Weekend Links – November 11, 2017

With Trump today saying that he’ll take Vladimir Putin’s word over that of the US intelligence agencies, here’s a reminder of how Republicans used to talk about Russia and the Soviet Union.

Ruthenium-106, an isotope used in cancer therapy, was detected over Europe in September. The distribution measured suggests it came from the Mayak plant in Russia, where nuclear fuel is reprocessed. The amounts over Europe were not dangerous and have mostly gone below detection limits. Read More

Talking to North Korea

Donald Trump has said, a couple of times now, that he would sit down and negotiate with Kim Jong Un. But he has also said that North Korea must unilaterally disarm its nuclear weapons before that will happen. Some of his advisors have said similar things. North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons in order to talk to the United States; working toward a freeze in its development of nuclear and missile technology would be a reasonable first goal for the United States, with nuclear disarmament a far future vision. Read More

Halloween Links

On Donald Trump and Russia: One of the better timelines I’ve seen derived from the Manafort/Gates indictments and the Papadopoulos plea. Profiles of people you will be hearing more about:

More than 90 American nuclear scientists say that we need to keep the Iran nuclear deal in place. An Iranian analyst says that Donald Trump requested a meeting with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations meeting in September, but Rouhani turned him down. This has not been confirmed, but it’s something to watch for. Update (11/1/17): Confirmed by the State DepartmentRegime change probably wouldn’t end Iran’s nuclear program. Read More

Opposition Research From The Top

The New York Times has knowledge of some very interesting documents and conversations. The sources in this article are as noteworthy as the news.

The news is that the opposition research that Natalia Veselnitskaya brought to a June 2016 meeting with Trump campaign officials including Donald Jr. was coordinated with the Russian prosecutor general Yuriy Chaika. The allegations in that opposition research have now been endorsed at the highest Russian levels.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia repeated her charges at length last week at an annual conference of Western academics. A state-run television network recently made them the subject of two special reports, featuring interviews with Ms. Veselnitskaya and Mr. Chaika.

The allegations are that that Ziff Brothers Investments, an American firm, evaded tens of millions of dollars of Russian taxes in an illegal Russian investment. Investors behind the company are major donors to Democratic candidates including Clinton. Ziff Brothers also invested in funds managed by William F. Browder, whom Russia has just accused of murder and sent a warrant for his arrest to Interpol, who rejected the warrant.

Browder was the driving force behind the Magnitsky act, named for a lawyer who worked for him and who died in a Moscow jail after exposing a Russian fraud scheme. The Magnitsky Act freezes the Western bank accounts of sanctioned Russian officials.

Max Bergmann, a former State Department official, points out that Devin Nunes and Fox are also currently pushing these allegations. He also points out the question of sources.

The key paragraph on sources is this one:

But interviews and records show that in the months before the meeting, Ms. Veselnitskaya had discussed the allegations with one of Russia’s most powerful officials, the prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika. And the memo she brought with her closely followed a document that Mr. Chaika’s office had given to an American congressman two months earlier, incorporating some paragraphs verbatim.

Which interviews and records are these? From a grand jury? From the Mueller investigation? From a Russian source? The last brings up the question of whether that source might be one of the sources for the Steele dossier.

If it is the last, that would be one more reason for the Trump camp to have mounted this week’s attack on the Steele dossier. And the uproar about the Uranium One sale, to cover this news.

 

Photo: Natalia Veselnitskaya, Getty Images, from the Times article

 

Cross-posted at Balloon Juice.