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Russian Collusion: Kushner-Associated Corp Linked to Oil Giant Gazprom in Gaining Monetary Leverage Over Facebook and Twitter

Evidence of harmful collusion and conflict of interest damaging to the United States related to the Trump Campaign and its associates has now grown beyond the scope of any of our deepest fears.

Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort has been charged with conspiracy against the U.S. His top aid Gates faces similar criminal charges. Trump Adviser George Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to the FBI for lying about his contacts with Russia. Carter Page’s 243 page House Intelligence Committee testimony and related documents show more links and apparent coordination between Trump campaign people and top officials in the Russian government in the U.S. 2016 election.

With more indictments likely on the way from Mueller there can be little doubt that the present scandal surrounding Trump and Russia is unprecedented in U.S. history. That evidence of the Russia-related influence over Trump campaign members is deep, pervasive, and on numerous occasions rises to the level, not just of alleged and proven criminality, but of firm allegations of some of the worst, most disloyal, crimes a U.S. citizen can commit during peacetime.

We often describe such crimes and allegations as ‘white collar.’ The comparison is unfortunate, because the term white is often associated with purity. There is, however, nothing pure about such acts as they tend to produce more collateral damage on a systemic level than even the worst ‘normal’ crimes.

Facebook, Twitter, and Kushner Targeted by Investments From Russian Oil Giant

And it is here that we come, at last, to new allegations based on a German news dump known as the Paradise Papers. The dump, which includes a mass of documents describing the shady dealings involved in the world’s off-shore tax havens, has created a media firestorm. It has also revealed yet more ties between top Trump campaign and administration officials and Russia. Ties related to increasing evidence of Trump-Russia linked attempts to influence U.S. media, corporations and their holders during the period leading up to and including the 2016 election.

Money from Russian state subsidized oil and gas giant Gazprom and Investment Bank VTB funneled through Yuri Milner controlled companies DST USA II and DST Investments 3 to ultimately form investments in Facebook, Twitter. Milner also used personal money to invest in a real estate company co-owned by Jared Kushner called Cadre. According to a recent report in The Guardian, Milner, used these Russia-backed investment vehicles to then purchase 78 million shares of Facebook in 2011, to invest 191 million dollars in Twitter during the same year. He also spent 850,000 dollars for a stake in Kushner-backed Cadre just prior to the election in 2015.

Who is Yuri Milner? According to The Guardian:

Milner once advised the Russian government on technology through a presidential commission chaired by Dmitry Medvedev, the former president and current prime minister. Now based in California’s Silicon Valley, Milner has invested $7bn in more than 30 online companies including Airbnb, Spotify and the Chinese retailers Alibaba and JD.com (emphasis added).

Motives for Meddling

These investments by both Russia and Milner are material to present Trump-Russia collusion and Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 election in a number of ways.

First, the social media investments in Twitter and Facebook amounted to a roughly 10 percent stake in these giants. Though not controlling stakes, such a high level of investment typically buys a considerable amount of influence through financial leverage. In addition, it is well established at this time that Russian agents produced numerous bot accounts and ads through these media giants during election time. With at least 126 million people being reached by Russian based misinformation from Facebook alone.

From Fortune on October 31:

Representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google are set to face hostile questions from Congress about how Russia used their platforms to influence U.S. politics. The problem of unfriendly foreign powers spreading propaganda is not new. It has happened for centuries.

What is new, however, is the reach of the Internet and modern social networks and the speed with which they can launch and propagate misinformation campaigns. This duo has made it easy to spread misinformation and target specific communities with detail that was previously unimaginable.

Tech companies have denied this is happening while happily raking in huge profits from the misuse of their platforms. Only in the past week did Twitter agree to ban ads from state-sponsored Russian news sites, years after government intelligence agencies and media critics called into question whether those sites were publishing outright lies.

Second, due to U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia’s oil and gas companies following the Ukraine invasion, and due to U.S. campaign finance laws, it would be illegal for Russia’s companies to invest in U.S. firms as part of an attempt to influence the U.S. election. Many have said that the Russian campaign against the U.S. 2016 elections rises to the level of an act of war.

Third, Russia’s investment in Cadre through Milner looks a lot like just one more part of a much larger apparent effort by Russia to gain influence over the Trump Campaign. The investment in Cadre was, thus, substantial enough to put Milner on Kushner’s radar. Furthermore, it is notable that Kushner, at first, failed to disclose his investment interest in Cadre to the U.S. government when initially signing on with the Trump Administration in January of 2017.

Milner denies any political rationale for his investments. However, his role in moving Russia-based funds into Facebook, Twitter, and Cadre has been made clear in the recent Paradise Papers dump.

Russia itself had considerable motive to support and influence the Trump Campaign. Manafort’s pro-Russian lobbying efforts ultimately failed and U.S. sanctions following the Ukraine invasion put a major damper on Russian oil and gas production expansion efforts. Exxon, whose former CEO is now Trump’s Secretary of State, was barred from cooperating with Russian oil companies in the Arctic (please also see Exxon fined for violating Russian sanctions). And related efforts by the Obama Administration to enhance responses to climate change called into question the need for new Russian oil and gas in the first place. Hillary Clinton’s moves to support Obama’s climate change policies and to further solidify American policy resolve against Russian aggression adds further economic and political motivation for Russian meddling in support of Trump.

So the massive investments by Milner and Gazprom-linked firms in both social media and in Kushner-backed Cadre should be viewed in this larger energy, climate, and geopolitical policy context.

(UPDATED)

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41 Comments

  1. So just to provide a mild account of the severe weirdness I endure…

    Some Putin bot attempting to comment is now threatening nuclear winter, using my name as (marstonfanney) for its email address, and claiming that I work for the CIA…

    The lunacy of all this is just palpable. It would be laughable if it weren’t such an obvious attempt at bullying.

    For the record, I don’t care how much the appropriate posts I write on the issue of oil company ties to Russian collusion in the 2016 campaign are suppressed. I’ll keep writing them. I don’t care if the trolls threaten nuclear holocaust, try to smear my name, or link me to the CiA. In fact, I take this as proof positive that I’m doing the right thing.

    And for those trolls still lurking — the fixation with nuclear holocaust is as reprehensible as it is both Putin and Mercer -esque. I will fight your world view til the day I die. So all you trolls out there can just go back to hell where you belong.

    Not at all directed at any of the more rational commenters here. Just a general statement to the more nefarious types that have proven time and time again that they are, indeed, attempting to interfere.

    Oh, and just one more thing, that DNS crap doesn’t work with me. Too savvy due to all my CIA training 😉

    Reply
    • wili

       /  November 7, 2017

      OMG, sorry you have come under this kind of cowardly bullying attack. Thanks for your bravery in sticking to your guns. It all shows how desperate they are to pick a (sorry) relatively obscure blogger who chooses to tell the truth as he sees it. Hang in there, man!

      Reply
  2. Reblogged this on The Secular Jurist and commented:
    The Secular Jurist recommends this as MUST READ.

    Reply
  3. Wow. The case is blowing open. Thanks for linking all the pieces together, Robert, and for always fighting the good fight.

    Reply
  4. wili

     /  November 7, 2017

    Bbbbbut…our fearlessly twittering leader tweeted, in all caps no less, “…NO COLLUSION!”

    Surely, his orangeness would never ever lie to us, would he??? /snark

    Reply
  5. Greg

     /  November 8, 2017

    Nice work Robert. They got to you fast. Must already be on their radar which is a compliment. The CIA slight falls flat. Despite their reputation they are a bunch of folks trying to protect an apparently fragile Democracy, and may just be full of some bureaucratic and operational heroes in all of this dangerous gamemanship.

    Reply
    • Hah. Yeah. Thanks for that. Getting more of the normal garden variety republicans (Tricia and Dave) now calling me a ‘democratic operative.’ Another compliment, I guess, for a former republican turned democrat during Bush years as I became more informed and as my party grew more and more intolerant of moderates and social liberals.

      Of course, they, like the various Trump/Russia supported misinformation meme purveyors continue to blame everything on so-called ‘crooked Hillary.’ Now there’s a witch hunt for you. Rs have been witch hunting Hillary for the better part of three decades now. Practically zero in actual witches found. Just a lot of BS to talk about on Hannity. Not that I view her as positively as I do others in the party. But geez, if that old whipping pole hasn’t just snapped off. Hillary is 30 times less a crook than Trump on her worst day. And hell yes I would rather have her than Trump any day of the week.

      And Obama… well, the more we get into the Trump Admin, the better and better Obama looks. Even twitter seems to agree:

      Trump wishes he could get this many likes and retweets. And he’s the sitting President supported by an army of fake accounts…

      As for Trump, well, we have a real scandal, real indictments, real crimes, real collusion and one hell of a cover up that keeps dropping real shoes all over the darn place. The Rs had ‘crooked Hillary’ and Obama birtherism. Those were their issues. And they just contrived most of it. We’ve got, well, worse than Watergate. Something we didn’t make. Something we never wanted in the first place. Hell, a non corrupted by foreign powers republican presidency is far more desirable even though I can’t say I agree with much of anything republicans say these days. At least I can respect those like Corker and McCain for having personal integrity — even though I think their policies are about as bad as they can possibly be. No comparison or equivalency between dems and Rs whatsoever. Night and day. Which is one reason why the trolls now sound so hollow and laughable. Although the shrill idiots calling for nuclear war are pretty chilling to me.

      Stupid democratic division narrative too is getting really, really old. I’ve been out campaigning all day and seen nothing but dems working together. Bernie dems, Hillary dems, all sorts of dems just fighting for the blue wave we all want and need.

      As for the earlier troll, I was a military intel analyst for a stint. Apparently that = CIA in trollspeak.

      Reply
  6. Greg

     /  November 8, 2017

    To Russia with love: This is why they will lose the game. They will never gain hearts and hearts are what this is all about — E.ON, one of the world’s largest investor-owned electric utility companies based out of Europe, has announced its ‘Freedom is Electric’ campaign, which aims to install 10,000 charging points in the region by 2020. A video below is pitch perfect. Not what it appears at first. Watch the stories about the making of this short promo too. Inspirational.

    And article with great background.
    https://insideevs.com/e-on-freedom-is-electric-aims-to-install-10000-charging-points-in-europe/

    Reply
    • Excellent! Build stuff. Plan for the future. Work to make things that make the world a better place. That’s the kind of leadership we need.

      Adding this for more troll fodder…

      And to Joseph (whose post I didn’t allow due to false equivalency narrative) —

      No I do not agree that both parties are the same and are just as corrupt. That’s just anti-factual. One party (dems) continuously propose broadly helpful policies, the other broadly seeks to destroy or undermine helpful policy while privatizing government and public goods, removing helpful financial regulations, worsening climate change, and granting tax cuts for the rich (republicans)…

      Reply
  7. Abel Adamski

     /  November 8, 2017

    Crunch time as I am being pushed into retirement (I am 70) and maximising my future income so using my Super Funds Direct investment option to the hilt using ethical and healthy investments.
    Todays research brief
    BRIEF-Aluminium maker Norsk Hydro in long-term deal for Swedish wind power
    Nov 7 (Reuters) – Norsk Hydro Asa (NHY.OL)
    * Signs new long-term power contract for norwegian aluminium portfolio
    * annual baseload supply of 1.65 twh in period from beginning of 2021 to end of 2039
    * long-term power contract with Markbygden Ett AB, a Swedish wind power company
    * Markbygden Ett is developing an onshore wind park located west of piteå, in northern of sweden, and is owned by GE (GE.N)
    Energy Financial Services and Green Investment Group limited, part of Macquarie Group (Australian Merchant Bank otherwise known as the Millionaire Factory)
    * wind park is a part of the larger Markbygden wind farm project developed by Svevind which is planned to have 1101 wind turbines and produce around 10 TWh annually when finalized
    * contract will contribute to supplying power to hydro’s aluminium plants after existing long-term power contract with norwegian state utility statkraft expires in 2020

    Reply
    • Great info. And thank you, sir, for your proactive investment strategy RE climate. Divest/Invest is an effective climate response strategy for the individual.Our money is also responsible for emissions if it sits in the wrong place.

      Reply
      • Jeremy in Wales

         /  November 8, 2017

        This change probably means nothing emissions wise as they we previously using hydro electricity, over 95% of Norwegian supply is hydro-electricity.

        Reply
        • Synergistic global impact. Thickens the food chain for renewables.

        • Abel Adamski

           /  November 8, 2017

          Thus releasing more Hydro energy for other industry and domestic in Europe, plus the contract provides a locked in funding floor for building of the 10TWh wind farm which will also increase the total renewable energy supply chain / portfolio.
          As Robert states, Synergy .

          Also a key part of the point is that this article was an investment brief in the investment industry provided via Reuters NOT a green investment organization, rather mainstream, my Super Fund is an Industry one (Union created with very low fees and good performance and now one of the top 50 in the world)

  8. Jeremy in Wales

     /  November 8, 2017

    Interesting article regarding the main UK useful idiots and their links to Russia and of course the US. Note the links to Assange and Qatar.
    https://www.byline.com/column/67/article/1929
    It is long read but the picture it builds is very damning.
    Keep up the good work.

    Reply
    • Russia’s campaign is aimed at both destabilizing the West and Europe. At sowing division and spurring political fragmentation. Classic divide and conquer. Western liberal democracies will need to be hardened against this kind of meddling going forward if they are to function effectively. Pro-Russia, pro-separatist, divisive factions will need to be reigned in. In general, the far right and its sympathizers on the right will need to be removed from power as most of the supportive messaging goes to these divisive and harmful elements. Russian targeting of misinformation on the left is most often aimed at ideological candidates and figures like Stein and constituents like Sanders supporters in an effort to generate a circular firing squad. Some of these voices are directly influenced by Russian active measures (Stein). Actors posing as Bernie supporters have worked to inflame divisions in the party. Bernie himself appears to have unintentionally enabled the situation at times due to differences between moderate dems and progressives. However, it appears that dems in general are becoming more innoculated to divisive messaging. This election, at least, we’ve tended to filter out the petty BS that is often hyper-focused on in the media (stuff like the Brazile book, the media telling the public that dems are divided, the usual infighting that has been with us since jump, the endless ad hominem v Hillary, and Bernie’s lack of support for moderates like Northam). We elected both moderates and strong progressives last night all up and down the ticket. This is what out party is capable of if we ignore the BS and get to work in a unified fashion. We can do this in 2018. But we are going to have to keep fighting and not let our guard down.

      Reply
      • Jeremy in Wales

         /  November 8, 2017

        Many of the events in the article I remember but good journalism joins all the dots together to give the broad picture that is hard to deny. Russia kills it’s journalists who dare to do that and it really is the one thing that can counter their activities because as individuals it is hard to remember all the facts over years or to be able to have the wider view.
        Your work is appreciated.

        Reply
        • Thank you, sir. I promise to keep doing my best for you guys. Been tough lately. So much to report on. So little time.

  9. wili

     /  November 8, 2017

    NJ and Virginia fall to Dems. More places where AG’s can prosecute the tRump.

    Reply
    • Not to put too fine a point on it — we don’t give a crap about what people say about Hillary or the DNC anymore. We want democrats in office. Both progressives and moderates. Better representation of America than republicans any day of the week.

      Reply
  10. xbutter

     /  November 8, 2017

    The previous time Putin’s bots used the nuclear war fear tool was against Obama in an attempt to scare him away from sanctions. It didn’t scare Obama then,and it won’t work now,either. Putin would love to be able to do to free Americans what he did to Magnitsky. It must really stick in his craw that he has to use people like Kushner and Milner to move stolen money to the West to avoid the [potential]sanctions of the Manitsky Act ( Trump won’t implement it,big surprise there).

    Reply
    • The nuclear war message comes up any time I write an article that runs counter to pro-Russian image crafting in western media. It’s obviously aimed at intimidating me into not writing stories that are critical of Russia or that analyze the policy goals of Russia which are presently quite hostile to western democracies. Russia has put itself in this position by supporting oil oligarchs, by believing a false narrative that climate change will be good for Russia, by attempting to play energy dominance games by suppressing renewable energy and innovation, and by coordinating with authoritarian bad actors in the west. This is primarily the influence of Putin’s regime as the whole country is now set up to support very narrow economic interests surrounding fossil fuels and old industry. If you were to do a study into the modern version of the resource curse, Russia would be one of the prime examples. I do not believe that the Russian people will benefit from this policy stance. Russia can’t defend an indefensible fossil fuel based economy for too long in the present day. If they can’t diversify their economy, stranded assets and malinvestment will sink it for years to decades.

      Reply
  11. Shawn Redmond

     /  November 8, 2017

    2nd or 3rd after an El Nino year, no good will come of this!

    The World Meteorological Organization’s provisional Statement on the State of the Climate says the average global temperature from January to September 2017 was approximately 1.1°C above the pre-industrial era. As a result of a powerful El Niño, 2016 is likely to remain the warmest year on record, with 2017 and 2015 being second and/or third. 2013-2017 is set to be the warmest five-year period on record.

    The WMO statement – which covers January to September – was released on the opening day of the United Nations climate change conference in Bonn. It includes information submitted by a wide range of UN agencies on human, socio-economic and environmental impacts as part of a drive to provide a more comprehensive, UN-wide policy brief for decision makers on the interplay between weather, climate and water and the UN global goals.
    https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/2017-set-be-top-three-hottest-years-record-breaking-extreme-weather

    https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/2017-set-be-top-three-hottest-years-record-breaking-extreme-weather

    Reply
    • Thanks for this, Shawn. Next El Nino is likely to see us push 1.25 to 1.4 C in the peak year. We are getting into a rather rough range.

      Reply
  12. Abel Adamski

     /  November 8, 2017

    Did I say Blow your Mind
    https://newatlas.com/lamborghini-terzo-millennio/52101/
    Lamborghini sets sights on electrified future with Terzo Millennio concept

    Lamborghini has peeled back the curtain on an audacious concept that offers a rough outline of the supercar manufacturer’s pathway into the future. The Terzo Millennio was developed in collaboration with MIT researchers, and is a thought experiment intended to inspire engineering breakthroughs that give rise to a new generation of electrified sports cars.

    Lamborghini hopes the collaboration with MIT scientists in creating the all-electric Terzo Millennio will bear fruit in the form of “radical innovation” across five key areas. The first of these relates to energy storage systems, with Lamborghini citing a motivation to move away from conventional batteries and explore supercapacitors as a way of powering the Terzo Millennio.

    Reply
    • Finally! Electrics as cutting edge and top of the line just makes sense. Tesla’s model works in that it drives innovation and advancement at the high price end — which then provides a base of expanding capability for the mass market. This has been the Silicon Valley approach to computing for a long time. Nice to see that it has finally reached wider adoption in the EV market.

      Reply
  13. Suzanne

     /  November 8, 2017

    At the NYTimes..”Syria joins Paris Climate Accord, Leaving ONLY U.S. Opposed”

    Reply
    • Yep. Writing about this now. Trump appears to be trying to out-compete all the worst actors in the world on federal climate policy. Good thing we have states and businesses in the U.S. that are part of the resistance to this nonsense. However, having a President with these views and policies is highly destructive.

      Reply
      • Suzanne

         /  November 8, 2017

        I am so thrilled what happened in not just VA and NJ..but in elections across several states..including the mayor of St. Petersburg..a Democrat winning..And the sweet irony, of a Democratic Woman …the first Transgender person to be elected in a state house…unseating a “proud” to be called Homophobe Republican man in VA.

        I must say it has people in the GOTV grassroots group I am involved with even more motivated, than we were 24 hours ago. Yes we can… bring back decency to our nation. 🙂

        Reply

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