Posts tagged with "WikiLeaks"

In 2016, Manafort held secret talks with Wikileaks’ Assange in Ecuadorian embassy

November 28, 2018

President Donald Trump’s former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he had sought asylum—and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign, The Guardian reported on November 27.

Manafort’s March 2016 visit to Assange lasted about 40 minutes, a source told the news outlet. Just two months later, in June 2016, WikiLeaks emailed Russian intelligence (the GRU) via an intermediary—seeking DNC materials. After failed attempts, Vladimir Putin’s spies sent the Democrats’ documents in mid-July to WikiLeaks as an encrypted attachment.

What’s more, this was not Manafort’s first visit to Assange. The Guardian’s “well-placed” source said that Manafort previously had visited Assanage at the embassy in 2013 and 2015.

Indeed, The Guardian reported, Manafort’s acquaintance with Assange goes back at least five years, to late 2012 or 2013, when the American was working in Ukraine and advising its Moscow-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych.

However, it is the 2016 encounter that is especially likely to come under scrutiny by Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Just this week, Mueller said that Manafort had “repeatedly lied to the FBI” after he promised to cooperate with the probe in mid-September. The former campaign manager now has been referred by Mueller to the court for sentencing. Whether the secret tête-à-tête in London already has been investigated Mueller’s team is unknown.

According to The Guardian’s report, Manafort, 69, denies involvement in the hack and says the claim is “100% false”. His lawyers declined to answer the Guardian’s questions about the visits.

His defense team says he believes what he has told Mueller to be truthful and has not violated his deal.

One key question is when the Trump campaign, itself, became aware of the Kremlin’s hacking operation—and what, if anything, it did to encourage it. President Trump repeatedly has denied collusion

One person familiar with WikiLeaks said Assange was motivated to damage the Democrats campaign because he believed a future Trump administration would be less likely to seek his extradition on possible charges of espionage. This fate had hung over Assange since 2010, when he released confidential U.S. State Department cables. It contributed to his decision to take refuge in the embassy.

According to the dossier written by the former MI6 Officer Christopher Steele, The Guardian reports, Manafort was at the center of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russia’s leadership. The two sides had a mutual interest in defeating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Steele wrote, whom Putin “hated and feared.”

Research contact: @lukeharding1968

Senate Intelligence Committee asks WikiLeaks’ Assange to testify

August 9, 2018

WikiLeaks—the organization led by Julian Assange that posted candidate Hillary Clinton’s private emails, as well as emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), on its website at several critical junctures during the 2016 presidential campaign—broke news on August 8 that the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee “has called on editor @JulianAssange to testify.”

In a letter signed by Senators Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia), the chairman and vice chairman of the select committee—and delivered by U.S. embassy personnel in London directly to Assange, who remains in hiding to avoid extradition under the U.S. Espionage Act at Ecuador’s embassy—the group asked the WikiLeaks editor to make himself available for a closed-door bipartisan discussion “at a mutually agreeable time and location” to discuss “Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.”

Interestingly enough, WikiLeaks pointed out, eight other legislators, not all of them on the panel, also had “demanded today that @JulianAssange’s asylum be revoked in violation of international law. Remember them.” Those legislators included Senators Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), Chris Coons (D-Delaware), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire).

Committee members Kamala Harris (D-California), Martin Heinrich (D,New Mexico), Angus King (I-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) were rather conspicuously absent from that list; as were all Republicans, save Burr.

In response to the letter, WikiLeaks’ legal team said they are “considering the offer, but testimony must conform to a high ethical standard.”

A CNN poll conducted at the end of June found that most Americans continue to believe that the Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election “is a serious matter that should be investigated.”

Research contact: @wikileaks

Howard Schultz steps down at Starbucks amid rumors of a presidential run

June 6, 2018

Howard Schultz, who oversaw Starbucks’ growth into a worldwide coffee behemoth over the past 36 years—with 28,000 stores in 77 countries—will step down as executive chairman late this month amid swirling speculation that he is considering running for president in 2020, NBC News reported on June 4.

Holding back tears, Schultz talked to a mix of partners, board members, and former colleagues this week, kvelling, “We are in the business that elevates humanity. It’s about what we’ve been able to create: a unique experience around love and humanity.”

In a memo to his employees, he said, “no person or company is ever perfect,” but that he was proud that the company had balanced “profitability and social conscience, compassion and rigor, and love and responsibility.”

Schultz, 64, who stepped away from his role as chief executive last year, will assume the title of chairman emeritus on June 26, the company said in a statement.

Starbucks lauded him for having “reimagined the Italian coffeehouse tradition in America and redefined the role and responsibility of a publicly held company,” saying that he had demonstrated that “a business can simultaneously deliver best-in-class financial performance and share success with its people and the communities it serves.”

His next move is rumored to be national politics. Indeed, for more than a year, NBC News reports, there has been rampant speculation that Schultz, a fierce critic of President Donald Trump, is gearing up to run for president in 2020.

He told CNN in February that he wouldn’t be a candidate, but when asked about the prospect again in an interview on June 4 with The New York Times, he replied: “I intend to think about a range of options, and that could include public service. But I’m a long way from making any decisions about the future.”

Indeed, according to a June 5 story by Business Insider, pollsters have been tracking Schultz’s potential for nearly a year. Morning Consult, a nonpartisan polling outlet, placed Schultz at 21% favorability among Democrats, based on a national sample of 895 registered members of the party in June 2017—calling him “the most popular 2020 Democratic prospect not named Joe Biden.”

What’s more, he almost made it into the race the last time. In October 2016, a month before Trump was elected, WikiLeaks posted hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign revealing that Schultz had been under consideration  o be Clinton’s running mate—a role that eventually went to Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia).

Schultz said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in October 2014 that many of America’s problems stemmed from years of institutional failures in Washington. “As business people and business leaders, we need to take the lead and do what we can to move the country forward,” he said then, adding: “There has to be a balance between profitability and doing everything we can to get the country moving again. And that goes back to Washington. “Washington has let the country down.”

Research contact: @nbcnews