web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Putin, Vladimir V" (Page 5)

Putin Aims to Revive the Economy With a Plan. And Pianos.

MOSCOW — Even as Russia has muscled back onto the world stage politically, its economy suffers from flat growth and shrinking incomes.

President Vladimir V. Putin has a plan to change that — and it involves pianos.

Kremlin officials say they will use an important investor conference opening Thursday in St. Petersburg to promote a new, six-year $400 billion stimulus plan, covering a dozen sectors of the economy. There are some classic big-and-spend efforts, like building roads and airports. And then the plan gets creative.

It calls for Russia to buy 900 pianos and build 50 covered ice rinks. Russian scientists will, by 2024, publish 200 articles on genetics in top-rated journals, the plan states.

Critics are calling it a step backward that would expand the state’s role in economic decisions, down to the level of purchases by classical music schools. They likened it to Gosplan, the planned economic model of the Soviet era, and it comes a few months after businessmen in Russia were told to rally behind the state and increase capital investments. It is also another effort by Russia to work around American and European sanctions.

The plan predicts the measures will buoy Russian society, reduce poverty by half and increase the average life expectancy to 78 years from 73.

In an interview to discuss the projects, Russia’s economy minister, Maksim S. Oreshkin, scoffed at comparisons to Soviet-era planning, said the new effort was innovative and good policy.

“We have set very ambitious goals,” said Mr. Oreshkin. “Economic growth is only one of them. We have set many others that will directly affect the quality of people’s lives.”

This is the latest pivot in Russia’s zigzagging post-Soviet economic history. The Kremlin has been struggling in the past decade to put its financial house in order as oil prices have fallen and, also painfully, sanctions were imposed after it moved into Ukraine in 2014.

Russia has run a budget surplus as a precaution against future sanctions and used its oil supply as a safeguard. By law, for example, when oil costs more than $40 per barrel, taxes generated on all revenue above that level must be saved in sovereign wealth funds, rather than spent on, say, teacher salaries or the army.

Russia now has almost $500 billion in reserve, a cushion that will help protect the federal budget from future sanctions or an oil price slump. But economists say that effort has translated into miserly economic growth because it withdrew money from the economy. So far this year, the gross domestic product, a common gauge of economic health, expanded at a rate of 0.5 percent, while real disposable incomes fell by 2.3 percent.

“What we learn in economics is when you tighten fiscal policy, it has a growth cost,” Clemens Grafe, the chief Russia economist at Goldman Sachs, said in a telephone interview.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 05RUSSIAECON-articleLarge Putin Aims to Revive the Economy With a Plan. And Pianos. Russia Putin, Vladimir V Politics and Government Moscow (Russia) Economic Conditions and Trends

“We have set very ambitious goals,” said Maksim S. Oreshkin, Russia’s minister of economic development.CreditMaksim Blinov/Sputnik, via Associated Press

The National Projects is a plan, like others in the past six months, to shift emphasis from consumer demand to state-led investment as a source of growth. Even a 110-page long summary version is laden with mind-spinning numbers.

It stipulates the state’s role in achieving the goals with precision. It says, for example, that the number of Russians who regularly practice sports should rise to 55 percent from 36.8 by 2024.

The economic minister sees that minutiae as helpful.

“The tasks before us are objective and correct tasks,” Mr. Oreshkin said in an hourlong interview. “We achieved a deeper understanding of how goals from the micro level form the overall numbers.”

Mr. Oreshkin said the stimulus effect should kick in later this year, raising the annual economic growth to 3.1 percent for 2021. This week’s forum in St. Petersburg will allow “deep discussions on concrete directions of development on National Projects” with corporate executives and hedge fund managers, he said.

Russia remains committed to attracting private investment too, he said, and the government has “a whole complex of measures on improving the investment climate.”

He said there could be a problem: America’s trade wars with China, Mexico and others could slow the global economy, hurting Russia as well.

Independent economists have been scratching their heads over how the plan’s goals will be achieved. Russia raised its value-added tax earlier this year and economists have questioned how that will create growth, as the taxes were raised before the state stimulus spending began.

“Compared to the West, compared to the United States or United Kingdom or France, the Russian government has the power to squeeze the middle class and the poor far beyond the bounds of what we can imagine,” Kenneth Rogoff, a professor of economics and public policy at Harvard, said in an interview.

“They have a model which is really a textbook example of the natural resources curse, when the state doesn’t need to develop a middle class in order to support itself, support the military and support the elite,” he said.

One stated goal of the National Projects plan is to double the current growth rate so that Russia’s economy expands faster than the global average, seen as important to maintain the country’s status. But many economists say the stimulus spending alone, no matter how many pianos are purchased, will almost certainly fail in this goal. New business activity will only pick up with an overhaul of the court system to protect property rights, they say.

Kirill V. Tremasov, a Moscow investment banker and author of a popular economics blog, said the government “simply had no other choice; they could stimulate private businesses, but the result would be unclear because of sanctions and geopolitical tensions.”

The return of the economic plan continues Russia’s slow, post-Soviet seesaw from privatization to re-nationalization. But without smoothing relations and lifting sanctions, few other options remain.

“They are facing a dilemma. On the one hand, they would like to see more foreign investors coming to Russia,” Vladimir Tikhomirov, chief economist for BCS Global Markets, said. “On the other hand, they do realize a significant problem here is geopolitics, which they don’t want to discuss.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The Most Powerful Arab Ruler Isn’t M.B.S. It’s M.B.Z.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the 29-year-old commander of the almost negligible air force of the United Arab Emirates, had come to Washington shopping for weapons.

In 1991, in the months after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the young prince wanted to buy so much military hardware to protect his own oil-rich monarchy — from Hellfire missiles to Apache helicopters to F-16 jets — that Congress worried he might destabilize the region.

But the Pentagon, trying to cultivate accommodating allies in the Gulf, had identified Prince Mohammed as a promising partner. The favorite son of the semi-literate Bedouin who founded the United Arab Emirates, Prince Mohammed was a serious-minded, British-trained helicopter pilot who had persuaded his father to transfer $4 billion into the United States treasury to help pay for the 1991 war in Iraq.

Richard A. Clarke, then an assistant secretary of state, reassured lawmakers that the young prince would never become “an aggressor.”

“The U.A.E. is not now and never will be a threat to stability or peace in the region,” Mr. Clarke said in congressional testimony. “That is very hard to imagine. Indeed, the U.A.E. is a force for peace.”

Thirty years later, Prince Mohammed, now 58, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, is arguably the most powerful leader in the Arab world. He is also among the most influential foreign voices in Washington, urging the United States to adopt his increasingly bellicose approach to the region.

[Here are five takeaways from our report on Prince Mohammed.]

Prince Mohammed is almost unknown to the American public and his tiny country has fewer citizens than Rhode Island. But he may be the richest man in the world. He controls sovereign wealth funds worth $1.3 trillion, more than any other country.

His influence operation in Washington is legendary (Mr. Clarke got rich on his payroll). His military is the Arab world’s most potent, equipped through its work with the United States to conduct high-tech surveillance and combat operations far beyond its borders.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_155639433_75312a24-fb71-4dc1-941a-39b313e6ea13-articleLarge The Most Powerful Arab Ruler Isn’t M.B.S. It’s M.B.Z. Yemen United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces United Nations Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Royal Families Rhodes, Benjamin J qatar Putin, Vladimir V Prince, Erik D Pompeo, Mike Obama, Barack Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt) Mohammed bin Salman (1985- ) Middle East Institute Middle East and North Africa Unrest (2010- ) Mattis, James N Libya Lee, Kai-Fu Kushner, Jared Khashoggi, Jamal Hifter, Khalifa Gulf of Aden General Dynamics Corp Falcon Edge Capital Egypt Dubai (United Arab Emirates) Dmitriev, Kirill A (1975- ) Clarke, Richard A Cairo (Egypt) Bush, George W Bolton, John R Blair, Tony Allen, John R Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates)

Desert Falcons from the United Arab Emirates Air Force flying in formation with United States F-35A Lightning IIs last month.CreditU.S. Air Force, via Associated Press

For decades, the prince has been a key American ally, following Washington’s lead, but now he is going his own way. His special forces are active in Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Egypt’s North Sinai. He has worked to thwart democratic transitions in the Middle East, helped install a reliable autocrat in Egypt and boosted a protégé to power in Saudi Arabia.

At times, the prince has contradicted American policy and destabilized neighbors. Rights groups have criticized him for jailing dissidents at home, for his role in creating a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and for backing the Saudi prince whose agents killed the dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Yet under the Trump administration, his influence in Washington appears greater than ever. He has a rapport with Mr. Trump, who has frequently adopted the prince’s views on Qatar, Libya and Saudi Arabia, even over the advice of cabinet officials or senior national security staff.

Western diplomats who know the prince — known as M.B.Z. — say he is obsessed with two enemies, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. Mr. Trump has sought to move strongly against both and last week took steps to bypass congressional opposition to keep selling weapons to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“M.B.Z. has an extraordinary way of telling Americans his own interests but making it come across as good advice about the region,” said Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser under President Barack Obama, whose sympathy for the Arab Spring and negotiations with Iran brought blistering criticism from the Emirati prince. When it comes to influence in Washington, Mr. Rhodes added, “M.B.Z. is in a class by himself.”

Prince Mohammed worked assiduously before the presidential election to crack Mr. Trump’s inner circle, and secured a secret meeting during the transition period with the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The prince also tried to broker talks between the Trump administration and Russia, a gambit that later entangled him in the special counsel’s investigation into foreign election interference.

President Trump welcoming Prince Mohammed at the White House in 2017.CreditAl Drago/The New York Times

Today, at least five people working for Prince Mohammed have been caught up in criminal investigations growing out of that inquiry. A regular visitor to the United States for three decades, Prince Mohammed has now stayed away for two years, in part because he fears prosecutors might seek to question him or his aides, according to two people familiar with his thinking. (His brother, the foreign minister, has visited.)

The United Arab Emirates’ Embassy in Washington declined to comment. The prince’s many American defenders say it is only prudent of him to try to shape United States policy, as many governments do, and that he sees his interventions as an attempt to compensate for an American pullback.

But Prince Mohammed’s critics say that his rise is a study in unintended consequences. The obscure young prince whom Washington adopted as a pliant ally is now fanning his volatile region’s flames.

By arming the United Arab Emirates with such advanced surveillance technology, commandos and weaponry, argued Tamara Cofman Wittes, a former State Department official and fellow at the Brookings Institution. “We have created a little Frankenstein.”

Prince Mohammed has overseen a construction boom in the Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi.CreditHamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Most Arab royals are paunchy, long-winded and prone to keep visitors waiting. Not Prince Mohammed.

He graduated at the age of 18 from the British officers’ training program at Sandhurst. He stays slim and fit, trades tips with visitors about workout machines, and never arrives late for a meeting.

American officials invariably describe him as concise, inquisitive, even humble. He pours his own coffee, and to illustrate his love for America, sometimes tells visitors that he has taken his grandchildren to Disney World incognito.

He makes time for low-ranking American officials and greets senior dignitaries at the airport. With a shy, lopsided smile, he will offer a tour of his country, then climb into a helicopter to fly his guest over the skyscrapers and lagoons of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“There was always a ‘wow’ factor with M.B.Z.,” recalled Marcelle Wahba, a former American ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.

In the capital, Abu Dhabi, he has overseen a construction craze that has hidden the former coastline behind man-made islands. One is intended to become a financial district akin to Wall Street. Another includes a campus of New York University, a franchise of the Louvre and a planned extension of the Guggenheim.

When he meets Americans, Prince Mohammed emphasizes the things that make the United Arab Emirates more liberal than their neighbors. Women have more opportunities: A third of the cabinet ministers are female.

Unlike Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates allow Christian churches and Hindu or Sikh temples, partly to accommodate a vast foreign work force. (The country is estimated to have nine million residents, but fewer than a million citizens; the rest are foreign workers.)

To underscore the point, the prince last year created a Ministry of Tolerance and declared this the “Year of Tolerance.” He has hosted the Special Olympics and Pope Francis.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi in February.CreditAli Haider/EPA, via Shutterstock

“I think he has done admirable work not just in diversifying the economy but in diversifying the system of thought of the population as well,” said Gen. John R. Allen, former commander of United States and N.A.T.O. forces in Afghanistan, now president of the Brookings Institution. (In between, General Allen was an adviser to the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Defense.)

The United Arab Emirates are a tiny federation of city-states, yet Abu Dhabi alone accounts for 6 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, making it a tempting target to a larger neighbor like Iran. In 1971, when the U.A.E. gained independence from Britain, the shah of Iran seized three disputed Persian Gulf islands.

The Muslim Brotherhood, a 90-year-old Islamist movement founded in Egypt, has become mainstream in many Arab countries. On that subject, Prince Mohammed says his dread is more personal.

His father assigned a prominent Brotherhood member, Ezzedine Ibrahim, as Prince Mohammed’s tutor, and he attempted an indoctrination that backfired, the prince often says.

“I am an Arab, I am a Muslim and I pray. And in the 1970s and early 1980s I was one of them,” Prince Mohammed told visiting American diplomats in 2007, as they reported in a classified cable released by WikiLeaks. “I believe these guys have an agenda.”

He worries about the appeal of Islamist politics to his population. As many as 80 percent of the soldiers in his forces would answer the call of “some holy man in Mecca,” he once told American diplomats, according to a cable released by WikiLeaks.

For that reason, diplomats say, Prince Mohammed has long argued that the Arab world is not ready for democracy. Islamists would win any elections.

“In any Muslim country, you will see the same result,” he said in a 2007 meeting with American officials. “The Middle East is not California.”

The United Arab Emirates began allowing American forces to operate from bases inside the country during the Persian Gulf war of 1991. Since then, the prince’s commandos and air forces have been deployed with the Americans in Kosovo, Somalia, Afghanistan and Libya, as well as against the Islamic State.

A demonstration by members of the U.A.E. during the opening of the International Defence Exhibition & Conference in Abu Dhabi in February.CreditChristopher Pike/Reuters

He has recruited American commanders to run his military and former spies to set up his intelligence services. He also acquired more weaponry in the four years before 2010 than the other five Gulf monarchies combined, including 80 F-16 fighters, 30 Apache combat helicopters, and 62 French Mirage jets.

Some American officers describe the United Arab Emirates as “Little Sparta.”

With advice from former top military commanders including former Secretary of Defense James Mattis and General Allen, Prince Mohammed has even developed an Emirati defense industry, producing an amphibious armored vehicle known as The Beast and others that he is already supplying to clients in Libya and Egypt.

The United Arab Emirates are also preparing a low-altitude propeller-driven bomber for counterinsurgency combat — an idea Mr. Mattis had long recommended for the United States, a former officer close to him said.

Prince Mohammed has often told American officials that he saw Israel as an ally against Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. Israel trusted him enough to sell him upgrades for his F-16s, as well as advanced mobile phone spyware.

To many in Washington, Prince Mohammed had become America’s best friend in the region, a dutiful partner who could be counted on for tasks from countering Iranian influence in Lebanon to funding construction in Iraq.

“It was well known that if you needed something done in the Middle East,” recalled Richard G. Olson, a former United States ambassador to Abu Dhabi, “the Emiratis would do it.”

President Barack Obama welcoming Prince Mohammed at the White House in 2015.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Prince Mohammed seemed to find a kindred spirit when President Barack Obama took office in 2009, White House aides said. Both were detached, analytic and intrigued by big questions. For a time, Mr. Obama sought out phone conversations with Prince Mohammed more than with any other foreign leader, several senior White House officials recalled.

But the Arab Spring came between them. Uprisings swept the region. The Muslim Brotherhood was winning elections. And Mr. Obama appeared to endorse the demands for democracy — though in Syria, where the uprising threatened a foe of the Emiratis, he balked at military action.

Westlake Legal Group 0601-for-webMBZ2map-300 The Most Powerful Arab Ruler Isn’t M.B.S. It’s M.B.Z. Yemen United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces United Nations Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Royal Families Rhodes, Benjamin J qatar Putin, Vladimir V Prince, Erik D Pompeo, Mike Obama, Barack Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt) Mohammed bin Salman (1985- ) Middle East Institute Middle East and North Africa Unrest (2010- ) Mattis, James N Libya Lee, Kai-Fu Kushner, Jared Khashoggi, Jamal Hifter, Khalifa Gulf of Aden General Dynamics Corp Falcon Edge Capital Egypt Dubai (United Arab Emirates) Dmitriev, Kirill A (1975- ) Clarke, Richard A Cairo (Egypt) Bush, George W Bolton, John R Blair, Tony Allen, John R Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates)

UNITED ARAB

EMIRATES

SAUDI

ARABIA

Arabian

Sea

United Arab

Emirates

saudi arabia

By The New York Times

Then it emerged that the Obama administration was in secret nuclear talks with Iran.

“They felt not only ignored — they felt betrayed by the Obama administration, and I think Prince Mohammed felt it particularly and personally,” said Stephen Hadley, a national security adviser under President George W. Bush who has stayed close to the prince.

After the uprisings, Prince Mohammed saw the United Arab Emirates as the only one of the 22 Arab states still on its feet, with a stable government, functional economy, able military and “moderate ideology,” said Abdulkhalleq Abdulla, an Emirati political scientist with access to the country’s senior officials.

“The U.A.E. is part of this very dangerous region that is getting more dangerous by the day — full of chaos and wars and extremists,” he said. “So the motivation is this: If we don’t go after the bad guys, they will come after us.”

Tahrir Square in Cairo in 2012. Mr. Obama’s sympathy for the Arab Spring drew blistering criticism from the Emirati prince.CreditMoises Saman for The New York Times

At home, Prince Mohammed hired a company linked to Erik Prince, the founder of the private security company formerly known as Blackwater, to create a force of Colombian, South African and other mercenaries. He crushed any hint of dissent, arresting five activists for organizing a petition for democratic reforms (signed by only 132 people) and rounding up dozens suspected of sympathizing with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The United Arab Emirates revved up its influence machine in Washington, too. They were among the biggest spenders among foreign governments on Washington advocates and consultants, paying as much $21 million in 2017, according to a tally by the Center for Responsive Politics. They earned good will with million-dollar donations after natural disasters, and they sought to frame public debate by giving millions more to major think tanks.

The Middle East Institute recently received $20 million. Its chairman is Mr. Clarke, the former official who pushed through the U.A.E. defense contracts. After leaving government in 2003, he had also founded a consultancy with the United Arab Emirates as a primary client. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Emirati Ambassador Yousef Otaiba hammered his many contacts in the White House and on Capitol Hill, arguing that Mr. Obama was ceding the region to extremists and Iran. The prince himself made the case at the highest levels. He “gave me an earful,” former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recalled in a memoir.

In the Middle East, Prince Mohammed did more than talk. In Egypt, he backed a military takeover in 2013 that removed an elected president who was a Muslim Brotherhood leader. In the Horn of Africa, he dispatched a force to Somalia first to combat piracy and then to fight extremists. He went on to establish commercial ports or naval bases around the Gulf of Aden.

In Libya, Prince Mohammed defied American pleas and a United Nations embargo by arming the forces of the militia leader and would-be strongman Khalifa Hifter. Emirati pilots carried out airstrikes in Tripoli and eventually established an air base in eastern Libya.

In the past, the prince looked for a “green light” from Washington, said Ms. Wahba, the former American ambassador. Now he may send a heads-up, she said, but “he is not asking permission anymore.”

Saudi Arabia, the giant next door, had quarreled with the United Arab Emirates over borders and, as the regional heavyweight, also constrained U.A.E. foreign policy. By the end of 2014, the position of crown prince — next in line for the throne — had passed to a known foe of the Emirati prince.

The Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, right, with Prince Mohammed in Abu Dhabi last year.CreditBandar Al-Jaloud/Saudi Royal Palace, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

So he plunged into the internal Saudi succession battle and waged an all-out lobbying campaign in Washington on behalf of a little-known alternative: the 29-year-old Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a favorite son of the aged Saudi king.

“M.B.Z.’s message was, if you trust me and you like me, you will like this guy because he is cut from the same cloth,” recalled Mr. Rhodes, the Obama adviser.

By March 2015, the two princes had invaded Yemen together to roll back a takeover by a faction aligned with Iran. Then in 2017, as the Saudi prince consolidated his power, they cut off all trade and diplomatic ties with Qatar to pressure it into abandoning support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Both the Yemen and Qatar conflicts are routinely described as Saudi-led, but the Emirati prince first sought to sell them to Washington, Mr. Rhodes and other former officials recalled.

By late 2015, American diplomats say, Prince Mohammed was also suggesting that the United Arab Emirates and a new Saudi leadership could be crucial in bringing the Palestinians around to some new peace agreement — the so-called “outside-in” approach to a deal.

But for that, Prince Mohammed awaited a new administration.

The Russian businessman Kirill Dmitriev acts as a liaison between President Vladimir V. Putin and the Persian Gulf monarchs, according to the special counsel’s report.CreditFayez Nureldine/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

It was meant to be a personal farewell.

Despite their sharp differences, Prince Mohammed had remained cordial with Mr. Obama, and the president thought they shared a mutual respect, according to four senior White House officials. So when the prince requested a final meeting, as friends, Mr. Obama agreed to a lunch at the White House in December 2016.

But Prince Mohammed backed out without much explanation. He flew instead to New York for his first face-to-face meeting with Jared Kushner and other advisers to the president-elect, Donald J. Trump.

To arrange the meetings, Prince Mohammed had turned to a financier, Richard Gerson, founder of Falcon Edge Capital. He had worked with the prince for years, and he was also a friend of Mr. Kushner.

“I am always here as your trusted family back channel any time you want to discreetly pass something,” Mr. Gerson wrote to the prince after the election in a private text message, one of several provided to The Times by a third party and corroborated independently. He signed off another message as “your loyal soldier.”

The trip was supposed to be secret, but intelligence agencies detected the prince’s arrival. Mr. Obama’s advisers were stunned. But Prince Mohammed was already working to reverse the administration’s policies, talking to Mr. Trump’s advisers about the dangers of Iran and about Palestinian peace talks, according to two people familiar with the meetings.

“They were deeply impressed with you and already are convinced that you are their true friend and closest ally,” Mr. Gerson wrote to the prince after the meetings.

Prince Mohammed was positioning himself as an intermediary to Russia, too.

One of Prince Mohammed’s younger brothers had introduced Mr. Gerson to a Russian businessman who acts as a liaison between President Vladimir V. Putin and the Persian Gulf monarchs, according to the special counsel’s report. The Russian businessman, Kirill Dmitriev, conferred with Mr. Gerson about a “reconciliation plan” for the United States and Russia, and shortly before the inauguration Mr. Gerson gave a two-page summary of the plan to Mr. Kushner.

Mr. Gerson declined to comment for this article.

The next month, in January, Prince Mohammed invited Mr. Dmitriev to an Emirati retreat in the Seychelles to meet with someone else they thought represented the Trump team: Mr. Prince, the Blackwater founder who had recruited mercenaries for the United Arab Emirates.

Prince Mohammed hired an American security company linked to Erik Prince to create a security force of mercenaries.CreditZach Gibson for The New York Times

Why Prince Mohammed would seek to connect Russia with Mr. Trump’s circle remains a matter of debate, but he has worked for years to try to entice Mr. Putin away from Iran, according to American diplomats and leaked emails from the Emirati ambassador in Washington.

But prosecutors are also investigating the activities of other operatives and go-betweens working for the prince who tried to insinuate themselves around Mr. Trump.

Investigators are still examining the campaign contacts of an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation who has worked for Prince Mohammed and of a Lebanese-American businessman who acted as his emissary. Other prosecutors are investigating whether another top Republican donor whose security company worked for the prince should legally have registered as his agent.

The special counsel’s office has also questioned Rashid al-Malik, an Emirati real-estate developer based in Los Angeles who is close to Prince Mohammed and to his brother — the head of Emirati intelligence. Mr. al-Malik is also close to Mr. Trump’s friend Tom Barrack, and investigators are asking whether Mr. al-Malik was part of an illegal influence scheme, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Another investigation, prompted by a whistle-blower, is examining the possibility that the United Arab Emirates used cyberespionage techniques from former American operatives to spy on American citizens.

Yet the prince’s courtship of the Trump administration has not been damaged. In the two and a half years since his first meeting with Mr. Kushner, Prince Mohammed has received almost everything he sought from the White House.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt and Prince Mohammed in Cairo last year.CreditEgyptian Presidency, via Reuters

Each winter, Prince Mohammed invites financiers and former officials to Abu Dhabi for a salon that demonstrates his global influence.

The guest list last December included former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; former French President Nicolas Sarkozy; former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Mr. Hadley, the Bush-era national security adviser; the American investors Mohamed A. El-Erian, David M. Rubenstein and Thomas S. Kaplan; and the Chinese computer scientist and investor Kai-Fu Lee.

Undeterred, the prince also included Mr. Dmitriev, the Russian businessman linked to Mr. Putin.

Prince Mohammed’s post-Arab Spring interventions have hardly stabilized the region. An aide he sent to Cairo to help turn around the moribund economy has returned in frustration.

Egypt’s military-backed government still depends on billions of dollars a year in assistance from the United Arab Emirates and its Gulf allies, and despite Emirati help and Israeli airstrikes, Cairo has not yet quelled a militant backlash centered in the North Sinai.

The isolation of Qatar has failed to change its policies. In Libya, Khalifa Hifter is mired in a bloody stalemate.

Prince Mohammed’s push in the Horn of Africa has set off a competition for access and influence among rivals like Turkey and Qatar. In Somalia, after allegations of bribery by the fragile central government, Emirati forces have shifted to the semiautonomous regions of Puntland and Somaliland.

Djibouti, alleging neglect, last year replaced its Emirati port managers with a Chinese rival.

“He thinks he is Machiavelli but he acts more like Mussolini,” said Bruce Riedel, a scholar at the Brookings Institution and a former official in the Central Intelligence Agency.

In Saudi Arabia, the Emirati prince has been embarrassed by the conclusion of American intelligence agencies that his Saudi protégé had ordered the brutal murder of Mr. Khashoggi, a Virginia-based Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist. Their joint, four-year-old intervention in Yemen is turning into a quagmire, with horrific civilian casualties.

A tribute to the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last year.CreditEmrah Gurel/Associated Press

“The U.A.E. is a stain on the world conscience — the U.A.E. as it is currently governed is violating every norm of the civilized world,” said Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California.

Yet the prince’s standing remains strong inside the Trump administration. The “outside-in” proposals for Israeli-Palestinian peace passed over by the Obama administration are at the core of Mr. Kushner’s emerging plans.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly backed the positions of the Emirati prince: by endorsing his Saudi protégé after the Khashoggi killing, by applauding the isolation of Qatar even as the secretary of state and secretary of defense publicly opposed it, by canceling the nuclear deal with Iran, by seeking to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, and by vetoing legislation to cut off American military support for Saudi and Emirati forces in Yemen.

Last month, Mr. Trump publicly endorsed the Emiratis’ favored militia leader in Libya one day after a phone call with Prince Mohammed — even through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had previously urged the same leader to retreat.

Mr. Mattis, the former secretary of defense, last month delivered a lecture in Abu Dhabi sponsored by Prince Mohammed. When he joined the Trump administration, Mr. Mattis disclosed that he had received $242,000 in annual fees as well as valuable stock options as a board member at the defense contractor General Dynamics, which does extensive business with Abu Dhabi. He had also worked as an unpaid adviser to Prince Mohammed.

“It’s the Year of Tolerance. How many countries in the world right now are having a year of tolerance?” Mr. Mattis asked. “I don’t know of any,” he said. “You are an example.”

Jim Mattis, the former United States secretary of defense, in Abu Dhabi in May.CreditEissa Al Hammadi/Saudi Press Agency, via Associated Press

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Your 5G Phone Won’t Hurt You. But Russia Wants You to Think Otherwise.

The cellphones known as 5G, or fifth generation, represent the vanguard of a wireless era rich in interconnected cars, factories and cities. Whichever nation dominates the new technology will gain a competitive edge for much of this century, according to many analysts. But a television network a few blocks from the White House has been stirring concerns about a hidden flaw.

“Just a small one,” a TV reporter told her viewers recently. “It might kill you.”

The Russian network RT America aired the segment, titled “A Dangerous ‘Experiment on Humanity,’” in covering what its guest experts call 5G’s dire health threats. U.S. intelligence agencies identified the network as a principal meddler in the 2016 presidential election. Now, it is linking 5G signals to brain cancer, infertility, autism, heart tumors and Alzheimer’s disease — claims that lack scientific support.

Yet even as RT America, the cat’s paw of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, has been doing its best to stoke the fears of American viewers, Mr. Putin, on Feb. 20, ordered the launch of Russian 5G networks in a tone evoking optimism rather than doom.

“We need to look forward,” he said, according to Tass, the Russian news agency. “The challenge for the upcoming years is to organize universal access to high-speed internet, to start operation of the fifth-generation communication systems.”

Analysts see RT’s attack on 5G as geopolitically bold: It targets a new world of interconnected, futuristic technologies that would reach into consumers’ homes, aid national security and spark innovative industries. Already, medical firms are linking up devices wirelessly to create new kinds of health treatments.

“It’s economic warfare,” Ryan Fox, chief operating officer of New Knowledge, a technology firm that tracks disinformation, said in an interview. “Russia doesn’t have a good 5G play, so it tries to undermine and discredit ours.”

5G is also a growing point of friction between Washington and Beijing, with each side lining up allies in what has become a major technology race. Moscow and Beijing are seen as possibly forming a 5G political bloc.

The Kremlin “would really enjoy getting democratic governments tied up in fights over 5G’s environmental and health hazards,” said Molly McKew, head of Fianna Strategies, a consulting firm in Washington, D.C., that seeks to counter Russian disinformation.

RT’s assaults on 5G technology are rising in number and stridency as the American wireless industry begins to erect 5G systems. In March, Verizon said its service will soon reach 30 cities.

RT America aired its first program assailing 5G’s health impacts last May, its only one in 2018. Already this year, it has run seven. The most recent, on April 14, reported that children exposed to signals from 5G cellphone towers would suffer cancer, nosebleeds and learning disabilities.

[Like the Science Times page on Facebook. | Sign up for the Science Times newsletter.]

The network distributes its programming by cable, satellite and online streaming. It also posts individual stories on Facebook and YouTube. A declassified U.S. intelligence report, released early in 2017, said that RT videos on YouTube have averaged 1 million views per day, “the highest among news outlets.”

Hundreds of blogs and websites appear to be picking up the network’s 5G alarms, seldom if ever noting the Russian origins. Analysts call it a treacherous fog.

Anna Belkina, RT’s head of communications in Moscow, defended the network’s coverage of 5G. “Unlike many other media, we show the breadth of debate,” she said in an email exchange.

Asked if Mr. Putin’s promotion of 5G technology in Russia conflicted with the health alarms raised by RT America, she said the U.S. network focused on local 5G issues, not “the roll-out in Russia.”

“Our American audience expects us to bring American concerns to the front, first and foremost,” Ms. Belkina said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_153372579_54cba198-d10d-4caf-b3c2-fd435c694a02-articleLarge Your 5G Phone Won’t Hurt You. But Russia Wants You to Think Otherwise. YouTube.com your-feed-science X-Rays World Health Organization Wireless Communications Voice of America United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Television Telephones and Telecommunications Social Media Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rumors and Misinformation RT America (TV Network) RT (TV Network) Radio Spectrum Radiation Putin, Vladimir V Propaganda Presidential Election of 2016 News and News Media Espionage and Intelligence Services Computers and the Internet Cellular Telephones cancer Brain Cancer 5G (Wireless Communications)

RT television vehicles outside St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin in Moscow. The network has been called “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.”CreditMladen Antonov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in the 2017 report, described the network as “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.” The report noted that RT’s most popular video on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election campaign stated that 100 percent of the Clintons’ charity “Went to … Themselves.” The video was viewed more than 9 million times.

Later that year, the national security division of the Justice Department forced RT America, formerly Russia Today, to register as a foreign agent.

Moscow’s goal, experts say, is to destabilize the West by undermining trust in democratic leaders, institutions and political life. To that end, the RT network amplifies voices of dissent, to sow discord and widen social divides. It gives the marginal a megaphone and traffics in false equivalence. Earlier campaigns took aim at fracking, vaccination and genetically modified organisms. One show called designer tomatoes “good-looking poison.”

The network is now applying its playbook against 5G by selectively reporting the most sensational claims, and by giving a few marginal opponents of wireless technology a conspicuous new forum.

All cellphones use radio waves. RT America tends to refer to the signals as “radiations,” seemingly associating them with the very strong rays at the far end of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as X-rays and ultraviolet rays, which in high doses can damage DNA and cause cancer.

5G’s Place in the Spectrum

The newest generation of cellphones, 5G, will operate near the highest frequencies of the radio wave spectrum. Its range overlaps with other devices — including a novel class of health therapies used in Russia and China.

Westlake Legal Group 05TK-nat-5G-Artboard_2 Your 5G Phone Won’t Hurt You. But Russia Wants You to Think Otherwise. YouTube.com your-feed-science X-Rays World Health Organization Wireless Communications Voice of America United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Television Telephones and Telecommunications Social Media Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rumors and Misinformation RT America (TV Network) RT (TV Network) Radio Spectrum Radiation Putin, Vladimir V Propaganda Presidential Election of 2016 News and News Media Espionage and Intelligence Services Computers and the Internet Cellular Telephones cancer Brain Cancer 5G (Wireless Communications)

Electromagnetic

spectrum

GAMMA

RAYS

Novel EHF

therapies

VISIBLE

LIGHT

Airport

scanners

RADIO WAVE

SPECTRUM

Existing

cellphones

ULTRA LOW

FREQUENCY

Broadcast

television

(UHF)

Westlake Legal Group 05TK-nat-5G-Artboard_3 Your 5G Phone Won’t Hurt You. But Russia Wants You to Think Otherwise. YouTube.com your-feed-science X-Rays World Health Organization Wireless Communications Voice of America United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Television Telephones and Telecommunications Social Media Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rumors and Misinformation RT America (TV Network) RT (TV Network) Radio Spectrum Radiation Putin, Vladimir V Propaganda Presidential Election of 2016 News and News Media Espionage and Intelligence Services Computers and the Internet Cellular Telephones cancer Brain Cancer 5G (Wireless Communications)

Electromagnetic

spectrum

GAMMA RAYS

Novel EHF therapies

ULTRAVIOLET

VISIBLE LIGHT

Airport scanners

RADIO WAVE

SPECTRUM

Existing cellphones

ULTRA LOW

FREQUENCY

Broadcast television (UHF)

Sources: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Academies of Sciences, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Congressional Research Service, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

By The New York Times

But the radio waves used in cellphone communication lie at the opposite end of the spectrum, between radio broadcasting frequencies and the rainbow colors of visible light.

The frequencies employed in 5G are higher than those of past cellphones, allowing more information to be relayed more rapidly. Many other devices are expected to follow, including robots, drones and cars that send traffic information to one another.

Wireless high-speed communication could transform the news industry, sports, shopping, entertainment, transportation, health care, city management and many levels of government. In January, The Times announced a joint venture with Verizon to build a 5G journalism lab.

Over the years, plenty of careful science has scrutinized wireless technology for potential health risks. Virtually all the data contradict the dire alarms, according to public officials, including those at the World Health Organization.

Opponents of 5G claim the technology’s high frequencies will make the new phones and cell towers extraordinarily harmful. “The higher the frequency, the more dangerous it is to living organisms,” a RT reporter told viewers recently.

The truth is exactly the opposite, scientists say. The higher the radio frequency, the less it penetrates human skin, lowering exposure of the body’s internal organs, including the brain.

“5G emissions, if anything, should be safer than previous generations,” said Dr. Marvin C. Ziskin, a medical doctor and emeritus professor of radiology and medical physics at the Temple University School of Medicine.

Health concerns were raised last year when a large federal study showed that 2G signals could produce brain cancer in male rats. But officials discounted a direct link to humans, saying people received smaller doses.

Nonetheless, RT has taken an active role in stirring up apprehension, casting the debut of 5G in biblical terms. The caption superimposed on a January show read, “5G Apocalypse.” The anchor reported that doctors, scientists and environmental groups were now calling for its ban.

RT America taps the ranks of existing anti-cellular activists to wage its 5G campaign. Some have railed for decades against cellphones, power lines and other everyday sources of electromagnetic waves. Much of their work appears not in reputable science journals but little-known reports, publications and self-published tracts, at times with copious notes of dubious significance. They tend to cite each other’s research.

It’s unclear how many RT experts realize they are aiding a Russian network or that it acts as Mr. Putin’s mouthpiece. At times, RT simply mines existing videotape and print materials, editing them to reflect its perspective. And the intelligence report noted that some network staffers fail to disclose their RT affiliation when conducting interviews.

Even so, private analysts see the 5G attacks as reaching perhaps millions of online viewers — terrifying some, infuriating others.

“RT successfully feeds the conspiracy-oriented ecosystem,” said John Kelly, chief executive of Graphika, a network analytics firm. “This effort is having a real impact. It’s bearing fruit.”

Screengrabs taken from recent RT America episodes, clips of which are available on YouTube.CreditRT, via YouTube

RT America began its assault last year with a news show captioned “Wireless Cancer.” The featured guest was Dr. David O. Carpenter, a prominent 5G critic.

Dr. Carpenter, 82, received his medical degree from Harvard in 1964 and has published hundreds of scientific papers. For decades, he has warned of cancer risks for people living near high-voltage power lines, although federal studies have failed to find credible evidence that would support his claims.

“The rollout of 5G is very frightening,” Dr. Carpenter told RT America. “Nobody is going to be able to escape the radiation.”

Dr. Carpenter’s scariest alarms have been “widely dismissed by scientific bodies the world over,” according to David Robert Grimes, a cancer researcher at the University of Oxford, and his colleague, Dorothy V. M. Bishop, also of Oxford. They challenged Dr. Carpenter in a journal article that ran months before the RT program aired, calling his main claims “scientifically discredited.”

In an interview, Dr. Carpenter defended his work as having “served a major purpose” by revealing a global health threat. He said he was unaware that he had been featured on RT America. “I speak my mind to whomever I talk with,” he said.

RT America’s attacks on 5G have multiplied this year. On Jan. 14, the network aired “A Dangerous ‘Experiment on Humanity,’” which again featured Dr. Carpenter. RT followed a day later with “How to Survive Dangers of 5G.”

On Feb. 7, a segment claimed that “5G Tech is ‘Crime under International Law.’” Its featured expert was Arthur Firstenberg, who once charged that a neighbor’s wireless gear had hurt his health. He sued for $1.43 million in damages but lost after pressing his claim for five years.

President Vladimir V. Putin visits RT’s studios in Moscow with editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan in 2013. CreditYuri Kochetkov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The drumbeat continued. “‘Totally Insane’: Telecomm Industry Ignores 5G Dangers,” was the title of a segment that aired March 6.

A program on March 14 was aimed squarely at parents: “Could 5G Put More Kids at Risk for Cancer?” The RT reporter told of a California elementary school that recently churned with fear of radiation from a nearby cellphone tower, and how angry parents kept home 200 students.

Even as RT America has worked hard to damage 5G, the scientific establishment in Russia has embraced a contrary and questionable position: that the high frequencies of 5G communications are actually good for human health. It recommends their use for healing wounds, boosting the immune system and treating cancer. Millions of Russian patients are said to have undergone such high-frequency therapies.

Beauty clinics in Moscow use these high frequencies for skin regeneration, according to a scientific study. One company says the waves can remove wrinkles and fight hair loss.

A Rand study once called RT America’s approach a “Firehose of Falsehood.” For its part, Moscow has repeatedly denied allegations of meddling in the 2016 presidential election and has strongly defended RT’s news coverage as socially constructive.

Likewise, RT America strongly defended its position on the potential health risks of 5G technology.

“Nothing I’ve seen says the book is closed,” Rick Sanchez, an RT anchor on many of the 5G episodes, said in an interview. “I think there’s lots of unanswered questions. Before we commit to something on this scale, shouldn’t we consider if people could possibly be hurt?”

Mr. Fox, the operations chief of New Knowledge, the technology firm, said the network’s aggressive spin on 5G suggests Moscow is less interested in serving the public than dulling Washington’s edge in the global race for the digital future.

“It’s information warfare,” he said.

Additional reporting by Sophia Kishkovsky in Moscow.

Earlier reporting on health misinformation
Russian Trolls Used Vaccine Debate to Sow Discord, Study Finds

Aug. 23, 2018

Westlake Legal Group 28SCI-GLOBAL-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Your 5G Phone Won’t Hurt You. But Russia Wants You to Think Otherwise. YouTube.com your-feed-science X-Rays World Health Organization Wireless Communications Voice of America United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Television Telephones and Telecommunications Social Media Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rumors and Misinformation RT America (TV Network) RT (TV Network) Radio Spectrum Radiation Putin, Vladimir V Propaganda Presidential Election of 2016 News and News Media Espionage and Intelligence Services Computers and the Internet Cellular Telephones cancer Brain Cancer 5G (Wireless Communications)
Facebook Announces Plan to Curb Vaccine Misinformation

March 7, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 07xp-facebook-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Your 5G Phone Won’t Hurt You. But Russia Wants You to Think Otherwise. YouTube.com your-feed-science X-Rays World Health Organization Wireless Communications Voice of America United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Television Telephones and Telecommunications Social Media Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rumors and Misinformation RT America (TV Network) RT (TV Network) Radio Spectrum Radiation Putin, Vladimir V Propaganda Presidential Election of 2016 News and News Media Espionage and Intelligence Services Computers and the Internet Cellular Telephones cancer Brain Cancer 5G (Wireless Communications)
Opinion | The Editorial Board
How to Inoculate Against Anti-Vaxxers

Jan. 19, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 19publichealth-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Your 5G Phone Won’t Hurt You. But Russia Wants You to Think Otherwise. YouTube.com your-feed-science X-Rays World Health Organization Wireless Communications Voice of America United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Television Telephones and Telecommunications Social Media Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rumors and Misinformation RT America (TV Network) RT (TV Network) Radio Spectrum Radiation Putin, Vladimir V Propaganda Presidential Election of 2016 News and News Media Espionage and Intelligence Services Computers and the Internet Cellular Telephones cancer Brain Cancer 5G (Wireless Communications)

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Says He Discussed the ‘Russian Hoax’ in a Phone Call With Putin

Westlake Legal Group trump-says-he-discussed-the-russian-hoax-in-a-phone-call-with-putin Trump Says He Discussed the ‘Russian Hoax’ in a Phone Call With Putin Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Putin, Vladimir V Presidential Election of 2016 Mueller, Robert S III Maduro, Nicolas
Westlake Legal Group 03dc-prexy-sub-facebookJumbo Trump Says He Discussed the ‘Russian Hoax’ in a Phone Call With Putin Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Putin, Vladimir V Presidential Election of 2016 Mueller, Robert S III Maduro, Nicolas

WASHINGTON — President Trump telephoned President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Friday for what both men described as a lengthy, positive conversation, in which they dismissed two years of investigations into Russia’s intervention in the 2016 presidential campaign as a “Russian Hoax” and a mountain that “ended up being a mouse.”

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office after his first exchange with Mr. Putin since the release of the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which asserted that “the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion,” Mr. Trump said he did not broach the threat of Russian interference in future elections with Mr. Putin.

Instead, the two leaders pledged to embark on a new era of cooperation on issues from North Korea to Venezuela, where Mr. Trump said the Russian leader “is not looking at all to get involved, other than he’d like to see something positive happen.”

The timing of the call, two weeks after the release of the Mueller report, suggested a president eager to lift the cloud of the investigation from his dealings with Moscow and return to the policy of warmer relations with Russia that he once promised as a candidate. But it illustrated yet again the deep disconnect between Mr. Trump’s personal treatment of Mr. Putin and his administration’s more hard-edge relations with the Russian government.

Mr. Trump’s dismissal of Russian election interference runs counter to the assessments of the nation’s intelligence agencies, as well as Mr. Mueller’s report, while his characterization of Mr. Putin’s role in Venezuela contradicts the views of his own top advisers. They accuse Russia of propping up the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, in defiance of an American-led pressure campaign to force him from power.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, to warn him that his country’s intervention in Venezuela was “destabilizing” for that country and for the United States-Russia relationship. Other officials portray Venezuela as a Cold War-like proxy battle between Washington and Moscow.

“This is our hemisphere — it’s not where the Russians ought to be interfering,” the national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said on Wednesday. “This is a mistake on their part. It’s not going to lead to an improvement in relations.”

But to judge by both what Mr. Trump said about the call and a statement issued by the Kremlin, he and Mr. Putin disagreed on little. They pledged to deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuela. They vowed to boost trade between the United States and Russia. And they talked about a potential three-way deal on nuclear arms that could include China.

The agreement would be a successor to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a 1987 pact from which Mr. Trump announced he would withdraw the United States, largely because of evidence that Russia was cheating on it. On Friday, Mr. Trump said nothing about Russian violations, putting the emphasis on cooperation to “get rid of some of the tremendous firepower that we have right now.”

Mr. Trump first mentioned that he “had a long and very good conversation” with Mr. Putin in a tweet, in which he also said that the subjects discussed included “even the ‘Russian Hoax.’” When the subject of the Mueller report and Russia’s role in the election came up during the call, Mr. Trump later explained, Mr. Putin “actually sort of smiled when he said something to the effect that it started off as a mountain and ended up being a mouse. But he knew that because he knew there was no collusion whatsoever.”

A White House official later clarified that it was not a video call; Mr. Trump meant to say that Mr. Putin had “laughed, chuckled” rather than smiled.

Mr. Putin has long denied that Russia interfered in the election, though he has been frank that he was rooting for Mr. Trump to win in 2016. Standing next to Mr. Trump in Helsinki, Finland, last July, he said, “Yes I did, yes I did, because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.”

The summary of the call released by the Kremlin said the “two heads of state expressed satisfaction with the businesslike and constructive nature of the conversion.” But the statement also revealed a few potential fissures. On Venezuela, it condemned “outside interference in the country’s internal affairs” and added that “attempts to change the government in Caracas by force undermine prospects for a political settlement of the crisis.”

The statement also stressed the need to lift sanctions on North Korea in return for “good faith” moves to disarm its nuclear arsenal — a step-by-step approach that Mr. Trump has resisted in his two meetings with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. He has pushed a deal in which the North would agree to give up all its weapons for a lifting of sanctions. But Mr. Putin, who met with Mr. Kim in Vladivostok, Russia, on April 25, appears to be positioning himself as a player in the nuclear negotiations.

Mr. Trump made no mention of these differences in describing the call, which lasted more than an hour. In the past, he has steadfastly avoided criticizing Mr. Putin, even when he authorized tough moves against Russia, like approving the sale of lethal defensive weapons to the Ukrainian military for its battle against Russian-backed forces, or expelling 60 Russian diplomats to retaliate for Moscow’s poisoning of a former spy on British soil.

“Getting along with Russia and China, getting along with all of them is a very good thing, not a bad thing,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump has rarely mentioned Russia’s role in the 2016 election, and when Kirstjen Nielsen, the recently departed secretary of homeland security, tried to convene a high-level meeting to discuss how to respond to potential meddling by Russia in the 2020 election, she was told by Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, that it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.”

Mr. Trump on Friday, as he has in the past, saved his vitriol for Mr. Mueller, complaining that the special counsel had wasted $35 million over two years and turned up no evidence of wrongdoing by him. He described his cooperation as unprecedented, turning over 1.4 million documents and allowing investigators to interview dozens of officials, including the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, for 30 hours.

“I didn’t have to let him interview anybody,” Mr. Trump said. “I didn’t have to give any documents. I was totally transparent because I knew I did nothing wrong.”

Mr. Trump also renewed his effort to turn the spotlight on the investigators, saying they spied on his campaign. He referred approvingly to an article published by The New York Times on Thursday that described how the F.B.I. sent a government investigator to London in September 2016 to meet with a Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, as part of the counterintelligence inquiry opened that summer to try to understand the ties between the campaign and Russia.

“That’s a story bigger than Watergate, as far as I’m concerned,” the president said.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Says He Discussed the ‘Russian Hoax’ in Phone Call With Putin

Westlake Legal Group trump-says-he-discussed-the-russian-hoax-in-phone-call-with-putin Trump Says He Discussed the ‘Russian Hoax’ in Phone Call With Putin Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Putin, Vladimir V Presidential Election of 2016 Mueller, Robert S III Maduro, Nicolas
Westlake Legal Group 03dc-prexy-facebookJumbo Trump Says He Discussed the ‘Russian Hoax’ in Phone Call With Putin Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Putin, Vladimir V Presidential Election of 2016 Mueller, Robert S III Maduro, Nicolas

WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Friday that he discussed the “Russian Hoax” with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, in their first conversation since the release of the special counsel’s report, which found that “the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.”

In a pair of midday tweets, Mr. Trump said he and Mr. Putin had a “long and very good conversation” in a phone call that lasted over an hour and covered a wide range of issues, including trade, nuclear arms control, Ukraine, North Korea, and Venezuela.

Coming shortly after the release of the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which documented Russian efforts to tilt the election in Mr. Trump’s favor but did not find him or his aides guilty of conspiring with Moscow, the phone call appeared to be an effort to turn the page on the entire affair.

“As I have always said, long before the Witch Hunt started, getting along with Russia, China, and everyone is a good thing, not a bad thing,” Mr. Trump declared, reviving a phrase he has long used about Mr. Putin.

He made no mention of the growing tensions between the United States and Russia over Venezuela, where other senior American officials have accused the Kremlin of intervening to prop up President Nicolás Maduro, whom the Trump administration is working to remove from power. Nor did he mention his administration’s campaign to negotiate a new, more wide-ranging arms-control agreement with Russia.

Mr. Trump also gave no indication that he warned Mr. Putin against Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election, a prospect that has unnerved some of his own top aides, including the recently departed secretary of homeland security, Kirstjen Nielsen.

To the extent that the findings of the Mueller report figured at all in their conversation, Mr. Trump suggested that he dismissed the intense focus on Russian interference as a politically motivated effort by Democrats to discredit his victory in 2016.

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, told reporters that the call lasted more than hour, longer than almost any phone call the president has had with a foreign leader. She said the White House would put out a detailed summary of the conversation later Friday.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Prodded by Putin, Russians Sought Back Channels to Trump Through the Business World

WASHINGTON — At 9:34 on the November morning after Donald J. Trump was elected president in 2016, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund and an informal envoy for President Vladimir V. Putin, sent a text message to a Lebanese-American friend with ties to the Trump campaign.

Mr. Dmitriev wanted to connect quickly with someone in Mr. Trump’s inner circle, preferably Donald Trump Jr. or Jared Kushner. By the end of the month, he was in touch with Rick Gerson, a friend of Mr. Kushner who manages a New York hedge fund.

The two discussed a potential joint investment venture. But the special counsel’s report released Thursday suggested that Mr. Dmitriev’s real interest lay elsewhere: He had been instructed by Mr. Putin, he told Mr. Gerson, to come up with a plan for “reconciliation” between the United States and Russia.

Mr. Dmitriev and Mr. Gerson worked together on a two-page proposal for how the nations could cooperate on a variety of fronts. That document, the report said, later made its way to Mr. Kushner, Rex W. Tillerson, the incoming secretary of state, and Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist. Nothing came of the idea that the Russian sovereign fund would invest with Mr. Gerson.

The outreach by Mr. Dmitriev, according to the special counsel’s report, was part of a broad, makeshift effort by the Kremlin to establish ties to Mr. Trump that began early in the campaign and shifted into high gear after Mr. Trump’s victory. Those efforts were channeled largely through people in the business world in both countries. Especially after the election, they led to a conflation of diplomatic and financial interests that was a stark departure from the carefully calibrated contacts typically managed by an incoming administration in the United States.

Mr. Trump’s on-the-fly campaign, lack of preparation for victory and disorganized transition created a vacuum that, as Russia sought out avenues of access and influence, was quickly filled by a number of people from outside established foreign policy circles, many of whom appeared eager to portray themselves as access brokers or to generate business opportunities.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, did not find a criminal conspiracy by Mr. Trump or his campaign to influence the outcome of the election. But his report made clear how vigorously Mr. Putin sought to find points of contact and influence with Mr. Trump’s team — and how many people on the American side were willing to participate to one degree or another in discussions that touched on topics as varied as Mr. Trump’s desire to build a Moscow hotel to United States policy toward Ukraine.

It is not clear that the Russians had much, if any, success in influencing American policy through the back channels they established, although Mr. Trump’s comments often strike foreign policy experts as remarkably sympathetic to Mr. Putin. But the would-be influence peddlers in the United States and in Russia generally proceeded without much regard for the growing recognition that Moscow had just interfered in multiple ways with the American election and that any contacts outside established channels — especially those that mixed business and diplomacy — carried substantial political risks.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 20dc-contacts2-articleLarge Prodded by Putin, Russians Sought Back Channels to Trump Through the Business World washington dc United States Trump, Donald J Trump Tower (Manhattan, NY) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Putin, Vladimir V Presidential Election of 2016 Mueller, Robert S III Moscow (Russia) Manafort, Paul J

Among those in Mr. Trump’s inner circle who were fielding overtures and proposals from Russians or pro-Russian Ukrainians was Jared Kushner.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Angela E. Stent, a Georgetown University professor who recently wrote a book on Mr. Putin’s reign, said Mr. Trump’s willingness to tolerate informal interlocutors in the foreign policy field was “unlike any administration I have ever seen” but not unlike Mr. Putin’s own style.

The Trump White House, she said, is comfortable with “all these informal ways of doing business,” including giving a heightened role to family members and friends who are not required to disclose potential conflicts of interest or abide by government ethics rules. “That’s how the Russians like to operate,” she said.

According to the Mueller report, Mr. Putin wasted no time enlisting Russian oligarchs to carry the Kremlin’s message after Mr. Trump’s election. He convened an “all-hands” meeting of the country’s top oligarchs in December to discuss the risk of the United States imposing further sanctions in retaliation for Moscow’s interference in the election.

One of those oligarchs, Petr Aven, who leads Alfa-Bank, Russia’s largest commercial bank, also met privately with Mr. Putin shortly after Mr. Trump’s election. He told the special counsel that the Russian president expected him to build inroads with the incoming administration, then repeatedly queried him on his progress in the coming months.

On the American side, a varied cast of characters was fielding overtures and proposals from Russians or pro-Russian Ukrainians during the campaign and transition, including: Mr. Gerson; George Nader, the Lebanese-American with Trump campaign connections; Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman; Michael D. Cohen, the president’s longtime fixer and lawyer; and Erik Prince, the Blackwater founder and brother of Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump’s pick for education secretary.

Asked about his interactions with the executive at the Russian sovereign wealth fund, a spokesman for Mr. Gerson said in a statement that he engaged in no business with the fund and merely “presented personal ideas on humanitarian issues.”

Only rarely did anyone throw up a red flag, according to the report. In May 2016, after a campaign official reported that Alexander Torshin, an officer of a Russian state-owned bank, wanted to discuss an invitation from Mr. Putin to meet with Mr. Trump, Mr. Kushner, a top adviser to Mr. Trump, responded: “Pass on this. A lot of people come claiming to carry messages.” He added: “Be careful.”

But Mr. Kushner did not always heed his own advice. In mid-December 2016, he agreed to a one-on-one meeting with a Russian official he had been told had a direct line to Mr. Putin: Sergey Gorkov, head of the state-owned bank Vnesheconombank, which was under United States sanctions for Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Mr. Trump’s revolving cast of aides included several who had contacts with Russians like Oleg V. Deripaska, a billionaire close to the Kremlin.CreditEmile Ducke for The New York Times

An American investment banker with many contacts in Russia, Robert Foresman, said that Mr. Gorkov told him before the meeting that Mr. Putin had approved his trip and that he would report back to Mr. Putin afterward, the special counsel’s report states.

Mr. Kushner told the prosecutors that he did not prepare for the encounter. No one on the transition team even bothered to search Google for Mr. Gorkov’s name. Prosecutors were unable to resolve what was discussed. Mr. Gorkov publicly suggested it was business, while Mr. Kushner said it was diplomatic issues.

At the time, Mr. Kushner’s family business was hunting for investors so it could hold onto its flagship property, a Manhattan office building. As the special counsel’s report noted in recounting the meeting between Mr. Kushner and Mr. Gorkov, there “had been public reporting both about efforts to secure lending on the property and possible conflicts of interest for Kushner arising out of his company’s borrowing from foreign lenders.”

The template of Russia trying to advance its policy goals through the business interests of people in Mr. Trump’s orbit was set in mid-2015, almost as soon as Mr. Trump announced his candidacy. One of the earliest examples was the Russian response to Mr. Cohen’s pursuit of a Trump Tower in Moscow, a hotel construction project that Mr. Trump had chased for decades.

Mr. Cohen and another Trump associate, Felix Sater, were communicating with various Russians or their intermediaries about issues like site plans, the need for a Russian developer and financing. But the answers often concerned whether Mr. Trump was willing to meet with Mr. Putin. The possibility that Mr. Trump would travel to Russia for that purpose lingered until he clinched the Republican nomination in mid-2016.

Mr. Trump’s revolving cast of aides and advisers included several who had contacts with Russians or were being aggressively wooed by them, like Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

One of the better-connected was Mr. Manafort, who spent five months as a top strategist and chairman for the Trump campaign. He had worked for Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian billionaire close to the Kremlin, had spent the past decade carrying out the political agenda of Ukrainian oligarchs aligned with Moscow and was in regular contact with Konstantin V. Kilimnik, a Russian associate whom prosecutors have linked to Russian intelligence.

For months during the campaign, Mr. Manafort was feeding internal polling data to Mr. Kilimnik, expecting it to be transferred to Mr. Deripaska and the Ukrainian oligarchs, the report states. In 2016 and early 2017, Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kilimnik also repeatedly discussed a proposal that would effectively have put part of eastern Ukraine under Russia’s control.

Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, was among those fielding overtures and proposals from Russians or pro-Russian Ukrainians during the campaign and transition.CreditZach Gibson for The New York Times

Despite many months of outreach before the election, the initial interactions between Mr. Trump’s team and the Kremlin were almost comical. Hope Hicks, Mr. Trump’s campaign secretary, received a 3 a.m. phone call on election night from a foreigner she could not understand, followed by an email the next morning conveying Mr. Putin’s congratulations. She forwarded it to Mr. Kushner, writing: “Don’t want to get duped but don’t want to blow off Putin!”

But Mr. Putin quickly dispatched his big players, like Mr. Dmitriev, the chief executive of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund.

On Nov. 9, 2016, Mr. Dmitriev contacted Mr. Nader, an adviser to the royal court of United Arab Emirates whom he knew through joint Russian and Emirati investment projects and who professed to have Trump campaign contacts.

Mr. Dmitriev suggested he could meet Mr. Kushner at a coming World Chess Federation tournament in New York. He later said Mr. Putin himself would be extremely grateful if Mr. Nader could introduce Mr. Dmitriev to either Mr. Kushner or Donald Trump Jr.

Instead, Mr. Nader connected the Russian official to Mr. Gerson, Mr. Kushner’s hedge fund friend, and to Mr. Prince, Ms. DeVos’s brother, who had no formal role in the transition.

On Jan. 11, 2017, Mr. Dmitriev and Mr. Prince met at Mr. Nader’s villa at the Four Seasons Resort in the Seychelles. Mr. Prince told the Russian official that he provided “policy papers” to Mr. Bannon, a top Trump adviser, and that he would brief Mr. Bannon on their meeting. But Mr. Prince’s style seemed strikingly ad hoc.

Returning to his room after professing his hopes for a new era of cooperation, Mr. Prince learned that a Russian aircraft carrier had sailed to Libya. At a hastily organized second meeting, he told Mr. Dmitriev that Russian involvement in Libya was “off the table.” He told prosecutors that he conveyed that message “based on his experience as a former naval officer,” the report said.

Mr. Dmitriev found the trip disappointing, the report said. He told Mr. Nader he wanted to talk to someone with more authority in the Trump administration about a strategic road map for Russia and the United States.

Prosecutors tried in vain to verify what Mr. Prince and Mr. Bannon told them they had discussed about the offshore encounter with Mr. Dmitriev. But although carrier records showed that they had texted each other dozens of times before March 2017, the report stated, their phones contained no messages.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Prodded by Putin, Russians Sought Back Channels to Trump Through the Business World

WASHINGTON — At 9:34 on the November morning after Donald J. Trump was elected president in 2016, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund and an informal envoy for President Vladimir V. Putin, sent a text message to a Lebanese-American friend with ties to the Trump campaign.

Mr. Dmitriev wanted to connect quickly with someone in Mr. Trump’s inner circle, preferably Donald Trump Jr. or Jared Kushner. By the end of the month, he was in touch with Rick Gerson, a friend of Mr. Kushner who manages a New York hedge fund.

The two discussed a potential joint investment venture. But the special counsel’s report released Thursday suggested that Mr. Dmitriev’s real interest lay elsewhere: He had been instructed by Mr. Putin, he told Mr. Gerson, to come up with a plan for “reconciliation” between the United States and Russia.

Mr. Dmitriev and Mr. Gerson worked together on a two-page proposal for how the nations could cooperate on a variety of fronts. That document, the report said, later made its way to Mr. Kushner, Rex W. Tillerson, the incoming secretary of state, and Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist. Nothing came of the idea that the Russian sovereign fund would invest with Mr. Gerson.

The outreach by Mr. Dmitriev, according to the special counsel’s report, was part of a broad, makeshift effort by the Kremlin to establish ties to Mr. Trump that began early in the campaign and shifted into high gear after Mr. Trump’s victory. Those efforts were channeled largely through people in the business world in both countries. Especially after the election, they led to a conflation of diplomatic and financial interests that was a stark departure from the carefully calibrated contacts typically managed by an incoming administration in the United States.

Mr. Trump’s on-the-fly campaign, lack of preparation for victory and disorganized transition created a vacuum that, as Russia sought out avenues of access and influence, was quickly filled by a number of people from outside established foreign policy circles, many of whom appeared eager to portray themselves as access brokers or to generate business opportunities.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, did not find a criminal conspiracy by Mr. Trump or his campaign to influence the outcome of the election. But his report made clear how vigorously Mr. Putin sought to find points of contact and influence with Mr. Trump’s team — and how many people on the American side were willing to participate to one degree or another in discussions that touched on topics as varied as Mr. Trump’s desire to build a Moscow hotel to United States policy toward Ukraine.

It is not clear that the Russians had much, if any, success in influencing American policy through the back channels they established, although Mr. Trump’s comments often strike foreign policy experts as remarkably sympathetic to Mr. Putin. But the would-be influence peddlers in the United States and in Russia generally proceeded without much regard for the growing recognition that Moscow had just interfered in multiple ways with the American election and that any contacts outside established channels — especially those that mixed business and diplomacy — carried substantial political risks.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 20dc-contacts2-articleLarge Prodded by Putin, Russians Sought Back Channels to Trump Through the Business World washington dc United States Trump, Donald J Trump Tower (Manhattan, NY) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Putin, Vladimir V Presidential Election of 2016 Mueller, Robert S III Moscow (Russia) Manafort, Paul J

Among those in Mr. Trump’s inner circle who were fielding overtures and proposals from Russians or pro-Russian Ukrainians was Jared Kushner.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Angela E. Stent, a Georgetown University professor who recently wrote a book on Mr. Putin’s reign, said Mr. Trump’s willingness to tolerate informal interlocutors in the foreign policy field was “unlike any administration I have ever seen” but not unlike Mr. Putin’s own style.

The Trump White House, she said, is comfortable with “all these informal ways of doing business,” including giving a heightened role to family members and friends who are not required to disclose potential conflicts of interest or abide by government ethics rules. “That’s how the Russians like to operate,” she said.

According to the Mueller report, Mr. Putin wasted no time enlisting Russian oligarchs to carry the Kremlin’s message after Mr. Trump’s election. He convened an “all-hands” meeting of the country’s top oligarchs in December to discuss the risk of the United States imposing further sanctions in retaliation for Moscow’s interference in the election.

One of those oligarchs, Petr Aven, who leads Alfa-Bank, Russia’s largest commercial bank, also met privately with Mr. Putin shortly after Mr. Trump’s election. He told the special counsel that the Russian president expected him to build inroads with the incoming administration, then repeatedly queried him on his progress in the coming months.

On the American side, a varied cast of characters was fielding overtures and proposals from Russians or pro-Russian Ukrainians during the campaign and transition, including: Mr. Gerson; George Nader, the Lebanese-American with Trump campaign connections; Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman; Michael D. Cohen, the president’s longtime fixer and lawyer; and Erik Prince, the Blackwater founder and brother of Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump’s pick for education secretary.

Asked about his interactions with the executive at the Russian sovereign wealth fund, a spokesman for Mr. Gerson said in a statement that he engaged in no business with the fund and merely “presented personal ideas on humanitarian issues.”

Only rarely did anyone throw up a red flag, according to the report. In May 2016, after a campaign official reported that Alexander Torshin, an officer of a Russian state-owned bank, wanted to discuss an invitation from Mr. Putin to meet with Mr. Trump, Mr. Kushner, a top adviser to Mr. Trump, responded: “Pass on this. A lot of people come claiming to carry messages.” He added: “Be careful.”

But Mr. Kushner did not always heed his own advice. In mid-December 2016, he agreed to a one-on-one meeting with a Russian official he had been told had a direct line to Mr. Putin: Sergey Gorkov, head of the state-owned bank Vnesheconombank, which was under United States sanctions for Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Mr. Trump’s revolving cast of aides included several who had contacts with Russians like Oleg V. Deripaska, a billionaire close to the Kremlin.CreditEmile Ducke for The New York Times

An American investment banker with many contacts in Russia, Robert Foresman, said that Mr. Gorkov told him before the meeting that Mr. Putin had approved his trip and that he would report back to Mr. Putin afterward, the special counsel’s report states.

Mr. Kushner told the prosecutors that he did not prepare for the encounter. No one on the transition team even bothered to search Google for Mr. Gorkov’s name. Prosecutors were unable to resolve what was discussed. Mr. Gorkov publicly suggested it was business, while Mr. Kushner said it was diplomatic issues.

At the time, Mr. Kushner’s family business was hunting for investors so it could hold onto its flagship property, a Manhattan office building. As the special counsel’s report noted in recounting the meeting between Mr. Kushner and Mr. Gorkov, there “had been public reporting both about efforts to secure lending on the property and possible conflicts of interest for Kushner arising out of his company’s borrowing from foreign lenders.”

The template of Russia trying to advance its policy goals through the business interests of people in Mr. Trump’s orbit was set in mid-2015, almost as soon as Mr. Trump announced his candidacy. One of the earliest examples was the Russian response to Mr. Cohen’s pursuit of a Trump Tower in Moscow, a hotel construction project that Mr. Trump had chased for decades.

Mr. Cohen and another Trump associate, Felix Sater, were communicating with various Russians or their intermediaries about issues like site plans, the need for a Russian developer and financing. But the answers often concerned whether Mr. Trump was willing to meet with Mr. Putin. The possibility that Mr. Trump would travel to Russia for that purpose lingered until he clinched the Republican nomination in mid-2016.

Mr. Trump’s revolving cast of aides and advisers included several who had contacts with Russians or were being aggressively wooed by them, like Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

One of the better-connected was Mr. Manafort, who spent five months as a top strategist and chairman for the Trump campaign. He had worked for Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian billionaire close to the Kremlin, had spent the past decade carrying out the political agenda of Ukrainian oligarchs aligned with Moscow and was in regular contact with Konstantin V. Kilimnik, a Russian associate whom prosecutors have linked to Russian intelligence.

For months during the campaign, Mr. Manafort was feeding internal polling data to Mr. Kilimnik, expecting it to be transferred to Mr. Deripaska and the Ukrainian oligarchs, the report states. In 2016 and early 2017, Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kilimnik also repeatedly discussed a proposal that would effectively have put part of eastern Ukraine under Russia’s control.

Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, was among those fielding overtures and proposals from Russians or pro-Russian Ukrainians during the campaign and transition.CreditZach Gibson for The New York Times

Despite many months of outreach before the election, the initial interactions between Mr. Trump’s team and the Kremlin were almost comical. Hope Hicks, Mr. Trump’s campaign secretary, received a 3 a.m. phone call on election night from a foreigner she could not understand, followed by an email the next morning conveying Mr. Putin’s congratulations. She forwarded it to Mr. Kushner, writing: “Don’t want to get duped but don’t want to blow off Putin!”

But Mr. Putin quickly dispatched his big players, like Mr. Dmitriev, the chief executive of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund.

On Nov. 9, 2016, Mr. Dmitriev contacted Mr. Nader, an adviser to the royal court of United Arab Emirates whom he knew through joint Russian and Emirati investment projects and who professed to have Trump campaign contacts.

Mr. Dmitriev suggested he could meet Mr. Kushner at a coming World Chess Federation tournament in New York. He later said Mr. Putin himself would be extremely grateful if Mr. Nader could introduce Mr. Dmitriev to either Mr. Kushner or Donald Trump Jr.

Instead, Mr. Nader connected the Russian official to Mr. Gerson, Mr. Kushner’s hedge fund friend, and to Mr. Prince, Ms. DeVos’s brother, who had no formal role in the transition.

On Jan. 11, 2017, Mr. Dmitriev and Mr. Prince met at Mr. Nader’s villa at the Four Seasons Resort in the Seychelles. Mr. Prince told the Russian official that he provided “policy papers” to Mr. Bannon, a top Trump adviser, and that he would brief Mr. Bannon on their meeting. But Mr. Prince’s style seemed strikingly ad hoc.

Returning to his room after professing his hopes for a new era of cooperation, Mr. Prince learned that a Russian aircraft carrier had sailed to Libya. At a hastily organized second meeting, he told Mr. Dmitriev that Russian involvement in Libya was “off the table.” He told prosecutors that he conveyed that message “based on his experience as a former naval officer,” the report said.

Mr. Dmitriev found the trip disappointing, the report said. He told Mr. Nader he wanted to talk to someone with more authority in the Trump administration about a strategic road map for Russia and the United States.

Prosecutors tried in vain to verify what Mr. Prince and Mr. Bannon told them they had discussed about the offshore encounter with Mr. Dmitriev. But although carrier records showed that they had texted each other dozens of times before March 2017, the report stated, their phones contained no messages.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Mueller Report Likely to Renew Scrutiny of Steele Dossier

Westlake Legal Group mueller-report-likely-to-renew-scrutiny-of-steele-dossier Mueller Report Likely to Renew Scrutiny of Steele Dossier Washington Free Beacon, The Trump, Donald J Jr Trump, Donald J Steele, Christopher (1964- ) Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Rumors and Misinformation Republican Party Putin, Vladimir V Presidential Election of 2016 Page, Carter Mueller, Robert S III Moscow (Russia) London (England) KGB Fusion GPS Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Federal Bureau of Investigation Espionage and Intelligence Services Democratic Party Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clinton, Hillary Rodham central intelligence agency British Secret Intelligence Service Barr, William P

WASHINGTON — The 35-page dossier, spiced up with tales of prostitutes and spies, sketched out a hair-raising story more than two years ago. Russian intelligence had used bribery and blackmail to try to turn Donald J. Trump into a source and ally, it said, and the Kremlin was running some Trump campaign aides practically as agents.

But the release on Thursday of the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, underscored what had grown clearer for months — that while many Trump aides had welcomed contacts with the Russians, some of the most sensational claims in the dossier appeared to be false, and others were impossible to prove. Mr. Mueller’s report contained over a dozen passing references to the document’s claims but no overall assessment of why so much did not check out.

Now the dossier, financed by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and compiled by a former British intelligence agent, Christopher Steele, is likely to face new, possibly harsh scrutiny from multiple inquiries.

Republicans in Congress have vowed to investigate. The Justice Department’s inspector general is considering whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation improperly relied on the dossier in applying to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a warrant to eavesdrop on Carter Page, a Trump adviser. The inspector general wants to know what the F.B.I. learned about Mr. Steele’s sources and whether it disclosed any doubts about their veracity to the court.

And Attorney General William Barr has said he will review the F.B.I.’s conduct in the Russia investigation. His remark that there was “spying” on the Trump campaign has already encouraged Republican accusations of misconduct.

Interviews with people familiar with Mr. Steele’s work on the dossier and the F.B.I.’s scramble to vet its claims suggest that misgivings about its reliability arose not long after the document became public — and a preoccupation of Trump opponents — in early 2017. Mr. Steele has made clear to associates that he always considered the dossier to be raw intelligence — not established facts, but a starting point for further investigation.

By January 2017, F.B.I. agents had tracked down and interviewed one of Mr. Steele’s main sources, a Russian speaker from a former Soviet republic who had spent time in the West, according to a Justice Department document and three people familiar with the events, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. After questioning him about where he’d gotten his information, they suspected he might have added his own interpretations to reports passed on by his sources, one of the people said. For the F.B.I., that made it harder to decide what to trust.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_140469996_eb7a0b45-15f8-4e6b-a133-9af00170f2cc-articleLarge Mueller Report Likely to Renew Scrutiny of Steele Dossier Washington Free Beacon, The Trump, Donald J Jr Trump, Donald J Steele, Christopher (1964- ) Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Rumors and Misinformation Republican Party Putin, Vladimir V Presidential Election of 2016 Page, Carter Mueller, Robert S III Moscow (Russia) London (England) KGB Fusion GPS Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Federal Bureau of Investigation Espionage and Intelligence Services Democratic Party Cohen, Michael D (1966- ) Clinton, Hillary Rodham central intelligence agency British Secret Intelligence Service Barr, William P

Mr. Steele is a former British intelligence agent who served in Moscow.CreditVictoria Jones/Press Association, via Associated Press

Agents did not believe that either the source or Mr. Steele was deliberately inventing things, according to the former official. How the dossier ended up loaded with dubious or exaggerated details remains uncertain, but the document may be the result of a high-stakes game of telephone, in which rumors and hearsay were passed from source to source.

Another possibility — one that Mr. Steele has not ruled out — could be Russian disinformation. That would mean that in addition to carrying out an effective attack on the Clinton campaign, Russian spymasters hedged their bets and placed a few land mines under Mr. Trump’s presidency as well.

Oleg D. Kalugin, a former K.G.B. general who now lives outside Washington, saw that as plausible. “Russia has huge experience in spreading false information,” he said.

Mr. Steele declined to comment for this article. But Joshua A. Levy, a lawyer for Fusion GPS, the firm that commissioned the dossier, said the Mueller inquiry substantiated “the core reporting” in the Steele memos — including “that Trump campaign figures were secretly meeting Kremlin figures,” and that Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, had directed “a covert operation to elect Donald J. Trump.”

While The New York Times and many other news organizations published little about the document’s unverified claims, social media partisans and television commentators discussed them almost daily over the past two years. The dossier tantalized Mr. Trump’s opponents with a worst-case account of the president’s conduct. And for those trying to make sense of the Trump-Russia saga, the dossier infused the quest for understanding with urgency.

In blunt prose, it suggested that a foreign power had fully compromised the man who would become the next president of the United States.

The Russians, it asserted, had tried winning over Mr. Trump with real estate deals in Moscow — which he had not taken up — and set him up with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel in 2013, filming the proceedings for future exploitation. A handful of aides were described as conspiring with the Russians at every turn.

Mr. Trump, it said, had moles inside the Democratic National Committee. The memos claimed that he and the Kremlin had been exchanging intelligence for eight years and were using Romanian hackers against the Democrats, and that Russian pensioners in the United States were running a covert communications network.

The F.B.I. obtained a wiretapping warrant to monitor Carter Page, a Trump adviser named in the Steele dossier.CreditJ. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

Such shocking claims may have seemed more plausible because of the conduct of Mr. Trump and his advisers. He was outspoken in his praise for Mr. Putin and hostile toward NATO. And a dozen associates, including his son Donald Jr., met or corresponded with Russians, including some with suspected intelligence connections, while failing to report the contacts to the F.B.I.

Mr. Trump’s former lawyer Michael D. Cohen negotiated for a Trump Tower project in Moscow many months into the campaign — and later admitted lying about it to Congress, along with tax evasion and other crimes. But Mr. Cohen did not, as the dossier claimed, travel to Prague to conspire in the Russian hacking of Democrats, the Mueller report makes clear.

Similarly, Mr. Page, a foreign policy adviser, was invited to address a prestigious Moscow institute in July 2016 in what seems to have been a calculated Russian attempt to curry favor. But Mr. Mueller, after a two-year investigation involving 40 F.B.I. agents, provided no evidence to support the claim that the adviser had collected a brokerage fee for the sale of a share of the Russian oil giant Rosneft. Nor has any evidence emerged to support the dossier’s claims about D.N.C. moles, Romanian hackers, Russian pensioners — or years of Trump-Putin intelligence trading.

Other dossier assertions remain neither proved nor disproved, notably its claim about Mr. Trump’s alleged dalliance with prostitutes. The Mueller report says a Russian businessman texted Mr. Cohen a week before the election to say that he had “stopped the flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there’s anything else.” The businessman, Giorgi Rtskhiladze, later said he was referring to compromising tapes of Mr. Trump — but had been told they were fake.

The dossier began as part of a conventional opposition research operation by a small Washington firm, Fusion GPS. During the early part of the campaign, Fusion was paid by The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative publication funded by the billionaire Paul Singer, to scrutinize Mr. Trump, with the evident goal of uncovering dirt to help his Republican primary opponents.

After Mr. Trump emerged as the likely nominee, Fusion kept working but turned to a new source of funding: the law firm representing the Clinton campaign, Perkins Coie. Noticing in May 2016 the Trump campaign’s unexpected affinity for Russia, Fusion hired Mr. Steele, a veteran of Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency, to dig deeper. Mr. Steele has told acquaintances that he did not know the ultimate client was the Clinton campaign.

Former F.B.I. and Central Intelligence Agency officers who knew him respected Mr. Steele, who had served in Moscow before leading the Russia desk at MI6’s headquarters. After leaving government service, he had helped the F.B.I. with an investigation of FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, and with other matters involving Russia.

Mr. Steele, who co-owns a private intelligence firm in London, Orbis Business Intelligence, reached out to sources he had relied on in past Russia-related investigations. Between June and December 2016, he sent Fusion at least 17 reports, ranging from one to three pages, describing raw, unconfirmed information on a wide range of alleged connections between Mr. Trump, his aides and Russian operatives.

Mr. Steele alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2016 to what his sources were telling him.CreditAl Drago for The New York Times

Mr. Steele decided early on that what he was hearing posed a grave danger to the United States. He alerted an F.B.I. agent he knew well, and on Sept. 19, 2016, his reports reached the team in Washington that had started investigating Trump-Russia connections nearly two months earlier.

The F.B.I. assembled a group of analysts to check every line of Mr. Steele’s short memos. Agents hit the streets to find and interview his sources, eventually identifying and speaking with at least two.

By summer 2017, with Mr. Mueller’s investigation in high gear, the F.B.I. still could not vouch for much of the dossier. One often-discussed claim — the detailed account of Mr. Cohen’s supposed trip to Prague — appeared to be false. Mr. Cohen’s financial records and C.I.A. queries to foreign intelligence services revealed nothing to support it.

F.B.I. agents on Mr. Mueller’s team debriefed Mr. Steele himself in London for two days in September 2017, according to a person familiar with the meeting.

Last year, in a deposition in a lawsuit filed against Buzzfeed, Mr. Steele emphasized that his reports consisted of unverified intelligence. Asked whether he took into account that some claims might be Russian fabrications, he replied, “Yes.”

F.B.I. agents considered whether Russia had polluted the stream of intelligence, but did not give it much credence, according to the former official.

But that is an issue to which multiple inquiries are likely to return. There has been much chatter among intelligence experts that Mr. Steele’s Russian informants could have been pressured to feed him disinformation.

Daniel Hoffman, a former C.I.A. officer who served in Moscow, said he had long suspected the dossier was contaminated by Russian fabrications. The goal, he said, would be to deepen American divisions and blur the line between truth and falsehood.

“How many times have hearings on Capitol Hill used information from the dossier?“ Mr. Hoffman said. “How much damage has it already caused?”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com