Investigation Sought For Trump Ties To Russia

Follow The Money: Two Groups File Formal Request To FEC To Investigate Trump’s Possible Financial Ties To Russia

President Obama, the White House, the CIA, the FBI, have all recently gone on record to say that Russia hacking interfered with Elections 2016. Yesterday at a White House press conference, President Obama said he could confirm that it happened at the highest levels of Russian government, and the CIA has gone on record to say that the intent of the Russian hacking was to influence the outcome of Elections 2016 and favor one candidate over another, namely, Donald Trump.

Today, Politicus USA reports that two interest groups have filed a formal complaint with the FEC asking that they follow the money to investigate possible Trump ties to Russia, and to determine if Donald Trump, or the Trump campaign, knew about or had any financial collusion with Russia to interfere with Elections 2016 via Russia hacking.

The applicants of the complaint are two public interest groups. One is known as Free Speech for the People, and the other is called the Campaign for Accountability.

The complaint identifies the Russian government as the key respondent, as well as Donald Trump and the Trump campaign as the secondary respondent. The complaint identifies at least three instances of possible financial coordination between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.

The highest office and most respected law enforcement and security agencies in the land would not say Russia hacking interfered with Elections 2016 without strong evidence to back up those claims. President-elect Donald Trump has not only rebuked those claims, calling it the “Russia CIA card” via Twitter, but he has also used Twitter to suggest that the end, his win, justified the means, Russia hacking.

Trump’s rebuke of one of the most respected law enforcement agencies in the world on an issue as serious as a nation-state interfering with the American election, has led many to wonder why Trump doth protest too much.

This image provided by C-SPAN2 shows retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. giving his final speech on the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, [Image by C-SPAN2/AP Images]
This image provided by C-SPAN2 shows retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. giving his final speech on the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, [Image by C-SPAN2/AP Images]

The Huffington Post reports that this week Senator Harry Reid said he believes the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the election.

“Someone in the Trump organization was in on the deal. I have no doubt. Now, whether they told Trump or not, I don’t know. I assume they did. But there is no question about that. So there is collusion there, clearly. Don’t put blindfolds on. Here is the deal: We have a situation where during the campaign, especially the last few months of the campaign, Wiki Leaks was heavily involved in trying to hurt Hillary Clinton and it helped Trump. And you have Trump who says he likes Putin better than he likes Obama.”

These two interest groups, Free Speech for People, and Campaign for Accountability, have filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), seeking an immediate investigation into whether or not the Russian government spent money to help Trump win the election. It would be against many laws for Russia to interfere with the election at all through Russian hacking, or any means. But it would also be against many regulations and laws for a political campaign to coordinate with a nation state or foreign actor to influence their own results in the election.

The Washington Post reported two days after the election that a high-level Russian operative, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, told an Interfax news agency that Russia was in contact with Trump campaign, long before the election. He told the news agency “there were contacts” with the Trump campaign.

“Obviously we know most of the people from his entourage. We have just begun to consider ways of building dialogue with the future Donald Trump administration and channels we will be using for these purposes.”

The full complaint with the FEC opens saying the following.

“The fact that a foreign state appears to have engaged in direct violation of our nation’s campaign’ finances laws barring foreign nationals from influencing our elections is a serious threat to our political system and merits urgent investigation.”

The Government of the Russian Federation, also referred to as the Russian government in the complaint, and “Donald Trump for President,” referred to as the “Trump campaign, in the complaint, are named as the Respondents in the 18-page-complaint. The complaint alleges the following.

“According to published reports, intelligence agencies of the United States government have further concluded with high confidence that the Russian government took these steps specifically to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances and promote Donald J. Trump.”

The steps described in the complaint include the paid propaganda team of “well paid trolls” that was started in St. Petersburg, Russia, as first reported by the New York Times in 2015. In that report, an “army of well-paid trolls” was revealed, that was known for the following.

“Employing hundreds of Russians to post pro-Kremlin propaganda online under fake identities including on Twitter.”

Indeed, a look at the sub-reddit for Donald Trump reveals that most of the aliases on that thread about Russian hacking, that allege to support America, are indeed aliases that hail from Russia. The Daily Beast also published a story on the matter headlined, “How Russia Dominates Your Twitter Feed to Promote Lies (And Trump too.)”

Paid propaganda and fake news started in Russia has recently been a source of concern as one of the methodologies of Russia hacking and Russian interference with Elections 2016. The complaint filed with the FEC asserts that there is a money trail there, and is asking the FEC to see if that money trail has branches to Donald Trump or the Trump campaign. These complainants aren’t the only ones suspecting conflicts of interest.

Some of the procedures identified in the complaint include the method of how some non-American citizens created Twitter profiles that suggested they were “for Trump” such as handles that read “Mom for Trump” and “Veterans for Trump.” The complaint alleges they were for Trump but were not American.

An agent who is referenced in the complaint spoke on the condition of anonymity to the Washington Post in a November 24, 2016, report, that he had to go anonymous “to avoid being targeted by Russia’s legions of skilled hackers.” He said this of the money trail and the Russia hacking and interference.

“The way that this propaganda apparatus supported Trump was equivalent to some massive amount of a media buy. It was like Russia was running a super PAC for Trump’s campaign…It worked.”

The complaint also provides connections that the applicants say, suggest potential coordination between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. It identifies the June 27, 2016 instance where Donald Trump invited and supported Russia hacking by saying the following.

“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 by our press.”

Another possible instance of coordination was discovered when Slate Magazine reported in July 2016 when it was revealed that computer security experts that had been searching for malware instead found this.

“A pattern of suspicious electronic communications that began during the office hours in New York and continued during office hours in Moscow. It dawned on researchers that this wasn’t an attack, but a sustained relationship between a server registered to the Trump Organization and two servers registered to an entity called Alfa Bank in Moscow.”

Further, the complaint to the FEC notes how just this week, CNN reported that White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the following.

“It’s just a fact – you all have it on tape – that the Republican nominee for president was encouraging Russia to hack his opponent because he believed that would help his campaign. I don’t know if it was a staff meeting or if he had access to a briefing or he was just basing his assessment on a large number of published reports, but Mr. Trump obviously knew that Russia was engaged in malicious cyberactivity that was helping him and hurting Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”

[Image by Susan Walsh/AP Images]
[Image by Susan Walsh/AP Images]

In that same report by CNN, Trump campaign manger Kellyanne Conway is quoted as saying to Fox News that, she wants the entire Russia hacking conversation to be shut down, and that shutting down the conversation of a nation-state interfering with the election would be the American thing to do. She reportedly said this.

“If you want to shut this down and you actually love the country enough to have the peaceful transition in our great democracy between the Obama Administration and the Trump Administration, there are a couple of people in pretty prominent positions – one is named Obama, one is named Hillary Clinton – they could shut this down.”

The complaint to the FEC alleges there are four counts of interference by foreign nationals from a financial standpoint. Counts one and two cite “unlawful expenditures by a foreign national.” Count three describes a failure to disclose independent expenditures, and count four alleges coordinated expenditures between coordination between the Russian government and the Trump campaign based on Trump’s campaign officials, and on his invitations to Russia to hack Hillary Clinton.

“Based on Mr. Trump’s public request for the Russian government to conduct further hacking and on the unexplained communications between a Trump server and a Moscow-based server, there is reason to investigate whether these communications were created, produced, or distributed, at the suggestion of the Russian government and the candidate or committee assented to the suggestion. [Additionally] Based on the past employment, contractor, or business relationships with the Russian government of two individuals who worked for or advised the Trump campaign at various points during 2016.”

The complaint says that the “above-described” facts indicate that the Russian government spent money to influence the election, with “possible” coordination from Trump’s ties to Russia and the Trump campaign, and says these facts warrant an immediate investigation.

Salon Magazine reported late last month that the FEC has already flagged Donald Trump and the Trump campaign for over 1,000 “potentially illegal mistakes” in the campaign’s October filing. In that report, “hundreds” of Trump’s donors allegedly exceeded the $2,700 contribution limit and that the Trump campaign had accepted donations exceeding $1.3 million dollars from 1,100 different donations.

President Obama has also gone on the record publicly to say that he believes Trump’s ties to Russia exist. He told Trevor Noah of The Daily Show this week this.

“You had what was very clear relationships between members of the president-elect’s campaign team and Russians, and a professed shared view on a bunch of issues.”

The 538 members of the Electoral College will meet this Monday, December 19, to elect the next president of the United States. Huffington Post reports that Senator Harry Reid has said that electors should “think twice” and sent a message to electors,

“What I say to somebody that is pledged to Donald Trump is, Be fair. Be fair. This is a tremendous responsibility that you have to do the right thing.”

The two groups named in this recent complaint to the FEC aren’t the only groups hoping a higher body follows the money to investigate alleged Trump ties to Russia. As The Inquisitr previously reported, another group, the Democratic Coalition, has also been researching alleged Trump ties to Russia.

In their report, submitted to the White House and key high ranking Senators, they detail multiple alleged ties between Donald Trump and Russia. That report is known as the Dworkin Report, and also has listed a spreadsheet as one of their exhibits that show 249 businesses registered in Russia with “Trump” name on them.

[Feature Image by Darko Vojinovic/AP Images]

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