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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

From Russia With Love

 In Defying the Odds, we discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign.

Peter Baker, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, and Maggie Haberman at NYT:
President Trump was watching television on Sunday when he saw Nikki R. Haley, his ambassador to the United Nations, announce that he would impose fresh sanctions on Russia. The president grew angry, according to an official informed about the moment. As far as he was concerned, he had decided no such thing.

It was not the first time Mr. Trump has yelled at the television over something he saw Ms. Haley saying. This time, however, the divergence has spilled into public in a remarkable display of discord that stems not just from competing views of Russia but from larger questions of political ambition, jealousy, resentment and loyalty.

The rift erupted into open conflict on Tuesday when a White House official blamed Ms. Haley’s statement about sanctions on “momentary confusion.” That prompted her to fire back, saying that she did not “get confused.” The public disagreement embarrassed Ms. Haley and reinforced questions about Mr. Trump’s foreign policy — and who speaks for his administration.
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According to several officials, the White House did not inform Ms. Haley that it had changed course on sanctions, leaving her to hang out alone.
 Travis Gettys at Raw Story:
One of Sean Hannity’s former directors — who claims an instrumental role in developing Fox News — moved to Russia to help a sanctioned oligarch start up a right-wing TV network.

Jack Hanick, whose now-deleted LinkedIn profile shows he began working for Fox News three months before its first broadcast aired in October 1996, left the network in August 2011 and helped launch the Orthodox Christian network Tsargrad TV three year later.

The religious network’s founder, Konstantin Malofeev, is a Kremlin-connected oligarch who’s been under U.S. sanctions since 2014 for financing pro-Russian separatist rebels in Crimea.

“Throughout the Ukraine crisis, Mr. Malofeev, [now 43], has emerged as a key figure linking the pro-Russia forces on the ground in Ukraine and the political establishment in Moscow,” reported the Financial Times.

Josh Marshall at TPM:
In today’s podcast, we look into the background of Michael Cohen. TPM first reported last year that Cohen was actually a childhood friend of Felix Sater, whose father was himself a reputed capo in the Mogilevich organized crime syndicate, said to be Russia’s largest and most dangerous. Filling out this picture of how Cohen fell into this milieu we’ve always been focused on the fact that Cohen’s uncle, Morton Levine, owned and ran a Brooklyn social club, El Caribe, which was a well-known meeting spot for members of Italian and Russian organized crime families in the 1970s and 1980s. (Levine, a medical doctor has never been charged with a crime.) But now it turns out there’s a bit more to this story.