The Russians are Coming- Mueller Indictments and New Cyber Threats.

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Robert Mueller’s investigation took a dramatic turn on Friday, as grand jury indictments were handed out to 12 different Russians, all formally associated with Russian intelligence, for their hack of the Democratic National Committee in 2016.

On the same day, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned America in the direst of terms to watch out for Russian cyber-thugs this fall. Coats told us to expect “Unprecedented levels of cyber-hacking,” and said, “The warning lights are blinking red again.”

These two issues are directly tied together. The Mueller indictments laid out detailed allegations of how Russia sought to manipulate Americans through social mediaexploit computerized state voting systems and hack the email accounts of Democratic committees and party leaders.

The part of the story these indictments have shed light on focused on how Russian cyber-thugs took cues from the orange malignance in the White House himself, as the Russian government laid out its plan to boost Trump’s bid for the White House.

The court documents also highlight alleged collaboration between Russian hackers and “Organization 1”, clearly fitting the WikiLeaks profile, to steal data from and harm the campaign of Hillary Clinton. We have given some examples below.

“For example, on or about July 27, 2016, the Conspirators attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office.”

July 27 2016 was the night of the first 2016 presidential debate. During that debate, Trump memorably said “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing… I think you will probably be rewarded mightily…”

Barton Gellman, a leading intelligence reporter, responded to this revelation in a tweet: “This is OMFG material. Trump explicitly asks ‘Russia’ to hack Clinton, and Russian intelligence starts trying *the same day*. We look for secret evidence of ‘collusion’ but Trump’s end was always in plain sight. Now we know Russia took his request as a guide to further crimes.”

The indictment also made specific mention of “a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump,” seeking to “help u.”

That got people talking. Right away. And not long after, the conversation came around to Roger Stone.

Stone has admitted that he is the unnamed Trump campaign regular who corresponded with Russian hackers such as Guccifer 2.0, now known to be a creation of the Russian intelligence services.

Stone previously boasted screenshots of the conversation online, in which Guccifer 2.0 wrote, “please tell me if i can help u anyhow… it would be a great pleasure to me.” That was back in the good old days before the indictments started coming down and dozens of people started going to prison.

Since then, his tone has changed a little.

“My 24-word exchange with someone on Twitter claiming to be Guccifer 2.0 is benign,” he pleaded in a text to Rolling Stone.

You’re entitled to your opinion, Rog, but the rest of the world does not agree.

In related news, photos have been circulating the Internet of Roger Stone’s old partner and possible future cellmate Paul Manafort, disheveled and miserable and inside of a prison cell. It might not be as spiffy as the office of their old lobbying firm, but it will have to do.

Regular readers of Millennial Democrats will not require many reminders of how the Russians pulled off this act of cyber-warfare against the world’s most powerful country. We lived through it and were on the front lines of the battle against it.

There is a certain sense of vindication, in seeing what we all have been warning people about these last two horrible years laid right down in black and white. Roger Stone is almost certainly going to prison, and that too is a decent consolation prize.

But there’s also a tremendous frustration at the lack of an appropriate response coming down from the White House.

Russia openly prepares to hack us once again, the American alt-right vows to help him do it, and what is being done by our President? Nothing.

Our top cyber-security expert was sacked and his department gutted months ago. Trump has opened the doors for new Russian hacking, just as he called for their help on the televised debate two years ago.

Trump is still meeting with Putin on Monday, and he’s still holding rallies for his base on a regular basis. History will revile him for this and for everything else. Until the Blue Wave comes in November, we must draw our comfort from that.

In the meantime, we’ve got hard fighting up ahead, and we are ready for it. This is what we’ve been training for, ever since the elections.

In the weeks to come, we’re going to be focusing a lot on cybersecurity measures we can take, and on key Democratic primary races that the Russians or Republicans may target. Gaslighting is likely to be the least of it.

The Mueller indictments tell us how the Russians did this to us last time. The Coats warning tells us that it’s coming again. Going forward, we’ll be filling the need to study the first carefully so that we’ll be ready for the second. The Russians are coming, and we’ve got to hold the line.

Tad Devine Of Sanders Campaign Spotted In Photo With Key Manafort Aide.

Top consultant to the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign Tad Devine, hanging out with Paul Manafort and Konstatin Kilimnik.

Tad Devine, a former senior advisor to the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign, was in the news recently for the first time in a while. He was spotted in an old 2006 photograph enjoying himself with his then-coworker Konstantin Kilimnik.

In the picture, Kilimnik, a Ukrainian native, is pictured in an office setting with Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and other key players in Manafort’s consulting firm at the time. One of those players was Tad Devine.

Kilimnik is known informally as “Manafort’s Manafort“, and has been a figure of interest in the Russia investigation from the start. He is believed to be back in Russia now, and he is considered to have strong ties to Russian intelligence.

Tad Devine is a figure of great interest in the Russiagate investigation, in our opinion. We’ve been expecting the special counsel assigned by the Justice Department to look into Russian meddling in our 2016 election cycle, Robert Mueller, to get around to him sooner or later.

If Manafort is the key to understanding exactly what the Russians were doing for Trump, Kilimnik is the key to understanding what Manafort did for the Russians. Devine is the key to what the Russians were doing for Bernie. He is by far the most likely connection between the Russians and the Sanders campaign.

Although it has been very hard for Sanders followers to face this, it is our opinion that Devine too was working with the Russians and that Sanders most likely knew he was getting help from Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton. That help came in some very strange ways.

By the time the Fourth of July rolled around in 2016, the Federal Election Commission repeatedly contacted the Sanders campaign with warnings that hundreds of his donors exceeded the $2,700 contribution limit, and that hundreds more may have been foreign nationals illegally giving Sanders money.

One of the letters they wrote him flagged more than 1,500 questionable donors. Soon after, Tad Devine was paid almost a million dollars in one month by the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Devine has known Manafort and Kilimnik for many years. He was Manafort’s right-hand man in Ukraine right alongside Kilimnik, at a time when all three were the property of Viktor Yanukovych, the former President of Ukraine, whom in turn was the property of Putin. They were over there fixing elections for him.

More than a decade before Russia was accused of surreptitiously trying to tilt the presidential election toward Trump, the records show that Manafort, Devine, and Kilimnik were all encouraging Russia to hone its efforts to influence global politics. They were busy developing techniques they might use to help that process along.

They used these techniques to fix the 2004 Ukranian elections on behalf of Yanukovych, but they were so blatant in their corruption that the Orange Revolution began and overturned the crooked and invalid vote. Yanukovych was defeated in the second vote.

None of this mattered to Tad Devine, however, who kept right along working for Yanukovych.

Even after his rival, Viktor Yushchenko, barely survived a poisoning attempt, obliging him to “campaign with his face half paralyzed and a catheter inserted into his back to inject painkillers into his spine”, Devine’s conscience did not serve him well as a guide. He decided to hang around.

We know that the Russians had been plotting to interfere for more than a year before the election took place. The Steele Dossier said the Russians have been cultivating Trump for at least five.

It is a very convenient coincidence that three of the top strategists who ran against Hillary Clinton has been doing Putin’s bidding in this capacity for longer than a decade.

Last Thursday afternoon there was a meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the subject of Russian meddling into our 2016 election cycle.

During it, Retired Gen. Keith Alexander, former director of the National Security Agency, said that Russian operatives targeted both liberal and conservative voters in its disinformation campaigns during the 2016 election.

Democratic committee co-chair Sen. Mark Warner (VA) asked the panel if they had any doubt that Russia had attempted to interfere in some aspects of the 2016 election. Alexander said not only did he have no doubt, he could get very specific.

“Senator, I think what they were trying to do was drive a wedge within the Democratic Party between the Clinton group and the Sanders group,” said Alexander.

The supporters of Bernie Sanders were ruthlessly taken advantage of by the Russians, who used their genuine zeal and idealism as a hammer for smashing Democratic unity to bits. They were duped by false information that came from within the Kremlin itself, and thus unwittingly became Putin’s other puppets.

The man who was in the best position to act as a conduit between the headquarters of the Sanders campaign and the Kremlin was Tad Devine.

This picture provides a vivid reminder of what Democratic activists on Facebook and Twitter have been warning everyone about in the direst of terms since 2015, namely, that the Bernie Sanders campaign was just as lousy with Russian entanglements as the Trump campaign was.

Tad Devine may well hold the final piece of the puzzle as to how the whole rotten Russian conspiracy was put together. As Robert Mueller continues his journey to this discovery, our prayers will be with him.

A Faceless Apparatchik- Putin, The Early Years.

The name of Vladimir Putin has been on a lot of minds this last year. Everyone knows who the Russian president is. And yet, in many ways- many specialists might even say most ways- no one really knows him at all.

Journalist and Putin biographer Masha Gessen provided us with the following anecdote.

‘I remember in 2005 I was asked to write a piece about Putin as a threat to Russia’s newborn democracy. I said you’ve missed the story – he’s not a threat, there is no democracy. And then I realised that the real story was to try and explain who this man was. Because really, nobody knew.’

It is the opinion of sources more venerable than Millennial Democrats that if you know your enemy, and know yourself, you will fight without danger through many battles. We are therefore going to be taking a look at this enigmatic Russian leader, and the strange set of circumstances that installed a complete outsider on the very top floor of the Kremlin.

Let us first say this- Russian politics are highly unpredictable. The court of Peter the Great resembled a carnival sideshow more than it did the orderly court of Queen Anne of Britain. Right down to dwarves and giants.

A certain amount of uncertainty in Russian society should therefore not be viewed, as some early Putin apologists used to argue, as a product of the idiosyncrasies of Boris Yeltsin’s personality. Nor should fault for it be laid completely at Putin’s door. It has been a part of Russian life since the days of Kievan Rus and before.

In 1999, Washington Post writer Daniel Williams referred to Putin as “an all-but-unknown figure, an uninspiring speaker with no known political program — in short, a faceless apparatchik.” He came from nowhere and indicated no interest in politics until just before taking power. But, it’s Russia. So it’s not a total anomaly.

Vladimir Putin was born in 1952 in Leningrad (now St Petersburg), a city still traumatized by the aftereffects of the Second World War.

After graduating from Leningrad State University, Putin began his career in the KGB as an intelligence officer in 1975. Putin rose to the top ranks of the Russian government after joining President Boris Yeltsin’s administration in 1998, becoming prime minister in 1999 before taking over as president.

The young Putin boasted to his official biographers that he was  ‘a real thug’. One is reminded of Trump, boasting of having punched his music teacher in the eye in second grade.

Putin was one of a generation of young recruits brought into the KGB by chairman Yuri Andropov in the 1970s. Andropov was largely attributed to spearheading the KGB’s efforts to annihilate political dissent. He was also key in the creation of the notorious network of psychiatric hospitals that prominent dissidents were often dispatched to “for treatment.”

In the newborn Russian Federation, Putin was the third prime minister in a row with an intelligence background. It was an early sign of Putin’s predatory tendencies that he rapidly managed to become the head of his former employer, i.e. of the FSB.

One aspect of his rise was predictable. The institutional mechanics that granted his elevation were ripe for someone like him to step in and take over.

The Yeltsin system was held together purely through nepotism, and political succession hinged on his prerogative as the incumbent leader. It was disorganized and corrupt. Excellence is not the term one would choose when describing the Yeltsin regime. He publicly declared Russia to be the “superpower of crime” and the “biggest mafia state in the world”.

The Russian economy performed horribly throughout the 1990s. From 1991 to 1998, Russia lost nearly 30% of its real gross domestic product (GDP). Numerous bouts of inflation decimated the savings of Russian citizens, who also saw their disposable incomes rapidly decline. Capital left the country in a flood, with close to $150 billion flowing out between 1992 and 1999.

The post of prime minister became a sounding-board for potential successors and the security apparatus was the source of its candidates. Three of the four prime ministers appointed in the last 18 months of Yeltsin’s rule came from security.

Yeltsin was not unrealistic in fearing for the future. After all, he and his immediate circle were about the only ones in the country doing well. They had become the new bourgeoisie. Their embezzlement of public property was nothing short of extreme. The people were angry.

Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov threatened to build additional prisons, so the Russian business elite could be incarcerated should he come to power.

Following the initial idea of the notorious businessman Boris Berezovsky, known as the “Rasputin of Modern Russia”, the Yeltsin circle- known as the “family” -created a new party, called Unity (Yedinstvo) in order to stymie Primakov and promote another candidate.

Primakov was sacked in May of 1999. By August, Vladimir Putin was handed the keys to the Kremlin.

Putin’s rise to power was intimately tied to Yeltsin’s fear of Primakov, who as prime minister famously played the part of Heel to Putin’s Hero. The narrative proved of vital importance to Putin’s media manipulation, so much so that he has often been referred to as the “TV president.

Unity party campaign-leader Ksenia Ponomareva said the party seemed to have no ideology and no program whatsoever except promoting Putin. And she continues: “Our problem wasn’t only that we supported Putin, but that we actually created him!”

In this fortunate position, free to do whatever propaganda tricks he wanted against the weakened and scattered opposition, he easily won the March 2000 election with a final support of 52 %. We’ve been stuck with him ever since. 

Most of the world believed that the outrage of the world would be enough to inspire the people of Russia to rid themselves of him, but here again, Putin enjoys an advantage peculiar to Russia. Corruption has been a fact of life in Russia for centuries. Most Russians hate it, of course, but life and dour circumstance has taught them to accept it as normal.

Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov had the following to say in his new book on the subject, Winter Is Coming.

“Back when Putin first took power in Russia in 2000, the question was “Who is Putin?” By 2007 it had changed to “What is the nature of Putin’s Russia?”

The solving of this riddle is one of the most pressing questions addressing the human race at this time. This is no Donald Trump we’re dealing with. Putin really is what Trump is only playing at- a billionaire tyrant, willing to crush with violence any and all who oppose him. He’s got his claws in us, and he is kicking with all his might to bring us crashing down. In order to prevent his plan to destabilize the global order, we will need to answer Mr. Kasparov’s question.

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