BWW Review: The State Ballet Theatre of Russia in Brooklyn

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BWW Review: The State Ballet Theatre of Russia in Brooklyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BWW Review: The State Ballet Theatre of Russia in Brooklyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mueller targets the White House, another Russian threat looms, and Trump flips on FISA: The latest in the Russia probe – Business Insider
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BWW Review: The State Ballet Theatre of Russia in Brooklyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BWW Review: The State Ballet Theatre of Russia in Brooklyn

 

 

 

 

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks
BWW Review: The State Ballet Theatre of Russia in Brooklyn

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BWW Review: The State Ballet Theatre of Russia in Brooklyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BWW Review: The State Ballet Theatre of Russia in Brooklyn

 

 

 

 

Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks

BWW Review: The State Ballet Theatre of Russia in Brooklyn New York

The Sunday matinee performance, on December 17, 2017, The State Ballet Theatre of Russia performed the iconic ballet The Nutcracker. This company brought the enchantment from the East to the venue of On Stage at Kingsborough Community College. A sold-out performance! The audience was comprised mostly of local Brighton Beach and other Brooklynites. The music of The Nutcracker is one of my top three favorite ballet scores and there are numerous reasons for that. Yet, my favorite reason is the ease by which choreography can be created for each piece of this fairy tale.

This company had various sections in during which I was quite impressed. First, it is important to note that this particular ballet needs to have scenery that engenders fantasy mixed with child-like awe. And so, they did just that. From the Charles Dickens Christmas Carol-like living room to the bright colors and tapestry of the Land of the Sweets, I was pulled into Masha’s world. Masha is the child protagonist in the Russian version, whereas Clara or Marie is the United States version of this ballet. My one disappointment was that an actual nutcracker did not appear until the close of the entire performance. Besides that incongruency, the highlights are as follows.

Act I

The party guests entered in a choreographic style reminiscent of American Ballet Theater’s Romeo and Juliet, while the roles of the young boys were played by the adult female company members. Even though there were no children on stage, the young ladies’ costumes and miming played this off quite well. During Act I, I never felt that the choreography was too busy nor overwhelming to impede the focus on the festivities. Act I could have potentially contained so much movement with too many small groups dancing differently, yet instead the formations and melding happened so naturally. The Soldier Doll, played by Valeriy Tselischev [also Masha’s Prince for Act II Land of the Sugar Plums] caught my eye with his jetes set off by his a la seconde pirouettes. His strengths were in partnering Masha, played by Darya Demchenko and his double side tours. The Corps de Ballet’s Land of the Snow stayed strong throughout that lengthy musical interlude. I really appreciated this because it is important to end Act I with energy still at a high level. Bravo to the corps!

Act II

When Masha entered Land of the Sweets her Uncle Drosselmeyer was present as the Master of Ceremonies. I found it overbearing to include his character heavily in this act. However, my interpretation of his role was more so to inspire her dream rather than make the magic occur of the various dances in the following act. Nevertheless, the upcoming music and dances named as countries piqued my senses. It was evident that when the Russia Act occurred, the traditional folk dance tricks by Ilya Smirnov excited the audience with his floor spins. The corps for Waltz of the Flowers also continued to show their strength and classical technique. Their heads, arms, arabesques, formations, and so on were all in sync. When they were dancing in lines of four, one in back of the other, their precise formations exceeded several of the most highly rated ballet companies around. This showed me that the Artistic Director, Anatoly Emelianov, puts much rehearsal and effort not only into the soloist and principal dancers, but also for the corps.

Quality Russian classical technique was demonstrated by each member of this company. I feel there were some dancers that should continue to refine their theatrics while keeping up the daily regimen of ballet class. Nonetheless, as a whole I thoroughly enjoyed this holiday tradition of The Nutcrackerand Eastern flare that The State Ballet of Russia brought to it this season.

Note: On stage at Kingsborough offers numerous performances throughout the year. To find out about more upcoming events, visit their website at: <a href=”http://www.onstagekingsborough.org” rel=”nofollow”>www.onstagekingsborough.org</a>

Photo Credit: Hollywood Entertainment Group

Mueller targets the White House, another Russian threat looms, and Trump flips on FISA: The latest in the Russia probe – Business Insider

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Business Insider
Mueller targets the White House, another Russian threat looms, and Trump flips on FISA: The latest in the Russia probe
Business Insider
This week brought more drama and a slew of revelations in the Russia investigation. President Donald Trump set lawmakers scrambling when he blasted out an early-morning tweet about a controversial surveillance law that he said was used to “so badly 
The Russia Investigations: Bannon Comes In From The Cold, Trump Wavers On MuellerNPR
Mueller adds veteran cyber prosecutor to special-counsel teamWashington Post
Trump’s year: Congress bickers over Russia, Mueller loomsThe Mercury News
The Keene Sentinel –PolitiFact –NBCNews.com
all 981 news articles »
Latest in Russia probe: Mueller targets Trump, Fusion GPS testimony, FISA tweet

mikenova shared this story from Politics.

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FILE PHOTO - Then FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S. on February 16, 2011. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File PhotoRobert Mueller. Thomson Reuters

This week brought more drama and a slew of revelations in the Russia investigation. President Donald Trump set lawmakers scrambling when he blasted out an early-morning tweet about a controversial surveillance law that he said was used to “so badly surveil and abuse” the Trump campaign along with the “discredited and phony Dossier.”

That dossier, an explosive collection of memos alleging improper ties between Trump and Russia, also took center stage when Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein unilaterally released the testimony of a key figure in the Russia probe.

It also looks like special counsel Robert Mueller may be gearing up to go after his biggest target yet.

  • Mueller sets his sights on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: Trump’s personal defense lawyers are in talks with the special counsel about how to approach a possible interview request for the president. Business Insider also learned that Trump’s legal team is leaning on a 1994 independent counsel investigation into a Clinton administration official as a roadmap to limit the scope of Mueller’s questioning in the event of an interview.
  • Trump refuses to commit to sitting down with Mueller: In an apparent departure from his remarks last year — during which he said he would be “100%” open to testifying under oath in the Russia investigation — Trump told reporters that he would “see what happens” if he’s asked to submit to an interview. He added that because there was “no collusion,” it would be “unlikely that you’d even have an interview.”
  • Trump’s FISA flip-flop: The president sent lawmakers into a frenzy when he criticized the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act just hours after the White House released a statement voicing its strong support for it. In a tweet, Trump accused the previous administration of using FISA to spy on his campaign during the election. He later amended his position, reportedly after House Speaker Paul Ryan spent half an hour explaining the difference between domestic and foreign surveillance to him.
  • The former spy who compiled the Steele dossier thought Trump was being blackmailed: Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of opposition research firm Fusion GPS, said in his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the former MI6 officer who put together the Trump-Russia dossier, Christopher Steele, went to the FBI last year because he was concerned that what he had learned about Trump’s alleged Russia ties “represented a national security threat.”
  • Trump ramps up his attacks on the Russia investigation : After Sen. Feinstein released the Fusion GPS interview transcript, Trump lashed out at her and said in a tweet that ” Russia & the world is laughing at the stupidity they are witnessing. Republicans should finally take control!” He also said during an interview with The Wall Street Journal that there was “no crime” and “no obstruction.”
  • FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe urged staff to “hang in there” after Comey’s firing McCabe, who became acting director after Comey’s dismissal, added in a memo:  “As men and women of the FBI, we are at our best when times are tough. Please stay focused on the mission, keep doing great work, be good to each other and we will get through this together.”   
  • Russian hackers target the US Senate: The hackers who breached the Democratic National Committee servers during the 2016 election are now laying the groundwork to infiltrate the Senate, a cybersecurity firm said. Researchers at the firm said that while the phishing emails sent out are not advanced, they could be “the starting point of further attacks that include stealing sensitive data from email inboxes.”

Natasha Bertrand and Sonam Sheth contributed to this report. 

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Trump has given dozens of depositions in lawsuit-laden business career, but he could face tougher grilling in Russia … – Los Angeles Times

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Trump has given dozens of depositions in lawsuit-laden business career, his lawsuit-laden business career but he could face tougher grilling in Russia a tougher grilling …
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If President Trump is interviewed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, a step that may be unavoidable in the Russia investigation, he’ll square off with prosecutors who have spent decades firing questions at corrupt politicians, crooked  
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Authorities say three people have died after a bus collided with a car near the Czech capital.   Prague firefighters say a total of 48 people were injured in the accident that took place Friday near the town of Horomerice, just northwest of Prague.    Authorities say the municipal bus veered off the road and into a tree after it was hit by the car. The bus driver, the driver of the car and one bus passenger died in the crash.   Prague rescue service says 12…

Obama Administrations Bastardization Of Our Intel Agencies And FBI

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Mark Levin: Obama Administration’s Bastardization Of Our Intel Agencies And FBI Posted By Tim Hains On Date January 12, 2018 Thursday on his syndicated radio program, Mark Levin reviews the facts about reports that the Steele Dossier was used by the Obama administration to gain approval for a FISA court warrant to surveil Donald Trumps presidential … Continue reading“Obama Administration’s Bastardization Of Our Intel Agencies And FBI”

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The documents made public did not answer the key question: What motivated Paddock, a 64-year-old high-stakes gambler, to unleash gunfire from his room on the 32nd floor of the resort into an outdoor concert below. Paddock killed 58 people and injured hundreds more before killing himself. Washington Post Records: FBI knew Las Vegas gunman had … Continue reading“The documents made public did not answer the key question: What motivated Paddock…”

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Mark Levin: Obama Administration’s Bastardization Of Our Intel …

RealClearPolitics18 hours ago
Thursday on his syndicated radio program, Mark Levin reviews the facts about reports that the Steele Dossier was used by the Obama administration to gain approval for a FISA court warrant to surveil Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Circa News reporter Sara Carter reported this week that the …
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Politicizing Steele’s Raw, Unverified ‘Intelligence

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To recap, Steele is a former British intelligence agent who compiled a “dossier” of uncorroborated reports alleging a Trump–Kremlin conspiracy. Steele was …. So how did the Obama administration — the FBI, the Justice Department, and the intelligence agencies — treat Steele’s information? Did they grill …
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Even the Senate committee tasked with oversight of the intelligence agencies was spied on during the Obama administration. … This abuse was so flagrant that the normally pro-government FISA court blasted the Obama administration’s FBI and NSA just days before Obama was set to leave the White …
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Writer: I warned you about Obama

<a href=”http://GoDanRiver.com” rel=”nofollow”>GoDanRiver.com</a>Jan 8, 2018
If it turns out that the Steele Dossier was used by the Obama administration to spy on Trump’s team — and that’s where the evidence is pointing — it would be the biggest scandal of our lifetimes. A sitting president using the FBI and intelligence agencies to spy on the opposition party is the kind of thing that …
Mark Levin: Obama Administration’s Bastardization Of Our Intel Agencies And FBI | Video

mikenova shared this story .

Thursday on his syndicated radio program, Mark Levin reviews the facts about reports that the Steele Dossier was used by the Obama administration to gain approval for a FISA court warrant to surveil Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Circa News reporter Sara Carter reported this week that the dossier “certainly played a role in obtaining the warrant” that was used to spy on members of Trump’s campaign.

MARK LEVIN: This is a massive scandal, the likes of which we’ve not seen.
The bastardization of our intelligence agencies and federal law enforcement by a sitting Democrat administration aimed at destroying and defeating a Republican nominee — the opposition party.

And after the election, his transition. This is a big deal. This is the sort of things that happen in s***hole countries.
Representatives of four committees… the House Intel Committee, the Senate Intel Committee, the House Judiciary Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee have been able to review documents in a secure room at the Justice Dept. according to the Washington Examiner’s Byron York.
They were not allowed to take the documents out of the room or copy them, but they could take notes. They thus know the answer to the was the dossier used to spy question.
The answer to the question is classified, however, as of yesterday morning, no one had yet leaked it. However, late yesterday, according to reporter Sarah Carter, multiple sources told her that the dossier was used along with other evidence to obtain the warrant from the FISA court.
Our old buddy Fox News’s Sean Hannity corroborated the news on his show that night, saying that three separate sources told him the same thing. This dossier, a 35-page hit piece of opposition research was put together by former British spy Christopher Steele for the liberal opposition research group Fusion GPS, which was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democrat National Committee.
According to Carter, the sources suggest there will be more information in the coming weeks regarding systemic FISA abuse.
‘(The dossier) certainly played a role in obtaining the warrant,’ added another senior U.S. official, with knowledge of the dossier. ‘Congress needs to look at the FBI officials who were handling this case and see what, if anything, was verified in the dossier.’
The law enforcement source said the broader question is why did the FBI use a Democrat-paid-for dossier to actually surveil another campaign.
To show you how utterly and thoroughly corrupt the media is, most of the media are ignoring this. Most of the media are ignoring this. This is such a massive scandal, we can not live in a free society when administrations of one party are surveilling candidates of another party, or transitions of another party.

Mark Levin: Obama Administration’s Bastardization Of Our Intel Agencies And FBI – RealClearPolitics

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Mark Levin: Obama Administration’s Bastardization Of Our Intel Agencies And FBI
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‘Congress needs to look at the FBI officials who were handling this case and see what, if anything, was verified in the dossier.’ The law enforcement source said the broader question is why did the FBI use a Democrat-paid-for dossier to actually 
Nunes charges ‘abuse’ of government surveillance by FBI and Justice officialsFox News
Fusion GPS Transcript Says ‘Pee’ Story Prompted Christopher Steele to Contact FBIBreitbart
Report: FBI Used Unverified Anti-Trump Dossier to Obtain FISA WarrantPJ Media
CNSNews.com
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The Steele Dossier: Let Transparency Trump Politics

mikenova shared this story from The Cipher Brief.

President Donald Trump, concerned that investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections cast doubt over his legitimacy, has consistently dismissed and denigrated such probes. The decision by Dianne Feinstein, as the Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, to unilaterally release the transcript of closed testimony by Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson adds a measure of much-needed transparency in the still-unfolding investigations. A careful—and apolitical–reading of the more than 300 pages sheds light on the work of the political research firm and the credibility of revelations thus far.

The primary impetus for the nine hours of Senate staff questioning of Simpson was the so-called “Steele Dossier,” a series of raw intelligence reports collected by former British MI-6 officer Christopher Steele, many of which paint Trump and his organization in a highly negative light.

Unfortunately, partisan politics are overshadowing the content of the dossier and the veracity of Steele and Simpson. Information in the transcript contributes significantly to the public’s ability to understand Russia’s goals for the election, as well as the level of professionalism not only of Fusion GPS but also of Steele and, indeed, the FBI.

So it is difficult to ascribe anything but political calculation to Republican opposition to making the transcript public. A spokesperson for Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said the release “undermines the integrity of the committee’s oversight work and jeopardizes its ability to secure candid, voluntary testimony.” These complaints do not appear to be serious, given that the committee presumably could subpoena witnesses if it so desired. And in today’s leaky Washington, there is only an even chance that a transcript would remain confidential.

Simpson himself called for release of the transcript in a recent op-ed in The New York Times. Certainly no classified information was discussed, a valid reason often used to conduct closed hearings. Given all of this, Grassley’s opposition to the release of the transcript appears to be first and foremost a political decision, designed to keep Simpson’s comments out of the public eye.

Motivations for the Initial Research

Many believe the Democratic Party hired Fusion GPS to use Steele to get Russian dirt on Trump, and that this was a key goal from the outset. In fact, according to Simpson, his firm started its research on Trump the same way it did when researching anybody else, Republican or Democrat – using public sources.

The research “wasn’t really a Russia-focused investigation for the first half of it,” he told the committee staff. This is important because Simpson noted to the staffers that most of Fusion’s employees were former journalists, and as such, were used to conducting research using publicly available information.

It is also interesting that Simpson’s initial focus was on Trump’s business activities, not just in the U.S. but worldwide. As we will see in a moment, some of the business that caught Fusion’s attention was in Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union.

Simpson indicated that only when public records had been exhausted did he contact Steele, someone he had known for years, in an attempt to obtain additional information, especially in regard to Trump activities in and around Russia. Portions of what Fusion researchers uncovered led them to suspect Russia played a significant role in the Trump story – suspicions that later seemed to be validated by Steele’s work with his Russian sources.

A Long History of Questionable Business Deals

This is a theme that arose several times during Simpson’s questioning. The Fusion CEO indicated that his initial research focused on identifying links between Trump’s business empire and organized crime worldwide. While the research did turn up non-Russian activity (the Italian mob is mentioned, for example though without detail), Fusion began to find more and more Russia-centric organized crime connections.

Felix Sater, whom Simpson describes as having ties to Russian organized crime, was an example. Simpson said that Trump stated under oath at some point – Simpson didn’t specify the context) that he did not know Sater well. Simpson indicated that “this was not true,” and that Trump “continued to associate with [Sater] long after he learned of Felix’s organized crime ties.”

Trump had business dealings all over the world, and trying to track them proved difficult, Simpson said.

“We became interested in his (Trump’s) [Trump’s] overseas business dealings particularly because they were so opaque and seemed to involve … to say the least, colorful characters,” Simpson said.

As Fusion dug further into Trump’s deals in the former Soviet Union –Kazakhstan, Georgia and Azerbaijan, for example – Simpson became concerned.

“What came back was something … very different and obviously more alarming … which outlined a political conspiracy and a much broader set of issues than the ones we went looking for,” Simpson said. “Initially, we didn’t know what to do with this.”

Fusion’s research into the Trump businesses apparently revealed not only ties to Russian organized crime, but also possible darker intentions on the part of the Russian government. Now Fusion found itself unable to use public information, and so Simpson brought in Steele as a contractor to dig deeper, using the human intelligence techniques Steele had learned as an intelligence officer.

Simpson’s Trust of Steele

The Fusion CEO told the Senate staffers that he had known and worked with Steele for “eight or nine years,” and that, in a business where “a lot of people make stuff up and sell baloney,” Steele stood apart. Simpson made the common-sense business argument that good research and reporting, such as what Steele had provided in the past, made it more likely that Fusion and Steele would get additional business in the future.

Steele is “well-respected in his field, and, as I say, everyone I know who’s ever dealt with him thinks he’s quite good,” Simpson said. “That would include people from the U.S. government.”

So convinced was Fusion of Steele’s skills that Simpson believed Steele would be able to sort out what might be Russian disinformation, should one or more of Steele’s sources be under the control of the Russian government. Simpson reasoned that, given Steele’s long career as an intelligence officer focused on Russia, he would be able to identify false information provided by his Russian sources, and either omit them or include disclaimers in his reporting. This would be standard practice for any professional intelligence officer.

Reporting to the FBI … or Not

One of the more fascinating portions of the transcript describes Simpson and Steele wrestling with how to manage the information that began to flow in regarding the Trump organization’s cooperation with the Russian government. It is clear from the transcript that neither man was initially sure what to do with the bombshell information.

According to Simpson, it was Steele who first raised the issue of passing some of his information to the FBI, given Steele’s concerns that the Russians were attempting to influence the U.S. presidential elections. Simpson at first demurred, saying he needed to think about it. But Steele persisted, and when Steele said he had an old friend who was an FBI officer serving in Rome who could be used as a conduit, Simpson posed no objection to sharing the reporting with him.

“Let’s be clear,” Simpson also told the staffers, “this was not considered by me to be part of the work that we were doing … To me this was, like, you know, you’re driving in to work and you see something happen and you call 911.”

The transcripts reveal Simpson to be a convincing character, one whose firm had been hired over the years to do opposition research on both Republican and Democratic candidates. Fusion GPS’s modus operandi regarding such research seems consistent with Simpson’s journalistic roots and the skills he honed while working as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

On several occasions, Simpson highlighted the need to remain professionally and politically neutral when doing his job, not just because of the ethics of his work, but also because he (and his contractor Steele) understood that being an honest broker in his line of work would mean more clients would hire him in the future.

A question that isn’t answered in the hearing is what Steele told Simpson about who his Russian sources were, and how he obtained information from them. On multiple occasions, Simpson declined to answer questions about the sources in order to protect them; at one point, Simpson’s lawyer, Joshua Levy, pushed back at staffers’ questions on this by saying that one person in Russia had already died as a result of the release of the dossier.

Simpson was clearly focused on the reliability of Steele’s sources. But in the end, he put his trust in Steele’s expertise running Russian agents when he was an intelligence officer.

Much of the information discussed in the Simpson transcripts was already known. But in stark contrast to Trump and, apparently, Republicans on the committee, Simpson and Steele were so troubled by the information they collected that they decided to approach the FBI.

“I mean, for both of us, it was citizenship,” said Simpson. Perhaps citizenship is a concept worth remembering in the future when dealing with questions of Trump and Russia.

Putins Trolls Are Targeting Trumps GOP CriticsEspecially John McCain

mikenova shared this story from Russia Mother Jones.

When John McCain checked into Walter Reed Medical Center in December as he continued his battle against cancer, Russian trolls seized the moment to spread a conspiracy theory that the veteran Republican senator was using his health as a pretense to dodge a rising scandal concerning the so-called Trump-Russia dossier. Far-right stories attacking McCain a frequent critic of President Trump were among the top 10 shared by Kremlin-backed Twitter accounts in the days after McCain was hospitalized, as well as later in the month after he returned to Arizona, according to recent analysis by the cybersecurity project Hamilton 68.

While the vast majority of the attacks from the 600 Twitter accounts tracked in real time by the Hamilton 68 dashboard are aimed at Democrats, the trolls also turn their sights on Republicans who sometimes stand up to Trump. Repeat targets have included Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. National security adviser H.R. McMaster has also been a target. But no Republican has faced more persistent wrath from the Russian-linked accounts than McCain, says Bret Schafer, an analyst for the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a group of national-security experts behind the dashboard working to expose Kremlin meddling in US politics. And those attacks on McCain have intensified in recent weeks.

In the other cases, its usually one day of concentrated activity going after them, any time one of those figures would come out against Trump, Schafer says. McCain has been a much more consistent target.

Schafer says that the trolls tend to spread disinformation from far-right American sites rather than content from explicitly Russian ones. GatewayPundit.com and TruePundit.comsites to the right of Breitbartthose are our frequent flyers, he says. The Russians are latching onto hyperpartisan content.

In September, McCain drew the trolls fire when he came out against the Graham-Grassley overhaul of the Affordable Care Act; the day after his statement against the bill, six of the top 10 trending topics on the dashboard reflected content attacking the senator. In December, the shared content took a more personal turn, aiming at the senators health, including a story from True Pundit carrying the headline, As the Trump Dossier Scandal Grows and Implicates Him, McCain checks into Hospital. The True Pundit story claimed: This is not the fist [sic] time McCain has sought medical treatment after his role in recent anti-Trump scandals have heated up. Another story promoted from the site quoted Beltway insiders as saying, new demands to answer for his role in either underwriting or promoting the Trump phony dossier are stressing the Arizona senators fragile health.

McCain has a long history of hard-line stances on Russia and he was an early advocate for a bipartisan commission to investigate Trumps Russia connections. In May he called Russian President Vladimir Putin the premier and most important threat, more so than ISIS. After special counsel Robert Muellers team indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in October, McCain said, I told you months ago that this was a centipede and shoes would drop, and I guarantee you more shoes will drop.”

McCain has been out of the spotlight the past few weeks as hes battled his illness; he missed the end-of-the-year tax-bill vote, but he issued a statement in late December praising the administrations plan to supply Ukraine with anti-tank weapons to fight Russian separatist forces. McCains office hasnt commented on the recent social-media attacks against the senator, but the Arizona senator has previously criticized Russian disinformation efforts and noted that he was targeted in some of the fake online advertisements purchased by Russian troll accountspart of a broader social-media operation that sought to exploit racial divisions and attack U.S. foreign policy. These Kremlin-backed advertisements are just one element of Vladimir Putins long-term goal of undermining democracies around the world, McCain said last fall. Putins Russia has no meaningful allies, so it seeks to sow dissent among us and divide us from each other.

Another longtime Republican critic of both Russia and Trump was briefly targeted by the Hamilton-monitored Russian troll network in early January. Mitt Romney, a potential candidate to run for Utah Sen. Orrin Hatchs seat this November, was the talk of the dashboard accounts on Jan. 2, after Hatch announced his retirement, and #neverromney registered as a trending hashtag on Hamilton the next day. But the accounts soon turned their attention to the fallout from Michael Wolffs Fire and Fury book, and Schafer cautioned that its too soon to say whether they will take an active interest in the Utah Senate race like they did in the Roy Moore Alabama Senate race. He said analysts look for multiple hashtags and urls on a topic to consider it an ongoing campaign. Its something were definitely going to be tracking over the next couple of months, Schafer says. Time will tell whether its a race they take a real interest in, or if Romney is just an occasional target that they drag out to curry favor with the pro-Trump crowd.

Even back in the 2016 presidential primary season, Russian online smear campaigns were spotted attacking Republicans who opposed Trump, according to former FBI special agent Clint Watts, who told the New York Times that Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Lindsey Graham were all targets at the time.

McCains and Romneys support for tough policies on Russia may make them obvious targets for trolls, but the co-directors of the Alliance for Securing Democracy emphasize that the influence campaign transcends party lines. In a recent issue of Democracy Journal, Laura Rosenberger and Jamie Fly wrote: The Kremlins ultimate goal is not necessarily to advance one party over anotherthough that can be a short-term means to the ultimate end. Moscows attack on democracy is not focused solely on elections, but has a broader scope, and a larger target: the norms and institutions that underpin our very democratic system.

In fact, the most prominent theme recently among the Russian-backed accounts is a growing campaign to discredit the Justice Department and FBI, Schafer says. These attacks increased from around 5% of links shared in September to about 15% of the links in December. The trolls push a deep state narrative to undermine the agencies, as well as attack Mueller and his Russia investigation directly. In early December after Muellers team indicted former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the network shared stories deriding the tainted investigation and claiming Muellers investigation is dead. It goes back to the idea that theyre doing this to erode trust in our institutions, Schafer says.

And in the first week of January, one top-shared story from True Pundit attempted to link a Costa Rican plane crash to former FBI Director James Comey, because the story claimed one of Comeys former hedge-fund colleagues was killed in the crash. The article has already kicked off conspiracy theories on sites like Reddit, where citizen investigators have begun to piece together coincidences, analysts wrote in the Alliance for Securing Democracys weekly newsletter. This is the same formula used in the Seth Rich case, where a wild and unfounded claim was placed online, gained credence through posts and reposts on message boards, and was eventually adopted by more credible news sources.

Former senior CIA official John Sipher says the FBI is a prime target for Russian influence campaigns because the agency directly threatens Kremlin intelligence operations in the USand he points out that Trumps own attacks on federal agencies make the trolls job easier. The Russians know that public support for US security institutions is critical, and that President Trump’s attacks aim directly at that public support.  Within the Republican Party, Trumps attacks on the agencies continuing in recent dayshave widened divisions between conservative lawmakers who have piled on the criticism of Mueller and others who worry that the party, which has historically aligned itself with law-enforcement agencies, will be damaged by the offensive. You cant have a situation where people say, Oh, you cant trust the F.B.I., New York Rep. Peter King recently told the New York Times. That creates a spirit of anarchy.

Left-leaning audiences have been targeted by Russian disinformation efforts, too: Fake LGBT United and Blacktivist Facebook pages were among the accounts shut down last year when it was revealed they were operated by the Internet Research Agency troll farm in St. Petersburg, Russia. But campaigns aimed at liberal Twitter users dont often show up in the Hamilton dashboard, which focuses on a coordinated network of accounts that put out 20,000 to 25,000 tweets a day tailored to a far-right, pro-Trump audience, Schafer says. This is an alt-right audience targeted by the Russians that is being spoon-fed disinformation.

Schafer says he and his colleagues are exploring how best to capture Kremlin influence campaigns that target a left-leaning audience on Twitter, and they hope to gain a better understanding of those efforts. The Russian bots and trolls arent just pro-Trump, he says. As long as theyre fomenting division and chaos, they dont really care.

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“Russia-gate is becoming FBI-gate 9:28 AM 1/12/2018 Russian trolls and US senators Mike Novas Shared NewsLinks

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Clinton conspiracy theories crumble in Fusion GPS interview

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Tom Nichols, Opinion contributor Published 12:59 p.m. ET Jan. 11, 2018 | Updated 6:41 p.m. ET Jan. 11, 2018

CLOSE

A new testimony released by the Senate Judiciary Committee reveals some shocking information. Susana Victoria Perez (@susana_vp) has more. Buzz60

Protest poster at anti-Trump rally, New York City, June 3, 2017.(Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, Getty Images)

The transcript of the Senate intelligence committee’s interview with Fusion GPS director Glenn Simpsonis now in the public domain, put there by a frustrated Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the wake of ongoing Republican conspiracy theories about what Simpson did or did not tell the Senate.

Somehow, GOP critics of the Trump-Russia investigation have tried to put a positive spin on these materials, as if Simpson’s answers prove their point that the whole business is a witch hunt.

In fact, there are only two ways to read the Simpson interview: either it says nothing, or it has blown up months of carefully constructed conspiracy theorizing.

More: Where is the GOP outrage as Trump turns America into a banana republic?

More: Trump’s not being defamed. If he was, he wouldn’t need to change the libel laws.

Let’s start by piecing together, as best we can, what various critics of the investigation, including the most vociferous Trump supporters, think is going on.

By now we’re all familiar with the “Steele dossier,” a raw — in every way — report from a British spy who was engaged by an opposition research firm called Fusion GPS. It makes sensational claims about years of Russian operations against President Donald Trump.

If not for Steele’s file, the GOP reasoning goes, the FBI would never have started down the path of investigating Trump, which would never have led to FBI Director James Comey approaching Trump about the file; absent this, Comey would never have been fired, there would be no Mueller probe, and all would be right with the world.

But what about Trump officials meeting with the Russians during the campaign? Indeed, in the telling of at least some Trump defenders, these were the result of orders issued from Clinton’s volcano lair for Fusion to lure Donald Trump Jr. and others into a room with shady Russians for meetings that were unwise — or even “treasonous,” if banished Trump advisor Steve Bannon is to be believed. Somehow, after all this slick tradecraft, Clinton’s people never saw it coming when the Russians betrayed them and hacked the DNC anyway.

Think about the size of the claim here: the Clinton campaign, which was convinced it was going to beat Trump in a landslide, funded an espionage-laden high-wire act with a firm whose clients included some unsavory Russians themselves, in which a highly experienced British spook got suckered by the Democrats into weaponizing some Russian disinformation. (Steele could outplay the Russians, but he couldn’t outplay Robby Mook?)

There are other variations on this theme, but central to all of them was the idea that without Fusion there would be nothing, and that we would know this if only we could know what Simpson said to the Senate investigators. But since the Senate intelligence committee wouldn’t release the transcript, we couldn’t know just how much Simpson had spilled his guts.

So now we know, and none of it supports the rickety Jenga pile of Republican conspiracy theories.

Instead of being the source of the FBI investigations, Simpson claimed that the FBI was already on to the Russians, not least because our Australian allies warned us that the Russians claimed to have dirt on Clinton, which they learned because George Papadopoulos, a Trump advisor, was bragging about it to an Australian diplomat.

Also, according to Simpson, Steele was so horrified by what he was finding that he contacted the FBIinstead of just reporting back to his Clintonian masters. Worse yet, Simpson describes Steele as finding the FBI so in the tank — not for Clinton, but for Trump — that Steele stopped cooperating with them.

Now, it’s possible that Simpson is a cool risk-taker who’s willing to lie to Senate investigators. If that’s the case, then we’ve learned nothing. If Simpson, as critics of his testimony insist, is that untrustworthy, then so be it, but that would mean that we do not know anything more today than we knew a week ago.

More: Special counsel Robert Mueller is bad news for Donald Trump — and Russia

POLICING THE USA: A look at race, justice, media

But if Simpson is telling the truth in only two central contentions — that the FBI investigation predated Steele’s work, and that Steele was concerned about the FBI’s lean to Trump, rather than to Clinton — then his testimony unravels what was already a conspiracy theory of gigantic proportions.

The beauty of conspiracy theories, and the reason people find them irresistible, is that they are impervious to facts. If evidence emerges to support the theory, then the conspiracy is confirmed. If contrary evidence surfaces, it’s not really evidence — or it’s misinformation planted by the masters of the real conspiracy to hide their misdeeds. And if there’s no evidence at all, then the arid silence itself proves that the conspirators hid their tracks perfectly.

Both Republicans and Democrats seem determined to make all three of these logical errors in their war over the Trump presidency. But for now, the strange spinning of the Simpson interview as supporting the tangled Clinton-Fusion-Steele story puts critics of the Trump-Russian investigation in the lead for conspiracy theorizing’s gold medal — or perhaps one made of tin foil.

Tom Nichols, a Russia specialist and professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College, is the author of The Death of Expertise. The views expressed here are solely his own. Follow him on Twitter: @RadioFreeTom.

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Fusion GPS co-founder: Dossier author feared Trump was being blackmailed

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Simpson told the committee in closed-door testimony in August — which was released publicly on Tuesday — that he did not know how the FBI would react when ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, went to the bureau in July 2016.

“Chris said he was very concerned about whether this represented a national security threat and said he wanted to — he said he thought we were obligated to tell someone in government, in our government about this information,” Simpson said. “He thought from his perspective there was an issue — a security issue about whether a presidential candidate was being blackmailed.”

To date, no evidence has emerged that Trump was blackmailed.

Simpson also testified that Steele told him the FBI had similar intelligence from “an internal Trump campaign source” and that the FBI “believed Chris’ information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization.”

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A source close to Fusion GPS clarified that Simpson’s mention of an internal Trump campaign source actually refers to the Australian ambassador who contacted the FBI to pass on information that he received from then-Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.

Feinstein issued the transcript of the 10-hour interview without the support of committee’s Republican chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who had argued the committee needed to temporarily protect certain information while an investigation was ongoing.

Grassley spokesman Taylor Foy said that Feinstein released the transcript without consulting Grassley and suggested it could jeopardize the committee’s ability to interview future witnesses.

“Feinstein’s unilateral decision was made as the committee is still trying to secure testimony from other witnesses, including Jared Kushner,” Foy said in a statement. “Her action undermines the integrity of the committee’s oversight work and jeopardizes its ability to secure candid voluntary testimony relating to the independent recollections of future witnesses.”

The transcript is likely to provide Democrats a counterargument to the Republican charges that the dossier was a political document paid for by Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

In a statement, California’s senior senator said she was releasing the transcript with the support of the committee’s Democrats.

“After speaking with majority and minority committee staff for 10 hours, Glenn Simpson requested the transcript of his interview be released publicly. The American people deserve the opportunity to see what he said and judge for themselves,” said Feinstein. “The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice. The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public.”

Fusion called for transcript’s release

In a statement, Fusion GPS said it “commends Sen. Feinstein for her courage. The transcript of Glenn Simpson’s lengthy responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s questioning speaks for itself.”

Simpson’s firm paid Steele to compile the opposition research dossier on Trump and Russia. Last week, Simpson and his fellow Fusion GPS co-founder Peter Fritsch

wrote an op-ed in The New York Times

saying that Simpson’s testimony “walked investigators through our yearlong effort to decipher Mr. Trump’s complex business past, of which the Steele dossier is but one chapter.” In the op-ed, they called for the transcripts of Simpson’s congressional testimony to be released.

“It’s time to share what our company told investigators,” they wrote.

During the August interview, however, Simpson’s attorney requested that the transcript “be kept confidential given the sensitivity of the matters discussed today.”

Last week, Grassley and fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina

issued a criminal referral to the Justice Department

, urging an investigation into whether Steele lied to federal investigators over his contacts with the media. The referral was issued without consulting Feinstein, who called it “clearly another effort to deflect attention” from the Russia investigation.

New details on Steele

The transcript sheds new light on the controversial Trump-Russia dossier, and its author, who previously helped the FBI with major investigations. The FBI even entered into a

short-lived arrangement with Steele

, before the election, to reimburse some of the expenses for his Trump research.

For one, Simpson said he had full confidence in Steele’s work and found it to be credible. The Fusion GPS co-founder pushed back on Trump’s statements that the information in the dossier was “totally made-up” and “phony.”

“It’s political rhetoric to call the dossier ‘phony,'” Simpson said. “The memos are field reports of real interviews that Chris’s network conducted and there’s nothing phony about it. We can argue about what’s prudent and what’s not, but it’s not a fabrication.”

Simpson said he hired Steele to gather intelligence on Trump’s connections to Russia, but that he did not micro-manage Steele’s activities and did not edit any of the materials that Steele passed along.

They mainly communicated with Steele over the phone “on an encrypted line,” Simpson told the Senate investigators.

He also confirmed that the 35-page dossier that BuzzFeed published represents the full extent of Steele’s work for Fusion GPS. Ever since the memos were made public in January 2017, questions swirled around whether there were additional memos that hadn’t been released.

Research began as ‘broader look’

Simpson said the opposition research was not initially focused on Russia but rather began as a “broader look at (Trump’s) business career, his finances.” Simpson explained that Fusion GPS looked at everything from Trump’s golf courses to bankruptcies to tax bills, and collected lawsuits “from around the country and the world.”

“I’ll just stress that we weren’t looking for — at least it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind there was going to be anything involving the Russian government per se, at least not that I recall,” Simpson said.

Simpson described how in early 2016, the investigation looked into Trump’s business deals in Latin America as well as in former Soviet countries like Georgia and Azerbaijan, in addition to Russia.

“We gradually began to exhaust the public record, the open source about these topics in various places,” Simpson said. “As you, you know, sort of run short on public record or open-source information, you know, you need to get –if you still want to go deeper you need to get human-source.”

Simpson opposed Trump

According to the transcript, Simpson described his own personal views on Trump, saying he was “opposed” to the candidate.

“At some point probably early in 2016 I had reached a conclusion about Donald Trump as a businessman and his character and I was opposed to Donald Trump,” Simpson. “I’m not going to pretend that that wouldn’t have entered into my thinking. … I reached an opinion about Donald Trump and his suitability to be president of the United States and I was concerned about whether he was the best person for the job.”

Simpson cited Trump’s “character and competence” for why he was skeptical of the businessman, but said when his firm was looking into Trump, their priority was to look into “illicit activity.”

“The facts of these investigations are the facts and we don’t try to drive an investigation to any particular conclusion, certainly not based on our political views,” he said, according to the transcript. “So I think it would be, you know, not believable for me to tell you I didn’t reach, you know, views about Donald Trump’s integrity, but, you know, those were — those didn’t influence the research in terms of the findings.”

Dinner with Russian lawyer

In his testimony, Simpson described dinners he had with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya the night before and after she and others met with senior members of the Trump campaign at Trump Tower in June 2016.

In 2016, Simpson and Veselnitskaya met for dinner on June 8 in New York as part of a larger client dinner concerning a court case involving Prevezon — for which Veselnitskaya was in the US for a court appearance — and again on June 10 in Washington.

Prevezon Holdings is a Cyprus-based company owned by a Russian that was accused of being a front for a money-laundering operation from Russia into US real estate. Prevezon was ordered by a US court to pay a $5.9 million settlement in a civil lawsuit.

The Trump Tower meeting took place on June 9, 2016.

“I was at one end of the table talking to a woman about her biography on Simon Bolivar and she was at the other end with Rinat (Akhmetshin) and she doesn’t really speak much English. So, you know, fortunately I was not going to do a lot of entertaining,” Simpson said. Akhmetshin, a Russian-American lobbyist for Russian clients, was also in the Trump Tower meeting.

Simpson said he hasn’t spoken to anyone in the Trump Tower meeting about it since its revelation either.

Simpson did, however, say he and lawyers for the Russian company Prevezon at the law firm Baker & Hostetler “all exchanged mutual expressions of surprise,” about the campaign-time meeting.

Simpson maintains that his company’s research for Prevezon was separate from Steele’s work about Trump.

Russian killed?

After Simpson declined to answer questions on sourcing, one of his lawyers interjected to say someone was killed because of the dossier, seemingly echoing speculation among Russia-watchers and conspiracy theorists that have seized on a

series of questionable Russian deaths

 after the election.

“(Simpson) wants to be very careful to protect his sources,” Simpson attorney Joshua Levy said. “Somebody’s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work.”

During the closed-door session, Levy did not identify the person who was killed. Despite Levy’s clear assertion that someone had been killed, a source close to the testimony told CNN on Tuesday that the comment did not refer to any specific killing. Instead, the source said, it referred to the mysterious string of Russian deaths after the 2016 election.

At least nine high-profile Russians died in the nine months after the election, including top diplomats overseas, a former Russian intelligence official that had close ties to figures mentioned in the dossier, and a security officer in the Russian consulate in New York. Some of the Russians appeared to die from natural causes, while others were murdered.

None of the deaths have been definitively linked to the dossier by the authorities.

This story has been updated.

CNN’s Evan Perez, Katelyn Polantz, Liz Stark, Caroline Kelly, Caroline Kenny, Daniella Diaz and Eli Watkins contributed to this story.

Sen. Feinstein’s release of the Fusion GPS transcript gives us what we haven’t had much of under Trump: the truth

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