By: Denise Simon | FoundersCode.com
Today, July 22, 1016, WikiLeaks published 50,000 files from the DNC. For background, Julian Assange, the known manager of the entire WikiLeaks program appears to have some Belarus and Russia loyalties. Furthermore, Paul Manafort and Donald Trump have relationships as well. Could it be that Assange and the Kremlin have colluded in the U.S. elections and the DNC is waiting for the moment to destroy the general election process?
Julian Assange and Europe’s Last Dictator
The former WikiLeaks chief will moderate a public discussion about Belarus, more here.
Related reading: Russian government hackers penetrated DNC, stole opposition research on Trump
Related reading: Donald Trump and the Siberian Candidate
Manafort didn’t just represent oligarchs tight with the Kremlin. He became business partners with them. He ran a private equity fund in which the aluminum magnate (and Putin pal) Oleg Deripaska invested millions. As the Washington Post has shown, this fund didn’t exactly do much investing. In fact, Manafort struggled to account for the cash he received. And rather than pay back Deripaska, he apparently went underground. In 2014, Deripaska’s lawyers noted, “It appears that Paul Manafort and [his business partner] Rick Gates have simply disappeared”: Manafort’s vanishing became a joke in certain Republican circles. So why has Manafort suddenly felt comfortable re-emerging into public view? How did he square his debts with Putin’s ally? Another question for the campaign chairman: What are his dealings with the Kremlin? It’s clear that he has advanced its interests in Ukraine, where he managed the political rehabilitation of its favored candidate, Viktor Yanukovych. He also went into business with one of the Kremlin’s primary natural gas middlemen, Dmitry Firtash. To what extent did these relationships bring him into the inner sanctum of Russian power? More here from Slate.
Trump himself and Russian oligarchs:
Trump On His Meeting In Moscow About A Potential Hotel Development: “The Russian Market Is Attracted To Me. I Have A Great Relationship With Many Russians, And Almost All Of The Oligarchs Were In The Room.” “A replica of Bayrock/Sapir’s Trump Soho hotel may be Moscow’s first big new hotel in ten years. Alex Sapir and Rotem Rosen of the Sapir Organization, co-developers on the Soho hotel at 246 Spring Street, met with Russian developer Aras Agalarov and Donald Trump over the weekend to discuss plans for the new project – Trump’s first in Russia. ‘The Russian market is attracted to me,’ Trump told Real Estate Weekly. ‘I have a great relationship with many Russians, and almost all of the oligarchs were in the room.’ Trump told REW that he is in talks with Agalarov and three other groups, and that there is no rush on a timeline for the project. He also did not disclose the hotel’s planned height or square footage, saying only that ‘it has to be a large development, big enough to justify the travel.’” [Real Estate Weekly, 11/12/13<http://therealdeal.com/2013/11/12/the-donald-sapir-execs-mull-bringing-trump-soho-to-moscow/>] More here.
Taking this a step further due to known business relationships between Paul Manafort and the Kremlin, the cable below demonstrates one such item of evidence.
Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s top campaign chief has had previous business interactions with the Kremlin and events regarding Ukraine. As noted by this cable:
(U) Sensitive but unclassified, please handle accordingly. Not for internet distribution. 1. (SBU) Summary: Party of Regions’ U.S. campaign consultants Paul Manafort, Phil Griffin, and Catherine Barnes called on DCM and poloff March 10 to share Regions’ concerns about election organizational problems that they feared could call the legitimacy of the March 26 election into question. Manafort complained about the indifferent attitude of OSCE/ODIHR. He also claimed that the identified inadequacies were not mere oversights, but were intentional on the part of those in power, specifically Yushchenko and Our Ukraine; he said that Regions’ past experience allowed them to “see what was coming around the corner.” If these shortcomings were not fixed by March 14, the day the Rada would consider technical amendments to address problems, warned Manafort, they could call into question the integrity of the March 26 vote. Manafort acknowledged that the 2006 election cycle was considerably better than in 2004 but stressed that the U.S., ODIHR, and other western countries and institutions needed to be as supportive of the democratic process in 2006 as they had been in 2004, lest the impression be given that there were two sets of standards depending on who was in power. Manafort added that the people who felt that the 2004 elections had been stolen from them — and since he was not in Ukraine in 2004, he could not judge what had happened — would feel that it was happening to them again. End Summary. Regions concerns about voter lists, precinct committees ——————————————— ———- 2. (SBU) Manafort stated that “massive inaccuracies” in voter lists and the lack of formation of polling station committees (PSC) made it impossible for some voters to check the lists and seek administrative remedies. We noted that Ukrainian NGOs had identified the same concerns (reftel). In response to a question, Manafort suggested that the inadequacies were not mere oversights but were intentional on the part of those in power, specifically Yushchenko and Our Ukraine, and said that Regions’ past experience allowed them to “see what was coming around the corner.” If these shortcomings were not fixed, warned Manafort, they could call into question the integrity of the March 26 vote, and an “explosion” could result. We asked if he thought the problems he had cited resulted from acts of commission or omission. He replied that those in power had the ability to correct the problems. 3. (SBU) Regions had delivered specific information on their concerns to the prosecutors’ office, the Central Election Commission, OSCE/ODIHR, and now to the Embassy. Manafort complained that the ODIHR deputy head of Mission, Robert Cherreli, had met with a Regions delegation including an MP earlier March 10 dressed completely inappropriately (jeans, hiking boots, shirt hanging out). He also characterized ODIHR’s response to Regions’ concerns as “indifferent; they didn’t seem to be bothered about the allegations and did not plan on taking any action.” We pointed out that ODIHR’s mandate was as an observer mission, not a lobbying participant, and that OSCE member-state Russia in particular had been highly critical of ODIHR, accusing it in the past of exceeding its observer mandate. 4. (SBU) Manafort disputed this line of argument, which ODIHR itself had used in response to the Regions’ concerns, claiming: “everyone knows what OSCE does in these sorts of situations.” Manafort warned that western countries like the U.S. and institutions like OSCE/ODIHR were risking the appearance of not pushing as hard for high standards of democratic process in 2006 as they had in 2004, and that there could be negative consequences in the eyes of people who saw the “West made certain demands on the one hand when one group was in power but reacted differently, or stayed silent, when another group was in power.” We made clear that the U.S. position on the importance of free and fair elections was unchanged from 2004 to 2006. Manafort replied that the “perception” nevertheless was “out there.” 5. (SBU) Manafort added that the people who felt that the 2004 elections had been stolen from them — rightly or wrongly, that was how they felt — would feel that it was happening to them again. In apparent anticipation of our next statement, Manafort offered that he was not in Ukraine in 2004 and could not make a judgment of what had happened. What was past was past; he was concerned about the present. 6. (SBU) Manafort’s associate Catherine Barnes opened a folder with documents she said supported the Regions’ complaints. The most specific example cited was a Luhansk precinct (Oktyabr district) in which 10,000 eligible voters were supposedly missing from the list, including entire apartment blocks; 16,000 were listed incorrectly, mainly due to mistakes in translating from Russian into Ukrainian. Barnes said that the possible remedy in the works was a series of technical amendments the parliament (Rada) could pass March 14 to address the problems. There was consensus among Rada factions about certain corrections, but disagreement on others. 7. (SBU) Manafort claimed that CEC Chair Davydovych supported all the amendments under consideration and had characterized the condition of the voters’ lists as being worse than in 2004. In contrast, according to Manafort, President Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine representative had rejected a mechanism to allow voters recourse on election day to have the PSC add their names, vowing that Yushchenko would veto it, either with a direct veto or fail to sign the legislation, which would have the same effect, since the election would be less than two weeks away after the March 14 vote. He also said that, except for Our Ukraine, there was broad agreement among all political forces including Tymoshenko’s Bloc that the amendments were needed. We observed in reply that in the 2004 election, a district court or the territorial election commission could add someone to the voter list, but not the PSC itself. Our understanding of the proposed legislative fix under consideration in the Rada was that it would allow a local court to authorize same-day additions to the voter list, not PSCs. 8. (SBU) Manafort suggested that on March 14, two sets of amendments could be put to a vote in the Rada, one with consensus support, and the other including fixes supported by Regions and other parties, “including some orange parties,” but likely to be rejected by Yushchenko/Our Ukraine. This rejection could cause a “major problem” for perceptions of the elections’ legitimacy. Even though “it would not change the result, it could change the magnitude.” 9. (SBU) Catherine Barnes, Project Manager for the “Ukraine Election Integrity Project,” a Manafort sub-project to train Regions’ poll watchers in the standards of the code of conduct adopted by the Party for the 2006 election cycle, briefly mentioned her efforts, which have trained over 1200 Regions’ members. The materials she handed to the embassy about the integrity issues brief notes that while Regions expects to win handily, it “has serious concerns about the political will of the current government to conduct free and fair elections, concerns that are increasingly shared by the CEC and other political parties in the Verkhovna Rada.” 10. (SBU) We noted the great differences between the 2006 and 2004 election cycles. On the streets of Zaporizhzhya, there were nearly a dozen political party tents representing the entire political spectrum lined up right next to each other, without incident or problem; on the same street in 2004, only one color was allowed to be seen. Manafort, Griffin, and Barnes nodded in agreement, with Manafort adding: “and that’s why we have to ensure this opportunity to cement gains made isn’t lost.” 11. (SBU) DCM raised the case of Black Sea TV, a Tymoshenko bloc-affiliated station which had been subject to a court ruling to shut it down, based on a petition from a local Party of Regions branch citing a clause in the election law universally condemned by free media advocates. Manafort said that the action had not come at the request of the national Party of Regions, claimed that the petitioning party was not a local Regions branch per se but were supporters of Yanukovych, and suggested that in fact Yushchenko-affiliated forces had inspired the shut down action in a “Black PR” effort to besmirch Party of Regions’ reputation. DCM asked if Yanukovych had or planned to distance himself from these actions. Manafort replied that this was deemed unnecessary, because “the courts would take care of this.” 12. (SBU) We also raised the March 9 statement of Regions’ Campaign Chief Kushnariov, who had attacked US policy towards Ukraine, accused it of meddling in the election process by passing the repeal Jackson-Vanik amendment, granting Market Economy Status, and signing a bilateral WTO accession agreement to keep in power an “orange” government willing to “take instructions” from across the Atlantic. Kusnariov’s statement was posted on the Regions’ website. Manafort said that he would talk to Kushnariov, who had not mentioned it to him in their daily morning meeting; the statement was in Russian, but had not been posted on the English version of the site, Manafort added. 13. (U) Note: In comments to the media in Uzhhorod March 9 picked up by the UNIAN wire service, Ambassador underscored concerns over the voters’ lists and sufficient staffing of precinct commissions. Other views ———– 14. (SBU) Our Ukraine’s Anton Klymenko held a press conference March 10 alleging that Regions, not Our Ukraine, was involved in voter list manipulation in eastern Ukraine, and that the “new” voter lists for some precincts in Donetsk which had stripped off many “dead souls” on the 2004 rolls had been replaced by the voter lists used in 2004, when fraud in the East was prevalent. Yarema Bachinsky, who runs a USAID-funded election-related education project, said that at this point there is no way to confirm the mutual accusations, which echo the charges and counter charges made in the 2004 election cycle. Since the Central Election Commission has not officially indicated how many PSCs are not fully functional, it is difficult to assess the extent of concerns about voter lack of access to a mechanism to check and possibly correct their names. 15. (SBU) This perspective was echoed by ODIHR’s Political analyst Beata Martin-Rozumilowicz, who told us that Regions, NeTak and Communists are making an issue of the transliteration of names, alleging that either their voters won’t be able to vote or there is a possibility of double listing/voting. ODIHR doesn’t have any way of verifying the lack of access to non-functional PSCs, though they cited a report that the CEC deputy Chair told the Rada in mid-February that 7000 PSCs lacked enough commissioners to function. CEC members are supposed to go out to the provinces over the weekend of March 11-12 to assess the current state of readiness. Regarding the Rada consideration of amendments, Martin-Rozumilowicz added that the CEC has proposed one set of technical amendments, and the Party of Regions has proposed its own. 16. (SBU) Note: Following is the original text of memo handed to DCM only at the conclusion of the meeting. The consultants did not voice the appeal in the final paragraph preceding the note. Begin text: MEMORANDUM To: Sheila Gwaltny, Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy in Ukraine From: Paul Manafort, Davis Manafort Re: Meeting with OSCE-ODIHR Date: 10 March 2006 This morning, there was a meeting between the Party of Regions and OSCE-ODIHR to discuss the party’s grave concerns about massive inaccuracies in the Voters’ List and the problems in the formation and functioning of PECs which makes is impossible for voters in some areas to check the Voters’ List and seek administrative remedies. These meeting was not positively assessed by the Party of Regions, which interpreted the OSCE-ODIRH response as indifferent. During the meeting, POR representatives made a presentation on the massive problems with the Voters’ List that they have identified in there core regions in the South and East and provided extensive documentation on the magnitude of these problems. In once district in Lugansk, for example, 10,000 eligible voters are missing from the list and 16,000 are entered incorrectly. They also indicated that some 7,000 precinct election commissions have yet to be properly formed, which impedes the ability to check and correct the lists as envisioned by the law. POR sees these issues as potentially leading to the complete unraveling of elections in Ukraine if not dealt with before Election Day. It is working in consultation with other political parties in the Verhovna Rada and with the Chairman of the CEC to propose a series of technical amendments to the parliamentary election law to address these problems. These include steps to ensure the proper functioning of PECs, reducing the quorum required for PECs to make decisions, and providing for the addition of eligible voters to the Voters’ List at the polling stations on Election Day. There is broad consensus on the problems and on the technical remedies. The main hurdle to adoption of these technical amendments is the party of power, Our Ukraine. During the meeting with OSCE-ODIHR, the severity of the problems was established and documented. They indicated that there is a multi-party process underway in parliament to provide technical solutions was elaborated upon and that the key amendment, additions to the Voters’ List on Election Day is being opposed by Our Ukraine. POR asked for assistance from OSCE-ODIHR in urging the Government to join with other political parties to support the technical amendments to the law in order to avert a disaster on Election Day. These technical amendments must be adopted at the Verhovna Rada session that begins on 14 March and the President must immediately sign the amendments into law to ensure their implementation. OSCE-ODHIR indicated that it was aware of the problems and appreciated the documentation provided by POR. It promised to look into the problems and indicated that its long term observers were already in contact with POR representatives in the regions. It indicated, OSCE-ODIHR indicated however that as an observer mission that it cannot intercede in the political process. PbR impressions of the meeting where that OSCE-ODIHR, while cognizant of the problems and increasingly willing to investigate and report on them, appears to have no political will to prevent the impending disaster by encouraging the President to take the necessary and broadly supported steps to fix the problems that his Administration created. In order to stop this ticking time bomb, the intervention of the international community is needed. Without the leadership of the United States, it would appear that the time bomb is set to explode. Note: The meeting was attended by Elena Lukash, POR representative on the CEC and Victor Slauta, an MP representing POR and who serves on the parliamentary working group considering technical amendments to the parliamentary election law attended as did Catherine Barnes, election integrity advisor for Davis Manafort. OSCE-ODIHR was represented by the Deputy Head of Mission, Roberto Cherreli, the elections advisor Kamel Ivanov, and the legal advisor Hans Birchler. The Deputy Head of Mission showed up in casual attire (jeans, hiking boots, shirt hanging out), to meet a member of parliament, which suggests the seriousness with which the meeting was taken. End text. 14. (U) Visit Embassy Kiev’s classified website at: www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. HERBST