russian nothing to entertain Trump’s desires while furthering their own.

A skilled autocrat like Putin would easily understand how to play and manipulate Donald Trump’s ego. Putin would want Trump to feel as if he is truly qualified to be president (over the opposition of his American bi-partisan detractors who ridicule Trump as not remotely qualified), and use strategic compliments to massage Trump’s easily-bruised ego.

In December 2015, Putin tacitly endorsed Trump, saying “He is a bright and talented person without any doubt. He is the absolute leader of the presidential race…” Such validation on the world stage would explain Trump’s gushing admiration for Russia and Putin. Trump may have felt he received more support from Russian elites than from his own Republican Party (“My friend [Putin] likes me.”).

A group of Russian-backed associates who orbit Trump have become known as “The Kremlin Crew”.  His associates’ many shady connections to the Russian oligarchy and FSB officers add up to the kind of relationships that the FBI counterintelligence division routinely arrested people for during the Cold War – espionage assets.

The Bayrock Group

One of Trump’s most troubling connections is to the Bayrock Group, with which he first aligned to build a hotel in Moscow in 2015. When that project collapsed, he partnered with them to build the Trump SoHo In New York. Bayrock is chaired by Tevfik Arif, originally a Soviet Union commerce apparatchik from Kazakhstan, who introduced Trump to Russian investors. Felix Satter also worked for Bayrock, and has been implicated in the Russian mafia and convicted of stock fraud. Satter made arrangements for Trump to develop projects in Russia and the US.

Trump built his Trump Soho, a 46-story condominium-hotel in New York, by partnering with Bayrock and the Sapir Organization, which was founded by the late Tamir Sapir, an émigré from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, who made his riches in NYC in the 1970s with a wholesale electronics outfit that served Soviet diplomats, KGB agents and Politiburo members. Tamir’s business partner was Rotem Rosen, a former lieutenant of the Soviet-born Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, an oligarch with longstanding ties to Putin.

These relationships came out in court depositions after a group of condominium buyers in Canada sued for fraud and won the return of 90% of their deposits. The property was foreclosed upon and put up for sale in 2014.

Americans in the Pocket

Once Trump took on the presidential campaign, he managed to acquire the most controversial of all the Putin-associated characters: Paul Manafort.

Before becoming Trump’s campaign manager, Manafort was known as the leader of the “Torturer’s Lobby”, representing some of the worst dictators, including Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, Filipino president Ferdinand Marcos, and the brutal Angolan warlord Jonas Savimbi. Manafort had been an advisor to the Trump kingdom since the mid 1980s.

Manafort soon came under scrutiny for his work with Russian-supported former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych in 2010. Manafort worked for Serhiy Lyovochkin, former chief of staff to Yanukovych. Manafort represented Dmytro Fitash, a gas tycoon, who is wanted in the US, and Manafort himself was named as a defendant in a civil racketeering case with Firtash filed by the leader of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution (which deposed Yanukovytch). Manafort was sued in a Cayman Island court over abusing Russian investment money for the largest aluminum company in the world.

On August 14, 2016, The New York Times published a story “Secret Ledger in Ukraine lists cash for Donald Trump’s campaign chief”, which detailed Manafort’s relationship to Viktor Yanukovych, Putin loyalist and deposed president of Ukraine. The hand-written ledgers show payments to Manafort from 2007 to 2012 and the article claimed that Manafort never registered as a “foreign agent” as required by the US Department of Justice. Manafort’s name appears in the ledgers 22 times, showing payments of $12.7 million in cash or untraceable investments over that five-year span.

On August 17, 2016, the London Times revealed that Manafort had been paid by pro-Russian parties in Ukraine to organize anti-NATO protests in Crimea, leading to the withdrawal of forces for a planned NATO exercise. Two years later, Crimea was invaded and seized by Russia.

Carter Page joined Trump’s campaign in March 2016, In July 2016, Page went to Moscow and delivered a series of speeches on establishing a better relationship with Russia. His recommendations included easing of economic sanctions imposed after the invasion of Crimea in 2014.

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are staunch advocates of arming the government of Ukraine in their fight with the Russian separatists and Putin. During the Republican National Convention, the party platform committee proposed language to the effect that Ukraine needed US weapons and NATO support to defend itself. Carter Page used to work in the Merrill Lynch Moscow office and has personal investments in Gazprom, a Russian state oil conglomerate. He told Bloomberg that his investments had been hurt by the sanctions policy against Russia over Ukraine. Page was the Trump campaign’s representative to the party platform committee, and insisted on removing language that would demand the arming of Ukraine. Shortly after Page’s visit to the committee, the platform was modified to do just that, which was the “only major revision the campaign demanded”, according to RNC officials.

Richard Burt, who sits on the board of Alfa-Bank, the largest commercial bank in Russia, joined the Trump campaign at the request of Paul Manafort. Burt also has a role in an investment fund that controls Gazprom, the same company where Carter Page has deep investments. Burt has been a vocal critic of NATO and has written position papers on the future of Russia-Ukraine relations. The Nation speculated that Burt wrote Trump’s April 27, 2016 Russia-friendly speech on foreign policy.

Michael Caputo, who took on the role of Trump’s advisor for the 2016 New York primary, worked for Gazprom Media and has done work under contract to improve Putin’s image.

Trump’s Spy, Putin’s Ally?

General Michael Flynn, retired from the Army and forced out by Obama as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was an advisor to the Donald Trump campaign on matters of national security. Flynn accompanied Trump on his CIA intelligence briefings before the election.

In 2015, Flynn attended a Russia Today (RT) anniversary gala where he sat at the right hand of Vladimir Putin, a position of great honor. Since retiring from the Pentagon, Flynn has become a regular contributor to RT, the state-sponsored and Putin-controlled media outlet, and has expressed a desire to develop a stronger relationship with Russia.

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Flynn bragged about being the only US officer allowed into the headquarters of the Russian Military Intelligence, or GRU.

[In April, 2017, the Congressional Oversight Committee determined that Flynn had “likely” violated US law by failing to disclose foreign income he earned from Russia and Turkey, and failing to request or receive permission for a former military officer to be paid as a foreign agent (RT paid him $45,000, and he was paid more than $500,000 for lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government).]

Putin’s Electoral Strategy

Russia has the things that Trump covets: money, prestige and beautiful and compliant women. Trump’s denigration of NATO and his hands-off policy towards Russian aggression in Ukraine and the former Soviet satellites of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, could have been written by Putin himself.

Beyond the initial flattery and financial offers that would draw Trump into the Russian orbit, Putin would need an operational organization to manage the US election, based on the same information warfare campaigns that degraded Baltic states using the new Russian strategy of Hybrid political warfare – an ever-shifting mélange of media propaganda, cyberwarfare, and military adventurism that could help elect Trump and lead to the breakup of the European Union and NATO. [After the successful US election of Trump, Russia used the same techniques to compromise the leading moderate French presidential candidate in order to enhance the chances for populist anti-globalist Marine Le Pen.]

Putin’s vision would be to use the sycophant Trump as president to subordinate America to the role of junior partner to a rising Russia.

Kompromat

While the US media focused for a while on uncorroborated claims of sexually-compromising tapes of Trump in Moscow, the real Kompromat used in the 2016 US election was the unprecedented selective release (often including false or manufactured information) of hacked Clinton emails at pivotal moments in the election, through the “pass-through” channel of a perhaps unwitting Julian Assange at WikiLeaks.

The Putin strategic Kompromat and Recruit strategy was so clearly an FSB political warfare operation, that US intelligence quickly saw through it and identified its source.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan danced around the DNC hacking operation as they are sworn to secrecy about methods and sources. But former acting Director and former Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morrell, who has served six presidents – three from each party – and has kept his politics to himself throughout his 33-year intelligence career, could no longer keep silent. In August 2016, Morrell wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in which he wrote:

“President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was a career intelligence officer trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them. That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated… In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

Operation Lucky-7: The Kremlin Plan to Elect a President

If Vladimir Putin, the Russian intelligence apparatus, and its underground global hacking wings sought to destabilize the West, break up NATO, and re-establish global order, they would need to lay out a strategic hybrid warfare plan.

Hybrid warfare is the new Russian model to harness the strength of all aspects of Russian intelligence, propaganda, cyber operations, and Kompromat to support battlefield preparations before ordering terrorism, special operations, and full-scale military warfare.

In this case, the FSB would be tasked to plan a cyberspace-based strategic political warfare operation to influence the US election through the theft of emails and materials from the Democratic Party and make selective releases through a third-party surrogate, called a cutout, that does not know or care that the source is the FSB.

Putin, the former director of Russia’s intelligence agency, saw the election of Donald trump as the fastest way to destabilize the United States and damage its economy, as well as to fracture both the European Union and NATO. These events, which start with the election of Trump, would allow Russia to become the strongest of the world’s three superpowers and reorder the globe with a dominant Russia at the helm.

We will code-name the Russian operation as LUCKY-7. Seven is the international calling code for Russia, such an operation would require at least seven phases, the number is a universal symbol of luck and also consistent with the iconography of the seven sacraments in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Such an operation would require a level of organization far greater than any that had been done before anywhere in the world, and include every component of the Russian cyber and intelligence arsenal.

The 2011 treatment of Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents Dinner sent him out in humiliation. A powerful man like Trump, full of himself and possessing an unquenchable thirst for recognition and fortune, would have been recognized by Putin as an asset who could be recruited, groomed and handled. Perhaps the goal had not yet been determined, but was merely to have a powerful, rich American blowhard who could inspire the common man in one’s pocket. Trump was a man who enjoyed being a showman on the wrestling entertainment circle, and who had a wildly popular reality TV show in which he behaved like a Russian oligarch.

A man like this in the White House would be especially useful to Putin, but would take a good deal of care and feeing. Trump would first have to feel at home in Russia and be introduced to Russian oligarchs dangling potentially lucrative offers.

Strategic Objectives

The first objective would be to bring the selected candidate into a position of favor in the American media. Russia’s intelligence apparatus would be put to work gathering embarrassing information on his opponents. Information from other Republicans or Democrats would help LUCKY-7 adjust their strategy and deploy new tactics as necessary.

Objective: Damage Hillary Clinton and Obama; See Her Lose the Election

Putin would want to push Trump to be the vessel to attack their mutual enemies: Hillary Clinton and, by extension, President Obama’s policies. Hillary Clinton would be seen as the greatest threat to Putin’s goals. LUCKY-7 would focus on damaging Clinton’s electoral chances by a full-scale Kompromat campaign. If damaging materials existed, they would be judiciously released. If not, then the forgery masters of the FSB would be able to produce whatever dirt would be necessary.

Objective: Candidate Should Damage NATO Alliance and Push for its Re-Alignment

Every six years, Russia produces a national strategy document to assess and guide its global policy. At the end of 2015, they produced the “National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation until 2020”. The document makes clear that Russia views the United States and NATO as a threat to its global position.

Putin views Russia as a nation that must acquire and maintain a newfound respect from its opponents. His doctrine is to re-establish the Soviet state with modern Russian norms instead of communist doctrine in order to remain a global superpower. Anything that challenges Russian pride and prestige is considered a security threat. And Putin’s Russia believes it has the right to an equivalent of the Monroe Doctrine, with a sphere of influence around its borders.

This became manifest with the 2008 Russian military action in Georgia, and further in 2014 when Putin ignored Obama’s warnings, invaded and annexed Crimea, then backed separatist groups in Ukraine.

The United States, followed by the European Union, announced economic sanctions on Russia, and Putin retaliated by halting agricultural exports to North America, Norway, Australia and the EU.

Trump gave an interview with the New York Times in which he remarked that he saw a major change of the 70-year-old NATO alliance, suggesting he would consider a member nation’s financial commitment before coming to their aid – an extortion policy that must have pleased Putin greatly.

LUCKY-7 Organizational Structure

The overall command of the LUCKY-7 Information Warfare Management Cell (IWMC) would have subordinate officers in the Special Communications and Information Service of Russia (SCISR), Russia’s version of the NSA, to ensure fusion of the HUMINT and CYBER elements of the operation. For the FSB (Russian internal security, formerly KGB), there would be a senior manager to oversee the SVR (foreign intelligence agency) contribution. An FSB-SCISR cyberwarfare officer would manage the SVR’s FANCY BEARS cyber hacking team, and a second officer would control the GRU (military intelligence agency) COZY BEARS cyber commandoes as an alternative, sometimes parallel, collections team. A third cyberwarfare officer form the Scientific & Technology directorate would be the operations manager to run a black propaganda support team. When necessary, a fourth liaison officer could task and collect from the Russian mafia-run CRIMINAL BEARS. At the Kremlin level, all liaison with state media and statements by the president himself would be handled by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

To advise president Putin on the opportunities to manage the candidate, the SVR’s political activities branch would assign perhaps three or four of the best field officers in the SVR and GRU, who would be isolated at the IWMC. Those officers would need to be fluent in American English with experience working with “illegals” – deep cover covert operations officers serving in the United States.

Phases of Operation LUCKY-7

There would be little risk running even such a complex and full-spectrum operation, with a candidate as pliable as Trump whose foreign policy/intelligence advisor (Gen. Michael Flynn) was already on the Kremlin payroll of Russia Today.

Phase 1: Make contact, befriend and encourage the asset.

Phase 2: Make asset feel indebted to Russia.

Phase 3: Conduct covert cyber-intelligence preparation of the battle space.

Phase 4: Prepare the political battle space.

Phase 5: Develop and sustain supporting propaganda.

Phase 6: Fund and manipulate a cutout asset to disperse Kompromat information.

Phase 7: Execute Kompromat operations.

Trump and his surrogates have helped the Kremlin by making exclamations that Putin doesn’t respect Obama and that Russia doesn’t like “crooked” Hillary because she helped spark political protests in Russia in 2011 and 2013, and by convincing previously anti-Russian Americans that Putin is an ally in the war against ISIS.

This would require master planning if it had been conducted by spies, but it was executed by a carnival barker and TV reality show star. To his followers, Trump successfully spun the line that “Putin respects me and would work with me, but won’t work with Hillary”.

Launching the CYBER BEARS

The FSB CYBER BEARS strategy was to steal critical political intelligence data from all wings of the Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the Hillary Clinton Campaign, and donors and supporters.

Winning battles in cyberspace is a matter of influencing the global perception through output of “opinions” and “voices” to “trend” a perception that the producer wishes. The goal of the CYBER BEAR operation was to collect and disseminate enough damaging information on Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party as to damage them in the minds of the American people.

To disseminate this intelligence dirt, a cutout would be found with its own “legend” – espionage terminology for a false backstory to protect the identities of the case officers. The cyberspies decided to create their own legend and to honor a hacker who was already well known: Guccifer.

The original Guccifer was the Romanian eccentric Marcel Lehel Lazar, who was arrested and extradited from Romania to the US after breaking into dozens of emails that belonged to such Americans as George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Colin Powell, and Sidney Blumenthal, a long-time friend of Hillary Clinton (he also claimed to have hacked the private server of Hillary Clinton, but that may be a hollow boast).

Since this was to be a new incarnation of the Guccifer legend, it would be named Guccifer 2.0.

Battles of the CYBER BEARS

In late July 2016, after news of the DNC hacks hit the headlines, two groups came to the center of attention after nearly a decade of engaging in attacks on the perceived adversaries of the Russian government.

The two groups carried the names given to them by the cyber security firm CrowdStrike: “FANCY BEAR” and “COZY BEAR”. These cryptonyms were assigned to hacking agents under the term “Advanced Persistent Threats” or APTs. APTs are often associated with nation-state actors because of the level of sophistication and resources needed to conduct persistent attacks on a given target. The weapon of choice for APTs is malware – malicious software that can be inserted into a target’s computer.

CYBER BEARS is the generic term used to describe a conglomeration of several Russian intelligence agencies, nationalist militias, criminal contractor cyberwarfare units, and the malware weapons these groups use in cyberwarfare.

CYBER BEARS have conducted numerous hacking and black political propaganda operations in states that came into conflict with Russia, including Estonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Krygyzstan, Crimea and Ukraine. COZY BEAR, FANCY BEAR and VENOMOUS BEAR are specific cyber infection threats that have been traced to Russian intelligence, whereas CRIMINAL BEAR is the collective name for all Russian criminal hackers, and Militia Bears are pro-Russian nationalist hackers who pile onto Russian intelligence attacks that become public.

Whether it was retaliation in Lithuania or Estonia, data blinding operations in Georgia, or flipping the switches in power plants in Ukraine, CYBER BEARS attacks leave plenty of marks and footprints for cyber security companies and intelligence agencies to examine. These footprints are also associated with thousands of attempted penetrations of US defense and industry computers as well as cyber theft and internet fraud operations.

APTS are not so much groups of people as a description of the malware toolkits used by hackers. By examining malware samples and correlating the metadata (the background information embedded in code), the source of the attack can typically be ascertained. In most tool kits attributed to Russian hacking groups, for instance, the timecodes on their digital metadata occur in one of the two Eastern hemisphere time zones of UTC+3 and UTC+4, indicating Eastern Europe and/or Western Russia.

APTs work by using a combination of code, social engineering (asking innocent questions to get secrets) and common human errors to achieve their goals. They are capable of adapting, often on the fly, to the most up-to-date security systems.

Hackers often uncover and exploit Zero Day vulnerabilities in code, which remain undetected until activated, giving the target zero days to correct the weakness. And they often engineer their malware for a specific code target. The DNC was using a computer system created by NGP VAN, a specialist computer company that helps progressive non-profits. Malware found in their system used custom coding components specific to that software environment.

Metadata patterns, such as the operating system, IP ranges, domain names for “waterhole” attacks that spoof the user into clicking on an infected site, are all clues to the identity of the hacker.

From Mechanical Hacks to Cyber Theft

In the height of the Cold War, Russia learned to make the leap from manual intercept of printed material to the computer age well before the internet existed. From 1978 to 1984, the KGB carried out an audacious electronic surveillance operation that preceded the CYBER BEARS antics. They inserted key-logging receptors into the frames of intercepted IBM Selectric typewriters en route to the American Embassy in Moscow that would transmit the signals via a short-distance radio signal.

During the days when Putin was just taking the reins from the former KGB under the leadership of Boris Yeltsin, the NSA and Department of Defense Information Operations Response Cell noted a series of sophisticated computer penetrations of research university servers, stealing sensitive information. The hack was traced to Russia after decrypts discovered the use of a Cyrillic, Russian language, keyboard. The classified materials about obscure scientific programs followed Russian participation at US conferences in which such material was mentioned. The Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow would submit hack requests to the KGB, which resulted in the acquisition of 5.5GB of classified materials.

The Russians also targeted European sources and by 2016 showed a strong proficiency in destroying enemies with cyber strikes.

FANCY BEAR (APT28)

Security authorities first discovered this APT in 2007. Their attacks have included a range of Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, Georgie, Poland, south to Pakistan, and west to the United States and France. They have been linked to the FSB and even tied to attacks on the Russian all-girl band Pussy Riot.

Such hackers often use “typosquatting” websites – false websites installed on the actual location of a known website or in a URL nearly identical (a typo away) from a known website. Many typosquatters use “Watering Holes” – decoy websites that are loaded with malware and used to lure targets through “spear-phishing” emails that are sufficiently relevant to the target to get them to click. Hackers may even purchase an SSL certificate (secure connection) to fool their victims.

FANCY BEAR was able to target Academi, the infamous mercenary company formerly known as Blackwater.

COZY BEAR (APT29)

Like its companion Russian hacker groups, APT29 has its own distinct tool set and methods of attack. in operation since 2008, its previous targets included the US State Department, US Pentagon Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the White House. One of its characteristic toolsets even uses stegannography (encrypted data or messages within a photograph). They usually gain access to computers through spear-phishing.

COZY BEAR was active in Chechnya between 2008 and 2015, while other targets have been Ukraine and the United States.

VENOMOUS BEAR was identified by CrowdStrike in a notorious attack on the US Central Command (US military control for the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, most notably Afghanistan and Iraq) in 2008 – the “worst breach of US military computers in history” – and it eliminated the military’s use of USB sticks (thumb drives).

According to CrowdStrike’s Global Threat Report, VENOMOUS BEAR has been targeting government agencies, NGOs, energy firms, tech firms, and educational organizations.

Attacks of the CYBER BEARS

In 2007, when former Soviet republic Estonia broke away from Russia, declared its 320,000 ethnic Russians to be “foreign”, and decided to remove a bronze military monument to Russian solders lost in WWII, the Russian CYBER BEARS returned one of the most internet-wired countries on earth back to the internet dark ages.

In 2008, when Georgian and Russian-backed break-away South Ossetia forces clashed, in a classic example of hybrid warfare the Georgian president and all government agencies suffered a denial-of-service (DoS) attack by botnets (waves of self-replicating cyber agents) while pro-Russian messages flooded the cyberspace. Russia’s use of patriot hackers  recruited through social media set the pattern for future “hands-off” cyber operations.

In 2008, Lithuania passes a series of amendments aimed at prohibiting the display of symbols of both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. More than 300 websites suffered both vandalism and DoS attacks. Hackers defaced the websites with anti-Lithuanian messages and the Soviet hammer and sickle.

In 2009, after a wave of cyber attacks on Kyrgystan, essentially knocking out the internet and email for the country, the country’s president announced it would be closing the Manas Air Force base that had been used by the United States as a logistics center for the war in Afghanistan, and the nation received a multi-million dollar aid package from Russia.

In 2015, a spear-phishing campaign aimed at system administrators of the Ukrainian power system managed to take control of the grid and shut down thirty electrical substations and then unleashed an eraser program to wipe out hard drive data and force a system shutdown. At the same time, a telephone DoS attack rendered the nation’s phone system incapable of functioning so citizens could not notify the power company of outages.

In 2014, a false-flag cyber attack on the Warsaw Stock Exchange credited the Cyber Caliphate, a hacker group with allegiance to ISIS, in retaliation for the Polish bombing of the Islamic State. Initially accepted as an Islamist attack, the invasion was later traced to Russia.

Similarly, and earlier in 2014, the French TV channel TV5 Monde experienced a system penetration that crashed their server in “a synchronized manner” with messages left behind of “Jew Suis ISIS”. However, the fake Cyber Caliphate website (with faulty Arabic) was in a server with an IP address that belonged to APT28, in another false flag attack.

Other targets of APT28 included the German Bundestag (legislature), the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which had recommended banning the entire Russian Olympic team from the 2016 games.

Internet Hoaxes

In late 2014, several hoaxes spread on social media and caused panic in the United States, including a supposed Louisiana chemical plant explosion, an Ebola outbreak, and a police shooting of an unarmed black woman in Atlanta. Residents in Louisiana received frantic text messages, fake CNN screenshots went viral and clone news sites appeared. In each case, a Russian group knows as the Internet Research Agency concocted the elaborate hoaxes.

To carry out these false news implants, Russia employed “troll farms” which “industrialized the art of trolling”, and seemed to be associated with Putin business associate who is called the “the Kremlin’s chef”. The purpose seems to have been “to kind of pollute the Internet, to make it an unreliable source for people”.

It was discovered that the same Russian agency had begun a project to flood social media and the comments sections of popular American websites such as Politico, Huffington Post and Fox News, with themes such as “American Dream” and “I love Russia”. After the Ukraine crisis began, followed by Russian annexation of Crimea, there was an increase in pro-Kremlin internet activity to “encourage dissent in American at the same time as stifling it at home”.  Documents show that the trolls were expected to comment on news articles fifty times, tweet fifty times from ten accounts, and post three times on six Facebook accounts.

After WikiLeaks released the DNC emails in July 2016, many of these trolls began to promote right-wing news outlets, protraying themselves as conservative voters who were fans of Donald Trump.

WikiLeaks: Russia’s Intelligence Laundramat

For Putin’s LUCKY-7 Operation to be successful, the CYBER BEARS would need a dissemination platform once the information had been recovered. The hacking teams would store the main flow of data, and assess the data for the most damaging files. FSB Kompromat disinformation campaigns rely on the theft of politically explosive data, then secretly leak it out to the global news media through a third party in order to protect the actual source. The third party is known in intelligence parlance as a “cutout”.

To meet the Kremlin goals, this would require control of the data release scheduling, constant monitoring of the political landscape, and analysis of the contents of the documents so that the most damning could be released.

Emails of immediate value could be released to the public via a trusted coutout. Files that could harm Trump, such as the opposition research file, would be made public early to dilute their power and allow him to respond or adjust his strategy.

The cutout for these operations would be a globally known person whose organization’s mission is to daylight secret documents. The FSB chose Julian Assange, a British citizen who is a vocal and vehement enemy of Hillary Clinton and founder of the online organization WikiLeaks. Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006 to develop “an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis”.

Born in Australia in 1971, Assange had inconsistent homeschooling during a childhood marked by constantly being on the move. His family moved 37 times by his fourteenth birthday. By the time he was a teenager, Assange developed an interest in computers and, after discovering the world of hacking, established a reputatoin as a sophisticated programmer who would break into secure networks, including the US Department of Defense.

In 1991, Assange was under arrest and charged with 31 counts of hacking and related charges stemming from his infiltration of telecommunications company Nortel. He pled guilty to 25 charges and a judge ordered him to pay a small sum, citing his “intelligence inquisitiveness”.

It wasn’t until 2010, however, that WikiLeaks entered the mainstream consciousness when the site released the video dubbed “Collateral Murder”, showing US military helicopters opening fire in Baghdad, killing at least a dozen people, including two Reuters journalists.

WikiLeaks then began publishing an unprecedented number of classified documents relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and later the Guantanamo files, leaked by Army private Bradley Manning. Assange further drew fire from US officials after the relase of approximately 250,000 diplomatic cables in late 2010, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called “an attack against the international community”. Putin criticised the US response with a Russian folk saying the equivalent of “the pot calling the kettle black”.

WikiLeaks worked with a number of US media organizations, including the New York Times, whose editor refused to call Assange a journalist and suggested that “he was a man who clearly had his own agenda”.

Assange seemed to shift from his original commitment to “scientific journalism” to being a justice warrior: to expose injustice, not to provide an even-handed record of events”. Christopher Hitchens (author, social critic and journalist) described Assange as “a micro-megalomaniac with few if any scruples and an undisguised agenda”. Even the Sunlight Foundation described Assange as “in service of some specific goal, of retribution”.

After Assange was accused of rape by two Swedish women in 2010 and the British Supreme Court ruled in support of his extradition to Sweden, Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy in London, where he continues to live in effective house arrest.

When Julian Assange was allowed to host his own 12-episode show, from within the Ecuadoran embassy, on the Kremlin-controlled Russia Today TV network in 2012, it became increasingly evident that he was in the pocket of Putin. A Guardian journalist called Assange a “useful idiot” (polezni durak in Russian) – a term of art for an unwitting tool of the former Soviet state.

A year and a half earlier, Assange had vowed that WikiLeaks would expose the secrets not just of the United States, but of all repressive regimes, including that of Russia. Unlike the Americans, however, the Russians put WikiLeaks on notice. An official of the FSB anonymously told an independent Russian website: “It’s essential to remember that given the will and the relevant orders, WikiLeaks can be made inaccessible forever.”

A few days after Assange was arrested on sexual assault charges, Kremlin officials emerged as his most vocal defender, and the Moscow Trimes reported that Putin himself had condemned the arrest. At no time has WikiLeaks released any intelligence on Russia. And Assange was the one who encouraged NSA whistleblower Edward Snoden to seek asylum in Russia, even though he preferred Latin America.

Assange has made no secret of his visceral dislike for Hillary Clinton. In an article published on WikiLeaks in 2016 titled “A Vote Today for Hillary Clinton Is a Vote for Endless, Stupid War”, Assange wrote that Clinton “certainly should not become president of the United States”. He claimed that her “poor policy decisions have directly contributed to the rise of ISIS”, and that “she’s a war hawk with bad judgement who gets an unseemly emotional rush out of killing people”. Assange also believed that Clinton had pushed for his indictment over the release of the diplomatic cables, and he told Fox News’ Megan Kelley that he had lots more Hillary documents, associated with the electoral campaign.

The timing of the WikiLeaks Clinton email release just before the start of the Democratic Party Convention indicated that LUCKY-7 had successfully nurtured its cutout with its false-flag source named Guccifer 2.0. Assange, much like Trump, was desperate to be relevant on the world stage, and the FSB Information Warfare Management Cell exploited his own hatreds and personal agenda to skillfully manipulate the “useful idiot” while feeding him a steady diet of attack intelligence.

WikiLeaks is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the FSB and essentially the cyber equivalent of a laundromat, a Russian laundry – ready to clean and give a white appearance to the dirt.

When CYBER BEARS Attack

At some point in the fall of 2015, the National Security Agency and the FBI cyber division had indications of unusual activity related to Democratic National Committee servers. The signatures of the attempted intrusions were familiar.

Though the DNC staff did not receive warnings about specific activity, they should have been well aware of previous political exploits. The DNC took what precautions they thought were appropriate for the level of risk. In October 2015, InfoSec Institute, an information security training center, performed defensive “white hat” hacks of the DNC system to test the perimeter of the network’s security walls and reveal the holes in the security system.

The hacks revealed the DNC servers had massive security flaws, setting themselves up for a hack the exact same way the Obama and McCain campaigns were exploited by the Chinese in 2008. But the sum efforts at remediation were like a small rainstorm that allowed the CYBER BEARS to dance between the raindrops.

In April 2016, DNC chief executive officer Amy Dacey contacted the DNC lawyer after the IT department noticed strange behavior on their system. The lawyer contacted CrowdStrike cyber security, which found that the DNC computers had been breached and that data on contributors, opposition research and even the day-to-day inter-office chats and email had been stolen. The whole system had been professionally compromised.

CrowdStrike assessed that COZY BEAR had breached the system in 2015 and had been engaged in gathering data for a year, after using spear-phishing techniques leading to a watering hole web site that inserted a malware kit which disseminated widely throughout the DNC servers.

They then found that a second group, FANCY BEAR, had breached the server in April 2016, using a module that enabled it to send remote commands, record every keystroke, and transfer files via their command-and-control (C2) server. A second “tunnel” was installed to allow the extraction of passwords and create a separate encrypted private server.

Several cyber security firms unanimously found that the metadata tied this hack to APT28 and previous breaches of the German Bundestag, the DNC and the DCCC. They also found that the time stamp was the Russia zone, and the operating system used to develop the malware was set to Cyrillic, Russian language text. The IPs and C2 server also were linked to previous APT29 attacks.

CrowdStrike was impressed with the OpSec (operational security) used to evade detection, calling it “superb”, a clear indication of professional intelligence agency involvement. The hackers frequently cleared out the logs that would reveal their activities and reset the timestamp of files so that it appeared that they were never opened. Interestingly, the experts found no evidence of collaboration between the two actors, or even awareness of each other’s activities. This is not unusual, as the primary Russian domestic and foreign intelligence agencies – the FSB and SVR – have a competitive and even adversarial relationship.

By May 2018, director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said there were “indications” of attempted cyber attacks in the 2016 presidential campaign, without offering any specifics.

On June 15, 2016, a WordPress blog page appeared with links to the stolen DNC documents, posted by Guccifer 2.0, who claimed to be a Romanian lone wolf. But Lorenzo Frenceschi-Bicchierai, a staff writer at VICE Motherboard who covers hacking and information security wrote: “Considering the long trail of breadcrumbs leading back to Russia left by the hacker, as well as circumstantial evidence, it appears more likely that Guccifer 2.0 is nothing but a disinformation or deception campaign by Russian state-sponsored hackers to cover up their own hack – and a hasty and sloppy one at that.”

Frenceschi-Bicchierai, who actually chatted with Gucifer 2.0, pointed to the blogger’s use of certain characters that are popular in Russia, revealing metadata, and his seemingly poor use of the Romanian language.

CrowdStrike also issued an update to its original post, reiterating its conclusions and noting that “these claims do nothing to lessen our findings relating to the Russian government’s involvement, portions of which we have documented for the public and the greater security community.

Fomenting Civil War Among Democrats

On July 22, 2016, a few days before the opening of the Democratic National Convention, WikiLeaks published 19,252 emails alleged to be from the DNC hack. Operation LUCKY-7 was now fully underway.

The emails were mostly mundane, but some did feed the suspicions of most of the hardcore Bernie Sanders supporters that the Democratic presidential nomination was engineered and stolen. They revealed that DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz had been strongly favoring Hillary Clinton throughout the primary process.

Team Trump saw the opportunity and piled on in a series of tweets that tried to drive a wedge between the Clinton and Sanders camps. On July 23, Trump tweeted: “The WikiLeaks email release today was so bad to Sanders that it will make it impossible for him to support her, unless he is a fraud!” Julian Assange immediately replied to the Trump tweet and linked to the DNC cache so his followers would find it, with a cheery “everyone can see for themselves”.

The storm of outrage among Sanders supporters exploded on the starting day of the Democratic National Convention, and led to a massive split that drove his voters away from not only Clinton but the Democratic Party. To attempt to assuage the crisis, Wasserman-Schultz announced her resignation, and a stony-faced Sanders ended up unenthusiastically endorsing Clinton.

Around the same time, Assange, with the help of Russia Today, suggested that a DNC staffer who had been murdered in July might have been the informant who released the emails, and later offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case. Assange had deliberately incited an unfounded conspiracy theory which pointed toward Hillary Clinton.

Unbenownst to the hapless Assange, the CYBER BEARS had infected the WikiLeaks email dump with malware that followed anyone who downloaded the files.

The Trump Team’s Hand

The entire pathway of Kompromat, from surveillance, planning and hacking, to establishing a legend in Guccifer 2.0 and gaining international credibility by channeling the release through WikiLeaks was happening within planning parameters and with only minor hitches. Even the international media was buying into the belief that it was absolutely unimportant how the information from the hacks was acquired but that the content was critical.

So long as the CYBER BEARS could infuse doubt as to their participation, three was little chance for repercussion. But that plan was suddenly spoiled.

Speaking to an American press conference on July 27, 2016, when asked about the subject of hacking, Trump brought up the private Hillary Clinton emails deleted from her server when she was Secretary of State. He blurted out: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing… I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Almost immediately, a media storm shook the campaitgn and people wondered aloud whether Trump was actually in league with the Kremlin. Given Napolitano’s allegations about the internal Kremlin debate about releasing Clinton emails, the question was raised about Trump having advanced knowledge of Kremlin activities.

In another strange twist, Trump ally Roger Stone would alter claim to be in direct communication with the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and suggesting there would be an “October surprise” release of data.

The Kremlin could no longer express shock and surprise after Trump publicly asked them to do what they had been doing since 2015. All that could be done for LUCKY-7 was to keep up the flow of email releases in the hope that Trump does not damage or discredit the hacks any further.

Trump’s careless request was the first time in US history that a presidential candidate had openly asked an adversarial foreign power to meddle in the democratic process for his benefit. The US intelligence community could not help but wonder whether there was a link between the Trump campaign and the Russian operatives.

The DCCC and ActBlue Hacks

The day after Trump begged Russia to hack America, the CYBER BEARS complied. On July 28, 2016, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced that it was attacked by the CYBER BEARS. This hack used typosquatting, a fake clone website and spear-phishing techniques to gain entry. The hackers managed to steal much more personal data about donors and supporters than they had from the DNC, including personal addresses and credit card numbers.

The hack seemed to be intended to cast doubt on financial security and reduce donations to the Democratic Party. The news of the hack was released on the eve of Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech.

ActBlue is the official secure fundraising site for the Democrats, but donors ended up at a clone site watering hole complete with a malware package to steal their data. Cyber security companies ThreatConnect and Fidelis concluded that the IP and Gmail addresses were associated with the DNC hack and the same C2 server used by the CYBER BEARS.

Shortly after, credit was claimed by Guccifer 2.0 who, on August 12, 2016, released a trove of internal emails from the DCCC, inluding one that advised how to handle the Black Lives Matter campaign. Twitter suspended the Guccifer 2.0 account, but WordPress merely scrubbed the DCCC data from Guccifer’s blog page and reminded him of the Terms of Service prohibition against publishing others’ private information.

Clinton Campaign Hack

Trump’s wish for Russia to get more data continued to be realized. On July 29, 2016, a Clinton campaign spokesman announced that their computer system was under review by outside cyber security experts. The CYBER BEARS had hacked the Clinton campaign servers but their access was limited to voter analyses. SecureWorks determined that the hack was linked to APT28 COZY BEAR.

The Russian IWMC began to pay close attention to the Trump campaign and selectively release DCCC documents relating to the swing states each time Trump needed a boost in the polls. More evidence of syncronicity was revealed on the same day that Trump visited Mexico and then lit a barn burner of a speech on immigration. That night, Guccifer 2.0 released “DCCC docs from Pelosi’s PC” with discussions on immigration and Black Lives Matter.

New York Times editorial writer Charles Blow wrote an article suggesting that if you support Trump you support racism. Within days the CYBER BEARS hacked the New York Times in what appeared to be an attempt to gain information to discredit Blow. What it did reveal is that anyone who publicly goes against Trump is subject to attack.

The Intelligence Professionals Weigh In

Numerous intelligence officials and government and cyber security experts alike expressed overwhelming agreement the CYBER BEARS paw prints were all over the hacks. The US Department of Justice was investigating the attacks as threats to US national security. The FBI also announced it was investigating the case. CIA director John O. Brennan said that interference in US elections had to be treated with “great seriousness”.

Yahoo! News reported on August 15, 2016 that state polling systems had been hacked by foreign agencies, and the FBI sent out a flash alert that state polling systems had potentially been hacked by Russian state-sponsored hackers, aimed at disrupting the November elections. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson held a conference call with state elected officials to offer his department’s services.

Three days later, the FBI relased a memo titled “Targeting Activity Against State Board of Election Systems”, and revealed that they are investigating two such attacks that resulted in stolen voter registration data. In Illinois, state officials were forced to shut down the state’s voter registration system for ten days in late July. A similar attack in Arizona was less successful. Links were found to the cyber attack on the World Anti-Doping Agency and to the CYBER BEARS.

The CYBER BEARS, working in the guise of Guccifer 2.0, publicly gave Trump and Clinton detractors illegally obtained opposition research without it being connected directly to Trump. As former FBI agent and security specialist Ali Soufan noted on Twitter: “the nature of breaches appears to be changing from covert info collection to overt and weaponized use of that info”.

Cyberwar to Defend Democracy

The 2016 election cycle in the United States will be noteworthy for more than just the bombastic rhetoric, the illogic, the lies, and the almost religious fervor of the electorate. The most important part of this election could easily  be lost in the short-term memory of the American people, mainly because of the simplistic way our media makes us forget what is truly important.

The simple fact is that the United States was attacked by Russian cyber commandos deployed by Vladimir Putin and organized by his intelligence apparatus, the FSB and GRU. It was a serious act of political warfare.

The 2016 cyber attack was not just another case of simple Kompromat – meddling in the political affairs of a satellite nation or an individual dissenter. It was a direct attempt to hijack and derail traditional processes and norms that held the United States together for more than 240 years. The attempt was even more brazen due to the apparent belief of Putin that he and his oligarchy could charm, groom and select a candidate, then – with the right amount of cyber crime and enough organized propaganda – could actually choose a president of the United States who would do their bidding.

On September 8, 2016, both Trump and Pence gushed over the strength of the Russian leader compared to the sitting US president. By publicly choosing a known, dangerous and proven autocratic adversary who has murdered opponents, killed his own citizens, conducted acts of terrorism and invaded and seized other nations in violation of global norms, Trump and Pence chose Russia’s values over America’s.

It has been suggested that this election would spell the rise of fascism and the end of the two-century-long run of American democratic governance. It may be worse than that. The deliberate subversion of America’s interests to those of a hostile adversary has never before been suggested aloud in polite company in the history of this nation.

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Timeline

 

2013

June 18: Trump tweets “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?”

2015

June 16: Donald Trump entered a large field of GOP primary candidates.

Summer: Russian GRU COZY BEAR breached the DNC system.

Fall: NSA and FBI had indications of unusual activity on DNC servers.

September: FBI agent informs a tech-support contractor at the DNC that it may have been hacked.

October: InfoSec Institute found major security holes in the DNC computer system.

December 17: Putin tacitly endorsed Trump as “the absolute leader of the presidential race”.

December 19: Flynn sat at the right hand of Vladimir Putin at RT anniversary gala.

2016

February 17: Trump says “Putin called me a genius” and repeats it three more times at events.

March 28: Trump hires Paul Manafort, former advisor to pro-Putin Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

March and April: Second hack of DCN system began.

April: DNC hired CrowdStrike cyber security firm.

April 27: Trump delivers his first major foreign policy address in Washington, calling for better relations with Russia.

May 9: Judge Napolitano announced on Fox News that the fake story that the Kremlin was debating releasing Clinton’s missing emails.

May 18: DNI James Clapper briefed Congress about cyber-attacks on the 2016 election.

June 12: Julian Assange stated that he hoped that the publication of the emails would “harm Hillary Clinton’s chances to win the presidency” and that he had timed the release to coincide with the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

June 14: DNC announces it has been the victim of an attack by Russian hackers.

June 15: Guccifer 2.0 and Gawker post the entire DNC Trump opposition research file – Trump accuses the DNC of orchestrating the leak.

July 7: Carter Page, in a speech in Moscow, criticized the United States for “their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change.”

Week of July 18: Three Trump national security advisers – Page, J.D. Gordon and Walid Phares – meet with Russian Ambassador Kislyak, telling him they hoped to see improved relations with Russia.

July 20: Sen. Jeff Sessions, an early Trump endorser who led his national security advisory committee and future Attorney General, met with Ambassador Kislyak at a Republican National Convention event.

June 21: Guccifer 2.0 posts documents stolen from the DNC on Clinton’s vulnerabilities.

July 22: Guccifer 2.0 claimed on his blog site to have acted alone in hacking the DNC and to have sent significant amounts of stolen DNC documents to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks published 19,252 emails from the DNC hack. [However, cybersecurity experts and firms, including CrowdStrike, Fidelis Cybersecurity, Mandiant, SecureWorks, ThreatConnect, and the editor for Ars Technica, have rejected the claims of Guccifer 2.0 and have determined, on the basis of substantial evidence, that the cyberattacks were committed by two Russian state-sponsored groups.]

July 25: FBI announced it would investigate the DNC hack.

July 26: Intelligence officials informed the White House that they have “high confidence” that Russia was behind the DNC hacks.

July 27: Trump called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails from the private server she used as secretary of state.

August 5: Former CIA director Morrell wrote that Putin “had recruited Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation”.

August 8: Trump ally Roger Stone told Florida Republicans that he has “communicated with Assange” and “I believe the next tranche of his documents pertain to the Clinton Foundation but there’s no telling what the October surprise may be.”

August 12: ThreatConnect announced that DC Leaks appears to be linked to Russian intelligence services, and the stolen documents they published mostly targeted Democrats, but also had emails stolen from campaign staffers for noted Russia hawks GOP Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

August 14: New York Times revealed Ukrainian payments to Manafort of $12.7 million.

August 17: London Times revealed that Manafort had been paid to organize anti-NATO protests in Crimea, leading to the withdrawal of forces for a planned NATO exercise and the eventual Russian invasion.

August 17: Trump receives his first classified intelligence briefing about “direct links” between the Russian government and the email hacks, and he names Kellyanne Conway as his campaign manager and Steve Bannon as campaign chief executive in a move that appears to push Manafort to the background.

August 19: Manafort resigns.

August 21: Long-time Trump friend and confidant Roger Stone writes on Twitter: “Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary”

September 23: Intelligence community assessment was delivered to Obama.

September 26: Foreign policy adviser Carter Page steps down from the Trump campaign.

October 3: Stone writes on Twitter: “I have total confidence that @wikileaks and my hero Julian Assange will educate the American people soon #LockHerUp”

October 4: Julian Assange announced that WikiLeaks will publish new information on the presidential election “every week for the next 10 weeks”.

October 7: WikiLeaks dumped a trove of emails hacked from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s personal email account,  just hours after a tape emerged in which Trump bragged about groping women’s genitals.

October 7: In a joint statement, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence stated that the US intelligence community is confident that the Russian government directed the breaches and the releases of the material in an attempt to “interfere with the US election process”.

October 9: Trump cited WikiLeaks in the second presidential debate to accuse the DNC of rigging the Democratic primary against Sen. Bernie Sanders.

October 10: “I love WikiLeaks,” Trump says at a Pennsylvania rally.

October 11: Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta warned there may be a tie between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks.

October 12: Stone claims he has “back-channel communication” with Assange.

October 14: Obama ordered the CIA to present him with options for a retaliatory cyber attack against the Russian Federation.

October 19: At the third and final presidential debate, Clinton commented that Putin backed Trump because he “would rather have a puppet as president of the United States”. “No puppet, no puppet, you’re the puppet,” Trump responded. “It’s pretty clear you won’t admit that the Russians have engaged in cyberattacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people, that you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do, and that you continue to get help from him because he has a very clear favorite in this race,” Clinton replied.

November 8: Trump is elected President of the United States, surprising all the pollsters and pundits.

November 9: The Russian parliament burst into applause at news of Trump’s victory.

November 10: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov tells Interfax news agency that there “were contacts” between the Russian government and the Trump campaign during the election. “It never happened,” Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the AP. “There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”

November 18: Trump named Michael Flynn as his national security adviser.

December: Flynn and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner met with Kislyak at Trump Tower.

Dec. 4: Putin praises Trump again: “Because he achieved success in business, it suggests that he is a clever man.”

December 8: Former Trump adviser Carter Page appeared in Moscow.

December 9: CIA told US legislators that the Intelligence Community concluded Russia conducted operations during the 2016 election to prevent Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency. They also concluded that Russia hacked the Republican National Committee but chose not to leak their information.

December 26: Oleg Erovinkin, former KGB official who was suspected assisting former British spy Christopher Steele in compiling a dossier alleging Trump ties to Russia, is found dead in the back seat of his car in Moscow.

December 29: Obama ordered the ejection of 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives from the country and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence services as retaliation for the election-interference campaign.

December 29: Flynn had a series of phone calls with Kislyak, and would later acknowledge that it was possible they discussed the newly imposed sanctions.

December 30: Putin announced he will not retaliate against the US expulsions, even though his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, had recommended Russia respond with similar expulsions. Trump tweets: “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!”

2017

January 6: The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released an unclassified report expressing the conclusion of the CIA, FBI and NSA about Russian election interference: “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.” The report concludes that DC Leaks, Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks all obtained the hacked documents via Russian government-backed hackers. That same day, Clapper, FBI director James Comey and CIA director John Brennan brief Trump at Trump Tower on the intelligence community’s findings. Trump tells The New York Times the Russia controversy is a “political witch hunt” and says that the hacks had “absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election”.

January 10: CNN reported that both Trump and Obama had been briefed on claims that Russia possessed compromising personal and financial information about Trump based on “memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative, whose past work US intelligence officials consider credible.” Soon after, BuzzFeed published the complete Steele dossier on Trump

January 10: Jeff Sessions stated under oath at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

January 13: The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee announced that the panel would conduct an inquiry into Russia’s role in the election. Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA)said the panel’s investigation would include a review of the U.S. intelligence assessment and an inquiry into “any intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns”.

January 22: The Wall Street Journal reported: “US counterintelligence agents have investigated communications that President Donald Trump’s national security adviser had with Russian officials, according to people familiar with the matter.”

January 23: Spicer reiterated that Flynn’s call with Kislyak did not touch on sanctions.

January 26: Acting attorney general Sally Yates briefed White House Counsel Don McGahn on Flynn’s conversation with Kislyak.

February 2: The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism announced it was launching a separate probe into Russia’s election hacking. Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ranking Member Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said in a joint statement: “Our goal is simple – to the fullest extent possible we want to shine a light on Russian activities to undermine democracy.”

February 9: The Washington Post reported that Flynn did, in fact, discuss US sanctions in his phone calls with Kislyak, contrary to Flynn’s and the administration’s previous statements.

February 13: Flynn resigned.

February 14: The New York Times reported that “members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.”

February 16: Trump again called the Russia controversy “fake news” and said that the Times story from Feb. 14 was “a joke”.

February 27: Members of the House Intelligence Committee sign off on a plan to investigate Russia’s alleged interference in the US elections, which includes examining contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia, and looking into who leaked the details.

Feb. 28: The Washington Post reports that the FBI was prepared to pay the former British intelligence operative, Christopher Steele, to continue his work, indicating the Bureau found him credible.

March 1: The Washington Post reports that Sessions did speak with the Russian ambassador during the campaign, appearing to contradict his past statements.

March 2: Congressional Democrats call for Sessions to resign and Sessions announces he will recuse himself from any investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

March 4: Trump accused Obama of having ordered a tapping of the phones at Trump Tower during the campaign, Obama denied the allegations, FBI Director Comey asked the Justice Department to reject the claim, which appeared to be based on a talk radio segment and a Breitbart article. The White House declines to offer any evidence to back up the claims, and the next day calls on Congress to investigate and says it will not comment further.

March 9: CNN reported that the FBI’s counter-intelligence team was continuing to investigate “computer server connection between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank”.

March 20: In the first public hearing of the House Intelligence Committee, FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the FBI was investigating Russian interference in the election and “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts” to determine “whether any crimes were committed”. Comey also confirmed that the Russians wanted to help Trump and hurt Clinton, telling lawmakers “He – Putin – hated Secretary Clinton so much that the flip side of that coin was he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much.”

April 25: The chairs of the House Oversight Committee announced that former national security adviser Michael Flynn likely broke the law by failing to disclose foreign income he earned from Russia and Turkey. They also reported that they believe Flynn neither received permission nor fully disclosed income he earned for a speaking engagement in Russia and lobbying activities on behalf of Turkey when he applied to reinstate his security clearance. Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and ranking member Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) stressed that, as a former military officer, Flynn would have needed special permission from the Pentagon for his appearance at a gala sponsored by RT, the Russian-government funded television station, for which he was paid $45,000. For his work lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government, he was paid more than $500,000.

According to documents obtained by the House Oversight Committee, Flynn was warned by the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 against accepting foreign payments as he entered retirement.

April 27: The Defense Department Inspector General announced that it had launched an investigation into money that former national security adviser and retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn received from foreign groups, and will try to determine whether Flynn “failed to obtain required approval prior to receiving” the payments.

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See also: The Other 2016 Election Hacking Conspiracy: Trump-Giuliani-FBI Conspiracy to Throw the Election

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 by Robert Riversong: may be reproduced only with attribution for non-commercial purposes and a link to this page

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