Tuesday, November 1, 2016

US officials find no clear link between Trump and Russia or even that Russia seeks to influence the US election. Behavior has been continuation of usual Russian Cold War methods and not aimed at tilting election to Trump-NY Times, 11/1/16, page A21

10/31/16, "Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia," NY Times, Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers

"A version of this article appears in print on November 1, 2016, on page A21 of the New York edition with the headline: After Lengthy Inquiries, Officials Doubt Trump Has Direct Link to Russia."

"For much of the summer, the FBI pursued a widening investigation into a Russian role in the American presidential campaign. Agents scrutinized advisers close to Donald J. Trump, looked for financial connections with Russian financial figures, searched for those involved in hacking the computers of Democrats, and even chased a lead — which they ultimately came to doubt — about a possible secret channel of email communication from the Trump Organization to a Russian bank.

Law enforcement officials say that none of the investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government. And even the hacking into Democratic emails, F.B.I. and intelligence officials now believe, was aimed at disrupting the presidential election rather than electing Mr. Trump....

The F.B.I.’s inquiries into Russia’s possible role continue, as does the investigation into the emails involving Mrs. Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, on a computer she shared with her estranged husband, Anthony D. Weiner....

Still, they have said that Mr. Trump himself has not become a target. And no evidence has emerged that would link him or anyone else in his business or political circle directly to Russia’s election operations.

At least one part of the investigation has involved Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s [former] campaign chairman....Mr. Manafort, a veteran Republican political strategist, has had extensive business ties in Russia and other former Soviet states, especially Ukraine, where he served as an adviser to that country’s ousted president, Viktor F. Yanukovych. 

But the focus in that case was on Mr. Manafort’s ties with a kleptocratic government in Ukraine and whether he had declared the income in the United States and not necessarily on any Russian influence over Mr. Trump’s campaign, one official said.

In classified sessions in August and September, intelligence officials also briefed congressional leaders on the possibility of financial ties between Russians and people connected to Mr. Trump. They focused particular attention on what cyberexperts said appeared to be a mysterious computer back channel between the Trump Organization and the Alfa Bank, which is one of Russia’s biggest banks and whose owners have longstanding ties to Mr. Putin.

F.B.I. officials spent weeks examining computer data showing an odd stream of activity to a Trump Organization server and Alfa Bank. Computer logs obtained by The New York Times show that two servers at Alfa Bank sent more than 2,700 “look-up” messages — a first step for one system’s computers to talk to another — to a Trump-connected server beginning in the spring. But the F.B.I. ultimately concluded that there could be an innocuous explanation, like a marketing email or spam, for the computer contacts....

Investigators, the officials said, have become increasingly confident, based on the evidence they have uncovered, that Russia’s direct goal is not to support the election of Mr. Trump, as many Democrats have asserted, but rather to disrupt the integrity of the political system and undermine America’s standing in the world more broadly.

The [alleged] hacking, they said, reflected an intensification of spy-versus-spy operations that never entirely abated after the Cold War but that have become more aggressive in recent years as relations with Mr. Putin’s Russia have soured.

A senior intelligence official, who like the others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a continuing national security investigation, said the Russians had become adept at exploiting computer vulnerabilities created by the relative openness of and reliance on the internet. Election officials in several states have reported what appeared to be cyberintrusions from Russia, and while many doubt that an Election Day hack could alter the outcome of the election, the F.B.I. agencies across the government are on alert for potential disruptions that could wreak havoc with the voting process itself."...

[Ed. note: On June 30, 2016, Obama, for whatever reason, requested foreign monitors for the November 2016 US presidential election. This was well before the time when Trump began speaking of his concerns about accuracy of various voting machines and procedures. By that date however the Democrat candidate and her media had already attempted to suggest without evidence that Russia was interfering in the election to Trump's advantage. This NY Times article refutes that notion entirely. US officials have found no evidence that Russia was interfering in the election, nor any that they were trying to get Trump elected over Hillary]. 

(continuing): "“It isn’t about the election,” a second senior official said, referring to the aims of Russia’s interference. “It’s about a threat to democracy.”

The investigation has treated it as a counterintelligence operation as much as a criminal one, though agents are also focusing on whether anyone in the United States was involved. The officials declined to discuss any individual targets of the investigation, even when assured of anonymity."...


Added: On June 30, 2016, Obama, for whatever reason, requested foreign monitors for the November 2016 US presidential election, Miami Herald via Santa Rosa Press Democrat:

10/21/16,  "International monitors for a US election--just like in Haiti," Miami Herald, Andres Oppenheimer, columnist 

"For the first time ever, the Organization of American States will monitor the upcoming U.S. presidential elections, putting the United States in the same league as Haiti and other politically volatile Latin American countries.... 

The head of the OAS observation mission to the U.S. election, former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, told me in an interview that the outside scrutiny was requested by the U.S. government on June 30. 

The OAS has been monitoring elections in Latin America and the Caribbean for the past 50 years, most recently in Haiti, Guatemala, Colombia and Peru. Usually, governments request these missions to generate domestic and foreign confidence in the electoral process and to help prevent post-electoral violence. 

In this case, the OAS will deploy election observers in up to 15 U.S. states, including New York, California, Ohio, Georgia and Pennsylvania. Florida will not be included because of a state law that prohibits such outside election missions, she said. 

Chinchilla told me that the OAS is more than happy to conduct its U.S. observation mission, among other things because it will help debunk a frequent excuse by Latin American authoritarian regimes for not accepting outside electoral monitoring missions.  

“Many of them say, ‘If the United States doesn’t allow observers, why should we?’ ” she explained."...


For the record, as of 2015, John Kerry still thinks the 2004 election was rigged by the Bush campaign. In particular, Kerry thinks they rigged the vote in Ohio.


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