Trump gave his first major foreign policy address in the ballroom of a historic Washington hotel. Some of the speech was a familiar litany of Republican policy positions — hawkish warnings to Iran and pledges to be tough on terrorism. Trump pivoted and said the United States and Russia should look for areas of mutual interest. Papadopoulos wrote in an email to his Russian foreign ministry contact that evening, meaning that Mr. Just one day earlier, Professor Mifsud had told the campaign aide about a possible gift from Moscow: thousands of hacked emails that might damage Mrs.
It was a breathtaking revelation. But there was no evidence that Mr. Papadopoulos — while ambitious and eager for advancement in the bare-bones campaign — passed the information along to anyone inside the Trump circle. More than two years later, Mr.
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He said he was supposed to have a phone call that day with Stephen Miller, a top campaign adviser, but it was postponed. If the two men had talked, Mr. Papadopoulos said, he might have shared the information. Papadopoulos, who has been sentenced to 14 days in jail for lying to the F. Trump continued to win primaries and vacuum up convention delegates late in the spring, the Russians made multiple attempts to establish contact with campaign officials.
A Republican operative connected to the N. Trump and a Russian central banker at an N. Page, the foreign policy adviser, was invited to deliver the commencement address at the prestigious New Economic School in Moscow. That invitation now appears to have been an effort both to gain information about the Trump campaign and to influence it by feting Mr.
Page in the Russian capital. At that time, the last American to give the commencement speech was Mr. Obama, who used the opportunity to criticize Russia for its treatment of Georgia and Ukraine. Page met with at least one top Russian official and numerous business leaders. And there was the now infamous June approach to Donald Trump Jr.
The Plot to Subvert an Election: Unraveling the Russia Story So Far
The Russians met at Trump Tower in Manhattan with top campaign officials after promising damaging information on Mrs. See the timeline of events that surround the Trump Tower meeting. What exactly transpired during the meeting is still a mystery, but it appears that the Russians pulled a bait-and-switch. They used the session to push for an end to the crippling economic sanctions that Mr. Obama had imposed on Russia. Donald Trump Jr. Experts who have studied Russian operations for decades see the catalog of contacts and communications between Russians and Mr.
By midsummer , the Russian contacts sounded alarms inside the F. Papadopoulos and puzzled over Mr. The bureau sent a trusted informant to help understand what was happening: Stefan Halper, a former Nixon and Reagan adviser and professor at Cambridge University, reached out to Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos under false pretenses. Eventually, Mr. Trump after he became president, feeding his sense of grievance that the legitimacy of his victory was under attack and shaping his decisions as he tried to blunt the widening Russia investigation. Clinton would soon be made public.
He said that his website would soon be publishing a raft of emails related to Mrs. Using a hacker persona, Russian military intelligence officers began to reveal documents stolen from the Democrats. A website made its splashy debut three days later, presenting a jaunty hacker who called himself Guccifer 2.
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Russian intelligence had worked fast. Just the day before, D. Overnight, Russian military intelligence officers set up the website and created the Guccifer persona to counter the D. In fact, beyond the conclusions of CrowdStrike and the F. Today there is no doubt who hacked the D. See the timeline of hacking that led to the indictment. The agency, now called the Main Directorate but often referred to by its former abbreviation, the G. The hacking might have drawn little attention had the G. I hate being attributed to Russia.
But WikiLeaks had a large global audience. Its editor, Mr.
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Assange, shared Mr. Clinton and had a soft spot for Russia. Assange assisted with the subterfuge. But he also obscured the Russian role by fueling a right-wing conspiracy theory he knew to be false. Trump supporters were suggesting Mr. Rich had leaked the D. Assange played along. Assange suddenly brought up Mr. Assange said — and then declined to say if Mr. Rich was a source. After some technical problems, according to Mr. The website published 19, of them on July 22, — three days before the Democratic National Convention. The resentment of the Sanders delegates deepened, leaving the party even more bitterly divided as it turned to the general election.
Unknown to the feuding Democratic delegates, a cyberdrama had been playing out in secret for weeks, as CrowdStrike experts tried to root out the Russian hackers who had penetrated the D. Robert S. CrowdStrike had begun watching the Russians in April, asking D. Johnston, a former Marine and veteran of the United States Cyber Command who is now chief executive of the cybersecurity firm Adlumin. But somehow, possibly by intercepting communications inside the D. On May 31, two weeks before the public disclosure of the hack, Ivan Yermakov, a G. After that, the spy-versus-spy contest escalated.
Johnston said. The candidate favored by the Russians alternated between denying their help and seeming to welcome it. On June 15, the day after the D. Later, Mr. And two days later, he famously invited the Russians to try to retrieve 30, emails that Mrs. Clinton had deleted from her computer server on the basis that they involved personal matters and not State Department business. Trump said during a Florida news conference. The Mueller investigation discovered that the Russians were evidently listening : The same day as the news conference, the G.
In , both Adlai E. Stevenson and John F. Kennedy refused quiet offers of help from Khrushchev. Stevenson declined the offer, in language that reflected the broad American political consensus about foreign election interference. Russia did not deliver on Mr. But it had obtained something just as useful: 50, emails of John Podesta, Mrs. Roger Stone, a political operative and longtime Trump friend, seemed to have advance word. The time came on Oct. See the timeline of events that surround the release of the emails.
Trump bragged of groping and sexually assaulting women. The candidate desperately needed to change the subject — and that was the moment WikiLeaks posted the first of thousands of Mr. They were invaluable for political journalists, offering embarrassing comments from staffers about Mrs. WikiLeaks assisted by highlighting interesting tidbits in yellow. Soon, Mr. Trump was delighting his supporters by reading from the stolen emails on the campaign trail.
I love WikiLeaks! The quotes were taken out of context, of course, and subjected to the most damaging interpretation. But they seemed to offer a glimpse of Mrs. If the July D. Whether the timing was decided by the Russians or by Mr. Assange, it proved devastatingly effective.
Russian trolls, using fake accounts on social media, reached nearly as many Americans as would vote in the election. David Michael Smith, a Houston political scientist and activist, spotted the alarming call on Facebook. A group called Heart of Texas was suddenly urging Texans to come at noon on May 21, , to protest a year-old Islamic center in downtown Houston. Smith, who started calling friends to organize a counterprotest.
Heart of Texas, which garnered a quarter-million followers on Facebook, was one of Facebook pages created 5, miles from Houston at the Internet Research Agency, the oddly named St. The two Russian employees who had visited Texas during that American tour, Ms. Krylova, evidently had returned home with big ideas about how to exploit the emotional chasms in American politics and culture. Consider the Texas protest.
A dozen yelling white supremacists turned out for the protest, at least two of them with assault rifles and a third with a pistol. Houston police managed to keep them away from a much larger crowd of counterprotesters — some of whom had responded to a second Russian Facebook call. The event had no lasting consequences, though clearly it could have ended in tragedy. Still, it demonstrated that young Russians tapping on keyboards in hour shifts could act as puppet masters for unsuspecting Americans many time zones away.
When Facebook first acknowledged last year the Russian intrusion on its platform, it seemed modest in scale. But it quickly became clear that the Russians had used a different model for their influence campaign: posting inflammatory messages and relying on free, viral spread. Even by the vertiginous standards of social media, the reach of their effort was impressive: 2, fake Facebook accounts, 80, posts, many of them elaborate images with catchy slogans, and an eventual audience of million Americans on Facebook alone.
That was not far short of the million people who would vote in the presidential election. Tweets spike on Oct. Bars show the number of tweets per day from Russian troll accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency. And Facebook was only the biggest of the engines powering the Russian messages. On Instagram, there were ersatz Russian accounts that posted , times and reached about 20 million people. Twitter reported that in the 10 weeks before the election some 3, Internet Research Agency accounts interacted with 1. Without American social media companies, the Russian influence campaign could not have operated.
The St. Petersburg trolls tapped the power of Silicon Valley for their stealth intervention in American democracy. The Russian troll operation had gotten its start two years before, focusing at first on government targets closer to home. Bespalov said in a recent interview while vacationing in Ukraine: his first visit to the country about which he had written so many bogus stories. Bespalov said. But almost nobody quit, because everyone needed the money. Soon he began hearing about a new, secretive department inside the St.
Petersburg company that was recruiting English speakers to focus on the United States. Bespalov quickly realized, the company was not a normal business but a well-compensated tool of the Russian state. It was owned by Yevgeny V. Prigozhin , who overcame an early prison sentence for robbery to create a thriving catering business. He then built a fortune as a loyal contractor willing to provide internet trolls, mercenary soldiers or anything else required by his patron, Mr. They stole photos, favoring attractive young women, for their Twitter profiles.
They copied or created sharp poster-like commentaries on American life and politics, only occasionally slipping up with grammatical mistakes. Trump was borrowing the hacked emails from the Russians for his stump speeches, the online trolls in St. The Russians managed to call a dozen or more rallies like the one in Houston, sometimes paying unwitting American activists for their help via money transfer.
The same method may have been used to get the bridge banners of Mr. Obama hung. Facebook, reluctant to step into the divisive politics of the Trump presidency, did not acknowledge the Russian intrusion until nearly a year after the election, asserting that Russia had chiefly aimed at sowing division. A closer look suggested a more focused goal: damaging Mrs. Clinton and promoting Mr. Many of the Facebook memes portrayed Mrs. Clinton as angry, corrupt or crazed.
Trump was depicted as his campaign preferred: strong, decisive, courageous, willing to shun political correctness to tell hard truths. Putin in Moscow, to draw votes from Mrs.
It encouraged supporters of Mr. Sanders to withhold their votes from Mrs. Clinton even after he endorsed her. The impact is impossible to gauge; the Internet Research Agency was a Kremlin fire hose of influence wielded amid a hurricane of a presidential election. Christopher Painter, who had served under President George W. But no one can say whether it made the difference in an election decided by the tiniest of margins, fewer than , votes in three states. Painter said. Trump and his supporters to deny or dismiss the significance of the Russian interference.
A case in point would be Harry Miller, a devoted Trump supporter in Florida who was paid to organize a rally in which a woman portraying Mrs. Clinton sat behind bars on the back of his pickup truck. Contacted via Twitter, he insisted that he had not been manipulated by Russian trolls. The president has created doubts about the investigation and an affinity for Russia among his supporters.
The White House statement released at p. Reacting to the news that Mr. Mueller had been appointed special counsel for the Russia investigation, the statement quoted Mr. Exactly 12 hours and 31 minutes later, early in the morning without his staff around him, he told the world what he really thought. It had been little more than a week since the president had fired his F. Now the president was up against someone who could become even more formidable — a careful, tenacious former Marine whose stewardship of the F.
Mueller, but he settled for a different strategy. Revelation upon revelation about Russian encounters with Trump associates has followed in the months since Mr. Mueller was appointed, intensifying the fear in the White House.
Trump has used his Twitter pulpit to repeatedly assault the Mueller inquiry, and has made scathing remarks at rallies about claims of Russian interference. See the full timeline of Mr. Mueller and his prosecutors only rarely go public with the evidence they have been steadily gathering in secret interviews and closed-door sessions of a grand jury. During a period of days over this year — between the Feb.
By July, one poll showed that 45 percent of Americans disapproved of how Mr. Mueller was handling the investigation, a point increase from January. The shift was even more dramatic among Republican voters: from 49 percent to 78 percent. More recent polls, conducted since the indictment of the G. There is little expectation that Mr. Mueller would ignore Justice Department guidelines and try to indict a sitting president, so Mr.
Turn the public against impeachment, the thinking goes, and Congress is less likely to act. He is right that no public evidence has emerged showing that his campaign conspired with Russia in the election interference or accepted Russian money. But the inquiry has buffeted his presidency, provoked concern that his attempts to thwart the investigation amount to obstruction of justice and fed his suspicion that the F.
The desire of the president to make deals with Mr. Putin, and the longstanding skepticism of the intelligence community about Russian intentions and actions, might have made a clash inevitable. Trump appears to have had success in persuading some Americans that the spy and law enforcement agencies are corrupt and hyperpartisan. A president in open war with the F. Since taking office, he has worked with partners in Congress to cast the agencies as part of an insurgency against the White House.
It continued in July, when he stood next to Mr. And it continues today. Early one morning last week, hours before flying to Pennsylvania to honor the victims of the flight that crashed on Sept. They warn of a new Red Scare.
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Multiple frenzied television segments and hyped news stories have given credence to the concerns of Mr. Greenwald and others about a 21st-century McCarthyism. The pair, who were involved in a romantic relationship at the time, have been skewered regularly on Mr. Meanwhile, Mr. Putin and Russia have created a new affinity for Russia — in particular its social conservatism and toughness on terrorism — among Mr.
Putin favorably has more than doubled from 11 percent to 25 percent , according to a poll by the Pew Research Center. Democrats are now far more likely than Republicans to see Russia as a threat. Once again, Mr. Trump has flipped the script in the party of Reagan: A country that was once seen as a geopolitical foe is now embraced by many Republicans as a bastion of Christianity and traditional values.
Putin had often played a poor hand deftly. On July 16, the president woke early in Helsinki, hours before he was to sit face to face with Mr. The meeting came three days after Mr. Mueller indicted the 12 Russian intelligence officers. Trump dashed off a tweet. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. But to a From the introduction: I've carried a concealed handgun for more than thirty years, but if you think this book is about me trying to persuade you to carry one too, you would be mistaken.
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